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Swan Song

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Barry Allen was going to be late for work (again).


That morning, Barry spent nearly ten minutes debating whether or not he had enough time before heading to work at the Central City police precinct to both get coffee and drop a check that had been sitting on the kitchen table for the better part of a week off at the bank. He paced as he deliberated, and he wore a path into the carpet of the living room. Despite being able to move faster than the speed of sound, he procrastinated on simple tasks and found himself in situations like this one surprisingly often. His powers enabled him to, in many ways, get away with pushing off what he definitely should do right away with little to no repercussions. His powers also enabled him to book it between Jitters and Central City Bank at speeds upwards of six hundred miles an hour without breaking a sweat. His biggest concern was the lines, how long his coffee took to brew, where he—

 

A half hour before work, he finally told himself that he could get both coffee and cash the check before making it to work on time if he went just then. 

 

Fifteen minutes later, with his messenger bag slung over his shoulder and the check and a coffee gripped tightly in his hand, he walked into Central City Bank. Barry pushed open one of the large double doors at the entrance, and his sneakers squeaked against the tiled floor to signal his arrival as he shuffled into the building. 

 

He arrived just in time, it seemed, because a cold draft blew in behind him that carried the scent of a storm. The dreary grey skies didn’t dissuade the idea, nor did the rain clouds gathering above Central City. For a moment, Barry’s paranoia whispered in his ear that the weather signaled the return of one Mark Mardon before he shook off his overactive imagination. Mardon currently roamed free, but he stayed mostly off of Barry’s radar, barring whenever Captain Cold and his rogues went looking to start trouble. No, Barry reminded himself that, sometimes— most of the time—a storm was just a storm. 

 

Shaking off both the chill and his worries, Barry sighed, glancing around.

 

Barry always felt out of place in old, ornate buildings like Central City Bank, a feeling which had lingered from childhood long into adulthood. The high, vaulted ceilings gave it the same looming, far away feeling that one might experience in a church or place of worship. It always made Barry feel small and isolated; it always made him feel alone. The circular main floor of the bank allowed for everyone to see everything that happened around the room.. The center and innermost ring of the room remained wide open to provide room for lines to form, and all the tellers sat situated behind a long counter and glass windows. The dispersonal setup always felt to Barry as if it conveyed that these people existed just a little bit above the common crowd, a little higher and mightier.

 

None of that mattered today, though. Barry didn’t feel small or unworthy or all alone.

 

In fact, this morning, he had a smile on his face. Despite the dreary weather, the usual long lines, and the bored looking bank tellers, a good feeling rooted itself in Barry’s chest. He’d woken up feeling refreshed, and the barista at Jitters had given him a free croissant (which he’d already devoured on the walk over to the bank). It even looked like he’d be on time for work, since the line at the bank appeared to move fairly quickly at first glance. It had been a good morning.

 

Unfortunately, the universe always seemed to have other plans for him.

 

Barry finished his coffee and threw it out before joining the line for a teller. He shoved the check in his back pocket and adjusted his grip on his bag. Patience often eluded him, and now, with the addition of his super speed, sitting still for very long at all left him anxious and tense. Lines, of course, existed as his natural enemy. He itched to move, to twitch, to run, but he kept himself contained. He’d learned how to maintain his good behavior, how to act normal, thanks in large part to his friends at S.T.A.R. Labs. Caitlin, in particular, preached to him the importance of staying focused and blending in when dressed in civilian clothing. Cisco, whilst concerned about Barry accidentally compromising his identity, took a more laid back approach to Barry’s tendency to act with compulsive hyperactivity. He encouraged Barry to use the speed force to slow everything around him down when he needed a moment to breathe. 

 

Barry often took his advice in tandem with Caitlin’s. By slowing everything down, he hid his speed from prying eyes whilst also allowing himself a much needed reprieve from the stillness of the mundane.

 

In Central City Bank, when he tapped into the speed force and used his accelerated ability to process what happened around him, Barry couldn’t distract himself with much. He could only count so many cracks in the painted walls around him, could only make up so many stories in his head about the people around him. Access to the speedforce meant that Barry had plenty of time to take in the world around him, which gave him an edge in fights, but he often couldn’t turn off the overanalyzing that came with his abilities. Everything slowed down until it all nearly froze.

He saw every shift in posture, every microexpression and facial twitch. He saw every fly and each flap of their fluttering, crystalline wings and the light that reflected iridescently off of them. 

 

The world slammed back into focus. 

