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Finding Solid Ground

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Chapter One: A Chance Encounter

 

Barry groaned and stretched as he finished a forensic report for a homicide case. He glanced around his lab, taking in the desk piled with papers, reports to be dealt with and the shelves full of evidence to be analyzed. Barry sighed and closed his eyes. He spent so much time working to repair the damage around the city from the worm hole on top of his normal Flash duties that sleep had become a joke and his presence at the precinct was worse than usual— which meant that Singh was on his back.

 

 It was already late in the afternoon and he would probably have to work late just to get through enough reports to not get fired from his actual job (the one that paid his bills). Bills which he will now have more of because he had moved out of Joe’s house.

 

Nothing had been going alright in Barry’s life recently. Iris was distraught over the death of Eddie and while she claimed she didn’t blame him to his face, she was cold to him and avoided him when possible. And worse was Barry knew he deserved it. He was the one to get Eddie involved and was the one who could have fixed it and saved everyone, but had failed. Iris was probably better off without any close relationship to Barry. He was done trying to get that relationship to work. Everyone close to him seems to just get hurt.

 

Caitlin had outright told him that she needed a little time, that her head wasn’t on right and the hole in her heart was overriding her logic. Joe was preoccupied dealing with Iris and trying to deal with an increased work load— a work load that was exacerbated by the disaster for which was responsible. Joe was sympathetic to what Barry had to go through, but was otherwise occupied and never dug too deeply into Barry’s mental state beyond the “how’re you? Ok? Good.”

 

On top of this, Barry had been ecstatic to finally get his father released from prison, only to have him leave. Barry felt like he was being abandoned all over again. With Cisco out of town for a family emergency and Oliver dealing with his own enemies in Star City, Barry was left to deal with his new ownership of STAR labs, fighting meta-humans and criminals, and rebuilding the city on his own. And he was tired.

 

Barry opened his eyes as there was a knock and the door to his lab was opened.  Joe walked through the door, a small smile on his face that said he was feeling guilty about something. At this point Barry felt it was just par for the course for him.

 

“Hey Joe,” Barry greeted him as Joe moved into the lab. “What’s up?”

 

“Hey Barr. How’s your pile of cases coming along?” Joe asked, picking up the top folder on the desk.

 

“Slowly. I’ll probably be working a little late tonight.” Barry admitted, looking around his lab again.

 

“Well, you do have a lot of work to catch up on.” Joe said slowly. “If you have to work late tonight, then this might work out anyways.” He closed the folder and looked at Barry, “I know tonight is our traditional family dinner night, but Iris wanted a father-daughter night together.”

 

Joe looked pleadingly at Barry, as if begging him to understand without him to go further. “She’s not been dealing well…”

 

“Yeah,” Barry cut his off, “I get it. It’s not a problem. You and Iris should have some time together. Kids need their fathers when something like that happens.” Barry pushed down the swell of emotion rising up, determined not to let Joe see how hurt he was, how much he had been looking forward to and needing some family time.

 

“As you said, I have a lot to do and will have to work late, so I’ll just catch up with you guys next family night.” Barry went back to looking at his computer screen, eyes listlessly scanning the report he had just written.

 

Joe let of a sigh of relief and said, “thanks Barr, I knew you’d get it. Hopefully all will be quiet tonight so you can get some work done.”

 

He smiled ruefully, “and maybe tomorrow and Sunday you’ll be able to finish actually setting up your apartment. For the fastest man alive, you sure seem to be dragging your feet on some things.”

 

Joe shook his head and began to walk out of the lab. “Good luck with your work Barr!”

 

Barry made a non-committal noise, realizing that Joe didn’t actually want a reply to anything he had just said. Barry would definitely work on unpacking his boxes of things— once he actually got an apartment that is. Right now, he was just living at STAR labs. He piled his stuff in an empty store room and when he did sleep, he used a small med-bay cot. Nobody had enough time to ask about his new place or cared enough to notice that he didn’t actually have a new apartment.

 

Barry stared at his screen until Joe’s footsteps had disappeared down the hall and the screen began to blur. Barry blinked and wetness rolled down his cheek. He brought his hand up to rub his face and moved to grab the next case folder. Well, if he had no plans anymore and no one to go home to, he might as well stay really late and get through as much as possible until Flash business inevitably called him away.

 

It was hours later when Barry came out of his work trance and glanced at the time. 10:47 pm. When did it get so late? Barry thought. I should do a quick round of the city and maybe I’ll actually get some time to eat dinner at my “apartment” and catch a few hours of sleep.

 

With that small light ahead, Barry closed his laptop and stood to gather his things. He had barely managed to stand up before his vision began to black out and he was hit with a dizzy spell. Grabbing hold of the desk Barry took a couple deep breaths and waited for it to pass. When he could finally stand and move without planting face first onto the floor, he slowly moved to grab with coat and messenger bag. He knew that he should be more worried about the increase of these dizzy spells, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He could feel a rare migraine forming (that he shouldn’t really get and would have told Caitlin if his doctor had still cared) and hoped he could get home before it hit in full force.

 

Barry wearily made his way out of the lab, pausing to making sure the processes he set to run overnight were working. He walked down the stairs into the main area of the precinct and waved tiredly at the few police officers working the night shift.

 

Stepping out of the building into the cold air of the night, Barry was hit with another wave of dizziness.

 

Fuck. He cursed in his head. I would probably smash into a building if I tried to super-speed right now.

 

He brought a hand up to run through his hair and finally decided, Fuck it. The city can do what it wants tonight. I know I have a duty, especially with how badly I fucked up recently, but I can’t summon enough energy to care at the moment.

 

He sighed before turning the opposite way of Joe’s house and began to trudge toward STAR labs. My new home. He thought. The speedster couldn’t summon enough energy to flash anywhere and resigned himself to a longer walk with maybe some short bursts— if he cared enough. It’s not like anyone was waiting up for him.

 

Barry had gone a couple of blocks before he turned down a quieter street and paused. Something was off. There was a small noise from a dark store a little further down the street and Barry flashed into any alley way, pulling the Flash suit out of his bag and changing into it. He dropped his bag behind a club sign in the alley corner, planning to come back for it after… after whatever this was.

 

As Barry crept down the sidewalk, he almost reached up to his com to ask Cisco to check on the situation before remembering that he had no team tonight. He peaked into an antique shop and spotted the familiar blue and white parka.

 

“Cold,” Barry growled, dashing into the store. Heatwave and Cold stood in front of a shelf towards the back of the store, holding what appeared to be a small carved box.

 

“Cold. What are you doing?” Barry asked, “I told you I wouldn’t get you arrested, but not that I would let you get away with stealing.”

 

Cold smirked at him, “Scarlet. Wasn’t actually expecting you tonight, but always nice to see you.” He waved his hand around, gesturing to the shelves, “Just picking up a few trinkets.”

 

“Seriously?” Barry couldn’t keep the tired sigh out of his voice. “Couldn’t you just stay home for one night?” He took a deep breath as he felt another wave of dizziness start to hit him. He swayed a bit before reaching out to steady himself with one of the shelves.

 

Cold and Heatwave were frowning at him when his vision came back into focus.

 

“You look like you could use a night to just chill out yourself, Red.” Cold said, his voice still bantering, but now underlined with a tint of something. It almost sounded like concern.

 

“If you and your Rogues would stop stealing, I could!” Barry frustratingly point out.

 

“Just me and Mick tonight, Flash,” Cold grinned. “Left the kids at home tonight.”

 

Barry knew he should doubt this and immediately go looking for another heist going down somewhere else while he was distracted here, but he stopped and thought for a moment. There was no alarm from this antique store and no way for Barry to have known Cold and Heatwave were at this store. It was pure chance Barry saw them.

 

“Fine, let’s just get this over with,” Barry forced out, trying to ignored the throb his head gave. “Just put back the box thing and we can all go home.”

 

Cold looked at the box and then stuck it in his coat pocket. “No can do, Red. See, it’s Lisa’s birthday on Sunday and I need this as part of her present.”

 

“So get her something else!” Barry commanded as he pushed his aching muscles to move him towards Cold, intending to grab the box from his pocket.

 

Well, that was the plan — before his body decided that moving quickly was a bad idea. He didn’t move so much forwards as downwards. He didn’t realize his eyes had closed until cool, firm hands grabbed him before he face-planted into the floor.

 

Barry looked up to find that the hands stopping him from falling belonged to Captain Cold, who was holding Barry against him. Cold had a different frown on his face now.

 

“What’s wrong with you, Scarlet?” Cold demanded.

 

“He sick?” Heatwave grunted, having moved closer, his face coming into view above Barry.

 

“Don’t get sick,” Barry argued, attempting to push against Cold’s hold and stand up. “I’m fine, let go.”

 

Cold sighed, throwing a glance toward his partner before looking back down at Barry and agreeing, “If you can stand and move on your own, we’ll leave it at that.”

 

Barry glared up at him and pushed himself up using Cold for leverage. Cold lifted up his hands, holding them in the I’m-not-touching-you manner and watched as Barry attempted to move away from the pair of villains.

 

The Flash managed to almost make it two steps before he was going down again. This time, larger and warmer hands steadied him, but didn’t just hold him up or even lower him to the ground. One large hand moved to support his back and the other reached down to sweep under Barry’s legs.

 

Before Barry knew what was happening, he was being carefully cradled against someone’s chest, and he couldn’t muster the energy to pull away again. He was too tired and even though he wouldn’t admit it out loud, it felt nice and was the most positive physical contact he’d had in weeks.

 

Survive time-travel and an inter-dimensional wormhole, but finally get captured and taken down by Captain Cold and Heatwave. And no one will know I’m missing for days. There won’t be a rescue until too late, if at all. Thinking about his life at the moment, he thought, what did it matter? Clearly they decided they were better off without him anyways. Barry stopped fighting to stay conscious and sunk into darkness.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Rescue?

 

Len crept through the dark store, heading directly towards the back. He knew exactly what he was picking up and where it was. Mick walked behind him, eyes scanning the room, watching out for trouble. Not that Len expected any tonight. This wasn’t a big job, but one of a personal nature.

 

Len stopped in front of a shelf full of jewelry boxes, music boxes and other trinkets. Len reach over and picked up an elaborately carved music box, which he knew had a figurine figure skater inside.

 

Mick grunted behind him, “that it?”

 

“Yes,” Len smirked, “now my sister can’t pout for weeks because her birthday gift is too generic.”

 

The two thieves turned as a gust of wind swept through the store. The Flash stood there, a defiant scowl on this face. “Cold,” the hero greeted, displeased.

 

Len sighed internally. Couldn’t this kid take a night off? How did he get wind of us here anyways?

 

“Cold. What are you doing?” Barry asked, “I told you I wouldn’t get you arrested, but not that I would let you get away with stealing.”

 

Len felt a flash of pride that Barry was becoming smarter, sneakier and using careful wording to his benefit. If only he hadn’t chosen tonight to start using it. Len smirked at the hero, “Scarlet. Wasn’t actually expecting you tonight, but always nice to see you.” He waved his hand around, gesturing to the shelves, “Just picking up a few trinkets.”

 

“Seriously?” Len saw the kid sigh tiredly, his shoulder drooping, the spark seeming to fade a shade from his eyes. “Couldn’t you just stay home for one night?”

 

Len was about to snark back, but paused when he saw Barry freeze before swaying on his feet and falling sideways to grab hold of a shelf. Len closed his mouth and frowned. He glanced at Mick, who had not lowered his heat gun, but had his brows pressed together in confusion.

 

Len didn’t know what was going on with the speedster, but he guessed it had to do with the increase in Flash sightings both fighting crime and rebuilding the city. “You look like you could use a night to just chill out yourself, Red.” Len said instead, his voice not quite as flat and emotionless as he wanted.

 

There was a spark of annoyance in the Flash’s eyes. “If you and your Rogues would stop stealing, I could!” Barry frustratingly point out.

 

“Just me and Mick tonight, Flash,” Len grinned. “Left the kids at home tonight.”

 

Len saw Barry hesitate and could almost see him thinking about dashing out to check if there were other disturbances going down from the other Rogues. The kid minutely shook his head and square his shoulders to face the pair of thieves.  

 

“Fine, let’s just get this over with,” Barry said. “Just put back the box thing and we can all go home.”

 

Len wasn’t too worried about this ending terribly, but the hero seemed to be in a bad mood tonight and he couldn’t afford to lose Lisa’s gift. Len looked down at the tiny, wooden box before dropping the gift into his coat pocket. “No can do, Scarlet. See, it’s Lisa’s birthday on Sunday and I need this as part of her present.”

 

“So get her something else!” Barry demanded with a slight whine. Len and Mick tensed as the Flash seemed to shift to move forward. Before Len could form a plan or even glance at Mick, the hero seemed to slow down and then tip forward towards the floor.

 

Len darted out and caught the boy’s skinny body before it hit the floor, turning him slightly so that he was still on his feet, but held against Len’s chest and supported by his arms around the speedster.

 

The kid’s eyes remained unfocused for several long moments, allowing Mick time to step closer to Len and holstering his gun. Len examined Barry a little closer— taking in the tired eyes, the pale skin, the slight tremors in his body. The thief’s frown deepened. This was more than just a lot of work. Something was wrong.

 

“What’s wrong with you, Scarlet?” Len demanded, hoping for an easily fixable answer.

 

Mick leaned over Len’s shoulder and regarded the hero for a long moment before asking, “he sick?”

 

The kid muttered, “Don’t get sick,” before weakly struggling against the villain’s hold, “I’m fine, let go.”

 

Len knew how stubborn Barry was, but this was ridiculous. Why did his team let him run around like this? If Len was any other criminal, the Flash would have been in a lot of danger. Len met Mick’s eyes, having a silent conversation. Mick nodded, and on the same page, Len now looked down at Barry and told him, “If you can stand and move on your own without face-planting, we’ll leave it at that. I’ll even put the box back.”

 

The kid glared at him and attempted to push himself up. Len couldn’t help but cringe internally at the inevitable failure coming. Barry managed to stand on his own two feet, still directly in front of Len. He lifted his hands in a pretend, placating manner and waited for the hero to fall again. 

 

Len looked at Mick, who shifted, ready to catch the kid when he dropped again. Sure enough, Barry stumbled a couple steps forward, body lurching wildly, before pitching sideways.

 

Mick jumped towards the Flash, not waiting for the hero to try and get to his feet and walk on his own again. It was clear that he was either ill, injured, or something worse. Mick lifted the kid up into his arms, one hand around his legs and another wrapped around his back and chest. He held tightly, hoping that the kid wouldn’t struggle and hurt Mick or himself. The kid did neither, his body trembling, and Mick pulled the shivering hero snuggly into his chest.

 

The kid seemed to deflate against the broad pyromaniac, any fight left bleeding out of him. Before either he or Len could ask another question, the kid’s eyes rolled up and he blacked out.

 

Len ran a hand over his face.

 

“He coming with us?” Mick rumbled, appearing to be in no rush to put the red-clad figure down.

 

Len nodded, thinking about how they could work this. Maybe use safe-house 3? Lisa could keep everyone under control for the night at least, especially with no mischief planned. “We’ll bring him to 3. I doubt we could get anywhere near STAR labs at the moment without complications I don’t need and if we leave him here, some other idiot will get the jump on him.” Lens eyes flashed for a moment, a smirk briefly appearing on his face, “and Scarlet is my nemesis.”

 

Mick grunted and began to walk out the back door of the shop to the car they had left in the back alley. “Kid has bags under his eyes,” he commented softly, “doesn’t look like he’s taking care of himself.”

 

Len had moved in front to open door, but turned around to erase any evidence of their brief presence here tonight. He turned back to look at Mick and raised an eyebrow. Despite their tenuous relationship with the Flash, both Len and Mick were good at compartmentalizing— the kid underneath the mask was separate from his superhero identity. And the pyromaniac had a soft spot for neglected kids with too much weight on their shoulders.

 

“He just slumped over,” Mick pointed out, “and he weighs nothing.” The pyro seemed especially troubled by this. “With how much he moves, he should have more muscle on his bones.”

 

Len tilted his head, considering the situation. Was this different than usual? What was off with this picture? Len’s eyes widened slightly and he asked out loud, “Where are the Flash’s friends? There hasn’t been any chatter through his com and it doesn’t look like he has any back up tonight.” The thief thought back, finally concluding, “Thinking about it, I haven’t seen Cisco, the doctor, or any of the kid’s family since that magic hole in the sky.”

 

Mick glanced up at Len from where he had been staring at the hero’s face. “Something isn’t right here.”

 

Len opened the back car door and moved out of Mick’s way, shrugging out of his parka. Mick placed the boy across the back seat. Len moved forward and draped his parka over the kid. He looked at Barry for a long moment and Mick came up behind him, putting one of his large hands comfortingly on the back of his neck, his thumb rubbing small circles. Len finally whispered, “What are you doing to me kid? Better yet, what are you doing to yourself?”

 

Len got into the driver’s seat while Mick finished securing the kid and maneuvered the car out of the back alley onto a side street.

 

They drove in silence for a couple of minutes before Mick twisted to look at the unconscious hero lying across their back seat and said, “We’re gonna feed him, right? We could just kidnap him for a few days. He looks like he could use more than a few good meals.”

 

Len glanced at the kid through his mirror, and ignoring the tight red suit, Barry just looked like a physically and mentally tired kid who was entirely too young to be out here on his own.

 

“He certainly won’t be answering many questions until we get him awake and fed,” Len finally answered. His partner knew to take that as a yes, we will definitely be feeding the kid while getting him back on his feet and figuring out what the Flash was hiding. Len didn’t like mysteries—  being left in the dark led to costly mistakes.

 

Mick nodded in response to Len and tiled his head, staring out the window. Len knew that he was going through what ingredients and food they had at safehouse 3 and what dishes he would make for the speedster. Len’s partner may have a gruff exterior, but he had a soft spot for cooking and feeding kids. Len remembered the first time he had met Mick outside of prison. Len had been fairly nervous as he had been fairly beat up with his back up against the wall. They had seen each other in prison, but had few interactions there. However, Mick just looked him up and down for a minute, grunted, and gestured at Len to follow him. They ended up back at a rundown apartment where the pyro had fed Len several bowls of homemade Chili.  

 

It seemed that the two thieves had somehow managed to pick up a new stray without intending to. And this one happened to be a hero who was usually an annoyance to Len’s plans. Well, he had to admit (to himself) that their game made things more interesting and pushed Len to be better.

 

By the time Len was done with his inner-monologue, they had arrived at a medium-sized colonial house, set towards the back of a large wooded lot. He pulled up the driveway and paused for Mick to jump out of the car and open the garage. No reason to provide evidence for their presence. Or that they had an unconscious hero in the back seat of their car.

 

Mick had disappeared into the house by the time Len had parked and turned off the car. Len knew that Mick had already headed to the kitchen, checking on ingredients and beginning to prepare food.

 

Len opened the back door and leaned in to scoop up the too-young looking hero still wrapped in Len’s parka. He carefully back out of the car and kicked the door shut. He paused to heft Barry up a little more securely in his arms and silently agreed with Mick— the boy was too light. Len shook his head and made his way into the house.

 

He passed through the living room and into the kitchen briefly, nodding to Mick and gesturing with his head that he was taking the Flash to the back bedroom on this floor. Mick grunted and turned back to chopping up vegetables next to a pot of boiling water.

 

Len made his way down the hallway and through the open doorway of a decent sized room that was clearly not intended to be a bedroom. It had been converted into one for when someone was too hurt to be able to climb stairs. The thief strode to the queen size bed in the middle of the room and carefully set Barry down on it.

 

Now Len had a dilemma. There was no way Barry could be comfortable resting in that suit, but that would require taking the mask off. And Len had kept his promise to Barry, not revealing his identity to anyone, not even Mick or Lisa. Len thought it would honestly be easier if his partner knew, but this was a deal Len wasn’t willing to put in jeopardy. Even more, Len wasn’t sure how comfortable the hero would be to wake up and find himself undressed (Len didn’t know what the kid wore under the suit, although the Rogues had a bet going on about that…).

 

He loathed to wake the kid up, or attempt to, because it looked like he hadn’t slept in days. He was still debating his options, weighing the outcomes, when Barry started whimpering, his body tensing.

 

“No,” Barry pleaded, “Please, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean… Don’t leave!” A few tears leaked from his closed eyes, and at that point Len move forward to sit on the edge of the bed.

 

He put one hand on the kid’s chest, and used the other one to lightly shake Barry’s shoulder. “Hey Scarlet,” Len said, “you’re ok. Wake up. No one here is mad at you.” He repeated these phrases a couple times before Barry’s eyes flicked open and he moved to sit up.

 

“Woah there Scarlet,” Len quietly murmured, putting a little pressure on Barry’s chest to signal that he should lay back down. “It’s alright.”

 

Unsurprisingly, Barry stubbornly resisted the suggestion to lie back down. Eyes darted around the room frantically for a moment before coming to rest on Len. The kid’s eyes widened and he shied away from the thief.

 

“Wha… Where am I? Where did you take me? You can’t… you can’t just keep kidnap people!” Barry stuttered out sounding half annoyed and half scared.

 

Len sighed, ignoring that as villains they definitely did kidnap people, “You collapsed in front of us, kid.” He pushed gently on Barry’s chest again and this time the boy actually laid back down, probably because he was too shocked and out of it to realized what he was doing. “We took you back to one of our safehouses. Mick and I are the only ones here,” Len quickly reassured Barry before the kid could panic over that bit unnecessarily.

 

Barry slumped further back against the pillows. “Why?” Barry asked softly.

 

Len wasn’t sure how to answer for a moment. The Flash may not be a bad kid, but Len didn’t trust him enough to connect all the emotional dots for him. He settled on, “We may be thieves, but we’re not monsters, Scarlet. If we left you there, what would have happened if a different enemy of yours had found you?”

 

Barry froze at that question, going over the worst scenarios in his head.

 

“Hey,” Len said, pulling the speedster out of his thoughts, “we wouldn’t have done that. Calm down kid.”

 

Barry seemed to finally notice that he was wrapped in Len’s parka, eyes widening in surprise. “What are you going to do with me then? And why am I in your parka?” Barry asked, looking up at Len.

 

Len regarded the hero for a moment and, putting aside the million questions he had, answered, “Well, Mick is currently cooking and intends to feed you until he’s satisfied.” He grinned and said, “he’s very particular about food and even more particular about feeding people.”

 

The young hero furrowed his brows in confusion, as if that couldn’t be true.

 

Len decided to ignore everything else for the moment and asked, “Do you want something more comfortable to change into? I gave you my parka because you were shivering. But that suit can’t be comfortable to stay in.”

 

Barry’s hand flexed and he opened his mouth. And then closed it, looking conflicted.

 

“Your suit can stay in the room, right over on that chair,” Len reassured, pointing to a chair in the corner of the room. “They would probably be big on you, but you could borrow some of my sweats. You’d be swimming in anything of Mick’s.”

 

The kid still seemed hesitant, but he hadn’t said no. And he hadn’t flashed away or called for help yet. In fact, he was fairly complacent for being in an unknown location with two of his main villains while in a less than optimal physical state.

 

“We don’t intend to do anything tonight except feed you and not let you collapse again. I would be remiss in my master planning if I lost my advantage from our deal because you were out of commission.” Len partially lied, but choosing a reasoning that the hero would believe. “This is protecting my investment. And for Mick, well, he really does like cooking for people and feeding too-boney individuals.

 

Somewhat surprisingly, this worked to calm down the kid. Barry nodded and any energy he seemed to have gathered from his anxiousness about the situation seemed to disappear. “I…yes. Fine.”

 

“Okay,” Len stood up. “What exactly do you need?” He asked.

 

“What?” Barry looked up at him confused.

 

“You know,” Len smirked, “Lisa and the others have a bet going about what you wear underneath the suit.”

 

The kid flushed and looked down. “Just pants and a shirt is fine.”

 

Len chuckled. “I suppose that pleather isn’t the most comfortable material to go commando with.”

 

“Barry,” Len directed at the kid, waiting for him to look up, “what do you want to do about your face? Your mask is attached to your suit.”

 

Barry paused for a moment, hands twisting in his lap. “Whatever,” he said, shrugging.

 

Len just stared at the kid.  “You don’t care if Mick walks in and sees your face without a mask on,” the thief clarified.

 

“Doesn’t really matter,” Barry sighed. “Surprised you haven’t told him already.” The kid hesitatingly asked, “You two are partner partners, aren’t you?”

 

Len raised an eyebrow. He was impressed that the kid had picked up on the subtext between him and Mick that they mostly kept out of the field. Len shook his head. “Yes, but I keep my deals kid. I trust Mick, but it’s not my call.” He waited to make sure the kid wasn’t going to change his mind, shocked that Barry wasn’t demanding that Len find him a ski mask or that Mick stay out of the room.

 

The hero just shrugged again, but reached up and tugged the cowl off his head.

 

“Ok,” Len said and smirked slightly. “I’ll be back in a flash.” He walked out of the bedroom, leaving the door open. If the kid really wanted to leave, he could flash out of there before either he or Mick could shout for the other. He wouldn’t be completely surprised if the kid took the opportunity to leave, but he was more betting on the hero being too tired, seeming almost depressed, to motivate himself to run.

 

Len popped his head into the kitchen on the way by, seeing that Mick had mostly finished making a soup and was pulling some bread out of the oven, followed by two large dishes of mac n’ cheese. Len breathed in deeply, enjoying the smell of Mick’s famous five cheese mac n’ cheese dish.

 

“Mick,” he interrupted, waiting for Mick to grunt that he had heard Len. “Kid’s awake in the bedroom. I’m going to grab some sweats for him to change into.” Mick turned and raised an eyebrow, recognizing that the kid was taking off his mask and Len wasn’t mentioning an equivalent measure. He finally grunted his approval and went back to stirring the soup.

 

Len went up the stairs to the second floor and entered the second door on the left. He immediately headed to the closet at the back of the room and pulled out a pair of soft blue sweatpants and a grey cotton t-shirt. He paused for a split second before also grabbing a lighter blue sweatshirt.

 

He headed back downstairs, keeping an ear out for movement or sounds of trouble. He passed by Mick, who was now putting together a tray of food for the Flash, clearly intending to deliver the food to the tired hero.

 

Len re-entered the bedroom and saw that Barry was still on the bed. Something inside his chest loosened a little. Len realized that he was more relieved than he expected to be that the kid was still here. Barry must have closed his eyes while he was gone, but as soon as Len approached the bed they shot open.

 

Len held out the clothes to Barry. “Here you go. Might be a little big, but clean and comfortable.”

 

Barry sat up and took the clothes. “Thanks,” came the almost whispered response.

 

“No big deal.” Len waited a moment and then intended to back out of the room to help Mick carry food. But when Barry made no move to change, Len asked, “do you need any help, Scarlet?”

 

The kid looked up with wide, deer/doe eyes. “I… No… of course I can… Just, maybe… my boot and top?” The admission seemed to be forced out of him with a great deal of effort. 

 

“Sure,” Len said casually. “I can do that.” He moved slowly back towards the bed, taking in Barry’s tense posture and shaking hands.

 

Len decided to start with the boots. He carefully, but firmly pulled them off, placing them on the floor by the edge of the bed. Len shifted up to reach for Barry’s top. By this point, the kid’s eyes had glossed over and it wasn’t only his hands shaking at this point— his entire body seemed to be shaking, vibrating. This was far out of the realm of normal Flash behavior.

 

“It’s fine, Scarlet,” Len soothed. “Just getting into more comfortable clothes. That’s all.”

 

Barry allowed Len’s hands to reach his chest and slowly unzipped and pealed his top off. The kid’s smooth skin was exposed and Len took an assessing glance, noting disapprovingly that you could see the hero’s ribs. There were also several bruises that were only partially healed. This went beyond skinny and tired.

 

When Barry continued to sit frozen and silent, Len took the shirt from Barry’s hands. He moved slowly, so that Barry had time to stop Len if he wanted to, but stretched the t-shirt to pull it over the kid’s head. He got the shirt down onto Barry’s shoulders and finally prompted, “arms through the sleeves, Scarlet.”

 

Barry robotically wriggled his arms into the sleeves of the t-shirt and Len pulled the shirt down all the way. Barry raised a hand and took a corner of the fabric between his fingers, twisting it back and forth

 

Len stood and said, “I’m going to go help Mick finish up and bring in the food. You finish changing. Barry.” Len demanded, waiting for the kid to look at him, “Put on the sweatpants and if you’re cold, there’s a sweatshirt.”

 

Barry nodded, absentmindedly. Len figured that was the best he was going to get and after mostly closing the door, headed towards the kitchen.

 

Mick was finishing scooping out generous portions of mac n’ cheese onto plates. There were four trays— one with a large bowl of soup and a small pile of warm bread and another with a massive plate of mac n’ cheese and several glasses of water. The other two trays had smaller, but still generous portions of food and a couple beers. Mick nodded his head towards a small card table leaning up against a kitchen wall. Len picked it up and grabbed the tray full of mac n’ cheese, trusting Mick to handle the other three trays.

 

Together they headed towards the back bedroom and Len slowly pushed open the door.

 

“Barry?” Len called. “Are we ok to come in?”

 

There was a moment of silence before a muffled, “yeah,” came from inside the room.

 

The two thieves entered the room, taking in the hero bundled up in Len’s sweats, including the sweatshirt. Barry had the hood pulled up and arms wrapped around himself, but his face was clearly visible.

 

Len set his tray down on the bed beside the kid and set up the small card table. Barry watched detachedly while Len moved over the two armchairs from the corner and Mick set up the food. The pyro pointedly put the two trays with large portions of food in front of the speedster and handed the kid a bundle of silverware.

 

The kid stared for a second and then slowly reached out and took the cutlery.

 

“This is Mick’s famous mac n’ cheese.” Len said sitting down. “He doesn’t make it for just anyone.”

 

Mick rolled his eyes, a smile tugging at his lips. He pointed his spoon at Barry’s large bowl of soup, “soup’s chicken noddle and vegetable.” He paused and then asked, “you don’t have food allergies, do you?”

 

Barry, still overcome with shock, shook his head distractedly.

 

Mick grunted and then dug into his own food, seemingly now ignoring the uncharacteristically quiet hero. He made no move to address the fact that he was seeing the kid’s real face for the first time.

 

Len started to eat his mound of pasta, closing his eyes in bliss as he took the first bite of the mac n’ cheese. He refrained from moaning, but only just. He opened his eyes to find Barry still staring at his food, not eating.

 

“Scarlet,” Len said, shocking the kid into whirling around to face him, “come eat while it’s still warm.” He reached over, took a forkful of mac n’ cheese from the kid’s plate, and smirked, “not poisoned, kid.”

 

Barry finally scooted forward to sit at the edge of the bed, cross-legged. He set down the other silverware besides the fork and began to eat the mac n’ cheese. After the first bite, the kid blinked and began to eat the dish a little faster.

 

At this Len smirked at Mick, who was— for him— outright smiling.

 

The kid ate about half the pasta dish before looking over at the soup and bread and barely paused a moment before starting in on the other tray. He sipped at the first spoonful of soup and a small smile slipped onto his face for a short moment.

 

The three ate in silence, Mick easily being the first to polish off his plates of food. He stood up, picking up his plate as well as Barry’s now empty mac n’ cheese plate. He left the room with the kid’s eyes trailing after him and the disappearing plate. He looked both disappointed and guilty.

 

Len knew that Mick had just gone to refill their plates. “Red,” Len said, “Mick made enough food to feed six of him. He just went to get you and himself more pasta.”

 

The kid seemed to slightly perk up at that and tore another piece of bread apart, dipping it into the broth of the soup left in the bowl.

 

When Mick came back, he had two plates piled with steaming mac n’ cheese as well as another large bowl of broccoli. Len had wondered if his partner was going to push vegetables on the kid. Len knew that he was 25, but to Mick, the kid looked far younger and like he needed the nutrients.

 

Mick put the pasta and broccoli down in front of the hero, and settled down to eat his own second helping.

 

Barry looked at the two dishes and glanced at the pyro. “Thank you,” the kid said softly before moving to stab at a broccoli tree.

 

“There’s more of everything, so let me know if you want more,” Mick stated. “Or if you want something different. I’m thinking blueberry muffins for tomorrow morning. “

 

Barry didn’t seem to know to do with this information and shifted in his seat before scooping up a forkful of pasta.

 

“There’s also dessert in the oven for tonight,” Mick threw out there.

 

Len looked up at this. He didn’t know Mick had had time to make a dessert. The only thing better than Mick’s cooking was his baking.

 

Barry raised his head at this, looking just as shocked as Len, but for a different reason. Mick just continued to eat, so Barry glanced at Len. Len just smirked gently and nodded.

 

“What did you make for tonight, Mick?” Len asked.

 

“Chocolate chip scones and fudge brownies,” Mick answered. “Not enough time to make anything more complicated.

 

Len chuckled. Most people would have considered making scones from scratch complicated. He turned to Barry and explained, “Trying to decide on Mick’s best dessert has both started and ended more dinner arguments than you would imagine.”

 

Barry seemed to eat more consistently while listening to Len, so he continued to tell Barry stories about Mick’s best desserts and the amount of trouble they’ve caused. The kid didn’t interject with any comments or questions and his face didn’t show much emotion, but he was clearly listening.

 

After the third story, consisting of Lisa chasing Hartley around the kitchen table for the last piece of blueberry-peach crumble, all the plates had been cleaned.

 

Mick looked over at Barry and asked, “You want more?”

 

Barry just shook his head, a hand over his stomach.

 

Mick nodded and just said, “the leftovers will be in the fridge if you want some more later.”

 

Len stacked the dishes and trays and took them into the kitchen. He knew it was a small chance leaving Mick and the Flash alone together, but he was curious.

 

He didn’t hear any shouting or loud thumps by the time he had put the dishes into the dishwasher. He glanced at the two desserts cooling on the table and debated stealing a bite, but knew that Mick would be pissy for days if he did that. 

 

He stealthily made his way back to the bedroom, hoping to listen in on what was happened between his partner and nemesis, if they were talking at all. Mick wasn’t really ever in a talkative mood and the kid seemed to have lost his voice tonight. And not because he was scared. He gave off the air of having given up in general.

 

Len paused by the doorframe, cocking his head.

 

“Mint chocolate chip,” Barry’s soft voice was saying.

 

Mick’s voice answered, “acceptable,” judging Barry’s choice in ice cream. “That would go well with a chocolate cake recipe I have. We’ll make that tomorrow.”

 

“Tomorrow?” the kid asked, as if he expected to leave tonight. Well, almost early morning at this point.

 

“Kid,” Mick started, “you look exhausted. Len gave you his most comfortable clothes and we’ve fed you. He’s in mother hen mode. He won’t stop bothering you until he knows you’ve gotten some rest and he’s figured out your deal.”

 

Len grumbled silently, balking at the mother hen comment, but couldn’t strongly disagree with Mick’s explanation as a whole.

 

“Oh,” came a small voice. “Do you, I mean…” the kid continued, “you haven’t asked my name. Or anything. Did he already tell you?”

 

“No,” Mick said calmly, “Len hasn’t said a word. Keeps his promises. Said he wouldn’t tell anyone and even though you’re not wearing a mask, I don’t know your name. Don’t really care.”

 

There was a long pause before Barry finally piped up, “It’s Barry.” The hero took a deep breath and continued, “I… My name is Barry Allen.”

 

Len took a step into the room at this point, taking in the kid’s fidgeting form, twisting hands in his lap and Mick’s relaxed form, but focused eyes. Well, this was somewhat of a surprise.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Food is the Way to a Hero’s Heart

 

Barry was confused. He was sitting in one of Captain Cold and Heatwave’s safehouses. Not only that, but he out of his Flash suit and dressed in some of Snart’s clothes (which gave Barry an unexpected moment of warmth in his chest).

 

Now the two thieves were setting up a table and carrying trays of steaming food. They claimed that they wanted to feed him, but he hadn’t believed that Mick was going to cook real food. At most he thought they’d shove a couple of energy bars or maybe some cold pizza at him. That’s all he was planning to do tonight for dinner.

 

Heatwave was setting down the two largest trays of food in front of him, including a giant bowl of soup, a plate of warm bread, and a mound of mac n’ cheese. Barry refocused on the thief as he tried to hand him something. It took Barry a long moment to realize it was silverware and finally reached out to take it.

 

“This is Mick’s famous mac n’ cheese.” Len said sitting down. “He doesn’t make it for just anyone.”

 

Barry felt detached from the whole situation. Captain Cold and Heatwave were… taking care of him? What did they want? Was it a trap?

 

Rory glanced between the two, pausing on his partner as he explained, “soup’s chicken noddle and vegetable.” He seemed to stare at Barry intensely for a moment before gruffly asking, “you don’t have food allergies, do you?”

 

Barry looked down at the food and then back up at the pyro, shaking his head.

 

Mick grunted and then dug into his own food, seemingly now ignoring the uncharacteristically quiet hero. Barry was surprised that there was still no mention of his mask being off, even though he had pulled the hood of the sweatshirt up.  

 

Cold had started in on his food. He seemed so normal and human as he appeared to enjoy eating Mick’s cooking. Barry just stared at him until he was noticed.

 

“Scarlet,” Cold addressed him, “come eat while it’s warm.” He indicated that the hero should scoot forward to the edge of the bed to eat. The thief reached over and stole a bit of mac n’ cheese from the plate in front of Barry. “Not poisoned, kid.” Barry hadn’t considered that they could be trying to poison him.

 

Barry knew he should feel hungry, but his head just felt foggy and his body, heavy. He moved to sit closer to the table, cross-legged, taking a forkful of mac n’ cheese to appease the watchful thieves. He froze for a second, his eyes fluttering shut, when the cheesy pasta warmed him inside. For having a pension for burning everything in sight, Heatwave cooked really well.

 

He dug into the dish, relishing the first home-cooked meal he had had in weeks. Barry had eaten about half the plate before he came back into his senses. He snuck a glance at the other two (who didn’t seem to be paying him much attention) before turning to the bowl of soup. He was hoping this soup would be as good as the pasta dish. He tasted at the broth and couldn’t help the upturn of his lips at the burst of flavor.

 

Barry ate steadily, his body quickly burning through the desperately needed calories. Barry was startled out of his focus when Rory stood, grabbed Barry’s now-empty mac n’ cheese plate, and clomped from the room. Barry watched the pyro take the plates away. He was alarmed to be disappointed that it was all gone, especially when he had assumed the worst of the thieves here.

 

“Red,” Cold said, drawing Barry’s attention, “Mick made enough food to feed six of him. He just went to get you and himself more pasta.”

 

Barry’s anxiety lessened at this and went back to finishing off his soup and bread. He was thankful when another plate of mac n’ cheese was placed in front of him, followed by a bowl of broccoli. He didn’t think Rory would think of including vegetables. Barry looked over to the large thief and quietly murmured, “thank you.”

 

Rory seemed… pleased? “There’s more of everything, so let me know if you want more,” he mentioned. “Or if you want something different.” He looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’m thinking blueberry muffins for tomorrow morning. “

 

Muffins? Barry thought. He is seriously going to make muffins? Specifically, muffins for me? Why were they doing this? He settled on not adding to the conversation, turning his attention back to the pasta.

 

“There’s also dessert in the oven for tonight,” the criminal-turned-cook threw out there.

 

Dessert? He cooked and baked? How long was I unconscious for? Barry worried to himself.

 

Rory wasn’t acting as if this was a big deal at all, so Barry turned to look at Snart. The other thief just nodded and almost smiled, confirming that his partner did bake and that it was on par with his cooking.

 

Cold looked across the table and asked, “What did you make for tonight, Mick?”

 

“Chocolate chip scones and fudge brownies,” Rory answered. “Not enough time to make anything more complicated.

 

Cold just chuckled— chuckled. Barry felt like he had run right into the twilight zone. Snart told Barry like he was explaining an inside secret, “Trying to decide on Mick’s best dessert has both started and ended more dinner arguments than you would imagine.”

 

Barry picked at his pasta, as Cold regaled him with tales of the pyro’s cooking. He lost himself in good food and interesting stories that made the Rogues seem very human.

 

He didn’t notice until his fork hit an empty plate that he had eaten all of the food. Heatwave noticed and grunted, “You want more?”

 

Barry just shook his head, a hand over his full stomach (although he was sure that he hadn’t consumed enough calories to both replenish him and heal the lingering bruises he had).

 

The thief seemed to expect this and told him, “the leftovers will be in the fridge if you want some more later.” Barry was surprised he was mentioning that like Barry would be able to get up and move around without supervision.

 

Snart piled the dishes onto one try and left the room, leaving Barry alone with Mick Rory. Barry tugged at the bottom of his sweatshirt, hunching over into himself more.

 

When he finally glanced up from underneath the hood, he found Heatwave just starting at him. Barry knew that not long ago he would have challenged a long look such as this. Now, it was still unnerving, but the hero couldn’t work up the energy to pursue it.

 

“How many calories do you actual need to eat in a day?” the gruff voice broke into Barry’s thinking.

 

Looking up at the pyro, Barry felt like he could at least explain this— after all, Heatwave did just cook him dinner. “My body needs around 20,000 calories a day.” Barry shrugged. “The exact amount depends on how busy I am. More when the Flash is needed or if I’m hurt. It’s, it’s harder now to do things at a normal speed.”

 

“And sleep?”

 

Barry paused for a moment, assessing Heatwave and reading only curiosity. “I need just as much sleep as I did before, but it can be hard staying still long enough to fall asleep,” he admitted.

 

The thief just grunted at that, frowning slightly. “Do you have any foods you particularly like?” he asked Barry.

 

Barry just shrugged again, “can’t be too picky about food when it’s hard to get enough calories as it is.”

 

“Your doctor or that excitable tech guy should make you something high in calories.”

 

Barry drooped a little at this. “Cisco designed an energy bar with several thousand calories in each. Not so good on the flavor.” Barry hesitated here before softly continuing, “and, any I did have are gone— Cisco’s been a little busy with more important issues.”

 

“They’re your team. Partners should have each other’s backs. Or they’re not much of partners,” Rory contended.

 

Barry didn’t know what to say to this and stayed silent. I was the one who failed them, getting Eddie and Ronnie killed, causing that wormhole to open above the city, being responsible for the damage done to the city.

 

“So no favorite dish. You must have a favorite ice cream flavor,” Rory prodded.

 

“Mint chocolate chip,” Barry finally answered softly.

 

The thief thought for a moment before deeming his choice acceptable, “That would go well with a chocolate cake recipe I have. We’ll make that tomorrow.”

 

“Tomorrow?” Barry asked. They want me here all night? They’re going to let me stay and just, just sleep here all night? He didn’t know if he wanted them to insist he stay or insist that he leave.

 

“Kid,” Heatwave stated frankly, “you look exhausted. Len gave you his most comfortable sweats,” gesturing to the sweatpants and sweatshirt, “and we’ve fed you. He’s in mother hen mode. He won’t stop bothering you until he knows you’ve gotten some rest and he’s figured out your deal.”

 

Barry was concerned about the interest in his whole situation, but couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to have some actual rest (in a bed that wasn’t a cot) and more of Rory’s delicious cooking.

 

“Oh,” he settled on. “Do you…” Barry tried to get out, curious at this point, “I mean… you haven’t asked my name. Or anything. Did he already tell you?”

 

“No,” the thief said calmly as if it wasn’t a crucial question, “Len hasn’t said a word. Keeps his promises. Said he wouldn’t tell anyone and even though you’re not wearing a mask, I don’t know your name. Don’t really care.”

 

Didn’t care? Was that because Cold already knows my real name and could factor it in during the planning, which Rory was obviously less involved with than Snart?

 

Barry thought hard for a second. Do I actually care if he knows? Normally this would be a superbly stupid idea, but then again, most heroes don’t get their nemeses to take care of them and cook them food.

 

And Barry just found out the hard way how damaging keeping secrets are from those closest to you and couldn’t help feeling bad for Snart.

 

Also, at this point all Heatwave would have to do is look around for Barry’s face to see who he was. Rory may not be the brains of the operation, but he wasn’t dumb.

 

Barry finally decided and said, “It’s Barry.” He fidgeted a big and took a deep, steadying breath, continuing without looking up, “I… My name is Barry Allen.”

