LOT/CC fic: Date Night (Ch. 1 of 5)
Len and Sara finally get that date. But nothing ever goes smoothly with the Legends. (Sequel to Second Chances. I recommend you read that one first to meet this Len Snart.)
Thanks to LarielRomeniel for the beta! Can also be read here at AO3 or here at FF.net.
This will be four chapters and an epilogue. And I'll actually be sticking to that for once, because the complete story is already done! Rated T mainly for language.
Truth be told, Sara had nearly forgotten about Len's offer/request that night in the brig.
Or perhaps it was more appropriate to say that she'd simply didn't think it would happen. They're busy on the Waverider after all. Down time is not something that happens very often. And since they've fallen into the same card-playing, often-flirting, occasionally drinking routine she'd had with the original Leonard Snart, well, perhaps she'd thought that was all he ever intended to pursue.
She'd been wrong.
"All right, folks," she says with a sigh, rising from the captain's chair once the Waverider's parked safely in Central City 2017 and the shielding illusion is up. "You have 36 hours. Use it wisely. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
Mick snorts at that, stretching as he rises and causing an audible "crick" from his spine that makes Amaya, next to him, wince. "Seriously? You wanna tell this lot that?"
"OK. Don't do anything you don't want to have to explain to me later. Is that better?" With a smile, she turns away from his rejoinder (and the sound of the others comparing notes on the things they're going to do, family they're going to see, and non-replicator meals they're going to eat) and toward the corridor toward quarters, planning to spend this "shore leave" at the ship so the rest of the team can relax.
She semi-expects/hopes Len will stay too. But she doesn’t want to single him out and make him feel obligated, not when all the others are free to leave. If he stays, she wants him to want to.
And she’s probably making it more complicated than it needs to be.
Sara heads to her room; he’ll follow or he won’t. And she’s not going to stand there waiting for him. Any longer than a minute, anyway.
But that moment or two comes and goes, and she shakes her head, moving to her bed and stretching out, telling herself that she’s not disappointed, not at all, it’s going to be nice to have time to herself, she’s going to watch every stupid rom-com Gideon has on file and eat ice cream and …
There’s a rap at the door.
Len is there when she opens it, but he’s not wearing either his white, blue and black uniform or his habitual gray T and jeans, the equally habitual bottle of something in his hand. Instead, he’s looking dapper as hell, black dress pants and a sapphire blue button-down shirt, a look on his face that seems oddly tentative, hands shoved in his pockets and somehow still not spoiling the look.
Sara blinks at him, feeling like she’s missed something. “Yes?” she manages.
That gets her a Snart shrug and one corner of his mouth ticks up. “I think,” he says, in a tone that attempts to be smooth and doesn’t quite manage it—his ice isn’t anywhere near as thick as Earth-1 Leonard’s had been, and damn, that sounds kinda dirty, “we talked, once, about a date? For dinner?”
“Now?” Sara thinks back, startled.
He clears his throat. “Well. All that was mentioned was ‘sometime when we have some time.’ And a firm ‘we’ll see.’ But I was…hoping…”
The optimism in his eyes is rather charming, actually. Sara lets a smile cross her face, but there’s regret as well. “I would love to…but I promised to stay here so the others could go out…”
Now there’s a spark. “Way ahead of you, Captain,” he drawls, sounding like his doppelganger. “Mick agreed to stay tonight. For me. And you.” He considers. “Well. Maybe I bribed him. But that’s rather beside the point. So?”
She shouldn’t. “Just let me get dressed.”
Mick lets out a low rumble of laughter as Sara shows up on the bridge not long later, wearing something she hopes says “semi-casual first date with a former thief from another world”—and, boy, has her life gotten even stranger than expected. The noise manages to be both teasing and oddly affectionate, and Sara grins at him, moving over to bump his shoulder with her own.
“You have my number,” she tells her friend and unofficial second in command, who’s sitting in the captain’s chair with his legs stretched out ahead of him and a book in his hand. “I don’t know when I’ll be back, but sometime tonight. Then you can…”
But Mick’s rumbling again at her words, a knowing chuckle, and Sara folds her arms and glares at him good-naturedly. Len’s not on the bridge at the moment, so she doesn’t hesitate to puncture Mick’s apparently somewhat-misplaced expectations. (Best not to think about why she might have paused if Len had been there.)
“I’m not falling into bed with him after one date,” she hisses at him quietly. “Dinner. Maybe…I dunno…a walk or something. I’ll be back.”
