Chalk up one more crazy notion
Imagination running wild
But if I needed confirmation
I would have gone that extra mile
You're the last chance on the highway
I'm that open stretch of road
You're the diner in my rear-view
A cup of coffee getting cold
The village rests on the edge of nowhere, surrounded by cold and biting waters with choppy waves. The old fisherman used to say that if you woke up early enough, and listened quiet enough, you could hear the total silence: the absence of noise without a vacuum and feel absolutely at peace with your past and your demons.
They say, people come here to escape their mistakes. That the water doesn’t give a damn who comes to visit her mighty tempests, that she would welcome them all the same with salt water up their nose and a lobster red tan if they made the mistake of falling asleep on the rocky beach nearby.
They whisper, under their breath, that this is some people’s final resting place. That they will never leave, paying month after month of rent, looking out to the tumulus waves and spending the rest of their lives within the confines of a small beach home with clothes and furniture passed down from owner to owner, and secrets breathed into the walls of the houses, giving them the weight of time, the weight of regret, the weight of the quiet release that was death.
No one would stop to think to look for someone here, not when almost everyone came to run from the things that they couldn’t escape from. It’s a musty little place, a tour guide will say, with a rocky beach and nothing to offer. One tourist jostles. It sounds like a shithole. Exactly, the tour guide says laughing, it’s a shithole.
Rip Hunter stumbles upon it by accident. Sometime between working to form the Bureau and meeting the Legends five years later, he finds himself at the door of a house turned hotel, knocking to find an old man that demanded money and exchanged for that money silence. Anonymity.
He misses that, in the sense he never had it. He was known among the Time Masters, the Bureau, the Legends, everyone. His reputation precedes him always, he learns to find out, and so he adjusts accordingly.
It feels so nice for him to be able to say that no one cared about where he came from, or what he had done. It’s a blank slate, the quiet symphony of walking down the sea salt tempered streets and admiring the shops from afar. No one asks him what he would do about what problem, about what the Legends had done now (to which he responds, no, before asking the agent to take care of it for him) or what it was he intended on doing.
He comes here by accident. He stays because he has no where else to go and all the money in the world. Enough to last him a good long while, he figures. Money becomes a very flexible thing when your profession was time and currency could mean anything from stones to diamonds to comic books.
For once in his life, things aren’t chaotic. Life comes to a standstill around him as time slowed down for for the first time. The break of two years doesn’t pass in the blink of an eye aboard the waverider but slowly, one second after the other without stopping. New Year features one too many bottles of brandy, and Rip doesn’t offer his personal collection of alcohols from prohibition, french wine from the court of Louis the fourteenth, and his favorite, scotch from the wild west.
He decorates the house, hanging it with photographs of Jonas and Miranda, family photos from when he had taken them on vacation, snapshots he had taken of Miranda and baby Jonas when he had slept in and found Miranda soothing Jonas to go back to sleep. Him and Miranda when they first found out she was pregnant with their child, the joy on her face infectious as she held onto him for dear life. Their wedding, a rushed affair that involved booking a priest that had had too much too drink and a half abandoned church that didn’t have enough funds to maintain its upkeep.
There’s Jonah Hex and the coat he stole on one table, on another the Legends. It was a good day when he would like to look at the album of the Legends, and on days he didn’t, he would turn away from it and shake all semblance of joy and amusement away at the thought of them finding him here.
The sea helps. There’s a beauty to the waves curling against the sharpness of the rocks, the birds swooping down from the sky to pick up slivers of sand in their claws. It calms him, in the soothing repetition that rarely faded. Like clockwork, it would appear and reappear, and that was that.
That is, until he realizes he needs to make money at some point. He had been fired from the organization he had founded, and he had already discounted asking the Legends for help. He would survive fine on his own, without their interfering.
He markets himself as a man of the future. A business-savvy internet figure that was somehow able to predict the future, and it works. Money comes in, and he spends some of it on his internet bill. There’s enough revenue to make it constant, and Rip finds himself surprised at how much he enjoyed the mundane joy of day to day events.
It’s nice while it lasts.
He gets a call one day, from a Dinah Lance. “Rip Hunter,” she greats him brusquely, as though calling the phone number he didn't have listed was normal and that he should have been grateful the Black Siren of Earth-2 wanted to contact him. “Just the man I wanted to see. You’re a tough person to reach, don’t you know?” She poses it as a question, her tone anything but.
He stares at the bottle of scotch sitting on the table close to him. He would need it later, at the rate this was going.
“I need a favor,” It’s a statement, the way she says it, like they’re close friends who fell out of contact or long time mutual acquaintances. As if sensing his next question, “Don’t worry, I’ll pay you. Oliver Queen has enough blood money on him to last several lifetimes. I’ll even pay you bonus if you finish my request first.”
“Miss Lance, I’m not sure transferring money from Oliver Queen’s bank account counts as your own money.” He asks it, hopefully imagining the headache he was developing.
“You never said the money had to be clean,” she tells him, playing with his words over the phone in a facsimile sing song voice. “Now, about that favor.” Her voice grows cold and professional, and it strikes a chill in his bones how fast her tone had changed from teasing to inflexible.
“What happens to Sara Lance? What’s her future, magic man? Or should I say, Rip Hunter, former captain of the Waverider, former Director of the Time Bureau and last living survivor of the Time Masters.” Black Siren chuckles to herself. “For someone that’s not even born yet, you sure have a very significant impact.”
Rip can feel the headache coming now. “Had I not recruited Sara, she would have died without making any sort of significant change to the timeline.”
The banter comes quicker now. Snappier. More impatient. “And? I don’t have all day.”
“I’m not quite sure what Sara’s future is now, but at the rate the Legends are traveling through time, they do make rest stops to Central City every so often.” It’s as honest as Rip can get, and as little as he can say to please her. “You might be able to catch Sara in Central City. Try the Bureau.”
“Or,” Siren suggests, “you could tell me something more exact and I won’t destroy the Time Bureau building.”
Rip feels like mentioning he doesn’t work there anymore. He doesn’t. “If you manage to sneak into the building, go to the Director’s office. The override code for the building is YANA.”
He hears a sigh. “Which stands for?”
“You are not alone.” Rip replies, curt and polite. He wants nothing more than to reach his bottle right now. “The code disables everything in the building. Security, locks, weapon guards, ships.”
“I’ll transfer you your money the next time I stop by the bank. The Oliver Queen of this earth has exactly the same taste in usernames and passwords as My Oliver, and that’s to say he doesn’t have any taste in either. Scratch that, My Oliver had better taste in everything. He was a good person too-” Siren pauses for a second, probably skimming over some document, “and he was a good man, unlike this Oliver.” Rip suspects that Dinah Lance had plenty more to say about Oliver Queen. He reaches for his drink. Siren continues talking. “I think I’ll stop by Starling City for a little while, bring to light some corruption charges against Mayor Queen. Maybe not corruption charges exactly, but Obstruction of Justice or Tax Evasion. Maybe even implicate him in the murder of Laurel Lance.”
Rip can hear the grin in the tone of her voice. “Well, it was nice talking to you. Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to politely request a press conference with the local news station. Everyone loves a good scandal about the politicians they vote into office.”
Rip gets a call a week later. It’s Black Siren. He’s on the balcony trying to clear his head when the phone plays the Jaws theme song, the ringtone he had set especially for Dinah Lance, dark and ominous.
“I found Sara,” Siren tells him. “The money should be transferred. Don’t hang up the phone.”
Rip questions why it is that he had picked this method as a way of making money. It had seemed easy, relaxing, up until Earth-2 Laurel Lance called his cell phone demanding answers on the location of Sara Lance.
He grabs a pair of earphones and plugs them into the phone as he hears Black Siren fight her way out of what he assumes is the Bureau. He hears Gary in the background, encouraging his former protege to fight back.
Ava does. Ava loses. Rip’s grudgingly impressed at how well Black Siren could fight. She tears through the Bureau’s best in hand to hand combat, kicking and grunting and throwing people into other people or intentionally trying to kick people out of the window on the top floor. Desks break and chairs collapse.
It’s a terrible thought he has, but he’s very glad he doesn’t have to be the one to file the report on the damages to the Bureau. That honor was typically reserved for allocation by the Director of the Time Bureau, but the Director had to personally oversee it from start to finish.
There’s more grunting and more sounds of glass breaking. No sonic screams, but Rip’s heard enough to only wonder how disastrous the damages were.
It ends soon enough, but not soon enough for his liking. Siren eventually makes her way to the elevator, and using the override code, jumps down the elevator shaft holding onto the wires the elevator moved on to steady herself.
This isn’t what Rip signed up for. This is the antithesis of what Rip signed up for. This only reminds Rip of the Legends and the Legends were the epitome of what not to do when trying to preserve the timeline in its entirety without making a single change.
Understatement of the century, he supposes. In dealing with them, he had more than once developed headaches from reading the damage reports the Bureau had done to clean up after the Legends.
“It was nice doing business with you,” Siren tells him at the end of his audio hell, before she destroyed the phone by what he assumed was her stepping on the phone and destroying the pieces. “I’ll be in touch.”
He grabs the closest bottle from his collection, a shot glass, a napkin and spends the rest of the afternoon watching the sea while trying to block out the conglomeration of sounds he had just been forced to listen to.
Time slows, blurs. The years pass by quicker and quicker, and the more unrestrained clients come and go. They’re not frequent, for which Rip is eternally grateful, but he had regulars.
Among them still, Black Siren. Her phone number is still assigned the Jaws theme song, and Rip still develops a migraine every time he picks up the phone to listen to her chide him about how being slow must have been a British thing. It becomes less nagging and more endearing, and Rip soon learns that Black Siren expressed fondness through deeds, not thoughts. Favors were done as appreciation and as a means of ensuring results, and that wasn’t counting the occasional drop by for how someone would die and/or if they had any meaningful impact on the timeline.
Eight years pass this way, New Years and Christmases and Boxing Day all a continuous blur of calls and messages wishing him a Happy Holidays, and a birthday card if he was lucky. Business is steady and reliable, especially after Siren had taken the initiative to kill the only other person who offered the same trade he did. She tells him in passing by remarks she didn’t like the time pirate, that it had just been for fun. He suspects it’s some kind of sentimentality, even though Dinah Lance would never admit to it. Rip does send his condolences, in the form of a meager cash donation.
He knows better than to tell her that, having occasionally had to listen to her and Dinah Drake try to kill each other with shrill, sonic screams. His ear drums hurt at how sharp the screams were.
Life goes on. It’s a quiet town where anachronisms are as common as a blue moon, where he can proudly say no one affiliated with the Legends or the Bureau recognizes him to his face. He grows a beard, and finds he quite enjoys having a beard again.
That is, until he hears reports of a blonde woman with a high ponytail staying in the same house-hotel convert he stayed in. What she had said, when asked what she was doing there? Just visiting an old friend.
The woman had arrived late evening on a Tuesday. Her clothes were packed in a water proof duffel bag that had been thrown into the back of the rental car, held together at the seams by layer upon layer of duck tape and covered in a variety of musings written with sharpie.
She’s American. Not the American Tourist, the one who obstinately felt the need to assert that their beloved homeland wasn’t a British Colony anymore, the one who frowned on Indian food and chose to have fast food, but something else.
Quieter. Subdued. Larger than life. Beautiful.
Rip takes the rumors with a grain of salt; subdued meant that whoever this woman was, she wasn’t a big talker. She didn’t overshare. Dignified, he supposes. Someone that carried themselves with pride, someone who wasn’t afraid of standing up for what was right.
He ignores the sinking feeling in his gut that he knows this woman, that this woman might possibly be Sara Lance.
He finds the idea of meeting Sara face to face once more something he’s not looking forward to. They had parted on very bitter terms, Sara telling him that unless he wished for her to call the Time Bureau, the organization he created, he should step foot off the waverider immediately.
He doesn’t think twice before stepping off his beloved ship. It’s not technically his ship anymore, it’s Sara’s now, and the captain had the authority to make the decisions aboard their vessel. Still, he finds himself lingering down the hallways, in the cargo bay trying to get one last glimpse of his beloved companion, to capture it in his memory, to make it last.
He doesn’t think Sara would come to find him, or search for him at all. It’s an idea he finds laughable, and he doesn’t entertain it, except for when he needs a laugh and when nothing on the television caught his eye.
Imagine his surprise when the mystery woman shows up at his door, with a long jacket and a pair of ankle boots, dark blue jeans and a sweater that looked brand new.
Sara checks her makeup one more time, mascara showcasing her eyelashes and eye shadow done just right to ensure attention. The lips, a red shade she picked up from 1950, from a shipment that was just about to leave France. Her blue eyes stare back at her as she tries not to stress about what was to come, and she tries, and fails, to ignore the taut lines along her eyes. Laughter Lines, they were called, and to her, annoyances.
It’s a sign of aging, yeah, but Sara hates aging. It’s only natural, and she does enjoy not feeling mentally insecure, but she can feel the ass kicking and training from the League of Assassins in her knees when she wakes up on a bad day, and that’s something she knows that won’t go away.
Maybe it’s a good sign she’s aged; it’s also been a decade since she’s last seen Rip in person, over any kind of screen, and she’s anxious. The last time she and Rip had talked they had argued over Ava, voices raised and emotions high as she defended Ava and Rip largely saying nothing, telling, explaining to her what he had thought at the time. It strikes her now how exhausted Rip had looked, as if he was on his last leg, how weary his eyes had been as she used the argument as an excuse to rant about her problems. She hadn’t recognized it at the time, fury and anger fueling through her blood, adrenaline rushing through her as she hurtled question after question he didn’t answer.
Regret rushes through her in the hours after their argument, when she stares around the office he decorated devoid of energy and out of options. It wasn’t that she had intended to yell at him, quite the opposite. They were just talking, dancing around the Ava, when she asks him about it. It’s a mistake in hindsight, because she may be angry at what Rip did, but she didn’t want him to leave. She didn’t want him to vanish of the grid for good, for everyone to be asking where the hell he went. She searches time, and finds no trace of him. No report that he snuck into George Lucas’s house to get film, or that he was in Pompeii in 79 AD, not even a mention he attended a rally sometime before capturing photos was easy.
Sometimes she wonders if it’s karma, if it was because she had done something so wrong he had left. It’s not something she likes entertaining, but it’s something she has to remind herself of over yet another break up, that she just hasn’t found the right person. Maybe she’ll never find that right person, and if she doesn’t, it’ll be fine. She has friends, she has family, she has nieces and nephews who call her Aunt Sara before asking where she was for their birthday or Thanksgiving, and she’s happy for the most part.
Happy didn’t stop the pangs of jealousy she felt watching a happy couple walk down the street, hand in hand as they laughed about inside jokes she would never get and references to stories she had never experienced. I can’t be so loveless that I can’t find someone whose willing to stay, she tells herself, and she really does want to believe that, bar the continuous string of failed relationships.
She and Ava had their faults, sure, but they drifted from each other eventually. Ava worked and worked and worked, because all Ava knew besides crippling self doubt was safety and security in regulations and Sara found herself one day waking up and dreading seeing Ava because all Ava wanted to talk about was anachronisms and the sex they’d had the night before. Sara knows, understands that living with psychological burdens could be hard, but it gets hard for her when all she could tell Ava that she was real, that she was here, and get nothing in return.
Hence, the break up at one in the morning on a Wednesday, an affair that began in bed and ended with Ava packing all her things from Ava’s apartment and stuffing them into a duffel bag which she then gracelessly shoved into her hands, tears streaming down her face as Sara walked away.
It serves as a prelude to the string of shitty one night stands and casual dating that went nowhere because Sara’s not sure how to tell a blind date hey, I’m a time traveller without the said date reacting in shock or disbelief. There’s a hinted at engagement at one point, but Sara withheld so much information that all that ended in with was a broken wine glass, spilled wine dripping off the table and an untouched dinner.
She takes a break to wrap up some loose ends. Tracks down old friends she hasn’t talked to recently, visits her honorary nieces and nephews more, and tries to ignore the gaping vacancy that fills hear heart yearning for something that would love her back.
Rip Hunter’s next on that list, in some tiny town where gossip was the currency and people were the trade.
Sara’s not sure why she’s still here, with a few days spent milling around drinking, eating and asking questions no one knew the answer to. Why she’s travelled to a place where the most exciting thing was people trying to probe her life story between drinks and trying to figure out who she was looking for. She should’ve ran for the hills already, but dammit, she’s here for Rip and if he doesn’t want to see her, that’s his loss. It’s perfectly understandable too, but she’s got to at least try before she gives up on him.
So, she reflects on her way here. The drive up wasn’t terrible, she has to admit. She drove past miles of sheep grazing on grass, the road under her uneven as it made its way over dirt roads and gravel roads. Her duffel bag looks like shit, but she hadn’t been in the mood to but a new one, not when she couldn’t show her face at any retail store that specialized in travel. Apparently, dating and ditching the owner had consequences, such as being told by police officers she wasn’t allowed to enter the store for security reasons.
One more bad break up, she tells herself before sighing in the car. The last ten or so years had been miserable for her love life: there was the on and off with Ava that stretched on for far too long before the two of them realized that they made each other miserable, the string of one night stands she’d have with whoever was willing to fuck her inside the bathroom of the club, and that wasn’t counting that whenever people wanted to get serious, her first instinct was to runaway.
It’s not that Sara’s scared of commitment, it’s just that she didn’t want her heart to be broken again. She doesn’t want the conversations of the future, not when there wasn’t the guarantee it was on the table forever.
That may or may not have been why her last three relationships failed. It wasn’t that one side wasn’t trying, but Sara, Sara liked keeping it casual. Hook ups and going drinking were fine, even better if it involved dancing to crappy EDM music that made her ears bleed. Visiting the children and attending work functions however, that was another story. It wasn’t that Sara didn’t want to be alone, but sometimes it felt like she was looking in the wrong place for love, that she wasn’t finding the person that understood her and believed in her.
It’s a vacation technically, she tells the Legends, but it’s more like a long break. An indefinite break, because Ray asks her when she’ll be back, and all she can tell Ray is sometime soon.
Maybe Sara’s lonely. Maybe she does need someone to talk to that wouldn’t consider her crazy, or funny, or amusing when she was telling them her personal opinion.
These thoughts keep her occupied as she walks down the street toward the house in along the side of the beach. She can hear her ankle length boots as she walks, her pony tail swishing ever so gently as she walked, the loose strands decorating her face.
She’s at Rip Hunter’s door with a gift bag, hoping that Rip would open the door soon because she wasn’t going to spend all night waiting in the cold. The wind that snaps around her with brushes to her knees, and she waits at his door. The railings have started to rust at the bottom, the steps faded and faintly stained with paint.
And Sara, she prays that Rip will open the door, because she’s come here to make peace, she’s come here for reconciliation and she doesn’t know what she’s gonna do to herself if she doesn’t get that.
It’s not that Sara’s desperate. No, really, she’s not. She’s just tired, that’s all. Exhausted from one kiss and tell relationship, bouncing to another aimlessly because goddammit, she doesn’t care if it’s necessarily healthy, because as long as she can say she has someone she’s good.
She doesn’t know how she’s come to this. How she’s come to relying on someone else for self worth, but she doesn’t want to carry her past, her history by herself. It’s a heavy one, a burdensome one and she doesn’t want to carry it alone.
Maybe Rip would give her the answers no one else could. Maybe, and she desperately wants to believe this, he would forgive her for what she had told him that fateful day.
She also understands that if he didn’t, that was perfectly acceptable.
Rip answers the door with hesitancy. It’s been such a long time since he’s seen the Legends, and now one of them has shown up at his doorstep unexpectedly. Sara’s older now, and much more beautiful. She looks just as she did when he last saw her, hair up in a pony tail, eyes as blue as sapphires, but she doesn’t have the same kicking spirit as before. She seems more reserved now, as though she was keeping secrets to protect herself and not others. She comes with a bag in her hand. It’s for him, he supposes, most likely some kind of alcohol.
He opens the door slowly, the hinges of the door creaking ever so silently. He makes a mental note to wax the door hinges in the next few days. “Sara,” his voice is wary, not necessarily nervous but not surprised either.
Sara’s face changes as he opens the door. Tense, then a small smile creeps up on her face. It’s not happiness, not quite, but it’s something he hasn’t seen before. This Sara isn’t the Sara he remembers, far from it. This Sara is wearier now, and she looks like she's carried mountains on her shoulders. “Rip,” her voice seems to betray her, “may I come in?” As an after note, she adds. “I’m not mad at you, if that’s what you’re wondering. I just want to talk.” She looks breakable.
