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"I finally figured out your secret.”

Everything in Len had stilled at Barry’s words. And Barry had looked up at him from under his lashes with the phone cradled in his long fingers, the smudged glass between them doing nothing to shield Len from that knowing look. Even washed out in the flickering fluorescents of the Iron Heights visiting room, Barry’s pale eyes had cut straight through him.

Len should’ve turned on his heel and walked out as soon as he’d seen who was waiting for him. The memory of his father’s death was still raw, as was the pitiful vulnerability he’d shown in front of Barry when he’d knelt over the man’s body. It had been shock, rather than grief, that had brought Len the closest he’d come to tears in two decades, but it was the principle of the thing.

The last person he’d wanted to see was Barry, dressed in his civvies and smiling like he wasn’t dooming Len to a week’s worth of cat-calls, coming there looking like he did. Len had been in and out of the system enough to know the kind of graphic commentary a good-looking visitor could inspire in the other inmates; there was a reason he’d forbidden Lisa from ever coming to see him. That Barry was Henry Allen’s son was a complication Len didn’t need, and one he doubted Barry had even thought of.

The comments he’d expected from the other inmates came, but Len barely heard them, too busy replaying his conversation with Barry over in his mind. He picked at it, frustrated, turning Barry’s words over in his mind even though they made less sense each time, prying at them for meaning until the memory was worn smooth as a stripped screw and buried just as deep. 

He couldn’t get a grip on Barry’s angle. There had to be something in it for him. Guilt at locking him up? (But no, Len had gone willingly. He’d ignored the conflicted way Barry had glanced between him and the door when they heard the sirens approaching the building outside—likely one of the security guards downstairs had tipped off the cops. They’d been jumpy.) A future ally? (But no, Barry’s steady gaze hadn’t wavered when Len had all but spit on the idea of becoming a hero. He’d only smiled.) 

Or was it something else altogether? Something… a little less than related to who they were in those costumes? (Barry’s eyes had flared wide with surprise when Len had slid him that note in the bar, back when he’d come groveling for help in moving his illegal pipeline of metahumans. His lips had parted around a surprised inhale; there was a quick blush. And the sharp glance he flicked up at Len had melted into relief and—for the barest second, disappointment, when he’d realized Len was just trying to get a rise out of him).

It should’ve been the least likely of the options, but it was proving the hardest for Len to discard. He’d spent a lifetime learning to strip away plans and expectations to get to the reality of things; it was why he was a better thief than anyone in Iron Heights. He didn’t let his emotions lead; hell, he didn’t let them enter the picture. A pair of green eyes and the pinkest lips Len had ever seen shouldn’t have been enough to change that. 

Which left him with the equally problematic conclusion: they hadn’t changed that. There was, after all, the possibility that Len wasn’t projecting anything onto the situation. By Occam’s razor alone, the reason Len thought Barry was flashing him bedroom eyes down the barrel of the cold gun was because that was exactly what Barry was doing. 

It didn’t sit well with Len. Barry was young, and had already proven himself to be a dangerous combination of overly trusting and self-destructive. It was exactly the kind of personality that lent itself to flirting with people he shouldn’t have. Len had killed three men in front of Barry in the two years they’d known each other; he should’ve been firmly off limits. 

It occurred to Len that what he was really wrestling with was the uncomfortable impulse to protect Barry from what he might not have even understood he wanted. Len saw, in his mind’s eye, his father aiming a gun at Barry’s chest. Heard his father’s voice telling Len to kill him instead. Remembered the feeling of his finger on that trigger, and the certainty that he couldn’t pull it. 

It didn’t matter, really. Joe West had been standing in the back of the room during Barry’s visit. Even if Barry was harboring some decidedly unheroic thoughts about him, Len knew that he wasn’t about to make an indecent proposal with his foster father in earshot. 

That didn’t mean Len wasn’t spending considerable time thinking about what, exactly, such a proposal might sound like. It wasn’t an unpleasant way to waste a morning, wondering if Barry was ever tempted to use his powers to sneak him out for a night. It lent itself neatly to whiling away the afternoon coming up with ways he would make it worth Barry’s while. Which was exactly what he was doing, picking idly at a meal he didn’t plan on eating, when a tray clattered down on the table in front of him. 

Len resigned himself to another leering comment about “Doc Allen’s boy,” and, pulling a familiar cloak of violence around his shoulders, glanced up, sharp and angry, to fend it off before it started. 

He wasn’t expecting to find Henry Allen himself sitting across from him, his hands folded neatly on the table. 

