Barry is seriously reconsidering his decision.
He doesn't know how he could think a solo trip to Ikea was a good idea, but it wasn't, and all he wanted right now was to get back home and pretend he was never even here.
It's not the Ikea experience per se (which is still pretty confusing – this place is a damn maze), but rather the fact that, for some reason, he seems to have become some sort of magnet for men.
He's currently dealing with his third suitor when he starts wondering if he's been whammied by some new meta or something, because he normally doesn't get that much attention from guys.
“We could go for a coffee,” the handsome stranger is saying, while Barry feigns an extreme interest for glass sphere whose purpose he utterly ignores. “I'd buy of course, if you're up for it-”
Barry must be crimson red by now.
The problem, here, is that he doesn't really know how to deal people hitting on him: he doesn't want to offend this nice guy (he's actually quite flattered) but he also really really wants to be left alone, and the situation is frozen in a ridiculous stall he doesn't know how to break.
Until he hears a familiar voice behind his back.
“Here you are!”
He barely has the time to turn around before he feels an arm around his waist; he doesn't need to see to know that the person who is wrapping him in a lascivious hug is none other than Lisa Snart.
“You need to stop wandering off on your own, baby, we always lose you!”
Lisa's face is so close to Barry's that he can feel her breath on his neck. His body immediately reacts to her closeness and he has to gently pull back before he embarrasses himself in front of everyone.
Lisa is not alone: her brother is right behind her, his trademark frown replaced by a mischievous smirk. He settles by Barry's other side and casually slips an arm around him.
“Do you want to introduce us to your new friend?” he says, glancing at Barry's suitor with the most terrifying polite smile Barry has ever seen. How does he even do that?
“Oh, er, uhm...”
Nice Guy gapes at Snart and Lisa, both possessively curled so tightly around Barry that it would be really hard not to get the message, then his look moves to Barry:
“You are with them?”
Barry finds his disbelieving tone a bit offensive: is he insinuating Snart and Lisa are out of Barry's league? Rude.
“We try to keep him with us,” Snart rectifies. “He's easily distracted in places like this.”
“He's such a good boy,” she purrs in Barry's ear, and it's a dire test for his composure. “But sometimes I think we should put him on a leash.”
Snart turns to Barry, smiling suavely.
“This can be arranged.”
Barry thought – naïvely – they were coming to his rescue, but now he has a feeling they're just here to make fun of him, and easily succeeding.
He can feel the look Snart and Lisa exchange pierce him from side to side.
Nice Guy seems rather disappointed: his gaze keeps shifting from Lisa to Barry to Snart and back. It's not hard to imagine what he's thinking. It's what Barry would probably think if he were in his place: unfair competition.
“You could've said you were taken,” he says, offering an apologetic smile. “Would've saved us both a lot of trouble.”
Barry genuinely feels sorry for the poor fellow: he is a nice guy.
“Uh, yeah, I probably should have mentioned that.”
“I can't compare to-” Nice Guy gives Snart and Lisa an awed once-over. “All of this.”
Who could?, Barry wants to reply.
Nice Guy scratches the back of his head, then tucks his hands in his pockets and starts walking away. “Well, see you guys around.”
So, Barry isn't quite sure what just happened: one moment ago he was being hit on by a stranger and now he's pressed between Leonard and Lisa Snart, who just pretended to be in a relationship with him to get him out of the sticky situation.
“Thank you,” he sputters, disentangling himself from the Snart sandwich. “That was getting really awkward.”
The Snarts step back to look at him like he's grown a second head. Lisa looks strangely short; Barry realises it's because she's wearing Converse instead of her usual heels (and why does he find this so hot?). Snart's attire is unusually causal, too: hoodie and jeans; only his eye betray his bad boy vibes.
“Barry,” Snart frowns. “What are you doing here on a Queersday?”
Is that supposed to mean something to Barry? Because it doesn't.
“On a what?”
An marvelled expression flashes across Lisa's face. “It's an unwritten rule of the queer underworld: Thursday is Queersday at Ikea,” she explains patiently. “Straight people enter at their own risk.”
“That explains so much,” he almost giggles. Now that he pays attention, there are a lot of same-sex couples around here. There's just one thing Lisa said that he needs to clarify, for the sake of accuracy: “I'll make sure to pass the information to the straight people I know.”
He drops the hint casually, but it does the trick, at least judging by Snart's and Lisa's appreciative grins.
The both cast a glance at Barry's trolley, which still pitifully empty. It's really hard to find concentration when cute guys keep walking up to you with any sort of excuses.
“Would you like some company?” Snart offers sardonically. “Or should I say protection?”
