There's nothing special about the day Len decides to ruin a year of Mick's life.
Mick's working on their motorcycles, incorporating some of the stuff he picked up from his heat gun into the design to see if it'll work – it probably won’t, but if it does, it’ll be explosive, and Mick is into that. Len is lounging on the couch.
There's always a couch in Mick's workshop regardless of whether they're in a warehouse or a real house or a garage, specifically because if Mick doesn't put out a place for Len to lounge, Len will drape himself over anything that resembles a place to sit - cars (that Mick is working on), engines (that Mick is working on), Mick (hey!) - and Mick has learned it's best to give in to Len’s whims up front.
Being Leonard Snart's partner and best friend is not unlike being the owner of a very large, very ornery cat, Mick reflects. But only if that cat had the brain of Moriarty combined with the excitability of a Chihuahua and the attention span of a goldfish.
And, let him not forget, an unerring homing beacon for trouble.
Len has been rather quiet today, alternating between browsing magazines and daydreaming. Mostly daydreaming.
Mick should've known he was in for trouble - and he had! Len is always trouble, but none more so than when he has time to think about it.
Mick just underestimated how much trouble.
"Mick," Len says, staring at the ceiling.
"Yeah?" Mick asks, only about half of his attention on Len, the rest on the tricky adjustment he's making.
"I wanna get married."
Mick drops the screwdriver.
Marriage isn't something to be entered into lightly. There had been that period back about half a century back that had briefly flirted with no-fault divorces and quickie marriages at licensed chapels and whatnot, but when the government had stepped up to take over the social net, fired up with progressive fury, it had made some concessions to social conservatism and returned marriage to the formality of the past - albeit a formality that was no longer connected to its original religious roots.
Marriage is about binding two individual into a single unit, stronger together than apart - not unlike starting a joint venture by merging the assets of two companies.
It was also about as complicated a process.
Oh, sure, sometimes people went out a-courting, meeting eligible individuals and opting to send a specific marriage invitation open to only a single bidder. But that was a rarity, a little risqué twist for the young and foolhardy. Popular culture associated such ‘choice marriages’ with early failure rates. Most people went with the traditional approach.
In the traditional approach (though tradition may not be the right word, given how recently it adopted its current form), a person looking to get married appoints a nominee - a best man, or woman, whichever - and that person goes out to scout out appropriate prospects, investigating their assets and personality traits and evaluating them to see if they would make an appropriate match. Once they narrow down the list, usually but not always with the input of the would-be marriage prospect, the best man goes out and interviews each one before making a decision as to who the right person would be, again usually with the input of the marriage prospect.
Once the decision is made, the best man approaches the prospect's own best man (a family member is usually a good bet) and they enter negotiations for the marriage contract: a covenant of how to set up a life.
The marriage contract covered everything.
Division and usage of assets. Living arrangements. Expectations of conduct. A list of unacceptable behaviors and the resulting list of consequences, up to and including divorce. Promises made, flaws admitted, full disclosure warranted. The contract all but names the couple's children.
After all, even though society has long since moved past the point where it considered unmarried adults to be akin to children, popular wisdom still maintains that a person about to enter into a marriage can’t be trusted to make their own life choices. Certainly not for the first two years of marriage, which the contract strictly construes; only after those two years had passed could the couple petition for re-negotiation of certain elements.
Popular wisdom also holds that the more well-negotiated a contract, the better the prospects for the marriage. After all, how else to ensure equality and justice in the home than to have it dictated by interested third parties, each representing the best interest of their side?
"I hate you," Mick says fervently, gathering up books on the marriage process, sample contracts, the phone book (tabbed open to marriage auditors and asset investigators), even his own files he'd tentatively gathered on possible individuals for Len - all long out of date. "I hate you."
"I'd do the same for you," Len says, like that matters. Mick is Len's best man, has been for decades, and Mick’s ma didn't raise someone who'd let a friend down in the most important decision of their life. He's not going to half-ass this.
"I'm not planning on getting married," Mick points out.
Mick snorts. He'd nearly gone through the process once, long ago - it had been badly thought out, badly negotiated by his then-foster mother in what Mick still isn't sure whether to think of it as a greedy attempt to get a share of his inheritance or an attempt to cure his pyromania through the love of a good woman, and had luckily fallen through at the last moment through a series of coincidences and timely interventions that Mick has always suspected was arranged by Len. There was a reason he'd named Len his best man the second he legally could.
(There's also a reason that foster-mother is in jail without requesting parole - Len pledges vengeance against very few people, but when he does, he does so with a relentlessness typically found in geological epochs.)
"You might," Len repeats stubbornly. "One day. I will crawl out of my grave to perform my best man duties if you need me to - as you know."
"Just don't die," Mick grumbles, flushing a bit. "Again."
It was total coincidence that Len had been spat out of the Oculus right around the time Mick had been considering just accepting the alien queen's offer of marriage if it meant she would take her army and go away. Really. Coincidence.
Totally not Len somehow managing to fight Death and steal out of her realm just because Mick needed him. Mick's pretty sure. Mostly sure. Partially sure.
The fact that the alien queen had retracted her offer (and her army) in sheer terror rather than negotiate a marriage contract with what she believed to be an avatar of Time itself - a very belligerent one who had within minutes of resurrecting himself immediately demanded a full third-party audit of her entire government system as a prerequisite for even considering her offer - was just a bonus. Turns out Time was their planet's most fearsome god; who knew?
(Mick swears he'd heard of these 'Kryptonians' somewhere before, not sure where, but he was so happy to see Len - his Len, not the Legion’s weirdly wrong copy-paste version - back, he hadn't really bothered to tell the Legends the full set of details when they'd finally come to pick him up. He's sure it can't be that important, though, even if the Legends never do believe that he saved the world on his own.)
"Let's focus on your marriage," Mick says, shaking his head a little. "What are you look for? Since you've already got the partner in crime bit down."
Len laughs. He and Mick considered marrying each other once, but they'd never really found a romantic groove that worked for them and in the end it just felt too strange. Partners suited them better.
"I'm not sure, honestly," he says. "Someone I can mesh with, of course, though a bit of conflict to spice things up wouldn't be amiss. Stable enough that I won't have to give up Central - the city's non-negotiable. As is what I do; I ain't giving that up for anyone, so they've definitely got to have a sense of adventure. Sense of humor, of course; I ain't me without my puns. But just, you know. Someone to come home to." He pauses. "Not that I don't come home to you as it is..."
Mick waves a hand dismissively. Of course Len comes home to him, but he doesn't come home to him. He gets it. "Someone to settle down with, you mean."
"Yeah," Len says, and his tone is distinctly wistful. "Someone exciting. Someone who can make settling down exciting."
"Exciting but stable," Mick says dryly. "Adventurous but loves Central. You live to make my life easy, don't you?"
Len grins. "I have faith in you."
Mick grumbles and pretends he doesn't feel warmed by the fact that he knows Len really means it.
Finding someone who will match what Len is looking for is, however, easier said than done.
Mick dives into city records. He needs someone with a spark, someone exciting, someone devoted to the city - someone who will look at Len and seen neither Snart, skilled thief and mastermind, nor Captain Cold, supervillain extraordinaire.
In the end, Mick comes up with a preliminary list.
Mark Mardon, Sam Scudder, Rosa Dillon, Hartley Rathaway, Selina Kyle, Harleen Quinzel, Cisco Ramon, Caitlin Snow, Barry Allen, Iris West, Eddie Thawne, Sara Lance, Ray Palmer, Malcolm Merlyn, John Constantine, Kara Danvers, Mari McCabe, Victor Fries, Richard Greyson, and Diana Prince.
It's not a bad list. He'd eliminated the obvious candidates at once: Jax too young, Stein too old (and married already); Kendra and Carter, taken; Rip Hunter because Len had seen something in the timeline that made him practically froth at the mouth and try to murder him any time they ran into each other; Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak because they were obviously going to marry each other (though Mick had put an asterisk beside their names - they seemed like good candidates for a proper triad marriage); the other so-called Team Arrow folks for their stance on Len's general means of employment; the vast majority of other supervillains for sheer insanity (Gotham, what the hell is wrong with you); anyone who was a working copper because of Len's bad associations from his dad; the Families because they were the Families; and most other criminals because they were dumb as rocks or sadists like Damien Darkh which, no.
No, Len needed someone who understood the superhero-supervillain aspects of his life, not a civilian - not even a criminal civilian.
Also, Harrison Wells was out on account of Mick not being able to keep track of which version of him was around.
Now it's time to narrow the list.
Mick sighs and makes a few calls to some marriage auditors, sets up a few appointments, and goes.
His favorite of the lot ends up being a sharp-looking woman with a brisk, professional manner and an AA coin, who didn't blink twice at the fact that notorious arsonist/supervillain was in the market for a marriage auditor.
"My prices are non-negotiable," she says firmly. "You're on the hook for all investigation costs plus expenses, as well as my fee. There's an extra charge if any of the relevant individuals are hostile - just assume that you'll be paying it, given this list of names - but I can guarantee discretion as to your client, though I can't guarantee they won't find out someone has earmarked them for a marriage audit."
"Good," Mick says. He likes realistic people; the first few auditors had made outlandish claims of perfect privacy. "Given the names, you got any issues with conflicts of interest?"
D.L. Spears - Mick is probably one of the few people who can identify her on sight as the former Dinah Laurel Lance - studies him thoughtfully over her sharp-cut and totally unnecessary glasses.
"No," she says after a moment of contemplation. "I don't think that will be a problem."
"Feel free to add it to the fee," Mick suggests.
She smiles. "I'm not going to blow my cover after working this hard on it," she says. "Don't worry."
Mick shrugs. He's not worried. Though, now that he thinks about it -
"I'm not on the market," she informs him.
He closes his mouth and shrugs. It'd been worth a shot.
"I'll get you the files in two weeks."
Spears is as good as her word. The pile of paper that fills Mick's desk is considerable, thorough, and unflinching in its analysis of the potential marriage target's assets.
"Do you want me to help?" Len asks, studying the pile of paper.
"For your own marriage? Don't be absurd."
"She's earned her vacation good and proper. Don't worry, Spears printed it on dyslexic-friendly paper in a good font - I'll be fine. Besides, it ain't like you're in a rush."
"True," Len concedes.
"Now shoo. Go have your playdate with the Flash."
"It's not a playdate..."
Len, grumbling, goes. But there's a spring in his step, even more than usual for him going to go play with the Flash, which means he's actually pleased by Mick's progress with the marriage hunt. Good. Mick would pull out of this messy business at the first sign of doubt or unwillingness, but no, it seems Len is quite serious about it.
There are a few off the list that he's able to narrow down fairly quickly. Malcolm Merlyn, for one, who Mick included on the list entirely on the basis of the few positive interactions he'd seen him have with the brainwashed past version of Len and a shared affinity for terrible humor while supervillaining, displays the widower's mark. Not all widowers put up that mark, which signified their disinterest in ever marrying again, but he had.
Probably for the best, really. Mick didn't much like the idea of living with that asshole.
Victor Fries is out for the same reason (widower’s mark, not assholery), which is too bad. Mick had been daydreaming about presenting that file to Len just to see his face – Mick could totally pitch it as the two of them being compatible on the “ice-related pun” spectrum. Hell, he might do that anyway, though Fries was clearly not going to be on the real final list.
Diana Prince's file just has a post-it note that says “IN HIS DREAMS” on it, underlined twice. Which, fair. Very fair.
Sam Scudder - "chronically unfaithful self-absorbed narcissist", good call Spears - is also off the list. Spears had noted down Lisa in the 'former lovers' pile, too, which Mick figured was an automatic no.
Rosa Dillon is out for the same reason. Lisa really needs to stop dating all the eligible supervillains.
Or maybe it was Lisa's exes that tended to become supervillains...?
Mick hesitates over Cisco Ramon. Joint love for puns, tech, intelligence - does he count as Lisa's ex? After a few moments of consideration, Mick leaves him on the list. A few kisses doesn't an ex-lover make.
Spears has helpfully highlighted how the resurrected Eddie Thawne and Iris West appeared to be considering an informal announcement to start one-on-one negotiations for their own marriage, but noted that that didn't preclude the possibility of a triad marriage. Mick crosses them off anyway - Eddie might not be an active cop at the moment, but he'd bet money he'd go back to it after the requisite time to recover from trauma.
