Chapter 1: Before Mick
Leonard Snart is cold. That’s what everyone said. Cold and other assorted descriptors: cool, calculating, reserved, and ruthless.
Len agreed that he was cold. He’d first felt the cold when he was four and his father had murdered his mother in front of him. The cold had been so intense he’d felt nothing else for weeks after, until it had faded into a constant numbness that had settled in the very center of his heart.
Over the years, he’d felt that numbness, that inescapable cold grow with every punch, kick, and word of abuse thrown his way. By the time he was eleven, Len thought he had lost all capability to feel, that the numbness had encompassed everything.
But, it turns out, that he felt a little spark of life inside him, a spark of life that drove him any time he thought, I want that.
The first time Len ever thought that, he was eleven years old and sitting in a jail cell. One of Lewis Snart’s plans had gone awry, and it had been Len who’d taken the fall.
Len had no doubt he’d be sprung by morning, what with his father’s old friends still on the force, but his presence there could have been avoided entirely. Lewis had once again failed to account for a minor detail – something Len had told him about – and the cops had nearly popped the whole crew.
Len knew his father wasn’t a very good criminal. Lewis only pulled heists because he believed they were easier than working an honest job. But Lewis didn’t appreciate the true skill required to plan and carry out a heist. The ability to find a and keep a loyal crew, to case a joint thoroughly, to craft the perfect plan, and, most of all, to be able to improvise when Murphy’s law inevitably comes into play, all those were skills Lewis lacked.
Len could do a better job than Lewis, he knew. Len thought about a future where he was better, a perfect criminal, and thought, I want that.
The second time Len ever thought those words were the day his baby half-sister came home from the hospital. He took one look at the tiny breakable child and imagined a future where she would be safe and sheltered from the kind of the abuse he had endured.
He imagined this, and he thought, I want that.
So he did everything he could. He picked pockets and shoplifted so he could give little Lisa food and make sure she had enough clothes to keep her warm through harsh winters. He fed her, and changed her, and comforted her while her mother turned to booze and drugs. He became her primary care taker after her mother died of an overdose when Lisa was just two and Len was fourteen. Len cultivated friends and gathered favors that he called in (in the form of babysitters) whenever Lewis demanded he run a job that would leave Lisa home alone.
He also protected her from Lewis. Len became the wall that Lewis had to go through if he wanted to hurt Lisa. When Lewis started to threaten Lisa to get Len to comply, he folded and did whatever his father wanted. Later, when Len was older, old enough to take care of Lisa on his own, he dropped a few hints and called in a few favors and got Lewis sent away for a long time, so that he wouldn’t be able to hurt Lisa for years and years.
When Lisa turned five, Len was the one who took her to school everyday, the one who helped her with homework, who called her in sick. He was the one who, for the next thirteen years, forged permission slips, attended PTA meetings, and gave Lisa advice on first friendships, and later, boyfriends.
When Lisa graduated high school, Len gave her a hug, a handful of college pamphlets, and a promise to pay for whatever school she decided on. She went off to college and away from, but not out of, his life. Len had a few people keep an eye on her, and knew at all times that she was safe and happy.
When Lisa, after years of hard work, received her masters in chemical engineering, Len made sure she found her way into a good workplace that treated her well. She kept in contact with him, and even helped him run a few heists, and Len knew she had turned out well.
After the time with Lisa, every time he thinks those words, I want that, it’s always the precursor to his next heist.
Over the years, Len had stolen countless paintings, gems, and other valuables, as well as millions in cash. His favorites he never sold, but rather kept in a vault that he visited from time to time. These favorites all spoke to him on a deep level, pieces such as: the Niarchos Diamond (nicknamed “The Ice Queen”); Hunters in the Snow, painted by Peter Bruegel the Elder; and the Fabergé Four Seasons Winter Egg.
All of which brought Len to this moment on his latest heist. Months of careful planning had gone into this heist, and all that remained was for Len and his crew to determine the personalities and shifts of the guards, to establish when best to strike.
The take wasn’t Len’s usual style: a painting by William Oliver entitled: Conflagration of the Tower of London on the Night. However, Len already had a buyer lined up, one who was promising a hefty sum.
It was Len’s turn to watch through the high-powered binoculars from the hotel room across from the museum. Len was wired from caffeine and the thrill of the crime, and he carefully observed and recorded notes about each guard.
The first guard he watched was a former police officer. Len didn’t have any trouble identifying the quirks and habits that marked him as such – he’d had plenty of practice with his old man and his cop buddies. It must have been a leg injury that had knocked him from the force, as he walked with a slight limp now.
The second guard was tall and had the feel of a man used to deskwork. He slouched, and had a habit of flexing his hands that spoke of years at a computer and the accompanying carpal tunnel. An easy target, Len noted.
He turned to look for the final guard.
