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Saints and Sinners

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Waking up in Len’s arms was maybe the best thing that had ever happened to Barry. Well, last night had been pretty great too, but this was just the cherry on top. Barry’s eyes fluttered open, to see Len still asleep, this time actually in the bed Barry had been given. He was still just as stunning as he was when Barry first saw him, except this time, he had the ability to press a kiss to Len’s slack lips. Len groaned, swatting at Barry with an unfocused hand. Barry chuckled, Len really hadn’t been kidding when he saw he was terrible at waking up without coffee. Maybe he could convince Mick to show him how to make some the way Len liked it.

But an unsettling feeling was settling in his stomach, even as he tried to only think about his future with Len. He knew he would have to face the world sometime, no matter how much he didn’t want to. So he decided to let Len sleep, and he got out of bed, grabbing his phone and turning it on. He had thirteen notifications.

Missed Call from Goddess of the Rainbow

Goddess of the Rainbow: Hey Bar, where’d you go? We saved you a piece of cake, it’s an end piece, you’re favorite.

Detective Pretty Boy: Hey, where’d you go? Iris is starting to get worried. Dude, if you’re stuck in the bathroom just tell me.

Missed Call from Detective Pretty Boy

Missed Call from Goddess of the Rainbow

Missed Call from Goddess of the Rainbow

Missed Call from Detective Pretty Boy

Goddess of the Rainbow: Seriously, Bar, you’re starting to scare me. No one’s seen you in a couple hours.

Detective Pretty Boy: Barry, seriously, answer your phone. We’re scared, please just answer us. Anything. If you’ve found someone hot and are getting laid, please just tell me. I don’t care, please just answer us.

Missed Call from Detective Pretty Boy

Missed Call from Detective Pretty Boy

Voicemail from Detective Pretty Boy: Joe… told us what happened. I can’t believe he… god, please be okay. I’m beginning to think that they broke your phone and that’s why you’re not answering. I hope you get this message. Iris is furious and scared and she just wants you to be okay, as okay as you can be. Please, please be somewhere safe. I could never forgive myself if you weren’t. So please, Barry, please be okay.

Voicemail from Goddess of the Rainbow: Eddie says those assholes probably broke your phone and that’s why you’re not answering. That’d better be the only reason. I… Dad said… I don’t care what he thinks. I don’t care what he says. You’re my brother, and I love you. Understand? I love you. You’re just as much my brother as Wally, no matter what blood runs through your veins. I love you, Barry. Please… please be okay. I’ll see you later, not goodbye, but I WILL see you later. I love you.

It broke Barry’s heart to hear Iris crying, and Eddie’s pleading. He cursed himself. In an effort to avoid the reality of the situation he’d just escaped, he’d hurt the people he loved most.

A sharp knock startled Barry out of his thoughts.

“You awake in there, Boss?”

Len groaned, answering, “I am now, what is it?” without opening his eyes.

“There’s a cop here for you.”

Mick’s words sent ice through Barry’s veins. Len shot up in bed, the scare apparently a good substitute for coffee.

“I’m not decent, give me a moment.” Len answered.

“Any evidence should’ve taken at least a few days.” Barry mumbled, his mind whirling at a thousand miles an hour. “I should know, even on a priority case, it still takes a while. Only on TV does stuff happen within hours.”

“Barry, there’s no guarantee that’s what they’re here for.” Len said, getting out of bed.

“Why else would they be here?” Barry asked, trying to keep his voice down while still rushing around the room.

“Maybe there was a robbery last night on the other side of the street?” Len said, putting on his pants. “The poor ninety-nine cent store gets robbed nearly once a week. They might just be asking if we’ve seen anything suspicious lately. Or maybe someone used a stolen credit card here. They might be investigating your assault. Hell, maybe even one of Axel’s trick fireworks broke something and they’re talking to me to get his history, or, actually, more likely, Mick set something on fire and I have to pay to replace it. There’re so many other reasons they could be here. We can’t assume the worst. That’s how they’ll catch us.”

Barry nodded, trying to get ahold of his breathing. He felt Len’s hands on his chest, and he timed his breathing with Len’s movements.

“Don’t worry, Scarlet, I’ve snowed plenty of cops in my lifetime, these are no different.” Len whispered in his ear. “We wore gloves, we only took stuff that rightfully belonged to you, and we used your keys. There’s no evidence. We’re going to be fine.”

He nodded, unable to trust his voice but still slightly assuaged, and threw his shirt on.

Once they were dressed, Len led him outside. In his mind, though, he was already thinking of several different excuses, lying and saying he went with them, saying he told them to get his stuff back, that it was all an elaborate prank on Joe… He knew a lot of the cops at CCPD so it mostly just depended on who was investigating.

To his surprise, it was Eddie standing in the living room.

The minute Eddie saw him, his eyes lit up, his face concerned yet devoid of emotion, and immediately started towards Barry. Barry’s heart nearly lept out of his chest as Eddie came toward him. What if he was mad at Barry for not calling? Or for the Rogues taking his stuff? What if he’d only been saying those things because Iris was there?

Two arms wrapped around him, and squeezed.

“Oh God, I’m so glad you’re alive.”

