Everything around him is darkness and Rip comes to the conclusion that death is pretty anticlimatic. He had expected things to simply stop. He had expected to stop exciting. He had even expected incruciating pain. Rip hadn't expected the silence. For a minute, he tries to open his eyes, to blink and much to his irritation, nothing happens. He tries to lift his hands, to run his fingers through his hair and predictably, nothing happens. Rip vaguely remembers asking how to it had felt like. Dying.
They had both been in his office, lounging on the battered couch while taking their turns sipping on an expensive bottle of bourbon. He doesn't remembe what had brought that particular subject, but he recalls Sara freeze, her grip around the bottle tightening before she had given a fake nonchalant shrug and taken a long gulp without a wince.
“Depends,” Sara had cleared her throat, plastering a mirthless grin on her face, “Which death are we talking about?”
Rip had winced at that, taking the bottle out of her hands. “Nevermind, forget I said anything.”
“No, it's fine. I don't mind talking about it,” she wrapped her hands around herself, as if making up for the loss. She tucked her hair behind her ears and rested her head on the back of the couch. “Um, there's no fucking light at the end of the tunnel if that's what you're asking, no limbo. My life didn't flashed in front of my eyes nor did I hear the voice of God,” she snorted and shook her head, falling silent for a moment. Then she had cleared her throat again and taken the bottle back, craddling it to her chest. “I just remember pain and then...a void. It was nothing spectacular.”
Sara had, then downed the rest of the bottle and stretched her legs over his lap, her eyes closed. Rip had found himself holding his breath, convinced that she had fallen asleep. Her eyes had snapped back opened a few seconds later, her gaze blank and staring at an invisible point on the wall.
“It wasn't bad, though”, she had whispered, “everything was quiet and nothing hurt anymore.”
Her eyes had closed again, her head falling forward and her breathing even. Rip had carefully taken the bottle out of her grasp and moved her legs off his lap before getting up and moving to his desk. Moving against the back of the couch, Rip had grabbed the colt off the armrest and draped it over the smaller woman, restraining the urge to brush her hair out of her eyes. Everything was quiet and nothing hurt anymore, Sara had told him. And yet, there's a ringing in his ears and his head throbs. Which is saying something since he's supposed to be dead. Perhaps they all experience it differently. It doesn't explain why his chest feels like it's on fire, why it feels he's unable to breathe. He shouldn't be able to breathe. He should be dead.
“Captain Hunter, are you feeling alright?”
Gasping at loud, Rip looks up to find himsel in his quarters. In the Waverider. Alive and well. Frowning, he lifts trembling hands to his face, clenching his hands a few times before moving them to his face. His confusion doesn't lessen as he feels the growing bear under his fingertips. He doesn't remember having that much stumble. Letting his hands fall to his side, Rip looks up, scanning his surroundings. Surroundings that as far as he knows, don't belong to him anymore. He knows Sara had moved in the Captain's quarters after his departure. And yet, the room is scattered with his trinkets, books left opened on his desk and his coat draped over his chair. He freezes when noticing the satchel bag on his bed and the clothes on it. Rip's almost afraid to move, unable to tear his gaze away from it. He can't be here. It shouldn't be possible for him to be here.
The sensation of déjà-vu is overwhelming but Rip knows bettter. He can remember every detail of the day, memories flashing in front of his eyes. He remembers standing in front of his travel bag, staring blankly at it before he began shoving clothes and books into it. Rip had stared at the sealed letter – Sara's name scribbled on it – before he had sighed and shoved into his bag, closed it and hissed it over his shoulder. Snapping out of his trance, Rip forces himself to move forward and gulps when his eyes settle on the very same letter. He hesitates for a second, biting on his bottom lip, before grabbing it.
“Gideon?” Rip calls, rubbing his thumb over the writing.
He pinches the inside of his elbow and winces. “I'm not dreaming, am I?”
“It seems you're not,” Gideon confirms. “Although, I feel the need to ask again : are you feeling alright, Captain?”
“Fine,” he mutters, turning the envelope in his figers.
Rip's head snaps up at the sound of Sara's voice, the latter standing at the threshold with her hands in his pockets. She looks different than the last time he had seen and her appearance reinforces the idea that he isn't dreaming. She's smiling and she's looking younger, unburdened for a moment. As she steps into the room, Rip suddenly remembers the letter in his hands and tries to match her nonchalance as he hides it behind his back.
“I was looking for you,” Sara stops, a frown on her face and her head tilted to the side. He doesn't have to follow her gaze to know that she's staring at his bag, “You going on a trip?”
Rip almost flinches back when hearing the familiar words. Like before, she sounds confused and slightly mad – sounding mad enough to hide the real concern behind her words – and Rip finds himself gaping at her for a moment. Looking down at his bed, he stares at each item laying on it and his hands clench around the letter behind his back. Then, in a quick, swift motion, he drops it on his clothes and makes a show of rumagging through his things to make sure it says hidden. Clearing his throat, Rip looks back and plasters a smile on his face.