 

Barry shook his head, attempting to clear his growing headache. As Barry stood waiting at the end of the line near the entrance to the bank, he heard the large, double doors swing open behind him. He didn’t really pay it any mind. At least, he didn’t until he heard a woman scream and heard the familiar sound of cold and heat guns charging up. 

 

Barry turned in time to see Captain Cold and Heatwave fire their guns into their air, creating a momentary ceiling of fire and ice. People screamed and ducked, but the duo did not aim the blasts in such a way that they would hit anything other than open air. 

 

“Nobody move!” Shouted Captain Cold. Instinctively, Barry twisted back around so that his back faced the thieves, trying to hide his face from Cold and Heatwave’s view. 

 

“Everyone on the ground, now!” Heatwave ordered, his voice as gruff and abrasive as always. Barry flinched, running through his options. Everyone around him scrambled to lay on the floor, meaning he only had a moment to make a decision about what to do before he stood out like a sore thumb. He straightened his spine, preparing to flash out of there, change, and come back to stop the dynamic duo of dastardly deeds. 

 

That small action must have drawn Cold’s attention, though, because he heard a voice behind him and felt the temperature drop around him.

 

“Easy, kid,” Captain Cold drawled, his cold gun close enough to Barry’s back that he could feel a chilly phantom touch. “Don’t be a hero.”

 

Barry chewed his lip, his hands slowly rising into the air placatingly. He knew he could outmaneuver Captain Cold, probably before anyone else in the bank or even Cold realized what he’d done. However, since Barry, dressed in civilian clothes, had forgoed his mask, Cold had potentially seen his face. He’d be risking exposure not only to a room full of civilian hostages, but to Cold as well. 

 

“Did you hear me, kid?” Cold snapped, moving the cold gun forward so that it pressed up against the small of Barry’s back. The nose of the cold gun, contrary to a normal firearm that  burned hot after just being fired, felt impossibly freezing. Barry went rigid, and a shiver tore through his body before he could stop it. 

 

Cold seemed to relax the pressure holding the gun to his back and sighed. He grabbed Barry’s shoulder, turned him to face him, and shoved his cold gun into its holster so his hands were free. He lifted his hand and, for a fraction of a second, Barry feared that Cold meant to strike him. He flinched, and his arms came up defensively. 

 

At Barry’s movements, Cold stilled, and something unreadable crossed his face. He moved again, slower this time. 

 

Can you hear me?” He asked deliberately, more gently, his hands moving in time to his words. 

 

Maybe the change in tone did it. Maybe the addition of sign language, which Barry had grown up using to talk with his dad more privately through the glass during prison visitation hours, made the difference. Maybe the way Cold seemed genuinely adverse to hurting him, despite the fact that he’d never taken issue with attacking the Flash before, spurred Barry into action. 

 

“Yes,” Barry said without thinking, signing to match his spoken words. “Sorry. I can.”

 

Cold nodded, then his face grew a little more closed off, more aloof. 

 

“Lay on the ground. This will be over soon.” 

 

Barry appreciated that he continued to use ASL, because he could barely hear him over the pounding of blood in his ears. Making the decision to play along now that Cold had gotten a very good look at his face, Barry slowly knelt down and laid on his stomach on the ground. 

 

Seemingly satisfied, Cold moved away to better survey the room. Barry listened as best he could to what happened around him, ignoring the whimpering and muffled gasps of fear from the other hostages around him no matter how much they pained him, doing his best to piece together a picture of the situation in his head. Heatwave barked out an order to put money in a bag, most likely at a bank employee, and Cold stepped carefully around all the people on the ground, seemingly on the prowl for anyone trying to do something stupid. He moved beyond where Barry could see. 

 

“C’mon, Mick,” Barry could hear Snart saying just outside his line of sight. “Thirty three seconds.”

 

Barry shifted, refraining from using his speed. He didn’t know where Heatwave or Cold were looking, and it would do him no good to give himself away now. He turned his head to the side, trying to figure out what the two planned to do for their escape.

 

As soon as he looked up, he locked eyes with Captain Cold. 

 

Cold must have seen Barry’s movements because he stared right at him, his eyes cold and hard but hiding a spark of mischief. Barry knew he should look away, knew that he should play the part of the docile hostage, but he found himself unable to tear his eyes away from Cold’s brilliant blue ones. Something about those eyes that held him there, frozen. Snart stared back with an expression of both curiosity and disinterest on his face. He always had that look about him, like a cat lazily batting at his next meal before he devoured it. 

