Barry steps out of the CCPD after thirteen hours of work, intent on nothing more than getting home, curling into bed, and sleeping. He’s not nearly attentive enough to notice the man in the blue baseball cap, at least not until that man touches his arm and murmurs, “Barry.”
“Snart?” Barry is too loud. Guiltily, he lowers his voice and tries again. “Snart? What are you doing here?”
“Walk with me.” Snart cups Barry’s elbow and guides him down the street. Barry goes willingly. If Snart is leading him into danger, he doesn’t even care. Being knocked unconscious would at least allow him to rest.
“What’s up?” Snart’s hand is surprisingly warm. Barry can’t think beyond the warmth and strength of his grip, nor does he want to try. Sleepy as he is, he’s perfectly content to lean into that capable hand and be led.
“I need a favor.” Snart’s lips twist like he’s eaten something sour. Barry isn’t sure if it’s the nature of the favor, the need to ask for one, or the necessity of asking him that’s causing his displeasure. “And yes, I’m fully prepared to do whatever you require in return—help a few little old ladies cross the street, participate in your next mission, donate a portion of my ill-gotten gains to charity.” His voice turns more teasing with each offer. Barry finds himself smiling in response. If Snart wants a deal, he’s in the mood to bargain.
“What’s the favor?”
Snart steers him to a bench in a secluded corner of the park. Barry sits, stretches his legs out in front of him, and sighs in relief. This is the first time in hours he’s been able to sit down. “I’ve been invited to a family gathering,” Snart says. With a delicate, disdainful curl of his lip, he amends, “Lisa’s family gathering, I should say, but Lisa wants me there and I can’t blame her. They’re as narrow-minded and hypocritical a group as you can imagine.”
“Lisa’s family isn’t your family too?” Barry asks, feeling monumentally stupid. Snart laughs.
“Regrettably, we had our father in common, but he doesn’t have any family left to gather. No, it’s her mother’s family, not that they’ll admit it. They estranged her mother for marrying Lewis, and they look down on me as a ‘common criminal,’ which I resent.” Of course he would. Leonard Snart is many things—‘common’ isn’t one of them. “Lisa, of course, maintains a sterling reputation. She partakes in the occasional heist, but I take the blame. It keeps her in Central City’s good graces, and unfortunately, that includes her mother’s family. For reasons I’ve never understood, despite her relationship to me and Lewis, she’s their golden girl.”
“So you want to bring me to this gathering why? To put them off their guard?” Barry narrows his eyes. He has no desire to become part of a heist, wittingly or otherwise.
Snart grins, a quick flash of teeth that sends an unwelcome shiver down Barry’s spine. “Why, Barry, you wound me. I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’m a better man than I was a year ago, and I want them to notice. How better than for them to meet the man who forced me to up my game?”
As tired as he is, Barry can’t hide his flush of pleasure. From Snart, a man who prides himself on being the best at what he does, being credited with ‘upping his game’ is a compliment of the highest caliber. “I mean, I guess…if you want me there.”
“There’s one condition,” Snart admits, sounding less displeased than his words would otherwise suggest. Barry tilts his head. With a slightly guilty smile, Snart explains, “The only way I’m allowed to bring someone is as a plus-one. A date.”
If asked, Barry will blame his exhaustion for the fact that his first response is not disgust but an entirely too eager “Are you asking me out on a date?” When Snart raises an eyebrow, he amends, “Let me try that again. You want me to be your fake date to a holiday party?”
Snart nods. “You’re under no obligation, of course, but I would be glad of the company.”
“Uh, sure.” Oh, Barry is going to regret this later. Right now, he can’t bring himself to care. “Just tell me when and where.”