Rip holds the door open for her. There aren’t any words he has for this, not when there’s so much he wants to ask her, and there’s nothing he can say that would truly express it. Why are you here? Why now? How did you find me? What’s happened to you? It’s an invitation Sara takes as she enters his house and hands him the bag.
Sara doesn’t say anything, just takes everything in, from the photos on the walls to the tables stacked with books and scratch paper and shot glasses, to the bookshelves filled with reading material. There’s so much to say, and maybe Sara understands that too, because she clears her throat multiple times but says nothing. There’s truly too much to say, and nothing that would adequately start this reconciliation of sorts, so he offers her a morsel of his thoughts. “Miss Lance, have you eaten?” Rip asks, because you could never go wrong with food, Rip thinks. It didn’t help that Sara had looked about the same since he last saw her. “I don’t have much, but I could order us some pizza, if you like.”
“I had something earlier-” Sara starts and stops herself. “Rip, I’m sorry. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry, and I miss you. You don’t have to accept my apology, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, but I have to say this. I’m really, truly sorry.” She’s earnest, and she looks utterly worn out. Emotionally drained, he supposes, the way she carries herself.
He motions her towards the couch and she almost collapses onto the sofa. “Sara,” he tells her, “there’s nothing to be forgiven.” She looks at him, desperately, searching for answers, for doubt. She finds none. “What’s wrong?”
She gives a sign. “Everything. Everything went wrong. I broke up with Ava because she threw herself into running the Bureau and I just couldn’t take it one day. I woke up and I realized that what I wanted wasn’t Ava, and I couldn’t break it to her because I didn’t want to cause Ava pain. I didn’t want to be another mistake she made, and dammit Rip, that was what I was.” She starts playing with her hair, pulling it out of its pony tail, “We had a huge fight one night and she watched me leave. I left. I shouldn’t have broken her heart, but I didn’t know what else I could have done. It would’ve ended anyway,” she says shrugging, mind racing and heart pounding. “I haven’t had a single relationship after Ava that didn’t end in a break up.”
Rip finds himself thankful he hadn’t dated around. He supposes it was because he still loved Miranda, but he would always love Miranda. He loved her just as much as he did the day he met her, but she was deceased, and he knew that to be a truth. There was nothing more he could have done to prevent her death and that he understood perfectly. “Sara, if you’re thinking you’re not worthy of love, that’s not true.”
Sara scoffs quietly. “That’s not what Ava and everyone else said.”
“If Agent Sharpe was unwilling to tell you that you are worthy of love and affection, I don’t think she was a good partner for you.” Rip replies, imagining the self doubt that Sara must have taken as truth.
“Yeah,” Sara replies, almost to herself, “says the widower who probably hasn’t had a date in ages.” She sighs again, this time deeper. “I keep going back to what you told me during our mission in the Greyhall Building. I keep replaying it over and over in my head, and I don’t know why.” She shakes her head at this, lost in thought. “How’d you do it? Move on?”
“Sara,” he tells her, “you have to believe that you are worthy of love. You have to believe, that no matter how much your past defines you, you cannot let it become you. Your mistakes will remain yours, your triumphs the same.”
“Rip,” she asks him, “how can you say that? How can you say that after everything I’ve done to you? How can you say that after I got you imprisoned, after I told you to get off your ship? How can you say that after everything we’ve gone through? Goddammit, Rip, does all of that mean nothing to you?”
“I guarantee you I haven’t forgotten about the arrest, if that’s what you’re wondering.” Rip replies, and Sara seems more relieved. “But Sara, you have to trust yourself. It is essential that you trust yourself.”
“You make it sound easy.” Sara sounds tired, as if she’s rehashing the same argument that she still doesn’t trust. “Look, can we start over? Because I’m tired of talking about the past, and there’s nothing we can do about changing it.” Her shoulders sag against the cushion, and it’s only then that Rip realizes how much she’s aged.
Neither of them are the same people they were when they first met, and so Rip offers a concession. “That can be arranged,” he adds, before introducing himself. “Rip Hunter. Father, husband, time traveller and widower.”
“Sara Lance. The White Canary and a former assassin for Ra’s al Ghul. Nice to meet you.” She knows Rip, yeah, but it’s the start of something and Sara wants, needs this more than anything else right now. “Having a midlife crisis right about now.”
Rip gives a light laugh. “It’s fairly common at this age.”
Sara asks, “How are you holding up? You don’t seem to be having an identity crisis.”
“I’ve already had it, and I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone.” Rip answers, and it’s strange how easy he tells Sara this. He knows her, and she knows him, but this is something else entirely. Rip can’t pinpoint why. “When Jonas and Miranda died, I was lost for a very long time. Desolate. Losing them was very difficult, and I miss them to this day.”
“Is that why you’re here? I’ve heard this place’s a real shithole.” Sara remembers that exact reaction from everyone she talked to.
“It’s quiet and allows for relaxation. I enjoy it, personally.” Rip doesn’t offer a defense of it. He doesn’t disprove her either.
“It sounds nice.” Sara tells him. “You want to do something besides feeling sorry for yourself? There’s always that rocky beach that no one wants to go on.”
“You realize that beach is only good for bonfires and for fishermen?” Rip asks, because it was already evening time and the winds were sure to be acting up tonight.
“It’s still more entertaining than the story of how I met Ava’s ex from Vegas. She was a real piece of work, let me tell you that.” Rip looks at her for further explanation. “It involves a crate of dildos, booze and online porn in the making.”
Rip gestures to a door. “Opening that door leads to stairs that should go down to the beach.” He grabs two travels and the gift bag as he follows Sara down the stairs.
“You never mentioned that the rocks were covered in bird shit,” Sara tells him as they walk around.
“That is part of the beach’s charm- sun bleached rocks that stink of bird feces.” Rip replies in amusement as Sara leads him through the rocks. He’s the person that’s lived lived here for the last ten years, but Sara seems to know where she wants to go. She walks ahead of him, face alight with joy for what he assumed the first time in a long time.
Sara laughs at that statement. “I think that’s why people don’t come here. The beaches suck.” The sun sets around them, and as far as Rip can tell, it’s just the two of them by the beach. The waves are perpetual in the background and Rip thinks that there’s something special about this moment. He can’t pinpoint why he feels this, but something changes as he and Sara explore the beach.
It’s not peace, because Rip now knows what peace is. It’s not quiet either, because he’s got Sara by his side, and the two of them together were hardly quiet. It’s more than that. Something deeper, something heavier.
He doesn’t want to call it rebirth, him and Sara making small talk as they make their way down the shore of the beach, but it sure does feel like rebirth. Something washes over, a feeling he can’t describe no matter how he wants to, a mix of relief and happiness, a motley feeling of feeling at home, at last.
Sara seems to catch on to this too, the way her heels make their way around the rocks. She carries herself the same as she did before: back straight and eyes alight with determination, but there’s something different now. They’re softer, tempered by time and worn by experience, no longer as headstrong as they had been in the past, but older. There’s still the element of stubbornness, but Sara’s long known who she’s been. The ten years that had happen had just turned it into something stronger, ingrained it within her, etched it deep into her bones.
Rip doesn’t want the night to end. He doesn’t think Sara does either, the way she slows down for him to catch up, and they’re walking side by side now, Sara’s eyes searching the place he’s called home for the last ten years for the first time. She doesn’t say anything now, her eyes combing the shore as the sun finally set.
Silence encompasses them, Rip carrying towels and Sara the gift bag in her hand. It weaves its way around them, creeping around the edges and climbing over the rocks, brushing under the flora and fauna that had sprung up between the rocks, grass used to filtering out salt from the water that came from the sea growing in a place it should have wilted.
Saying something seemed sacrilegious, and so they don’t. The stars shine above them, the water in the background serving as the only sound. Sara’s boots make minimal noise against the jagged edges of the rock and Rip can feel the wind brushing against his ankles, pulling Sara’s hair in every direction.
Sara stops at a area of the beach, just far enough from the rocks that they would be able to lay down and relatively closer to where he lived. It’s flat for the most part, grass interweaved with grass, mostly devoid of broken shards of glass and plastic bottle caps. There were an abundance of seashells, but those were nice, when they weren’t prickling feet. “Rip, you want to stargaze?” She asks it like a question, hair tucked behind one ear, cascading down her shoulders. “It’s a movie cliche, yeah, but you don’t see stars this bright in Central City. Pass me the towels.”
Rip hands her the towels and she gives him the bag. It’s alcohol, unsurprisingly. Sara throws the towels on the floor, only stopping to adjust them, before sitting on them crosslegged, head tilted towards the sky. Rip joins her, taking the place on the towel next to her, the bag sitting between them untouched. She's beautiful, he admits, and there’s a certain nonchalance in how he notes it now. Her hair flows off her shoulders, her blue eyes brighter among the starlight. The laughter lines are more visible now, but they’ve both aged, and really, if they didn’t come, they wouldn’t be where they were now.
“I would point out to you the constellations, but by 2163, pollution had obscured a majority of the night sky.” Rip chuckles at the memory now and how distant it seems. It doesn’t feel like that long ago, but time has never been linear for him, It’s always wanted to happen, yes, but time was always a tricky mistress to serve. There had been scholars among the Time Masters that had dedicated a majority of their lives to studying how time worked, how it bent and how it broke, and they still hadn’t been able to come up with an answer. “I showed Jonas the stars one night- Miranda was working that weekend and so I took Jonas aboard the waverider, and when the mission in 1443, Brazil ended, I couldn’t resist showing Jonas what the night sky was meant to look like.”
There’s a bittersweetness attached to memories of Jonas and Miranda, and he misses them more than he misses anything else in the world. It’s a dull ache from the bottom of his heart, and it pains him, knowing that they would never grow up nor grow old with him. Sara turns to him, eyes alight with ghosts of her own, “I’m sure he enjoyed it, I would too if my dad took me to work on his timeship.” She adds, quieter this time. “We’re pathetic, aren’t we? We’re on a tiny, rocky beach looking up at the stars, and all we’re talking about is the past. We’re time travelers, not historians.”
“I’m sure Doctor Heywood would take offense to that statement.” Rip points out, watching as Sara laughed at that.
She shrugs. “Nate’s not here.”
“Fair enough,” Rip concedes, before turning his head toward the sky. The beach towels, originally meant to be white, had turned into a gray shade from a washing mishap with a black sock. There’s silence again, and it’s comfortable. There were things to say, but there wasn’t any urgency to say them, anything that was so soul crushing that it absolutely had to be said.
He senses Sara moving closer to him. She moves closer to him, and it’s like they’re back in his office of the waverider, sharing drinks over lack of sleep and nightmares. It’s the most familiar thing in the world right now, the two of them together again.
They fall asleep that way, Sara sleeping on Rip’s shoulder, the top half of Rip’s hair covered in sand, and the bag knocked over to the side, the bottle inside it unopened.
The rumor is around town that Rip slept with the newcomer. This much Rip gathers, from what the shopkeepers had asked when he was buying groceries. Buying for two, eh? One of the younger fisherman asks Rip, with a wink. The other fisherman laughed. Someone patted Rip on the back with a hearty slap, telling him congratulations, and that he hadn’t expected Rip to be so smooth with women that he could get the gorgeous blonde woman to go out on a date with him.
It wasn’t a date, Rip thinks, just two old friends catching up. Besides, it was Sara that had knocked on his door first.
He finds Sara in his kitchen, her hair thrown into a hasty up-do that was on the verge of falling apart. He had given her one of his shirts to wear, since she hadn’t brought a change of clothes with her, and it looks about her size, if not a little bigger. She’s nursing a cup of coffee.
“Morning Rip,” Sara greets him as he puts the bag of food down. When she spots the cereal, she grabs herself a bowl and makes herself breakfast.
“Sara?” Rip asks after a while, breakfast finished and plates stacked in the sink. “Do you think we should talk about what happened last night?”
Sara gives him a look, a look that reads are-you-kidding-me. It’s matter of factly when she states, “We took a walk around the beach. We looked at the stars. We fell asleep. There’s really nothing to talk about, Rip.”
“The town seems to think that we slept together last night.” Rip points out.
Sara looks amused. “There really isn’t anything exciting happening around here, is there? I mean, we could. Unless it’s for making babies, which in that case, we’re both using protection.”
“Sara,” Rip tries to hide the blush that comes onto his cheeks, “that was not what I was implying.”
“If you’ve never dreamt of sleeping with someone you knew,” Sara tells him from across the kitchen, “that’s definitely wrong.”
“Not what I meant, Sara.” There’s a blush on his cheeks, and Rip cannot believe Sara is entertaining the idea that the two of them were romantically involved.
“I mean, why not? It can’t be worse than half the dates I’ve gone on, including the time I was invited to go to a Green Arrow themed strip-club for a first date.” Sara says it nonchalantly, before adding. “I sent Oliver a link to their website and told him to click on it in public. He called me twenty minutes later to tell me that he had to explain what a strip-club was to seven year olds.”
“My stories are mild compared to yours,” Rip tells her and Sara gives him a questioning glance. “I have Black Siren as a client.” The rest is, of course, self explanatory.
She raises her eyebrows. “Ouch.”
“Very much so.” Rip grimaces at the memory of the first phone call, still.
“Look, when was the last time you went out on a date?” Sara asks him, still wearing his shirt. It looks better on her than it did on him, he has to admit. “I’m serious.”
“I do not believe I have, Miss Lance. Gone on a date since Jonas and Miranda were killed, that is.” Today’s going to be a bad day, he figures, with the way this line of questioning was going.
“Lucky you,” Sara tells him with a hint of envy. “Dating’s hard. It sucks.”
“I would imagine so, if you were that malcontent with putting yourself out there.” Rip’s glad the conversation isn’t going where he suspected it was going. It makes him feel better, at the very least. One Legend was usually more tolerable than all the Legends together at once.
“I wouldn’t say unhappy, but it’s awkward. Especially having to sugarcoat my life story.” Sara tells him, musing. “It’s not easy to tell someone that you were trained by the League of Assassins to kill, resurrected with the Lazarus Pit, and recruited by a time traveller to kill an immortal tyrant.”
“Grieving father and widow is usually easier to tell people, but it does mean dodging questions on my love life, or lack there of.” It’s a simpler description, excluding bringing down the Time Masters, forming the Legends and creating the Time Bureau.
“Yeah,” Sara nods. “Can I use your kitchen? I’m going to go back to the hotel now, but I want to cook.”
“Of course- what time will you be arriving?” This was certainly not going to disprove the rumor that him and Miss Lance were romantically involved, that was for sure.
“Five, five thirty. I’ll bring supplies.” With that, Sara leaves with his shirt on, most of her things with her aside from the shirt she had been wearing the night before.
Rip takes a look around his house. It looked he would start cleaning earlier than usual, if Sara was planning in sticking around.
Sara had woken up that morning to find herself sleeping next to Rip. They were on the towels just talking, catching up, and the next thing Sara knew, they had fallen asleep, Sara curled next to Rip and Rip lightly snoring. It’s cute, she has to admit, but then again, it was hardly the worse habit she’d noticed from other people she had dated.
All things considered, last night had been fun. Aside from the tears, it had been strangely comforting, as if she was at peace for the first time in a long time. Sara didn’t like to believe in absolutes like that, because she had seen how they changed, how one day things could be good and two months later, it would deteriorate into a screaming match of a break up.
Maybe it’s a good thing Rip went out to get breakfast, she thinks, as she looks around his house. The walls were covered with shelves, stacked with books and papers shoved in-between the pages of the said books, crumpled and half used.
It’s a cute little place, a two bedroom house with two bathrooms, a kitchen, a sitting area, a linen closet and a balcony. There’s a second floor that she assumes Rip used as an office, but that was smaller, since the roof slanted a little. It’s quaint, but worn. The walls were covered in photos, and that wasn’t touching one of two photo albums Rip had lying around. She’s tempted to flip through them, but it’s early morning and she’s still too tired to really ask questions. Hence the coffee she had in her hand, milling around Rip’s kitchen area. He doesn’t have a formal dinner table, but he does have a round table near the stairs that led down to the beach. It’s covered in boxes filled with various baking goods, among them cake mix and alcohol, and tea mix. Rip was British, after all.
It’s hardly the worst post-date scenario to happen. The thought creeps up on her, and she denies it, because there were things it was, among them two old friends meeting again, walking down the beach at night, falling asleep on said friend due to age, and there were things it weren’t, and that wasn’t anything romantic.
It’s absolutely a silly thought, but Sara indulges it anyway. She doubts Rip had gone on any date since his wife and son’s death, not that she blamed him, but it got lonely. It must’ve gotten lonely for Rip.
At this note, the front door opens, Rip’s trench coat flapping slightly because of the wind. He carries in his hand a bag of groceries.
“Morning Rip,” she greets him as he puts the food on the counter. It’s actually close to nine in the morning, but she planned on sparing Rip the embarrassment of remembering how he reacted when she woke him up that morning. Sara spots the cereal from the bag. It’s probably for her, since Rip never really ate it.
“Sara?” Rip asks her after a while, probably overthinking everything. Breakfast was finished and the plates stacked in the sink hazardously. If Rip wanted his shirt back, he probably wouldn’t ask it now, not when her shirt was dirty. “Do you think we should talk about what happened last night?”
She’s heard this question many times before. It’s proverbial and it’s almost always awkward. Hopefully it’s not this time, since she knew Rip, and he knew her. Besides, the two of them were romantic, anyways.
“We took a walk around the beach. We looked at the stars. We fell asleep. There’s really nothing to talk about, Rip.” Her shoulders give a shrug motion, and it’s pretty normal, more or less. It’s more of a romantic thing than it is just what friends do, but the line between platonic and romantic long blurred.
“The town seems to think that we slept together last night.” Rip points this out, his tone worried, his nerves probably pinched from how much he was taking it seriously. Sara wants to laugh at them now; they’re so domestic, Rip worrying about what people thought of him and her spending time together, and Sara trying to figure out why this was shocking. People loved to gossip.
“There really isn’t anything exciting happening around here, is there?” Sara asks this nonchalantly, but really, it was expected. She decides to play with the idea, because really, it’s laughable at best. “I mean, we could. Unless it’s for making babies, which in that case, we’re both using protection.” Sara’s had pregnancy scares in the past, and they’re not something she wants to deal with. Kids weren't really her thing either, but that had more to do with her profession and how little stability it gave her.
“Sara,” Rip’s blushing now, “that was not what I was implying.”
Tongue in cheek aside, Sara throws all caution out into the wind. It’s a stupid, juvenile thing to say, but this is the most fun she’s had in ages. She hopes it shows. “If you’ve never dreamt of sleeping with someone you knew, that’s definitely wrong.”
“Not what I meant, Sara.” Rip’s still blushing. It’s cute, Sara notes belatedly, how red his cheeks were. She’s playing with fire, yeah, but that’s how she learned. Falling head first and tumbling down the hill to get up at the end arms bloody, covered in scratches and clothes covered in dirt and filth. Mistakes were a part of her, and they always would be a part of her.
So, if Sara’s playing with fire, she’ll keep on poking the flames. “I mean, why not? It can’t be worse than half the dates I’ve gone on, including the time I was invited to go to a Green Arrow themed strip-club for a first date.” She wants to add, we’re not getting any younger, but that was for another time. The date that had invited her to the Green Arrow strip-club had been a big Oliver Queen supporter, ironically, and liked going there because the Black Canary themed clothing were sexy. Sara had hated the place at first sight. She then told Oliver about the place because he would’ve appreciated. “I sent Oliver a link to their website and told him to click on it in public. He called me twenty minutes later to tell me that he had to explain what a strip-club was to seven year olds.” She chuckles at what Oliver had told her specifically- he had pulled it up in a presentation as Mayor to elementary school kids, and needless to say, it hadn't turned out well.
The media had a field day with that, and it was funny watching ads slam him for it come re-election. He proceeded to lose said re-election by the widest margin in the history of Starling City. (Coincidentally, Sara had made a bet with Jax and Ray that if Oliver lost re-election, they’d have to pay her two hundred dollars each. They never specified how or if it could be done.)
Rip raises his eyebrows at her story, his reaction still somewhat detached. It was glad to know some things had never changed, and relief’s eminent. “My stories are mild compared to yours,” Sara had expected that, but Rip still had something else on his mind. “I have Black Siren as a client.”
