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Couple caveats:
1) I find this season's treatment of Mick to be very disturbing so consider this an expression of catharsis
2) I've never written Leverage before, and
3) I actually never got around to watching the final season of Leverage
Hopefully this remains an enjoyable fic despite all that.

Title: The Arsonist Protection Job
Fandom: DC TV, Leverage
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 3976
Characters: Mick, Eliot, Parker, Hardison, minor appearances by everyone else
Summary: Following Holding On by nirejseki. After Eliot makes good on his promise of getting Mick away from the Legends, he, Parker and Hardison run interference on Mick's teammates. Except for one.



"You're not answering any doors while you're here."

Mick rolled his eyes- not that he was eager to play host in someone else's place. "Are you gonna put me under house arrest, too?"

Eliot gave him a look. "You're in a building with a brew pub, a fully stocked private kitchen and gym upstairs and a fire pit in the yard- what'd you wanna go out for?"

"If he wants to go out, I can take him!" Parker offered cheerily. She considered Mick as if mentally calculating something. "Do you like scaling buildings?"

Ignoring his teammate- and Mick's confused look in response to the question -Eliot said, "Look, we're going to be running interference on that so-called team of yours and we can't exactly do that if they find you out and about with none of us around. We're not giving them a chance to guilt you back."

"They're not that bad."

"You literally told me you put yourself in position to be killed twice in less than twenty four hours!"

Hardison held up a hand, cutting between the two men. "Mick, c'mon, man. You can go back to 'em if you really want but at least consider your options. You stay here with us, I can make a list of the best therapists in Portland. Eliot said you hadn't seen one since you started this little adventure-through-breaking-the-laws-of-physics, right?"

Mick shifted. He probably really should see one though he was less inclined with having to go through the process of getting familiar with a new shrink again. "Most my money's in non-Portland-local credit unions."

Hardison waved a hand and beamed like that was no big deal. "I happen to know an extremely talented and handsome hacker adept at electronic thefts. Namely myself," he added before Eliot could say anything snarky.

"Stay!" Parker said. "At least for a couple days! I wanna know how you got that dinosaur steak! What kind was it? Are dinosaurs light or dark meat? Was it a t-rex? Do you think they'd have decent meat on their arms or would it be kind of small and sad?"

As Parker distracted Mick with a deluge of questions, Hardison and Eliot slid closer together to make plans.

~*~*~*~

Within two days the first of the Legends- and how egotistical was that? -showed up. Which was actually impressive. They must have some serious surveillance chops at their disposal, Hardison decided as he opened the door to a tall, handsome man with a warm smile. "Hi, I hear a friend of mine might be staying here? His name's Mick Rory- I'm Ray Palmer, by the way." He held out his hand, smile still dazzling.

Hardison's eyebrows went up. "Hold up- you're Ray? Dude Mick calls Haircut?"

The smile was slightly less dazzling. "You know me?"

"I know that in about five seconds Eliot's gonna be charging in here to punch you in the face so you probably don't wanna be hanging around long." At Ray's hurt puppy expression, Hardison said, "Seriously. He is not a fan of the way you bailed on being Mick's partner."

From further inside the building came said man's voice, "Who's at the door, Hardison?"

"Just some Jehovah's Witness, I got this!" Hardison called back. He leaned back towards Ray, voice a terse whisper, "For real. Run if you want to live."

Ray took a very slow, hesitant step back. Then another. Hardison mouthed a very intent run at him and Ray finally turned and quickly walked away.

~*~*~*~

Parker wasn't entirely certain what to think about Mick. It was obvious, even to her, that he was sad, what with the way he was often quiet, staring off into space. But he had the best stories to tell. She didn't know how much if any of it was true- and given they often involved superheroes it could go either way -but she didn't exactly care, either. Every one had her undivided attention and she thought maybe Mick liked that someone was paying attention to him and hung on his every word. She remembered the rundown on how he'd been treated but Parker just couldn't wrap her head around why people that called themselves his teammates ignored all this experience he had.

And people thought she was strange.

There was a knock at the door just as she came down the stairs. The pub wasn't set to open for another couple hours so most likely it was someone else coming to look for Mick. Sure enough, on the other side was a blonde woman with a polite smile. "Hey, I hear Mick's around?"

Parker pressed her lips together. She didn't normally like answering doors but when the situation called for it... "Which one are you?"

The woman's smile widened, amused at the not-at-all-veiled suspicion. "Sara Lance."

Parker turned to the board by the door, looking for the name and the note it accompanied. "Lance, Lance, Lance- here we go!" She plucked it out and looked at it intently. "Says here that Mick felt most hurt by you. He thought you understood him better than the others but ended up turning into... a hotter version of the British jackass? And also he knows you're going through a tough time because of your sister so he'll give you a pass," Parker recited, then looked back up at a stunned Sara. "But Eliot doesn't and we don't generally like people that make him mad so goodbye!"

