If Sara was going to Nanda Parbat, she had to get to California to fly west, and if she was going to California, Harmony Falls wasn't that far out of the way. And fine, maybe she wanted to check on Lindsay, too. She'd brought the lady out of the closet, after all, so she did have some responsibility for what happened next. There wasn't anything wrong with checking.
Only, when she got to Harmony Falls, she found out that Lindsay had moved to National City sometime in the last few months. Sara stole her forwarding information from the records office and headed west again. This was more convenient anyway, she told herself. She was planning to fly out of National, so she could just see how Lindsay was doing and then head for Nanda Parbat, via however many stupid places planes had to stop in 1958. Hell with the Netflix, she missed globalisation.
Lindsay had gotten a job at the Orange Blossom Center, which seemed to be a rest cure institution for people with far more money than sense. Sara liked the idea of Lindsay working somewhere quieter, especially after almost being slashed to death by bird monsters. The staff room here was even easier to slip into than records in Harmony Falls, and the rotations were written in the staff room. She'd made her timing, and was please that she only had to wait an hour for Lindsay to shift off.
When she did, already changed out of her uniform and into a floral-print summer dress, Sara's was waiting outside, dressed herself in jeans, a red blouse, and combat boots, leaning back against a palm tree, with one leg drawn up to brace herself on the trunk. Her duffel bag sat at her feet.
"Well hello, Nurse Carlisle," she said. She meant to sound casual, saucy even, but found her throat tight and every muscle tense. She could be facing down Ra's al Ghul himself, judging by the way she was feeling like a fight was coming. She had to push down an urge to strike out at Lindsay, to attack her for making her feel this threatened.
But Lindsay broke out into a smile like a super nova, her whole face shining, and cried Sara's name. She looked like she wanted to throw herself around Sara's neck, but Sara folded her arms, and Lindsay checked herself. "It's been so long," she said. "I thought you'd left!"
"I'm still going," Sara told her, and no her voice absolutely was not lifting at the end of that. It was a statement of fact, in no way conditional. "I just wanted to see how big city life agreed with you."
"It agrees," Lindsay said, still grinning. Sara had remembered with great clarity her strong nose dimples, but had forgotten the mole just under her left cheekbone. She wanted to kiss it now. "Come on. I'll buy you a drink."
"Okay," Sara replied, and peeled herself off the tree. She had another stolen car, but ditched it in favour of catching a ride with Lindsay in a beat-up Buick convertible that was sexy as hell despite the rattle under the hood. "You live near here?" She asked, then winced because she hadn't meant to sound like she was soliciting for a hook up.
It either went over Lindsay's head, or she ignored it. "Sure. I could walk, but it's so hot down here, and I like to go to Coconut Cove after work, and that's north of town."
Coconut Cove, it turned out, was a vaguely Hawaiian-themed lesbian bar and lounge about twenty minutes away. Mostly the themed part consisted of tiki torches, the odd "tribal" carving, and excessive ukulele music, but it was also quiet and dark, and Sara only spotted a couple undercover cops. She made sure to sit out of their line of sight.
"This place get busted much?" she asked.
Lindsay shrugged, and glanced around. Her eyes slid right past the cops, clearly not registering them. "I suppose we're due. It's not too bad as long as you don't talk to strangers, or get carried away in public."
"The 'Fifties really do suck," Sara muttered, which of course made Lindsay look at her strangely, and Sara had to hide her face behind a drink stuck with no fewer than three paper umbrellas.
"Where did you go?" Lindsay asked, deliberately moving on. "When you said goodbye after Dr. Stein fixed Hall H, I thought it was forever. Then Dr. Knox freaked out about everything, so I decided to give notice and take your advice and see a bit of the world. Which so far has been the bus trip from Harmony to here, but it's a start."
Sara looked around the lounge again, skipping past the tacky details and taking in all the women–single, in couples, in groups–earnestly talking and holding hands. Many, but not all, were either more feminine than Kendra in full '58 get up or dressed like Snart but with more grease in their hair. "Yeah," she said, "it sure is." Even in this time, with arrest and disgrace hanging over them all, this place looked like more of a community than she'd had since she left the League. "I was just staying with friends, up in Hub City, but I was a bit of a third wheel, and..." and she'd lost her temper and beaten a would-be mugger half to death, and she'd been terrified that it would be Ray or Kendra next time, so she'd run for their lives much more than hers. She shouldn't be here either, she knew. "I decided to travel again. I'm flying to..." she realised that she didn't know if Pakistan was a country yet; she'd done a lot of running, and not much planning, "...to India as soon as I can get a flight."
"That's so exciting," Lindsay said. She took Sara's hand and looked earnestly into her eyes. "I wasn't kidding when I said I wished I could travel like you have. I don't have any money right now, but in a few years I'll have saved up some. If you write, I'll meet you wherever you end up."
Sara blanched. She didn't even want to consider what Ra's would do to a sweet girl like Lindsay Carlisle. She wouldn't last a day, and if she did last, she'd turn into something like Sara, or something worse. Sara might be a monster herself, be she would die before she let that happen.
"Or maybe not," Lindsay said, falling back. She picked up her own drink to hide her disappointment. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so pushy, to assume you'd want someone like me tagging along. I know I'm not like your other friends."
She must mean Rip and Ray and the rest, whoever Lindsay had seen at the hospital. Sara sighed. No matter what she did, it seemed, she managed to find a way to hurt Lindsay's feelings. "It's not that," she tried. "I like you fine, just like you are. I travel pretty rough, is all. Not sure you'd care for it."
That only made the stars in Lindsay's eyes glow more brightly. "I could try," she said. "Just you write me, and when I've saved up..."
Sara didn't say anything. If she didn't agree, she could just not send anything, and Lindsay would never find her. Cruel, certainly, but not as cruel as letting her go. Christ, what had her standards become?