Barry’s breath escaped him as his heart screeched to a halt.

“I’m okay.” Barry returned Eddie’s hug with equal force.

“No, you’re not.” Eddie said, pulling back. He frowned at the sight of Barry’s face, his eyes welling with unshed tears. “Not after what happened. But we found you. That’s what matters. We’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

“You have?” Barry asked, his mouth going faster than his brain.

“Of course!” Eddie said forcefully, Barry taking notice of the bags under his eyes. “Joe told me what happened, I couldn’t just let you be on your own alone after that. When Iris went to Joe’s to see if you went there, I immediately set up my couch so you could sleep on it. When she said you weren’t there, I told her to check your favorite spots after the lightning strike, the ones you didn’t have problems remembering. And then the bank said Joe was off all your accounts, but you had someone with you, and neither of us recognized him. And then Wally called a little after that, saying your stuff was gone but nothing else was taken but we still hadn’t seen you and I-I-I knew you worked here, so I thought they might know where you were and you have to check workplace before filing a missing persons report.”

“Well, I’m here.” Barry said awkwardly. Guilt slammed into him at full force, he’d abandoned the ones who cared about him, the ones who were in his corner and always had been, because he hadn’t wanted to deal with the outside world.

“Thank God for that.” Eddie said, pulling Barry back into a hug. “We can go back to mine, I’ve got the place set up for you.”

“No thanks, Eddie.” Barry said, pulling back. “I’ve already moved all my stuff in here, I’m in the guest room.”

Eddie nodded. “Well, if you ever need it, I’m right here for you. For as long as you need it. You’re my friend, and Iris’s brother. And no matter what anyone else says, I’ve got your back. So does Iris, I don’t know how many angry voicemails she’s left Joe, she refuses to talk to him in person but can’t stop yelling at him. Oh, I should text her. Let her know I found you.”

As Eddie fumbled with his phone, Barry stole a glance at Len, who looked highly relieved. Probably because they weren’t going to get caught from breaking into Joe’s house.

“So you’re the brother-in-law?” Len drawled out. Barry was able to recognize Len’s calculating tone, trying to figure Eddie out, but Eddie didn’t.

“Yes, well, no, I’m his sister’s boyfriend.” Eddie said, perking up like a golden retriever’s ears. “Not quite at brother-in-law yet.”

“And the father’s partner, am I correct?” Len said, and with a jolt, Barry remembered Eddie was set to replace Detective Chrye.

“Not anymore.” Eddie said, his voice turning hostile. “Not until he apologizes for what he did and makes it right. And even then, maybe not.”

“Eddie-”

“I don’t know, Bar, he’s not my father.” Eddie said, misreading Barry’s sigh. “But maybe we can talk to Joe, make him understand. Maybe if it came from me and Iris he would understand.”

“No.” Barry said sharply. “He made his choice. I’ve made mine. Len’s offered to let me stay here as long as I need, has been offering for months. He saw what Joe was long before I did.”

“Well, maybe, if you could explain-”

“Explain what?” Barry snapped. “I’m bisexual, and that’s not changing. No matter how hard I get hit, or whatever names I get called, or whatever he tries to make me what he wants me to be. I’m bi and if he’s not in my corner, I don’t want him in my life.”

At Eddie’s nigh horrified look, he rambled on. “I’m not cutting Iris off! Or you! You two are some of the best friends I could’ve ever asked for, and I’m so grateful to have you in my life. But until he learns the consequences of his actions, that he will lose his adopted son and probably his daughter, I won’t have it. He has to be the one to change, it’s not my job. It’s not my job to educate him on how some thousand year old book or outdated textbook is wrong and harmful, just as it’s not my job to educate the Chyre boys on why they hurt me. It’s not my job to educate every single person in the world. If he wants me in his life, he’s got to put in the effort himself.”

Eddie stared in stunned silence.

“Helluva speech, kid.” Mick startled him, Barry hadn’t noticed the arsonist stick around for this. Barry was touched. Mick had stayed to make sure Barry was safe. Barry felt Len’s hand lightly encase his in the cast.

“Yeah.” Eddie said, deflating a bit. “Look, I’m not in your situation so I’m not gonna speak for you. I promised to support you, whether or not I always understand your decisions is irrelevant. I’ll talk to Captain Singh about a partner change next time I go in, and we’ll see what happens after that.”

Barry nodded and smiled at his friend. Eddie returned it before Barry could see him categorizing Barry’s injuries. When he got to the cast on his arm, his frown deepened.

“Okay, now I am mad at you!” Eddie groaned.

“Why?” Barry shouted, Len’s fingers tightening on his own.

“Because dammit Barry, why did you let me give you Hal’s number when you already have a boyfriend?” Eddie growled, and Barry found the tease in his voice. “I told him you were single!”

Everyone burst into laughter, the ease of the sound lightening the mood.

“I coulda used that yesterday too.” Mick said, coming up behind Eddie, nearly frightening the young man.

“This is a recent development.” Len said, putting a placating hand up.

“Very recent development.” Barry muttered under his breath. “Could’ve come sooner.”

Len nudged him with a shoulder.

“You love me.” Barry teased, fluttering his eyelashes at Len.