That’s when he saw him. Him being one of the security guards for the museum. The guard was tall, broad, and pushed every one of Len’s buttons. He was loud and coarse to people, but when he was alone, he was quiet, often staring into the flame of his lighter. That was another thing Len noticed. The guard – a Mr. Rory, he noted – was something of a pyromaniac, taking every chance to be close to fire. Len understood that need, that obsession to be close to something so dangerous. It’s why Len never tried to leave behind his life of crime, even though he was injured more days than not.
It wasn’t like Len was unable to leave, either. He knew some people. People that could get him papers, get him documents, get him a history that would claim that Leonard Snart was a good boy from a good family who had graduated college and never gotten more than a parking ticket.
But Len didn’t want that. He may have been introduced to crime by his piece of shit father, but it was the one thing that Lewis Snart done that Len didn’t regret. Planning heists, getting scores, living outside the law- that was what gave Len life. It was the only thing that ever gave Len purpose, made him feel useful and not like the fuckup everyone claimed he was. Len was good at crime, and a life of crime was good to him. And Len wouldn’t stop stealing, not ever, not until he fell into the true cold of death.
So, Len understood obsession, which is why he watched Mr. Rory and thought, I want that.
Chapter 2: After Mick
Leonard Snart is as cold as ice. Ask anyone, and they’ll confirm it. Which is why Len can’t understand how Michael Rory melted his cool.
It started three nights ago when he first spotted Mr. Rory. He’d watched the man almost exclusively the whole night, which meant he saw everything. He saw Mr. Rory cup the flame from his lighter in his hand, breath stalled so as not to disturb the fragile flicker, and Len felt a spark. He saw Mr. Rory pause and appreciate the art hung in the gallery, even though he must have walked past the same pieces a thousand times, and Len felt a kinship to the man. He saw Mr. Rory confrontation with the senior guard – the one who’d clearly only ever had a desk job. He saw how the man belittled Mr. Rory without provocation, and Len felt protective.
Len’s only ever cared for one person before, and that was Lisa. He doesn’t understand why this random man, this man who plays with fire and who may protect priceless artwork but will never make enough to own it himself, Len looks at this man and doesn’t understand what it is that lights such a fire within him.
Over the next few days, Len watches and researches and learns everything he can about Mr. Rory. He discovers that Mr. Rory is actually Michael Rory, who has a sealed juvenile record of arson, but nothing after the time he turned eighteen. He learns Michael’s got a history of getting into fights, and winning those fights. He reads an article that describes Michael as a volunteer firefighter that claims Mr. Rory has an uncanny ability to predict how a blaze will spread. He learns that Michael lives alone and interacts only with others when he goes to work or to the bar. He also comes to realize that Michael is not only big and strong, but a fearsome fighter and not someone he would want to run into while executing a heist.
Which is the reason that Len’s crew explodes when he coolly informs them that it will be during Michael’s rotation that they grab the painting.
Len eventually gets his crew to agree to the plan provided that he is the one to deal with Michael. Len has no issues with this plan, and only put up a token protest in an attempt to mislead that this was, in fact, his plan all along.
On the night of the heist, things run like clockwork. No one is late, or drunk, or high when it comes time to make their move. The alarm is disabled, and the crew moves stealthily through the building towards the target. Once there, Len gets in to position while his crew begin breaking through the security for the painting.
If all goes as planned, they should be in the building for no more than twenty-three minutes, which is just long enough that a guard will pass through their section. At seventeen minutes in, Len hears the heavy footfalls indicating Michael’s approach.
Len gulped as Michael’s huge form rounded the corner. The man was even more impressive in person. He wasn't much taller than Len, but he was much thicker, muscles cording his entire body. Len could feel this man's power and strength from several feet away.
There was a brief hesitation, then Michael’s gun was up in Len’s face.
“Put your hands up, now!”
Len complied, and smirked. Michael’s voice was deep and raspy, and he would gladly obey any orders given by that man in that tone, and told them man so.
Michael gave Len a once-over. “I’d definitely hit that, but I’m on the job. No offense – if I didn’t need the money I’d be all over you.”
“Well…I am in the market for a partner. I’m looking for someone I have chemistry with. What d’ya say, Michael?”
“It’s just Mick,” he grunted.
“Are you sure it isn’t Earl Grey? Because you look like a hot-tea.” Len’s face was deadpan, but his eyes smirked.
Mick’s eyebrows jumped. There were several seconds, then he said, “Are you cold? Because you can use me as a blanket.”
“Do you have a sunburn, or are you always this hot?”
“You must be a hell of a thief to have stolen my heart.”
“Call me snowflake, because I’ve fallen for you.”
“Is it Christmas, because you are just what I wanted.”
Len grimaced. “I’m Jewish, so that one doesn’t work.”
“I believe that you are Jewish” Mick paused and grinned. “Because you Israeli hot.”
Len snorted, cool composure lost. “Look, I’ve seen you do your rounds, and I’ve seen your obsession with fire. You’ve got knowledge of security, you’re big and strong, and you’ve got a way with fire. You just need direction. If you come with me, I promise to find you opportunities to create the most magnificent blazes. So, Mick. Are you in, or are you out?”
Mick chuckled lowly, giving Len chills. “Yeah, buddy, I’m in.”