Lindsay saved them both by getting the picture. "Where you staying?" she asked, but had already lost most of her earlier glow.
This was exactly why Sara should leave, but she still said, "Don't have any plans. Was going to get motel room out by the airport or something." She was utterly unsurprised when Lindsay invited her back to her flat. She was a little surprised when she said yes, but not really. Poor impulse control was something she and Mick Rory had in common.
She wanted to resist Lindsay, to keep her from getting sucked into the horror of Sara's life. Of course, if she'd meant to resist her that hard, she would never have gone back to Harmony Falls, let alone the Orange Blossom Center. She never would have said yes to that drink. Having done all that, she wasn't likely to stop now.
Lindsay's apartment was new, probably built during the post-war housing boom, and had one bedroom and very little furniture. Sara saw a single mattress on an institutional-looking metal spring frame, a table and two chairs of Sally Anne origin, hotplates, and a love seat that had spent at least one night in the rain prior to rescue. Sara immediately came to the conclusion that Lindsay had blown her money on the place itself and her car, and was working on everything else only now.
"I know it isn't much," Lindsay was saying, and then something about how her parents hadn't approved of her moving down, and hadn't helped as much as she'd hoped, but she was working on getting a few more things. Sara shut her up with a kiss.
It started tentatively, slow and inviting like their first kiss had. Sara's lips just met Lindsay's, and she inhaled soft lipstick and a little powder, just what she'd been wearing to work, covering perspiration and smoggy National City air, plus pineapple juice and vodka from the bar. Then she pulled away, teasing, until Lindsay took her face in both her hands and made the kiss real.
Sara woke up with one leg thrown over Lindsay, the other falling off the side of the bed–bare toes trailing on the rag rug–and both arms wrapped around Lindsay's shoulders like she was hanging on for dear life, which, given how close she was to tumbling onto the floor, was not inaccurate. "You've got to get a bigger bed," she grumbled.
"Okay," Lindsay murmured, not at all awake. Then, eyes having opened, and having realised what Sara had said: "I'd trade Amelia for one, if you'd stay."
"Amelia?" Sara asked, not wanting to think about the rest of that sentence, about how much she wanted to do exactly that, and how if anyone in the world both didn't need and deserved her protection, it was Lindsay. If only Sara would protect her, instead of just hurting her more.
"My car," she said, wiggling out from under Sara and pulling a robe over her shoulders. She didn't bother tying it though, and Sara lazily watched her breasts bounce as she walked around the bed. She knew what they tasted like, and the sound Lindsay made when Sara licked them, and the way the nipples hardened as Lindsay got closer to the edge, and she couldn't get those images out of her mind.
Stein had be right, damn him: It had been like her first time. Like with Jenny O'Connell when they'd been fourteen and had jammed a chair under the door handle to keep Laurel out of her room, only now she was better at it. She was better at everything, except keeping her temper.
She'd realised already that only a knife-edge separated her from Mick Rory, and that his fate could well have been hers: put down like a rabid dog by the only person on earth who loved her. She should probably be glad the Waverider had left her here, before Rip had asked Snart to do the same to her, or, if she were lucky, Rip would have done it himself.
The worst thing was that she knew that she was in the middle of doing the wrong thing, and she couldn't seem to stop herself. She should go to Ra's, throw herself at his feet, beg him to teach her how to hold herself together, like he had the first time. She needed to be controlled, to be strong, to be of use. Except... she really didn't, did she?
What, in 1958, was she meant to protect? She'd thought that she could look after what was left of her team in Hub City, but she hadn't managed to do more than snarl at Ray and make Kendra uncomfortable. Taking her anger out on street patrols hadn't led to anywhere good either. Why would Nanda Parbat or National City or even Starling City–if she wanted to go for full paradox–be any different?
"Penny for your thoughts?" Lindsay was standing by the window, light through the gaps in the curtains silhouetting her curves, as her arms were raised to do something complicated to her hair.
"That might actually be worth something back here," Sara said. "I was just trying to figure out how many plane changes it will take to get to Pakistan." She'd eventually remembered that Partition had happened just after the War.
"You never did say why India," Lindsay said.
"I have friends there." Most of them weren't born yet, but friends nonetheless. "It's a place where I fit."
Finished with her pins, Lindsay bent to wash her face in a basin she'd filled while Sara had been wool gathering. It had been a long time, longer than Nyssa, maybe back as far as Ollie, since Sara had watched a lover with this kind of casual intimacy. "You could..." Lindsay started, then frowned, pressing the damp cloth to her eyes. "Sorry, I promised myself that I wouldn't try to talk you into staying, and I've done it twice in five minutes. I don't want to be the nag who tries to clip your wings, not when you saved me."
Sara had said that Lindsay had saved her first, and she had. Lindsay had lit something in Sara that she had thought forever cold. It made her think of wildfire fighting, and how you could light a small fire of your own to back burn, so that the big scary fire wouldn't have enough fuel to incinerate you. "When do you go on shift?" Sara asked, not wanting to talk about leaving any more.
Lindsay flashed a smile, bright again as she had been when they'd met outside the Center. She ran the cloth under her breasts in a way that could only be deliberate provocation. "Didn't I say? It's my day off."
Of course it was. Now it would be impossible to just slink off while Lindsay was at work. "You have any plans?"
"I was going to hit the beach with the girls, but if you wanted to..."
From her tone, she meant girls from Coconut Cove, not from work. "I should go to the airport, figure out flights," Sara said, missing the Internet again. Except if she'd just been able to look these things up, how would she be able to go on to say, "But maybe you can give me a ride out there later."
Lindsay's smile faded, then deliberately brightened. "Want to borrow a bathing suit?" she asked, and Sara said that of course she would.