John Constantine's file is taped shut, stapled, and glued for good measure. A pack of matches is attached via paperclip in case Mick wants to burn the file pre-emptively. Mick takes the hint.
He also, reluctantly, removes Dick Grayson from the list. Spears is right - his questionable willingness to leave Gotham aside, that is not an acceptable set of in-laws.
Harley - delightful as she is as a drinking buddy - is off the list in part due to that awful ex of hers. Also, Mick knew she was secretly dating Ivy; nice to finally have it confirmed.
Mari McCabe is noted down as being unwilling to leave Detroit, which knocks her off the list, too.
That leaves Mark Mardon, Hartley Rathaway, Selina Kyle, Cisco Ramon, Caitlin Snow, Barry Allen, Sara Lance, Ray Palmer, and Kara Danvers.
Well, tentatively Danvers. Spears asked for an extra week for that file, glaring and muttering something about an additional fee for alternate universes.
Mick paid her first outrageous bill without question; she has no room to whine.
Time to start eliminating names. He won’t be able to move on to interviews until he knocked it down to five at most.
"Want help digging through those?" a female voice drawls from the door.
"I thought I told Len not to call you," Mick replies, twisting to frown at Lisa. "I'm fine doing this on my own."
"Oh, don't worry," she purrs. "I am totally ditching you the second we have to go into actual negotiations - I don't want to know anything about my brother's sex life, thanks! - but at least for the initial selection, I figured I'd show an interest."
"Len's dying of curiosity and sent you in his place so he can pretend to respect tradition," Mick translates.
"Got it in one." She drops down into the couch. "So, talk me through them. Any order."
"Candidate 1: Mark Mardon."
"Fellow supervillain, already rescued Len from prison once, probably can be counted on to do it again," Lisa says, nodding.
"He had a younger brother, so they can bond over that."
"Ugh, that'll just make Len even more unbearable. But sure. How do his assets look?"
Mick made a face.
"He's not actually a very good thief."
"Len could help with that," Lisa points out.
"True," Mick concedes. "So he stays on the list."
"For now," Lisa says. "He does seem to have a bit of a - heh - tempestuous temper."
"Might kill Len if Len persists with weather-related puns," Mick recites aloud drolly as he jots down a note saying much the same.
"He might have a sense of humor!"
"Every man's got a limit - except your brother."
Lisa sniggers. "Who's next?"
"Bit young, isn't he?"
"Mid-twenties, so not young enough to be a bother," Mick says. "He's definitely gay, which is a point in his favor - I don't know about some of the others."
"Tech guy - made his own, might be able to improve Len's. Supervillain. Has experience with disability issues. Pretty."
"You think everyone's pretty, Mick."
Mick shrugs. It's true.
"His supervillain career this far consists of wrecking a single building. Might not be a supervillain now that he's on better terms with his millionaire parents - who we've stolen a shit ton of money from."
"They take that so personally," Lisa agrees.
"Also, my auditor says he's an annoying twit with daddy issues."
Lisa gives a surprised bark of laughter. "I like your auditor already. Leave him on the list?"
"Hm. Not sure. Not sure they'd mesh for a marriage."
"He's born rich," Mick says. "Central City rich. Len..."
"As Central City poor as you get, and not even slightly fond of Cinderella stories. They'd culture clash."
"Being rich isn't a bad thing," Mick clarifies. "But an annoying shit that used to be rich? Could rub Len the wrong way and fast."
"Fair enough," Lisa agrees. "Besides, I heard he slept with Harrison Wells when they were working together."
Mick made a face. "Oh," he says. "That type of daddy issue."
"Not for Len."
"Definitely not. Next up, Selina Kyle."
"Gotham cat-burglar? I like her."
"Len does, too. Smart, sexy, likes stealing things..."
"Willing to leave Gotham?"
"Does it pretty regularly, I think."
"Bet she's got some pretty fine assets, too," Lisa says with a smirk.
"I already said she's sexy."
"And she's not taken?"
"Single at the moment, according to her file."
"Sounds pretty good," Lisa says. "Keep her on the list."
Mick marks her down.
"Who's next?" Lisa asks.
"Hey! He's mine!"
"You only kissed him once or twice," Mick points out.
Lisa scowls at him. "I'm a little sister," she points out. "The rule of 'I licked it first means it's mine' has been applicable since I was five."
"Fine, fine. Just thought, y'know, with the naming thing. And the tech. And the bad jokes..."
Lisa sighs. "You're not wrong; they would get along. But remember, Lenny threatened his brother."
"You got over that with him," Mick points out.
"I didn't do the threatening, exactly..."
Mick rolls his eyes. "I'm taking him off the list, Lise. Just for you."
"You do that."
"What about his buddy, Caitlin Snow?"
Lisa hums thoughtfully. "Also hot," she says. "Hasn't she recently developed ice powers? Might lead to some competition."
"Competition is good," Mick says.
"True. No other objections on my end; let's look at her file."
The file is extensive. "Bad relationship with her mom," Lisa observes. "Maybe they could bond over shitty parents?"
"Is she really going around referring to herself in the third person?" Mick asks, somewhat dubious.
"Like Lenny hasn't done the same."
"Though I'm not sure that incipient dissociative identity disorder is necessarily what would be good for Lenny, though. He's got his own issues to work through."
"He has experience with people that have severe mental health issues," Mick points out. He is, after all, exhibit A.
"Okay, fine. She can stay on the - oh. Oh, no. Definitely not."
"Look at the list of exes. What do they all have in common?"
Mick looks at it. "...a shockingly bad taste in men?" he hazards.
"They're all dead, Mick! Everyone she's so much as gone on a single date with! She's a black widow!"
"I'm sure it's coincidence. And I don't know if putting that Jay/Zoom guy on the list is really fair..."
"Len's been dead already; maybe he's immune."
"I'm not risking my big brother a second time."
Mick shrugs and crosses off Caitlin Snow's name. "If we're short on candidates, we can go back," he says.
Lisa nods, but he can tell from the way her arms are crossed in front of her that it'll be an uphill battle.
"Okay, next. Barry Allen."
"Especially since he’s definitely not the Flash."
"Oh, definitely not. We would never say that. It would be absurd."
"Totally absurd," Mick agrees. "You gotta admit that Len does like playing games with the Flash more than he likes just about anything else, though. Which isn't relevant because we're definitely not talking about the Flash."
“Very true. Could add a bit of spice to the relationship – if, of course, we were talking about the Flash. Which we’re not.”
“Nope. Just a regular old CSI with absolutely no hobbies whatsoever.”
"Exactly. Good assets," Lisa notes. "Got that inheritance from evil Wells, who was also definitely not involved in any way with the Flash."
"Not much luck with the girlfriends in recent years, but they ain't dead like Snow’s."
"Point in his favor. Girlfriends, you say? Any recent boyfriends?"
"No, but the report lists him as bi."
"Good. Dead parents, some experience with the jail thing with his dad..."
"He can stay on the list with Mardon," Mick decides.
Lisa nods. "Next?"
"Lenny liked her," Lisa observes. "Not sure she's ready to settle down in Central, though."
"She might be," Mick points out.
They sift through the file. "Barely any assets," Mick notes. "Though I like that 'Captain of the Waverider' is listed in both the pro and con pile..."
"I'm concerned about the infidelity angle," Lisa says, frowning at the list of exes. "Who the hell sleeps with their sister's fiancé?"
Mick looks at her.
"Lenny and that bitch weren't engaged," Lisa says primly. "And certainly not with an automatic invalidation clause for infidelity."
"Someone needed to show him what a bitch she was, and you weren't willing to go the extra mile."
No, Mick hadn't been. Fair enough.
"She was a different person back then," he says, going back to Sara. "No League training, nothing. She's grown up."
"I don't know; didn't she sleep with him again when she got back?"
"Don't think he was affianced to her sister anymore by then."
"Still. Doesn't speak too highly of her character."
"She's not that bad."
Lisa arches an eyebrow.
"Her own sister put these files together," Lisa says. "And has recommended against. I say we listen."
Mick grumbles. "They kissed once," he protests. “S’more than can be said for some of these others.”
"Mick, read the post-it: not ready to settle down."
"Fine. No Sara. You know he'd want her on the list, though."
"Pity for him he went the traditional route and is letting us make the choices," Lisa says crisply. "Who's next?"
"Does Lenny even like him?"
"Haircut ain't that bad. Good assets, good tech work...hero complex..."
"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
"Not sure, given who we're talking about."
They comb through his files.
"Unlucky in love," Lisa observes. "But he seems to be really committed to each one - and they're not all dead."
"He wants to settle down," Mick agrees. “That’s good.”
"Morally flexible enough to work with you and Len."
"Stays on the list?"
"Yeah, no serious objections."
"Okay. Last one on the current list - Kara Danvers. We're still waiting on her file."
"No Diana Prince?" Lisa asks, smirking.
Mick hands her the file with the "in his dreams" post-it.
"So, we're talking Mark Mardon, Selina Kyle, Barry Allen, Ray Palmer, and Kara Danvers," Spears says. "That's a good list of five."
"I thought so," Mick says. "Wouldn't mind your professional opinion."
"Some are more likely candidates than others," Spears says thoughtfully. "But I'd definitely feel comfortable progressing with all of these." She pauses. “Well, assuming you’re comfortable with the whole alien thing with Danvers.”
Mick shrugs. “Laser eyes and frost breath.”
“No, I get you, she’d stay on my list, too,” Spears agrees. “Ugh, I've never been so bi. You see the pictures?”
“I did. Skirt is kick-ass.”
“No kidding. The way she caught that derailing train…”
“You don’t think the cross-universe thing will be an issue?”
“Nah; Cisco made up something that enables jumping. They could split time between the two.”
“Fair enough. In that case, I’ll start a deeper dive on this set, see if there’s anything I missed and get you ready for interviews. Good luck.”
Mick makes a face, which makes Spears laugh.
"Oh, good," Mick grouses theatrically. "Interviews. And I'm such a people person."
"Try going in reverse order," Spears suggests. "Or alphabetical. Makes it less tortuous."
He ends up going in reverse alphabetical.
It's Len's suggestion.
"That way you can knock Palmer off early if he's uninterested," he says, looking excessively pleased by the thought.
"If you don't want to consider him..."
"No, no. You're right. Definitely more ready to settle down than Sara. And he's not unsalvageable."
Mick gives Len a look.
"Include mandatory classes on classism in the contract," Len suggests.
Mick is incredibly happy that he took Rathaway off the list.
Though Len's face when he'd "discovered" Fries and Snow's files in his last attempt at snooping had been little short of hilarious...
Mick hails the Waverider.
"I need to talk to Haircut," he growls into the comm device.
"Uh, okay. Sure. We're coming by 2017 anyway," Sara's voice buzzes back.
Mick shows up at the landing point and grabs Ray at the first moment he can.
"What's the rush?" Sara laughs. "Something broke?"
"Yeah," Mick replies promptly. "Gideon's detection of STDs. You might want to get that rash looked at, you know."
She grins and fist-bumps him for that one. They'd settled in a pleasantly bitchy form of interaction once Mick was no longer working for her. It worked for them a lot better than anything else had.
Mick takes Ray to a bar.
"This is unusually nice," Ray observes. "More homey than dive-y."
Mick hadn't noticed. He'd mostly cared about having a booth with some privacy.
"Sit," he orders.
Mick orders them two beers and then studies Ray.
He's not sure it'll pan out in the end, a marriage between him and Len, but Ray's not a bad sort. He tries, if sometimes badly. He's enthusiastic. He's pretty. He wants to settle down with someone.
It could work.
Maybe after a few classes on privilege and classism, yes, but it could work.
"Uh, Mick?" Ray says cautiously. "What's up?"
"I need to talk to you about marriage," Mick says, figuring it's best to go straight into it. Subtlety is pointless in opening pitches.
"Oh? Oh! Uh. Um. Not that I'm not complimented, Mick, but you and me aren't really - I mean, I never thought - I mean -"
"Not me," Mick groans.
How had he forgotten? High intelligence, low wisdom, like Len liked to say. For such a genius, Ray could be incredibly dumb.
Ray looks relieved. "Oh, well," he says. "Not that you wouldn't be great for someone - oh! Is that what this is? Did you meet someone?" Ray's grin widens. "You and Snart finally tying the knot?"
"You're really into the choose-it-yourself method, aren't you?" Mick observes instead of answering that question with all the ‘it’s been thirty years and you think we’re just figuring out our relationship now’ scorn it deserves.