Len rolled his eyes, fondly exasperated. “Lord knows why.”

Barry laughed, a smile overtaking his face.

“You know, I’m not letting Chyre’s kids get away with this.” Eddie said at last, once again staring at Barry’s cast. “I’m not ‘one of the boys’, or ‘old family’ or whatever they have at CCPD. They hurt you, they should pay for what they’ve done, no matter who their father is.”

“Leave that… to us.” Len said, reminiscent of a Bond villain, almost making Barry laugh again.

“Boss always has a plan.” Mick laughed, a spark in his eyes that usually meant Barry should get some printer paper for Mick to burn before he set his fire against skin.

“Oh, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” Eddie said, his words opposite his tone. “I am a police officer, I obviously cannot condone assault, no matter how justified or how much the little bastards have it coming. I’m sure you already know the legal ramifications for assault, only if you got caught, of course. I certainly wouldn’t advise masks to obscure your face, or gloves to leave no DNA evidence behind, of course not.”

Len and Mick burst out laughing.

“Eddie!” Barry reprimanded, joining in soon after. “What would Iris say?”

“She’d say invite her and make sure to let her get in a few good hits.” Eddie replied, sending Len and Mick into another laughing frenzy.

“Speaking of Iris,” Eddie said, as Len and Mick started to calm down, “you really should call her. She’s been terrified for the last couple days that you were dead in a ditch or were kidnapped.”

“I’ll call her, I promise.” Barry agreed, his heart much lighter than when he first woke up this morning.

“Good.” Eddie nodded solidly. “I do have to go, though. Technically, my shift is supposed to start in twenty minutes.”

“You’re going to be late.” Barry said, starting to shoo him out the door.

“Eh, I’m not you.” Eddie winked.

Len bristled at that. Eddie either didn’t see it, or ignored it, as he went in to hug Barry goodbye. “We love you, Bar.”

Barry squeezed back for all he was worth.

“Now, Mister…”

“Snart.” Len answered easily, but Barry could see how he was skeptical of how the conversation now shifted to him as Eddie pulled back.

“Mister Snart.” Eddie continued. “Now I have complete faith in Barry’s judgement, and I hope to see you over with me and Iris on double dates and as soon as Iris finds out about your existence, you will be required on family dinner nights, especially now that that the invite list has gotten shorter. However, that does not mean that if you hurt Barry, that I will not use my extensive detective skills to find an abandoned acre of land where no one will ever find you again. Have a good day!”

Eddie then patted Barry’s shoulder before heading down the stairs. Barry couldn’t keep his laughter from bubbling over.

“I like that kid.” Mick announced, leaving Len sputtering and Barry laughing even harder. “For a cop.”

Chapter Text

Barry had adjusted to living above a bar rather slowly, with the crazy hours, rowdy people, and constant noise, but he wasn’t going to give it up for the world. He and Len had decided to take things slowly, more like Len demanded it as Barry’s heart still hadn’t fully healed from the attack, but since Barry had no intention of leaving Saints and Sinners, they saw each other too often to really be considered slow. Barry knew the other Rogues sometimes made the joke that a ring would be expected any day, as Len had already moved the kid in. He let them laugh, even joined in on occasion. He and Len lived and loved the way they wanted to. Nothing else was necessary.

He’d just gotten to sleep at eight in the morning when a pounding at his door woke him up. It had been two knocks, a pause, then two knocks.

“What did I forget this time, Mick?” Barry asked, opening his door with a yawn.

There his partner stood, covered in blood and bruises, smiling like his life depended on it.

“Lenny!” Barry shrieked. “What happened?”

“You tell ‘im.” Mick said gruffly, shoving Len in the room, and Barry thought he saw a shiner on Mick’s eye. “I’m going to bed.”

“Go sit on the bed, I’m getting the first aid kit.” Barry said, rushing around to find the same kit Len had once used on him. Once he’d gotten everything he needed, he raced back into the room.

“You’re always so fast, Scarlet, like you’re running against Time herself.” Len quipped.

“None of that metaphoric stuff now, I’m not in the mood.” Barry said, starting to catalog Len’s injuries. “What happened?”

“Met up with some… old friends of yours.” Barry did not like Len’s tone. He really didn’t like Len’s tone. “Decided to have a chat.”

“Bruises don’t come from a chat.” Barry growled, dropping the witch hazel into the same small rag that was once held against his own lips.

“Scarlet, it’s not that big a deal.” Len replied, hissing as Barry used too much force on Len’s split lip.

“Sorry.” Barry mumbled.

“It’s fine, Scarlet.” Len sighed. “I guess it is a big deal. Promise it doesn’t leave this room?”

Len’s tired but hopefully eyes suckered him in every time.

“Of course. Now what happened?”

“Met the Chyre kids.” Barry’s blood ran cold. Even after all this time, he still quaked a little in his boots at the mention. “We got into a… disagreement.”

“You mean you got into a fight.” Barry said dryly.

“It’s a matter of semantics.” Len smiled, then winced as his lip tore even more.

“Oh, hold still, you big dummy.” Barry muttered, dabbing the witch hazel over the wound, then spread some Aquaphor over the cut. “Why would you even do that?”

