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Title: Whatever Happens Here, We Remain
Series: Overprotective Criminals 'Verse
Fandom: CW's The Flash
Author: Batsutousai
Rating: Mature
Pairings: Barry Allen/Mick Rory/Leonard Snart, Eddie Thawne/Iris West
Warnings: Established relationship, polyamory, canon-typical violence, Joe's A+ parenting, Lewis' A+ parenting, relationship reveal, canon character death, grief and depression
Summary: With what Barry hopes is the final battle with Wells on the horizon, there are only two people he really trusts to help him take out the other speedster. Getting them to come will be easy – they've been wanting a crack at him since Christmas – but getting the rest of his team to accept their help? That's going to be a little more difficult.

A/N: All the thanks to StillNotGinger10, who gave this chapter and the next a look-over and caught a couple of bungles. :)

You can also read this at Archive of Our Own or LiveJournal.


Eddie is in the cortex with Joe, Cisco, and Caitlin when they arrive. He looks strained, which doesn't change when Barry lightly sets Iris on her feet and steadies her, but he's there, which was really all that Barry had asked of him. "I'll be back," Barry says to Iris, then sets off at a run, checking for any sign of cameras or microphones in the building.

He gets back to the cortex in time to watch Iris and Eddie hug, clearly having settled things. And then Eddie pulls away a step, pulls out a box that has Barry's eyes widening in recognition and Iris gasping, then goes down on one knee. "Iris West," Eddie says, just a hint of nerves in his voice, "will you marry me?"

"Yes!" Iris says, and doesn't even let him fumble the ring out of the box before she drops to her knees and kisses him.

Barry grins and lets out a loud whistle, just to get a bright, slightly annoyed grin from Iris, which gives Eddie the chance he needs to get the ring out and on her hand.

Caitlin and Cisco step forward to congratulate them both, and Barry looks towards Joe, who is standing against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest.

He flashes across the room and pushes his finger against Joe's chest, a part of him delighted at the way he flinches back. "You are not doing this to her, Joe," he hisses, hopefully quiet enough that the other four don't hear. "You've been trying to break them up since you found out and you've failed. For once in our lives, at least pretend you're happy one of us has someone we love as much as they love us."

Joe flinches again, his expression darkening. "You know that's not–"

"I don't care what your issue with Eddie and Iris' relationship is," Barry says flatly, as unimpressed now as he'd been when Joe had flatly refused to give his approval weeks ago. Except, now, he had the reminder of Iris' happiness for his relationship warming his chest, and memories of watching her slowly crumple as they struggled to find even a hint of where Wells had taken Eddie; he isn't going to let Joe ruin this for her any more. "You need to be her dad right now. And that means being happy for her."

Joe glares at him for a moment, stubborn in his disapproval. But then he looks past Barry, towards where Iris is laughing with Eddie and Caitlin at something Cisco said, and he just sort of...droops.

Barry steps out of the way and motions with his head, is a little surprised when Joe squares his shoulders and goes without any further arguing.

"Congratulations, baby," Joe says when he reaches the group. "Eddie."

"Thank you, Dad!" Iris calls, stepping forward and hugging him.

Eddie looks over at Barry, his eyes a little wide, and mouths, 'Thank you'.

Barry smiles and shrugs; he hadn't really won Joe over, but at least he should let off being a miser about it for today.

Which, actually... Barry glances at the time and winces, then steps forward and says, "Not to rain on the celebration, but I may have found some help for facing Wells."

Iris checks the time, too, then shoots a vaguely concerned look towards the so far empty entryway of the cortex.

"It's not the Arrow, is it?" Joe guesses, even as Eddie starts looking between Iris, Barry, and the entryway of the cortex with concern.

The concern comes to fruition when Len, who has clearly been waiting for the perfect opening, because he's ridiculous, says, "I'm afraid it's someone even less palatable, Detective," as he steps into the entryway and poses, chin up and gun pointing towards the ceiling, the butt resting against his shoulder.

(Barry loves an idiot. God save him.)

Joe immediately goes for his gun, and Barry and Iris both reach out and grab his hands to keep him from aiming at Len, shouting, "Joe/Dad, no!"

"I asked them to come!" Barry adds. "We need their help!"

Joe's eyes are wide and angry as he turns to Barry and demands, " 'Them'?"

Mick and Lisa step out then, stopping on either side of Len. Neither of them have weapons in their hands, thankfully, though Mick is wearing one of his more murderous glares, and Lisa's smile is sharp enough to kill.

"Oh, hell no," Joe says, even as Iris manages to get his gun from him and steps away.