"Well, yes," Ray says. "I think the traditional marriage contract system is outdated and, frankly, a little excessively invasive, you know? All those rules and investigations, it sucks the whole mystery right out of it."
"There's not supposed to be mystery," Mick says. "It's a marriage! It's the person you shack up with for good, merging assets and shit, not an episode of Criminal Minds."
"I'm telling you, there's no romance in it," Ray says, shaking his head. "No discovery, nothing. And the process is - ugh! Can you even imagine having someone just decide several years of your life like that?"
Mick stares at him, willing him to remember Mick's stint as Kronos, bounty hunter and slave to the Time Masters.
Ray blinks at him, utterly oblivious.
"Sooo," he says after a few moments of silence. "I'm guessing you didn't bring me here to debate, though. What's up?"
Mick studies him for a few more minutes.
High intelligence, low wisdom.
Hero complex, possibly a martyrdom complex.
Still called Len 'Snart' after all this time.
Bad at identifying human relationships, like where Mick and Len were with theirs.
Incredibly bad at recognizing boundaries.
Actually, now that he thinks about it, Mick distinctly remembers how Ray thought dressing up like Snart – when he was dead – and yammering on about his existential crisis until Mick had felt obligated to give him a pep talk was a good idea. He'd done too good a job of forgetting about that little incident when he was making the list.
Thinks that finding ‘true love’ by sheer magic was a better approach to marriage than the good old-fashioned contracting system.
"...one of my old buddies is getting married," he says, calling the game over before it's even started. "I need help thinking of present ideas."
Ray brightens. "I can help with that - heck, I can probably build something really interesting for them! What are you thinking?"
Mick shakes his head a little and suggests a few things.
The evening's a bust, but at least he gets Ray to pay for the drinks and he's pretty sure Ray actually will make him those 'presents', so at least Ray won't come to Len's wedding empty-handed.
Next on the list: Mark Mardon.
Finding him is a trick and a half; Mick ends up recruiting Spears, who uses weather patterns to track him down.
It costs an arm and a leg; she apparently charges extra for felonies involving breaking into the National Weather Service.
So maybe Mick's a bit grumpy when he ends up in the tail end of nowhere, shooting flames into a thundercloud.
"Seriously?" he shouts. "I come in peace, asshole!"
The thundercloud subsides. Mardon squints at him from what had been its center. "You do?"
"Yeah," Mick says. "What the hell?"
"Thought Snart decided to cut me out," Mardon says cautiously. "After that job at Christmas went south..."
"I'm not Snart," Mick grumbles. "And no. He ain't the vengeful type."
"Huh. He need me for a job?"
Eager. He was probably short on cash.
"No," Mick says. "You got time to talk?"
"Talk?" Mardon sneers. "You gone soft and touchy-feely, Rory? Heard you were associating with heroes..."
Mick sighs. Tempestuous doesn't even begin to describe Mardon. But Snart can cool down just about anyone...
"I want to talk marriage," Mick says. "You got a best man I need to clear first, or can we get to the talking?"
Mardon blinks. "Uh," he says. "Marriage?"
"Yeah. You turn into an echo machine?"
"No. And, uh, no best man to clear; I'm available. Who are you on behalf of?"
Mick stares at him mutely.
"Lisa Snart?" Mardon asks hopefully. "Shawna? What about, what's her name -"
"Are you straight?" Mick asks flatly. The file hadn't been able to answer that, since Mardon was off the grid most of the time and the rest of the time he was of the 'drunk hitting on anything moving' variety.
"Uh, yeah. Mostly. Why?"
Mick sighs. He’d hoped for better than 'mostly straight'.
Of course, Len's always been pretty enough to turn heads regardless of orientation...
"Who'd you originally think I was here for?" he asks instead.
Mardon frowns at him.
Mick arches his eyebrows right back at him.
Enlightenment hits. "Wait. Snart?"
"That's the one. Not his sister."
Mardon considers the issue for a few minutes. "Okay, sure," he finally says. "Might be worth it. Come inside."
Mardon's living in an old abandoned shack that maybe called itself a farm, and even Mick - who doesn't have the highest requirements for cleanliness - is annoyed by the mess.
Guess having stuff all over the floor matters less if you can float.
Mick settles down in a chair and pulls out his list of questions.
It doesn't take too long to figure out that Mardon is, in fact, even more straight than the 'mostly' straight he'd disclosed and is primarily interested in Len as a prospective criminal partner.
This wouldn’t be a deal breaker, except that Len already has one.
"But wouldn't I take precedence after we were married?" Mardon asks, scrunching his nose up after Mick points that out.
"Me and Len’ve been partners for nearly thirty years," Mick says, trying without much success to keep his voice even. No strangling the marriage prospects, Mick; it's bad form. "Him getting married ain't gonna change that."
"Yes, I'd still be going on jobs with him. Yes, he'd still be splitting the take with me. You would be invited when appropriate, same as always - probably more often, sure, but this is a marriage contract."
Mardon crosses his arms. "Exactly," he says triumphantly. "I can work it into the contract."
Mick rolls his eyes. "The contract I'm negotiating, you mean?"
"Yeah! Oh, and about that - I wanna be the guy."
Mick pauses. He'd been about to point out the futility of assuming that Mick would ever willingly write himself out of Len's life - or of Len ever putting his name to such a contract - but that last bit threw him.
"You're...both...guys?" he says cautiously. "Least, your file didn't say anything about being designated different at birth."
Now it's Mardon's turn to roll his eyes. "The guy in the marriage," he clarifies. "You know." He makes an incomprehensible gesture.
"I'm pretty sure Len's a switch," Mick says dubiously. "I mean, he's probably got no problem with letting you top once in a while, but I don't think he'd be interested in locking in anything - anyway, we're just interviewing. Way too early to talk about sex."
"It's important to get it straight up front," Mardon says, and blissfully appears utterly oblivious to the horrific pun he just made. Mick wishes he could be so lucky. "Not the sex stuff, though that’s important too. More, like, I want to be the 'care for' guy, not the one who does the 'love and obey' stuff."
Mick's eyebrows shoot up. "That's a pretty damn old-fashioned marriage formulation." It'd mostly gone out of fashion around the time of feminism, though there were still some religious groups that pushed it.
"It's the right one."
Mick opens his mouth to try and explain that the likelihood of Leonard Snart ever honoring an "obey" provision in a contract, but gives it up as hopeless. "I'll mention it to him," he says. "That's about all I've got for questions, actually."
"Really? You've got a much longer list."
"Filler to make it look more impressive," Mick lies.
Mardon nods. "Fair enough. Let me know what he says, yeah?"
"Sure," Mick says agreeably.
Pursuant to his word, he turns his phone on 'record' before handing Len a summary of Mardon's "offer".
Len's howls of disdainful laughter are always worth keeping a record of, even if Len does eventually convince Mick not to mail them over and send a standard "thanks but incompatible" letter instead.
"We might - heh - want him for a job - hehe - in the future," Len says, still sniggering every few words. "Really, though? Love and obey? Ye old submissive wifey bullshit?"
"Some people still go in for that. He may've just been trying to negotiate leverage on the criminal partner point, though."
"In which case I'm still better off without," Len says firmly. "Such terrible negotiating skills - and at the interview phase, no less! - I can do without being bound to in matrimony. Least he could’ve done is wait to try the gambit at the contract stage."
Mick nods, agreeing.
"So,” Len drawls. Despite two failures, his eyes are bright with interest. After all, if this search fails, Mick just needs to go back to the drawing board. “Who's next on the list?"
"Selina?” Len says approvingly. “I like her."
Selina Kyle, unfortunately, means Gotham.
Gotham is a monstrosity of stone and steel, an entire city that thinks that corporate development ought to be modeled on Gothic and neo-Gothic styles (get it? Gotham, Gothic?...Mick's stopping now. It's all Len's fault) and a fetish for warehouses and a seemingly endless supply of abandoned buildings.
Mick has always rather liked Gotham as a city. Len, too. They have great pizza and their halal carts are unquestionably the best in the country.
The only real problem with Gotham, of course, is its infestation of Bats.
Well, also there’s the army of bizarrely costumed psychopaths and a criminal justice system that makes Iron Heights look friendly.
But mostly Bats.
"I didn't even bring my heat gun," Mick grumbles, putting his hands up against the wall so the Bat of the Week can search him while his companion keeps watch. He doesn't know which one is which - small flying rodent or small flying bird? - because he doesn't keep track of their ever-shifting costumes and nicknames.
Arkham supposedly has a bulletin board up in the inmates lounge to help the inmates with memory issues keep up. Mick's never been as anything more than a visitor, a trend he's very interested in continuing.
"You come here straight from Central and start heading to Arkham," the Bat says. "It's suspicious."
"I'm looking for someone," Mick says. "Figured I'd ask around for them somewhere that might know. It ain't a crime!"
"With you guys, it's usually the precursor to one," the smaller figure - a Robin of some variety - says. "Where's your chillier half?"
"Back in Central," Mick replies. "There's a Combines game on and the nut thinks they have a chance this year."
"Actually, if you look at the statistics -" the Robin starts.
The Bat pointedly clears his throat.
The Robin stops, looking abashed.
Mick squints at him. "You Bats or Nightwing?" he asks.
The Bat arches his eyebrows. "Why?"
"I’ve always heard that Nightwing’s ass is worth the tourist trip," Mick says honestly. "Figured if I'm here already, I ought to see the highlights, y'know?"
The Robin falls off his perch sniggering. The Bat buries his head in his hands.
"Batman is patrolling a different part of the city tonight," Nightwing says, though he sounds amused. "Why are you here, really?"
That gets them - at last - to step away, letting Mick put down his arms and rub at them.
"Really?" the Robin says, sounding somewhere between pleasurably scandalized and actually horrified. "A real marriage contract?"
"Just at the interview stage," Mick assures them.
"Who's getting married?" Nightwing asks.
"Hell, you were on my initial list," Mick tells him. "He likes heroes."
“What, really?” Nightwing says, sounding horrified himself.
"And all without seeing your ass, too," the Robin says gleefully. “What kicked him off the list?”
That gets both of them cackling like there’s no tomorrow.
“I like that,” Nightwing says, wiping his eyes. “Oh, that’s good, that’s good. Yes. Good. Wait, you were headed to Arkham? Don’t tell me one of them’s on your list!”
“Nah. I told you, I just need to find somebody, and Arkham’s gossip network is second to none.”
“That’s depressing,” the Robin murmurs. “And yet – true.”
“Who’re you looking for, then?”
They blink owlishly at him. “Selina Kyle?” Nightwing hazards.
“That’s the one,” Mick confirms. “Catwoman.”
“Well, they are both thieves,” Nightwing says dubiously.
“Very good thieves,” the Robin corrects. “As far as pure theft-based supervillains, they’re in a class more or less by themselves – no offense meant, Heatwave –”
Mick waves a forgiving hand. He usually classifies himself more as an arsonist than a thief, anyway.
“Plus,” the Robin continues, look of growing dismay, “they’re both mixed-race, come from lower-class families, work occasionally with heroes…does Cold like cats?”
“Yeah, we have a few strays that we feed on a pretty regular basis near our safehouse,” Mick replies. He does most of the feeding, true, but Len likes to pet them; surely that’s close enough.
“That…might work,” Nightwing says. He also sounds dismayed. “That might actually work really well.”
Mick looks between the two of them suspiciously. They’re a bit too upset about this. Unless…
“Aw, crap,” he says. “Tell me she ain’t knocking boots with Bat Prime.”
“What? Uh. No!” Nightwing says. "Definitely not. Why would you think that? That's ridiculous."
“Wow,” the Robin says. “That was absolutely awful. Worst lying I've ever seen. How does everyone not know who you are already?”
“You said it, kid,” Mick says, holding his hand up for a fist-bump, which the Robin automatically does, then looks appalled by his own hand's betrayal. “But seriously. They’re shacked up? Why didn’t that come up on the marriage audit?”
“You ran a marriage audit on Catwoman?” the Robin says, sounding impressed. "Can I have the number of your auditor?"
“I mean, they’re not currently together,” Nightwing admits. “But, you know, off and on…”
They both look hopefully at him.
Mick considers the issue. “No,” he says finally. “Sorry. She’s too good a prospect. I’m still going ahead with the interview.”
“But she’s the only one who makes him tolerable,” Nightwing whines.
