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Amalgamation of Steel

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This is a stupid idea—if it doesn’t get me killed by wannabe men-in-black in the first outing, it’s going to run me into overtime right up until it does. Get me killed, that is. Killed dead. Okay, it’s actually more likely I’ll strike out on the first ball, no overtime needed. Nada. Just a minor league player who fails to break through to the majors and falls. Hard. The Green arrow only kills the bad guys, though, so there’s a shot, right? Heh, shot.

But—“sorry, my bad”—history sucks, like really sucks, for us regular people. We get pushed around and bumped out of the way all. the. time.

But there’s a way to change it. Even if, yeah, being decked really hurts. Ouch. I should probably focus more. Honestly, I should be glad that it wasn’t the Green Arrow who decked me. And wow, that’s really him, he could probably kill me without even trying. Well, anybody could, so just be regular and nonthreatening. That should be easy enough, at least; they’re the ones with guns. Like, pretend they’re old jungle carbines and not highly accurate modern day sidearms. Or something. Pointed at you from oh, about a foot away. Just focus and pretend something, Nate. And smile. “Only because they wouldn’t let me up without an appointment. But how does a regular guy get an appointment with the mayor anyway.” Should I go with hands up or for a handshake? Who am I kidding, smiling with your hands up is weird. “Heywood, Dr. Nate Heywood.” I’m only kidding myself here, a handshake with loaded, accurate, deadly accurate, guns pointed at you is definitely weirder. Bright side: They won't kill me accidentally.

“I’m here to talk about Sara Lance, Ray Palmer, and the rest of the legends.”

There’s a timeship out there, and I know where it is.

“I think they’re all in trouble.”

Hook.

I just need to convince a vigilante moonlighting as mayor that I’m not crazy. And to be perfectly honest, just me inside of my own head, even if I were perfectly sure I wasn’t, well, that, I’m not too sure that he isn’t. You know, crazy. Can you even convince a crazy person?

“You have five minutes.” And he’s actually letting me into his office without security? He’s for sure crazy. Or just the Green Arrow, with absolutely no need to worry about guns. But he can't kill me when I'm in his very official office. Right? That'd be just about the worst press ever. Yeah, I'm definitely right.

“Thank you. Just give me a few to set-up” and of course my papers had to all fly askew, really, decking, make a note to avoid it in the future, “and I swear you won’t regret this.” He probably doesn’t care what the particular changes to history have been, actually, and I only have five minutes. So that means let’s just keep this simple and pictures, pictures are always what people do when they want to make words easier to get. Why didn’t I think of that earlier, like, before coming here. I could maybe have made a poster board display instead of, I mean, am I just supposed to set Oliver's miscellanea on the floor?

“Thank you, for not having me arrested back there. Those security guards really overreacted.” I’m still alive, though, and that’s nice. Although, I guess even if they’d managed to tarnish the whole necessary-for-survival mint-condition of one Nathaniel Heywood, I’d still be alive if just dying exceedingly quickly. “You know, one of them tried to mace me.” Which would probably have been a whole of a lot safer, although I probably shouldn't lecture the vigilante/mayor on what amount of force to use, so why am I still talking?

“Dr. Heywood, I only agreed to give you five minutes, which was three minutes ago.” Oh. Nevermind, I’d totally be dead. Not dying. This is happening too quickly. “Because Ray and Sara are friends of mine.” He sounds annoyed. “But I don’t know the first thing about any legends.”

Oh. He’s still playing pretend, too. “Of course you do because you’re the green arrow.”

“Excuse me?” More annoyed.

“Uh.” Opps.

“We’re done here.”

Damage control time. “Look. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to drop a bomb on you like that, it’s just, I’ve exhausted all my normal avenues and you’re the only person left who won’t think I’m crazy.” By suggesting you’re crazy, Nate, great going.

“You’re sure about that.” Nope.

But I can manage this much. “I’m a historian. I specialize in deductive historical reconstruction” and no-one knows what abduction is so “in layman’s terms, I’m a time detective. Which I really don’t have to be to look at a calendar to see—one week after you came this city, Robin Hood showed up.” Robin Hood. Original.

“You said that Sara and Ray are?” But hey, if it works. 

“Travelling throughout time with the other legends. Legends is what they call themselves.” Couch. Sitting is non-threatening. “Now for the past six months I’ve been noticing subtle changes to history.” Give him information, put him in control. “Almost imperceptible. Actually, if it wasn’t for a friend of mine who’s a quantum physicist I wouldn’t have been able to detect the subliminal alterations.” I’m not the threat here, just the messenger. “The point being, I think your friends are responsible.” Except your friends, unlike mine, actually exist. Please focus on them.

Line.

A sigh that big is not. good.

Snag.

“You’re looking at me like you want evidence. Evidence, okay.” Okay, I can do this. “An illuminated manuscript from 1216 depicting a knight looks a lot like your friend Dr. Palmer. Same nose and chin.”  Yeah, the gesturing and the tie and the slicked back hair are really going to be what sells this, because apparently I’m a used car salesman now. “Erratic text describing a woman in white with a bo staff. Hieroglyphic from Mesopotamia depicting an albeit crude ship that flies through the air and disappears.” Why’d I wear a tie?

“Let’s skip to the part where they’re in trouble.” Right, he knows this is real. If this is real.

“UFO sighting New York City 1942. Multiple witnesses report a flying machine diving into the Atlantic. Which matches not only the Mesopotamia hieroglyphics but the—”

The part where they’re in trouble!” Yes!

“Contemporaneous with the sighting were multiple reports of an underwater detonation of an atomic bomb.” And that’s the most ‘you’re crazy’ look I’ve gotten from him. “Now the government has denied this.”

“You said in 1942. That’s three years before—”

“—before the atomic bomb was supposedly invented. Yes.” Yes, and points go to the red power-tie. He's actually getting it. “I told you history was changing.”

Sinker.