Later, she licked the dried salt off every inch of Lindsay's skin, so fair in Harmony Falls and already starting to tan in National City. They lay on blankets spread across the floor, tired and sated, and Sara didn't end up asking for a ride after all.
Lindsay had to leave for work early the next morning, and Sara spent an hour lying on her back, feet still falling off the edges of that damned narrow bed, thinking the exact same things she'd thought twenty four hours earlier. Then she got up, dressed as respectably as he could, and spent most of the money she'd cashed away for plane tickets on a proper mattress, a bed frame, linens, and a decent couch. The store delivered, and she had it set up by mid-afternoon. They'd probably have taken away the mouldy old love seat too, but that seemed like pushing things.
Not that this whole endeavour didn't. Sure, Lindsay had said she wanted Sara to stay, but she'd said that when Sara had been pretty definite about leaving, and it was entirely possible that she'd just been being flirty, and hadn't really meant it. In which case, Sara was going to have to vanish into the night in a cloud of embarrassment over her presumption, leaving the furniture behind her. Damned if she'd let Lindsay sleep in that escaped hospital bed one more night though, whether Sara was here or not. When she'd broken the frame down for storage, it'd actually had Prop of Orange Grove Ctr stamped into the metal of the frame.
By the time Lindsay got home at five, Sara had worked up a batch of left-handed screwdrivers and a serious case of nerves.
"Okay, so don't freak out," she said before she said hello. "If you didn't mean it, you can just say, and I'll catch the next flight to Hawaii."
Lindsay's eyes widened, then narrowed as she took in the couch and the bed, and the open gin bottle and orange peels. Then she threw both arms in the air and squealed. It was the single most adorable thing Sara had ever seen, so she let Lindsay throw her arms around her neck and kiss her all over her face and neck. "I thought I'd come back and you'd be gone," she said when she'd caught her breath, "not that you'd have moved in. We have to try the bed! Oh, give me that drink. You're a peach, you know that?"
"It is not something I've been called frequently," Sara said dryly, but she did hand Lindsay her drink, and it wasn't long before, upon proper trial, they both declared the bed entirely satisfactory. Since Sara's cooking basically extended to mixed drinks and microwave meals, they ordered in pizza, another first for Lindsay, then tried the bed again, just to make sure.
As she fell asleep with Lindsay still half on top of her, her hand resting between Sara's legs, it occurred to Sara that for the first time since she'd come back from the dead she was actually happy.
That lasted until she tried to find work. She'd been bartending in Hub City, mostly fill in gigs, some of them under the table. Here she wanted to get something decent, something that could bring in enough pay to keep them in gin and pizza and maybe get the place painted something other than avocado, and preferably a job that she didn't hate. The last qualification, and her dismal typing, had ruled out most of the jobs that women usually had in this era, and her lack of certificates, or for that matter any knowledge of teaching and nursing, took out most of the rest.
So she went up to the big film lots and tried to get on as a stunt artist, only to find out there was a reason they were called stuntmen back then, and, yes, even the stunts that portrayed women were done by men in drag, and, no, nothing she said or did, not being able to ride or shoot or fall or fight or drive, would convince them to take a pretty little lady like her on. After trying every studio and private stunt company, over the course of a solid week of mostly failed attempts to get interviews, Sara gave up.
It was the first time she'd been really, really angry since she'd left Hub City and Ray's unbearable optimism, and she had no idea what to do with it. She was sitting on their couch with all the blinds drawn, missing Ben & Jerry's, when the lock rattled.
Lindsay had been working nights all week and today had taken a double shift, so they hadn't seen much of each other, but now she was coming tired but cheerful, and looking forward to a few days off.
"I called around three," she said, dropping her purse and pulling hair pins as she crossed to the bathroom, "I wanted to see if you'd meet me at the Cove after work, but it just rang."
"Was out," Sara said shortly. She didn't want to talk. She just wanted to curl around her anger and be left alone, and she resented Lindsay for trying to connect. If she really cared about Sara, she would know when to let her be.
Lindsay stopped, hair falling around her shoulders, blouse half pulled off and shoes kicked away. "I guess it didn't go so well," she said, picking up on Sara's mood. "I'm sorry, sweetie." When she perched on the couch next to Sara and tried to put her arms around her neck and kiss her better, Sara shrugged her off so violently that they both almost fell to the floor. Her touch made Sara's skin crawl, and for a moment she hated Lindsay.
"Not tonight," she snarled.
Lindsay jerked away like Sara had slapped her. Her eyes went wide, and her lips parted as she stared at Sara. Then she closed her mouth, lifted her chin, and said evenly, "I'm going to take a shower. Let me know when you're civil. We can go for drinks later, if you are."
"Don't do me any favours," Sara snapped, knowing she'd raised her voice, knowing she was hurting the one person in this time she cared about, knowing even that she was being unfair and unreasonable and should feel bad. She didn't feel bad though; she just felt angry. "I'm going out."
She pretended she couldn't hear Lindsay crying in the bathroom while she changed. She picked up a pair of white slacks, but her heart felt flinty and dark. She couldn't be the White Canary now. She had a pair of black men's jeans with the knees ripped out, and she put those on along with a black knit shirt, a hip-length leather coat and a black scarf tied over her mouth and nose. Her staves were still white, but she could fix that later. That was who she was again, not the hero Laurel wanted, but the assassin that Rip had needed, or needed until she lost control one too many times.
She headed north, not knowing why, but following her gut nonetheless.
She got to Coconut Cove just as the cops started their long-overdue raid, and she let events take their natural course from there on out. Maybe she had a little more control after all, because no one died, or was even seriously hurt, she thought. No one was arrested either, at least not while Sara watched from a rooftop a few blocks away.