“Not my problem,” Mick says, just a little maliciously. “I live in Central, and she ain’t married to Gotham the way Snart is to Central.”
“You know she’ll still have to work with the big guy for team-ups,” Nightwing points out. “All that simmering sexual tension, all still there…”
Mick shrugs. “You say that like Snart wouldn’t be up for a threesome.”
They both look appalled.
Mick mentally blesses Len’s pansexuality and also makes a mental note to steal the security tapes covering this roof for posterity.
“So, if you don’t mind, since I’m actually not breaking any laws right now…”
They let him go rather quickly, scurrying off in their own directions.
Mick suspects they’re off to interfere by telling Bat Prime he's about to lose the best thing he's got.
Fine, whatever. It’s an open field.
He swings by Arkham – “Mick, baby, don’t tell me you’re going off-market; tell me it’s really Snart,” Harl purrs at him, which how does the gossip go so fast, really, aren't they supposed to be locked up? – and gets a tip-off on where to find the Catwoman.
“I assume you’ve already heard what I’m here for,” he tells her when he finds her. “Judging by how fast gossip in this city moves.”
Selina blinks. “No,” she says. “It may have missed me.”
“Really?” Mick asks. “Okay. I’m here to interview you regarding a marriage contract, provided you’re amenable.”
“Leonard Snart, Captain Cold. Central City.”
She considers it for a moment. “Yes,” she says. “I’m amendable. Perhaps after I’ve finished robbing this jewelry store?”
Mick shrugs. “Knock yourself out.”
She pauses for an additional second. “Would you like to join in?”
Aw, that’s nice. She’s polite, too. “Nah, your heist.”
“Please, take a bracelet at least, I insist.”
Mick pockets a nice gold one with rubies and nods a thank-you. Len will probably want to give it to the Flash to confuse him.
A short sprint from the cops later, they settle down at a nice café to talk.
“So,” Selina purrs.
“I’m friends with Harl and just came from Arkham,” Mick reminds her. “I’ve already hit my purring quota for the day.”
Selina snorts much more inelegantly. “Okay, I’ll give you that. So, Snart, huh?”
“Yeah,” Mick says. “Excellent thief, sometimes villain-sometimes hero, smart, snarky. Even a pair of small winged creatures agreed that you’d make a good match.”
“They did, did they?” Selina grins.
“They object,” Mick tells her, because marriage contract negotiations are so full of landmines anyway it’s not worth being anything less than fully up front. “You’re apparently the only thing that makes Bat Prime tolerable.”
Selina hums. “Well,” she says, playing with a lovely diamond necklace that she’s draped across her fingers. “That’s his problem, isn’t it?”
“So, Selina’s still on the list,” Mick informs Len.
“Really?” Len drawls, making grabby-hands at Mick’s notes.
“Oh, yeah. High class lady, excellent thief, flexible morality, experience with individuals with mental illness, polite, pretty –”
“You think everybody is pretty.”
“- and willing to consider relocating to Central.”
“Not bad,” Len says, looking pleased. "Who's next?"
Len frowns, his normally eidetic memory searching and coming up empty. "Do I know her?"
"Told you about her. Supergirl."
"Flame-eyes, frost-breath, flying, alien ray of sunshine?"
"That's the one."
Len considers. "Well," he says after a moment. "I won't say I'm not intrigued..."
Mick crosses his arms. "I thought I was running this process."
Len holds up his hands. "I defer, I defer! You know what I like, and this Miss Danvers does sound right up my alley. I like strong women." He pauses. "I don't suppose you considered -"
"Diana Prince is labeled 'in your dreams'."
Len considers this for a moment. "Yeah," he says. "Fair enough."
Mick permits Len to interfere to the extent of lifting Cisco's universe-hopper, but then bans him. Len goes to sulk.
Not too much, though. The Combines are actually winning, much to their own and everybody else's shock.
(Captain Cold and the Flash's most recent team-up involved intimidating the living daylights out of some aggressive Penguins fans who had been casting aspirations on their fair city. Mick, who personally did not get hockey but did get fighting, took a particular pleasure in revving up the crowd in their favor. The newspaper covers had been epic. And vicious. It's been a good long while since the Central City Combines were in shooting distance of the Cup.)
Meanwhile, Mick goes to an alternate universe.
The trip is -
Well, it's not as bad as time-jumping for a newbie, but it's pretty disorienting.
Jumping straight into a government facility seems like a bad idea, but apparently the employees are used to it and just tell him that Kara will be back after she defeats some giant metal robot.
Team Supergirl march in, looking pretty pleased with themselves. "Mick!" Kara says, already floating a few inches off the ground and bouncing upwards in a moment of delight.
"Heya, Skirt. You never called; I'm hurt."
"Go to STAR Labs more often," she shoots back, grinning. "Maybe they'll give you your calls."
Mick snorts. Kara laughs. Most of her buddies grin, though one of them is scowling (or pouting?) at the easy way Mick wraps an arm around her shoulder.
"But seriously," she continues, still smiling. "What's up in Earth-1? Barry need help."
"Nah. I'm here on personal business."
"Yeah. You got a duly nominated rep for marriage talks, or do you handle yourself?"
Kara blinks at him.
"I'm not sure how old you are," Mick says defensively. "You could have a rep."
"A representative - " she started.
"For marriage talks?" one of Team Supergirl yowls.
"Yeah," Mick says. Okay, okay, Danvers doesn’t actually look under 18; if she had been, he wouldn’t have selected her. It was supposed to be a joke.
"Are you proposing to her?" one of the others demands. He's pretty, albeit in a bland sort of way.
"What? No. Marriage talks. You know. Contract stuff."
Everyone's expressions fade into confusion.
Mick's slow, yes, but he also watches (involuntarily!) a fair amount of sci-fi. "Hey, wait," he says, frowning. "Do you even have marriage in this universe?"
Kara giggle-snorts. "Yeah," she says, grinning crookedly. "We do. Why don't you tell us what you mean, though? It's probably different."
Turns out Kara's Earth is a wholly self-starter sort of place.
"And no contracting at all?" Mick asks, mildly horrified. "But how do you figure out assets?"
"I mean, sometimes rich couples have prenups..."
"But - living conditions! Behavior expectations! Null clauses! Or - or sex, fuck, how the hell do you guys handle sex? Do you just make it up as you go? That's like the number one null clause leading to divorce in self-starter contracts, incompatible expectations on sex."
Kara's shoulders are shaking. "I don't know," she says, barely able to speak for laughter. "Clearly we're very, uh, behind. Which would probably be a clause in someone’s contract –" She dissolves into giggles again.
"Please ignore my sister," Alex says, failing to suppress her own smile. She's been the most helpful so far, with Winn being a close second. "I really like this best man process you describe, though."
"Yeah, it's supposed to encourage bonds, trusting someone like that. There's no shame in going for a pro, though - not everyone has a family, or their family suck at negotiating, and no one wants to be stuck in a bad contract - shit, what do you guys do about abuse? That's gotta be a null clause, right?"
"Nullification," Mick clarifies. "Automatic penalties, usually up to and including the dissolution of the marriage. Y'know -"
"We really don't," said the yet-unnamed pretty-if-bland man, glancing at Kara. He keeps alternating between friendly and personable when the subject is general and kinda bitchy whenever they talk about Kara.
Mick rolls his eyes. "Three instances of abuse means you gotta go to a marriage mediator center, either to split up assets or renegotiate your marriage on stricter terms, with a supervisory period to ensure that no further abuse happens. The mediators are pretty well trained in domestic abuse, since it's basically their job, so they can spot it early and enforce more strictly. There are false reports, of course, but not nearly as common as you might think, given the penalties of misreporting..."
"Wish we had that," the cop (Maggie?) says, nodding her head. "We have a lot of people who refuse to report it, even after it’s obvious."
"And there's no duress in the original marriage process?" Alex checks.
"No, it has to be mutually agreed and approved by the parties involved. I'm my buddy Len's best man, so I set up the interviews and that initial stuff. Then there's the chaperoned courting period, followed by the real contracting." He grins at Kara. "Wanna give it a shot?"
"You know what," she says, lifting her head and smiling. "Sure."
"What?!" pretty boy yelps.
"It'll be really interesting to explore! Besides, it solves our 'over-exposure to Supergirl' problem that Cat was talking about," she points out. "Clark said that the reason we can't take vacations is because we can always hear people who need our help, but if I go spend some time in Earth-1..."
Alex and Winn and some of the others are nodding, but pretty boy looks upset. "But Kara-"
"You're the one who wanted to take a step back and 'reevaluate' our relationship," Kara says, her voice still cheerful but also steely. "I'm reevaluating."
"But - marriage?"
Kara shrugs. "Arranged marriages were more of a thing on Krypton, too," she says wistfully. "Honestly, this system sounds a lot like it. I didn't think I'd ever get the chance - Alex, will you be my best man? Uh, woman?"
"I didn't mean -" pretty boy starts.
"You meant you wanted some time off to get your head wrapped around your shit and for her to be waiting when you got back," Mick says knowingly. "Doesn't work that way, y'know."
"It wasn't that! After what happened, with my family and all, it was for Kara's sake -"
"I'm pretty sure Kara can decide what her sake means," Mick says. He's pretty sure he dated someone like pretty here, once; Len had resorted to the 'I'm your best friend and you should trust me' card to end the relationship, and after some reflection it had in fact turned out for the best. "So, Skirt, whaddiya say?"
She grins. "Let me pack my things."
With at least two candidates locked down for the next stage, Mick’s feeling pretty confident going into the last interview.
He’s pegged his chances of Barry Allen agreeing to the courtship stage at about 50%.
On one hand, Barry was clearly the settling down type. Good assets. Devoted to Central. Clearly attracted to Len.
On the other hand, he's a hero. He might not be interested in giving it a shot - or he might be guilted out of even participating by his friends.
Mick mulls it over for a bit before timing his approach with the sort of skill he likes to think even Len would admire.
He gate-crashes a Barry-and-Iris movies-and-bitching session. Oh, sure, it was supposed to be a West family movie night, but Wally was busy with university and Joe had a date.
Mick had been willing to start a crime surge to distract Joe if necessary, but he got lucky.
He knocks at the door.
"Must be the pizza," he hears Barry say.
The door opens.
"...it's not the pizza," Barry concludes, disappointed.
Mick arches his eyebrows and brandishes the bag filled with pizza boxes that he'd taken off the terrified but well-compensated delivery boy.
"Never mind," Barry says again. "It's the pizza, but with, like, a side of supervillain."
"Can I come in?" Mick asks. "I wanna talk."
Most people would demand an explanation, but Barry just blinks, looks him up and down for a weapon - like Mick would be that dumb - and then steps aside.
"You're very trusting," Mick observes. He's not sure if that's on his pros or cons. On one hand - that's dumb when you have as many enemies as Len. On the other, Barry actually likes Len, probably as a direct result.
"You gonna do something?"
"Then we're fine."
Mick rolls his eyes. "Heya, newsie," he greets Iris. The nickname never fails to get a grin.
"You need me to go?" she asks.
"Nah," Mick says. "If I'm figuring right, you're gonna be a necessary part of the proceedings."
"Is there a threat?" Barry asks, looking concerned.
Mick shakes his head. "Personal business."
They both blink at him. "Now I'm intrigued," Iris says. "What personal business?"
They both blink again. Iris is the first to smile. "For Leonard?" she asks, having somehow managed to bond with Len when they'd both been locked in a room for their own good during a ghost invasion. "Good for him!"
"Snart's getting married?" Barry asks. He looks perturbed, but not in a bad way. More in a 'but he's my villain and that'll take away from playtime' sort of way.
"Yeah," Mick says. "I'm assuming Iris here's your best man?"
Iris squeaks and claps her hands together.
Barry's a little slower on the update. "Yeah, Iris is my - oooooooh, wait. You're here to interview me?"
There are many things Mick could say. He could point out their compatible points, like with Selina; he could sell the benefits of going through the process itself, like with Kara.
He opts for what he thinks is a more persuasive approach.
"Len likes you," he says.
Barry flushes, but he's smiling. "He does? Really? Enough for marriage?"
"He's only at the request for proposals stage," Iris reminds Barry. "But clearly, you did make Mick's final five - and Leonard has been pestering you more than usual the last few weeks..."
"Won't the superhero thing be an issue?" Barry asks.