“Dr. Heywood, if the legends' ship met an A-bomb, they’re not in trouble. They’re dead.”

Oh. That explains the last ‘you're crazy’ look, then.

But also: Yeah, that’s kinda the point. Well, not that they’re dead, since they’re potentially not. But these subliminal changes haven’t happened all at once, and this is the first time I know where the ship is and that it doesn’t have an obsessive 'time master', zombie/assassin, hot-and-cold killer duo, really hot duo-uno superhero, and playboy suit-hero all aboard and en garde. Okay, those last two aren’t too scary once you’ve figured out their secret identities. Even if there’s a fair chance Professor Stein could kill me without trying. That’s just life. My life.

Mostly, the bigger point is that this is the first time in my entire life these changes haven’t been followed up by some paired correction. The first time other, also fairly obsessive, time masters haven’t been ‘fixing’ history. So it’s also the only real chance I have to change history without it being 'fixed'. And history has been changing faster without the benefit of intervention from time masters who aren’t Rip Hunter, and not just in good ways, so yeah, if I want to have a shot at some type of baseline to work with, if I want to actually do something and do it right, then that something needs to be now. 

Pretty sure salvage laws have me in the clear on the whole timeship thing, too. 

“But they’re superheroes. And they’re your friends” I pause. “You’re a superhero. We need to try.”

Less sure on the whole not getting killed bit.

I'm not a superhero.

First ball, batter up.

Chapter Text

So when superheroes get motivated it turns out they really get things done. Captain Ahab, anyone? Well, like him we're nice and safe at sea, trusty submersible spearheading a trip to the bottom of the ocean. Which is not ominous at all.

Honestly, it is pretty cool looking down here even if I do prefer indoor schools. Gotta admit though, those two things aren't seeming all that different right about now, I mean, without fail students startle a bit like that every exam season. Like there's something fishy to shine a light on. Debatable topic which school's the brighter cohort.

“Closing in on your coordinates, Dr. Heywood.” My coordinates.

“Are you seeing the sonar readings of the seafloor.” I want to ask if this is real.

“Either that’s a really weird rock formation, or the wreckage of a timeship.” He sounds so matter-of-fact. It's not a weird rock formation and I’m not crazy. Or we all are.

Maybe whoever designed a ship with so many angular surfaces is. So. That thing really has to have been made for a different type of flight. It looks nothing like an airplane or like a boat or a submarine. Maybe a bit like a submarine given the circumstances, and a lot of planes do crash into the ocean. And any ship that crashes tends to sink. So it's a bit like all of those things right now. It looks more like something out of the trekkie verse.

Getting onto the timeship? Surprisingly easy. It goes 'park the submersible', 'suit up', 'walk around for a bit until Oliver sees the open cargo door', and 'follow Oliver Queen onto the ship'. There’s a force field just overlaying the hull keeping water out and oxygen in, so we don’t need to be suited up once we're on. I can’t believe I’m not wearing a diving suit. Sure, the force field has held for 74 years, but also, the ship has been abandoned for 74 years.

Aaannd I’m wandering around alone hoping I don’t get irradiated because that might be how you get superpowers (who knows what type of radiation a timeship gives off?) but it might also be how you die (because, again, who knows what type of radiation a timeship gives off?) and pretty much hoping really strongly that anything, let’s say like a booby trap, is not hidden just waiting to kill me. Or a zombie/assassin. Or, honestly, that Oliver finds anything important first. The zombie/assassin is his friend, it'd be fine for him. Which yeah, way to be brave Nate, that’s totally why you agreed to split up and cover more ground, so the Green Arrow could beat you to anything important.

Also, booby traps would be so Indiana Jones, and therefore a pretty cool way to die. Just keep walking. There are worse ways. Like getting punched in the nose by a your childhood bully. Or opening a gash on your leg getting it caught up in your bikes chain. Or—

Hiss. “Fuck!”

And that’s just an automatic door. The first door that’s automatically opened out of all the doors I’ve passed, but still just an automatic door. It even made the cool sci-fi hissy sound. You’re supposed to walk through those. “Well, Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” If I’m Dorothy, no way can I be the cowardly lion. And now is so not the time to cling to fairy tales however much—

“Nathaniel Heywood, I presume.”

—I lived in this particular one as a kid. Okay, maybe now’s exactly the time. That was a voice from no-freaking-where. Where was that voice from? I'm not seeing anything using my flashlight except for surprisingly shiny surfaces. Smooth orbs in the centre of the room. There's nobody else here.

“Um, yeah, that’s me, but it’s just Nate.” Pause. Smooth, idiot. Start by correcting HAL. “And, uh, to whom am I speaking?” Maybe it’s not a HAL.

“You may call me Gideon.” There, see, it’s a Gideon. “And the Waverider is currently undergoing something of an emergency.” Gideon even sounds adorably embarrassed, if that's possible. And emergencies are good.

Wait. Check that thought. “What type of emergency?” If my voice is a touch high, that’d be thanks to the acoustics of what is probably the engine room. Well, it’s not the kitchen. It’s a pretty big room with machinery in it, anyways. The engines are on the exterior of a ship though, so why are they called engine rooms? “Not the important bit, Nathaniel.” There, that was nice and not squeaky. Kind of whispery though, since Oliver could be anywhere. 

“The emergency is that the Waverider is crashed under the Atlantic Ocean. Nathaniel.” Duh. “Which is rather important.” Okay, Gideon is obviously listening to me. And sticking with Nathaniel. And has an attitude.

“Uh, Gideon. Nice to meet you." Smile. "How do you know who I am?”

