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a better tomorrow

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Ted had barely gotten the time sphere to work - it wasn't exactly the most intuitive machine he'd ever worked with - but the pastel rainbow around him looked enough like what he'd seen before that he figured he was on the right track. "Okay," he muttered under his breath, looking over the panels. "Now, how do I set an arrival date on this thing?" He was just about to turn a promising looking dial when something hit the time sphere with a loud THUNK.

He remembered what Booster said about rear-ending Barry Allen. If Booster, never the world's best driver, could have a fender-bender while time traveling, it wasn't unexpected that Ted Kord, experienced pilot but inexperienced time traveler, might scrape the paint on his first flight. Heck, given the complexity of this thing, Ted would almost go so far as to say it had been likely he'd hit something. So where another man might have screamed, Ted just winced. He could totally be serious and stoic like that.

And since he ended up screaming when he turned around to inspect the damage and saw he hadn't hit a time machine but people, it all evened out.

There were two of them clinging to the side of the time sphere, the first a fairly nondescript man, dressed in nondescript clothes, who looked entirely too familiar for Ted's comfort. The second was a girl in a purple and black costume he didn't recognize, but if that logo on her chest was anything to go by, Ted could make a guess as to one name she went by.

Ted pushed open the door and nearly had it slam back in his face from the sheer pressure of the time stream flowing past. Of the two people clinging to the side of the time sphere, the man was closer to the door, but he'd found handrails Ted hadn't even known were there and was crawling his way to the underside of the sphere. Well, at least somebody knows how to work this thing, Ted thought as he reached out to Batgirl. Once she'd grabbed on, he pulled her inside with a sharp tug - too sharp, apparently, as she ended up bowling him over. Sprawled across the floor of the time sphere, cape askew and hair everywhere, she groaned.

"This is not what I was expecting when the robot said I was going on a time traveling adventure."

"Tell me about it," Ted muttered, struggling to his feet. Offering her a hand up, he grinned. "Promise I won't knock you over this time."

"Thanks." Finally getting a good look at him, she stared. "Holy zombie superheroes - you're Ted Kord!"

"Is a man's secret identity not sacred anymore," Ted asked absently, poking his head back out to look for that oddly familiar man.

"Well, you're kind of... dead. In my time. Sorry." She winced, muttering under her breath, "No kidding, Batgirl, like calling him a zombie didn't clue him in?"

No sign of the guy. Not from this angle, anyway, and Ted wasn't prepared to lean out any farther to get a better look at the bottom of the sphere. Getting yanked out of the ship and lost in the time stream was not high on his to-do list. Pulling himself up, he sighed. "Eh, I kind of figured. I don't recognize you from my time, and since I'm going to die once I get this time machine working..."

"What?" Batgirl looked kind of nerv... oh.

"Not like 'the ship's gonna blow up and take me with it!' God, no." Ted muffled a laugh; laughter would not be reassuring at this point. "It's just that I was going to die when Booster came out of nowhere with one of these time spheres, and I have to go back."

"Why?"

"Because I saw the future that happened when I didn't die, and... apocalyptic is putting it lightly."

She winced. "Yikes. That sucks."

"Yeah well, what can you do?" He shrugs. "I died. It's a fact. Some bad came out of it, but so did a lot of good, apparently."

A circle of metal in middle of the floor flipped up. "Not a fact anymore, Beetle," the man Ted knew he knew from somewhere said. "The whole universe out there is changing. Rewriting itself."

That made something click. "Rip Hunter!" He was a time traveler Booster knew, though how exactly they knew each other Ted had never quite figured out. "You're a time whatsit, aren't you supposed to fix that kind of thing?"

"This is one of those times when it's meant to happen," Rip said, climbing out of the hole in the floor. "I've adjusted the time sphere's chronometric frequency; if you two stay in here, you should survive the rewrite."

"Won't that make for two of us in this new universe?" Batgirl asked. Rip looked away. "...oh."

As Rip continued typing, he said, "I know better than most how confusing it will be, to live in a world where your friends, your family, looks at you and sees a perfect stranger. If you don't want that, I can take you back into real time, and you'll be rewritten with the rest of the universe. I'd understand. But I'm asking you: please, choose to live."

This was all a little much for Ted. "If the universe is so set against us existing that it's going to rewrite itself to do it, why save us?" Then, seeing the firm look on Batgirl's face, he switched arguments. "The world went to hell in a handbasket when Booster kept me from dying, why should me living do any good for this one?"

Rip blinked, surprised by the question. "Because..." He grinned. "Heroes like you inspire people. So long as you can laugh, there's hope. And I want there to be hope in this new universe."