“You’re one of the Rogues, Scarlet.” Len purred, low in his throat, sending a shiver down Barry’s spine. “We take care of our own. Besides, you should be getting a… an apology very soon.”

“Why am I assuming that’s code for you won?” Barry laughed, shaking his head.

“Always assume I win fights, Scarlet.” Len winked.

“Oh really?” Barry raised an eyebrow, crossing his arms. “What about when Mick and you had that fight over lighter fluid and we almost lost half the bar?”

Len glared at him. “... That doesn’t count and you know it.”

Barry laughed, going back to Len’s bruises.

“You really took a beating.” Barry sighed.

“Eh, you should see the other guys.” Len said.

Barry frowned. “Don’t tell me you went alone. I mean, I thought I saw Mick with a black eye, but-”

“Of course I didn’t go alone. The other Rogues went with me.” Len said. “Except Mark, because his job was to distract you.”

“I was wondering about that.” Barry said, dabbing Neosporin into Len’s cuts. “You don’t usually have me work with him, I don’t know him all that well.”

“Eh, his wife just had a baby, call it paternity leave.” Len shrugged, wincing.

“Yeah, I know, it was all he talked about last night.” Barry said. “His son is adorable, by the way. I mean, it’s a little sad that he’s named after Mark’s dead brother, but Clyde is still adorable.”

Len scoffed. “I still think Shawna’s an idiot for letting Mark name the kid ‘Clyde’. Who’s named Clyde nowadays?”

Barry laughed quietly.

“I’m not sure I want to know exactly what happened.” Barry said. “But I’m also morbidly curious.”

“The Rogues won.” Len said simply. “Those boys wanted to feel superior with you, pushing around a defenseless kid,” Len ignored Barry’s squawk, “but they couldn’t take it. They were throwing around their father’s name like it would stop us, and obviously, it didn’t. It really wasn’t even a contest, Mick and I had them outclassed the whole time.”

“Then why are you so beat up?” Barry asked, pressing an ice pack against Len’s own black eye.

“I’m not a supervillain, Scarlet, no matter how much y’all joke otherwise.” Len said. “I’m not trained in fifty forms of combat where I can take on multiple enemies at once. I know how to fight, but doesn’t mean I’m immune from getting my ass kicked a little when I do it.”

Barry nodded, sighing.

“Anyways, the one part I wish you could’ve seen was when Axel ripped his prosthetic arm off and smacked a guy with it.” Len chuckled lightly. “It was hilarious. It was near the end of the fight so I wasn’t all that concerned that he only had one arm after that.”

“He didn’t break it, did he?” Barry asked. “I swear to god, if he’s broken another one, especially for me, I’m gonna kill him. His insurance costs will skyrocket.”

“He’s fine, he didn’t break it.” Len assuaged. “He may have to recalibrate it a bit but his arm is fine.”

Barry sighed in relief. “I’m glad.”

For a moment, Barry finished up in silence.

“There, all done.” Barry proclaimed. “Now, it’s your turn to be the mummy but I think you pull it off better than I ever did.”

“You made a cute mummy.” Len smirked. “I certainly thought so.”

Barry rolled his eyes, but still leaned in for a kiss. Len met him halfway.

Chapter Text

His leg started twitching without his consent.

“Len, it’ll be fine.” Barry said, putting a placating hand on Len’s shoulder. “Iris is going to love you.”

“I’m not nervous, Scarlet.” Len lied. “Just restless. I worked hard on that cholent.”

While he had worked very hard on making sure his dish was the best impression he could make, he was still anxious about meeting Barry’s family, the family he had before the Rogues. If his brother and sister didn’t approve of him, then what would he do? Barry might leave, might break up with him, and Len didn’t know what he would do with himself if Barry left. Once again, he cursed himself. He had become far too dependent on seeing Barry’s tired smile when it was time to wake him up, hearing Barry’s infectious laugh after hearing one of Mick’s terrible jokes, feeling Barry’s lips upon his skin, and he knew it.

So he had driven to the apartment of Eddie Thawne and Iris West, trying to keep his heart in check. With Barry constantly asking if he was alright, saying there was no need to be nervous, he didn’t think he was doing a very good job.

A young woman of color opened the door, and a bright smile lit up her face.

“Barry!” She threw her arms around his neck, and for a moment, he was grateful he was carrying the cholent. “It’s so good to see you!”

“Hey, Iris.” Barry squeezed her back just as tightly.

“Hi, you must be Leonard.” Iris stuck her hand out.

“Len, please.” He said, trying not to flinch at his full name. “You look lovely.”

“Oh thank you.” Iris beamed, giving him an appraising look. “You’re not so bad yourself.”

Barry inhaled deeply. “Am I smelling brisket?”

Iris nodded. “It just finished cooking. Eddie’s putting his grandma’s “special sauce” on it now.”

Barry laughed, rolling his eyes fondly.

“Don’t worry, we checked the recipe for pork products.” Iris whispered. “You’re good.”

Len thanked her quietly.

“I brought cholent, it’s my family recipe.” Len said, bringing his tone back to regular volume. “My mom taught me how to make it when I was a kid.”

“Oh that’s wonderful.” Iris’s smile seemed never-ending. “By the way, I hope you don’t mind, but Wally was assigned a group project at school, and tonight was the only night they could all meet up to actually do their work.”

