Los Crudos blasted overhead as Zari laid in the dark staring up at the ceiling, trying to find shapes in the shadows. She could hear the clink of footsteps out in the hall, everyone moving back and forth before heading in for the night. Occasionally, they would stop in front of her door, and Zari could almost see Ray, or maybe Sara, hand poised to knock, but then thinking better of it, before the footsteps faded back down the hall.
The track switched over to something equally harsh. Maybe one of those 80s hardcore bands Behrad had loved so much. Zari didn’t even know, she had let Gideon’s algorithm loose, building a playlist of all the music her brother had listened to. She had never actually played it before, just kept it tucked away like a safety blanket, knowing that it was there being comfort enough.
But that bar in London had been a sea of faces that reminded Zari of him, and seeing her mom, and John’s parents, and whatever it was that had taken the shape of Amaya, it was finally too much. And with the whole fucking team wallowing in one way or another, the kitchen had gotten too crowded..
The dull thud of knuckles against the door startled Zari out of her half-sleep body exhaustion, not quite sure of what reality she was in. But the music clicked off and she let Gideon open the door.
“Z, you alright?” It was Sara, cautiously standing just over the threshold. Zari dragged the heels of her hands over her eyes, trying to clear the fog of guilt and near-sleep.
“This about Charlie?”
They had never really talked about it, Zari’s thing with Amaya. Though that was probably because it was obvious enough that they never needed to. Everyone knew, even if it had been something Zari wanted to keep just for herself, just for a little while. She was always grateful that Sara never pushed her on it. Charlie taking Amaya’s form, that was something Zari didn’t even know how to deal with yet.
“No, that’s–oh man, that’s a whole other thing I’m just locking away in a feelings box for now,” Zari said, sitting up and tucking herself into the far corner of her couch.
“Yeah, it’s a lot.” Sara gave her a small, sympathetic smile and nodded. “What’s up?”
She joined Zari on the couch, keeping her distance on the other far end. Whatever this friendship was they had developed, the mutual respect of distance was something Zari appreciated.
“Those kids–the ones Charlie was hanging with–god, they reminded me of Behrad so much. He was such a little shit sometimes.” Zari laughed, and wiped at a tear forming in the corner of her eye. “Like, just the most cliche punk teenager you could think of. Things had already gotten so bad, but he still went out of his way to find those little metal studs and just put them on every item of clothing he wore. A.R.G.U.S. patrols used to stop and harass him constantly for it. He even got arrested for it once. My parents–they begged him to stop wearing that stuff out of the house, but he never did. Not until we got really involved in the resistance and it became a liability. ”
“I think I would’ve liked you brother,” Sara said, half smile on her lips.
“Yeah, I think you would’ve too.” Zari was quiet for a moment, imagining Behrad on this ship instead of her. He would’ve fit right in.
“He kept his ratty old denim vest that was held together with patches and safety pins. It was so fucking gross. If he washed it it probably would have disintegrated.” Zari tried to force out another chuckle, to keep herself from breaking, but it caught in her throat. “No matter how much we had to give up and how little we got to take with us, he always had it with him.”
She couldn’t bring herself to say that Behrad still had it tucked away in his go bag the night he died. In the chaos of gunfire and trying to make sure her parents were safe, she didn’t have the chance to grab it. She stared past Sara, finding the picture on her bedside table, the only one she had left of him.
“He seems like he was a good kid,” Sara said, trying to get Zari’s attention back. A flash of a memory came to Zari, something she hadn’t thought about in years.
“He was actually–he was just exhausting sometimes. Once when he was, like, 16, he had me hack through an ARGUS firewall just so he could torrent some ultra obscure, I think it was an Italian anarchist punk record, but told me it was recordings of A.R.G.U.S. officials. When I found out what he actually was downloading, I almost strangled him. I had just gotten out of a larceny charge and I wasn’t going back for some dumb punk album.”
“That’s something I would’ve done to Laurel.” Sara smiled fondly. “You sound like a good older sister.”
Zari paused, thinking about the last time she saw Behrad, really saw him, before the door was kicked down and he disappeared beneath a wall of ARGUS soldiers. A dinner of canned vegetables and water purified with iodine tablets. It was all they had had to eat for almost a week, but even so, Behrad made a show of it, trying to get Zari and his parents to laugh. And he did. He almost always did.
“Yeah well, if I was such a good sister, he’d be alive,” Zari said, the spite and self hatred gone. She was just tired.
Sara was quiet, lips drawn in a line as she turned her gaze towards the ground. Zari knew she was thinking about her sister. Sara never said much about her, Zari knew she had one, that Damien Darhk had killed her, and that was about it. At least Zari knew her name now.
“You know, I met my sister’s–I don’t know what to even call her–doppleganger? The Laurel from Earth 2. I met her when I went back home a few months ago. When my dad died.”
“It was like–you never knew Snart, our Snart. Leo wasn’t really anything like him, aside from a smart ass. But it was kind of like that.” Sara stopped, pinched the bridge of her nose. “It was worse than never seeing her again, because she was right there. But it–it wasn’t Laurel. My Laurel.”
The breath Sara took shuddered, and Zari noticed how tight Sara squeezed her eyes shut, trying to will whatever she was feeling away. Zari knew that move well.
“You know I actually–whenever I hear the Dawson’s Creek theme song, I think of her.” Sara’s fingers found her necklace, and she rubbed the little pendant absentmindedly.
“What’s Dawson’s Creek?”
“Right, you wouldn’t–it was a really dumb teenage soap opera that was on when we were kids. Laurel was 13, I think, when it started, and she thought she was so grown-up watching it, and our parents didn’t let me, and I was such a little brat about it. It was a few rough years of us not really getting along, not until she left for school.”
Zari didn’t know what to say, probably in the same way Sara didn’t know what to say to her about Behrad. But she could hear the guilt in Sara’s voice, and felt it in the same way she knew Sara did.
“I never told her that I ended up watching the whole thing my freshman year of college. It was such a stupid fucking thing, but I just–I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. And then I just forgot and years went by, and now she’s dead.” Sara tilted her head back against the arm of the couch, wiping her hand across her eyes. She laughed weakly. “Z, you can’t tell anyone about this. It’ll undermine my credibility.”
“Secret’s safe with me, captain.”
They sat in silence for a long while, both with their ghosts of loss, neither of them able to make eye contact.
“I miss her every day,” Sara said eventually. “Doing this job, you realize that your past haunts you forever, in one way or another. And there are days when it’s bad and days when it’s not so bad, and over time there are more not bad days than bad ones.” She paused, trying to catch Zari’s eye. “You’re not the reason your brother is dead, and I’m not the reason Laurel’s not here anymore. Whether you believe that yet or not, it’s good to hear from someone else sometimes.”
Zari was quiet, unsure how to respond. But Sara didn’t linger waiting for one. She got up and headed for the door, turning back as it slid open.
“Try to get some sleep. I’m on comms if you need me.”
“Thanks, Sara,” Zari said as the door whooshed close again.
She found enough energy to drag herself from the couch to her bed, putting her playlist back on, quieter this time. It wasn’t easy, but eventually she found sleep, dreaming about her last dinner with her brother.