Barry throws his best 'goddammit, Len' look at his boyfriend. Judging by Mick's brief eyeroll, he'd tried to stop him from being so dramatic. Sadly, controlling Len's dramatic tendencies worked a lot better before he became a supervillain.

"That's my gun," Cisco says, pointing at the cold gun on Len's shoulder.

"Finders keepers, Cisco," Len returns.

Cisco flinches, then turns a betrayed look on Barry. "He knows my name."

"Of course he does, cutie," Lisa says with a hint of a purr as she steps further into the room, and Cisco gets a confused sort of besotted look as he turns towards her. "Lenny has to know who to kidnap if something goes wrong with his gun."

"What?!" Caitlin and Cisco chorus, both of them taking a step back from the three criminals.

Barry turns his best unimpressed look on Lisa. "Cold isn't kidnapping anyone," he says flatly.

"Pity," Lisa replies, because she has no shame. "I'd love to get your cute little engineer in a room alone."

There's a moment of silence, where Lisa smiles beatifically at Cisco, Cisco looks like a trapped rat, and everyone else just sort of stares at one of the two in disbelief. (Except for Len, who looks tortured, and Mick, who looks bored.)

And then Barry covers his face with his hands and says, "Lisa, please." Because he honestly can't tell if she's flirting with Cisco to be difficult, or flirting because she actually likes him. (The only thing he knows for certain is that she isn't working on some sort of con, because there's nothing she'll get out of one.)

"Time and place, sis," Len agrees, striding into the room himself and stopping right in front of Barry, so close he can smell the cool scent of the breath mints he always eats when in costume. "As promised, Flash," he says with a taunting little smirk. "I do hope you intend to hold up your end of the bargain."

Barry blinks, thrown for a brief moment. But then he remembers Len's earlier comment and sighs. "Yeah," he says and takes a step back to give himself space to turn around, look over the rest of his team and friends, all of whom have taken a couple of steps back, leaving Barry between them and the three criminals. "Look," he tells them, "Wells has been here, watching and working with us for months." Cisco and Caitlin both look away, shoulders rounding forward with shame, while Joe and Eddie put on similar scowls. "He knows how we think, how we react, how we'd plan to face him down when he gets back here."

"Then we be smarter, do something we normally wouldn't," Joe says with a bite to the words.

Barry inclines his head. "Yeah. Which is why Captain Cold will be making the plan."

The outcry of refusal is pretty much immediate, and utterly predictable. Barry shoots Iris a tired look and she offers him a helpless smile in return, then holds up Joe's gun, which she still has. Barry snorts and shakes his head, because as amusing as it would be to fire it to shut them up, that sounds like a bad idea.

Len, of course, seems to have a similar train of thought – or else sees the interaction and decides to go with it when Iris doesn't – because he powers up the cold gun behind Barry, close enough he can feel the chill of it down his spine.

Barry trusts Len enough that he doesn't startle at the sound, but Cisco, Caitlin, and Joe, all of whom have heard the noise before (through the comms, at the least), stiffen and turn hostile looks at Len, Joe reaching automatically for his gun, and settling for just the glare when he finds an empty holster, rather than trying to look around for Iris and his weapon.

"The way it was explained to me," Len says with a hint of his Captain Cold drawl, "your opponent, Dr Harrison Wells – or Eobard Thawne, if you prefer – is both from the future and a speedster, just like Flash, which makes him a difficult man to outthink, especially given he knows all of you so well. Which means, if you intend to defeat him, you'll need to pull from a source he'll never expect of you, which would be me." Barry can hear the overconfident smirk in his voice when he adds, "The only one here with a weapon that can slow him down."

"Yeah, we've all seen how effective the gun is against Ba– the Flash," Cisco says with an angry glower. "You're lucky to get away, most of the time."

Something about Len's expression must change, because all of them flinch back a bit, even Iris. When he speaks, it's not with Captain Cold's cheerfully mocking tone, but the jagged edge of the murderer who would snap the neck of anyone who dares to touch the small handful of people that are his. "If I wanted to kill the Flash, trust me, he would be dead."

"Guys," Barry says in as gentle a voice as he can manage, "please trust me: We need them."

Cisco and Caitlin trade uncertain looks, then step forward together. "What do you need us to do?" Caitlin asks, her head held high.

The familiar hum of the cold gun shuts off behind Barry. "This gun. We need at least two more, and if you can make some sort of cold bomb or land mine?"

Cisco's eyes go distant as he starts making calculations. "Yeah, I should be able to figure out something."

