“I’m taking that time traveler up on his offer. You’ll never find me.”
She’d said goodbye to them the morning they left, a kiss pressed to Mick’s cheek and another pressed to Len’s before he’d had the chance to recoil. He’d looked at her, panicked in that way he always was when a parent laid a gentle touch instead of one aimed to hurt, and it brought up that old anger at Lewis Snart. The things she would have done to that man if Leonard hadn’t killed him already…
(She didn’t usually advocate murder, but Lewis was a special case and none of her boys begrudged her for it.)
She’d told them to stay safe and to watch out for each other, and contented herself with that for months. Every time Clark checked in and asked if they were back yet. Every time she lit a candle. Every time the news reported something about another supervillain sweeping through Central.
Clark was visiting the day Mick came home, pale and shaking so bad that he hadn’t been able to get further than the second step. Something terrible made her stomach twist as she cupped Mick’s face in her hands and tried to make those tired, haunted eyes lock with hers.
“Mick, what happened?” she asked, voice as gentle as she could make it. There was still a fragility to it, fear flooding through her bones. “Look at me. What happened?”
“Where’s Lenny?” Clark whispered to Jonathan, but the wind picked it up just enough.
She pulled him to her chest, his face buried in her breasts as he wrapped burly arms around her middle. Her eyes found Jonathan as knowledge settled in her stomach. It felt cold.
Realization hit Clark a second later, pushing a breath out of him like a punch to the gut, and he leaned back against the house as if it was the only thing holding him up. “Mom…”
Jonathan laid a hand on their younger son’s shoulder.
Clark covered his mouth with a hand.
“I’m taking that time traveler up on his offer. You’ll never find me.”
She hadn’t thought it would mean she’d never see him again.
“You’re sure it was him?”
Martha stopped halfway down the hall at the sound of Mick’s voice, raw and almost a little pleading. Like this wasn’t the first time he’d had Len dangled in front of him. Like he’d go to pieces if it was another trick.
“It’s definitely a Len,” Clark’s voice came. “I don’t know if it’s ours, but some version of him is working with the Legion.”
“It’s probably a past,” Mick said hopelessly. “They got Dhark from the past.”
“Maybe,” Clark agreed, but Martha could hear the nervous hints of optimism, like he needed to believe there was a chance. “But we’ve seen stranger things.”
The snort Mick gave was watery. “Like you?”
Clark left with the Legends two days after the other heroes and their families returned to their respective cities. Mick’s teammates—ones that hadn’t been taking care of him and who Martha was going to have words with—had stared at Clark like they couldn’t wrap their heads around the connection. Because their brotherhood was somehow stranger than the Lance girl’s resurrection or Jax and Professor Stein’s ability to merge into a flying, burning man.
“Bring them both home, if you can,” she told Clark when she hugged him goodbye. “If that’s Mick’s Len.”
Clark nodded, eyes serious, and so grown up that it still made her chest ache, but he understood. He looked at his brother’s team with the same mistrust she did. Neither of those boys belonged on that ship.
She watched them go, eyes locked on the Waverider until its image shimmered away into nothingness, and sighed. “Do you think it’s him?” she asked Jonathan as his arm circled around her waist to draw her in close.
“I think it’s Len,” he replied, a ghost of a smile in his voice. “I think he’s too stubborn to leave Mick like that.”
She hoped he was right.
They were gone for three months. Three months of questions and worrying and one single message from Clark that it’s Lenny and Gideon said his hand’s been regenerated—how cool is that—but we think they’ve got him brainwashed.
It had made Martha feel better just as much as it hadn’t. A gift and a horror in the same breath.
When they came back, it was with a different ship than the one they’d left in, this one dark and sleek in the ways its predecessor had been dull and clunky. She looked at Jonathan in confusion, foot hovering over the first step, but he put up a hand to warn her off. She didn’t listen and joined him in the yard.
Clark came rushing out, face lit up. “We got him!” he announced, as if his smile hadn’t been enough of a hint. “And we get to keep another ship?” he added a little more carefully as he shot them both an apologetic look. This one was much bigger than his pod. “It’s Mick’s ship. From when he was a bounty hunter. Brainwashed. Don’t ask. He doesn’t want to talk about it.”
Yes. Because Martha was going to let that go. It was like Clark didn’t know her at all sometimes.
Beside her, Jonathan sighed. At least he understood.
