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stay awake (when the morning comes)

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Barry has never been a morning person.

Waking up is... a process. He tends to go from sleep to awake gradually, in increments, with lots of setbacks and bargaining and fumbling for the snooze button. Getting powers hasn't done a thing to change that, only that he goes through the stages a whole lot quicker now. He can enter flashtime and have his just five more minutes, okay? within a few seconds.

This is how he knows that something's wrong as soon as he opens his eyes. It isn't the unfamiliar room, or the mattress that's far too comfortable and broad to be the one in his narrow bed at Joe's, or the fact that he's still in his Flash suit. It's that he goes from unconscious to wide away and clear-headed so unnaturally fast that it feels like phasing through a wall.

He sits up straight and gasps for air and tries to fight down the instincts that tell him to run.

"Look who's awake," a familiar drawl sounds from next to him. There's a self-satisfied, mocking kind of complacency rippling beneath the sharpness of the tone. "Good morning, Barry. Feeling well-rested?"

When Barry snaps around, Snart is sitting on the chair next to the bed, chin resting on his hands and a smug look on his face, like a cat that stole into the neighbor's kitchen and got the cream that was meant for the cake.

Snart. The Rogues hitting Central City National Bank.

Barry remembers Cisco's alert. He remembers flashing in to stop the robbery. Snart had made some borderline dirty quip about Barry's response time that had Barry smiling despite himself, and then Rainbow Raider walked into the vault and then— Nothing. That's as far as Barry's memories go.

The realization comes with a rush of panic. If this is anything like the last time Bivolo whammied him and he blacked out, it could be... bad. Then again, Snart doesn't look like a speedster attacked him in a fierce rage, and he and Bivolo would likely have been Barry's first targets if Rainbow Raider had used his powers to make Barry see red. There isn't the same achey, wiped out feeling of exhaustion like after their previous encounters, either. If anything, Barry does in fact feel oddly well-rested.

Which doesn't explain how he ended up... here, in what looks like a repurposed old warehouse, with Captain Cold watching him sleep.

"Snart. What happened?" he asks, unable to keep the wariness from his tone. "How did I get here?"

"Really? Are you saying you don't remember last night, Barry?" Snart practically purrs, sharp green eyes watching Barry splutter in response. He laughs. "Relax. Bivolo got a few new tricks he tried out. Nothing fancy. Turns out robbing a bank is so much easier when no one's awake to stop us. And let me tell you, Flash, you were fast asleep."

Speed jokes. Hilarious. Barry makes a show of rolling his eyes in exasperation that isn't entirely real, his reflexes fast enough to hide his grin. He's so caught up in the pun that it takes him a moment before his brain catches up with the implications of what Snart said.

"Wait, so Bivolo can make people fall asleep now?" He isn't sure how he feels about that. It's better than rage, in any case. But still... There are so many ways those powers could be used to help people. "He could make a fortune with that."

"Hate to tell you, but he already did."

Barry gives Snart an unimpressed look. "Legally."

"Now, where'd be the fun in that?"

Snart leans back in his chair, long limbs sprawling out in a way that draws Barry's gaze. It almost feels like a calculated move – knowing Snart, it is, because when does he ever do anything without a purpose? But Barry can't help thinking that he's never seen Snart so relaxed. Stripped of his trademark parka and the goggles, the Cold Gun's nowhere to be seen and with his posture pointedly casual, Snart looks... almost comfortable.

Perhaps because he's on his own turf. Speaking of which—

"Why am I here, Snart?" He suddenly has a terrible idea. "Wait, please say you and the Rogues didn't kidnap everyone at the bank and are holding them prisoner."