 

“At least your boy toy hasn’t stopped by this time.”

 

Barry’s whole body tensed up. Cold saw the movement but, other than a raised brow, gave no indication of interest in Barry’s reaction. He turned to give Heatwave a crooked grin that didn’t reach his eyes, his attention no longer fixed on Barry.

 

“Ah, yes, no Scarlet Speedster,” he drawled, taking a bag filled with money from Mick and slinging it over his shoulder. “I’m almost disappointed.”

 

The sirens were screaming now, and the slamming of a car door outside could be heard clear enough to warn everyone within the bank that the police had arrived.

 

Cold and Heatwave looked unperturbed. They rounded the room together, and Barry lost sight of them as they crossed behind where he and a handful of other hostages were lying. 

 

The double doors at the entrance flew open, and in came ten officers that Barry could count, their boots thundering against the polished floor and echoing into the high ceiling. 

 

“Freeze!” An officer shouted. Barry’s heart clenched when he immediately recognized Joe’s voice. 

 

“That’s my line,” Cold said, unbothered. His cold gun, charged but unaimed, rested on his shoulder. Heatwave, on the other hand, held his heat gun at the ready, eyes alight with anger and excitement. Heatwave, the more trigger happy of the two, looked a hairpin’s trigger away from attacking, and Barry worried most about him going off the rails and firing on the police, firing on Joe or Eddie or—

 

“Easy, Snart.” That sounded like Captain Singh. The cavalry had been called in for this.

 

Barry knew the standard operating procedures for a hostage situation like this. Most of the officers within the building would spread out and move forward, acting as both a protective barrier for and a distraction from the hostages. With the attention focused on the bulk of the police force, two officers would slowly fan out across the room, moving in front of each hostage to shield them as they got up and out of the building. Several officers would be waiting outside with a team of ambulances to receive the shaken and potentially injured but safe hostages.

 

Barry knew the procedure by heart, but he knew Cold did too. He had a plan, Barry was certain of it, he just couldn’t figure out what it was quite yet.

 

With a start, Barry noticed that Eddie broke off from the protection of the squad to begin clearing the left side of the room, and he crept closer and closer to where Barry laid face down on the ground. He watched as Eddie picked his way toward Cold from around the edge of the room, whispering to people to get up and get out as he passed in front of them. It wouldn’t be long until Eddie rounded on him, at which point Barry feared that he’d become a distraction.

 

Captain Cold and Heatwave shared a glance, seemingly utterly in sync with one another. It didn’t seem to bother either of them that Eddie evacuated a new hostage every five to ten seconds while Joe and Captain Singh held them at gunpoint, despite the fact that no hostages meant no leverage. They still had their cold and heat guns, of course, which did afford them a small advantage over the police. 

 

As Eddie rounded towards where Barry and a few others were still laying on the ground, Barry rose to his feet quickly. He helped an older woman beside him stand as well, then guided her towards Eddie so that she could get to safety first. When Eddie moved up to about half a step away from Barry, he locked eyes with him. A stutter step broke his slow, deliberate pace, and the last remaining hostages ran past him and out the doors without him so much as glancing their way.

 

“Barry?” He asked, his voice raised sharply.

 

His exclamation caused Joe and Singh to glance over at Barry as well. Both of their faces changed in an instant, suddenly overcome by both shock and uncertainty. Joe even let his gun drop a little, his jaw dropping open and his eyes going wide. 

 

Before Barry could reassure them that he was fine and duck out of the bank to zip off and get his Flash gear on, Cold sprang forward. The move came so unexpectedly that not even Barry had the time to counter it. He closed the gap between Barry and himself in one lunging step. One arm wrapped around Barry’s throat, and the other pressed the cold gun into his side. Barry’s whole body went rigid.

 

Through the speedforce, which kicked itself to life a half second too late to be of any use, since Snart’s arm already held fast across his collarbones, Barry did give himself a second to assess the situation. Snart’s body collided with his in slow motion, first hip to ass, then stomach to stomach, then chest to chest. His gloved hands felt strange as they brushed along the exposed skin at Barry’s neck. The strange sensation continued as the first puff of air from Snart’s lips that came close enough to tickle the back of Barry’s neck ghosted across his skin. Barry let it melt back into normalcy,

 

“Barry!” 

 

“Let him go!”

 

Both Singh and Joe were shouting, their guns snapping back up to level with Cold. Barry couldn’t turn to see Eddie’s reaction, but he guessed it reflected a similar fear and uncertainty. 