Not letting Sara do anything more then open her mouth, Parker shut the door in her face.

~*~*~*~

Eliot had to be honest at least to himself, he was a little worried about leaving Mick with Hardison and Parker. Not because he didn't trust the man but because he was worried about what kind of ideas the other two would get from him. Despite what Mick's 'team' thought, he was a wellspring of knowledge and Eliot getting pulled away by someone at the door while Mick was explaining the more complicated bits of pyrotechnics and chemical fires to Hardison was a mixed blessing.

The man on the other side introduced himself as Nate and Eliot just crossed his arms and stared at him.

And stared.

And stared.

Eventually Nate began fidgeting. "Uh, is this some interrogation technique I don't know about?"

"I'm trying to decide if you're actually decent enough to talk to Mick. On the one hand you didn't try to help a teammate who's clearly depressed and suicidal. On the other, I don't expect a guy like Mick to freely give out his emotional or mental state. But it shouldn't fucking matter because the man is clearly depressed and suicidal and ain't one of you did anything about it." Eliot's expression smoothed out as he thought again. "But you did take a bullet for him and I respect that."

Silence stretched between them for about half a minute before Nate asked, "Still deliberating?"

"Yeah."

"Any way you think I could help this along?"

Eliot's eyebrows rose slightly. "The fact you think helping me decide will end in you seeing Mick doesn't help your cause."

"Fair enough."

They stayed quiet for a half minute more. "You ever actually talk to Mick?"

"He's not really a casual conversation kind of guy." Nate ran a hand through his hair, giving a self-conscious grin. "He actually threatened to stuff me into a locker once."

Eliot snorted. "What do you know about his partner?"

"That he died. Nobody talks about him. Like, at all. Apparently they didn't even tell the Flash and them about it until recently. When I first heard of him, it didn't feel right going behind people's backs to learn about him and after a while, I just got too busy to remember." At least Nate had the good grace to wince when he realized the implications of what he said.

Eliot shook his head. "Yeah, no. You might be an okay guy but until I'm certain all of you aren't gonna neglect or disregard him like you've been, no one's talking to him."

He shut the door on Nate and then lurked in the windows until he was certain the man left. By the time Eliot got back upstairs, Hardison and Mick were looking very intently at some internet shopping page that was projected on the wall. Hardison craned his head back, "Hey, Eliot! Mick's gonna teach me how to make fireworks- what colors you want?"

~*~*~*~

Hardison had to admit, having Mick around was turning out even better than he imagined. Between himself, Parker- the two of them got along like (pardon the pun) a house on fire which was both endearing and unnerving -and Eliot, Mick had begun to grow out of his apathy and disassociation. Currently he was working in the kitchen as a 'guest chef' which was both a hit with the crowd and also made Eliot somewhat jealous. Hardison may love the man but that shit was hilarious.

Unfortunately it did also mean that someone had to pull door duty in case... unwanted folks walked in and recognized Mick. Today was Hardison's turn and it wasn't long after he'd sat back down from a short break that he was back on his feet, steering an older man from the door. "Excuse me, Professor Martin Stein, right?" He discreetly tapped his ear bud twice, giving off the signal that he needed someone to take over his post. "We need to talk."

Although he didn't struggle against Hardison's hand, Stein said, "The only thing we need to talk about is why you're refusing to let us see our teammate."

"Your teammate. You mean the guy all y'all routinely insult both to his face and when you think he can't hear you. You guys clearly don't respect him and he's obviously miserable around you. I don't know why none of you are willing to admit that."

"You have no right to keep him from us. He's a valuable member of our team!"

"Is he now? 'Cause from what I've heard you just use him like a common thug. Have you ever thought about finding out what he knows? He's got some useful information up in that brain of his."

Stein scoffed. "That would be debatable. Mr. Rory doesn't even have GED."

"Man, what the hell is wrong with you? See, it's people like you that give academia a bad name, all elitist and shit just 'cause the man never graduated high school even though there's plenty of reasons that could've kept him from doing that without having to be because he's stupid." Hardison pointed a finger at Stein. "And even if it he wasn't smart enough, that's not a reason to be disrespecting the man all the time. You say you value him then you say shit like that. You know after Mick gave us the rundown of what he's been through I went through an emotional abuse checklist and y'all hit damn near every single one."

That made Stein's confident demeanor falter. "That... that can't be possible."

"Oh, so you don't normally belittle him in front of other people? Or chastise him like he's a child instead of a grown-ass adult man? Has it ever occurred to you that you get the worst outta him 'cause that's all anyone expects anymore? Or that the reason he's so willing to die is because he thinks there's no one left that cares about him?"

"He... isn't..."