Sara wonders if telling him her condolences would be enough, but Rip gives her a nod of understanding. “Ouch.”
“Very much so.” Rip grimaces, and so does Sara. She’d fought Siren outside the second Bureau building, since Siren had destroyed the first after defeating all the Bureau agents in hand-in-hand combat. Siren had also managed to beat Ava, something Ava had never been able to get over. More than one night had been spent listening to Ava wonder out loud for why she had been beaten.
Silence falls before them once more, Sara and Rip in various locations in the kitchen milling around. Sara doesn’t want to deal with it again.
She’s slow and hesitant as she asks Rip her next question. Not necessarily cautious, but careful, precise. “Look, when was the last time you went out on a date?” She looks at him, kind and patient. “I’m serious.”
Rip’s quiet as he answers her question, and the tentativeness shows. He’s only answering it because he trusts her, although she’s not sure exactly why. Their ups and downs were hardly stable. “I do not believe I have, Miss Lance. Gone on a date since Jonas and Miranda were killed, that is.” She’s figured this much, but as she watches Rip deal with their losses, she figures he needs some time to himself.
She tells him wistfully, “Lucky you, Dating’s hard. It sucks.” The last part, for all intents and purposes, was to lighten the mood, and it worked, for which Sara was grateful.
“I would imagine so, if you were that malcontent with putting yourself out there.” Sara doesn’t argue with Rip’s reading of her, but it’s not entirely right either. Sure, it sucked for the most part, but it did lead her to discover just what good friends she had. Though, she probably should have spent less time crashing on their couches because she knew people would be looking for her at her address.
“I wouldn’t say unhappy, but it’s awkward. Especially having to sugarcoat my life story.” Putting herself out there had been tricky, and it wasn’t like she could discuss the pros and cons of football for all her dates. “It’s not easy to tell someone that you were trained by the League of Assassins to kill, resurrected with the Lazarus Pit, and recruited by a time traveller to kill an immortal tyrant.”
Rip nods at that statement. “Grieving father and widow is usually easier to tell people, but it does mean dodging questions on my love life, or lack there of.” It’s also an oversimplification, but Sara didn’t blame Rip if he didn’t want to elaborate further.
“Yeah,” Sara nods. She pauses for a second to look around Rip’s house. “Can I use your kitchen? I’m going to go back to the hotel now, but I want to cook.” Translation, of course, being: I’ll get out of your hair, but I’ll be back eventually.
“Of course- what time will you be arriving?” Sara assumes Rip’s in it for the free food, since they didn’t have the fabricator anymore. Sara hadn’t had to cook in forever, and having to get back into the habit had been mildly annoying.
“Five, five thirty. I’ll bring supplies.” It’s simultaneously a resolution and a start.
When Sara leaves, still wearing his shirt, her walk is lighter.
To begin again is an awfully big adventure, don’t you think?
It’s intimidating, but it’s worth it. It’s always worth it.
Sara doesn’t get flustered. She’s much too old for that, and besides, she’s here for an escape. She’s here to look for old friends, visit the crappy beaches and take one of those cutesy vacations in a quintessential town whose main industry was tourism.
Sara’s not sure how this town’s managed to stay afloat. There’s Rip, who manages an internet business as a consultant for superheros, at least three painters who had murals that were being worn down by the wind and the coast, fisherman who aside from spending hours at sea, spent the remainder of their time at the bar or at home. There’s a higher proportion of the population here that isn’t married, which is surprisingly nice.
She probably shouldn’t tell the rest of the crew about this place. For one, it’s Rip place and he liked the quiet, and two, she didn’t entirely hate it. It had a charm to it, something endearing about the place that kept people here.
It’s resilience, she supposes. The buildings still stood wind after wind, after roof shaking storms and nights where the howling of the elements couldn’t be blocked out. She can admire that, yeah.
The hotel room’s small. There’s a single bed, a chair, two dressers that looked like they were just about worn out, and a TV that was at least ten years old. There’s a small closet, a shower stall within a cramped space that had been converted into a bathroom. The furniture’s faded shades of red, orange and brown, the walls somewhat retaining their original color of light brown. There’s a desk and a chair in the corner of the room, pushed up against the window ledge. The chair would creak sometimes, but it was made of a sturdy wood, probably imported. They’re a deeper brown color compared to the walls, but the desk and furniture had not been changed by the elements.
It’s a comfortable little area for relax, but for exercise and stretching, far too small for that. Sara can’t pace, nor can she lounge out on the sofa chair they provided without her feet hitting something in the near vicinity; it’s not necessarily a cage, but it’s definitely not something Sara can tolerate anymore. The rooms in the waverider were still bigger by size, and cheaper to operate. Perks of future tech, she figures, that made life so much easier, as well as spoiling her.
Her thoughts turn to dinner, and cooking. Having to cook actually meant buying food and cooking it, or ordering take out, instead of having it fabricated from the waverider; it also meant seasoning food, otherwise it’d have no taste. Having to cook meant scrounging for supplies from the small grocery stores that sprinkled the streets with barely legible signs.
To no one’s relief but hers, Sara had grabbed what remained of her spices and seasonings from cleaning her fridge out. There’s a few pouches of Alfredo and Pesto sauce, Cayenne Pepper and what appeared to be a recipe for grilled chicken with herbs from Clarissa Stein the time she came over to collect her grandchildren. They had been staying at Sara’s working on a school project, Ronnie and Martina, while Sara entertained their younger siblings with toys and the TV.
Sara eyes the sauce pouches. She’ll go buy some pasta and make the sauce at Rip’s, get a few pieces of chicken breast if she can find it, and grab a bag of butter lettuce while she’s at it.
Rip supposes he should clean the house. Tidy it up, so his bedroom didn’t look too disorganized from the stacks of journals, novels, historical records and loose papers that were shoved into stacks he knew how to navigate, but no one else. The house was relatively clean: the guest room had clean sheets in it, his living room table only somewhat covered in notes he took during his office hours.
Last night, with Sara, had certainly been something he hadn’t expected. They had gone on missions that could be interpreted as romantic, their mission to Switzerland, for example, but never had it gone beyond that. They would have late night discussions fueled by a combination of grief and nightmares, and neither of them would directly confront their problems, because it meant dealing with their emotions, and that was something neither of them wanted to address, not when they had woken up with the names of their lost loved ones on the tip of their tongue, heavy, a persistent shadow neither of them could deny. Sara had told him once that he had saved her life, that he had been the one to give her a sense of direction after everything that happened to her.
They both owe each other a debt, he supposes. He had gotten her help to defeat Savage and the Time Masters, she had held a knife to his neck in her grief, demanding that he take her back to 2016, to allow her to save her sister from the domain that was death. She had empowered him to break free from the control of the Legion, and he had been the one to comfort her in her room, wiping away her tears and telling her that she was one of the strongest people he knew.
They’ve come a long way since then, that was for sure. Time was a cruel mistress to serve, one that was relentless in her pursuit to maintain the stability of the timeline, but it could also help in the sense that it allowed new memories to replace the old, that the happy memories didn’t make the bad memories go away, but it allowed him to realize that the good memories were the precious ones he treasured the most. Time wanted to happen, it always did.
Time has a funny sense of humor, he muses. In the decade long break he had away from the Legends, he had minimal contact with them; there was the occasional mention from Barry Allen that Kid Flash and Citizen Steel managed to capture Captain Cold, with Barry mentioning the detail that Citizen Steel had used more force than necessary to hold Cold. He recalls Mrs. West-Allen’s pleasure as she described how Doctor Heywood had ‘accidentally’ held his wrist too hard, breaking it. Revenge for Snart killing Amaya Jiwe, he wants to tell Mr. Allen, but he refrains from it. Quentin Lance called him a few times to clarify the fate of Laurel Lance, and it had been heartbreaking to tell him that his daughter would remain dead, from one grieving father to another. He would mention Sara from time to time, but usually in the context of the man or woman she was dating now.
All in all, it’s been a peaceful hiatus, with relatively little to worry about. Sara shows up at his door then, exhausted and emotionally drained, looking for an escape. He doubts that she would tell him that up-front, neither of them enjoyed dwelling too much on their emotional status when they could avoid it, but he understands her need for forgiveness. Rip’s made plenty of mistakes in his adventures across time, and the mistakes did start piling on one another, particularly during the hours between evening in midnight, before the sun rose once more.
For Sara’s sake, he makes a pretense of cleaning his papers. The historical records of the Roman Empire move from their own stack to above the records of the Ancient Greeks, the papers stuffed in a folder he places between the divide of the subject matters. The Assyrian and other River Valley Civilizations are moved next to it, adjacent to his bookshelf, in the area between the bookshelf and the space needed to open and close his bedroom doors. He may have to move his books upstairs at one point in time, but there were far too many and they were far too heavy to move before Sara arrived to cook dinner.
There’s something else he’s feeling, something he has difficulty pinpointing. He’s not nervous, for heaven’s sake, Sara’s a long time friend, ally, acquaintance and sometimes adversary, but he doesn’t feel completely confident about this either. Perhaps it had been how Sara looked at him that morning, how she had teased him, the laughter lines around her eyes showing as she looked at him in a sort of joy.
Rip’s been without this feeling for so long that it takes him a second to recognize it. He wants to deny that this, whatever it was he and Sara were doing, could be remotely considered romantic, but he can’t deny it, not fully. He can’t say for certain that him and Miss Lance would completely stay platonic, even though he thinks he would prefer it that way, but there’s a part of him that was excited for what was to come.
He will always love Miranda and Jonas, he would love them until the day he died, but he cannot deny that they are deceased. Vandal Savage had ripped them from him that day in his rampage in 2163, and it was with the deepest regret that he was forced to acknowledge that his wife and son would forever remain that way: victims, casualties to Savage’s conquest of the world and all the world had to offer. If there were anything he could do to bring them back, he would’ve without thinking twice. His world had grown larger when he married Miranda, and it had completely changed when they had Jonas, his darling, wonderful, mischievous son who had thought the world of his father.
If there were anything he could do to raise from the dead, he would have explored every means necessary for the possibility that they might be able to be resurrected, even if it meant diving into the worst magics the occult could offer. He would have bargained with Death, bargained with the Devil or whatever deity it was that had control over the domain of the dead and deceased, but there was nothing he could no now.
A startling thought comes to mind. That he had accepted their deaths, no matter how much he wanted to deny it on his bad days, and that tears his heart into shreds, knowing that those had gone before him would always go before him, that he would always outlive them. It feels a bit like acceptance, and maybe it was, depending on the day. Rip tries to clear his mind of these thoughts; for all that he has done and experienced, he knows death intimately, so much so that he would call death an old friend he wasn’t afraid of. He had things to live for, things he could hold onto. Time would have to wait to take him, and when it came, he would go willingly. He imagines this much to be true, and doesn’t want to test this theory again.
The clock strikes five when he checks it again. The hour hand flits around the five as the sun starts to set, shades of yellow blended in with orange and red in a natural blend. Sunlight flits through his windows, between the half drawn blinds of the night before last night, dancing and creating odd shadows among his stack of books and papers.
He imagines Sara would be arriving sometime soon. He goes back to organizing his bedroom so that it would look marginally more organized than it was before.
Sara leaves the hotel at 5:02, jacket open to the wind as she walked down the streets lined with wear and tear, cement stained with erosion and sea salt. She’s left her hair alone- ran a brush through it, did some light make up, and grabbed one of the better shirts from her raggedy duffel to change into.
She arrives at Rip’s at 5:11. The sea breeze had snapped around her, sending her knee length jacket flying to her left and to her right, her bag of supplies by her side. She’s calmer today, standing here, than she was yesterday. There’s a nervous feeling that she can’t shake, that she’ll screw this up and it’ll be another failed attempt, just like the others that had come before this one.
Sara doesn’t shake that feeling. She doesn’t encourage it either, just keeps it in the back of her mind in case things go south. She’ll always look out for herself, but she trusts Rip, and so she lets her guard down a little, lets her breathe easier.
Rip opens the door at 5:12. One of the lower hinges creeks as the light from his house shines onto the steps of the stairs. He holds it open for her as she goes in. “Sara.”
“Rip.” They’ve both been thinking about this, she’s sure. Rip in his own way, and she in hers. His stance is less tense, and he watches her as she sets the bag down on the center of the kitchen, on the side of the island that faced the door. “You wanna help me cook?”
“If I may ask, what is it we are having?” Rip eyes the bag, before deciding to join her in the kitchen. He opens the bag, pulling out the pasta, the pesto sauce, the frozen chicken breast and the bag of butter lettuce. There’s parsley at the bottom. “It looks quite nice.”
Sara takes the pasta. “Where do you keep your pots? I’m gonna need two of them,” she says looking around his kitchen, “two bowls for the salad, and a skillet for the chicken.”
She turns to face Rip, as he grabs them drinks. “Was it common, for you to cook dinner?” He inquires, “You seem quite comfortable in my kitchen.”
Sara finds what she’s looking for. She gives a shrugging notion. “It’s laid out the same way the food fabricator room was. It wasn’t that hard figuring out how you organized your kitchen.” Sara gives a light laugh. “The food fabricator spoiled me. I had to learn how to cook from scratch, and take out just didn’t do it after the third week.”
Rip laughs at that as well. “I would imagine so. The time masters expected us to care for ourselves and so we were required to know how to do basic household chores. Cook, clean, vacuum, all the mundane things that no one took seriously because they didn’t think they’d need it.”
“Dad expected us to know how to pick up after ourselves, but that was it,” she takes the drink Rip poured for her, “He would always complain about my room being messy. Laurel’s was always neat, but she always had Oliver and Tommy over, and so it’d get a little messy. Not messy enough for dad to complain about it, he’d just complain about Oliver.”
“That is very understandable,” Rip tells her, preparing the salad. “I wouldn’t want Oliver Queen anywhere near my belongings or my place of residence either.”
“Oliver isn’t that bad, Rip. He’s just gone from killing for pleasure to accidentally shooting passing by civilians.” Rip gives her a look of skepticism.
“That doesn’t make me feel any better about the Green Arrow,” Rip tells her, “but I suppose it is fitting that the Green Arrow of this earth is remembered as an anomaly.”
Sara laughs at that. “Yeah, fair enough. Oliver’s an acquired taste.”
“This is coming from the person that ruined all his chances of re-election as the Mayor of Starling City. Which I must say, while tampering with time excessively is not recommended, it was certainly amusing. I especially enjoyed CNN’s coverage of the scandal.” Rip says this teasingly.
“Jax pulled up Fox News just to see how bad they would react.” Sara laughs at how horrible the memory is, in hindsight. “Not only were they demanding his immediate resignation, they also said that his career was effectively dead. They also said that he was Green Arrow, which he responded to immediately. From the arrow cave.”
“Mr. Queen’s mishandling of the situation was the gossip of the town for a few weeks, actually. A lot of criticizing how American Politicians were disgusting and perverse gremlins.” Rip wants to add that Black Siren had called him laughing about the coverage, telling him that she had turned on all the ten television screens, all stolen of course, to different news channels of what had been dubbed ‘porngate.’ Americans amused him sometimes, they truly did.
“Well, to be fair, I had made a bet about Oliver’s re-election with Jax and Ray. Two hundred dollars from each of them if Oliver lost.” Rip shakes his head at her in amusement. “I wasn’t going to give them four hundred dollars, and there weren't any limitations on what we could and couldn’t do.”
“I don’t think it helped when a Malcolm Merlyn backed political fundraising group bought ads against him.” Dinner comes along steadily, the pasta and the sauce in separate pots, boiling on the stove. The salads are done, sitting on the island. Rip’s grabbed some rosemary and thyme from his herb collection, and cooks the chicken based on Clarissa’s recipe.
“Probably not.” Sara keeps an eye on the pasta and the sauce, and finds herself genuinely happy. It’s nice being in Rip’s company again; they work well together, as if they’re two sides of the same coin, in mutual understanding of what the other had been through, and respecting that history.
Dinner goes to the table by the stairs, since the living room table wasn’t big enough to accommodate all the dishes and their plates, with a more diluted drink now. They’re in a comfortable silence, with no need to turn it into something awkward, and it’s pleasant. Sara’s enjoying it, anyway- Rip compliments her on the food, and she’s tempted to ask what’s for dessert a few times. Which, all things considered, probably wasn't the best thing to ask, when they both knew what dessert was. Romance, sex, and all that. Sara doesn’t think she’d be opposed to dating Rip, but it’s never been something she’s considered before, but it’s stable. It’s nice, fun, and there isn’t any unnecessary drama involved that turned into tension neither of them wanted to acknowledge.
“A blind date I went on once said that having hope gives you courage,” Sara starts, after the meal’s just about finished. “I don’t believe that, not really.” Sara chuckles self depreciatingly, at a punchline only she and Rip would get.
“I wouldn’t say that was the case, necessarily. Desperation and having nothing else to lose are also strong motivators for acting rashly. That is what they call courage, isn’t it?” Rip replies back, and it’s a game of back and forth.
“I think they meant courage in the traditional sense. Inspirational heroes, people who serve as role models. That kind of thing.” The idealism is what strikes Sara even now- she wasn’t sure how that idealism could’ve been sustained, but it was something the man had believed.
“I can see Miss Jiwe and Doctor Palmer believing it, but the rest of the Legends would be far too jaded to do anything but dismiss it.” Rip, while he did not have many interactions with Miss Jiwe, always held her in high esteem. She was someone he greatly admired for her internal beauty, her strength, and her resilience.
Sara agrees. “Probably. We all moved on from the waverider, said our dues, said our goodbyes, and John Constantine still comes by every so often to yell at us about how we let all the demons that were trapped within time itself escape.” Sara pauses for a second, to recollect something. “He used Mick as bait to trap one of a time demon that shape shifted. It turned into a T-Rex, and it ate Mick.”
Rip wants to laugh at that, but resists the temptation to do so. “I wouldn’t blame John Constantine, if that were the case. There were a few times when I still ran the Bureau where I wanted to wring your necks for what your Legends were doing.” Rip clarifies, “Metaphorically, I mean.”
Sara turns to face him directly. “We didn’t get into any big trouble with the Bureau, though.”
“I sent Agent Green to clean up after your messes and and in exchange, I would write his reports for him.” Agent Green had always been grateful; he had never liked writing reports, and most people aside from Agent Sharpe didn’t. To his knowledge, Miss Sharpe was the only person in the Bureau who actually enjoyed writing reports.
“So you did care for us.” There’s a gotcha smile on Sara’s face, and Rip finds it endearing, if not precious. It’s a sly, small smile, but he enjoys watching Sara smile. Her whole face lights up, and she looked beautiful in that moment, more so than usual.
“Sara, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped, believe me.” There’s the sound of a quiet sigh, something similar to that, as Sara looks at him in a sort of realization.
“Looking back now,” she starts, “I don’t blame you for creating the Bureau.” It’s the closest thing she’ll give to a concession. “It’s like I’ve got one version of time running through me that no one else gets, and that just made a lot of things weird. Nate would turn to the history channel and literally spend all his time telling the TV what they did wrong.” She shakes her head, from experience, from memory, from having to adjust from time travel to actually living in a time period. “We made mistakes, but I wouldn’t give up anything that happened.”
“No, I wouldn’t imagine so. Time can be enjoyable, but there’s a sense of responsibility of how it should be treated.” Rip pauses for a second. “I remember, back when I was still being trained by the time masters, that they would specify never to stray into uncharted territory. It was one of the most important messages they would stress, that time was unruly and that it had the potential to be extremely dangerous in the hands of the wrong people.”
Rip pauses for a second, the memories coming back to him. “It is rather ironic that they failed to listen to their advice.”
Sara replies without hesitation. “They deserved it.”
There’s something about Rip that makes Sara feel at ease. Maybe it’s his presence, how she could read him just as well as he could read her, or the complicated and tricky past they shared, but she feels comfortable with him in a way she never could with others. It’s the shared experiences, when it boils down to nothing. There were things only Rip truly understood because he was there, and even then, he didn’t get the full picture. He understood what it was she was going through, and him being there helped, knowing that she wasn’t alone.
Loss hung off him just as it did her; a tainting aura, a persistent, devilish presence that drew Sara towards inclinations she didn’t have the heart to fight sometimes. The death totem had only reminded Sara of that: her demons making their way to the surface, crawling from the crevices of memory that she did her best to avoid thinking about, and showing her all the things she could do, if she didn’t have the moral restraints.