He spoke without preamble. “Why did my son visit you?”

The question of the hour. But Henry was the last person Len wanted to hear it from. Len didn’t know if Henry knew his son was the man under the Flash mask; Barry was a pretty liar, and placed a high premium on keeping his family safe. He had also sworn Len to giving said family a wide berth, and the man in front of Len held a unique position in that taxonomy. Unless Barry was hiding some cousins from him, Len was looking at the last living member of the Allen clan.  

It was a no-win scenario for Len, so he took the simple route of refusing to answer. He returned his attention to his lunch, tearing a corner off of his sandwich, and said, “Why don’t you ask him that?” 

Henry looked unsurprised by the deflection, only leaned slightly forward and, lowering his voice, asked, “Did he ask you to break me out?”

Len, to his delight, hadn’t expected that. He regarded Henry with new respect. It didn’t help him narrow down whether Henry knew about Barry’s double life, but Len rarely got the credit he deserved for his jail breaks. He let himself preen a little, warming to Henry, and looked up to give him a conspiratorial glance. “And what if he did?” 

He should’ve known better than to try to lie to a psychiatrist. Henry looked at him until Len broke eye contact, then said, “No, that’s not it. Then…”

Len didn’t like how closely the Doc was looking at him. With a prison break off the table, the reasons Barry had for visiting a convicted killer dwindled sharply; if Henry didn’t know why Barry might be in the business of giving inspirational speeches to the Flash’s enemies, the list shrunk down to one item: the same assumption the rest of the prison population had come to. 

Len watched as Henry arrived at the same conclusion; a shift in his expression, leaning back slightly, eyes widening a fraction. Glancing over Len’s face, a quick dip down to his hands, his shoulders—and that almost pulled a smile out of Len, despite the building headache at the prospect of the rest of the conversation. He was tempted to ask Henry if he was Barry’s type. 

But the tension in Henry’s expression didn’t bode well. “Are you…”

There was no mistaking him. Len forced his chin up with a nasty smile, got ahead of it, and said, “Queer? As a three dollar bill.” 

To both of their surprise, Henry barked a laugh. He turned his face away to hide it, a wry smile even as he shook his head, and the movement was so utterly Barry that it startled Len into stillness, forgetting his defensive sneer. 

The professional mask had slipped, and Henry’s expression was more relaxed when he looked back at him, amusement in his eyes. “A little on the nose,” he said, “coming from the man with a half-dozen forgery convictions.” 

“No one convicted me of anything,” Len said, droll. “I plead out. Courtroom drama’s not my scene.” 

“You know what I was asking you.” 

“Not sure that I do.”

Henry held his gaze, and then it was his turn to glance away, but it was with frustration in his eyes. “Barry doesn’t… He tries not to worry me. With... certain parts of his life.” 

Ah. So that was what the fishing expedition was about. Barry’s nightlife, yes, but not in the way Len had guessed. Still, he’d seen that quick casing of him, and he knew the Doc had entertained other ideas about his relationship to Barry as well. He was going to enjoy making him work for it, and he smirked as he drawled, “Parts of his life that involve me.” 

Henry wasn’t the only one who knew how to play coy, and Len’s face twisted into a slight smile when Henry’s fingers tapped an agitated rhythm against his other wrist. There was frustration roiling underneath his polite, carefully maintained exterior of calm, and Len wondered if Barry hadn’t gotten that hot-headed streak from his father after all. 

“If you wanna ask me something,” Len said, baiting him with a raised eyebrow. “Ask.”

“I tried that,” Henry said. Then, in a pleasant shrink voice that made Len scowl, he continued, “You interrupted me. Why do you think that is?”

“Spare me the psychoanalysis. Don’t got enough in commissary to afford your copay.”

“I think you were afraid I was going to ask you something,” Henry said. “Something about Barry.” 

Len’s foot stopped tapping under the table, and his fingers stilled on the edge of the milk carton. There was something in Henry’s tone—  

Henry tilted his head as he regarded him, a mirror of the knowing look Barry had given him in the visiting room. I finally figured out your secret.

“Did you know? Your pupils dilate every time I say his name.”

If the bench Len was sitting on weren’t bolted down, he would’ve shoved it back from the table. Christ, he hated shrinks. Anger snapped up his spine, making his hands curl into fists and setting his teeth on edge. It was a reflexive urge towards violence that he’d kept carefully curbed for years, and he clenched his jaw as he wrestled it for control. It would only bring him grief from the guards if he so much as took a swing at Henry, and he wasn’t keen on trading a month in solitary for a moment of empty satisfaction. 