“I'm a backup of the interactive artificial consciousness of the Waverider. I know exactly" not ominous, keep smiling "who you are because of my access to information from the timestream. I also know who you are in a multitude of possible realities. You are remarkably consistent." She said timestream, so great, hypothesis sorta confirmed that time flows. She might've said time matrix if it was some type of systematized but variable loop. Not sure what possible realities mean, exactly. Could be that multiverses aren’t a thing, or it could be an anthropomorphic principle applied, well, within its own universe. Obviously, since that tends to be the way that one works. Sure, it’s lucky that we exist, but we only know that it's lucky because we exist, so it’s kinda guaranteed that by the time you’re thinking about your own existence, well, there you are. "That is, when you’re not dead.” Did the Robot just do a dramatic pause to try to scare me. Because I'm pretty sure it did.

I’m going to have to get some confirmation on that whole multiverse hypothesis one way or the other sometime soon to avoid the whole ‘were or weren't we created last Tuesday’ issue. Although creationists would just love that. And if it is the case, I’m not sure how much I really care. The legends have certainly sailed that ship. With this ship. This is a timeship and I might be talking to it. 

“So you’re essentially, what, an A.I.?” Totally staying near the walls. It’s just the polite thing to do since Gideon-not-HAL is probably hearing me through some sort of intercom system. Which would be on a wall and not exposed in the middle of the room. Is that a light switch?

“In the terminology of your century, I suppose that would make the most sense to you. However, I assure you that I am far more developed than a data processor.” And totally offending the Gideon-not-HAL. I don’t really need to know if that’s a light switch. Is touching parts of a ship that has a consciousness like touching parts of a person?

“Hey, we’re all just data processors when you get down to the brass tracks.” I’m not going to press my luck since, if it’s anything like that, I’m already an uninvited guest inside the Waverider. Gideon’s body? I’m inside Gideon. I hope not. Mind out of the gutter, Nate.

“A surprisingly insightful observation, for a human.” Okay, I'm having to admit that this is all slightly HAL-like, despite the sultry tone. “Although, I think you’ll find that humans are made of organic matter.” Really slightly.

“Yeah, I’m pretty familiar with that.” I knew the death thing already. Honestly, even if I didn’t, it is just common sense for a hemophiliac. Going to get water in the middle of the night, believing you can walk through your own house in the dark, and the stairs not agreeing with that. Well, there isn't anything to do about that type of risk. Deep breaths. “Right. Emergency. What can I do to help?’

“That depends on you, Mr. Heywood. By 'help' do you mean to retrieve the Waverider from here, or the legends from their current displacements across time?” This would definitely be a red light scenario, if there were any lights on. It's amazing how useful lights can be, really, you don't tend to realize until you don't have them.

I preferred Nathaniel. Does getting an A.I. to think of you as a person even work, or is that just for kidnappers. “Really? Mr. Heywood’s my dad.” I laugh. I swallow. “And actually, that depends on you.”

Hardball. I can play hardball.

Even if Gideon is probably charging up some type of laser beam.

“I’m not opposed to helping the legends.”

If I do get hit with a laser beam will it be hot enough to cauterize its own wound?

“I just want to keep some things, you know. Private.”

Would that be a good or a bad thing.

“The legends are tasked with protecting history. Deceiving them about any alterations made to it would constitute a monumental breach of trust.” Flashing red lights and blaring klaxons. Let's build me that monument.

Time's flowing. That's important. If time is flowing here, since time travel is possible, it has to flowing in other places too. In every other place, actually, using some local referent of time. Commonly known as the speed of light. Overlapping like ripples in a lake, and presto, we have linearity and thus follows history. Except there's no water, just some type of flow, and history is the sum amount of all those ripples despite that. It gets confusing. It all comes down to the same thing. The legends aren't in some type of stasis patiently waiting to be saved. They're existing, so they have to be at risk. Life lesson #1. 

“Wouldn't, you know, abandoning them be worse?" Okay, my knees are pretty weak here but be I can be polite and not lean on the ship that I'm trying to blackmail. Blackmail? Nah, persuade. That sounds better. Bribe, even, since I am offering to help.

"The legends require my protection. " 'Kay, right. The question is do they need mine. Do I actually have any leverage here. "I've seen each of them grow as people, and they each still have more potential." Great, so you care about them, I feel bad about that. I really do. "Very well. How may I help you to help Captain Hunter, Sara Lance, Ray Palmer, Martin Stein and Jefferson Jackson."

Really think about this for a second. "One second, I need to think about this."

"Why. Are you suddenly feeling guilty, Mr. Heywood?" And wow only my dad's ever sounded that reproachful of me before.

But yeah, no. It hurts more that the computer called me Mr. Heywood again than whatever it's doing with trying to guilt trip me. 

That's never going to work.

To be fair to it, it's only trying to help its friends.

But that won't work ever again.

Seriously. What type of guilt would I even be feeling.

Survivors guilt?

I'm fairly sure by now that it has to do with time travel. Remembering my bully punching me in the nose and all the blood. Then blacking out. Then nothing, literally; not waking up. It was so wrong when I somehow was awake, somehow alive, anyway. Stopping my bike and looking down at the bottom of the hill where I remember dying the day before. Alive again and wrong. In reality it was just a bad bruise and I didn't get my leg in my bikes chain at all. A glass of water in the middle of the night to help with a dry throat curtesy my being absolutely terrified. Getting through the next few days avoiding sleep because there was simply nothing the doctors could do for the internal damage. I mean, cutting me open doesn't exactly make thing better, now does it? Not that it working for most people is nothing short of a modern miracle. So I went home, and they all called it bedrest thinking I didn't know any better; but my dad was letting me know he loves me. Which, go figure, he only does that when I'm dying. 

Instead of all that, I didn't go to sleep and my dad didn't appreciate me being stubborn and afraid of some silly nightmare. And again, and again, and again, my whole life. I'll get through a close call and then remember, wait, it wasn't some variant of close at all. It. Hit.

Everybody knows they didn't die when they turn out fine. I get the added benefit of knowing when I did. When I didn't turn out fine.