That’s not why she’s here. She’d come here to tie up loose ends, to finally close one chapter of her life one and for all. That had been the plan anyways- if Rip wanted to talk, they’d talk, and if Rip didn’t want to talk, she’d just have a vacation and move on with her life. It’s simple and easy, but Sara’s never done anything the easy way. She would have to fall first, stumbling through the dark and facing the consequences of her mistakes to learn from them. Maybe it’s genetic, she thinks to herself, how much I’m like Laurel in that aspect.
That wasn’t being fair to Laurel. Cheating with Oliver behind her back had been consensual. Oliver knew about and so did she; and until their barge crashed, it probably would have continued. If it’s anything Sara’s learned, breaking her sisters heart was one of the biggest regrets she had.
There had been this dream Sara has from time to time: Laurel was in it, yelling at her over the affair. Laurel’s angry, tears streaming down her face, the hurt evident in her voice. Her voice quivers from time to time, and Laurel tells her to leave the apartment they’re in. It’s Laurel’s apartment.
The first time Sara had that dream, she woke up head dizzy, trying to figure out if it was normal or not. It feels real, lifelike. It breaks her heart knowing that it had never happened, because she would have given anything to see her older sister back. Even if it was in anger, even if it was in rage. Anything, just so she could see her Laurel alive again, her sister standing, or sitting, in front of her, blonde hair loose and cascading over her shoulders, doing anything.
The second time the dream happens, she resists waking up. Laurel’s alive here, and she’s saying something to Sara, and that’s more than what would ever happen.
Rip gives her a sense of security, a sense of calm. She can’t explain why, can’t figure out the where and the how and why, but there’s a feeling she feels around him, that she understands as he would have her back, no matter what. God knows she didn’t deserve it, not after how rocky things got after the Bureau was formed, but she’s grateful for it, nonetheless.
And maybe if Sara stays a little longer, Rip would be happy to be her tour guide and her company.
Sara comes over for dinner the next day. She brings something to cook and asks Rip if she could borrow his kitchen again. It’s enjoyable, Rip thinks, having Sara around. She’s mellowed out with age, and certainly seems more at peace with herself than she was a decade ago. He does have reservations about what it was she went through, what Quentin told him comes to mind, but this was hardly the right time to address them, if address them at all.
“Sara,” he asks her, “how long do you intend on staying here?” They’re in the final stages of cooking, Rip taking care of everything as Sara watched from the sidelines.
There’a a hesitant pause, “I don’t know. I told the team I needed a vacation, but I didn’t say how long. And it’s only been a few days, so they’re not gonna check up on me for another week.” Rip doesn’t say anything.
Rip says this lightly, like he’s treading on dangerous ground. “Your father liked to call me and complain about your romantic partners from time to time.” He pauses for a second there, as to phrase what he was about to say next. “I did not get the impression that he was very pleased with the men and women you had relationships with.”
Sara grimaces there, but she’s glad Rip’s telling her the truth upfront. “He wasn’t a big fan of Ava- she implied that he did a bad job as Mayor, and he took it to heart. I may or may not have turned my phone off for a week at a time and spent it where Dad, Laurel and I lived before the Queen’s Gambit happened.”
Rip replies ever so lightly, just like the way this conversation was going. “That would explain the parental concern.”
“I worked as a temporary security guard, more or less. Trained people in self defense.” It turns out just having a high school diploma didn’t translate very well in the real world, especially when she was declared legally dead twice. “My hours were known to flexible.”
“Mine are spent poring over transcribed Time Master records and answering questions for anyone who was willing to pay, or just anyone who was willing to wire money over for a conversation.” Rip tells her that.
Sara looks amused at the last part of what he said. “Such as?”
“Earth-2’s Black Canary. She would wire money over from Oliver Queen’s coffers in exchange for information about the Bureau.” Rip adds in cheeky amusement, “her ring tone is set to the Jaws theme song.”
“The Jaws theme song?” Sara laughs there, “Oliver always complained about money being missing from his bank account but he never did anything about it.”
“That certainly showed. Siren always enjoyed criticizing Mayor Queen- I don’t think she anticipated his political career ending so suddenly. She did have high praise for whoever it was that plummeted his career.” Rip had watched Queen’s reaction, it made the news for quite sone time, and it had been disgraceful. The total lack of maturity had shocked him, watching the disgraced mayor fumble for words at press conferences to an unrelenting crowd of journalists.
“I’ll take the praise?” Sara asks the statement, unsure of what to say next. She’s not sure what it is she and Rip are doing now, but it feels like everything they’ve been doing. Avoiding what it was they really wanted to talk about, and putting it off by diverting the conversation to another direction. “Look, Rip, do you want to talk about this? Me coming back to see you after no contact for a decade? There’s got to be a mixed reaction somewhere.”
Rip reaches for the alcohol. He pours himself a new glass, takes a sip of it, before he finally answers. “It was unexpected, unquestionably. I did not anticipate that you would come and stop by after ten years.” He pauses for a second, to think about what to say next. “It is nice seeing you again, Sara. You’ve only gotten more beautiful with the passing of time.” There are other things he wants to say, things such as I’m not sure what you want me to say, Sara; or I really have missed you, but he doesn’t think they’re things she wants to hear right now.
Sara’s hesitancy shows, as he watches her. There’s a tension in her shoulders that makes her clench up a little, and she takes a little time to respond. The heaviness of memories weigh upon them both, for better or for worse, and it’s something they’ll have to live with till the end of the their days. “I didn’t know if you’d answer the door, honestly. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t.” There’s a self deprecating laugh. “I wouldn’t have answered door if it was someone I dated. Too much pain, too much heartache. It wouldn’t be worth it to go through the same series of emotions one more time just hurt more.”
“I answered the door not knowing what I would expect, if that helps console you a little. There were rumors when you first arrived- the description those rumors gave subconsciously reminded me of you. I couldn’t understand why.” Dinner’s finished, but it sits untouched.
“I would’ve stayed for vacation even if you didn’t answer the door. Move on with my life, and all that.” She shakes her head a little. “It’s the Sara Lance Apology Tour, and you were among the people I thought of. God. You know what’d I say to Laurel if I had the chance? Say I was sorry for all the pain and agony I caused her. Tell her that if I could undo it, I would have done it without a second thought. Damn the consequences.” There’s a deep breath here. “But time doesn’t work like that. Earth-2 Laurel can live and exist, but my sister’s still dead. And no matter what happens, my sister always remains dead.”
“There was one Christmas, where I took a time courier to see one of me and Laurel’s Christmases when we were kids. I didn’t want to leave, watching the two of us playing with mom and dad and shrieking with joy.” Sara’s not crying, but the feeling tears her apart from within. The grief surges through her blood, the loneliness hitting her one more time. She knows this feeling, and she’s learned to loathe it, the helplessness of time.
“I have a time courier upstairs, but I avoid using it. The temptation’s too great, and I know I wouldn’t be able to move on my with life if I made my past my future. I would have given anything in this world and the next for a chance to see Miranda and Jonas again.” Rip answers, and if Sara mourns with him, she doesn’t say anything. She’s physically there, and it helps, knowing that they weren’t alone in dealing with grief.
“Screw Time then. I know it’s important and all that, but family has always come first to me, and I will always prioritize that over the stability of the timeline.” Sara’s already broken the timeline, and really, what else was there that she could do to damage time more? She’s already heard from a variety of Bureau Agents that the Legends were remembered in enmity because of how badly they ruined the timeline.
“As you have shown,” Rip replies to her, “but the time masters have ingrained within me that the timeline must come first, at any cost applicable.” Rip gives a sigh. “They failed to understand just how powerful a motivator love could be. That was their mistake.”
Sara replies in agreement. There’s a note of self-satisfactory in her voice. “Yeah, look where they ended up. Dead.”
“I don’t feel any regret for how their demise would come. As you said the night before, they deserved it.” If Rip’s proud of it, he doesn’t say it outright. Sara senses it anyway.
“They were dicks. They had it coming,” Sara replies, Rip nodding in unison.
“Sara, what are you going to do?” Rip asks, wondering. “You have a life waiting for you back in Central City and yet you choose to spend part of it here, making amends. This place is far too quiet for your taste- on the contrary, it suits me fine. But you’ve always been the life of the party, and that hasn’t changed.”
“I don’t know, Rip. The crew’s moved on, they’re happy now. Kendra and Ray got back together and they got married a few years ago, and they’ve got infants at home right now. Jax and Stein’s family have basically merged at this point, and they’ve got five kids between Jax and Lily. Amaya’s back in our present day because of a Time Bureau screw up, so she and Nate are sharing an apartment again. They haven’t gotten back together yet, but it’s only a matter of time. A thousand bucks says they get back together before Christmas.” Rip gives her a questioning look, “It’s a bet with Ray.”
“Nate and Amaya’ll enjoy the single life for the rest of their days, probably. I can’t imagine them having kids would help Amaya’s already established future. Wally’s married the reporter, Linda Park, and they’re happy together. Zari hacks the US Government weekly and leaks it, and they’re never able to catch her.” Sara laughs at that. Zari had gone into just about every government data base at this point, and leaked it to the press if she considered it significant enough. The Washington Post was always grateful for a new lead, that was for sure.
“And you, Sara?” Rip asks her. Dinner’s gone cold already but it’s alright.
“I’m the cool aunt who the nieces and nephews like because they can get away with stuff and not get into trouble with their parents because of it.” Sometimes, Sara wishes she could have settled down. Had a kid at least, so that she wouldn’t be lonely. A daughter she could name after Laurel.
“It doesn’t seem to satisfy you.” Rip tells her, reading the discontent off her face easily.
“I wish it could’ve had more than that, but it’s too late now.” She tells Rip things she’s never told anyone else that wasn’t her crew, but Rip’s special. Rip’s always been special and there are things she can never repay him for.
He saved her life when she needed a helping hand, and she’s never looked back since. The only reason she’s here today is because of Rip Hunter, for better or for worse, and that was something she would always be thankful for.
“I had Jonas,” Rip tells her and his eyes cloud over slightly, the memories coming back the way they always did: all at once, then dissipating slowly. “He was the center of my universe, and he always will be. You would have liked him and he would have liked you. He probably would have liked all the Legends, come to think of it.” His smile is bittersweet, forever bittersweet.
“I hate to say it, but I’m jealous. I know it sounds silly, but watching Kendra with her kids made me want that. It made me realize that part of me wants something that I can leave behind that I’m proud of.” A legacy, she wants to say, but Rip understands that better than she does.
“I think your legacy will be a positive one. Maybe not so among the Bureau, but I’ve always considered that if your closest friends and family remember you fondly, then you’ve lived a very fulfilling life. It may not be broadcasted during this time, but we will be remembered for our actions.” The words slip out off Rip’s tongue unbidden, entirely honest.
Sara feels like mocking the Bureau. “They don’t know what they’re missing. That’s their loss.”
“Very well stated, Miss Lance.” Rip gets the alcohol. “Would you like another drink?”
“Rip, I don’t know why you’re asking. Of course I want another.” Sara chuckles. “Reminds me of the time me, Nate and Jax were trying to drink each other under the table. Amaya was our driver and she told us after our hangovers were just about gone, that she never wanted to drive us home again.”
Rip raises an eyebrow at her. “I presume you outdrank Mr Jefferson and Doctor Heywood.”
“I did. The timing probably wasn’t the best, it was Thanksgiving break.” Sara’s always laughed at that looking back, because they had picked the worse time to get wasted. It didn’t help that the nieces and nephews were very observant and quickly figured out that the only person Uncle Nate and Uncle Jax wanted to talk to was Auntie Amaya and all Auntie Amaya did was tell them what big, foolish idiots they were. Gideon can fabricate new livers for us if our current livers fail, don’t worry, as it turns out, did not make Amaya feel better about the people she loved.
Rip shudders to think what would have happened if all the Legends had done that. “Oh dear. No one made a spectacle during dinner, did they?”
“Ray sent them off to bed early out of pity. He told the kids that if they got up before they were meant to, the kids got to use whip cream and draw on their faces with sharpie. The nieces and nephews were very disappointed that no one got up.” The idea had been Ray’s, the implementation had been Kendra’s.
“I can imagine their disappointment,” Rip replies. Any child would have liked the chance to find their relative rubbing whip cream all over their face. The sharpies were always used for a more nefarious purpose, most likely suggested by someone else other than Doctor Palmer, for more reason than one.
They stay in silence like that, Sara standing next to Rip and Rip standing next to Sara, leaning on the surface of the kitchen. Neither of them say anything, it’s not needed, not until Sara asks him. “Hey Rip, do you think I can stay?”
“You can stay as long as you want, Sara.”
Rip gives Sara a tour of his house that evening. Dinner gets put into containers for reheating later, and him and Sara grab a few slices of Angel Cake to have for dinner instead. “The cake is a few days old,” Rip tells her, but it’s delicious either way. Not as moist as it could’ve been, but still good.
The living room is self explanatory- Rip ushers to the living room she’s been in, couches surrounded by a table covered in books and papers, photos lining the walls. There are a set of glass doors that lead to a balcony facing the sea, the balcony decorated with two chairs, and a table between with it with alcohol and shot glasses.
The eating table is simple. “I didn’t get a formal table- didn’t expect many visitors,” Rip gives in lieu of an explanation. It’s a round table with five chairs pulled around it. Half the table is covered in boxes filled with baking goods, Siren thought it was a thoughtful Christmas gift, Rip tells her, eyeing the box filled with cake mixes with weariness, and two of the chairs are used to stack baking goods.
The guest room at least was larger than the hotel room. There’s a queen sized bed, I have no idea how I managed to fit it into the room, Rip confesses, pushed against the edge of the walls, a dresser opposite the bed. There’s a desk and mirror perpendicular to that of the bed, a door leading into a small sized closet.
Rip’s office takes up the second floor. Bookshelves line the walls, stacked with a miscellaneous stack of records and archived sorted by year. There’s a coffee table in the middle of the room, a desk against the wall. Couches are pushed to the opposite side of the bookshelves, a few books scattered on the edges of the sofa. There’s a bundled up blanket on one of the arms.
“The office looks nice,” Sara says, looking around. “Smaller than the one in the waverider.”
“The sizes of the offices are about the same, but this one is slightly smaller.” Rip replies. Sara looks out one of the windows.
“Kendra would have liked this view,” Sara pulls out her phone and takes a picture of the scenery. “I’ll have to send her a few photos, make her jealous.”
If Rip fails to hide the imminent groan, Sara doesn’t judge him. “Doctor Palmer and Miss Saunders would be far too much excitement for this little town.”
Sara gives a low chuckle. “Rip, have you heard Nate and Amaya during sex? Zari told me that she called him tiger, he steeled up and she summoned a tiger with her totem.”
Rip did not need to know what happened between Miss Jiwe and Doctor Heywood during intercourse. He really didn’t. “Do I want to know how Miss Tomaz knows about this, or am I better off in the dark?”
“Long story short, Gideon played mind games with Zari because she installed software onto Gideon’s mainframe.” Sara’s heard the story once. It’s fucked up.
“I do not need to know any further details nor do I want to know any further details.” Rip reaches for a drink. “Is Miss Tomaz alright?”
“She’s fine now.” Zari had told her once, and that was only because they were playing Truth or Dare, but with stripping and alcohol, Zari abstaining from the alcohol.
“Are there any other notable excursions the team has gone on I should know about?” If any of them didn’t sustain significant damage to the timeline he would’ve been shocked.
“Blackbeard’s scared of the Pirate Queen Jiwe.” Sara admits it was fun seeing Amaya’s face on pirate themed liquor bottles. Well, that and Amaya knew how to sword fight.
“That doesn’t sound too terrible. Certainly much better than seeing Mr. Rory’s face around Washington, D.C.” Rip’s also read descriptions of his face among George Washington’s personal papers. He has an original copy of them saved, sent to him by Eve Baxter with a question mark and a sticky note that read ‘YOUR TEAM REMAINS INCOMPETENT CAPTAIN HUNTER’.
“Nora Darhk works at the Bureau as a consultant now, did you know that?” Sara remembers the first time she walked into Nora’s office, finding her in a pantsuit on the phone instructing a lower ranked Bureau Agent that they shouldn’t, under any circumstances, engage demons they don’t know anything about. It had been one weird day.
Rip decides against asking why Nora Darhk had been hired at the Bureau. He didn’t want to ask. “Is Miss Darhk a qualified member of the Time Bureau?”
“She got into a fight with Ava and won.” Sara had been very impressed.
Rip doesn’t want to know the rest of the story.
Rip and Sara spend the rest of the evening in the downstairs balcony. Between them rests a deck of cards in their container, Sara’s phone and the conversational prompt that was ‘what is the most outrageous thing you’ve ever heard?’
“Sara, most everything the Legends do is outrageous. There were newspaper descriptions from 1954 that matched the profiles of Miss Jiwe and Doctor Heywood in conversations regarding Elvis Presley.”
“They were planning a date night when the anachronism came up and Nate brought out his inner Elvis fanboy.”
“There are far better places to plan a romantic outing then the heart of the American South during the era of segregation.”
“If they had their way, they would have been in Paris in the 1920s.”
“If you didn’t insist on them focussing on the mission, you mean. Didn’t you go on a date with Agent Sharpe that evening?”
“Sometime before. We threw a funeral for Axel.”
“I still don’t understand how Mr. Rory’s bloody rat got himself a funeral.”
“It’s Mick. What do you expect?” A pause. There’s a giggle-snort. “It was a weird funeral.”
“I would not be surprised if that were the case.”
“Well Rip, you’ve got to have some stories, haven’t you? At least one drunken escapade somewhere?”
“I have a drunken escapade every single time Black Siren calls, Sara, you’re going to have to be more specific than that.”
“There was the time I spent the twenty second of December buying Christmas gifts. It was Kendra and Ray’s first Christmas with the kids and I dragged Nate and Zari to go shopping with me. We got him a Beebo doll.”
“It was Nate’s idea. Zari bought the infant superhero themed onesies.”
“Those kinds of gifts are always appreciated, the Beebo doll isn’t.”
“It was one of Al’s favorite toys. He was inseparable from it.”
“I am very thankful that among all the toys from 2153 and onwards, none of them were Beebo dolls.”
“Amaya didn’t get back until the year after that, but she loves babysitting. I think she’s scared of having kids now, since the timeline’s solidified and having kids with Nate would screw it up.”
“I still don’t know how Miss Jiwe ended up getting stuck in the present.”
“The Time Bureau screwed up Zambesi and she got locked out somehow. Something about they had all the future memories lined up for the villagers and if current Amaya stayed, it would be a time aberration.”
“I hope Miss Jiwe is alright. It’s always painful being away from the people you love.”
“She’s working as a museum tour guide right now. She knows more than half the team of researchers that work there.”
“As to be expected.”
“I forget that not everyone knows that Julius Caesar is a scheming and sneaky bastard. It’s not a good thing to blurt out, apparently.”
“Alexander the Great, on the other hand, was very polite and courteous.”
“I liked the Queen of France.”
“The Queen of France enjoyed your company as well. If memory serves me right, she was searching for you after we left.”
“That’s- what time is it?” Sara groans. “Fuck off, Nate. It’s too early to be texting me.”
“It is currently one fifty three in the morning. Why is Doctor Heywood texting you at this hour?”
“Don’t know. Don’t care. It’s too early for this.”
“Perhaps we need to go to bed, I think we’re both tired.”
Sara looks at her phone, muttering. “Rip, what’s that word that means fuck off but isn’t fuck off?”
“Blocking Doctor Heywood’s phone number?”
“He’ll FaceTime me.”
“Block Doctor Heywood’s email.”
“He’ll use someone else’s account.”
“Tell him to go find someone else to talk to.”
“The last time he tried that, he drunk dialed his dad and called him the worst father someone could ever have.”
“Tell Doctor Heywood the next time he decides to have too much to drink, he should stay off his cell phone.”
“He spammed the Bureau phone lines from pay phones all around Central City just to piss Ava off.”
“I don’t think that story ended well.”
“Guess what our wedding present for Wally and Linda was.”
“I’m afraid to ask.”
“We asked Barry to cover the Time Bureau building in banners that covered it from the top floor to the basement. On the same day they were supposed to have a UN summit there.”
