“Seriously? Less than a dollar? You didn’t even have to wait half an hour, and the best you can do is 56 cents? Fucking bastard” Mick stomped back to his truck, flicking his fingers as he passed the inflated snowman. If the guy hadn’t tipped, he might just not realize how poorly drivers get paid, but change was just an insult. Reaching his truck, Mick turned, smirking to see the shitty tipper hadn’t yet noticed the flickering light cast by the now-flaming snowman in his front yard.
He stood staring at the way the flame licked up, finding purchase, climbing to engulf the thin plastic. It danced and wavered, feeding off the fibers and drinking in the oxygen around it. He should go. But it was so beautiful, revealing the melted, ugly sham of a thing the snowman truly was. He should really go.
“If you wait much longer, they’ll catch you again and call you an arsonist. You need an alibi for these things.”
Mick laid a hand on the worn hood of his truck, then sighed and turned away. He had finally spent enough time with Len that the man’s icy remarks came unbidden into his mind. Sure, it had saved him a bit of trouble here and there, but it was still annoying as hell. It didn’t matter here anyway; arson fit nicely in with this neighborhood’s history of muggings, assault, among other crimes. It allowed Mick’s outbursts a safe cover, and really, that house should have learned from the Great Pumpkin Smashing of 2014.
Clambering back into the complaining truck, Mick pushed the clutch down and got back into the rhythm of driving. He should probably be giving his truck a tune-up soon, but he’d have to wait until Thursday, when he actually had the time to think about crap like that. Ugh. He hoped Mercy wouldn’t be too busy so he could just pop in to an extra stall in her shop and fix it. Not that he minded when she dragged him off into her side projects or on a particularly tricky fix, but it did kind of distract from the whole fixing-his-own-damn-truck thing.
The engine slowly turned over, then roared to life, accompanied by the call of “Tooo hot? HOT DAMN! Call the poooolice and the fiiireman.” He grinned as he pulled away, flames dancing in his eyes and rearview mirror.
Next delivery was 5 minutes away, less if Mick cared a little less for traffic laws than was strictly necessary. He generally enjoyed running doubles; it saved time, made more money, and meant that they were having a busier night [or at least couple of hours]. However, this run was set up specifically to distract him, and Mick resented that a great deal.
It made sense. Of course it made sense. They wanted to protect their ovens and not make the store smell like burning hair or skin. But the heat had been so enticing, and where there was heat there was a fire and it felt so good.
“Oh my god, Mick, Mick, are you okay?”
“Help me get him away.” Slap. “Mick! Hey! Look at me. We need to take you away from the fire-“
Afterward, of course, they chalked their behavior up to keeping him “safe”, but fire revealed true selves, and if that hurt, it just meant the fire was doing its job. It was working.
“NO! Let me- It needs to show me-“
“No, Mick. This is who you are. Right here. Remember?”
Mick shook his head. Barry worried too much. And Len…well, Len was a meddling, interfering, cold son of a bitch. Who managed to cool Mick down, keep him from being killed or arrested, and got him a job he could keep. He was frustrating and insufferable. Also kind of perfect. Sigh.
Alright, passing Beverly St. It should be up here pretty quick on the left, as long as their numbering was accurate. And if there was one thing you could count on as a pizza delivery driver– no, strike that. If there were three things you could count on as a pizza delivery driver, it was that 1-the people never know what they actually wanted, 2-the roads are always worse than you think they are, and 3-the numbering was never consistent. But hey, he had a steady job that didn’t completely make him want to kill everyone [any more than usual], and he got to work with Len. So that was good.
He leaned over the lack of a center console to check the ticket wedged under the pizzas on the passenger seat. Nope, it definitely said 342 Porter Street. Dammit.
Mick leaned forward, checking for any cops on the icy roads. Not a soul in sight. Excellent.
He executed a perfect 3-point turn [as usual], then sped down the opposite direction. He had gotten the North and South mixed up again; an easy fix, but a frustrating one. Going the wrong way was alright, but he hated going back down the same road he had been flying down a moment before.