 

Barry knew he was taking a huge risk. If he cared, he would have thought longer about the impact that his separation from his friends and family was having on his judgement. He was sure they would not understand his decision to voluntarily tell Heatwave his identity, but they weren’t here. Besides Joe, he hadn’t heard from any of them in almost a week. He doesn’t blame them for wanting out — look at the heartache helping him had caused all of them. But if they were out, then he wanted to be done caring about their opinion.

 

Rory’s voice jerked Barry out of his thoughts. “The CSI that’s West’s son?”

 

Barry nodded jerkily without looking up.

 

“Huh. Figured you were involved in all the Flash business, but not that you were the Flash,” the pyro admitted. “Call me Mick then.” He nodded to himself for a moment and then asked, “tea or hot chocolate?”

 

“What?” Barry was startled by the question. His head shot up to look at Ror— Mick. That was weird.

 

The thief grunted. “Do ya want tea or hot chocolate with dessert?”

 

“I…” Barry didn’t know what to do with the 180 change in subject. Rory was peering at him searchingly, so Barry finally squeaked out, “Hot chocolate?”

 

“Alright then.” And at that, Heatwave settled back in his chair and fell silent.

 

That was it? Barry thought. He doesn’t have any other questions? Is he waiting until he has talked to Snart before coming back to interrogate me?

 

Barry was so puzzled that he couldn’t help blurting out, “That’s it? You don’t want to know anything else?” He internally cringed as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Asking a criminal who just found out his real identity why he wasn’t more surprised or had more questions?

 

“Have anything more to share?” Mick’s deep voice grumbled.

 

Barry just shook his head.

 

“Ok.” Heatwave shrugged. “I mean, it’s nice to see the face behind the red mask. Pleasant surprise that it’s a cute one,” the man smirked. Barry flushed at that. He continued,” I knew the Flash was young, but not a kid.”

 

Barry just sighed, he had gotten that from quite a few people. “I’m 25,” he muttered.

 

The pyro just looked him up and down before staring at him. “Still young. And you need to eat more.”

 

Barry opened his mouth a couple times, but wasn’t sure what to say to a reasonable Mick Rory who seemed more concerned about feeding him than grilling him about his identity.

 

Barry heard a cough from the doorway and found Snart leaning against it, surprisingly not smirking. He had a softer, more neutral look on his face. “You didn’t have to tell him, Scarlet,” he finally said. “I wouldn’t have forced it and neither would have Mick.”

 

And Barry believed him. He didn’t really have a good explanation to give, so he just said quietly, “I know.”

 

“Alright,” Snart said, surveying the huddled figured on the bed. “Then, I think we should have a little chat before the desserts are done.”

 

Barry deflated at that. He had been hoping to avoid an explanation, but there was no way Captain Cold was going to forget about the Flash falling over and passing out at his feet. He just nodded miserably and pulled the hoody tighter around him.

 

“Hey,” Snart interjected, voice sounding more gentle than Barry had ever heard it, “if you really don’t want to answer something, you don’t have to. But you’re not leaving without at least giving some answers. And until you get some rest.”

 

This is the oddest kidnapping/interrogation I’ve ever had, Barry thought. He brought his knees up and wrapped his arms around them, resting his head on them. “There’s not much to tell. Just a bad day.” Barry attempted weakly.

 

Snart pushed himself off the doorway, took a couple steps towards Barry and crossed his arms. “Bullshit,” he said. “I’ve seen you having bad days. This goes way beyond that.”

 

“When’s the last time you ate enough calories in a day?” Heatwave interrupted.

 

Barry awkwardly shrugged from his curled up position. “I don’t really count. And I’ve been a little busy lately.”

 

“We’ve noticed,” the two thieves said simultaneously.

 

Barry blinked up at them. Noticed what?

 

“Kid, it hasn’t been hard to notice the increase in your CSI workload. And the Flash has been sighted every night patrolling and rebuilding,” Snart said dryly.

 

“And you’ve never fainted in front of us, even when we hit you.” Rory grunted.

 

Barry sighed. “It’s my fault everything’s so messed up. So it’s my responsibility to fix it.”

 

Heatwave seemed to huff and roll his eyes at this while Cold narrowed his eyes at the young vigilante. “Not everything is your responsibility, Scarlet.”

 

“This is, Cold,” Barry insisted softly.

 

Snart took one of the chairs and turned it around, straddling it. “You can call me Len, kid. Let’s start on a smaller scale and leave the giant wormhole for later,” the thief decided. “Why didn’t you have any back up tonight? Where has your team been?”

 

Barry’s face fell, before he smoothed it out. “They had other things to be doing.”

 

Sna— Len just looked at him. His partner finally interjected, “where was that doctor woman?”

 

Barry swallowed hard, not really wanting to admit how many people couldn’t stand to be around him right now or how many people’s deaths he was responsible for.

 

“She needed some time. She lost her fiancé (again), which only happened because of choices I made.” Barry finally shared.

 

“Cisco?” Cold asked.

 

“His family called him back home for something. Family over friends.” Barry explained, the hollow feeling in his chest growing.

 

“What about the creepy wheelchair guy? Dr. Wells?” Heatwave grunted.

Barry froze, hearing that name and hugged his knees tighter.

 

Len’s mouth tightened as he started to piece things together. Cold seemed to realize he wouldn’t be getting the full story from him on Dr. Wells. “Do I need to freeze him?

 

Barry just shook his head, eyes widening.

 

Len looked at Barry for a moment before asking, “Is he dead?”

 

Barry nodded, his mouth twisting into a silent, painful grimace.

 

“Was he involved in the wormhole incident?” Snart asked.

 

Barry nodded again, his mind drifting back to his former mentor’s betrayal and how he still couldn’t save his mother.

 

“Barry,” Snart started, concluding that Barry wasn’t worried about the guy but rather upset, “what did he do?”

 

The hero opened his mouth to explain, but the words got stuck in his throat. “It was… he… Wells wasn’t Wells. He’s, he’s actually Thawne. And Thawne… he…” Barry’s eyes prickled. “My mom,” he finally got out, voice hoarse.

 

“Dr. Wells had something to do with your mom?” Snart confirmed. Seeing Barry nod, he asked, “your father was accused of killing your mother. But you’ve always maintained that he didn’t. Did Wells have something to do with your mother’s murder?”

 

Barry shouldn’t be surprised, considering how smart Captain Cold was with his planning and how thorough he was with recon, but he put that together faster than he expected.

 

“It was him,” Barry whispered hoarsely.

 

Len sat up straight in his seat and saw Mick lean forward. “Not-Dr. Wells was the one who murdered your mother?”

 

Barry finally closed his eyes, not wanting to see the thieves’ reactions. He wasn’t sure if he was more scared of them being cold and mocking about it or them being empathetic.

 

“That’s rough, kid,” the pyro finally said lowly.

 

Barry couldn’t help replaying that night, especially with his new, fresh memories of it. “I went back,” he whispered. “I could have saved her. I put everyone else in danger and ended up not changing the past because another version of me said not to. Eddie killed himself to stop Thawne from existing and Ronnie died helping close the wormhole and getting me out. They did what I couldn’t.” Now that he started, Barry couldn’t stop the flow of words he wished he had someone to tell. “Iris blames me for her fiancé’s death. Joe is disappointed in me and distancing himself because, because, well, I’m poison. I wouldn’t be surprised if he disowned me. Caitlin couldn’t handle losing Ronnie again. She knows that if he hadn’t saved me then he would still be alive. Cisco tried, but it’s hard to stay close to someone who gets their friends killed. And” Barry let out a little sob, “and that’s not to mention the 11 fatalities and dozens of injuries across the city. I’m not a hero. I’m the bringer of destruction.”

 

When he finished his monologue he was breathing heavily and buried his head between his knees. The exhausted hero stopped trying to repress the flood of tears. His body shook as he sobbed, the past weeks finally catching up to him.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Finding Rest in the Arms of Enemies

 

Len watched Barry tremor, curling in on himself on the bed and hiding his face. Len was still processing the kid’s long winded rant and disconnected story.

 

So far, he got that somehow Barry figured that he could have saved his mother from being murdered (with… time travel?), who was actually killed by Dr. Wells— who isn’t Dr. Wells but someone named Thawne (not Eddie but a, a someone related?)— who is now dead. And somehow this all caused the wormhole in the sky. Which Barry was too busy trying to close (and was he implying from the inside?!) to run around the city and save every single person. Which of course he decided was his fault. And out of all of this, his friends and family seemed to have abandoned him. No wonder the kid was such a mess. 

 

Len rubbed his temple with one hand as he felt a headache beginning. This was more complicated than he had expected.

 

He looked over at Mick. His partner looked like he was torn between his aversion to physical affection with most people and his desire to stop the kid huddled on their bed from hurting. Len caught his eye and gestured toward the kitchen. Mick nodded, stood, and went to the kitchen to make Barry something hot to drink and grab some plates of dessert.

 

Len couldn’t help but think of all the people that he and Lisa should have been able to depend on as kids, but had looked the other way and abandoned them. Len knew what he would do for his sister, but wasn’t sure how the broken hero would react. Their relationship was more complicated and involved than hero and nemesis. And Len wasn’t even touching the further feelings he carried for the kid.

 

Len moved so that he was sitting beside Barry on the bed. He slowly reached out and put a hand on the sobbing boy’s shoulder. He didn’t seem to notice at first so Len reached to lay it across his shoulders. Barry tensed at this, uncurling slightly to stare at Len. He looked like a mess and his tear stricken face nearly broke Len’s cold heart. Before Len could remove his arm, thinking this might have been a mistake, the young hero lurched forward into Len’s chest, body curled up against his side and hands balled up in the front of Len’s shirt.

 

How much had the kid been keeping in that he was seeking comfort with the villains he normally fought? Len pulled Barry closer with the arm around his shoulders and wrapped his other arm around the kid, resting on his back. He slowly moved his hand in small circles, rubbing Barry’s back. He murmured placations to the kid, “just breathe for me, Scarlet. There you go. I’ve got you.”

 

Len just held Barry in a tight embrace, waiting for the young vigilante to wear himself out.  

 

During this breakdown, Mick came back in with three mugs and a plate stacked with scones and brownies. He put them down on the table and looked meaningfully at Len. The pyro went to the closet and pulled out a thick, fuzzy blanket with snowflakes on it. Len sighed internally. Did Mick have to pick that blanket? His partner had gotten it for him as a present after he had been named Captain Cold— Mick had been so smug about it too. Mick unfolded it and wrapped it around Barry, sitting down on the other side of him.

 

Another few minutes of crying and Barry started to quiet. Len knew when the kid began to come back to himself, because he stiffened and pulled away from Len’s chest slightly. Len removed one hand from the kid, leaving the one around his shoulders. Barry was sniffling and pointedly not looking at the criminals on either side of him.

 

Len reached over and picked up the mug full of hot chocolate (which looked like Mick had sprinkled cinnamon in) and pressed it into one of Barry’s hands. The kid absently took it and sipped at it. He seemed to calm down as he drank the hot coco with Len still holding the kid loosely. He handed Barry a couple brownies and a scone, which he munched on, unfocused and still occasionally sniffling.

 

Len gently tugged the empty mug out of Barry’s hands, which finally caused the kid to look over at him. Len pulled away slightly, intending to take the dishes to the kitchen and grab some tissues. Seeing the hero deflate disappointedly and stopping himself from reaching out to the thief, Len looked over at Mick, who understood what his partner was silently asking.

 

“I’m just going to put these in the kitchen, Scarlet,” Len murmured to the kid. “I’ll be right back and Mick will be here with you.”

 

The hero didn’t seem thrilled with this, but neither did he tense or pull away. Len lightly pushed the kid away from him and into Mick’s arms. Mick wrapped his arms around the kid and Len didn’t move until Barry started to relax against the pyro.

 

Len noticed the look Mick directed towards the top of Barry’s head. He recognized the worry and care the hot headed criminal rarely displayed for anyone. It seemed that Len wasn’t the only one who wouldn’t mind keeping the young CSI around.

 

 

Mick looked down at the miserable hero in his arms. He was surprised how comfortable he felt holding the kid; he wasn’t big on physical affection in general (Len being the exception). The pyro felt the kid sag against him. Mick saw Len leave the room and slowly shifted on the bed so that he and Barry were relaxed against the pillows and headboard. The young hero was stiff and silent in his arms, fighting the exhaustion that was settling in. Mick tucked the blanket more completely around the distraught boy in his arms and began to slowly and repetitively run his hand through Barry’s hair.

 

The pyro remained relaxed against the headboard, waiting for Barry to completely relax and calm down. When he deemed the kid calm enough to deal with a few questions, he asked, “Where’s your apartment, Red? We could grab you some clothes or such if you wanted.”

The hero seemed too tired to get emotional about the question, mumbling, “don’t have one. And m’ bag’s still in the, the alley.” He yawned and pressed more into Mick’s side, almost burrowing in.

 

Mick didn’t think the kid would still be living at home, not from the intel Len had been getting on the Flash.

 

“Still living with the Detective then?” Mick asked to confirm. Getting things from a cop’s house would be a little more difficult. Maybe the kid wouldn’t mind going without a few things for a short while. He seemed to like the sweatshirt from the way he was snuggled into it.

 

“Nnnmmm. ‘ris hates me. Not wel’ome.” Barry seemed more open with his answers as he got closer to falling asleep. Not to mention his sleepy mumbling was slightly adorable and thus distracting.

 

However, Mick was more confused now. If he didn’t have an apartment and wasn’t living at home, where was the kid staying? “Where are you living?” he prodded lowly.

 

“STAR labs,” Barry yawned again. “ ‘ts mine.” With that answer, he snuggled into Mick’s warmth (Mick was aware he gave off more heat than normal people) and drifted off.

 

STAR labs? Mick thought. He felt a wave of protectiveness wash over him. Unacceptable. He and Lenny would have to fix that.

 

Shortly after the hero had finally fallen asleep, Len came back in the room carrying a glass of water and a box of tissues. He placed them on the nightstand and looked at Barry burrowed against Mick, hand grasping the side of his shirt. In any other circumstances Len was sure the sight of his partner and the Flash in bed would have been merit for a very different train of thought and conversation. At this moment, however, Len was probably more concerned with the troubled look on Mick’s face. Mick attempted to extract himself from the sleeping boy, which only caused Barry to do a better version of a koala, clinging tighter to the pyro.

 

Len held back a chuckle, and instead snorted and winked at Mick. Mick huffed and rolled him eyes, but Len could see he didn’t mind and was quite pleased with the position.

 

Len sat down on the edge of the bed next to Mick, brushing a piece of hair out of the sleeping hero’s face.

 

“He’s living alone at STAR labs,” Mick broke into Len’s thoughts. “He doesn’t have an apartment and says he’s not welcome at home.” Mick continued gruffly, “I don’t like this, Lenny. They aren’t treatin ‘im right.”

 

Len didn’t answer for a moment, taking in the larger impact of that explanation. The kid was cut off from everyone, mentally and physically. And somehow had ended up being pushed into living in a lab, which must constantly remind him of the recent events and tragedies.

 

“If Red keeps this up, he’s going to burn out and completely break,” Len agreed with his partner.

 

Mick knew that Len was fond of the kid, more than he admitted to. “He should stay here,” Mick decided out loud.

 

Len looked at him and then the kid. “I think the kid might disagree with that,” he quietly pointed out. He looked at the tight grip Barry had on his partner and reassessed. “Well, it might take a little convincing,” he smirked at Mick at this point, “but I’m sure we could find some convincing reasons.”

 

Mick smirked back at him, on board with that plan.

 

“I guess you’re sleeping here tonight then,” Len sighed, starting to get up.

 

Mick could tell he was disappointed they would be sleeping in separate rooms. He pulled him back down and gave him a quick kiss. “Yeah, don’t want to wake the kid up. And it seems like he could use the human contact. But bed’s plenty big. Stay here,” Mick insisted.

 

Len searched Mick’s face for a moment before saying, “alright. I’m going to change. I’ll grab you something too— if you can ever get loose.”

 

Mick watched Len smirk gently and then quietly slip out of the room.  

 

Mick looked down at the sleeping vigilante and realized that they would be a lot more comfortable under the covers. He used his feet to push down the blankets and slowly began maneuvering them underneath. It was a little difficult, as the kid was latched onto Mick and whimpered when the pyro had to reposition to lie down. Thankfully, the sleeping hero didn’t wake up and Mick was able to get them both under the blankets.

 

He kicked off his pants, leaving him in boxers and a t-shirt. Good enough for the night. He could pull on the sleeping pants Lenny would bring down with him when they got up in the morning.

 

He turned slightly, so that he was wrapped around Barry, the kid’s head tucked under the thief’s chin, hands still curled up in Mick’s t-shirt. The kid fit perfectly tucked against Mick like this.

 

Mick could hear footsteps lightly enter the room a minute later and Len came around the bed into Mick’s view. His partner had a gentle smile on his face, one he reserved for his sister and, when they were alone, Mick. He was wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt and grey and black stripped sleeping pants.

 

Len stared for a moment longer before slipping into the bed. He left a good foot of space between him and the sleeping hero. Mick raised an eyebrow at him and Len rolled his eyes and scooted so he was behind Barry. He rested an arm on the kid’s hip and Mick decided that was as good as it was going to get at the moment. He had a feeling that they would readjust during the night. He wouldn’t ever admit it, but Lenny was quite the cuddler at night.

 

Mick closed his eyes and let the soft breathing from his two bed partners lull him to sleep.

 

 

The first thing Barry noticed was that he felt comfortable and warm. He burrowed further into the warmth and resisted the pull of wakefulness. He wanted to stay wherever he was forever. He was drifting through this warm space when he vaguely felt strong arms pull him into something solid. Barry struggled to open his eyes, confused about where he was. Was he at the lab?

 

When he blinked his eyes opened, his vision was filled with a broad chest in a black t-shirt, which Barry’s hands were clutching. The arms belonging to this person were wrapped around Barry. His heart started to beat a little faster realizing that he somehow ended up in bed with someone. He racked his mind for what happened the night before. He looked up to see who he was cuddling and froze when he saw the sleeping form of Heatwave.

 

The night before flashed through his mind. The speedster wasn’t sure what to feel— embarrassed, anxious, hurt, scared, guilty, angry— and so settled on overwhelmed. Before Barry could work himself into a panic and hyperventilate, a quite noise came from the man holding him.

 

“Hey,” a low voice broke through Barry’s haze. “It’s ok, Doll. Breathe.”

 

Barry’s eyes were blown wide as he stared up at the pyro. “I…you…Heatwave…” Barry stumbled through, “You… and I… in bed…”

 

“Mick,” his bed partner grunted.

 

“What?” Barry asked, confused.

 

“Said to call me Mick,” the thief insisted. “You fell asleep after dessert and wouldn’t let go of my shirt.”

 

Barry felt his face heat up and made his hands release Rory’s shirt. “Sorry.”

 

Mick shrugged. “It’s not a problem. Didn’t want to wake you up. When’s the last time you slept a whole night?”

 

Barry wasn’t sure where any of this was going. He realized that Heatw— Mick was still looking at him waiting for an answer. “I… I don’t know?”

 

Mick just grunted, looking displeased. “They should be taking better care of you,” he growled.

 

The pyromaniac criminal was . . . concerned about him? Barry clearly didn’t explain well enough if Mick though he had anyone left who wanted to be near him or take care of him. “I’m it right now,” the young hero explained, not sure why he was elaborating.

 

“Lenny and I would do better,” Mick swore.

 

Barry was surprised to find that he wanted that. He wanted someone to take care of him. To care if he slept enough. If he needed a hug. If… wait, where was Snart?

 

“Where is Co— Len?” Barry asked.

 

“Right behind you,” came Len’s sleepy voice from behind the hero.

 

Barry started and twisted halfway around to see the still half asleep Captain Cold, whose hand Barry noticed was on his hip.

 

“Errrr… hi?” Barry squeaked.

 

He felt Mick laugh behind him, fully turning Barry so that he was facing Len before pulling the speedster’s back to his chest.

 

Cold yawned, stretched, and propped himself up with his other arm underneath him.

 

“Morning, Scarlet,” the now-awake thief greeted. He looked over Barry’s head and addressed Mick, “Morning, Mick. You got something planned for breakfast?”

 

Mick must have nodded or something, but a second later Len was smiling. Barry felt the arms around him tighten slightly as Mick leaned in and said, “I’m going to make breakfast, Doll. You’ll be fine here with Lenny. Ok?”

 

The pyro seemed to pause, as if waiting for an answer. “uh, Ok, Mick.”

 

Then the arms disappeared from around Barry and cold hit his back as Mick climbed out of the bed. He heard the pyro pad down the hallways and into the kitchen.

 

“How are you feeling, kid?” Snart asked gently, pulling Barry’s attention back to him.

 

“Uh…fine? I’m sorry for falling asleep, Snart.” Barry apologized.

 

“That was the whole point, Red” Cold smirked. “And as I said last night, it’s Len. We can leave our other identities outside.”

 

Barry just nodded, staring at a completely different version of Captain Cold.

 

“It’ll be a bit before Mick has breakfast ready. You want a shower?” Len asked.

 

A warm shower in an actual and not a lab shower sounded really nice. “Please,” Barry answered.

 

Len nodded, slid his arm off of Barry, and climbed out of the bed. Barry watched him get up before slowly moving to climb out of the warm bed himself.

 

Len motioned for Barry to follow him and led him down the hall and up a set of stairs. “There a bathroom downstairs,” Len explained, “but the one up here is nicer.”

 

Snart stopped halfway down the hallway, opened a door, and led the way into a large bathroom with a glass shower and a large, round, sunken tub. Barry gapped at the luxuriousness. This was not what he had not expected to find.

 

Len was smirking at Barry’s astonished expression. “Towels are in the closet, shampoo and body wash are already in there. I’ll grab you some other clothes to wear and put them by the door for you. When you’re done, I’ll be downstairs helping Mick with breakfast. Take your time, Scarlet.”

 

With that short explanation, the older man left the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. Barry didn’t move a moment or two, overwhelmed that he was standing in the most luxurious bathroom he’d ever been in, which belonged to one (two?) of his nemeses— who was the only one (two?) since the incident that seemed to give a damn about Barry.

 

Barry shucked off the borrowed clothing (which were incredibly comfortable), folded them up neatly and made his way over to the bathtub. If he had time, then he was going to soak in a bathtub for the first time in years. He started the water and grabbed a washcloth and towel as water filled the tub. Barry turned off the water when it was sufficiently full and stepped onto the ledge in the tub. It was more like a hot tub than a bathtub, but Barry wasn’t going to complain.

 

The weary hero lowered himself fully into the water, sighing in comfort as the warm water flowed around him. Barry let himself just soak for a while, muscles starting to relax, before reaching for the bottle of shampoo in a small stand next to the tub. He looked at the label and a smile graced his face as he read the name of the shampoo: Winter Woods. He washed his hair and then used the corresponding body wash, wondering if he’d smell like Captain Co— Len now. God that was going to take some getting used to— calling Heatwave and Cold by their first names. It was also a little weird, but honestly— Barry had seen and done weirder.

 

Barry finished washing and looked down at his body. There were several fading bruises on his chest and side that normally would have been gone already. He thought about what Caitlin would say, but decided that she wouldn’t say anything about a bit of bruising. He concluded that the bruises would be gone if he ate well today and had the energy to super-heal himself.

He found himself surprised that he was partially looking forward to eating breakfast. Eating in general was a task of necessity these days and never done with company (breakfast was coffee on the go, lunch was eaten in his lab at work, and dinner was at STAR labs). Having someone cook him a large and delicious breakfast sounded wonderful. Of course Barry was sure that the other shoe would be dropping soon enough. Nothing in Barry’s life ever gave him this much support and pleasure without having overwhelming negative side effects and consequences.

 

Barry sat in the tub until the water began to turn cold and finally pulled himself out and grabbed his towel. He padded over to the mirror and barely recognized the weary and slightly gaunt face reflecting back at him.

 

He winced. No wonder why even my enemies were worried. I look like the walking dead. I’m surprised no one has mentioned anything. Not even Joe. This last thought just made him depressed and more isolated.

 

Barry’s stomach growled, reminding him of the breakfast waiting for him downstairs. He walked over to the door and peaked out, hoping that Snart hadn’t been joking about getting him something else to wear. He looked down and saw a pair of red sweatpants and a package of new boxer briefs. He didn’t see a shirt, but figured he could just put the incredibly comfortable sweatshirt back on.

 

After the vigilante got dressed, he hesitantly made his way down the stairs. If he really wanted to leave, he had a clear path to the door. Barry fairly quickly dismissed the idea. It’s not like he had anyone to run to and, so far, the two villains had been very, uh, un-villainy. Honestly, if this did turn out to be a kidnapping kidnapping, Barry would still probably be ok with it.

 

Barry followed the sound of voices and the smell of cooking food into the kitchen. He found Mick at the stove, flipping what looked like French toast while Len was setting finished plates of food on the already set table.

 

Barry barely took a step into the kitchen before the two thieves looked over at him.

 

Mick just looked him up and down (which made Barry blush under the scrutiny), nodded, and went back to cooking.

 

Len strode over to Barry, noting the new pants and familiar sweatshirt. “Feel better?” the thief asked. “I have a new shirt for you over here. I got a little… distracted while finding it,” Snart said dryly, glancing over at his partner by the stove. Mick just snorted and argued, “food would be done if you hadn’t distracted me.”

 

Len sigh and rolled his eyes, but didn’t seem that annoyed. “Ok, Red,” Len continued, grabbing a white t-shirt off the back of a chair, “take off the hoodie and you can slip this on.” He held out the shirt to Barry, who wavered for a moment before pulling the sweatshirt over his head and taking the shirt.

 

He had just gotten the shirt over his head when he heard a sharp intake of breath. He pulled the shirt down and looked up to find Mick staring at him from his position by the stove. The pyro strode over to the now self-conscious boy. He cupped Barry’s chin with one hand and pushed the shirt up slightly with the other. He traced the visible outline of the hero’s ribs, his eyes darkening.

 

Barry wanted to step back, but Mick had a firm grip on him. “Doll,” Mick said lowly, “you need to take better care of yourself.”

 

Len stepped forward at this point and interjected, “Shouldn’t any injuries have healed overnight?”

 

“Uh…” Barry looked between the two.

 

“Doll?” Mick prompted.

 

“I… uh… don’t heal as fast if I’m exceptionally low on energy.” Barry hesitantly explained.

 

The two thieves glanced over Barry’s head at each other. Mick stroked his thumb across Barry’s cheek before letting go and returning to the stove to finish breakfast.

 

Barry stood uncomfortably in the middle of the kitchen, wrapping his hands around his middle. He was slightly uneasy with how intimate but soothing Mick’s gesture was. Len seemed to notice how uncomfortable the hero was and handed him back the sweatshirt— which Barry prompted pulled on. The older man put a hand on Barry’s shoulder and led him over the table, guiding him into a chair.

 

The table had plates stacked with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, fresh fruit, muffins, toast, hash-browns, pancakes, and it looked like Mick was just adding the French toast. Barry also noted several pitchers of juice as well as steaming coffee.

 

The speedster was so focused on the array of food that he didn’t notice Mick come over to the table and fill up the plate in front of him with food. Len was pouring coffee for himself and his partner, clearly very familiar with how Mick took his coffee. Apparently Barry was not going to be getting coffee— Len had poured him orange juice.

 

Barry stared at how domestic the two villains were being and was still somewhat stunned that he was sitting at their kitchen table, eating breakfast with them.

 

“Uh, thanks,” Barry said, flushing slightly. Barry picked up the still hot blueberry muffin and bit off a chunk. He left out a soft, short moan. Oh, this was good— he could eat these every day.

 

Len chuckled and Mick just smiled smugly. They ate in companionable silence for a bit before Len looked over at Barry.

 

“So, Barry,” Len asked casually, “Why are you living at STAR labs?”

 

Barry’s face heated with embarrassment. He hadn’t remembered he had told them that.

 

“Haven’t found an apartment yet, but it was time to move out of Joe’s house,” he tried to shrug off.

 

Mick clearly wasn’t buying his casual answer. He frowned at Barry and said, “but you only moved out because your family wasn’t welcoming anymore. Do they not care that you’re living at STAR labs?”

 

Barry fidgeted. Fighting these guys as the Flash during a heist was one thing. But having their entire attention focused on you? Entirely different. And not something he knew how to deal with. (It almost felt like the intensity of Oliver’s questions).

 

“I had to leave fairly quickly. I didn’t want to make anyone feel obligated to keep me around, so I just— temporarily— moved into STAR labs until I could find time to look for a new place,” Barry explained, slightly defensive.

 

“Because I’m sure you’ve made time to look.” Len sighed. “Scarlet, does no one know you don’t actually have an apartment yet?”

 

“Uh, well, I alluded to, kind of,” Barry stammered. Len stared at him. “Uh, no. No,” Barry said.

 

“Are your family and friends really paying so little to you that they haven’t noticed you’re sleeping at the lab?” Len asked, sounding half sad and half furious.

 

Barry felt his chest constrict slightly. He swallowed heavily and just shook his head. “I’ve, I’ve caused enough trouble recently, so I’ve tried to not draw attention to it.”

 

Mick growled, “Doll, that’s not how that works.” Barry just blinked at him. There was a pregnant pause in the kitchen for a long moment. “Eat your fruit,” the thief-turned-chef finally grumbled.

 

Barry obediently stabbed at a few pieces of mixed fruit.

 

“Scarlet,” Len started, voice taking on a gentler tone, “you shouldn’t be living in STAR labs. Especially not alone.” The thief glanced over at his partner. “Stay here for a while. Mick and I are— hmmm, how to put this– in an off season.”

 

Barry bristled slightly. “I can take care of myself,” he said without much heat. Huh, this slightly overbearing, protectiveness should really irk Barry, but he could only bring himself to be mildly annoyed.

 

Both Len and Mick gave Barry a sideways look with a quirked eyebrow. Ok, so he hadn’t been doing the best job recently, but he was trying to be responsible! And deal with the consequences for his choices.

 

“You still haven’t told me why you care,” Barry stalled.

 

“Doll, you deserve to have people there to catch you when you fall.” Mick gave Barry a long look. “You don’t see how rare someone like you is these days, do you?”

 

“You mean someone who got hit by lightning, was in a coma for nine months, got superpowers, and then in less than a year managed to destroy the lives of everyone closest to them as well as half of Central City?” Barry listed off, voice getting faster and faster and slightly hysterical.

 

Len stood up and knelt down in front of Barry. He put his hands on Barry’s shoulders, forcing the hero to focus on him. “Scarlet, none of that was your fault and most of it was out of your control. You could have done anything with your superpowers, but you tried to help. You wanted to save everyone, even the meta-humans causing trouble.”

 

Barry snorted at that. “And look at what that has gotten me. You just barely followed through with your end of the deal, but screwed us over in the end anyways. Everything I do these days is wrong somehow: too slow, too much structural damage, let someone get away, didn’t stop a civilian from getting hurt…”

 

Len cut Barry off. “Kid, there’s always going to be people who are going to demand more. You can’t listen to them.” He gave Barry a long, measured look and continued, “and I didn’t think you were happy with either of your options when moving your meta-human prisoners. Neither leaving them in solitary confinement or letting them die was in your nature. And I especially didn’t think you wanted them shipped off to some mysterious, dark hole of a prison.”

 

Barry gapped at him. “You couldn’t have asked me this before?! No, I didn’t like any of the options, but between Dr. Wells and the CCPD and everyone I couldn’t just let them go! And we were kind of on a time limit!”

 

“Breath, Doll,” Mick said from across the table.

 

“It didn’t go as I’d planned, Red,” Len said apologetically. “I’m sorry about that. Still, I wasn’t going to let you get hurt.”

 

Barry huffed, but the fight drained out of him. It was too much effort to keep arguing. Barry curled in on himself, head drooping. “It’s done now. I am relieved that people like Shauna aren’t locked up on some island. But it’s just one more thing I messed up. One more mistake to hold against me.”

 

“Barry, you need to let some of the weight off of your shoulders or you’re going to collapse. You can’t feel responsible for everyone,” Len said.

 

Barry just stared at Len blankly. Going to collapse? Barry already felt like he was crumbling, but that the weight was stuck on him. He couldn’t move out from underneath it, and that paralytic feeling was the most terrifying thing for the young speedster.

 

Len put a hand on the side of Barry’s face, cupping it. Barry definitely did not lean into it. He looked into Barry’s eyes for a long moment, which would have made the hero uncomfortable had he been fully present.

 

“Finish your breakfast, Scarlet.” Len said, standing up. He settled back into his seat and seemed to start a conversation about inane things with Mick, mostly ignoring Barry. Well, at least not expecting him to respond or be part of the conversation. Which was good, because Barry was confused and exhausted again. Part of his brain was telling him to not trust Cold and Heatwave, but another part of him ached to crawl back into the warm bed and curl up next to Mick and Len who seemed to care.

 

With a few looks from Mick, Barry ate the rest of the food on his plate on auto-pilot. He held onto a cup of tea that was place in front of him as the two criminals cleaned up breakfast.

 

“Doll, did you say that you left your bag in an alley last night?” Mick asked while washing a pan. Barry had to stare for a second, watching hot-headed Mick Rory doing dishes.

 

“Uh, yeah,” Barry said, “I hid my bag in the corner of the alley beside the shop.” He sighed, “I’ll have to go get it at some point.”

 

Len leaned against the kitchen counter and said, “I can go get it, kid. Have to run and get some specific groceries anyways.” Snart looked at his partner, mouth quirked up exasperatedly. Mick just shot Len a glare.

 

“I, uh, ok,” Barry agreed. He really didn’t feel like running all the way there. He also wasn’t sure if was really allowed to leave or not, and he found that he didn’t particularly care. “It’s behind the old club sign. It’s just my messenger bag.”

 

Len nodded. “I won’t be out long. I’ll be back by lunch.” He grabbed his jacket and keys, pausing before the door to address Barry, “take a nap, Scarlet. Although there’s a decent movie collection in the living room too.”

 

He gave a short wave to his partner and left. Leaving Barry alone with Mick Rory in a Rogue’s safehouse.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Living in a Bubble

 

The kitchen was quiet except for Mick finishing the dishes, and Barry just stared into his cup of tea.

 

He was still drifting when large hands covered his and gently took the mug away from him. The pyro set it down on the table and took Barry by the hand.

 

“Come on, Doll,” Mick said, leading him into the living room. “We can put in a movie. You look like you could use a nap.”

 

Barry wanted to protest (he was not a child), but he did feel really lethargic. He let Mick settle him on one end of the couch and watched as he flicked through a collection of DVDs.

 

“What are you in the mood for?” the thief rumbled. Barry just shrugged and Mick pulled out a couple cases. He put a disk into the DVD player and grabbed a couple blankets from a basket in the corner of the room.

 

Mick sat down on the other end of the couch, and Barry was slightly disappointed with the distance. It had been less than a day— was he already so attached to the pair of criminals that a lack of contact from them was disappointing?

 

But Mick was apparently just getting set up. He gestured for Barry to lie down with his head on the pyro’s lap. Barry let himself slide down so he was lying stretched out on the couch. Mick carefully draped a blanket over the tired hero, rested an arm on Barry’s back, and started the DVD. The theme song for Indiana Jones filled the living room and Barry couldn’t help but smiling a little bit.

 

“Nazis,” Mick rasped, “Always a good fight.”

 

Barry let himself relax into the warmth Mick was giving off and absentmindedly listened to the iconic movie. Mick’s hand started gently carding through Barry’s hair, and he couldn’t stop his eyes from fluttering shut. It was with this soothing touch that Barry drifted off, leaving Indiana Jones to escape from the Nazis on his own.

 

 

Mick looked down at the now sleeping hero in his lap, continuing to run his fingers through Barry’s hair. It seemed to calm the kid down— whether it was because he actually liked it or just craved any sort of positive form of affection, the thief wasn’t sure.

 

The Flash hadn’t seemed to put everything together yet (or didn’t want to put a name to it), but Mick had seen it— Barry was depressed. And his isolation from his normal support group was just making it worse. Mick had seen people slide into depression and never find their way out, most often because they had no one who cared to help.

 

Barry was fiery and intelligent. Funny and adorable. And good— too good for this world. The pyro refused to watch Barry’s spark disappear. He knew that he and Lenny could help. And Mick wouldn’t mind making the young hero a permanent fixture with him and Len, either in a mentor relationship or in a more romantic sense. He knew that Lenny had a thing for the hero since their first fight and it had only grown.

 

Of course, any push for something like that would have to be put on hold temporarily. Mick frowned, looking at Barry’s covered up body. Too thin. Way too thin. As upset as it made him, Mick knew that not getting enough food hit especially close to home for Len because of his childhood. 

 

How did no one notice any of this? Mick thought furiously. He’s surrounded by people all day at the CCPD! Didn’t the force have detectives and psychologists on staff? And people accuse me of being thick. He knew that not everyone would recognize the signs of depression because too many people expected to see an extremely sad, crying individual. He hated the main stream view of it. Depression hit every person in a different way, but it often centered on an empty, hollow feeling that grew into a variety of emotional responses that left the individual feeling paralyzed, alone, and stuck. Mick was very much aware of this feeling and hated watching someone as special as Barry go through it.

 

Mick might not care about much or many people, but what and who he did care about, he protected fiercely.

 

And how dare a parent choose one child over the other— adopted or not. All this reinforces for the kid is that he will always be an outsider and come second. Lenny and I would never throw him to the side like that. We protect our own.

 

Mick let Barry sleep for a couple hours, eventually flicking open a lighter to play with when the movie had ended. He didn’t want to get up and put on another movie because the movement would probably wake the kid.

 

Mick was staring into the lighter flame when he felt Barry tense and start to plead to some unknown force, “Please, no. I can’t, Mom!”

 

Before Mick could do anything, Barry shot up, gasping for breath and wiping tears away.

 

“Hey. Hey, Doll,” Mick said “Breathe for me.”

 

Barry twisted so he could see the thief, jerking, almost as if he had forgotten Mick was there. Mick moved slowly, telegraphing his movements if the kid wanted to move away, but reached his arms out to wrap around Barry. He pulled the distraught hero back into his side, holding Barry while he calmed down.

 

When he had stopped shaking, Barry glanced up red-faced at Mick, clearly embarrassed.

 

Mick knew that pushing Barry to talk now would only make the speedster close up. So instead, Mick stood up, taking Barry with him and asked, “want to help me make a double chocolate lava cake for dessert tonight?”

 

It was clearly not the question Barry had been expecting and just nodded dumbly up at the thief. Mick took the young hero by the shoulders and steered him into the kitchen.

 

“Do you know how to bake?” Mick asked Barry, hoping to snap him out of his trance-like state.

 

Barry’s eyes lost their glazed over look. “Uh, does cookies from premade dough count?” Barry asked shyly.

 

Mick had let go of Barry to start pulling out mixers, measuring cups, and bowls. He gave an amused glance at Barry, saying, “No, not really. It’s alright, I’ll teach you.” Mick was looking forward to this.

 

“Did I mention that I managed to burn those cookies so much that they were inedible?” Barry continued, blushing, one hand reaching up to rub at the back of his neck. “Not even Joe would eat one.” He drooped a little with that statement.

 

Fuck, his family. Dumb fucks. Didn’t want to bring up them. Mick snorted at Barry’s description of his lack of baking skills. “Sounds exactly like how Lenny used to be with baking anything,” he said, hoping to distract the kid again.

 

“Sna— Len couldn’t bake either?” Barry asked curiously, moving closer to Mick.

 

“He was a disaster with any baked good until I forced him to learn,” Mick chuckled before continuing, “and I had to win a bet against him to even get him in the kitchen…”

 

Barry laughed slightly at this. “I could see that. I promise to try and be better than Len.”

 

“Alright, then why don’t you start measuring out the dry ingredients into this bowl?” Mick pushed a metal mixing bowl over to Barry and pointed to the dry ingredients lined up on the counter.

 

“I think I can handle that part,” Barry asserted, smiling. “I do measure and mix chemicals at work all day. And those one explode if they aren’t mixed right.”

 

“I think it would just impress me if you could make a mixture of those dry ingredients explode simply by combining them in that bowl,” Mick chuckled.

 

Barry looked at the bowl and ingredients for a long moment. “Wait,” Mick said, a note of excitement creeping into his voice, “could you?

 

“Hm, I’m not sure, but I think I probably could with my powers somehow,” Barry affirmed.

 

Mick debated for a minute in his mind but then shook his head. “We will be exploring this later, Doll. But for now,” he sighed, putting a pitiful expression on his face, “no explosions.” Damn, Mick would have fun making explosions with his cute CSI. Definitely going on a “to-do” list for a rainy afternoon.

 

Barry outright laughed at this. “That must have been really hard for you to say,” Barry teased.

 

“I don’t always blow things up,” Mick grumbled good naturedly as he cracked several eggs into the mixing bowl.

 

This time it was Barry who quirked an eyebrow at Mick, although the effect was slightly ruined by the twitching of his mouth as he tried not to laugh.

 

“I make it a rule of thumb to not blow up anything that I bake, Doll.” Mick rumbled. He looked over at the now smiling hero. Good, Mick thought, he’s finally starting to relax a little.

 

Mick made sure to keep Barry involved throughout the baking so that he wouldn’t have time to crawl back into his shell. He made sure to keep the conversation light, but it had a surprisingly easy flow. Barry seemed to appreciate Mick’s drier sense of humor.

 

The thief turned to grease the cake pan so they could pour the finished batter into it. When he turned back around he caught Barry sneaking a finger-full of cake batter out of the bowl. The kid popped the finger in his mouth, letting out a pleased noise at the taste. Mick stared at the action, wishing it had been his finger offering Barry a taste.

 

Barry finally noticed he has been caught and blushed. “Uh, sorry,” he apologized sheepishly. “It just looked so good?”

 

Mick smiled and let out a low chuckle. “It’s alright kid, you should always try your recipe before you decide its done anyways.” The thief grabbed a wooden spoon and scooped up a little of the batter, tasting it himself. He noticed Barry watching him, the blush on his face spreading.

 

He held out the wooden spoon to the Barry. “You can finish this while I pour the batter.”

 

He paused reaching for the bowl, turned to the fridge, and took out a bowl of strawberries. Mick handed the bowl to the kid.

 

“Here, you can eat these too. Good with chocolate,” Mick said, seeing an opportunity to sneak in a snack for the underweight speedster.

 

Barry offered a shy smile, took the spoon and picked out a strawberry. Mick watched him lick all of the chocolate off the spoon, alternating with sucking on the berries. The thief was sure the hero wasn’t aware of how he looked doing that, but Mick would enjoy the show. He knew that Len would be jealous that he missed this.

 

They had just put all of the dirty dishes to soak in the sink when Len walked through the door with Barry’s messenger bag as well as several shopping bags.

 

Mick moved forward to take some of the bags from his partner, smirking at him as Len noticed that Barry was not only awake and moving, but was smiling. Len just looked at his partner searchingly. Mick nodded and Len’s smile grew.

 

“Hey Scarlet,” Len said grabbing the kid’s attention away from finishing off the bowl of strawberries. He paused for a minute and Mick could tell he was distracted by the red juice staining the kids lips, which were wrapped wide around a berry.

 

Barry quickly popped the strawberry in his mouth and took several steps towards Len.

 

“Hi,” he offered. “Do you want help with those,” Barry said, indicating to the bags.

 

“Well, I believe that this one,” Len lifted the messenger bag off his shoulder, “is yours.”

 

“Thank you for going all the way there to get it,” the hero acknowledged, taking the bag.

 

“It wasn’t a problem Red. I also stopped and grabbed you a couple other things.” Cold held out a shopping bag to the curiously looking hero.

 

“What did you, I mean, you didn’t have to get me anything,” Barry stammered, slightly embarrassed, but clearly surprisingly pleased.

 

Mick looked over Barry shoulder to peer into the bag. Len had clearly been thinking ahead and had purchased a package containing several pairs of boxer-briefs, a couple pairs of socks and white undershirts, a red t-shirt, and a couple of other things towards the bottom.

 

The kid’s blush deepened. “You really didn’t have to go through all this trouble for me staying one night. I mean, I could just change when I get home today.”

 

Mick wanted to sigh. Well, they were going to have to have this conversation sooner or later. Mick was kind of annoyed it was occurring right after he had gotten the kid into a decent mood though.

 

“Do you work tomorrow?” Mick asked.