“I don’t suppose Agent Sharpe got glowing reviews for the mismanagement of the organization she leads.”
“The UN commissioner asked her what was wrong with the Bureau, since they haven’t done good work ever since you were in charge.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“Ava still has Bennett’s phone number saved. He’s still called the Director of the Time Bureau.”
“Director Bennett never officially gave up his position.”
“Rip, how does a dead man hold a job?”
“You wrote the rules and regulations of the Bureau. How does a person who was killed still hold his job?”
“Sara, everyone that came to work for the Bureau did it willingly.”
“They believed in protecting the timeline.”
“They didn’t protect Amaya.”
“They supposedly believe in protecting the timeline.”
“Hey Rip, did you hear about the time the TB had all their files corrupted?”
“The Time Bureau. You’ve never shortened the name before?”
“I try to avoid it.”
“Anyway, back to the story. It was late at night on a Saturday and Amaya had just gotten back a week ago.”
“Does the rest of this story involve Doctor Heywood and Miss Jiwe?”
“It wouldn’t be a story if they didn’t have kinky sex, Rip.”
“I do not need to know that, in this time period or the next.”
“They decided to sneak into the TB building with Gary’s badge. Except, as it turned out, Ava had given Gary her badge to hold and Gary passed them Ava’s badge.”
“This story doesn’t get better, does it?”
“You know the room where they have the server farm? The one with the boxes that store data and digitalize the reports?”
“I avoided having the servers cover the walls, so I opted for box like structures.”
“I don’t know whose idea it was-”
“Most likely Doctor Heywood’s.”
“But Nate and Amaya start doing it. Over all the individual server boxes.”
“Sara, for sanity’s sake, please don’t describe what they did in detail. What you’ve already said is sufficient.”
“If I have to suffer through it, so do you.”
“I would rather listen to Mr. Rory describe the sexually transmitted diseases he has accumulated through time travel.”
“Rip, now that’s gonna give me nightmares. They then called Wally, who was planning his wedding, to tell him to come over and give him Ava’s badge so he could plant it in Ava’s pocket.”
“Wally attempted to clean the files up, but they lost over half the files they had accumulated. They’re still backlogged, to this day.”
“That is what they call Government Bureaucracy.”
“Ava had a press conference two days later, to tell the public.”
“How badly was it received?”
“It was a shit show. It didn’t help that she was the only person who had signed in that night.”
“Was there any evidence of Miss Jiwe and Doctor Heywood entering the building?”
“Nope. Wally flashed the two of them home and then he called Ray to grab the ATOM suit and erase any footage of them.”
“I am very glad I did not work at the Bureau during that time.”
“You were fired from the position of Director, hired to the same organization and then fired from that organization. That’s got to be a record of some kind.”
“Some would call it Legendary.”
Sara starts laughing and doesn’t stop.
“Last night was fun.” Sara’s in the kitchen, leaning against the counter. Her head pounds as she looks at the crinkled shirt she wore last night.
“Fun,” Rip tells her, “would hardly the right word to characterize what happened last night.” He’s on the table.
“That’s the understatement of the century.” Sara takes one of the chairs next to Rip. “Were you planning on doing anything today?”
“I have to spend the afternoon in the office. Call hours should be normal around this time. They only ever really get chaotic around elections.” Rip had once turned his phone line off because of how busy the line had been, once.
“How does the Bureau let you get away with it?” Sara’s curious, but in the same vein tired. The coffee in her hand helps.
“The TB, you mean?” Rip asks, clarifying with a follow up. “Not tuberculosis.”
“God,” last night comes back to Sara in waves of regret, “last night was wild.”
“I can give you another shirt to wear, so you can walk back to the hotel without arousing suspicion. People already suspect that we are romantically involved; it would be best not to give them more evidence to their theory.” Rip offers her a shirt, and Sara nods gratefully.
Sara takes the shirt and walks back to her hotel room to nap. Rip goes back to sleep.
Sara wakes up from her nap to find sunlight streaming in from the window, curtains unchanged from last night. There’s no air conditioning in the room, but the weather didn’t get hot, just wet and cold depending on the strength of the wind blowing. At least that was Rip told her last night, the two of them comparing climates and people.
Sara hasn’t done this in a long time, not with Rip. There were days when they’d talk from nightfall to the morning the day after, fueled by memories too raw to address, a reluctance to pour their hearts out, but they did anyways, and most importantly, a pertinent, overwhelming desire to live.
Sara remembered those days clearly, like the back of her hand. So clearly, that sometimes if she closed her eyes, she could recreate it in her head and see just how badly they were coping with it. Rip worked nights non-stop, poring over books filled brim with languages she couldn’t read because of how small the handwriting was, or his eyes would be bloodshot, remains of tears unshed shown clearly. She would come in, tired and fully dressed, and pour herself a shot. Rip wouldn’t offer her one, but he knew she would take one.
The conversation would start with recollections, random stories that seemed insignificant, random, something no one would get at face value. Sometimes it’s a story of a five year old boy bringing home a card for fathers day, a card now lost but so dearly sought, or it’s the story of the hassle of a family photo, of two sisters who wanted to be anywhere but in front of the camera. Rip would ask her a question, maybe an elaboration, and she’d talk, but the bottom line was always Laurel. Dinah Laurel Lance, the Black Canary of Star City, and more importantly, Sara’s older sister, the person she would go to for advice, for counsel.
She’s told him things she wouldn’t tell the team, not out loud. There were, and still are, things she would trust Rip to understand, and not Ray or Nate. She’s not sure it meant much, in the times of hurt, but she’s always wanted to believe him.
In hindsight, that had not worked out well. The Bureau had thrown all of them into a glitch: Rip leading it, her crew forced from the timeship. Maybe it was ironic, maybe it wasn’t, that the Bureau would turn out less efficient than the Legends, but there’s something about Rip Hunter that captivated leadership.
Everyone else? Not so much. A journalist undercover had published a novel about the progression of the Bureau, tracking what should be impossible and yet isn’t, the blurb read, through the leadership changes and the mentalities and the people that worked there, and the conclusion had been that the Bureau, once run by an American, had changed from a symbol of groundbreaking discovery to the romping playground of Bureaucratic Inefficiency. It had been at that point that Nate had lent her the book to read, trying to keep himself from laughing so much. He had highlighted all the relevant passages and written on the margins of each page, sticking a sheet of paper at anything he wanted to look at later.
One of the passages highlighted had been about Ava. She and Ava were already starting on one of their rough patches, one of many, and reading it then had been cathartic. She remembers the night it happened, the storm raging Central City and thunder and lightning in the background, and not a soul besides the two of them heard their argument. It had been over something stupid, in this case clothes being scattered on the floor, and it had gotten completely out of control-
Sara’s not going there. There’s too many bad memories if she goes down memory lane, and she doesn’t want to head down that road today. Besides, she’s on vacation. There’s a beach, wind, and a sort-of gift shop, and it’s still better than going down to Florida.
It may or may not have turned out that visiting a beach in Florida, 1952 when a time demon was terrorizing the beachgoers was not a good idea. Especially when the aforementioned time demon overpowered all of them and ate Mick.
No wonder people called Florida hell on earth.
The phone lines weren’t too busy that day. That’s the first thing Rip thinks, as he fields a call from an anxious mother about her daughter’s college applications, your daughter will get into a university, there’s no need to worry. The second call is from a man seeking to know his family heritage and if he had ancestors that fought in war, there was a great uncle on his mother’s side that fought in World War II, and three great-great uncles and a great aunt that fought in The Great War, and when that was taken care of, Rip had a few minutes of peace before the next caller came in.
Rip knows the phone number from the caller ID, and stifles his groan. If this were his personal cell phone, the Jaws ringtone would have gone off by now. “Dinah Lance. May I ask why you’re calling?”
“I want to jam the call line for the next two hours.” That’s the first thing she tells him. “Are there any earths where Tommy Merlyn was the Green Arrow? Oliver’s trying to stage a comeback that’s going as well as the Time Bureau.”
“No, I do not believe so. He is an archer in some earths, but more often as an antagonist to the Green Arrow.” If there wasn’t a groundbreaking new revelation about Oliver Queen in the next few days, Rip would be sorely disappointed in Black Siren’s ability to stir the press.
“Technically, he’s the Green Arrow of this earth.” Siren’s ploy against Diaz had worked to clear Mr. Queen of the charge of Green Arrow, but it was a rumor that never went away completely.
“If I remember correctly, you lied in court about the Green Arrow’s identity.” He can hear Siren’s heels clicking against the pavement she was walking on.
“I did.” There’s a pause of some kind, and Rip can only assume she was getting into a car. “Sara Lance went on vacation, did you know that? Her ex is still moping around the city snapping at people for not being robots.”
“Agent Sharpe is a clone, not a robot.” Rip clarifies.
“Does it make much of a difference? They’re about the same. Besides, it’s not like anyone’s gonna question if you didn’t past elementary school science class if you didn’t know the difference.” Rip’s hesitant to ask for the backstory.
“Is there a story behind that?” He asks it with apprehension.
“One of the members of the Ava Sharpe Fan Page made that comment once.” Oh dear.
“Why were you on an Ava Sharpe Fan Page?” He wasn’t even sure if Siren had a Facebook profile.
“One of them came up to me on the street and asked me that, I don’t know why. I think I killed her. Press did a profile about her, and the only big thing that came up was that she ran an Ava Sharpe Fan Page. Sounded like an obsessed stalker, really.” The tone comes out as dismissive, petulant. Rip wants a drink right now.
“Murder shouldn’t be your default reaction, Siren.” Rip grabs his drink.
“It’s fun, Rip. You should try having fun sometime.” Siren doesn’t sound defensive, but she’s not explaining herself either.
“Murder isn’t always the answer.” He imagines Siren rolling her eyes right about now.
“The only reason Oliver Queen isn’t dead is because of William Clayton.” It’s said matter of factly.
“No, you settled for ruining his political career and upsetting his personal life instead.” Which, Rip admits, had been interesting to watch on television.
“It’s much more enjoyable ruining his life. He looks miserable all the time and no one likes him, not even the Flash.” Siren sounds proud near the end of that.
“I was not aware that Barry Allen disliked him.”
“That’s what Vibe and Killer Frost say, when they want to talk to me.” Black Siren chuckles. “They stopped talking to me because I asked them when they planned on getting married.”
“I’m not sure why they would even consider talking to you- haven’t you tried to kill them before?” Siren was truly an acquired taste, and he’s still not sure how he ended up being her friend of sorts.
“Just once. I’m a Starling City problem, not a Central City problem.” Siren had first been a Central City problem.
“You’re a nuisance to both Central and Starling City.” One of Central City’s newspapers had a column called Black Siren watch dedicated to her shenanigans and misadventures.
“I’ve only destroyed two buildings in Central City. I ruin lives in Starling City. That’s hardly a fair comparison.” Rip’s previous comment stands true.
“Both Starling City and Central City have a special alert set up for you when you reek havoc on their city.” The noise was extremely shrill, but still less deafening than her sonic scream.
“Starling City doesn’t react to the alerts. Central City does.” Siren pauses for a second. “Vixen and Steel insist on protecting each other when they’re fighting rogues. It’s gag inducing to watch.”
“They were members of my team, Steel and Vixen.” Obnoxiously in love, from what Rip’s heard.
“That’s obvious. Sara Lance went off to find you, so she was successful in doing just that.” Rip does not enjoy this turn of conversation.
“I know the two of you have history together. Nothing romantic, but Quentin Lance told me he liked you.” Rip doesn’t ask how Siren knows this, but he’s learned it’s better off not to ask.
“That is very high praise, coming from Sara’s father.” Considering the man once called to tell him that his protege, Ava, was a horrid person to have a conversation with, it was very high praise.
Siren chuckles again. “Yeah. You and Sara doing anything or are you taking the boring route of talking?”
“We are catching up right now.” Falling asleep on the beach, cooking dinner together, drinking till morning, all things friends did together.
“Are you planning on kissing her? I don’t care if you do or not, but if it makes you miserable I’ll break the two of you up.”
“Siren, Sara and I aren’t in a relationship.” He’s not sure what he and Sara were doing, but whatever it was, it was very nice.
“Yet.” It’s a statement, and Rip’s not sure to tell Siren that he wasn’t romantically involved with Sara, truly, he wasn’t.
“There may possibly be a relationship later, but I wouldn’t think there would be one.” The alcohol helps, but Rip suspects Siren would hold onto the idea of him and Sara dating.
“You didn’t disqualify the idea.”
“I said there was a strong likelihood there wouldn’t be one.”
“You didn’t deny the idea either.”
“You’re putting words in my mouth that I didn’t say.”
“I’m confirming something you’ve overthought to the point of denial. Tell me I’m wrong.” Rip can’t deny that.
Rip doesn’t respond right away. “I suppose there is some merit to your assumption.”
There’s a pause, as Black Siren says nothing and Rip listens to the static from the phone. “You know Rip, I haven’t gone on a proper date since my Oliver died. Doesn’t mean I’ll stop missing him, but I had to move on at some point.”
“Siren, I fail to see how it applies to me.” It likely wasn’t the best thing to say to Siren, but he couldn’t take it back now.
“Listen to my story because I won’t tell it twice.” Her tone is chilling, but she does care, that much Rip surmises. “Oliver was my partner in crime, someone I respected, someone I didn’t always agree with. He made stupid decisions without consulting anyone, and he faced the consequences. But he always tried to do the right thing. Losing him was very hard to deal with and I miss my Oliver to this day. But I didn’t put my life on hold because of how much I missed him. I carried on knowing he was gone, and I carried my memory of him with me, always. Your wife and son are gone, and you will always carry the weight of them with you. Don’t let their memory stop you from what you want to do- they would have wanted to be happy, and that means you can’t put your life on hold because of the past.” If Siren gets a little emotional near the end of that, Rip pretends that he didn’t hear it.
Siren still isn’t done. “I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, but I do know what it’s like to lose someone you love. Second chances at love don’t come around very often, and considering that Sara Lance’s love life is the punchline of jokes, she’s going to want to take it at a snails pace just like you. Don’t screw it up.”
“I’m going to hang up now. At least think about it, Rip. You can’t spend the rest of your life isolating yourself from others.”
Sometimes, Rip thinks to himself then and there, it was worth it having Black Siren as a friend. Not so much right now, because he had to consider what his relationship with Sara Lance was at its core.
There aren’t any calls for the rest of the day, and if it were Black Siren’s doing, he wouldn’t begrudge her of blockading his phone lines for him. Some other time, yes, but work occupies none of his thoughts.
He understands notions of romance, of companionship, but those had always been Miranda. He had always had Miranda by his side, his friend, then girlfriend, then wife, and ultimately the love of his life. When Savage killed her in 2163, he had never considered loving someone else that wasn’t Miranda or Jonas, not when they had devastated him in ways he had never considered before. The idea had never once come up, had never appealed to him, not even when he was faced with the loneliness their void had left him, because their memory was still sacred to him, and to move on would be desecrating that memory.
He doesn’t understand what Siren meant when she had told him that he had put his life on hold for them. Logically, he understands what they mean separately, but in context, he doesn’t see how his life has been stunted by refusing to move forward. His isolation had been one of his own choosing and something he would have gratefully taken.
If isolation meant that other people couldn’t get close, then so be it. He had tried forming a team, but the emotional ramifications of that weren’t worth the heartache they beleaguered with him. He supposes that a grief counselor would tell him that caring for other people was logical, was a sign that he had begun the process of acceptance, but he has avoided seeing counselors of any kind for a reason. He knows what they would say, and for that reason he knows why he does not talk to one.
The Legends, for all their faults, were good people. They were imprecise with time, yes, but that was to be expected. They were reckless, emotional and broken in their own way, whether it be the loss of a father or the loss of a grandfather, the emotional neglect of childhood, a dedication of duty and loyalty, the grieving of an older sister. They wore their hearts on their sleeves, traveling with time with an undisguised zeal Rip envied sometimes, in how they were able to give themselves up to someone else so easily. The emotional barriers would come up hours later, back on the ship, but getting the opportunity to watch them without worry or anxiety in their eyes was worth it, no matter the price.
They ran through time, halving it and distorting it, inserting their faces and their history in the transcription of history, a living thread that combed through time to form a jigsaw puzzle that when all put together was the combined mosaic of something truly and utterly beautiful.
Rip envies their ability to enjoy the moment for what it was worth and finds himself frustrated at the casual carelessness they would treat significant events with, whether it was Sara asking for Mrs. Kennedy during the days approaching her husbands assassination, or it was Doctor Palmer telling a young Mark Zuckerberg that he would do great things one day. The time masters had ingrained within him that the protection of the timeline was the most pivotal responsibility a time master had, but they weren’t completely right. They had underestimated the power of human emotion, of how affection for loved ones another could alter the course of history itself, and that is something he could testify to be as true.
If time was the mistress of his choice, then love was the weapon of his bidding. He had created the Bureau for the protection of the timeline, but the Legends would come first, as he would learn the hard way. They would butt their heads defiantly into his office, demanding to know what was going on, damning the consequences of their actions. They would come up to his face, asking how they could help, chasing their consequences in a belated attempt to rectify their mistakes only to cement it into the timeline.
Heaven and hell be damned, he guesses, had been their motto. They would live life in the present, one day at a time, one heartbeat after the next, experiencing the joy and anxiety the wonders of life presented, a motley dance dance between life and death in the creation of a new equilibrium.
Maybe there was something he could differently. Maybe, just maybe, he could consider living in the present.
He hopes that Miranda and Jonas wouldn’t be upset at him.
Rip calls Sara later that evening, sometime between changing the channels discontentedly and staring at his wall wishing they didn’t feel like they were suffocating him with the poison of his own choice. “Sara, would you like to come over?” His past runs through his mind, the good and the bad blurring together to form something unforgettable and something unbearably burdensome.
She replies promptly, hanging up shortly after. Part of Rip hopes, prays, if he were desperate enough, that she would come as soon as she could.
Rip opens the door for her, Sara holding her coat in one hand as the wind blew around her, her hair running in all directions around her face. “Rip,” she asks him, concern evident in her voice, “what’s wrong?”
“I was talking to Black Siren and she brought up moving on. She said that I isolated myself from others, possibly for the reason that wouldn’t get emotionally attached. Whatever that means.” He’s spent too much time thinking this over and it weighs on him like a shadow he can’t find no matter how hard he tries.
Sara looks resigned. “Rip, even if you believe what she says, and I don’t, you don’t need to beat yourself up over this. You shouldn’t.”
“Sara, is there an inkling of truth to what she said?”
Sara answers him uncertainty coloring her tone. “As much I hate to admit it, yes. I don’t blame you for what you chose to do, but leaving everything you knew to come here? That’s social isolation.”
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with isolating myself. It spares me from dealing with my emotions in the long run, and that’s quite enjoyable for the most part.”
“Rip, from my experience, all it does is make you more miserable. The more you keep pent up inside you, the more it feels like you’re one step from the ledge, like you're about to go off. I’ve tried that, blocking my feelings,” Sara sighs, “and it’s never worked out well. I’ll go to some bar and stay there until the bartender kicks me out because there’s so much I’ve kept under the surface and it all comes out the minute the alcohol kicks in.”
“But was it worth it? Putting yourself out there like out, leaving your emotions for everyone to see?” Rip searches her for answers, and Sara doesn’t know if she has the right ones.
“It’s better than the alternative, and that’s not trying.” Sara gives Rip a hug, and she hopes that alleviates what he’s going through right now.
“Did you enjoy becoming an open book, Sara? Knowing that other people would judge you because of your history?”
“You learn to live with it. You have to. That’s the only way you learn.”
“Siren says that I’ve put my life to a grinding halt because of my family’s death.”
“Fuck Black Siren then.”
“There was some merit from what she had to say.”
“And what if there was? It’s not like she’s right.”
“I think,” Rip gets very quiet here, “that she may possibly be right.”
“So what are you gonna do about it, Rip, if she’s right?” Sara wanted to strangle Black Siren then and there, for making Rip feel bad.
“Live my life, I suppose.” He whispers the next part, and the grief comes back in its full glory. Sara hates it. “I don’t know how to do that. They’ve been my life for so long and it feels like if I do move on, I’m betraying their memory.”
“Then try, Rip. Go on a few blind dates that you’ll hate and learn something from it. Put your heart on the line and see what happens. It won’t be all bad, I promise you that.” Sara gives him a weak smile, the two of them sitting on the downstairs couch.