He doesn’t notice slender fingers sneaking into his pocket until they withdraw with his phone. Before he can protest, Snart opens his contacts and creates a new one. “There,” he says, slipping the phone back into Barry’s jacket pocket. “I’ll be in touch.” He rises smoothly to his feet and turns on his heel as though about to slip away into the rapidly-falling darkness. Unexpectedly, he turns back to Barry and holds out a hand. “Allow me to walk you home. A sweet little CSI shouldn’t go wandering around all sleepy—you never know what might happen.”
Without his brain’s consent, Barry blurts, “Uh, sure.” Thus he finds himself being escorted home by a perfectly gentlemanly Leonard Snart. He enjoys it so much that when he finds himself in the lobby of his apartment building, he doesn’t know what to do. Rather than forsake him, Snart lingers, his eyes fixed on Barry’s face as though awaiting a farewell. Since it seems only proper, Barry mumbles, “Thanks for walking me.”
Snart’s eyes glint with amusement. “Be seeing you, Barry.”
A week later, Barry gets a text that reads Next Friday, 6 pm and lists an unfamiliar address. It’s followed in close succession by a second text that demands Wear something nice. Unbidden, Barry’s mind decides to generate fantasies of what Snart might do if Barry wears the requested nice clothes. He yelps—in shock? In horror? Even he doesn’t know—when it conjures a mental image of Snart’s deft fingers unbuttoning his shirt.
“What?” Cisco asks. His eyes dart around the room, looking for an attacker. Barry hurries to reassure him,
“Nothing. Just…bad thought. I scared myself.” He’s not going to tell Cisco that he’s apparently hot for Captain Cold. (He’s suspected for a while. This is not how he’d hoped to confirm it, nor is it how he’d like to tell Cisco.)
“Bad thought like ‘Kyle Nimbus on the loose again’ or bad thought like ‘Hartley drunk and giving you a lap dance’?” Cisco queries. Against his will, Barry contemplates the latter. Cisco can tell. “Barry Allen, you useless bisexual. So were you thinking of drunk Hartley?”
“Uh, no.” He is now, though. It’s a not-entirely-welcome reprieve from thoughts of Snart seducing him. “It’s nothing. Just a, uh, a…date.”
He’s an abysmal liar, but he should have tried harder. Cisco’s eyes widen and he gasps, “Date? With a guy or a girl? Come on, I need details.”
“Guy, and it’s not a big deal.” Barry offers a nonchalant shrug, although if his mind’s insistence on visualizing Leonard Snart is any indication, it is a big deal. “He needs moral support to deal with his family.” The thought of Snart’s probable rejoinder (“I couldn’t ask for more moral support than the Flash”) makes him laugh in spite of himself. Oh God. What’s wrong with him?
“And naturally, you volunteered.” Cisco brandishes a stylus at him. “Still. That yelp, though. If this guy pushes your boundaries, push him in a fountain or something.”
“If he does, I will,” Barry promises. He thinks again of Snart’s gleaming eyes and slow, promising smile. No, Snart won’t force him—he’s too patient for that. If anything happens between them, it will be with Barry’s enthusiastic consent. Snart strikes him as the kind of man who likes his partners to beg. By the end of this charade, Barry might be willing to do just that. “I don’t think he will, though.”
“Never say that.” Cisco returns to his tablet. “Men are terrible. Always prepare for the worst.”
“I will,” Barry promises. In this case, he suspects ‘the worst’ is not Snart pushing him past his boundaries but discovering that he has fewer boundaries than he’d previously believed.
On the agreed-upon Friday, Barry dons a suit complete with a wine-colored shirt. (Snart is partial to calling him ‘Scarlet,’ so he might as well dress the part.) He takes a taxi to the address. Instead of a house party, he finds an elegant but dark-windowed two-story. He steps onto the porch with trepidation but encounters nothing more noteworthy than a small scroll beside the door. Before he can knock, the door swings open on an unimpressed Leonard Snart.
“I’m notorious for it,” Barry reminds him. None-too-subtly, he looks Snart up and down. His characteristic parka and thermal pants have been exchanged for impeccably-pressed slacks and an ice-blue button-down that makes his eyes glow like gemstones. His suit jacket emphasizes the powerful lines of his shoulders. Barry entertains an entirely too detailed fantasy of being drawn inside, pinned to the door, and kissed senseless.
