After 1987 Washington, Ray was a hot mess and Mick was missing-in-action. Ray was more skittish than normal and after cornering him, she had to go get Mick's side of the story.
Sara found Mick in Leonard's favourite hiding place in the cargo bay. His back was plastered against the metal wall and knees pulled up.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
He was throwing Leonard's ball against the far wall and catching it on the rebound. He was wearing a faded grey Henley and cargo pants with scorch marks in the hem. The shirt was too tight, pulling across his chest, and Sara was pretty sure it was Leonard's.
She walked over and sat down next to the big man. Mick threw the ball again, but when it rebounded, her hand snatched it mid-air.
"You're scaring Ray," Sara said.
"Nothin' new," Mick growled and made gimme gestures with his hand. "Gimme the ball back."
"Let me rephrase that..." Sara tossed the ball from hand-to-hand. "You're confusing him."
"Death threats are pretty damn clear cut."
"That's not what I'm talking about and we both know it."
"I don't know what you're talkin' about, princess," Mick huffed.
"Call me princess again and see what happens."
Mick's response to the threat was a huffed snort. "That a promise? I could do with a good fight."
She bumped shoulders with him and smiled. "Getting rusty, Rory?"
Sara bounced the ball and, this time, Mick caught it on the rebound. Silence hung between them for several minutes as they continued to play this game. Back-and-forth.
"He's not Leonard," Sara finally said.
Mick snorted. "No shit."
He caught the ball and lobbed it particularly viciously against the wall. Sara caught it right in front of her nose. It's velocity would have broken her nose if she hadn't caught it. "You gave him the gun."
"It's not like that-"
"Then what's it like?" Sara asked.
"No one could replace Snart."
"Not like that," Mick snapped. The ball bulged in his hand as he viciously squeezed it in his fist. "Never like that."
"I don't think Ray understands that," Sara said. "He's confused."
"He's smart. Too smart."
"So smart he's stupid," Mick said. "Fuckin' eggheads."
"So was Leonard."
"He wasn't just smart," Mick said. "He was brilliant. A fuckin' genius."
"You like the smart ones."
"Just one smart one," Mick countered. "Haircut's different, but maybe, just maybe, his smarts remind me of Snart. But, that's where the similarities end."
"Not really," Sara said.
"How? Snart was nothin' like that boy scout."
"Under all that snark-"
"He was a criminal mastermind."
"Yeah, but we both know Leonard had a big heart."
"And, they're both pretty."
"Yeah, Lenny was easy on the eyes."
Sara wasn't going to draw attention to the change from Snart to Lenny, or the softening of Mick's hard expression. She also noticed Mick's hand slipped into his pocket.
"Let me see?" Sara asked.
Mick's lips drew into a thin line. He drew his hand out, his fingers so tight in a fist they were turning white.
"C'mon," Sara prompted.
Slowly Mick's fingers unfurled to display a ring. Leonard's pinky ring. It looked smaller then Sara remembered in Mick's big palm.
"Why aren't you wearing it?"
Leonard had claimed the ring wasn't a memento from his first heist with Mick, but rather a reminder that even the best laid plans go sideways. Sara knew differently.
"Don't fit," Mick said, his tone low and gruff.
"We could resize it."
"No." Mick shook his head.
"I know what he was to you." Sara shifted until she was pressed close to Mick. Mick was a widower.
"He was my partner."
She understood there was no word to truly encompass everything they were to each other. Partner was as close as it could get.
Partners in... crime... mayhem... family... love... saving the universe and all of time.
"He lied to me," Mick said. "He promised we would go together. We were still in juvvie 'n' he promised me we would go out in a blaze of glory. He loved Bon Jovi, but would never admit it. It was our song." Mick smashed his balled fist against the floor. "That fucker!"
Sara reached out and grabbed Mick's fist, still encasing the ring.
"He left me alone." Mick's deep voice cracked. "Why'd he have to be a noble fuck 'n' leave me alone? It was supposed to be me. You helped him."
The last part was an accusation, but it lack Mick's usual fire.
Sara caressed her fingers over the bleeding knuckles. "For the same reason he would've let you kill him on the floor of the holding cell."
"It wasn't supposed to end like this." The big man crumpled and Sara pulled him into an embrace. This was the first time since that awful day he had shown this kind of emotion.