It doesn't really sound like something Snart would do, but Barry doesn't have a clue what else Snart's endgame here could be. The uncertainty is making him fidgety, lightning buzzing under his skin in nervous little bursts. There are no power dampeners in the room, and Barry could easily overpower Snart when he isn't armed but—

"I don't do hostages. Not worth the trouble, unless it's something specific I'm after, like with your friend Cisco." Barry winces at the reminder, and Snart's lips twitch. Despite Barry's obvious agitation, he hasn't abandoned his laid-back demeanor. "We let everyone else sleep it off at the bank. No harm leaving them right where they were. But the cops were already on the way. Just thought you might not like your chances of having an over-eager badge take a peek under the mask while you were taking a little nap."

Oh. Right. That's— Good foresight, actually. Barry can't help feeling touched by the concern.

The thought must be showing on his face because Snart's expression shutters abruptly like blinds being drawn, his smile turning into a scowl. "Don't let it get to your head, Flash. I'm only protecting my interests. The more people know who that nicely shaped ass under the suit belongs to, the less my knowledge of your identity is worth."

Barry wonders if Snart's being purposefully crass in order to make Barry bristle. Instead of focusing on why it's not working at all, why he feels flustered instead of offended, he decides to go on the offense rather than let Snart back him into a corner.

"So you decided to put that ass in your bed?" He raises an eyebrow, daring Snart to come up with an obvious bluff, like claiming he needed to keep an eye on Barry.

Snart inclines his head and watches him. Ever so slowly, the frosty look thaws from his face, the hard line of his mouth softening again and curling in amusement. "What can I say? Watching you sleep is quite a prize in its own right."

His drawl is more pronounced than ever, but the way he says it is... different. Quieter, softer, making it feel real in a way his usual barbs and threats don't.

Barry swallows. "That's not creepy at all," he says, but he can't put the appropriate kind of sternness into his tone, not when there are butterflies in his stomach that don't care about the invasion of privacy.

And Snart knows it. Of course he knows it. He's always been able to read Barry far too well. And he's never shied away from calling Barry on his missteps.

"And you were so terribly distressed by it that you flashed yourself out of here the second you woke up."

"That isn't—" Barry doesn't even know how to finish that objection. It's not like Snart doesn't have a point. Embarrassment brings a flush to Barry's cheeks that he feels as a rush of heat rising up his body. He awkwardly rubs the back of his neck, unable to hold Snart's gaze. "I wasn't going to leave before I didn't have the whole picture."

"Yes, of course," Snart says, all amused mockery. "The Flash, famously known for being a cautious strategist."

Barry is tempted to grab the pillow and throw it at Snart. He's so very tempted his fingers already tighten in the pillow, sinking into the softness and getting ready to make a missile out of it.

But starting a pillow fight with Captain Cold is... probably a bad idea. Snart would never let Barry's attack pass without retaliation, and Barry isn't sure if he's ready for what that might entail. He can handle Snart blasting a beam of absolute zero at him out there on the streets when it's the Flash against Captain Cold, but he isn't sure if Barry Allen can handle Leonard Snart in a rain of feathers with a soft mattress beneath them.

He makes himself let go of the pillow, his fist hesitantly unclenching. "I should probably go. Cisco and the others will be worried if I'm not back soon."

Even as he says it, he finds himself reluctant to get up. It's dangerously comfortable in Snart's bed, with the faint smell of sandalwood clinging to the linens and the cushions curving pleasantly against Barry's body. It would be altogether too easy to turn around and fall asleep again. Just five more minutes, or maybe a couple of hours.

But that's not— He really shouldn't. He can't, not when he knows his friends have no idea what happened to him and have probably already been looking all over Central for a sign of him.

Under Snart's keen eye, Barry scrambles to his feet, feeling awkward. Off-balance, literally as well as emotionally.

Snart is sitting with his back to the door, so Barry has to pass him unless he wants to phase out through the wall, something he'd rather avoid when he doesn't know what's awaiting him on the outside. He almost expects Snart to block his way or grab him when Barry walks up to the chair, but Snart lets him go without trying to hold him back.

Barry tells himself he isn't disappointed.