Mick mentally cheers. He'd decided to himself that if Barry asked about the 'supervillain thing', it wouldn't work out - it meant Barry was thinking about how he couldn't morally unbend himself enough to marry Len, looking for reasons not to. But if Barry asked about the 'superhero thing', well.
That meant he was worried Len would object to his suit, not why he should object to Len's. Very good.
"Snart thinks a healthy amount of disagreement is good for a marriage," Mick says with perfect honesty. "You're not the only hero on the short list."
"Wait, there are other heroes?" Barry looks adorably infuriated. "Who?"
"On the short list? Ray Palmer, Kara Danvers."
"...not Sara Lance?" Barry asks. "Or Oliver Queen?"
"Blondie ain't ready to settle down," Mick says, and sees Iris nod in agreement. "And Queen - you're kidding, right?"
"It could be!"
"Stop being unreasonably jealous of Oliver," Iris chides Barry. "Oliver's in love with Felicity; he's not going to steal your bad guy."
"I did consider them for a triad marriage," Mick says, enjoying the look of indignation on Barry's face, "but they'd never move to Central, and Snart'll never leave."
"Good," Barry says firmly, nodding.
Iris is smirking.
Mick winks at her, which gets a grin.
The mutual possessiveness of Captain Cold and the Flash is practically a Central City in-joke at this point.
Mick had to fight a gorilla once because of it. He's never talking about that incident ever again.
"So," Mick says. "That mean we can start interviewing?"
"Uh, sure," Barry says. "I've never been interviewed before, so, uh, advance warning if I suck at it."
"What, never?" Mick asks, somewhat surprised. "I mean, sure, you're pretty young for it, but..."
Barry grins crookedly. "Thanks for the vote of confidence. But a weirdo CSI with a supernatural events blog and a dad in prison isn't on most people's shortlist. And it's not like anyone knows about the other bit."
Mick's pretty sure everybody knows about the 'other bit', but sure, whatever.
…he’s going to have to look up that blog, though. For, uh, reasons.
"Okay," he says. "Sounds weird to me, but let's go on with the interview."
"Are you okay with Leonard picking Barry?" Iris asks.
"I’m the one that made the shortlist," Mick points out.
"But still," Iris persists. Fair enough, Mick supposes; even he’d originally put names on the longer list that he wouldn’t have wanted Len to pick, just because he thought they might be compatible.
"I'm good with it," he confirms. "We worked together well enough during the alien business -" Iris sighs and casts her eyes upwards at the sheer ridiculousness of it all while Barry nods. "- and anyway, the kid's pretty."
"I'm pretty sure you find everybody pretty," Barry says dryly, then brightens. "Hey, see what I did there?"
Mick jumps ahead and checks off 'willing to tolerate terrible puns' off his interviewing checklist, even as Iris groans and swats at Barry.
Then Barry's face falls. "Iris, what about Joe? Do you think he'll..?"
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Mick picked a time when Iris West was around to make his interview request.
Iris West, who would be officially engaged if not already married to her resurrected fiancé if not for her father dragging his feet for increasingly stupid reasons (including 'but Barry' long after Barry has given Iris his blessing to resume her relationship with Eddie).
Iris' eyes flash and her smile goes a bit steely. "Dad's always wanted you to go through the process," she points out. "And, yeah, he might disapprove at the end, but that's never stopped you from teaming up with Snart before."
"So why not give it a shot? Worst case, you can always reject the final suit."
Barry is nodding. Mick moves in to strike while the iron is hot.
"First question," he says. "What are you looking for in a marriage?"
Barry leans forward, smiling. "Well -"
"Not bad," Spears says approvingly. "I can definitely focus my deep dive into these three. Certainly easier than explaining why I'm auditing a dead man like Palmer."
"After Thawne the Good came back in quite such a public manner," Mick says dryly, "I don't think too many people will question it."
"You'd be surprised," Spears returns, just as dry. "Rich people that left behind complicated wills tend not to be welcomed quite as cheerfully."
Mick snorts. "So how long will the deep dive take?"
"A month, month and a half," she says. "I know it's not the fastest timing for only three people and I'll aim for doing it quicker, but one of them is from an alternate universe..."
"Say, how are you getting your intel? I didn't give you Cisco's universe-hopper."
"A professional never reveals her secrets."
"Let me guess, you picked that up from the office next door - what’s-her-name - 'Zatanna the Magician'?"
"She's great," Spears says primly.
"I ought to introduce you to Harl," Mick says, pulling out his phone and sending a text to that effect. "There. You'll get along."
"Harl?" Spears says warily. "You don't mean Harley Quinn, do you?"
"You'll love her," Mick assures her. Spears doesn't look really reassured.
"Well, she'll probably be good background research for Kyle, at least..."
"That's the spirit. Now I've got some dates to set up."
"Chaperoned dates," Spears says, grinning wickedly. "Have fun!"
Mick rolls his eyes.
Len is practically buzzing with excitement - and, atypically for him, a touch of nervousness. "I think you've picked really good prospects," Len tells him. "They're all, uh..."
"Out of your league?"
Len sniffs, pride not letting him concede the fact. But he's grinning.
"First up is Kara Danvers," Mick says.
"You think it'll work out, something like that? It'll have to be long-distance, sometimes."
"That's true with all of the ones I picked for you, Lenny," Mick says truthfully. "You need your space sometimes, even from people you like."
"Fair enough. So what are we doing?"
"Sweet and traditional: visiting the space museum, taking a walk through the park in the evening, before going back for a tour of the telescope once evening falls."
Len seems about to object, then the idea hits him full on. “Going to look at space with an alien?”
“Thought you’d like that.”
“I’ll even buy her an ice cream.”
He does, amusingly enough. He and Kara start out a little awkward, dancing around each other a bit – it almost certainly doesn’t help that Mick and Alex are hanging out nearby.
“Maybe we should try to back off a bit,” Alex says, studying the two of them. “Can we do that?”
“Not really,” Mick says. “Chaperoned means we have to be in sight and hearing distance at all times to keep ‘em from making any unapproved deals. Besides, they’d know we were there no matter how backed off we went. I’ve got a better idea.”
Within a few minutes, he and Alex have parked themselves in front of an exhibit about the moon and are loudly and obnoxiously debating the reality of the moon landing.
Len and Kara figure them out pretty quickly and seem to hit it off from there, both sets of shoulders relaxing as they wander the museum. Len is unable to resist pointing out how one would break into the place, because of course he is, but luckily Kara seems to take it as a demonstration of skill rather than a kleptomaniac's way of looking at the world and finds it - in her own words - adorable.
They also spend a fairly large portion of the date complaining about prior boyfriends.
"Is that a good sign or a bad sign?" Mick asks Alex.
"Bad sign," she replies, making a face. "Diversion?"
Mick nods, crushes his soda can, and pitches it at the two of them.
(Kara catches it without looking. Len looks impressed.)
"Not what I meant!" Alex yelps.
It does work, though; the conversation veers off into a discussion of the criminal justice system. Kara's very interested in Len's perspective.
"Is this a date or a study session?" Mick asks Alex.
"Well, her day job is journalism..."
The museum and the park go well.
The telescope visit for two (with chaperones) goes - weird.
Well, it's fine at first, but then the scientist invites Kara to look wherever she likes and she pops off some coordinates, smiling wistfully.
And then she looks.
"Oh my god!" she shrieks. "Krypton! It's there! It's still there!"
"Wait, Krypton?" Len asks, alarmed. "As in Kryptonians?"
"As in the planet with that crazy woman that tried to make Mick marry her and which currently worships me as a god?"
Mick knew he'd heard of Kryptonians before.
"Wait, wait, a Kryptonian tried to marry Mick?! Why? No offense, Mick!"
"We just dealt with a crazy Daxamite named Rhea trying to get legitimacy to rule earth by forcing a marriage," Alex observes. "Something like that?"
"What do you mean 'why Mick'?" Len demands, indignant.
"That's not what I meant!"
"It was nothing like that," Mick assures Alex. "She wanted me to go home with her, not come here. It was mostly because of my reputation as a time travelling bounty hunter."
"And wait, what crazy woman are you referring to? What was her name? Do I know her?"
"I don't know her name! I was too busy keeping her from kidnapping Mick!"
"Time travelling bounty hunter, huh?" Alex asks. "Glad we don't have those."
"That you know of, you mean."
"Kryptonians don't kidnap their brides!"
"How would you know? You just said you were something like thirteen when you left -"
"Do your people kidnap brides?"
"I don't know, maybe! Appalachia can be a weird place sometimes."
"Well, my parents were involved in the government, so -"
"Wait, your parents? What were their names?"
"Zor-El and Alura Zor-El."
"Any relation to an Astra Zor-El?" Mick calls over to them.
"Uh, that’s my aunt," Kara replies, alarmed.
"That's the one," Mick confirms.
"Your aunt tried to kidnap Mick," Len grumbles.
"She tried to kidnap me to," Kara says. "To be fair."
Len rolls his eyes.
"Wait," Alex says. "What was that bit about Krypton worshiping you as a god, Len?"
The rest of the date dissolves into endless hilarity after that point.
At the very end, Mick turns to Alex - pointedly turning his back so he can ignore the illicit good-night kiss going on behind him - and asks, "So, second date?"
"I think so," Alex says.
"Think it'll work out?"
"Yeah," Mick says regretfully. Having laser-eyes around more often would’ve been fun – not to mention the kids… "Agreed."
"They'll probably end up being good friends," Alex says. "Long-distance pen pals. I mean, I'm no relationship expert..."
"Nah, that read like budding friendship to me, too. Lots of mutual interests, not much chemistry."
Alex peeps around Mick's shoulder. "They might disagree."
"Friends with benefits. Max. I'd bet money."
"Fair enough. Should we tell them?"
"Nah. Let 'em go through the process. You never know."
Alex nods, grinning. "I'm just sorry I won't be able to negotiate one of those contracts."
"I'll give you the books I have on how to do it," Mick offers. "If Kara likes it, just do it."
"I'll take you up on that offer," Alex laughs.
Mick's fairly sure both he and Len have ended up with long-distance pen pals.
"Okay, so date number two with Kara is lined up for down the line -" Mick starts.
"I like her," Len says. "Not sure I'd marry her - pretty sure she wouldn't marry me, given how hung up she is on some people, multiple people, back on her earth - but I like her. Would definitely team up with."
"Good to know," Mick says earnestly.
Too earnestly. Len's eyes narrow.
"You already guessed."
Len grins. "And that's why I picked the right best man."
"You bet your ass you did. Now, number two was supposed to be Barry Allen, but he had to cancel to go beat in Scudder's face again -"
"- so we're moving on to date three, Selina Kyle."
"What's the date?"
"The big department store in Keystone," Mick says.
"We're going shopping?"
"That sounds just like what I'd pick for a date for two master-class theives," Mick says dryly. "Place just got a new shipment of sapphire pendants. Some shaped like cats."
Len grins. "Good date."
"I thought you'd like it."
"No better way to get to know another thief's working style," Len agrees, then pauses. "Wait, aren't the dates supposed to be chaperoned?"
"It wil be," Mick says. "I'm coming, and Selina's nominated Ivy."
"Harl was in Arkham and couldn't commit."
"Great. Just - great. Flash is gonna love that."
"Busy beating in Scudder's face, remember? You'll be fine. Ivy likes you."
"Ivy really doesn't, Mick. You're the only guy she actually likes. I'm collateral."
"Don't be ridiculous."
Ivy is wearing a long sleeved hoodie, which is somewhat atypical of her usual stripped-down style, but it makes sense when she gives Mick a hug, careful not to get any venom on him. "You came to Gotham and didn't see me," she scolded.
"I tried!" he protests, smiling. "I even got myself harassed by some Bats on my way to Arkham. You weren't in and Harl said you'd gone off on a safari vacation. Find anything good?"
"Oh, yes - a brand new breed of tree -"
"You'll have to tell me all about it," Mick enthuses. No one likes plants as much as Ivy - it's impossible - but she never treats him like he's an idiot for needing a repeat or a visual and now that he's gotten the heat gun, they can do reenactments of the Fantasia Firebird suite properly.
It was how they'd met, actually, years and years back. Len and Mick had been in Gotham when the Bat phenomenon was pretty young and Mick had taken a trip to the Botanical Gardens on a whim; he ended up lighting it on fire and, when Ivy - then still called Pamela - confronted him, he'd explained in his stuttering way that they had fire pines and eucalyptus in there that couldn't grow until they'd been burned, and she'd adopted him more or less on the spot.
