Chapter 1: Symbiosis
Symbiosis: a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups.
“There has got to be a better way to control this.”
Len snarled at Lisa’s famous words. How many times had she told him that over the years? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? In the end, it really didn’t matter. No matter what she said, it didn’t stop the fact that he was dying and these short-term solutions they concocting were only slowing down the process, not fixing it.
Even now, the radiator that he was pressed against was warping and cracking, unable to power through the opposing temperature. The cold that clung to Len seeped through his ice coated skin hissed against the mild heat the radiator gave off. Normally, a radiator cranked up as high as it was would have burnt through human flesh but it barely broke through the ice sheet on Len’s back. It was only a matter of time before the radiator completely fizzled out. It couldn’t fight the cold. Not even close.
“What do you propose, sis?” Len snapped, although it was more of pure frustration at his situation than at his sister. What was it? Fifteen years of frozen skin and ice powers? “We hunt down ever radiator in Central City?”
“No,” Lisa sat cross legged, a few feet in front of him. Despite the radiator being put at dangerously high temperatures, Len’s cold made the room freeze and Lisa was bundled up to fight it.
“Then what?” Len groaned as the radiator keeled out and the heat was quickly snuffed out by his internal cold. Like a moth to a flame, Len absorbed any and all heat around him. He craved the heat, but it was never enough to satisfy him. Nothing was.
“We just got to find something with a little more heat.” Lisa’s eyes danced, new ideas already forming in her head. For years, ever since she was four, Lisa had been looking for a solution to her brother’s ailment. The cold wasn’t all bad; it definitely had its uses in their line of business. It made heists and robberies child’s play and made the siblings richer than they knew what to do with. Len said it wasn’t about the money, it was about the plan. For Lisa, it was always about the gold, and family time, of course.
Unfortunately, the cold had a price. Not only did it consume Len, but it consumed everything he touched. Lisa couldn’t remember a time when her brother wasn’t frigid, but Len claims there was, before she was born. The siblings never touched. One time Len brushed against Lisa’s shoulder when she was six and now a dead patch a skin marred her paleness forever.
The cold also brought unwanted attention, especially from their father. It was something Lewis Snart had exploited when he first discovered what his eight year old son could do; it was also what ended up killing half of his father’s crew one chilly winter although Len blamed Lewis’ hubris for the frozen corpses. Len never thought it was fair to blame a twelve year old, but the melt fire poker Lewis had told a different story.
Lisa knew that the frost and cold and ice had been a part of her brother for close to twenty years. She also knew Len was running out of time and as he grew colder and colder, his body was becoming less able to keep him alive.
Mick relished in the steam hissing around him, but even he knew it wasn’t enough. It was barely a droplet of water in a desert, but it was all he had. Even if it was enough, Mick couldn’t live inside a damn mobster meat locker for the rest of his life. He’d rather let the internal flames burn him through. He had come close to letting them do it too many times in his life.
He had only been inside the meat locker for two minutes when the metal wall he had propped himself against started melting. He was running hotter than any coolant in Keystone. No matter what he used, nothing could get his heat to drop. He’d just have to expand his search if he didn’t want to burst in flames.
Sure the idea of dying by fire was something he desired, but not yet. He wasn’t ready to give himself over to the flames yet. Mick wasn’t of the philosophy of dying young. He was barely twenty six.
Despite the cooler doing little to nothing for Mick, he continued to sit. It was better than facing the summer heat of Keystone where he’d burst into flames without warning. In the cooler he could at least maintain the flames to his fist. He’d rather sit in the barely chilled cooler for hours watching the fire dance around his palm than face the fire department’s hoses…again.
The door to the meat locker creaked open and Mick’s eyes alit as four armed men came him. He extinguished the flame on his hand, watching the smoke drift to the ceiling as the four men blocked the exit. They were probably the mobsters who owned the meat locker if Mick cared to guess. It would explain the human corpses that hung from the hooks on the wall opposite of him.
Large guns were aimed in his direction and Mick willed them to try. He’d even let them take the first punch. Fuck it. Every bullet he had ever been hit with melted and disintegrated inside him before he had the time to feel if there was any actual damage and that was if the bullet even made it to human flesh. More times than not, it didn’t.
“Get up!” one of the armed men ordered, fear evident in his tone. It wasn’t everyday one found a man such as Mick half-naked in a meat locker of dead bodies and a stench of smoke.
Mick complied regardless, the wall he had been leaning against already gone, leaving a sizeable hole in the meat locker.
The guns followed Mick’s movements and he decided he might as well give a show. If he couldn’t find a coolant to keep his flames at bay, letting them take over, even for a minute, relieved the tension in his body enough to give him a few days. But a few days didn’t matter when his time almost up. His internal biological clock told him that if he got any hotter, he’d combust in a glorious fire.
One gun dropped as the armed men watched fire ignite at Mick’s hands and trail up his arms, over his shoulders and down his back. It felt too good to stop, so Mick let the fire consume him once more, covering his entire being until his eyes were replaced by two white balls of fire. Two of the arm men began to shoot, bullets melting in the flames surrounding Mick before they could touch him. They never had a chance.
Before the last one could make a decision of fight or flight, Mick had turned them all to ash.
Upon entering the apartment, Lisa knew something was wrong. It was cold, sure, that would never leave her brother, but it wasn’t freezing, not like it normally was. It was significantly warmer in the apartment, so much so that Lisa could shed off at least one jacket and possibly the scarf. It could only mean one thing.
“What’d you do?” Lisa asked, sitting across from her brother at the kitchen table. Len was scanning blueprints to a building. Reading upside down, Lisa could see it was an incinerator on the opposite side of town. Not their craziest idea. Len was still refusing the volcano one, for now.
“Paid a visit to the jewelry store on 5th.” Len was already digging deep into one of the many pockets of his deep blue parka. “Got you a little something.”
Lisa smirked at the golden necklace that rested on the table. It was bejeweled with sharp cuts of emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and a diamond. Despite Len’s gloves, she knew she had to wait a full ten minutes before risking a touch of the jewelry. The ice burns on her fingers were a testament to her past impatience.
“You got that for me?”
“Saw you admiring it the other day on the way to school,” he shrugged, already turning back to his blueprints. A small smile was painted on his lips. Even if he couldn’t swing an arm around her or show physical affection, Len knew of other ways to shower her with love.
“Don’t reward me yet,” Lisa winked She reached into her school bag and pulled out a folded manila folder. “I got you a little something too, courtesy of our friends at CCPD and their national database.”
Passing it across the table, her brother picked it up skeptically before opening it up and reading. Lisa waited patiently, eyeing the necklace on the table. 3 oval emeralds, six little round sapphires, 2 large square rubies and one magnificent diamond, rather impressive but Len knew she preferred the fine gold it was set in.
“I don’t think more cold is the answer,” Len rolled his eyes, shoving the folder aside. “I don’t have a problem cooling down; I have a problem heating up.”
“No, but you read about his cryogenic suit?” Lisa asked insistently. “I’m not sure how it works, but it keeps him at a steady temperature. The way you are going, no matter what radiator or incinerator,” she gestured to the blueprint, “it’s not going to be enough and you’ll freeze over. With this, you might actually stand a chance.”
Len didn’t speak for a while, analyzing the information his sister had laid out. “It’s an ugly suit,” Len grumbled.
“We can style it up,” Lisa rolled her eyes. “Besides, the old guy won’t be needing it much longer. Heard his wife is dead anyways.”
“It said he froze her,” Len muttered, reviewing the previously discharged folder again. “He put her in cryo-stasis after he found out she was terminally ill.”
“Great, whatever, he can join her in whatever freeze they store her in,” Lisa stood up. “So are we making a little trip?”
Len didn’t get up but he did smirk. “We got to take some prep time.”
“So the incinerator is still a go?” Lisa groaned.
“Gotham is pretty far away, Lisa.”
Mick knew he wasn’t alone. He had heard reports of burning men from Metropolis to Smallville to Coast City. A few times Mick considering seeking them out, finding out how they dealt with the flames that cannot be cooled. How they can burst into bright explosions but not overheat?
The closest he ever came to doing so was when Mick had made a special trip to Opal City when clothing was becoming an issue. Mick had managed through his youth and teens by stealing clothes and a fireman’s jacket that were flame retardant, but only to a degree. One threat and a little show for an Alex Sartorius and Mick left Opal City with a trunk full of clothes, fabrics, and sheets that would be able to handle his heat or at least handle it until Mick combusted.
Even as he rested in the middle of the Keystone Ice Rink, steam fogging the large room and the ice beneath him already beginning to give way, Mick knew it was pointless to seek out someone like him. He needed to cool down, not heat up again. Getting close to another flame just raised his temperature quicker. It was the sole reason he had to through away his fire-starting gear. One mishandling of the propane taught him that much. He still had his lighter but it was more for the soothing touch of warm metal than the dancing flame. Why use a lighter when his entire arm could ignite on command?
Mick had only heard whispers of his opposite. Someone who could only leave trails of frost, ice and cold in their path. Mick knew one was in Gotham, and deadly to boot. You don’t get to be a notorious ice villain and stay under the radar. That applied to the idiot robbing jewelry stores and banks in Central City, leaving winter wonderlands and ice fields in his wake.
The thing was Mick was running out of time. No amount of ice skating rinks, meat lockers, or barren waste lands was going to work for him. He needed something colder, available and willing. He needed to pick one of the opposites and...well, Mick wasn’t sure what he’d do afterwards but the other would. The guy in Gotham was supposed to be a mad genius and Mick didn’t care as long as he was tolerable. The guy in Central City certainly had a form of genius if he could commit robberies for nearly twenty years and not get caught.
He’d have to pick carefully. He didn’t exactly have time to explore them all, and he had heard rumors of up to twenty all across the world. Distance was a problem too, there was not many modes of transportation Mick could take without them overheating and melting after lengthy exposure. The half melted car in the parking lot and the melted steel doors to the ice rink were a testament to that. Central City was closer but held a ghost, but the man in Gotham was a sure thing with records Mick could track. All he’d have to do is convince the guy to lend him some of that cold. In return, Mick would provide all the heat he needed. It was a long way to Gotham, but it would be worth it.
Mick couldn’t take no for an answer. He couldn’t afford it. He also couldn’t afford it be wrong. If he ran too hot for the opposite, they’d melt away and Mick would be back where he started but with less time. He needed an opposite that could give him more time.
But Mick didn’t have any other options. The way he was going, he had less than a month before he had a nuclear meltdown down. Before the flames couldn’t be held back and he burned.
“Len,” Lisa rounded on her brother, arms crossed tightly across her chest. “Where the hell do you think you are going?”
Len rolled his eyes. She wasn’t supposed to be back for another hour; school wasn’t out for another hour. He had planned it all accordingly, but Lisa was never one for exact timing. That was his job.
“Gotham,” Len sneered. He would have pushed past his little sister but he didn’t want to hurt her. Even with all the layers each wore, one touch and Lisa would have to deal with frostbite. That was the exact reason he was leaving her behind. Gotham was a long ways away and he couldn’t risk exposure and her getting in the cross hairs, should things go wrong. She was supposed to be able to live a normal life now that Lewis was behind bars. She could go to school and make friends, but Lisa was stuck worrying about her older brother.
Everything Len touches might freeze to death, but that destruction was nothing in comparison to Lisa’s sharp glare.
“That is not happening,” Lisa growled. “I found this guy! It was my idea! So I’m coming with!”
“No,” Len snarled, using his older brother voice. It rarely worked on Lisa, not even when she was a little kid, but Len might as well pull all the stops. “It’s dangerous.”
“Sitting in an incinerator is dangerous,” Lisa bit right back. “Robbing banks and pulling heists are dangerous. Confronting some old man in an abandoned warehouse in Gotham is not dangerous.”
Len buried his face into his hands, rubbing his cheeks and eyes in agitation. “I wasn’t calling the old man dangerous.”
Lisa got it immediately, her glare only hardening. “Oh, don’t pull that ‘I’m only a monster that can hurt you’ crap with me.” Lisa was already done with Len’s self-hate, grabbing her pre-packed duffle bag and heading out the door. “Come on, Lenny,” she called down the hallway of their apartment building, “I thought we were on a timed schedule?”
When Mick was fourteen, he awoke on a bed of flames. Smoke stung and clouded his vision while the roaring of fire and the screams of his family deafened him. Stumbling out of the bed, Mick managed to navigate through the burning building unscathed.
Outside there was no one. Living on a farm meant your neighbors were miles away. Living on a farm meant you were alone.
Mick had looked back at his home to see it caving in and crumbling. There were no more screams as Mick sat in the dewy grass on his front yard. If there were screams, Mick didn’t hear them as he was captivated by the flames, his mind going blank.
An hour later the local fire department arrived, but it was too late. All that was left was small flames licking the lone standing wall. He was pulled away by a man in thick gloves that grated his skin and then was seated on an ambulance.
A man in a police uniform asked if he set the fire. Mick didn’t answer; too busy watching the firemen dowse the remaining life out of the flames. When asked why his clothing was scorched and he had no burns, Mick looked down surprised to see his shirt seared and torn, his pants in no better state.
When the first responder went to touch Mick’s arm but flinched away, Mick felt a tickle deep in his gut and steam surging up his throat. When no one was looking, Mick slipped into the corn field, leaving burning footprints in his wake, captivated by the flicker on a flame on his index finger.
When Len was eight, he burnt his father. It had been an accident, Lewis swinging his fist across Len’s face as he had done before. Len knew what was supposed to happen, except something had changed and when his father reeled back from the swing, clutching his hand, Len saw the bubbling, red burn.
Len and Lewis watched each other in horror, Len fearing the punishment to come while Lewis still trying to wrap his mind over the injury. When Lewis took a step forward, Len reacted.
Father and son watched in amazement as a wall of thin ice separated them, neither of them sure how it got there. Len crowded behind the wall, his father watching it thick and grow with Len’s fear.
“Leo,” his father spoke slowly with a grin that made Len’s skin crawl, “look at what you can do.”
Mick surveyed the Gotham harbor with little interest. He hadn’t come to see the sights, only set on finding the ice man. All he knew was that Victor Fries had locked himself up in a warehouse in the Gotham harbor after escaping Arkham and Mick was willing to burn down every single one of them to find the man. He just hoped that loony in the bat suit didn’t come looking for him. Mick would hate to kill Gotham’s Dark Knight over some old cold bastard.
The chilling air did next to nothing for Mick’s elevated temperatures, but he greatly preferred it to the heated summers of Keystone. Mick used to love all things hot and smoldering, but the fear of a meltdown was enough for Mick to abandon his passions, only able to revel when he let himself burn over. He barely went out in the summer, not since he developed this…curse? Mick wasn’t exactly sure what to call it and wasn’t sure how he got it. He just woke up with it and had to adapt.
He still set things on fire, he couldn’t stop that even if he wanted to, he just couldn’t get lost in the flames anymore, not completely, not without the risk.
Walking past the line of warehouses, Mick pinpointed the one he was looking for, the air around it plummeting past below zero, calling to him.