“Done ogling me, Scarlet?” Snart teases.
“Uh.” Barry scrambles for something witty to say. Damn Snart’s perpetual ability to catch him off-guard. “You clean up nicely.”
“I clean up amazingly,” Snart corrects. He gives Barry a deliberate once-over that makes him feel oddly shivery and warm. “You don’t look too bad yourself.”
“Uh.” He needs to focus. Or, rather, he needs to not focus solely on the sardonic curve of Snart’s lips or the heat in his too-blue eyes. “Why did you ask to meet here? Why not go directly to the party?”
“To set ground rules for this charade.” Right. Fake dating, which means touching and hugging and oh God maybe kissing? “The story is, we’ve been dating for about six months. We met at…” He arches an eyebrow. Barry blurts the first thing that pops into his head.
“Jitters. I spilled coffee on you.”
“Of course you did.” Snart gives him a look that Barry is tempted to call ‘fond.’ “I told you to cool it—”
“And I bought you a drink to make up for it.” Barry offers a wicked smile. If they’re playing pretend for the night, why not pretend to be bolder than he is? “And I maybe wrote my number and an apology on your to-go cup.”
“I wasn’t going to call you, but we saw each other again at the museum and I decided fate had ideas about a certain scarlet brat and my life.”
Barry chuckles. Snart sounds so fond when he says it, as though he’s already started to slip into character. Then he realizes, “If we’ve been dating for six months, we’re gonna be comfortable with each other. Like, touchy and stuff.”
Snart nods. “I won’t do anything you don’t want,” he promises, and all of the teasing lightness is gone from his voice. He seems to really mean it. “What am I allowed to do?”
“Uh, you can kiss me,” Barry blurts before he’s had a chance to think about it. Snart grins, slow and wicked like he’s trying to spook some sense into him.
“Really?” he drawls. One hand drifts up to Barry’s cheek, not to cradle his face but to explore the lines of his cheekbone and jaw with delicate fingertips. “You’re okay with that?”
Yes. Resoundingly, yes. To say so aloud would be the height of embarrassment, though, so Barry mumbles, “I mean, if we’re gonna act the part, might as well go all the way.” Snart smirks. Abruptly, he realizes how that could be taken. “Oh, no, wait, not like that! Not ‘all the way’ like sex ‘all the way,’ just ‘all the way’ like normal couple things ‘all the way.’”
“I know what you meant, Scarlet,” Snart says, still smirking. “It’s just too fun to make you blush. No one will ever wonder why I call you Scarlet if you blush like that around my family.”
“I hate you.” Now that Snart has mentioned it, Barry can feel how hot his cheeks have gotten. He hates how easily he blushes—it makes him look innocent when he’s decidedly not. No wonder Snart likes teasing him.
“I know.” Snart fusses with the collar of Barry’s shirt. It’s a bizarrely intimate motion that makes Barry’s accelerated heart rate skip beats. With his eyes still locked on Barry’s collar, he says, “You know, if we’re going to kiss, we should get the first one out of the way now. Unless you want there to be witnesses to our first kiss?”
Barry’s brain stalls. On one hand, he wants there to be witnesses for plausible deniability’s sake. After all, he’s only letting Snart kiss him as part of an act. On the other hand, if this kiss turns out to be mind-numbingly amazing and he says something stupid afterwards, having witnesses would be humiliating. “Uh…”
Snart rubs his thumb over the angle of Barry’s jaw. His eyes flicker up to meet Barry’s, then drop to study his lips. Barry finds himself unable to move. Dimly, he realizes this is the ‘freeze’ response people have a tendency to ignore, and there’s no more fitting time for it than when facing Captain Cold. “You can tell me no, Barry.”
