Actions

Work Header

Nightlife

Work Text:

Barry sits at the bar down the street and contemplates destiny as he watches himself do battle with the...whatever those women were called. Cisco had given them some sort of silly name, as he usually did, but Barry honestly can't remember it now.

It was a bad fight, though, he recalls that much. The three women were vigilantes of the worst kind, murdering for any perceived slight, real or imagined, and they could force their will on people so Barry had been fighting his nightmares and his own limbs and innocent mind-controlled passersby as much as them - any time he wasn't being forced to slow down to human speed by their powers, anyway. The metas - the Furies, Barry remembers now, they called them the Furies after the Greek myth of endless, furious vengeance untempered by justice or mercy - had been bad enough on their own, with their powers and their knives, but they'd gotten influenced by someone to consider all of Central City corrupt and they'd decided to Sodom and Gomorrah the whole thing.

Their words, not his.

Barry remembers the nuke. Oh, does he remember the nuke.

He watches as his past self searches for it frantically. If he hadn't learned a hard lesson about the dangers of time travel, he'd be tempted to lend a hand. As it is, he just watches.

Watches them start the irreversible process of explosion, one that would turn his city into radioactive ash. Watches himself speed up as he circled them, hoping to hop back in time to try to buy some more time. Watches the metas, the exploding bomb and his powers all mix in an unexpected way and how they all disappear in a sudden burst of light.

Barry's pleased to see that his painstaking calculations were right: the crater left behind in 2016 was minimal.

He feels a moment's pity for his past self.

Barry remembers those early days with painful clarity: waking up in a dirty little town that he didn't recognize, the three metas turning to him in their rage, the knives, the pain - they slowed him down, human slow, and stabbed and stabbed and stabbed.

He snapped their necks, in the end, but his already overtaxed system had given up. He was healing, but not fast enough. After a career based entirely on his speed, he just wasn't fast enough. His body only had so many calories to burn, only so many resources to draw on, and the vast majority had been expended in the battle and then the time jump.

Barry Allen died in a little town of farmers and hunters and traders that he wouldn't have recognized as Central City if you'd paid him money and offered him twenty guesses.

If it hadn't been for his Sire, he would have probably stayed dead, and no one in Central City 2016 would have ever known what happened to him. As it was, Barry counted himself lucky that his Sire had developed the most unvampiric urge to travel the world and had picked Central City as one of his stops.

Barry couldn't help the fond smile that always came onto his face whenever he thought of his Sire: a foolish, cheerful man, unafraid of anything and on an endless quest for bravery and heroism. Regular old Don Quixote, his Sire. He'd been impressed enough with Barry's actions to turn him into a vampire like him. Barry'd been reminded of Cisco, a bit; he was pretty sure he'd only been turned so that his Sire could ask him a few questions and get the full story of their "epic battle" straight from the hero's mouth.

Maybe he'd been hoping for a trip to the future. Barry had promised him one, only to find that the time jump and his death had weakened his connection to the Speed Force immensely, injured it somehow.

That's when Barry found himself stuck in the middle of America two centuries before his own time.

Barry had never sympathized with Eobard Thawne more. Sure, he wasn't going to destroy the life of a family and manipulate a little boy into doing his bidding in order to get himself back to his proper time, he wasn’t crazy, but he had to admit that it seemed more and more reasonable as the years and eventually the decades went by.

By the time Barry's connection to the Speed Force reestablished itself - Nikola Tesla was immensely helpful; Barry was so happy that he'd had that little geeky Tesla fanboy period in his late teens, so he happened to know the exact location of the invention of alternating current, and also that he had listened to Cisco's equally geeky little rant about the potential use of Tesla coils in regards to the Speed force - he had seen the effects of time travel for himself, studied it intently, and knew that if he tried to shortcut his way into the future he would bring the Time Wraiths down on his friends and family in a way unlike any he'd ever experienced before. As for him, the universe would trap him in the Speed Force and would never let him out.

So Barry didn't run forward. He waited and waited and waited some more. He used what he remembered from history class or sports trivia night to make himself a healthy nest egg (how had Cisco and Caitlin been getting paid? He was the owner of STAR Labs and he definitely hadn't been signing their checks) and to try to help where he could. He signed up to fight in both World Wars (though not Vietnam) and marched for civil rights before it was popular. He met famous people - some he liked, some he didn't. He learned more about his kind, the vampires, and about the rest of the supernatural world: the werewolves, the faeryfolk, the revenants, the river sirens, the smiling fox-men and the laughing raven-people. He bumped into Coyote once; when he mentioned it to his Sire, his Sire told him that there was only one of those, as far as he knew, and that he very well might've been the god that he claimed to be.

He even met Bovine McFeeley.

Couldn't resist.

Guy was surprisingly awesome, actually.

He stayed far away from Central City as Eobard Thawne destroyed his family.

And now it was time to complete the circle.

Barry smiled and composed himself, putting the remnants of his long-cannibalized radio back on his ear for the first time in a long time, and ran the once-familiar path to STAR Labs.

"Hey, Barry!" Cisco greeted him cheerfully. "What happened down there?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Barry told him, perfectly honest. "But it's good to be back."

