author's notes: i feel like this is both dark shippy as well as somewhat of a character study on both of them, combined with things i have strong feelings about lol. it was very cathartic. title taken from Rat-a-Tat by Fall Out Boy.

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& I'll Take Your Heart Served Up Two Ways

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She can't help but watch him from a corner of her eye, even as she steps back into her panties, lets the waistband snap against her skin, her body temperature raised several degrees above normal. His doing.

He doesn't move the way she imagines Barry would; slow and measured where Barry would be all awkward limbs, eyes set in that thousand-yard stare she read about in her psych classes, dissociated from the act they committed.

But then, he's no Barry Allen.

There's a thickness in the air that betrays the outside world, a storm on the way the likes of which will shut the city down, clog up its streets and sewers until it's dripping wet from top to bottom, soaked through down to its foundations.

Her panties are wet, chaffing against her in a way they hadn't before.

Reluctant to girdle herself back into a costume for the world's stage to see, she rises to the tips of her toes and stalks around the bed, stealing his shirt off the sheets before he can reach it. He falls back onto the mattress with a disaffected chuckle, dragging dark jeans back over his slim hips and zipping up. She can still feel him slotted between her thighs, moving inside her with swift tilts of those hips, his fingers like bruises over her ribs, his teeth at her throat, and her long nails digging into the small of his back – their bodies acted of their own accord once she crossed the lines she set, he set, who the hell kept track? Were there lines to begin with?

A first tap of rain disturbs the metal roofing, water leaking through holes in the ceiling, flooding the abandoned factory upstairs, and sure enough there's an initial clap of thunder in the distance.

Before long he's standing, and she pulls his shirt over her head, falling off her right shoulder where she ripped at it earlier. He'd grabbed around her arm so tight she feared it might break bone, hissing venom she can't even recall now. She'd broken free and slapped him across the face with the back of her hand, and he'd stepped to her in a flash, in the blink of an eye; but where she'd allowed her spite free reign since the day Caitlin Snow tragically perished, his strained against the inside of his skin, threading through his veins like parasites, searching for a way out.

And his eyes drew to her lips.

She braids her hair sideways, eyes tracking the tendons crawling beneath his skin, calm, almost despondent, like he miscalculated where this could end up. He doesn't make up the same materials as Barry, nor did he resemble Zolomon or Thawne; rather he's a creature much like her, who became and is becoming and will become someone armed against the coming tide.

"What?" he snaps, aware of her eyes tracking him across the room, where he locates his belt on the floor and slips it back in place. He can still see her nimble fingers undoing the clasp, hear it ripping free and the leather cracking against her thigh while he gauged, anticipated, waited to see where this would go. Had he made a mistake? Had he given her the impression this is what he wanted?

Did he not know her, after all?

Her bare feet on the cold concrete don't make a sound, but soon she's right there facing him, back where they started no half hour ago. Only now they don't fall into that hard kiss, they don't break skin colliding, he doesn't rip at her clothes until she's naked and his pants slipped down his hips just far enough for him to push inside her.

She is without a doubt one of the more breathtaking creatures on this Earth.

She runs her fingers over the scars on his chest, burnt down his abdomen and curling around his waist, wondering idly if they're self-inflicted, if it's some version of Savitar or Barry that will do this to him, or if, perhaps, they could be the lasting result of frostbite.

With an appropriate amount of force, she digs her nails into the scar tissue.

He doesn't wince.

His eyes don't draw to her lips like they had earlier either, he doesn't oscillate that one step closer, and they don't fight their way to the bed with a desperation unbecoming both of them. Instead he stands stock-still, staring out in front of him, letting silence wane for so long it makes her self-conscious. She's naked and sickly pale beneath his tattered shirt, her legs still aquiver.

She pulls back her hand, and asks, "Why me?" in a far too characteristic moment of weakness.

"Why you?" a misaligned echo follows, and she recalls the exact moment his lips formed around another lover's name, the same way hers had, though neither of them had said it out loud. His one good eye had lingered on her far too long as he stilled his thrusts, as if he hadn't done this since the day he was made obsolete.