Mick eyes her, grinning. “Not one date,” he corrects, sitting his book down on the arm of the chair. “Few weeks of card-playin’ and serious flirtin’ by this point. And if you count even of a fraction of what went down with our Snart…”
They both pause at the note of warning in her voice—a note Sara hadn’t intended to be quite so angry...or distressed. She starts to apologize almost immediately, but Mick holds up a hand, shaking his head.
“I get it,” he mutters, looking away, then back, meeting her eyes. “It ain’t him. Sara…” He almost never uses her given name. “…no one here knows better ‘n me that it’s not.”
“I know…” Sara sighs. “Mick. Maybe…maybe there’s something there. I mean, I like Len. A lot. I’ve enjoyed spending time with him. I’m…I’m attracted to him.” The other man grunts a little as he eyes her, and Sara shrugs. It’s not the kind of thing they usually talk about, but he brought it up. “But nothing…serious…is going to happen until I can look at him and see him. Not Leonard.”
After a moment, Mick sighs too. “Might be waiting a long time, then,” he mutters, but then leans back in the chair and shrugs. “Ain’t him. But this one, he’s a decent dude in his own right. Keep that in mind too. OK?”
What can she do but agree?
The look in Len’s eyes, when he arrives on the bridge to meet her, is gratifyingly rapt. Mick barks out another laugh as the other man stops dead in his tracks, trying very hard not to stare.
“You,” Len says smoothly after a moment, though, approaching, “look gorgeous.”
It’s just a pair of nice slacks and a golden silk top. Sara, feeling uncharacteristically self-conscious, reaches up to toy with the pendant of carved amber that’s hanging around her throat, just under Laurel’s necklace. “Not too fancy? You didn’t say…”
“Not at all.” His lopsided smile is utterly unlike anything she’s seen on that face before—no matter what owner it’d had. It’s an almost boyish expression. And while she knows he watches her a lot—any version of Leonard she’s ever seen has, frankly—it’s still a surprise when she catches him watching with that look in his eyes. The one that mingles fondness, respect, appreciation and, yes, desire, all in those blue eyes and…
Mick laughs again, and Sara realizes she and Len have been standing there staring at each other. She glares at Mick good-naturedly, but Len chuckles, stepping forward and offering Sara his arm.
After a moment, she takes it.
Len Snart is a realist. Really, he is.
OK, so that seems sort of weird, given how his recent life has gone. He’s a superhero now, or so he’s told. (He still prefers antihero, but whatever.) He’s acquired ice powers, which happened when his cold gun went critical during a fight. He’s gone drinking with aliens, snarked at the Dark Knight of his world’s Gotham City, and flirted wildly with an actual Amazon of Themyscira. Hell, he’s even on a bona fide different Earth right now, ever since the bad guy of the moment had opened that portal during a League mission.
Still, as weird as it’s all been, it’s a little more believable to him than that he’d be…here. Strolling down a street in Central City—not quite his Central City, but still—with one of the most remarkable women he’s ever met on his arm. For a date. An actual date. An actual date to an actual nice restaurant to which they have actual reservations. (This Earth’s Barry Allen, while aware there was an alternate Snart running around with the Legends, had been somewhat flummoxed when that Snart had called him up for dining recommendations.)
And this remarkable woman truly seems to like him. Well…she’d liked the him from this Earth, but by now, maybe him-him too? He thinks. Enough to do this crazy impromptu date thing, anyway.
He glances toward her as they walk. Sara, feeling the gaze, turns her head to return it. She smirks at him a little, but it seems to be an affectionate smirk.
His doppelganger here, he’s long since decided, was an idiot. Well, that’s not quite fair. From everything Mick’s said, and a crumb here and there from Sara, that man had been a lot more damaged. Lewis had survived a lot longer, for one thing, continuing to fuck up his children’s lives in new and more creative ways, and there’d been someone or something called “Alexa.”
Really, especially given all that, Len can only thank Earth-1 Leonard for being someone who’d managed to intrigue Sara Lance enough that she’d give him a shot.
“So, where are we going?” the amazing woman in question asks, and frankly he’s a little surprised she’d waited this long.
“Place called The Red Pepper.” He gives her a tentative look. “You said you liked Thai food. I was looking for a really good fusion place I remember from, ah, where I’m from, but it apparently doesn’t exist here. I’m told this one seems pretty similar, got a great review…”
“I love good Thai.” Sara’s voice is fervent. “And it’s something Gideon just does not manage well. Sounds fabulous.”
“Excellent.” He clears his throat. “Sorry, I’d have, ah, called a cab or something if it wasn’t a nice evening. But I thought the walk might be good.”
“You mean you would have hot-wired a car.”
Len starts to deny it, then eyes her as she laughs. “Well. Maybe….”
