"You still can," Barry said in the way of someone who has heard and argued that point before. "But you drove us here, we have a casserole, and," --Barry leaned against Leonard's shoulder, pressing a kiss to his cheek-- "you promised."
"Have you forgotten I like lying?"
Barry rolled his eyes, and Leonard scowled. He was officially soft enough that Barry didn't even take him seriously anymore. It was possible he'd made a terrible mistake. Leonard looked forward at the house Barry had been all but raised in and thought about the night he'd broken in. He'd never been in a house like this unless he was robbing the place. He sure as hell wasn't meant for the kind of life that had family dinners on Sunday.
There were so many reasons why coming to this dinner was a bad idea, but before Leonard could work himself up, Barry walked over to his side of the car and opened the door. He leaned in close to unbuckle Leonard's seat belt, and paused to steal a kiss, turning Leonard's simmering panic into white noise as he grinned against Leonard's mouth.
"I know you're only doing this for me." Barry stole another kiss. "Also, Iris is the only one who know I'm dating you."
Leonard pressed back against his seat to get enough space to stare at Barry. "You brought me to a dinner with everyone you care about and you didn't tell them you were bringing me?"
"You say that like I don't know you." Barry's smile was just on the right side of wicked, and warmth tumbled in Leonard's chest, the depth of his affection still alien and new. "You love drama. Just think about Joe's face when I tell him we're together."
"How can I say no to that?" he asked, and when Barry stepped away from the car, Leonard followed, dread settling low in his gut. Barry led the way up the stairs and knocked perfunctorily before letting himself in. Leonard was rather relieved. He was unashamed to hide behind The Flash--it was the best defensible position, and the view didn't hurt, either.
"Hey," Barry called out cheerfully as they entered the living room together. "Hope you guys haven't started without me!"
"You lost out on the chips and dip," Cisco said cheerfully, "Wally," --and Leonard could see the instant Cisco realized he was there, his hands flying up defensively and starting to glow-- "Holy--Captain Cold!"
"Dude, it's okay!" Barry stayed solidly in front of Leonard, and Leonard appreciated that as he scoped the rest of the room. Cisco looked ready to take off Leonard's head with a blast or two, and Caitlin, sitting in the living room with Iris, looked decidedly frosty. "He's my plus one! I invited him!"
"Barry." And there, the person Leonard had been waiting for. Joe West had his arms crossed over his chest, his face making a complicated expression that eventually landed on what Leonard would call 'thunderous', and jerked his head toward the kitchen. "Kitchen. Alone. Now."
What do you know? The look on his face was kind of worth it.
Barry glanced at Leonard and winced; Leonard arched his eyebrow, but took Barry's casserole and set it carefully on the table, which was already set with place-mats and silverware.
"I'm next!" Cisco insisted, giving Leonard the stink-eye. "Whatever Joe's gonna say, I'm gonna say twice."
Barry followed Joe into the kitchen, and Leonard tapped his fingers against his thigh--he had worked a couple of times with Team Flash, but he wouldn't go so far as to say he was comfortable with them, or they with him--
"I'm not surprised in the least," Caitlin said, turning her eyes back to the magazine in her lap. She had dismissed him as a threat, her hair darkening again.
"Um, hello?" Cisco raised his arms in defeat. "You're not surprised that Barry brought home a super-villain?"
"Not surprised he brought Leonard Snart," Caitlin said, giving Leonard an appraising look.
"I'm going to need a minute." Cisco ran his hands through his hair and sat heavily on the sofa next to Caitlin.
There was a flash of yellow lightning, a hint of ozone, and Leonard startled, taking a step back. Barry had mentioned that his brother also had speed powers, but this was the first time Leonard had experienced them.
"Wally West," Wally said with a wide, good-natured smile as he offered Leonard a handshake.
"Leonard Snart." Leonard agreeably shook Wally's hand, still watching the others slowly relax their aggression.
"Don't mind Dad," Iris said, coming over to the table to eye Barry's casserole. "You're just a lot. Barry doesn't usually date super-villains. Central isn't like Gotham."
"I'm basically a hero now," Leonard drawled. "Died to save the world and everything."
"And the statute of limitations has run out on your most recent robberies," Iris pointed out. "And with some testimony from Central City's favorite vigilante--"
"--even murdering my father was reduced to self defense and time served," Leonard finished. "I'm aware."
"Good." Iris pinned him with a dark look. "Don't screw it up."
"That was a milder shovel talk than I expected," Leonard admitted.
"Yeah, well, Dad is already yelling at Barry, so--" they both winced as Joe and Barry got steadily louder in the other room.
"So--" Wally rolled his eyes and bumped Leonard's shoulder with his own, "--you were a Legend, right? I was just on the Waverider last week."