Even worse would be the other inmates; Henry was well-liked, and in for life—at least until that exoneration went through. Len’s reputation was unmatched by most on the inside, but Henry far outranked even him, as evidenced by the deferential nickname, “Doc Allen.” 

So he forced himself to flatten his hand on the table, then used it to lever himself up to standing. “Thanks for the consultation,” he said, throwing his leg over the bench to go. “But I think I’ll skip the follow up.”

“Leonard—“

The first name was almost enough to stop Len short. It was obviously some humanizing technique like the prison shrinks were always on about, but it still took him by surprise. When he moved to leave anyway, Henry made as if to grab for his arm, and the nerve of it was enough to finally bring Len up short. He stared at the offending hand, thinking of Barry’s long fingers closing around his arm in Saints and Sinners a lifetime ago. Len hadn’t thrown off that touch—and hadn’t that just itched at the back of his mind for weeks. 

Henry pulled his hand back, palm up in a careful, placating gesture. He’d been in prison a long time; de-escalation was probably a specialty of his. 

“I apologize,” Henry said. “That was unprofessional of me. I’m sorry.” 

“You’re not my shrink,” Len said, but he settled back onto the bench and faced him again. “You don’t owe me professional.” He studied the man’s face, the pale eyes so like Barry’s, the precise stillness that must’ve been decades in the making and which Len doubted Barry would ever grow into. 

“Incidentally,” he added, glancing away, "professional’s all there is between me and Barry.” 

“He visited you.” 

It was a statement, not an accusation, but Len’s jaw tightened in annoyance anyway. As if he weren’t aware that Barry had visited him. That Barry had watched him kill his own father in cold blood, learned how deep the damage ran, and still put himself through the indignity of Iron Height’s visiting process to look at him with those solemn green eyes and tell him that he was a good man. 

He’d been quiet too long; It was no use keeping up the pretense that he didn’t know what Henry was talking about, and he pivoted as easily as if he’d never tried. “Not my fault if the kid got attached,” Len said. He plucked an apple slice off his tray and dismissed his responsibility for Barry’s emotions with an absent flick of his fingers. “I didn’t encourage him. Trust me.”

“I don’t,” Henry said. “Trust you, that is. Not with my son.” 

The memory again: Lewis firing a gun at Barry’s chest, the sound of his body hitting the ground. 

Len dropped the apple back onto his tray, his appetite gone. “Smart man,” he said. “Shame Barry didn’t get that from you.”

“No,” Henry said, and there was warmth in his voice, despite the serious way he was still looking at him. “Barry’s smart. But he’s got his mother’s heart. He believes in people. In their goodness. Sixteen years, and he’s never given up on me. It’s an honor, knowing he has that much faith in me. But it’s a burden, too.” 

Len folded his paper napkin into a neat square, then set it in the center of his tray. “We done here? Or you gonna tell me that if I break his heart,” he said, making his voice as scathing as he could manage, “they’ll never find my body?” 

“I’ll leave the shovel talk to Joe,” Henry said. He was looking at him thoughtfully, almost wryly. “But why don’t we talk again soon, you and me? Same time next week.” And then, with a tentative attempt at humor, he added, “I’ll even waive the copay.”

Len ignored the joke, wary at the new suggestion. “Why?”

“You thought I didn't know. About…” he considered his words carefully, aware of listening ears. “Barry’s second job. But you do. And he visits you here, with no mask. He’s never done that with the others. He trusts you.” He tilted his head to keep Len’s gaze. “And you wouldn’t tell me. You’re protecting him.”

“I’m blackmailing him.”

Len’s response sounded petulant even to his own ears, and Henry didn’t insult either of them by responding to it. 

“I never got the chance to meet anyone… important to Barry.” There was no mistaking the meaning behind his words, and Len was torn between laughing in his face and wanting to flee the mess hall. “You know, ask what their father does for a living. Interrogate them over dinner until Barry tells me to leave you alone, let you eat.” He smiled—a quiet, rueful thing. “Say, ‘have him home by ten thirty.’”

Len didn’t miss “them” becoming “you,” but if Henry saw the warning in his eyes, he ignored it.

“I missed—I’ve been missing that part of my son’s life. And it kills me. Every day, I wake up and I just—“ 

Henry broke off with a frustrated noise, and when he raked his hand through his hair, it was hard for Len not to think about Barry doing the same. Then Henry cleared his throat and looked up again, a brave attempt at humor in his eyes. “I know it’s not exactly wine and Nora’s roast chicken,” he said, tipping his carton of milk towards Len in a mock toast. “But it’s… something. You’re something, to him. And since we’re both stuck in here…” He looked away and then back, jaw set. “I’d like the chance to get to know what.”