 

“Huh?” Barry looked up at the thief. Mick almost smirked— he enjoyed catching the young hero off guard with his questions. “Uh, no?”

 

“Alright. Then stay here again tonight,” Len offered. “Mick’s already planned the dinner menu and if you don’t have anything planned anyways, why not?”

 

Barry looked at Len, slightly uncertain, but like he desperately wanted to stay. However, it seemed like he still wasn’t sure how comfortable to get with the entire situation.

 

“Wait,” he said suddenly, turned away from Len to looked at Mick, “Are you trying to bribe me with food?” There was an incredulous but not entirely disapproving tone to his voice.

 

“Is it working?” Mick just grinned widely at Barry.

 

Barry just gaped at him for a moment. Mick wasn’t going to let the kid stew for much longer.

 

“Come on, Doll.” Mick clapped him on the shoulder as he passed and gestured for Barry to follow him. “We can drop your stuff off in the bedroom and then come out and make lunch. Maybe we’ll even make Len help. Did I tell you about the time he tried to surprise me and make oatmeal raisin cookies…?”

 

 

Mick’s voice trailed off as they walked down the hallway. Len rolled his eyes as he heard his partner start in on the oatmeal cookie story. One time. One time. Of course, Mick tends to increasingly exaggerate the story the more often it gets told.

 

Well, at least Barry seemed more relaxed around Mick. Surprisingly, despite previous Heatwave and Flash clashes, Barry and Mick seemed to get along fairly well. Of course, Mick did put on a persona when he played Heatwave publicly. Len smirked to himself. It was so much more fun to play the villain than the hero.

 

Len turned to the cabinet and grumbled a little about Mick poking fun at him, but pulled out a large pot and put on water to boil. He pulled down several boxes of pasta and grabbed salad ingredients from the fridge. He tossed in the pasta (he wasn’t that incompetent in the kitchen, thank you very much), and let his mind wander back to their new house guest as he chopped vegetables.

 

Mick seems to have gained some of his trust. Len reviewed approvingly. He had hoped that would happen if he left, but it had been a gamble. We can’t break his fragile, growing trust in us. Our complicated history is definitely not helping our speedster lean on us for support. Len sighed. It was a good thing that the Rogues were “on break,” with no big scores planned. And even better, some of the more vicious Rogues were in other cities for several months doing personal jobs.

 

Barry’s voice pulled Len out of his inner monologue. “Of course! It was a great series, but I still prefer Firefly. It was cancelled way too soon.”

 

Mick grunted. “Haven’t watched that series. It good?” He sounded genuinely curious.

 

The two entered the kitchen and Len couldn’t help a small smile at the sight. He could see Barry easily sliding into their lives. Mick pulled out a handful of silverware and handed it to the preoccupied hero.

 

“Good? Sci-fi universe scale, it’s like a 9. I can’t believe you haven’t seen it. It’s a perfect show for you. It’s like, like, wild west outlaws in space!” Barry absentmindedly set out the silverware on the table while Mick put out plates and glasses.

 

“Sounds like there’d be lots of guns and explosions,” Mick said approvingly, his eyes gleaming with amusement.

 

Barry let out a small laugh. “Definitely.” He paused when he finished the silverware and looked up at Mick. He shyly offered, “I have the whole season on my laptop, which I have in my messenger bag. If you’re interested, we could watch it after lunch.” He backtracked slightly. “I mean, if you don’t have anything planned. I mean, not that you don’t have your own things to do. I mean…”

 

Good God Mick, stop the kid before he hurts himself. Len was thrilled the young hero was finally feeling comfortable enough to suggest things to them.

 

“I think that’s a dynamite plan, Doll,” Mick reassured the rambling kid. “You joining us, Lenny?”

 

Len smirked. “For firefly? I have to be there to chaperone, in case it gives you any crazy ideas.”

 

“Crazy? Crazy is all I do.” Mick rumbled. Len just chucked. The two worked together to finish preparing lunch, keeping up a snarky dialogue about who had the crazier ideas. Barry looked like he wasn’t sure whether he should be worried about some of them or utterly amused at how creative they were.

 

Mick was setting the final dish on the table as Len grabbed several beers from the fridge. Len looked over at Barry. “Do you want a beer, kid?” He finally asked.

 

“Uh, I wouldn’t want to waste your beer,” Barry said, shifting in his seat.

 

“We’ve got plenty, it wouldn’t be a waste,” Len tried, but Barry just rubbed the back of his neck shaking his head.

 

“No, it’s just, well, I can’t feel the effects of alcohol.” Mick stared at the speedster.

 

“You saying you can’t get drunk?” Mick sounded both excited and devastated.

 

Barry shook his head. “Nope. My metabolism works too fast. Haven’t found an alcohol strong enough that’s had any effect yet.”

 

“That is one of the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” Mick declared, beginning to scoop pasta onto everyone’s plate.

 

“I’ve never been a really big drinker.” Barry shifted in his seat. “Well, I mean, there were some college parties where I mostly mixed the drinks, but I ran more in the geek circles.”

 

“So, you could undoubtedly win a drinking contest,” Mick smiled wickedly and Len just rolled his eyes at him.

 

“I’ve never thought about it that way, but yeah, probably.” Barry shrugged. “Most people I would drink around know I’m the Flash, so they wouldn’t attempt a drinking contest against me.” He sighed. “And I’m sure Oliver would say that it would be irresponsible of me to do a drinking contest in a public place and risk exposing my identity.”

 

Mick had just shoved a forkful of pasta into his mouth and could only raise an eyebrow at Barry. Len knew exactly what is partner was thinking. “Oliver? Someone else knows about your secret identity?”

 

Barry looked like a deer in the headlights. Well, fuck. Definitely touched upon something there. Len knew he should back off, but he was immensely curious. There was only one Oliver that Len even knew of, but it wasn’t an Oliver that Barry would be familiar— wait. Len had gotten reports of the Flash running from Central to Star city. And that blonde girl, Felicity something, she was friends with both Barry and Oliver Queen.

 

Oliver Queen?” He finally asked out loud.

 

Barry gapped at him for a moment. “I, uh, yeah. There was one time, when I was in Star city for a case and I met him because it involved one of his companies, and then I helped him later on as the Flash and I trust him…” Barry paused to take a breath.

 

“Woah, kid,” Len held up his hands. “It’s your judgement call. I just didn’t think that Oliver Queen was very… stable after virtually coming back from the dead. And he’s always been something of a playboy and partier, so telling you not to get into a drinking contest…” Len was trying to fit the pieces together. Something was not adding up here.

 

“Oliver’s not like that anymore. He can be a little intense, but he’s a decent guy,” Barry promised. The young hero got up from his chair and looked at Mick. “Could I get some milk?”

 

Mick nodded his approval. “What do you prefer to drink most of the time?” his partner questioned.

 

Barry shrugged. “I’m not terribly picky.” He made a face. “I hate sweet tea though. I don’t know how people can drink something with so much sugar.”

 

“Won’t find that here, kid, don’t worry,” Mick assured the kid.

 

The rest of the meal passed with less tense conversation, trying to make sure Barry was relaxed around them for their t.v. marathon.

 

Barry managed to eat two large plates of pasta and several bowls of salad, making Mick beam at him. Or well, what Len knew was a beaming, approving smile on his partner’s fairly stoic face.

 

“Come on, Scarlet,” Len said standing up. “I’ll help you hook up your laptop to the t.v.”

 

Barry went to fetch his laptop and Len met him in the living room.

 

“Have you actually seen firefly?” Barry asked, looking up at Len from his position on the floor untangling cords. “Or did you just say that to rile up Mick?”

 

Len smirked. “You’re a smart kid, Red. Both.”

 

Barry smiled and Len couldn’t help but stare at how much lighter the hero’s face looked when not overshadowed by distress. Barry handed a cord up to Len, who connected it to the t.v. The screen blinked and Barry’s laptop showed up on the screen.

 

“There!” Barry said successfully just as Mick walked into the room. He was carrying a plate of cookies, which he set on the coffee table.

 

Len could see Barry hesitate as he went over to sit on the couch. Mick plopped himself down at one end of the couch and put his feet up on the coffee table. Len moved carefully over to the couch so that he was slowly herding Barry into the middle seat, positioning himself at the other end of the couch.

 

Len smiled to himself as Barry mouthed the words to the theme song along with the show. Mick also seemed to be very engrossed with the show, no doubt getting ideas that Len would have to reign in later. Some of them at least. Just the craziest ones. Some of Mick’s ideas turned out to be very amusing.

 

They entered episode two before Barry fully relaxed against the couch and let himself lean up against Mick. Mick moved an arm around Barry. Len and Mick worked in tandem over the second episode to maneuver Barry so he was leaning back against Mick’s chest with his feet in Lens lap. Mick cradled the relaxed hero against his side as he continued to be pulled deeper into the firefly world. Len slipped Barry’s socks off and dug his thumb into the bottom of the speedster’s right foot. The kid tensed for a moment, but then let out a small moan when Len’s fingers kept moving. Barry let his eyes slip shut as Len proceeded to give him a foot massage. Len smirked to himself. He knew he was very good at this, although Mick was better at shoulder massages.

 

They whittled away the afternoon curled up on the couch, watching Malcolm Reynolds navigate the Serenity and his crew around the universe causing as much trouble as they attempted to solve. Barry seemed to go in and out, dozing slightly against (usually) Len’s personal space-heater. 

 

Mick seemed reluctant to stop watching the show, but eventually had to get up and use the bathroom. This unfortunately jolted Barry awake, who looked adorable when he was sleepy and not bawling.

 

“Did Mick enjoy it?” Barry asked, yawning.

 

“Scarlet, you just gave him a dozen new crazy ideas,” Len snarked.

 

“We may have also had a discussion earlier about how I could possibly make a flour mixture explode…” Barry admitted slightly sheepishly.

 

Len just heaved an overly exaggerated sigh. “At least go to one of the warehouses before causing any explosions.”

 

Barry’s face fell slightly. “I should probably think about going—” he paused, “going home.”

 

“You don’t have to go, Red.” Len looked Barry in the eye. “Mick and I like having you here,” he said openly. “We don’t have an angle here, Barry. Not about this.”

 

“I…” Barry hesitated. “I really want to believe that,” he breathed.

 

Len shifted to a more comfortable position and resisted the urge to either curl up or punch something. “Scarlet, my sister and I didn’t exactly have the best of childhoods. Lewis— dear old dad— wasn’t the nurturing type. Mum deserted us after Lisa as born and our father was just out of jail for the first time.” Barry doe eyes were fixed on Len. Len took a deep breath before continuing, “My father took his anger out on us, when he wasn’t in prison. I kept Lisa out of it for as long as possible, but I had to leave her on her own with him when I did my first stint at juvie at 14.”

 

Len could tell Mick was hovering in the hallway, letting him have this moment with Barry. “I tried telling adults, cops about Lewis, but none of them ever believed me or wanted to get involved. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re trying to cross a bridge that’s missing all of its planks. I found my first rock in juvie when Mick stopped several tough guys from jumping me my first week there. I know we don’t have the most solid past, but at least in this, believe me when I say that we don’t want to see you alone.”

 

Barry was quiet for a moment, his eyes watering slightly. “I didn’t know any of that,” he finally said softly. “I’m sorry you and Lisa had to go through that.” He looked up at Len. “I don’t think I could trust Captain Cold with much right now, but I think I can trust Leonard Snart.”

 

Barry held out a hand to Len. “Hi, I’m Barry Allen.”

 

Len looked at it amused. “Hi Barry, I’m Leonard Snart.” Mick finally re-entered the room. “And this is my partner Mick Rory.” Mick just waved.

 

Barry seemed to be out of words and didn’t know where to go from here. “Would you like a shower before dinner, kid?” Len asked the wordless speedster.

 

Barry grabbed the lifeline. “Yes, please.” He blushed slightly and asked shyly, “Can I use the same bathroom as yesterday?”

 

Len smirked. “You like it? Sure, Scarlet. Go take some time to relax and think. Mick and I will probably be in the middle of preparing dinner when you get down.”

 

“Thanks,” Barry said, starting for the stairs.

 

“Don’t forget your new clothes,” Len pointed out. Barry blushed in embarrassment and retrieved the necessities. He waved awkwardly as he climbed the stairs.

 

When the kid was up the stairs, Len turned to Mick. “Blowing up flour mixtures? That’s how you bonded?” Len asked, looking at his partner incredulously.

 

“And baking,” Mick rumbled, giving his own side smirk. “He was better than you were the first time.”

 

Len sighed, exasperatedly. “Baking cookies wasn’t my focus growing up. We robbed banks, not bakeries.”

 

Mick let out a barking laugh before dragging Len in for a quick and dirty kiss.

 

“Missed that,” the pyro admitted. He pulled back a bit. “You missed our speedster licking chocolate off a spoon and eating a bowl of strawberries. You walked in on him eating the last one.”

 

Ok, Len was jealous. He wouldn’t admit that out loud, but yes. He and Mick could be patient, but it seemed that Scarlet was going to tease that patience (maybe unknowingly at first) the whole way.

 

Len backed Mick up against a wall. “And how then,” he drawled, “are you going to make it up to me?”

 

***Begin Lemon Scene***

 

Len saw Mick’s pupils widen and his eyes trail down to Len’s lips. One of his partner’s large hands settled on Len’s hip and pulled him closer. It had been more than a couple days since they’d had time for this. He could feel his pants tighten as Mick shifted against him. His partner leaned forward and captured Len’s mouth in a deep, languid kiss. Len let Mick dominate his mouth and felt Mick’s other hand sneak underneath his shirt.

 

Mick nipped at Len’s lip before licking and nipping his way down his partner’s neck. “If we had time, I’d toss your sexy ass on that couch. Get you out of that head of yours.”

 

Mick’s worked Len’s pants open with one hand and pressed his palm against Len’s growing bulge. Len could feel his heart beating faster and let out a low moan as Mick continued to palm at his still covered cock.

 

“Mick,” Len groaned, pressing forward into his hand. Mick let out a low and heady laugh. “I got ya’ Lenny.”

 

Mick’s hand left and Len wanted to glare at him. “Hmn, no patience tonight, huh?”

 

Len just huffed at him and pawed at Mick’s pants until he got them open. He had just gotten Mick’s cock out and into his hands when Mick’s hand came back. A now slick hand drew Len out and wrapped around him. Len’s breath hitched as Mick flicked his thumb over the head and began to pump at alternating paces.

 

Len’s hand wasn’t still throughout this, making sure Mick’s heavy cock got its own attention. Mick’s lips found his partner’s again, the kiss more forceful and filthy this time. Len let himself get lost in the feelings, his body leaning almost completely against Mick’s.

 

“Fuck.” Len cursed as he let Mick press his cock again Len’s, wrapping his large hand around both of them. His hand grasped at Mick’s shirt as his head fell forward to rest on Mick’s shoulder.

 

Mick muttered dirty, little promises into his breathless partner’s ear as his hand increased tempo, adding a slight twist to it. Len’s breath came faster as the sensations in him grew. His head spun as he lost himself in the feeling of being trapped between Mick’s hot erection and the pyro’s calloused hands.

 

Len’s world went white for a moment as he came, listening to Mick grunt his completion just after him. He left himself rest against his partner for a moment longer before pulling back.

 

***End Lemon Scene***

 

Len pulled Mick in for a slow, long kiss. He looked at the wide smile on his partner’s face. “That’s a good beginning,” the normally cold thief drawled. Mick just chuckled at him, handing him a tissue.

 

“We should clean up and start dinner before our little speedster comes down,” Mick rumbled, tucking himself back into his pants.

 

Len’s mind flashed to an image of Barry in-between the two thieves. Stop it, he scolded himself. One step at a time. He couldn’t help but appreciate the scene his mind conjured, though.

 

By the time Len had clean up and changed (he didn’t like wearing anything dirty), Mick had washed up and had begun preparing dinner.

 

By the time Barry had padded down the stairs, they had dinner mostly ready. He looked adorable with his hair still wet and sticking up all over the place, like he tried to dry it with a towel but lost the battle. The speedster had put Len’s blue sweatshirt back on, even though it was too large for him. Len wished he had a camera at this moment.

 

“Ok, Scarlet?” Barry looked a little more relaxed.

 

“Mhmm,” Barry nodded. “Uh, actually,” he took a cell phone out of his pocket. “My cell phone is dead. Do you have a charger that I could borrow?”

 

Len looked at the phone for a moment. Smart phone, but fairly standard build. “I think we have something that will work. Len signaled that Barry should follow him and led him into the study.

 

Barry looked around curiously; he hadn’t been in this room yet. Len led him to a cabinet on the right wall and pulled out a drawer. The drawer was filled with a pile of burner phones as well as a variety of different types of cell phones. Len shifted a few things around before pulling out a black charger.

 

Len turned around to find Barry staring at the drawer. He looked up at Len and said, deadpan, “Really?”

 

“I have a lot of people I need to call,” Len drawled, smirking at the hero. Barry rolled his eyes, but took the charger from the thief. He disappeared into the bedroom for moment, assumingly to plug it in.

 

They re-entered the kitchen to the delicious smell of Asian stir-fry. Barry breathed in deeply. “You guys are spoiling me,” he said smiling. “I normally do a lot of take out with how much I have to eat.”

 

“You deserve to be spoiled, Doll,” Mick asserted from his place at the stove. He started dishing out the food onto plates. He looked behind him and said, “I thought we’d take dinner into the living room and eat while watching more of that space cowboy show.”

 

Barry ducked his head as his smile widened. “Sure,” he shrugged, unsuccessfully trying to be nonchalant.

 

They settled onto the couch in the same order as earlier, chowing down on another delish dish cooked by Mick, watching the Serenity crew wreak havoc through space.

 

After the first episode, Mick disappeared into the kitchen and returned with the chocolate lava cake he and Barry had made earlier. Between the three of them, the cake quickly disappeared. Len and Mick watched their speedster happily dig into the chocolatey goodness. At one point, Len reached over and brushed his thumb over the corner of Barry’s mouth. Barry stared at him with slightly wide eyes.

 

“You had some cake just there,” Len said. He watched the hero blush and quickly turn to eat another bite of cake. Len smirked gleefully over Barry’s head at Mick before settling back to watch the show.

 

This time as they watched the episodes, there was more commentary from the peanut gallery. Barry couldn’t help but go off on passionate rambles about the science in the show, Len would interject snarky comments and suggestions on how to be better outlaws, and Mick would alternate being shushing the other two and explaining how he would have done the explosion. Len subtly studied their charge. It seemed that Barry was too into the show to be self-conscious enough to be shy.

 

They were several episodes in when Len felt a weight on his shoulder. Barry had fallen asleep and tipped sideways. It seemed that being relaxed and well fed did wonders. Len and Mick let the episode finish before turning it off. Len let Mick get up first in order to take Barry from Len. Mick scooped up the sleeping hero. The kid mumbled slightly, but rested quietly in his arms.

 

Len followed them down the hallway and couldn’t help but think about how tomorrow was going to complicate things. Len didn’t like complications. He planned so that he could avoid complications. Unfortunately, his sister had been a complication his entire life. And his life would get infinitely more complicated if he didn’t show up for Lisa’s birthday tomorrow. Len wasn’t sure if Barry would be comfortable enough to go to a place with other known criminals, however he didn’t want to make Barry feel like he had to run back to the labs. Complications.

 

Len thrust those thoughts aside and focused on Mick tucking Barry into bed and climbing in next to him. Mick scooted them over so that Len could climb in next to Mick. If that was how Mick wanted to play it, fine with him.

 

He left to change and brush his teeth, turning off the lights as he came back into the room. He settled down next to his partner, sticking his feet under Mick’s legs to warm them up. Mick opened one eye to glare half-heartedly. Len just smirked at him before closing his eyes.

 

This would have set up the perfect way to start a Sunday morning— if only Barry’s cell phone hadn’t gone off at 7 a.m…

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: A Failure to Communicate

 

Len woke up suddenly, his mind scanning for the danger that dragged him from sleep. He had been trained from a young age to sense danger in his sleep. He finally placed a noise coming from behind him. He extracted himself from Mick carefully and rolled over. There! He groped for the thing making the noise— Barry’s cell phone. It was a weird ring tone that Len couldn’t quite place. He started to smirk and reached to answer the call, but froze when he saw the caller I.D: CCPD. The phone stopped ringing and a couple seconds later the phone beeped, signaling that there was a message.

 

Len sighed. I thought he said he didn’t have work today. Why is the precinct then calling at… he looked at the time… Fuck, six in the morning?

 

Mick was groggily semi-awake at this point. “What’s going on?”

 

“Barry’s cell phone rang. It was the CCPD.” Len explained.

 

Mick grumbled a bit. The two men glared at the cell phone when it began ringing again. Len signaled to Mick that it was the CCPD again. His partner reached over and began to try and prod Barry awake.

 

Turning up the volume on Barry’s cell phone, Len could finally place the song. He chuckled a little with the irony. Renegade by the Styx. A slightly odd choice, but a good song.

 

“Doll, your work is calling.” Barry just tried to bury himself deeper into Mick’s side. The pyro shook him lightly. “The police station is calling you.”

 

Barry blearily opened his eyes. Len wished they didn’t have to wake him, but if CCPD was calling more than once, they were going to keep trying until they got him. Or sent Detective West out to go fetch him. Which would reveal Barry’s lack of location.

 

“Wha…” Barry yawned. The ringtone sped up a bit, getting to the chorus.

 

Len thrust the phone at him. The sleepy hero just looked at it for a moment for his eyes widened.

 

“Shit!” he cursed and tapped the screen to answer the call. “Hello?”

 

Len and Mick didn’t even pretend to not try and listen in to the conversation, which wasn’t that difficult with the loud voice on the other end of the phone.

 

“Allen! I know it’s early, but try and pick up the phone when we call you. I need you to come in immediately.” Captain Singh’s voice came through the phone.

 

Barry wilted with the news. “Sir?”

 

“There was a robbery at a jewelry store and one of the clerks was there late and shot,” Singh rattled off quickly.

 

“What about the lab tech who’s supposed to be in the lab today?” Barry asked.

 

“He worked through most of the night on another case, so I had to send him home for today. Allen, I know you’ve been distracted lately, but can you follow orders and do your job?” the Captain’s voice sounded rough.

 

Barry winced. “Yes sir, sorry sir.”

 

The Captain sighed audibly on the other end of the line. “Can you try to be somewhat punctual today, Allen?”

 

“I’ll try, sir. I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Barry promised his Boss.

 

“Soon, Allen.” And with that, Singh hung up.

 

There was a moment of silence. Barry leaned forward and put his head in his hands, groaning.

 

“Scarlet?” Len asked softly.

 

“I have to go into the precinct today. I don’t know how long it’s going to take,” Barry mumbled.

 

Mick put an arm around the slumped kid’s shoulders. “Ok, I’ll go make you breakfast to take with you and pack you some lunch. We’ll see you back here for dinner.” Mick slid around Barry, pulled on some pants and padded down the hall to the kitchen.

 

Barry just watched him go, open-mouthed. “You didn’t think he would let you go without food, do you?” Len smirked at the shocked and not completely awake CSI.

 

“Uh, no? I just, he mentioned being back here for dinner.” Barry shifted on the bed. “I don’t know how late I’ll have to work.”

 

“Well, I’m sure Mick can keep a plate for you in the fridge if you have to work late,” Len solved easily.

 

Len watched the kid play with the covers for a moment before getting out of bed. He went over to his bag and started pulling out clothes. “I need to go back to the lab at some point. All of my stuff is there and I really should be patrolling or helping rebuild at night, not having a firefly marathon.” Barry’s voice got tighter and slower and Len could almost see the massive weight settled back on the kid’s shoulders.

 

 “Hey,” Len got up and walked over to the speedster. “Look at me, Red.”

 

Barry glanced up at the thief, who held his chin gently with his hand. “Breathe for a second. You can’t take responsibility for the world. It’s going to be fine. You can swing by the lab after work and grab some things before coming back here.” Len could see the hope growing in Barry’s eyes. “If you really don’t want to, we’re not going to make you, but Mick and I meant it when we said we wanted you to stay here.”

 

Len could see it when Barry stopped his internal struggle. “Ok, I could do that.”

 

“Good.” Len nodded and let go of Barry’s chin, swiping his phone from him. “Go get dressed. You can leave what you don’t need for work here. I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”

 

Barry gave a small smile as Len strode out of the bedroom. Hm, maybe I should drive him to work. Len quickly darted up the stairs and changed into some dark jeans and a black shirt. When he finally got back down to the kitchen, Mick had already made their speedster three breakfast sandwiches, two thermoses of coffee, and a small cooler bag stuffed with lunch and snacks.

 

“Maybe you should just send the larger cooler,” Len snarked. “It would fit the rest of the pantry.” Mick rolled his eyes at him before slipping a final wrap into the make-shift lunch box.

 

“You know he won’t eat unless we make it easy for him,” Mick rumbled. Len just frowned in agreement. He took out Barry’s phone and programmed his number into it under “Lenny.” It was the version of his name least likely to be associated with him if someone else were to look at Barry’s phone.

 

He debated for a moment but ended up not putting Mick’s number in. If Barry’s phone were to get taken by someone, Len would rather they not have both his and Mick’s numbers. Len hated to think about it in this way, but he couldn’t let emotions preclude him from taking the normal precautions. Also, it was always a pain when they had to change both of their numbers at the same time.

 

 Barry slunk into the kitchen and Len couldn’t help his mouth from twitching upwards. The hero looked like an adorable nerd with his button down peeking out from underneath his sweater and his hair looking as if he had just run his hand through it and then given up.

 

“Scarlet, catch!” Len tossed him the phone. Barry looked at him questioningly.

 

“My personal number’s in there.” The thief smirked. “We expect to hear from you today, at the very least to let us know when you get out of work.”

 

“How do you know I’m not going to just use this to send you a million annoying texts all day?” Barry asked half-jokingly.

 

“Kid, texts from you would never be annoying.” Len saw that Mick was finished with the food. “We have some places to swing by today— it’s my sister’s birthday and I will never hear the end of it if we don’t put in an appearance.” Len rolled his eyes. “I don’t intend to stick around her rowdy crew that long. I’d lose IQ points.”

 

“And you don’t have many IQ points to lose,” Barry poked fun at Len shyly, causing Mick to snort and laugh.

 

“Hilarious, Red,” Len said deadpan.

 

Mick handed Barry the “lunch-box” and then passed over the sandwiches and coffee. “Snacks and lunch are in the cooler. These three sandwiches are for breakfast.” He stared Barry in the eyes. “You can’t just drink the coffee for breakfast, Doll. Promise me you’ll eat the sandwiches too.”

 

Barry blushed slightly but nodded. “I promise I’ll eat, Mick. Thank you for making me breakfast and lunch.”

 

Mick grunted in approval and walked with Len and Barry to the front door. Len stopped by the front closet and grabbed his black leather coat out and driving gloves.

 

Barry looked at him sideways. “Are you going out?” he finally asked.

 

Len raised an eyebrow at him. “You think we’re going to let you just run to work?”

 

“I can get there faster than you can driving me. If you haven’t forgotten, I do have super speed,” Barry reminded him.

 

“No, I remember,” Len said drily. “I just don’t care. And I don’t trust you not to get distracted along the way or use up energy you haven’t replenished yet that you should be saving for healing.”

 

Mick just shrugged at Barry, amused. “He’s a stubborn bastard.”

 

“Alright,” Barry agreed. “But you should probably drop me off a couple blocks away from the precinct. You are kind of noticeable.”

 

“Being stealthy is kind of my thing, kid. Don’t worry, you won’t be seen with me,” Len promised, grabbing his keys off the hook.

 

“I’m more worried about you being seen at all,” Barry admitted.

 

“I won’t be. I’m not seen unless I want to be.” Len led the way out to the garage, passing by the car.

 

“We’re not taking the car?” Barry asked, catching up to Len.

 

“I thought we’d go in style this morning,” he smirked, opened the door to reveal a sleek, silver motorcycle.

 

“Awesome,” Barry breathed.

 

Mick chuckled behind him. “Have fun, Doll. I’ll see you tonight,” Mick promised. “You want anything in particular for dinner?”

 

“Uh, you can choose,” Barry tried before seeing Mick’s unimpressed look. “Maybe pizza or calzone?”

 

Mick nodded as Len started the motorcycle behind them. “Come on, Scarlet. We gotta get you to work.”

 

Mick grabbed an extra helmet as Barry swung his leg over the motorcycle behind Len. Len watched as Mick gave Barry’s head a quick kiss before putting the helmet on. The kid turned as red as his Flash suit, but smiled.

 

Len kicked the stand up and once he felt Barry wrap his arms around him, peeled away towards the city.

 

 

Barry tightened his arms around Leonard as they leaned around a turn. This wasn’t as fast as he could run, but the ride was exhilarating. Barry closed his eyes and let himself feel the wind whip past them and the warm, solid body in front of him. He wasn’t going to argue with his position at the moment. He certainly wouldn’t mind getting to ride on the back of Len’s motorcycle more often. 

 

Pressing his body a little more against Len and relaxing into the weight shift, Barry let his mind drift. Last night was one of the most relaxed evenings he’d had in a long time. Barry had tried to see this from various angles of the criminals setting him up for something later, but they were all fairly implausible. And yeah, maybe Barry’s emotions were influencing that a bit, but it finally felt as if his feet had found some solid ground. He knew it would get pulled out from under him eventually, but he’d take it while it lasted.

 

Len pulled around another corner and slowed to a stop. He turned the bike off and helped Barry off, taking his helmet.

 

“Alright, kid,” the thief said. “You should only a block and a half from work.” He looked down at his watch. “Without any detours,” Len looked up at Barry giving him a pointed look, “you should make it to the precinct in 125 seconds.”

 

“Thank you,” Barry said, adjusting his bags. “You have a sweet ride.”

 

“You should see Mick’s,” Len smirked at the speedster. “Don’t forget to get in touch when you get out of work.”

 

“I won’t,” Barry promised. He waved and started down the sidewalk. He didn’t hear the roar of the motorcycle until after he had turned the corner. Barry was still smiling to himself when he walked into the precinct two minutes later.

 

“Allen!” the call came from the Captain’s office. Barry sighed. Here we go.

 

“Sir,” he greeted, stopping just inside the door.

 

“You’re not terribly late,” Singh said sounding slightly surprised. “And you have something other than coffee for breakfast?”

 

“Er… yes, sir,” Barry hedged, unsure of what the Captain wanted. And he was a little unsettled about how much the Captain seemed to have noticed about his habits. “Should I go grab my field kit…?”

 

“Yes. West will drive you over to the scene.” Singh handed Barry a folder. “This is the everything so far. Rosier and McMillian are over there now making sure no one is contaminating the scene. I want to make headway with this case today, Allen.”

 

Barry answered affirmatively, turning to head out of the office.

 

“Oh, and Allen?” the Captain called to him. Barry paused, looking back. “I’d like to see you later before you leave.”

 

“Yes, sir.” Damn, what lecture was Barry going to be getting this time? The hero tried to think back at the events of last week, but couldn’t think of anything out of the ordinary Singh would want to yell at him over.

 

Barry finally gave up trying to figure it out. He put down his lunch and grabbed his field kit. He kept one of the thermoses of coffee and the breakfast sandwiches with him for the ride over. He bounded down the stairs to Joe’s desk, where his foster father was waiting for him. 

 

“Ready to go?” Joe greeted his adopted son.

 

“Uh, yeah. Where is the scene?” Barry asked, trying to get an idea of how long the car ride would be.

 

“It’s the jewelry store on West Anderson St.” Joe gave him a side glance as they walked to the car.

 

Barry pulled out one of the sandwiches, figuring he could get through two sandwiches before getting to the store. He bit into the first sandwich, which was on a sesame bagel. Mick’s breakfast sandwiches were just as delicious as the rest of his dishes. Barry had just about finished the first one by the time he got into the car.

 

“Where were you?” Joe asked as soon as the door were closed.

 

“What?” Barry said after swallowing. “Where when?”

 

“Last night. How did you not catch this on your patrol?” Barry looked over to Joe to see him a little annoyed.

 

Barry gapped at him for a moment. “I wasn’t on patrol then. I was sleeping,” Barry said defensively.

 

The detective gave him a disappointed look. “Barr, you have a responsibility in this city. You chose to become the Flash and you can’t just ignore the responsibility that comes along with that whenever you feel like it.” Barry’s foster father shook his head as they pulled up to the scene. “I had expected more from you.”

 

Barry watched the man who mostly raised him get out of the car. Barry sat there for a moment trying to collect himself. He knew that he should have been patrolling, but didn’t he deserve one night to sleep? Barry was torn between anger that the world couldn’t give him a break and immense guilt that he was shirking his responsibilities.

 

Focus. Joe was already disappointed with you. Right now, there’s a scene to process. Don’t give Joe or Singh more failure to work with. Barry tried to motivate himself to focus on the scene, getting out the car and ignoring the rest of the officers there. He opened his thermos and gulped some coffee down just to have something to do with his hands. He headed over to where the body was. He pulled out a pair of gloves and began his initial examination.

 

The man was heavily burned, which most would have automatically pointed to as the cause of death, but Barry eventually found signs of strangulation on the heavily burned neck. He took pictures of everything before selecting samples. He took samples from under several fingernails, as it looked like the man initially fought his attacker. Barry took several other material samples from the scene, including what may be a strand of hair, before taking a break to scarf down another breakfast sandwich and then going to check the entrance point.

 

Barry’s eyes narrowed as he took in the destroyed lock to the back door. He took several pictures and samples, trying to figure out how it happened.

 

Joe walked up to Barry. “Any progress?”

 

“The man was killed by strangulation and only burned after he died,” Barry reported. “It looks like he fought his attackers, so I took samples of that. I’m not quite sure about the door lock.”

 

“Well, that’s something. Do you need to do anything else here before going back to process things in the lab?” Joe asked, still staring at the door.

 

Barry was just about to answer when the detective said suddenly, “wouldn’t ice have caused the lock to do that?”

 

Barry considered it. “It’s possible,” he admitted, but before he could say that it wasn’t the most likely, Joe continued.

 

“So, ice, fire, dead man in a jewelry store. I’m thinking Cold and Heatwave,” Joe concluded triumphantly. He looked at Barry with a frown on his face. “Were you even looking last night for any alerts from the system at the lab meant to detect things like this?”

 

Barry’s mind froze for a moment, considering the possibility that the two thieves he had been with all weekend had just been kind to him simply to distract him from Flash duties. He thought back to the night before and relaxed slightly as his mind went over where everyone was. They watched firefly episodes until after midnight, and Barry had woken up at 2:30 am from a bad dream (not quite a nightmare), and again at 5 am to go to the bathroom. He was fairly confident his Len and Mick didn’t do this.

 

“I don’t think it was Snart and his crew,” Barry said carefully. “This isn’t really his style of a heist.”

 

Joe turned to him with a raised eyebrow and scoffed. “Oh, really? Why?”

 

Barry tried to form logical arguments that Joe would accept. “Well, first of all, whoever pulled his off was sloppy. The timing doesn’t point to any sort of prior information gathering or planning. And it looks like the attacker left several traces of DNA. Cold is too smart and calculating for that.” He looked over to see that Joe was unmoved. “Also, there are several ways that the lock could have gotten like that. Cold normally just picks locks or has one of his crew get them in stealthily.”

 

“He could have messed up one job,” Joe argued. “And what about the burns? That points to a Mick Rory’s heat gun.”

 

Barry thought for a moment. “Snart wouldn’t have pulled a job like this because he knows that I’ll go after him if he breaks our deal. No killing. It would have been easy to knock out the clerk instead of killing him. Snart likes a challenge and wouldn’t have just thrown away my dare for this.”

 

“Barr, I think you’re giving him too much credit again,” Joe said, leading him back over to the other officers. “You’re too trusting about him keeping your deals. Do you need a reminder about everything he and his crew has done?”

 

“I know what he’s capable of,” Barry said angrily, “but he and Rory didn’t do this!”

 

Joe pulled him aside before they reached the others. “Look, I know that you don’t want it to be them because it would mean they broke a deal with you again and that you didn’t get wind of this so the Flash will feel guilty he wasn’t focused. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t them. I need you to get your head in the right place,” Joe whispered.

 

Waves of hurt washed over Barry with every sentence Joe threw at him. Barry swallowed hard, just nodded, and walked away from Joe before he either lost face or said something he would regret later. He knew that Len and Mick weren’t responsible for this and he was going to prove it.

 

He collected his materials and went up to Officer McMillian. “What’s up Allen?”

 

“I need to go back and start lab analysis, but Joe needs to be here longer. Could you take me back?” Barry asked, determined not to be alone with Joe again today.

 

“Sure, Allen.” He waved over to Rosier and led Barry over to his cruiser.

 

“You got a handle on this case, Allen?” McMillian asked as they made their way back to the precinct.

 

“I have some promising leads on evidence,” Barry explained.

 

“I heard West mentioned Captain Cold. Does he think his crew is responsible for this?” McMillian prodded curiously.

 

“Joe is convinced they’re the top suspects, but I know it wasn’t them. We’d be wasting time following that path,” Barry said forcefully.

 

The officer gave him a weird glance and Barry flushed slightly. “I know you got called in on a weekend, but don’t rush the case.”

 

“That’s not what it is!” Barry insisted.

 

“Ok,” McMillian agreed, not sounding convinced. He pulled up outside the station. “Well, good luck, Allen.”

 

“Thanks,” Barry said slightly dejectedly. He didn’t wait for the officer to share any more of his opinions. He hurried into the building and made directly for the stairs to his lab. He only let out an angry noise of frustration when he was safely inside his lab with the doors closed.

 

He sat down at his desk and pulled out the last breakfast sandwich Mick had made him, looking at it for a moment. He couldn’t connect the Mick who spent all weekend cooking and caring for him with the killer who strangled that man and set him on fire. His heart clenched uncomfortably at the thought of having to give up being able to lean on Leonard and Mick. He ate the sandwich automatically and downed the rest of the coffee.

 

Joe didn’t want to believe him or didn’t trust his judgement anymore? Fine. Barry would just prove it. The speedster moved decisively to set up all the necessary lab tests and computer programs. 

 

Barry had just switched out the last sample when the lab’s phone rang. The young CSI darted over to the desk. “Forensics Lab.”

 

“Allen, when you’re at a good stopping point, I’d like to have that meeting I asked for earlier,” Singh said.

 

Oh, right. The captain wanted to meet him. Fuck. “Yes sir. I can be down there shortly.” Barry responded.

 

“Good.” Singh hung up and Barry let out a sigh.

 

He stalled for as long as possible, even straightening up his desk and file folders. He dragged his feet down the stairs, purposefully not looking towards Joe’s desk as he crossed the bullpen. He knocked on the door to the Captain’s office.

 

“Enter!” came the shout from inside. When the Captain saw it was Barry he said, “Good. Shut the door behind you, Allen.”

 

“Yes sir.” Barry closed the door and made his way over to the chair in front of the desk. He sunk down into it and waited.

 

Singh just stared at Barry for a minute. “How are you, Allen?”

 

Huh? Where was this leading to? “Uh, fine sir.”

 

“I know that things have been hectic lately. How are things between you and Joe?” the Captain asked nonchalantly.

 

“Me and Joe?” Barry asked warily. “We’re fine.” What was Singh after?

 

“I see. So everything’s fine,” Singh asked drily. Barry blinked at him. “Do you know what I’ve learned in my years on the force?” Barry just shrugged. “When someone answers every question with ‘fine,’ good chances are that they’re not.”

 

Barry tensed. “I’m not sure what you want, sir. Everything’s fine.” Fine— Barry’s new favorite word. Maybe he’d steal Len’s favorite line and start using ‘peachy,’ to throw in some variety.

 

Singh seemed to drop some of his air of authority. “Allen, I’m not out to get you here. You’ve come into work exhausted recently. You hardly talk to anyone, you’ve lost weight, and you’re either working ridiculously late or absent for long stretches of time.”

 

“Sir?” Barry asked confused. None of those statements were questions and Barry was not about to offer any information (he had a bad habit of rambling and often ended up saying things he didn’t mean to).

 

“Allen— Barry,” Captain Singh leaned forward and braced his arms on the desk. “When I was younger, there was a point where I was very isolated from everyone. And as much as I’m sure I would have fought it then, looking back, I wish someone had even offered to listen. I just want you to know that while I’m sure I’m not your first choice, I’m here to listen with an open mind if you want to discuss anything.”

 

When Barry stayed silent, the captain continued, “you’re a good kid, Allen. You’ve had a rough past year and sometimes it’s easier to open up to strangers than close family. If not me, then even someone else or a therapist.”

 

Barry swallowed. He appreciated what the captain was offering, but what was he supposed to say? Sorry I’ve been distracted lately, but I’m actually the Flash and I’ve been busy running around fighting criminals, trying to fix the city from the wormhole that I selfishly caused, and deal with watching my mother die in front of me again? Oh, and I basically caused my foster sister’s fiancé’s death as well as the fiancé of one of my best friends. So it’s totally justifiable that they’re upset with me and have rightfully decided that I’m too dangerous to be around? And I just spent the weekend cuddling with Captain Cold and Heatwave? Barry mentally snorted. That would be an awesome conversation to have with the captain of the police. 

 

As if reading Barry, Singh backed off. “You’re welcome to come to me whenever you’re ready, Allen.” He checked his watch. “It’s about lunch time, I believe. Let me know when you get lab results,” he said as a dismissal.

 

“Yes sir,” Barry said, his voice rough. When he finally got his body to respond to him, he almost flew to the door. This was definitely not something he wanted to deal with today. He let out a sigh of relief when he got out of the captain’s office and closed the door behind him.

 

His relief was short lived. When he looked up he found Iris delivering lunch to Joe. Barry moved slowly, trying to avoid drawing attention to himself. He made it halfway across the bullpen before Joe caught sight of him.

 

“Barry,” he seemed very aware of the tension rising in the room. “How’s processing our evidence going? Have a positive I.D. for Snart or Rory yet?”

 

“No,” Barry said, his voice chilly. “I don’t have results yet, and I doubt they’re going to point to Snart or Rory anyways.”

 

Joe sighed heavily, as if tired of trying to convince a child of a seemingly simple fact. This pissed Barry off even more.

 

“Anyways,” Iris broke up their conversation, “here’s your lunch, Dad. I’m sure you’ll catch Snart and his criminal band soon.” She very determinedly didn’t look at Barry. “Maybe the Flash will actually show up next time to stop it from happening in the first place.”

 

Barry felt as if his body was both ice cold and red hot at the same time. There was a loud rushing noise in his ears and he vaguely heard Iris promise to see Joe at home later for a movie and her homemade lasagna. His feet automatically began to take him to the sanctuary of his lab. He knew that Iris was upset, but he thought they could eventually at least talk again. This though, this wasn’t Iris just shutting down the bridge between them temporarily, she had pulled down and destroyed the whole bridge.

 

He was jerked out of his swirling thoughts by the beeping of several machines in his lab. Barry went through the movements automatically, setting the first results aside until he had all of them. He didn’t feel hungry, but thinking about Len and Mick gave him grounding, so he opened his “lunch-box.”

 

He reached in and picked up a piece of paper on top of the food.

 

            Doll–

I expect to find this cooler empty when you get home tonight. Don’t let anyone push you around today. We’ll see you at home for dinner and more space outlaws.

 

The note wasn’t signed, but it was clear Mick had written it. Barry felt himself warm up a little inside and cracked a small smile. He peered inside to find several wraps, a fruit salad, various crunchy snacks, a variety of vegetables and ranch dip, several granola bars, and the last of the brownies and scones from the other day.

 

Barry pulled out an array of food and settled down at his desk to read the lab results so far while eating. It was clear this case was going to take some time to puzzle through. Barry was determined to prove Mick and Len’s innocence (in this case, at least) before dinner.

 

Barry absentmindedly answered the various officers who checked in on his progress throughout the afternoon. It was nearing 4:30 pm when Barry finally had the results from all of his lab tests. He was just waiting for the DNA analysis to try and find a match in the data base.

 

Barry sat up suddenly as he thought of something. Cisco had built a program which tracked the cold gun’s signature. That would have pinged if it had been Captain Cold and Heatwave at the jewelry store. Barry let himself feel satisfied for a moment. Joe couldn’t argue with that. Not that it would make Joe believe him, but it should be enough to force him to look in other places.