“That’s too bad.” Barry said, as Len set the cholent down on the dining table. “I would have liked to have seen him.”

“He sends his love and support though.” Iris said, giving Barry another, more intimate hug. “Says you’re his brother, no matter what.”

Barry smiled, a rare, gentle smile, that Len adored. That smile wasn’t the wide, open smile Barry so often gave, but a quiet smile, full of love and tenderness. He didn’t care what he had to do, so long as he could still see that smile.

“Dinner’s ready!” Eddie called out, and they all sat down to dinner.

Food was passed around, with Barry getting Iris to start ranting about her day at Jitters’.

“Who asks why ice floats?” Iris shrieked, both angry and amused at the same time, keeping the table in stitches.

“That’s customer service for you.” Len said. “Back when I was starting out, a Karen, I believe the term is nowadays, asked me to make a Shirley Temple, then got mad when there was no alcohol in it.”

“Ah, yes, how is that bar of yours?” Iris asked, and Len could clearly hear the shift in tone. Barry had told him this part of the night was coming, especially since Joe couldn’t run a background check or pretend to threaten anyone with a gun.

“Doing well.” Len said, trying to answer within parameters he couldn’t quite figure out. “We make enough money to staff appropriately, and pay everyone what their worth.”

“Barry too?” Iris asked, sipping her drink. Len saw the trap but had no choice but to spring it.

“I make decent money, Iris.” Barry groaned, taking the blow for him. “I already told you that, when I first got the job.”

“Yes, he pays your salary, has you live in his guest room, and you’re dating.” Iris said. “And he’s not your sugar daddy. Hell of a power imbalance, if you ask me.”

“Coming from the girl who would’ve been dating her cop father’s partner.” Barry shot back. “You’re just as bad as I am.”

“Bar, I’m just trying to look out for you.” Iris said. “Besides, don’t you think it’s a little odd? You’re going awfully fast.”

“We’re really not.” Barry said. “We didn’t move in together on a whim, we moved in together because when I was scared out of my mind, bloody and beaten, I called him. I didn’t think to call anyone else, I called him. I was the one who pursued it after they moved me in, not him, I have told you this.”

Iris sighed. “I just don’t want you ending up with only being able to go to one person. That scares me.”

Len realized her line of questioning was to make sure Barry didn’t end up in an abusive relationship, like his mother had been. Lewis had slowly cut his mother off from family and friends, only her father who couldn’t do much against Lewis especially once he became a cop. Len pushed down the implication that he could ever abuse Barry, because he knew Iris was just scared of the unknown, scared that someone was going to hurt the man she had fought so hard to keep in her life.

“Whether or not we work out, which I truly hope that we do because I can’t even imagine otherwise, the other Rogues will protect him, no matter what. Even from me. I can guarantee you that if I do end up hurting Barry, you and Detective Blondie are gonna have to get in line if you want a piece of me.”

“And if they think Barry hurt you?” Iris asked, her eyes narrowed. “What will they do to protect you?”

“I’m not quite sure.” Len admitted. “I’ve never thought about it. I’m usually the one doing the protecting. I don’t think I’ve ever needed to be on the receiving end.”

Actually, that was a lie, but he certainly wasn’t going to tell a cop’s kid and a detective about when he was in prison for the first time, and Mick had needed to protect him from the gangs and families inside.

Iris sighed, and nodded. “Well, I’d rather take an honest answer over anything else.”

Barry’s shoulders slumped in relief, which caused the vice in Len’s chest to ease. It seemed he had been studied and found acceptable.

“But!” Iris said. “If you do hurt Barry, don’t think for a moment, I won’t get in that line of yours to beat your ass.”

Len swallowed hard and nodded. Iris, while smaller than he was, struck fear into his heart that he hadn’t felt in a long time. “Yes, ma’am.”

“So!” Barry nearly shouted, a product of the nigh awkward tension. “How’s the precinct? Anything newsworthy, anything at all?”

“You know, it’s crazy.” Eddie said, taking on an air of nonchalance. “Some lunatics attacked the Chyre boys, but they won’t tell dear old dad who.”

“How terrible.” Len said, just as Iris said, “That’s awful.” in matching tones.

Len fought the smirk that was trying to overtake his face. He thought of the handwritten apology note Barry had received a few days earlier. Barry hadn’t shown it to him, and Len hadn’t looked. But Barry had flashed him one of those rare, gentle smiles, and he knew Barry was going to be okay, whether he forgave his attackers or not.

“Bar, have you talked to Dad yet?” Iris asked, quietly, hesitating.

“He hasn’t reached out yet, no.” Barry said, his normally cheery voice taking on a colder tone.

“Why not call him?” Iris offered. “I’m sure I could get him to listen, to be open to understanding-”

“It’s up to him to change his behavior, not Barry.” Len said icily. “Nor is it up to you.”

Iris deflated. “I know you’re right, I’m sorry. I just thought if I tried then-”

“Then your family could be happy and together again?” Len finished.

Iris blushed.