Wally laughed, genuine and infectious enough that Leonard smiled. "Writing a new chapter on his book. Man, Zari wouldn't shut up about it."
"Writing, huh? Good for him." And it was good, how much Mick had grown and changed. Coming back from the dead gave Leonard a new world with new rules, and he was still trying to navigate it. Maybe he should've gone with Mick the last time he'd offered after all.
"I think they miss you," Wally said, "although having a speedster is just as good as having a thief."
"I'm a thief and a con man," Leonard corrected. "Bet they haven't been able to keep a cover since I left."
"I plead the fifth," Wally said loyally, and Leonard couldn't resist his smirk.
"If you'll excuse me,"--Leonard gestured toward the kitchen, where Barry and Joe were still arguing--"I'm getting tired of the background noise." Leonard stepped away from the surprisingly pleasant conversation and headed toward the kitchen, fortifying himself with a deep breath before he stepped in. "Hey." His voice was cold, but not confrontational. Barry should be proud of him. "Stop yelling at your kid. We get it. You're mad."
"Don't you dare tell me what to do," Joe said, turning on Leonard as though he were grateful to have a target he could strike at without guilt. He jabbed his finger at Barry. "You bring him into my house--a murderer and a thief--there's a baby under this roof, Barr. If Cecile weren't visiting her daughter--"
"I'm offended you think I'd hurt a baby," Leonard said, "And you have at least four metas in this house that could take me down if I blink the wrong way. You're not thinking clearly."
"Not thinking clear--" Joe took a step toward Leonard, who went tense but refused to step back out of principle.
"Joe! Len!" Barry interrupted. "Come on! This is stupid."
"I'll say one thing, and then go." Leonard flicked his gaze between Joe and Barry. "He brought me because he didn't want to hide who he was seeing. He didn't want to keep me a secret."
"You're worth more than that," Barry said immediately, a muscle twitching in his jaw. "I'm not embarrassed."
"You should be," Joe snapped. "He's gotten under your skin, and he's going to screw you up just like he did before. I can't watch that happen to you again. I can't."
Barry threw his hands up in defeat and turned to the counter behind him, bracing himself.
Leonard stepped closer, reaching out and resting his hand on the small of Barry's back. "Turns out family drama isn't nearly as entertaining as playing cops and robbers. I'll head out."
"I'll go with you," Barry said tersely, and Leonard shook his head.
"Nah. Looks like you've got important things to work out." Leonard turned to Joe again, who was staring at Leonard's hand, the point of contact between them. He seemed to be fuming a little less than he had before. Leonard figured that was a good thing. "He's a good man, Detective West. Maybe dying put things in perspective for me. Or maybe having Barry around makes me want to be better, too." He shrugged, as if both options were equal. "I'll see myself out."
He stepped out of the kitchen, the corner of his mouth quirking up in a smile as everyone in the living room pretended like they hadn't just been listening in on every word. "I'd like to say it's a pleasure, but."
"See you on the Waverider?" Wally asked, and Leonard rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, okay. I'll get on that."
To his surprise, Iris reached out and enfolded him in a brief hug. He patted her back only a little awkwardly before she pulled away.
"Give dad some time to cool off. He just wants what's best for us."
Leonard shook his head. "Kind of you, Miss West, but ultimately unnecessary." He nodded once, and then headed for the door, Barry trailing unhappily behind him.
"I'm so sorry," Barry burst out the moment the door closed behind him. His face was flushed with misery, his eyes shining with dampness, and Leonard reached up to ruffle his hair.
"There was no version of this where they welcomed me with open arms, Barry. It's enough that you wanted to do it."
Barry captured Leonard's hand between his, looking down as he traced his fingertips over Leonard's palm. "Are we okay?"
Leonard studied Barry for a moment and then nodded. "Yeah. We're okay. Besides, you're dealing with Lisa on Tuesday."
Barry smiled ruefully. "Still feels like I'm getting the better half of this bargain."
"Do the dishes the next time you visit, and we'll call it even." Leonard curled his hand around the back of Barry's neck and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth. "Don't mope. I'll see you tomorrow."
Barry stepped closer, wiggling his eyebrows playfully as he curled his hands around Leonard's waist. "Or later tonight?"
"Or later tonight," Leonard agreed. It was obvious that Barry was reluctant to let him go, so Leonard pulled away first. "Go on." He turned his back to Barry and walked toward the car, counting the seconds it took for Barry to open the door and go back inside. He didn't care about anyone's opinion except for Lisa and Mick--and now Barry--so he wasn't particularly invested in what Barry's friends and family thought about him.
Barry was invested, though. Kid never met a lost cause he didn't like.
Leonard was lucky that way.