“No.” It comes out embarrassingly breathless. Before Snart can withdraw, Barry babbles, “I mean, no I’m not saying no. I’m saying yes. You can kiss me now.”
Snart leans forward until only a whisper of air separates them. At the last second, he hesitates. Strung out on impatience, Barry leans forward and kisses him.
It’s by no means a heart-stopping kiss, but as Barry expected from his methodical nemesis, it’s slow and thorough. Barry hums into the kiss when Snart mouths at his lower lip. They break apart before he’s ready. He chases Snart’s lips, embarrassingly eager for more. Snart cups his face and holds him still. “Easy, Scarlet.” His voice has gone low and rough in a way that makes Barry shiver. “That was just for practice.”
Right. Practice kissing. Barry gives himself a little shake and forces his eyes open. Snart is watching him attentively, his face uncharacteristically soft and relaxed. Unthinkingly, Barry blurts, “Just-kissed is a good look on you.”
Snart raises an eyebrow. “You too. Now come on, we’re already late.”
The house where the party is being held is a reasonably modest one. Cars line the street outside, and so many people mill around that they’ve overflowed onto the porch, fortified against the cold with festive sweaters and cups of eggnog. When Snart (“Call me Len,” he’d instructed on the ride over) and Barry arrive on Len’s motorcycle, they draw irritated glances from the partygoers on the porch.
“This feels familiar,” Barry murmurs. “But I thought you were always punctual.”
Len flashes him a brief, wicked grin. “I’m usually fashionably late to these holiday soirees. It means less time to endure them.” He dismounts the motorcycle, hangs his helmet from the handlebars, and offers Barry his arm. “May I?”
Barry loops his arm through Len’s. Together, they brave the porch and the withering stares of its occupants.
“Leonard,” says a man who, if Barry had to guess, is probably the host of the gathering. Len leans comfortably against Barry’s shoulder and offers an obviously fake smile.
“Samuel. Hoping I wouldn’t turn up?”
“Like a bad penny,” the man called Samuel says. He eyes Barry with a look that borders on disdainful. “And what manner of trouble are you?”
“No trouble.” Despite his instinctive dislike, Barry feigns a bright smile and sticks out his hand. “I’m Barry. Len asked me to come.”
With obvious reluctance, Samuel takes his hand and shakes it. “You don’t look like a crook,” he admits begrudgingly.
“I’m not.” Barry leans closer to Len. “I’m a CSI.”
Len smirks and wraps a possessive arm around Barry’s waist. He burrows closer to Len’s side to disguise how his legs wobble. Like his attraction to Len, this sudden interest in being so casually and visibly claimed is new. “Didn’t Lisa tell you, Samuel? I’ve turned over a new leaf, thanks to a certain little CSI with a heart of gold.”
Samuel looks like he’s bitten a lemon. “She did not,” he manages. “Perhaps you should find her and ask her why.”
“I think I will.” Len presses a quick kiss to Barry’s temple. It feels so natural, so unaffected, that Barry has to remind himself they’re only playing a part. “Come on, Scarlet. Let’s go.”
As they step through the doorway, Barry murmurs, “Lisa doesn’t know me. Does she?”
Len shakes his head. “No, but you’re exactly my type. She won’t question us.”
This is precisely the moment that a loud, familiar voice exclaims, “Barry?!” Every eye in the room turns to find the speaker. With a sinking sense of realization, Barry acknowledges that he should have foreseen this.
“Hey, Cisco,” he mumbles.
Cisco and Lisa stand near a buffet table, Lisa frozen with a cube of cheese between her teeth and Cisco in the midst of eating halved cherries. Before Barry can babble an explanation, Cisco sets his plate of cherries on the table and stalks over.
