Sara doesn’t grieve Rip, not in any way that mattered. She doesn’t hold a funeral for him nor does she lie flowers at his grave; there’s a makeshift memorial in Central City Wally spent a couple of days curating, but it’s nothing, not really. It’s not official, no invitations to send on heavy cream paper in a font meant for a wedding, no one who cared enough to plan anything on a scale larger than a piece of cardboard protected against the elements only temporarily.
She barely processes it. It’s all happened so fast, his sacrifice and Salvation, and the second breaking of time, and Sara doesn’t realize it’s over, not until someone points it out to her.
It’s Nate, of course, because Nate occupies himself with work when he has things in his personal life he wants to avoid. This time: Amaya’s return to 1942. He’s spending all his time buried in the library or his head barely dropping into a heaping, huge cup of extra caffeinated-coffee. It’s almost like a zombie: slow, sluggish, lifeless, lonely. Nate carries himself the only way he wants to: if he talks to someone, it’s usually with an undertone of snappiness and annoyance, and he’s a volcano about to go off, in all the wrong places.
There’s anger in his eyes, a damn frustration Sara doesn’t give too much attention to. Her historian knew how to pick up the pieces of his life, he knew how to move on after dealing with well, family tragedies and the like. Her historian, in the mean time, would be prickly, and he would be irritable and he would be treated with walking on eggshells, up until he found a way to deal with his grief of losing Amaya (she was never his, not once, but he had loved her with everything he had, and everything he would ever have, and so he mourns her and the future they would never get.) in a semi reasonable manner that didn’t involve crashing after spending two weeks avoiding sleep just so he wouldn’t dream.
God, Nate was an idiot.
Still, she finds him lingering at his old room on the waverider, the door decorated with papers and photographs and small bits and pieces of memory and honest to goodness, Sara hasn’t seen this before.
She doesn’t know why it feels like her heart drops from within her chest, why she feels like she can’t breathe, why there’s an unexpected heaviness within her and it takes everything she has not to lower herself onto the floor and think of her former captain.
She watches as Nate stares listlessly at the door, at the script Phil had written that Ray had left there (Sandra’s the hero of my story, Phil had once told her, and now, Sara can’t help but wonder if it still held true.), at the bottle of whiskey that Nate leaves there, raided from his collection that Nate had somehow found, and she watches as he moves, slowly, sullenly, and entraps his attention towards the memorial, and, in some silent understanding she doesn’t get, a look of exhaustion.
Nate spends too much time at it, for her taste. The moments pass slower and slower and she all but wants to ask Gideon to turn up the temperature so he would just leave. But, that’d mean Nate would know about her being there, and so she waits, because that was something she didn’t want to answer, the way he swayed, ever so slightly, tipsy.
It didn’t help the waverider bred alcoholism, but goddammit, if it’s anything Sara’s learned, it’s that drinking made everything easier. It’s also easier than to confront the fact that she was edging on it, but, whatever.
When he leaves, she ducks out from where she’d been leaning against, just out of sight for a slightly-totally drunk Nate, and joins her body against the floor, leaning against the wall, lower body on the floor. “Hey, Gideon?” She asks, and she doesn’t like how weak she sounds. “Can you make sure no one stops by?”
If Gideon replies, Sara doesn’t hear it. All she can think about is her captain, goddammit, and so, following that logic, the next best option was to talk to a dead man, knowing she wouldn’t get a response.
She sighs, a long drawn out one, and she tilts her head back just slightly, so that she can close her eyes and try to understand the inner turmoil inside of her.
“You don’t have a body to bury,” she tells the memorial of a dead man, “you know?”
She can’t stop the broken laugh that escapes her.
“Even I had a body to bury.” When I died, the first time, but he knew that.
There’s no response, but Sara knows that already, even if it was on some subconscious level she didn’t want to acknowledge.
“For the longest time,” and she can’t deny this, “I hated you. I made myself hate you, because I don’t know what I would’ve done otherwise.”
There’s no response, and Sara wants a response, badly.