“I haven’t been back to Central City in a decade, Sara.” Notwithstanding the fact that he hadn’t spoken to his Legends, aside from Sara, in that decade long break.
“You could stay in my apartment. Oliver bought it for me as a pity gift. Penthouse suite with far too many empty bedrooms.” Sara recalls when Oliver had given her the keys to the apartment. It was Christmas Day. “Besides,” and if she moves closer to Rip she doesn’t say anything, “you always have us. We’re family, remember? Family will fight, but family always makes up.”
“I suppose so.”
“Rip, you’ll always have me. And I know it probably does mean much, but I’ll be in your corner if you need anything.” She looks at him earnestly, full of sincerity. “You’re not alone in this world. You’ve never been alone in this world. Us Legends are gonna stick together, come hell or high water.”
Rip acquiesces “I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Legend.”
“Well,” Sara tells him, “you were the original captain.”
“We would be co-captains now.” The comment is a somewhat heavy hearted one, considering their complicated history.
“The best co-captains the waverider ever had.” Sara looks at him fondly, like he was someone she could love with the passing of time. “Although it’s impossible to tell John Constantine there are things he can and can’t do.”
“Dealing with John Constantine is nothing compared to taking down Mollus, Sara. I think we can manage.” It feels nice, him and Sara back together again.
“You haven’t heard him around his exes.”
“Sara, I’ve heard plenty of John Constantine horror stories. Did I tell you about the time he joined me for drinks?”
“It doesn’t count if he doesn’t tell you at least one story that makes you lose your appetite.”
“The story he told me involved Zatanna Zatara. Something about him requiring her help dealing with a mutual friend of hers.”
“I didn’t know Constantine liked you so much. The only reason he told me about half the stuff he did was because people refused to see him.”
“I suspect he only tolerates my company because I have a wide variety of alcohol that he can’t find elsewhere.”
“I don’t blame him.”
“Rip, you wanna go get a bite to eat? I don’t want to cook.”
“There’s a pub down the street we could go to. It shouldn’t be too busy right now.”
What do you think it’s like, falling in love in all over again?
It’s free falling, but this time you’re not scared of the distance you have left to go.
The next time Rip stops by the grocery market, a majority of the gossip still centers around him and Sara. She’s stayed longer than expected, they go, and she spends all her time with the man that runs an internet business. There’s speculation abound: in some, Sara is his ex-wife, or a friend who became more than a friend, a lover, in others she was a client whose purpose was to give him sexual pleasure. Rip’s not sure where the last one came from and at the same time, he doesn’t particularly want to know.
The days past the way they usually did; uneventful and ordinary. Sometimes Sara would call him in the late morning to give him an update on one of Ray and Kendra’s children, videos of Aldous were always enjoyable to watch, or they would update each other with news from Central and Starling City. Oliver Queen had attempted to make a comeback and entered the mayoral election to no avail. The Central City Rogues had tried to break into the Time Bureau building to find an overeager Nora Darhk waiting for them to arrive. Needless to say, it had not ended well for them, and the Central City pipeline had more prisoners within it.
A week after Sara had arrived, he gets a call from his office. It doesn’t come from his personal phone, but rather his work one. It’s Sara. “Miss Lance. You are aware I am working right now, are you not?”
“I know. I just wanted to call you.” Sara states it plainly and Rip feels flattered, not that he would tell Sara that.
“Is there anything you need help with? The hotel room staff are very good at their jobs if you need a light bulb changed.” The last example, while random, had happened once.
“Well, if you put it that way..” Sara tapers off for a second. “I need photos. Something I can send to the rest of the team to make them jealous that they’re not on vacation.”
“Sara, you are aware people pay to speak to me during these hours?” Rip reminds Sara of this, but he doesn’t mind talking to her. He rather enjoys it.
“You’re paying for your share of the monthly bills by talking to me.” Sara says it casually.
“I’m not sure that’s how paying bills works, Sara.” Office hours would be spent with Sara Lance, he surmises.
“It’s still better than having to work for the money.” Sara pauses for a second, most likely thinking. “Speaking of money, you just reminded me that I need to email Nate to make a flyer offering self defense classes in the next few months.”
“I was not aware Doctor Heywood had the ability to make flyers.” There were things Doctor Heywood could do, but he was not aware Doctor Heywood had artistic talent.
“He doesn’t, he just clicks buttons in Photoshop listening to what Amaya has to say. Zari doesn’t have the patience to deal with it.” Sara had listened to Nate try and make flyers before. It was hilarious.
“Do I want to know if his adventures with Photoshop are successful,” Rip starts, “or should I assume that Doctor Heywood should not be trusted to make anything with that program?”
“Ray hires people to make them for me because Nate’s so bad at it.” They weren’t the worst flyers in the world, but they could certainly be improved.
“Doctor Palmer has not changed then. How are him and Kendra doing?” Their romance had started well, but had not ended well.
“Currently, they’ve got two kids under seven at home. I think they’re trying for a third, but Jax says that they’re gonna wait a year or two.” The kids loved their Auntie Sara, that was for sure.
“Work constraints limited me and Miranda to just Jonas,” Rip tells her, “and as it turned out, having children was an expensive endeavor. The timing never lined up for having another child and by then Jonas was already eight, close to nine.”
“I had a few pregnancy scares, but nothing came out of them.” Probably for the best, Sara wants to say, but she’s not so sure herself.
“For the best, I assume.” Rip’s not sure if that was the right thing to say.
“Yeah, something like that.” The conversation lulls into silence, before Sara picks it back up. “You remember that night Nate texted us at two in the morning?”
“The morning we discussed ways to block his phone number, yes.” Rip doesn’t want to remember what he and Miss Jiwe did to his Bureau.
“He’s in Chicago with Amaya, and neither of them have texted me in the last three days, so they’re either on Mari and Kuasa watch, or they're occupied with other things.” The last text she had from Nate was about Pizza, and that was something he sent to the wrong person.
“I do not want nor need to hear about the other things Miss Jiwe and Doctor Heywood do in their spare time. What you’ve told me is plenty.” Rip shudders at the thought of the two of them having sex.
“They don’t look like the type of people to have sex kinks, but they do. People always thought it was me who liked the wilder sex.” Sara wouldn't have believed it either but here they were.
“Sara, I will hang the phone up if you don’t stop.”
“You’ll have to pay for all the bills of the shared apartment if you hang up.”
“There are things I don’t need to know about Doctor Heywood and Miss Jiwe and what they choose to do sexually is one of them.” Please stop, he wants to beg of Sara.
Sara sighs. “Fine, I’ll stop torturing you with that. How would you feel if I told you about what Kendra told Carter when he visited her in the hospital right before she gave birth?”
“Did she call him a bloody idiot, to be polite?” Miranda had called him worse things, and she had had painkillers ahead of time.
“A lot worse than that. Nate recorded it so he could text it to Ray. I think Ray brought Kendra an extra bouquet of flowers because of it.” This was discounting the fact that Nate was laughing in the background, because he thought Carter was a dickhead.
“I sympathize with Mr. Hall, listening to Miranda during labor was an experience I was glad never to have to go through ever again.” Rip wishes he could have recorded it now, but it was too late.
“Kendra started yelling at Carter in Ancient Egyptian,” Sara laughs, “and Carter understood it. His cheeks turned red and he excused himself from the room in a heartbeat. Kendra never told us what she told Carter, but she said it was to get her a coffee.”
“She yelled at Carter so bad that the he came to visit her was two months after baby Al was born.” He had waited till she was with the baby, walking on eggshells as he gave her baby clothes and a quick hug before speed walking out of the room.
“Oh dear,” Rip replies automatically, the same way he would if the Legends somehow managed to wreck the waverider into the Great Sphinx of Egypt prior to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. They hadn’t, and for that Rip was grateful.
“Amaya was around for the birth of their daughter and she was jealous they didn’t have advanced technology when she gave birth to Esi.” Amaya had looked at the hospital room, mentioning it to Nate. Sara had overheard it.
“I didn’t have to worry about maternal care by the time Miranda gave birth, the standard protocol was to make the mother comfortable and content.” The maternal death rates of the Americans during 2016 had worried him, and they hadn’t gotten much better.
“As nice as that sounds, 2150 doesn’t come around for another one hundred and twenty years.” By then, Sara would be long dead.
“Rip, I was born on Christmas Day, 1987. That still makes me feel ancient.”
“I could always call a nursing home if you needed one.”
“I’m not that old.” Sara tells him, somewhat amused and somewhat offended.
“We’re definitely not getting any younger, Sara.”
“Rip, when forty somethings flirt it’s called getting married so you don’t look like you don’t have a family.” Something Sara has had to deal with time and time again. It got annoying after a while.
“I would hardly call myself a desperate forty something just because I don’t have people to care for in my immediate vicinity.” Dead family aside, Rip wants to say, but Sara would get what he meant.
“I know at least two people who got married in their early forties just so they could get a divorce.” Rip raises his eyebrows at that statement.
“Over half this town’s population are divorcees.”
“Does this include widowers and people who are single by choice?”
“That percentage is significantly lower than the proportion of divorcees.”
Sara makes an involuntary scoff. “That sounds about right. How weird would it be if I came back to Central City with you on the back of my motorbike?”
“From what I’ve heard, people would be betting how long the two of us lasted before there was a break up.” Rip clarifies. “Romantically, that is.”
“And if there wasn’t a break up?”
“I suppose you would be called Mrs. Sara Hunter.” The idea is strangely appealing to Rip, and he dismisses the idea immediately. It was far too absurd for him to imagine.
“I plan on keeping my maiden name if I get married.” Something Sara had always planned, without question.
“Miranda kept her maiden name and people still insisted on calling her Miranda Hunter. I imagine it being a century before my time would only make it worse.” Miranda had once told him that the next person who called her Miranda Hunter despite her telling them her name was Miranda Coburn would be punched. He offered to hold the person in place so she could have a clear aim at their face.
“People are dicks,” Sara tells him. He can only agree.
“That is very true,” he affirms her prior response, “regardless of what time period they are from.”
“Yeah,” Sara replies, “that’s for sure.”
“Sara, may I ask what you’re doing right now?” There are about a million things that could go wrong with the question Rip had just asked and he knew it. “It hardly seems fair that with you monopolizing my time, I can’t monopolize yours.”
“I’m channel surfing in the hotel room. There’s nothing on.”
“Surely the hotel room has basic cable providers you could play as background noise.”
“And deprive you from listening to Anderson Cooper or Brooke Baldwin? That doesn’t seem fair.”
“I’m monopolizing your time, I assume.”
“As you said, Rip.” Sara starts, “it only seems fair.”
Rip sighs. “Fair enough. What do you want to discuss?”
Sara wants to laugh. “Well, there was that one story that involved Nate, Amaya and the Natural History museum after they closed.”
“Oh God, no.” Rip doesn’t want to hear the rest of this story, he really doesn’t.
“They didn’t have sex. I don’t think they had sex, if that helps.” Zari hadn’t said anything, so Sara assumed they just spent the whole time having really intense make out sessions that didn’t delve into something else.
“Sara, the question that begs to be answered is what they were doing in the Natural History museum after hours.”
“They were going on a date.”
“Normal people have dates when the museums are open, not when the museums are closed.” The bottle of whiskey looks more and more lovely by the moment.
“Rip, do you really think Nate does things normally?” Well, Sara thinks, with Amaya anyways. “He looks at Amaya like she hung the stars up in the sky for him to admire.”
There’s what sounds to be a resigned sigh. “He is very smitten by Miss Jiwe, that much is true.”
“Just be glad you don’t have to be the person to knock on their door when people dock the waverider.” Sara had always passed that duty along to Ray. He was always willing to do it, and Wally didn’t trust her after he walked in on them once.
“I imagine Agent Green had to deal with a variety of surprises, when he did board the waverider.” Rip wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.
“Rip, it was on the chore wheel.” Zari’s idea.
“Please tell me they used birth control.” Rip would be surprised if he didn’t have nightmares because of this.
“I don’t know if they did but Amaya was never pregnant.” To Sara’s great relief.
“Sara, if I end up dreaming of Doctor Heywood and Miss Jiwe together, I blame you.” Rip reaches for the bottle of whiskey. The last three words are punctured for dramatic effect.
“My wildest story couldn’t top their mildest one.” I hope you realize that goes unsaid.
“My mission was the only reason the two of them ever encountered each other,” Rip says trying to ease the potential headache that was coming, “otherwise, they never would have come face to face, much less be going at it like rabbits. Or newly weds.”
“Rip, stop while you’re ahead.”
“I will gladly oblige.”
“Thank you,” Sara tells him. “Although, it doesn’t help that the rogues of Central City try and go after the two of them separately. Nate’s been headlined three times being carried by Amaya on the front page of the newspaper.”
“I don’t suppose there was any interest it being the other way around,” Rip comments dryly.
“That’s for the Christmas cards people send them for keeping them safe and saving their lives.” Nate had taken one of the boxes his dad used to drop mail off on a drive one day, and used it as a drop off box to ‘anonymously thank the superheros who kept Central City safe’. “It gets emptied once a week from November to the second week of January.”
“Sara, I thought being a superhero was altruistic.” It did sound like something Doctor Heywood would do to spite his father, this much Rip knew. Their relationship had always been a rocky, tricky one to navigate.
“Nate only did it so he would have a place to put it. I don’t think he expected the boy scouts to drop letters off for Christmas every year.”
“The boy scouts would never consider sponsoring a campaign to write a letter to a superhero.”
“No, that was the Mayor of Central City.”
Rip doesn’t think this potential headache would be fading any time soon. “Did you get any fanmail yourself?”
“I did, actually.” It had been quite nice to find people telling her she was their inspiration. “The White Canary is very popular.”
“I would imagine that would be the case.”
“Hey, Rip, if you wanted,” Sara suggests jokingly, “you could help us out by monitoring the situation abroad the waverider. Or you could patrol with me and Zari on Saturday evenings. A Brit in a trench coat that isn’t John Constantine would make Friday Night Drinks much less chaotic.”
“John Constantine did tell me about the number of bars that had him banned in Central City, yes.” Or more specifically, what he did to get banned from those bars.
“Did he tell you what he did to get banned from the first one?”
“Was that the one involving the demon orgy?”
“It involved his homo magi magician girlfriend.” Sara pauses to ask Rip a follow up question. “What demon orgy?”
“Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you,” Rip winces at the details of the story, “but it did involve Trigon and Madame Xanadu threatening to never speak to him ever again. Boston Brand possessed a nearby police officer so he could slap him.”
Sara doesn’t know who Rip’s talking about, but she assumes they knew Constantine. Most likely found him to be a pest.“That sounds like something John would do.”
“Thankfully, he chooses never to stop by after he kills another demon. He does however choose to stand by my door step to tell me just how much destruction ‘My Legends’ have caused for him and his friends.”
“According to Madame Xanadu, in his words, I am the only reason the timeline is as decimated as it is right now.” Rip had replaced the choice words Constantine had used in lieu of something that sounded far more diplomatic.
“So it technically wasn’t our fault we broke time.”
“No, Sara, that was your team, not mine.”
“I thought we were co-captains.”
“We have different leadership strategies, among other things.” Disagreements over decision making, for example.
“It’s a nice way of saying your leadership killed Vandal Savage and mine broke time.”
“I wasn’t planning on stating it so frankly, but yes.”
“At least you’re modest about it.”
“Sara, I don’t think either of us are modest about our achievements.” He laughs, a good light laugh.
“They’re not shabby.” Sara recaps his employment history. “I mean creating the Time Bureau, getting a treaty signed with the UN in five years, then getting fired from the role of Director, hired back as an agent and then fired again takes talent.”
“You seem to forget the part where you had me arrested for a silly hunch your team defeated with a Giant Beebo doll.” Rip had watched as the giant Beebo doll had ascended, and he found himself regretting his life choices.
“That was Nate’s fault. He was high when he thought of that.”
Rip isn’t surprised that it was Doctor Heywood’s idea. He had suspected it could have been Wally West’s idea, but he had always assumed Mr. West was more pragmatic than that. “Doctor Heywood has always been special, but I didn’t know it was him who would have thought of that.”
“He was high off of the herbal root Amaya uses to reconnect with her ancestors.” Rip understands love, he does, but this seemed a little excessive, even for him.
“Sara, Doctor Heywood would bend backwards just to please Miss Jiwe.” Rip pauses to count the number of times he had heard the two of them mentioned in the same instance. “I’ve heard plenty of reports of the two of them being inseparable. You and Miss Tomaz as well; at least five of the law enforcement officials who call in from time to time tell me that they always see the two of you together.”
“Rip, law enforcement gives me and Zari two minutes to escape before they try to arrest us.” In revenge, Zari hacked their servers on a biweekly basis. “I wouldn’t call that a friendly relationship.”
“Have you tried blowing them up?” Rip suggests jokingly, “I’ve heard that decimating an organization reduces their ability to do their job.”
Sara chuckles at the idea. “So, what you did to the Time Bureau?”
“I created the Time Bureau.”
“You gave Black Siren the code that disabled all the security in the building.”
“Disagreements over leadership, that’s all. Nothing too unreasonable.”
“What would be unreasonable? Expressing your opinions?”
“Writing an op-ed for a newspaper or a letter to the editor would be unreasonable, for example. Telling other people how to gain access to the Time Bureau building would be reasonable.”
“They can’t hire anyone willing to do PR for more than a few months because of the number of complaints the PR department has to deal with every day.”
“Does the usual statement about acknowledging their complaint and promising the person their concern would be addressed as a soon as possible not work anymore?” It had always worked when Rip ran the Bureau.
“No seasoned pro wants to work for them,” Sara explains. “Too much bad press.”
“The same strategy works for the Republican Party and they’re genuinely terrible.”
“Rip, Republicans can go to hell and stay there for all I care.”
“They’re not far from it, going to hell.”
“They’re already there.” Sara laughs at that, before adding quieter, stiller. “I’ve missed you, Rip.”
“As have I, Miss Lance.”
Sara gets an invitation to join a Skype group call that evening. Extended by a Ray Palmer, she accepts, the first thing she hears being Nate, Ray and Kendra having a heated debate over how to raise children with Amaya shaking her head in the background.
“Sara,” Nate tells her, “now that you’re here, please tell Ray that naming a constellation after their unborn child isn’t a good idea.”
“They’ve confirmed they’re pregnant with number three already?” Sara asks him, “Pay up Nate.”
“I don’t think I’m gonna have any children, so you can’t name my firstborn.”
Sara sighs dramatically. “Fine. I’ll have to get you with something else. And Ray, if you are gonna name a constellation after someone, do it after Nate so he can’t complain about it. Doctor Nathaniel Heywood would work.”
“Well Sara, I’m just saying it seems like a waste of money-”
“As long as you’re not paying it, why would you care? I pay for drinks because having a Doctorate in History doesn’t mean much, apparently.”
“The League of Assassins was more useful than my Degree,” Nate grumbles, “but it was nice to rub it in to my grandma’s family that I was smarter than them.”
“See,” Sara laughs, “I never graduated college. I think I’ve done fairly well.”
“Yeah, how’s Rip?” Nate asks, “The Bureau’s been all over us trying to find you. Apparently Ava’s been trying to send out her minions to contact you again.”
Carter cuts in. “Zari told us not to tell Sara that.”
Nate snaps back. “Someone was going to have tell Sara eventually.”
Sara wants a drink. “What do you mean, Ava’s been looking for me? And none of you decided to tell me?”
Amaya’s voice sounds so much gentler compared to the people who spoke before her. “She’s been sending people to ask us where you were. I’m not sure why.” The real reason why hangs in the air, and Sara really, really doesn’t need this right now.
Sara holds back a sigh. “I’m on vacation. Away from Central City.” She pauses for a second. “Look, what does she want? Did she say? If it’s a reconciliation Ava wants, it’s much too late for that. We would have fallen apart eventually, even in the hypothetical that we did get back together.”
Zari chimes in. “She wants a reunion. Something about a second chance.”
“We’re exes for a reason.” It’s a final statement, the last one she’ll give. Sara proceeds to change the topic. “Rip lives in a sleepy little town and it’s boring here.”
“If it’s boring,” Ray suggests, “you could always come back to Central City. Aldous and Anna miss you.”
“I just clogged up his phone lines and told him that was the equivalent of paying part of the bills of the apartment.”