“Where are they?” her husband asked and Clark jerked a thumb back towards the ship.
“They’ll be here in a minute. The stuff that happened…” Clark grimaced. “Lenny’s jumpy. Mick’s got him.”
Her heart twisted in her chest, eyes locked on the guilty and worried look Clark wore, but… Not now. They’d get the boys inside and settled first. The talk would come later. Somehow, she was sure it would be like getting blood from a rock.
“Inside,” she told them both and gave the ship a concerned glance. “We’ll get some hot chocolate started.”
“With mini marshmallows?” Clark asked hopefully.
“If Len leaves you any.”
Jumpy had been another word for it.
He didn’t look injured, but his eyes looked like a soldier just come home from war. His eyes scanned over her the first time, logging her without actually acknowledging her. He did it with all of them, even Mick as he hovered to Len’s right. It didn’t look like either of them had slept in days.
“It’s just the house, Len. It’s secure,” Mick told him, voice soft. Martha didn’t think she was supposed to hear it.
Len didn’t relax, shoulders tensed under the thick sweatshirt that might have actually been Mick’s, but he forced his face into some version of calm. She pretended it wasn’t a lie. “Hey, Mrs. Kent.”
The voice was dull and listless, so much like Mick’s had been after his family died. Speaking pleasantries by instinct. But it was what he called her that made her eyes tear. Mrs. Kent. She’d spent years trying to get him to call her Martha and it had turned into a game somewhere along the line where the two of them refused to give. Until that moment, she hadn’t realized how scared she’d been that he’d call her Martha instead.
Like his giving up on that would have meant Len giving up entirely.
He still went tense when she hugged him, right arm twitching in a way that seemed to make Mick worried. She knew that was where he used to leave his gun, remembered tiny holsters until he’d gone and turned himself into a supervillain. She wasn’t scared. Reflex or not, that gun wasn’t attached to his leg.
Still, she backed off, hands loose as they slid down Len’s arms. “You don’t do that again,” she told him, firm. “You understand?”
The veiled panic from before was more obvious when his head shot towards Mick. He cleared his throat and looked back. “Yeah,” he croaked out. He looked relieved when she stepped out of arms reach.
“Into the kitchen,” she told the boys. “There’s hot chocolate.”
(Len smiled with his first sip like it had warmed him to the core and woke something up.)
“You’re staying here,” she told Mick when he tried to beg off and say they had a safe house a few miles out. He didn’t mention sleeping on the ship, but the look on his face said that had more to do with his demons than Len’s.
“Your room is ready,” she cut in and watched him glance guiltily towards the stairs. The room had always been his, even if he’d rarely gotten to sleep in it. “Len’s already asleep, anyway. He started dozing off while you were moving that ship. Jonathan got him upstairs.”
He opened his mouth, ready to argue again, and sighed.
She understood his reluctance when Len’s nightmares woke the whole house.
Mick came down the next morning with a black eye.
Len shut down.
Days after their arrival, she cleared the house of alcohol and listened to Mick swear a blue streak. She threatened to wash his mouth out with soap.
“You’re not going to find anything at the bottom of a bottle,” she told him when he muttered about going to the store. “You get in that car, you had better be driving to a session with Dr. Lu.”
He shot her an irritated look, because they both knew damn well that he hadn’t called his therapist. “I’m not a kid.”
She didn’t remind him that he was hers. The words showed on her face.
He still went out.
She poured it down the drain all over again.
Three weeks later, he stopped trying and went back to Dr. Lu.
The therapist they found Len was a resource through the DEO. Clark grumbled about it, still holding onto his issues with them, but agreed they were the best bet. For as commonplace as meta humans seemed to be these days, Martha wasn’t sure any of them knew how to handle someone like Len. The trauma of being trapped in the time stream had shaken him up enough, but the brainwashing had only seemed to widen the wound it left.
Dr. Richmond was a nice man, too nice for the politics of the DEO, but capable enough to handle Len when his flashbacks made him lash out.
Admittedly, he was a little less useful when they realized the Oculus had left Len with the ability to stop time.
They were still trying to work through that one.
Mick brought Cisco and Dr. Snow back to the farm with him early one morning after Len had managed to freeze half of Smallville and cause a small panic.
(Martha was pretty sure he’d kidnapped them, but there were bigger things to worry about.)
Jonathan watched them the entire time they worked on a set of power-suppressing bracelets, but promptly disappeared to call Felicity and ask about better battery life.