“Unpacking, actually. Put some order in here,” he says, rubbing the back of his neck, “Didn't really have to do so before.”
“Oh,” Sara blinks at him, her eyes a bit wider and her shoulders slagging in relief. “Well, that's... good.”
His smile widens at that. Rip shoves his hands in his back pockets, narrowing his eyes at her. “Was there something you needed, Miss Lance?”
“Oh,” she says again and shakes her head. “Yes, actually. We're about to timejump and Mick's pretty eager to get to Aruba as soon possible, so,” Sara jabs a thumb over her shoulder.
Rip's smile falls, turning into a grimace. He remembers how their time jump had ended, how them messing with time had resulted in dinosaurs roaming in Los Angeles and Cesar starting to start a war. He runs his fingers through his hair, giving him an excuse to turn away from Sara as he racks his brain for further informations and excuses. He wonders if he can pull up what he had accomplished in five years in the matter of a few days. He knows they'd also have to deal with Mallus at some point. He should probably call John Constantine. Rip can – relucantly – admit that he's out of his depth and that any help would be appreciated it.
Rip is startled out of his thoughts and reminded of Sara's presence. Meeting her confused stare, he grimaces. “I'm afraid so. Gideon informed of me of an aberration in Los Angeles. Holidays will have to be postpone.”
For a second, Rip's afraid that Gideon will speak up and call him on his bullshit. Instead, she keeps quiet, and for some reason, it doesn't make him feel any better. He can pratically feel her judgement and restrains the urge to sink down on the floor and hide away. Sara hums and runs her fingers through her eyes.
“I guess Legends don't get a break from saving the world, right?” she mutters. Rip winces in response and Sara nods, sighing. “Oh well. You're the one telling Mick, though.”
Rip snorts. “Oh joy,” he deadpans and feels lighter when it earn him a small smile from the blonde. “I suppose a day break wouldn't hurt.” The dinosaurs would still be there tomorrow, Rip adds inwardly, stifling a groan at the thought.”
Sara narrows her eyes at him and slowly gets closer to him. Rip freezes, watching her as she steps into his personal space, showing no sign of discomfort at their proximity. He does frown, though, when she raises a hand to his face and pokes his cheek with a finger. She hums again and tilts her head to the side, one eye closed while the other scans him from head to toes. Sara meets his stare and he cocks an eyebrow, a small smile tugging at his lips.
“There's something different about you,” she says, her brow furrowed.
Rip doesn't think before the following words leave his mouth, “My dazzling good looks. It takes time for people to see beyond the britishness, trust issues and arrogance.”
Sara's eyes widen and his close. He throws his head back, slapping his forehead and letting a long groan. He hear her muffled laughter and can already feel the tip of his ears reddening. He levels a glare at her and Sara purses her lips, swallowing giggles. She clears her throat, taking a step back
“Nah, that's not it,” she shakes her head. Rip scoffs at that in mock outrage, trying to contain a smile. Sara pouts back at him, booping his nose before she turns around and Rip allows himself to smile. A nagging voice in the back of his mind reminds him that he could possibly be dreaming. But then again, he hasn't allowed himself to dream in a while, “Now, come on,” he looks up when feeling a tugging. “We might not be able to go and lay on a beach in Aruba, but we're getting the evening off and I can't survive only on crumplets, scones and black tea.”
Rip allows Sara to drag him out of his room, not picking up on the teasing as he smiles down at her. Perhaps he is dreaming, perhaps he isn't dreaming. He'd take dreaming over being dead anytime. It means he'd be able to wake at some point. Sara hooks an arm through his and the way they walk down the hall toward is so familiar and Rip's not too keen on waking up. At least, not soon. Sara squeezes his arm and he looks down at her, only to find staring back at him, expectant. He stares back at her and shrugs, earning a groan from her.
“Come on, you're not going to say anything? Admonish me and my horrid British accent?” he makes sure to keep his face blank, shrugging again. Sara rolls her eyes, “Urgh, my humor is truly lost on you all.”
“You're clearly hilarious,” he deadpans, pointing to his face. Sara elbows his side, “so much that you've had somewhat of an effect on me, apparently.”
They both stop, each for separate for different reasons. Rip inwardly winces at the familiar words, beating himself up. Like earlier, they had come automatically, not leaving him time to think them through before they'd left his mouth. As if he's being forced to live an alternate version of a moment he had already went through. He feels Sara squeezing his arm again and looks down to see her head resting on his shoulder, her previous mirth replaced by something unreadable.
“And you on me, Captain,” she retorts.
He knows what are the words that are about to leave his mouth and he can't stop it, “I'm not Captain anymore. You are.”
“Meh,” Sara waves him off, “technicalities. Now, come on, I'm hungry.”
A wide smile takes over his face as he lets himself being dragged behind. He still isn't sure if he's awake. He isn't even sure if he's truly alive. But he'll take what was given to him and enjoy every minute of it.