Len couldn’t meet his too-honest gaze for more than a second, and he glanced down to pick at nonexistent dirt under his fingernail. It was pointless to deny what Henry had said. Even if Henry was vastly overestimating how important a role he played in his son’s life, Barry wasn’t exactly delivering care packages to the rest of his rogues’ gallery on his days off. Len didn’t know why Barry was fixated on him, but there was no arguing that they hadn’t gotten dangerously far from the solid ground that “nemeses” had previously offered them. Barry’s quick, mischievous smiles saw to that—as did the blush that his mask couldn’t quite hide when Len drifted too close, and the wicked glint in Barry’s eyes when he watched Len realize he was a step ahead of him for once. 

There’d been something like a promise in the way Barry’s gaze had lingered on him in recent months, sweeping over his body as bold as anything, too slow for a speedster who wasn’t trying to get caught. And that had been before the visitor’s room, before Barry’s obscenely pink lips had curved up in a knowing smirk as he said, “You don’t have to admit it to me.”

“Even if all that is true...” Len said, and when Henry let out a breath of surprise, added sharply: “which I’m not saying it is. Why would I agree?” He caught a glint in Henry’s eyes that he was beginning to recognize as being analyzed, and he corrected his question. “What’s in it for me? And don’t—” he gave him a withering look “—say the food.”

Henry smiled. “Because I think you’d like to know what you are to Barry, too.” 

Len remembered too late what Henry had said to him about his pupils dilating when he heard Barry’s name, and he glanced away, annoyed. “And chats with his old man are gonna help with that?”

When he looked up again, Henry had raised an eyebrow at him in a way that suggested he’d let the old man remark slide as a gesture of good will, and that the gesture wouldn’t be repeated.  “Doesn’t the fact that you’re considering it tell you something already?”

Len drummed his fingers on the table, weighing his options. “One condition.”

Henry blinked. “Anything.”

Len fought not to roll his eyes. So blind trust ran in the family. “Tell Barry to stop visiting me.” 

Henry looked surprised, but he schooled his expression quickly into a mask of agreeability.  He nodded. “I can do that.”

“Then you have a deal,” Len said, regretting it even as he spoke. “One chat. I’ll give you an hour.”

For a moment, Henry’s expression was an echo of the one Len was used to seeing behind a mask of red leather: a sudden, mischievous glint behind pale eyes, giving Len the abrupt suspicion that he’d been played. 

Len shook off the thought and got up from the table. A decade in Iron Heights could do a lot to a man, but not even Henry Allen could think it was a good idea to play match-maker between his son and a convicted criminal. Of that much, Len was certain.


When he dropped into the seat opposite Henry the next week, jaw clenched tight with annoyance, dropping his tray with a clatter, Henry glanced up from the paperback in his hands with polite attention. 

“Leonard,” he said, all professional grace. “You’re late. I thought you weren’t coming.”

“I had a visitor,” Len growled. “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”

“I suspected,” Henry allowed, crossing his hands behind his tray, its contents already picked over. 

“Our agreement was that you would make those visits stop.”

Henry blinked with such obviously affected surprise that Len entertained the thought of taking a swing at him for it. “Our agreement,” he countered, “was that I would tell him to stop. Barry’s an adult. He can make his own choices.”

“His own mistakes, more like.”

Henry smiled. “If you’d prefer. Now, I understand you’re the kind of man who keeps his promises. You said an hour, and we have”—he looked at the clock—“twenty minutes of that left.” 

Len leveled a glare at him for the knowing look in his eyes. So he’d let Barry chat his ear off for the better part of half an hour; he was entitled to a certain amount of visiting time each month, and he was just getting his rights’ worth. It’d had nothing to do with the fact that Barry had come alone, or the way he’d turned his head to hide a wry smile when Len had drawled, “Couldn’t stay away?” And it had less than nothing to do with the faint blush that had lingered across the tops of Barry’s cheeks when he’d looked back up, with something warm in his eyes that Len didn't trust himself to name.

Henry broke him out of the reverie by pushing his tray aside with a rather pointed scraping noise, and when Len looked up, he nearly rolled his eyes at the childish excitement clear on Henry’s face as he steepled his fingers on the table between them.

“So, Leonard,” he said, grinning slowly. “What exactly are your intentions toward my son?”