There's love inside him still, deep inside the marrow of his bones; not for her, she's not that delusional, and not for this present self trying to stop them, but for a woman whose name he now spits, whose name he once revered. Whose name he yet whispers in his sleep. Iris.

She'd tried on jealousy for .2 seconds but it came ill fitted to her new persona, so she'd adopted his candor on the matter instead. In order for him to ascend, Iris needed to die; it seemed a simple truth among the many she'd been forced to accept of late. If she was to be this queen of the cold, this killer frost, she might as well embrace other terrible truths.

"Cisco said—"

His brusque step in her direction forces her a step back, like a frightened little— "Cisco?" he sneers, something akin disgust in his voice before it mellows into a tone that makes her want to split his tongue in half.

"Did he get to you, little lamb?" His head tilts, and long fingers brush her stark white hair back behind her ear. "With his talk of the good old days, when it was you and him, Ronnie and Hartley, and good old Dr Wells."

Breath hot at her neck, he snakes a patronizing kiss over her carotid, which runs her blood ice-cold again. She'd rather have his teeth rake rough over her throat, drawing blood from her lips and drowning moans in their combined effort to breathe, that unbecoming desperation over this mock-pity.

"He got through to that broken girl inside you, kicking and screaming to come out."

So what if Cisco had?

Would he not tremble beneath Iris' touch?

He thinks she hasn't noticed, how the tendrils of his trauma spilled inside his arteries and infected the subcutaneous tissue, turned him into a being capable of murdering the woman he'd tied himself to in a forgotten sliver of time. But it's no more than trauma; it's no less, either, but shielded from harm by the armor he wore, the costume he poured her into, the diamonds beneath her skin.

Sure, he'll kill Iris in a heartbeat once he gets the chance; there's enough hatred in his black heart to beat for two, but she doubts that darkness has eclipsed Iris' light.

It's not about Iris, this crusade of his.

It's about Barry. It's about him. His past and present and future caught in a Möbius strip of time there's no escaping from, and now, after everything – his inception for nothing other than to meet his end, his life granted by the God he was created to battle, the woman he lost but wasn't allowed to mourn, the friends and family he lost in her wake – no, he won't let Barry Allen have this. He didn't die for Barry Allen then, and he won't do it now. Even if it means recreating himself. Even if it means recreating the monster.

Which brings her back to her initial question. She's not tied to the same space-time boundaries he is, not caught in a never-ending loop of her own nascence. So of all the meta-humans sat in Iron Heights, or running around Central City, why would he choose someone who used to call Barry Allen a friend?

"You know how I became this."

She's not talking about the necklace or the agency Julian robbed her of, no, the idea of her arose long before that, even before Barry created Flashpoint.

Cisco and Barry returned from Earth-2 and all they could see when they looked at Caitlin Snow was Killer Frost; someone other on another Earth, in another universe, yet, in their eyes, synonymous with the good and kind doctor they cared for. Why? How had they seen that cold in her? Where had they found that potential for villainy? What reason had she given them to mistrust her so, other than having a double on a universe unaffected by theirs?

And now, now Cisco begs her to be Caitlin Snow. Now he reminds her of those good old days, Barry would make them family, and Julian professes his love for her. For Caitlin.

But she won't be Caitlin Snow ever again. That frightened little lamb ripe for the slaughter. She's stronger now, mightier, armed against every painful day yet to come.

"Why I became this."

"Your point?"

Her point, of course, couldn't be more clear, but he's curious to see what she'll do, what form her frustration will take denied his understanding. He knows the how and why of her like he knows his own, like he's memorized each intricate curve of his suit of armor and spent the better part of the past hour exploring hers – but no amount of bulletproofing serves to shield a heart that's been broken, a soul shattered. A life discarded.

"What did Cisco say?"

"That it's over for me the moment you get what you want."

A smile coils around his mouth. "Use your words, Dr. Snow."

Her eyes flash white. "That you'll leave, just like—"

Faster than the speed of light he grabs a hand around her throat, forcing her back against the wall. She gasps but she's quick to grip around his wrist, gaining what leverage she can by rising on her toes, but granted little by way of oxygen.