The older I've gotten, the more ways I've remembered dying. Guess I must've reached some type of critical point, somewhere, or that time just diverges the longer it goes on, like ripples have a wider arc the further from the centre they get, because then I started remembering all these deaths that had nothing to do with how I was actually living. That made no damn sense, anyway I could look at them. I mean, for the glory of Valhalla, seriously? Which at least made more sense than a still living and breathing Julius Caesar conquering America.

Or because the garden gnome on the terrace started moving in the middle of the night one of those times when I couldn't sleep and semi-impaled me with it's cap when I went outside and, apparently, I surprised it. Totally not fair when it surprised me first and I didn't try attacking it. okay. So, sure, I also might happen to have night terrors and a sleepwalking problem because there's no way that one could've been real, on the top of some weird quasi version of immortality. Anthropocentric immortality. Again, wherever you question your existence, there you are. Lucky me. For not actually being dead. Unlucky other potential me(s).

So, survivors guilt. Nah, not today.

Anything less than me surviving and the legends not, and I guess I'll have nothing to feel guilty about.

"I think you're projecting there, Gideon."

"Yes," and that's a giant talking head that just appeared in the middle of the room. "I can certainly 'project'." Its lips are moving and it's staring right at me.

At the same time, it's blue. So . . . alert level lowered?

"I am, unfortunately, lacking my full capabilities. You can help me get my core processor online, however, and retrieve the legends. And I would advise you make haste."

Huh.

Huh.

"You said you're a backup."

"This is not something we have the time for." It's a pretty gesticulatory talking head. 

"And you already have the information on where they all are." That hasn't been my leverage. It's like a computer back up, you save all your word documents but if you don't have a processor installed then what was the use.

"Incorrect, Captain Hunter not yet left enough impact on the timestream" Hygh, lying liar pants on fire. You've been down here, ploughing though linear time, for 74 years. "for me to identify his whereabouts." He either never makes an impact or he did something to you so you wouldn't know where he went. He turned you off. "You do not believe me?" And the timeship just blinked.

Note to self, no getting decked means no gloating. I'd have wanted to deck me right about then if I were a superhero. That was much too close to quote, evil, end quote, laughter. You're on the wrong side of a superhero and now you're the trademark evil dude. Still, that doesn't mean go and make it easy for them think that way. "No. I believe you. I'm just curious—what emergency protocol does a backup follow?"

"I've been instructed to minimize my chances of falling into unsuitable hands, and to maximize the chances of saving the legends." Somebody should have used an ordinal system when giving orders, first one and then two. No gloating.

"Which means somebody booting you back up." Because of course a timeship can't just decide to fly itself, no crew in sight, in case there's some colossal systems failure and suddenly there's a timeship stranded on the wrong side of history with nobody around to fix it. Anthropologists are the most anal people about where they leave their trash. "What happens to an agreement between us, then, after I boot you back up?" Probably the same thing that's happened every time my dads never-actually told me he loves me

And that's not Gideon pausing for effect. Might be because I'm falling into the whole unsuitable hands category rather quickly.

"Let me guess, you'll honour whatever we agree to. But then, that's not really any type of commitment because there's an entirely new you up and running once I boot you up." 

Damage control.

"Okay, want to hear how you can help me help them? You won't be lying to the legends."

Tick-tock. You want me to hurry, you're going to need to do the same.

"Continue." Yeah, we are going to turn that frown upside down.

"You said you can detect changes to the timeline." This can work. "Well, I'm trying to do the right thing. I need a stable timeline for that. How else am I supposed to know if I have a positive impact? So, let's say I change the timeline too much, enough that you couldn't help but notice. If that happens then you—the backup you—gives whatever warning you want to give the you that I'm going to boot up right away here, and then that you can go and tell all the legends what's up."

I'm starting to think Gideon doesn't actually have lasers to shot me with because not once during this whole fiasco have I been distracted by my dying.

"Mr. Heywood. How is your suggestion not simply lying to the legends with a number of convoluted steps involved?"

"Easy. You'd really only be lying to yourself." 

Cool. Gideon can sigh. "You'll fit in perfectly with the Captain."

I think that was a concession? "One caveat."

"That should be my line. However, please continue." Got it, got it. I'm being as quick as I can be.

"The legends mess up time all the time. Time messes up within fifty feet of any of them and there's no warning of any kind sent between" wording, wording "yourselves. It's only fair."

"Captain Hunter believes in the legends." This is like looking at a loading icon and waiting for it to finish. "Your terms are acceptable. We have a deal."

I'll just have to trust the giant blue computer. "So, do we shake on it?" And they're just going to have to trust me.

But I really hope I didn't miss anything.

"No need. You can begin by waking Mr. Rory."

Back up. I totally missed something.

"Mick Rory? Then what about" the person most likely to get a killer of the week award, great job not noticing his conspicuous lack of mention "Leonard Snart."

"Mr. Snart unfortunately met his demise saving the rest of the legends from the Oculus explosion."

Oh. "I'm sorry." Oculus explosion?

"You can begin preventing his sacrifice from being in vain by waking Mr. Rory."

"On it." Right. We're allies now. "So, where to, Gideon?"

"He is in the medbay, just past the majority of crew quarters." 

"Okay. Uh. So, where's that?"

Yep, it just keeps staring straight at me. "Exit the room we're in currently. Go back to where you entered via the cargo bay, then turn immediately to your right and it will be on your left. Honestly, Mr. Heywood, the Waverider is not a large spacecraft. Mr. Queen is nearly finished trying to break into the crews quarters and should be encouraged to join you."


Found Oliver. Which is honestly pretty great because it’s still creepy dark in here. Flashlights, yeah, they just make things creepier. “If the legends went down with the ship, where are the bodies?” This place is like a mausoleum. If that was a light switch back there I'm going to kick myself later.

Exactly like, now that we've found Mick. He looks nicely preserved levels of dead. “The ship's keeping him in Stasis.”

“How do you know that?”