She knew that by morning her description would be on every bulletin board in National City, if not So Cal. She felt a savage pride at that. Let them be afraid of her. Let them all be afraid of her. She was justice, and darkness and bloody fury, like Ollie had been, at the start. Something to fear, not something to inspire, and that was fine.
This city deserved the Canary, in the same way as Starling City had deserved the Arrow.
Only Lindsay hadn't done anything to deserve what she'd said.
As Sara's anger cooled, satiated for the moment, the guilt started to creep in. She had made Lindsay cry, and for no other reason than that she cared about Sara when Sara had wanted to be left alone.
She left the rooftop she'd been crouching on and ran.
When she got back in, Lindsay still hadn't left. And that was the first time that Sara realised what her gut had been telling her for hours: if Sara had been in, if she'd picked up when Lindsay called, they both would have been inside the Cove when the raid hit. Lindsay could have been arrested. She could even been beat up by cops all too happy to take out their threatened masculinity on whatever dyke they found, no matter how femme. She could have lost her job, and her apartment, and everything she'd built here in National City. If only Lindsay understood how dangerous this time was, maybe she'd be more careful.
"Thank god you're okay," Sara said even before the door closed behind her. She'd pulled the scarf down, but was otherwise dressed as the Canary, and had been the whole way back. That was dangerous too. She kept putting Lindsay in danger, and even when she didn't, she only hurt her. She was ricochetting across the city, leaving shrapnel everywhere she went.
Lindsay had been sitting at the table, staring down at a paperback that she clearly wasn't reading, but now she dog-eared the page, set it aside, and stood to face Sara. "What's going on?" she asked, but the cracks were still showing under her assumed calm, and Sara knew that she either wanted to burst into tears again or start screaming.
"The cops hit the Cove," Sara said, shrugging out her jacket and kicking it away. She could feel the anger rising again, ready to match Lindsay's fight. "I knew that place wasn't safe. You shouldn't go there any more."
"Yes," Lindsay said, voice as tight as her hands clasped in front of her. "We should never go out. I shouldn't have any friends, especially not people like me, and I should always do what you say."
That brought Sara to an abrupt halt. "I never said any of that," she said, more defensive because she'd been thinking something very similar.
"Not yet," Lindsay said. She'd obviously been thinking about what she said next, and cleared her throat and looked at her hands before meeting Sara's eyes across the room and launching into her speech. "I think we moved too fast. I was so happy to see you back, and so happy you were staying, I didn't think about it enough. I don't even know who you are."
Sara felt the blow fall, but absorbed it, like Ra's had taught her, and nodded sharply. "I understand," she said. "I'll go. I shouldn't have stayed, I just..." she didn't know how to describe what it felt like to have warmth in her heart again after so long, and how impossible it had been to give that up even when she'd known better, when she'd known she hadn't really changed, so she said, "I couldn't resist you." She wanted to say that she was sorry for snapping at Lindsay earlier, but the words stuck in her throat, because dammit, Lindsay had sunk back onto her chair and was crying again, and all Sara wanted to do was hit something until she stopped.
"But I don't want you to go," Lindsay said, then hiccuped and wiped her nose on her handkerchief. "I just don't want you to yell at me, and I don't want to feel like there's this huge part of you that I don't understand. You said you'd explain, back in Harmony Falls, but then you just left. Where are you from? How do you know how to fight like that? Why are you so mad sometimes? What are you wearing?"
If her heart didn't ache so deeply, Sara would have laughed. Instead she slid down the wall until she was sitting with her knees drawn up. She had never kept her word to tell Lindsay the full story because she knew that if she did, Lindsay would know what she was and wouldn't want her any more, but of course that had happened anyway. Bloodlust would out, it seemed, but she could at least explain, so that Lindsay didn't think it was her fault. Then Sara would leave.
Taking a breath, she summarised her story as briefly as she could: dating Oliver, the shipwreck, the island, the League of Assassins and their training, Nyssa, going home and being the Canary, death and resurrection, the bloodlust, how she'd tried so hard to be something better, but that people weren't meant to die and come back, and that she was broken now. She left out the time travel, but said that she couldn't go back to her friends or family.
Lindsay listened, without comment, and when Sara was finished, she said, "I wouldn't believe any of that, except I saw Dr. Knox's patients grow wings, and I saw you fighting like nothing I've ever seen, even in the movies. And..." she leaned forward now, elbows on her knees, "and I trust you, Sara."
That of all things finally made Sara's throat close and tears fill her eyes. She blinked fiercely, then sniffed. "Well, you shouldn't. I'm dangerous."
"If you left, where would you go?" Lindsay asked, and Sara clung to the concern in her voice. She still cared, at least a little, even if now she knew the truth.
"Back to the League. I think their leader might be able to teach me to control myself." She looked away, studying her hands. "He's... uh, he's like me, I guess. Came back, and he doesn't give in to the bloodlust like I do."
Again, Lindsay considered before she asked, "You'd have to be an assassin again?"
Sara nodded. "This man, he doesn't run a charity. If he helps me, I will obey him." She wondered if Lindsay had any idea how easy it was to let someone make all your choices for you, to just lean on his judgement, and let him fix you. But then, Lindsay had moved here against her parents' wishes, and gone it alone for months, so she must at least know the cost of breaking away.
Sara was still looking at her hands, when she heard Lindsay get up and pad across the room to stand on the rug in front of her. She looked at Lindsay’s stockinged feet, toes crooked from years of heels, but still with the nails polished a pink so bright it gleamed through beige nylons. Lindsay couched in front of Sara and stayed unmoving until she looked up. When she did, Lindsay said very definitely, "That is awful. I don't want you to do that."