He'd also been pretty good at converting from Pammy to Ivy when she'd transitioned from mammal to plant.
(Len was wrong, by and by, at thinking he was just collateral. He used to be, sure, and Ivy tends to slide back into that mindset, but she'd told Mick privately that Len had earned his safety from her legitimately when he'd nearly murdered the Joker on Harl's behalf.)
"Later, darling," she laughs. "We're chaperones; we should chaperone."
Len and Selina were talking over the plan, both of their eyes gleaming with greed and satisfaction. They clicked just as hard as Mick had thought they would.
Honestly, it's a great experience all around. Selina shows off some of her acrobatics, Len some of his light-fingered artistry and safe-cracking...
"Mammalian mating habits," Ivy says, rolling her eyes in amusement.
"With very specified habits," Mick agrees. "Homo sapiens thief."
"By far the most handsome sub-species," Ivy agrees. "Excellent plumage displays, if subtler than other species variants."
"We can hear you," Len calls as Selina laughs soundlessly beside him.
The department store is a gimme, really, security-wise - just enough to make it interesting, not enough that some serious pre-planning has to go into it. Once they've knocked out all the cameras, they can just stroll through the department store at leisure.
Anyone who thinks Len doesn't like shopping just needs to let him do it illegally.
They're hitting it off really well, actually. Similar interests, similar talents, and Selina might have that ex-Batfriend back in Gotham but she's an independent-minded woman who is far, far fiercer about her boundaries than Kara is. If she makes the decision, she'll stick to it.
Besides, there is always the possibility of threesomes.
Mick enjoys the evening, too, and not just because his matchmaking skills are clearly top-notch; it's been a long time since he and Ivy had time to just hang out.
Making fun of Len and Selina is just a bonus.
If only Harl were here, it'd be perfect.
It's about halfway through one of Ivy's mocking comparisons of the dating couple to a pair of endangered ring-tailed lemurs when the problem abruptly hits Mick like a bolt of lightning.
It's watching Selina execute a lift from Len - Len aware and watching her, of course. She has the same je ne sais quoi, the same poise, the same –
"Aw, crap," Mick says. "Guys! C'mere. Quick question."
The two thieves blink owlishly at him - damnit, he should've noticed it earlier - and come over.
Even Ivy is looking curious.
"Cats," Mick says, "I don't suppose you'd mind giving us a bit of your lineage, would you?"
"Lineage?" she blinks. "You mean my parents? Why?"
"Not parents," he sighs. "Thief. Any impressive thieves in your family history?"
"Well," she says dubiously, "if you go back about four generations, I'm descended on my mother's side from the great Kitt -"
"Oh, no," Len says, getting it.
"Why, what's the issue?"
Len sighs. "My mother's her great-great niece or whatever."
"Jewish side of the family," Len confirms. "The non-Puerto Rican ones."
Selina looks stupefied. "I heard about there being a related Jewish branch, but I thought it'd disappeared after the civil wars..."
"Nah, my mom's family left Africa right before; came to the states. Jews are good at moving, sad to say."
"We're cousins," Selina repeats, her eyes brightening. "I don't - I've never had any living family, not since my mother died -"
Len softens immediately. "Well," he says, grinning crookedly. "Now you have two. Have you met my sister?"
"I've heard of her, but never got the chance -"
The date dissolves into a game of do-you-know.
"It was going so well," Mick bitches to Ivy.
"It really was," Ivy agrees, patting him on the shoulder. "They were perfect for each other. It would've come up in the deep dive anyway; better that they figure it out now. Although, genetically speaking, they're still compatible..."
Mick shakes his head. "They're too hungry for family," he says. "Both of them. Ah, well. Was a good shot."
He frowns. "Hey, think we can still have them pretend to date until Bat Prime has a heart attack or something?"
"I like the way you think," Ivy says, grinning wickedly.
"So Barry's schedule is never going to be good," Iris tells Mick over the cup of coffee he bought her. "He's perpetually late to everything, except for superheroism."
"Yeah, I figured," Mick says. "I mean, I'd been thinking about just sending Len out to taunt him on one of his Captain Cold versus the Flash things, but it's not really a date, is it?"
They both consider the idea for a long moment.
"Never mind," Mick says. "It really is."
"It is," Iris agrees. "But it doesn't really count for our purposes. We want them to talk, not - I don't even know what they're doing. Flirt through reenacting scenes from their favorite comic books?"
"Mating displays," Mick says, brain still in Ivy-mode. "Common to the subspecies homo sapians supers, regardless of whether it's the heroicia or the villaina breeds."
Iris snorts. "Yeah, and their costumes are their plumage. I can see it. So what do we do?"
Mick shrugs. "I'm not sure. We need to see how they interact when they're not, uh, plumage-ing."
"Yeah. Like, the total opposite of their usual thing. And I don't mean a superhero-supervillain team-up, that's just an even more intense version of the same."
"What about dinner?" Mick asks.
"I know, I know, incredibly tame. But how about we just get a place, make a giant pile of food, and make them have dinner and watch the Combines game? Something nice, relaxed, indoors..."
"Oh, God, don't get me started on the Combines' winning streak," Iris says, rolling her eyes. "My dad always preferred the Slashers, but Barry's practically the Combines’ biggest fan."
"Next to Len," Mick replies, also rolling his eyes. "I'd say we send them to a game, but they'd just treat that as a team-up against the evil fans from the other side."
"Indoors sounds good," Iris says. "Eddie and I have an apartment - used to be Barry and mine, yes, awkward, I know -"
"I don't think either Barry or Len know the meaning of the word."
"Fair point. How do we get enough food?"
"I'll cook some and we'll take-out the rest," Mick decides. "We can do an all-day date - lunch, movie, dinner, game."
It is great. Mick's not a shabby cook, if he does say so himself, and Barry is appropriately complimentary while also chowing down avidly on both homemade stuff and take-out.
His appetite is impressive.
Len, of course, eats like a starving child who is half-bird, half-trash compactor. He's so incredibly finicky about it that you almost don't notice how the food disappears like it's being sucked into a vacuum.
The conversation about the food is also good as an ice breaker, since they immediately start comparing favorites and suggesting the other try something.
Barry also ends up pitching the benefits of a certain brand of ice cream for nearly fifteen minutes before he gives up and runs out to get some, as well as some of the brand Len had been defending, so that they can have a taste test.
(They end up settling on a tie. There's just no winner between the Ultimate Dark Chocolate Night and the Honey Milk Cookie Dough options, but they all agree that no one is a loser, either. Especially the four of them with their bellies full of delicious ice cream.)
They pick Aliens for the movie and spend half the time pausing it to talk about Kara and the Kryptonians or the Dominators and come up with even more implausible scenarios.
"Are they being racist?" Iris asks. "Or xenophobic?"
"No," Mick says. "Given that they seem mostly in favor of meeting aliens."
"Did you really nearly marry a Kryptonian queen?"
"She was more of a warlord, but yeah. Long story."
"I want to hear more about Len being a god."
They also spend a good portion of the day constructively critiquing each other's fighting styles.
Mick and Iris spend a lot of time exchanging long-suffering looks.
"You can take the superhero out of the field..."
"But he won't stop talking about it?"
"He's my best friend," Iris says. "But at this point, I almost want him to restart that supernatural blog of his just to have some variety."
"I've been looking at that! It's - well -"
"He was such a dweeb."
"What do you mean, 'was'?"
"Could be worse. You ought to see Len during shark week."
"He likes shark week? Really?"
And, of course, the piece de resistance - the Combines game.
Nothing makes people bond like abruptly transforming into shrieking maniacs howling death threats at the referee for ninety minutes or so. Apparently.
"I don't even want to know what happens next World Cup," Mick says to Iris.
They both very pointedly try to ignore Len and Barry, who have finally given in to the urge to do something about the overwhelming sexual tension that lingers around them like a thick miasma. Apparently, getting into the spirit of the game helped them overcome their inhibitions - Barry had grabbed Len and kissed him when the final bell had rung and the Combines declared winners, followed by a momentary pause, staring into each other's eyes, followed by the passionate making out currently happening - which, really, was all for the best.
"Should we interrupt?" Iris asks Mick in a murmur. "They're still in the courtship stage. It’s too early to let them hop into bed together; we don’t even have a first draft contract or a letter of intention signed."
Mick reaches into his bag and pulls out two water guns.
"Mick Rory, if I weren't about to become engaged myself, I'd ask you out right here and now," Iris says, beaming.
Len and Barry make sounds not unlike yowling cats when they get hit with water.
"Down, boys," Iris says, grinning. "Save some for date two."
"Will there be a date two?" Barry asks hopefully, still flushed red with exertion and excitement.
"Definitely," Len says before Mick can answer. "Even if I have to break into a bank to get your attention, Scarlet."
"Wouldn't be the first time you've done that," Barry shoots back, regaining his cockiness.
"And you just happen to wander by Saints and Sinners on a regular basis, huh?"
"I'm just keeping a close eye on my nemesis," Barry says in a way that might be convincing if he wasn't leaning in, eyes locked on Len's, and his voice going a little breathy. "Never know what trouble you might be getting into."
Len's leaning forward, too. "Keep your friends close and enemies closer, huh? We might make a proper villain out of you one day..."
Iris squirts them with the water gun again. "Guys?" she says when they look at her, blinking the water out of their eyes. "Superhero-supervillain roleplay is a third date thing, at earliest."
They both pout.
Mick rolls his eyes and takes Len home.
"So," Len says when they get home. He's been practically vibrating in his seat. "What's your verdict?"
Mick doesn't answer, just heads inside.
"Mick?" Len calls, starting to frown. "Not good? Do we need to go back to the pool? I thought the dates went well..."
Mick goes to the phone.
"Heya, Spears?" Mick says into the handle. "I think you can focus the deep dive on Barry Allen exclusively. We'll be opening negotiations next week."
Of course, that doesn't mean it's over.
Not by a long shot.
Mick and Iris supervise two more dates to be sure - Iris takes to menacing them with a spray bottle - but they both agree that prospects look pretty damn good.
Mick may have destroyed the multiverse by introducing Ivy and Kara, as well as Selina and Alex, but oh, well.
(Alex keeps shutting her eyes and murmuring "I have a girlfriend - I have a girlfriend" passionately, while Selina purrs, "Do you now? I'd love to meet her" at her.)
"I'm ready when you are," Iris tells him at the conclusion of date three (superhero-supervillain team-up against an invasion of subterranean mole-men; Mick's not asking).
"Yeah," he says. "Let's do this thing."
They meet at Jitters as neutral ground.
"We need a booth all day," Iris says apologetically. "But we'll order lots of coffee!"
"It's a marriage negotiation," Mick tells them.
Their expressions brighten immediately. "Take all the time you need. Back corner's all yours - we won't seat anyone near you guys."
Mick and Iris settle in, each armed with a giant pile of paper.
"So," she says.
"So," he agrees.
"You want to start with traditional stuff - living situation, kids, etc. - or esoteric?"
"Normally I'd say traditional," Mick says. "But I figure we ought to get the elephant out of the way, yeah?"
"Agreed. So: super-heroics are non-negotiable."
"Supervillainy is, too, and I'm counting regular old stealing in that. That going to be a moral no-go zone?"
"Nah, Barry knows who he's dealing with. He'll want some ability to veto some of the things Len does, though, if it's unconscionable."
Mick nods. He'd figured as much. "I'm willing to grant a limited number of vetoes for acts of supervillainy or theft in exchange for an equal number of vetoes for acts of heroic martyrdom."
"Done," Iris says. "I would pay money for a few of those myself."
Mick laughs. "I wouldn't say no stopping some of Len's dumber ideas either."
"No kidding. Okay. So. We want to formalize the agreement of no killing."
"No unreasonable killing."
"I don't know -"
"Okay, okay. No unreasonable killing."
"On both sides. Len hates it when people bring the heat."
"Barry doesn't kill people!"
Mick stares at her.
"...okay, I'll put in a provision."
"No illegal prisons, either," Mick says.
Iris doesn't even argue that one.
"We're gonna need to have a yearly - maybe quarterly? - minimum superhero-supervillain fights," Mick says. "Len's pretty possessive; he'll get pissy if Barry decides to focus exclusively on some other threat."
"Yeah, no, I agree. Barry got really sulky when Len went off with the Legends. He'll want to provide for that. Of course, he'll also want a guaranteed number of team-up requests, too, ones that override whatever else is going on..."