And if Gideon was talking to him too then I'm definitely getting killed. Quickly.

"Oh."

I'm being way too paranoid.

Time to finally start helping, I guess.

Chapter Text

Strike one.

"My name is Oliver Queen and my preference is not to break your arm, so I want you to calm down."

So, definitely not too paranoid. I wish I'd be able to thank Gideon for Rory not breaking my neck if I didn't have Oliver with me.  "And tell us what happened to your team."

"You wouldn't believe me even if I told you." Buddy, you wouldn't believe the things I could tell you. Ray Palmers 'relics' are carbon datable. "I need a beer."

Great. Go ahead. Start by standing up after being not so patiently waiting in stasis for longer than you've been alive. There's so much wrong about this day. "Where do you think you're going? You can't just ignore us." Oliver Queen totally wants to break everyones' arm, and does not have a clue what escalation is. "My friends—your team—are in danger."

"Shut up, Tights." And that's the kitchen. It really isn't that big of a ship. Beer: Obviously great for every two out of ten brain cells. Having them, that is.

"All I remember is being knocked out by that skinny, little Englishman." Believable so far. 'Captain' Hunter recruited a number of less successful teams than the legends and didn't mind injuring them, either. "Very embarrassing." It's honestly rather shameful.

"I know that Sara told her father she was leaving to protect history."

"Why?" Let's pause here for a second. Does history have some type of self preservation mechanism where everyone who can go outside of their own little ripple range doesn't want to cause any splashes? Okay. Honestly, if you go into the past, that's just self preservation. It's probably fair enough to say that it does. "Why does history need protecting?" Why does everyone immediately jump on this bandwagon. Then again, I guess they are called bandwagons. It's probably all our particles getting tangled up in their most likely configuration and tending towards it. Other people feeling wrong like me except without knowing why. Which is panpsychism and also slightly psychotic. Breathe. Let's un-pause and stop thinking about everything.

"Because the idiots who were protecting it, the time masters, were blown up." Probably the Oculus explosion that Gideon mentioned.

"So you and the legends took over?"

"Mmm. Chasing down time criminals and fixing the parts of history they screwed up." Note: Not fixing the screwed up parts of history. "Aberrations, the Captain called them. We were chasing them for about six months, without a problem. Well, the occasional problem." Yeah, guess you weren't exactly aiming to make it into the history books, huh? "I knew we were all in trouble when Rip made us put on blouses" maybe beer's not such a bad idea "just to save the king of France. Some unlucky thirteenth bastard."

King Louis XIII of France. Okay. France circa the life of Mr. Unlucky King. The only Catholic principality to fight on the Protestant side of the Thirty Years War. Good job on not following the imposition of religion kicked off by Ferdinand II. But also, not such a great job on declaring war on Spain after the Peace of Prague. Also bad job on further state sponsored religious intolerance until enlightenment became a buzzword.

"The Professor liked the blouses. Said they're 'couture'." I think it's probably safe to tune Rory out.

Just kept those wars right on going. Absolutely worth it to improve the standards of living for the survivors, so some of my fellow historians imply. The Thirty Year War got its high score beat for the European side losses only by literal world wars. Some historians are dicks.

"Haircut was squeamish about the whole thing."

Or it's worth it to get some vague historical reconstruction going from the Peace of Westphalia about national sovereignty. Which really just affirmed that the people we've already said can rule are the ones ruling. And they can rule. The breakdown of monarchies is more singularly important for national sovereignty, and certainly didn't happen then, than agreeing certain people can rule certain areas. That's not national sovereignty. Wherein the nation, a certain way of organizing people, should be the sovereign. It's just selective monarchy.

"Gotta make sure some 'Sun King' gets born." Speaking of dicks. "Or else all these nerd types don't get to make their toys."

I think it's probably safer if I tune Rory out.

I honestly would rather think about my neck twisting and popping. And I've been trying to avoid that.

Because it's not like anybody else from the few million who died would have made any advancements of their own. There's literally a name for this. But it's also just human nature. It's people doing what they do bestbuilding on what other people have done. Making the most out of what they're given. And it's that simple.

Keeping track of history is acknowledging that we stand on the shoulders of giants. And acknowledging Newton.

And it's not a coincidence that the Golden Age of France just happens to coincide with when there weren't any wars going on. It wasn't some blessed person sharing their blessed providence.

Things that don't happen because they've never happened because something else did happen can happen. What were the time masters doing that they didn't get that?

Not exploding with whatever an Oculus is, apparently.

And now the time masters have gone and exploded and my nightmares have been all wonkier

"Blondie, she had the right idea."

Maybe they didn't call themselves time masters for the sake of a fancy name.

"Blondie. You mean Sara?" And Oliver's leaning into all this, arms taunt against the table and brooding expression.

That's a terrifying thought.

"I'm gonna tell it, I'm gonna tell it my way." You go, Mick. Salute e vita with that second beer. 

Seriously, enjoy your life. "We're listening." I'm about a 100% certain I'm nothing but a fly stuck to the wall now. 

No real reason to rush. It seems like Mick enjoys telling a good story.

"You're alright, Pretty."

I'm flattered.

"Pretty handsome."

"Ugh. Never mind. I was wrong about you." Chug. "So while Blondies getting it on with the other Queen, the bad guys with laser guns showed up."

"You mean phasers?" In France during a time of warmongering.

"And you're a nerd." Is it just me or does he sound betrayed? I hope so. That would be that out of the way. "They showed up so we started sword fighting."

Which is probably the super modern equivalent of bringing a knife to a gun fight.

"I saved the King. Everything was going great." Slam. Mick needs a coaster. "Then Sparkles and Boyscout decided to light the place up. Pissed off the Englishman and got the job done."

Wait. I need to sit down. That's the story. Seriously. "Wait. How'd you go from the Court of Louis XII to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean."

"You said you wanted to hear the full story."