-------------

Barry doesn't tell Cisco or Caitlin about the vampirism or the extra 200 years he's added to his life; they would only get upset.

He has Caitlin log all the changes to his bloodwork and vitals so that she could get a new baseline for him. There weren't as many changes as you would think: other than a markedly higher tendency toward anemia that no medicine known to man could fix (Caitlin prescribed high dosage iron pills, as he expected she would) and a barely noticeable anomaly that appeared in every skin cell (easily controlled with sunscreen and a pill one of his kind had developed back in the 1950s) he was just the same as he had been before.

Without a full genetic scan that Caitlin had no reason to do, you would never notice the self-replicating telomeres that granted immortality. Without a very detailed x-ray, you'd never notice the changes in his skull, the fangs that retracted into his jawbone and cheekbone, the minute adjustments to the ocular nerve, the rods and cones in his eye that could see in the dark like an owl and distance like a raptor, the changes to his digestive system and the extra organ, tucked behind his liver, designed to filter blood as he drank it.

So no, Barry saw no reason to tell them. He had no intention of telling anyone.

Captain Cold finding out was entirely an accident.

Barry had known he was somewhat oblivious before his turning, that he hadn't known of the supernatural despite his Sire assuring him that they must have existed in his city, but he hadn't thought he'd miss it in someone he actually knew.

Of course, once he thinks about it, it's perfectly obvious that Cold is a werewolf. How territorial he is, how changeable, how loyal to those he considered his own. And the Rogues! Classic pack-making behavior - the shift from the lone wolf planner to the pack leader was practically archetypical in werewolves reaching their prime.

And, of course, the second he sees Cold, at the same moment that he immediately recognizes the traits of werewolf - evident as an aura to his enhanced vision - he can see Cold's nostrils flare and his eyebrows arch as he in turn identifies Barry for what he is with a single inhale.

There aren't a lot of secrets among the supernatural set.

Barry leaps into action, grabbing Cold and dashing out of the museum, turning off his radio connection to Cisco and Caitlin as he did so. He also pocketed the necklace Cold had been after, figuring it might work as a bribe in return for Cold's silence.

Luckily, Cold had been alone. Barry doesn't even want to think about Heatwave or Gilder figuring him out.

Once he releases Cold in the abandoned warehouse he'd brought them to, Cold straightens out his parka and arches an eyebrow at him. "Gone through some changes since the last time we met, Scarlet?"

Barry couldn't help but smile. He'd missed Cold's banter, much to his surprise; Cold was a good villain. "Yeah, you could say that," he admits.

"Uh-huh," Cold drawls. "Now why don't you tell me how an entirely human - if meta-human - hero ends up being a nightwalker of at least a century in age, if not two, in the span of a month."

"I don't have to explain myself to you, shapechanger," Barry says automatically.

Cold's smirk widens. "No, you don't," he says. "But you want to."

Barry had to admit that was true. It was so bizarre, meeting someone from Before that could actually understand what he was talking about, what he had gone through; someone who could tell him - in at least some small way - how he'd changed from who he used to be.

"Fine," Barry says. "Where do you want to do this?"

"Saints?" Cold immediately suggests.

"You inviting me to one of your tracking grounds?" Barry says, surprised. Wolves were notoriously territorial, and of their dens and watering holes most of all.

"You saved my sister," Cold says practically. "Besides, if I wanted to keep it totally inviolate, I wouldn't have let it be built on a crossroads."

"Jesus, Saints is a crossroads college?" Barry groans. "How did I miss that?"

Cold laughs. "You weren't looking," he says.

"You've got some brass to claim a crossroads college as your watering hole," Barry rebukes him mildly. The colleges were protected by the Lares or whatever their local names were, the unseen forces of the universe in their liminal places, and they were both very powerful places and very dangerous ones to try to control.

Cold is unmoved. "I told you before, Barry Allen," he says. "This is my town and I love it here. If there's going to be a crossroads college, it's going to be mine." He smiles with too many teeth. "All the supernatural in this town answer to me."

Barry's eyebrows go up as the statement echoes true. Cold's not just a werewolf, he's the local supernatural alpha. As close as you get to a lord in his fief, he would keep the peace among the supernatural people in his region and would lead the negotiations (and any battles, should diplomacy fail) to ensure Central's preeminent position amongst its peers. The supernaturals in town owed him fealty and he owed them his aid and judgment, should they request it. Barry had been meaning to look up whoever it was in the next month or two as he settled in; looks like he's just found him.

He groans as a realization comes to him. "This is going to make all our future interactions super awkward, isn't it."

"Probably," Cold says with a grin, putting a friendly hand on Barry's shoulder. "C'mon, Barry. Let's get to know each other."

Oddly enough, Barry feels encouraged. Between his help with Cold's sister and their cheerful banter, he suspects he's already halfway into Cold's pack as is; they should be able to work out some equitable system where they could continue their game of cops and robbers without letting anyone else in on their secret. Werewolves weren't immortal, but they were long-lived; for Cold to be alpha in Central at his age, he had to be every bit as brilliant as Barry already knew him to be and more.

So Barry grins back at Cold. "Want a ride?"