“Oh.” Barry isn't sure the best solution to fix his distraction is to continue his shopping with the two hottest people he knows (probably the two hottest people anyone knows). He must consider, however, how effective they are as deterrents. It also doesn't hurt that they seem to know this place much better than he does. “Well...”
“Come on, Barry, don't be shy: you need us.” Lisa winks. “A pretty boy like you, all alone in a big store crawling with men attracted to men? You can't blame them for hitting on you.”
It's really hard to think for Barry after Lisa just referred to him as a pretty boy. He guesses he'll just have to take the compliment, right?
“You know what?” he says resolutely. There's nothing wrong in accepting as little help; this was their idea, after all. “I could use some assistance, anyway.”
Snart and Lisa roam the maze of rooms with the idle confidence of someone who feels at home. They point at objects and comment them, occasionally pick one up, only to put it back one second later and move on. It feels like they're here for fun rather than necessity.
“You guys come here often?” Barry asks while they enter the kitchens section.
Snart shrugs. “From time to time. Lise is obsessed with their scented candles.”
“And their cinnamon rolls,” Lisa adds dreamily. “I love cinnamon rolls.”
She sends a coy smile Barry's way.
“We both do,” Snart cuts in before Barry has a chance to ask himself if there is any chance Lisa is flirting with him. Snart's tone and expression, however, do erase all doubts: Lisa isn't the only one who's flirting with Barry. Barry doesn't really know what to do with this piece of information.
“So, what are you doing here all alone, Red?”
There could be a very long and prolix answer recounting how Barry felt like it was time for him to grow up and get his own space, detach himself a little from his childhood home and find a place of his own; but this is the kind of cheesy response nobody wants to hear, so he goes for the brief version:
“I'm moving out of Joe's and I need to get some stuff for my new apartment, but... I'm not really sure where to start. I don't know the first thing about living alone.”
“Well, you know what they say,” Snart grabs a small fake plant from the tabletop next to him and throws it at Barry. “FEJKA till you make it.”
Barry doesn't get what the plant has to do with faking it till you make it until he sees the name on the label under its vase and looks at Snart with a mixture of annoyance, reluctant amusement and also a little bit of admiration.
“Ikea puns? Are you for real?”
Leonard reaches out to turn the table tag and, smirking, directs it to Barry:
“I'm disappointed by you LÄCKÖ sense of humour.”
It is funny, much to Barry's chagrin. Damn that sexy brain. If this is a new seduction technique, it's remarkably effective.
“Is this going to go on all day?” Barry retorts, feigning irritation.
Lisa giggles. “Only if you-” she turns the tag of a lamp on another table. “LYKTA.”
Barry groans. How is it even possible that he's being so proficiently and effectually bewitched with Ikea puns? How easy is he?
Then again, what did he expect? If there is one thing in the world more impressive than the Snarts' looks, that's their brains, and nothing charms Barry more than a brilliant mind. Except, of course, two brilliant minds.
There is something enjoyably frustrating in dealing these two witty little shits.
Does he like it? Yes.
Is it good that he does? Probably not.
He he still going to stick with them? Absolutely.
It's hard to pay any attention at all to the shopping with Lisa rushing through the aisles with the enthusiasm of a child, attracted by the lights and the colours of the Christmas decorations. Her brother follows her with his eyes, ever vigilant, and Barry doesn't miss the fond curl at the corners of his mouth.
“We need this, Lenny!” she exclaims in front of a very festive bedding set.
“We don't need that,” Snart tries to object, to no avail, because Lisa has already grabbed one and thrown it into the trolley Snart is dragging around. He gives her a scolding glare, but there's too much affection in it and it kind of nullifies the purpose.
Barry reaches Lisa among the beds and looks around in dismay. There are so many.
“How am I supposed to choose one?” he wonders, checking a few prices.
Snart appears behind him. Barry can feel his breath on his neck.
“I don't need a king if I'm on my own,” Barry replies matter-of-factly. He has a pretty flexible budget, but this doesn't mean he should spend more than necessary just because.
“Oh, I don't know.” Snart brushes past Barry to proceed to the double beds. “Things can change unexpectedly, you shouldn't be unprepared.”
He turns to cast a sultry look back at Barry, making his stomach clench, not unpleasantly.
Barry wishes he had the mental readiness to respond with something clever and equally provocative. Too bad his tongue feels glued to the roof of his mouth. All he can do is lift a shoulder.
“Maybe you're right,” he croaks. The idea of choosing a double bed with the Snarts is not as disconcerting as he would have thought (though a very substantial part of him does feel unnecessarily fidgety about it).