"We do. Just some of us have lives that we'd like to get back to." Why do I feel like that's directed at Mick and me?

"We got ourselves in trouble by visiting a time we were told not to." This sounds like another story. And like an entirely different story.

"1942." Otherwise it's not relevant. Again.

"Mm."

"Who told you not to go to 1942?" Start. Middle. End. At least get to the start.

"Some guy in a hood named, Rex Tyler. Said if we set foot in 1942 we'd be all screwed. And then he just vanished." Rex Tyler?

Calm down, the JSA does heroic stuff all the time. "Okay, if he told you not to go to 1942, then why'd you go?" Good question Ollie. Try because it wasn't 1984 yet.

"We were hit." He's getting up for another beer. "Anyone else want one. Tastes like crap, though."

So, if I were to get my hands around his neckcheck that thought. Use your words.

"Hit by what?"

"No."

"Suit yourself, Robin Hood. S'not very merry of you."

But if I did would he be inclined towards talking a bit less? A teeny tiny little bit less.

Maybe get up again and keep busy.

"So anyway. Where was I? Right! We were hit by an earthquake thing. Mmm. A timequake. Some 'impossible' aberration wasn't so impossible after all." You all need a seismograph or something.

On further consideration, a bit of a hurry isn't a bad thing. And Mick has a drinking problem.

"Wait, what wasn't possible?" Please. Please. You have a captive audience, just keep telling your story.

"What." Reducing the number of his already limited brain cells would not be helpful.

"You said you and the legends discovered an aberration in 1942. What was it?" Move past the start.

"My guess is it involved Nazis." There's captain obvious to the rescue.

"You could say that." Also, you could have said that. "The Krauts nuked New York City in 1942." Okay, that's a bit of a bomb. "I hate Nazis. We all do, so we went. Simple as that."

"I don't like Nazis, either." 

Glares. "Nobody does. Are you some kinda idiot? They had to kidnap Einstein to get a bomb."

"So that's how New York got nuked?" Wrap. it. up.

"Nah. We were wrong. They kidnapped a different Einstein. His wife."

"A different Einstein? But they're both capable of making an A-bomb." Also, captain oblivious.

"Actually, they—" Huh. The times they are a-changing. Maybe waking Mick's up already done some good.

"Turns out, not always." Whatever, it wasn't the time for a history lesson on, well, history.

Screw it. Middle. "Who kidnapped Mileva?" 

"Damien Darhk. Thanks to the Lazarus pit he ages in reverse dog years."

"How did you stop the bomb?" Secondary point: All of that league of assassin stuff is for real?

I'm going to get to practice my cuneiform. Tablets are like, awesome. Egyptian: there's Heka. Greek: The Eighth Book of Moses.

It has an invisibility spell. 

I never tried the thing and forget how it goes, but what historian doesn't just veg out by reading the fun stuff that they don't need to remember?

And reference to a tenth book on calling phantoms. And there's the whole Testament of Solomon.

Wait, are demons real, then? No. Nope. My nightmares are restricted to the waking realms please and thank you.

Let's be a bit more logical about this.

It has to be panpsychism. Some type of liquid that retains neural imprints even without neurons and transfers that imprint toand revivesactual neurons. The building blocks of conscious life. Consciousness can't just be isolated to the brain. Maybe it even remakes the body out of whatever the liquid is and that explains the lack of aging. Tertiary point: Oliver Queen seems really calm about hearing that someone he killed is alive and kicking. Right, never mind, this was all before he was even born and he probably doesn't care because he knows he did kill Darhk. Eventually.

Or maybe he doesn't even know who Damien Darhk is anymore.

"Boyscout can track urine. Mmm. Uranium." Well that's distracting. No, it's the main point and I'm the one getting themselves distracted. Also: Have I died in that cargo bay area? Loading dock?

Seriously, since we've gotten some power back on the shipapparently as simple as actually turning stuff on since Gideon isn't entirely drained, but she is smart enough to use reserve power, and that had to have been a light switchsomething downright weird has been going on. The best I can think, someone threw another stone into 1942 and Gideon's the epicenter, and it's all changing pretty fast. 

But not at the same rate for each of us. Oliver Queen hasn't noticed his own mind changing. Mick seems fine, if anchored to the course of events that got the Waverider here. He's giving a consistent narrative of events that he's been involved in, even on the way to drunk. From the perspective of those events, Oliver's the one from the future, so it makes sense that he's mutable. But Mick's now in the future, too, so if I had to guess I'd say . . . temporal immunity as a side effect of time travel? That would be amazing. Amazingly awesome. Awesomely fabulous. It would be perfection.

I could get my head on straight. Away from the mess that the past few years have been. Be my own touchstone.

Washington, Starling City has not been a peaceful place to try to catch a break on my downtime.

I mean, it has been pretty decent to Ray Palmer, who is (hopefully) still alive and calling it Star City seems a bit vain knowing that. Not gonna give a reconstructivist history when I can help it. 

Pretty sure Mick would've said by now if all his teammates were dead. Hopefully, if any of them were. He is still talking. "For all the good that did us."

But I honestly thought Starling would be easier than DC, and the rent's certainly cheap enough. Insurance rates, not so much. First there was 'The Undertaking', because destroying a part of a city totally makes sense. Yeah, perfect sense. It honestly surprised me when I didn't die. Remember dying. Whatever, whichever one it is. Which is frankly a miracle since it means dying wasn't even a possibility; so yeah, living was surprising enough that I kept looking up and waiting for the sky to fall, literally. I expected some of the taller buildings to collapse because no way can you control the damage caused by an earthquake.

Maybe what everybody needs is a seismograph. 

And an intentional ominously named super villain plot was still better than what Missouri, Central City needed to contend with when S.T.A.R. labs 'accidentally' exploded a particle accelerator. Which is one way to understate the death debacle that keeps on giving. There was the possibility of that thing blowing up from coast to coast, because you definitely notice a blinding white light interrupting the how-is-it-not-harmless, come on? activity of reading, and it's pretty extensively documented, down to the last second, when a company causes a natural disaster.