 

They weren’t the only ones who didn’t know what to do. Barry may be fast, but the more sturdily built Captain Cold could leverage his strength against him in this position. He wouldn’t be able to break this grip very easily. Besides, with the cold gun pressed against his body, not even he could move fast enough to pull away in time to avoid injury if Cold pulled the trigger. He was well and truly stuck.

 

He forced his body to relax. Cold must have felt the change, likely because Barry’s back pressed flush against his torso in their current position, and he saw Cold spare him a small glance out of the corner of his eye.

 

“If you boys don’t want things to get frosty for your friend, Barry, here,” Cold said, voice calm and calculating, “you’re going to let my partner and I walk out of here.”

 

Cold sounded in control of the situation. Barry begrudgingly admired him for his ability to take charge even without the cards falling in his favor. He had a gift for getting out of sticky situations, a gift that made him a significant source of annoyance for both the police and the Flash.

 

“Captain, don’t let them, I—” Barry started, and Cold jerked him back a bit to cut him off. Still, Barry managed to repeat, “Don’t.”

 

“Stop talking, Barry,” Singh said, sounding more fearful than frustrated.

 

“Yes, Barry,” Cold whispered into his ear, his voice low and dangerous, “stop talking.”

 

Barry shivered before he could stop himself, and he felt the arm around his throat tighten just a bit. Barry didn’t know what he’d done to deserve such terrible luck. Cold whispering into his ear made him feel tense, less because of fear and more because the feeling of his breath against his ear stirred up emotions Barry didn’t even want to think about.

 

“We’re not going to let you just walk out with him,” Joe said sharply, his eyes flicking between Heatwave and Cold.

 

“Oh, but you are,” Captain Cold drawled, and Barry could practically hear the smirk on his face. “Once we’re on our way, you can have him back unharmed.”

 

Snart stepped backwards towards the side exit of the bank. Barry guessed that the exit would lead to an alleyway, presumably where Cold and Heatwave’s getaway car waited. No officer moved to stop him, but Singh and Joe matched Snart’s moments, taking slow steps forward as Snart edged his way back.

 

“Snart, he’s not part of this, let him go,” Joe pleaded, his voice tight. Barry tried to shake his head, but Snart’s arm tightened around his throat. With each cautious step backwards, Snart tugged on Barry to pull him along. Barry kept his hands latched onto the crook of Snart’s elbow in an attempt to steady himself, especially as Snart started moving faster. Barry stumbled, struggling to keep pace with the larger steps Snart took. His backside collided with Snart’s hips, and Barry’s face burned as he took another stuttering step in time with Snart’s sure-footed backpedaling. With their bodies pressed flush against one another, Barry’s back to Snart’s front, Barry could feel each rise and fall of Snart’s chest, each twitch of his shoulders. 

 

Too focused on the way his body rocked against Snart’s with each step to register that Snart’s stride had quickened, Barry tripped again, and his sneakers squeaked against the tiled floor as his feet skidded out beneath him. He fell back into Snart, who caught his weight without twitching. Barry’s ass collided with Snart’s hips, and he caught his breath. Uncurling his gloved hand from a fist, Snart readjusted his arm lower around Barry’s neck, his forearm brushing Barry’s collarbone, so that his hand could grab Barry’s shoulder. The grip steadied him, and Barry let out a breath of relief as he got his feet back under himself and regained his balance.

 

Barry looked between Singh and Joe, grinding his teeth down. Joe stared back with wide eyes, but he remained composed with his back straight and his gun level with Snart’s head. Joe’s aim may be excellent but, even as close as he stood to Snart, he wouldn’t dare risk taking the shot with Barry so close. Singh’s handgun was aimed to the left of Snart, most likely on Heatwave, but his eyes snapped between Barry and Heatwave every few seconds.

 

“That’s where you’re wrong, detective,” Snart said, his breath licking up Barry’s neck. Barry screwed his eyes shut, ignoring the strange intimacy that arose from hearing Snart’s voice in his ear and feeling the warm tingle of air on the back of his neck to the best of his ability. 

 

The sound of a door opening behind him snapped his attention back to the fact that Heatwave still existed. Snart’s hold on him tightened, and the hand on his shoulder curled into the fabric of his shirt. 

 

“Snart, stop this,” Singh snapped, though the panic seeping into his voice gave away his knowledge that Snart held all the cards in this situation.

 

This inability to do anything, this helplessness, caused Barry’s stomach to turn over. As the Flash, he could have taken Snart and Heatwave down twice over by now. Instead, trapped by his unwillingness to reveal his secret to the two rogues and a dozen police officers, Barry remained compliant. He couldn’t do anything else. 