"I have to," Sara said. She took Lindsay's hands, holding them tightly. "I don't want to hurt you, I can't, and if I stay here, I think it's just a matter of time. Earlier, I..." she swallowed, but this truth would convince Lindsay if nothing else would, "I wanted to hit you. When I came back, I almost killed my best friend. I just... I couldn't stop myself; I was so angry."
"This time you left and hit someone else," Lindsay said, but she didn't let go of Sara's hands. "Listen, Sara, what happened to you was terrible, and I understand that you feel you're beyond saving, but I don't believe that. I think that if you have problems that we can fix them, the two of us together, not some demagogue who'll make you kill people."
"I can't," Sara said. She jerked away and pressed the heels of her hands over her eyes, pressing so hard her vision sparked red and orange. "I can't. I can't. I can't. Lindsay. I'm a monster. I'll hurt you, and I can't." She started to cry, big messy sobs that shook her whole body, and she dropped her head to her knees and wrapped her arms over it, nails digging into her hair. She could feel herself flying apart, every scrap of hope scattered on the wind, gone like the Waverider, like Laurel and Dad, and Thea, even fucking Oliver. She was lost to herself, and to time, and the only hope she had of ever finding even a grain of serenity was throwing herself at Ra's' feet and hoping he didn't kick her in the teeth, or maybe hoping that he did.
Lindsay didn't say anything, didn't even touch her, but settled on to her knees and waited. It was that quiet, almost like letting Nyssa teach her to meditate, that let Sara come back to herself. When the sobs faded to sniffles, she wiped her nose on her sleeve and looked up. Lindsay was still waiting, watching her closely.
"I don't think you're a monster," she said. "I've see monsters every day, and not just those bird things; that's not you." She spoke calmly and with such certainty that every word felt like a link in a chain stretching between them.
"But..." Sara started still looking up through her hair with her nose pressed to her arm. Lindsay silenced her with a hand on her knee.
"I know everything now, and I still want to try. But–" her hand tightened on Sara's knee as she steadied herself and lifted her chin. "But you can't yell at me. I won't have it. If I wanted to be yelled at in my own home, I'd have married Bud Sandhurst, like Mom wanted me to. Got it?"
She sounded like Laurel just then, Laurel on a good day, when she was being a hot lawyer and not a hot mess. It was enough for Sara to lift her head and nod a little. "You're my hero," she said.
"You were my hero first," Lindsay said. "Now take a shower and come to bed. We'll work this out in the morning."
In the morning, Sara felt like a wrung out dish cloth. She'd cried too much the night before and now didn't have anything else. She didn't feel angry, but could recognise depression forming like a fog bank.
Lindsay was already up, and Sara pulled a pillow over her head.
Not long after, the pillow was cruelly ripped away, and Sara had to throw an arm over her eyes to shut out the light from the now open curtains.
"Come on, sleepy head," Lindsay said. "I made pancakes."
"Argh," Sara said, with feeling.
"I have two days off," Lindsay told her, pulling the blankets away as well, "and I'm not wasting a minute of them, and neither are you."
"You might be possessed," said Sara, "by a cheerfulness demon. I might have to exorcise you."
"Well that's–" Lindsay started, then stopped. "Demons are real?"
"Yes, yes they are." She'd fought demons. She could get her ass out of bed and deal with Lindsay too. Lassitude seemed to have drowned the rage, for now, and she was hungry. They'd missed dinner, so she hadn't eaten since lunch the day before. "There better be a lot of pancakes."
Lindsay had been up early, or possibly hadn't slept, and had called around to find out how everyone they knew had made out in the raid. The Cove regulars didn't have a telephone tree, exactly, but the National City lesbian grapevine could supply a vineyard. Lindsay wanted to go to a meet up in one of the other couple's homes, to talk about what they could do about police harassment. Sara thought she'd rather set her hair on fire, but agreed to go because Lindsay clearly wanted her to. Neither of them talked about the woman who had fought the police long enough for most of the bar's patrons to escape, but Sara got the impression, via significant glances and pauses, that Lindsay had heard all about it.
"Do you want to go for a walk?" Lindsay asked, in what Sara was starting to recognise as her careful voice. She hadn't seen Lindsay interact with patients very much during their time in Harmony Falls, but she had a sinking feeling that it was also her professional voice. She set it aside. If Lindsay didn't want to be yelled at, Sara was pretty sure she didn't want to be nursed, but they could work out the details later, assuming Lindsay didn't come to her senses in the meantime.
"Sure," Sara said. "Do they have the Rockwall Trail?" She stopped just in time to keep from appending "yet."
Lindsay narrowed her eyes at the odd phrasing, but and packed a picnic basket anyway.
It was a bit of a drive, but they had the newly founded state park to themselves that early on a weekday, and Lindsay drove fast with the top down, letting the wind make a mess of her hair. Sara watched her out of the corner of her eye. What a change this move had made, from the shy young woman she'd met in Harmony Falls not even three months ago. Sara knew that she couldn't take even a fraction of the credit for the metamorphosis, no matter her early liberation efforts. She might have given Lindsay a little push, but the rest had been entirely her initiative. Too bad Sara would never see the Waverider again, as she'd have wanted to check the timelines to see if Lindsay brought gay liberation forward by a decade.
"What other places do you want to see?" Sara asked as they parked and started to walk up into the scrubby hills. Sara wouldn't be here for another fifty years, but she remembered a hell of a view from the top: the foothills and the city and finally the sea spread out at their feet.
Lindsay didn't answer for a few minutes, apparently giving the matter more thought than Sara's casual question had intended. "New York," she said. "Paris, obviously. Scotland. I don't think it would matter where I went. It's the travelling itself that would matter, and the coming home. I suppose in thirty years, we'll all be living on the Moon or Mars or something anyway."