Snart approaches a very simple white frame with a thick mattress and tartan sheets.
“This one doesn't seem bad for a young sparrow at his first-” he flips the tag. “NESTTUN.”
Barry is furious. How does he do that so smoothly?
“NEIDEN does this,” says Lisa, sitting down on the next bed, just below the hanging board with the name and the measures of the item.
Barry snorts, a flutter of butterflies tickling his chest.
Oh, this isn't good.
He would love to keep complaining about this whole pun thing, but these two are so beautifully smart and he's having too much fun, even though he's not remotely willing to admit it.
“NEIDEN sounds like a good deal,” he admits, as composedly as he can. “The mattress looks comfortable enough.”
Snart tuts. “Always try before you buy.”
Both he and Lisa lie down and make themselves comfortable, then they look at Barry expectantly.
Are they suggesting what he thinks they're suggesting? There is certainly room enough for three, but-
“Come on, Barry,” Lisa pats the empty space beside her. “You can't blind buy something like this.”
Reluctantly (or maybe not), Barry lies down next to her. He joins his hands over his belly and relaxes – or tries to, because it's really hard with Lisa's hot body pressed all along his side.
“Feels a lot like my old mattress at Joe's,” he comments, staring at the ceiling while praying that the blush on his cheeks is not as intense as it feels.
“We should lie here for a while to make sure this is really comfortable,” says Lisa, right before her brother says:
“You know, I do have an objection about this.”
A hint of mischief touches Snart's features. “Doesn't feel very strong.” He rises on one elbow and looks at Barry from above his sister. “You should invest on a more durable structure. Just in case.”
There is a very precise subtext about that 'just in case' that makes Barry feel like this bed is suddenly too small and too large at the same time.
“Yeah,” agrees Lisa. “It might need to withstand a little extra stress.” She rolls on her side to face Barry; his heart leaps as his eyes meet hers so closely. “Don't you think?”
“Makes sense,” he sputters. Is it just him or that, too, was a double entendre?
He's still trying to be a match for these two, to keep up with their quick wit, and failing so miserably. He's too busy overthinking everything they say: what if he's just seeing things? What if it doesn't mean anything? And why does he want it to mean something?
“Won't you be lonely, Barry?”
Lisa is looking at him with those incredible eyes, curled next to him as though this was something they're used to – nothing extraordinary, nothing new.
Barry did consider this – the possibility of feeling lonely – as he did consider any other option, and came to the conclusion that it's something he needs to face, whether he likes it or not.
“I guess I'll have to get used to being on my own.”
“You know what would be very helpful with that?” Snart says.
Barry scowls: “Wouldn't that kinda annihilate the point?”
“I'm quite fond of drastic strategies.”
“Are they effective?”
Snart sits up, a rapid, fluid movement, and rests his elbows on his bent knees. “Only one way to find out,” he teases.
Lisa kicks him in the shins. “You have no shame.”
“Look who's talking.”
As they roll out of the bed, Barry realises he likes the way Snart and Lisa interact: it's fascinating and intriguing, a peculiar mixture of chemistry, empathy and something else he can't quite place.
As they move on, Barry picks up a rug for his bedroom and an anti-slip underlay that will be very useful when he'll rush out of bed in the mornings. There's also a number of things on sale, so, even though he doesn't really need them yet, he picks up some kitchen towels, a multi-pocket for the couch and a couple of pans.
“Maybe a couple of these?” he muses, examining one of the tens of throw pillows on display.
Leonard frowns at them. “Aren't they a little too-” he taps the label on the shelf. “GURLI?”
There they go again.
Barry had almost forgotten how powerful these puns are, and now he's dazzled all over again, and quite happy to be.
He came here for an innocent shopping trip and he has a feeling he's going to walk out of this with more than he bargained for. Which might be not entirely unwelcome.
“Hey, this so cool, it looks like a little snake!” Lisa exclaims delightedly while examining a wiry modern table lamp called HÅRTE, which Barry honestly finds eerie. He's about to protest when Lisa sees another lamp, much more ordinary-looking, and picks it up with a giggle: “But this is KULLA.”
Barry's eyes wander to the lamp tag, because it cannot possibly be its real name, but it is, and despite his efforts he just can't hold back a hearty laugh.
“You like the snake better, though, don't you?”
“I do!” Lisa beams. She takes one of the boxed lamps from the shelf and looks at him excitedly, and Barry just can't say no, so, with a sigh, he takes HÅRTE and puts it into his trolley.
He needs a lamp for his desk, anyway.