 

The shadow of the doorframe crossed over them as Snart tugged Barry backwards even more, his pace quickening. The misting rain settled over them, and Barry’s quick breaths became puffs of white as the temperature around him dropped. As soon as they completely cleared the threshold, the door slammed shut in front of them, so close that Barry threw his head back to avoid the door clipping his nose. Heatwave held the door closed, leaning all of his weight into it. He gave Snart an expectant glance.

 

“Snart!” Joe yelled from the other side of the door, and Barry heard scuffling. From within the bank, Singh snapped orders to the rest of the officers, but the door muffled the sound too much for Barry to make out the details. 

 

Snart removed the cold gun from Barry’s side. With a nod to Heatwave, who jumped back, he shot a blast of ice at the bottom of the door, effectively freezing it in place. Snart aimed the blast so that the door would get stuck if anyone tried to wedge it open, but he expertly controlled the amount of ice that overtook the door so that it did not turn brittle and easily breakable. 

 

A car door slammed to Barry’s left. He turned his head as much as Snart’s grip on his neck allowed and saw Heatwave in a beat up (and most likely stolen) car with blown out windows. He revved the engine, tossing a grin in Snart’s general direction.

 

“See you soon,” he said gruffly, his eyebrows raising and eyes widening in the strange way they always did when he spoke. 

 

With the squealing of tires struggling to gain traction on wet tarmac, Heatwave drove off. 

 

“Listen to me closely, kid,” Snart whispered, and Barry held tighter to his arm. Barry heard shouting and the thundering footfalls of people running in the distance; Joe and the other police officers were on their way.  “We’re going for a ride.”

 

Snart turned them to face the opposite side of the alleyway. Snart’s motorbike, leaning up against the wall of the building across from them, came into view. Barry tugged at Snart’s arm, digging his heels into the ground. The rain left the ground slick, and he couldn’t gain any traction to push away. He debated using his speed to try to slip out of his grip, but Snart had definitely seen his face well enough to sketch and find again. Barry didn’t fancy Snart finding out his identity, so he had no choice other than to attempt to escape his hold without the aid of his powers.

 

“What? I’m no good to you anymore, just go before you get caught,” Barry said, careening back even as Snart steered him forward. 

 

“Your concern is touching,” Snart said sarcastically,  shoving his cold gun into his thigh holster as they stepped up beside the bike. His hand not wrapped around Barry’s throat, now free of his weapon, traveled up to Barry’s hip, and his fingertips dug into his skin hard enough to bruise. “But I’d rather not get shot at as I make my exit.”

 

As frustrated as it made him, that actually made sense to Barry. Singh would never order anyone on the force to open fire with one of their own in the crosshairs, and Joe would lose his mind if anyone took a shot at Snart whilst Barry remained so near to him. 

 

The shouting grew louder. Snart grew impatient. 

 

“Get on the bike, or I’ll put you on the bike,” he said in a low voice. Barry shivered at the tone but complied. He threw one leg over the motorcycle and settled himself awkwardly, feeling Snart do the same behind him. Snart released his hold on Barry’s neck, only to reach around him to grip the handlebars, effectively pinning Barry between his arms. Barry heard the shouting growing closer. He glanced behind him, trying in vain to see Joe or Singh or Eddie or anyone

 

Instead, Captain Cold’s face, just inches from his own, blocked his view. Snart’s eyes glittered with mischief, standing out against the dreary grey sky behind him acting as a backdrop. He looked almost regal, somewhere between kingly and a human catastrophe. Barry stared into the eye of a hurricane wearing human skin. The blandness of the stormy sky behind him only served to accentuate the striking color of those icy eyes, those bright, vibrant, beautiful eyes that looked both old and ageless all at one, those terrible, terrific, eye-catching eyes that carried such a deep power and profound sadness that it made Barry’s bones ache.

 

Barry snapped his head back around. He bit his lip, worrying it between his teeth as his thoughts spun out. 

 

“Hold tight, kid,” Snart said. To see around him, he settled his chin just above Barry’s right shoulder. Before Barry could ask what Snart expected him to hold on to, Snart tapped his foot into the kickstand and revved the engine. The bike lurched forward and threw Barry back. He reached up to wrap both his hands around Snart’s left arm just above the elbow, leaning away from Snart as much as he could whilst holding on for dear life.