“This is your date? With this guy? Captain Cold? Since when does Captain Cold need moral support? And since when would he ask you? He’s a criminal, and you’re—”
“A CSI,” Barry interjects. Cisco means well, but he’s as prone to blurting things at inopportune times as Barry is. “I know. We just, uh. Can we talk about this later?” He glances around at the other partygoers, who have ceased to stare but are watching attentively out of the corners of their eyes. He can’t feed Cisco the same story he’ll offer them; he deserves a proper explanation when Barry finds the time and privacy to provide one.
“Oooh.” Lisa appears at Cisco’s shoulder, still brandishing the toothpick that had been in the chunk of cheese. “Lenny, I didn’t think you’d bring a date. And certainly not a cute one.”
“No no no, sister Cold, don’t you go flirting with my friend too.” Cisco’s eyes widen. “Oh God. Flirting. You guys have been flirting. How long have you guys been flirting?”
“Really,” Len drawls. His hold on Barry’s waist loosens. Barry finds that he wants it back. “I’m all for making a scene at these shindigs, but Barry is right. Can we do this another time?”
Lisa catches his eye. Barry isn’t sure what the look they exchange means, but it seems to satisfy her. She links her arm through Cisco’s, puts on a pretty pout, and begs, “Cisco, I wanna dance.”
To Barry’s relief, he lets himself be led away with a hissed, “This isn’t over!” Once they’re out of earshot, Barry apologizes.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know he was coming…”
“Neither did I.” In Cisco’s absence, Len once again loops his arm around Barry’s waist. His hand settles possessively into the dip of Barry’s waist. Barry cuddles against his side. He hadn’t thought of Len as particularly tactile, but he adores the easy way Len holds him. “Don’t apologize. If anything, seeing who’s coming this way, I should apologize to you.”
The middle-aged blonde woman approaching them doesn’t look particularly hostile. Her “Merry Christmas, Leonard” sounds friendly enough until Len grins and says,
“Wait, you’re Jewish?” Barry blurts. Once again, he feels monumentally unobservant. Both Len and the blonde woman raise their eyebrows at him.
“You’re adorable, Scarlet.” To the blonde woman, he says, “Mary, this is Barry, my boyfriend.”
“Hi.” Barry thrusts out a hand. Mary declines to shake it, eyeing him like he’s something rotten she’s just discovered at the back of the pantry. “It’s so nice to be here.”
“Well.” Her expression morphs into something like pity. “You could perhaps have chosen a better date. Leonard is a bit…”
“We’ve been together for six months now.” The lie slips easily off of Barry’s tongue. “I know who he is, what he is. It doesn’t bother me.” Mostly to tease Len, he adds, “Besides, I could always see the good in him, even before he wanted me to.”
Mary glances at Len, who smiles blandly and affirms, “He made me turn over a new leaf. I assumed you’d be grateful to him.”
She makes a not-quite-affirmative noise. Barry exchanges a mischievous glance with Len. Like Samuel, she seems torn between relief at Len’s alleged change of heart and horror at the fact that Barry is the cause. This truly is too much fun.
“Len, dance with me.” If Len wants to show him off, Barry might as well give him more opportunities to do so. On the dance floor, pressed unavoidably close, seems both like a public statement and another way to torture himself with what he can’t have and shouldn’t want. “Come on. Lisa and Cisco are out there.”
Len gives him a lopsided look. “Isn’t that why we should avoid dancing? I didn’t think you were eager for another confrontation with your friend.” He places delicate emphasis on ‘friend’ as though questioning whether Cisco is worthy of the title. Barry can’t help bristling on Cisco’s behalf.
“He’s just worried for me. There’s no reason to avoid him.” When Len hesitates, Barry widens his eyes and turns his lips down into the barest semblance of a pout. “Please?”
Len sighs melodramatically, begs his leave of Mary, and guides Barry onto the dance floor. On the way, he whispers, “Brat.”
“It worked,” Barry replies, preening. As they step onto the dance floor, he coaxes Len’s arm up and ducks under it in a playful spin. Len yanks on his hand, pulling him off-balance into his arms. Barry finds himself snugged against Len’s chest, looking up into amused ice-blue eyes. His thoughts scatter. “Uh…is this dancing?”