They stop by one of the kitchens: it's a country model that doesn't exactly matches Barry's taste, but he likes the deep green of the cabinets. There are several things on display he realises he's going to need: a strainer, a cutting board (in case he's ever going to cut actual food), a mitten...
“Not really my style,” comments Lisa, ghosting her manicured fingers along the the wooden top of the island. “But it's cosy. Hey,” she grabs a round seagrass box from the central display. “You should get this!”
The box is nice, but it's so small Barry could barely fit a handful of nuts in it.
“What should I do with that?”
Lisa shrugs. “I don't know, but-” With a grin slowly curling her lips, she shows him the tag hanging from the lid. “It's FRYKEN cute.”
“And this one,” Snart raises a yellow chair pad. “Matches your SUNNEA disposition.”
Barry puts way too much endeavour in the eye roll he gives them.
“You two think you're so funny, huh?”
Leonard grabs a baking tools set. He chuckles as he turns it around so Barry can read the name: “You ENVIS?”
“You guys are not being helpful at all. Can we focus on my shopping and forget the puns for just one sec?”
Lisa hops on the kitchen countertop, pouting. “What are you TOLKEN about?” she pouts, and of course, of course TOLKEN is the name of the countertop she's sitting on. “We're indispensable!”
“Is this how you thank us for protecting your virtue?”
“I'm pretty sure you've been tempting my virtue all along, actually.”
“Uh-oh, Lenny,” Lisa jumps off the counter, one hand rising to dangle the Christmas bubbles hanging from the chandelier above her. Barry notices their tag and starts groaning before she even gets to say: “I'm afraid he KOTTE us.”
Snart circles around the island to check the wooden frame on the wall across the kitchen. He flips the cardboard sign with the product info and quirks a brow at Barry. “HOVSTA possible, I wonder? We're so subtle.”
At this point Barry can't even pretend to be vaguely annoyed.
He's totally a goner.
And serenely resigned.
There is no way he's gonna get out of this store with all of his heart still in place. Little by little, these two are stealing it all right from under his nose, and he's willingly (happily?) letting them.
Credit when it's due: they are indeed remarkable thieves.
And, speaking of thieves, his heart skips a beat when, upon checking out, he goes for his wallet and finds the back pocket of his jeans empty.
“Shit,” he hisses. Maybe if he hadn't been so busy goggling at the Snarts the whole time, he would have noticed sooner. “I think I lost my-”
“Wallet?” Snart pops said wallet out of nowhere and tosses it at Barry, who catches it wide-eyed. “Don't look at me like that,” Snart huffs. “It was just for safekeeping. A sweet lady tried to swipe it while we were in the bathroom section.”
“Oh.” Yes, Barry definitely needs to learn to keep his focus when these two are around. They kind of compromise his ability to function. “Thanks.”
Snart eyes him with such intensity Barry finds himself shivering. “You're welcome.”
“Thank you for making my Ikea experience considerably more enjoyable than expected,” he says while they help him haul his purchases to his car. He's going to have to come back to order the furniture, but at least he covered most to the smaller supplies.
“Any time, baby,” Lisa smiles. Barry blames his sudden light-headedness on low sugars.
They fill the trunk and put what doesn't fit in there on the back seats. When he closes the door, Barry feels like he's cutting off something he doesn't really want to let go of.
“Maybe we could...” he begins tentatively, hands buried deep in his pockets. “I don't know,” He gives a small, shy shrug. “Do this again, some time?”
“Oh, we definitely-” grinning smugly, she turns around the drawer divider she's been carrying under her arm so that Barry can see its name and roll his eyes one last time. “HÖFTA talk about that. Here,” she hands him a phone that looks exactly like his. No, scratch that: it is his phone. “I saved our numbers under Hottest Girl Ever and Grumpy Chilly Guy.”
Barry just can't stifle the laugh erupting from him when he sees the glare Snart flashes at her. This was the most enjoyable afternoon he's had in forever.
“You HÖFTA stop doing this,” he snorts, but what his soft tone conveys is something else entirely, and both Lisa and Snart seem to get it.
“I think he's catching up, Lenny.”
Snart grins knowingly. “Good,” he says – oh, so huskily. “Well, Barry, I guess we'll be seeing you.”
The separation anxiety Barry was feeling is wiped away by a beacon of hope. This sounds like a promise, doesn't it?
Lisa takes Snart's arm. “Until next time!” she chants with a graceful wave, then she and her brother walk away, whispering closely.
Barry stands there for a while, watching them (maybe a bit longingly) until they disappear from his sight.
He hopes this warmth they left behind in him doesn't fade too soon.
