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Don't Look Back

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It’s been eight months. Eight whole months, two weeks and three days exactly since Ray Palmer last saw Sara Lance and Leonard Snart walk out of their shared apartment. Sara leaving to go find somewhere she belongs and Leonard… Well, Leonard just wanted to go and so he did, with a smirk and a jaunty salute. Didn’t even look back.

Not that Ray had been counting the days or anything.

And okay, Ray was one of life’s great optimists but even he could see the living arrangement was doomed to failure from the start. Sara’s eyes glazed over every time he mentioned his time beacon and she was the more even tempered of his two flatmates (and that was saying something). And Snart… Where to even begin with Snart? If Ray was a ‘glass is half full’ kind of guy, then Mr Snart’s philosophy was more: ‘throw the glass in your enemy’s face and lift his wallet while you’re at it.’

They’d had a strained relationship at best and that was before they became stranded in 1958. But Ray had gotten used to Snart’s constant eye rolling, sneering and sarcasm every time he opened his mouth. It was almost comforting. He knew that Snart liked to kick him when he was down, or up, or just breathing in general; but Ray never took it to heart. He never took anything to heart, especially when Snart’s mouth would curl up in that little side smile of his, expression exasperated but almost fond. The edge in his voice seemed to soften with time, cutting remarks slipping into something more teasing.

Ray had liked it.

But then he had left, following Sara’s lead, seemingly using her as inspiration. They’d always gotten on so well and that’s a thought that often brought him up short. What if they were shacked up together somewhere without him? What if they had just wanted to get away from him, with his cheeriness, nutritious packed lunches and endless optimism?

What if they were a couple now?

The thought hurts and he doesn’t know why. A spike of jealousy that he mercilessly crushes down because that isn’t who he is and it confuses him. Does he envy the idea of the two of them settling down together somewhere without him? Or is it the thought that Snart has chosen Sara over him? Not that they were in competition or anything - neither does he want to be. He refuses to go all moony eyed over Leonard Snart. He still has a few scraps of dignity remaining.

On a good day, he can accept that being roommates with Snart would never have worked. Snart wasn’t the type to settle down, though the image of Leonard Snart, donning a frilly apron, a cute little house husband, does make him smile guiltily (a fantasy he will take to the grave). Besides, he likes his life here for the most part. He’s a professor at the local college. He gets to present lectures and wear a waistcoat that he looks damn good in. He grades papers and goes out for drinks with his colleagues after work. He actually talks to his neighbours in this era. They invite him round for dinner, try and set him up with the odd lady friend. He is an eligible bachelor, after all. He watches The Ed Sullivan Show and falls asleep on his sofa.

And he waits. He’s not like Sara. He believes his crew, his friends are still alive out there and trying to find their way back to him. So he works on the beacon and waits.

It’s lonely, having no one to talk to, no one to confide in. He’s a man out of his time and for that very reason, it’s hard to get close to anyone. And don’t even get him started on the views held by the people of 1958 regarding women, sexuality and race - all thinly hidden under smiles and good manners. Decking the odd philistine would probably create a few ripples throughout time and space but it was so damn tempting.

But sometimes he finds himself enjoying the life he has carved out for himself - the normalcy and simplicity of it all. Alarmingly, he begins to think of his real life less and less. The yearning to return to it begins to fade. The whole other life, the pain and wonderment, the triumphs and great losses, all begin to blur together like background noise. He doesn’t forget, but it’s like trying to superimpose another set of memories over the ones he is building. He is adrift and sometimes that scares him, like he’s losing himself. Other times it’s a relief, a refuge from the loneliness.

All of that came crashing down when he entered his apartment one night, flipped on the lights to discover Leonard Snart sprawled over his sofa.

“Jesus Christ!” He would like to say it didn’t come out as a shriek, really he would.

“Hello, Raymond.” And there’s that drawl, so familiar and strangely comforting. Accompanied by an amused smirk of course.

“Huh? What?” Ray stalled whilst his mind caught up. “I mean, how did you get in here?”

“I have my ways.” Snart replied with his usual evasiveness. “You’re looking very well, might I add.” Said Snart, eyes trailing over Ray’s body, which he certainly would not dignify with a response.

”Eight months.” Ray blurted out, throwing his keys in the general direction of the china bowl he uses to store them because that’s where they go. He got it on sale too. That’s his life now. He picked out his own furniture, right down to bowls for key storage. Every bit as important as a couch or a bed.

He wondered why he was focusing on such nonsense, mind ablaze with the rush of repressed memories. He placed a hand over his heart, willed its beat to slow into something more regular. Snart could probably hear it and wouldn’t he find that hilarious?