"Agreed. But going both ways - if Len needs Barry for a heist or a prison break, he can call on him and get reliable assistance."
Iris hums. "Yeah, makes sense. Maybe we should make the team-up override thing subject to mediation? If there's some request for assistance and they're having difficulty agreeing, they appeal to a neutral third party."
"Sounds reasonable. Better make the third party someone of flexible morality, though, so neither of them feel cheated."
"Makes sense. We can serve in that role to start, and I'll leave a blank for the mediator that we can fill it in later."
"Okay, good. Anything else on the superhero-villain spectrum?"
"Hmmm - oh, I know. A list of no-go team-ups. Heroes Len doesn't want Barry associating with, villains Barry doesn't want Len dealing with."
"Who're you thinking?"
"Fair. Put it in. But we'll need an exception for duress - mind-control, brainwashing, it's a past version, etc."
Iris nods, both of them adding it to their notes.
"Oh, yeah," Mick adds. "Same vein - timeline adjustments to be discussed in advance for potential consequences. Applicable to both of them."
"Oh my god, agreed! So very much agreed!"
"I don't suppose you've signed a letter of intent yet," Len asks when Mick gets home after the third day of negotiations. Technically it's only a few hours a day, since Iris can't take full days off of her job for it, since Mick isn't the most facile writer or reader, it always takes him the rest of the day to look over the clauses he's agreed to and their wording to make sure he hasn't agreed to anything dumb.
They haven't had to resort to a mediator yet, luckily; they've been able to resolve all the difficulties. As negotiations go, it's been going very smoothly.
Mick still gives Len an incredulous look.
"I know, I know, it's early days yet," Len says. "I just..."
"Want to get laid?" Mick suggests.
"Want to lock it down," Len says. He shrugs. "He's a superhero in his late twenties; I'm well above his age -"
"You're in excellent health, you're goddamn gorgeous, and you're brilliant, plus you have child rearing experience from raising Lisa," Mick says flatly. "You've got solid assets, including multiple real estate holdings, and no criminal record -"
"Because I blackmailed him into deleting 'em."
"Either way, it's gone," Mick says. "Sorry, buddy. You're a catch. He, on the other hand, is a compulsive liar with boundary issues and a total inability to be punctual to anything, difficulty making friends, and is very nearly a big as nerd as you."
"He's a good person."
"Yeah," Mick says. "With a martyr complex." He pins Len with a glare.
"And I don't have that because I've worked out any martyrdom out of my system," Len recites. "I promise, Mick. No more Oculus."
"You sound like a tough negotiator," Len says. "Do try not to be too tough. I do want to get married eventually."
"You think I'm tough, you haven't spent a few hours going head to head with Iris West."
"That'll be fun," Len says with a faint smirk. "Having her as a sister-in-law."
"Sure," Mick says. "Just like having Joe West as a father-in-law."
The smirk disappears.
"Do you have a preference in apartments?" Mick asks, dumping his bag on the desk. "We were discussing living quarters today - turns out Barry gave the one he bought for himself and Iris to her and Eddie when Eddie came back, so he's been crashing with Cisco."
"I have plenty of places," Len says. "He can move in any time."
"He can move in after you get married, you mean. But seriously, any preference?"
Len thinks. "Maybe the one on Willow?" he suggests. "That's a real house, not just an apartment - office, living room, the garage we've been using as a workstation, four bedrooms. That’s a good number, I think: one for us, one for you, one for guests, one for kids, at least until we need to expand. Plus it has that kitchen you like."
"It does have a good kitchen," Mick acknowledges. "I'll suggest it."
"That way you can cook for us," Len says happily.
"Of course," Mick snorts. That had been on today's discussion list - Iris had been very concerned when Mick had noted Len's lack of cooking skills. Barry apparently couldn't cook either.
"They're going to live on take-out," Iris had spent a few minutes moaning before Mick had assuaged her worries by explaining that he would do the cooking. It’s not like he hasn’t always been doing it for Len; yes, increasing the amounts for Barry would be a challenge, but Mick likes challenges.
Besides, it’s a good way to earn his keep.
"Speaking of food, what do you want?" Mick asks, thinking about what was in the fridge. "Also, when is next date night?"
"I invited him to dinner. Here! Just here."
Mick rolls his eyes and gets up to open the door, because he knows how Len operates. He yanks it open just as Barry, Iris beside him, lifts his hand to knock.
"Long time no see," Mick says dryly to Iris. "Don't your boyfriend miss you?"
"I wish," she sighs. "He's back on the force and he got picked to head a major investigation. He barely comes home to sleep - trying to prove he's still got it. You know how it is."
Mick nods and steps aside to let them in.
"We're doing take out," he announces. "I refuse to cook after I negotiated all day."
"What, don't want to show off your domestic skills?" Iris teases.
"I'm demonstrating the domestic skill of knowing when to yield," Mick shoots back.
"No need," Len says. "I've already ordered take out. In fact, it should -"
The doorbell rings.
"Your sense of timing is awesome," Barry says.
They're all lounging by the couch with boxes of high-quality Chinese on their laps when Iris says, "Were you serious about living with and cooking for Len and Barry once they're married?"
"Of course he is," Len replies blankly, sounding puzzled. "We've lived together off and on for - you know what, I'm going to just not do the math."
"Please don't," Mick agrees. "And yeah. Someone has to do the cooking, and it sure ain't Len."
Iris hums. "Not the most conventional approach nowadays," she says. "Not unheard of, of course. Barry?"
Barry shrugs. "They've lived together forever. Why break up something that works?"
Iris blinks for a minute, then shrugs. "Your marriage, your call."
Barry blinks at her. "If he doesn't get a room, he'll just crash on the couch most nights," he points out, not incorrectly. "I'm much more likely to trip over him that way. Besides, I'm sure we can find a place big enough."
"Len has several," Mick says dryly. "We always make sure they have a guest room for Lisa to crash in, too."
"Sure, I guess," Iris says, laughing a little. "Wouldn't be my style - no offense, Barry, I'm a if-you-live-in-my-house-you'd-better-be-in-my-bed sorta girl - but if you're all good with it, why not?"
Len, however, was stuck on other matters. "'Your marriage, your call?'" he parrots, indignant. "Do you actually get asked to make decisions like that?"
"No! El Dictator over there just tells me what's been decided and makes me object if I don't like 'em!"
"The question is," Mick drawls, "have you ever objected?"
Len wrinkles his nose. "Well, no," he says. "You know me really well. But it's the principle of the thing!"
Iris and Barry are laughing.
"Screw principle," Mick says cheerfully. "You're an impulsive unmarried sort, tradition says I'm supposed to decide for you."
"Definitely impulsive," Barry says, grinning. "No lie there."
Len pretends to sulk, but can't keep it up when Barry reaches over and idly lays a hand on Len's forearm.
Mick can tell from the set of Len's shoulders that he doesn't mind the contact, and from his face that he's surprised that he doesn't.
Mick grins. This is going to be a good marriage. He can feel it.
"Trips," Iris announces.
"Trips?" Mick asks, lifting his head from where he'd been resting it against the surface of the table. Negotiations suck.
To be more specific, funeral clauses suck. Mick gets a little touchy about discussions of Len's death, okay? He's had to go through that once.
On the bright side, he'd negotiated that the Flash team would engage in an extensive search process, up to and including time travel, to ensure that there was no way to rescue Len from whatever stupid stunt got his ass kicked this time before the funeral clause could go into effect.
"Yeah, trips," Iris says. She looks a bit queasy, too; talking about Barry's death was equally hard for her - she'd seen him live through his mother's murder (age 11), get hit by a bus (14), fall off a cliff (17), a bolt of lightning (24), a black hole (25), Zoom breaking his back (25), being strapped to an accelerator and trapped in the Speed Force (26), giving himself up to the Speed Force (27)...suffice to say, she was acquainted with Mick's trauma. Very acquainted. "We need something nice to discuss."
"Okay. Trips. You mean vacations?"
"Barry works too hard and never takes time off. We should fix that."
"We should. At least two vacations each year, minimum ten days, plus occasional weekend trips."
"That sounds great. Mandate use of the superhero network to cover Central so they're not tempted to come back?"
"Not just superheroes," Mick disagrees. "Len knows some supervillains that we could trust to keep an eye on the city till they come back."
"Hmm. How about we make that a joint efforts clause? That way they both have to work to make sure they're not going to break their vacation."
"They will anyway."
"Well, yes," Iris agrees. "But at least they'll try not to."
Mick nods and they add it in. “What about holidays?” he asks. “Len’s Jewish, Barry’s Christian, and we can’t leave out the Fourth of July.”
“On the bright side, we can split pretty evenly that way,” Iris says, tapping her pencil against her lips. “Christian holidays at Dad’s house, Jewish holidays with you guys – isn’t one of those holidays involve lighting something on fire?”
“Many of them,” Mick says happily.
“And American holidays we can split between the two. Even I’ve heard of your Fourth of July bashes, so you get that – how do you feel about Thanksgiving?”
“Fairly strongly, but we can bring our traditional foods to your house. Don’t care where it’s at.”
“Done, excellent. Memorial Day and stuff?”
"Oh, and speaking of trips, should we decide on where they go?" Mick asks. "Don't want them to cheat."
"At least 200 miles from Central?"
Mick snorts. "Your boy can run that in an hour or two."
Iris sighs. "Thoughts?"
"400 miles and no superhero team-ups as vacations; or they can get a hotel here and not leave."
Iris laughs, jotting it down. "Speaking of which - honeymoon?"
"An island," Mick says firmly.
"Why an island?"
"Harder to leave."
"Barry can run over water."
"For long distances?"
Iris pauses. "You make a good point," she concedes after a moment. "An island. Which one?"
There's a moment's pause.
"Not Lian-Yu," they both chorus, then dissolve into guffaws.
"After all, we do want them back eventually," Iris says, wiping her eyes.
"How about Atlantis?" Mick asks.
She gives him a look. "That's not a place, Mick."
"Heard it is in Earth-2."
"They can have their honeymoon on Earth-1, Mick. Otherwise they will have a dire world-ending emergency that they need to avert happening."
"Hn. I take your point. Okay."
Mick shakes his head. "We have a private island there," he says. "It's not really neutral ground."
"Barry's making a much better match than I am," Iris murmurs. "Private island - I should've looked closer at your real estate holdings."
"Probably," Mick agrees with a smirk. "The Phillipines?"
"Barry would try to get involved with politics. Hawaii?"
"Too hot for Len. Iceland?"
"Maybe. Might be too close by for Barry to resist running to Europe."
"Wait - New Zealand?" Mick gestures at the 'mutual interests' section of the contract, in which 'science fiction/fantasy books/movies/etc.' is featured heavily. "Lord of the Rings?"
Iris sniggers. "I'll bring it up as a possibility. Oh, speaking of too hot, we should probably go ahead and make a clause for how to deal with the inevitable fight over the thermostat..."
"And the accompanying puns."
"From both of them!"
"Okay, so we've covered living situations (Len's house), chore division (you cook, Barry cleans, Len does laundry), transportation division (you drive since neither Barry nor Len can drive and in return Barry is willing to be used as a bus service for a limited number of times per week), income management (Len because he's apparently an accountant in his spare time, who would've thought), pets (Barry’s turtle in the main area, Len’s stray cats out back), expected job prospects (continuing where they left off) -" Iris lists off.
"Speaking of, you applied to the CCPD for the morality waiver yet?" Mick asks.
"It's not a morality waiver," Iris scolds mildly. "It's a certification that his marriage to a person of interest and possible felon - but for a very well-timed deletion of his criminal record - won't affect Barry's CSI work."
"And yes, we've applied. Should we discuss kids?"
"I think they're all but settled on two, with the possibility for three, to be raised mixed Jewish-Christian."
"Yeah. Adoption or surrogacy can be left to their determination."
"It won't happen in the first two years anyway," Mick agrees. "They need to stabilize their marriage before starting in on kids. Think we can get Kara to have the kids?"
"You just want toddlers with heat ray vision."
"Hell yeah. And freeze breath and superspeed, don't forget."
"...I'll put her on the list of potential options. Barry'd like a kid that inherited his speed and Len's eyes."
"Plus Len's bone structure," Mick says. "He's pretty."
Iris snorts. "You think everyone is pretty."
"About Len? Definitely not. Len's the prettiest Flash supervillain."