"Yeah, you sound real certain of that. I got the text record on my buddy's phone if you need the proof." Hardison sighed, shifting on his feet. "Look, I'm all about the age of the geek but let me ask you something- how many times has that man saved your asses? I mean all y'all asses?"

Stein, temper flaring out of defensiveness, snapped back, "It's not as if he hadn't caused us problems, either! He was willing to abandon us to pirates, had attacked us several times as Chronos-"

"Chronos? You mean the dude he became when the rest of you agreed to let his best friend Old Yeller him?" Stein's mouth clicked shut. "Mmmhm. And now y'all treating him like a burden 'cause not one of you learned from any of that. But hey- not like he's your problem anymore, right? I mean, why would you want someone on your team you don't trust?"

Stein looked at the ground, thoughts visibly whirling through his head. "I... Perhaps you're right. I believe the team may have some things to discuss." He gave Hardison a polite but distracted nod. "Good day, young man."

Hardison sighed heavily and trudged back into the pub.

~*~*~*~

It was almost half a week before another one showed up. He had a warm, sweet smile like sunshine that Parker couldn't help returning. "Hey, I was hoping I could talk to Mick?"

"Yeah? Which one are you?"

"Jax." He held his hand out, "Jefferson Jackson, but my friends call me Jax."

Her smile fell. Parker didn't even need to look at the note to remember which one he was. "Wait, you're the team player guy?" Her eyes grew hard. "You're a team player but you made fun of his intelligence and a traumatic event he went through twice? Is that how you are with the rest of your team or do you not think Mick's part of it?"

He faltered, "It wasn't-"

"Look," she cut in harshly, brandishing the note like a knife, "I'm not very good at the people thing. I know that but I'm trying. But even I know that that isn't something you say to someone. Especially someone that's part of your crew. I thought heroes were supposed to be good people. I thought you guys were supposed to be the best of us. But instead you just think you're better than us. People like me and Mick who're weird and a little bit broken. No wonder Nate says sometimes the bad guys make the best good guys because you and the rest of them- you're terrible to him and I don't care what Eliot and Hardison say, you're not allowed to get him back!"

The door slammed shut, cutting Jax off mid-protest and Parker stood there, fuming, hands tight into fists. When she turned around, Hardison was standing there. Of all of Mick's team, Jax had been the one both Hardison and Eliot had hoped Parker wouldn't run into. They didn't think anyone had come to love the Leverage team as fully as Parker did and to have Jax be so casually cruel, even when Mick still talked about him fondly, hurt her deeply.

He didn't say anything, just quietly opened his arms and Parker fell into them, holding him tightly. "I want to be good," Parker's voice quivered. "I try to be. But if people like that are the good ones, what does that make me?"

"Good isn't what you are, it's what you do." Hardison bent his head enough to rest his lips against Parker's hair. "And you do a whole lotta good." They stood there for a long while until the trembling in Parker's shoulders stopped. "You okay?"

She nodded.

"Wanna see if we can't talk Mick into making dinner?"

She nodded again, sniffling as she let Hardison take her under his arm and lead her away. "I didn't know so many foods could be set on fire," her voice was still thick. "How come Eliot never makes us fun food?"

"I dunno, but you should definitely ask him that in front of Mick."

~*~*~*~

The more Hardison looked into Mick's history, the more he realized the man was more messed up than he'd thought. He wasn't doing it because he thought Mick was dangerous, he just wanted to compile all the notes from Mick's previous therapists because Hardison was determined he'd be sticking around. Not because Parker and Eliot wanted it, but because Hardison couldn't stand to put Mick back in his previous environment. Maybe Mick could be a consultant- that definitely had possibilities.

Considering Mick had been seeing therapists for somewhere around thirty years off and on- and a number of those clearly needing their license revoked -that was a lot of information to go through.

Knowing what he did about Mick's mental history probably made him a bad person to meet with the last of the Legends but considering how the other two had reacted when they looked back over the texts Mick had sent, Hardison was still the better alternative. Which did not mean he wasn't going to play a little angry cop, two near-homicidal cops.

The woman was petite in the same way Parker was, body whittled of everything but pure power and skill. She had an intensity to her that Parker lacked when not on the job, though, and for a moment Hardison was taken back. "Can I help you?" He asked, mostly to cover up his brief hesitation.

"I'm here to see Mick Rory," she said politely. "My name is Amaya Jiwe."

"Oh, you're Amaya?" He continued loudly, half turning to call over his shoulder, "So you're the one that called Mick an animal that needed to be tamed?"

There was a brief pause then a chorus of loud swearing and running feet. Parker rounded the corner first, followed closely by Eliot as he was tackled from behind by Mick who managed to snag Parker by the ankle as he wrapped all remaining limbs around Eliot. All three of them were shouting and flailing. Hardison was certain Parker was focused more on hurling some incredibly creative insults toward Amaya than trying to get out of Mick's grip.