She made them a couple pies as a thank you.
“They’re a little bulky,” Len said critically as he twisted one around his wrist.
“Better than you going Father Time on us,” Mick grunted, but the hand on Len’s shoulder stroked carefully at the skin at the edge of his shirt. “Besides, what are you talking about? Bulky. You wear a parka.”
“You know how I feel about facial hair,” Len said, but the joking tone fell a little flat. He shot Mick a weak smile instead, still shaken by his own powers, and the look that crossed over Mick’s face—amusement mixed with a bone-deep tiredness—said that he saw the fragility that still threatened to crack Len in half some days.
Martha felt her heart break for them both.
It wasn’t just Len she worried would go to pieces.
“I’m not drinkin’ it,” Mick muttered when she came downstairs one night and caught him staring into a beer bottle.
“I know,” she said, voice equally soft as she slid into the chair beside him. She reached over and curled her fingers around his. He squeezed.
“It was supposed to be me,” he muttered. “He took my place.”
It was like her heart stopped mid-beat. She didn’t need to ask what he was talking about. The guilt and the anger and the hurt, it was all right there, bubbling closer the surface than she’d ever seen it get.
Mick was supposed to die, she thought and swallowed back the way her breath wanted to hitch. She’d never gotten the whole story about what had happened when they left on their mission across time. Clark had given as short an explanation as he could and warned her off of ever trying to make Mick talk about it. She’d tried, but even her best tactics hadn’t made him crack. She thought—hoped—he’d been talking to Dr. Lu about it, but there was no way to know. No way to know what he was bottling versus what he was actually allowing himself to vent.
No way to know that he’d been holding onto this.
“Mick, baby, look at me,” she urged. He did, but she thought it had less to do with her than with the old endearment she’d rarely used since he’d grown. “You don’t blame yourself for that, do you hear me? Leonard made his choices.”
“He loves you,” she said. Her tone left no room for argument, but for a moment, she wanted to tell Mick more. To tell him how Len had told her about his feelings that first time she met him. To tell him how Len had gone to pieces after the fire. To tell him how Clark had forcibly moved into Len’s then-current safe house for a week afterward because they were all worried and only left because Lisa took his place.
She didn’t. She forced it all back, because they weren’t her truths to tell. For as showy as Len liked to be, he was a private person in the same breath. It was a trust she wasn’t willing to break.
She kissed Mick’s forehead and held him tight. “He’s doing better,” she reminded him, because it was the truth. For as shaky as Len still was, he was miles better than he’d been when the boys returned eight months ago. They both were, even if Mick was staring down his own demon on the table. “Now, we both know that beer’s not going to help you any.”
Mick let out a heavy breath, but the tiny smile he offered her was just a bit amused. “You’re fine with the supervillain thing, but drinking is the issue?”
She shrugged a shoulder. “Only one of those is a problem.”
“What are they doing?” Martha asked Jonathan carefully when she joined him on the back porch.
“Testing Len’s abilities versus Clark’s,” Jonathan explained, more amused than worried. “Len’s managed to freeze him twice.”
“And unfreeze him, I see.”
“With a little help from Mick,” her husband admitted. “Clark’s shirt might be a little scorched.”
Martha sighed. She still didn’t know—or want to know—how Mick and Clark had figured out Clark didn’t burn. Her blood pressure was better off that way.
Clark froze in mid-air for a second while Mick gave a triumphant shout. Clearly, his loyalties in that battle were chosen.
Len kept one hand extended out towards Clark like he was holding him there, brows furrowed and concentrating hard. She wasn’t sure if he was trying to keep him frozen or reverse it, but his face was pale and-
“Mick, his nose is bleeding,” Jonathan called out at the same time she noticed herself.
Mick swore and shot a quick blast of flame near the edge of Clark’s boot. It broke the connection. “Time,” he shouted out to both of them, but Clark was the only one that nodded. Len raised a hand to his head, already massaging at his temples.
“Not the first time you boys have done this, then?” she inquired when Clark joined them on the porch.
He gave her a sheepish grin. “He’s getting better?” he offered. “Before, he couldn’t do it without having a panic attack.”
Because that made her feel so much better.
“Go change your shirt.”
Len was outside when she got back from grocery shopping, leaned up against a fence and facing out towards the field. She paused, car door left hanging open and bags of food forgotten as she went to join him.