Funny thing about Mick was that he had some kind of sixth sense to extreme cold temperatures. It was as if his body knew what it needed. Mick could feel the pull in his gut and there was almost nothing that could deter him from seeking it out and burying himself deep in it. It was a type of itch that Mick could- and has –killed for. Although, nothing had truly ever satisfied that need. He still burned too hot.
As he approached the warehouse, Mick paused upon seeing a motorcycle with a sidecar attachment outside. The sidecar was still warm, but the actual motorcycle was stone cold, like ice, colder than possible for the temperature outside. Mick didn’t even know what hit him until he had his hand pressed against the ice cold metal of the bike. It was far colder than it should be and for a split second, it quenched the heat in his palm. That was before his palm overpowered the lingering cold and began burning into the metal.
Mick pulled away, ignoring the sting of melted paint on his hand. A smile was on his face as he glanced down at the license plates of the bike: Central City. So the little ice thief wanted to join the party?
Well, wasn’t Mick in a stroke of luck? Two opposites in one location? Well, now Mick had options. He’d just need to see which one gave him the better offer.
Abandoned? Fucking abandoned?
Len was going to lose it, if he hadn’t already. The temperature of the warehouse had dropped so much that Lisa was struggling for breath, but Len couldn’t contain himself. He barely had the frame of mind to tell her to leave.
He’s gone. Fries is gone and Len’s only hope of not freezing over was fucking gone.
Below him, frost began covering the concrete floor in slick sheets of ice. A cold, low fog hung around him. Ice crackled and clumped against his skin.
“Lenny?” Lisa whispered. “We need to go.”
Len shook his head sharply. What was the point? At some point, Len had to be the older brother and stop putting Lisa in a situation where she could get her heart crushed. Len let Lewis break her heart, but Len had done it far too many times with these false hopes of finding a solution, a cure. It was time he realized there was no solution, no cure. He was a ticking time bomb and now he was dragging Lisa down with him.
Walking further into the warehouse, Len heard Lisa crumble to the floor. Looking back at her, he could see her sitting petrified and shaking. Len wished more than anything he could pull her up and hug her, but in doing so he’d kill her. Plain and simple.
Distance is what they needed, so Len would make the final cut and sever them. Len would stay in Gotham, find that Mr. Fries if he could, but he couldn’t drag Lisa with him. He wasn’t allowed to break her heart anymore. He’d rather kill himself than-What is that?
Len snapped his head around and stared past Lisa at the closed warehouse door. Lisa stopped her shaking for a moment to look up at him curiously.
Len ignored her, not that he wanted too. Something just snapped inside him because outside the warehouse there was heat. Len craved blazing temperatures, almost turning to a bitch in heat when anything over 150º was in the vicinity. Outside the warehouse, it was hotter than any radiator or incinerator Len had encountered before.
The sheets of ice that had slowly begun covering Len’s arms flared up, expelling another drastic drop in temperature as frost hung around him. As if answering his call, an explosion of heat poured into the warehouse from the door, melting the frost that covered nearly the entire expanse of the warehouse floor.
Lisa, caught in the middle, jumped up as the two very different temperatures mingled.
“Lisa,” Len spoke hoarsely, almost unable to speak at the warmth calling out to him, “I need to you go. Now.”
“Now.” Len didn’t know who or what was on the other side of the warehouse door. Gotham was a strange place and he didn’t want to get Lisa hurt. “Take the other exit and wait for me there.”
Lisa, always an expert at understanding Len’s tones, silently followed his order and raced for the exit.
Just as she made it out, the warehouse door began to melt starting at a hole in the center. Len waited patiently as the hole got bigger and bigger, flames licking their way through and Len found he was anxious to see the source. It was a type of excitement Len rarely felt anymore.
Once the door was laid to waste, Len watched a burning man walk through. Muscle and fire were the only things Len could pick out from the shape, the flames surrounding the man too intense for Len to see any other details. The image should have scared him, any sensible human would have been petrified, but Len licked his lips in glee. He’d never see anything to warm.
“Well, well, well,” the man spoke, his flames drawing back enough for Len to meet his blazing eyes, the white balls of fire being replaced by two flaming brown human eyes, “I thought there would be two of you, but I suppose you’ll do just fine.”
Narrowing his eyes, Len let his cold reach out toward the man again, going through his lowering heat to touch him. Len watch in amazement as the man let out an almost orgasmic moan as frost crawled up his hand.
“You were here for Fries too?” Len asked, withdrawing the cold and watching the man’s eyes chase it, flames licking after the cold.
“Yeah,” the man spoke slowly, his voice gravelly. “See, I run a little hot. I need something to keep me cool.”
Well, wasn’t this just kismet?
Len did not miss the underlying purr in the man’s vice and ignored the fact that it was getting to him. It had been years since Len had human contact of any sort. He couldn’t touch someone without them developing frostbite and that was the best case scenario.
It was taking every ounce of his strength not to close the twenty foot distance between Len and the other man. Clearly, he was under the same effects as Len, rather than cold he had heat. Len wondered if his heat and flames were just as untethered as Len’s cold and ice.
“Come on, you got to sweet-talk a guy first,” Len felt a smirk coming to his face, “I don’t even know your name.”
“Mick,” he answered immediately, taking a step forward. Len felt his willpower draining the closer they got. When was the last time Len wasn’t freezing? When was the last time Len had truly felt warm?
“Mick?” Len thought about it for a moment before cataloguing it. “And what do you do Mick?”
“Is this a fucking interview?” Mick growled, flames on his back roaring for a moment. Len could see Mick was worse off than him. Len might have had a few months before he froze over but Mick looked minutes away from combusting.
“I need to know what I’m getting into before we-” Len paused, frowning slightly. What were they going to do? Great, they found what they needed but how did Len use that heat and how did Mick use his cold?
“We can figure that out later.”
Apparently, that earlier display was Mick holding himself back. The line of fire that had been curling around Mick’s body engulfed him once more. Len watched in amazement as the flames poured off Mick and travels around him. Unable to hold himself back, Len reacted. Ice covered his body and raced toward the flames. A loud hiss erupted into the space. Len wasn’t sure what he was doing but he knew he had to reach Mick. He needed the warm, he needed the heat, he needed the human touch. It had been too long, too fucking long.
Len wasn’t sure if he was the one to move closer or if that was Mick or if they had moved in tandem but Len practically whimpered at the hand that wrapped around his bicep. Marveled in the fact that Mick didn’t rip himself away from Len and the fact that his frost didn’t over power the flames, Len’s mind blanked.
Instantly, he pressed his entire body against Mick’s clawing at the available skin. He needed it, he needed all of it and Mick seemed more than happy to give, hauling Len closer and burying his burning face into Len’s frigid neck. Len let out a horrifically loud whimper as he pushed up the thin barrier of Mick’s shirt to touch skin.
Mick’s skin was red and angry, looking like a fresh sunburnt as opposed to Len whose skin was translucent and tinged blue from hypothermia. However, where they touched, the skin shifted away from their angry/cool colors, turning a fleshier, human tone.
Len felt his mind shut down as his body shifted from its usual high-strung and tense stiffness into limp and relaxed. Len could barely keep his eyes open and barely had the sense to know Mick had brought them to the floor. Len was more than fine with it, his legs ceasing to function anymore.
All Len could think as his vision grew dark was this is way fucking better than that boxy cryogenic suit.
Mick wasn’t sure how long he had been lying wrapped around the icy stranger. All he knew was when he had arrived in Gotham, evening was beginning to fall. As his eyes wrenched themselves open, he could see mid-afternoon peeking through the cracks of the warehouse.
Mick had every intention of going back to sleep. He hadn’t had a peaceful sleep ever since he had woken ablaze in fire with his home burning around him and his family crying for help. It was like the over ten years of insomnia had finally caught up to him and he could sleep. It definitely helped that the younger man curled against his chest hadn’t burnt to a crisp and was still delightfully cool to the touch.
Glancing down at said human ice-pack, Mick grinned. He didn’t look half bad; Mick could definitely see expanding their relationship of temperature control to something else. Mick couldn’t actually be with anyone else…unless he wanted them to burst into flames. This guy however could handle it. Mick just hoped this guy didn’t try to run for it. It was the first time in years that Mick felt normal, that the metal he rested against didn’t melt at his touch and that he could actually touch another human being. He was still running hot, Mick could feel it, but it was nowhere near as hot has he usually ran.
A cough sounded in the warehouse and Mick’s head snapped up. It was only then he realized a third person in the warehouse, a younger girl sitting crossed legged on an empty wooden crate with a pistol in her hand. She watched the two contently. She couldn’t have been older than thirteen or fourteen.
Before Mick could question who the fuck she was, she answered in a bored drawl.
“His sister,” she cocked her head to the side, examining him. “And I’ve never seen him sleep so-” she paused, considering her word choice before continuing “-normal.”
Mick felt the compulsion to push the stranger away, despite every cell in his body screamed for Mick to pull him closer. It was a strange sensation, being drawn to something that wasn’t fire. It was also a strange feeling to have someone watching him sleep.
“What’s your name?” the girl on the crate asked, watching over her brother and Mick with hawk-like vigilance.
"Lisa," she introduced, a funny smile coming to her face.
"And his name?" Mick realizing he never got any information out of the ice-pack.
"You didn't get it? Lisa looked amused.
"We got a little distracted," Mick muttered, looking down to see the guy still passed out, his face pressed into Mick's chest to avoid the afternoon sun. His ice cube hands were still tucked under Mick’s shirt and he had no intention of removing them.
Lisa raised both eyebrows. "Well, aren't you two quick. I thought you saved that for third dates?"
One look at the smirk planted on Lisa's face and Mick could see the family resemblance to the man in his arms.
"Not quite like that, sweetheart," Mick rumbled as a cold hand patted him on the face, hitting him on the nose.
"Shut up," the human ice-pack groaned, pushing himself impossibly closer to Mick. There wasn't any space between them yet the freezing man seemed determined as all hell to make sure.
"Come on, Lenny," Lisa whined and Mick raised an eyebrow at the new guy. Lenny, huh? "I just wanted to get to know your new friend," she drew out the word and above Mick, Len grumbled silently. "He's coming with us, right?"
Oh, there was no way Mick was abandoning this guy. Mick loved his flames, but being about to operate through life without everything he touched burning was nice. Mick liked the idea of control over his heat, even if that control was now contingent on being near this little guy.
"Well?" Lenny looked up at him, ice blue eyes clashing with fiery amber ones. "You coming along, Mick?"
Mick couldn't help but grin. "Yeah, buddy, I'm in."
Len waited until Lisa was outside the warehouse (he had to ask five times until she finally listened to him) before sitting up. His thighs were still hugging Mick's hips but it was time to see what happened when they separated. While Len loved the heat Mick carried, he wasn't too thrilled at the idea of constantly wrapping his body around the guy. He still didn't know what type of person Mick was. Just because they were compatible temperature-wise, didn't mean that compatibility went into other important aspects.
Mick waited, watching Len's movements. Both were anxious. It had probably been far too long for Mick since he had human contact and had his inner fires at a manageable level. Len understood the pressure all too well.
"Are you going to keep taking your sweet old time?" Mick snapped, his eyes hard on Len. Len was beginning to see anger was a first-response emotion in Mick's book. That wouldn't do.
"Chill out," Len smirked at his own little joke. He peeked up at Mick to see the guy sharing the smirk. Well, he passed that test. Lisa barely tolerated his puns, but Mick seemed to like them well enough. Then again, he'd have to see how long that lasted.
Not willing to waste another second, Len stood up and took three quick steps away from Mick.
Whatever they were expecting, they weren't expecting there to be no changes.
Both blinked, Mick climbing to his feet and looking at his hands in amazement. Len, less notably, did the same. He still could feel his cold and he knew he wasn’t at the average 98º but he didn’t feel that far off, at least in compassion. Mick seemed to be realizing that he wasn’t over the boiling point. If Len had to guess Mick was running a high fever, but still manageable to the normal person. Even the harsh red skin of Mick was more subdue. Len looked down at his how hands to see that his translucent skin was of a healthier color now. He clocked in his own temperature at around 75º.
“How long do you think it’ll stay like this?” Mick asked the question on Len’s mind. They knew it couldn’t be forever, but if they could go a day or two like this, it might be worth it.
“Don’t know,” Len was already heading to the door of the warehouse. There was one thing he needed to do before he went back to freezing temperatures. He might not get another chance.
Lisa was checking the bike. Len noticed a melted handprint on it but barely found he caring as he touched Lisa’s bare shoulder.
While she jumped in shock, she didn’t cry out in pain. Both Snart siblings marveled at the touch. Almost instantly, Lisa had her arms around Len’s neck. Len pulled her close; dimly aware their new acquaintance was watching from the sidelines.
When they pulled away, Lisa locked eyes with Mick. “You’re not going anyways,” she grinned.
Mick shrugged like he didn’t care, but Len could feel the heat increase by a degree or two. Nothing Lisa would have caught, but Len could always tell even the slightest different in temperature.
“So what’s the plan?” Mick asked, his eyes locking with Len’s.
Len’s eyes danced as he considered his answer and Mick waited. Lisa rolls her eyes, already climbing into the sidecar, locking the helmet into place
“We all go back to Central City and figure out what we can do for each other,” Len decided. “Figure out this new partnership and set some terms.”
He climbed onto his bike and realized Mick would need a mode of transportation. Len scooted forward in the seat and patted the seat behind him. Mick’s only hesitation was a raise of an eyebrow before climbing behind him, an arm locking around Len’s waist.
Despite his best attempts to remain calm and collected, the second he felt Mick’s heat behind him, Len let out a breathy sigh. Lisa laughed and Len would have felt embarrassed if it hadn’t been for the way Mick grunted in relief and moved until they were flush against each other.
With Mick’s pressed against his back and his sister on the sidecar next to him, Len decided to call their little trip to Gotham a success.
Chapter 2: Mutualism
Mutualism: two organisms of different species exist in a relationship in which each individual benefits from the activity of the other.
Upon getting back to Central City, Len made the proper arrangements to deal with Mick Rory.
The guy had been living in an abandoned factory in Keystone so Len sent an old crew member he trusted to go over the river and collect whatever valuables Mick might have. According to Mick, everything he needed was in a burnt wooden trunk next to a charred mattress.
Len, rather than taking Mick to one of their warehouses or hideouts, brought him to the apartment he shared with Lisa. They dropped Lisa off at school, having already pulled her out for the week long outing to Gotham City and back, before pulling up to his apartment building. Once they were off the bike, Len made sure to be out of touch from Mick.
He loved the heat but despised the vulnerability that came with it. Every fiber of his being wanted to be pressed against Mick for the rest of his days, but Len’s sensibility and pride were stronger than basic instincts. It didn’t help that he still knew next to nothing about this Mick. The lengthy ride from Gotham to Central City hadn’t really provided much allowance for conversation. They had been a little too occupied in their downtime, marveling in the fact that their temperatures were stabilizing while keeping Lisa entertained. It never ceased to make Lisa laugh when Mick or Len purred or groaned under the other’s touch.