He is at home, unpacking, when he finds a couple of things he doesn't remember getting, stuffed into a separate bag. How on earth did they end up among his stuff?
There's also a note scribbled with a marker on the plastic film of one of the items, something that looks like bed sheets:
You forgot the most
important essentials, Scarlet!
You're lucky we've got you.
Trust us, you need these.
Barry doesn't remember Lisa or Snart picking these up, either, and a tiny part of him is horrified by the thought that this might be stolen stuff; a much bigger part of him, though, is way too flattered and excited to bother about something as trivial as illegal appropriation. He can't know for sure they stole these, right?
Snart and Lisa got something for him, and that's enough to make him grin like an idiot.
He just doesn't get why they would think he needs bedding if he doesn't even have a bed yet, and how is a throw blanket, however cute and fluffy, an essential?
This is when his eye falls on the items' names.
Oh my god.
This is so masterfully extra. The melancholy for the forced separation disappears at once.
Did those two seriously-
He snorts out an incredulous laugh. So much for subliminal messages.
The label of the set of bedding says LEN.
The one on the fluffy throw blanket reads LISA
He might legit be crushing on these two brilliant little shits.
He fumbles for his phone and frantically creates a group chat he boldly entitles 'What happens in Ikea doesn't stay in Ikea (I hope)', adds Hottest Girl Ever and Grumpy Chilly Guy, and types:
just found your recommended essentials
what a life-changing tip!
I don't really know how I've lived without them so far!
thank you from the bottom my
He takes a picture of the horrible snake-like lamp Lisa convinced him to buy and sends it.
He feels rather proud of himself. Then he suddenly thinks of something else he has bought, and this is such a golden opportunity he just can't resist.
He quickly adds:
I think I have something you guys might use, too
He snaps a picture of the rug underlay he chose for his bedroom, zooming on the tag reading BÅRING, and sends it.
He checks for messages every ten seconds for five, endless minutes, heart racing, then finally – finally – Grumpy Chilly Guy replies:
well well well
if it isn't just our favorite Ikea product ever
Barry's pulse slows down a little. This is the sort of response he was hoping for.
Hottest Girl Ever says:
Who doesn't need a lovely BÅRING in their life?
This is making him so ridiculously happy it takes him a few seconds and an awful lot of smug grinning before he can concentrate enough to respond:
BÅRING would go very well with LISANN LEN I guess
To which Snart replies:
After a few seconds, Lisa types:
BÅRING should definitely be LISANN LEN's
And then she sends a picture of a giant green leaf hanging over a bed.
Barry blinks. He's not sure what t make of it.
On a hunch, he searches 'leaf' in the Ikea website and finds out it's an item called LOVA.
He feels a rush of heat rise to his ears.
Well, this is rather straightforward. Kinda hard to misinterpret something this explicit.
He wants this, he realises. Whatever this is, however messy and complicated it might be. He wants both these people, and why the heck not? If you can normally have one boyfriend or girlfriend at a time, why can't he have both at the same time? If they wants this, too, who can stop them?
Barry bites his lip. He doesn't know what to say. He's crushing so hard on these two that, at this rate, his chances not to be hopelessly in love with them by the end of the week (which is in, like, three days) are none to negative.
As soon as the initial surprise subsides, he remembers another thing – the remote pocket for the couch.
They can't possibly top this.
maybe he's just a big
He attaches the picture of the FLÖRT remote pocket.
A couple of minutes pass, so he decides he's won, he's finally left them speechless. But then Snart says:
or maybe he just really really wants to
There's a screenshot from the Ikea website of a cutlery set called DATA and then:
Barry drops the phone on the couch, snorting, a big, stupid smile stretching his lips.
Fine, he can't possibly outsmart this.
BÅRING gives up
He's full of the same warmth that got him dizzy in the store. He can't contain his excitement, especially after Snart finally texts back:
so, friday 8 pm?
Barry never typed so fast in his life:
Lisa sends a string of cheering emojis, followed by:
Date it is!
Barry scrolls back to re-read all the messages to make sure he hasn't missed or mistaken something, but, no, he didn't: this is happening. He's still not sure how this started, but all he cares about is that this is developing.
where are we going?
there's someone here who wants to give you a friendly shovel talk
Among the simmering elation and excitement, Barry's curiosity spikes.
Lisa sends a photo.
Why did he even ask?
Barry's laugh is muffled by his burying his face into his hands. This is seriously too much, but he should have seen this coming. They did say family dinner, after all.
He shakes his head looking at the photo again with a mix of mirth and mild concern.
It's a screenshot of a desk called MICKE.