Snart raised his eyebrows in question and amusement, leaned further back into the couch cushions, making himself at home.

“Eight months.” Ray repeated, not angry - okay, maybe a little vexed - just processing. “It’s been eight months, two weeks and three days since I last saw you.”

“Aw you kept count, I’m touched.” And then Snart was stretching out further on the sofa. Any more relaxed and he might as well be horizontal and…

Except he wasn’t relaxed at all. In Ray’s shocked state, it took a moment to really take him in. Tension ran through every inch of his body - Ray could see it even from across the room. Every careful movement came with a wince, the way his neck went taut, the rapidity of his breathing. How he pressed his hand against his side as though trying to hold himself together.

“Leonard…” Ray breathed before rushing over to him, barely conscious of his decision to move. He crouched in front of the other man to take a closer look. “What have you done?”

“It’s nothing, let’s not make a big deal out of it.” Every word was stretched out yet so clear and precise. Ray would have laughed with how adorably familiar it was except he had just unzipped the parka, parting it to reveal a navy sweater that was unmistakably stained with Snart’s blood. He could smell the metallic tang in the air.

“Jesus…” He repeated once more, feeling faint and trying not to panic.

“Now, now… Are superheroes even allowed to blaspheme?” Snart drawled and only the sweaty pallor of his face kept Ray from telling him to shut up. In his concern, he was even able to bat aside the teasing and did Snart really just call him a superhero?

Focus!

“Who did this to you?” Ray asked, feeling a surprising burst of anger with nowhere to direct it. It was awful to see Snart hurting like this, but reassuring to actually feel something real for once. He was experiencing the whole crazy range of emotions since laying eyes on this man once more. Shock, joy, irritation and excitement merging into horror, fear and now anger.

“It doesn’t matter.” Snart replied smoothly.

And back to irritation.

“It matters a little!” Ray insisted slightly hysterically. This was turning out to be a hell of a night. He felt like pulling his hair out since Snart didn’t have much anyway and was clearly already injured. It wouldn’t be fair. “What if they try again?”

“Won’t happen, trust me.” And the steely look in Snart’s eyes made Ray drop that line of questioning immediately. He didn’t want to know any more.

He changed tack instead. “You need an ambulance.” Ray could tell that without even looking beneath the sweater. He was almost too scared to look.

“I wouldn’t advise that if I were you, Raymond.” Snart allowed Ray to peel him out of his parka before inching his sweater up to reveal a horrible deep gash that was steadily oozing blood. Ray only gagged a little. Snart gasped: “I’m a man out of time, remember? No records. Really don’t want to be drawing attention to myself…or altering history.”

“But this is a stab wound.” Ray protested weakly, as if Snart didn’t already know that. He tore his eyes away from the ghastly injury to meet Snart’s pale grey ones. They were calm but glittering strangely from the pain. “You need stitches, screw history.”

He reached for the phone but Snart grabbed his wrist before he could grab it. For someone who loved the cold so much his touch burned.

“Don’t do that. I’ll be gone before they can get here.” He threatened, voice low and surprisingly calm for someone bleeding that much. His eyes bored into Ray’s.

The firm set of his jaw convinced Ray that Snart meant it and then what would happen to him? He’d probably bleed out on the street… Of course he could always make him stay but the little smile Snart was wearing made him second guess himself. Besides, he wouldn’t want to hurt him in the process.

Why wouldn’t Snart want to go to a hospital? He’d never cared about time aberrations before. Ray’s mind was sluggish from shock but he gradually put the pieces together. He pried his wrist loose from Snart’s grip as the truth dawned on him.

“You stole something valuable didn’t you?” Ray asked before sighing deeply, pinching the bridge of his nose.

No…” Snart stretched it out, creating multiple syllables.

“Oh don’t lie, you definitely stole something valuable, I know that look!” Ray shouted in triumph, wagging his finger at Snart for good measure because he knew he was right and didn’t care how motherly he sounded. Or that he was smiling in a way that was completely inappropriate for the situation.

“No, I stole something very valuable.” Snart corrected with what sounded like great patience.

“Well, that’s just great.” Ray felt his smile slide off his face. He found his feet and stomped over to the linen closet before grabbing a couple of newly purchased towels. He wordlessly handed one over to Snart so he could staunch the bleeding.

“Here I am, trying to build a life and whoops here comes a wanted felon - who I haven’t seen in eight months by the way - bleeding all over my sofa!”

“Has it really been that long, Raymond? I don’t think you’ve mentioned it before.”

Ray absolutely did not growl as he went to boil some water and fetch his first aid kit from his bedroom (an Eagle Scout is always prepared). He didn’t think the flimsy sutures and towel combination would really be adequate for this kind of injury but it was all he had to work with.