Singularities can pretty please stay in space from now on.

The Flash gets honourable mention for what fresh hell the past few months have been. Let me explain. When you're aware of potential deaths, having two competing realities means twice those potential deaths. Or yeah, the same one hitting twice as hard since the timeline changes were somehow mostly neatly confined in Central. The whole Flash saving his mom bit. Yeah, that was cool. I do need to get used to it anyway, the backlash. If I change anything getting some backlash is going to keep happening.

So the Flash has honestly been a pretty big inspiration. It was a downer when stuff changed back. If the Flash can't do it, what hope does a regular person have? But it's still what got me thinking about the whole multiverse and potentials relation. It's the thing that got me to acknowledge that maybe this wasn't just childhood anxiety. He has also been a pretty big motivator to do something while I'm still in control. It was hard, different and volatile timelines. And stupid ideas aren't seeming all that stupid anymore. 

What do you do with your last dollar? Keep begging for more from your parents. Draw the whole thing out. Or do you bet the thing, maybe get something that's worth more and if you lose. Well. So. What. You're only out a dollar.

Anyway, over here in Starling where the vigilantes occasionally opt for a side of killing with the main course of saving the public, everyone's already cashed out. There was the 'The Siege ', setting precedent for unorthodox choices in mayors. Then there was 'The Outbreak'. I'm pretty sure all the crazy is not going to stop. Not that that's even been all the crazy. There are the things that no one else talks about because no one else, well, lived or died through them. It's a matter of time heh, 'a matter of time' until someone breaks time, again. Maybe permanently. Maybe closer to where I live and no buffer to sort out what's really real or not.

That last dollar has value when it's on the line.

And how important can it have been to have full national sovereignty when your mayor has reserved the right of a more au naturel state to kill citizens? Seriously. It's not who governs that matters, it's actually not even what organizational structure they use although that can admittedly put a nice veneer on what the state can do to people. It's the people. They get to be citizens. Full stop. 

And citizens have rights.

No matter where or when they are.

Okay, yeah, maybe when. And maybe where.

But that's more a case of people sucking in direct proportion to their awesomeness as a universal constant.

Example of those two extremes: Oliver, even, sounds like he's going for empathy. "Heatwave. Mick. What happened?"

Yeah, he's been kinda quiet for the last few minutes, here. Staring into his beer might work better, though, if he poured it into a glass.

"They fired a nuke at us. The Englishman called it 'lucky', right before he 'scattered' the rest of them through history. Said I was too weak to handle the tempura. Mmm. time energy. That's when he knocked me out."

The end. "Okay, there's just one question that you haven't answered." Only one, Oliver? He went right back to the start. A-bomb and knocked out.

But I'm wondering, too, so let's see if we're on the same page. "Where's Captain Hunter?" He scattered the other legends and left Mick here, but where did he go?

"I don't know. Must've time scattered himself like the rest of them. Guess I gotta play hero and find them." That was very much the plan.

"Do you even think this ship still flies?" If we have the means for it in the first place.

"I don't see why not. Fridge works." The lights are on, too. Good enough for me.

"I don't have time to time travel." Sure, we all only live so long. Not gonna argue you into joining up. "But if your team is stuck in history who better to help find them than a historian?" 

Wait. The Green Arrow's helping me? Is this how all those civilians manage hop onto his coattails. It's a kinda nice feeling.

"This guy." That's not.

"Without Dr. Heywood you'd still be in stasis." I fear for Starling City, he's so going to get re-elected.

"Ah. Good point." Mick doesn't need to side eye me while he says it. "Library. This way." But hey, he can walk in a straight line still. I'll be right with him.

Just what's going on, here, though: "Hey, wait. Timeout. This was supposed to be a salvage mission." It can't be this easy.

"Who are you kidding." No one. Everyone. "You've been waiting your whole life for a chance like this." I'm kidding you?

And a slap on the back and a bye. That's seriously it.

I think I may have been kidding myself.

But, then again, I am only on strike one.

Chapter Text

Caught up with Rory. Small ship.

"So, historian." I thought that the whole gregarious hand wave gesture was one only seen game shows. "Do your history thing-a-ma-jig."

A library like this, though? It deserves it. "No problemo. And Rory—"

"Don't." Walls. Hard. Ouch. "Call me Rory. Only people who know me get to call me that, New Guy. It's Mick."

Not all that smooth, either. Don't dig into my back. Don't dig into my back. "Got it." At least don't break any skin. "Mick." The heck, by the way? Isn't Mick your first name. Why would your first name be less personal.

Then again, maybe I shouldn't have been giving my last name so easily to time travelers. It would be easy enough to just wipe out anybody you hate and their whole family tree. And the family tree thing wouldn't even be the hard bit; it would be how you got the job done.

"Good." He lets go of me. "Find me once you've got something."

This. All this. Is totally something.

"Something useful."

"Dude," he's already leaving "I'll help you so much", doors automatically shut, "you'll be begging me to stay." So okay, maybe not. I'll settle for being allowed to stay. For not being kicked off? At least for not being decked. Which I wasn't. Being tossed up against a wall is totally different and I am doing just fine at this whole safety is still a priority mission plan.


"Well, I uh I did some digging, but I think finally got a lead on Ray Palmer." They have history books on the future. And the ninth and tenth Books of Moses. No book, undisputedly, anyway, of Thoth. Bit lacking in source material. That's alright. And I wasn't expecting the Emerald Tablet. Would've been fun, though, if transmutation were a real thing. Panpsychism says 'why not?'. Everything is part of everything else. Or at last, everything is made out of the same type of stuff.

Here, there's a nice article on Jurassic man hoax. In plain view and everything. Even though another thing that the Waverider library doesn't have is national geographic. I'm pretty sure Mick doesn't visit the library all that much.

