a tale of stolen wallets

Their first date after leaving the Waverider is at a mom and pop ice cream store in Central City. Len helps himself to a Flash sundae while Ray has a Captain Cold popsicle. They both make fun of each other’s choices, Len more successfully than Ray.

At the end of the date, Len offers to pay for both of them. “Len, that’s sweet, but I have more money than you do. I should pay.”

“Are you sure about that, Boy Scout?” It takes a second for the words to sink in, and then Ray’s fumbling for his wallet, whipping it open to find it perfectly empty. Len waves a handful of hundred dollar bills at him from across the table.

“You really shouldn’t carry so much in your wallet. Someone could steal it.” Ray tries to scowl, but he’s more amused than anything else.

“Looks like you can afford to pay for both of us, and the next date too.”

Len smiles. “So, there’ll be a next date then?”

“If - if you want?”

“Raymond,” Len leans closer, “I’d be delighted.”

It’s only once Ray gets to his car that he realizes his now-empty wallet has vanished as well.

Their second date is at an Italian restaurant. Ray carefully tucks his wallet away inside his briefcase before leaving his apartment, determined that this time, he’ll pay. Halfway through the meal, Len starts lining Ray’s credit cards up on the table, edge to edge. “Remember, pretty boy, always cancel your credit cards as soon as you notice they’re missing.” Ray opens his briefcase, and sure enough, his wallet is gone. He’s sure that Len never went near it and yet, somehow, he still managed to steal his wallet.

He proceeds to steal it on every date they ever have.

On their tenth date, Ray accidentally forgets to bring his wallet. As the date progresses, Len grows steadily more frustrated, and Ray can’t understand why. He doesn’t bother to look for his wallet because he’s used to Len paying - even if it is with Ray’s money - and so he doesn’t understand Len’s frustration until he gets home and sees his wallet lying on his bedside table. He texts Len a photo of it, with the caption “Looking for something?” Len doesn’t reply, and the disgruntled silence say more than words ever could.

On Valentine’s Day, Ray writes a card and leaves it in his wallet, pressing a flower into the card. Halfway through the meal, he looks up to see Len looking at the card with a soft smile. Ray’s wallet is still in his pocket, but he’s stopped questioning how Len manages to pilfer the contents, and accepted it as a truth of the universe. The Legends will find a way to mess up every plan that Rip ever conceives, Central City will always seem cheerful regardless of the crime rate, the sun will come up in the morning, and Len will steal Ray’s wallet.

After that, Ray starts putting things in his wallet if he wants Len to see then. It becomes their main form of communication. Sometimes it’s candy, or small trinkets he picked up that remind him of Len. Notes, ranging from love letters to reminders to pick up the dry cleaning. Flowers, carefully pressed between pieces of paper. Gradually, things like grocery lists and tax forms (Len didn’t fill them out honestly, but he did fill them out, and Ray thinks that that’s one of the most romantic things anyone has ever done for him) are added. Over time, anything he wants to tell Len without saying it out loud gets written down and put in his wallet. Texting is for emergencies and other time sensitive things; anything else can wait for the next time Len decides to commit theft.

Sometimes, Len just steals the contents. Other times, he steals the whole wallet. Ray can’t figure out what he’s doing with them or where he’s keeping them, but he’s clearly hanging on to them because sometimes he sends them back. Every so often Ray will reach into his pocket to find a wallet that he didn’t put there himself, with notes inside saying everything from “dinner at 6” to “we’re out of laundry detergent” to, one day, “I love you.” That’s the one wallet Ray keeps, hiding it inside a box of tools where he knows Len won’t look for it, the note safely inside. He’s not sure if Len truly hasn’t found it or if he’s just letting him keep it, but Ray treasures it all the same.

Ra amuses himself by buying outlandish wallets, forcing Len to deal with novelty wallets and vintage wallets and thrift store wallets made from duct tape. One lucky find has the Flash on it, and vanishes almost immediately. Some of the uglier ones never get stolen, and simply have their contents emptied, as though Len is categorizing them as too distasteful to bother taking possession of. Whatever happens to the wallet itself, Ray can count on Len to find the messages inside on a regular basis.

It’s not until their dates have turned from tentative firsts to a comfortable routine that they finally address what has become their longest tradition.

Ray comes back from a night out with Sara to see Len waiting at their kitchen table, looking tense. Before he can say anything, Len beats him to it.

“Is something wrong?”

Ray’s confused. “No? Why would there be?”

“You texted me to say that Sara said hello. You never text unless it’s urgent, and this wasn’t.”

Ray gives an embarrassed smile. “I was going to leave you a note in my wallet, but Sara thought that’d be weird, so I texted you instead.”

Len hesitates, and then says, “Do you want me to stop stealing your wallet?”

“What? No, it’s fine. I like it, it’s our thing, now. Isn’t it?”

“You don’t mind that I keep stealing your money?” Len asks, unusually serious.

“You stole my heart first,” Ray says earnestly, “and that’s much more valuable.”

Len rolls his eyes, but something in his face softens. “How very sentimental of you.” Ray reaches out a hand, and Len grasps it, the two of them smiling contentedly at each other across the table.

Then Len holds up his other hand, smugly waving Ray’s wallet at him. “So it’s alright that I took this just now?” Ray grins, and leans in and kisses him.

He never does get that particular wallet back.