“Nice place,” Mick grunted briefly but after that fell silent. Len led him up to their apartment.
Inside, Len could still see evidence of his out of control cold around the apartment. Frost still clung to most of the glass surfaces and ice had begun melting from their coffee table. That melting process sped up the second Mick and his heat flooded the apartment, expanding any direction Len’s cold was to devour it.
“Come on,” Len guided Mick through the apartment until he reached the door at the end of the hallway, as far away from Len’s room as possible. “You can have this.”
Mick seemed surprised, stepping in and looking around before turning to stare at Len incredulous. “Are you serious?”
Len felt another layer of cold defrost under Mick’s heated gaze. “It’s not a big deal.”
Mick hummed, glancing around the room once more. “It’s been a while since I had a room.”
With Mick engrossed in the room, Len slunk off to his own, locking the door behind him. He needed to be alone to process what the fuck was happening. Less than a week ago, he and Lisa were making preparations in the event of him dying from a freeze over. Now, they had a fire meta-human in their apartment, apparently the only person who could keep Len warm enough to stop a freeze over and could touch him without getting frostbite. It was a lot to take in and Len was already beginning to regret letting a stranger into his space. But this was for Lisa, even though she was to never be left alone with the man. She couldn’t lose him and he couldn’t lose her so Len would do what he could, even if it meant succumbing to the temptation that was Mick Rory’s delicious heat.
Mick was pulled out of his dreams of ice and fire to find himself covered in a sea of form and water. Smoke wafted through the room and standing at the door way was Lisa Snart wearing a fur lined coat that was unzipped revealing just a sports bra and shorts underneath. Her hair was in a tangled bun and she looked haunting for only being fourteen.
“Between you making this damn place a sauna and Lenny making his own personal winter wonderland, I couldn’t decide,” Lisa sneered, tossing the empty extinguisher to the ground. “By the way, you lit your bed on fire, again. Now, get in bed with my brother or I’m going to just kill you both.” Lisa was already walking out of the room muttering, “Not even six days and we are back to this shit.”
Mick hadn’t so much as touched Leonard Snart since they had gotten off the bike a week ago. Len avoided Mick like the plague and Mick let him. He wasn’t exactly going to push the issue, although at times he wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around the human ice-pack. Len told him he wanted to see how long they could stay apart before they got extreme, Mick didn’t want to wait. He wanted to feel the other man’s cool skin against his searing flesh.
Standing up, Mick grinned at Lisa who continued to glare. She kept her distance but led Mick down the hall. She stopped halfway there but Mick walked past her, his mind focused on one thought: Cold. He didn’t even mind the frost covered floor on his bare feet.
Mick kicked open the door, trying to provide as little contact with it as possibly so it didn’t burn under his touch. Over the course of the night, it seemed as if his temperatures had risen drastically as Len’s plummeted. It was hard to say who was worse off but considering that Len’s cold had reached over the halfway mark of the apartment and nothing had burst into flames yet, Mick was going with Snart.
Whether Len was asleep or not before Mick came in the room, he didn’t know. All he knew was once Mick stepped into the bedroom and his heat snaked out to Snart, the ice-pack was out of the bed and staring at him with big, icy blue eyes.
Mick held in a chuckle upon seeing the ice meta bundled up in that ridiculous blue parka.
The two stood, both awkward and unsure how to proceed. The warehouse in Gotham had been a stepping stone but this was going to highlight what they did for the future. They knew what needed to be done in order for them to regain equilibrium, now they just had to make it not awkward. Gotham had been in the heat (ha!) of the moment, but this was setting the foundation of regulatory practice.
Sighing, Len rubbed his face and gestured to the bed behind him. “Get in.” His tone was authoritative and left no room for argument. Mick, normally not one to take orders, couldn’t help but comply. He realized day one that he’d do just about anything Len said if it meant getting even a pinch of that cold in return.
But, Mick hesitated right before touching the bed. “Hope you don’t like those sheets.”
“Why?” Len stiffened and sneered defensively. Mick silently rested his palm against the white blanket and watched it begin to burn a handprint. Mick had his own flame retardant ones, but Len’s were still susceptible to his heat. “Oh.” He paused for a second, approaching Mick slowly. Mick felt Len’s frost licking up his back and Mick had to hold back a shudder. His own heat was slithering around Len, hoping to bring him closer. “I’ll get new ones.”
Shrugging, Mick did as he was told and crawled into the bed. He absently wondered if he should have worn a shirt before coming in but as Len turned off the bedroom lights, Mick could hear the gentle rustle of discarded clothing and the light plop of the parka hitting the ground. Mick waited patiently and blind, focusing on not burning the entire bed to the ground as he inhaled the burning fabric of the sheets. A dip in the bed shattered all Mick’s trains of thought.
While Len was still not touching him, he was still close enough for Mick to feel the chill that lingered around him. Mick wondered if it was the same for the heat that followed Mick. They weren’t even touching and Mick already felt himself cooling down.
“Lay back,” Len ordered sharply, although his tone had a breathless quality to it. Mick had no doubt that it was a natural response to Mick’s heat.
Mick fell back onto the mattress, desperate to feel the human ice-pack against him. Once Len finally came beside him, only using a single hand to touch Mick’s shoulder light, Mick lost the little restraint he had left.
The cold seeped through his shoulder but Mick craved more immediately, rolling to his side and pulling Len tightly against his chest. Mick’s wide hand was splayed across the expanse of Len’s bare back, feeling the many bumps of marred skin and wondering where they came from, while his other hand sought refuge on Len’s hip to hold him in place. Len stiffened and almost made a move to back off. Len growled a half choked “Mick-” However, his senses came roaring in refusal and rather than moving away, Len buried his face into Mick’s bare chest, breathing in the warmth and heat that it brought along, his hands finding purchase on Mick’s shoulder and chest, their legs intertwining, both of them fighting to slot their legs in between the other’s thighs.
Mick had never been this close with someone on a physical level. It had never been possible before and having someone touch him was a heady sensation. One, with the wrong thoughts, could make the sleeping arrangement very awkward. Still, Mick couldn’t hold back the low purr when he finally let Len win and his icy thigh came dangerously close to Mick’s cock.
Mick sighed contently, humming as his eyes began to flutter shut. Just like the warehouse in Gotham, both of them felt drained of energy and were quickly coming under. With their bodies beginning to tick down (or up in Len’s case) to the human average, the comfort of sleep and touching another was over whelming. Glancing down, Len was already passed out, his mouth ajar and snoring softly.
Distantly, Mick heard Lisa’s grumbled as she slammed the bedroom door shut and then her retreating voice calling them “temperature morons”.
Len woke up the next morning to find his bed empty and the charred remains of his sheets sticking to his cool skin. Evidence of Mick’s little sleepover was all over the room but Len’s only focus was on the fact that he felt sated and still lingeringly warm.
Quickly covering himself head to toe once again and hoping Mick didn’t see his scars on his escape this morning, Len walked out of the bedroom and pointedly ignoring the burnt dent in his door.
In the kitchen, Mick was sitting at the table, still bare-chested, while Lisa stood by the stove. It was the first time in a long while Len had seen her in a sleeveless shirt.
Len sat opposite of Mick, not meeting his eyes. The embarrassment of clinging onto the other man last night was all too humiliating, despite it being the “natural” response. Having to rely so heavily on another person, especially someone not Lisa, made Len’s skin crawl. He also hoped his other “natural” response went unnoticed by the burning man. It wasn’t Mick Rory, Len had decided, it was just human touch of any kind.
Lisa didn’t say a word as she fixed up three plates of sloppily made eggs and passed them around the table. She took a seat in between the two meta-humans, took one bit out of her eggs, and then spoke.
“You two are sharing a bed from now on.” She took another bit of her eggs and glared at Len’s direction. “Mick’s moving in with you. That’s final.”
Len glanced over to Mick to see him shrugging it off uncaringly. Len glared over at Lisa but before he could argue, she spoke again.
“If I have to share an apartment with both of you, I am not going to suffering between dying of a heatstroke,” she sent Mick a pointed sneered to which he responded with a grunt, “or hypothermia,” she continued to glare at Len. “If sleeping in the same bed makes the temperature in the apartment bearable, than that’s what we are going to do.”
Silence echoed over the table, no one willing to argue or defend Lisa’s decision further. Mick finished his breakfast first, depositing his plate in the sink to soak and strode past the siblings to exit the kitchen. Once alone, Lisa turned to Len with a softer expression.
“It won’t be that bad. I know you like him.”
“Not him,” Len corrected in a hiss. “The heat, I like the heat.”
“Same difference,” she rolled her eyes. “If sharing a bed with the guy keeps you warm, than you are going to do it. It’s not like it’s an inconvenience for him, he needs you just as much as you need him.”
Apparently, the exhaustion that came over both Len and Mick only occurred when the two were separated for too long, their bodies physically shutting down to make up the difference in temperature. After sharing a bed every night, Lisa was granted with their bicker until late in the night and sometimes into the early morning hours.
At least the apartment wasn’t in a conflict of extreme heats, although she did notice slight drops and spikes in temperature depending on who own their little arguments (and over the stupidest things like sports, politics, food, etc. - Seriously, if Lisa heard them argue over the road construction of 5th Avenue, debate who the best jazz musician was or lecture each other on fucking hockey one more freaking time, she’d just kill them both and end her suffering).
And even with all the bickering between the two, Lisa knew this was the happiest she had seen her brother in a long time. It was the first time in a long while that she had seen her brother talk to a person that he wasn’t related to. It was the first time in a long while she had seen her brother open up to anyone. It was the first time in a long while she had seen her brother smile at someone who wasn’t her, even when he thought no one was look.
A year had come and gone since Mick started living with the Snarts. It took some getting used to, but overall, it wasn’t all that bad. Most days, Mick spent them out of the apartment, doing his own thing. Lisa was in school most of the time and Len was doing his own secretive life. Both of Mick and Len were making a name for themselves in the crime world, but separately. Len got recognition for his success record and scores while Mick grew notorious for his brute strength and savagery. Mick figured that Len thought it wasn’t good for business for them to work together, which was fine with Mick. He mostly took jobs were he could end it with burning something (and occasionally someone).
Apartment life was oddly domestic. More times than not, they ate together unless either Mick or Len were doing a job. Lisa made a point of them sharing at least one meal a day. Len began trusting Mick more alone with Lisa, leaving them for a few minutes, than a few hours, and sometimes even a day or two. Mick had begun teaching Lisa to drive (and she wasn’t half bad) since Len refused to get behind the wheel of a car. In return, Lisa would steal for Mick. Small things only, Len viewed it mostly as practice so he never stopped them from doing so. Mick had her to thank for his new collection of lighters that had previously belonged to high school students in Lisa’s classes.
Tonight had been just like any other night over the past year. Mick and Lisa had been the only ones home that evening, Len off working with a crew, Mick imagined. Lisa was in her room “studying” and Mick was on the couch in the living room reading files he had snatched from the records room of the court house during a gig a couple weeks ago.
When Len arrived home, Mick barely paid him attention. Mick sent a wave of heat his way while Len sent a tendril of frost to slither up his back. In a way, it was how they said hello. After their small but usual exchange, Len ducked into Lisa’s room. Mick didn’t hear from either Snart for an hour until the door opened and both moved to stand in front of him, Len’s arms crossed over his chest and Lisa with her hands on her hips.
Mick glanced up at the two Snart siblings as they stood before him in the living room where he had been reading. As part of their living arrangement, Mick and Len were both tasked with looking into a) how they got their abilities, b) is there a reversal process, c) who else out there is like them, and d) are there other ways of controlling it? Currently, Mick was reading up on a few ice metas that had spurred up around the country but had stopped when the siblings entered the room.
Silence echoed through the room as Mick looked between Len and Lisa. Mick was beginning to think he had done something wrong (even though he was trying to be on his best behavior inside the apartment).
After a full five minutes of nothing, Lisa elbowed her brother hard in the side (an act she loved doing now that they could touch and she wouldn’t freeze) and groaned, “Just ask him already, you big ice baby.”
Len sneered at her but rolled his eyes. “How in control of your heat are you?”
“That wasn’t the question,” Lisa grumbled.
Mick sat up, resting his elbows on his knees. “Very.” He opened his palm and let the flames engulf it before extinguishing it. He’d been getting a whole lot better at controlling his inner flames now that Len was around and he wasn’t at risk of a combustion should he overheat. Because he had better control, Mick could often be seen sitting around the apartment watching the flames dance across his knuckles. “Why?”
“I’m assembling a new crew,” Len and Mick locked eyes, “and I need people I can trust.”
“You saying you trust me?” Mick grinned. He wasn’t that naïve to know what type of crew Len was talking about and Mick was itching to get his hands one something shiny and expensive. It also was a nice stroke of the ego to know Len was finally asking him to join up.
Len didn’t share the grin. “No, but you are a little different than the average.” When Mick raised an eyebrow, Len elaborated, “I don’t need to trust you, you need me and that’ll be enough to keep you in line.”
“You are so bad at this,” Lisa shook her head, biting her laugh back.
“What’s the job?” Mick asked, both Len and he ignoring Lisa’s commentary.
“Museum heist,” Len leaned against the wall behind him. “Something easy to test the waters and see how well we work together. But let me make one thing clear: on the job and in front of my crew, you don’t touch me, question me, or fall out of line. No one needs to know about our special connection and I’m in charge. You are just there as hired muscle and fire power, understood?”
Mick’s eyes alit and he smirked at the pun. “Oh, yeah, I’m in.”
“See?” Lisa plopped beside Mick on the couch, batting her eyes at her brother before leaning against Mick then deciding that even now he was still too warm and moved away. “That wasn’t so hard.”
Len stalked off and distantly Mick heard, “We start tomorrow.”
Len watched his crew skeptically. It had been months since Len had pulled anything with a crew of his own choosing and even longer since he used a crew he trusted. Even now, he wasn’t sure all his crew would make it to the actual heist but he wasn’t nearly as worried about them as he was worried about Mick.
It was one thing needing each other biologically, it was another animal bring Mick on his crew, his work. Of course, over the course of their acquaintanceship, Len had dug up whatever information he could. Mick rap-sheet was impressive and he was definitely qualified to run with Len’s crew. He just needed to make sure Mick knew he was a sheep when they worked, not a partner or a friend.
Surprisingly, Mick adapted to his role well. He listened to Len, he followed instructions and did his job as muscle to a T. Not once did they touch and not once did any of the crew members suspect more than they should. Mick and Len had agreed that they wouldn’t use their powers unless explicitly necessary so as of now, each wore thick gloves incase their temperatures spiked for whatever reason. Len was even pleased to see that Mick could easily trade in his flames for a glock.
By the time the heist rolled around, Len had incorporated Mick into the plan for more than he originally intended. Perhaps it was because he was supposed to extend an olive branch or trust, or maybe because Mick had proven to be just what Len needed in a crew member.
“Partner,” Lisa had corrected him as they waited for two of the other crew members to show up, Mick loading up their van.