 

Barry was gathering the folders with results he had put together, believing that the DNA search wasn’t going to find anything, when his computer beeped. Barry’s heart skipped a beat and then loosened when he saw the matches on the screen: Michael Santini and Christopher Wells. Well, that’s not going to make this an easy case, but Barry had done his part and had proved that Len and Mick weren’t the instigators.

 

Barry saved and printed out the results, adding them to the folders. He strode down the stairs, dropping a folder on each McMillian’s and Joe’s desk. He knocked on the Captain’s door, clutching the final folder.

 

“Come in,” came a tired voice from inside.

 

“Sir, I have the results from my lab analyses,” Barry greeted eagerly.

 

Singh sat up in his chair, eyes zooming in on the folder Barry was holding.

 

“Oh,” Barry handed over the folder and offered a summary of the crucial points. “The DNA found under the victim’s fingernails from fighting his attacker matches that of Christopher Wells. I was able to get both a fingerprint and a hair sample that confirm the identity of Michael Santini.” The Captain’s eyes widened at the name and he began flipping through the pages faster.

 

“Are you positive, Allen?” Singh pressed.

 

Barry nodded. “Positive. I’m sure that the Santini family won’t be pleased that the family’s youngest son was careless and left evidence behind. Also, the lock was opened using a cold explosive. And the burns are consistent with some sort of flame thrower. The analyses are in there.”

 

Singh nodded, pleased. “Good work, Allen. Make sure that you make several back-ups of your results before you leave. I’ll need you in tomorrow, but I can schedule you another day off on Tuesday because you had to come in today.”

 

“Thank you, sir. I’d appreciate that,” Barry let out a small smile.

 

“And Allen, I’m going to need you to stay quiet about this for now. Going after the Santini’s in any way is an important matter.” The captain looked at Barry seriously. “We’re probably going to need you to testify in court as the lab technician if we can get it to that point.”

 

Barry just nodded and took Singh’s refocusing on the results as a dismissal. He didn’t bother even looking to see if Joe was there and looking at the results. Dealing with Joe was becoming exhausting and frustrating. Barry would see him tomorrow anyways.

 

It took Barry another hour to make the proper copies. When he was finally ready to leave he pulled out his cell phone. He paused, debating internally if Len really meant it when he said Barry should text him.

 

He decided on a fairly innocuous text: Done with work. Grabbing some clothes and heading to your house. If it’s still ok. Need me to pick anything up for dinner?

 

Barry tried not to check his phone as he left the station and ran to STAR labs. It was the first time in several days that Barry had run and it felt good. He looked around the lab, checking on the security and detection programs. Quiet so far.

 

The speedster packed a small duffle with some of his stuff, not wanting to assume by bringing too much, but if they were going to insist on him staying there, he wanted some of his own stuff. He dithered around the lab debating on what exactly to bring. He put down the duffle a couple times, undecided about showing up at a Rogue’s safe house with a, a, a sleepover bag.

 

He looked around “his room,” taking in the cot, stacks of boxes, makeshift furniture, and cramped room. Now that he had stayed in their house, this room felt even smaller and more isolated. That decided it for Barry— back to Len and Mick it was.

 

Headed over now, Barry texted to Len again before leaving the lab.

 

He flashed across town, getting just over half way there before stopping in a side alley. Fuck. He couldn’t have his signature trail of lightning seen anywhere close to the Rogue safehouse. He’d have to walk at a normal speed the rest of the way.

 

Barry walked with a slight bounce in his step as he got closer, trying not to let himself worry about the lack of response from Len. He could just be busy. It took another twenty minutes to reach the correct neighborhood and another couple of minutes of wandering to find the right house. Without his super speed, Barry was actually really bad with directions. He headed up the driveway, frowning at the lack of light coming from the house. Maybe they were still out? Got caught up in something? Should he wait here? Go back to the labs?

 

The sound of footsteps behind him had Barry whirling around. He could already tell that the figure was not Len or Mick. He tensed and shifted his stance subtly.

 

“You Snart’s boy toy?” the man sneered as he got closer. Barry looked at the rat-faced man.

 

“Who’re you?” Barry demanded, not answering the embarrassing, off-putting question.

 

“Roscoe. I’m Lisa’s boyfriend, an actual partner who’s not disposable,” he derided.

 

Barry’s chest tightened with every word. This wasn’t going where his mind raced to— it couldn’t be. “So?” Barry shot back, not sounded as confident as he’d have liked.

 

“Snart couldn’t be bothered to come all way out here himself. Didn’t want to deal with you.” The man scoffed. “Obviously not important enough.”

 

Barry felt like he was being squeezed painfully, his vision starting to blur. “What?” he finally got out, dropping the duffle bag to the ground.

 

No. Barry couldn’t think straight. He wouldn’t. They wouldn’t. Not after, after everything. They couldn’t have faked all of that.

 

“Stupid too, aren’t you?” the man sighed sharply. “Snart sent me to tell you to get lost. That you were just a fun passing project. Didn’t think you’d actually contact him again.” He smirked cruelly, seeing the broken look on Barry’s face. “I’d just run along if I were you. I mean, if you want to anger him by sticking around to get an answer from him, it’s your prerogative. I delivered the message.”

 

Roscoe stood there for a moment, jeering at Barry with his arms crossed, a gleeful gleam in his eye. Barry felt like his world was dissolving around him. Roscoe smirked again and walked away, laughing to himself and leaving Barry standing alone in front of a dark house. When he finally got his body to obey him, he felt like he was wading through molasses.

 

Run, his mind was telling him. Run far away from here and everyone. His lightning trail zig-zagged across the city as he ran a path like a drunk man. He finally found himself back in lab. He pulled his phone out of his pocket. His fingers felt numb as he texted Len one last time.

 

You should have just left me in that shop.

 

Barry pressed send and let the phone slip from his fingers. He couldn’t think through the fog invading his mind. Slowly the world slipped away, until Barry just embraced the numbness waiting for him.

 

 

Two hours earlier

 

Len huffed from his spot in the corner of the room. Lisa’s friends were tiring. Even if most of the people here were Rogues or associates. Mick was across the room, arm wrestling Lisa’s sometimes boyfriend, Roscoe.

 

Len scowled. He didn’t like that weasel. He wasn’t worthy of Lisa. He wasn’t worthy of continuing to breath, in Len’s opinion, but between his sister wanting to keep him around and his promise to Barry not to murder anymore, he was stuck with the bastard.

 

Len checked his phone again, for the tenth time that hour. Still no message from Barry. Hopefully he was just busy finishing up the case and not having trouble. Len was not even entertaining the thought of Barry not coming back. He was well aware of how stupid it was for him to get this emotionally invested this quickly, but he and his scarlet speedster have had a complicated relationship for a while.

 

He felt his sister slide up next to him in his corner. Len glanced at her out the corners of his eyes. “Yes?” he drawled.

 

His sister pouted. “How can you claim to have spent any time with your darling sister on her birthday if you hide away in this corner on your phone the whole time!” she complained.

 

“It’s called multitasking,” Len snarked. His sister just pouted further. He sighed. “Lis, you’ve been surrounded by other people all afternoon, and I gave you an incredibly acceptable gift.” He looked down at his phone again. “I’m waiting for an important message.”

 

Roscoe’s shout from across the room interrupted their conversation. “You’re a cheater, Rory!”

 

“What did you call me?” Rory growled, standing up.

 

Fuck. Just what he needed tonight. Before he could say anything else to his sister, Lisa had swiped his cell phone from his hand before he could even lock it and darted away.

 

“You’ll get it back later, Lenny! The world won’t fall apart if you don’t answer it right away!” She disappeared into a back room.

 

Len made to follow her, but loud growls from across the room had Len changing direction. He watched as Mick punched Roscoe and pinned him against the wall.

 

“Mick!” he put a hand on Mick’s shoulder. “This asshole isn’t worth your time.” Len smirked cruelly at Roscoe. “Not worth anyone’s time it seems. What’s your job again? Oh, right, no crew would take your stupid ass.”

 

Len backed up slightly. “If you hit him again Mick, he might not have any IQ points left.”

 

Mick grunted, but dropped his hold on the man. Lisa made her way over and frowned at all three men.

 

“Are you fighting on my birthday?” she demanded, glaring at them.

 

Mick glowered at her and Len just crooked an eyebrow. Roscoe immediately started complaining.

 

“Your brother and his lap dog have never liked me and take out their jealousy on me,” he whined. Lisa looked slightly annoyed but ordered them all to stop fighting. Roscoe stomped away, probably to go get another drink and sulk, Len thought.

 

“You’re both playing cards with me,” Lisa demanded, herding them over to an ongoing card game.

 

Len sighed, but decided to appease his sister before sneaking away in a bit to grab his phone and get back to their house before Barry did.

 

Several hands later, Len was half focused on a winning hand, but out of the corner of his eye caught Roscoe come out from the back of the house smirking. He just waved to Lisa, shouting that he was running out for more alcohol and would be back.

 

“Lenny!” Lisa prodded. “Can you just let up on him for once and just be here with me for an hour?”

 

Len rolled his eyes, but complied. He won easily (unsurprising), but was then forced by Lisa to be the official cake cutter. By the time Lisa let him out of her sight, Len was itching to find his cell phone and get out of here. His sixth sense alarm was going off— something felt wrong. He scanned the room quickly, not finding anything off at first. On a second pass, he found Roscoe staring at him and Mick with a beer in hand, smirking and chuckling to himself.

 

Len’s sixth sense alarm grew louder. Mick had spotted it too and followed Len as he bowled through the crowd of people to the smug bastard.

 

“You look upset, Snart,” Roscoe jeered. “Loose something? Like your little fuck boy for the night?”

 

Len felt a cold wave of fury race over him. Mick picked the rat-bastard up by the shirt and slammed him against the wall, beer bottle clattering to the floor. “What. Did. You. Do?” Len’s voice had dropped into his dangerous Captain Cold tone. Several smart people around them began to back away, recognizing the criminal’s don’t-fuck-with-me air.

 

Roscoe had no such brains and continue to bait Cold. “Took a walk and found your boy toy waiting in front of your house.” Mick growled and Len took a sharp breath in. “He texted your phone over an hour ago, seemed pleased to be joining you for another night.”

 

Barry contacted us. And I didn’t have my phone because of my sister. Len breathed out heavily through his nose. His sister could be a bitch, but he wasn’t about to hit her. She wasn’t overly trying to be malicious. But this bastard went back to find my cell phone (which wasn’t locked thanks to Lisa), probably to try and get blackmail or something useful off of it. Instead, he found messages from our Barry.

 

“Boss, can I kill him?” Mick snarled, shaking Roscoe a bit.

 

Len aimed his icy-cold glare straight into the soon-to-be-dead man’s eyes. “If you touched him, we will kill you right here. Have you forgotten who we are?”

 

Roscoe finally seemed to be getting nervous. “I just told him how much he wasn’t wanted anymore. That your time playing with him was done and you sent me to tell him because you couldn’t be bothered yourself.” He let out one last weak smirk. “He was such a fragile thing, easy to break. You’ll have to find yourself a new toy.”

 

With that, Mick pounced and began to pummel his face. Lisa was racing over, but Len gave her a stony glare and she stopped several feet away.

 

“Mick,” Len ordered. Mick stepped back and Len pulled out the cold gun from its hiding spot under his jacket. He pointed it at Roscoe’s crotch. “Give me one reason I shouldn’t freeze your dick off right now.” Len knew that he wasn’t thinking logically, but he didn’t care at the moment.

 

“Lenny,” Lisa tried, coming up to his elbow.

 

“No. Your boyfriend,” he sneered, “might have just sent a kid into a state worse than death.” He angled the gun slightly and pulled the trigger. The shot missed Roscoe’s crotch, but blasted his left hand. The man let out a gargled scream and fell to the ground.

 

“If I ever see you again, I’ll freeze more than your hand,” Len promised darkly. He whirled around and said darkly to his sister, “phone. Now.”

 

Lisa rushed down the hall and came out with the phone a moment later. Mick had grabbed their other things, glaring at anyone who didn’t get out of his way fast enough. Len stalked out of the house leaving Roscoe still whimpering on the floor. Len opened his phone and pulled up his messages. He read Barry’s messages with a sinking heart. The kid still showed up at our house even after I didn’t response? Fuck. We might have just unintentionally destroyed him completely.

 

They had finally gotten to the car when Len’s phone lit up with another incoming text. Len read the final text from their speedster with Mick reading over his shoulder. They gave each other a panicked look and broke into a sprint.

 

“Where?” Mick grunted, jumping into the driver’s seat.

 

“The labs,” Len decided, slipping into the passenger’s seat. He tried calling Barry, but it continued to ring and went to voicemail. Len didn’t bother leaving a message but continued to try again and again as Mick sped through the city.

 

Len hated feeling this worried and panicked. It meant that he wasn’t in control of the situation and it had been a long time since that had happened. Mick ran another red light, leaving a cacophony of honking behind them. Len tried to shove his emotions down and calm his frantic thoughts. He wouldn’t be any help if he let his emotions run rod-shod over him.

 

It felt as if they drove for hours before they finally arrived at STAR labs. The parking lot and surrounding area was deserted. Good for keeping a secret identity, but also a good way to get kidnapped or walk into an ambush. Len quickly noted the few cameras and only half-decent security system. It was easy for the thieves to avoid the cameras (in case someone else, like one of his little friends was watching the feed) and break the security locking the door leading down to the Flash’s main base.

 

“Scarlet?” Len called out as soon as they exited the elevator on the right floor.

 

The lab was eerily quiet as Captain Cold and Heatwave rushed through Flash’s “secret” base, ignoring weapons, data, and information that they would have gleefully stopped to get before all of this started.

 

They split up, throwing open every door, hoping that their speedster was here somewhere. Several agonizing minutes later, Len opened a door to a storage room and finally spotted Barry.


“Barry!” he gave a relieved shout. Hearing the echo of Len’s shout, Mick came thundering down the hall. He skidded to a stop behind his partner.

 

“Doll?” he asked softly, slightly out of breath.

 

Barry didn’t react to any of this. He was sitting on the edge of a small cot, his messenger bag sprawled unceremoniously in the middle of the floor and his cell phone forgotten by his foot. The hero’s hands were clutching the end of the cot and he was staring at seemingly nothing.

 

Len took a careful step forward. “Barry, Roscoe lied to you. He tried to hurt me through you and I’m sorry you got stuck in the middle. But Scarlet,” Len pleaded slowly getting closer and closer, “you are wanted. Mick and I want you with us.”

 

Len finally reached the unnaturally still speedster and crouched down in front of him so they were eye to eye. Barry’s face was simply blank and unresponsive, his eyes not even blinking.

 

I’m going to fucking murder that bastard later. Forget a hand. He fucked with the wrong criminals. Len was furious on the inside, but used his careful training to hide his emotions.

 

“Barry,” he said gently, “Mick and I are here. I promise that we’re going to take care of you.” He slowly took Barry’s hands and started rubbing small circles on the tops of them with his thumb. “We took care of Roscoe. He lied to you, Scarlet. Everything he said was a lie. You’re not alone.”

 

Len kept his voice low and soothing. He heard Mick move past him and shift through some of the boxes. Len glanced behind him and found Mick packing a large duffle bag with whatever things Mick could find.

 

It took Len another ten minutes of his murmured promises and quiet pleads, never letting go of Barry’s hands before he got a response. It was small, but Barry’s eyes seemed to refocus, shifting to meet Len’s gaze.

 

“Barry?” Len prompted gently. The kid blinked at him slowly. “That’s it, Scarlet. You’re safe here. Come back now.”

 

Mick dropped down to kneel beside Len. “It’s time to go home, Doll.” Barry slowly turned his head to look at Mick and blink again, a little faster this time. Mick moved back before standing so he wouldn’t be towering over the kid.

 

Len gently tugged on Barry’s hands as he slowly stood up. Barry let the thief pull him up until he was standing precariously, swaying slightly. Mick swiftly moved to Barry’s other side, wrapping an arm around him. The group slowly and carefully made their way out of the lab, Len leading Barry by the hand with Mick steadying the out-of-it speedster. Len was solely focused on Barry. They needed to get him home, warm, and coaxed out of his mental hiding place. This was several major steps backwards and Len could only hope that this didn’t break Barry’s trust in them completely.

 

Len slid into the backseat, letting Mick lift Barry into the car and into Len’s waiting arms. The speedster was compliant throughout all of this and slumped against Len’s shoulder. Len buckled them both in as Mick climbed into the driver’s seat to take them home.

 

In his singular focus, the exceedingly meticulous thief missed one oddly placed camera. A blemish on his perfect record. The camera was carefully mounted so one would almost have to be on the roof to see it and so went unnoticed by the oddly composed group that stole away into the night.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Heating Up

 

Len made sure to keep up a soothing stream of words to help ground Barry the entire car ride. Barry didn’t seem to come back to himself completely, but he didn’t slip backwards either. When they pulled up to the house, Len let Mick get out first and help Barry out of the car.

 

Mick took Barry and led him into the house, Len trailing along behind with the bag Mick had packed. Len stopped halfway to the house and stared at the small duffle sitting on the path. Barry had come with a packed bag. He packed. Which meant he wanted to stay. Len was torn between feeling even more guilty about what happened and pleased that Barry had chosen to come back.

 

Len snatched up the other bag and easily caught up to where Mick and Barry shuffling down the front hallway.

 

“He’s cold, Lenny,” Mick said lowly. “We need to get him to come out of this and get warm.”

 

“He can’t be alone.” Len looked thoughtful for a moment. “Take him upstairs for a warm shower, Mick.” His face darkened for a moment. “I need to make a few calls.”

 

Mick gave him a serious nod before gently leading Barry towards the stairs. The young hero still hadn’t uttered a sound and when they reach the stairs he just stared at them.

 

“Doll, I’m going to pick you up, alright? Just so we can get upstairs,” Mick rumbled.

 

Barry turned his head and blinked at him. Mick apparently took that as permission and lifted him into his arms. The kid didn’t tense up, so perhaps he was starting to register more. Len dropped off Barry’s bags in the back bedroom, keeping an ear on Barry and Mick.

 

Finally alone, Len allowed the cold anger he had pushed down to rise back up. He was not going to let this go. Len wouldn’t have been upset had Roscoe died or disappeared forever, but he hadn’t bothered putting effort into aggravating the fucker. But now. Now, the game had changed. He had dared to touch something of Len’s.

 

He pulled out his phone and flipped through several contacts. He paced around the bedroom as he waited for the person to pick up.

 

“I thought we were on vacation?” Hartley Rathaway greeted. Len was just silent for a beat as the Pied Piper scrambled to correct his greeting. “Right, sorry. What can I do for you, boss?”

 

“I’m ordering an open hit season on Roscoe Dillon,” Len said flatly.

 

Rathaway just sighed. “What did the idiot do now?”

 

“He interfered with someone of mine. I want him gone,” Captain Cold demanded.

 

“Gone, boss?” Hartley said hesitantly. He could tell that this anger was different than the normal annoyance.

 

“Gather the Rogues still around and get Roscoe out of my city.” Len was growling by the end.

 

“Oh fuck,” came the hushed curse. “What did he do? When you say gone, what gone are we talking about?”

 

“Whatever method you need to use to get the bastard out of Central City,” Len explained coldly. “I’m counting on you and whatever Rogues you pull in to get this done without drawing any attention to yourself.”

 

“So, are we still under the Flash rules of not killing anyone?” the Pied Piper sighed, almost annoyed.

 

“I’m not picky in this case. Roscoe’s no innocent. And the more pain involved while getting rid of him, the better,” Len responded angrily. “Mick won’t be involved, nor will I. I expect frequent updates from you Rathaway.”

 

Len hung up without waiting for a reply. Lisa would be furious, but she forfeited her opinion when she failed to keep her boyfriend on a tight leash. Barry could have been pushed to a lot further extremes than shutting down (which wasn’t a good response either, but he hoped they caught it in time). With the kid’s speed, he could have made it halfway across the continent before they had realized something was wrong– gotten himself lost or hurt or killed. The thief let out a sharp, angry breath and decided to head to the kitchen. Hopefully, Barry would be hungry when he and Mick came down.

 

 

Mick set Barry down on his feet, hovering for a moment to make sure that he wasn’t going to collapse. Satisfied for the moment, Mick puttered around the bathroom gathering everything he thought he would need: several wash cloths, shampoo, body wash, a large towel, and an extra pair of slippers Mick had stashed away in a bottom cabinet (Len tended to steal all of Mick’s slippers, so he had taken to hiding them). Setting these on a chair and the bottles inside the stall, Mick started the shower and then turned to Barry.

 

“Doll,” Mick said hoping to get the hero’s attention. “This will work better with less clothing. We need to warm you up. I’m going to remove some of your clothing, but I’ll leave your boxers on, alight?” Mick tried to explain plainly and clearly so it might break through the kid’s barrier.

 

Barry continued to blink at him. Ok, so a different approach. “Can you lift your arms for me, Doll?”

 

There was a long pause, but Barry slowly lifted his arms above his head. Mick nodded encouragingly at the first sign of recognition from the hero and set to work getting Barry out of his sweater and button down. The pyro carefully knelt down to unlace Barry’s shoes and take off his socks and pants. It took a bit of maneuvering, but finally Barry stood in just his boxers.

 

Mick let go of Barry to quickly strip down to his boxers as well. The thief opened the shower door and offered his hand to Barry. While he still didn’t seem totally aware, the lost hero reached out and took Mick’s hand.

 

Mick smiled at the response and led Barry into the steaming shower. They just stood under the warm spray for several minutes, Mick holding onto Barry’s shoulders lightly.

 

Mick perked up when Barry lifted his head and looked around, a confused expression gracing his face. He waited until the speedster turned to look at him before asking, “Do you know where you are, Doll?”

 

It took Barry a moment, looking around at the bathroom before nodding slowly.

 

“Good. It’s just you and me. And Lenny downstairs. You’re safe here,” Mick tried to reassure the still confused hero. “We’ll get you warm and then some dinner. Ok?”

 

Barry nodded slowly again. Well, he wasn’t panicking after finding himself in a shower with one of his former nemeses at least.

 

Barry reached behind Mick and picked up the shampoo. He stared at the bottle in his hand until Mick finally interjected. “Do you want me to wash your hair for you, Doll?” He held out his hand, waiting.

 

When Barry handed over the bottle, Mick slowly spun Barry so they were back to chest. Mick ran his fingers through Barry’s hair a few times before beginning to massage the shampoo in.

 

Barry made a pleased noise and leaned back into Mick’s chest. The thief’s shoulders lost some of the tension they had been carrying as his charge began to come out of his mental hiding spot. Mick let his broad hands massage from the top of Barry’s head down to his neck, smiling to himself as their speedster let his head fall forward slightly to give Mick more room.  

 

Unhurriedly, Mick’s hands turned Barry into a puddle of goo. Mick washed his charge and then stood in the shower until his skin wasn’t cold to the touch anymore. It was Barry who moved first, turning so he was facing Mick. He proceeded to bury his face in Mick’s chest and wrapped his arms around the surprised criminal. Mick gently brought his arms to encircle the hero, just holding and grounding him.

 

When Barry let go and stepped back, his ears were tinged pink but his eyes had cleared more. Mick kept one arm around Barry’s shoulder while getting them out of the shower. He wrapped a large, red towel around Barry, dwarfing his small frame.

 

The pyro didn’t bother grabbing a towel, but started for the door. “Wait here for a moment, Doll. Be right back.”

 

 

Everything looked hazy and the world seemed to be moving in slow motion. The incomprehensible space caused sharp pangs of loneliness to hit Barry that made him want to get out, but trying to remember what had happened was wholly overwhelming. Slowly, low, soothing voices penetrated the fog. He knew those voices. They were danger? No, that didn’t seem quite right anymore. Thinking took an exceeding amount of effort. And it was too confusing. He thought that he moved at some point, but he wasn’t focused on it.

 

But the voices continued and the gentle touches started to ground Barry. He could tell someone was asking questions of him. He knew he should answer, but couldn’t understand what they were asking. He felt the ground fall away from him as he was surrounded by strength and warmth. This. This felt safe.

 

The voices were back. It was… a question? Warmth? Yes. He wanted that again. Specific words began to filter into Barry’s mind.

 

“…lift…arms…Doll?” That required moving. No. …but, Doll— Barry’s instincts were telling him to trust the person calling him that. It was a monumental effort, but he slowly raised his arms.

 

Gentle movements compelled Barry to try and focus on where he was. His surroundings slowly started to register. He blinked as he saw a large, calloused hand reaching out to him. Why was his heart beating fast from just seeing this hand? Reaching back, he was pulled under a warm stream of water. As the water ran over his body, the sensation drew Barry’s mind forward. Was it raining? No, he was…in a shower?

 

He looked up and tried to place the bathroom he must be in. His exploration brought him to a familiar face.

 

“Do you know where you are, Doll?” the voice rumbled.

 

It took another moment to place it, but something clicked. Mick. He was with Mick. In their entirely too large bathroom.

 

“Good. It’s just you and me. And Lenny downstairs. You’re safe here,” the reassuring voice promised. “We’ll get you warm and then some dinner. Ok?”

 

Barry nodded as the words started to register more. He was still confused— he was somewhere else though before, wasn’t he? How did he get to the shower?

 

His eyes focused on a bottle of shampoo on a small shelf. Winter Woods. That smell… He reached out and picked it up, staring at the name.

 

A voice jarred him out of his scrutiny. “Do you want me to wash your hair for you, Doll?”

 

Barry’s body still felt sluggish to respond. Having someone else wash his hair would be nice. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had done that for him. The large hands were back, turning him and rubbing shampoo into his scalp. Oh! That felt so nice.

 

He let his mind wander (but not retreating), making small pleased noises as the hands massaged and kneaded his body into relaxation. Len might be good at foot massages, but Mick was just as good at neck and shoulder massages.

 

His circumstances slowly started to come back. The days at the Rogues house, the call from work this morning, his hesitation but desire to come back here, the shattering news from that sneering man that Len and Mick didn’t really want him, running, Len and Mick showing up…

 

They found him! They came for him. And Mick was taking care of him. Barry couldn’t stop himself from turning around and burying his face into the thief’s chest. He almost cried in relief as Mick’s strong arms encircled him.

 

It started to register exactly where Barry was and what he was doing. He flushed and stepped back, embarrassed. A short moment late, a fluffy towel was wrapped around him as Mick left, telling him to wait here.

 

Barry pulled the towel tighter and wiggled his toes in the soft bathmat while waiting for Mick. It wasn’t long before the door reopened. The criminal was still wet from the shower and Barry had a fleeting thought about how incredibly hot he looked before that thought was interrupted by something being thrust into his line of view.

 

“You can put this on for now.” Mick was handing him a bathrobe. “It’s Lenny’s.”

 

Barry took the soft robe and pulled it on, dropping the towel in the process. He frowned down at his wet boxers, wrinkling his nose. He shimmed them off and tightened the tie on the robe.

 

Mick bent down and picked up the now wet towel and boxers, chucking them into a laundry basket, and set out slippers. Barry shuffled into them, wiggling his toes again. Mick looked on, amused, and— when Barry seemed settled— took Barry’s hand and walked him downstairs.

 

Barry felt like he was floating. His mind wasn’t completely clear, but he felt so comfortable. Len met them at the bottom of the stairs.

 

“I used the dough you made earlier and put together some pizzas. They should be done in about half an hour.” Len said to Mick while he scrutinized Barry.

 

Mick grunted in acknowledgement. “Shower helped. He knows where is he and mostly what’s going on. Just a little out of it.”

 

“Hey Scarlet,” Len addressed the quiet hero. “You hungry? We took your suggestion and made pizza.”

 

It wasn’t something Barry was aware of until that moment, but as soon as Len started talking about pizza, Barry could feel his empty stomach. He nodded to Len, a shy, slightly embarrassed expression flashing over his face. He gave a pointed look at the bathrobe and then up to Len.

 

“I put your bag in the bedroom,” Len explained. “Some of your clothing is hanging up in the closet and the rest of it is in the top several drawers of the dresser.” Mick let out a snort at this and Len shot him a side glare.

 

“I wasn’t going to leave them in the bag to wrinkle,” Len defended. “And he wasn’t going to live out of a suitcase.” If Barry was paying closer attention, he would have said that Len had pouted for a minute there.

 

“Doll,” Mick said grabbing his attention, “I’m going to leave you with Len and I’m going to change. That ok?”

 

Barry was reluctant to have Mick leave his sight, but he nodded, albeit unenthusiastically.

 

“I’ll be back in a minute,” he promised and bounded up the stairs.

 

Len took up Mick’s place, sliding his hand into Barry’s and lacing their fingers together. “Come on, Red. I’ll show you where I put everything.” Barry glanced down at their clasped hands, soaking in the gentle, comforting touch. The hero had expected Leonard’s Snart’s hand to be much colder.

 

Barry stared, slightly stunned, as he took in the bedroom. Len really had unpacked. Like, everything. Work clothes were hung in the closet, along with his jacket. Shoes neatly lined up along the bottom. Shirts in one dresser drawer. Socks, underwear, and undershirts in another. The final drawer holding sweatpants and lounge clothing. The thief had even put Barry’s few toiletries and assorted other things on top of the dresser. 

 

Huh, he guessed they really did want him here. Seeing what Len had done drew Barry out a little more.

 

Len was pulling out some lounge clothes and held them up so Barry could see. “These alright, Scarlet?”

 

Barry nodded and watched Len put everything down on the bed. “I’m going to check on the pizzas, but I’ll be right down the hall if you need me.” Len looked into Barry’s eyes and then nodded, as if Barry passed some sort of assessment.

 

“Thanks,” Barry forced his voice to whisper. Len froze for a moment before giving Barry a soft smile.

 

“It’s not a problem, kid.” The thief slipped out of the room, making sure to leave the door semi-ajar.

 

Barry peeled off the bathrobe, pulling on boxers and sweatpants. The shirt he may have struggled with a bit and was eternally grateful that no one was there to see him get twisted up in a t-shirt. He was a little frustrated his body wasn’t quite listening to him.

 

He put the slippers back on— they were too comfy to give up. Seeing how neat Len had set everything up, he looked around for a place to hang the bathrobe. He found several hooks on the back of the closet door to use. He also found Len’s blue sweatshirt hanging there. He hesitated for a moment before grabbing it and pulling it on too (which he definitely did not put on backwards at first…). He didn’t quite understand why, but he felt calmer with it on.

 

He heard some muffled voices coming from the kitchen and decided he should probably join them before they sent out a search party for him.

 

When he entered the kitchen Mick was there (still without a shirt although he had put on pants) putting together what looked like a fairly involved salad. Len was leaned up against the counter talking in low tones with him. They both turned to looked at him when he entered, the attention making his face and the tips of his ears tinge pink. He really needed to get a handle on this blushing.

 

Len seemed to smirk in satisfaction when he took in Barry’s attire. “Sweatshirt looks good on you, Red.”

 

Mick also seemed amused, but pleased. He tossed a few more things in the salad before turning to the other two again. “Got some time before the pizza’s ready. Couch?” He asked.

 

Len nodded and Barry tensed, wary. “Hey,” Len said, seeing Barry’s unease. “You just have to listen. We just want to clear up what happened and make sure you know that you are very much wanted here.”

 

Barry was ushered into the living room, and was settled onto the couch. Mick sat next to him while Len sat on the coffee table in front of the two. Barry appreciated that they didn’t trap him in from both sides.

 

“Scarlet, do you remember how we mentioned Lisa’s birthday today?” Len asked, waiting for Barry’s nod before continuing. “My sister doesn’t like sharing attention, and took issue with me checking my phone during her birthday party.”

 

Barry’s heart jumped hopefully— Len had been checking his phone? To see if Barry had texted him? He was waiting for him?

 

Mick let out a chuckle. “He was checking his phone a dozen times an hour,” Mick confided in Barry.

 

Len rolled his eyes at Mick, but Barry could see a slight flush creep up Len’s neck. “Anyways,” Len said trying to move on, “Lisa stole my phone from me. And while she distracted me, her jerk of a sometimes boyfriend Roscoe snuck back and looked through it.” He looked both apologetic and pissed.

 

Barry felt like his heart was going to jump out of his chest before this story was over. Mick put an arm around Barry and pulled him into his side. Barry gratefully soaked up the contact, calming slightly.

 

“He seems to loose intelligence as time goes on— he decided to try and hit back at me. I’ve never approved his relationship with Lisa,” Len explained sourly. “He saw your texts to me and wrongly assumed that you were an unimportant and passing entertainment.” Mick growled slightly.

 

“Barry,” Len leaned forward and took his hands in his, “We had no idea what the bastard was doing and had no idea you had tried to contact us. We were very serious about us wanting you here.” Len’s earnest face (probably one of the most open faces he’d ever had) filled Barry’s perception.

 

“We rushed to find you as soon as we knew what had happened.” Worry lines appeared across the thief’s face as he frowned. “Scarlet, you had us really worried when we found you.”

 

Mick’s grip tightened slightly while Len’s thumbs began to rub circles onto the tops of Barry’s hands. Wait, Barry remembered this feeling. Len had done this before.

 

“Doll,” Mick rumbled from beside the young hero, “do you wanna be here?”

 

Barry didn’t need to think very long. If they wanted him, then he was entirely too selfish to give this up. They didn’t have to come back for him. They could have been rid of him, and he knew he wasn’t the easiest person to deal with right now.

 

Barry opened his mouth and croaked slightly. He closed it and coughed a bit before trying again. “Yes. I want this.” Barry’s quiet voice asserted.

 

Len’s expression cleared slightly, losing most of the worry lines. “Ok. Do you have any questions for us?”

 

Questions? A mountain of them. But any that needed to be asked right now? He couldn’t drum up the energy to deal with them at the moment. Well, maybe one.

 

“Tomorrow?” Barry looked between the two, still struggling somewhat to string together words. “I have work.” The thought was already exhausting the speedster.

 

“Tomorrow?” Len cupped Barry’s face in his hands. “Tomorrow Mick makes you another breakfast and packs you lunch. You go to work and then come home— here. You come home early if you need to. And so you never have to wait for us outside the house, we’ll give you your own key.” Barry eyes prickled at this, and he attempted to smile at the thief. Len just leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead.

 

“Are you ready for dinner?” he asked the hero when he pulled back.

 

“I could eat,” Barry said, his stomach rumbling audibly at the promise of food.

 

Len frowned at the growl. “You’re still not getting enough calories every day, are you?”

 

Barry blinked at the thief. What?

 

“I’m taking that as a ‘no,’ Scarlet,” Len decided. “We need to fix that. You can’t be constantly running on half energy.”

 

“Doll,” Mick pulled Barry’s attention. “Can you get me the formula for the energy bars you normally eat? It must be on a STAR labs computer.”

 

“Maybe?” Barry hesitantly answered. “I can try.” He wasn’t sure where Cisco would have saved the file and if it had any security on it.

 

Mick accepted that answer for the moment and ushered Barry back into the kitchen for dinner. Len and Mick coaxed Barry into eating three pizzas on his own, plying him with salad and glasses of milk throughout. If Barry didn’t still feel slightly numb, it would have almost been amusing how focused on him they were.

 

Len left Mick to clean up from dinner and led Barry into the living room. They seemed to be developing a pattern. Emotional conversations, dinner (where they tried to get him to eat more), and then Firefly. They were eventually going to run out of episodes Barry briefly considered.

 

Barry let out an involuntary shiver as he curled up on the couch. Before he could sneeze, Len had jumped up and toted several blankets over to the couch. He bundled Barry up so that he was almost cocooned— like in a nest.

 

 Barry wasn’t sure if he was actually cold or not, but it seemed to make Len feel better, so he allowed it. Mick sat down, letting his arm lay out behind Barry across the couch. Shortly into the first episode of the evening, Barry poked a hand out from between the layers of blankets to scratch his nose. Before he could pull it back it, Len caught the hero’s hand in his. Barry looked at the thief slightly surprised, but Len continued to stare at the television. However, Len did stroke Barry’s hand and fingers with his, ending with just rubbing small circles with his thumb— a sensation that Barry was starting to relate to Len and safety.

 

Mick eventually disappeared for a couple minutes and came back with tiny sourdough cookies. Where did he keep getting all of these/have time to make them? Barry thought in slight disbelief. He quickly decided that he didn’t care as Mick fed Barry cookies so that he didn’t have to move from inside his nest of blankets.

 

By the time bedtime came around, Barry was warm and quite ready to sleep. He wasn’t sure whether his two…whatever they were to him now…were going to join him again or not. Apparently they were, as he was settled in the middle again. He didn’t feel trapped, however. He wriggled slightly and snuggled down into the blankets as Len wrapped his arms around Barry, pulling the sleepy speedster back against him. Mick threw one arm across the two of them and the exhaustion from the day quickly drew Barry into slumber.

 

 

The next morning started slowly. It took half an hour or so for Barry’s mind to wake up and shake most of the fog from it. It was going alright, if not slightly sluggish, until he entered the kitchen for breakfast. His work bag was on a chair, sitting next to a packed ‘lunchbox.’ Barry’s anxiety sky rocketed as it crashed home that he would have to face Joe at the station. Work had been nothing but stress and it was the last place he wanted to be today.

 

“Slow down, Scarlet,” Len said, lifting Barry’s chin with his hand so that their eyes met. “Focus on breathing for a minute.” He started slowly breathing with Barry until the hero was breathing at a normal rate. “What’s wrong, Red?”

 

Barry just shrugged. He couldn’t tell Len that it was just him not being able to handle going to work. That would sound absolutely ridiculous.

 

“Sometimes there doesn’t have to be a specific reason. When things start getting overwhelming, I want you to do something for me, ok?” Len made Barry promise. “I want you to focus on breathing slowly and picture something calming and safe in your mind. Can you do that?”

 

Len made that sound simple enough to do. “Alright,” Barry finally answered.

 

“And Doll,” Mick added, “if you’re having trouble, call one of us.”

 

“My number is speed dial one, and Mick’s number is speed dial two,” Len showed Barry on his cellphone.

 

Barry wasn’t sure he was going to survive this rollercoaster of emotions.

 

“Come eat breakfast, Doll,” Mick urged Barry into his seat, heaping food onto his plate. Len munched on an apple, leaning against the counter and watching Mick and Barry eat their heartier breakfast.

 

Barry looked at the apple Len’s hand and then up at Len. “I normally don’t do breakfast first thing in the morning,” Len explained. “I’ll eat something when I get back.”

 

Barry raised an eyebrow in a silent question. “Of course I’m driving you again,” Len said slightly exasperatedly. “Until you’re eating a proper amount of calories, you shouldn’t be running to work.”

 

Barry didn’t think it was that big of a deal. He was fairly tired all the time, but that was just a normal state for him lately. He did like riding with Len though, so he wasn’t going to complain.

 

“I’ll pick you up after work today too,” Len sprung on Barry. “I don’t have anything to do later in the afternoon. You get done around 5:30 or so, right?”

 

“Uh, yes?” Barry squeaked. He wasn’t sure if he was nervous about Len being so close to the police station this much or excited Len wanted to pick him up from work. The only person who had ever picked Barry up from work was Joe, which didn’t count because they both worked there.

 

“Good. I’ll wait in the same place that I drop you off. Keep your cell phone on.” Len tossed the apple core into the trash. “We should get going so you’re not late.”

 

Mick handed Barry another thermos of coffee to bring with him. He cupped Barry’s cheek with one of his large hands. “You’ll be fine. You can do this. And Tuesday we can do something fun. Like make something explode.” Mick promised as he bid Barry goodbye.

 

Barry hadn’t had this much coddling and reassurance since he was a kid. It was slightly embarrassing, but he couldn’t say he didn’t like it.

 

The ride into the city was as enjoyable as yesterday, although slightly cooler. Len pulled over in front of a diner several blocks from the CCPD. “Ok kid,” Len said helping Barry off the bike with his bags. “I’ll wait here for you after work. Don’t worry if you’re running late. If I’m not out on the bike, I’ll be waiting inside the diner.” Len pointed to the restaurant next to them.

 

“Thanks.” The speedster knew he should be more articulate here, but he couldn’t form the words. The thief seemed to understand, good at reading body language, and just encouraged Barry to get going to work.

 

Barry crooked a half smile and joined the throngs of people headed to work. The station was buzzing this morning (although Joe didn’t seem to be in yet), and Barry already had several cases worth of tests to run before he had even made it to his lab.

 

He was glad for the extra coffee Mick packed again (they were totally spoiling him– he would never be able to drink coffee from Jitter’s again). He spent the morning run test after test, which luckily didn’t require him to actually speak with anyone. He was able to email these results, avoiding both talking to people and seeing Joe.

 

It was edging on lunch time when someone infringed on Barry’s sanctuary. Barry had just begun to unpack his own lunch from Mick. It took Barry a moment after the knock sounded to get his mind to form an answer. “Come it,” he called out eventually. Please don’t be Joe, please don’t be Joe, please don’t be Joe…

 

The door slid open to reveal Captain Singh, holding a folder, an evidence bag, and his own lunchbox.

 

“Allen,” he greeted, taking in the lunch the CSI was laying out. “I’m going on my own break, but after lunch I wanted to see if you could run one of the tests from yesterday again against another sample we have in evidence.”

 

“I can do that,” Barry confirmed, taking the folder and bagged evidence from the officer. He decided to set up the test before eating so it would hopefully be done shortly after lunch. “It should be done in a couple of hours. I can send you the results.”

 

“That’s fine Allen, take some time and eat your lunch.” He glanced down at the spread Barry had begun to set out.

 

“Seems like someone is serious about feeding you,” Singh commented. Barry couldn’t help a small smile at that. The captain sighed before smiling ruefully. “Rob is obsessed with trying to make me eat healthy and keeps packing me salads.” He pulled out a tuber-ware of salad and raw vegetables, holding them up for Barry to see.

 

Barry hesitated for a moment, but then offered, “Do you want to swap?”

 

“What?” Singh asked, confused.

 

Barry sat down at his desk and pulled out one of the many additional sandwiches Mick had packed him along with some pretzels. “I have an extra sandwich,” the hero only half-lied. “I’ll trade the sandwich for the salad.” He pushed the sandwich across the desk.

 

Singh hesitated, looking as if he knew he shouldn’t, but was entirely sick of the salads. “I think I get the better end of this deal, but if you’re sure Allen,” Singh confirmed before sitting down and handing over the salad. “As long as I come home with an empty container, he’ll be happy,” he whispered conspiratorially.

 

Opening the cover, Barry found a decent salad inside— nothing like Mick’s but not too bad. Singh took his first bite of the sandwich and groaned.

 

“This is amazing,” he said, looking down at the buffalo chicken sandwich. “I didn’t think you cooked. Who made this?” he asked Barry.

 

Barry froze at what should have been an innocuous question. He knew he should have just lied– he had gotten very good at it in the past year. But today, his mind couldn’t come up with a misleading answer for the curious captain. 

 

“Uh…” Barry stalled. “A, a, um, a friend insisted.” Barry cringed internally. He was going to have to lie better if he was trying to pull one over on the captain of the CCPD.

 

Singh looked thoughtful for a moment. “That’s right, Joe said you had moved out of his house, but didn’t know your new address. He didn’t mention that you moved in with someone. Where’s your new apartment? We’ll have to put the address on file.”

 

Fuck. Fucked fuck fuck fuck. Nope. Worst question. How the hell is it Singh who’s the first to ask about an address for my “new apartment?” Barry mind raced in panic and his breathing started to speed up.

 

“Allen?” the captain’s voice broke into Barry’s panic. “Hey, breathe, Barry. Take a couple deep breaths,” his worry voice urged.

 

Right. Len said to breathe. I can breathe. Barry slowed his breathing, thinking about lying on the couch between Len and Mick. When his vision refocused, Singh’s worried face was waiting for him.

 

What was he supposed to say to the captain about all of this? Before he could start panicking again, the captain drew his attention.

 

“It’s alright, Barry,” Singh addressed him informally. “Everything’s fine. Let me guess: Joe doesn’t like who you’re living with?”

 

Barry just stared at the captain. Silence stretched between them.

 

“Ah,” Singh said. “he doesn’t know where you’re living or with whom you’re living, does he?”

 

Barry woodenly shook his head. This was dangerous waters, but he didn’t know how to stop it.

 

Singh regarded Barry for a long moment before deciding, “Joe doesn’t even know about the relationship.”