“I don’t blame you for wanting to keep your family together.” Len said, which was true. He may not have the fancy degree that Iris was getting herself, but he did know that most children when under stress, even grown children, want their family to be just as happy and complete as they remembered or imagined it. Even he had memories that he didn’t want to repress of his father and mother, moments they were happy.

“Iris, if he wants me back in his life, he has to ask.” Barry said. “I’m not going to put myself back in a bad situation when I’ve got a great system here. I’ve got friends, friends who would fight for me, whether I’m dating Lenny or not. I want the people who make the choice to be in my life, and if you don’t want to be, then you’re not. Whatever he decides, it’ll be on him.”

Iris nodded. “Well, he’s missing out.”

Iris raised her wine glass, and they all joined her.

“To the people we want in our lives.”

“Hear, hear.” Was chorused around the table as they clinked glasses.

Dinner was a much lighter affair afterwards. Eddie kept them in stitches of his college days, Barry and Iris fought over their childhood memories together, and Len even chimed in with a couple, safe, stories of raising his sister.

“So I come into the room, and my sister has taped a couple of my moms heels on her feet. I ask her why and she says so she won’t fall out of them anymore. It took me twenty minutes to get her out of the tape without hurting her, she’d wrapped them up so tight.”

They all laughed.

“Alright, I think we’d better start cleaning up.” Eddie sighed. “It’s getting late.”

“Dishwasher or hand wash?” Len asked.

“Hand?” Iris replied, confused.

Len nodded, then collected the plates, heading into the kitchen.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that!” Iris shouted after him. “You’re our guest, and you helped cook!”

Len chuckled, starting to wash the dishes. “My momma raised me with manners, ma’am. If you ever eat at someone else’s house, you help them clean up.”

Eddie came up behind him. “Compromise? You wash, I’ll dry them and put them away.”

Len nodded, and silently but not awkwardly, they got to work. The only talking was when a dish needed to be washed a certain way or if they were leaving it to soak overnight.

“You know what, Bar?” Iris’s voice from the other room caught his attention. “I know it didn’t exactly show, but I’m glad you found him.”

“Me too.” Barry said.

“You know this means he’s required for all family dinners from here on out.” Iris said.

“I already told him.” Barry said. “He’s thrilled, even if he won’t admit it. You know, it means a lot that you like him. I mean, I wouldn’t dump him just because you didn’t like him, but having you and him on the same side really does help.”

“I know, I remember when you first met Eddie.” Iris said. “After you woke up in the hospital.”

“You cheated, you told me when I was on so many pain meds.” Barry laughed, causing Iris to giggle alongside him.

“You and Joe were always so critical of my boyfriends, and I really like Eddie.” Iris said.

“Well, he’s the best one out of all of them.” Barry said.

“Len is the best one of yours, anyway.” Iris said, and Len nearly dropped the cup he was washing. “Much better than Arthur- whatshisname?”

“Arthur Light.” Barry said. “Yeah, he was not the best boyfriend. Good lab partner though. Always did his research.”

“Anyway, I think Len is really good for you.” Iris said.

Len couldn’t fight the smile down this time.

Chapter Text

Something… wasn’t right. He wasn’t sure what, but it was something. It was enough to drag him out of unconsciousness.

A blurry figure leaned over him. Barry’s eyes focused and saw a strange woman younger than he was with long curls of brown hair, a sharp jawline, brown eyes sparkling with mirth, perfectly manicured nails, leather jacket with jeans and thigh high boots, and a brilliant smile only his subconscious recognized.

“Hiya, sweetums!”

Barry shrieked, bouncing as he woke up, covering his pajama covered body with his covers.

“Oh, aren’t you the sweetest thing?” She cooed, uncaring that Barry was a level seven on the one to five scale of freaked out.

“What are you doing in my room?” He shouted.

“Barry?” Len’s voice called out, still slightly sleep-addled but mostly awake.

“You know, honey, you’re actually in my room.” She said, patting his head.

Len opened his door, a fight fast on his fingertips, but he stopped, staring in shock.

“He’s cute.” The woman said, gesturing to Barry. “I like him.”

“Lisa?” Len asked, bringing her in for a hug. That… explained a lot, honestly. “You weren’t supposed to be here for another week! What happened to finals?”

“My finals are done!” Lisa said, overflowing with a radiant joy. “My last one ended up getting cancelled, the professor’s wife had a baby, so he just gave everyone one hundred on the final. He even sent pictures to the class group chat!”

She brought her phone out, and pulled the photos up on her phone.

“Uh, Lis?” Len asked. “Why don’t we do this outside Barry’s room?”

“This is my room.” Lisa insisted, though Barry could clearly hear the tease in her voice, even as his heart still thudded against his chest.

“You know, Barry pays rent.” Len said, matching her teasing voice.

“You charge your boyfriend rent to live here?” Lisa shouted, her mouth twisted in a frown.

“He insisted.” Len explained, ushering his sister out of Barry’s room. “Said he wasn’t a freeloader, and he didn’t want to cause problems in the house with him living here for free.”

Lisa went with Len, her focus captured but directed outside. However, as Len shut the door, he mouthed ‘Sorry’ at Barry, eliciting a chuckle. Lisa was just as Len had described, bright, funny, nearly boundaryless, but he knew Len loved his sister more than life itself. He had practically raised her, as their father certainly wouldn’t, so Len would do anything for her. Silently, Barry was thankful Lisa had approved of him to Len’s face.