Amaya jabs Nate to keep him from commenting. Zari gives her a questioning glance. Jax looks impressed. Nate’s neutered response: “That sounds awkward.”
“We also talked about your kinky sex life.” At that, there was a range of reactions from Amaya’s look of exasperation to Nate explaining, Zari groaning and rolling her eyes, and Kendra looking as though she regretted everything in that moment.
“Sara,” Zari asks, “were you trying to torture him? I don’t know him, but I pity him.”
“They’re not torture, Zari. Just very embarrassing. Torture is listening to Oliver rehearsing speeches and trying not to fall asleep.”
Zari adds, ever so helpfully. “I used an audio recording of Oliver rehearsing to get Aldous and Anna to go to sleep when we babysat. It almost made me fall asleep.”
“Zari,” Sara tells her, “Al came to tell me that you were sleeping soundly with Oliver rehearsing his Gun Control speech in the background.” Zari looked annoyed in the background.
“How was he? Your friend?”
“He’s friends with Black Siren,” to which the reaction was a universal look of annoyance, “and I don’t know why. She kills all his competition for him.”
Nate looks nervous, uncertain. “I was emptying the mail box and Black Siren got fanmail.”
Kendra pitches in. “It was probably in response to the fight Black Siren and Nora Darhk had at the Central City Bank. Siren prevented Nora Darhk from looting the bank, I think.”
“I’m gone from Central City for a week and I miss Black Siren fighting Nora Darhk?” Sara shakes her head. “How long’d it last?”
“I’ll send you a video.” Jax tells her this, trying not to laugh. “She kicked Dahrk’s ass.”
“You better, because I’m not missing Black Siren kicking Nora Darhk’s ass.”
At that point, Kendra glances at the clock. “Ray, it’s your turn to pick Al up from preschool.” To the group, she says “None of you are getting any younger. Perhaps you could consider at least adopting.”
“As I’ve said,” Zari says, “I don’t want kids. And Amaya’s already had a kid, and having more would screw up the timeline. Sara probably won’t have any.”
“Zari’s right. Besides,” Sara changes the topic, “I’m on vacation. If I wanted to deal with my dad asking when I’d settle down, all I have to do is visit him for Thanksgiving.”
“How’s the food?” Nate asks, “You cleaned out your fridge before you left.”
Sara addresses Zari specifically. “Z, you let him look at my fridge?” To Nate, she says, “You can’t be that broke. I’m sure your granddad had an army pension that’s been accumulating interest for the last eighty years or so.”
“I would have to talk to my dad to get access to it,” Nate tells her, “since I used up most of my savings to pay off my student debt. So no, I don’t have access to his pension.”
“He’ll die any day now, so you’ll be fine.”
“Sara, we’re talking about my dad dying.” Amaya looked like she regretted everything.
“You think he’s a piece of shit. Would you really be that sad if he died?” Zari raises an eyebrow at that, and Jax makes a comment in their Skype group chat that read Dang, Sara.
“Well,” Nate squirms in front of the camera, “not really. But it’s still not a good idea to wish death on people.”
“You told me when you got Earth 8 Captain Cold arrested you hoped he died in jail when he was a decrepit old man.”
“In my defense, I was celebrating. I didn’t actually mean it literally.”
Jax snickers. “Gray would say the same thing if he was here.” Imitating Martin, “The criminal would deserve nothing better.”
“If Martin Stein were here, he would berate all of us for breaking time.” Amaya contributes, while Nate got up to go get something.
“It was a group effort.”
Amaya corrects her: “It was Mick who invoked Doomsworld. No one else.”
Kendra looked relieved that she’d left the Legends before they broke time. Carter, having heard all of this before, looked bored and gazed into the distance.
Jax takes it as a cue to sign off. Sara signs off soon after Amaya and Zari do.
Rip becomes familiar with Sara’s presence once more, and it is rather soothing, if not a tad over the top. Sometimes she would send him videos of Doctor Palmer’s two children, the third one coming, she speculates, or a screenshot from the Legends group chat. The title of the said group chat was Time Traveling Disasters, something Rip found to be true.
Sometimes, she would text him at odd hours of the day asking if the local markets sold a specific kind of food or a if they sold a certain kind of herb. When he had denied the existence of root beer, she had been huffy, grumbling ‘what kind of place didn’t supply root beer? c’mon’.
Rip’s response: shoddy and cheap beer was the only compensation she would get. To which, Sara had laughed without end, a clear sound as poignant as a bell, and as light and cheerful as a bird’s song. The song of a canary, Rip supposes, sharp and clear, piercing and memorable.
Waxing romantics about a dear friend, are we? The thought comes as an intrusive one, an uninvited one. He doesn’t know where it comes from, how it creeps into his mind, but it stays, the words vibrating within him. He doesn’t find himself entirely opposed to them, rather, finding in himself a curiosity. A curiosity at how a romance between him and Sara would go, in the schematics of what happened and when things would and why things would happen, in no order but the order they presented themselves in.
There’s something about Sara that’s long drawn him to her. Her resiliency, her inner strength, the way she would conduct herself as to hold the weight of the world on her shoulders, bearing the guilt of her team and shedding those guilts in battle, beating them in the deadly dynamic that was defending and meddling with time. He understands that weight: he knows how heavy it was to bear it constantly, to expect perfection where there was none.
In that same vein, Sara knew how to take a joke. She knew how to tease and make fun of, all things Rip had missed out on, for the training of the Time Masters demanded the repression of emotion and the prioritization of the mission, reducing the opportunity there was to grow emotionally and communicate effectively.
Rip wouldn’t say he loved Sara, but he wouldn’t say he viewed her as just a friend either.
And I can't stay alone tonight
Can't let another day go by
Why is it always this way?
Time never seems to really fly
And time is never really on my side
And I can't stay alone tonight
Things have to change and they might
But I can't stay alone tonight
Sara grows bored of the town. The streets started to blur together in her mind and the walk to Rip’s house becomes automatic. The wind bites into her bones and blows her hair in every direction, the wisps floating around her face if she had it up in a bun, and the rain fell, cold and expected and miserable.
She’s only stayed for Rip. It’s a shitty place to vacation really, but she’s here for someone she cares about. Location be damned, she thinks as the rain comes down onto her jacket and it attacks her jeans, and she nearly avoids cursing the weather for the tenth time in the time she’s spent here.
She misses her Central City apartment. She misses watching the lights from her window, as they shone and glimmered in every color of the rainbow, sometimes forming a chain and other times illuminating a sign or a poster. A message, if it was election season. She misses the beds and the couches and her fridge, her kitchen, Nate rummaging through her pots and pans to borrow something he would never give up, because he was cooking dinner that night while Amaya worked late and his cooking supplies were so bare that Sara basically bought herself a set of kitchenware because Nate had moved just about ninety percent of her cabinets into his.
Not that Sara minded that much, it just meant she could get new stuff.
There were times where’d she let herself dream, ponder that Rip would join her back in Central City. She hadn’t been entirely joking when she said she’d split the bills with him; with the way his business was going, he was successful at what he did. Part time therapist, part time strategist and part time man who was done with everything, he was effective at time management when his phone lines weren’t being used by friends who wanted to talk.
She checks the clock, watches as it turns from six in the evening to seven in the evening. Time to get something to eat, she tells herself, as she heads down to the hotel. They served dinner, a American style buffet, she was told, and really, the food couldn’t be that bad.
There’d be other surprises there she’d enjoy more, but she didn’t know that just yet.
The manager of The Blackbird, the only hotel in the area, calls Rip at five fifty that evening, demanding over the phone that he fix their internet, since something had happened to it. Nothing had happened to it, it was just slow that day. Perhaps someone was downloading something, he suggests to a manager that looked no less calm than when he had greeted Rip, and that was using up all the bandwidth.
Rip spends approximately an hour wrangling with the manager and the manager-
“There’s nothing I can do about the internet- it’s just slow right now.”
“The customers will not be pleased that they cannot use it as they would any other day, free of restrictions and complaints-”
“I assure you, your customers will be alright. More than likely, they’re using the bandwidth to contact their loved ones. Nothing to worry about.”
“One of the websites that’s being used right now is to download videos of men and women recording themselves having intercourse, for God’s sake.”
“If the Americans are to be trusted, they would say that the customer is always right.”
“Americans cannot be trusted, Mr. Hunter.”
“From my experience, some Americans can be quite trustworthy. Very brave and very daring.”
“Are we talking about the same Americans that think having ten, twenty children massacred by weapons of war in a single day is perfectly normal? The same Americans who come here only to order beer and pick fights with the visiting Germans?”
“I said some Americans could be trusted. Not all Americans.”
At that point, the irate manager grumbles a compromise. “Your services are appreciated, Mr. Hunter.” He points to the buffet that was set up down the hall. “On the house. Now if you excuse me, I must find a way to forget what I just saw being downloaded.”
- only managed to get to get more upset, glaring at vases and almost tripping the cat that lived in the building.
The food is food; nothing exemplary, but something edible. It’s only when he notices Sara coming down the hallway that his heart drops, and a nervous feeling grows from within him. Rip doesn’t consider himself someone who was naturally shy, but the way he feels is alarming. It’s an old feeling, one he vaguely remembers from a lifetime ago, the ball of energy eating away in his stomach he would feel around Miranda before they began dating, how he would anticipate the next time he could see her without fully comprehending why. This feeling blooms once more, unbidden and uncalled for, and if it weren’t for his need of control, it would have showed.
He’s taken one of the barstools along the relatively empty row of seats, plate still filled with food, when Sara plops down in the seat next to him, telling him: “I didn’t expect to find you here.” She doesn’t look surprised, but pleased.
“The manager called me to see if I could make the hotel internet work better,” Sara raises an eyebrow to ask why, “One of the guests were downloading porn.”
Sara winces. “Please tell me it wasn’t superhero themed porn.”
“It was regular porn. No superhero costumes used.” At least, not what Rip saw of it.
Sara looks very relieved. “Thank God,” she says, before laughing and correcting herself. “Not God, the other guy. The one that gave the Spear of Destiny the ability to alter reality.”
Rip shakes his head in amusement. “As far as jokes went, Sara, that isn’t the funniest one that’s been told.”
“But you still find it funny.” She corrects, a teasing light in her eyes.
“I’ve been told my sense of humor is nonexistent, but yes.”
Sara reaches over the counter to take two shot glasses from the inside of the bar. From her bag, she produces a bottle of what appeared to be whiskey. “It’s better than Ray’s, and that counts for something.”
“I wasn’t aware Doctor Palmer was a comedian.”
“He finds Physics jokes funny,” Sara deadpans, “the kind Stein and Lily would laugh at.”
“I would have guessed it was Doctor Heywood that had the terrible sense of humor,” given what Doctor Heywood had done to the Time Bureau, “but it being Doctor Palmer does make sense.”
“Nate has to explain to Amaya and Zari why jokes are funny.” Sara remembers the night they did a SNL rewatch on Youtube, and ninety percent of the talking was done by Nate to explain the intricacies of Iran-Contra, Watergate and the jackass presidents that were Nixon, Eisenhower and Reagan. Ford didn’t make the cut, Nate muttered later, because Ford was screwed from the minute he pardoned Nixon. The Bushes were in a league of their own. “He later started taking Amaya to see plays from the nineteen twenties because she found them funny.”
“I don’t imagine they would be that humorous,” Sara’s taken a fork and was currently eating from his plate, “but there is a significant cultural gap from now and the second World War.”
“Yeah,” Sara tells him with her shot glass in her hand, “women weren’t allowed to have credit cards or do anything without their husband’s approval.”
“The progression of history is more or less for the better, excluding movements that seek to roll back the social progress that has been made.”
Sara turns to face him. “Random thought, but do you think we’d be qualified to teach history? We do know it.” At which she winked at him, before making a giggle-esque laugh.
“Sara, we would be among the two least qualified people to teach a university level history course.”
“I wouldn’t be that bad a teacher. You could handle the lesson plans and the grading and I could make recommendations about how to improve their papers.”
“I pity the poor students we would teach.”
“I know the universities around Central City are always hiring,” Sara tells him, “and they would love to hire the former Director of the Time Bureau to lecture on just about anything.”
“If that were the case, I would need to rent an apartment or find somewhere to live.”
“You have a room in my penthouse suite, remember?” Sara’s eyes shine with joy, a joy and mirth that Rip hadn’t seen before. Sara’s not bogged down by her demons, and she looked just as beautiful as she always did, if not more. “You just have to pay for the utility bill.”
Whatever it was Sara had, it was certainly very strong. Rip feels a little more lightheaded than he did before. “Oh yes. Sara, perhaps we should part ways for the night, since I think both of us have had a little too much to drink.”
Sara makes a shrugging notion at that. “We’ve always done that, it’s nothing new.
“Still, I must be getting home.” He gets up, only to find it raining from the window outside. “Especially since it is raining.”
“I’ll join you, if you don’t mind. The hotel’s boring.” The last part is given as an explanation, as Sara got up from her stool, and followed Rip as they left, the plate of food still sitting there at the bar.
The rain pours down around them as they head back to his house. The wind’s stronger than usual, and when it usually was harmless, this time it threatened to knock people over. Sara grabs his hand out of security, and it strikes Rip as the most romantic thing they’ve done. Her frame stands out as a silhouette against the angled water droplets, slender and beautiful and natural with his, and this way, they manage to struggle through the rain to climb up the steps that lead to his house.
Sara leans against the rails, her hair in a pony tail, loose stands framing her face. Her outer clothing are just about covered in water. Her jeans appeared to be a shade darker when they were drenched, her jacket sticking to her body. Rip opens the door, the heat that radiated from inside the house a stark and beloved contrast to the cold, powerful and biting wind that rallied around the rain, increasing its potency.
“Alright Sara,” he leads her to the guest room, “let me find you some dry clothing. I have a few pairs of trousers Miranda used to wear, in mint condition, and I can lend you a shirt for the night.” His head spins, and he’s not sure if it’s the dinner or his emotions sending him into hyperdrive, but he’ll take every distraction from his mind he’ll get.
Tonight is something unexpected. Tonight is something he could not have foreseen nor could have predicted. Tonight, strangely enough, he feels at peace. He’s wet and likely to catch a cold from the rain, his jacket needed washing, but something else, something inside him is content, for the first time in a long time.
It’s an internal peace. The kind he knew with Miranda and the kind he had with his family. The stillness that came over him, that allowed him to watch his family and realize just how lucky he was to have what he had, to be able to call something so precious and so wonderful to him his, the feeling he yearned for in his valiant search to protect the timeline.
He finds it with Sara Lance.
Sara figures she’s probably going to do something stupid, something rash sitting on the corner of the bed in the guest room. Maybe it was the alcohol talking, but Sara knew how to manage her alcohol. This was something else, something from within.
It’s the feeling that prompted her to join Rip in facing the pouring rain, the same urge that led to her grab his hand when she didn’t need to, the same emotion she got when she was holding his hand, feeling very pleased about how things were going.
She doesn’t understand it. The confusion she feels bubbles up inside her, a raw frustration she couldn’t comprehend. Rip was a friend. Rip was a friend she made joking comments about dating with, the friend she poured her heart out to, her bleeding insecurities vulnerable for him to see, the regrets and the shame and the mistakes, stripped bare. Rip was the friend who saved her so long ago, the person that gave her focus when she had none. Rip was the man who, against all odds and all the slim chances, was willing to forgive the sins of the past and start over, a blank slate. Rip was the man who taught her things about herself she never would’ve known otherwise, because she wouldn’t have considered the possibility.
The feeling eats her alive and she doesn’t know why. Rip’s off to get a change of clothes for her, damn the rain, rushing in and out, hands wrangling as he made his way inside his home quickly, probably pulling out things he hadn’t touched in years.
It’s not love, what she feels for him. She’s drawn to him, a honing beacon she doesn’t quite understand the configurations of. There’s something about him that’s aroused her curiosity that it didn’t before: maybe it was the bravado and the way he would deal with his emotions, or how he cared so much about everything around him that he worked to save the world, even if it meant losing the hope he had left, the hope he held dear to himself. Maybe it’s the way he would look at her when he thought she wasn’t looking, how he would look at her ever so contemplatively, defenses down and eyes soft as he would smile absentmindedly in her direction.
There’s a fondness there, but Sara doesn’t know what it’ll lead to. Nothing, most likely, but part of her wishes there could’ve been something more, something better than what they had right now. A loving, genuine relationship without false pretenses, where she knew what she was getting into, the emotional ramifications and the realization that this was something she wanted, the joy and happiness that came from having someone beside her, someone that wasn’t going to run away or shun her because there was a part of her past they couldn’t live with or process.
Rip knew all this and he chose to stay. He knew the bad and the ugly, the tensions that lodged their ways into stress lines, the worries and regrets that kept her up till the wee hours of morning, when the sun would rise and she would watch it rise, because there was nothing she could do in present day but honor the memory of those that were already gone.
That had to mean something. Maybe it was love and she didn’t realize it yet, or it was a crush, but she would’ve acknowledged it by now. It’s deeper than that: a genuine connection with someone that didn’t flinch at her past, of someone who knew what the right thing to say to reassure her, someone that she was happy to be around.
She supposes it’s love, the kind she never got because she didn’t find the right person. Maybe, just maybe.
If he were with the Time Masters, someone would have set him straight by now. Demoted him, ordered him to the menial labor of reorganizing the library, or made him suffer through additional training and deep conditioning. They would have told him, in no uncertain terms that having emotional attachments of any kind was forbidden, that it was the last thing that should ever be done. The Mission should always come first becomes entrenched in his mind for the longest time, when he had nothing to rely on, an instinct he could rely on to protect himself against the danger that was his emotions.
He’s long disregarded that sentiment. He had bucked it from the beginning, with Miranda, with Jonas, with his crew of Legends, embracing his humanity when it was shunned for fear it led to bleeding hearts. Empathy made a person kind, this Rip knows, and it was nothing to be ashamed of. It made one understanding, sympathetic to the plight of others and willing to help. Heartlessness led to the greatest abuses of history, to the bells of genocide and the piles upon piles of innocents killed for ideas that had no place in society, in one time period or the next.
Miranda’s clothes bring back memories long repressed, things that had faded from years of hyper-fixation and nights of escapades remembered only for their merit. They haven’t smelled like Miranda for years, haven’t been worn or touched since he packed them away in a container of things that hadn’t been destroyed by the army that had decimated most of 2166, but he still holds them with reverence. Logically, he understands they have no external value; they were all but fabric and cloth, sewn into something a woman could wear. Intrinsically, he’s kept this box as a reminder of what he still has.
Turning over a new leaf, he supposes as he finds the pants packed pristinely at the bottom of the third box. They’re clean, fresh of the grime and dust that settled into the remaining print pictures he had already bound into an album, and despite their history, look just as new. He’s not sure if they were Sara’s size, but she and Miranda always appeared to have the same waistline, and so he assumes it would fit. He grabs a shirt of his to give her, a souvenir he had picked up from the Kennedy-Johnson Presidential Campaign when he had visited 1960. It’s somewhat wrinkled, but there was a charm to Camelot, in the nostalgia of the time before the raw violence and instability of the sixties intensified. Kennedy had not done much in regards to Civil Right Legislation, no, that had been Johnson.
The walk to Sara’s room is short, just down the hall. There’s still a part of him that’s nervous, a school boy crush that he has never in life experienced but once and even then with Miranda it had faded quickly.
He finds her sitting on the edge of the bed, shaking out her jacket on the chair beside the wall. Her hair down, he watches her as she lays out the wet jacket to air dry, and he’s once again reminded of how beautiful Sara Lance looked, not that he would risk telling it to her face. Clearing his throat ever so slightly, “Sara, I’ve brought clothing you can change into. The pants were Miranda’s, and they should fit. Hopefully.” The awkward tension in the air hangs between them, Sara at ease and every fiber of Rio’s being screaming confusion and running amok in all directions.
He sets the clothes on the bed, and watches as Sara looks at him in a new light. She’s searching for something, this much he knows, but he doesn’t know what it is she was looking for. “Hey Rip, stupid question,” this part was uttered as an after thought, far too quick and far too quiet for Sara, usually. “What would you call someone that knew your history, the good and the bad, and still judge it? What would you call someone that made you happy, truly happy, someone that you knew you could trust?” Her tone is soft, steadfast, honest.