Snart allowed him with great dignity, to roll up his top past his sternum and set to cleaning the injury. His stomach churned at the sight (he’d been out of the game too long). It really was as if a substantial chunk of flesh had been carved out of him. What he wouldn’t give for Gideon’s med bay right now…

“Did you get in a fight with an angry shark or something?” Ray shuddered before pressing the towel back down firmly, causing Snart to grimace.

“Or something…” He panted, biting his lip slightly. Ray quickly looked away once he realised he’d been staring. Snart was exactly as he remembered, from his full lips shaped into a sneer, to the closely cropped greying hair with his, quite frankly, adorable widow’s peak. Ray wanted to trace it with his hands.

“I really am the wrong kind of doctor for this. Really.” Ray blurted out, subtly pleading. He gave him his best puppy-dog eyes but to no avail. They had never worked on Snart.

“You’ll do, boy scout.”

“Eagle.” He corrected automatically.

“Whatever.” Snart suddenly sounded very tired as he leaned back into the cushions, which was alarming. So Ray did what he did best, he babbled.

“It’s not that I’m not pleased to see you, I really am.” He winced, expecting more taunts in response but the silence was worse. Snart’s eyes were glazed over in pain, staring into the distance but fixed on nothing at all. “Not to sound all Grandma but you don’t call, you don’t write… Now here you are, bleeding all over the upholstery. Where have you been?”

Snart was quiet for too long. When he eventually answered, Ray breathed out a sigh of relief. “Away.” Snart answered simply. His complexion was ashen.

If that was all he was going to get, it would have to do. And so with a heavy heart and deep feelings of reluctance and nausea, he threaded the thin needle, mentally prepared himself to stitch Snart back together again. He gagged at the thought.

“You’re sure about this? You’re going to have a heck of a scar.” He said, stalling for more time.

“Add it to the collection.” Snart answered lazily and he was right. Ray could see a couple of smaller white scars snaking across smooth skin. He focused on that skin a lot, to get himself through the next rather unpleasant half hour. Snart was well built, muscular without show, purely practical. A product of lifestyle rather than heavy training. His skin was smooth, soft in all the right places - the kind of body you’d like to snuggle up to if it weren’t for the shark bite.

Ray kept sneaking little glances up at his former teammate. His expression was grimly determined as Ray worked on him, jaw clenched, hands fisted at his sides, his whole posture ridged. He must have been in a lot of pain but kept quiet. Whether it was out of pride or for Ray’s benefit he did not know, but he sure was grateful.

Ray held back his usual chatter for once, deep in concentration. “Almost done,” He murmured in what he hoped was a soothing manner. “I’m sorry it’s taking so long…”

The wound looked puckered as he stitched it together, stomach jolting with anxiety. It would make a jagged scar running right down his rib cage.

“You want to tell me who did this to you?” Ray tried again.

“No.” Snart’s voice rumbled under his touch, broking no argument. Ray kept his eyes on the wound.

“Leonard -”

“Stop talking.” Snart ordered and Ray reluctantly complied.

It was unsettling to be so close to Snart once more and yet strangely unsurprising. How else would Snart come crashing back into his life if not like this? He was awash with the flow of repressed memories. The ship, his team, a kiss from Kendra, other dormant feelings he’d rather not linger on with his present company. He wouldn’t entertain such thoughts back then and nothing has changed.

He continued to work on the injury, sounds of their breath filling the apartment. He thought that Snart had zoned out to get through the unpleasantness and envied him. So the feeling of a hand carding softly through his hair came as a big surprise.

It took all his concentration not to go off course with the needle. He paused until he was sure his hand was stable once more.

The touch was sure and steady, scratching at his scalp in a manner he adored. It never failed to both soothe and excite him. He suppressed a shiver of pure pleasure and wondered if Snart knew it would have that effect on him. It was comforting, how Snart trailed the ends of his hair through those talented fingers, almost idly as he worked. Snart was stroking him like he was a cat and he really didn’t know whose benefit it was for. He determinedly kept his eyes on his work, forced himself to continue when all he wanted to do was melt against him. Snart played with the short hairs of his nape and he sighed with how good it felt. He wondered whether it was soothing for Snart too, a gentle distraction from the sting of the needle.

Sadly, those hands slipped away as Ray finished stitching him up. He cleared his throat to break the heavy silence. Still averting his gaze, he moved away to find and tear up a clean bed sheet (this was proving to be an expensive visit in more ways than one). It was all he had and it wasn’t as if he could ask Google whether he was doing the right thing. With some difficultly, they managed to wrap the sheet around Snart like a makeshift bandage. Ray felt so much better now the wound was concealed under sensible white cotton. He felt much more in control of the situation.