“No.” Len raises an eyebrow. “This is you being clumsy, Scarlet. Come here, I’ll show you how to dance.”
Barry lets Len pull him upright, flatten a hand in the small of his back, and pull him closer. This was a bad decision. He should never have put himself in a situation where he would notice how devastatingly attractive Len is, or how comfortable it feels to be held, or…
“Breathe, Scarlet.” Len’s voice rumbles with amusement. Barry draws in a ragged breath and only realizes how long he’s forgotten to breathe when his head swims.
“Uh, sorry.” He needs an excuse to duck away and clear his head. If he’s not allowed a moment to process, he’s going to do something unwise like…like kissing… Len’s eyes are focused on his lips and he’s utterly forgotten why kissing is a bad idea...
Right. Barry breaks away on instinct when he’s shouted at, but it takes a second or two for the haze to clear from his thoughts. “Uh…hi Cisco.”
“Can I talk to you?” The way Cisco grabs his elbow makes it clear that ‘no’ is not an acceptable answer. Barry follows him meekly out onto the back steps. Cisco has the foresight to push the door closed before demanding, “Is there something you’d like to tell me?!”
“Uh…” Barry points feebly over his shoulder. “I agreed to be Snart’s fake date to a holiday party and I maybe told him I was okay with kissing?”
Cisco snorts. “Fake date my ass! You’re into him, it’s all over your face. And, dude, if I can see it, it’s pretty obvious.” He gestures at himself. For the first time, Barry is able to appreciate that he looks quite nice: hair tied back, crisp suit, dark-colored tie reminiscent of Vibe’s outfit. “So again I ask: how long have you been flirting?”
“Uh.” Barry considers. Not when Len had kidnapped Cisco—he’d been ready to kill him then. By the time he’d helped him with Lewis, he’d been invested in keeping him safe, so… “When I went to see him at Saints and Sinners before the Ferris Air disaster?”
Cisco hangs his head. A single curl comes loose and falls into his face. “Barry Allen, you useless bisexual. He’s gonna use this to burn you in the future. Or, y’know, freeze you.”
“I know.” Barry wishes he could believe that Len is as invested in this charade as he is. He knows better, of course. He’s pouring his heart into a stupid dream, the way he always does, and when tonight is over Len is going to use his newfound vulnerability against him. “I know, Cisco, I’m going to regret this so much, but he asked and I didn’t say no and now we’re here and he kisses me like he cares…”
“And I’m gonna stop you there, because that’s information I don’t need and will never, ever need.” Cisco waves a hand. “I’m not gonna yell at you anymore, because on the very slim chance that your feelings are reciprocated, Joe will yell so loudly the whole neighborhood will know about your dating problems. Just…take your heart off your sleeve for one night, okay? Because if you don’t, I’m afraid you’ll get hurt.”
Barry nods. He’s not sure how well he’ll be able to follow Cisco’s advice, but he can at least acknowledge that it’s good. “I know. And…same to you with Lisa, okay?”
Cisco shakes his head. “Lisa’s different. She’s still prickly, but she’s not closed off like her brother, and she’s not even a fraction as violent. Gold gun notwithstanding,” he amends.
He’s got it just as bad as Barry. He won’t want to hear that, so Barry doesn’t say it. Instead, he offers a little smile and gestures back toward the party. “Ready to go back in?”
“Yeah.” Cisco pushes the loose curl out of his face. “I guess. After you.”
The rest of the evening passes in a blur. Barry spends most of it at Len’s side, making small talk and charming Lisa’s family. He makes fast friends with one of Lisa’s cousins, called Cerryn, who expresses an interest in astronomy and pulls Barry out back for some brief, cold stargazing. When they return, fingers frozen and noses running, Len greets them with mugs of cocoa.