“Goddammit Rip,” she mutters, “you always have a response to anything I have to say. Answer me.”
Dead men don’t respond to the summonings of the living. If they responded, they wouldn’t be dead.
She closes her eyes. “I want to hate you. I want to tell you that you’re an absolute fucking idiot, that you’re a total bastard, but I can’t. I can’t.”
“You knew what you were doing when you took the time drive out of the waverider. You knew what you were doing as you marched to your death. You knew we couldn’t escape 1992 without a solid enough diversion, and you didn’t tell us.”
The next words that come out are harder, infinitely harder. In a broken, cracked voice, all she can muster is: “But Rip,” unsteady as it goes, “suicide isn’t the answer. It’s never the answer.” Her voice quivers.
Her next words come harder, still. “I wanted to hate you, but I don’t know how to. It’s easier to blame things on you, than to face my regrets.”
She can feel tears coming, involuntarily, seeping towards her face. She can’t bring herself to care.
“I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know why I can’t just walk away from this,” she winces, “because it’s painful, sitting here, looking at shrine dedicated in your honor.”
There’s no reply.
Sara stays that way, for an indeterminate amount of time, just her and her thoughts. They win around her head, wisps of smoke she can’t catch, flitting and flying around her, and all she can do is catch glimpses of them before she loses sight of them.
She’s tired, exhausted. Words didn’t seem to describe it— but really, what could? The feeling entrenched deep in her bones that this was her life, this was everything she ever had and would always carry with her, her memories and her scars and her tears shed all blurred together in some masterpiece she doesn’t want to confront.
It feels like she’s lost in a bus station, wandering around as people walked by in quick, pacing steps, always in a hurry, destination in mind already. She’s got no ticket nor does she have a location in mind, just the knowledge that things flew by for everyone around her, and here she was, stuck.
And her captain, the man that gave her purpose when she was lost, is dead.
God, it feels like she’s just been hit by a truck and told to shake off the damage, shock and blood and bone included.
She stares at the memorial, vision clouded by tears, and in her silence, mourns the man who had singled her apart in his final goodbyes.
Her voice has long since cracked, and Sara, Sara doesn’t give a damn. “I could’ve loved you, y’know?”
It’s a self imposed question, one only meant for her to hear, and the silence only magnifies her loneliness. It’s the only she knows how to honor him— words only did so much, and besides, in their mutual silence, silence had been more telling than words would ever be, and that goddamn bastard was dead.
Not as in, he-was-able-to-resurrected dead, but there-was-no-body-to-bury dead, the final kind that hurt the most, because there was always the damn possibility he could’ve been living in New York in the ‘40s, operating as a doctor and growing his own garden, that he could’ve been living, breathing, and Sara just didn’t know it at the time.
Bodies had a way of confirming someone was dead, and Rip doesn’t have a body.
She’s quiet as a ghost, as she speaks. Deathly silent, like she was having a private moment, and there wasn’t a damn thing she wanted interrupting this. “Wherever you are,” she whispers, “I hope you’re happy.”
“I don’t—” Sara tries to compose herself, but it’s hardly successful. “I don’t know what to say, Rip. I don’t know what there is left to say.” Too much, the devil on her shoulder whispers, and Sara doesn’t correct it.
“We defeated Mallus.” She tells, “he’s gone.”
“I hope you’re proud of us,” she whispers, and it’s all she can do now, because that was the curse of death, a pulling she’s eerily familiar with: cold stagnation in decaying bodies, souls searching for those they loved for just one more chance to have oxygen coursing through their veins and the force of gravity keeping them on earth.
There’s nothing Sara wants to say now, because truth be told, she’s wiped out. It’s hard, conversing with the dead, and she feels like all she has is truly gone, because the family she was born to, they’re gone.
They can’t come back, and it just kills Sara, having to admit that.
She brushes her hand against the wall, and in a soft tone, she releases her final confession.
The photographs brush against her fingers, aged and dusted, the script sitting on the floor, unchanged. She dares not linger, not so long, but it’s all she’s been doing, and really, why stop now?
Sara lets him go.
It’s all she can do.