“I don’t have a partner,” Len muttered.
Lisa rolled her eyes. “Is that why you let him review your plans last night and make notes? Fighting over the damn sharpie?”
Len bristled at the memory. Like his usual pre-heist self, he went over the blueprints and plans a thousand times over, especially the night before. Mick, his now permanent bedmate, had spent the evening glued to Len’s chilling side so that he’d have perfect control the next day. In doing so, they got to talking about the finer parts of the plan, Mick providing a decent insight and viewpoints. However, only Len got to make actual written notes on the plans, something Mick hadn’t agree with. Then again, Mick’s handwriting so shit so he folded easily enough.
“He’s not my partner,” Len finalized.
Lisa didn’t look convinced, but he watched her skirt off to where Mick was closing off the van and began chatting away. Len was more than relieved in finding that Mick and Lisa got along. If Lisa hadn’t liked Mick, Len wouldn’t have cared if he froze over if it meant keeping Mick away from his sister, but, thankfully, he didn’t need to. Lisa liked Mick and Mick reciprocated.
Once the other two members of his crew showed up, Len called their attention and they loaded up into the van: Mick behind the wheel, Lisa straddling the center console (even though Len had told her she wasn’t supposed to be tagging along- she had school the next day), and Len reviewing the plan on last time from the passenger seat with the rest of the crew jammed in the back.
After the first heist (which they pulled off without a hitch), Mick was surprised, but definitely pleased, to see more to follow. Mick stuck to the role Len outlined for him and in return, Len trusted him more.
They had established positions: Len was the planner and the leader, Mick was the muscle and the follower. However, that didn’t always stay the same and more time than not, while Len was in the middle of planning, he’d wave Mick over and talk through a particular step. Mick was always honest in his responses, whether Len liked that or not, but more times than not, Len listened to what Mick had to say.
After their fifteenth job, Lisa pulled Mick aside to lay out how odd it was for her brother to allow someone in his mental process. That night, even with sharing a bed with Len, Mick ran a bit hotter.
Of course, this easy street of flawless jobs couldn’t go on forever. No one was that lucky.
Mick was just glad that out of the three of them, it had been Mick to take the bullet rather than Len or Lisa. Whether he wanted to or not, over the past two years or so they had been living together, Mick grew fond of them. It was hard not to when Len and Mick’s survival (as far as they knew) was reliant on their proximity and Lisa, well, he always liked spit fires.
It wasn’t even Mick’s fault. If anything, the blame would fall on Len. He had been in a rush selecting members of their crew. Lisa had expressed a concern about one of them, a younger guy with a twitch in his step. Len didn’t like him either- Mick could tell when he came to bed like the tundra and Mick had to actually work to heat him up –but they needed a sixth crew member and Len wasn’t ready to push back his timing for it.
Just as Lisa feared, when the alarms sounded he fled, despite Len’s warning of their two minute window. A man down and the other five beginning to freak out, their timing went, well, to shit and the police showed up. Mick got a bullet to the shoulder after hauling Len and Lisa back to the van, their stolen winnings slung over his good shoulder. The rest of the crew was left behind. Mick couldn’t find himself to care as Lisa drove the van haphazardly through the streets with Len cutting away at his shirt in the back.
Normally, Mick could handle a bullet wound. Bullets had never been a problem before Len, but now that they were coaxing themselves to regular temperatures, those natural defenses they had vanished. Mick didn’t walk around with fire coating his body and the five foot perimeter around him and Len didn’t have sheets of ice guarding his body like armor. They were more vulnerable.
“Hit anything important?” Mick grunted as Len dug his fingers into the wound. Even though Mick’s natural state was begging to heat up, Len’s closeness clashed it.
“No, you’re lucky.” Len didn’t sound pleased. He didn’t like sloppy work and this had not been their finest escape. Not to mention, Mick thought, pretty boy didn’t like getting his hands dirty and now they were slick with Mick boiling blood.
“He’ll need stitches,” Lisa glanced away from the road to look back at him. Thankfully Mick had helped her pass her driver’s test with flying colors the month prior.
Len grunted, finding the bullet and trying to pull it out without causing any more damage. Mick just gritted his teeth and rode through the pain. Without letting the heat take over, his injuries were to be handled manually.
As they got to the nearest hideout (on Len’s insistence), Len hauled Mick inside. Lisa ran ahead and grabbed their first aid-kit, already stringing a needle as Len shoved Mick onto the couch. Lisa sat on the coffee table in front of Mick but when she reached out to adjust his shoulder, she flinched, shaking her hand.
“You’re running a little too hot, Micky,” Lisa blew on the budding blisters on her fingers tips. It wasn’t bad but Len wasn’t going to let Lisa go through anymore injuries, ripping the thread and needle from her hand and shoving Mick around until he was in a good enough position for Len to work.
Mick watched in awe and Len stitched him up. Mick knew that skill came from frequent practice and the mess of scars on Len’s back, chest, arms and legs only added fuel. Mick wasn’t that stupid. He knew enough even if Len and Lisa wouldn’t say anything.
“Mick,” Len hissed, pressing the palm of his hand on Mick’s neck, sending a coating of frost up his neck and face. “Cool down.”
Mick knew his emotions sparked the flames inside him. Mick also knew that he had grown far too protective over the two siblings. Fifteen months ago, Mick nearly killed a guy who thought he could mess with Lisa. Half a year ago, Mick went into a panic when Len disappeared for two days without telling him, only to nearly crush the guy’s skull in when he returned with new plans for a heist all the way in Coast City. Mick had always known his temper was directly related to his heat. He just didn’t think that his temper could be sparked so quickly at the thought of Len’s past abuse, something Len wasn’t privy to talking about.
“Sorry,” Mick grunted, trying to focus on the feel of Len’s cold hands on him instead of the fire roaring in his chest. It helped, but only slightly.
“Something got you hot and bothered?” Lisa asked but was silenced by a glare from her older brother. After a couple of minutes of Len fussing with the wound and bandaging it, Lisa was up and gone, claiming she had things to do and pretty jewels to buy with her new cash flow. Len and Mick both didn’t comment on the fact Lisa didn’t grab her share.
Quietly, Len cleaned up and Mick ripped off the remains of his blood soaked shirt. Len had already had torn his way through it and it was in shreds. When Len came back, he flung himself on the couch beside Mick, leaving a few inches of space between them. Still running to hot, Mick grabbed Len and pulled him onto his lap, securing his arms around Len’s waist as he tried to fight him off.
“Mick,” Len snarled, “not now!”
“Shut up,” Mick growled, burying his face into Len’s shoulder, breathing in the crisp cold air that flowed around him. “You told me to cool down, I’m doing it.”
Len stopped struggling, slumping forward against Mick but muttered in dissatisfaction all the same. Mick bit back the grin upon both of them relaxing into each other, tension gone.
“Was that a reaction to the bullet?” Len asked a moment later, his hand coming to rest on Mick’s good arm, his fingers twitching over his bicep. “The heat, I mean.”
Mick knew it wasn’t and Mick was never in the business of lying. “No.”
Len cocked an eyebrow. “Then what?”
“I don’t like seeing people get hurt,” Mick shrugged, leaning away from Len to make eye contact but keeping a firm grasp on his hips to keep him in place. Thankfully, Len wasn’t fighting him off yet.
“You’re the one who got shot.”
“You’re the one who knows how to stitch up as good as any doc,” Mick countered breezily. “Let’s not forget who you share a bed with. I can feel the scars-”
Quicker than Mick thought possible, Len punched him square in the jaw and was on the other side of the warehouse. Dangerous tendrils of frost swirled around him and the temperature of the safe house dropped.
“Anyone tell you, you’ve got horrible bedside manner?” Mick leaned forward, carefully placing pressure on his uninjured arm. He rubbed his jaw, feeling the ice Len used in the punch melting against his skin.
“Anyone tell you, you shouldn’t stick your nose in other people’s business?” Len snapped.
Mick chortled humorlessly. “You get to dig up dirt on my past, know every detail of my damn life and you can’t spare me a piece about yourself, Lenny? Two years and I still know nothing.”
Mick had already running hot, now he was searing, waves of heat crashing after Len’s cold. Normally, when the two opposite forces met, they entangled. Now, they were fighting for dominance.
“We only need each other for one thing,” Len’s eyes flash. “Let’s not pretend we are something more than we are.”
Flashes of late night talks, nightmares waking the other up, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, Lisa’s ice skating classes and school performances, planning heists and jobs, watching television and reading books, driving in and out of Central City-so many memories came to mind and Mick wasn’t sure which one to throw at Len first.
Well, wasn’t that the biggest fucking lie in the book?
Before Mick could call Snart out on his shit, Len was out the door and Mick’s heat enveloped the entire safe house.
“It’s been three days, Lenny,” Lisa murmured, pulling her scarf tighter around her face.
Len rolled his eyes. “He can come back when he wants.”
“Do you think he knows that?” Lisa shot back, rubbing her hands together for warmth. Without Mick heating up the place, Len’s cold was uncheck and taking over the apartment once more. Lisa figured it’d take one more day for it to start snowing in the kitchen. That only ever happened when Len was truly out of control and sometimes it could take weeks for him to get there. This time it had taken only three days.
“Mick is fine.” It was true; Len was keeping tabs on him. Mick hadn’t left the safe house and a sweltering heat had over taken the east side of Central City. The local meteorologists were wetting themselves at the possible scientific discovery. Len imagined their disappointment upon running into Mick fuming on the couch.
“Are you fine?” Lisa asked, concern coating her tone. “It’s been what? Three days and look,” she gestured around.
Len knew the point she was making and he didn’t like it. Usually, he had better control over his cold. Now, it was untethered, used to being balanced by Mick. At least, that’s what Len told himself. He never liked to admit that his emotions made his hold on his powers weaker. That Mick made him weaker.
“You know he only wants to know about it because he cares about you,” Lisa pointed out. She raised her eyebrows into an expression of, “God, you are so fucking dumb.”
Len raised his eyes at meet Lisa’s. “Doesn’t matter, it isn’t his business.”
“He wants to protect you.” Len had heard the many tales of Mick’s unneeded defending of when people bad mouthed him when he wasn’t around. Lost a few too many crew members to Mick’s temper, but Mick assured him they weren’t good enough for the crew, for Len’s crew, their crew.
“I don’t need protecting.”
“Maybe not,” Lisa agreed. “But maybe you need someone like him to care about you since you aren’t going to do it yourself.”
Len’s mind flashed to the first couple of days of Mick’s stay at their apartment and his fit upon finding the state of their near empty refrigerator, promptly hauling Len and Lisa by the scruffs of their necks to the store and filling up a shopping cart. Since then, Mick had mostly been in charge of the kitchen, insisting he feed them since both Snarts were rather crappy cooks and often didn’t eat enough to begin with. They weren’t really used to full-blown cooked meals, but Mick made a point of it. Len was just happy to see Lisa’s frame filling out now that she was eating better. Mick hadn’t stopped complaining about either of them until he could stop counting Len’s ribs at night.
“That’s why I have you,” Len muttered. It was too hard letting one person care for him, let alone two. Len was used to being self-reliant and could barely stand it when Lisa tried helping him with his freezes. Now that Mick was in the picture, it was a blow to his independence and autonomy.
“Come on, Len,” Lisa groaned in frustration, “you don’t have to tell him everything, but you have to understand why he is asking.” Lisa locked her eyes with him. “You know he likes you. I know you like him, and don’t,” Lisa raised her glare, “deny it. You don’t even let me look at your plans.”
Len buried his face into his hands, scrubbing them hard. “It’s not-”
“Don’t give me that bullshit,” Lisa cut him off. “Now go get your heating pad.” Len stared at Lisa for a moment and she shrugged. “You’re his ice-pack and he’s your heating pad. It’s cute. Don’t worry, I already got matching tattoos designs for you both.” Len snorted and stood up. “Len?” He turned to give her the attention she requested. “Don’t let dad stop you from being happy.”
Flashes of his belligerent and drunken father’s voice screaming unseemly words crashed over Len before he shook himself out of it.
“I don’t like him.”
Lisa shook her head, watching her brother stalk off.
Mick wasn’t an idiot. He knew Len had been checking up on his the past few days. Even if Len kept his distance, Mick was too in tune with his cold not to notice it nearby, even a mile away. Mick was surprised that Len finally took the extra step and opened the damn door.
Len locked the door behind him and Mick still couldn’t tell if they were going to make-up or fight. Honestly, Mick didn’t care as long as he got to release some heat. It was building within, his anger surging the past couple of days with little to do but dwell on Len’s parting words and his suspicions about the scars. However, the second Len’s chill swept through the safe house, smothering Mick’s heat, he knew they wouldn’t be fighting. Maybe arguing, but not swing of fists.
“Looks like you’ve been having a bit of a meltdown,” Len took a few steps into the safe house but kept his distance for the most part.
“Someone’s been giving me the cold shoulder, what all can you do but stew?” Mick grinned upon seeing the tiny smirk play on Len’s face.
“You were seething, Mick,” Len sobered up quickly and Mick twitched anxiously. He didn’t want to have a long winded conversation (or lecture) with Len, he wanted to wrap himself around the ice meta.
“Whatever, come,” Mick ordered, knowing desperation was evident in his voice and also knowing that it would draw Len in, thinking that Mick was the weaker one. Len liked a good beggar and stroke of his ego, Mick knew it well. It was a power trip that Mick was willing to exploit for what he wanted.
Len moved slowly and Mick knew he was doing it to be the dramatic little shit he was. Mick glowered but waited. If he could wait three days for Len to show his face, he could wait five minutes to Len to have his fun strutting around the safe house. Even now the proximity of the two was cooling Mick down. Not a lot, but Mick was willing to take anything he could get.
When Len was within reaching distance, Mick let go of his self-control and brought Lenny to his lap. The moment they made contact, Mick slumped against Len, not caring if Mick had inadvertently forced Len to straddle him. Mick didn’t mind it at all, if fact he preferred it this way, but he knew Len would change positions the second he was given the chance. He always hated when Mick pulled him into intimate holds but Mick savored them while he could.
When Mick moved away for Len to readjust himself, a funny little look came on his face. Mick couldn’t figure out what was going on through the man’s head as the corners of Len’s mouth twitched upward, having reached some sort of decision. Rather than moving backward, Len slid forward until their hips aligned. Mick’s breathing stopped and he looked up to see Len’s wicked smile.
“What’re you doing, Lenny?” Heat was already swirling around his purrs and Mick hoped Len wasn’t teasing. Mick might actually overheat and burn him.
“What’d you think?” Len locked his arms behind Mick’s head and pulled him until they were chest to chest.
“You messing with me, Snart?”
Mick bit back a groan as Len rolled his hips in response.
“I think you know the answer to that, Mick.”
Mick wasn’t sure if he crushed his lips to Len’s because he needed to consume as much of his cold as he could or the fact that Mick had wanted to do this since day one and he realized he could touch Len without burning him.
“Easy there.” Len’s hands shifted to move to Mick’s shoulders, still being mindful of the injured one, but made no move to push Mick away, just hold him steady. “We got plenty of time.”