So he threw on some clothes and headed out to join them, where he found Len, Lisa, and Mick enjoying some coffee.

“Is that decaf I see you making, Smickerdoodle?” Lisa asked.

“For the kid.” Mick responded. “He can’t have caf coffee anymore. It’ll send his heart into an irregular rhythm.”

“Oh, speaking of the kid, you sure know how to pick ‘em, Lenny.” Lisa giggled. “I do have to admit, he is rather adorable. Like a puppy that follows you home.”

Len rolled his eyes. “Like your boyfriends are any better. Remember Roscoe?”

“One mistake.” Lisa blushed, smacking Len on the shoulder. “One! And he never lets go of it! Is that fair, I ask you?”

“Oh, it’s better than what he does with Axel.” Barry said, joining them, startling Lisa. “Axel once got stuck in customer service mode from his other job and said, ‘Hi, any questions, anything that I can help you out with’, and now whenever Len sees him, he’ll say he doesn’t have any questions but he’ll let Axel know if he does.”

“That sounds like my brother.” Lisa snorted.

“Hey, he asked if I had any questions, I didn’t have a question at the time.” Len said, reaching over the grab Barry’s hand.

Mick handed Barry some of his decaf coffee. He drank it greedily, as not only was Mick a great coffeemaker, he never burned anything ironically, but Len never skimped on the good stuff. Best part of owning a successful bar, he called it.

“So, Barry, we were thinking.” Lisa said, smiling like the cat who had the canary in her sights. “Why don’t you sleep with Lenny while I’m staying here? After all, it is my room.”

“We did not discuss this, Lis.” Len growler, a light blush dusting his cheeks. “And he pays rent. If it’s anyone’s room, it’s his.”

“So you’ll kick your poor sister out?” Lisa pouted, her charm in full effect.

“I’m not gonna-” Barry started.

“Yes.” Len said dryly. “That’s exactly my plan, has been from the beginning. That’s how I disown you, by giving your room away.”

“I always knew he would eventually.” Lisa sighed.

“Give your room away?” Barry asked.

“Nah, disown me.” Lisa winked at him. “I was a terrible kid, I’m sure I deserve it.”

“Lis.” Len growled, displeasure clear on his face. “You were not a terrible kid. A terrible teenager, I won’t debate, but as a kid? You were pretty tame.”

“We all know.” Mick groaned, drinking his coffee like a shot. Knowing Mick, it probably had whiskey in it.

“Yeah we really do.” Barry agreed, and Len glared at him. “What? You talk about Lisa every chance you get, you’re a proud father, we get it. You can be a little intense about it, babe.”

Len rolled his eyes, muttering about ‘overdramatic assholes’ and ‘I’m not that bad’.

“Still, I am the only female in a house full of boys and brothers, so I think I should get my own room back.” Lisa said, casually sipping at her coffee.

“Did Hartley put you up to this?” Len accused, staring his sister down. “Or Axel? Because they’ve made one too many marriage jokes lately, and I’m suspicious.”

Lisa laughed.

Barry frowned, not wanting to cause a rift between the siblings. “Look, I can find a hotel room nearby-”

“Absolutely not!” Both Snarts said at the same time.

“I am not about to make you pay for a hotel room when there’s a bed right across the hall--”

“Don’t mind my sister, she’s being ridiculous. You’re just as welcome here as she is, no matter who else in the apartment.”

Barry put his hands up in defense. “Or stay at Eddie’s! I can always crash on his couch.”

“I’m not making you stay anywhere else when there is a literal bed just down the hall.” Lisa said sharply. “Just spend the three weeks with Lenny. I’m sure you’ll love it. Lenny drools a bit, but he doesn’t snore loudly and honestly, that makes up for it. Especially with jet engine over there.”

Lisa pointed to Mick, who simply shrugged in silent agreement.

“Besides, I know Lenny wants to bed share with you, he just moves at the speed of a glacier.” Lisa said. “I don’t want this cutie getting away because Lenny refuses to go after what he wants.”

With Len’s rap sheet in mind, Barry really didn’t think that had been Lenny’s problem, but he would never say that aloud.

“If I invite him to stay with me, will you drop this?” Len asked, blushing in full force. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you! I thought I raised you better than that.”

“This is exactly how you raised me, and yes.” Lisa said, leaning onto her hands and staring at Barry, expecting an answer.

“It’s only three weeks, how bad can it be?” Barry shrugged, laughing a little. Len must not have seen it, but he saw Len shining clearly through Lisa. She was just like him in so many ways, just in different ones that he portrayed. He had protected Lisa all his life, taking up a life of crime to give her everything she needed after their grandfather died, protecting her from their abusive father. Len gave Lisa the childhood he should’ve had after his mother died.

“So why can’t you drink caffeinated coffee?” Lisa asked, finally changing the subject.

“I was, uh, struck by lightning.” Barry answered, hesitating only for a moment. “Now I have to be careful about what can affect my cardio-vascular system, it took a lot of trauma.”