He hesitates at the door. "Hey, Snart?"

"Yes, Barry?" Snart echoes drolly, half-turning towards Barry.

"Thank you." He holds up a hand, forestalling Snart's protest, the whole 'I'm a criminal and a liar and I hurt people' spiel that he never gets tired of giving Barry and that Barry increasingly refuses to buy into. "I know, it was all selfishness. I heard you. But I still appreciate it. And I guess it was kinda nice getting a good night's sleep. Even if was meta-induced and you got away with robbing a bank."

The chair clatters as Snart stands.

He takes a few steps towards Barry, and for a moment, Barry thinks he's going to insist on driving his point about the maliciousness of his motives home. But the glint in his eyes isn't promising violence, and the way he looks at Barry— Barry swallows. That's not how Snart looks at him when he's about to teach Barry another lesson about not trusting too easily.

"Tell you what. I'll make you another deal. You don't tell anyone about this place, you could come back here sometime." He lets his gaze travel up and down Barry's body, slow and intense, like he wants to make sure Barry feels it. And fuck, he does. "Leave the flashy suit home, maybe. Can't promise you'll get as much sleep. Might be fun, though."

Barry huffs out a startled laugh at the sheer brazenness of Snart's overture. Not even the demand he wrote on the napkin when Barry was angling for a deal at Saints and Sinners was quite that forward.

"If you want to get me out of the suit, at least buy me dinner first."

The reply spills out of Barry before he can rein in the words, reckless and impulsive, a quick-witted quip that conceals the fact that he's being entirely too serious.

Or maybe it doesn't manage to conceal anything at all. Snart's eyes narrow, and perhaps he's the one with the speedster powers, because the next thing Barry knows, Snart is right there in his space and Barry can't remember seeing him move.

"There's a little kitchen down the hall. I might be convinced to show off my cooking skills."

There's something about the idea of Snart cooking dinner for him that makes Barry's pulse accelerate, and it has nothing to do with the way his empty stomach growls at the talk of food. Snart's eyes shift down to Barry's mouth, and it's only then that Barry notices that he's been sucking in his lower lip, worrying it with his teeth.

"For real? Good thing I can be very convincing," he teases, unable to suppress the crack in his voice.

It doesn't matter. Snart chuckles quietly. "Don't I know it," he says wryly, and before Barry can figure out what he means, Snart's hands are cupping Barry's face and his mouth slides over Barry's.

Barry leans into the kiss before he can stop himself, instinctively kissing back, and then he figures there's no point in denying himself anymore. He wants it too much, and Snart already knows he wants it, so he might as well let himself enjoy it.

Snart kisses like he wants to make up for every frostbite he gave Barry, feverish and possessive, leaving a rush of heat in its wake.

He doesn't step out of Barry's space when he breaks away. "Sure you don't wanna stay?" he asks, the words heavy with implication.

Despite himself, Barry's eyes flicker towards the bed, soft and comfortable and empty, and all too inviting.

"Not tonight," he says with a shake of his head. His tone is firm enough, even if he can't keep the regret entirely out of it.

Snart seems to have expected that answer. He offers Barry a one-sided shrug, casual like it's no big deal, as if he hadn't just been kissing Barry like he was never going to let him go. His hands fall away from Barry's chin, and Barry immediately misses them.

"Suit yourself. You know where you find me."

Barry tears his eyes away from the bed and from Snart, acutely aware that he has to leave now, or else he won't.

In a rush of lightning, he zips away. The last thing he sees before he flashes out of the room is Snart closing his eyes and taking a breath, like he wants to inhale the gust of ozone and savor the bristle of static electricity against his skin.

Barry makes it back to S.T.A.R. Labs by breakfast, fielding Cisco's and Cait's questions with a reassuring smile that doesn't let on that he can't shake the memories of that soft mattress beneath him and Snart's eyes drifting over his body, heavy like a touch.