Until he met Snart’s eyes that is. They practically glowed and he was still smirking even with his breath so heavy. “What’s a man got to do to get a drink around here?” He sounded exhausted.

Despite the strangeness of the situation, Ray couldn’t help but smile in return, shaking his head a little. He went into the kitchen, worrying about blood loss and infection all the while and returned with a bottle of Jack Daniels. He thought that Snart’s raised brow was one of approval. He was becoming something of an expert in reading his expressions. At least his colour looked better now. He wished he had some kind of painkillers in the apartment, but alcohol would have to do.

“Atta boy…” Snart purred.

“It’s something familiar,” Ray shrugged, feeling proud. The bottle was unopened as he wasn’t much of a drinker. He poured Snart a generous helping into a standard sized drinking glass (he hadn’t purchased everything more appropriate yet), so it was a very generous helping. Snart accepted the glass with a wince, before sinking back into the sofa, tacky sweater falling back over the bandage.

“Are you trying to get me drunk?” His voice was like honey, Ray thought as he sat down beside him.

“That’s right,” Ray replied cheerily. “If you pass out, maybe I can get you to stay.”

He meant stay the night to rest, but the joke lay heavy with implications and accusation. It apparently wasn’t lost on Snart.

He took a deep sip of his drink and no one should be able to make drinking whisky look that sexy but somehow he managed it. His eyes were fixed on Ray’s intensely. “If you have something to say doctor, the floor is yours.” His voice was whisky rough and Ray thought of those hands in his hair, imagined them clenching and guiding him down, God help him.

He shook his head to clear it — that was enough of that nonsense. Snark was hurt and in his care, though the other man would scoff at anything that made him sound so vulnerable.

“I’m not sure what you mean.” He answered though he knew it was a cop out. Snart’s responding eye roll implied that he agreed.

“Raymond.” The name on Snart’s lips was practically a purr and it made him shiver.

Snart’s direct gaze was proving to be a little too much. Ray just had to fill the awkward silence. It was in his DNA. “Why did you leave?” It burst out of him, a flash of hot air. “Where’d you go? And why bother coming back here of all places? It’s been…lonely here on my own but I’ve managed.” He added proudly, lest Snart think he was whining. He couldn’t take any kind of sneering pity from this man.

Stuff it, Ray thought. He unscrewed the bottle and took a swig directly from it, mostly to give himself something to do, anything accept meet that pale, assessing gaze. He shuddered and held in a cough.

“Take it easy.” Snart cautioned, eyebrow raised superiorly. “Which question would you like me to answer first?” And there was that mocking tone again.

“Never mind,” Ray sighed flatly. “Forget it. Doesn’t matter.”

“Now then, don’t sulk…” Snart gently chided. Ray thought it was a pretty poor way of saying thank you.

“I’m tired.” Ray insisted. “You’re all…stabbed up. We can talk tomorrow, if you’re still here.” He couldn’t help that a little bitterness leaked through. He felt entitled.

He got up and walked into his bedroom. Then immediately felt a pang of guilt and bobbed his head back into the living room. He was being a poor host.

“Do you want the bed? You’re hurt, you should take the bed…” He said anxiously.

“Goodnight Raymond.” It was firm and left no room for argument.

___________

It’s impossible to storm out on one’s high horse if you have to tiptoe back past the person you’re mad at to get to your bathroom so you can pee and brush your teeth. Somehow Ray managed, and he held his head high whilst he did it. He almost convinced himself that he didn’t hear Snart laughing at him. He thought the man had been dozing on his sofa.

Sleep was proving to be impossible. Leonard Snart was (probably) sleeping mere feet away in his living room, if Leonard ever did anything as normal as sleep… Of course he did. He didn’t power through his days running on pure malice, as Ray actually theorised in his less charitable moments.

The truth was, there on his couch lounged a piece of his recent past. Proof this life wasn’t all he’s ever known. He’d been beginning to forget that.

Another truth was, all he wanted was to invite that man in here and lie with him. Hold him close and hang on for dear life, as if that would stop him from leaving. It would ease the ache he had been feeling for so long during their months of separation. The suggestion would probably finish Snart off after such an injury. He would die laughing.