"I guess so," Sara said, thinking of all the broken futures Rip had shown them. "Assuming the Soviets don't drop the Bomb." Or Firestorms, and Vandal Savage would get them all in the end, though long after Lindsay's natural lifetime, unless they'd screwed up the timeline by mucking around in Harmony Falls. She probably wouldn't ever know now, and Rip was most likely dead anyway.
"You're in a good mood," Lindsay commented. They'd come to the first ridge, and got their first glimpse of the view: a flash of skyscrapers and the sea behind them. The trails were all still so new that Sara could see the shovel marks.
"Sorry," Sara said, apology automatic by now. "I'm sure World War III is a long way off yet."
Lindsay snorted but fell silent again, and they hiked up the slope for about half an hour more–her ahead and Sara admiring her ass under her loose hiking shorts–before she said, "You need to get a job."
That sparked irritation, but Sara tamped it down. "Not much out there when your whole resume is 'league of assassins' and 'vigilante,'" was all she said.
"Though..." Sara hesitated, but they needed to get it out in the open. "I was thinking of being the Canary again. Last night, I think it did me good." As Lindsay had said, at least she'd gone out and hit someone else.
"The White Canary," Lindsay said. She turned, and Sara had to squint up at her as the sun broke over the ridge and streamed down to halo her loose hair. "The White Canary," she repeated, tasting each word, "like you said your sister wanted."
"I don't..." Sara started to say, but she knew Lindsay had set on that. She'd add a mask, at least. "That doesn't exactly pay the bills, and I think I need something... normal."
Lindsay laughed at her, then realised she was serious. "I'm trying to imagine what you consider normal."
Sara ducked her head, embarrassed, but then realised that her life had been utterly ridiculous for ten years now, and laughed too. "Yeah, I have no idea. What do you think I should do?"
Again taking the question more seriously than Sara had expected, Lindsay asked, "What did your parents do?"
The past tense shocked Sara, even though she was the one who'd left Lindsay with the impression that her family was gone. She explained about her mother's academic career, and how her big sister was a lawyer, then looked down again, before saying, "and Dad, uh, Dad was a cop. A detective, then a captain." The kind of person who these days Lindsay mostly saw kicking down doors and arresting her friends. Sara wasn't ashamed of him, she could never be, but she'd also heard how Lindsay talked about the police that morning.
But all Lindsay said now was, "I read in the paper the other day that the National City Police Department needed more dispatchers."
Then she turned and led the rest of the way to the top of the rock wall. The view was as spectacular as Sara remembered. Lindsay spread a blanket, then violated half a dozen federal and state laws demonstrating her appreciation of the view, and of Sara.
The political heart of the lesbian political grapevine was the Martinez-Andrews household, hosted by Connie and Marge, femme and butch respectively, and it did indeed make Sara want set her hair on fire. She'd met most of the two dozen or so women either at the Cove or on the beach the week before, but now they were all packed into far-too-small apartment, drinking cheap wine and talking about political realities that Sara's mother hadn't had to deal with, and absolutely could not be hit with any kind of stick.
"The 'Fifties suck," Sara reiterated and retreated into the corner with her glass of wine.
She'd never been anything like a radical dyke, or even a feminist save by default, even in school, but she'd listened to Laurel enough to know that twenty-first-century politics made her head hurt. She'd liked to take a more direct approach, like she had last night, but of course that solved nothing when the cops could keep raiding the bars and charging everyone with what basically came down to "looking funny" though the women here all seemed to know the legal terms. Something about disorderly something, she thought. She supposed that if they ever charged her, it'd be for something more serious. Like...
"Sara's applying to the police," Lindsay said brightly, voice carrying clear across the apartment Every woman there turned to look at Sara. If there had been a record playing, the needle would have scratched off.
"I... uh," Sara gauged the room, then squared her shoulders and said, "I am." Even though she'd only really been toying with the idea.
"Will you be able to tip us off?" Connie asked, which, Sara realised belatedly was why Lindsay had mentioned it just now, or in the first place, come to think of it.
Sara shrugged, trying to think what Dad had told her about how the police worked, what Digs had said about his radio intercept. It was all a little blurry. Bizarrely, she wished Snart were there. He'd have the whole system down to the second, only having lived in the city for less than two weeks or not. "I can try," she said.
"She'll have to be careful," Lindsay added. She'd come over to stand next to Sara, and leaned in when Sara rested her head on Lindsay's hip. "Especially at first."
"Anything you can do," Connie said, and Sara's heart clenched. She sounded so damn trusting, so grateful, that for a moment she reminded Sara of Ray, and damn if this meeting wasn't dredging up all kinds of memories. Memories of people who thought she was a hero, even Snart, who'd told her she was better than Rip's plans and better than a killer.
So instead protesting, or sidestepping Connie and Lindsay's expectations, she nodded and said, "of course."
And fuck, suddenly she was political. Forget missing Snart, he'd probably be laughing her ass off right now. She deliberately didn't consider what Laurel or, worse, Dad would think of this plan.
She did have to be careful at first, and she had to balance when a tip off to Connie et al worked best, and when to send the White Canary, which the cops still hadn't made heads or tails out of. This wasn't an era that had a handle on costumed vigilantes outside of the funny pages, let alone female ones, and ones that sometimes fought them and sometimes beat on criminals ran them in even more circles.
Lindsay had helped her with her costume, as close to the old one as she could get, save with cowl to hide her face and hair. Lindsay wanted to put wings on it, like that guy in Timely comics, but Sara drew the line. She passed her tips to Connie, but they kept the Canary on the down low from the rest of the group.
Sometimes, everything lined up perfectly, and Sara felt like the hero Laurel kept telling her she was, other times, not so much...