Mick glanced down 9th Ave and took distinct pleasure in the fire truck he saw racing down it, no doubt going to put out the melted snowman. He chuckled, then reached over to change the station. There was only so many times he could listen to the same damn jingle about the same damn mattress place.
-outside is frightful, but the fiiiire is sooo delight-
-a cheerleader, she is always right th-
-just shut up and dance with me! *musical interlude*
There. Something decent. With a good beat. Mick glanced around. No one around, no one to see him definitely not singing along.
Alright, heeere it was, on the right hand side, house 342. Looked like it was a party too, given the number of vehicles outside the house and the noise level. It wasn’t a particularly large house, just a normal green two story, but what made it really remarkable were the reflective, silver numbers and the porch light. On any given house, you can get one of three on Front Door Roulette: legible house number, well-lit porch, or a working doorbell. Two out of three was just beautiful, and near-guarantee that the doorbell wouldn’t work. But that was okay, Mick preferred knocking anyway. You never knew the kind of sounds people set as their doorbells...
Mick backed into the house next door for a quicker getaway; you never knew when someone would need some fire on their lawn. Well, need is a strong word. He engaged the parking brake and hopped out, feet nearly skidding out from under him on the ice. In retribution for almost making him fall, Mick let out a little burst of flame at the ground, melting a 3 foot circle around where he leapt out of the truck. He looked ahead at the snowy yard, then back down. Well, fuck it.
Mick turned back, grabbed the pizza and slips, balancing them on his left his arm. He turned back and growled at the offending snow. A jet of flame burst from his right hand, calming into a steady blaze that made short work of the foot or so that had managed to accumulate. Heh. He’d show that damn snow.
Hesitating on the front step, he decided to leave any further fire-shenanigans until this- he glanced at the order name on his slip- Ben person turned out to be decent or not. Len couldn’t really argue with punishing shitty tippers with fire, could he? Mick was sure Len had left some porches significantly icier after the notorious less-than-a-dollar tippers. And he had been bragging about freezing that one lady’s door shut after she didn’t give him more than the cat hairs from her bathrobe. Yeah, punishment-arson should be fine. Plus, it gave him a reason to look forward to hating bad tippers, because hey, who doesn’t love a good fire?
Mick trudged up the two steps and into the pond of light on the front porch. He reached for the doorbell, almost daring to hope –
Nope. It didn’t work. Ah well, best two out of three anyway. He rapped firmly on the door, then stood back and waited. Mick glanced down, admiring the “ Welcome to Bag End” mat and realized that this ‘Ben’ was probably a huge nerd. There was some scrambling behind the door, a “just give it to me!” and a thunk.
Finally, the door creaked open, the noise from the party spilling out onto the porch. A woman in a not-so-carefully-slung blanket slumped against the door, failing to hide how little clothing she was wearing underneath the Black Widow blanket. Between the disheveled black hair, glistening russet, reddish-brown skin, abundant curves, and distracted glances into the next room, she felt to Mick like embodied fire. “Yeah?” Another dismissive glance to the next room. “What’s the password?”
“Uhm, pizza? I’m looking for a Ben…”
“Oh” She looked him up and down properly for the first time; it felt a bit like an x-ray. A dismissive x-ray with a lip piercing. Fun. “Yeah, well…” She squinted behind the door. “I don’t actually know anyone’s name here…I’ll go see if I can find him?”
She ducked back inside before Mick could get out an “Okay, thanks.” As a delivery driver, he expected some pretty weird shit, so the mostly-nude woman wasn’t a big surprise. But…huh. He sniffed for a moment. No pot. No discernable mind-altering substances. Actually, it smelled like sex. But she didn’t know “anyone’s” name? So there was more than one male-oriented person inside. Okay. So...orgy?