He also wants to do unspeakable, filthy things to that man, see if he can finally wipe that everlasting smirk off his obnoxiously handsome face. But please see above re ‘dying of laughter.’ And there’s that whole ‘open wound’ thing. Plus he has his pride. That man cannot stroll back into Ray’s apartment after nine months (he’s mad so he’ll round up) with his life threatening injury and expect Ray to fall onto his knees for him (no matter how much he wants to). And what was all the hair stroking about? Did Leonard actually expect Ray to be so easily seduced? If that was even his intention — who knew with Leonard Snart? The attraction between them had never been acknowledged out loud before. It seemed the man had really messed with his head. Hence the sleepless night. Thank goodness tomorrow was a Saturday.

He was not going out there to check on him or for anything else.

He was not.

Definitely not.

But what if he was suffering from some kind of awful internal injury and was dying on the couch right now?

Ray’s conscience was screaming.

He was saved from making the choice anyway. The door opened a crack and in slouched the familiar, if less graceful than usual, silhouette of Leonard Snart.

Ray’s heart started racing like crazy and he clutched the sheet to his naked chest, as if that would save him.

The shape prowled around to the foot of his bed and just sat there, waiting.

Ray flicked his bedside lamp on.

“May I help you?” He asked politely. It came out slightly strangled because the glow of the lamp made Snart’s skin look golden — and there was a lot of it on show. Snart had abandoned his blood stained sweater, wearing only his pants and the makeshift bandage. Ray winced at another host faux-pas, he should have offered him a clean shirt.

Snart turned to face Ray, pinning him to the headboard with those intense eyes.

“Very kind of you to offer.” He drawled and it didn’t make Ray shiver. Or pull the sheet up to his chin. Snart’s eyes flickered to the sheet and a smirk replaced his unusually serious expression. The familiar sight was reassuring. “I didn’t thank you for the first aid treatment did I?” His words flowed together sensually, eyes fixed on Ray and still glittering with amusement.

Ray’s heart raced and his mouth suddenly went very dry. He shook his head a little too enthusiastically. “And you never told me where you’ve been all this time either. Just saying.” And holy crap, why couldn’t he ever just shut up?

“That’s true,” Snart concurred, before slowly shifting up the bed, closer to Ray. His muscles rippled and Ray tried to keep his eyes on Snart’s.

Ray clutched the sheets so hard he was surprised he didn’t tear them. His body went rigid with tension, eyes never leaving the advancing thief for a second.

Snart sat beside him, his weight making the covers pull tight around him, trapping him. Ray’s breathing quickened as he waited for Snart’s next move. Except he just stayed still, analysing every inch of Raymond Palmer, at least that was what it felt like. He was almost tempted to pucker up his lips, because it seemed like Snart wasn’t taking the hint. And screw all his reservations about this man before. His pride has long since left the room, right around the second he got a look at a shirtless Snart.

And if anyone judged him for that, they’ve clearly never had a shirtless Leonard Snart looking at them like that before.

“I’m not going to kiss you Raymond.”

Aw shit.

“I… What?” His could feel his face fall before flushing crimson. Surely he must have misheard that? He cannot be reading this situation wrong. Leonard has slipped into his room, all half naked and flirting, sat on his bed for goodness sake. He must have read the signals Ray was giving him. Oh God, what if he thought it was hilarious? What if Ray was misinterpreting his actions completely?

Snart must think he is so desperate.

“Raymond, stop thinking.” He slipped closer but made no attempt to lean towards him. “I can read every thought and it’s very annoying.”

“Oh. Sorry?” And is he really apologising for thinking now? He truly has reached a new low.

Snart smiled and there was something a little feral in his expression.

“I said I’m not going to kiss you.” He repeated more slowly, with deliberate emphasis on the pronouns. He tapped his injury with his index finger and raised his eyebrows expectantly.

“Oh!” Ray cried out, feeling like the world’s biggest moron. Leonard looked at him like he was his slowest student but Ray didn’t care. Snart meant that he literally couldn’t lean down and kiss him, and Ray was more than happy to correct that situation.

With a beaming smile only slightly tinged with nerves, he sat fully upright and surged into Snart. He cradled his head, fingertips sliding over closely cropped hair, before pulling him closer. He felt a jolt of pure nervousness that he shook off. If he can stitch this man up, he can certainly kiss him silly. But why does the latter seem scarier? He switched off the internal monologue and immersed himself in the moment.

And there was that heat again, the second their lips touched. Ray gasped against those surprisingly soft lips and held him close, running a hand over his hair before finding and stroking the curve of his jawline. Snart’s arms slipped around his warm waist, gripping without hesitation, as if they belonged there. He stroked at the skin of Ray’s waist, breathed into him. Ray shivered at the sensation, pulled him closer as if that would stop him leaving because this felt right.

