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"Don't tell me you can't do it!" Booster snapped, "I know you can."

Rip held up his hands in surrender. "I wasn't going to." He glanced behind him, back down into the lab. It had taken Booster forever to find Rip's hidyhole. Last he'd seen Rip, he'd still had that place in Upstate New York, not a desert-floor bunker in Arizona.

"Good." Booster took another step forward, and Rip fell back. He didn't usually fold so fast, and Booster had to wonder what he looked like that would make the time master give in. He hadn't looked in the mirror since Ted's funeral, and he didn't plan to any time soon.

"Out of curiosity," Rip asked, falling back yet another step, "Why do you want to go home now?"

"You saw the news," Booster said shortly. They were past the doors now and starting down narrow stairway into lab. Booster had a hard time making out details after the glaring dessert sunlight.

"Everybody saw the news," Rip agreed. "I'm sorry I didn't make the funeral. Just..." he trailed off, not saying anything until they got into the lab proper and he could turn and look Booster in the eye. "Don't you have anything left in this time, Michael?"

Bea, J'onn, maybe even Guy, but Booster could barely think about so much as looking at them right now. He couldn't hear their voices without waiting for Ted to come in on the offbeat and make some stupid joke, or tell Guy where to shove it. It wasn't just Ted, there'd be no Tora brushing up against Bea and smiling like she really cared, no Sue to cut Ralph down to size, no Dmitri quoting '80s cartoons.

Worse, he'd look at them and wonder which friend he was going to lose next, whose funeral he'd fuck up this time. It wasn't like he could have been bothered to look it up. Even the fragmentary records from his own time carried some of the information on which of the Golden Age of Heroes' brightest stars had died and how. Not like Booster could remember, and when he did, he seemed to get it wrong somehow. He got everything wrong somehow.

"Okay," Rip said, and Booster realised he hadn't answered him. His silence must have done it for him. "Last time we were in your time, I don't remember you being too welcome. Or do you want me to bump you twenty years ahead again?"

Booster couldn't say he cared one way or another, but the vicinity of his home time was probably the only place Rip would agree to drop him. "Sure. Whatever." He turned away so he didn't have to meet Rip's stare. The man looked too sympathetic for Booster to handle right now, or possibly ever. Instead he turned to look up at the catwalk where Rip kept his gleaming new timesphere. "The 2480s sound like a blast."