Though unsurprised at Mick protecting his- soon to be former, if Hardison had any say in it -teammate, it was still somewhat unsatisfying so Hardison let Amaya witness the scene for a few moments. Then he half stepped into the doorway, letting the door itself close up to his shoulder in a futile attempt to muffle the cursing and struggling going on in the hall. He leaned in and told Amaya very, very seriously, "I am not a physical man and, compared to the other two in there, I'm only half-capable of a fight. But if you don't leave in three seconds, I will take a swing at you. And when you get back to the rest of the crew, you tell them that it's really fucking sad that the only person that made an attempt at helping Mick work through his shit was the person that came from a time period where any mental illness required being institutionalized and equates it and depression with taming an animal."

With a final, hard glare, Hardison pulled back through the door and shut it. He stood there for several seconds, trying to breath out the anger radiating through his limbs. When he turned around, the scuffling had stopped and all three just lay there, looking at him. "What?" He asked them, only partially as defensive as he sounded. "I was just saying what you all was gonna say, just I did it with words instead of with fists."

They were silent for a beat longer until Parker said, "I bet I still have time to get to the street and slash the tires on her car. Assuming she has a car."

Mick just rolled his eyes and dragged her back by the ankle, Parker's palms squeaking across the floor.

~*~*~*~

Len was awake. He wasn't certain why he woke up considering he hadn't fallen unconscious, but he was awake. He kept his eyes closed and breathing steady, trying to get a sense of what was going on around him from sound. There were people in the room, voices he didn't recognize saying things he couldn't quite follow. Beneath that was the sound of machines, very similar to the ones he'd grown accustomed to while on the Waverider. Not long after that revelation a voice said, "You can open your eyes, Mr. Snart. We know you're awake."

Given it was pointless to keep up the act after that, Len did as he was told. It definitely looked like a timeship medbay and there were five very unfamiliar people staring at him.

A long haired man gave him an overwhelmingly gleeful smile. "I can't believe it. I can't fucking believe it!"

"Same," Len drawled, too disoriented to hide his suspicion.

"Oh, I'm," he stepped forward with a hand out, not close enough to either crowd Len or force him to take his hand, "Eliot Spencer. Nice to finally meet you." Len's brow furrowed, still cautious as he shook Eliot's hand. He couldn't figure out how he'd gotten from dying at the Oculus to meeting Mick's internet friend. "This is my team- Nathan, Sophie, Hardison and Parker.

It was only long and often painful years of experience that kept Len's eyes from widening: wait- Sophie Deveraux? Shit, what had he gotten into? He eyed each of them carefully, all beaming at him. Eliot and Hardison especially while Parker was bouncing up and down. She blurted out happily, "We saved your life!"

"Thank you for that," he said noncommittally. He needed to figure out what was going on and what his options were stat.

"Well," Nathan said pleasantly to his crew, "I'd say that was worth coming out of retirement for."

"I assume we'll be going back into retirement after this. I'm not sure how we'd be able to top cheating time." Sophie shook her head. She gave Len a sweet smile, "You are one lucky man to have such a devoted partner."

The comment made Len's blood run cold and he made no attempt to cover up the tension singing through him. "If you did anything-"

"Holy shit. You really weren't kidding when you said let's go steal a self-sacrificing time traveler."

The voice made Len's head whip around, nearly twisting off the bed. His breath caught in his throat, "Mick."

Mick stepped through the doorway- Len could see the cockpit from there and recognized it as either Chronos's ship or something very similar. "You have no idea the shit I went through because of you," he growled out, stalking closer. There was no anger, though, just tightly leashed joy like Mick wasn't certain how to let it out. Len laid back on the bed, relaxed. "You pull a stunt like that again, I'm setting you on fire."

Len couldn't help a puff of laughter. "Agreed." He opened his eyes as a shadow fell over him, Mick leaning in with eyes suspiciously wet.

"I know you don't like PDA, but I deserve this." He cupped his hands around Len's face and held him still for a kiss. Sweet and intense, holding all of Mick's relief now that he was finally whole again, taking the solace in Len he hadn't been able to get even from people that appreciated him.

No one had ever made him feel as good as Len did.

When they pulled back, Mick buried his face against Len's shoulder. "Fuck, Lenny," his voice was small and broken and Len's tongue chased the taste of salt that was left on his lips from Mick, "I missed you so much."

In the corner of his eye he saw Sophie and Eliot herding the others out of the room. Len closed his eyes and tried to breath through the tightness in his chest. He got to have this. How was he so damn lucky that he was allowed to have the man he loved again?

A hand snaked around the back of Mick's neck, thumb rubbing just behind Mick's ear in a way that always helped calm him. The other wiped away tears tracking down his cheek and Len couldn't remember the last time he saw his partner cry. "You deserve much more than that," and Len pulled Mick in for another kiss.

July 2017

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