Chapter 3: Amensalism
Amensalism: an interaction where an organism inflicts harm to another organism without any costs or benefits received by itself.
When they finally returned to the apartment after hours of kissing and rutting against each other like horny teenagers but taking it no further, both Mick and Len were feeling closer to 98º than ever before. Lisa’s first words when they walked in were “Told you, you liked him.” Her eyes darted to the darkening mark on Len’s neck as further proof.
Len stalked past his sister, going to the kitchen, while Mick sunk on the couch beside her. “Aw,” he sang back to Len, “you like-like me, Lenny?” He dumped his feet onto the coffee table in front of him, knocking his foot against Lisa’s.
Lisa cackled and Len stuck his head out of the kitchen to glare at the two. “What are you? Six?”
“Come on,” Lisa rubbed Mick’s head, “he’s at least eight.”
Mick shoved her off lightly, relieved that his temperature was still at a friendly level. “Shut up.”
Len smirked, darting back into the kitchen. Mick could hear the stove turning on and knew if he didn’t intervene quickly, they were going to be faced with another inedible meal.
After one quick high-five for a job well done from Lisa, Mick was up and in the kitchen. It only took one hand to shove Len to the side so he could take over. Thankfully all Len managed to do was begin boiling pasta.
Len, free of the chore of cooking, could have left at any time but instead rested his chin on Mick’s shoulder to watch him dice tomatoes, both of them relaxing as their conflicting temperatures melted together once against.
Unsurprisingly, it took less than twenty four hours for Lisa to drag Mick away from Len long enough for her to put a gun (Mick seriously needed to stop leaving those out in the open) to his forehead and hiss out threats. The cool metal of the gun would have been soothing if it weren’t for the deadly look in Lisa’s eyes.
“If you hurt him in any way, I’ll make sure the only thing you’re good for is being a nice ol’ furnace.” Lisa locked eyes with Mick. “We’ll just lock you in one of the hideout basements.”
“You’re sixteen years old,” Mick deadpanned.
Lisa was not amused. “Don’t test me.”
“Not killing me then?” Mick teased but Lisa wasn’t having it and shoved the gun harder against his head. Mick dropped the jokes.
“No, he still needs your heat,” Lisa cocked her head to the side. “Don’t need to be conscious or have brain activity for that.” Lisa pulled the gun away, tucking it into the waist band of her jeans before letting her glare drop and a smile come into its place. “Sorry, but you know I had to do it.”
“Mm,” Mick grunted and Lisa punched him lightly.
“I am serious though.”
“Oh, I know,” Mick smirked.
“Mick,” Lisa grabbed his arm insistently to make him focus on her, another serious expression crossed her face causing her eyebrows to punch together, “you’re his first…person, you know that?”
Mick swallowed and shrugged. “Yeah, same for me.” Lisa’s eyes softened a fraction and Mick quickly moved forward. “I ain’t planning to hurt a single hair on his head. All he’ll do is bitch and moan for weeks. Neither of us deserves that.”
This garnered a chuckle for Lisa. “Good.”
Len was anxious, had been for a while since he decided to stop with the games of denial and kiss Mick.
It wasn’t Mick as a person who made Len anxious, far from it. Len rather enjoyed Mick, kissing and all. It was the idea of what would come next that spooked Len to his core.
It had been two months and all they had stuck to was kissing. Len didn’t mind and Mick definitely didn’t mind if the way he moaned was any indication. The thing was neither of them had gotten any further. Period.
Len hadn’t been able to touch a person since he was eight and ice coated his skin. He’d given Lisa enough ice burns to know there was no one way he could have a physical relationship, platonic or otherwise. Even Lewis knew touching Len would result in pain. That’s why he used other forms of discipline to keep Len in line.
Len was sure Mick was the same if he was correct in thinking the fire he had started at fourteen was directly linked to his heat. Even after two days of them being separated, Mick would run too hot for him to touch anyone but Len. Lisa had a few minor burns from both of them carelessly forgetting that.
The point was, neither of them had a person they could do these things with before. Hell, it was embarrassing enough to think Len got his first kiss in his mid-twenties and that had only been a few months ago.
(Mick had gotten his first kiss two years before his powers came in. He was only twelve and it was some country bumpkin that Mick wouldn’t name- partially in fear Len might find her and freeze her solid. It was the same fear that Len had refusing to tell Mick who is first crush was when he was ten. They were both possessive in that way.)
Len wanted to go further, but he was not about to admit that he didn’t know how to.
He knew the basics and what to do; he’d just never done it personally. His hand was far from a suitable partner. There was a certain comfort in knowing Mick was just as innocent in these matters as him. Len liked control and he didn’t have control if he was going into the situation with little preparation. But Len wasn’t sure how many more make-out sessions he could go where they had to stop midway so they could each handle their excitement privately. So Len took matters into his own hands.
Len had gotten Lisa to take Mick out on a little job, a two person thing they could handle by themselves. Honestly, it was a job Len wouldn’t have even bothered with but he needed them both gone. They were close enough that Len trusted Mick to watch her back and keep her safe. Len would admit it was the first time he had ever been able to share that responsibility with another and the thought didn’t make his skin crawl.
With Mick and Lisa away, he had the apartment all to himself and Len could get to work. It was embarrassing enough that they were both virgins. It was even more embarrassing to know that once they started, they wouldn’t stop like a bunch of crazed teenagers if their kissing was any indication. Honestly, the whole situation was nothing short of embarrassing considering two grown men were about to have their first time and Len was planning on making it special. If Lisa knew she’d never let him hear the end of it.
Len sat on his (their) bed and surveyed the materials he had gathered a few days prior. One of them was going to have to take the other if they were going that far and Len knew it wasn’t something that could be decided in the spur of the moment. Not for their first time. One of them was going to get hurt or worse. It was easier for Len to just decide for them now.
Which was the reason he needed the apartment empty. Not only did he want to keep his preparation private (a surprise for Mick), but Len also lost control of his cold when in situations of (unabashed pleasure) intimacy. He had to apologize for too many times to Lisa for the temperature drops every time he tried to get himself off.
Len could already see frost and ice crackle against the flat surfaces of the room, a misty fog hanging low to the ground as he worked his fingers inside him. People sweated during sex, Len developed clumps of ice instead. As he got a third finger in, Len wondered if Mick sweated fire.
Mick was so in tuned with Len’s cold that the minute they stepped into the apartment building, Mick knew something was up.
Funny thing about Mick and Len was that their temperatures carried moods. Mick could tell when Len’s chill was playful or when his frost was deadly. Same went for Len knowing Mick’s different heats. So when Mick realized what this different cold of Len’s was, his heat was uncontrollable.
Lisa, who had been standing by his side, jumped at the sudden spike. Her eyes widened knowingly. “Really?” She wrinkled her nose. “Now?”
Mick didn’t have the frame of mind to answer her, only wanting to seek out the cold. He barely registered Lisa leaving the apartment as he hunted down Len, his heat expanding and swirling in the frost Len had left behind.
The bedroom door was left open, icicles hanging from the frame. As Mick walked in, the icicles melted, the water from them evaporating before it hit the floor.
Len was sitting on the bed, his eyes glowing as they met Mick’s. He was clothed but Mick could smell sex in the air, his flames flickering up on his back in response. A light dusting of snow was sprinkling on the floor but Mick’s heat turned the room bone-dry.
“What is this, Lenny?” Mick growled, want and need making his voice gravelly and rough.
Len rolled his eyes, beckoning Mick forward with a crooked finger. Mick didn’t need any more incentive and soon found him crowding Len onto the bed, their lips crashing together as their tongues fought.
Rather boldly, Len frigid hand reached into Mick’s pants, brushing against his sweltering cock. Mick made an inhuman growl as he bit into Len’s neck, pushing his heat in while sucking out Len’s cold.
Like a man on a mission, Len had them flipped over in no time and stripped them both down. Len entertain himself as he teased Mick’s nipples with his icy fingers and Mick encouraged him by kneading his ass with his heated hands. Both were going off pure instinct and neither of them seemed to mind.
"L-Lenny?" Mick stuttered at Len rolled his hips against Mick’s.
Mick had burned through thousands a porn mags, melted hundreds of electronic devices, even evacuated a strip club or two via heat waves to know that what they were about to do wouldn't last long for either of them. That didn't stop the excitement that rippled through Mick or the thought that if this went well, they'd have plenty of time to learn and prolong the experience.
“Mmm, Mick?” Len looked down, ice clinging to his skin. Len looked beautiful like this and Mick was deeply pleased that there weren’t many who would ever get the chance to see Lenny like this. Only Mick.
“We getting this show on the road, buddy?” His hands had slid to Len’s hips and were squeezing lightly, flames igniting at his finger tips and licking at Len’s sides.
Len moaned around the flames, his own ice coated skin rubbing against Mick. Len reached below him for Mick and began to line himself up. Mick almost voiced concern about prepping but was Len sunk down, Mick’s cock breaching the first ring of freezing muscle and icy wetness, all thought left his head.
He must have zoned out for a moment before Len was cradling his face, pinching his cheeks. Coming back to it, Mick’s hips jolted at the feeling of Len fully seated, grinning excitedly.
After that, it was over very quickly, neither of them having much experience or stamina. That being said, Mick would forever have the image of Len riding his cock embedded into his memory. That and the image of Len curled around them, his cold almost as nonexistent as Mick’s heat.
“What do you even get a guy like that?” Lisa asked as she and Len strolled down the street.
Len and Mick had been together for four years, two of which they were actually together and fucking. The date of their first meeting in Gotham was coming up. As stupid as it was, they were both sentimental idiots and Lisa couldn’t help but tease them.
The first two anniversaries had come and gone with little recognition from either party. The most they did was sit thigh to thigh on the couch while Lisa flipped through the channels, but they had been doing that most nights anyways. It was only when they had been alone in the bedroom that they had platonically cuddled closer together. The third anniversary, a year after they started fucking, they commemorated it with a heist in Gotham, the city it had all started. Lisa called them romantics. Mick shrugged it off saying they had half a million each and they shouldn’t care what they were called. Len didn’t care as long as he got to fuck Mick on a bed of cash (which he did).
This time they were laying low. They recently aggravated some of the major crime families. Len was trying to expand territory in Central City and it ruffled a few feathers. So rather than pulling a job, they two Snarts and Rory were stuck laying low and keeping undetected. Still, Len wanted to do something special. Yeah, he could admit he was sentimental as fuck.
“I have a few ideas in mind,” Len hummed. “How do you feel about a little trip out of Central?”
“You’re taking me with you on your anniversary?” Lisa raised both eyebrows.
Len’s lips twitched. “I’m sure you can find a way to keep yourself occupied.”
“What’re your ideas?” Lisa asked as they came to the junction of Main and Second.
Len silently nodded his head to county records building cattycorner from them. Lisa’s face broke out into a grin.
“Aw, you really do love him.”
When Len told him his plan, Mick nearly burnt the couch he was sitting on in sheer excitement. Thankfully, after a couple of months of Mick staying and realizing the situation was permanent, Len made arrangements to get more flame retardant…well, everything. It wasn’t perfect, but as long as Len was around Mick never got too hot to make anything erupt in a magnificent flame.
Len pulled out the stolen deeds and tossed them to Mick. “I’ve scouted out a few places in Keystone we can check-”
“No,” Mick shook his head, his eyes dancing like a flame as he tossed the deeds aside, his fingers leaving burn holes and smoke. “I got a better idea. Let’s make this special for both of us.”
Len cocked his head to the side and Lisa scrunched her eyebrows together. When Mick told them, it took a minute for their face glow in matching giddy smirks. Lisa had to leave the room as Mick hauled Len to his lap, ice and fire licking at each other.
“I want to do it,” Lisa begged, batting her eyes at her older brother. Len shared a look with Mick who shrugged. His part didn’t come until the end so Len and Lisa could fight over the rest.
“Fine,” Len held out his hand and directed his ice to coat the door, freezing it into a brittle sheet.
Lisa picked up the baseball bat she brought for the special occasion and smashed the wood of her childhood home, the door shattering like glass. Giving both boys a wicked grin, Lisa darted inside. Len was still hesitant, but Mick put a steady hand on his shoulder, letting his heat wrap around Len in a gesture of comfort.
“We can stop if you want,” Mick rumbled lowly in Len’s ear.
“No,” Len shrugged off harshly. Mick didn’t react, he was used to it, but Len felt guilty considering it was their anniversary and grabbed Mick’s hand. “Come on, let’s burn this shithole down.”
Len knew that Mick’s desire to burn things had started way before he started spouting off flames at fourteen. Mick had told him that his need to watch the world burn was almost the most important thing to him. That’s why Len offered to find a place for Mick to have his fun and burn as much as he wanted. He didn’t get to let the flames roar often. Len had stolen the deeds to abandoned buildings within a hundred mile radius but Mick had a different idea, which was why they were standing in the vacant and abandon two-story house in a quiet neighbor of Central City. The house Len was born and raised in.
What was the fun of destruction if it couldn’t be shared with the people you cared about the most? Besides, Mick knew the Snart house haunted Len and Lisa. Getting rid of it would be cathartic. It was Mick’s way of burning away some of the damage of Len’s childhood.
Before Mick burnt the place down, Len destroyed the insides. Lisa had disappeared up to her room and the distant sound of crashing could be heard overhead. Mick watched as Len coated everything in ice before letting it constrict and tightened upon it all fell apart, shattering and splintering, small pops of explosions sounding around them. Everything in the living room had been destroyed except for one armchair that Len left untouched.
“It was my fathers.” Len approached it but not touch it. “He would sit there every night, watching the TV brain-dead and drunk.” Mick stayed away, watching Len carefully. He didn’t talk much about his old man so Mick was patient. “He’d drink himself into a coma.” Len kicked the armchair dully before turning back to Mick, his eyes wide and glowing, not with cold but with an emotion Mick wasn’t all that familiar with. “I can see him there, Mick. I can see him barking orders with feral smiles. Giving bruises to my mother, to Lisa, to me- well, until he couldn’t do that anymore.” Ice covered Len’s left arm entirely and he watched it for a moment before his eyes went back to Mick’s. “But he found other ways to make his point.” He nodded his head past Mick and to the fireplace. Mick turned to see that Len wasn’t so much as pointing to the fireplace as he was the fire poker that rested next to it. Mick eyed the nasty arch of the poker and could almost imagine tracing with his tongue the same arch shape on Lenny’s back. “He couldn’t touch me, but daddy-dearest had his moments of creative inspiration.”
Mick was half tempted to leave the childhood home and break into Iron Heights and rain Hell Fire on Lewis Snart, burn him from the inside out. Mick would draw it out, let the flames lower in temperature so they could damage but never kill, not till Mick thought he suffered enough. Slow cook him to hell. Mick had a feeling he’d never end up killing the guy, letting him roast for eternity.
“Mick.” Len’s ice covered hands were melting against his scorching face. Mick took a deep breath and met Len’s eyes, fire and ice colliding. “I want you to burn it.”