"Who're the other guns for?" Joe demands, a tense anger to his voice. Like he's realized he can't stop this from happening, but damned if he's going to go along with it peacefully.

"Why, you and Detective Thawne," Len says, no doubt wearing one of his more patronizing smirks. "Unless you think you'll have trouble aiming and firing it? I assure you that it works similarly to your service weapon, just a little larger, and with less kick-back."

Before Joe can figure out how to respond to that, Iris says, "Cisco, make three guns."

"Iris, no," Barry says a beat before Joe and Eddie.

"I am not going to stand back and watch while you trade blows with him!" Iris shouts, glaring between the three of them. "I refuse to be the damsel in distress watching from the sidelines!"

"Iris, come on–" Eddie starts.

"Oh, Detective Pretty," Lisa sing-songs, the click of her heels warning Barry she's moving forward before he sees her. She stops at Iris' side, smiling her most poisonous smile, and Barry, at least, realizes they're not going to win this argument. "You can't just put a sparkling rock on a girl's finger and then assume she'll turn into the dutiful wife, always waiting for you at home. Unless you've decided that 'for better or worse' and 'until death do us part' is a little too terrifying for you."

Eddie goes pale and still at the mention of death, and Barry suspects he's envisioning all the ways Iris could get killed against Wells; god knows Barry is.

"Congratulations, by the way, sweetie," Lisa says to Iris, her smile slipping into something fonder, because she and Iris had been fast friends over lunch, both being apparently long-suffering sisters with idiots for brothers.

Iris smiles back and holds out her hand to show the ring off, because there's no question that Lisa's going to want to get a look at it. "Thanks, Lise. Isn't it gorgeous?"

Lisa considers it for a moment, then looks at Iris, tilts her head to the side, and decides, "It suits you." Which means it's not shiny or gold enough for Lisa's expensive tastes, but she approves of it for Iris, who Barry knows prefers much less flashy jewelry.

Barry catches Eddie staring at him with wide eyes and opens his mouth to ask what's wrong – well, other than Lisa and Iris connecting over a love of her new ring – but then Joe bursts into his enraged dad routine: "Absolutely not! You are a civilian and will stay out of the fighting, or I'll knock you–"

"Joe!" Eddie shouts, clearly angry about the threat of violence to enforce compliance. Which, honestly, Barry's not too pleased about it, either, but he knows Joe won't go through with it, would never actually hit either of them.

Lisa, though, doesn't know that, and she doesn't bother with words to shut Joe up, is already stepping between Joe and Iris, one hand slipping under her jacket, rage twisting her pretty face into something terrifying.

Barry's moving before he thinks better of it, putting himself in the middle of the brewing conflict and throwing his arms wide, blocking Lisa from shooting Joe with the gun she's in the process of revealing. "Lisa, no!"

She blinks, the rage fading away to confusion, like she'd forgotten, for a minute, where she is.

"Lise?" Barry says, keeping his voice quiet and gentle, while waving Iris away when he spots her reaching for the arm with the gun. "Do you know who I am?"

She blinks again, the confusion vanishing behind the same blank mask Len pulls on when he needs to hide. "Of course I know who you are," she snaps.

Barry steps forward and covers the hand holding the gun with both of his. "Iris," he says, still keeping his voice gentle, "why don't you show Lise around the labs."

"Sure," Iris agrees, stepping around Lisa and offering her a smile that looks a little shaky. "We can try to find all of Cisco's sweets stashes."

"Oh?" Lisa says, a hint of interest in her voice, even though her blank expression doesn't twitch.

"I have it on relatively good authority that there's a box of chocolates somewhere on this floor."

"That," Lisa says, sounding a little more like herself, "sounds like a challenge."

When Lisa steps away, following Iris, she doesn't fight Barry for the gun, just lets it go, and he frowns at that as he checks that the safety is on, then shoves it in the back of his trousers, where he's unlikely to forget about it before he can return it to her.

Then he turns to Joe, who looks shaken, and quietly asks, "You know their history?"

Joe nods; he'd suggested he knew something about Lewis back when Len first showed back up in Central City.

Barry nods himself, then straightens and says, in as flat a voice as he can manage, "Yelling has never once kept either of us from doing whatever we want. If you want to be afraid and overprotective, fine. I don't like it either. But Iris is a grown woman, Joe, and just like she's going to marry Eddie, no matter your thoughts on the matter, she's going to get involved in this fight. At least if she's got a cold gun she'll be able to defend herself."

"Wells is dangerous," Joe hisses, anger and fear shining in his eyes.