“Where is everybody?” she asked as she dropped folded arms onto the fence.
He didn’t answer for a long moment, eyes closed and eyebrows furrowed in concentration. “Therapy,” he said shortly. “Mr. Kent said something about the tractor.”
She hummed. The starter had been giving Jonathan issues for weeks. Mick had been telling him it was time for a new one. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” he replied, but there was a reluctance in his tone she didn’t understand until he opened his eyes and they were glowing blue.
It had happened a few times since they realized the full scale of what the Oculus had done to him, but it was mostly in the height of a panic attack. This time, it seemed willful. She wondered when he’d learned how to do that. He looked too comfortable with it for it to be a new development.
She wondered briefly if the batteries in his bracelets had died again or if he’d simply taken them off. He’d begun to go without them as he seemed to stabilize, only going back when he felt off-kilter.
“I can see it,” he confessed, but his glowing eyes only glanced towards her before they moved back to stare into the field. “The timeline. I think I can change it.”
She sucked in a breath, sharp. “Len-”
“I could fix it,” he told her, continuing on as if he hadn’t heard her speak. “The fire… I could stop it from happening. Stomp it out before the house caught.” His fingers twitched out towards the air, but he didn’t reach.
She took his hand in hers and watched as his eyes flickered between glowing and not. “You’re not supposed to mess with that,” she reminded him and hated herself for it.
“He misses them.”
She knew that, just as well as she knew Mick still felt guilty for not getting them out. Len didn’t need to tell her that. “What would it do to the timeline?”
He swallowed, but his eyes seemed to flare an even brighter blue as he… God. He was looking. He was actually looking through the timeline, wasn’t he? “Flashpoint 2.0,” he told her with a snort. She wasn’t sure what it meant. “Mick’s not Mick without the fire. You change that, you change his entire future. It’d fracture the world.”
“Like another Earth?” she asked carefully, because that was her life. That was actually her life.
Len shook his head slowly. “It wouldn’t be stable. A mistake in the timeline. A half-world. A-” He cut himself off and the blue left his eyes in a blink. “2046,” he said hoarsely and pushed away from the fence. It wrenched his hand free of hers, but she followed after him.
“It wouldn’t last,” he told her, his normal eyes wide in a panic. Like he needed her to understand. “The world would fall apart. They’d die anyway and they’d take him with him.”
“Then, you let things lie,” she told him and hoped she was making the right choice. Len could be wrong. A world that saved them could be perfectly fine and survive. It might not end as horrifically as Len seemed to think it would. They still barely understood what he could do with those powers of his.
But something in her gut said he was right, saw the terror in his eyes and the shaking of his hand in hers.
God forgive her, but let the Rorys rest undisturbed in their graves.
Mick and Len left after the New Year with smiles and promises that they’d be back soon. They looked towards each other without bothering to disguise their nervousness, but there was a resoluteness there that spoke of a strength they hadn’t had when they’d first come back to the farm.
Back to the Vanishing Point to chase down Len’s demons. Back to places they wouldn’t tell her about so they could chase down Mick’s.
Martha thought the sleek ship behind them was a demon all on its own, but Mick called it a means to an end. She’d take his word for it. She had to.
Mick whispered a thanks, Ma Kent into her ear when he hugged her.
Len managed to not go stiff when she kissed his cheek and surprised her by dropping a quick one on her own. “We’ll bring you back something shiny,” he told her and they all knew it would be stolen.
She laughed and tucked herself into Jonathan’s side as Clark hugged Mick goodbye. “Not another sculpture,” she told him. “Those things you brought me before were hideous.”
“Those are art.”
“Artful trash,” she agreed flatly, but his grin matched hers. Len directed his own towards Mick as he and Clark joined them. “You boys take care of yourselves.”
“We’ll be back in plenty of time for the wedding,” Len said as his eyes flashed blue.
“What wedding?” Jonathan asked at the same time Clark squawked.
Martha turned wide eyes to her youngest. “Clark?”
“I haven’t even asked her yet!” he defended. “Len!”
“Spoiler alert,” Len quipped. He looked entirely unapologetic.
Mick snorted and slid an arm around Len’s middle. “Congrats on the engagement,” he told Clark as the other man shouted that he hadn’t even bought the ring.
“No one said you were the one that asked, Clarkie,” Len said, because he liked causing trouble.
Clark was still red and stammering about how he’d had plans when Mick dragged Len towards the ship.