Len didn’t have to ask twice, fire erupting from his hand and the chair bursting in a great fire. Mick watching it in awe but it was cut short as Len dowsed the flames with his frost and the burnt chair sat once more. Len approached it, a funny smile coming to his face.
Abruptly Len’s back straightened and called for Lisa. She came a few seconds later, looked around and threw her brother a pleased smirk.
“Go get the car started,” Len instructed, his eyes still glued to the armchair. “Mick and I will be out in a minute.”
Without a word Lisa left through the shattered door. The minute she was gone, Len was on him and Mick almost fell back at the force of it but recovered quickly as Len licked the seam of Mick’s lips.
Len only pulled away enough to order Mick to start burning before shoving his tongue back to join Mick’s.
Mick wasn’t sure which was better, Len desperately clawing at his skin while rutting against his thigh or the beautiful flames licking the peeling paint and shag rug. All Mick knew was he was getting light headed from all of it and barely knew what was happening as Len forced Mick into the armchair, crawling on top of him.
“Happy anniversary,” Len mouthed into Mick’s neck as he fumbled with the button of Mick’s pants.
Knowing where this was going, Mick drew Len out and took them both in hand. Len had completely lost all control as his cold sizzled away at the burning building, emotions running across his face at rapid pace and words slurring together, Mick only being about to pick apart a few until he came, Len following a second later and pressing as close as he could against Mick.
“God, I love you,” Mick swore to the top of Len’s head, his lips brushing against his forehead. Mick wiped their combine seed on the armchair.
Len murmured a slurred agreement into Mick’s neck before lifting himself off the armchair. The fire had already begun raining down from the ceiling as their time was running out in the house.
Len took one last look around before grabbing Mick’s hand and yanking him out. They sat in the car with Lisa until the house had effectively been brought to the ground.
That night, Lisa ordered pizza and the three of them sat on the couch, Mick and Len thigh to thigh as Lisa flipped through the channels. The only difference was the stench of ash from the burning deed of the old Snart residence on their coffee table and Len’s smile.
Not all times were good. Years passed and they inevitably had ups and downs. While Len and Mick were compatible, they were also polar opposites. Len would close himself off or Mick would lose his temper and the best thing to do was split. It never lasted long, five days was their current record and Len (who had fucked up that time) had ended up nearly freezing over the entire building before calling for Mick to come home.
Sometimes they were separated by force, one of them (usually Mick) taking the fall for a job gone wrong. These were never long sentences. Well, they were supposed to be but by the time the guards passed Mick’s cell, he was gone and replaced by a blanket of snow. Records of Mick were usually deleted from the mainframe and if there wasn’t time, the entire system mysteriously froze over.
The few times Len was taken in, Mick had nearly burnt down the whole facility. Lisa was now in charge of Len’s escapes but only if he didn’t break himself out in two weeks (which he usually did).
Mick didn’t know how the time passed. One minute they were just idiots in their mid-twenties looking for a way to stay alive without having a chaotic thermal reaction and the next, they were closing in on their forties with little changing between the two since they hooked up.
Lisa was surprised it had lasted this long. She knew her brother wasn’t one for long-term friendships. He changed his crew out regularly to avoid any connections. But Mick was different for too many reasons. Sure, Len needed Mick for survival, but he let Mick into more than just his crew and his life. At some point, Lisa was beginning to forget a time when Mick wasn’t a part of their lives.
Len was scared of Mick, though he’d never admit it even to either Lisa or Mick. This thing they had had lasted over fifteen years before he knew it. Fifteen glorious years and Len could honestly say they were his happiest. Mick had given him so much and Len was afraid of that. One wrong move and Mick could easily take that away. It all went back to that vulnerability but as more time passed, Len was faced with the fact that Mick wasn’t going anywhere.
Len stared at the silver band Mick had put on the kitchen table. Lisa, who had attempted to make herself scarce to give them their usual privacy, had heard the words out of Mick Rory’s mouth and raced right back to the kitchen, hanging at the doorway.
“Well?” Mick sunk into the chair opposite of Len. When Len looked up, a blush (although hard to see because of his redden skin) appeared over Mick’s cheeks. Len looked back at the ring.
Len’s lips quirked up. “Let me guess, you stole it?”
“Come on, Lenny,” Mick leaned across the table, purring, “you know me.”
“Harold’s or Lucia’s?” Len picked it up, examining it, counting the interchanging black and white diamonds set in. He could usually tell the maker by looking at it, but this one was unfamiliar to him.
“Celestial’s,” Mick grinned as both Len and Lisa snapped their heads up.
“All the way in Starling?” Lisa blinked. “You went all the way to Starling for that?”
“That’s a long trip, Mick,” Len toyed with the ring, his eyes locked with Mick’s.
“Figured it was worth it,” Mick grinned. “So?”
“Don’t be stupid,” Len was already sliding the ring on, admiring it against his faint blue tinged skin.
“Ceremony in Gotham?” Lisa asked, already grabbing the keys to one of their stolen cars.
“Who’d marry a bunch of career criminals?” Mick cocked an eyebrow.
“Nothing a little pressured heat can’t persuade,” Len winked.
The thing about really good times is that the lows had to match. Two months into their marriage, the happy life of the meta-human criminals had begun to crumble, all because of one Lewis Snart.
He managed early release (five damn years early); Mick didn’t know the finer details of it, but it probably was from underhanded dealings. All he knew was the elder Snart would be out soon and Lisa and Len were, if Mick had to pick a word to encompass both, terrified. Lisa hid her fears beside seductive smirks and cackles of laughter. Len hid his fear behind the emotionless mask he had artfully crafted all those years ago.
Mick didn’t know how to deal with this. From the age of fourteen until he was in his mid-twenties, Mick had been alone. He’d burned his family along with his childhood home and had nothing but the clothes on his back. Mick didn’t know how to deal with people; he certainly didn’t know how to deal with complex emotions of familial importance. If it were up to Mick, he’d just kill Lewis Snart and end it all. Len and Lisa were too damn sentimental to let that happen.
So a week after Lewis had been released, Mick shouldn’t have been surprised by the arrival of the elder Snart in their apartment. Len and he were in the kitchen, seated at the table with papers overflowing. Lisa, who was sitting on the couch, barely paid Mick attention. Lewis did.
“I can’t believe there are two of you,” Lewis sneered as his eyes drifted from Len to Mick. Mick didn’t like his tone and he reacted, heating up as a warning. Lewis only grinned and Len swooped in with a chill to knock Mick back. “You’ve got him tamed. Told you those lessons would pay off.”
Mick wasn’t sure what to address first but he was not going to let that bastar-
“Mick,” Len’s eyes flashed at him, just like they used to when they first started pulling jobs together, when Mick was a crew member, not a partner, when Len didn’t trust Mick, “simmer down and wait outside.”
Mick wanted to protest but another plummet of temperature told him he was toeing a dangerous line and that he needed to step back before he made it worse. Mick didn’t like it, but he could see this wasn’t up for discussion. Mick stalked out of the apartment, anger causing him to heat up, receiving a sympathetic frown from Lisa in passing.
It took hours for Lewis to leave (Mick finding entertainment in lighting up trashcans that he thought perfectly symbolized Lewis Snart) and once he did, Lewis gave Mick one last leer.
Len waited until Lewis was out of sight before grabbing Mick’s hand in a vice grip, his face still emotionless but Mick could feel his cold demanding Mick’s heat. Mick let him pull, waiting to see what would come of it, but it only ended with them both naked and curling in bed with the lights off, Len trying to crawl inside Mick, begging for the heat, digging his nails into Mick’s skin as to anchor him there so Mick could never leave.
Lewis didn’t know the type of relationship Len had with Mick and Len intended to keep it that way, even going as far as the move the wedding band from his ring finger to hang it around his neck. If Lewis saw it, he would try to pawn it off before even thinking about the underlying meaning behind it.
Lewis had used Lisa against Len far too many times; he didn’t need to give his father another target to hit. He could never know how strong his connection was with Mick, how much Len physically needed Mick to survive, how deeply the feelings he had for Mick were. Besides, Len could hardly forget his father’s stance on homosexuality, another thing Len desperately hid from Lewis. It wasn’t a road he wanted to revisit.
Len knew, even before he had explained it all to Mick, he wasn’t going to like it. Len told him it was one job and then Lewis would be gone, although both of them didn’t really believe. But Mick agreed begrudgingly, pouting with his arms crossed. Len tried to convince them both it would be over before they knew it.
In the typical Lewis Snart fashion, it wasn’t over anytime soon. There was a reason Len made the plans and there was a reason you were supposed to follow them to a T. Lewis Snart didn’t seem to get that, which was the reason Mick had to pull in the actual fire power and light four police cars on fire so they could make their escape.
They ended up losing the score which meant Lewis was sticking around and Mick felt his temper, something he always had poor control of, spike along with his heat. Len didn’t even try to cool him down, spending the night under the kitchen light working up new plans while Lewis drank himself into a coma on the couch. Mick thought burning the house down would be a way to let Lewis go for the Snart siblings, apparently it took more than fucking in the old man’s armchair for Len to let him go.
The way they were going, it was inevitable that Mick would lose control. Since Lewis was crashing in their apartment (his home mysterious burnt to the ground some years ago), Mick was sent back to his room down the hall, where he had initially stayed when he moved to Central City. It was inconvenient, but Len couldn’t risk Lewis sniffing around his affairs, which meant Mick was a secret. They still met and touched and tried to even each other out, but it was weaker, briefer and there was no fucking which seemed to be the best way to absorb each other’s thermal energy if they weren’t constantly by each other’s side or sleeping in the same bed. The separation made Mick hotter and Len colder and with Lewis around it only made things worse.
Len should have seen it coming though. Mick had been agitated, starting fires in their safe houses and burning through anything he could get his hands on. It was the only way Mick knew how to control himself without seeking out Len’s cold. But letting out those flames also let out Mick’s emotions.
It started with a member of his crew, a friend of his father’s, making an offhanded comment about Mick’s loyalty and what he was getting in return for said loyalty. Next thing Len knew, Mick had grabbed the man’s face, crushed his skull into the floor, burning his body through and through. Len had seen Mick kill before. Len had killed before. But neither had done so out of rage, not like this, but Mick was losing control as the man’s face burned under Mick’s hand.
“Get out.” Len jerked Mick away from the bloody and ash remains, using his piece instead of his cold and that seemed to make Mick even madder.
Outside the warehouse, Mick looked like a lost, but angry, puppy and Len knew he had to kick it away. Mick reached out to touch Len in an effort to cool down and apologize. “Lenny, you can-”
“Stop,” Len growled, stepping out of Mick’s reach. “Do you remember the conditions in which you work on my crew?”
Mick’s eyes narrowed, anger and hurt that Len, his husband-his partner, was going there. His crew, not their crew, flames engulfing him instantly as he recited, “I don’t touch you, question you, or fall out of line. No one needs to know about our special connection and you’re in charge. I’m just there as hired muscle and fire power.”
It was everything Len wanted to hear but as Mick stalked away, fire trailing behind him, Len wondered if it would be the last thing he’d hear Mick say.
In the end, the job with Lewis took nearly six months before Len could rid himself of his father. Mick had only made sparing appearances of the course of those months, grabbing Len and holding him long enough to get his heat down before leaving without a word. Len hated it, but knew the consequences of not cooperating would be bad on both ends.
Len knew Mick was pissed and Len knew he would fix it as soon as Lewis was out of his hair, or that had been the plan. Then Mick burned Lisa.
She had gone to see him near the end of Lewis’ stay. Len, as always, kept tabs on Mick when he disappeared and knew where he was staying. Len didn’t know what exactly happened, but when Lisa returned with a bandage around her upper arm covering a burn shaped handprint, it didn’t matter. Now Len was pissed. Instead of finding Mick the second Lewis was gone as he had planned with an apology and kisses; Len waited four more months to let Mick stew, using a clipped tone and cold shoulder only when they met up again.
Mick couldn’t find himself to be sorry for what happened, seeing nothing wrong. Yes, he had burnt Lisa but that had been accidental. Lisa and Mick had met a month after the incident and reconciled. She forgave him almost instantly, showing the accidental ice burns she had acquired from Len over the years. Lisa knew these things couldn’t be controlled and as long as Mick didn’t mean it, all was good between them. Mick even let Lisa take a swing at him with oven mitts.
Everything should have been fine. But Len didn’t see it like that. So after nearly five months of no contact, Mick wanted nothing more than to wrap himself in Len, to go back to the seventeen years prior when they were happy and Lewis had been forgotten in Iron Heights.
But Len wasn’t giving anymore, sending waves of cold every now and then but keeping a distance. The silver band that he always wore was absent, not even around his neck. Mick didn’t need verbal confirmation for their break-up.
Mick moved back into the apartment and six days later Lisa moved out, claiming she couldn’t handle being in the middle of their conflicts, especially when they only talked with their thermal energy.
They didn’t share a room anymore, only coming together every couple of days for brief contact to regain just enough control. Other than that, neither of them spent much time in the apartment. Len continued building recognition in Central City separate from his father’s marred legacy. Mick left for days at a time, spending more time in Keystone than Central, only coming back home to exchange energy with Len.
Len thought a job could resolve everything; he missed Mick and wanted things to go back to the way they were. He wanted nothing more than to bring Mick back home, kiss him, fuck him, cuddle him, talk to him. Hell, Len was even willing to settle for sitting in silence. He just wanted Mick back, his stupid, hot-head husband, and he thought a job would be a way to get back the man he loved. He had never been more wrong.
It was a simple gig; just the two of them for bonding purposes, except things had changed. Mick didn’t listen anymore, didn’t want to listen. He was pissed, pissed that Len had benched him and threw him aside. Pissed that Len had given up on Mick after all those years.
It ultimately ended up with Mick losing his patience and his control when Len tried to redirect. The fire was the natural response to overpower Mick’s remaining will and burn everything in its path. Len never stood a chance. Mick was gone before he went up in flames, before they did that stupid job.
Len watched in horror as Mick combusted, fire taking over like never before. Len wondered if there was something he could have done to stop this. Sure, there probably was, but as fire surrounded them and Mick laughed manically, fire pouring from his mouth, Len knew the Mick he had was gone, consumed by the inner flames.
Len weakly and tentatively tried to reach out with a tendril of cold but one roll of Mick’s hotter than ever heat shattered it. Len knew it would be next to impossible to draw Mick out, especially when Mick didn’t want anything else but the crackling of his own skin as fire screamed in his ears.
Len had heard about these desires more than once and he had always been there to help. Before, Len had been enough for Mick. Then Len left him and Mick went to his other passion. Because of Len’s negligence Mick was combusting.
So he ran.
Len’s ashamed to admit he ran, but he is even more ashamed to admit that he could have saved Mick and didn’t. Len knew by now that his cold could always counteract Mick’s heat if he tried hard enough. Len should have done something, should have sent waves of cold to fight the roaring fires consuming Mick. But Len was scared; scared of what would be left once the fires were gone. So he ran.