“Are you about ready to go, Scarlet?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess.” Barry isn’t sure how the motorcycle ride home will be with the wind whipping against his face. It’s an excuse to hold tightly to Len, he supposes, which he may not have another chance to do after they leave. “Your place or mine?”
Len smirks. “Mine, since I think yours comes with the risk of encountering Detective West.”
Getting back onto the motorcycle is another kind of torment. Barry wraps his arms tightly around Len’s waist, buries his face in his shoulder, and closes his eyes. Len makes a soft, pleased sound. “You’re warm, Scarlet.”
“Speedster heat,” Barry mumbles. It makes him less susceptible to the cold but far from impervious, and wind still gets to him. This ride will probably leave him more frozen than anything except the cold gun.
By the time they reach Len’s house, the cold has made Barry sleepy and sluggish. When Len pulls him up and guides him into the house, he follows without a thought. Len leaves him in the entryway. He stares down at the tile, too hazy to think of leaving. He can be patient. He can…
“Scarlet?” Len’s hand cups his cheek. “You’re cold.”
Barry blinks. He thought he was only standing there a moment, but the way Len is staring at him, it must have been significantly longer. “Cold slows me down,” he murmurs. “I’m better now, I can go…”
“I think not.” Len draws him further into the house. He trails mechanically behind him, paying no attention to where he’s taken until he’s deposited on a sofa. Len sits beside him, pulls him close, and rubs a hand over his shoulders. “Oh, Scarlet.”
Barry blames his not-quite-thawed mind for how readily he blurts, “So you care? It wasn’t just an act?”
Len’s lips quirk up in a not-quite-smile. “Yes,” he says without hesitation. “Of course I care, Barry.” He tilts his head to give Barry a quizzical look. “You thought I didn’t?”
Barry shrugs. He’s warming up but still every bit as sleepy as he’d felt on the motorcycle. If he doesn’t leave now, he’s liable to fall asleep on Len’s shoulder. “I thought it was just a good act.”
“I can be charming when I want to,” Len agrees. “But I don’t hold people like this, ever, unless they mean something to me.” His thumb rubs slow arcs over Barry’s shoulder. “You acted like you understood.”
Barry shakes his head. “No, I was being stupid and lovesick and I thought you were just acting. But no, I’ve had feelings for you since Saints and Sinners.”
Len makes a soft sound that, from anyone else, he might call a coo. “No, Scarlet, not acting. I had…similar feelings.”
They sit in silence long enough that Barry slips into a drowse. He’s woken when Len shifts. “Come on, Scarlet. Let’s get you into something you can sleep in. There’s a guest bedroom you can take, if you think you won’t freeze in the night.”
As much as Barry wants to protest that they could share a bed (with recent, reciprocated-feelings confessions in mind, he’d like nothing more), he knows Len is right: they should wait until both of them are fully awake to discuss this more. “You’re sweet,” he murmurs, letting Len pull him to his feet. “Like, Cisco pulled me aside to warn me about you, but he didn’t have to. You’re too sweet.”
“No, Scarlet, that’s you.” Len guides him to an unremarkable door and opens it on an equally unremarkable bedroom. Barry shuffles inside, sheds his suit jacket, and goes to flop on the bed. Len catches him and murmurs, “Wait. I told you, I’ll find you something to wear.”
He does: an old, heathered blue t-shirt, so well-loved it’s turned silky-soft, and a pair of flannel pajama pants. Barry dresses in a flash and burrows under the quilt, feeling vaguely like a drowsy child. “They fit,” he murmurs.
(In fact, they’re too large by half. That reflects more on Barry, who’s self-conscious about how thin he is, than it does on Len.)
Len arches an amused eyebrow. “Sleep well, Barry. We’ll talk in the morning.”
Barry means to respond, but he’s asleep before Len reaches the door.
I'm not entirely happy with the ending, but my motivation for this story disappeared about halfway through the party scene. Sorry it turned out poorly - I'll try to write something equally tropey to make up for it!