 

 Relationship? How did Singh jump to that? Damn detective. “Barry,” Singh sighed, “it doesn’t take a genius to notice that you look like you’re finally getting some sleep, you make it to work on time, and someone is taking the time to pack you lunch.”

 

“He’s just trying to help,” Barry blurted out, thinking about Mick packing all that food so Barry would eat more.

 

“He?” Singh questioned carefully.

 

Barry clamped him mouth shut, eyeing the captain slightly warily. Did not mean to say that. It’s totally not a big deal. At all. I’ve known I was bisexual since college. But this is the worst time to deal with it.

 

“Barry, is this a relationship that maybe I would understand a little bit more than Joe?” Singh carefully edged the conversation forward.

 

Barry hesitated for a moment. It was a huge risk, but it would be nice to have someone else know. Not that there was much to know as nothing had actually happened with Len or Mick. Not really. Well, it would kind of be nice to at least to share his bisexuality with someone. He had several partners in college, but after that it never really came up. And the relationships never got serious enough to bring them to meet Iris or Joe. The hero finally nodded, hands clenching at the edge of the desk and trying not to visibly vibrate with anxiety.

 

“Relax, Barry,” Singh tried to calm the stressed speedster. “This is an unofficial conversation that no one will find out about, not even Joe.”

 

Barry relaxed marginally. “It, it just never came up,” Barry croaked.

 

“Your bisexuality?” Singh asked, putting a name to it.

 

“I know Joe wouldn’t care about it being a guy, but, well,” Barry stalled.

 

“It’s not easy,” the captain sympathized, “coming out to anyone at any time. I’m sorry if I pushed this conversation.”

 

Barry swallowed hard. “It’s ok. I, uh, haven’t talked about this with anyone. There was never a guy… uh, so it never…” Barry stuttered. “And now, Joe has his hands full and I don’t want to add to it or disappoint him and I know that he won’t like this at all.” The hero couldn’t seem to control the words coming out of his mouth.

 

Singh just sat quietly, listening. “I know things have seemed strained between you two lately,” he finally responded. “You think Joe wouldn’t approve of the guy?” With Barry’s vehement shake of his head Singh added, “is he a decent guy? Do you want to be living there? If you’re just living there because it’s the only place outside of Joe’s house, Rob and I have an extra room you’re welcome to have.”

 

Barry was stunned with the captain’s offer. Singh usually seemed more worried about yelling about Barry’s tardiness than about his welfare. “That’s very nice to offer, but I actually like where I am.” Barry blushed thinking about the past several days in that house. “He’s caring and protective, and it’s nice to have when other things have been more unstable lately.” Barry was using the singular he to refer to the pair of criminals. As understanding as Singh was, Barry didn’t want to push his luck and see if that extended to non-traditional relationships.

 

Singh nodded, as if he understood what Barry was trying to say. “Alright. If you change your mind, my door’s open to you.” He picked up his sandwich. “And we can wait a bit on your official new address, but do you have a temporary one to use besides Joe’s house?”

 

Barry poked at the last of the salad. “STAR labs?” he answered hesitantly. “I, uh, sort of own it now.”

 

The captain’s eyebrows shot up with that news, but he quickly schooled his face. “I can see that will need to be a whole different conversation for another time. But we can work with that for now.”

 

Barry let out a sigh of relief. This talk wasn’t a complete disaster. This would normally be something he would bring up with someone like Cisco first, but he didn’t really have many options these days. He was actually fairly sure Cisco had a good idea about his sexuality, but hadn’t said anything overtly. Well, there had been that night where they debated who was the sexiest star trek captain.

 

Singh cleaned up the remnants of his lunch and stood up. “Thank you for saving my lunch, Allen,” the captain said gratefully to Barry. “My door is open if you ever want to talk.”

 

Barry just nodded, starting to feel awkward as they slipped back into more professional roles.

 

“Don’t forget, Allen,” Singh threw back as he exited the lab, “you have tomorrow off.”

 

And thank god for that, Barry thought as the door swung shut. The speedster didn’t leave his lab for the rest of the afternoon, continuing to send out result electronically. He had to stop and just breath again only once. He was able to get through the rest of the day mostly because he was left alone in his lab.

 

It wasn’t until it was going on six that Barry finally finished his work. He knew that Len said he would wait for him (and that he could always just run to the safe house), but he was still anxious about missing the thief.

 

He was just about to head down the main stairs to leave when he heard Joe’s voice having a discussion with someone in the bullpen. The speedster let his head thunk back against the wall. He did not want to end his day by having to pass by Joe. Barry looked around for another option and his eyes fell on the emergency exit back staircase. If he moved fast enough out the door and down the stairs into the alley, he wouldn’t set off the alarm and would bypass the bullpen.

 

Barry debated for a moment longer— it was dangerous using his powers at work— but when Joe’s voice got a little louder, decided that he would take his chances today. He zipped out the back door and tried to nonchalantly stroll out of the alley onto the sidewalk. He attempted to not rush as he walked the few blocks to the diner. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw a familiar motorcycle parked out front of the diner.

 

As he walked up to the diner he saw Len spot him and wave from the front window. Barry leaned against the bike, waiting.

 

“I’m sorry I ran late,” Barry apologized as soon as Len approached.

 

“No worries, Red.” Len waved the apology away. “Ready to go home?”

 

“Yeah, home,” Barry smiled. The thief tossed Barry the extra helmet and Barry climbed on, holding tight as Len sped off.

 

Barry was slightly chilled by the time they pulled up to the house. He fidgeted as they walked in, letting Len take his jacket and hang it up in the hall closet.

 

“Do I have time to take a shower before dinner?” Barry asked. “I can be fast.”

 

Mick poked his head out of the kitchen (which had delicious smells drifting out from it…).

 

“Of course you can take a shower, Scarlet,” Len reassured him.

 

Mick quickly added, “and you’re not to speed through it, Doll. We’ve got thirty minutes still before dinner and until you get me that recipe for the nutrition bars, try to not use your speed for everything.”

 

Barry flushed slightly. “Alright.”

 

“And put on warm clothes after, not pajamas,” Len called as Barry started walking to drop his stuff in the bedroom and grab a change of clothes. Barry turn around with a confused expression.

 

Len just chuckled lightly and said, “it’s a surprise, Red, but you’ll like it.”

 

Mick had this excited, boyish grin on his face and was nodding fervently. The hero could help but smile back.

 

 

Len watched their speedster head up the stairs to take a shower. He and Mick had picked up supplies today and set up the location for their surprise later tonight. Hopefully Barry would enjoy it.

 

Just as Mick went back to the stove, Len’s cellphone rang. The I.D. showed it was Hartley.

 

“Piper,” Len answered.

 

“We’ve got a tail on Roscoe. He seems to be expecting trouble though,” Hartley warned.

 

“Piper, I sincerely hope that you can out think that idiot without making me have to step in,” Snart demanded icily.

 

“I’m insulted that you compared my level of intelligence to anywhere close to Roscoe’s,” Hartley said snootily.

 

“How much long will that bastard be in my city?” Len drew out his Captain Cold voice, displeased Roscoe wasn’t either gone or dead (he didn’t think Barry would be too upset…)

 

“If everyone listens to me like they’re supposed to, I have a plan to deal with him within 48 hours,” the Pied Piper insisted, sounding like his authority was not completely sold to the rest of the crew.

 

“If anyone gets out of line and lets Roscoe get away, Mick and I will be slightly ticked off and will deal with the perpetrators personally,” Len hissed.

 

“Right. Don’t think they’ll be many more problems. I’ll notify you when we move.” Hartley rushed out and then hung up the phone.

 

Len smirked down at the phone, pleased both that Roscoe was being taken care of and that he motivated his crew. Not that the rag-tag team of misfits didn’t have a hidden soft spot in Len’s heart. Most of them had crappy families in one sense or another. But he would never admit to this out loud.

 

“Have fun?” Mick asked with a wicked grin.

 

“Just making sure they’re going to get the job done without us there holding their hands,” Len drawled.

 

“If they can’t, I’m happy to just burn the fucker,” Mick growled, eyes flashing and looking more like the supervillain Heatwave.

 

“Down, Mick,” Len continued, “you’re going to get some explosive fun tonight. So that you don’t feel the need to start setting random things or people on fire.” He rolled his eyes.

 

Mick’s slightly boyish grin was back. “Think that our hero will enjoy it?”

 

Len raised an eyebrow. “It was originally your idea.”

 

“Lenny,” Mick grumbled, “I mentioned wanting to set something on fire. Your mind decided that translated into a night out bonding over explosives.”

 

Len just continued to smirk at him as Mick finished making dinner. By the time Barry came down wearing jeans and a hoddie, the table had been set. Barry’s nose twitched as he came in, taking in the delicious smells of the kitchen.

 

“Is that chicken parmesan?” Barry asked hopefully.

 

“Sure is, Doll,” Mick rumbled. Len moved smoothly around his partner, making sure Barry had several plates of food in front of him.

 

“As soon as you eat all of that, we can head out.” Len smiled secretively. Barry’s face lit up with excitement and Len could tell he was about to just speed eat. “Ah!” he said freezing Barry. “No speed-eating!”

 

Barry gave a sheepish nod, but did eat faster than normal. He did momentarily slowly down when he caught Len or Mick looking at him.

 

Barry was practically hopping from foot to foot by the time Len and Mick had cleaned up and were ready to go.

 

Len double checked the supplies in the trunk of the car before he let them set off. He liked to be completely prepared, ok?

 

It wasn’t until they were almost there that Barry made an annoyed noise. Mick turned from the passenger seat to look at the hero. “What’s wrong, Doll?”

 

“I forgot my cellphone as the house,” he lamented.

 

“Do you want us to go back for it, Red?” Len asked, already calculating the changes in time that would happen turning around now would cause.


Barry let out a huffy sigh. “It’s fine. I don’t really need it right now— I’m not expecting anyone to call me anyways.”                  

 

Len shared a glance with Mick. “We’ll be there in a couple minutes, Scarlet.”

 

“Do I get to know where we’re going yet?” Barry asked curiously. He leaned forward between the two front seats.

 

Mick chuckled. “How’d you feel about making some explosions tonight, Doll?”

 

Barry stared at him for a second, glancing at Len and then back to Mick. Seeing that they were serious, he let out a gleeful laugh. “Oh this is going to be great!” His face dropped slightly. “Where are we setting off explosions?”

 

Len smirked at the perfect timing, pulling into the deserted parking lot next to a warehouse. “There’s nothing here for miles, kid.” The thief reassured the hero.

 

“Come on, Doll,” Mick encouraged, jumping out of the car. Len watched his partner and their speedster point excitedly at different chemicals and materials, arguing over what would create the best explosion.

 

Eventually, they settled on a list of combinations to try. They lugged out what they needed to the piles of scraps he and Mick had set up in the field beside the warehouse earlier today.

 

Len congratulated himself on a good idea. It will let Mick work out his growing itch to set things on fire. And it lets Barry do something fun with them, hopefully taking his mind off everything else.

 

Len refocused when the first explosion went off. Mick threw his head back and laughed slightly wildly. Len studied Barry for a moment, watching the way the speedster’s shoulders relaxed. Len was momentarily caught off guard when Barry turned to look at Len with a delighted smile on his face.

 

The kid raced over to him and tackled Len in a huge. Surprised, but pleased, Len hugged him back.

 

“Thank you Len!” the kid piped up cheerfully, before darting back to Mick to set off their next explosion.

 

Len shook his head and watched in amusement as Mick and Barry turned into kids, setting off different types of explosions and setting different colored fires to burn.

 

When there hadn’t been an explosion in several minutes, Len headed closer to them to see what was going on. Silence usually meant trouble.

 

“What exactly are you doing?” Len drawled, seeing that Mick and Barry were building small somethings.

 

They both looked up, looking both exhilarated and slightly sheepish. “Well, we thought we would create, uh, kind of like mini-fireworks?” Barry explained. “I can run and drop them into the different fires and then we can watch as they go off at varying times!” The kid’s voice had gotten higher and faster as his excitement grew.

 

Len just waved them on to continue their fun, but stood by to watch. Len listened to Barry’s tech-babble jumping between spouting facts about various chemical combinations and then about explosions from various science-fiction shows. It was nice to see Barry letting go and acting more like the excitable Barry Allen they knew. What was more, was that Mick seemed to be honestly enjoying himself and interested. It wasn’t always easy for Mick to get along with people and this was the most controlled Len had ever seen Mick play with fire. Those two were good for each other.

 

It was another ten minutes before they finished their creations. Len stepped forward to stand beside Mick and Barry flashed out and dropped their creations into the various bon-fires they had already created. The speedster was already back standing in front of Len and Mick before the first explosion went off.

 

Mick put a hand on Barry’s shoulder, tugging him back to stand against him and Len. Barry craned his head back to smiley opening up at them. Len let out a soft smirk and wrapped his own arm around Barry coming to rest on his hip.

 

Mick pulled out several nutrient bars (unfortunately still a normal one) and handed them to Barry. The kid rolled his eyes playfully, but quickly devoured the bars.

 

Len didn’t like having much physical contact with many people, but he was very content standing there wrapped up with his partner and his speedster watching their explosions paint a colorful show in the night sky.

 

 

600 miles away…

 

Oliver threw the hood of his suit back, frustrated. He and Felicity had been called back and thrust into this situation with this new foe: Damien Darhk. And his team wasn’t quite a team at the moment, especially with the tension between him and Diggle.

 

He hoped that Barry and his team were doing better than this. He had heard about what happened with the singularity, but the Flash had pulled off an 11th hour victory. Oliver frowned. No one had mentioned anything about Team Flash since Oliver had arrived back in Star City.

 

“Felicity, are there any updates or news from Barry and his team?” Oliver asked, continuing to un-suit.

 

“Uh, from Barry? I personally haven’t heard from him and Thea hasn’t mentioned anything, but,” she swirled her chair around and started typing furiously on the keyboard, “I can check the news reports.”

 

She looked for a minute before summarizing, “it looks like the Flash has been seen battling mostly normal criminals and the occasional meta-human. Aaaaand he’s been seen all over the city at night rebuilding. Apparently, Jitter’s is set to reopen next week thanks to him.”

 

Oliver nodded in satisfaction. He would have to call Barry at some point then— after he had dealt with things here. Talk about taking on too much responsibility and trying to shoulder too much guilt. It would crush him— Oliver knew too well.

 

“Wait,” Felicity said suddenly. “It looks like from all of the Flash blogs that no one has seen the Flash anywhere in the city in days.”

 

Of course there couldn’t be one thing in Oliver’s life going smoothly. “He could be taking a couple nights off.” Even as he said it, he knew that wasn’t likely. Barry was almost obsessive about his duty to check on the city and wouldn’t be taking time off unless something major had happened, like a breakdown.

 

“Uh… not likely,” Felicity’s quick voice answered. Her fingers flew across the keyboard again. “It looks Cisco is out of the country visiting family,” she reported as she hacked STAR labs communications. “And…huh.”

 

“What does that mean, Felicity?” Oliver’s voice started to get tighter.

 

“Uh, just that, hold on,” Felicity said. She appeared to try and make several phone calls, her frown deepening as none of them connected.

 

“There was no answer from the lab phone, Caitlin, Iris, Joe or Barry. And I mean, I know that it’s late and they might not want to pick up a call from me, but I figured that one of them would answer in case there was an emergency because I know that Cisco arranged for the Flash line for the lab to send a special message to his and Barry’s phone in case they weren’t there…” Felicity reported.

 

Oliver held up a hand to stop her. The vigilante was starting to get a bad feeling about this. “Oliver, it’s been a long day and we’re exhausted. I left some quick messages for Team Flash to call back. We’ll probably hear from one of them tomorrow morning. I mean this morning,” she emphasized, looking at the clock.

 

Oliver looked at his watch. 3:00 AM. Damn, it was late (early?), but Oliver’s instincts were telling him that something was wrong here.

 

“You go get some sleep. I’m going to start for Central City. I can be there by early afternoon if I leave now.” Oliver started grabbing a bag with his Arrow outfit and some normal clothes.

 

“You really think that something is wrong?” Felicity said, sitting back down. “And that this is the right time to leave?”

 

“It’s never the right time to leave, as we’ve found out,” Oliver pointed out. “But I think that my presence here is doing more harm than good for the team right now.” Felicity didn’t have an answer for that.

 

“Let me see what I can find,” Felicity said. “Be careful, Oliver.”

 

Oliver nodded and flew out of the base, riding his motorcycle out into the night.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 8: Racing to the . . . rescue . . . ?

 

Oliver was over half-way to Central City, when his headset beeped. “Hello,” he answered as he pulled his bike over, kicking up a spray of dirt.

 

“Oliver!” Felicity’s voice had taken on a worried tone that always made Oliver’s heart jump. “I can’t get a hold of anyone on Barry’s team or Barry himself and so I tried calling the CCPD forensic lab and no one picked up! Barry should be working today,” Oliver looked down at his watch: 9:13 AM. Felicity continued to babble quickly, “And I asked to talk to Detective West and they asked me my name and I was hoping he would recognize me. They put me on hold, I assume to go tell him he had a call, and then they came back and told me that he wasn’t ‘available’ to talk.”

 

“Calm down, Felicity,” Oliver commanded. He heard her take a deep breath.

 

“Oliver, I’m not sure Barry’s team is around,” Felicity said hesitantly. “I found that Caitlin Snow accepted a position at Mercury Labs. Cisco hasn’t been back in several weeks. Some hacking into some records I probably shouldn’t be looking in show that Barry now owns STAR labs.”

 

Oliver had to take a deep breath himself. Going into this situation over-emotional would make it worse.

 

“Felicity,” Oliver finally decided, “I want you to look through all the recent footage from our security camera I placed at STAR labs.” Oliver had installed a camera with the security feed routed to the Arrow Cave because Barry seemed to have a problem with random people and enemies alike being able to just walk into this base. Oliver wanted a way to be able to keep an eye on the young hero.

 

“I’ll start from the most recent and work backwards,” Felicity agreed. “I’ll let you know when I find something.”

 

Oliver ended the call and kicked his back into gear. He was glad he decided to leave when he did. There were so many possibilities that didn’t have Barry in trouble, but Oliver was becoming more and more convinced that it was something malevolent in nature.

 

Oliver was only two hours outside of Central City when Felicity called back.

 

“They took him! Oliver! They have him!” Felicity’s voice was frantic at this point.

 

“Who took who?” Oliver shouted over the wind, not bothering to pull over.

 

“Captain Cold and his partner— Heatwave– took Barry!” Felicity was shouting into the phone.

 

“How, Felicity? I need details,” the Star City vigilante demanded.

 

“It’s time stamped Sunday night. Barry wasn’t even putting up a fight— his eyes were unfocused, like he was drugged. They were just leading him along docilely and dragged him into a car and drove off! Oliver—”

 

“Felicity, see if you can get the plate or track their car. Find out where they’re keeping him.” Oliver was already drawing up plans in his head. “I’m headed to STAR labs first, send the footage to me there and I’ll look at it myself. I’ll find him, Felicity.”

 

Oliver barely heard Felicity agree and wish him luck as he kicked his bike into high gear. The only sound for the next two hours was the pounding wind in his ears.

 

Several hours later…

 

It was mid-morning by the time Oliver reached STAR labs. He had had to stop and change out of his arrow outfit as he approached Central City in broad daylight. Going incognito wasn’t really an option for Oliver, but Oliver Queen attracted a lot less attention than the Green Arrow.

 

Oliver didn’t bother trying to slide past any cameras. If there was someone monitoring another circuit of cameras here (which he highly doubted at the moment) and confronted him, then they could give Oliver some fucking answers. Oliver angrily punched in the door code Barry had given him and stalked inside.

 

Lights turned on for Oliver as he strode down the hallway, his eyes flicking around and quickly taking everything in. He strained his senses listening for any hint of someone else in the lab, but the place was completely empty. And the Flash costume was missing from its usual location. Oliver wasn’t sure if that made him feel better or worse.

 

He slipped into a chair and rolled up to a computer. With Felicity’s remote help, the vigilante quickly hacked into a computer and pulled up the security footage she had marked. He watched Barry being forced out of STAR labs and into what must be Captain Cold’s get-way car. Well, Barry wasn’t so much being physically forced as he just wasn’t fighting. Oliver paused the footage and zoomed in on Barry’s face. The young hero’s eyes were dead. The usual light in Barry’s eye that had this annoying, infectious warm effect on practically everyone was absent. Oliver quickly checked Barry over for injuries, especially for possible blunt force trauma. The billionaire couldn’t find any, so the two thieves must have drugged him. Which was especially worrying as Oliver wasn’t aware of any drug that would last very long in Barry’s system. It appeared that the leaders of the Rogues knew this as well. Searching Snart’s and Rory’s expressions, Oliver found them looking worried, as if they knew their drug could wear off at any moment.

 

Oliver’s fist turned white with the strength he was clenching them as he realized that the thieves’ arrival wasn’t noticed by his camera as it was out of range. The camera followed the movement it picked up at the door and panned out to see the car as the left, but … fuck! Once this was over, he was going to have to add more cameras so there wouldn’t be any blind spots. And clearly he needed to update Barry’s security system for him.

 

Oliver stood up and slammed his fist down on the table. Damnit! Where the hell is everyone? How could they have let this happen? I can’t be everywhere at once!

 

Frustrated, Oliver began to search the rest of the lab for any clues as to what the fuck was going on. He was slightly down the corridor from the lab when he opened a door to a storage unit. Or, what had once been a storage unit. He took in the numerous stacked boxes, several opened with clothes hanging out of them. A cot was pushed against the wall in a corner with a small crate acting as a bedside table for a lamp and alarm clock.

 

The vigilante paused in the doorway, confused for several long moments. He started to have a sinking feeling and quickly rifled through the boxes: it was all of Barry’s things. This wasn’t just an occasionally used space after long missions, but Barry appeared to be living here.

 

Oliver ran a hand over his face. Why wasn’t the kid living with Joe? Damnit Barry, you give me more gray hairs than Thea does, I swear. You’re like a trouble magnet and no matter what I try to do to help, it never seems to be enough. There’s always one more thing. I know that you’re fast kid, but sometimes you miss the point. Ok, Queen, take a step back. Where would Barry have been last?

 

Oliver pulled out his phone and pressed the speed dial button for Barry’s lab at the CCPD. Felicity hadn’t gotten an answer early, but just maybe… There were several agonizingly long rings before he heard a click. He held his breath as he waited for the voice.

 

“Forensic lab, hello?” came an older, nasally voice. Oliver’s heart fell a bit when Barry’s voice didn’t come through the phone. “Yes?”

 

“I’m looking for Barry Allen,” Oliver said, trying not to let his frustration seep into his voice.

 

“Allen? The kid’s not in today. Is this about a case that I can help with or would you like to leave a message?” the older gentleman asked distractedly.

 

“He’s supposed to be working today. It’s on his schedule,” the billionaire insisted. Of course he knew Barry’s schedule.

 

“Don’t know about that. Captain called me in because Allen ‘wasn’t available.’” Oliver could hear the air quotation marks around ‘wasn’t available.’ Cleary this guy was not happy about being there.

 

“When was Barry last seen at the station?” the vigilante pressed, hoping for some useful information.

 

The guy audibly sighed at this point. “Hold on.” There was some muffled shouting back and forth that Oliver couldn’t make out. “Apparently the last time the guys in the bullpen saw him was on Sunday afternoon. I can’t tell you any more than that,” the guy said impatiently.

 

“Fine. Thank you.” Oliver ended the call and tucked the phone back in his pocket. No one at the station had seen Barry since Sunday? It fit with the timeline at least. Barry was at work on Sunday (which Oliver had been sure the kid had off…) and somehow the kid ended up at STAR labs after work. At which point he was abducted by Snart and his gang. And there has been no sign of Barry or the Flash since. Fucking perfect.

 

Felicity was in the process of attempting to find the location of any Rogue safe house (while downing several cups of strong coffee— God that girl is amazing.) He hated to interrupt, but he needed more information. The phone barely rung once before Felicity picked up.

 

“I haven’t found anything yet, Oliver!” the girl sounded frazzled.

 

“It’s alright Felicity. I was hoping that you could hack the CCPD records and see where they have Barry living on file.” Oliver asked calmly. If he showed his anxiety, Felicity’s would go through the roof.

 

“I can do that easily, of course. I should have thought of that earlier. Did you know that lack of sleep impairs your brain function? They should really update their security system, but of course if they did that then I wouldn’t be able to hack in all the time. But why on earth do you need to know that? Did Barry move?” Felicity paused to take a breath, her fingers clacking on the keyboard.

 

“Because all of Barry stuff seems to be at—“ Oliver was cut off.

 

“STAR labs.” Felicity finished. “His address on file at the CCPD is STAR labs.” There was a heavy moment of silence. “Oliver,” Felicity asked quietly, “is Barry living by himself at STAR labs?”

 

Oliver sighed heavily. “It looks like it, but we don’t really know anything. Keep working and let me know as soon as you find anything.”

 

“Of course, Oliver. What should I say if someone asks where you are?” Felicity questioned hesitantly.

 

“I doubt anyone but you will care where I am right now, but just tell them I’m out of town on a personal matter.” Oliver thought it was more likely most of them would be pleased they didn’t have to deal with him for a couple days.

 

“Right. I’ll find you something. We’ll find Barry,” Felicity promised as she hung up.

 

Instead of pacing the lab until Felicity came up with something, Oliver rode his bike through the city, analyzing everything in hopes of figuring out the larger plan in play here. Cold always seemed to have a larger scheme. Unfortunately, nothing stood out. The city was slowly being rebuilt and while people were still cautious, they were starting to feel safe again. Jitter’s looked almost ready to open again, but several apartment buildings were still heavily damaged. Oliver had seen the event on the news, but hadn’t been to Central since it happened. Looking around, he knew that Barry would still be beating himself up and blaming himself for all this damage.

 

It was pushing into the afternoon by the time Felicity called Oliver again. “What do you have?”

 

Felicity’s quick voice flew out of the phone. “So I had no luck trying to find the car. I don’t know whose it is or what they did with it but I could literally find no information on it. They might have someone like me erasing traces of them from the system. Maybe that Hartley Rathaware or something?”

 

Felicity paused for a breath and Oliver jumped in. “Slow down, Felicity. What did you find? I need something.”

 

Oliver could picture Felicity taking a deep breath and adjusting her glasses. “Right. Well, there’s a couple of possibilities, but of course most of them are long shots if anything. There are a surprisingly high number of places that would be good to hide out in Central City.”

 

“We can work on that later, Felicity. Do you have an address for me?” Oliver’s worry bled through into his voice.

 

“Ah, yes. Sort of. Well, I believe it’s registered to an alias of Lisa Snart, Cold’s sister. She’s sometimes with them and it’s a place for you to start, especially if it’s a backup Rogue safe-house.” Felicity’s voice grew quiet. “It’s going to be fine, Oliver, right?”

 

“It’s going to be fine, Felicity. I’m going to find Barry, bring him home, and then kick his ass into next week with more training so he’s better prepared,” Oliver reassured. Felicity let out a breath and rattled off the address of a warehouse with instructions of how to get there.

 

With a quiet, “good luck,” Felicity hung up and Oliver roared off towards the warehouse.

 

When he was close—well out of the main sections of the city—Oliver ducked into another abandoned building. After securing the area, he changed into his Green Arrow outfit. The Green Arrow was going to get some answers even if he had to put a couple arrows through people.

 

Leaving his bike, he snuck over to the warehouse Felicity had indicated, carefully watching out for security or traps. He quickly cased out the building. They either didn’t have time to put up any security or this building didn’t actually belong to a Snart. There was a person inside, however.

 

Oliver used a second story window to creep in and crouched down on a lower support beam. There was a rat-faced, dark-haired man sitting on a crate switching between glaring at his hand and whimpering.

 

“I swear,” Oliver heard the man sneer out into the silence, “I’m going to find a way to get back at him. He thinks he so great with that stupid cold gun of his. All for some nobody.”

 

Oliver frowned. This guys at least knew Snart. Time for a more, up-close conversation. He made sure his Arrow voice regulator was on and flipped down onto the main floor.

 

By the time the rat-faced man had realized someone else was there and had stood up, Oliver had already nocked an arrow, aiming directly at the guys’ chest.

 

Oliver saw the moment of recognition in the man’s eyes followed by a frozen, slightly stunned/slightly terrified look.

 

“Where is he?” the Green Arrow growled menacingly. “I know Cold has him!” Oliver took cursory note of what looked to be a frost-bitten hand as he waited for the spineless guppy of a man to respond. He couldn’t risk using an actual name as he wasn’t sure if Cold told his gang about taking Barry as Barry Allen or as the Flash.

 

“Who? Their fuck boy?” the man asked, seemingly on autopilot and not thinking.

Oliver saw red hearing that and let an arrow sink into the man’s shoulder. The arm with the hurt hand of course. The man let out a gargled scream, but the vigilante wasn’t paying attention to him. If Snart or Rory have touched Barry in any way, they are dead. Screw the whole not-killing thing that Felicity wants. A swift death will be too good for them.

 

Oliver moved forward so that he was towering over the man, but stood far enough away so he could point another arrow at the man. “Who are you,” the Arrow demanded.

 

The man gargled for a moment, and kept looking down as if he couldn’t believe he was just shot with an arrow “…uh…I’m nobody, really.” As Oliver pulled the second arrow back a little further, the man quickly squeaked, “Roscoe!”

 

“What did the boy look like? Talk quickly.” There was a slim chance it wasn’t Barry, but neither Barry nor Oliver had that type of luck. At least if this…Roscoe…was calling him their fuck boy, that means he doesn’t know about the Flash.

 

“Skinny. Messy brown hair. Blue eyes.” Roscoe flinched when Oliver growled at his answer.

 

“Where is Cold?” the Arrow asked, his voice quiet but dangerous.

 

“Snart’ll actually kill me if I tell anyone something like that!” the cowardly man protested.

 

“Wrong answer,” Oliver snarled. He angled his bow down and shot Roscoe in the leg. “WHERE IS HE?” the vigilante’s low voice boomed across the warehouse, echoing off the walls.

 

“House. Proctor St. Number 1076.” The man spat out, but easily flinched as the Arrow approached. Oliver quickly knocked the man out and left him on the ground. He would make sure someone found the man. Eventually.

 

As he made his way back to his bike, he called Felicity.

 

Felicity sounded frustrated and on the verge of tears as she apologized. “Oliver! I’m sorry, I still haven’t found him! I’m running a program—“

 

“I found him.” Oliver interrupted her.

 

“Do you have him? Or just a location?” Felicity probed.

 

“I have an address. I need you to check it out, discretely. I need to know everything about the house as I’m not sure how close I’ll be able to get to case it without setting off some type of security,” Oliver explained.

 

“I can do that. Blueprints, satellite images, the works. I can totally do that.” Felicity sounded at least more focused with a specific task to accomplish. “What’s the address? Do I want to know how you got it?”

 

“1076 Proctor St. We needed this information, Felicity. I didn’t care what it took to get it.” Oliver was trying to keep a level head, as if he were the Arrow rescuing anyone else and just following his normal procedures, but he knew that he was emotionally compromised. Ideally it would have been nice to have Dig here, but Oliver didn’t think Diggle would even pick up a phone call from him right now.

 

“Right. I’ll work on pulling all of that up. Are you going to your apartment in Central until I do?” Felicity’s voice was absentminded as she was already distracted by her search.

 

“What apartment?” Oliver asked sharply.

 

“Uh, the apartment that Diggle and I may have gotten you a while ago in case you needed a place both out of this city and somewhere close to Barry…” Oliver wanted to snap about doing things behind his back, but now wasn’t the time to deal with it.

 

Getting the address and door code from Felicity, he made his way through back alleys and streets to a small apartment building closer to the edge of the city. Looking up at the fire escape that led to his apartment from the dark alleyway, he at least conceded that they chose well. He left his bike in the small garage and used the service elevator to sneak up to his floor. Felicity said there were no cameras in the building, so he should be ok.

 

Opening the door to the apartment, he stared at the mostly furnished apartment. When did they have time to do this? There was water and non-perishable food, extra clothes and weapons, and even toiletries in the bathroom. Sometimes he really missed everything his team did for him.

 

It was nudging dusk when he finally got the information from Felicity. Oliver wanted to head there immediately and storm the place, but he knew that would be a terrible idea and no help to Barry. The billionaire took a couple of long, slow breaths and slipped into his Arrow persona.

 

He spent another hour pouring over building plans and checking the latest satellite photos Felicity could get. It looked like it had some basic security, but nothing like what Oliver would expect. Either Snart was getting complacent or Snart’s security revolved around the secrecy of the house’s location.

 

He redressed and made sure to stock up on arrows, including some of the specialty ones. If Snart and Rory were able to get to Barry (probably some sort of mind control— it had happened before) then Oliver needed to be prepared for anything. If Barry’s team wasn’t going to go after their missing hero, Oliver would do it instead.

 

He left his bike some ways from his destination as it was slightly conspicuous. Luckily it was dark by this point, so the Arrow was in his element. Sneaking through a wooded area, Oliver got line of sight on the house. It looked fairly innocuous and Oliver still didn’t see any security cameras. He climbed a tree that was closer to the house and stared at a window in what seemed to be a living room. He could see a couch facing the window and a hallway in the back that led straight through into the kitchen.

 

He only had to wait a few moments before he saw Barry. Rory walked out of the kitchen carrying Barry, who was unconscious, bridal style. Fury coursed through Oliver and it took all of his training to not break through the window immediately. Plan. Stick to the plan. Recon first. How many people? More meta-humans? How are they controlling Barry? Oliver gnashed his teeth together as he watched Heatwave come into the living room, pick something blue up from the couch, and then disappear out the door, turning down the hallway. The thief didn’t return for several long minutes, but Oliver saw him come back and reenter the kitchen. Only two minutes later, Snart strode out of the kitchen and down the hall the direction Rory had taken Barry.

 

Of course they would need someone with Barry to make sure whatever they’re drugging him with is still working. Bastards. Oliver briefly considered trying to enter the house through a window in whatever room they were keeping Barry, but dismissed the idea as the windows were probably either barred or non-existent.

 

He planned for the next 40 minutes, discerning that Snart and Rory seemed to be the only Rogues in the house. He wanted to get them both in the same room if possible so that he couldn’t be jumped by one while confronting the other or give them time to call for help. It would be even better if he could grab Barry at the same time, but he didn’t want them to use Barry against him.

 

It was at the 40-minute mark since Rory had carried Barry off that Snart came out leading Barry down the hall with a hand on his shoulder. The kid looked like he was still half asleep, yawning slightly with tussled hair and wearing a too-large blue sweatshirt.

 

The pair turned into the kitchen and disappeared from sight. Oliver cursed silently. Couldn’t something go in his favor today?

 

It appeared that the universe was listening. Five minutes later Snart entered the living room carrying a plate of food and a beer a little ahead of Barry who was followed closely by Rory. It looked like they were eating dinner. Oliver wasn’t sure if he was glad they were feeding him or suspicious that the food was drugged. Snart set his plate on a table and turned on the television.

 

As soon as Rory and Barry had fully entered the room, Oliver moved.  He carefully aimed one of his strongest smoke arrows and shot straight through the glass window. He noted the both panicked and furious looks Snart and Rory wore as the latter of the two grabbed Barry and thrust the kid behind him. Oliver had wrapped one end of a cable around the tree earlier and he now thunked the arrow with the other end of the cable into the side of the house just above the living room window. He quickly swung his bow up and slid down the cable, letting go just before crashing into the house and rolled through the glass window. By the time he was on his feet, he had another arrow knocked as he aimed at Snart’s last known location. No way was he endangering Barry by trying to aim at Rory first.

 

Before Oliver could get out a threat, there was a woosh of wind as the smoke quickly cleared from the room. Oliver caught Barry’s arms swinging wildly to create vortexes to suck up the smoke. His plate of food appeared to have ended up on the floor and he was still being held by Rory behind the large man. Snart was a couple steps away from the t.v. near a book case and was holding onto the cold gun. Oliver figured it would probably be somewhere nearby.

 

Adjusting his aim to point directly at Snart’s head, Oliver growled in his Arrow voice, “Give me Barry Allen!”

 

~o~o~o~

 

50 Minutes ago…

 

Barry was incredibly comfortable. He was curled up on the couch listening to Len read to him. Normally Barry would get annoyed at the slow pace, as he could finish the book in a couple seconds, but he loved listening to Len’s voice.

 

Len and Mick had been pampering him all day. Mick had surprised him by setting up ingredients for several dozen different types of pancakes this morning. While Len seemed to have specific combinations that he liked (Barry wasn’t surprised he was pickier), Mick gleefully joined Barry in creating the oddest combination pancakes. Mick would try and feed Len some of their creations, which had Len rolling his eyes at his partner. Len’s snappy quips back and forth with Mick made Barry laugh so hard that he accidentally dropped his coffee into some of the pancake batter. Surprisingly, with some chocolate chips and banana slices, it actually turned out pretty well.

 

The biggest problem of the day was keeping Barry occupied in ways that didn’t involve Barry’s speed. Which Barry used quite a bit in his normal life. But the two thieves were adamant that he shouldn’t use his speed often until they figure out his calorie intact.

 

Len and Mick tried to teach Barry how to play poker, but Barry had a terrible poker face. It didn’t help that the two thieves could easily read each other. It was lucky that they were playing for m n’ m’s or else Barry would have been in trouble. Although Barry lost most of his, Len and Mick slipped most of their winnings to him over the course of the afternoon.

 

Barry attempted to play battleship (a classic game!) with Mick (really, it was totally a classic), but the explosives expert didn’t understand why he couldn’t “make the explosions better” and blow up more ships. Eventually Mick ended up in the kitchen starting dinner while Len read to Barry.

 

The young hero realized that he had missed the last few pages at this point that Len had read. Focusing on the story was getting a little harder as his eyes got heavier. Barry felt a hand run through his hair. He tilted his head back slightly to see Mick standing behind him.

 

“Take a nap, doll. We’ll wake you for dinner.” Barry let Mick’s low voice wash over him and leaned into the hand carding through his hair. He vaguely felt someone pick up him at some point and his mind absentmindedly recognized the two thieves talking. He felt himself be placed down and something soft put into his hands. Barry snuggled into it and let himself drift off.

 

45 minutes later…

 

“Come on kid, time to wake up.” Len voice shook Barry out of his sleep. Barry blinked his eyes open to find Snart sitting next to him on the bed holding a paperback book.

 

“Huh?” Barry asked intelligently.

 

Len smirked. “Dinner, Scarlet.”

 

“Right,” Barry muttered sitting up. He glanced down to find that he had been snuggling with Len’s blue sweatshirt. He blushed slightly but tugged it on.

 

The hero let the thief help him up and lead him down the hallways, Len’s hand warm and heavy on his shoulder. He yawned as they turned into the kitchen, delicious smells assaulted him. Barry took a deep breath through his nose and woke up a little more with the promise of food.

 

Len piled a plate with pot roast, potatoes, vegetables, and warm rolls. He grabbed a beer from the fridge and turned to the other two. “Gonna stare at the food all night or grab a plate and eat it?” He gave a smirk and headed into the living room.

 

Mick watched Barry fill a plate and then added a little more to what Barry chose. Barry gave him a slightly exasperated glance, but allowed the mother-henning. Mick filled his own plate and the two headed into the living room.

 

Len seemed to be turning the t.v. on for the last few episodes of Firefly, which Mick was enjoying immensely. Barry was looking forward to their nightly ritual, but he and Mick never even made it to the couch. There was a sound of shattering glass and Barry jerked his head to see smoke filling the room from — was that an arrow?! Mick grabbed Barry and pulled him backwards. Barry dropped his plate of food as he was thrust behind the thief protectively. There was a louder shattering of glass and a thunk as someone landed in the living room.

 

Coming back to himself, Barry whirled his arms around the best he could while stuck behind Mick and quickly cleared the smoke from the room.

 

Barry stared at the scene in the living room. Len was over on the far side with the cold gun out and pointed towards the intruder. Barry didn’t know where he had been keeping the gun but clearly close on hand. The room was a mess: glass on the floor, Barry’s dinner plate over turned and slowly oozing across the ground, papers and objects strew about the room from Barry’s little trick.

 

But the most surprising thing was the intruder. Standing there with an arrow pointed straight at Len was the Green Arrow. Barry blinked for a moment in surprise. What the hell is Oliver doing here? How did he even know where to find me?!

 

In his deep Arrow voice, Oliver called out threateningly, “Give me Barry Allen!”

 

There was a moment of silence and Barry wanted to face palm. He knew Oliver probably had good intentions (unless he was mad at Barry too for how he handled the situation recently…) but either way, that was possibly the worst phrasing the older vigilante could have picked.

 

“I don’t share well,” was Len’s drawled response.

 

Peeking out from behind Mick to look at Len, Barry saw just how well the thief was taking the threat. The two criminals were in full protection mode and didn’t take kindly to being told what to do. Barry knew that if he didn’t do something, several people were probably going to get hurt.

 

Barry mentally apologized to Mick before using his super-speed to escape from behind the large man. He placed himself in the middle of the room between Oliver and Len, who right now looked more like the Arrow and Captain Cold.

 

“Stop it!” Barry shouted, holding his arms out. He glanced between the two men, hoping one of them would listen. He internally heaved a heavy sigh as they both seemed to be equally stubborn.

 

Oliver’s face was masked in shadow, but Barry could see him frowning and his hands grip his bow a bit tighter. Len wasn’t much better, his body tense and his eyes blazing with anger and worry.

 

They both spoke at the same time, their voices deeper and a little less hostile but more serious. “Barry, move!” 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 9: Can’t we just all get along?

 

Barry looked between the two men. Fuck. They are not going to make this easy for me, he thought.

 

Well, at least this situation he was somewhat familiar dealing with: he was in the middle of a superhero/supervillain fight that he had to stop from turning ugly. Barry stood up a little straighter. He was the Flash and could handle this. He made eye contact with Len and then Oliver and just said, “No.”

 

“Barry,” Oliver growled. “I know you’re being influenced—“

 

Len interrupted at this point. “You think we’re being what, a bad influence on Barry? You think you’d be a better influence?” The Captain Cold sneer came out. “You have a higher body count than I do.”

 

Barry could see Oliver’s jaw tightening. “I only go after the guilty, which you would definitely count as. I won’t ask again, hand over Barry Allen.”

 

Barry turned his head to look back at Len and saw him shift his balance slightly and re-angle his gun. Barry wanted to let out the biggest frustrated scream. Now Len was worried about having the cold gun pointed directly at Barry? And Oliver really needed to stop trying to rescue him by demanding him like a stolen toy. Barry opened his mouth to intervene again, but Len beat him to it.

 

“We’re not handing Barry over to anyone, especially you. What do you want with him?” Len seemed both furious that someone was trying to demand that he hand over something he thought of as his (Barry was aware that Len was a tad possessive, even of people) and worried that someone out there was after Barry.

 

“If you’ve touched him in any way—” Oliver growled threateningly.

 

What?” Len’s eyes flashed angrily. He bit it back and his Captain Cold face came back. “Why? You’d be jealous, you sick bastard?” Len sneered at the vigilante.

 

“Don’t you EVER accuse me of that,” Oliver raised his voice and took a step forward. “I’m one of the few who actually wants what’s best for Barry. Release him!”

 

“Release...? You mistakenly seem to think that we kidnapped Barry. He chose to be here and is actually safe here,” Len explained patronizingly, as if he were trying to piss of the Arrow.

 

“Of course you kidnapped him! He would never choose to be here if you weren’t controlling his mind somehow,” the older vigilante insisted. “You’re a criminal! Safe? How many times have you attacked him?”

 

Len’s frown deepened and he cast a worried glance at Barry. “It might be hard to wrap your delusional brain around, but we didn’t kidnap him. He is safe here with us. And what? You seem to be after him yourself. Sure you haven’t attacked and shot him yourself?” Cold snapped back.

 

Barry had had about enough of this. “Stop it! Both of you! I’m not being controlled or hurt, the Arrow does not want me for himself, and you did kind of kidnap me at first. And for your information you’ve both shot me!” The Flash was breathing heavily by the end of this little speech. He took a deep breath as the two men seemed to both be stunned at Barry’s outburst. “Now, put down your weapons so we can talk about this like normal people—well, as close to normal as we can get.” He glared at them as neither one moved. “Don’t make me do this the hard way,” Barry warned.