 

“Barry!” Joe shouted from somewhere behind him, somewhere close. A single shot rang out, followed by both Joe and Eddie screaming, “No!”

 

For a brief moment, Barry sped up his reflexes, preparing to jerk out of the way should the shot come near him. He found himself bracing against Snart’s arm without thinking, and he realized that he meant to pull Snart out of the line of fire. Barry never liked for anyone to get injured, even one of his villains, but his certainty about dragging Snart out of harm's way if necessary shocked him. 

 

His worries proved unnecessary, however, because the bullet zinged across the wall beside them, splintering its way into the now-shattered brick with ease. Snart barely flinched, but he did move his shoulder forward to shelter Barry from the spray of dust from the shot striking the wall. Barry risked a glance back at him, but Snart’s eyes remained locked on the road in front of them.

 

The sound of yelling died down as they peeled out from the back alley and zipped down the adjacent street. Seemingly unbothered by the sound of a gun going off, Snart maneuvered the motorcycle down and around multiple blocks in a nonsensical order, obviously attempting to shake the police. 

 

“Easy,” Snart said out of nowhere, his voice raised in order to be heard above the cacophony of wind and surrounding traffic. In a teasing tone, he asked, “First time on a motorcycle?”

 

“First time being held hostage on one, for sure,” Barry snapped back, but his voice grumbled more than it growled. Snart laughed and, with his chest pressed flush against his back, Barry could feel the tightening of his stomach as the sound rippled through him. Despite himself, Barry lost some of the tension in his shoulders as the deep rumbling of Snart’s chest rolled against his back. 

 

“Brace your heels against the footholds,” Snart said, gently. The juxtaposition of his current demeanor against every other interaction that Barry had had with the rogue to gauge his personality by threw Barry for a loop. He didn’t trust this more relaxed, more empathetic Snart, but he also didn’t plan to argue with him when in such a vulnerable position. Barry followed Snart’s direction. His feet found the footholds, and he steadied himself against them. The small adjustment shifted him into a more comfortable position. “Now, lean back.”

 

Barry tensed again, his back going rigid. Snart chuckled, laughing at Barry for the second time in as many minutes, before taking his right hand off the handlebars to grab Barry’s side. Barry still clung to Snart’s other arm, unsure what else to do with his hands. Snart’s gloved hand touched skin where Barry’s shirt had ridden up in his awkward, half-turned position, and the contact sent another jolt of something not unpleasant through Barry’s body.

 

Barry needed to get a grip. This little excursion only occured out of sheer necessity. He would not allow himself to get comfortable with Captain Cold touching him, no matter the lingering warmth that ignited beneath his skin wherever Snart’s body met his. 

 

“Relax. I’m not going to hurt you,” Snart said. He guided Barry back gently until he was settled firmly against his chest. Now, instead of feeling his breath on the back of his neck, Barry twitched at the warm puffs of air that tickled his ear. Snart’s hand left Barry’s side to retake the handlebar, and Barry forced himself not to chase the contact. In his ear, Snart said softly, “As soon as I’m clear, you’re free to go.”

 

They turned down another block. No sirens screamed, not even in the distance. They’d gotten far enough fast enough to lose the police. He had no clue what clear meant to Snart, but the anticipation started building beneath his skin with every turn. 

 

Barry closed his eyes, ignoring the biting wind against his face. The misty rain around them stung as it struck his skin at the high speed. He breathed deeply, allowing himself a moment to clear his head, to regain his control. 

 

When he reopened his eyes, the scenery had shifted. They must have cleared the innermost part of the city, and high rises became few and far between. The area around them looked rougher and more run down with each passing second. Barry no longer required a map to get around Central City, in large part due to his extracurriculars as the Flash, and he recognized the sun-worn buildings around him as belonging to a part of the city near to the docks. 

 

His suspicions proved correct and, as they neared the edge of the docks, Barry’s breath caught in his throat. Briefly, he feared that Snart planned to shoot him and toss his body in the river. Barry’s powers crackled to life, humming just beneath his skin. Snart’s past actions proved that he possessed no qualms with taking a life if he deemed it necessary to do so.

 

The tension returned to Barry’s shoulders. If Snart felt the shift, he made no comment. 

 

Rolling to a stop at the edge of the road that ran parallel to the river, Snart stuck his leg out to plant his foot on the ground as the bike stilled. The bike leaned, balancing against him until he kicked out the kickstand on the other side of the frame and pushed the motorcycle over to settle the bike in the other direction. In one clearly well-practiced moment, Snart swung his leg over the bike and dismounted. 