Snart kissed so confidently, a little rough until Ray was breathless and could only cling on for dear life. He assumed control, nipping at Ray’s lower lip, teasing him in this as he does with everything. Ray deepened the kiss with a groan, using just a hint of tongue, slipping into a familiar rhythm, exploring gradually. Snart was so warm, clever hands tracing patterns over his stomach until Ray was melting, blood following his touch. He tasted of whiskey, dark and smokey.

The flat of his hand found Snart’s chest and stroked deliberately, catching the peak of a nipple. He was rewarded by a rumble not unlike a growl against his lips. Snart’s hand found those hairs on his nape once more, and tugged lightly, before flattening, using his purchase to draw Ray closer.

“Oh God…” Ray broke away to force in a ragged breath. How could he be this turned on by a kiss alone? Blood was rushing south and he was grateful for the sheet’s concealing powers.

Snart’s smirked a little smugly, eyes dark and admiring before he leaned back in again. His lips met Ray’s neck, and he leaned back to give him clearer access, not caring how wanton he looked. Snart alternated between slow kisses and light bites, scraping his teeth against Ray’s throat until he was shivering. His breath was so hot it made Ray’s head spin. He mouthed at his pulse and Ray couldn’t keep in a moan.

“You liked that, Professor?” The words were a growl against his skin. One of Snart’s hands circled round the back of his neck in a vaguely threatening and exciting manner. The other stroked a line down his spine and Ray had no idea that could be an erogenous zone but there you go. Today was just full of surprises.

Like the fact that Snart knew about his day job. That deserved more deliberation than his lust addled brain was capable of at that moment.

“You’ve been keeping tabs on me?” It came out steadier than Ray had expected and he was momentarily very proud of himself. Of course, it sounded husky with arousal rather than the annoyed tone he was going for, but he’ll take his victories where he can get them.

“Hmm…” Snart rumbled against his throat. One hand found his ass and kneaded in an unsubtle way that took Ray’s breath away. He mouthed his way to Ray’s ear, nipped at the lobe before whispering ominously: “Someone really should.”

Ray felt a jolt of excitement at his words rather than the deep irritation he knows he should be feeling.

“Hm. That’s actually kind of sweet of you.” Ray teased, running his hands down Snart’s arms appreciatively. Those were good arms. He didn’t know why Snart covered them up so much. He certainly was committed to the role of Captain Cold, costume and all.

Snart pulled back, expression clouding over in a way Ray didn’t like at all. Oops. Maybe the teasing was a misstep. He’d forgotten who exactly he was kissing which was pretty understandable.

“Nothing sweet about me, Raymond.” He drawled before running a hand up Ray’s concealed thigh and cupping his hardened length through the sheet with no hesitation. He squeezed experimentally, eyes fixed on Ray’s, drinking in his reaction. Raymond’s mouth fell open as lazy pleasure ripped through him.

Ray stared down at the sight of that large hand and knew this was some kind of challenge. Snart ground the heel of his hand against him and Ray groaned at how good it felt. His bucked up into him helplessly. It had been a while. Only Snart could make a move this blatant seem ambiguous. But Ray’s body had no qualms deciding what to do. His body was raring to go.

Ray looked up the other man, with his glittering eyes and quiet confidence, and practically threw himself at him.

Snart’s unmistakable cry of pain worked better than a bucket of ice water.

“Oh my God!” Ray repeated for very different reasons this time. “Leonard! I’m so sorry!”

He clumsily leapt off of him, dragging him into a sitting position at the same time which only hurt him more. Snart looked darkly amused but not angry. He pressed his hand against his injury and grimaced.

“Really swept me off my feet there, pretty boy…” He said, perhaps to make Ray feel better but he could see the way Snart’s hand fluttered against his wound. He bit his swollen lip and Ray had to actively fight not to kiss the man again, over and over to prove just how sorry he was.

“Let me see.” Ray pulled his hand away, holding his breath and praying. Luckily there was no blood so he hadn’t popped his stitches.

“That was so stupid!” Ray murmured, horrified. He scrubbed a hand over his face as he crouched on the floor in front of Snart, not even embarrassed to be seen clad only in his briefs. He looked good in them and the near assault of his ‘I wish’ boyfriend had killed his boner stone dead so he didn’t look creepy. At least that was something.

“Points for enthusiasm.” Snart drawled, eyes glinting mischievously.

“How are you still enjoying this?” Ray burst out in exasperation. He could feel his face redden with shame.

Snart shrugged before reclining back on the bed. He slid over to the left hand side, the side Ray never slept in and propped himself up against the headboard, breathing heavily from the pain. He looked quite at home there. “Got you naked in front of me.” Snart spared him a half-hearted wink before closing his eyes and Ray could tell the effort of moving had exhausted him.

He was a terrible host.