"Yeah, I know," Barry replies flatly. "I've known that longer than you've believed he was real." Joe looks away and Barry gives himself a point for that win. "I'd rather she's able to protect herself, than trust she'll stay out of things. Or do you really think Wells won't go after one of the people I'll do anything to keep safe?"

Joe's jaw clenches and he doesn't try to respond to that. Which doesn't mean Barry's won, not really, but at least he can trust Joe's going to think things through for a bit, rather than going straight for the yelling.

When he turns his focus to the rest of the room, he finds that Len, Cisco, and Caitlin have all vanished – that explains why Len didn't step in when Lisa freaked out – and Mick is standing silent guardian in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest and scowl a weird sort of comfort.

As much as Barry wants to go and stand with Mick until he regains his equilibrium – fighting with Joe is never fun, and it always reminds him, just a little bit, of the fight seven years ago that had sent Barry to Mick and Len's door in tears – he can't, because Eddie is still watching him a little strangely. Like he's maybe putting a puzzle together in his head.

Barry motions for Eddie to follow him, then leads the way into the med bay, where he'll be able to keep an eye on both Joe and Mick while they talk. "What is it?" he asks, keeping his voice down because otherwise it'll carry.

Eddie swallows and looks towards Mick for a second, then turns back to Barry and, also keeping his voice down, says, "Lenny and Micky; Leonard Snart and Mick Rory."

Barry stiffens, feels like everything around him has frozen in a completely different way from when the speed force takes over. Iris figuring it out is one thing, she'll never tell anyone about it, but Eddie? He's a cop, Joe's partner, and he'll be duty-bound to report Barry, to tell Singh and Joe and–

"Bare," Eddie says, his hands hovering over Barry's shoulders like he wants to touch him, but is afraid of his reaction. "I'm not going to tell anyone."

Barry gasps out the breath he hadn't even realized he was holding. He looks past Eddie, towards Mick, who's watching them with eyes far too sharp for the dumb muscle he likes to play, tense in a way that Barry knows means he's fully prepared to come rushing to Barry's aid. And that...that helps to resettle his equilibrium, lets him ease back into breathing without hyperventilating.

He makes a quick shake of his head for Mick, then refocuses on Eddie, who looks concerned and not at all like he's trying to find ways to use his new knowledge against Barry. Which is...well. When Barry stops to think about it, Eddie's never used any of the secrets he's learnt against him. He'd never spread it around the precinct that Barry was in a polyamorous relationship, had very carefully not outted him when he'd made his apology, and he'd never made any pointed hints about knowing who the Flash was once they'd told him.

Of all the people in his life, really, Eddie's probably the most likely to take this secret to the grave.

"Yeah," he says, and the word comes out sounding a bit like a croak. "Wh–what gave it away?" Because if Eddie had figured it out, one of the others might have. Which wasn't to say that Eddie was dumb – he was a damn good detective – but Caitlin and Cisco both had genius-level intellect, and Joe was also a detective.

Eddie withdraws his hands, shoving them into his pockets. "Lisa Snart and Iris being friends."


"Recent development," he admits, if only to explain why the two of them aren't being careful with their familiarity the same way Barry's been trying to do with all three of the criminals. Hopefully Joe's too stuck on Iris wanting to get involved in the fight to think about their friendship. That, or he just goes straight to thinking that was some variation on Iris trying to piss him off by making friendly with a criminal.

Eddie clears his throat and nods, then adds, "Also, Lisa called Sn– her brother 'Lenny'."

Right, Eddie would have heard the nickname Barry uses for Len around his family at the Christmas party. And, unlike Joe and Iris, he hasn't been hearing it for years, developing some sort of mental image of one of Barry's mysterious boyfriends, which the real Len may or may not fit into. Which doesn't mean Joe won't catch on eventually, but letting the two sides of his life interact like this will always have that danger.

Barry hopes he can survive another row with Joe over his boyfriends. Having Iris and Eddie in his corner is making it a lot easier to believe he will.

Well, he thinks he has Eddie in his corner. He clears his throat and makes himself ask, "What now?" Because Eddie might not intend to tell anyone, but–

Eddie moves at a speed that would be too fast for a normal person to react to, but Barry has more than enough time to recognize it as a hug. He hesitantly returns it after a moment, because it's not really an answer, but it's also not the judgmental silence and yawning distance that had marked the period after Christmas. "Thank you for not letting them kill me after Christmas," Eddie says once Barry's hugged him back.