Len didn't call Lisa when he got back to the apartment, bolting himself inside and freezing the door shut with layers upon layers of ice and frost. Someone would have to melt or break the ice to get in. He couldn't be near anyone, he needed to be alone. He didn't know what to say or do and his cold was raging inside him.
He hated the fact that his first instinct was to lock himself in Mick's room, sucking in the remaining lingering heat, burying himself in the bedding that smelled of Mick, stripping himself down until there were no more barriers, absorbing the last remnants of Mick until there was nothing left of him. The heat was gone and the cold had taken over. Len bit back a scream as he was once again alone in his frozen wasteland.
Mick hadn’t expected to come to. He thought when the fire reached his brain, falling out of every pore of his body that his time was up. Mick had already decided he had nothing left to live for, not when Len basically wanted him dead and Mick couldn’t get him back.
Mick had expected to die in that glorious fire, not wake up in a bed of ash with burns covering his skin. He didn’t expect for his inner flames to have retreated, almost as cool as when Lenny was with him. But Leonard wasn’t there; he had run away and his flames had stayed.
Pushing off the debris and ash, Mick stood up, wincing at the sharp spikes of pain that erupted. It had been years since Mick’s skin was burned. Usually everything wasn’t hot enough.
Taking the burns for what they were, Mick left the building and set his sights for somewhere new, somewhere far away from Leonard Snart. There was a time when Mick thought he could never leave Lenny’s side, but like all things in Mick’s life it went up in flames leaving nothing behind but ash.
Mick went to the bus station, his body cool enough from the recent combustion to allow him to actually sit on the thing and not melt it. His looked at the list of destinations with only two thoughts in mind: Somewhere far away where Len wouldn’t think to look or find him and somewhere cold, to replace Len so Mick could finally cut him away.
Mick scanned the United States map and looked for the location furthest from Central City, Missouri. His eyes landed on Portsmouth, Washington. It was as good as it was going to get.
Chapter 4: Altruism
Altruism: an individual that increases the fitness of another individual while decreasing the fitness of the actor.
Mick didn’t stay in Portsmouth, Washington very long.
It was too small of a town with not enough things to burn. It was cold, but not as cold as Len which only agitated Mick further, his heat eating up the cold like it was nothing. A month in and Mick left, the memory of Len still following him like a ghost. Mick decided to try the east coast cold and see what that had to offer.
“You’re not cooling down nearly as rapid as before,” Lisa observed one day, two years or so after Len watched Mick combust in a glorious fire.
“No, I’m not.”
Lisa sighed. Her brother had been closed off and distant ever since he had lost Mick. He had been closed off before Mick, but never with her. She knew he would never admit it, but he was heartbroken, or as close to the thing as he would allow himself to get. It wasn’t everyday your lover for nearly twenty years burst into flames, but Lisa knew that wasn’t all of it. Mick had survived the fire; she found Len’s research a month after the incident, tracing his movements around the country. Len could reach out and fix this, but that would mean admitting he had played a major role in the demise of Mick. That was the real reason for Len’s attitude.
“Why?” Lisa pressed after a stalemate of silence. Len was pretending to be busy with his blueprints but Lisa knew he was avoiding the topic.
“I don’t know,” Len rubbed his head tiredly. “I think the process had time to restart since my freeze over.”
A year ago, without Mick around anymore, Len’s powers froze nearly half of Central City. Luckily it was the dead of winter and no one had taken any real notice. Len hadn’t been able to control his cold at all and once it took over, Len froze. For two fucking months.
Lisa thought he died when she found his limp body surrounded by ice, frost, and snow but it turned out that the asshole was hibernating. Fucking hibernating. Two months later, Lenny’s powers seemed to have reached their capacity and he began to melt, thawing out slowly. It took two weeks before Len woke up in a puddle of freezing water. Lisa nearly killed him right then and there for making her worry.
However, Len’s freeze-over and Mick’s combustion taught them all one thing: they seriously didn’t know what they were messing with. Both had survived their temperature caps, but everything around them didn’t. Mick burnt down an entire neighborhood and turned a building into ash, not parts, dust. It all blew away before anyone could come and once they did, the building was like it was never there. Len froze over the entire city. If it hadn’t been for Lisa and a gang of police officers, people would have been frozen solid and trapped in their homes. Lisa hadn’t been able to even see her brother after a month, thick coats of ice entrapping the building. Bottom line, there powers were dangerous and they more they neglected them, the more damage they did.
After the temperature cap, Len was fine but it was hard to regain his own control when he had been using Mick as a crutch for so long. Even now that a year had passed since his freeze over, Len still had trouble keeping his cold in check.
“Because Mick was heating you up for so long?” Lisa attempted to fill in the rest, actually interested in knowing what was going on but as soon as she had Mick’s name, Len shut down.
“I don’t know.” He stood up, pushing everything aside. “I’m going.”
Lisa watched as her brother left, the cold swirling around him and following close.
Mick never stayed in one place too long, dotting himself around the country, even going south of the border for a few weeks and to Canada for six days. There were only three places Mick refused to step foot in: Keystone City, Central City and Gotham City. Those were his rules. Anywhere else was free for the picking.
After Portsmouth, Washington, Mick went to Amnesty Bay, Maine where he stayed for two days, watched a man turn into a fish and decided he needed some place normal, away from the mystics and thoughts of Snart’s cold. He ended up in New Orleans, Louisiana which was kind of counterproductive on the magic front but he was able to drink himself into a coma and lit many fires without people batting an eye. Plus, the temperature never dipped past 80º which meant Mick hardly thought about Len. His temperatures did spike and he ended up burning down a crumbling parking garage on night which evened it out for a few days.
He then went to bask in the heat of Dallas, Texas before slipping down the border and going as far as Chile before it started getting cold again and headed straight back up. Mick stole wool as white as snow from Chile, thinking maybe if he ever saw Len again it could line his and Lisa’s coats. That thought only lasted him until Panama where he burned the wool as well as an entire port to dust. His heat still clung.
Mick never had a sure-fire direction after that, going where the wind blew and ignited his flames. Most places never lasted too long.
His longest stay had been in Gateway City, California where Mick met a girl who liked his fire on her skin. She was the only person Mick had been with besides Len and he tried not to think that she wasn’t cold enough (or as good) as Len had been. After one particularly nasty incident with a severe burn on her inner thighs, Mick disappeared and went for the other side of the country, knowing that Lenny would only ever be able to handle his heat so he should just stop trying. Perhaps being destined to be cursed and alone weren’t so bad.
He considered seeking out other ice metas. He had done the damn research, knew where they were but he could never get himself to track them down. He didn’t want a repeat of what when down with Snart. He wasn’t sure he could go through it all again when he was still obviously attached to the other man. In the end, he chose isolation. The only benefit was that if he went through another combustion, it might actually kill him this time.
Mick made scattered stops through many states until he wound up in Ivy Town, New York where he watched young care-free students go to classes and wondering if life had been different for him and Lenny, if they would have gone to college and tried to think what their majors would be.
No matter where he went, thoughts of Len followed. In Blue Valley, Nebraska, Mick wondered if Len would have ever wanted a colonial style home with a wraparound porch and a swing or something completely different. In Dime City, Connecticut, Mick wondered if Len still thought politics were pointless or if he had changed his mind and finally got himself registered to vote (Mick got Lisa registered the minute she turned 18, much to Len’s distaste). In Solar City, Florida, Mick grinned at the sea spray and knew Len would have hated it but Lisa would have loved it. In Blüdhaven, New Jersey, Mick watched the television glorify a skin-clad acrobatic youth and thought Len could beat him with his wit alone. In Middleton, Colorado, Mick found a cottage on a high mountain where the cold kind of worked but knew it would never be anything as good as what Len could offer, even on a bad day. In Civic City, Pennsylvania, Mick rescued a kid from a burning building with eyes that looked at him like he was worth something, eyes like Lenny’s. In Fawcett City, Georgia, Mick gave up trying to stop thinking about Len and locked himself in a warehouse in the slums where he could burn and roll in the memories.
After that, it didn’t matter where he went because even if Len wasn’t with him, Mick still couldn’t escape him.
Len began taking more jobs out of Central City. He never went all too far, mostly sticking to the east coast and never going too far south or north. It was just, as stupid as it was, Central City was his and Mick’s city. They were going to rule it together with fire and ice. Now that Mick was gone, Len felt almost wrong in taking it without him.
That’s not to say Len stopped jobs in Central City altogether. He still came back, every couple of weeks or so, and did what he did best. He still enjoyed the game, probably always would. But it didn’t have the same touch without Mick’s wild ferocity both challenging and aiding his plans.
There was another reason Len would leave Central City for weeks at a time, one that he clouded over with talks of robberies and heists. One that he hid from Lisa, although from her snooping she had probably already figured it out.
So what if the Len happened to be on a job in the small town of Happy Harbor, Rhode Island at the same time a heat wave rolled in mid-November. So what if Len snatched a cluster of rubies out of the hands of Spanish Ambassadors a few days after ten factories were mysteriously burnt to the ground on the south side of Washington D.C. So what if Viceroy, South Carolina had a Precious Metals Collection up for grabs as well as fields of burning crops and rumors of fire breathers.
It was for the score, Len would tell Lisa despite the soot that clung to the bottoms of his shoes after walking through the abandoned burning sites, sucking in any lingering heat.
Eventually, Mick found his way back home. Not Central City, although it was within reach. No, two years later Mick found himself looking up at the brand new construction of a farm house on the out skirts of Keystone City. If you looked on a map, it technically wasn’t in Keystone, just outside the city lines, so Mick still counted it as following his rules. (Although vernacularly, it was fucking Keystone.)
Mick watched as a new family moved into the farm house: a father, a pregnant mother, two little boys and an even littler girl. Mick watched as the brothers fought and played while the little girl cheered them on. When one of the boys (the older one, but the looks of it) pushed the girl over, the mother came running to her daughter’s aid. They had a dog, a collie of some sort that the younger looking boy liked to pet and play with. Mick wondered if the small farm town had told the family of the fourteen year old boy who killed his family there. Probably not yet, but Mick wouldn’t be surprised when it happened. Neighbors, no matter how far apart they were in farm country, still gossiped like no tomorrow.
He didn’t want to admit it, but he spent hours, then days, nearly a whole week watching that family move in and acquaint to farm life. Mick would be lying if he said he hadn’t thought about bringing Len and Lisa out there once or twice when they were still together, still married and happy. He never ended up doing so; Len and even more so Lisa were city folk to their core. But Mick was from the country and in a way it would always stick with him.
Mick stayed at a bed and breakfast by his old farm for a month, dreaming of the past and a future that would never happen. A future where Lenny and he would grow old and come to the farm house, taking day trips to the nearby towns of Keystone, Central, maybe even longer trips to Gotham, Metropolis, New York or Washington D.C. Wherever Lenny wanted to go.
He dreamed of a dog, something big that Mick could run with in the backyard, something tame so Len could snuggle against it, and something cute so Lisa could coo over when she visited. He also imagined cats, a couple of them that Len would dot on and read with. Mick never thought himself a cat person, but he’d adapt for Len.
More than a few times, those dreams would involve a kid or two (one time even five). They changed in appearance, attitude and gender almost every single time. It never really mattered to Mick what they were like (they were his kids after all) but they always looked like Lenny in some way or another. Sometimes it was their physical appearance. Sometimes it was the way they smiled or how their eyebrows furrowed together. Sometimes it was how they talked or were able to snatch an extra cookie without Mick taking notice until it was too late.
Sometimes they adopted kids with powers who didn’t know what to do or how to control them. Sometimes they just adopted normal kids that came from broken homes or from backgrounds undesirable to other people.
Sometimes they just were alone and Mick liked those dreams too. No one was watching them and they could let their guards down. They could laugh without someone taking it as a form of weakness. They could joke and smile at each other without the threat of someone taking advantage of their outward affections. They could play chess (Len would probably beat him), hike (Mick would have to force Len, but he’d love secretly), dance (in the living room by candle light, not often but a few times, to Dean Martin or another rat pack member), or simply just sit on the porch (Len reading and Mick soaking in the sun without threat of another combustion).
Mick had enjoyed those dreams, those blissful dreams of lives Lenny and he could never have. Then those dreams took a turn for the worst.
Dreams of fire interrupted familial scenes, dogs and cats running for shelter in the fields as wildfire spread through. A home with cherished memories and mementos would melt and crack under smoldering heat. Smoke drowned out the sounds of laughter, Dean Martin, and sweet nothing whispers, replacing them with the shrieks of children trapped in a burning house, dogs and cats crying as their coats burned, Lenny and Lisa choking on the flames-
Mick watched as his family farm burnt for a second time. He sat in the same spot on the front yard, watching the wood splinter and crack under the intense heat. When Mick didn’t think it was enough, he’d add more fire until the roof crashed down and smoke colored the sky black.
This time, Mick hid before the firefighters and police cars came. This time, Mick watched as the family came back from a dinner in Keystone to their home that was now a pile of rubble. This time, Mick took the main road instead of the corn fields that blazed around the house. This time, Mick let himself feel guilt for both the fire he started now, the fire he started long ago, and the fire he started in his mind where his future with Lenny had briefly lived.
Lisa left Central City frequently. She always had. She liked the freedom to go wherever she wanted and as long as she checked in with her brother, he didn’t care where she went as long as she took care of herself. Len (and Mick before the fi-) had made sure Lisa could handle any situation she needed with words (or fists like Mick had shown her). She was more than prepared and was now well into adulthood.
Len barely batted an eye when she said she wanted to go to the Big Apple. With a thick wool scarf covered kiss to his beanie covered head, Lisa left the apartment, the same apartment Lenny brought when he made his first big score so he’d have a place to always come back to and Lisa wouldn’t have to live under Lewis Snart’s roof.
The first few months after Mick’s combustion, Len stayed in safe houses and warehouses all over Central City. When Lisa finally got him to come back to the apartment, he refused a bed, sleeping on the couch instead. Every now and then, Lisa would catch him at the doorway of Mick’s old room, not going inside in case he moved something. His old room was sealed shut with a thick wall of ice. Len would never be able to get inside without someone to melt down the door. Lisa knew that was the point.
Getting on her motorcycle outside the apartment, rather than heading north like she had claimed to her brother, Lisa went across the river toward Kansas.
Mick was surprised when a knocked, clear and strong, sounded on the door to the shitty apartment he was squatting at in Topeka, Kansas. Topeka still technically didn’t break the rules but stepping the line since Keystone was twenty minutes away and Central was forty. He cautiously approached the door, oven mitts on his hands to avoid breaking further damage to the melted door knobs. They were a pain to replace, especially when he was running too hot like now.
Opening it, Mick was both shocked and anxious at seeing Lisa Snart. She gave him a look over, eyeing his new scars unashamed but stopping at the red and blue oven mitts on his hands. A tiny smirk tricked up her lips.
“Still running hot, Micky?”
It had been so long since someone spoke to him, someone who (maybe) cared about him and knew him and didn’t care that he burned everything he touched. Mick would be lying if he said it didn’t make his chest constrict and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t send his heat down the hall to check for the other Snart sibling. He tried not to let the disappointment fill his chest, even though he wasn’t sure what he’d do if he saw Len again.