"His competition is a gorilla," Mick points out.
"Some people are into that," Iris replies with a straight face.
They both dissolve into sniggers.
"But seriously," Iris says, wiping her eyes. "What next? Null clauses? Standard ones like abuse, of course, whether verbal, economic, sexual or physical -"
"Brainwashing, pheromones, past self, seducing someone for a job, seducing someone for the greater good -"
"Right. Unreasonable infidelity it is. Is that a dissolution clause?"
"Maybe just a mandatory marriage counseling one. And consented-to acts outside the marriage doesn't count, of course."
"Naturally. Anything else?"
"Let's go over the standard set and see if we find anything to add. Oh, speaking of sexual, we should probably get that one out of the way."
Iris makes a face, but she pulls out a new folder. "I got Barry to fill out The 13b."
Mick chokes down a laugh. Iris is referring to the infamous 'sexual practices' form - notorious among middle-schoolers going into their first set of real home-ec classes - with the bewildered awe of someone who has actually had to read the notoriously over-inclusive form.
It had initially started out very conservative, of course, primarily concerned with ensuring that proper young ladies weren't required to engage in any unseemly acts by their new husbands, particularly after the growth of freely available pornography.
Then there had been a landmark court case brought jointly by a couple who had been obligated by their over-protective guardians to agree to virtually no relations at all and an asexual couple which had been given what they considered to be excessively high sexual interaction minimums by their own well-meaning guardians; that case had resulted in the right of all individuals, including minors, to fill out the form themselves and for more options to be added in, rendering it more flexible.
And then the next case had been brought by a couple who practiced BDSM who claimed that their marriage process was negatively impacted and stigmatized by being forced to negotiate alternative sexual agreements outside of the form...
In the end, Form 13(b) had ballooned from a discrete three-page form to a mammoth thirty-page questionnaire which provided the vast majority of middle-school aged kids with their first real introduction to alternative sexuality options beyond what they had been taught in sex ed.
"Len filled one out too," Mick says. "Though I revised it to account for his sarcasm and occasional denial."
Iris grins. "Yeah, me too. Barry's too embarrassed to put some things to paper, which is just ridiculous. This is a marriage contract! If you don't put down the truth, you'll just end up having two years of sex you don't like."
Mick solemnly offers up his fist for a fist-bump, which Iris gleefully returns. "This is gonna be fun."
"Hell yes. Now, to start - are you aware that Barry can vibrate on cue?"
"I'd guessed," Mick says, smirking.
Iris smirks back. "So I was figuring we would put in a clause about keeping each other satisfied and leave the exactly frequency to their discretion -"
“Oh, I like that. What about acceptable nicknames?”
“In public, in private, in bed...”
“I like the way you think. Oh! Costumes!”
“What about them? Obviously they’re going to be permitted to wear ‘em to bed.”
“Obviously. But, like, can they wear each other’s or would that be too confusing?” Iris waves her pencil around. “Would they want to?”
“You telling me that Barry Allen has never wanted to play the villain?” Mick asks skeptically.
Iris sniggers. “See the 13(b) for the answer to that,” she replies. “But wouldn’t he be more of a speedster villain to Len’s Captain Cold good-guy?”
“You know what,” Mick says. “We should include a provision that they need to order their own sex toys, and that includes specialty costumes from Cisco.”
“He should’ve thought of that before becoming the super-tech distributor of Central City. What about carrying?”
“Carry provisions? I don’t think they’re bringing anything into the marriage that wouldn’t already be covered…”
“No, no, literal carrying. If Barry grabs Len for transport, bridal style is right out unless Barry’s got a real good life-saving reason for it. And if Len ever needs to carry Barry…”
“Yeah, Barry hates ‘sack of potatoes’; he’s more of a piggy-back man.” Iris pauses, then buries her face in her hands. “You know what, let’s go back to the sex talk, that’s somehow less embarrassing than this…”
Of course, not everything is sunshine and roses and really bad sex jokes.
When Iris doesn't show for that day's negotiating session - and it's warranties and wedding day, which she's been looking forward to - Mick assumes the worst and heads over her way, heat gun in tow.
He arrives at the West household only to hear a screaming fight going on inside.
One of the voices is Iris, at least; that's good. Mick was going to assume 'kidnapped' otherwise.
Still, yelling at Iris.
That's just rude.
He jimmies the lock - Len's not the only one who knows how - and lets himself inside.
"- I cannot believe you!" Joe West is shouting. "You can't be arranging a marriage for Barry, you're not even married yourself -"
"And who's fault is that?!" Iris shoots back.
"Married status hasn't been a requirement for a best man since 1972 -" Barry starts.
"Not now, Barry! And don't think you're off the hook - what the hell were you thinking?"
Mick wonders for a moment if he ought not to show himself. If West's objection is that Barry's getting married without permission at all...
"And really, Leonard Snart of all people?!"
Nope. He's upset about that too.
"I cannot believe you two would do something this stupid. You have no idea what that man is capable of -"
"Uh, I kinda do?" Barry interrupts. "I have fought him before."
Not helping, Barry.
"Not helping, Barry," Iris hisses.
Barry crosses his arms stubbornly. "He's a good man," he says.
"He's a thief, a liar, and a murderer!"
"There's good in him, Joe. He doesn't kill any more, he has a code now -"
"I don't care! You don't understand the dangers you're putting yourself in for, with this monster -"
Hey! Mick is totally the monster of their little duo.
"- who's trying to come in and take advantage of you, of both of you, trying to use your reputation as a hero -"
"He's marrying Barry Allen," Barry points out. "Not the Flash."
"Then as part of the CCPD! I bet he's weaseling in words to make you help him in his heists -"
"It's not like that," Iris says.
"It's exactly like that, Iris. You don't have the experience to negotiate a contract -"
"Better than not negotiating it at all," Iris says. "I should've let Barry be my best man for Eddie instead of agreeing to let you do it; maybe I’d be married by now."
"I'm just being cautious -"
"Oh, cautious, sure. You're so cautious, I'll die of old age first!"
"We're not talking about your relationship right now, Iris," Joe says sternly.
"We never are," she mutters.
"We are focusing on making sure Barry doesn't sign away his life to a criminal intent on abusing him!"
Joe had better not be implying –
"Len wouldn't do anything like that!" Barry protests.
"You didn't know his father, not more than for a few minutes," Joe says darkly. "Snart probably picked up every last trick in the -"
"Now that just ain't nice," Mick says, because marriage or no marriage, he doesn't let anyone talk about Len like that.
Joe starts when he sees Mick and has the shame to look a little guilty - clearly he hadn't intended for his little aspersions and innuendos to get back to Len - but he sets his face in hard lines. "What are you doing in my house?!"
"I'm here to pick up Iris," Mick says.
Joe snorts. "What, you? Don't tell me Snart got a thug like you to do his marriage negotiations. He'd be better off with a stranger off the street!"
"Nah," Mick says before Barry, whose face is turning red with affront, or Iris, who looks like she's going to throw something, can say anything. "He's got a sister. I'm here to propose a triad marriage to Iris."
Joe's jaw drops.
Barry's eyebrows go up.
Iris starts grinning like a maniac.
"I've been sitting in on Iris' negotiation sessions," Mick says solemnly, lying like a rug without uttering any untruth but the big one. Cops can smell ‘em if they’re small. "She's very impressive and we grew close. I figure, since she ain't actually contracted yet, it ain't too late to make my suit."
"She's going to be engaged to Eddie!" Joe shouts.
"Thus triad marriage."
"Sorry, Dad," Iris says insincerely. "I meant to tell you, but I just couldn't find a way."
"Yeah, right," Joe snorts.
"Ask Eddie," Mick suggests, noticing how Barry's hands have flashed for his own phone. "He'll confirm it."
"You know what, I will." Joe grabs the phone, dials. "Eddie - are you considering triad marriage with Mick Rory?"
"Uh," Eddie says, his voice tinny over the line. "Iris and I were trying to think of a way to bring it up..."
Eddie Thawne is clearly a good man who is very familiar with his beloved's sense of humor.
Barry flashes Mick and Iris to safety before Mt. Joe explodes for real.
As soon as they get out to the park, Iris bursts out laughing. "That was wonderful," she crows. "Oh, I hate to do it to him, but sometimes he really deserves it -"
"He didn't mean what he said about Len," Barry assures Mick anxiously. "He was just angry."
"It's fine," Mick says. "Unless you're having second thoughts?"
Barry's chin goes up. Stubborn, endlessly stubborn - one of his better traits, in Mick's mind. It meant he had a chance of keeping up with Len. "Oh, I'm definitely still in."
"Good," Mick says, and fishes out a piece of paper from his bag. "Then I think we oughta sign this."
Iris takes it. "A letter of intent? Really? Are we there yet?"
"I think we're there," Mick agrees. "We've been able to resolve or compromise most of the differences, and the remaining stuff is mostly frills and technical. Ain't the reason I'm pulling it out early."
"Barry's of age," Mick says. "But Lenny's a felon - well, alleged former felon - and there are plenty of things a cop can do to make trouble for him if he's too angry to think about the trouble he's making for Barry, too. Open an investigation, charge him with abetting -"
Barry makes a face. "As a CSI, I can't be courting someone currently under investigation."
"But you can if the letter of intent is already on file," Iris says, nodding with understanding. "Barry - I've shown you my drafts. We've gotten through a lot, but not everything is done, so if you're not comfortable signing -"
"You do get to get laid if you do sign," Mick points out.
The paper is signed in the time it takes Iris to slap the back of Mick's head.
"What? You saw Len's 13b! I want me some of that!"
Mick starts laughing. After a few seconds, the other two start in as well.
"I'm gonna call Len," Mick decides. "Then you'll see a streak of blue, I'd bet."
"Nah, he knows I'll come to him," Barry replies cheerfully.
"Barry Allen!" Iris exclaims, pretending to be shocked. "Have you been discussing it with your intended, you scandalous minx?"
Barry shivers blissfully. "Oh yeah. At length. His voice is...uh...something else. And that imagination…"
Iris sniggers again. "Well, now I'm really incentivized to finish negotiations," she says. "I can't wait to stop being your disapproving negotiator and go back to being your approving and interested best friend/confidante."
"I'll tell you everything," Barry promises.
"Lenny?" Mick says into the phone.
Len grumbles at him. He was in the middle of planning something, or something like that.
"Just giving you a heads up about a streak of light heading your way," Mick drawls. "Since we signed the letter of intent and all."
He can hear Len drop his pencil.
Mick grins evilly.
"Doesn't Len need to - oh, he's already signed," Iris observes. "Signed and notarized."
"Mardon's a notary," Mick tells her. "Yeah, yeah, I'm as surprised as you are."
"Why are you still talking?" Len demands. "Tell Barry to get his ass in high gear already!"
Mick conveys the message, but he's talking to empty air.
"We should probably finish the contract," Iris says.
"No issues with your dad?"
"He'll come around by the wedding."
The ceremony is lovely - Jewish, per Len's request, but with some traditional frills for Barry.
Mardon does a stellar job at keeping the weather good, the CCPD is on their best non-arresting behavior, and even though most of the audience thinks that the grooms have lost it, no one objects at any point.
(The large sign confirming the list of enchantments, mind-control, robotic clones, etc. that both grooms had been tested for helps, Mick thinks.)
The food is, even by Mick's standard, magnificent. The cake is -
Well, it may or may not be an eldritch horror of some variety, Constantine hadn't been willing to confirm one way or the other, but it's large and delicious.
The Waverider hovers above the venue and showers the happy couple with hypoallergenic flower petals in red and blue. This conveniently eliminates the need for flower girls or a wedding party, thereby eliminating a series of duels to the death that seemed likely to break out.
Iris and Mick do have the traditional false-duel between best men, though. Fun!
Iris also catches the bouquet that Len insists on tossing and grins wickedly at her fiancé and Mick, who are sitting together with Felicity and Oliver.
There's been a bit of a competition between the two of them as to which triad Mick would work better in. Mick's not objecting in the slightest.
They’re all very pretty.
Though, in fairness, he does think everyone’s pretty.
Kara shows up with a triad of her own, pleased as punch, and seems to be getting along ridiculously well with the delegation from Krypton Len had demanded (he is a god there) show up. Mick suspects they may be her parents.
All in all, it's a pretty auspicious start to a marriage.
Okay, yes, the mole-men attack again, but honestly, Mick was expecting something like that.