The giggle that escapes Barry is maybe a little manic, but given that he had been forced to talk Len and Mick back a couple of times – that Eddie had never made it to one of their heists before they'd already made their getaway really was for the best – he's pretty sure he'll be excused. "I apologize, in advance, for what Len'll probably start calling you once he figures out you know," he offers, because while he'd got Len to promise not to drop any 'Detective Douche's on account of it making everyone wonder what he has against Eddie, specifically, he can't do a whole lot to keep Len from doing it when he knows his victim is aware of why he's slinging insults.

Eddie's grimacing as he pulls back from the hug, but he doesn't complain about the warning of abuse. (Then again, given the men involved, better to suffer a mean-spirited nickname than end up dead or hospitalized.) But then he sighs and says, "Give me a bit to get my head around it, okay?"

"Sure," Barry says, because Eddie's reaction is still leagues away from what he'd been expecting, especially after the debacle following Christmas. "Can you stick with Joe? Make sure he doesn't do something stupid?"

Eddie winces and glances at where Joe still looks a lot angry, but also a little like he's trying to think things through. "I'm sort of with him," he points out.

Barry grimaces. "Yeah. But, well..." He shakes his head. "Trust me, we might have had a chance of convincing her to sit this one out, but now she's got Lisa backing her up? Not happening. If Cisco honestly can't manage to put together three guns before Wells shows up, she might at least hang back in the cortex, but if she finds out we delayed him somehow..."

Eddie sighs and nods. "Let her have her way and just plan to watch her back," he decides, though his expression makes it clear he's not enjoying the idea.

Barry nods. "Pretty much. I'll see if Len can put her somewhere she won't be in too much danger?"

Eddie takes a deep breath and nods. "Okay. That might... Let me try that on Joe, see if he'll back down. You go talk to Snart. Leonard. Len?"

Barry can't stop a laugh and he lightly pats Eddie's shoulder. "Not Leonard," he suggests, because Len hates his full name almost as much as the nickname his father uses for him. (Leo; which Barry only knows because he'd heard someone use it for him once, a couple years ago, and he'd made Len explain why Mick had held him back while telling the guy to piss off.) "Good luck with Joe," he adds, and Eddie's grimace follows him from the med bay.

He's not really surprised when Mick follows him from the cortex. Neither of them speak as Barry leads the way through the curved corridor. When he reaches one of the storerooms that aren't in use, so are left locked, he vibrates it open, then pulls Mick in with him.

Mick doesn't even let him get the door closed before he's crowding him back against it, the heat of him making Barry feel a lot less like his world is threatening to topple. Mick's kiss is rough and demanding, and Barry returns it with interest, pouring all of the stress bunching up his shoulders into it.

It's only when Barry relaxes back against the door, his emotions settled, that Mick pulls back and murmurs, "Thawne figure us out?"

Barry quirks a tired smile at him. "Yeah."

"He gonna be a problem?"

"I don't think so. He's promised not to report me or tell Joe, at least."

Mick grunts and leans in to press a gentler kiss against Barry's mouth, then steps back, giving them both space to calm their bodies back down. Because, as tempting as it might be to go a little too far in one of S.T.A.R. Labs' unused storerooms, this is far from the time. (Anyway, Len will give them hell for doing anything without him.) "Yer dad gonna be a problem?" Mick asks after a moment.

Barry sighs and shrugs. "Maybe? Eddie's gonna try to talk him down a bit more. I'm hoping Len can fit her into his plans in such a way that she doesn't feel like she's being purposefully excluded, but keeps her safe enough that Joe and Eddie can stomach it."

"And you," Mick adds with a flat look.

Barry winces. "And me."

Mick grunts, then motions to the door behind Barry. "Lenny went with yer scientists, prolly hopin' Ramon'll help him upgrade his gun or sum'thin'."

Barry snorts and shakes his head. "That, or he's hoping to steal something he thinks will serve him on his own." Mick snorts himself, because they've both seen Len fiddle with the cold gun enough times to make that a very real possibility. "They're probably down in Cisco's lab, then. Did you catch what Len's got Caitlin doing?"

"Callin' 'er fiancé," Mick reports, and Barry almost smacks himself, because Firestorm might be in Pennsylvania, but there's no reason they can't fly back to Central before the accelerator finishes charging up. " 'N sum'thin' 'bout maybe fuckin' with Wells' speed? Drug-wise, I think."

"Something to drain or suppress our powers, similar to how I lost my powers when Blackout hit me," Barry assumes.

Mick grimaces in distaste at the reminder of that incident – Barry had filled them both in when he'd got home that night, after getting his powers back, and he's fairly certain that Len's return of the diamond the next day was a direct reaction to that – but agrees, "Likely.