"He loved you," Sara told him. "He gave me something before... the end. We both knew it was for you. Not just the ring."
She leaned over and kissed the top of his head. That was the catalyst. Mick broke into ugly, quiet sobs. Sara wasn't sure how long she held Mick while he mourned.
His head ended up her lap and she caressed his head in smooth calming strokes.
"He used to do this," Mick finally said, face hidden against her thigh.
"I know," Sara said. "I caught you that once."
"I miss him."
"No, you don't know. After everything... he forgave me. It wasn't the same as it was, but he was still my partner. I think about going out in that blaze of glory all the time."
"Ray told me about the bomb in '87. You scared him. Real bad. He said you seemed relieved instead of scared."
"I was. I wanna see Lenny again, but I don't out right off myself 'cause he hated that after his old lady did it. Figure it'll happen soon enough."
Mick nodded. "It'll be spectacular."
What could you say to a man beyond heart broken? To a man who was beyond lost and merely biding time?
"You'll go a Legend," Sara whispered.
"I won't take any of you with me. I'll go like Lenny. I'll save all your asses."
"You're staying because that's what Leonard wanted."
Mick grunted in agreement. "Got no where else to go. This ship... reminds me of him. It's want he'd wanted."
"And, you always did want he wanted-"
Sara kept up the gentle strokes.
"You tell anyone about this 'n' I'll kill you," Mick said, but leaned into her caress.
"I wouldn't expect any less," Sara responded. "Besides, I wouldn't admit to touching your ugly mug."
"I wanna kill you for kissin' him," Mick admitted. "Last kiss should've been mine."
"Leonard alway said you were a possessive bastard."
Mick half-chuckled and half-sobbed. "Sounds like Lenny. I am... was. He liked to flirt, but it didn't mean anything. He was mine. It was all a big game, either as part of a con, or, he was jus' bein' friends. He liked to get me riled up 'n' you-"
"I know he belonged to you. We were just friends. I promise."
"Don't need to promise. I know. He never really strayed. Not in prison, not when working a con, not when we were on the outs. Not ever."
Sara cuffed the back of Mick's head. "Despite your big talk, neither did you. I need to know if you're just playing with Ray, or-"
"Haircut needs a keeper."
"That's Mick-speak for a friend," Sara said.
"That's Mick-speak for, in need of protection."
"It ain't a lie."
"He's not like us," Sara agreed. "Just-"
"I know. Lenny used to get lost in his head, like Haircut. He'd forget to eat. Lenny was too scrawny when he was a kid, or would save the food for his sister," Mick said. "The prison head docs used to call it codependency. Said it wasn't healthy. Whatever it was, it was ours. Even his old man couldn't break us up. I thought I was lookin' for a new partner, but I'm not."
"Maybe just a friend?"
"Whatever," Mick muttered and sat up. "Just thought if he channelled Snart it might toughen him up a bit without the suit to protect 'im."
"He's lost people he loved, too," Sara reminded him. "I just know if he's a good influence on you, or if you're a bad influence on him."
"Definitely the last one." He used his sleeve to wipe across his nose. "Gonna get him drunk. Won't take much."
"Take advantage of him?" Mick snorted. "I don't like 'em so-"
"Lenny was pretty. Nah, Haircut is too-" Mick waved his hand in the air.
"Docile?" Sara asked with a raised eyebrow and half-smirk.
"Mmmm... yeah, Snart was bossy in every way. Liked to give orders. It was hot." Mick rubbed his hand over his head.
"I know 'Boss' was a pet name."
"'Cause he was bossy." Mick's smile was soft and sad. "He kept my demons under control."
"We'll find something for you to burn soon," Sara promised.
"Thanks. Hey, I know I'm not the only one who misses him."
Sara nodded. "He was a part of my team, my friend and there's no one half descent to play cards with."
Mick glanced at her sideways. "He let you win."
Sara punched his arm. "Like hell he did."
"I need beer," Mick suddenly blurted out. "Lots of beer. Too much chick flick shit going on."
"You wanna play cards? I'll even let you win."
"Won't have to," Mick said. "I suck at cards. That's why Lenny played with you."
"I see the mistake. You're gonna come back to my room, we'll drink some beers and play cards. That's an order."
Mick blinked and a little tension lessened from his shoulders. "Sure, Cap."