He folded his arms on the bed and rested his head on them, still squatting on the floor. This was unexpected. He clamped down on the urge to apologise again and simply stared. Snart stretched his long legs out, still clad in black denim. His cheeks were flushed, lips swollen red and lashes a long curve against his skin, shadowed in the dim light. He was beautiful though Ray knew admitting that out loud might cost him a couple of teeth. Snart wrapped his arms around his middle, expression understandably grim.

Ray sighed deeply, hormones reluctantly adapting to this change of pace. Tonight was not the night to start anything, no matter how badly he wanted… He was just being selfish. And maybe he wasn’t the only one left wanting. Snart had come to him after all. That was encouraging. He’d just missed him so much, he hadn’t been able to think straight. He wanted more than a quick fumble, most likely the result of an adrenaline rush from not dying, at least from Snart’s perspective.

“Probably for the best, the timings all off.” Ray sighed again though he felt like crying in frustration. “You’re injured and I always wanted to be more than your 1950s late night booty call anyway, so there’s that.”

Why can’t he ever shut up? Still, Ray was not a big believer in censoring his feelings. He wore his heart on his sleeve, always. Not the best idea when there was a thief around.

Snart’s eyes snapped open and his expression was incredulous as he looked at Ray. “My what?”

“Forget it.” Ray wafted a hand at him.

“Raymond…” He began and it sounded like a warning.

“Really, it’s fine. Can I get you a shirt to sleep in or something? You can take the bed obviously, since you kind of collapsed in it. Don’t get up!” He urged because Snart was suddenly glaring daggers at him like he had something to prove.

“Get your butt next to me, now.” Every word was growled out and Ray dared not argue. It was like a dog warning you before it struck. Even incapacitated, Snart could be hella intimidating, Ray thought.

“Okay!” Ray nodded to placate him. He didn’t want Snart getting up and trying to manhandle him into bed. Not that that fantasy didn’t hold some appeal. If Snart was well anyway…

Ray unfolded his body and stretched out on the bed next to Snart, folding his arms and staring determinedly at the ceiling. It was plain white plaster and Ray suddenly wished he had those glow in the dark stars up there or something, the kind he had when he was a kid. Anything to distract him from what was probably one of the top ten most awkward moments of his life.

What did Snart want anyway? He hoped it wasn’t more sexy weirdness times (and kind of hoped it was). The man didn’t look up to ravishing a potted plant right now, never mind a strapping young buck such as Dr Raymond Palmer. He tried not to snigger at the image. He didn’t want to hurt him anymore than he already had.

“Well, this is awkward.” He said because he couldn’t say nothing.

“Go to sleep, Raymond.” Snart sounded simply tired though the snark was still there. Did he ever drop the facade? Was it a facade?

Ray snorted at his suggestion. “Yeah, that’s real likely.”

“Why?” Ray could practically hear the sneer on his face, how did he do that? “You afraid I’m going to rob you in your sleep?”

“Not what I meant at all.” And he was sincere. He trusted this man, for better or worse. He expected Snart to question what exactly he did mean and was relieved when he didn’t.

Ray wondered how he would have replied. That the sound of his breath alone was enough to make his heart soar? That his warmth, so close to hand made his skin tingle? That there are so many questions he wanted to ask that he could keep them both up all night? That he was being tormented by the possibilities of letting Snart lie back and relax whilst he did filthy things to him?

None of those answers were exactly lullaby material and Snart needed to rest, there was no doubt about that.

Also he had a flood of memories from his previous life to contend with. That was a real mind fuck. He’d genuinely been losing himself in 1958 it would seem. Seeing Snart was like a door opening back into that world again. He was grudgingly grateful for that.

“Stop that right now.” Snart drawled, but there was no fire in it. He almost sounded teasing.

Ray rolled onto his side so he could take in Snart’s expression and was surprised to see him already watching him. He lay on his back with his head craned towards Ray, grey eyes unfathomable in the gloom.

“What?” Ray couldn’t contain a small smile. He missed this.

“All that thinking. It’s painfully loud and I have enough injuries to be dealing with.”

Ray chuckled lightly. He hadn’t been expecting that. “You’ve given me a lot to think about.” He replied evenly. “But I meant what I said before, I am glad to see you.” He admitted, just testing the waters.

“I could tell…” Snart teased, a hint of something wicked in his tone.

Ray flushed indignantly. “Like you weren’t enjoying it too!”

“Until you tried to open me up like a hot pocket, you mean?”

“What does that even…?” Ray trailed off before getting back on topic. “Never mind, that’s besides the point. I didn’t just mean that anyway, though the make out sesh was very nice and I’d be glad to continue at a later date.” He heard Snart snigger and thought that was fair enough. He sounded as though he was rearranging a business meeting, not a steamy make out session that had turned his legs and mind to jelly. He knew that the slight shakiness of his voice hid nothing from Leonard Snart.