“A good friend,” Rip tells her, “someone that loves you.” He adds slower, “I assume you’re talking about yourself.”
Sara looks at him. “And if I was?”
“Then I wouldn’t know how to react, assuming you were talking about me.” He suspects it was him, and if they were an indication that Sara was telling him about her feelings for him, he would be more than pleased to return them. Time seems to slow around them, the rain pounding against the outside of the windows and along the walls, the two of them discussing hypotheticals towards the hours they would spend drinking in self depreciation, discussing and debating issues of legacy and other existential subject matters of the like. “It’s been so long since anything like this has happened and it is terribly bittersweet.”
“We’ve both made it through hell and survived.” Sara tells him, a light motion of her shoulders accompanying her, “I don’t think there’s any shame in baring the scars we have to prove it. There shouldn't be, in any case.”
“If only that were true.” They’re not ripping the bandaids off their trauma and they’re not naming names, instead alleviating the pain so it hurt less.
“Have you considered dating again? Finding someone else to spend the rest of your days with?” Sara asks him, sincerity and concern evident the delicacy with which she spoke, only for him. “It’s lonely, being by yourself. I hate it.”
“I’ve been lonely for such a long time that it’s become natural.” He wants to indulge his self loathing, but he’ll deal with that later. He sighs. “Having you around has been more than helpful.”
Sara closes her eyes for a brief second, and maybe there’s a fear that if she looked into his eyes, he would know everything. “I feel at home around you. You’re comfort, you know that right?” She looks at him. “I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t have to pretend around you. I don’t have to hold my tongue and swallow my regret when I look at you.”
It sounds like a confession of love, but it is so much more than that.
Sara continues. “I didn’t have to come back with you tonight. But I wanted to, because you don’t deserve to be alone anymore. You mean far too much for me to do that.”
“Forgive me if I’m being too forward,” Rip starts and the uncertainties within him unfurl in waves of adrenaline and all the ways this could go wrong, “but I’ve started to view you as more than a friend. It’s a very silly thought, but-”
Sara turns to him, a small smile lighting up her face in what could be considered a melancholy joy. “You have a crush on me.”
He confirms, with the greatest uneasiness. “Yes.”
“I was going to ask you to kiss me,” she tells him with mirth in her voice, “but I figured you would say no. What changed?”
Sara smiles at him. “You mean it, right? Whatever the hell this is?”
“I do. It’s caused me the greatest confusion and internal conundrum, but I can’t deny it.”
“You mean it?” She asks him, and her doubts flare up, the same questions she’s dealt with time and time again, but now, even more so. This was her Captain, this was the man who taught her some of the most valuable lessons she had ever known. This was the man who loved her.
Somewhere inside her, she loved him too.
He nods again and her heart beats faster, thumping noises that only she can hear. “Kiss me,” she tells him, and it’s as much an order as it is her truth right now.
He leans in, slowly, his face against hers as one hand straddles her face and the other her hip. It’s a kiss that almost seems breakable- barely there, but something she holds onto so dearly because she never knew it would come to this, not even in her wildest dreams. She wants more.
He’s a good kisser, if not a little hesitant. When it ends, anxiety blooms across his face, probably worrying that he had screwed things up, or worst, ruined their friendship. “Relax Rip,” she tells him with a light laugh, “the kiss was great.”
She kisses him this time, with less hesitancy. She wants this, so much so that she craves it. She’s done this before, and she’ll do it again, because she’s Sara Lance. She’s the kind of person who would scrape her knee despite being told not to run on the pavement in the summer heat, the young woman who didn’t know just how disastrous and life changing getting involved with Oliver would be, the person who both saved and broke time.
She wants Rip Hunter.
“Miss Lance,” Rip tells her in awe, “you are extraordinary.” There’s more he wants to say, but that would require processing what had just happened, and that as something he had not done yet.
The rain keeps on beating against them, but Sara’s clothes aren’t that wet anymore. The ends of her hair are still damp, part of it swept away from her face and tucked behind her ear from when she and Rip kissed. “It’s late,” she says affably, “we should probably try and get some rest.”
Rip lingers before getting up, making his way to the doorway. He dawdles there, a smile on his face, still looking at her as if she held the keys of the universe in her hands. “Goodnight, Captain Lance.”
“Goodnight, Captain Hunter.”
A few days later
“So,” Sara starts, “I’m going back to Central City soon.” They’re in his kitchen, Sara with a cup of coffee in her hand and Rip reading the newspaper.
“Yes,” Rip responds absentmindedly, “you are.”
“You have a spare room in my apartment and you don’t have to pay rent.”
“No,” Rip tells her, still looking at his newspaper, “I do not. I just split the utility bill with you.”
“That and being my date for the annual Legends New Year Party. I’m hosting it at my place this year. A penthouse view of Central and a lot of extra space makes for cleaning to be a pain in the ass.” Sara remembers one year, Constantine had stopped by with Medieval Booze, and needless to say, no one had a clear recollection of whatever it was that had happened that night. “The rest of the team will enjoy having you around, probably. As long as one of us can outdrink Nate or Jax.”
At that, Rip looks at Sara, putting the newspaper up. “We could outdrink both of them, without question.”
“Good. One year Nate outdrank me and I’ve been paying for his bar tab ever since.”
“You make it sound as if Doctor Heywood is like an annoying younger brother to you,” Rip tells her, praying that they wouldn’t cover his and Miss Jiwe’s latest in excruciating detail.
Sara considers that for a second. “I’m the closest thing he has to a sister.” The next point of business: “Besides, you and Nate would probably end up trying to out nerd each other when it comes to all things history related.”
“Oh, speaking of that,” Rip replies, “remind me to outline the speeches about leadership I have to give as Visiting Fellow.”
Sara raises an eyebrow at that. “You’re planning on giving a speech about leadership?”
“Other topics I’ve considered include Public Policy, the management and mismanagement of Government Agencies, the influence of Bureaucracy on the public and private sector, and how best to convince the United Nations that time travel shouldn’t be regulated.”
“Careful with the last one,” Sara pokes fun at him, “someone might think that you were a Republican.”
“I don’t think the last one would go over very well, the Time Bureau building is within walking distance of the university.”
“You’ll be fine. If anyone tries to threaten you, tell them you have a badass girlfriend who wouldn’t hesitate to kick their ass.”
“You’re very modest today, aren’t you?” Rip gets up and heads towards the kitchen to where Sara is, his cup of tea sitting on the counter already cold.
“More than usual?” Sara laughs lightheartedly, before pulling him closer to her.
“Sara,” he tells her, “I would like to get something productive done today.”
“Joining me for a Legends Skype Call was very productive, excuse you.”
“Doctor Heywood and I spent over half an hour debating how effective World War II strategies were, I would hardly call that productive.”
“But did you see Amaya’s face? She texted me that she thought it wasn’t possible for Nate to be this enthused, she used enthused by the way, that wasn’t me, by tactics used by Eisenhower and MacArthur.”
“Mr. Hall signed off after the four hour mark because he got bored.”
“It sounds like Carter.”
“That it does, yes.”
“Rip, don’t forget to pack for the move- I’m heading out soon and if I have to look at that shabby beach one more time, I’ll go back to Florida, even if Florida’s the worst.”
“I still don’t understand why you don’t like Florida.”
“It produced Marco Rubio.”
“That is a very fair criticism of Florida.”
“You would do anything for me, right?” Sara asks him, “I still need those vacation photos to show off with.”
“I said I would do anything for you within a reasonable limit, but yes, I will find you spots on the beach that aren’t absolutely terrible.”
“Thank you,” Sara tells him, before giving him a peck on the cheek. “I need to make Nate jealous that he isn’t on vacation.”
“Sara, you are aware all he would do on vacation is shag Miss Jiwe as if they were newly weds?”
“I had to share a hotel room with Nate and Amaya once.” Sara declares dramatically. “Never again am I sharing a room with the two of them.”
“Rooming with Miss Tomaz would have been more preferable.”
“Zari is a godsend in every way.” Sara goes to pick up the newspaper Rip had been reading earlier, “and she’s a good person to patrol with.”
“I would like to meet the person who hacks the American Government regularly enough that the Justice Department has given up on tracking her down.” True story, that.
“She’ll like you,” Sara says to him, “and you cooking desert will definitely help. Make your Angel Cake first, it’s delicious.”
“Are you just saying that so I’ll make it before you leave?”
Sara stops to think. “Maybe.”
“I shall have it done by tonight.”
“Rip, I love you.”
“As do I, Sara, as do I.”
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
The next year, New Years Eve
Sara’s stopped grumbling about the last minute change of venue from their apartment to Ray and Kendra’s house, mostly because it’s more work on them, having three children under the age of ten as well as having over friends whose lives mostly extended to each other and a few other select people. Rip, on the other hand, was glad they didn’t have to buy party decorations.
“Sara, are you sure we’re not early? The only people that seem to be here are Doctor Palmer and his family.” Rip and Sara stand at the front door of Ray and Kendra’s mansion. In his hand, he holds in a decorative gift bag a bottle of newly bought champagne.
The house is decorated with chain upon chain of Christmas lights, blinking bright red, yellow, green and blue around them. The lawn was paved, grass appropriately shrunk under the falling snow. Whether it was the weather or Killer Frost, no one knew.
Sara peers in from the window right of her. “The museum’s been closed all day, which means that Nate, Amaya and Zari are already here.” She taps her foot absentmindedly, in impatience. “If we freeze out here, Ray’s taking care of the hospital bill.”
“Is this before or after you find a lawyer willing to sue Doctor Heywood and Miss Jiwe for emotional distress?” After one particular night of disorderly drinking, they had given Rip more than one potential nightmare in the making.
Sara looks at him flatly. “You’re not funny. But since they’re not here,” she leans closer to him, “we have some time to ourselves.” She grabs his hand for emphasis, tugging his attention toward her.
“You are aware someone could walk in on us.” Sara doesn’t respond. “Just one kiss for the time being. We can utilize the heating inside for our own advantage later.” Sara responds to that loud and clear, a sly smile blooming across her face.
“I thought you were gonna compare us to a pair of newly weds again,” to which Sara started to grumble, “so I’m glad you’re agreeing to my request.”
“It’s New Years Eve,” he looks at her, “and your dress is quite lovely, if I must say so myself.”
“You already told that in the car.” Sara then gives a mock eye roll. “Men,” she says in a sing song voice, “are all the same. They don’t change, ever.”
“The dress would look better if it were taken off,” he adjusts his scarf to cover more of his jacket, “but I suppose that wouldn’t interest you.”
Sara suggests, “It would, but since we’re gonna be busy all evening, we should probably keep it PG-13.” She does pull the zipper of her jacket down.
“I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that,” the snow keeps coming, “thankfully.”
Kendra opens the then, her shirt covered in baby spittle. “Sara, Rip,” she greets them with radiating warmth, hugging them tightly. “Come on in.”
On the inside of the house, the festivities of the holidays were obvious. A Menorah is displayed prominently on its own table and the table next to it had Christmas cards and already opened gifts still sitting there. The crystalline chandelier hangs from top of the house, reflecting light in every which way, the couches with strands of leftover red and green draped over their outlines. Sara puts her coat on the coat rack, her dark green dress hugging her body. The sheer tights suffocated in the heat in the house, but they would be alright. Probably. Rip’s already set his scarf and things aside and was heading towards the eggnog.
“I still don’t see the others,” he tells her, handing her a cup of eggnog. “but I assume that they are here, based on the number of jackets hanging on the coat rack.”
“Nate and Amaya are probably busy,” - to which Rip replied “Of course” expectantly - “and Wally’s at the Team Flash party with Linda. Jax and Lily aren’t coming, they’re celebrating it at home with the rest of the Stein family. Constantine’s busy, and Carter only comes because he has nowhere else to go.”
“So where would Miss Tomaz be?” She was the only person missing from their verbal planning, after all. “Fiddling with the music, I assume.”
“Playing with Al, Anna and Carter. Zari’s already changed the playlist.”
“I still don’t understand why their third child was named after Carter.”
“Kendra lost a bet to Carter at baby Carter’s gender reveal.” Sara remembers that, how much Kendra had wanted another daughter. Carter was an unexpected surprise.
“The poor child,” Rip tells her as they head upstairs, “is called Carter Raymond Palmer.”
“If Nate ever has kids, his firstborn would be either called Quentin Henry Heywood or Maisie Leah Heywood. Or Amaya Leah Heywood. Maisie Amaya Heywood.” Sara tests the name on her tongue, sad that Nate wasn’t around to get annoyed about them. She’d just tell him later in private.
“All offense intended Sara, those names are absolutely terrible.”
Sara laughs. “That was the point.”
“I pray that Doctor Heywood will never have children, in that case.”
“Don’t say that, Rip.” She mock chides him there, “we would miss out on being their godparents.”
Rip sighs dramatically. “Auntie Sara to the rescue, with sweets and noise makers that would make any new parent want to throw them away the gift was opened.”
“Rip, you're the only person we trust to tell bedtime stories without clueing the kids in on time travel too early.” His stories were popular, and he was known for his patience.
“Sara, my only competition has been Doctor Heywood and Doctor Heywood cannot stand anything Disney related.”
Rip’s not lying. “Fair enough,” Sara tells him before pointing to the locked bedroom door. “You think they’re decent?”
“I’m not on knocking duty this month, therefore you must check.” He and Sara rotated on a monthly basis, him with November, Thanksgiving break had been a traumatic experience, and Sara with December. By all accounts, December was the worst month for knocking duty, without question. He trusts that the horror stories Sara has told him about were all verified. “On the bright side, you could find new blackmail material on Doctor Heywood.”
Sara looks at him, exasperated. “I don’t need new blackmail material on Nate, I have too much already.” She knocks on the door, two swift harsh taps against the door followed by “Nate, Amaya, the party’s starting!”
“The party has already started.”
“If Carter isn’t here, the party hasn’t started. Everyone needs to be here for the party to start.”
“Mr. Hall is perpetually late, regardless of how many times you remind him when to show up on time.”
“All that matters is that we’re not the last people that showed up.”
The door opens, Nate’s shirt unbuttoned in the top, belt sticking out of shirt and hair tussled. “You’re late, Sara.” She doesn’t see Amaya.
“I’m not technically late.” She tells him, “which means I haven’t lost the bet.”
“If I got here before you, I won. If you got here before me, you won.” Nate looks smug. “Now I get to name your first child.”
Amaya looks exasperated. “Don’t the two of you have better things to give up then naming rights?” She gives Rip a disguised eye roll, Rip giving a her a smile that was of no consolation.
“They don’t plan on having children,” Rip tells her, “so their little sacrifices seem worthless.”
“Nathaniel can’t,” Amaya walks alongside Rip, “but Sara can.”
“In that case, please try to reign in Doctor Heywood.”
“Nathaniel will ask me for my help with names,” Amaya smiles, pleased. “You shouldn’t have to worry.”
Rip’s still not worry free.
Sara watches as Rip and Amaya walked the other way, ignoring the two of them. “Is it their parenting connection again?”
Nate nods. “Most likely.”
“I haven’t seen Zari around, where is she?” She wasn’t downstairs, and Sara didn’t see her around the living room area either.
“Currently, she is hacking the NSA.”
“The Washington Post will have a very happy holiday then.”
Nate laughs. “Don’t they always? The reporters fight over who gets to break the news.”
“You mean the news wasn’t already broken?”
Nate grimaces. “It’d be funny if it wasn’t true.”
Carter does show up, an hour and a half later, knocking on the door with a bag filled with cartons of highly concentrated eggnog.
He offers no apology, just sets the cartons of eggnog down and fills the bowl back up, and goes to play with Al, Anna and Carter Jr.
“At least he isn’t sitting with the adults,” Nate says, ignoring the dirty look Carter gives him.
Sara looks at Kendra, who then looks at Zari and Zari pokes Amaya. Laughter comes naturally.
“Rip, what time is it?” Sara asks him this for the third time in ten minutes. “The ball hasn’t dropped yet, and we’re all out of eggnog.”
“The scotch is much better,” Rip tells her, “and we still have forty minutes before New Year arrives.”
“Carter’s taken the kids to sleep, Ray and Kendra are enjoying the champagne on the balcony, Zari’s playing with the audio system and Nate and Amaya went up to the fourth floor to watch the fireworks. We’re pretty much alone.”
“Sara,” and Rip’s said or thought this so many times he’s lost count, “their version of watching the fireworks involves less clothing than ours. Without question.”
Sara frowns at him. “You’re not still mad about me telling you about their pirate sex, right?”
“Sara, I was so close to forgetting that.” Rip sighs. “And no, I’m not. Doctor Heywood told me while drunk things that made the pirate sex seem vanilla in comparison.”
“Don’t tell me the details,” Sara rubs her forehead, “or I swear to god I will not talk to you for the next month.”
“We don’t need always verbal communication,” Rip tells her, her dress coming to mind. “Physical communication can be just as effective.”
“Later,” she tells him, “when we’re back at the apartment. I don’t have any bath robes here and all of Kendra’s are either covered in crayon or they were custom made gifts from Ray.”
“You could always change the embroidery and take one of Miss Saunder’s robes. Egyptian Cotten is very soft and very expensive.”
“Or I could just tell Kendra I needed to borrow one and never return it.” Sara says with a shrugging notion, grabbing the shot of scotch Rip had poured for her. “The New Year’s coming, and that means Central City finally uses all the fireworks it spends the rest of the year hoarding.”
“I’ve been told the chain of fireworks is quite beautiful, but I’ve never experienced it myself. Our apartment would have had a better view, but that would require us cleaning up the mess that was left behind.”
“I used to bribe Wally to clean it up,” Sara nods, “and all it cost me was two favors every time. Wally still hasn’t cashed in on all those favors.”
“I don’t suppose Eobard Thawne was available?” Rip asks darkly, jokingly, eyes clouded over with memories of the Legion of Doom.
Sara points out: “There’s a reason he’s dead and we’re not.”
“All for the better.” Rip and Sara press their shot glasses against the other, a celebratory host to the death of the Reverse Flash.
“I would’ve loved to kill Damien Darhk,” Sara tells him along the same vein, “still.”
“We could always find another Earth’s Damien Darhk and kill him if it had no significance to the timeline,” Rip suggests in all seriousness. “However, that would require step siding the Time Bureau.”
“I could tell Nate to go back to the Bureau,” Sara says with a shrug, “and cause a ruckus. That would buy us time.”
“Requesting a meeting with my former protégé would cause more of a flurry, and you could send in Citizen Steel to capture Darhk so you don’t have to overexert yourself trying to take him down.”
Sara grimaces at that, involuntarily. “That’d be your funeral.”
The fireworks have started, bursts of white and yellow and red dancing among the starry night sky, flares of light blue and dark blue piercing the sky in streaks of color, loud and noisy and larger than life, pounding in waves of firecrackers and smaller pyrotechnics, smaller fireworks flying around in the air with squeeing noises, volcano structures that emitted white, yellow and green sparks into the darkness of the night, lighting up the heavens for all to see.
Rip watches them from the couch, before being dragged off it by Sara. She looks expectantly at him, turning her eyes towards the show of lights that danced and spun in every direction, a rainbow lighting up the night sky. “So,” she asks him, “what do you think?” They’re alone, the two of them, and there’s something special about this moment, in that she got to experience it with someone she cared about, deeply.
There’s an element of awe in Rip’s voice. “The fireworks really are quite beautiful.”
Sara had grabbed his hand to get him up from the couch. He hasn’t let go. “It’s the one time the citizens of Central City use their fireworks, besides when they honor the Flash for saving the city once again.”
“It’s a very effective use of their fireworks,” Rip clears his throat a little, “and it is rather breath taking.”
Sara kisses him then, the two of them standing by a glass door that led outside, fireworks of all colors flashing in the background, in shades of blue and green and white, streaks of red and yellow and occasionally purple. One hand is on her waist, the other on her back, to center her. It lasts longer than she thinks it does, but there’s something symbolic about the two of them making out to fireworks, curtains pushed to the side and the glass reflecting fireworks onto the back of their clothes.
Probably. All Sara cares about right now is what’s going on in this very moment.
“Happy New Years, Sara.” It’s only for hear to hear.
“Happy New Year, Rip.” Sara smiles at him, fondness and affection evident in the way she looked at him. “Ready for round two?” Another kiss, she means, because she was going to be busy for the next few hours, either way.
Rip looks smug, content, like the cat who ate the canary. “More than ready.”