Lisa’s eyes went wide. “Oh my God, I didn’t- I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have- I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Barry said. “Would’ve come up eventually.”

“May I ask a morbid question?” Lisa asked, and Len kicked at her under the table.

“Lisa!”

“It felt like catching on fire but my whole body.” Barry answered anyway. “Like sticking a fork in a light socket but so much worse. It actually only lasted a few seconds, in real time, but it felt like an hour. Think I passed out after that.”

They all stared at him.

“That’s what everyone wants to know.” Barry shrugged. “At least she asked first. Most people just ask, regardless of my boundaries.”

Lisa frowned. “That’s… horrible to learn. I couldn’t handle everyone stepping over me because they want to know my trauma. I get enough of that in my classes.”

“What do you mean?” Len asked, his hand tight against Barry’s.

“Oh in my psych classes, all the male psych majors want to psychoanalyze everyone and when you casually reveal that you were raised by your older brother, they descend like a pack of wolves.”

Barry winced. “I remember that. When my sister came up to me one time, I’d forgotten a book or something, I’m not quite sure, and when they heard me call Joe, well, Joe, everyone wanted to find out how my parents died and how it affected me. But it’s really only in the GEs where you get that. Everyone who’s actually passionate about helping people and doesn’t want to just analyze serial killers drops out after one year usually, two max. They can’t handle facing themselves, which is what you have to do if you want to be a psychologist.”

“Well, that’s a relief.” Lisa said. “Were you a psych major?”

“No, but my roommate was.” Barry said. “Jay was a really good guy, wanted to help people. Psych is an easy major to switch from, so all the people who don’t know what they want to do but know they like procedural cop shows start there.”

Lisa nodded.

“What about you? Are you a business major?” Barry trailed off, gesturing aimlessly to the bar below them.

“Oh God no. When Lenny and you have your own kids,” Len snorted his coffee, coughing as coffee came out of his nose, “you can pass the bar down to them.”

“Oh God, Lis, stop trying to kill me” Len coughed, wiping away the coffee still dribbling down his face.

“Never.” Lisa replied, as quickly as any sibling would.

“So what is your major?” Barry asked, trying to give Len time to breath.

“Psychology, with a focus on family and child psychology.” Lisa said. “Originally, it was fashion, but I think that was just to get my foot through the door or picking one, I didn’t want to go in undeclared on the team.”

Barry cocked his head in confusion.

“Lisa skates on the Coast City University team, might even make it to the Olympics.” Len said, his breath returned, his pride shining in full force. “She got a full ride scholarship, and I made sure that if she gets injured, the scholarship still covers her.

“That’s fantastic.” Barry said, as if he hadn’t already known that. Lisa’s possible skating career had been one of the first things he’d ever learned about her. Len thought it one of his greatest accomplishments, giving her the chance to live without a rap sheet on every job application.

“So you wanna work with kids?” Barry asked.

“More like teaching people how to navigate the system, not just kids, per say.” Lisa responded. After I master in social work, I can get a job at any crisis center, for domestic violence, queer youth, you name it. So no one has to be alone, navigating a system that is not meant to be helpful in really any way, shape, or form.”

The unspoken like we were echoed in his ears. Barry knew this also came from Len, from watching him navigate a system no fifteen year old should navigate alone with an abusive father in prison and a smaller sibling who he had no idea how to raise once his grandfather died.

“That’s very noble.” Barry said. “I wish I had had a social worker like you.”

Lisa shrugged. “I just want to help people. No one helped us, but Lenny taught me that I would have to be the change I wanted to see in the world. I couldn’t wait around for anyone else to help me, I had to help myself.”

Len frowned, lightly biting his lip. Barry could see the doubts racing through his head, whether he made the right choice in every decision he’d ever made for her, even though she turned out pretty well. Barry squeezed Len’s hand.

“You remind me a lot of my sister.” Barry said. “Iris refuses to just sit and do nothing while people around her suffer. That’s why she’s working on her master’s in journalism.”

“Journalism?” Lisa asked. “How long has she been at that?”

“Three years, it’s impacted.” Barry said.

“Oh god, don’t even get me started on impacted majors.” Lisa groaned dramatically. “Seriously, if every girl who wanted to be a true crime expert could just leave the major, honestly, psychology wouldn’t be impacted. But noooo, everyone wants to know why Gein and Bundy and Dahmer killed people so they all sign up to be psych majors. Just take one class and find out, that’s all you need, get out of the major.”

Barry laughed, the earlier tension subdued.

“And boys? Psychoanalyzing a girl will not get you her number, nor will it help you understand why she turned you down. You don’t shut up, you think you’re the smartest man alive, and you don’t shower. That’s why you can’t get a date.”

As Lisa continued on her rant, Len leaned over to Barry.

“See if we can reschedule family dinner tonight. I don’t trust Lisa meeting Iris, not if we want to survive with our sanity intact.”

“They’ll meet each other eventually.” Barry whispered back.

“Yes, at the wedding, when they’re required to be on their best behavior.” Len hissed back.

“Hearing wedding bells already, Mister Snart?” Barry whispered in Len’s ear.

Len chuckled, low in his ear, sending a thrill down Barry’s spine. “Only if you’ll hear them with me, Mister Allen.”