 

Barry, still sitting atop the motorcycle, waited with his arms crossed over his chest. He watched Snart run a hand over his head, likely out of habit because his short hair had no need of settling. He looked decidedly less wind blown than Barry felt. 

 

Begrudgingly, Barry admitted to himself that Snart looked good like this. He looked—damn it—he looked really good. Between his smug smile and relaxed posture, he looked as if he didn’t think anything could stop him. For once, Barry didn’t want to prove him wrong.

 

“Here’s your stop, kid,” Snart said, jerking his chin in a gesture that clearly meant to signal him to get off the bike. Barry did so shakily, planting one foot before swinging his other leg over the frame with not even half the grace that Snart’s movements possessed. 

 

With his feet back on solid ground, Barry relaxed again, if only slightly. He watched Snart expectantly, waiting for him to make his next move before Barry made any decisions about what to do next. Snart kept his gaze trained on Barry, and a question danced behind his eyes. Barry returned his stare, unsure of whether to back off. His confidence surged now with less people around to learn his secret. Snart left whatever question bugged him unspoken. Instead, he asked, “do you have a phone?”

 

Barry’s lips formed the word yes, but his hand reached for his messenger bag and met nothing but air. The affirmation died on his tongue, and he groaned quietly. 

 

“I must have dropped my bag at the bank,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. The fact that he left his bag behind without realizing spoke volumes to how much Snart distracted him. Barry could have kicked himself. 

 

“Here.” Snart reached into the back pocket of his dark jeans and tossed something small at Barry. Careful not to display his powers, Barry allowed himself the small reprieve of speeding up his reflexes so as to catch the object and avoid making a fool of himself. He shouldn’t care so much about the opinions of a man who held him at gunpoint that morning. 

 

With a sigh, he let the speed force slip away, and the world moved in real time again. The small object landed squarely in his left palm. Snart gave him an appraising nod. Barry glanced down at his hand then snapped his eyes back up to meet Snart’s expectant gaze.

 

Barry turned over the small flip phone in his hand, flipping it open. 

 

“Call your cop friends, Barry ,” Snart rolled his name over in his mouth, trying it out. The way his typical drawl accented his name left Barry’s chest tight, and he found himself wanting to hear Snart say his name, his real name, once again—perhaps even many times over. 

 

Snart strode forward, brushing past Barry who stood staring down at the phone in his hands. Turning, Barry watched as Snart slung his leg over the side of the motorcycle and shoved his toe into the kickstand. As he revved the engine, Barry spluttered. 

 

“Wait,” he said, holding up the phone. Snart leveled a look at him, and Barry floundered for words before he regained his composure. Finally he stuttered out, “don’t you want this back?”

 

Snart grinned at him, and Barry bristled.

 

“It’s a burner. And,” he leaned in as if he meant to share a secret, “it’s not like I can’t buy another one.”

 

Despite himself, Barry snorted. Snart’s smile grew smug as a grin spread across Barry’s face before he could stop it. 

 

Snart revved the engine once more, looking over Barry once more. Pleased with whatever he saw, he jerked his chin in the direction of the phone in Barry’s hand. His hands moved in tandem with his words as he spoke and signed, “Call your friends, kid.”

 

Briefly, for the third or fourth time that morning, Barry wondered where Snart learned to sign. He signed well,  though with less of the sauve surety he spoke with since some of his movements stuttered. Instead of asking him about it (and likely getting a non-answer), Barry nodded without speaking and began dialing Joe’s number.

 

 Snart leaned back in his seat and sped off, but not before he said, “See you around, Barry.”

 

Barry watched Snart drive away until he turned down a  corner and out of sight. After a few moments, the sound of the motorcycle engine faded and then disappeared completely. Barry snapped the phone closed, preparing to zip off. A small voice in the back of his head stopped him. If he ran off now, the timeline of where Snart took him and when he let him go wouldn’t line up. Eddie and Joe could only cover for Barry so much, no matter how hard they worked to keep his secret, from bending over backwards to come up with excuses to lying to their closest friends and family members. Even they couldn’t explain away how Barry somehow started at the docks and ended up at the precinct in less than half an hour. 

 

With a sigh, Barry flipped the phone open once again. He dialed Joe, whose number he memorized within a week of staying with him as a child, and lifted the phone to his ear. The line rang for a handful of seconds before a click signaled that Joe had answered.

 

“This better be damn important or I’m hanging up on whoever you are,” Joe snapped on the other end, his voice crackling to life in Barry’s ear. Barry smiled, listening to the chaos in the background that hummed on the other end of the line.