 

“Barry/Kid,” Oliver and Len both tried to start at the same time. Barry let out an annoyed growl and flashed forward, first grabbing Oliver’s bow and then Len’s gun. He was more sure that Len wouldn’t shoot at him than Oliver. He flashed down and deposited both weapons on his bed before returning to the living room to his previous stance in the middle.

 

He wobbled a bit as he stopped, a little dizzy. He saw all three men take a step forward as if to steady him, but stopped and glared at their “opposition” seeing them do the same.

 

Mick broke the silence. “Doll, you barely ate lunch today and your dinner ended up on the floor. You need to eat something.”

 

Len and Oliver shifted on their feet slightly, as if feeling guilty they caused Barry’s dinner to end up on the floor. “Sit down on the couch, Barry, and start on my plate. I’ll get a new one,” Len encouraged Barry.

 

“Don’t!” Oliver cut in as Barry prepared to move. “They’re drugging you! Fight it, Barry!”

 

 Barry gapped at Oliver for a moment. How on earth had his friend come up with that scenario?

 

“We’re not drugging him,” Mick grunted indigently. Oliver looked at him unimpressed and unconvinced.

 

Barry let out an audible deep sigh. “First, they are certainly not drugging me, Green Arrow. Second, that was supposed to be Len’s dinner plate, so unless you think they’re drugging themselves or planned to have you crash through their window…? Third— Len, Mick— the Arrow isn’t here to hurt me, you can stop worrying. He’s here to ‘rescue’ me.” Barry slowly made his way over to the couch during this as he was feeling tired and dizzier. He could almost feel the tension in the room as neither side would give.

 

“What, now you want to rescue him?” Len bitingly accused the Arrow. “Where were you when he needed help? When he could have used the support from…whatever you are to him?”

 

“Explain,” Oliver demanded shortly. When Len didn’t offer more information but just crossed his arms belligerently, the vigilante pressed in a low tone, “What do you mean? What happened?”

 

At this point, both men turned to look at the slightly pale figure on the couch. Barry mentally groaned. He did not want to do this tonight. Why couldn’t Oliver choose to come rescue him a different night? Barry picked up a roll to munch on, as he really did need food and passing out now would leave all three of them in a room together without supervision. Barry glanced back at Mick, who seemed alert, but not overly tense like Len or Oliver. Barry held in a snort. Len was being the hothead here while Mick was keeping a cool one— the irony.

 

“This is ridiculous,” Mick piped up, his armed crossed. He looked disapproving, not at Barry, but at Oliver and Len. “Kid needs to eat and he’s not going to do that with you two fighting.” Len shot Mick a confused and slightly betrayed look. Mick ignored it and turned to the still-cloaked Green Arrow. “Queen, just join us for dinner.”

 

There was a long moment of silence as Barry was surprised again tonight, a bit of roll tumbling out of his mouth as it fell open. “How...? How did you…?”

 

“It wasn’t that hard to put together. Between you telling us that Queen knew your secret identity, your insistence on trusting Queen and now the Green Arrow, and well, you hero types aren’t really that good with secret identities.” Mick rumbled.

 

“Might as well unmask, Robin Hood,” Len smirked over at the frozen Arrow, as smug as if he were the one to have figured it out instead of Mick.

 

Barry could tell that Oliver was definitely not pleased about this turn of events. If the older vigilante was annoyed before, now he was beyond pissed off. He hated, more than anything, having his identity revealed in an uncontrolled situation which he hadn’t chosen. He was wondering if Oliver would actually remove his hood or just jump back out the window with how long it was taking for him to decide what to do. Oliver finally slowly raised a hand up and pulled back his hood.

 

“Barry? Care to explain what’s going on here?” Oliver asked, his voice now Oliver and not Arrow. Barry relaxed a little. He knew that he was safe around the Arrow, but Oliver could go pretty deep in his persona and Barry felt much safer with Oliver at the forefront.

 

“Um, Mick made dinner and we were about to watch some Firefly?” Barry tried to brush everything off.

 

Both Len and Oliver gave him unamused stares. Right, so this was going to be fun.

 

“Ah, you might have to be more specific then,” Barry said hesitantly.

 

“I have a question first,” Len interjected. “What did Red mean when he said that you’d shot him?” The thief’s eyes narrowed dangerously.

 

Oliver’s face didn’t change as he was silent for a moment, but finally answered, “training.”

 

Len didn’t seem to think that constituted as an answer and turned to Barry, who was trying not to squirm on the couch. He did not think this through— having both of them staring at him for answers.

 

“Uh, we were both working a case here and Oliver wanted to prepare me, train me, before we went out on the mission together. And I, uh, was still pretty new and, a little, um, cocky, with my powers. To show me how much I didn’t know and still had to learn, Oliver may have set a trap that shot me in the back. Twice.” It really wasn’t that much of big deal now, but Barry wasn’t sure his two thieves would see it that way.

 

“That’s a low, dirty trick for a ‘hero’ to play,” Len directed coldly at Oliver.

 

“He needed to learn he wasn’t invincible. Better with me than while in an actual fight,” Oliver defended.

 

Mick had stepped up behind the couch and ran a hand through Barry’s hair. Barry looked up at him searchingly and let out a smile. “Mick, I’m fine. It happened a long time ago,” Barry answered the silent question.

 

Mick left his hand running through Barry hair. When the young hero looked back at the room, Oliver was looking at them oddly. Ah, yes, this was kind of a new development. How to word this so that Oliver wouldn’t go on a rampage….

 

“The doll fainted Friday night while trying to stop a small heist,” Mick piped up. He glanced around at everyone. “I’m tired of all this silence and I want food and a beer.” The pyro grumbled a little, “And we have two more episodes of Firefly left.”

 

“You fainted?” Oliver focused in on Barry. “And a heist where?”

 

“It was just a trinket, don’t get your leathers in a twist,” Len provoked. Barry wanted to sigh, again. These quips weren’t really helping. Most of the time they went over Oliver’s head.

 

“It had been a long day,” Barry shrugged. “I was fine.”

 

“Doll, you were not fine,” Mick insisted, cutting off Barry’s lie.

 

“Mick,” Barry almost whined.

 

“You said you trusted Oliver Queen, right? And he seems to be here to ‘rescue you’ trying to help,” Mick pressed Barry.

 

“As I said, technically, you guys did originally kidnap me. Sort of,” Barry said cheekily. Oliver bristled at that and Len rolled his eyes.

 

“Scarlet,” Len prompted. “We caught you after you fainted. Not sure that counts as kidnapping. Doesn’t even get onto our list.”

 

Probably not good to bring up, but it was just that he really, really didn’t want to have to explain everything to Oliver and lose him too. If he didn’t tell the older vigilante what had happened, then Barry could pretend that he still had Oliver on his side and hadn’t been abandoned by him too.

 

“Doll,” Mick said quietly. “If you trust him, it’ll be fine.”

 

Barry looked down at his hands and then met Oliver’s gaze. “I do trust him.” He looked up at Mick, “I just, I don’t want to—, do I have to talk about it? It’s not a big deal and just sounds stupid.”

 

“It’s not stupid, Doll. But I can start the story,” Mick offered. Barry knew he should be the one to tell it, but he didn’t want to relive all those moments. He just shrugged apathetically.

 

There was a moment when the tension seemed to rise in the room and then Barry felt Mick settle down on the couch next to him. Ah, well, that would explain it. Oliver would not like Mick being so close to Barry.

 

“I would put the knife away, if I were you. I don’t take kindly to people threatening my partner,” Captain Cold’s voice cut through the room.

 

Barry looked up to see Oliver had slipped a knife from somewhere into his hand.

 

“Barry, get away from him,” Oliver insisted lowly. “I don’t know what’s going on or what they told you, but they’re not—“

 

Barry was tired, dizzy, and hungry, and he wanted all of this to stop. “No! I’m not moving!” Barry yelled, crossing his arms and leaning into Mick a little, taking strength from his warmth. “You don’t know what’s going on because you haven’t been here! I couldn’t reach you and I didn’t have anyone to turn to. Mick and Len care! They care if I eat enough or if I can actually sleep a full night without nightmares. They haven’t asked for anything. You never listen when you think you know better! I’m not a child, Oliver! I can judge people for myself.” Barry’s loud and angry voice grew quiet as his rant ran out of steam. Hurt and insecurity crept into the young hero’s voice. “They actually care about me. Do you?”

 

“Oh, Barry, of course I care. I’m sorry you couldn’t get a hold of me. I promise I wasn’t trying to freeze you out on purpose,” Oliver tried to reassure Barry. The Starling City vigilante seemed to calm down a little. “What happened Barry? Where’s your team? Why are you living in a storage closet at STAR labs?”

 

Barry slumped again Mick. “It’s my fault,” he whispered brokenly. “It was all my fault. I killed Eddie and Ronnie. And caused all this destruction. I was too dangerous, so they left.”

 

“Barry, I don’t know what happened, but there is no way this is all your fault. And I do not believe that you killed Eddie or Ronnie,” Oliver insisted softly, moving forward to sit on the coffee table in front of Barry.

 

“But it was,” Barry croaked. “I couldn’t kill the reverse flash. So Eddie killed himself to stop him from ever existing. And, and I could have saved my mom, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. Other me told me not to. So I just watched her die! But I caused the singularity anyways! And, and I survived closing it because Firestorm saved me and sacrificed Ronnie in the process. Caitlin was devastated. Iris can’t look at me. I broke everything,” Barry hiccupped through the now flowing tears. He hadn’t intended to start crying, but now he couldn’t seem to stop.

 

A solid hand came to rest on the back of his neck, rubbing in soothing circles as Mick tried to comfort the younger hero. Barry blinked through the tears and waited for Oliver to blame him too. To realize how dangerous he was and how he should get away from Barry while he still could.

 

“Barry, did you know that you would create that vortex with what you did?” Oliver questioned softly.

 

Barry shook his head. “No! I’m sorry. I didn’t plan enough or gather enough intel before barging into the situation like you taught me. I’m sorry. Please don’t hate me.” Barry was whispering towards the end, set up for another heart break.

 

But Oliver didn’t pull away or look disgusted with him. Instead he reached forward and took Barry’s hands in his. “Barry, I could never hate you. And sometimes we have to move forward with the information we have. I know that you did your best. You can’t blame yourself for something you didn’t know would happen. Do you know how many decisions I’ve made that have hurt the people around me?”

 

Barry silently shook his head at Oliver’s question. “I can’t always save everyone and I feel the guilt every time. Right now, most of my team is angry at me and not talking to me,” Oliver explained honestly.

 

“You take on the responsibility for too much,” Oliver continued. “This isn’t your fault and your team was wrong for leaving you. You are an amazing hero Barry. It’s going to be fine. I’m not going to abandon you,” Oliver promised.

 

At that statement Barry let out a sob and threw himself forward at Oliver, who caught him and pulled him close. The older vigilante held the younger as he sobbed incoherently into his chest. Barry was so tired of feeling like this. How many times was his world going to break apart before he could put any of it back together?

 

~o~o~o~o~

 

Oliver held onto Barry as his crying started to quiet. He looked down at the kid he thought of as a little brother and couldn’t not think about how this time, Oliver was the one who had failed, not a city, but Barry.

 

He looked up warily at the two criminals. Rory was still sitting on the couch, watching Barry with an oddly soft look on his face. Snart was a little harder to read, but it wasn’t hard to see that he was worried. What the hell was going on here? How were the only people concerned about Barry his villains?

 

Barry grew quiet, even the smaller sniffles trailing off. Oliver looked down to find Barry was asleep. He needed to get a better understanding of the situation and it seemed that these two were the only ones who knew. Although Oliver would take everything they said with a grain of salt.

 

“Here,” Rory said, hold his arms out. Oliver looked at him, his face blank as he tried to read the pyro. “Just gonna put ‘im on the couch. Be more comfortable.” Oliver didn’t really want to hand Barry over to the criminal now that he had the kid in his arms, but he knew he couldn’t keep Barry in this awkward position forever. He gave Rory another long, assessing stare and remembered how when he was busy with Snart, Rory seemed to be more concerned with getting Barry to eat. He finally gave a short, sharp nod and slowly helped Mick lay Barry down on the couch.

 

“If you hurt him, I will make any death I’ve been responsible for look like a paper cut,” Oliver addressed to Rory specifically.

 

“Not going to hurt ‘im,” Rory promised, seemingly serious.

 

Oliver watched tensely out of the corner of his eye as Snart moved over and grabbed something from a basket on the floor. The thief came back over to the couch holding a blanket.

 

“Snowflakes?” Oliver asked deadpan, seeing the pattern on the blanket.

 

Snart snorted. “Blame Mick,” he drawled. His partner just let out a sly grin.

 

Oliver was slightly bewildered. What the hell kind of enemies did Barry have here in Central City? Snart nodded his head over at a group of armchairs. “I think we need to have a chat,” he said flatly.

 

“I’ll grab some beers,” Rory said and left for the kitchen before Oliver could protest. He was highly uncomfortable with one enemy in another room, his ally unconscious and vulnerable, and the other enemy holding all the information.

 

Heatwave was back in just a few seconds carrying a six pack. Oliver raised his eyebrows.

 

“You’re gonna want some for this conversation,” Rory promised, settling into one of the armchair and popping open a beer. Cold stood up and made his way over, accepting a beer from his partner.

 

Oliver looked down at a sleeping Barry again, tear tracks still visible on the kid’s face. He didn’t like this, but...for Barry.

 

He took a deep breath and moved over to the two criminals. He had dealt with worse. This would be fine. “What is going on here?” he demanded.

 

Rory offered him a beer and Oliver just stared at the unopened bottle. Rory raised an eyebrow and said, “Really. You’re gonna want this.”

 

Oliver took the bottle, but didn’t open it. “What. Happened?”

 

“It seems that team Flash couldn’t deal with the danger that comes with saving the world. And Scarlet made a convenient outlet as a scapegoat for their cowardly fear,” Len practically snarled.

 

Alright, so team Flash was definitely going on Oliver’s list. “And where do you come in?” Oliver asked in a suspicious tone.

 

“You probably won’t believe it, but we saved Barry from himself,” Len said seriously, looking Oliver dead in the eye.

 

“What. Do. You. Mean?” Oliver was getting frustrated with these half answers and his hand itched for his bow. And they were right, he didn’t believe them.

 

“What do you think? Everyone deserted him,” Mick growled. “We met him last Friday night and took him back here when he fainted. Couldn’t leave him in the middle of the city.”

 

Oliver nodded at that. If that part of the story was true, it was probably a good thing that they took Barry back here rather than someone more ruthless.

 

“Why did Barry faint? What did you do?” Oliver asked concerned.

 

“We didn’t do anything, Robin Hood,” Snart sneered, looking insulted.

 

“Right. You just went from two of his villains trying to kill him to what, his caretakers? Because he fainted.” Oliver was not buying that story. 

 

“We haven’t been trying to kill Scarlet for a while. We have a little game going,” Snart smirked at him.

 

“This is all a game to you?” Oliver seethed at that answer.

 

“No. This is not a game. The Flash challenging me as a thief is a game. Barry was never a game.” Snart seemed oddly serious. “Our relationship with the Flash has been… complicated for a while.”

 

“So you just waited until he was vulnerable and manipulated him into thinking you were all he had?” Oliver was trying to find their angle.

 

Rory let out a low growl. “We’re not manipulating him. And right now, he doesn’t have a team for support.”

 

“Where’s Joe in all of this?” Oliver questioned. If he could just catch them in one lie…

 

“The West girl is upset that her fiancé kill himself to stop the Reverse Flash and decided to blame Barry for not defeating the (stupidly named) villain himself. And the Detective chose to back that girl’s idiotic idea,” Snart explained, his voice dripping with distain.

 

“He abandoned Barry?” Oliver almost slipped back into his Arrow voice with his displeasure. “Oh God— Iris. That must have crushed him.”

 

“He shut down,” Heatwave interjected. “We just try to keep him from slipping back there and bring him out of it when he does.” Rory gave Oliver an assessing stare. “He’s not in a good place. You of all people should get it. I’m sure your time on that island wasn’t all sunshine and beer.”

 

Oliver pushed back old memories popping up. “I think it’s time you gave me the full story,” he said firmly, leaning forward to brace his forearms on his knees.  

 

“And I think, before we do that, you should tell us just who you are to Barry and how you found us.” Snart drawled.

 

“Me?” Oliver’s face darkened a little. “I’m Barry’s self-appointed, disapproving older brother.” Snart met his glare in challenge. “And as for finding you, you should really pick better team members. That rat-faced coward broke easily and gave up this address.” Oliver couldn’t help but get a dig in at the smirking bastard.

 

“Rat-faced? Got a name with that?” Snart asked, trying to play it cool, but clearly interested in who sold them out.

 

“Said his name was Roscoe,” Oliver answered, carefully watching the thief’s face.

 

Snart’s eyes hardened and he snarled, “where?”

 

“Some warehouse that’s under an alias of your sister. Did you freeze his hand?” Oliver was curious. Not that Oliver really cared about what happened to that bastard after what he called Barry.

 

“Should have just iced him,” Cold sneered. “He hurt Barry.”

 

“Well, I’m glad I shot him twice then and knocked him out,” Oliver mentioned with fake nonchalance.

 

“Good,” Heatwave appeared almost murderous with that look on his face and reminded Oliver just how ruthless these criminals had shown themselves to be.

 

“I have a call to make,” Snart said coldly, standing up. He walked out of the room into the kitchen pulling out his cell phone.

 

Oliver hated having an enemy out of his sights—again, but his gaze was drawn back to the sleeping figure on the couch. Barry needed to come first right now, no matter how uncomfortable the situation was.

 

Snart was only gone a moment longer, and he was more composed when he came back. He stopped at the couch and tucked the blanket a little more around Barry.

 

“If you really want to protect Barry, there are some things you should know. Some of his story is his to tell you if he wants. I think we’re both certain the other is going to hurt the kid, so we’re going to have to call a temporary truce.” Snart didn’t sound pleased with the situation either. Good. They weren’t here to become friends.

 

They started by telling him how they came across him and Barry’s first night here. The thieves seriously explained Barry’s mental state and the actions of his team, family, and that bastard Roscoe. At that point, Oliver open the beer, wishing he had killed the rat-faced man. Rory told him about how Barry wasn’t eating enough and so was constantly tired and slowly wasting away. Snart told Oliver everything Barry was blaming himself for and how he was trying to single-handedly put the city back together, patrol as the Flash, and do his job.

 

Oliver could feel a headache coming on by the end. How did things get screwed up so quickly for Barry? The kid needed someone to help him balance and Oliver had his own responsibilities 600 miles away.

 

“I can get my team on making some calorie bars for Barry. It may take a few days, so I think it would be best if Barry came with me.” Oliver was not comfortable with leaving Barry here with these two.

 

“Where?” Rory grunted.

 

“What?” Oliver asked, not understanding what the larger thief was after.

 

“Where are you going to take him? Back to your city? Somewhere in Central? How long will you stay before you uproot him and eventually have to inevitably drop him?” Rory grilled the older vigilante.

 

Oliver clenched his fist, not wanting to admit that this criminal was right that Barry couldn’t come to Starling with him for long and Oliver couldn’t stay here forever.

 

“I don’t trust you,” Oliver gritted out.

 

“Feeling’s mutual,” Snart drawled out. “But we’re not making the kid leave. And if you try to force him, he’ll dig his heels in harder.”

 

Oliver hated feeling like he was boxed into a corner. He was sure if he could just talk to Barry without these two around, he could get the younger hero to see how he would be better off with Oliver.

 

“Why don’t we ask Barry?” Oliver said calmly.

 

“Need to wake him up to eat dinner anyways,” Heatwave nodded. “You gonna join us?”

 

“Relax, it would look bad if we poisoned one of Barry’s remaining friends,” Snart interjected.

 

“Fine,” Oliver conceded. “Why don’t I help you with Barry’s plate?” He stood up and followed Rory into the kitchen. He didn’t trust these two, but he tentatively concluded that, for now, they seemed to be on Barry’s side. He didn’t know what their long term plan was, but he’d figure it out and stop them from hurting Barry.

 

Rory handed him a plate and Oliver had to admit that dinner smelled delicious. “Who cooked?” Oliver tried to pry politely.

 

“I did. Do most of the cooking and baking,” the pyro gave Oliver a side glance.

 

“You bake?” Oliver had to asked, incredulously.

 

“When I get bored, I make bad decisions,” the pyro gave a toothy grin. The older vigilante didn’t quite seem the humor in that.

 

“Barry helps sometimes,” the thief said offhandedly. “Doll’s better with helping me bake than Len is.”

 

“Barry?” Oliver asked dryly. “You know he can burn the most basic things, right?”

 

Rory let out a small chuckle. “He told me that. He’s gotten better.” The thief filled up and balanced three plates in his arms.

 

They went back into the living room to find Snart helping a sleepy Barry sit up. “Come on Scarlet, time for some dinner.”

 

Barry muttered something and then leaned into Cold’s chest. Surprisingly, the thief allowed it and even ran his hand up and down Barry’s back. He muttered something back that Oliver couldn’t hear, but it seemed to make Barry feel better as he sat up not looking completely dead.

 

Rory walked over and handed a plate to Barry. “Here you go Doll, eat this and Len’s plate. And dessert.”

 

Barry seemed to perk up at that. “Dessert? What’s for dessert?”

 

“A German double chocolate cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream,” Rory answered tenderly. “Dinner first.”

 

Oliver watched as Barry started to eat, gaining some color back in his face. He took his own plate over and sat in one of the chairs Snart had dragged over to the coffee table. Barry seemed to keep glancing over to Oliver, mostly keeping his head tucked down and eating his dinner.

 

“Barry,” Oliver addressed the kid, “you can relax. I’m still not leaving and I’m not angry with you.” He tried to reassure the younger vigilante so that he wasn’t as nervous.

 

Barry was silent for a minute and then asked in a small voice, “but…are you going to try and make me leave?”

 

All of the older brother protective strings were pulled inside Oliver with that tone. He closed his eyes for a moment to come to a flash decision, “No.” Oliver looked straight at Barry. “I’m not going to try and make you leave. I can’t say that I’m comfortable with all of this though, which is why I’ll also be staying here tonight.”

 

Barry just blinked for a minute and let out a small smile. His shoulders relaxed a little and he responded with a quiet, “thanks Ollie” before starting to quickly polish off his dinner plates.

 

Oliver glanced over at the two criminals. Rory just seemed annoyed, but amused with the situation while Cold gave him a raised eyebrow and an irritated sneer. Oliver couldn’t help but let out a small smirk. Let’s see you try to do anything to Barry with me around.

 

Little did they know, but all three older men had the same thought: tonight is going to suck.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: A Stand-off of Stubbornness

 

Mick would be more amused by the silent pissing match going on between his partner and Queen if it wasn’t affecting Barry so much. Mick was still sitting next to Barry on the couch, making sure the kid ate as much as they could get into him. He also wasn’t sure that he trusted Len or Queen to sit next to Barry and not use him as an object in their war.

 

To help diffuse some of the awkwardness, Mick turned on the t.v. and started Firefly— which totally didn’t have to do with the pyro’s desire to see how the series ended. Nope. All for Barry.

 

He felt Barry lean against him, tired after the excitement of the night, if you would call it that. Mick rolled his eyes at the criminal and the vigilante who were arguing tactics and morality about Firefly and her crew. 

 

Barry leaned over at one point to whisper to Mick. “Aren’t they basically arguing the same point, just with different language?”

 

Mick gave Barry a fond, amused look. “Doll, do you see those two ever admitting to agreeing on anything? And I have a feeling Lenny is a bit more interested in the money than Queen.”

 

Barry hid a smile against Mick’s chest. The arguing was amusing until it was time to start getting ready for bed. Mick was no longer amused.

 

“I’ll just stay in the room where Barry’s sleeping,” Oliver said, crossing his arms.

 

“Absolutely not,” Len sneered. “We may be letting you stay for Barry’s sake, but you can sleep in your own damn room.”

 

“As long as you and Rory are going to be sleeping in your own rooms,” the Arrow shot back. Mick groaned in his head. Well there went any chance of sleeping cuddled up to Doll tonight.

 

“This is our house. We can sleep wherever we want. If you don’t like it, the door is right over there,” Len said dismissively.

 

“I don’t think so,” Queen responded flatly.

 

“Stop arguing over my head!” Barry stepped forward. “I’ll sleep in my room by myself tonight. I have to be up for work early tomorrow anyways.” Mick watched his fiery young hero storm down the hallway and slam the door to his bedroom closed.

 

“For two people used to analyzing situations and forming complex plans, you sure fucked this up,” Mick rumbled.

 

“I want to know what you think you’re doing with Barry,” Queen demanded. Mick had been expecting something like this as soon as they were alone.

 

“Us?” Len asked coldly before Mick could respond. “I want to know what you and your little group of heroes think you were doing with Barry.”

 

“I haven’t been in the country recently, so you’ll have to be more specific,” Queen shot back, eyes hard.

 

“How convenient that when Barry deals with a madman none of his back-up is around to help.” Mick watched his partner lay into the older vigilante.

 

“We have our own problems to deal with in Star City. Barry knows the risks of what he does, and that’s why he has a whole team backing him up,” Queen explained. “Although I don’t know what the fuck they think they’re doing right now,” he half muttered to himself.

 

Len snorted. “Well, that’s something we can agree on. His team is lucky I have my deal with Scarlet,” he said darkly.

 

“They better have some damn good explanations,” the billionaire responded. “I have my team trying to track them all down.”

 

“So far, I haven’t heard any intel that would suggest an acceptable reasoning for their cowardly actions,” Len hissed.

 

Do they even realize that they’re basically saying the same thing? Mick was about done with the conversations going in circles.

 

“Figure out where you stand and investigate yourself tomorrow,” Mick grunted at the older vigilante. “I’m going to bed.” The pyro started walking towards the stairs before turning around and staring down Oliver Queen. “Barry has been through enough shit lately and doesn’t need to deal with any of your crap tonight, Queen,” he warned. “Leave him be.”

 

He saw a proud glint in Len’s eyes and a promise to try and behave around Queen.  Queen looked very displeased that someone was trying to order him around. The pyro wondered if the older vigilante’s pride would force him to seek out Barry tonight or if he would swallow his pride for Barry’s sake. Mick left Len to show Queen the guest bedroom at the end of the upstairs hallway. It was only a couple minutes later that Len slipped into the master bedroom where Mick was getting ready for bed.

 

“This is fucking inconvenient,” Len complained while changing into sleeping pants. “Who the fuck does he think he is?”

 

“He thinks he’s Barry’s unofficial protective older brother,” Mick said flippantly. He got a glare from his partner, but the pyro just grinned back unrepentantly.

 

“I don’t trust him. And I especially don’t trust him around Barry,” Len defended his attitude.

 

“You’re just upset that the Arrow threw a wrench into things that you didn’t plan for,” Mick raised an eyebrow at his partner, daring his to disagree. “Of course we’re going to keep a close eye on Queen until we’re sure he won’t hurt our Barry. But he could be a useful temporary ally as he can more easily get close to Barry’s former team than we can without raising an alarm.”

 

He saw Len look thoughtful and started considering how this new connection could be twisted to be useful.

 

“Just go to sleep, Lenny. The guy will be gone all day tomorrow and you’ll have time to make your plans,” Mick said slipping under the covers. His partner reluctantly settled down next to him and Mick saw him set his cold down in easy reach beside the bed.

 

It was several hours later, after both Len and Mick had slipped into a restless sleep, that a gust of wind rushed through the room. A wiggling body made itself comfortable between the two criminals. Mick smiled sleepily as he realized who had just crawled into their bed. It seemed as though their speedster couldn’t sleep well on his own either. The pyro had felt Len grab his gun and tense up, but relaxed as he recognized Barry’s form. The three shifted so they were all entangled and fell into a more restful sleep.

 

The next morning…

 

Oliver had been awake for hours, just waiting for an appropriate time to go downstairs. More accurately, he hadn’t really ever gone to sleep. He had filled Felicity in on the basics through text message last night, but he knew he would have to call her today. She was already demanding an explanation to his cryptic messages. He needed to decide exactly what he thought about this situation before talking to Felicity. Oliver had restrained himself from going downstairs last night to see Barry, but only just. Felicity had reminded him to not interrogate the kid, and he’s trying to follow her desire to “be more tactful.”  Tactful or not, this house was not a safe space and he couldn’t take the risk being vulnerable while asleep. He’ll grab a couple of hours at his apartment later today. Oliver realized he would need to thank Felicity— and Diggle— for setting up the apartment which was coming in more handy than he thought.

 

When Oliver finally deemed it late enough, the vigilante quietly made his way downstairs. He intended to head towards Barry’s room, but noise and the smell of food from the kitchen caused him to change direction. Oliver slunk into the kitchen and found Mick Rory cooking at the stove. He stood there watching the man for a minute, just observing.

 

When Rory finally turned and caught sight of him, the pyro just nodded his head over to a counter and said, “coffee’s over there.”

 

The Arrow was silent for a beat but wandered over and poured himself a cup of the steaming black liquid, still keeping an eye on the criminal. He held onto the mug and lent against the wall waiting for Rory to talk first.

 

“You plannin’ on fixing that window?” Rory finally asked gruffly, indicating with a spoon towards the living room.

 

Ah. Yes. He did break through a window. Not what he expected Rory to start with this morning, though. He could see that boards and a tarp were covering the mess.

 

“I’ll get you a new window,” Oliver responded, not particularly caring about the window and knowing that the criminals definitely had enough money to buy a new one, but realizing that Barry would be disappointed if he didn’t. The kid was always trying to fix everything that broke or was damaged in one of his fights, even if it was the enemy who destroyed it.

 

Oliver watched as Rory started setting out bacon, eggs, bagels, mini quiches, something that looked like French toast in casserole form, fresh fruit, juice, coffee… The older vigilante stared at the mass of food being cooked.

 

“Expecting more guests?” he asked Rory, arms crossed and one eyebrow arched challengingly.

 

Rory just continued flipping pancakes on the stove and raised an eyebrow in return. “Just us. Doll eats a lot.” Oliver felt a little stupid. They had just talked about Barry’s appetite last night— how the kid didn’t have any calorie bars and hadn’t been getting enough calories lately.

 

Oliver hesitated for a moment and then asked, “do you need help with anything?”

 

The pyro gave him a measured stare. He pointed to a stack of sandwich ingredients on the island counter. “You can start making sandwiches for Barry’s lunch,” the criminal allowed. “The rest of his lunch and snacks are already packed.”

 

“I was planning on taking Barry out for lunch today, so he won’t need it,” the older vigilante countered.

 

This didn’t seem to ruffle Heatwave at all and Oliver was starting to wonder if this calm and rational deposition was his real behavior or just present around Snart and Barry.

 

“Only make four instead of eight, then,” Rory shrugged. “He should eat them anyways as more hearty snacks throughout the day. He won’t eat if left to his own devices.” The large man turned around fully, wielding a plastic spatula in his hand. “How soon can your people make those calorie bars?” He looked serious and concerned.

 

Oliver was starting to believe (against his will and all his normal instincts) that Mick Rory actually cared about the well-being of one Barry Allen. Then again, they pyro hid his calm demeanor and intelligence very well while acting as ‘Heatwave the criminal,’ so the man was a better actor than Oliver had thought to give him credit for. The older vigilante shook his head slightly to refocus himself. Why were Barry’s villain’s so damn complicated?

 

“Probably within a couple days,” Oliver answered. “I have select people working on it. I didn’t want the information about any of this getting out.” Rory nodded in…approval?... and started taking out plates and silverware from a cabinet. He gestured for Oliver to get mugs and glasses.

 

As the unlikely pair was setting the table, they heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Snart must finally be up. Didn’t peg him as the type of guy to sleep in and for Rory the one who woke up early.

 

Oliver looked up to the kitchen doorway and found that he was partially right. Snart was there, but so was Barry, still in his pajamas and hair tussled. Oliver frowned slightly at the implication— Barry somehow snuck upstairs during the night to sleep with the two criminals. The man kept his mouth shut about it for now, seeing Barry’s sleepy look and Snart’s assessing stare, as if judging him by his next actions and warning him not to upset the kid. Oliver was getting very tired of this off-kilter feeling.

 

“Good morning, Barry,” Oliver finally greeted the still groggy hero. Barry mumbled a greeting in return and Snart just snorted lightly in amusement and led the kid to a seat and gently pushed him into it.

 

Rory set down a mug of coffee in front of Barry and started to fill up his plate. Oliver watched the domestic dance the three did, easily maneuvering around each other and clearly being used to this routine already. Oliver finally moved and snagged a seat next to Barry.

 

“Sleep well?” Oliver asked Barry once he seemed slightly more awake.

 

Barry just shrugged and said, “alright.” He finally glanced up into Oliver’s eyes. “How did you sleep?” He looked a little closer at the older vigilante and narrowed his eyes. “Did you sleep?”

 

Oliver was both proud of how observant Barry was and cursing that he wasn’t able to hide this from him. “I meditated.” It wasn’t a lie. He did meditate on how he was going to respond to this situation.

 

“That’s a no then,” Barry stated. “You were safe here, but I guess I can understand how you wouldn’t feel that way. Promise me that you’ll get some today or else Felicity will be upset with me.”

 

Oliver highly doubted that Felicity was going to be upset with Barry over this or anything else any time soon, but just nodded at Barry’s request. “I will. I thought that I would drop you off at work on my way to my apartment here in Central.”

 

“You don’t have to go out of your way,” Barry tried to insist. “I’d be fine running to—“

 

“No,” all three men interjected together. They looked at each other and Oliver grudgingly found a little bit more of common ground with the pair of criminals.

 

“You know why that wouldn’t be the best idea yet, Scarlet,” Snart said surprisingly gentle for the normally acerbic man. “While I would much rather take you myself, I’m sure that Mr. Queen wants some time to talk with you away from us.” Barry just sighed at this. Whether at the interrogation by Oliver he was about to face or the fact that Oliver still didn’t trust the two, the millionaire didn’t know. “I’ll pick you up from work though, later today,” Snart promised, coaxing a smile out of the kid.

 

“Are you,” Barry started before hesitating slightly. “Are you going to be around here later?” he asked Oliver.

 

“I have a window to fix,” Oliver said drily, glancing over into the living room.

 

Barry seemed to lose some of the tension he had been holding onto and nodded. “That is what happens when you decide to break through a window instead of just opening it,” the speedster pointed out.

 

“It was the best entry point,” Oliver argued.

 

Barry gave him an exasperated stare. “You’re telling me that with all the casing of this house you must have done, that you can’t think of a single better way to have gotten in the house other than breaking through that window?”

 

Oliver scowled, knowing that Barry knew he was right. “I was concerned that time was a factor,” the Arrow finally explained.

 

Barry shot him an appreciative if still slightly exasperated smile and seemed to be willing to drop the topic. He glanced at the kitchen clock and jumped up. “It’s that late? I still need to get dressed and pack lunch!”

 

“I’ve already packed your lunch,” Rory pipped up from his seat. The man had been quiet throughout breakfast, only conversing softly for a couple of moments with his partner.

 

“Thank you Mick!” Barry smiled widely.

 

“Your work bag should still be packed in the front hallway,” Snart pointed out. “And if you don’t spend too much time fixing and re-fixing your hair, you shoudld have plenty of time.”

 

Barry just made a face at the man while darting out of the kitchen and down the hallway to his bedroom.

 

“I think you, Mick and I need to have a serious conversation,” Snart drawled in a low tone.

 

Oliver nodded in agreement, but warned, “that will depend on what I find out and my talk with Barry.”

 

Snart just made a go-ahead motion, seemingly unconcerned. “I would suggest that the detective not find out about this…situation.”

 

“Worried that he’ll finally come after you, no matter what deal the Flash has with you?” Oliver asked, trying to find out their motives.

 

“Worried that West will make things worse for Barry,” Rory rumbled. “Man doesn’t have his head on straight.”

 

Snart and Rory both seemed to be saying the right things, but Oliver wasn’t ready to give them his trust just yet. “Fine,” Oliver agreed. “Detective West doesn’t need to be filled in on this just yet.”

 

The two gave him assessing looks while Oliver kept his face impassive. Before things could go further, Barry rushed back into the kitchen still pulling a sweater down over his head. “I’m ready!”

 

Snart stood up and reached over to fix the collar of Barry’s shirt. “We’ll see you this evening, alright Scarlet?”

 

Barry nodded and thanked Rory who handed him a cooler (which Oliver assumed was the speedster’s version of a lunchbox). Barry cheerily waved goodbye to the two, promising that they could watch Firefly’s movie, Serenity, tonight.

 

Oliver put an arm around Barry’s shoulders as they walked down the street to where Oliver had stashed his bike.

 

“I’m really fine to get to work on my own,” Barry insisted. Oliver just arched an eyebrow at him.

 

“I’m not that weak! I’m fine,” the kid huffed. “Len and Mick are just being overprotective.”

 

“Barry, when your enemies are worried about you, there’s something wrong,” the millionaire finally answered. “While you’re certainly not fine, you’re not weak,” Oliver reassured his pseudo younger brother. “Doing what we do comes with risks and forces us to make difficult decisions when it comes to our family and friends. But Barry, that doesn’t mean you need to do this alone.” Barry was rubbing the back of his neck with one hand. “At the very least,” Oliver continued quietly, “even if I can’t physically help, I promise to be available for you to talk to whenever you need from now on. I know how difficult it can be to ask for help and I definitely know how pride can get in the way of that. But don’t doubt yourself, Barry.”

 

The younger hero was silent for a minute. “Thanks Oliver,” he finally answered, looking a little lost in thought.

 

“Barry,” Oliver got the speedster’s attention, “are you actually staying with Snart and Rory willingly?”

 

“I know that you don’t trust them and probably won’t completely accept this response, but yes.” Barry said firmly. “They don’t have anything over me, there’s no blackmail or brainwashing. I know that you’re worried this is a trap or part of some larger plot and I can’t say I didn’t have those same thoughts at the beginning. I’m sure there’s some angle— Len always has plans within plans— but there’s no bad angle with this.”

 

Oliver took all this in, still walking side by side with the speedster. There was no delicate way to approach this, so he was just going to be blunt. “Barry, do you have feelings for them?”

 

Barry blushed, already giving Oliver an answer, but the older vigilante waited for the younger’s verbal response. “Would that be horrible?” he finally whispered.

 

“Do you mean because they’re men, there’s two of them or because they’re your enemies?” At Barry helpless shrug, Oliver answered further, “I don’t think gender matters with who you like, a threesome is a more unusual relationship but it’s up to you what you want, and I think their criminal status will make your work as the Flash and a CSI complicated.” Oliver didn’t want to crush the kid’s feelings, but wanted him to see the reality. “Keeping your job and integrity as a CSI will be difficult if not impossible if you get into a relationship with two criminals.”

 

Barry shifted slightly. “Technically, Len doesn’t have a record anymore.” He sighed at Oliver’s silence. “I know what you mean.”

 

“I’m not going to tell you what to do, Barry,” Oliver put out there. “I would suggest that if you’re set on going down this road to move slowly.”

 

Oliver let the young hero mull things over as they walked to his bike and flew down the streets towards downtown. He stopped across the street from the station and helped Barry off the bike. “I’ll be back to pick you up for lunch at noon,” the older vigilante sprung his plan on Barry. He looked surprised for a moment, but smiled and nodded in agreement.

 

“I’ll let you know if I get sent out on a case,” Barry promised. He checked his watch and yelped. He stuttered through a quick farewell and looped across the street and into the police station.

 

11:47 am

 

Besides the excitement early this morning at Len’s house, Barry’s day had been fairly quiet so far. The speedster had successfully avoided the bullpen and his boss and was actually feeling pretty good having consumed the lunch Mick made for him throughout the morning since Oliver insisted on taking him out for lunch. Barry was sure this was just another time for Oliver to subtly (and less subtly) interrogate Barry about Len and Mick.

 

Barry stood up and stretched, looking at his watch: 11:53. He might actually be on time for something for once in his life! All he had to do was drop a report off at Officer Kelly’s desk and head out.

 

Five minutes later Barry was cursing his bad luck in his head. It was like he was cursed to always he late. He had just given Officer Kelly his analysis report when Detective Pearson had cornered him. Barry had finished a report about a case the man was lead detective on earlier this morning and apparently the man didn’t like the CSI’s conclusions.

 

“What is this?” Pearson demanded forcefully, waving a slightly crumpled folder that one of the delivery workers had picked up from Barry’s lab earlier. “Inconclusive DNA results? This report is bullshit!”

 

Barry fought the urge to roll his eyes. “You and your team went around searching the scene and touching things with your bare hands. You contaminated any samples that were collected!” Barry especially hated Pearson because the man thought he was such a good detective that the rules didn’t apply to him.

 

“So you’re admitting to not being a good enough CSI to deal with difficult samples?” Pearson spat at him. He was constantly trying to paint Barry as incompetent. Barry thought it probably went back to a case Barry helped with not too long after he started working at the CCPD. Pearson was pushing one narrative, trying to get his promotion to detective, but Barry had proven him wrong and offered results pointing to a different culprit. The man had seen this as a purposeful attack on his career.

 

“What I’m saying is that the samples you had another CSI collect and give me for analysis were too contaminated. I can’t magically un-contaminate the samples!” Barry tried to explain. He glanced down at his watch. It was now 12:08. Damnit. Officially late.

 

“Calm down,” Officer Kelly urged his co-worker. “Yelling isn’t going to change the results.”

 

Pearson just shot the man a dirty look. “That’s easy for you to say. I bet that report gives you conclusive results,” the irate man gestured to the folder Barry had given the officer not that long ago.

 

“Run different samples,” Pearson demanded to Barry.

 

Barry crossed his arms. “I can’t. You didn’t give me enough to run that many.”

 

“Then rerun these samples!” the detective barked, glaring at Barry.

 

“That’s not how that works,” Barry sighed heavily, which seemed to anger Pearson further.

 

The man’s face got even redder and he opened his mouth, probably to shout something degrading Barry’s skills as a CSI, but a loud, firm voice interrupted.

 

“He’s right, that’s not how that works. Something a detective should know.” Almost everyone in the bullpen turned to look and see who was interrupting the fight. A well-dressed Oliver Queen stood in the doorway next to Captain Singh, who had just happened to be coming back from a meeting and shared an elevator ride with Oliver Queen. “I would appreciate if you stopped harassing my lunch date,” Oliver tapped into his Arrow-level intimidation glare.

 

Barry hid a grin. Pearson had paled realizing just who was in the doorway and the other officers weren’t much better. They looked stunned that Oliver Queen was here.

 

Singh looked both annoyed at his officers and slightly astonished that Oliver Queen had come to pick up Barry for a lunch date. Barry could see the wheels turning in the Captain’s head. It was clear he was adding two and two and getting the wrong four. Singh was trying to figure out how Oliver could be Barry’s boyfriend, as he lived in Star City, but it also wasn’t a secret that Joe didn’t like Mr. Queen.

 

Oliver stalked over to where Pearson was blocked Barry’s exit. He glared at the detective who took a couple steps back. Oliver put a hand on the younger hero’s shoulder. “Ready to go?” he asked.

 

“I was going to be on time,” Barry insisted. Oliver’s mouth quirked slightly.

 

“Barry, I don’t think the universe will ever let you be on time,” the older vigilante joked. Barry almost sighed with relief that his friend wasn’t mad at his lateness. “I made reservations for us for 12:30, building in some time to be late.” Barry blushed slightly and rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment that his friend had just assumed he was going to be late.

 

Oliver started guiding Barry towards the exit, ignoring all the stares. Barry was very aware of the eyes on him and the gossip this was going to spark. Oliver must have known what would happen if he came in here like this. The man didn’t do things without fully understanding all the angles and consequences. He was kind of like Len in that way. Barry snorted mentally—not that either of the two would like that comparison.

 

“I assume that because Barry was delayed, that his lunch break will be an hour starting from now?” Oliver asked the Captain as they passed him. Barry could see that it wasn’t really a question.

 

Singh nodded. “Enjoy your lunch date, Barry,” he said pleasantly. “Mr. Queen.” The Captain nodded again in farewell and headed towards his office. “Pearson! My office! NOW!” Singh’s voice boomed over the bullpen and had lost any of the pleasantness it had when talking to Barry.