It wasn't like she could just run out on her job. She didn't have superspeed like the Flash, or the ability to fly like Firestorm. Ideally, she could work days, and pick up tips at the end of her shift to act on that evening, either something she handled or gossip from the other dispatchers, most of them trying to be nice and draw the new girl out of her shell. She felt a little bad about that sometimes, but no one seemed to have picked up on the leak, so far, anyway.
Only this week, she'd been on nights, had just listened and done nothing, telling herself that she was marking patterns for later, that she could use all this.
She heard a patrol car's amused commentary as a bunch of street toughs picked on some "girls" outside the Caroline, which was more or less what she'd have called a drag bar in her day, but something else again in '58, and not exactly legal. The reporting officers and the duty officer had been back and forth about whether to bust up the brewing fight, and everyone involved, or to let it run its course and bust the stragglers. Assuming they were the girls, not the street toughs.
Sara could see how quickly it was escalating, and knew that given the bar, there'd be a fight no matter what, and that the Canary might not be of much use, but still wanted in so badly her shoulders started to tense and her palms itched. If she could have ripped off her ironed blue blouse and black skirt and gone tearing into the night, she would have. However, the situation came to its predictable bloody end before she could.
The next night was a Friday, with its endless drunken domestic assaults, some requiring intervention, most told to keep quiet enough that the neighbours couldn't hear.
Saturday was a shit show generally, less said the better.
On Sunday, Sara had the night off, but Lindsay insisted that they went over to Connie and Marge's. So Sara got to listen to a bunch of women opine on how they really thought that this vigilante in white, whoever she was, was doing more harm than good, while at the same time asking Sara if she could be a little more forthcoming with tips. This last was done with all good faith and politeness, but simultaneously made Sara feel like a scab and a failure, even when Lindsay defended her. Though Lindsay said she was just starting, and would be more productive later, which Sara thought was a bit optimistic.
That got sidetracked back to politics pretty fast, but Sara was already so angry that her hands had started to shake. She had, in the last five minutes, pictured strangling every single woman that, including Lindsay.
She stood up, saying that she had to go in what she thought was a perfectly reasonable voice.
Lindsay stood with her, picking up her purse and feeling about for her shoes, which she'd kicked under the chair. "I'll..."
Sara shook her head minutely and narrowed her eyes. "I'll meet you back home," she said, again trying for casual and again–from the expressions of every woman there–failing badly. She cut her loses and left without another word.
They were about a forty-minute walk from Lindsay's, and Sara focused every step of the way on tamping down her temper. She took three steps, then inhaled, like a landed swimmer, another three steps and let the breath out. Her hands were still shaking when she got back, but she grabbed the duffel with the White Canary costume in it, and headed back downtown to change.
She didn't come back until dawn, and by then was limping badly and had only just staunched the bleeding from a slash across her ribs. She missed the armour built into her old suit.
Lindsay had waited up, which must have been a sign of how Sara had looked when she left. "How bad is it?"
Sara shook her head. "I'll live. Too bad you're a psych nurse, not a medic."
They did have a pretty extensive first aid kit though, and Lindsay went for it while Sara peeled out of her costume. "Anyone dead?" Lindsay asked.
"No." The cut on her side was going to need stitches across the deepest part, and Sara was pretty sure she'd sprained her ankle. "I don't so that. Any more." A few of them wouldn't be up and walking for a long time, which she couldn't say she regretted.
Sara shrugged, then winced when that hurt to. "Got angry. Got careless," she muttered, the humiliation rising and threatening to pull the anger along up with it. "I don't want to talk about it."
"I've been worried about you," Lindsay said, but on Sara's glare, she let it be. "We'll talk later, once I've patched you up."
By the time they she'd sown and bandaged everything, and put Sara in bed, Lindsay had to go to work, and when she got back, Sara had to go to work, so they didn't talk about it. Sara studiously avoided the subject until she felt like it had dropped. Every time she thought about talking about what she felt like when the bloodlust hit, a mix of guilt, inferiority, terror and resentment stepped on the words. Every time Lindsay looked like she was going to ask, Sara did her best to distract her from it.
The problem was that the anger came in waves, like a malarial fever. Sara could brace herself against the bubbling irritation that lay behind every mood. She could even step on the anger as it rose, or direct it at a better target, but nothing she did seemed to prepare her for the bloodlust itself.
She took up meditation, and swimming, and hiking, which seemed like things women could do in 1958 (going on 1959, now) but she still kept thinking or Ra's, and how he was the only person alive who had gone through what she had, and how maybe the price of being his tool wasn't too high to pay. Certainly it would be cheaper than whatever cost to Lindsay if she finally exploded here.
"Have you thought about going to church?" Lindsay asked from the couch, as Sara paced and tried to bring herself back down through pure force of will. "The way you talk about this old master of yours, sounds a lot like the way people talk about God. Maybe if you prayed and..."
Sara was already shaking her head. "I don't believe. I've never believed." Near-compulsory religion was another thing that sucked about the 'Fifties, though less so in Lindsay's commie dyke circles. Lindsay still attended though, at least she had last week for Thanksgiving, and presumably would on Christmas Eve. Sara had taken a long walk instead, then felt miserable for not even putting up a show of community.
"I love you," she said, not for the first or even the hundredth time.
Lindsay frowned, biting her lip. "Sounds like there's a 'but' in there."
"No buts. I just love you," Sara said, only she couldn't make herself look at Sara, and focused on the wall instead. "It's why I've stayed."
"But you aren't staying?" Lindsay prodded. "Is that what you mean?"