"Like your father did," he taunts, dangling her past in front of her like it's bait, like she's meant to respond with that uncontainable rage that burns alive inside of her. "Like Ronnie. Like Jay before you learned the truth about him."

She kicks out a leg but it has no effect, so she faces away as he creeps closer, the tip of his nose ghosting over her cheek. Is this what he hoped to accomplish then, he wonders, did he mean to control her? Does he want to use her like he'd been used, and then discard her once he's through with her?

No. She won't put herself at the mercy of yet another man. Least of all him.

And she'll rejoin the team before she allows him to puppeteer her. Barry Allen or not.

She's lived her entire life as someone other, as the Caitlin Snow everyone so adored, a woman bound by her upbringing and scientific morality; she has little more to work with than those foundations Caitlin provided, and he has no desire to change her to his liking.

"All these men."

He brings their foreheads together. His grip loosens, as hers does around any delusions she held onto about his makings; this man is no Barry Allen, no God nor lord over time, but a carbon copy caught in the machinations of a world that will decide there can be but one Barry Allen, like the potential of Killer Frost comes preprogrammed into every version of Caitlin Snow.

"And they keep disappointing you."

When he found her stumbling through the snow, lost, aimless, led by the winter freeze alone, he had no need for words, no rhyme or reason, because her guide was the face he wore, a face scarred by time itself. It isn't trust that keeps them bound together, rather the implicit understanding that Barry Allen did this to them both.

"Barry was the greatest disappointment of all."

She searches his face for an endgame, for any hint of where this might go; it was easier an hour ago, when both of them were still under the impression they hated each other and not the lots life dealt them. What is he playing at?

"Making you into- this."

Yet, that's not the greatest sin she'd lay at Barry's feet. Barry didn't leave her as much as he left her behind, turned away to tend to his perfect life while hers had been opened at the seams. She's as much a product of Flashpoint as he is, was, and will be.

And maybe, maybe, that's a lie too, the greatest lie of all, because she lies to herself more expertly than anyone else.

Even after all the warning signs well before Flashpoint she still managed to lose the one person who mattered the most. Herself.

"Caitlin Snow," he whispers.

"Don't—" she cautions, while ice pierces his skin right below his sternum, digging through every layer of organ tissue until it hits his spine, "call me that."

Crying out, his eyes fall to the icepick thin needle protruding from her index finger into his chest, and he phases on instinct.

"Uh-uh," she wags a finger. "You don't want to do that, Flash."

He stills instantly, eyes darkening, attempting to even out his breathing before any more damage can be done; though, at this point, what's another scar?

"One wrong move and this nicks your aorta. You'll bleed out within seconds."

He laughs, even as he coughs up blood, tainting her ivory skin blood red – she must've hit his esophagus boring her way inside, or a lung; she'd have to open him up entirely to be sure.

His hand still atop her sternum, he leans in.

"You're right to ask," he whispers, a first indication that he's heard her through all this, that he's taken heed of her words. Of all the metas across time and space, why did he seek her out that day in the snow?

Because none of them tried. None of her so-called friends. None of them spent any time trying to understand what she was going through; they all assumed her powers would destroy her, that they were nothing but destructive, and somewhere in her most frightful nightmares she started believing that too. That Caitlin couldn't change. That Caitlin couldn't evolve without becoming a monster.

Why did he, with that face, come to her in her hour of need? He, locked in a cycle of coming and going, staying and leaving?

"I've seen what breaking Caitlin's heart does."

She thinks he hasn't noticed, how the tendrils of her new persona haven't destroyed all of Caitlin, not the parts that matter; her disarming smile, her anatomical knowledge, the anger brewing right below the surface of her skin. She's evolved, she's a queen now, something everyone on the team failed to see, but she became what she needed to be, like he did, to hold all the broken pieces together lest the pain drove them insane.

He suspects he'll regret the day he decides to break her heart. Because he too will leave, ripped from her by none other than Barry Allen, and when that day of reckoning comes when he's locked in a prison tailor-made for him, she will do what he has done for her. She will search for the broken remnant of him crawling his way through the ashes of a world that rejected him. And she will show him the way.