Barry offers him a smile that he hopes is comforting. "It's not a terrible idea to have a way to take out speedsters. I mean, we've got two right now, so what's to say another one isn't going to show up and cause problems down the line?"

"Dun't mean I have t' like it," is Mick's flat reply.

"Yeah, well..." Barry shrugs. "I'd rather you and Len and my team have it, than someone else. If we develop it first, we can probably find a way to counteract it. Just in case."

Mick huffs and shoots Barry an unimpressed look. "Dun't that defeat the purpose?"


Mick rolls his eyes. "Y'all're always makin' thin's too complicated. Whate'er, plan B's still shoot 'em 'til he's down."

Barry's the one rolling his eyes, then. "I'm gonna go down and check with Len and Cisco, see if Len can't find somewhere for Iris. Could you keep tabs on Joe and Eddie?"

"Ya want me keepin' yer dad away from Iris?"

Barry takes a moment to consider that, then shakes his head. "Nah. Iris can hold her own. But, if things get hairy and you need backup, there's a green button for the microphones on the desk which will switch on the building intercom."

"Got it."

Barry shoots him a grateful grin and speeds forward for a quick kiss, which Mick smiles into, then hurries off to hunt down his other boyfriend and ensure he's not being too much of a pest.


While Len isn't being too much of a pest, Cisco still seems relieved that Barry gets him to leave his private lab. They end up hunting down Lisa and Iris, and Len discusses options with Iris – Barry finally starts to get an idea of Len's plan and, okay, none of them ever would have come up with something like it – a couple of which she likes. When Barry – who has been reduced to messenger mostly because he's the least likely to either get shot or yelled at – takes the options back to Joe and Eddie, the three of them settle on the one that makes them the least twitchy.

Firestorm shows up about an hour before Cisco's guesstimate of when the accelerator will be online. Ronnie seems happy to accept Len, Mick, and Lisa's assistance with a quick nod and smile from Caitlin – who had, in the intervening hours, apparently made friends with Lisa, via Iris, and decided that Mick and Len weren't that bad; Barry blames their habit of not killing people and never doing worse than winging Barry during their heists, save Len's first appearance – but Dr Stein is a little less amiable. At least he seems willing to accept Len's plan as a good one, when he finally lays it out for all of them.

When the accelerator finishes charging, they're ready to go, and Len's got everyone heading to their places before Wells appears on the outside cameras, casually strolling up to the fence and pushing his way inside, then turning a wide smile on the camera he knows is recording him and making a beckoning motion.

Barry takes a deep breath and looks over at Firestorm, who had merged when Len sent everyone else out of the cortex. "Ready?" he asks.

"As we'll ever be," Ronnie replies, then lights his head and hands on fire.

Barry smiles at the reminder of Mick's open delight the first time he'd seen that trick, then he pulls his cowl up over his face and turns to lead the way through the building at normal speeds.

Wells is waiting for them, looking a little impatient, and Barry has to give Len a point for that one, because he'd been insistent that Barry walk – not run, not even normal person run – out to meet him. He also looks a little surprised to see Firestorm at Barry's side, though he covers that quickly with a smile and a sarcastic, "I see you phoned a friend."

"Yeah. Thought it might be nice to have a little extra firepower."

(Dammit, Len. He dropped so many elemental puns during his briefing, he's got Barry doing it, too.)

Wells' smile just widens. "I see. Are you hoping an extra person will be enough to let you beat me?"

Honestly, Barry thinks he just needs the right extra person. Sadly, Len had nixed that little team-up idea with an unimpressed stare.

Still, the plan isn't to fight out here, where speed will be an asset, but to take things inside, so Barry makes a show of tightening his hands into fists and clenching his jaw – not hard; the mere sight of Wells makes his blood boil – then grits out, "No. We want you to shut off the particle accelerator."

Wells laughs, then, loud and mean, and Barry can sense Firestorm shifting next to him, like he's considering just throwing a fireball at him. Which Barry would be totally okay with, though they do need to at least try to stick to Len's plan.

"Oh, Barry, Barry, Barry," Wells says, shaking his head and still grinning, like this is a game. "Why would I do that? I need it to be on."

Barry swallows. "Why? What purpose could it possibly serve?"

"Why don't we go down to the accelerator and I'll show you," Wells replies.

It's not the location they were expecting him to want to go, but Len's plan is flexible enough to make up the difference, and Barry doesn't need his comms – a caution, in case Wells has some sort of device that lets him hack into them; Barry's wearing a wire that's sending straight to Len's receiver, so he knows if they need to change anything – to know that his boyfriend is already shouting directions to get everyone into a new position.