 

Oliver smirked and then urged Barry on towards the elevator. They were only a couple feet from the elevator when the doors opened and out walked the last person Barry wanted to see: Joe West.

 

Barry looked up to see Oliver’s eyes narrow and his mouth draw into a tight line. Uh oh, Barry thought. Oliver is not going to let us just slide by without confrontation.

 

Joe stepped out of the elevator and just stared at the sight of Oliver Queen standing in his police station with a hand on Barry’s shoulder.

 

“Oliver Queen,” the detective said surprised. He glanced at Barry but didn’t say anything. “What brings you here all the way from Star City? I hear it’s been having its own problems as of late,” West hedged, almost provokingly. Barry knew that Joe never really liked Oliver Queen and liked the man even less when he found out he was the Arrow.

 

“I’m sure our hard working police force is on top of the problems,” Oliver said using his professional, chilly tone. “And Barry and I have a date.”

 

West looked taken aback for a moment and glanced over at Barry again. “A…date…” he said slowly.

 

Oliver smiled coldly, almost challengingly and moved his hand so he had it around Barry’s waist, pulling the young hero into his side. “Problem?” Oliver asked in a tone that suggested that there had better not be one.

 

Barry was both touched that Oliver cared and anxious that these two were having this confrontation here.

 

“I wasn’t aware that you travelled six hours for a lunch date,” Joe finally answered.

 

“For Barry, it’s no problem,” Oliver answered coolly. “Besides, I’ll be sticking around Central City for a while.” Barry knew that wasn’t a statement, but a warning.

 

“How nice,” the detective said curtly. “Are you planning on staying with Barry?”

 

Barry tensed at the question because Joe still didn’t know about his current and recent living situation. He stole a quick peak at Oliver’s face, which wasn’t giving anything away.

 

“No, Barry is staying with me,” Oliver smirked with that statement. The first outright lie he and told this conversation.

 

Barry saw Singh had finished yelling at Pearson and come out of his office just in time to hear Oliver’s last statement. Barry wanted to face palm. There was just more evidence for Singh that Oliver was Barry’s secret boyfriend.

 

Joe frowned at Oliver’s smirking answer. “He doesn’t need any more distractions from his responsibilities,” Joe crossed his arms, looking unhappy. To an outsider it would seem like Joe was referring to Barry’s chronic lateness at work, but Barry knew that his adoptive father was referring to the lack of recent Flash activity.

 

“I think you’ve lost any right to comment on that,” Oliver said darkly.

 

“I’ve been like his fath—,” Joe started and Barry’s heart clenched, but Oliver cut the man off.

 

“It’s a rather poor effort at it. You lost your right to that title as well,” the older vigilante continued in his low, dark tone. Barry was surprised at the change of tone. “And I think you’ve held us up from our lunch long enough. Excuse us,” Oliver said in most annoying rich-person voice. Barry kept his head ducked as Oliver maneuvered them around Joe and to the elevator doors.

 

The detective turned, eyes still fixed on the pair. It seemed as if he was going to say something but someone called Joe’s name. Getting in the elevator Barry turned and saw that it was the Captain that had distracted Joe. Barry let out a small smile, thankful for the distraction but not looking forward to the questions Singh would definitely have later. Barry saw his adoptive father turn just in time to see the elevator doors closing, Oliver still holding Barry tight to his side. Barry let out a sigh of relief when the elevator jerked downwards away from the bullpen.

 

And it’s only lunch-time, Barry thought.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Chapter 11: Checking In

 

Earlier that morning…

 

Oliver shut the door to his Central City apartment and flopped down onto the couch. He definitely could use some sleep as he was fairly certain he wasn’t going to sleep much again tonight. The older vigilante wasn’t happy with the current situation, but he would admit, if only to himself, that he wasn’t sure with whom he was most upset. Before he got lost in over-analyzing the situation, Oliver pulled out his phone and dialed Felicity.

 

Clearly Felicity had been waiting for him to call, as she picked up during the first ring.

 

“Oliver?” the blond woman’s high voice answered quickly. “How’s Barry? Is he ok?”

 

“He will be,” Oliver said slowly. “The mantle he put on himself when he became the Flash finally started to weigh too heavily and instead of helping, his team seemed to have made it heavier.”

 

There was an angry growl from Felicity as she demanded a further explanation. Oliver went through the actions of Barry’s former team and the younger vigilante’s spiral downwards without revealing too many details— those were Barry’s to divulge. The millionaire heard Felicity’s voice start to waver and choke up with emotion learning of everyone’s abandonment of Barry and his living arrangement inside STAR labs.

 

Oliver skirted around the topic of the current situation until Felicity finally used up all her patience and asked, “what happened with Captain Cold and Heatwave? Why did they have Barry?”

 

“Apparently, they’re the ones who have been supporting Barry. He’s living at their house, which is where I found him last night,” Oliver explained lowly. He waited for a minute as Felicity went silent. Oliver could picture her gapping and failing to find words to articulate her thoughts. He started counting in his head, anticipating her eventual blow up. He got to seven before she began angrily ranting, cursing everyone on team Flash, making threats about what she would do to Captain Cold and Heatwave if they hurt Barry, and blaming herself for not checking in on Barry sooner.

 

When she finally had to stop and take a breath, Oliver cut in again. “Felicity, breathe.” He heard her attempt to settle herself. “I’m going to stay here for at least a couple day. I think I need to be a little more proactive and present in Barry’s life. Particularly if it’s gotten to the point where the most dependable people in his life are two of his villains. How’s the recreation of the protein bars going?”

 

“I’m working on it. I should have something soon,” Felicity promised. “But you know, Oliver, that this exactly the same as hacking or anything in my wheelhouse. It would really help if I could even talk to Cisco.”

 

“You’re it for now Felicity— no one else is around. So you’re going to have to make something work. We’re trying to hold Barry back from running too much, but that’s not going to work for much longer, both because Barry’s getting restless and Central City needs its Flash,” Oliver reasoned. “I’m surprised that no one else has noticed the lack of Flash activity lately.”

 

“It’s only a matter of time before that gets bad for Barry, isn’t it?” Felicity asked nervously.

 

Oliver made a noise of agreement. “Keep an eye on the situation there and let me know if I need to come back. Also, see if you can contact anyone on team Flash, like Caitlin or Cisco.”

 

“Oh, I’ll get in contact with someone on team Flash, even if I have to hack their phones to do it,” the blonde promised. “Oliver, be careful. I don’t like this.”

 

“Neither do I,” Oliver agreed before hanging up. He set an alarm for 11:30, so he could be up in time for his and Barry’s lunch date and passed out on the couch.

 

 

The Arrow Cave

 

Felicity stared into space for a minute, lost in thought about everything she just learned. There was no way she was just going to let any of this go. The blond woman cracked her fingers and swirled around to face the computers. Her fingers flew over the keys as she hacked system after system.

 

“I’m going to find you, not matter what system I have to hack into,” the steely-eyed woman muttered to herself. Two hours and several cups of coffee later, she shouted in triumph.

 

She listened to the ringing of the phone through the computer. “Pick up, pick up, pick up…” she chanted.

 

“Hello?” a familiar male voice answered the phone.

 

“Finally!” Felicity yelled.

 

“Hello? Felicity? How did you get through to this number? The phone shouldn’t even have service!” the voice was clearly confused, but not displeased.

 

“I don’t have time to explain that now. Cisco, what the hell? You have some explaining to do!” Felicity angrily demanded answers.

 

“What?” Cisco yelped. “What do you mean? I’ve kind of been out of touch for a bit—“

 

“Yeah, we know,” the blond tech genius cut him off sharply. “Cisco, we have a huge problem.”

 

 

Several miles away at a non-descript warehouse…

 

Leonard Snart swaggered into one of the Rogue safe-house warehouses, dressed as Captain Cold, although with the coat over his arm. Mick stalked into the warehouse just behind him looking oddly serious. Gathered in the main room were only Hartley and Shawna. The leader of the Rogues nodded to himself as if expecting only these two to still be around. Len read their faces as they turned to face their boss who had just arrived. They looked relatively content, meaning they must have some good news for him.

 

“Hello children,” Captain Cold greeted his crew with a drawl. “How’d the operation go?”

 

Shauna looked pointedly at Hartley, who just huffed a little at her before turning to face the group’s leader. “Well, Roscoe is officially out of your city,” the boy reported. “So in that sense the mission was a success.”

 

Snart heard the missing information in that report. “Oh? Where is he exactly if not in my city?” the thief drawled slowly, staring at his crew.

 

Hartley smirked slightly before answering, “On a train to Mexico with a hand that doesn’t work and still bleeding from where he was somehow shot with arrows.” The Piper regarded both Snart and Rory for a moment before asking, “How exactly was he shot? They looked like the Arrow’s type of weapons.”

 

Len narrowed his eyes a bit at the nosy nature of the boy before ignoring the question and asking one of his own. “Why is he on a train to Mexico and not, oh you know, iced?”

 

“There were some concerns from several people about that option and since our directions were to get him out of the city, we concluded that sending him down to Mexico, particularly in that condition where some group is bound to snatch him up for some type of forced service, was sufficient,” Piper explained as if he was rehearsing a practiced speech.

 

Len noted the say Shawna shifted slightly. Well, he already knew that the girl wasn’t too fond of killing— she was their medic most of the time. But Hartley said several and I know it wasn’t him... goddamnit! “And how exactly did my sister catch wind of this?” Snart let his tone slip more into dangerous Captain Cold territory. “I’m assuming you weren’t stupid enough to inform her of this operation?”

 

“Of course not!” Hartley insisted. “She came to us, saying that she knew you and knew that you weren’t going to let this go. She, uh, persuaded us to not go with a plan that would kill him. She didn’t stick around though.”

 

“Well then, I think I’ll be having a bit of chilly chat with my sister,” Len continued in his cold drawl, but was mentally furious at her intervention in one of his operations without permission.

 

A light bump into him made him look behind him. Mick couldn’t go too outright with any affection at the moment, but had made sure to get Len’s attention. The leader of the Rogues was calmed slightly by the look his partner was giving him.

 

“Who exactly was it that Roscoe screwed with that caused this reaction?” Hartley blurted out curiously as if he couldn’t take not asking that question for another moment. “Usually you’re only this protective over your sister.”

 

Len’s eyes were a scary, cold blue as they bore into Piper. “Better watch that mouth, Piper, it seems to be wandering. Could get you into trouble.”

 

“This guy must really be something,” Hartley continued, feeling a little more confident than normally.

 

Before Len could snap off a retort, Shawna’s eyes widened and she interjected to break up the tension. “Can we go back to our vacations now?” Shawna demanded. “I’m supposed to be off, finishing up some of my medical training courses.” Cold waved his hand in dismissal and the girl disappeared with a small noise, only a small trace of black dust remaining as evidence of her presence.

 

Snart was turning to leave when Hartley piped up again. “You know, the Flash hasn’t been around the past several days,” he mentioned mock-casually. “That’s a little odd. Also a little strange that we haven’t capitalized on that.” He huffed and added in a mutter, “even if we are supposed to be on vacation.”

 

Cold turned around and raised an eyebrow at the nosey kid. “Just because you haven’t seen him doesn’t mean Red isn’t around somewhere. And I’m enjoying my time off. Most places are still too busy rebuilding anyways to have anything of value laying around. It’s either destroyed and was moved for the time being.”

 

“Yes, but still, isn’t it a little odd? Especially as he’s been seen helping with clean up until he just seemingly dropped off the map,” Hartley pushed. Snart searched the kid’s face, trying to figure out his angle. He was a little shocked when he realized that the Piper was actually concerned about Barry’s disappearance recently but couldn’t outright admit to that.

 

“Seems like someone finally got Red to slow down and take a break,” Len said with mock causality, smoothing his face blank. “Even superheroes need to sleep.”

 

Hartley narrowed his eyes slightly and pushed his luck even further. “You seem to be pretty sure about this.”

 

Len raised his eyebrow again, looking unimpressed, at the kid’s boldness. “I always keep an eye on my enemies, especially our resident speedster.” Honestly, Len would be a little impressed at Hartley’s observation skills and guts if he weren’t asking about his Barry.

 

“Go back to your vacation, kid,” Snart ordered. He turned and left he warehouse, leaving Hartley staring at his back with suspicious eyes.

 

 

12:56 pm, at a small upscale restaurant in downtown Central City

 

Tucked into a quiet corner table, a large spread of food was being quickly devoured by the two superheroes. Barry was hoping that he could put off answering questions as long as possible by shoving as much food in his mouth as he could. He didn’t think Oliver would tolerate it for that much longer.

 

The younger hero was proven correct when several minutes later, Oliver took a long drink from his glass and raised his eyebrows at Barry.

 

Barry sighed and fiddled with his own glass. “What do you want to know?”

 

Oliver eyes bored into Barry. “I have to ask again, just to be sure. Are you staying with them because you want to or because you have to? I can take you back to Star City right now and you can stay with us.”

 

Barry just shook his head. “I would just end up in your way.” He held up a hand when Oliver tried to refute that. “And I honestly do want to stay with them. I…they’re helping me.” He blushed slightly. “I know that I’m getting emotionally attached, and that it’s possibly going to make things difficult for me in the future.” At this point he looked straight into Oliver’s eyes, completely serious. “But if it weren’t for them, I don’t know if I’d have much of a future right now.”

 

Oliver regarded him for a moment. “How did things get so bad? How could nobody see this?” the older vigilante asked angrily.

 

Barry knew Oliver wasn’t directing his anger at him, but couldn’t help but cringe slightly. He didn’t have any good answers for his friend. “Well, a singularity opening up above the city didn’t help,” he said flippantly.

 

“Barry, if no one’s told you this yet, I’m proud of you for how you handled that situation. It wasn’t easy, but you did a good job,” Oliver said earnestly, trying to get through to the younger hero.

 

“It wasn’t good enough,” Barry responded bitterly.

 

“Barry,” Oliver paused until the speedster looked up at him, “none of those deaths were your fault. I will continue to tell you that until you begin to believe it yourself. What did you mean when you talked about your mom?”

 

Barry closed his eyes briefly, the scene flashing through his mind. “I can time travel,” he started to explain. Oliver’s eyes widened and his mouth opened a little before he caught himself. He clearly hadn’t believed Barry could accomplish something like that. He waved his hand for the younger hero to continue. “I was able to time travel back to the night when the Reverse Flash killed my mother. I was going to change what happened.” Barry swallowed hard. “I was right there. But… there was another version of me there. He stopped me from intervening.” A few tears leaked from his eyes. “I had to listen to my mother die and I did nothing.”

 

“Barry,” Oliver started, but the speedster cut him off.

 

“I know it was the right thing to do. That changing time could have had irreversible effects.” Barry let out a shaky breath. “Doesn’t make it any easier. But Mick and Len do make things easier.”

 

“I know they seem to be helping you right now, but I’m worried that you’ll fall even farther if they betray you,” Oliver admitted. Barry scowled. “I know you don’t want to hear that, but just listen and think for a minute, ok?” Oliver pleaded. Barry reluctantly nodded. “I don’t want things to take a negative turn, but I would feel a lot better if we had a contingency plan. They’re not going to stop being who they are— criminals.”

 

“I know that,” Barry confessed. “I’m not trying to change them. They’re never going to follow the straight and narrow, but I think there’s more good in them than bad.”

 

“You always see the best in people, Barry,” Oliver smiled slightly. “It’s something I admire about you. I’ve seen too much to hold that outlook. But it’s also why I worry about you.”

 

“I’m sorry for making you worry,” Barry apologized.

 

“No, never apologize for that. Should you ever need someone who’s on your side or somewhere to go, remember that Felicity and I will be there for you,” Oliver promised.

 

“Thanks, Oliver.” Barry stuffed a couple more forkfuls of pasta into his mouth.

 

“Have they kissed you?” Oliver asked suddenly, making Barry almost choke.

 

The younger hero glared lightly, seeing his friend’s small smirk mixed with concerned eyes. Barry took a couple gulps of soda before answering. “No!” He thought about it for a minute and his blush came back. “I mean, they’ve kissed the top of my head, but they haven’t kiss kissed me. Not that I’m against it! But it’s not like I’m expecting something from them either!”

 

“Stop babbling before you hurt yourself, Barry,” Oliver said. “Felicity might be better to talk to about this. She was asking about you.”

 

“What— what did you tell her?” Barry asked nervously.

 

“Just the basics, so be prepared for her to be curious when you call her,” Oliver warned. “And she told me to tell you that you had better call or else. And I’ve found it best not to piss off Felicity. Actually, I’m sure that she’ll be taking a trip out here soon. Whenever you’re ready for it— she promised to try and wait until you gave the ok for more visitors.” The older vigilante looked at Barry with sympathy. “I know a little bit about losing yourself and then trying to put yourself back together again. I’m not the most openly emotional person— as Felicity constantly harasses me over— but I know that I wish I had someone who understood the complex emotional rollercoaster I couldn’t seem to get off of. Even if it seems incomprehensible or stupid, it’s not. And I should, I’ve been there.”

 

Barry was silent for a moment. “I don’t know if I’m ready yet to talk about it. But when I am, I’ll come find you.” The speedster let out a small smile. “And I promise to not tell anyone about Oliver Queen having an emotional heart to heart. Except maybe Felicity.”

 

Oliver laughed lightly. “Good man. Now, why don’t you tell me the fun things you’ve been up to recently?”

 

Barry’s eyes lit up as he began to think of the past several days with his…whatever they were categorized as now. “Did I tell you that I can bake now?” the younger hero asked, looking much more his age.

 

“Mick mentioned something in passing. But, you? Baking? That I need to hear about.” Oliver smiled openly.

 

“Well, Mick still did a lot of the work, but I helped! It was….”

 

The rest of lunch was passed with Barry happily recounting all the fun things he’d done in the past several days with Mick and Len. Oliver still wasn’t happy with the situation, but didn’t feel the need to wrap Barry in bubble wrap and take him back to Star City with him.

 

Just before one thirty, Barry was in the elevator heading back to work. He had convinced Oliver to not come up into the station with him. The CSI didn’t need another scene when he had to stay at work for several more hours. People were already going to be curious enough as it was. Barry promised to see Oliver back at the house later on tonight. The speedster was really hoping that he could just sneak past everyone and hide in his lab until the end of the day.

 

The elevator dinged and Barry carefully edged his way out of the elevator and to the door leading to the bullpen. If he was quiet enough…

 

“Allen!” the Captain’s booming voice came across the room, causing everyone to look up. Singh waved Barry over into his office. Well, there went the plan to avoid attention.

 

“Coming, sir!” Barry called out wearily. “Why couldn’t my power have been invisibility?” Barry muttered under his breath and began to make his way over for another session of well-meaning, but probing questions.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 12: Confrontations

 

“How was your lunch?” the Captain asked with probing curiosity as he and Barry settled down into chairs on opposite sides of the desk.

 

“It was delicious. Oliver took me to a Vietnamese restaurant I had never been to before,” Barry answered, a smile on his face thinking back to all the tasty new plates he had tried over lunch.

 

“Well I’m glad that the hard time you had right before lunch didn’t ruin your date,” Singh commented. Barry sighed internally. He had thought about this all through lunch, but had yet to decide if he should correct the Captain or not concerning his assumption that Oliver was his boyfriend.

 

“No, it’s easy to have a good time with Oliver. He’s a good friend,” the young CSI responded confusingly.

 

Singh paused for a moment, looking at Barry. When he spoke again, his tone had shifted to slightly more serious but was also softer. “Joe and Mr. Queen don’t seem to like each other,” the Captain observed.

 

“Ah, they have their differences of opinion,” Barry trailed off, not really knowing how to explain what they were, as most revolved around secret identities.

 

“Barry,” Singh said, leaning forward to rest his forearms on his desk, “I understand what it’s like to have a parent decide to purposefully forget who you are because they don’t like the situation. They come to a realization that scares them for one reason or another and in order to not deal with it, they shift their perception of you.”

 

Barry swallowed hard. Did Joe just purposefully cast Barry as the villain here so that he could have a handle on a crazy situation? Or did Barry just never really know and understand who he was? He was zapped by lightning and decided that that made him qualified to make calls that affected the lives of hundreds and thousands of people.

 

Singh let the silence sit for a minute before continuing. “Barry, who—“

 

Barry never got to know what the Captain was about to ask, as an alarm sounded from the computer on the desk. The door to the office was flung open and one of the officers stuck his head in.

 

“Sir! Central Sun Bank is being robbed and they’ve taken hostages,” the officer was a little out of breath as he rattled off the report.

 

Singh was already up, grabbing his gear, and halfway to the door before Barry came back to himself. The speedster jumped up and followed the Captain out of his office, listening to his boss shouting orders to the now busy bullpen.

 

“Barry,” Singh turned to look at their CSI, “I need you to grab your kit and ride down with Davidson.”

 

Barry nodded, relieved to not have to finish the conversation with his boss about his personal life. However, an increasing worry built up in Barry that the coming situation was going to be even worse for him.

 

Pulling up just outside the police blockade, Sargent Davidson jumped out of the car and rushed over to his squad leader to get an update on the situation. Barry spent the entire ride from station fretting over whether the Flash should show up or if the police could handle the situation. Could he even be the Flash right now? What if he just made things worse, like his luck seemed to have it these days? Barry had a feeling that Joe would be disappointed with him no matter what his decision: if he went in as the Flash, he was risking revealing himself to the police and possibly getting in the way of the real law enforcement, but if the Flash didn’t show up, Joe would berate him for hesitating to help and possibly letting someone else get hurt.

 

Barry had gotten out of the car and wandered over to where he could hear the reports coming in. No one seemed to pay attention to the CSI standing around listening, as long as he stayed in the back away from the front lines. Barry watched with interest as they finally tapped into a camera feed that was still working. A middle-aged man was stalking around the main floor of the bank, with the bank staff and several customers sitting silently on the floor in several groups. They didn’t appear to be tied up and the man didn’t seem to be holding a gun either. So how…

 

Barry’s unasked question was quickly answered when the man caused a desk to catch on fire by creating and throwing a ball of flames. The man looked up and shot fire towards the camera, causing the feed to cut out.

 

“He has powers!” one of the officer called out, causing the strategists to immediately begin drafting a new plan.

 

Barry was also formulating a new plan. The man was a meta. This was the Flash’s job. These police didn’t have the capabilities to deal with this man, not when there were still hostages. Barry backed up so that he was behind a van and then sped away to grab his suit, put it on and sped back to the bank. He quickly circled the bank, looking for a good way in. Finding no good way, Barry resigned himself to having to phase through a wall. He paused in front of a wall in the back of the bank. He wasn’t sure about this, but he couldn’t leave that meta for the police to deal with. The Flash had to be back. Now.

 

Several minutes ago…

 

“Really?” Len asked dryly, looking unimpressed at Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow. He couldn’t say that he and this guy would ever be friends, but he wasn’t as annoying to deal with as some of Barry’s other allies.

 

“Have a problem with that?” Queen asked calmly, not letting any emotion on his face to give anything away.

 

One of the reason Len both liked and hated Queen was that he was hard to read. It made verbally sparing with the man rather fun, but it was also slightly unnerving as Len relied on his ability to read people to plan ahead.

 

“If it helps Barry then we don’t care,” Mick answered for his partner. Len glanced at his partner, who was being far too calm and open about this situation. Well, it wasn’t like Len wouldn’t do anything and everything to help their speedster, but telling another goody two-shoes hero that…

 

Len felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out, saw the number was Hartley’s and promptly ignored the call.

 

“So how do you plan on keeping your ‘professional’ life and your personal life with Barry separate?” Queen finally got to the issue no one wanted to discuss.

 

“Carefully,” Len drawled, ignoring the man’s disapproving glare.

 

“I knew that one day, as the Flash, Barry would have to deal with the darker side of being a hero, but I hadn’t hoped it would come this quickly. He’s a strong kid, though,” Queen opened up a little.

 

“When did you find out about Barry being the Flash?” Mick asked curiously.

 

“I knew from the beginning,” the older vigilante said almost smiling. “He had figured out my identity when he had come to Starling following an odd theft from one of my company’s building that turned into a mess. Actually, he saved my life,” the man admitted. “He ran all the way to Starling after he woke from his coma and told me his story. Barry was already feeling the weight of being a hero. Someone was hurt when he was trying to catch a bad guy and Wells was trying to convince him that he wasn’t a hero. But I knew that Barry could be a better hero than me, if he was given the chance.:

 

Len knew that he would never get this type of details about the man himself, but Queen seemed to be ok with opening up about Barry. Maybe this…discussion…had had some useful outcomes.

 

The phone in Len’s pocket vibrated for the third time. Len snatched it out of his pocket and finally answered Hartley’s insistent calls.

 

“This had better be important Piper,” Len answered with a cold snap.

 

“I thought you might want to know that the Flash has been spotted again,” Hartley answered defensively.

 

“What?” Len almost shouted in the phone, causing the other two men in the room to look at him. Len put it on speakerphone and told Hartley to repeat himself.

 

“The Flash. He’s been spotted again, battling a new meta,” Hartley continued.

 

“Where?” All three men asked, their faces serious.

 

“Central Sun Bank,” the young man answered quickly. “The police are still hesitating because there are hostages. The guy can create and throw fire. I thought you might want to know this,” Hartley said cautiously, as if he were afraid to tread on a dangerous topic.

 

Len hesitated for a moment at Hartley’s tone, but filed it away to deal with later. “We’ll be in touch, Piper,” Len said ending the call. He strode across the room and grabbed his Captain Cold gear. When he looked at the other two men he saw that Mick had disappeared to do the same and Queen held up a bag. “Let’s go.”

 

Back at the bank…

 

Barry shifted his weight as the meta in front of him continued to talk. And talk. While they had exchanged blows when he first ran in, Barry was quickly able to get the guy talking. He had hoped to try and talk the guy down. The hero supposed he should be glad that the man wasn’t actively trying to kill him or one of the hostages, but it was clear from his monologue that the man was maniacal. There would probably be no reasoning with him and therefore, Barry needed a plan to get all the hostages out without any of them getting hurt. Which required the Flash beating the fire meta.

 

There was a brief moment when the young vigilante wished that Cisco were here to help talk him through tactics and to start suggesting new nicknames for this guy in his ear. Barry shook himself out of it though, because Cisco wasn’t here. But he was. And these people needed the Flash.

 

The Flash refocused his attention. Apparently this bank had refused the fire meta-human a loan and he said it cost him everything. Barry felt bad for the man, but the hero wasn’t going to let him hurt anyone. Maybe, if he could get close enough… Barry charge forward.

 

Several tiring minutes later, Barry had managed to keep the meta’s attention on him and off the hostages, but he hadn’t managed to get close enough to knock the guy out. Barry had gotten hit a couple times with fire when the man lashed out in frustration. His suit brushed off most of the damage, luckily. But worse, the young hero could feel himself already starting to get a little tired.

 

 The meta clenched his teeth in frustration and glared at Barry. “You’re ruining my revenge!” the meta shouted. “If I can’t hit you, then maybe I should pick a different target!” The man looked around and created a fire ball in each hand. “Let’s see how fast you can actually be.” He pointed to a furnace to his right behind one group of people and a family with two kids to the left. “Can you save all of them at once? Who is the hero going to let die?” the man sneered.

 

Barry felt his heart freeze. He couldn’t get to everyone before either the furnace blew up or the fire reached the family. “This isn’t going to help anything! Stop!” the Flash pleaded. If he couldn’t save everyone, maybe he could stop the meta from creating any fire. Quickly, Barry began to run as fast as he could in a circle around the meta. If he deprived the area of oxygen, fire couldn’t form. He glanced up while running to see the man struggling but still able to produce small burst of fire.

 

Faster, he had to run faster. Finally, Barry saw the man try and fail to produce any fire and start to struggle to breath. Barry’s speed slowed as he tired and just as the man fell to his hands and knees, Barry tripped and fell hard, sliding several feet across the floor and slamming into a granite counter.

 

The speedster saw the meta roll onto his side and reach one hand out, forming a small fireball and throwing it at the furnace. Just as he let go of it, Barry saw a flash of blue light out of the corner of his eye. The young vigilante watched as the light hit the furnace, coating it in a thick layer of ice. The Flash pushed himself sitting upright. When his vision refocused, he saw Captain Cold and Heatwave standing in the middle of the room, cold gun pointed at the furnace.

 

Barry looked up with barely hidden relief, remembering in time that their public personas were still enemies.

 

Captain Cold looked furiously at the fire meta. “Who gave you permission to rob one of my banks?” he snapped angrily.

 

The man just gapped up at the sudden appearance of Captain Cold and Heatwave. “This is my revenge! I will burn this place to the ground. Don’t get in my way!” he rasped, annoyance clear in his voice.

 

Len looked around exaggeratedly and then back at the meta who was struggling to his feet. “You seem to be doing a very poor job. And your revenge plan sucks. It leaves you with nothing,” the villain drawled.

 

“Screw you!” the meta snarled.

 

“Now that’s not very nice,” Captain Cold snarked. “And you’re not really my type.” His eyes flashed very briefly over to Barry. The speedster could see that Len was just playing at this point.

 

“I’m going to burn this place to the grou—“ the meta started before Mick cut him off.

 

“I’m the only one allowed to set this city on fire!” Heatwave growled, taking a step forward.

 

Barry looked past Len and Mick, who were clearly in the middle of a villain routine. The speedster idly wondered how much of his plans Len came up with in advance and if that included snappy retorts. The hostages seemed to be slowly recovering from their frightened state. Half of them looked relieved by the change in events as if the newcomers were saviors while the other half looked more confused and scared knowing how vicious these two could be.

 

“Snart!” Barry called from his position on the floor. “What are you doing here?” He tried to sound annoyed, but wasn’t quite sure how well he managed it.

 

“This is my city,” Cold drawled. “I’m not good at sharing.”

 

“Are you here to fight me or the Flash?” the fire meta asked, looking now both annoyed and confused.

 

“Well, you’re currently the dumbass trying to burn my money,” Cold snarled.

 

“It’s not yours and I won’t let you take it,” the Flash promised, still sitting on the floor.

 

Captain Cold just waved his hand dismissively. “Details.” Barry wasn’t sure if he should laugh or sigh heavily. He noticed Mick had slowly been backing up while everyone was distracted and was slowly ushering people down a back hallway to where Barry presumed there was an exit.

 

“Those are quite a few details,” the speedster argued back, intent on keeping the meta’s attention on his bickering with Len. “I seem to recall stopping quite a few of your previous ‘details’ from happening.”

 

“Temporary setbacks, Scarlet,” Len smirked at him, and Barry could see an assumed gleam in his eyes. “At least I give you a challenge. Can’t have our city’s hero getting bored.”

 

“Please, you’d get bored too,” Barry responded.

 

“Aww, I knew you liked our little play dates,” Len cooed smugly. 

 

There was a noise as the meta was finally standing upright and was tired of being ignored. He tried to move forward, but Len shot his cold gun at the ground by his feet. The meta stopped and glared weakly at Captain Cold.

 

Len made a mocking ‘tsk tsk’ noise. “Don’t you know it’s rude to interrupt a hero and his villain when they’re bantering?” Snart scolded in his cold drawl.

 

“Interrupt?” the meta said incredulously. “THIS IS MY—“ He stopped suddenly, a hand coming up to the back of his neck before his eyes rolled up in his head and he fell over unconscious.

 

Barry just stared at the now unconscious meta. He looked around the room, his eyes finally finding the Green Arrow crouching on a high beam near a second story window. He nodded at Barry, looked over at Snart for a moment and then swung back out the window.

 

When Barry looked back at Len, he had a smug, pleased look on his face. The rest of the hostages were gone and Mick came over and tied up the meta.

 

“Alright, doll?” Mick asked as he was securing the man.

 

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m ok.” Barry reassured. Len snorted and move over to stand in front of a still sitting Barry.

 

“Need a hand there, Scarlet?” Len asked. Barry tested his strength before just swallowing his pride and nodding. The thief reached down and hauled Barry upright, most of the speedster’s weight resting on Len.

 

Mick moved over and his eyes roamed up and down Barry body, looking at the scorch marks and the visible tremors due to the hero’s exhaustion.

 

Before they could say anything else, Barry spoke up. “I need to go out the front door and drop off this meta with the police.”

 

“Robin Hood promised that he’d be out for at least twelve hours,” Len let Barry know.

 

“We’ll be in the back alley around the corner of the next block,” Mick rumbled reluctantly, not wanting to let Barry out of his sight. Len carefully let Barry go, making sure he wasn’t going to fall over.

 

“I’ve got this,” the speedster promised. “Go out the back before the police get there.” The two thieves grudgingly left Barry alone in the bank. He could hear Len grumbling as they left about how Queen had better be right about for how long the meta would be unconscious.

 

Barry waited another moment to give them some time to get before flashing onto the unconscious meta and flashed out the front door. He dropped the guy on the ground, not being able to hold him for any longer. Barry looked up and found the police pointed their guns at him from behind their cars and blockade.

 

“It’s over, I got him,” the Flash called in his deep voice. “He can create fire, so be careful,” he warned. “He should be unconscious for about twelve hours. And the hostages are safe. They should be coming around from the back of the building.”

 

He saw Singh motion for his men to not shoot. Barry saw that his boss was going to start asking questions or making requests. The speedster was running on fumes and knew he couldn’t stay. He purposefully didn’t look around for Joe, but just ran away, heading to the spot where Len and Mick said they’d be waiting.

 

Barry ran straight into Mick, collapsing against his broad chest. The large man picked up the exhausted hero. “We’ve got you, Doll,” Mick rumbled.

 

“We need to get out of here,” Len asserted, listening to the moving police squads.

 

“Thank you,” Barry said, “I appreciate your help, but I can’t leave now. I’m still at work.”

 

Oliver dropped down from a fire escape and landed beside Mick and Barry. “Barry, you’ve overextended yourself. You at least need to eat before anything else,” the still masked vigilante said.

 

Barry had barely opened his mouth to reply before the four could hear the Captain’s voice. “Allen! Allen get up here! Where’s our CSI?” Before anyone could argue more, the odd group of villains and heroes/vigilantes froze as footsteps approached the alley.

 

The Green Arrow looked around and took a step back to mask himself in the shadows. “Go,” he said. “I’ll distract them.” He flicked out his bow and drew an arrow.

 

Mick and Len started to move down the alley but only got a few steps before a figure appeared at the opening of the alley. It was a man, hunched over looking at a device in his hands. Barry’s heart was pounding. There was no good way to explain any of this. The Flash being carried by Heatwave standing with Captain Cold and the Green Arrow? It sounded like the start to a bad joke.

 

When the man finally looked up from his glowing device and down the alleyway, Barry’s mouth dropped open a little. It was Cisco. A thinner, slightly paler and tired looking Cisco, but it was him.

 

“There you are!” the tech genius called out, sounding relieved. He hurried down to where the group was frozen. Cisco blinked as he stopped a couple feet away from where Mick was still holding Barry. “Uh, dude, is this a time where I’m supposed to thank our villains or threaten them to get away from you?” Cisco finally asked.

 

“Only if you threaten me with something better than a vacuum,” Len mocked. Cisco gaped at the thief for a moment, as if surprised he knew it had been a vacuum.

 

“Of course I knew it was a vacuum,” Snart rolled his eyes. “Now out with it, what?” he snapped a little more hostile than normal, clearly still harboring some resentment about how Barry’s team treated him.

  

Everyone tensed up when they heard Singh call for Barry again. Cisco quickly turned to where the voice was calling for the CSI and then looked back at the group.

 

“I’ll cover for you,” Cisco hurriedly promised, surprising Barry. What? Cisco was going to help him? “Go rest and I’ll find you later!”

 

“Wait,” Len stopped the tech from leaving. “How did you know Scarlet was here?” the thief asked suspiciously.

 

Cisco waved the device in his hand around. “I designed his suit. I can track it,” he explained. “Although tracking his suit is pretty much the only thing this stupid thing can do right now,” he muttered, annoyed. He nodded at Barry again, “Dude, I’ll even bring by some pizza. Later!”

 

Cisco disappeared down the alley and Barry could hear him loudly addressing Singh and distracting him, telling about some new technology he designed to help with securing meta-humans or something.

 

“But— What— I don’t understand,” Barry stammered, confused at what just happened.

 

“I’ll meet you back at the house,” Oliver promised, shooting Len and Mick a look before disappearing.

 

“We’ll figure it out when we get you home and fed,” Len decided, Mick carrying Barry to an escape car.

 

This day had not gone how Barry at expected. Although that seemed to be a pattern with him lately. He was too tired to deal with all of the surprises thrown at him. Singh really didn’t need a CSI at the site, Barry reasoned with himself. Cisco would actually be more helpful with detaining a meta-human. He would check in later after he had eaten several tons of food.

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 13: Moving Forward

 

Len crossed his arms in irritation, thinking about what just occurred as he watched Mick ply Barry with food. Damn tech-geek bursting in and causing a ruffle in his plans. The mastermind thief used to be able to easily predict what Barry’s goody-two shoes team would do, but he had now been surprised twice. And that didn’t sit well with him.

 

Len watched in satisfaction as Mick kept slipping food onto Barry’s plate. Although the speedster didn’t say anything about it, the small smile that flicked across his face told Len that Barry knew exactly what Mick was doing. Len was always astounded about how perceptive Barry could be about some things and how he could completely miss others.

 

Oliver Queen was also sitting at his kitchen table, sipping a cup of coffee. Len had a working theory that it was a hero requirement to be addicted to and run off of coffee. Len would admit that he preferred a cup of tea, if he had the time to make it properly. He was determined to get Barry to change over to tea.

 

Oliver seemed content to fill the silence with useless updates about Felicity and his team so that Barry would focus on eating.

 

Tuning out the useless information, Len frowned, his mind turning back to Ramon and how Barry would react to his return. The cold thief didn’t want anyone to set back Barry’s recovery. Or turning Barry away from them.

 

Barry’s cell phone dinged from inside his pocket. He finished up his plate and then fished out his phone. Len had a hard time reading the speedster’s face as he read the message.

 

“Scarlet?” Len prompted after a long minute of silence in which Barry just continued to stare at the phone.

 

Barry looked up a little sheepishly. “Sorry. Uh, Cisco says that’s he’s covering for me, but that I should be back for a couple hours for the end of the day so Singh doesn’t get suspicious or angry.” He sighed. “Working is certainly better than sitting around worrying about later anyways.”

 

“You don’t have to talk to him,” Len pointed out to the hero. “You don’t owe him anything.”

 

Barry was quiet for a moment, clearly internally disagreeing with Len’s last statement. “Doll, we aren’t opposed to you having Cisco back in your life if that’s what you want,” Mick put a hand on the speedster’s shoulder. “We just want to make sure you’re doing it because you want to and not because you think you’re supposed to.”

 

“If you want to see him,” Oliver spoke up, “I’ll meet him and bring him here.” His eyes darkened a little. “I have a few things I want to say to him myself,” he muttered lowly.

 

Barry finally answered. “I think I need to see him and hear what he has to say. He wasn’t even in the city, so I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt that he just didn’t know exactly what was going on.” He smiled sadly. “Although, it would have been nice to have him check in or leave me a way to check in with him.”

 

Len tried not to let his mouth turn into a scowl. He refused to admit he was nervous that Cisco might convince Barry to leave him and Mick.

 

Barry seemed to be especially perceptive, though, and picked up on Len’s mood and direction of thoughts. He leaned back and crossed his arms at the thief. “You’re being paranoid,” the hero said.

 

Len just lifted an eyebrow at him.

 

Barry rolled his eyes. “I see your mind working in a paranoid overdrive. Even if Cisco is back and is or has always been on my side, I’m not planning on leaving here or you and Mick.” The speedster looked unsure for a moment. “As long as that’s still ok with you guys.”

 

“Of course it’s fine, Doll,” Mick rumbled.

 

Oliver looked exasperated and Len did actually scowl at him. He still didn’t like Robin Hood, but Queen did care about Barry. The older vigilante was darker—much darker— but this also meant that Barry had someone who was able to get the more morally questionable tasks accomplished. Len didn’t want Barry to ever be in the position where he had to plan and kill a person outright, which the thief believed was sometimes necessary.

 

“I’m going to check in with Felicity,” Oliver stood up and grabbed his jacket. “Let me know when I should get Cisco.” He nodded to Barry and walked towards the door, turning back and asking, “do you want a ride back to work since I’m headed that direction?”

 

“Sure! Thanks Oliver,” the speedster agreed. “I should definitely be getting back there soon.”

 

“I’ll meet you outside then,” the older man decided when Barry tarried and fidgeted in his chair.

 

Len turned an expectant gaze towards the hero, who stood up blushing slightly. He quickly moved over and gave Mick a kiss on the cheek. The kid must have tapped into his powers in his nervousness as he was beside Len before the thief could blink. Len saw Barry’s open, earnest face for a moment before the speedster gave him a kiss too and then dashed out the door.

 

Len shared a smile (that may have been bordering a smirk) with Mick in success. Progress.

 

A couple hours later…

 

Barry had snuck back into his office through the back staircase. He had heard Cisco’s distinctive voice from downstairs a couple times, but hadn’t seen him yet. He sounded busy. Or, that’s what Barry would argue to anyone, including himself. Too busy to go find and talk to.

 

The nervous speedster tried to keep busy for the short time until the end of the day. He made his way through multiple case files and wrote up the reports to go along with them. He had to keep pausing and forcing his hands to slow down or he would speed through all of his work. The last time the young hero had let that happen, he had burnt the connections of the keyboard of his computer and bore a hole in his desk with a pencil. The CSI was in the middle of one of these reports when there was a knock on the door to his lab. He tensed, but called out a short “come in!”

 

Cisco’s floppy head of hair poked through the door. “Hey, can I come in?”

 

“Uh, sure,” Barry pulled himself together to respond. “Just writing reports.”

 

The tech geek shuffled through the door with a nervous grin. “You still good if I bring over pizza later? I’ll bring your favorites,” Cisco promised.

 

Barry hesitated for a moment but nodded. “Yeah, sounds good.”

 

Cisco’s smile seemed to relax a bit. “Great. I have some more work to do before they’ll let me leave for the night, so it’ll probably be around 8, 8:30 when I come by.” He raised his eyebrows at Barry and asked, “and, uh…where exactly will I be coming by?”

 

“Oliver will meet you at the Union Coffee Shop on Parkview Ave.” No matter how badly Barry wanted to have his friend Cisco back, he wouldn’t give up Len and Mick’s location to someone he wasn’t positive he could completely trust yet and in such a public place. Oliver would make sure that they weren’t being followed.

 

Cisco didn’t seem surprised that he wasn’t being given the exact address. “You know, we really need to come up with our own code. You would think that we would have one by now, I’m pretty sure it’s a superhero rule or something. I’ve been remiss in my duty as a geek, but I’ll get on that.” He stopped his ramble, his eyes widening as it finally hit who Barry said would be his escort. “Oliver is here? Wait, he knows who you’re with and he hasn’t shot them yet?” he asked incredulously.

 

Barry let out a snort. “Not for lack of trying,” the speedster joked, falling into old patterns with Cisco. “Oliver always seems to know everything. Nosey and overprotective.”

 

“Hold on.” Cisco held up his hands. “Dude, was he in that alley too? I totally missed him!”

 

“I think that was the point,” Barry responded with a half-smile.

 

The tech consultant glanced at his watch and danced a couple steps towards the door. “Alright, I have to go, but we’ll catch up later.” He gave a little wave and made his way to the door. He turned around at the last minute. He seemed to hesitate for a moment, his expression oddly serious and sad. “I am really happy to see you again, Barry.”

 

Barry watched him leave, feeling a little more reassured about his upcoming meeting with Cisco. They may not be able to just pick up where they left off, but the hero was growing in certainty that they would eventually get their friendship back.

 

As he was cleaning up at the end of the day, Barry received a text from Len:

 

“Figured you might want to run home today. Let us know if you want one of us to meet you instead.”

 

Barry appreciated the thought. Running home would help him work out a few of his remaining nerves. With how (over)protective his thieves were being, this was a thoughtful and trusting gesture. Barry knew that he would probably start bucking such protective over-watching at some point, but right now he knew it was just because they were worried and trying to show they cared.

 

Barry took a couple extra laps around the city on his way home, not looking for anything in particular, but just running. He arrived home slightly buzzing, but with good energy, not nerves. He dumped his bag and coat in the hall closet and called out, “I’m home!”