He thought she'd do that out of loyalty.

Now he thinks it may be more than that.

"And I'm sorry."

Her lips part, no more a monster than he is, and the icicle so precariously close to his heart retracts. She can see it clear as day in every page yet to follow and every chapter that came before, the how and why of them both, so connected it couldn't be anyone but him, and anyone but her.

This time, when he kisses her, there's nothing spiteful about it. His hands cup her face and his mouth slips over hers and his apology lies barren against his tongue, blood red with a copper tang. She surrenders to him like snow yields to the sun, melting into a deep irrational kiss, at a loss trying to figure out what's happening, how this happened, or when either of them let this happen.

Her fingers tremble touching his chest, careful around the numb tissue of his scars.

As they kiss the room fills with the earthy smell of rain, the storm leaving them to attack the city, and they're left with the evocative scent of ozone, pleasant and sweet, like the weather too submitted to this.

He grabs down around the back of her thighs, and she winds her legs around his waist, small and dexterous, weightless in his arms. What felt confusing before now seems like the single path to take, and he's left questioning how cold can be so seductive, how it can burn hotter than fire and his speed combined. How he can be so drawn to the one thing that could still kill him?

He settles on the bed with her in his lap, and he tears off whatever's still left of his shirt, exposing her silky skin to his lips, his tongue, his hands. Mouth at her throat he breathes hard against her, beneath her, within her, fingers memorizing the curve of her spine, each hill of her shoulder blades, the flats of her abdomen.

Lost in his multitude, she grinds into him with strong languid tilts of her hips and shivers at his touch – there's a purpose to each caress, each kiss, each singular taste of him. He kneads at her breasts and kisses down her stomach as she rises on her knees, her fingers raking through his hair.

He strokes over the swell of her through her panties, and it's all she can do not to lapse into mist. Her nimble fingers undo the button on his pants, just like she had before, pull down the zipper, and before long he's in her hand, hard, hot, helpless, starved any kind of embrace for far too long.

"Am I your lackey, Barry?" her voice scatters the last fragments of dissimilitude between them, a play on words some ghost of him once spoke to her.

It's difficult to tell exactly why his jaw clenches, whether it's the insult or the injury, but she doesn't spend much time thinking about it. She bites behind his ear, palms warmed by the heat of his flesh, of his body, parched this kind of fever at the hands of any other man.

"Am I your disciple, Savitar?" she whispers into his mouth, stroking him as he skims his pants back down his hips.

His fingers wind into her hair, loosening the braids she took such care weaving.

He sees her through new eyes, his making and his undoing.

He caught a glimpse of their life together, back when he was still another man going by another name, and she sat in a prison of her own. Yet, she had not betrayed him, she hadn't revealed his identity to the man who'd soon figure it out – instead she'd glorified their time together, her eyes sparkled at the memory of four years at each other's side wreaking havoc and destruction he can still only guess at. Who knows what those four years will entail.

Maybe it's this—

Panties pulled aside she sinks down.

—just enough of her to dull the pain.

They still but for a moment, entangled like his past and her future will strand together, adjusting to this new position, this new status quo, this unique knowledge of the pages soon to be written.

"Not in a single known universe," he groans, and, one arm folding around her waist, the other pushed into the mattress for leverage, he thrusts up into her, over and over, and she meets his every move, shuddering. She throws her head back, lips gasping around his name, ribs moving beneath her pale skin like they're fingers trying to claw through.

There's no doubt she's the most beautiful creature in the multiverse, and she's tied herself to him, like he will tie himself to her in due time. He will revere her, stand in worship and tremble.

Four years.

That's what he'll take.

That's all she'll ask.

They will take what Barry Allen can't bear to lose, and then they'll take more, more than their fill, more than either of them can imagine, more than any lifetime could contain. She will be his Queen of Winter, and he will rule as a God of Speed, the greatest paradox the space-time continuum has withstood.

And the world will weep, dripping red with blood.

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fin

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