"I don't know!" Sara yelled, then slapped her hand over her mouth. She turned now, and looked at Lindsay with wide eyes. Lindsay who hadn't reacted this time, but was watching her narrowly, arms folded. "I don't know what I mean," she said more softly. "I don't know who I am sometimes. I'll never see my family again; my friends are probably dead; my sexuality is illegal; I can't get a decent job with real pay, and my whole... my psyche got put in a blender and I don't know how to fix it." The last was a wail instead of a scream, and she felt tears filling her eyes again. Damn, she never used to be a crier, but since she'd come back, it was waterworks at the drop of a hat. She ran her hands through her hair, pushing it out of her face and deliberately scraping her nails across her scalp. The pain sparked her anger, and she used the heat to push the tears back. "I'd rather just be angry. Hell, I'd rather be a mindless killing machine, than have to deal with all these fucking feelings."
Lindsay hugged herself tighter, and took a deep breath before asking, "Would you really?"
"No." She said it immediately, almost reflexively, but she meant it, too. "I don't think I can be that anymore either. I wish I could."
"No, you don't," Lindsay said. She got up and moved to stand in front of Sara, their faces just inches apart. "You're better than that. I know it doesn't feel like it, but you're getting stronger. You talked to me today, instead of going and hitting things, and last week you hit things instead of yelling at me. At the meeting last night, you didn't even snarl at Karen Van Dorne when she implied that you'd become part of the establishment who might someday betray her sisters."
"I..." Sara leaned in until their foreheads rested together. Lindsay's hair smelled of the institutional shampoo she used at work sometimes, which Sara was already starting to find comforting by association. "I uh... thought about stabbing her. Kind of a lot."
"But you didn't actually stab her. Or anyone."
Sara laughed, she couldn't help it. "That is a terrible minimum standard of behaviour!" she said, and Lindsay fell forward to giggle against her shoulder.
"We work with what we have," she said when she caught her breath, then, more softly and right into Sara's ear, "I love you, too, now come to bed."
Something between the laughter and the affirmation soothed Sara's heart enough to sleep after they made love, even if she knew that the calm couldn't last. That night, as she lay on he back with Lindsay's head pillowed on her chest, and Lindsay's hair ticking her nose, Sara realised that if the peace couldn't last, then the anger couldn't either.
Winter beaches in National City were not much cooler than summer ones when Sara had grown up, though you could pick out the locals here from the jackets, and the northern tourists as the only ones actually swimming. The beach had never had a clean enough break to bring out the all-weather surfing crowd. But some locals, like her and Lindsay, were picking through the seaweed on the tideline, enjoying the fresh sea wind and the winter sun. Sara wasn't quite holding Lindsay's hand, but their fingers brushed.
"It's been a year," she said, and Lindsay looked at her, eyebrows raised in a question. "It's been a year since we met. When I was Nurse Lance, and Doctor Stein brought me to Harmony Falls."
"Of course," Lindsay said. "I always meant to ask, was Stein really a doctor?"
Sara snorted. "Of theoretical physics, yes. Medicine, no. He only thought he knew everything."
"You talk about him like he's dead," Lindsay commented. They'd stopped now, facing each other, and the sea breeze tugged strands out of Lindsay's bun, blowing them into Sara's face.
"He might be," Sara said. "I hope not. He could be a pompous ass, but he was kind to me, and full of wonder. He saved us from pirates once." She'd almost shot him in the head once, but now she just wanted him to have gotten out of this, back to his wife, free to fly with Jax.
"But he left you?" Her tone implied that no one in their right mind could leave Sara, which she appreciated.
"I don't know if he had a choice," Sara said. She had always wondered about that, and probably always would. Even if the team had decided to strand Sara like they had put down Mick Rory, and for similar reasons, even if they had all agreed Sara had to go, why Kendra and Ray as well? That didn't make sense. "Maybe none of them did, or they're dead."
"You don't talk about them," Lindsay said, and Sara shook her head and turned away, walking towards the waves. The tide was out, and her footsteps shimmered in the wet sand before almost vanishing again. Lindsay followed. "You talk about your family, and your friends growing up, but not these people."
"It doesn't matter," Sara said, knowing the wind swept half her words away. "They're gone. I'm here now." She hadn't talked of leaving since that night just after Thanksgiving, hadn't even really thought of it. Lindsay had been right: she wasn't assassin material any more. Snart, of all people, had shown her that.
"But you still miss them," Lindsay pressed, and she came to stand next to Sara, again letting their fingers brush. Little waves ran up over their bare feet.
"Yeah," Sara admitted. "They were a bunch of idiots, mostly, but they liked me, and I liked what we were doing."
"Mostly," Sara said, and she thought of how working with Kendra had let Sara face herself, even just a little. How having to be part of a team, had made her just that much more careful, because caring about someone else meant that she couldn't let the fire inside her go and ride it all the way down. "We were trying to save the world. Mostly we were pretty crap at it, but we tried."
"You're sure they won't come back for you?" Their fingertips touched now and Sara wanted to lean her head on Lindsay's shoulder, but she couldn't, not in this time and place.
"If they were going to, they would have by now."
"But if they did, would you go with them?"
Sara sighed. She wished she knew what Lindsay wanted to hear. Maybe that would untangle the knot around her heart that tightened every time she thought of leaving, even to go back to her family. Maybe it would just pull it tighter. Instead of answering, she asked, "If I went, would you come with me?"
She looked sideways at Lindsay, but she was squinting against the setting sun, and Sara couldn't read her expression. That, in itself, was all the answer she needed though. Lindsay's place was here, fighting to save the world in her own way.
"It doesn't matter," Sara said. "They won't come back, not for me."
"The more fool they." Throwing aside all care, Lindsay turned and looped her arms around Sara's neck. "Your worth saving," she told Sara, every word loaded with conviction. "You're worth coming back for, no matter how long the voyage, and if you don't believe me now, I'll figure out a way to explain it so you do."
Glancing up the beach, Sara tugged Lindsay's wrists away, then found she couldn't bring herself to let go, and held both their hands between them. She wanted to kiss Lindsay here and now, but said, "Let's go home. Maybe you can explain some more."