 

He heard a low voice call back, “in the kitchen!”

 

The speedster walked into the kitchen to find Len and Mick making dinner.

 

“You know Cisco promised to bring pizza, right?” Barry said in amusement, seeing the fairly large dinner being prepared.

 

“I remember, but don’t think I’m trusting our dinner to Ramon,” Len drawled. “And it’s not like all this food won’t get eaten.”

 

Barry flushed slightly and rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. “I guess between the five of us, it’s not a bad idea.”

 

Barry let out a disgruntled noise as the two thieves just smirked at him knowingly as Barry would still eat more than everyone else combined.

 

“Anyways, thank you for showing up at the bank today. I know it’s not exactly the best mark for a hero’s record that he needed his villains help, but I appreciated it.” Barry looked at Len and Mick earnestly.

 

Mick put a dish in the oven and then he and Len strode over to their speedster.

 

“We weren’t going to let you get hurt,” Mick insisted. “We’ve grown rather fond of having you around.”

 

“You weren’t at full strength, or else you wouldn’t have even slightly needed our help,” Len pointed out. “Captain Cold and Heatwave aren’t going to be bursting into every one of the Flash’s jobs. We’ll leave the hero-ing to the hero and stay out of that business.” The thief smirked. “Unless it’s advantageous for us.”

 

Barry rolled his eyes at Len, knowing he was mostly joking. He turned his face from one to the other. “I’m serious, though. You risked your reputations to come in there like that. I—“ The hero opened and closed his mouth a few times, trying to figure out how to articulate his feelings.

 

Barry reached his hands out towards the two, but let them fall before doing anything. He was still debating in his head when he felt a warm hand on the back of his neck and another on his shoulder. The speedster looked up and found himself staring into Len’s bright blue eyes which were completely focused on him. His heart skipped a beat as the thief’s face moved closer. He knew that he should stop gapping like a fish and make a suave move or something, but Barry was rooted to the spot.

 

Len’s eyes flicked down to Barry’s lips and then looked back into his eyes, searching them. It was like the thief was giving Barry a moment to pull away. Barry blushed, but smiled shyly up at one of the men he was definitely falling for.

 

Barry’s eyes slid closed as Len closed the gap and kissed him. Despite his cold public persona, the kiss was full of emotion. Giving up on trying to calm his loudly beating heart, Barry leaned in and returned the kiss. The thief pulled the speedster close, one hand running through his messy hair and stopping on his cheek. When Len lightly nipped at his lips, Barry gasped and reached out to grab onto the front of Len’s shirt. Taking the opportunity, Len slipped his tongue into Barry’s mouth, exploring with a fiery desire. There was no cold, calm, or detached feelings in this kiss.

 

Barry felt Len pull back slowly, their breathing somewhat erratic. A little dazed, Mick and Len’s hands worked in tandem to shift Barry so that he was facing Mick.

 

The large thief’s warm hand took the place of Len’s on the side of the hero’s face. “Ok?” Mick rumbled lowly, his warm eyes entrancing Barry. Not able to come up with a verbal response, Barry nodded with what he was sure was a dopey smile. He really needed to work on his game. Mick then swooped down to steal his own kiss from their speedster.

 

The young hero felt Len’s hand slide down to rest on his waist while Mick’s other hand moved to hold Barry’s. Mick’s kisses were no less full of emotion, but they were slower and deeper. It was funny, Len’s kisses were fiery while Mick’s were slower and calmer. Barry could easily get lost in both of them. Barry let Mick dominate his mouth until air became an issue and they had to separate.

 

“Ok there, Scarlet?” Len asked tentatively, but warmly.

 

“Yes. Absolutely. Beyond ok,” Barry babbled in response. He was never the smoothest guy when it came to relationships and flirting.

 

“Let’s move into the living room and talk for a bit,” Len suggested, leading the way. Mick stayed behind Barry, his warm hand still holding Barry’s.

 

Len perched on the coffee table while Mick sat next to Barry on the couch, both looking at the younger.

 

“This, this is kind of new for me,” the speedster admitted. “I mean, not relationships, because of course I’ve had those, and not the male part because I’ve known about my bisexuality for while, I just meant….”

 

“Chill out, Barry,” Len cut off Barry’s rambling. “Are you referring to being in a relationship with two people or the fact that they’re villains of the Flash?”

 

“Uh,” Barry was a bit taken aback by the thief’s straightforward assessment. “Both?” he answered with a shrug.

 

“Doll, we’ve never been a trio, either,” Mick rumbled, his hand still holding Barry’s and grounding him.

 

“We want to try though,” Len said, looking more sincere than Barry had ever seen him. He leaned forward and put his hand on the speedster’s knee. “You’re special, Scarlet. There’s no rush to any of this— we can go at whatever speed you want.”

 

“I’m not made of glass, you know,” Barry retorted. He was touched they were willing to move at his pace, but he’s wasn’t so fragile he was going to shatter. That would just make him annoyed and push him away. “I’m more than willing to give this a try, as long as you promise not to treat me like I’m going to break any second.”

 

“We’ll try, but if you haven’t noticed, we’re kind of possessive,” Len admitted dryly. “Comes with a side of over-protectiveness.”

 

Barry just gave the thief a ‘no-shit’ look. A slightly mischievous look spread across the hero’s face. Then, without warning, he darted forward and captured Len’s lips with his. The thief was only momentarily surprised, but quickly answered Barry’s strong, but playful kiss. He seemed to get the message that their hero was perhaps just as possessive as they were. And that if they weren’t willing to make a strong move, Barry would.

 

While playfully darting his tongue in and out of his partner’s mouth, Barry gasped when he felt lips press against the back of his neck. Len took the opportunity to deepen the kiss. Barry could feel the heat radiating off of Mick as the larger villain scooted closer. A large hand splayed itself across Barry’s back and then slowly slid down to rest on his waist. Barry let one of his hands run across Len’s chest before gripping tight onto his shoulder as the hero began to lose his conscious train of thought.

 

It had been too long since Barry had felt like this— his mind dizzy, his body hot and excited. He felt more alive than he had since before being hit by lightning. A zing of energy raced through him as Len tugged lightly on his hair. His over-sensitive nerves, thanks to his powers, were quivering with all of the new and sudden stimulus. Having his hair pulled on used to do nothing, but now it was a sexual trigger button for him.

 

Barry missed the pleased smirk that briefly flicked across the thieves faces as they discovered one of their hero’s most sensitive areas. Barry felt Mick press himself tighter against his back and relaxed into his broad chest. The pyro moved his attention up Barry’s neck and over to his right ear. This proved to be a good move as the young hero shivered in Mick’s arms and moaned into Len’s mouth. Barry’s senses were in overdrive as the two thieves worked in tandem, one nibbling and playing with his neck and ears and the other plundering his mouth.

 

Eventually the need for air became too great and forced Barry to break off from Len. At first glance it didn’t seem as if Len was that affected, but then Barry noticed the redness tinging his face, the slight widening of his eyes and the pleased, but gentle smirk. Barry could feel that his face was probably just shy of Flash red. Mick’s face brushed past the speedster, so close that Barry could feel his stubble rub his cheek. Mick captured Len’s mouth in a hot, dirty kiss inches from Barry’s face that caused the young hero’s face to finish its journey to Flash red.

 

Barry swallowed hard as daydreams of his were coming to life right before his eyes. He shifted in his seat as his pants got tighter and his cock ached to be touched. His movement caught the thieves’ attention and they turned as one to stare at him hungrily. This time it was Mick who kissed Barry, the older keeping control of it. Barry opened to the pyro’s probing tongue, allowing it to explore every crevice of his mouth in hot sweeps. The speedster felt hands he knew must be Len’s run across his body, one sneaking under his shirt and up his chest. Len’s mouth was not idle either, and found his way to the ear Mick hadn’t given attention earlier.

 

Barry squeaked when Len lightly pinched his nipple. Mick effortless pulled the speedster sideways into his lap, never breaking the kiss, but giving Len more access to tease their young partner. Barry wasn’t sure what to do with himself. He wanted to lean forward into Len’s questing hands which continuously went back to his nipples but also press himself closer to Mick and his mind-scrambling kisses. With his indecisive movement, he ended up squirming in the larger thief’s lap. It took him a bit with how distracted he was, but Barry eventually noticed how much this was affecting Mick, feeling the man’s hardness as he pressed his ass into Mick’s lap.

 

The pyro groaned into his younger partner’s mouth and his hands tightened around Barry. Barry wasn’t sure how much more he could take before he broke down and begged them to touch him. He could almost imagine how it would feel to have Mick’s large hands wrapped around his cock or Len’s long fingers inside him.

 

He was so worked up that he didn’t notice when he started vibrating at first, his body incapable of staying still any longer. Just as they all noticed this new development, the doorbell rang.

 

The three, out of breath and limbs entangled, froze. Barry pulled back long enough to see both his partners’ eyes dark with desire before he bent to rest his forehead against Mick’s chest.

 

Len’s hands reluctantly pulled away as the man sighed heavily. “They always have the worst timing, don’t they?” he snarked. “Now there’s going to be two annoying goody two-shoes preventing me from having my hands on you,” he said to Barry.

 

The speedster lifted his head up to look at him. “Can’t they come back later?” Barry whined in agreement. He hadn’t gotten fully laid since before his powers and wanted to see where this would go.

 

“Well, doll,” Mick rumbled from behind him, “we don’t mind continuing and scaring Queen or the tech geek, but we’re not so keen on sharing, especially what is undoubtedly the best view of you.”

 

Barry blushed deeply, but smiled as he ducked his head.

 

“Scarlet, why don’t you go take a quick shower as we finish up and set out dinner?” Len suggested. Barry marveled at the man’s self-control and how quickly he seemed to be able to calm himself. Of course, the man didn’t have Barry’s super-speed powers making things more difficult.

 

The speedster nodded his agreement. “Probably a good idea. I can’t really eat dinner like this or more, have a conversation with Oliver and Cisco.”

 

Mick let out a low noise of approval as his hand brushed across Barry’s still denim-covered erection. Barry arched into the hand, which didn’t linger too long. “I like the mental image of you taking care of yourself in the shower. We’ll have to try that sometime.”

 

“We can see about continuing this fun later tonight, Red,” Len promised, before kissing him and then standing up to get the door.

 

Mick lifted the speedster off his lap and also gave him a kiss before pointing him in the direction of the stairs. Barry paused at the bottom of the stairs and turned around. Mick, who had been staring at his young partner’s retreating ass, raised an eyebrow in question.

 

“Don’t torture him too much. Please?” the perceptive hero asked, referring to Cisco. Mick just let out a low chuckle before turning to head into the kitchen. Hearing the front door open, Barry hurried up the stairs and out of sight.

 

A short time ago in front of the Union Coffee Shop:

 

Oliver stood impatiently with his arms crossed in front of the coffee chop waiting for Barry’s friend Cisco. Oliver confirmed that it was Felicity who had gotten in touch with Cisco, who had told the wayward member of Team Flash enough to get him back here. Actually, the blonde hesitantly told him that she had sent the Queen’s jet to go pick him up. Apparently there was something family-related happening, but Felicity wasn’t able to get much more out of the tech geek.

 

Oliver was hoping to get some answers out of the kid before bringing him to Barry. The older vigilante refused to submit the still healing, younger vigilante to one of his team members if they didn’t have a good explanation for their behavior. Out of everyone, though, Oliver secretly hoped that Cisco would be the one to stay on Barry’s side.

 

Oliver looked down at his watch and sighed. Was no one on Barry’s team capable of being on time? It was another couple of minutes, but he finally saw Cisco’s unmistakable form walking down the sidewalk carrying two, full pizza delivery heat-bags. He didn’t say a word or move as the tech geek spotted him and hurried over.

 

“Hi! I didn’t know you were here, or I would have said hello earlier. Although I guess that was the point in that you didn’t want anyone to see you,” Cisco began to babble nervously. Well, Oliver couldn’t quite blame him as he knew his face was set into a disapproving scowl.

 

“I brought pizza!” He held out one of the cases of pizzas. When Oliver just continued to look at him, Cisco nodded, his shoulders slumping. “Right, uh, I guess you want some answers before we go anywhere.”

 

“You hurt Barry. That is unacceptable,” Oliver said lowly, watching Cisco’s eyes widened. “Your actions have consequences, negative one for Barry— which he didn’t deserve.” He stared at the younger man with what Felicity always told him was his intimidating Arrow face. “You were supposed to be his team. Team is supposed to have your back, but you all dropped him when he needed you most.” He thought briefly about his own team. “I’m not a good man, Cisco, but Barry is. If you hurt him again, you’ll be answering to me. And worse, Felicity.”

 

The older vigilante waited for Cisco to nod jerkily. “We’ll walk and talk.” Oliver took one of the pizza bags. “You talk. You have the first ten minutes of this walk to convince me to actually bring you to Barry.” He watched as the other’s longer hair flew as he nodded quicker this time, paling further. However, Cisco didn’t back down, which Oliver could admire.

 

They started walking down the sidewalk and Cisco took a deep breath. “So, I knew that Barry was going to be blaming himself for everything that happened, but I knew—I thought I knew— that Joe, Iris, his dad, even Caitlin, would be bugging him to talk about it or never leaving him alone. I figured that I would give him some space and try not to join everyone overwhelming him.” Cisco began to explain.

 

Oliver didn’t say anything, but he did begin to believe that Barry and Cisco could bridge their relationship, depending on the rest of the story.

 

Cisco glanced at the stoic man, before returning his gaze to nothing in particular in front of him. “It was the day after the party for Barry’s father when my family called me. Well, my brother. Apparently my uncle had been in an accident and my mother wanted me to fly down to Puerto Rico immediately. As much as I don’t really like most of them, they are family,” Cisco continued. “And with everything that had just happened, I felt that I would regret not going for family. So, I told Caitlin and asked her to tell Barry when she saw him next. I should have taken the time to tell Barry myself. Explained.” He shook his head self-deprecatingly. “That was my mistake.”

 

“And after?” Oliver prompted after a minute of silence.

 

“After… things got complicated really fast. And then got worse.” Oliver watched the other as he shuddered slightly and his footsteps got heavier as if he was weighed down by something.

 

“Why didn’t you call for help?” Oliver questioned as he turned them left down a side street.

 

“I thought I could handle it at first. Besides— Barry, Caitlin— they were dealing with their own problems and I didn’t want to add to them. By the time I figured out I could really use some help, I had no means of communication and there was a lot more at stake than I could justify risking,” Cisco’s voice trembled slightly.

 

Oliver wasn’t sure if Barry meeting Cisco and hearing this was a good idea, but it didn’t appear as if Cisco had maliciously cut Barry out. The older vigilante would love to play the older brother card and forbid this meeting until he could ease Barry into the full story, but sometimes people had to hear the truth in its entirety. And sometimes that hurt before it helped.

 

“We’ll go to Barry. I still want to hear the rest of this story, though,” Oliver said, thinking especially in case there were any triggers in there that may set Barry off.

 

Cisco nodded and used the rest of the walk to summarize his trouble, a story which both reassured and worried Oliver. The Arrow might have to make a quick trip to Puerto Rico after this.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Chapter 14: A Long Road Back

 

Len opened the door to find a nervous looking scientist and an unreadable vigilante waiting on his front porch. How did this become my life? Len wanted to roll his eyes but refrained. Only for Barry.

 

The thief met Oliver Queen’s eyes, trying to read him. Noticing what he was trying to do, Queen just raised an eyebrow slightly, but nodded. Len didn’t exactly trust the Starling City vigilante, but he at least knew the man cared about Barry. If he thought having Ramon here would only hurt Barry, Queen would never have led the kid to the house.

 

He moved out of the doorway, gesturing the two men inside. “Well, well, look who finally showed up,” Len snarked as the scientist shuffled through the door.

 

Mick reappeared and took the stacks of pizza from both Ramon and Queen before disappearing once again into the kitchen.

 

Ramon opened his mouth a few times as if to say something, but seemed to change his mind every time he glanced at Len’s face. Len wanted to snicker, but kept his face blank. He wanted Ramon to be nervous—to realize that no matter what his explanation was, that he should rethink his actions for the future. That Barry could have used his team, and no one was there.

 

By the time Mick came back into the living room, Ramon was sitting in one of the chairs while Len look a position leaning against a wall in the corner of the room. Oliver chose to just stand in the middle of the room with his arms crossed. Mick decided to perch himself on the arm of the couch, staring without blinking at the scientist.

 

Ramon seemed to gather his nerves. He looked over to Len and asked, “what happened? Why is Barry with, well, with you of all people?” He was clearly trying to make the question a demand, but it worked just as poorly as threatening Len with a vacuum cleaner for a weapon.

 

Len just stared at him, as if silently asking him if he really thought he had the right to know. Neither Mick nor Queen chose to break in during this staring contest. The scientist looked away first. “Scarlet passed out in front of Mick and me during a small heist,” Len drawled, breaking the uncomfortable silence. He saw Cisco open his mouth as if to comment on his pulling a heist, however small it was. He continued before the kid found his voice. “Red had no back-up and had it been any other of Flash’s enemies, he would have been in big trouble.”

 

Cisco’s eyes were wide and he looked scared at the thought. Good, Len thought, the kid should feel guilty.

 

“Team Flash is lucky that we took him with us and back here,” Len continued. “Funny thing, Scarlet didn’t seem to want to leave, even after he woke up. I mean, Mick makes some mean desserts, but can’t give them all the credit. The kid was spiraling downwards and Mick and I did our best to pull him back up. Barry is important to us,” he said seriously, needing Cisco to understand that Barry had them in his corner and wasn’t going to ever lose them.

 

Len stood up straight and stalked towards the scientist. “Barry was in a bad place,” he said lowly, his tone having an element of danger to it. “He was barely eating, definitely wasn’t really sleeping, and felt completely alone. If you are anything less than sincere in wanting to be Barry’s friend and support him, you won’t just be answering to me.” Len’s eyes flicked to his partner playing with the lighter, who gave Cisco his best Heatwave glare. Oliver just glowered from his spot, his Arrow face on and clearly not contesting Len’s statement.

 

Cisco nodded his head quickly, his hair flopping with the sharp movement. “I’m not, I mean, I didn’t know— Barry’s my best friend,” he ended with quietly. “It wasn’t, I never meant to cut off contact with him. At first I just needed a day to process, but it wasn’t like that! I promise.”

 

Len nodded and backed off slightly, assured enough that he would let the kid talk to his speedster. But he would be ready to catch Barry if he fell from this.

 

They let Ramon fidget nervously in silence for another few minutes before they heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Four heads turned at the same time to see a freshly showered Barry coming down the stairs. Len wanted to smile at the way Barry’s wet hair stuck up, vowing to run his hands through that wild mop later tonight.

 

Five minutes ago…

 

Barry stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist, and used another to towel dry his hair. He moved in front of the mirror and ran a hand through his hair, attempting to make it not stick up everywhere. He thought back to how it felt to have both Mick’s and Len’s lips on him. Barry didn’t speed through his shower, mostly so he could take care of the raging erection that the two thieves had left him with. It totally wasn’t fair, touching and kissing him like that only to then have to stop abruptly. The speedster shook his head to clear his mind. If he kept thinking about what had happened in the living room not a half hour ago, then he would have another problem on his hands. Not that it would honestly take him that long to deal with.

 

Forcing his less than innocent daydreams down, Barry finished drying off and grabbed the clothes he left on the chair. He quickly pulled them on and made sure they were straight before opening the door. Time to get this conversation over with. But even more, Barry wasn’t sure how long he could safely leave Mick, Len, Oliver, and Cisco down there in what he was sure was a tense atmosphere before one of them tried to kill another. And he was sure that the coming conversation would not make anything immediately easier.

 

He took a deep, steadying breath and finally made his way down the stairs. Taking in the situation, Barry wasn’t sure if he should laugh, roll his eyes, or sigh disapprovingly. He wasn’t completely surprised however, to find Len leaning against a wall or Oliver standing commandingly in the middle of the room with his arms crossed or Mick sitting on the arm of the couch playing with a lighter. He let his lips twitch upwards, before schooling his face. He didn’t think it was a good start to his conversation with Cisco if his friend thought he was laughing at his discomfort.

 

“Er…hi,” Barry finally said to the four men staring at him. Mick snorted and Barry could see the amusement dance through Oliver’s eyes even if the rest of his face stayed blank.

 

“Barry!” Cisco exclaimed, jumping up from the chair. “Hi. I brought pizza, well pizzas. I think the place thought I was nuts with how many I ordered. I mean, not that it’s a problem I ordered so many. Are you hungry? We could eat—“ One look at Len’s face made him stop talking. “Or, we could talk first. Right.” He sat back down, tapping his fingers on his legs.

 

It was all so Cisco. Barry so desperately wanted his friend back. To have everything be a mistake and go back to the way things were. He knew that was unrealistic, but he could still hope.

 

Glancing around the room, Barry headed for the couch, sitting on the end next to Mick. There was a long awkward pause where neither Barry or Cisco knew what to say first. It appeared as if the other men were going to let just the two of them talk first.

 

Cisco broke the silence first. “So uh, Captain Cold and Heatwave…”

 

“Uh,” Barry stuttered, “I, uh, live here now. With them.” He smiled at Len across the room, seeing the man’s face soften in response.

 

“Right,” the geek said quietly. “Not that I’m judging!” Cisco was quick to qualify. “I mean, hey, you do you man. I’m bi myself, so least judging person here. Not that I think…I wasn’t trying to imply that you just…with them… Ugh!” The scientist ran a hand through his hair. “This was not how I wanted this to go.” Cisco looked up and met Barry’s eyes. “I didn’t mean to be away for so long or out of touch, man. I didn’t really have a good idea of what was going on back here, although I should have known.”

 

“It wasn’t—“ Barry tried to cut in, automatically falling back on his tendency to blame himself over others. Cisco stopped him.

 

“Let me, let me tell you what happened, before you say it wasn’t my fault or wasn’t my responsibility or whatever.” Cisco squeezed his hands together. “Like you know, I got a call from my family. Well, it was actually my brother. He didn’t really offer many details, just that there was some sort of family emergency and were we all flying to Puerto Rico as soon as possible. Normally, I would have been a little bit more cautious and reluctant, but with everything that just happened, family seemed a little more important. I expected it to be my grandparents or cousins or something. Not going seemed just petty. So, I convinced myself that you and everyone else back here would be fine for a bit.”

 

“Family is important, Cisco,” Barry said softly.

 

“Yeah,” Cisco agreed, “but family is more than blood. I should have remembered that better.” Barry saw Oliver give the scientist an encouraging nod, as if to hear him out, giving the speedster a bad feeling about the rest of this story. “And, and I was being selfish too. It seemed like I was almost useless in that whole battle, and I didn’t really want to deal with those feelings. So I ran towards what I thought was a different problem.”

 

“Right, so it turns out that it was my uncle, who was in the hospital after a bad accident,” Cisco continued to explain. “He’s fine now,” Cisco qualified quickly, seeing Barry already start to worry and apologize. “It didn’t seem like I was going to be there for very long, so I decided, stupidly decided, that I didn’t need to check in with you or the team.” He looked Barry in the eye, looking very emotionally wrung out. “Man, you have to know first, that I didn’t need a break from you, specifically. You’re my best friend, at least I still hope so.” Seeing that he wasn’t making much sense, he continued, “I was slightly relieved to take a step away for a day or two from the full-on, intense fighting and situations we had gotten into.”

 

Barry tensed, so Cisco did want to be away from him, him and the chaos and destruction he created.

 

“No!” Cisco said emphatically. “No, dude, you have to hear me. I don’t mean that I wanted to get away from you. Flash or no flash, superheroes or just two nerds watching Star Trek, I count on you for support in all aspects. I would have happily gotten you to crash at my place for a couple days, or really as long as you wanted, after that shit-show went down. You weren’t what I wanted to get away from. And I shouldn’t have left any of it.”

 

Barry felt tears start to build up, but he quickly pushed them back. He wanted to get through the entire conversation. He nodded, still a little hurt that Cisco felt it necessary to want to get away from the Flash stuff, even if he didn’t want to get away from Barry Allen. While he could separate Flash business from his personal life, Barry considered the Flash just as much as him as was Barry Allen, the geeky CSI.

 

“Ok, well, I did keep track of the news the first couple of days,” Cisco continued. “I saw the reports of the Flash taking down criminals as well as appearing to magically help the clean-up. I knew that this was probably your way of continuing to try and cope with what happened. I just assumed that everyone else was also on board with that.” He shook his head.

 

“I was planning on coming back, but my mother seemed both surprised, but really pleased to see me, that I let her convince me into staying longer. That was when things started to go downhill. I should have known from when my mother was surprised to see me that something was off. It turns out that my brother used the circumstances as an excuse to get me down there.” Cisco’s tone had turned bitter.

 

“Dante got himself into some trouble with some local, but powerful gangs. I didn’t even want to hear the full story from him, but it involved borrowing money and favors being owed. Since he doesn’t really have any skills or anything to offer, he offered me. And,” Cisco looked down and mumbled the rest, “he sort-of threatened to tell people your identity if I didn’t help him.” Barry’s heart clenched at hearing Cisco’s explanation and looked his friend up and down, trying to see if he was hurt. He felt Mick put a hand on the back of his neck, rub small circles as if the pyro knew Barry would be starting to shoulder guilt about this.

 

 “I’m fine, man,” Cisco promised, seeing Barry’s look. “Right, so in the beginning, before I knew what was going on, he told my family that he and I were going off for some brother bonding time with a camping trip. My family really doesn’t pay enough attention to me to know that I would never voluntarily go camping, especially with Dante. But he guilt-tripped me into going to a “party” with him, using his, uh, well, kidnapping by, uh, well, yeah, as a reason that I owed him.”

 

Len’s face was stony, but Barry could see the regret in his eyes, although the young hero was sure some of it was only there because his actions eventually came back around to hurt Barry.

 

“So, long story short,” Cisco said, clearly wanting to wrap up this explanation as soon as possible, “some gang and my brother held me until I adequately paid back my brother’s favor to them. It involved a lot of hacking and tech skills that Dante didn’t have, but I did. They took my phone and data pad and laptop, and well, anything technological that was mine. They watched me pretty closely with their tech, so I was only able to leave really subtle clues that someone would only pick up if they were looking in the right place. I’m pretty sure I helped start a gang war.” The scientist looked so defeated and just done.

 

“It was actually Oliver who helped me get out of there,” Cisco said, looking over to the man.

 

“It was Felicity actually,” Oliver said. “She started looking for you and eventually found your hacking clues and hacked her way into the tech at your location. She was the one who told Dig, who took our plane down to get you.”

 

“And I, like, really super appreciate it, man,” Cisco said sincerely.

 

Barry was stunned by his friend’s story. It wasn’t at all what he expected and he felt like a complete ass for being upset at Cisco in the first place. “Cisco, I’m so sorr—“

 

“Don’t you dare finish that apology, Barry Allen,” Cisco said, wagging his finger at the speedster. “None of this was your fault in any way and you had no way of knowing.”

 

“Just like you had no way of knowing what was going on here,” Barry said gently, already forgiving his friend.

 

“Maybe not, but I saw some of the clues both before I left and the couple days checking on the news when I should have just called you but chose to be selfish and didn’t,” Cisco said, guilt clear all over his face. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help when you needed it. And I’m not fully sure I know or trust two of our villains, but Oliver seems to marginally approve.”

 

“I trust Mick and Len, Cisco,” Barry said firmly standing up. “Things have changed.” He smiled, thinking about how much he liked the changes.

 

“I still don’t fully understand, but if this is what you want, then I’ll be there to support you,” Cisco said, mirroring Barry and standing up. “I know that there are still some buried feelings we need to talk out eventually. And I know I was stupid about this whole thing. But I hope this at least explains some of it. And to be clear, I don’t blame you for any of it.”

 

Barry blinked rapidly and just nodded at him, not really knowing how to respond to all of this information.

 

“Can I—?” Cisco asked hesitantly, taking a small step towards the speedster.

 

It took Barry a moment before he realized what Cisco was asking and nodded, opening his arms and hugging Cisco, relieved to finally having his best friend back.

 

“There’s definitely more to talk about,” Oliver’s voice cut into the two’s hug, “but I think we should continue while eating.”

 

“Right!” Barry said, stepping back and brightening up. “Pizza!”

 

It took a few minutes—particularly as Len and Mick refused to let Barry help with his speed—to set up dinner, but eventually there were plates and boxes of pizza scattered across the surfaces in the living room. Len and Mick had claimed the spots on either side of Barry on the couch, leaving the chairs for Oliver and Cisco.

 

Barry hesitantly told Cisco about how Iris blamed him, trying to make it sound objective, knowing he failed when Cisco frowned deeply and used a few choice words. He tried to downplay how hurt he was that Joe had pretty much abandoned him to take care of Iris. Barry could tell and Cisco saw through his façade but let him have the explanation for the moment, knowing this wasn’t the time to delve deeply into that particular topic.

 

Barry didn’t mention Caitlin at all, not wanting to put Cisco in an awkward position between two friends. He was debating on how to bring up needing more calorie bars when Mick did it for him.

 

The larger man took a long swig from his bottle of beer and grunted. “Hey, Geek. Need you to teach me how to make those calorie bars,” he demanded.

 

“Fuck!” Cisco said, the circumstances finally hitting. “You must have run out of bars at least a week and a half ago!”

 

Barry flushed deeply, “uh, yeah, kind of.” He knew it was a bother to need to have people continuously make him these high calorie protein bars, but there wasn’t much he could about it.

 

“I can get on that and probably have at least a few done by the end of tomorrow,” Cisco promised. “I’ll make sure that I have some in the lab and drop by boxes at your lab at the CCPD, and here and…” the scientist hesitated. “Uh, do you have another place? Like, if you only moved here like less than a week ago, is your stuff still at Joe’s? Or uh, an apartment of your own?”

 

This was not something he particularly wanted to tell Cisco about, but Barry knew the observant scientist would notice when he went into the lab tomorrow anyways.

 

“I’m living here, pretty much completely,” Barry said. “I had to get out of Joe’s. Some of my stuff I stored for the interim at STAR labs.”

 

Cisco raised his eyebrows, and quickly read between the lines seeing Barry’s face flush red. “Dude! No, please tell me that you weren’t living out of the lab!”

 

Barry shrugged in response and bent over to engulf another slice of pizza, not needing to see pity he didn’t want evident in Cisco’s face. 

 

“That’s awful, dude,” Cisco said, voice full of pity just as Barry thought it would. “The showers at the lab are so bad! We really should look into getting those updated.”

 

Barry jerked his head up. Cisco went off on his imaginary plans for how they could revamp the shower facilities at the lab. Barry felt his emotions settle and another weight was lifted off his shoulders. He knew what Cisco was trying to do, and appreciated it. Barry knew that there would definitely be more conversations to come, but was happy this was being let go for now.

 

The conversation turned to slightly lighter matters as the room seemed to collectively decide that the heavy topics should be done for the moment. He and Cisco ended up heatedly discussing aspects of Firefly (like who was cuter, Wash or the Captain) after Barry mentioned that he watched it with Len and Mick. Cisco seemed surprised at first when Mick actually contributed to the conversation on it, but like Barry, quickly became comfortable with the geeky topic to fully submerge himself in the argument.

 

It was also from this point that Barry found himself telling Cisco all about their night of explosive fun. Despite having two supervillains, a vigilante, a young hero and a genius scientist in one room, the night progressed fairly smoothly. Barry could tell that Mick and Len were making an effort to not pick on Cisco too much or scare him. Well, Len was always going to be snarky and Mick didn’t have the capability not to loom over people, but other than that…

 

Barry clearly missed some sort of signal because about an hour later, Oliver was standing up and announcing that he had to get Cisco back and then check in with Felicity. Apparently Oliver wasn’t going to be staying here tonight, Barry realized. He gave the older man a large smile, thanking him as he walked them both to the door. The speedster knew that Oliver was still hesitant about Barry being him just with Len and Mick, but was choosing to trust that Barry knew what he was doing.  Barry was sure the man had back-up plans for back-up plans in case things went south, but that was just the type of man Oliver was.

 

“I’ll check in tomorrow,” Cisco promised as he put on his coat. “And I’ll make sure I have some new calorie bars for you.”

 

Barry made a face, thinking about the awful taste of them.

 

“Hey!” Cisco said indignantly, “they’re not that bad!”

 

“Sorry, Cisco,” Barry said smiling wirily, “but they really are. They taste worse than cardboard.”

 

“I can try to improve them, but there really isn’t much wiggle room in the formula,” Cisco warned.

 

“Why don’t you just try coating them in chocolate or something,” Mick asked from behind the group.

 

Both Cisco and Barry turned to look at the man in surprise.

 

“We’ve never really played with covering the bar in something. And a sweet chocolate coating might help…” Cisco was already lost in thought about the possibilities.

 

“I don’t know why we’ve never thought of that,” Barry admitted to his brilliant chef-boyfriend, feeling slightly dumb.

 

Cisco was still mumbling about plans as Oliver pushed him out the door, saying goodnight to everyone, making specific eye contact with Barry that demanded the younger check in with him frequently. Barry nodded and waved goodbye, finally shutting the door when the pair was out of sight, leaving Barry alone with his two new boyfriends.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 15: The Impatience of A Speedster

 

“Now, I do believe that we have a previous deal to uphold,” Len smirked, slowly looking Barry up and down.

Barry swallowed hard and nodded, feeling his body already to beginning to respond to the thought of what was to come. His feet took him over to where Len and Mick were standing.

“You don’t know what a picture you make right now; do you Doll?” Mick rumbled, reaching out to tilt Barry’s head up to look him in the eyes.

“Good enough to eat,” Len said, very much looking like he would like to devour Barry.

Barry wasn’t sure if he was still breathing, because there was no way Mick or Len had looked at themselves recently if they thought Barry was hot.

“Breathe, doll,” Mick instructed. “We have all night. Why don’t we go upstairs and we talk for a bit first?

Barry nodded, eyes drawn to Len’s ass as he followed the criminal up the stairs. The superhero heard a low laugh behind him from Mick who gave Barry’s ass a brief swat and said, “he does have a very nice ass.”

They made their way into the master bedroom and Len leaned against a nightstand while Mick sat with Barry on the bed.

“Before we were so rudely interrupted earlier, we were learning some rather…interesting…things about you, Scarlet,” Len drawled.

“Uh, right,” Barry knew he was going to have to talk about this and it was actually kind of a relief that he might have sexual partners that knew about his powers. “My powers bleed into how my body reacts during sex. As you saw earlier, I kind of, well, vibrate when I get that excited.”

Neither Mick or Len looked disappointed with that news. “Doll, if you’re waitin’ for us to say that’s too weird, you’re going to be waitin’ a long time. We will definitely be finding some good uses for that.”

“Well, I also don’t really have a refractory period,” Barry continued. “I mean, I do have a limit, well, I think. I got too tired after five to keep going myself and I was seriously dehydrated—“

“Red, do you know hot that is?” Len was uncharacteristically looking slightly flustered. A pleased grin grew on the young vigilante’s face both at the thought that he was able to fluster Captain Cold and the confirmation that Mick and Len just found his quirks sexy and not weird.

“What about things that you like and dislike?” Len gathered himself to ask. “Do you have a preference for top or bottom?”

“Not too many things I won’t at least try,” Barry answered, “although I’m really not into pain or blood play.” He felt his face heat up again. “And while I enjoying topping, I, uh, really like being on the bottom.”

His partners still looked pleased with his answers. “We’re both switches, although Mick is more of a top while I’m more prone to switching as long as I’m in control,” Len explained.

“Doll,” Mick said drawing Barry’s attention to him, “how far do you want to go tonight?”

“Everything. Anything,” Barry said quickly, wanting to feel their hands and mouths on him again.

Len chuckled and took a couple steps so he was in front of Barry. He leaned down and kissed him deeply. When he drew back he asked, “so you wouldn’t mind if we tasted you all over before fucking you into the mattress? Or maybe you’d like it if I dropped down on my knees and sucked your cock? Or if Mick’s fingers slowly pressed their way inside of you, toying with you until you begged us to fuck you?”

Len’s eyes had darkened with lust and Barry was sure his looked the same. “Or maybe,” Len continued, “you’d like to be the one on his knees in front of Mick, trying to suck his large cock into your pretty mouth while he pulled on your hair.” Barry felt Mick’s hand gently wind its way into his hair and tug gently.

“All, all of it,” Barry panted, already hard, but still trapped by his pants.

“Why don’t we start by getting you out of these clothes,” Mick suggested, his hands finding the hem of Barry’s shirt and playing with it.

Nodding quickly, the two thieves made quick work of divesting the superhero of his clothing and losing their own along the way. Barry didn’t know where to look first but was luckily saved from having to decide as Mick captured his mouth. He wasn’t quite sure was Len was doing for a moment before he felt something warm slowly encompass his cock. Len was making good on his comment from earlier and Barry wanted to enjoy it but knew he wasn’t going to last long this first time.

Len gently swirled his tongue around the head before going all the way, holding Barry in his mouth and sucking in short, deep motions. Barry tried to control his hips, but it was almost impossible. It had been far too long and Mick and Len were making short work of him. Mick’s hands swept across his chest roaming over his nipples and occasionally tugging or pinching them.

It didn’t take more than a minute before Barry quickly drew his mouth back from Mick and groaned out, “Le— Len, I’m, I’m, ah, close.” Len just reached his hands up to grab onto Barry’s ass and pull him closer.

“That’s it doll, let go,” Mick encouraged. Barry moaned as the overwhelming sensations. “That’s it. Let us hear you.” Mick had moved onto exploring Barry’s neck, leaving the hero’s mouth free to whimper and groan. Barry took this all as permission and let go, exploding in Len’s mouth.

Barry opened his eyes to find Len still kneeling down in front him looking extraordinarily pleased with himself. The thief stood up and pulled Barry upright into a hot, messy kiss, plundering his mouth. He felt Mick move away, but was too distracted to pay any attention to what the other thief was doing. Len pushed Barry backwards onto the bed, into Mick’s waiting arms.

Barry got lost as Mick’s hands found his nipples and mouth found his neck and ears. Len settled in-between the speedster’s legs, leaning in to kiss him while tracing his hands up and down the inside of Barry’s thighs. Hearing a small pop, Barry refocused his eyes to see Len pouring lube on his fingers. He waited for the intrusion, but Len’s fingers on one hand just circled the outside of entrance while the other teased the blushing hero’s balls, as if he were slowly starting to play with a new toy.

“Lennnn,” Barry whined, after what he deemed was far too long without having those fingers inside him.

“Oh? You wanted something, Scarlet?” the thief smirked down at him.

“Yessss. Fingers. Inside. Now.” Barry pouted, squirming in Mick’s hold.

“A pushy thing, isn’t he?” Mick rumbled from behind, pressing his hot, hard length into Barry’s back. He groaned when Barry continued to squirm until Len reached down again after getting more lube.

Barry’s vision danced as one of his new lovers pressed a finger inside of him. It had been too long since he’d had this. Len and Mick worked in tandem, playing off of each other to always keep Barry on edge. Barry couldn’t hold back and moaned through his second orgasm when Len stretched him open with to fingers and finally hit that magic spot.

“Do you know how hot you look right now?” Len asked, his voice low and gravelly. “Coming from my fingers brushing your prostrate? You’re perfect and Mick and I are going to enjoy wrecking you.”

“Yes, please, please, please,” Barry chanted, more than ready for one of them to fuck him.

A wrapper was torn open as Mick readjusted his position behind Barry. “Please what, Doll?” Mick rumbled, pinching a nipple and lightly dragging his teeth across the back of his neck.

Barry bucked up and whined again, knowing they knew what he wanted but knew they wanted to hear it. He opened his eyes and stared at Len, who was watching his old and new partner.

“Fuck me, Len. Please fuck me.” Barry was panting, his body hot and humming.

“Fucking hell, that’s hot,” Len answered before lifting Barry’s legs around him so he could lean down and slowly press himself inside Barry.

“Fuck, you’re so tight still,” the thief gasped. “Are you ok?”

“Fine! Fine, I’m fine, please move. Please fuck me,” Barry begged, his body too worked up for Len to go slowly.

Reassured, his lover above him smirked again. “Since you beg so nicely….”

Len sheathed himself fully before drawing back and rocking forward. Barry’s hips shifted to meet his thrust, wanting more. He wrapped his legs around the thief, encouraging him to go faster, deeper, harder. He was sure he probably said some of those words at some point, but he didn’t care what he was saying at the moment.

Barry wanted to keep his eyes open and watch the usually put-together man fall apart, his eyes blown wide with lust, his face red, and his muscles contracting and rippling. But Len angled to hit his sweet spot and Mick gave a sharp nip to his ear and pinched a nipple—Barry couldn’t withstand all the touches. It was too much and not enough. His body arched up and vibrated as he couldn’t hold back his orgasm anymore. He tightened his legs as his body gave several more, short vibrations. He could hear Len swear above him and felt him press into him twice more before coming.

Someone pressed up against him to steal his lips for a passionate but slightly less frantic kiss. The hero could already feel his dick hardening again. Barry opened his eyes to see Len staring at him.

“Fuck, Red,” the man said quietly. “I think you’re going to ruin us.”

Barry smiled widely, “well it’s a good thing there are two of you, then!”

Len pulled their younger lover up into his arms, kissing him with tongue and teeth. One hand reached down to play with Barry’s ass, giving it a light slap every now and then. By the time Len had kissed him senseless and then turned him around, Mick had reclined further down on the bed, stoking his condom-covered cock and watching the interaction.

“You see how hot and hard you’ve made Mick?” Len whispered into Barry’s ear. The speedster could feel his legs almost give out. Mick’s cock was thicker than Len’s, answering why Len went first. He wanted that rush of a feeling when a cock stretched him open and filled him.

A moment later and Barry was hovering over Mick, the man’s heavy gaze resting on him. “Come ride me, Doll,” the larger thief growled lowly, his hands settling on the speedster’s hips.

Barry lowered himself onto the lubed up dick, groaning as his body stretched wide to accept this new intrusion. Once he had taken Mick’s full length into him, the man used his grip on his hip to lift Barry and slam back into him. Barry’s body moved to meet the thrusts, incredibly turned on by Mick’s strength. He braced his arms on Mick’s shoulders and leaned forward to capture the pyromaniac’s mouth is a sloppy, open kiss.

Barry knew he wasn’t going to last much longer when his body vibrated slightly. Mick grunted and loosened his grip before fucking Barry harder. Sweat rolled off the two as they pressed against each other, lost in a haze of pleasure. Mick hitting Barry’s prostrate one last time was all it took before Barry came for the fourth time that night, his body blurring as he let out all his pent-up energy. He felt Mick finish and the man wrap his arms around him. Barry rested his head against the warm chest in front of him, feeling more satisfied and calmer than he had in a long time.

Mick slowly lifted Barry off of him, looking him up and down before reaching down to slide the condom off and toss it in a trashcan. Barry watched as Mick pushed Len to sit on the edge of the bed. The speedster could see Len was hard again and realized what Mick was about to do a second before sank to his knees and took Len into his mouth.

Both thieves hummed in satisfaction. Mick clearly knew exactly what to do to drive Len crazy and bring him to the brink. Barry was too mesmerizing by watching to think about joining in the moment. It didn’t take long before Mick was swallowing Len’s cum, a pleased grin on his face.

Len fell back onto the bed and immediately turned to pull Barry into his arms. Mick plopped himself down on the other side of Len after grabbing a water bottle and passing it to Barry. The speedster downed half the bottle in one go before settled back down to cuddle. Mick propped himself up on an elbow, watching his two lovers.

“How’re you doing, Scarlet?” Len’s blue eyes seemed almost softer right now, Barry thought as he stared into them.

“Good. So good.” He glanced down at his half hard cock. “Don’t worry about that.” Looking at his body did reveal just how sweaty and gross he was though.

“Maybe a shower?” Barry suggested, seeing the other covered in sweat and evidence of his orgasms.

“Sounds like a good idea,” Len agreed, Mick nodding behind him. “And,” Len threw back over his shoulder as they headed into the bathroom, “if you do need help with that,” eyes flicking down to Barry’s hardening cock, “I think we could arrange for something in the shower.” He smirked and disappeared into the bathroom, leaving Mick and Barry to hurry in behind him.