To give everyone time to move, Barry asks, "Why down there? Why can't you do whatever it is from the cortex? Can't face Cisco and Caitlin after you betrayed their trust?" Well, that came out angrier than he'd intended.

"Betrayed them? Oh, no. I've made them better," Wells insists.

"Better?" Ronnie demands, taking a step forward, and Barry throws out an arm in an attempt to make him cool off. "You think our lives are better? Than what?!"

Barry realizes Caitlin must not have had time to fill Ronnie and Dr Stein in about the truth, and there definitely hadn't been time when he arrived. "Dr Wells," he says, "isn't Dr Wells. He's someone named Eobard Thawne. From the future."

Wells smiles, wide and terrible. Ronnie is quiet for a long moment, then he says, "Time travel? Isn't that exceedingly dangerous?" in the tone of voice that Barry knows belongs to Dr Stein.

"Indeed," Wells agrees, still looking cheerful. "But, as you can see, I still exist. I just need a little help getting home." His gaze zeroes in on Barry again. "Which, yes, requires the particle accelerator. Why don't I show you how?"

Barry swallows and hopes that was enough time for everyone to get into position. "Fine. But Ronnie and Dr Stein are coming with us." Which is really just a way to make sure Wells doesn't speed past all of the traps, but Barry hopes Wells believes it's more a case of Barry needing a second fighter with him, who also happens to serve as a brilliant scientist, in case Wells starts in on more scientific theory than Barry can follow without a primer.

Wells' smile doesn't fade. If anything, it looks slightly more triumphant, with a definite edge of superiority. "Lead the way."

Barry does take the lead, with Firestorm following behind Wells. The ground floor is empty, too close to the outside to serve as a good site for an ambush. They get onto the lift and suffer a tense ride down to the accelerator access floor. There, Barry and Wells step out of the lift and into the landing. Firestorm, though, instead of joining them, hits the door close button, which Cisco had re-engineered to immediately close the doors with a loud 'clang'.

Barry's moving before the sound finishes echoing, speeding away from Wells and towards the cluster of cold bombs Cisco had made, so Barry has a weapon that won't slow him down when he holds it for too long. He just misses getting hit with the first stream of absolute cold, fired by Len, with Joe barely a half-second behind him.

Wells manages to avoid both cold streams, but runs straight into one of the cold mines Cisco made, and he yells as the puff of icy air envelops him. Barry hits him with one of the cold bombs when he stumbles in the direction he'd gone, clearly thinking that way is safe, and it slows him down enough that Joe and Len's guns hit him in the back.

Wells hits his knees and snarls, "You think this will stop me?!" And then he begins to vibrate.

"Thawne!" Len shouts, and Barry thinks he sees Wells' vibrating pause for a speedy gasp of a second, but Len isn't talking to him, and two more streams of cold hit Wells as Iris and Eddie join the fray from where they'd been holding back, standing in reserve in case Wells got past the landing point or they needed the extra guns.

Barry throws another cold bomb, aiming to get it to detonate under Wells' hunched over form, where the guns aren't hitting him. He's rewarded with a pained yell, but then Wells is up, moving towards him at a speed that's far too slow for a speedster, but still fast for a normal human.

Someone shouts his name and at least one of the cold guns stop firing, probably afraid of hitting him, but Barry can't focus on that, is already moving to punch Wells, hopefully shove him back a bit–

He doesn't get the chance, though, because a hot hand on his shoulder yanks him back, out of the way, and Mick's thick fist slams into Wells' face hard enough to send him staggering back, blood already staining the faint covering of ice over his lips. Mick follows him with a snarl that's all protective rage, driving another fist into his stomach with enough force to make Wells retch.

Mick gets out of the way just in time to avoid a renewed blast of cold. And Barry can't tell if Wells is just too hurt to shake it off this time, or if Len has found some sort of way to make his gun colder, but he's starting to turn blue, ice forming along the side of his head where the beam's hitting him.

"Len, no!" Barry shouts, completely forgetting to use his boyfriend's alias while around the others. "I need him alive to confess to Mom's murder!"

The cold stream cuts off, and Barry can't see Len's eyes behind his goggles, but the angry twist of his mouth is familiar enough that he can assume he's being glared at. "Alive means he can attack you again," he snarls.

"I don't care," Barry shoots back, irritated. "Dad comes first."

Len scoffs, but he doesn't try to argue that. "Fine," he says flatly as he turns off his cold gun. "You get one chance at a confession. Then I ice him."

