He knew the moment he stepped out of the sunlight and into the crowded cantina, the warmth of the sun cut off by the roof overhead. It wasn’t any cooler inside, the heat caused by the bodies packed in the small room like the pups in a nest of Nexu.
Taking a moment to stand just inside the door of the cantina, the robed male lifted his head to listen to the droning chatter and the occasional shattering glass.
A band played in the background, though a tad too loudly.
Moving purposefully, the mysterious figure moved around the outside of the room between multiple patrons. When he tilted his head upwards, light fell on his face to reveal the dark cloth stretched over the upper half, concealing his eyes and advertising his now obvious blindness.
The tall man mumbled an apology as he bumped into someone, placing a hand on the other’s shoulder before continuing on his way to claim a table against the far wall, out of way of some of the more questionable characters.
“Can I get you something?”
Turning his face towards the direction of the voice, the blind man gave a small nod. “Grog, if you will.” He answered, giving a smile as the woman walked off.
Sitting straight as a rod, the mysterious male reached out with the force carefully, feeling out each patron present in the bar, searching out feelings, personality. He was looking for one person, one of specific attitude and personality.
Finding someone similar to what he'd hoped to find, the robed figure stood up from his seat, leaving behind the drink as he headed over to the table set in the furthest corner. It was shadowed, something he could sense by the change in temperature, if not by sight.
“Aren’t you a bold one?”
A small smile touched the blind male’s lips as he seated himself across from the only other occupant in the booth. “I prefer valiant.” He responded, a snort sounding across from him.
“And who, exactly, are you?”
The blind man took a deep breath. “Raymond Palmer.” He answered after a moment of silence, head tilting slightly. “And yours?”
“I’m not quite finished asking questions.” The other responded, obviously amused if a little tense. “What exactly, are you looking for that you think you'd find with me?”
Sighing softly, Raymond leaned back in his seat, hands resting on the table. “I need a ship. Someone that can pilot it and possesses a certain requirement: discretion.” He announced calmly, spreading his hands out with a small smile.
“Well, then you’ve come to the right place… If you have the credits.”
Raymond snorted out a laugh, obviously amused now. “First tell me how you meet the requirements.” He responded firmly, not willing to draw out the banter too long, for the off chance that those he was trying to avoid showed up.
“I was Han Solo’s co-pilot when he ran the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. I finished second after him on my own in exactly twelve.” The smuggler answered with obvious pride. “Been flying for just over ten years, seen employment with Black Sun, the Hutt Cartel and the Pyke Syndicate. Hence my talent with discretion.”
Raymond smiled widely, nodding slowly. “And your name?”
“Ah, of course. Leonard Snart, at your service.”
The blind male gave a dip of his head to show that he’d acknowledged the other’s response, the slightest bit of relief filling him. He’d found someone to get him off of Tattooine, a necessity he'd had trouble filling the past few days. He had a mission to do, and he wanted to complete it as soon as possible.
“Where do you need to go, and what sort of cargo are you packing that you so desperately need to keep secret?” The smuggler questioned, and though Raymond couldn’t see him, he knew that Leonard was smirking.
A moment of silence passed as Raymond attempted to think up a viable excuse. “I need to get to Alderaan. I’ve got no cargo with me. Just myself,” the older male answered, giving a shrug of his shoulders. “The secrecy is something I always require. You never know when a day may come where my actions are better hidden than known by the general public.” Raymond explained, a smile touching his lips.
Leonard snorted in amusement, a creaking sound reaching the blind man’s ears as he leaned back in his seat. “I don’t see what a blind man such as yourself can do to have someone looking for you,” the smuggler questioned in amusement, humor thick in his tone. “Unless you aren’t what you seem.” He added.
Raymond’s heart skipped a beat, but he forced the smile to remain in place as he gave a soft laugh. “No one is what they seem. Exactly how do I know who you are? How do I know you really ran the Kessel Run with Han Solo?” He asked, twisting Leonard’s question over onto him.
He could immediately sense the agitation coming from the man sitting across from him, and it was Raymond’s turn to be amused.
“I suppose we’ll have to take our words on it.” Leonard responded in a short tone, pushing himself to his feet, the distinct sound of a blaster quietly knocking against the edge of the table reached Raymond, and he had to fight the urge to flinch. “When do you need to leave?”
Turning his face slightly upwards in the general direction of Leonard’s voice, Raymond gave a smile. “I’d like to leave as soon as you can get your ship ready.” He answered in a calm tone.
“Well then you’re welcome to come along, but I warn you, it will be boring.” Leonard answered, and there was a slight disturbance in the air by Raymond’s head, the older male tensing up, but nothing happened. He waited for a few moments, still and unmoving. “Right,” the smuggler’s tone sounded devious. “I forgot you couldn’t see. Would you like me to help you up and guide you? Or would you prefer to magically make your way around like you did to find me here?”
The question caught Raymond off guard, the dark-haired male feeling nervous. This man was obviously suspicious of others, and had very keen senses. He’d have to be extremely careful in this regard, if he wished to keep his secret concealed.
Silently, Raymond reached out towards Leonard, finding his hand. The grip was firm, almost threatening, as he was pulled to his feet, but the blind man paid no more attention than necessary. The moment he was on his feet, Raymond felt the smuggler place his hand in the crook of his arm before setting off at a fast pace.
It wasn’t hard keeping up with Leonard, but Raymond could feel the mix of suspicion and amusement the other was feeling, and it kept him alert and on edge.
He’d seen enough of the galaxy to fear everything. Especially when the current threat carried a blaster and an air of confidence that testified he knew how to use it.
Raymond wouldn’t make the mistake of letting his guard down ever again. Not after what happened last time.
May Rachi forgive him.