“Lenny doesn’t know I’m here,” Lisa responded to the heat that spread through the floor. “He’s still in Central City.”
Mick moved aside for Lisa to walk in, still not saying anything. It had been a while since he had spoken to a person; his voice was probably rough from lack of use.
Lisa took one look around the dirty apartment before she picked up one of Mick’s fire retardant jackets and dropped it on the bed to sit. Mick kept his distance, watching Lisa make herself at home like two years hadn’t separated him.
“Are you going to say anything?” Lisa snapped once she was situated, legs and arms crossed with a red lips pout.
“It’s good to see you,” Mick’s voice rumbled.
Lisa looked down. “I wish I’d reached out sooner.”
Mick wasn’t sure what to say to that so he switched topics. “How have you been?”
Lisa raised an eyebrow. “Do you really want to know about me or do you want to know about Lenny?” Mick looked away. “I’m fine. Lenny is okay.” Mick grunted. “He’s been keeping track of you.”
“Old habits die hard.” That’s the same thing Mick told himself when he felt an out of place cold spot. Len was just checking in, but he wouldn’t reach out until strictly necessary, if ever.
“Do you mind if I stay a while?” Lisa raised an eyebrow. “Lenny thinks I’m in New York for a week.”
“Whatever you want,” Mick shrugged. Just like Len, Mick couldn’t help but want to give Lisa whatever she desired.
Lisa pulled a grin and Mick couldn’t remember the last time he had seen her smile. “Maybe we could pull a job. I saw a decent looking bank on the way here that is looking a little inflated.”
Mick chuckled, Lisa already standing up.
“We don’t need the heat,” Len warned, his eyes flicking up. Memories of a flaming man on the forefront of his mind.
The man, the complainer, the soon to be dead body cocked his head to the side, staring Len down like he actually had say or power in this dynamic. He didn’t know his place. Len already marked him as discarded the second he shot the guard. The second he lost his cool.
“The heat?” the man sneered, like it was a joke. Not knowing Len’s past, he probably thought it was a horribly placed pun or a jab. It wasn’t. “What the hell do you think the blur is, Snart?” He stepped closer. “You’re right. Screw this, screw you. I’m out.”
He hadn’t even turned his back on Len before a bullet lodged in his brain. Len’s crew was still didn’t know about his cool and he planned to keep it that way. Absolution in a bullet was just as good for something like this.
“Well, if you’re out, you’re out.”
The two men before Len stared at the fresh body that separated them. Neither of them moved but Len didn’t care what they did, his mind was focused on something else for the first time in months. Something that wasn’t Mick or heat.
They had tried a simply grab and snatch with a Black Hawk Security truck carrying the Kahndaq Dynasty diamond. It wasn’t the first time Len had taken down a Black Hawk armored truck and he had planned this one with practiced precision. He knew their systems well, his cold being unstoppable against the thick bullet proof steel doors that turned to brittle glass with his frost. Everything was going according the plan, till a speedster in red threw off his timing. One of his men shot one of the guards. It got messy. So Len cleaned it up. Now he was down a man, but that didn’t matter with a new challenger stepping up to the plate.
He already knew the “blur’s” weakness. Now he just needed the right tools and scenario to see if he was right. To test the theory.
Sending the two men away, Len went to work, plotting and planning. He made a few calls, received one from a janitor of S.T.A.R. Labs saying he could be of service. His interest is what brought him to the warehouse by the river district.
Len looked at the wide array of weapons before him. He looked at the two guns brought in particular and knew that he didn’t need either of them. The thing was he couldn’t let someone else out there match his cold. Feigning interest in the weapon, Len shot the man down using it. His curiosity got the better of him and he was surprised to see the weapon’s power. While it didn’t have the same force of this cold, it had precision this cold didn’t have all the time, especially when emotions were high.
A thought came to Len’s mind, another theory to try out.
Turning on his heel, Len pointed the gun at the lamp fixture. He figured he’d give his idea a go, worst thing that would happen is the gun would be destroyed and that worked fine for him too. There were already too many ice metas out there.
Instead, when Len pulled the trigger and funneled his cold into the gun, the blast came out as strong as it would if it were from his bare hands, but it was contained and precise, pinpointing with more accuracy that Len had ever had before.
Grinning, Len lowered the gun. He’d have to take it apart to see how it would do so but he already felt himself growing a fraction warmer. Nothing compared to when he was with Mick, nothing would ever compare to that and for more reasons than purely biological, but it was a close thing if the discussion was control.
Taking a glance at the gun shown previously, Len weighed his options and ultimately decided that if he never saw Mick again, he could just destroy the damn thing.
Mick had missed Lisa’s laugh. Not the fake one she used when around Len’s crew or strangers that was cute, high pitched and feminine. No, Mick missed the laugh that came with a snort and closed eyes. The one that made her lose her breath. The one that only Mick and Lenny could give her.
“You haven’t changed,” Lisa grinned as they set their loot on the dusty table of Mick’s squatter apartment.
“Did you think I did?” Mick raised an eyebrow, his heat already coming back even after letting go just hours ago. His control was slipping again without the cold or Len.
“No,” Lisa admitted, “but I wondered why you never came back.”
Mick breathed in deeply. He had been thinking about it a lot for two years, even if he didn’t want to. “He’s still mad.”
“Lenny’s always mad,” Lisa muttered. “He’s got an icicle up his ass, you know that.”
“I’m not coming to him, if that’s what you’re here for,” Mick growled.
Lisa paused, cocking her head to the side. “What if he came to you?”
Mick met her eyes and he could see her plotting. Just like when they first met and she sat on those crate in the Gotham warehouse, calculating if the man holding her brother would be a good thing or a bad thing.
“Depends what he’s got to say.”
“So you’d consider it?” Hope was all too apparent in her voice, reigniting the hope in Mick’s chest. He grunted instead of giving a direct answer. “You’ll consider it,” she solidified.
“You ain’t telling him to do it though,” Mick clarified. “It won’t mean anything then,” he murmured much more quietly.
Lisa’s expression softened. So much so that she grabbed the leg of one of the broken chairs lying around and used it to rub against Mick’s shoulder since she couldn’t do it without burning. Mick crackled a smile, chuckling deeply as she cackled like the good ol’ days.
Len looked between the kid dressed in red, the kid with the mop hair and the vacuum. It felt like something that needed to be addressed, but he kept his mouth shut as mop hair threatened the ice him with the vacuum with LEDs tapped to it. It was stupid, however the nickname was cute enough. Captain Cold, huh?
Even if Len couldn’t tell by looking that the “cold gun” was in fact a vacuum, Len’s hypersensitivity to the cold allowed him to see through it. If anything, it generated a hint of heat. The longer Len kept his cold a secret, the more useful it might become, especially with meta-humans infiltrating Central City.
When he got back to the warehouse, Len was surprised to see Lisa perched on the table, counting stacks of cash from a duffle bag.
“New York was successful then?”
“No,” Lisa didn’t look up, her eyes trained on Mr. Benjamin Franklin, “Topeka, Kansas was though.”
Len froze, the cold wafting around him tightly like an extra layer, but not quite the shield of ice yet. “What happened to New York?”
Lisa shrugged innocently, her foot bouncing against the leg of the table she was on. “Topeka had something I needed.”
“Something or someone?”
“Oh,” Lisa looked up, locking eyes with her brother, “are we actually going to talk about Mick?”
Len looked away, not caring at this point that he basically handed the power to Lisa. “There is nothing to talk about.”
“I think there is.”
“Too bad your opinion on the matter is null.”
“Okay, fine.” Lisa set her money aside and hopped off the table. Len watched her wearily. “Are you going to explain that?” She pointed to the toolbox that held the other gun, the heat gun, Mick’s gun.
“Couldn’t let it get into the wrong hands,” Len grumbled. That wasn’t exactly a lie, it was just a half-truth.
Lisa rolled her eyes. “Then destroy it. Right now, because he isn’t going to come here to get it if that’s what you are waiting for.”
Len sunk onto the couch, the diamond in his hands falling to the space beside him. “He might.” Len’s voice was small, tiny like a petulant child refusing the face the facts. He hated it, but Lisa only rolled her eyes.
“No, I talked to him,” Lisa crossed her arms. “He isn’t coming back on his own.”
Len picked up her wording. “But he’s waiting.”
Lisa’s eyes went wide and Len knew immediately. “I didn’t say that.”
“No,” Len agreed standing up with new found energy. Mick was waiting for him. Mick was pissed, but not enough to not want Len coming for him. That would be enough. “Looks like I need to make a trip to Topeka also.”
Lisa looked guilty but not enough for a smile to fill her lips. “Be nice.”
“I don’t plan to be anything but.”
Len ignored Lisa’s smirk as he went over and grabbed the toolbox with the heat gun.
Mick could sense Snart the minute he stepped foot into Topeka, his heat spiking as a honing signal to Snart's cold which responded with a faint chill wind despite the summer heat. Even with their two years apart and all the hurt feelings between them, Mick couldn't help the excitement that skirted up his back. As a way to combat this, Mick glued himself to one of the remaining good chairs and putting on a mask of indifference. Snart was going to have to work for it and prove he still wanted this . Mick pulled out a book of matches to keep his heat at bay. He wasn’t confident in his ability to stay away the minute he was faced directly with Len’s cold.
In the typical Snart fashion, he approached slowly and with caution. Mick could feel Len's cold drawing closer, slowly but surely. Mick's heat was steadily increasing the closer Len came. By the time Len reached the building, the low hum of his motorcycle dying outside the building, Mick was like a furnace. The wood of the furniture was sweating and warping from Mick's heat while the outside of the windows were being coated with thick layers of frost as Len's cold tried to get in. Neither of them could really control the draw their temperatures had for each other.
Mick could feel Snart climb the staircase purposefully. He could feel Snart stalk down the hall, hunting Mick down like a bloodhound, a heathound. When he reached the door, Mick watched frost and ice seeped through the crack of the door, crawling towards him and his heat. Len still waited for the silent go ahead.
Mick waited a full two minutes; drawing it out for as long as possible (he could be a dramatic piece of shit too). He knew Snart was patient, but not when he knew Mick was waiting on the other side of the door boiling up. He was silent, letting his cold reach out to Mick asking for permission to come in. When Mick responded with a heavy heat wave, Len's cold curled around Mick in a way all too intimate and familiar, almost like an embrace. Len seemed to realize it, withdrawing almost completely. Mick almost thought Len had changed his mind until he heard the rattling of the door handle.
Securing himself in as relaxed of a position as possible, Mick listened for the sound of the metal knob shattering like glass from Len's cold. Usually, Snart took the time to pick the lock. Mick understood the rushed move as his biological need speaking rather than his emotional one, although they were closely aligned. He stuck another match.
And there he was, after two years of separation, Leonard Snart stood before him, just like Mick remembered. Just as fucking beautiful as the last time they were together. Mick’s eyes were instantly drawn to the toolbox by his side.
Gifts were not uncommon in their make-ups. Mick's were always ego brushing, giving Snart the control he needed. It usually had to fit the crime of Mick's temper that got them into that mess. Mick gave experiences, memories, things to bring them closer.
Lenny's gifts were a little more all over the place. It could be anything from an engraved lighter of a recently iced mob boss to blow job on top of Central City's tallest skyscraper to letting Mick pick the goddamn movie for their Thursday night movie dates with Lisa. Usually, the gift matched the severity of the fuck-up Len created but it was always in an attempt to show Mick he cared and what really mattered.
Len closed the door behind him with a snap, finding the nearest wall to lean against. Mick rolled his eyes at the movement but kept his gaze focused on the flame, waiting for the carefully planned speech he knew Len had practiced on the ride from Central.
“I know it’s been a while since we pulled that job. I know it didn’t go so well for you.”
“And I know I said we were finished, but things have changed.”
Nothing has changed; we can’t quit each other, Mick.
“If I wanna keep working in Central City, I’m gonna need a new kind of crew.”
Let’s take Central City together.
“I’m gonna need someone like you.”
I need you back, Micky.
“You’re tolerant of extremes-”
You’re tolerant me.
“-you have certain skills. You just need some direction.”
It won’t be like before.
“And I can give that to you.”
If you give that to me.
Len flicked open the tool box and Mick’s eyes a lit, holding a burning match, than burning hand to it for light.
“You still like playing with fire?” Mick could hear the fucking smirk in his voice. “You’re going to love this.”
Please forgive me and let’s move on.
“So, are you in, Mick, or are you out?”
Mick chuckled deeply, remembering one of their first conversations to each other after the night in Gotham.
“Yeah, buddy, I’m in.”
As if no time had passed, Mick slammed the lid of the toolbox shut and grabbed Len. Normally, Len was more than annoyed with Mick’s tendency to man-handle him, but the second those scorched hands touched him, Len didn’t care. He grabbed Mick with equal fervor until there wasn’t even air between them. Mick pressed his burning cheek to Len’s ice head and Len buried his frozen face into Mick’s heated neck. Two years suddenly felt like only two minutes.
“You still got that ring, Snart?” Mick rumbled, his chest vibrate against Len’s.
Len smirked into his neck, knowing the underlying question. “It’s in Central.” Mick growled lowly. “You’re more than welcome to find it and put it back in its rightful place.”
Mick smiled like an idiot, lopsided and giddy, his hands find their way under Len’s long sleeve shirt. “It can wait a day. You still haven’t properly begged for forgiveness.”
Len rolled his eyes at the seductive tone Mick attempted to throw at him and went to retort but the words were shoved side by a blazing tongue. They kissed and Len forgot how much he missed the feeling of it, how much he missed the taste of Mick. Len was a touch-starved fool and Mick was the only remedy.
It ended far too soon in Len book, but Mick made up for it by moving to kiss and suck at his jaw and neck.
“You’ve been following me, Lenny. Don’t think I didn’t notice, keeping tabs like always.”
“You’re mine,” Len dragged his hands over Mick’s scalp and nudged them both backwards toward the bed. “Even when we are apart you are still mine.”
“That goes two ways, Snart,” Mick reminded heatedly as he fell back on to the bed. Len wasted no time in crawling on top of him.
“No taking control of me, from me,” Mick warned, his hands still moving under Len’s clothing, lower and lower as his voice grew fainter and fainter. “We are partners, even if we ain’t fucking-”
“Which we are,” Len purred, working on getting Mick aware from his clothing.
“Which we are,” Mick agreed. “I’m yours and your mine, but you don’t own me.” There was a difference, Mick needed to make that clear. He missed Len like crazy, like an addict. However, he wasn’t going to be told what to do, bossed around, treated as if he were below Len when they were equals.
“Of course,” Len kissed him soundly, pushing his tongue into Mick’s mouth, “partner.”
Mick smirked, pulling back despite Len’s growl of frustration. “You miss me, Lenny?”
Len rolled his eyes, bringing his mouth to Mick’s in lieu of an actual answer.
Mick got it either way. “Miss you too.”