 

“Joe, it’s Barry,” he said, shuffling to hide under the overhang of a nearby warehouse roof. The rain began to pick up, and the wind chilled Barry to the bone.

 

“Barry?” Joe asked, his voice pitch up half an octave. “Oh, thank god. Are you safe?”

 

Barry glanced around, rubbing his chin. 

 

“From everything but the weather. I’m at the docks, come get me?” He pulled his arm around his body, hopping from one foot to the other. Without the warmth of Snart leaching into him from behind, the frigid air and rapidly dropping temperatures started to affect Barry more and more. 

 

“Couldn’t you just,” Joe paused. When he continued, his voice dropped to a whisper, “you know, run yourself over here?”

 

Sighing, Barry closed his eyes and lifted his chin so that his face turned towards the sky. God knows, he wanted to run. The electricity burning beneath his skin tingled, waiting for an outlet after so much anticipation and adrenaline bubbled up within him throughout the morning’s events. Enough nervous energy coursed through his veins to keep him shifting his weight, bobbing back and forth, from foot to foot, like a boxing before he threw the first punch. The cold didn’t help to quell his movements. Barry didn’t like sitting still for so long, didn’t like holding back or going slow. Barry never did anything in half measures or gave less than what he could. 

 

Staying still, not letting his powers spark throughout the whole ordeal that morning lest Snart figured out his secret, had physically pained him. 

 

“Can’t,” Barry said, sighing. He opened his eyes to watch the white puff of his breath turn transparent as it met the air. “I want to make sure that the police report lines up timing-wise.”

 

Joe made a noise of agreement.

 

“Alright, hold tight,” Joe said, and Barry heard him shuffling about. “Where are you?”

 

Glancing around for any identifying markers, Barry locked eyes on an old, decrepit warehouse more familiar than the many others that surrounded him. A smile crossed his lips as a few happy childhood memories resurfaced. He remembered, in the hazy way one remembers their fifth birthday or a special moment in their youth, leaving that warehouse with a fresh caught fish for dinner. He could smell the unappealing stench of uncooked seafood set out in the sun and could feel the slimy, cold scales of a trout in his hands as he hesitantly touched their purchase. He could hear his father laughing, could see his mother gently knocking shoulders with him and pulling a face after he held it up to her face and joked that she should give it a kiss. 

 

The memory faded; Barry’s smile did not.

 

“East side of the docks, next to the old warehouse where the Saturday fish market used to be.”

 

A moment passed. Barry heard muffled shouting, as if Joe had placed his hand over his phone’s speaker to yell out orders. 

 

“I’m on my way, son.” A pause. “You sure you’re alright?”

 

Barry shrugged before remembering that Joe couldn’t see him. He shook his head, hoping to clear his thoughts but ultimately jarring a few more loose to add to the chaos in his mind. 

 

“I’m good,” he said softly. 

 

He didn’t mention the memory of his family before his mother’s murder and his father’s imprisonment. He didn’t mention the tightness in his chest and restlessness in his bones. He especially didn’t mention the fact that he missed the way Snart’s body pressed against his. 

 

He and Joe exchanged goodbyes. Barry closed the flip phone, still appalled at the fact that Snart used such archaic tech, and tapped it against his lips. He smiled. 

 

As he waited for Joe to arrive, he closed his eyes and allowed himself a moment to just breathe. He couldn’t tell if the warmth in his chest came from the stirred up memory of his youth or the more recent memory of Snart so close that Barry felt every heartbeat, every twitch—perhaps, a mix of both—but Barry clung to it, chasing the high like a smoker desperately inhaling nicotine to feed his addiction. 

 

No one needed to know about his very unherolike thoughts surrounding Snart and other ways their bodies could have pressed together. No one needed to know the way those blue eyes lingered at the forefront of Barry’s memory. Nothing would come of it anyway.

 

As evidenced by the morning’s proceedings, Snart was a villain—a rogue . Barry would never get the opportunity to act on his terrible urges. The thought should not have elicited such strong feelings of disappointment. Barry huffed, shaking his head more vigorously. He needed to get a grip before Joe arrived. It would not bode well to remain lost in his feelings around someone who could read him so easily. He pushed thoughts of Snart to the back of his mind.

 

Still, Barry smiled. In the cold and the rain, after being held hostage and kidnapped and driven halfway across the city by a known criminal, without his bag or his phone and with his powers itching to spark to life, Barry smiled.