A naked man flashed past the open doorway, handcuffs dangling from both wrists and one leg. Yep, orgy. Hey, Len might like that…he’d been in a bit of a mood lately [more than usual], probably because of how much he’d been sneaking around with Barry. They tried to keep it quiet, but with ice to the dick the Flash sound one hell of a lot more like Black Canary... Since Len had nixed the “setting Barry on fire” idea, scene-ing with random strangers was the next best plan.
Someone started yelling from inside the house. Probably the woman who had answered the door. “Hey. Hey! BANANA!” Oh look, an orgy with a group safe word; that’s extra nice. Yeah okay, this would be a fun place to hang out. Mick wondered idly whether they accepted voyeurs in their groups…Len could probably find out for him. He was getting awfully used to relying on Len for things. And it wasn’t all bad. Hell, it wasn’t even mostly bad. Maybe it was actually good? Ugh…
A disarrayed man in boxers and wool socks slid into view, stumbling to a slippery stop and grabbing onto the doorframe for support. For a moment, he was all elbows, struggling to stay upright, and his mop of sandy hair almost hid a flash of the white, miscolored tuft at the front. Regaining his balance allowed Mick a more arduous study of the freckled skin, lean and ill-defined stomach, and weirdly-charming, very crooked nose. “Ben?”
“Uh, yeah, sorry about that. Got a bit, heh, carried away. Anyway, pizza?”
“Yeah, 38.56. Sign here?” Ben took the credit card slips clipped together with a pen, leaning against the doorway to scribble down a tip. Mick distractedly allowed his gaze to sweep down, taking in the pronounced hip bones, vaguely muscled calves, the treasure trail leading down to that friendly little bulge…
“Here.” Mick looked up to see the man holding out the slips, an amused grin on his face. “Likin’ whatcha see?”
Mick felt his skin heat up; he would be blushing if his complexion allowed for it. “I, uh…” Mick wasn’t used to people flirting with him. Well, Barry had tried that one time, and what Len did didn’t really count, he was so straightforward about it. There had been that girl at that bar that one time, but then he just set her drink on fire and made her giggle. Somehow he didn’t think [more] arson was the answer at the moment. He grabbed the slips, trading them for the pizza boxes. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to-“
Mick hesitated as Ben began to chuckle. “Dude, it’s fine. Hey, come back after your shift if you like what you see” He winked. “We’ll be here all night.”
Yep, okay, definitely coming back here with Len. This was too good not too. Oh, he should probably check, “Is it alright if I bring a…a friend along? And how do you feel about fire?”
“Yeah, sure hun, whatever makes you feel better. And, for the record,” he leaned in conspiratorially “I love fire.” Ben lowered his gaze, taking in the broad shoulders hiding behind the Super Speedy’s polo. The same polo that completely failed to hide the muscled detail of Mick’s arms, ending in those perfectly capable, all encompassing hands. His thick legs, straining against the discreet black slacks. Ben inclined so close it was a wonder he wasn’t falling over, eyes wandering back up to caress the stern jaw, close-shaved skull, the ears that stuck out just enough, voice tainted with a hint of longing. “Password is tribble, safe word is ‘banana’,” a cute, small chuckle, “though you probably already guessed that. See you later.” He winked again, then closed the door almost all the way.
Mick turned around, still dumbstruck by his encounter, slowly moving off the porch, towards his truck. Okay, yep, that guy was definitely flirting with him. And he was so coming back here after his shift. With or without Len. Mick peeked over his shoulder to double check he remembered the house number and almost fell over himself with surprise when he saw Ben still standing there, watching him walk away. Checking out his ass. It felt kind of…. nice .
Ben flashed another grin, barely discernable through the once-again-falling snow, before the manacled naked man from before poked his head over his shoulder. Getting distracted, Ben turned his head to begin kissing the other man, slowly shutting the door as they got more engrossed.
342 Porter Street . Turning back and taking one more deep stride, he yanked open the complaining door, and looked at the slip in his hand before hopping into the truck. Ten dollars. Wait. Ten dollars?! Fuck, man. This was totally worth being banned from the ovens.