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Nice Place to Settle Down

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Mick settled in at the bar and ordered a whiskey. The cute barkeep set it in front of him and turned to another customer. Mick knocked back the shot and let it burn down to his stomach. He felt the tension in his shoulders slightly relax. Only slightly. He was still wanted for the heists he'd been forced to pull by the gang that called themselves the Time Masters. Pretenious pricks. They'd rescued him when he'd been abanonded by his previous gang with no horse, no food, and no water, with summer at its worst and weeks away from the nearest town, and due to that, considered that they owned him.

Mick refused to be owned by anyone, and had blown up their hideout on his way out of town.

"You're new here," a voice said to his left. He turned and took in the dark skinned young woman in breeches and a shirt, gun belt on her waist. He grunted and turned back to the bar.

"Not interested." The barkeep set a new glass in front of Mick, giving the woman a look. She shook her head.

"Not asking," she told Mick. "I just like to check up on all newcomers to Central City. especially ones whose posters are in my office," she added. Mick turned again, this time seeing the star pinned to her shirt. Sheriff. Huh.

"I'll move on tomorrow," he told her. He didn't want a fight, but he was tired of sleeping rough on the ground. A night in a decent bed would hold him until he found someplace else to settle.

"Sounds fair," she said. "I'll be making sure of it." She glanced at the barkeep, who was hovering nearby, wiping out a glass. "You coming to Joe's for dinner, Barry?"

The man shook his head at her. "Can't. Rip up and quit last night, something about going bounty hunting with Hex. Got no one to cover for me. Unless you're willing to offer up Eddie."

"Not a chance. I need my chief deputy. I could send Amaya."

"She brings Nate, and he starts lecturing the drunks. Nate's the school master," Barry said, turning to Mick. "His wife Amaya is one of Iris' deputies, as is Eddie Thawne, who is also Iris' husband."

"I'm Iris, in case you hadn't figured that out," the sheriff next to him said. "Iris West. And that's Barry Allen, owner of this fine establishment." The barkeep grinned at Iris' words, lighting up his face. Damn, he was cute.

"Mick Rory," he grunted.

"Well, Joe will be disappointed, but he'll understand. I'll see you at breakfast then," Iris said, picking up her hat and putting it on, striding out of the saloon.

"Never seen a woman as sheriff before."

"Last sheriff nearly got killed taking out Eobard Thawne, local bank robber and all around degenerate. He quit, and Iris was the only one to step up. Brought on Sara and Amaya and promoted Eddie. She's been good for the town." Barry looked troubled as he spoke, and Mick wondered what the reason was, until he saw how stiffly the barkeep moved. Like he'd been shot and patched up badly.

"Central worth sticking around?" Mick found himself asking, not sure why.

Barry looked over at him and shrugged. "If you're wanted, better check with Mayor Snart first before staying. He prefers not to have trouble in his town. If he's good with it and you need a job, I know Wally over at the livery is hiring. I need a new barkeeper and cook, too."

Mick perked up at that. He'd cooked before, and was told he was pretty good at it, when he'd infiltrated a hotel where the Time Masters had been planning a massive heist. That had gone downhill when their intel was wrong, but Mick had a following of the guests before he was done. "I can cook."

Barry eyed him, then jerked his head to a set of bat wing doors just next to the bar. "Kitchen's that way. Mayor and his sister will be here for dinner in a hour with her eccentric boyfriend. If you can make something decent enough for them, you're hired."

"No pressure, huh?" Mick stood, finishing his latest drink.

"None at all," Barry replied with a grin that made Mick wonder what he tasted like.

Three hours later, Mick had the job, the approval of the mayor, his postmistress sister, her eccentric boyfriend, and both of the town's doctors, along with a room next to Barry's above the saloon.

An hour after that, he had the cute barkeep in his bed, and realized he was screwed, because he did not want to let this man go.

Hell, Central City seemed like a decent place to settle. Maybe it was time stay somewhere. At least for as long as Barry was willing to have him.