“Then what did you mean?” Snart very slowly and carefully turned onto his side so he was snuggling into the pillow, face only inches away from Ray’s. Ray was almost overwhelmed by the trust and interest that Snart was showing. Not to mention how attractive he looked, all sleepy and with some of his defences down.

“I mean that seeing you brought everything back.” He spoke slowly, trying to find the right words, the magic combination that wouldn’t spook Snart. “The Waverider, my ATOM suit, the team… My feelings for you.” He could see Snart stiffen in the way his body recoiled so hastily amended: “I was losing all that. I think I was forgetting who I was so thanks for that, I guess.”

The silence was so oppressive. Snart’s eyes glinted in the dark, fixed on Ray once more. He was tempted to flee, to make a bolt for the safety of the sofa at least, when Snart finally responded.

“I don’t do feelings.” He said quietly. He hadn’t dropped the drawl but his tone was gentler than Ray had ever heard it.

Ray’s heart sank a few notches so he smiled bravely. “I didn’t specify what feelings.” He added, clutching the pillow - his only concession to the nerves churning in his stomach.

He suddenly felt that this conversation was on a cliff edge teetering towards disaster. The other man was radiating tension, practically ready to bolt. Unloading his feelings was plain selfish when Snart clearly wasn’t mentally or physically up to hearing them. He cared about him too deeply to burden him with all that. He continued. “…Irritation, annoyance, exasperation. All the old favourites!”

If Snart knew he was backtracking he chose not to acknowledge it, thank goodness. He chuckled lightly and Ray sagged with relief at the sound.

“Turn the light out, if you’d be so kind. Let me get some shut eye before I die on you.”

Ray took one last look at Snart and his soft smile before he complied.

“Goodnight, Leonard.”

He wasn’t expecting a reply and didn’t get one.

He rolled over and reached out for the lamp. It clicked off, leaving them in total darkness. Ray stayed on his right, his back to Snart, before slipping under the covers, deciding that staying facing away would be more comfortable for the other man. He wasn’t going to lie on top of the sheets all night though. It was cold and was his bed after all. Leonard would just have to suck it up.

He lay in the dark, willing his breathing to even out so he could at least pretend to be asleep. It was an act that was harder to maintain once Snart started speaking. His drawl was dialled down to the lowest he had ever heard it. He almost questioned the speaker because he sounded so different, sincere in a way that sounded almost vulnerable.

“I left because I was losing myself, here with you.” Snart sighed and Ray knew better than to interrupt his flow. Ray’s heart raced. “It was comfy and I liked it a little too much.” He admitted as though it shamed him. “I was forgetting my old life, just like you said. So I ran.” I finished simply. Then Ray heard the rustle of sheets as Snart settled under the covers, as though preparing to go to sleep.

That was just like Snart, to drop a bomb on him and then nod off so Ray couldn’t respond. Typical.

Ray thought of all the things he could say back. I’m sorry I make you feel that way. I’m not sorry I make you feel that way. I know exactly what you mean. I think that means you love me at least a little, and I love you too. I need you. Please don’t go.

Instead all he could manage was a quietly desperate: “I want you to stay.”

There was a long moment where Snart said nothing. Ray rolled over because he had to see something, any shred of information that could indicate what Snart was thinking. He could barely make out the whiteness of his face in the dark and certainly could see no expressions.

“I’ll try.” Snart murmured, and Ray’s heart stuttered, pathetically hopeful. “But I can’t promise anything.”

Ray swallowed hard and it sounded very loud in the room. “That’s fair.” If Snart needed to run, he should run.

“I kind of missed you, pretty boy.” Snart admitted, voice soft though somewhat reluctant. His touch ghosted over Ray’s face as if he couldn’t help himself. Ray held his hand in place before he could withdraw and even though they had been so intimate before, this felt much more real to him. It was scary and elating.

He turned and placed a kiss on the palm before he could second guess himself but Leonard allowed it.

“You getting stabbed may be the best thing that ever happened to me in a long while.” He rushed out because he just had to ruin it.

He felt rather than heard Snart’s warm gust of laughter inches from his lips.

“Charming.”

And then Leonard Snart was kissing him once more and so Raymond supposed that honesty really was the best policy for him sometimes. And whatever this crazy new life threw at them, whether their friends rescued them or not, they were going to be okay.

He tried to trust that assessment. He was a scientist, superhero and a professor after all.

He settled for kissing Leonard Snart some more and that was more than good enough.