Could he have? Sure. Would he have? Honestly, it’s not so much his style when there’s an easier and less attention-getting way of accomplishing the same thing. Apparently his other self wouldn’t have…and hadn’t, in the past…hesitated.
He’s competing with a goddamned ghost.
But he swallows the sigh, and smirks at Sara instead. “Well,” he drawls a little, “it is a nice evening. So it doesn’t matter much.”
There’s a flicker in her eyes, and he curses himself for giving something away. Hell, he doesn’t want to remind her of the other him. But it seems there’s really no way he can avoid it, and he blunders again and again.
Best, perhaps, to just carry on and try to be himself, corny as that sounds.
Len casts about for a topic. They’ve talked a lot, the past few weeks, and they know a bit each other’s background. She doesn’t exist, on his Earth, so far as he knows. He knows a Black Canary, a Dinah Laurel Lance—hell, he’s fought with her, flirted with her a bit. But not much, because of her husband, the Green Arrow, his Earth’s Oliver Queen.
He hasn’t told Sara about that. And he probably won’t.
But Dinah doesn’t have a sister. He knows because he’d asked once. Mostly to irritate Ollie.
He sincerely likes Dinah; she’s badass and gorgeous and she’s got a sense of humor, but he likes Sara far more. There are more shadows to her, more edges, but a sense of something grounded, too, a basic practicality he doesn’t see often in the heroes in whose company he’s been finding himself. (Or the villains too, really. There’s often nothing less practical than the sort of person who, confronted with a costumed hero, decides to level up instead of getting the hell outta Dodge. Which might be a little pot-meet-kettle, really.)
“So,” he continues, studying the buildings of center city around them, the businesspeople headed home, the tourists scattered about, taking pictures of architecture and public art and each other. (Ah, that’s where the Flash Museum is located, on his Earth. The one here apparently hasn’t gotten quite that level of adulation yet.) “What do people on this Earth talk about, in normal first-date-kinda situations? Not that we’re either quite normal by most standards. And I know we’ve already talked quite a bit, last few weeks. But…well, what do you like to do, when you’re not being all badass captain of a time ship?”
Sara’s lips twitch. “Well, what you do when you’re not being all crook-turned-hero-on-another-Earth?” she returns. “Regular…stuff.”
“Like?” When she pauses to think about it, Len offers up something of his own. “I like cheesy sci-fi movies. Books. Most books.” He smirks. “Museums.”
“Uh huh.” Sara’s voice is dry. “Relieving museums of certain things…”
“I don’t do that anymore.” He tries to sound innocent and doesn’t quite manage it.
“Uh huh.” She laughs a little, glancing at him. “I like movies. Hmmm…hanging out with friends. I like to dance.”
“Aaahhh. So next time, I should take you dancing?”
His tone is teasing as he watches her, but then his gut twists as a shadow crosses Sara’s expression, her face falling a little. There’s no doubt at all why, at least in general terms. The ghost is there between them again.
“Never mind,” he backtracks immediately. “Never mind. I didn’t realize…that was one of your things. I didn’t think…”
He stops again. There’s really nothing he can say, is there?
It’s just going to happen again.
So many traps to stumble into. So many pitfalls to remind her of the Leonard she’d first known.
But Len is looking away, his easy gait now a bit stilted, tension in the arm where her hand is resting. She knows him well enough now to know that he’s bothered, and for a long moment, she wonders if this whole thing was a mistake. Maybe she shouldn’t even have agreed to this at all until she could get past more of the ghosts that hover there between them.
“No, it’s…” Sara sighs. “The first place we stopped, on the ship. St. Roch, 1972. Leonard, Mick and I, we left the ship and found a bar. Got some dollar beers; Mick put on the jukebox.” She smiles a little despite herself. “I asked Leonard to dance.”
“You did?” Len sounds intrigued despite himself. “All I’ve heard, he didn’t seem like, ah, the sort.”
“He wasn’t. Didn’t know him well at the time.” Her lips twitch a little. “He declined. Said he’d watch.”
She watches Len try to figure out how to respond to that without innuendo…and eventually simply give up. “Can’t say I blame him,” he drawls, eyeing her. “I rather like to watch.”
“Do you now.” It’s not a question. They smirk at each other a moment, awkwardness passed for now, and then Sara decides she needs to ask the obvious question.
“Do you dance?”
“Mmmm.” He looks though his lashes at her. “With the right partner.”
“Good to know.” She hesitates. “So…you’d take me dancing?”
“Captain Lance, I would love to.” Len smiles at her, one of those genuine smiles that are his alone, and Sara grins back, and maybe this will work out after all.
Of course, that’s when they hear the screams.