"Ya did promise," Mick adds, before moving forward to punch the ice off of Wells' face. (And probably make sure he's good and knocked out for the trip to the holding cell Cisco, Caitlin, and Lisa have been working on getting up and running as soon as it was determined to be safe for them to go into the accelerator.)

"Barry!" Joe shouts, looking horrified. Iris and Eddie aren't looking much better; it's nice to know some people in the corridor don't think Barry would condone cold-blooded murder.

"I did no such thing!" Barry insists.

Len pulls down his goggles so he can raise an eyebrow at him, while Mick snorts.

Wait, had he? "Was I distracted at the time?" he asks, because both Len and Mick have been known to get him to promise things when he's not paying attention. (In all fairness, Barry does it to them, too.)

"More tired," Mick announces.

"Mick," Len snarls, and Barry's not sure if he's more annoyed at Mick for admitting that Barry wasn't at his best, or if that's meant as a warning that Joe is right there.

Mick looks at Barry as he slings Wells over his shoulder, his expression a clear, 'We're winning this one, Barry.'

Barry huffs and crosses his arms over his chest, because, okay, maybe Len has a point about killing Wells being the only way to keep him from coming back. And maybe Mick deserves a reward for keeping his promise about not letting Wells touch Barry.

And then Iris jumps and shoves her hand into one pocket, coming out with a familiar mobile. "Barry! It's someone named Ollie?"

Barry blinks at that, because usually, if Team Arrow needs to reach him, it's Felicity who calls. Still, he hurries forward to accept it from her while Mick makes his way to the accelerator with Wells, Eddie, Joe, and Len following behind with their guns, because no way he's ignoring this call. "Oliver?" he answers once the call's connected.

"Barry, listen, I don't have much time. I need you to go to Nanda Parbat, the League of Assassins' base, and break my team out of the dungeon," Oliver says in a rush that's nothing like him.

Barry swallows down a sinking feeling and says the only thing he possibly can: "Yeah, of course. Is that what those blueprints you sent me are for?" Because he'd received an email from an unfamiliar web address a few days ago with building blueprints of someplace he had no reference for. The subject line had been 'Just in case' and it had been signed with the emoji of a heart with an arrow through it. (As much as he wants to mock Oliver for that, this isn't the time.) Barry had thought it was probably from Oliver, but when he'd sent an email back, asking for clarification, it had bounced as undeliverable.

He'd kept the email, of course, given the subject line and his suspicions as to the sender. He'd looked over the blueprints a couple of times, when he'd needed something to distract him from Eddie still being missing. He'd even shown them to Len, mostly because he knew his boyfriend got a weird sort of pleasure out of deciphering blueprints. He'd determined the places where the valuables were most likely to be kept within a minute of looking at them, of course, and Barry wonders if he isn't about to have the chance to determine if he was right.

"Yes. Thank you. Take care."

The line goes dead.

"Oliver?" Barry whispers, pulling his mobile away so he can stare at the end call screen. That had sounded suspiciously like a goodbye. God, what had Oliver got himself into?

"Bare?" Iris says, touching his wrist.

Barry swallows, pulls himself back together; he can't really leave long enough to help Oliver with whatever's going on, but he can get Felicity and Dig and whoever else out of Nanda Parbat and send them after Oliver. Because if Barry's learnt anything this year, it's that you can't be your city's superhero without your team backing you up.

"I need to help some friends," he tells Iris, holding his mobile back out towards her, because there's nowhere for him to keep it in his suit. (And, besides, the roaming charges would be a nightmare.) "I shouldn't be gone more than an hour, okay?"

Iris clutches his mobile against her chest, looking worried and strained. "It's the Arrow, isn't it? Oliver Queen really is–"

"Iris," Barry says, placing his hands on her shoulders. "I promise I will answer all of your questions about the Arrow and his team when I get back. But, right now, I need to go save them before it's too late. Can you try to keep Len and Mick from killing Wells until I get back?"

Iris quirks an uncertain smile at him. "I'll try."

"Thank you." Barry kisses her cheek, then races for the closest of the stairwells and out of the building.

Overprotective Criminals 'Verse
Part One: Criminal Partners
Part Two: A Distraction of Ice and Fire
Part Three: Relationship Status
1/Cisco Ramon || 2/David Singh || 3/Felicity Smoak || 4/Eddie Thawne || 5/Henry Allen
Part Four: Whatever Happens Here, We Remain
One ||| Two ||| Three
Part Five: Nobly Save or Meanly Lose
1/Angel's Wings || 2/Damini's Shock || 3/Mini Mia || 4/Kerry's Flame || 5/Jackie's Force
+1/Flash Day



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