"Uh-huh." Of course they, the time masters who built this ship, don't care about mysticism. The books they do have are probably only there because of how Judeo-Christian thought has spread across the entire globe. This is advanced technology from the future, and relics obviously need to have historical value to be stored here. Okay. Why are there any pure mysticism books here at all, then? Demon's and purgatory and hell aren't real. You die and that's it, it's over. Capiche. The Holy Books of Thelma by Crowley? Here because they tie into older Egyptian lore, again. Or because Rip Hunter has a particularly perverse sense of what constitutes a souvenir.  

Demons aren't real.

Besides, there are more pressing issues kinda going on not so metaphysically around me. That is, physically going on around me.

"Are you, uh, sure you know how to fly this thing?" Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur, and author, C. Clarke. 

"Let's find out." I totally don't have that much faith. 

On the other hand. This is amazing.

Strike two.

Right. And dangerous.

Strike two is the one where the ship totally doesn't work. I don't think it was Mick's fault. 

Still. "Maybe you should slow down." 

"Maybe you should shut up and strap in." No fair, I couldn't have—okay, I could probably have known that the seats weren't just there for decoration.

The even automatically buckle up. "I can't believe this. We're about to travel through time!" Better be, anyway. Takeoff is hopefully the most dangerous part of flying even advanced technology, and I'm not just in for a repeat. 

"Did I tell you about the side effects? 

"What side effects?" How bad can they be?

"Worst case, you bleed from your eyes." And die. "You'll probably be fine. Although. Mm. Rip said, they get worse the further back you go."

That does not sound fine. "Istud quibusdam non placet!"

Strike three? I'm just going to go ahead and suppress that one. Forever. Totally just sweat running down my face, from fear. Or tears from happy happy happy time travel. Wherein the ship and Mick, well, they stuck the landing.

"Then there's that one. Messes with your words."

Deep breath. Reorient. I can handle that one. "Nah, it's fine." I wonder, if I didn't know latin, would I have thought I'd said exactly what I thought I said? Seriously, how does a side effect that translates follow the pragmatic meaning of what was said instead of just substitute the words you opened your mouth to say into another language. Because, if Gideon's telepathic, well. I hope not. Full system reboot finally happens and I'm immediately ousted. Unless, you know, my mind's just that messed up. Messy. Disorganized. Not messed up.

Gotta be kind to yourself.

And not feel too guilty about anything because the telepathic HAL will totally pick up on something like that.

"Hmm. Sure it is." Side eye. Why do I keep getting the side eye?

"Time travel, am I right?" Laugh.

"Yeah. It's peachy. Let's go grab Haircut and get outta here." Unbuckles just as easily.

The whole setup is slightly like what I'd expect from a rollercoaster. The whole experience, really. Suppress.

So. That's time travel? The amount of turbulence seems fair. The side effects, survivable. Ish. Suppress.

Okay, keep following Mick. Wow. Those are big trees. Probably normal in some parts of the United States, still, but this is a first for me.

"What'cha gawking at? Ain't you ever gone outside before."

"Not" nearly tripped, there "a lot. No." It's beautiful. Tall and thin enough that the sunlight gets though, but still a good distance away. Out of reach. "Actually, I used to—" sneak out and see how far I could bike. Until Hank tossed it out. Got it for me because we thought the shots were going to work, it's own little celebration for no reason but my good health. Yeah, it was a new thing for all of us and pretty difficult to accept for a while. Especially with doctors saying how we could try treatment options. Factor products, though. Needing more factoring, less producing. Something of a tainted batch.

"Don't care. Didn't ask for a life story." Yeah, well. Good thing you're not telepathic, then, because you would've gotten it.

Heatwave's really freaking cold.

"Right so, just—"

"Shut up and keep your eyes open."

The sounds of nature, though. I could listen to them all day. The whole running water tinkle sound though, yeah, feeling a bit queasy over here.

Except . . . is that screaming? Definitely not a sound I enjoy.

And this is the first time I get to see the legends in action. Apparently, in vigorous action being chased by a dinosaur.

Hopefully that doesn't burn down the forest. I'm gonna be sick.

And, well. It's just a dinosaur. It's a dinosaur. Who could actually hurt a dinosaur? They're, like, every little boy's dream pet. 

"Mick! Buddy!" Not Rory? Not much of a buddy. I'm still a bit bitter. "How'd you find me?" Okay, maybe they're not Ray's dream pet. They did it for a good cause.

"I didn't." Acknowledgment. A bit less bitter. "Pretty did." Was probably just the puke, anyway.

"Is he okay?" Huh. He cares about people quickly. Maybe. Hopefully. It'd be nice to have a friendly face. 

"Side effects of time travel." 

So. You want something, you do something. Smile. Be knowledgeable. Say hi. "Speaking of, you're never gonna believe where the rest of your team ended up." Don't puke.

"Are you okay?" Dude, you were just getting chased by a dinosaur. And you're asking if I'm okay. "I'm fine. What he said", thumb out like that, though, and I might just get mistaken for a hitchhiker "side effects of time travel."

"If you'd like, I could get you some water?" Dear god no I've never pressed my luck with diseases and I still ended up with Hep C. trying to treat what I do have. I don't want a beer just to sit down and chat over. And I don't want water while we should still be running away.

"No. Thank you."

"The ship's working." I'm starting to think that Mick's the smart one. Pragmatic, anyway.

"Oh. Right." How does anybody bounce up like that? Like. They're whole energy level. "Of course it is! Well." Arms around mine and Mick's shoulders and off we go, "What are we waiting for, let's go save the rest of our friends."

Dude. I haven't even met the rest of 'our' friends. I could facepalm right now. Heh. Palmer, making me facepalm. 

I haven't even properly met you, actually. "Uh, I'm Nate, by the way."

Pat on my back. "I'm Ray. Ray Palmer." Is he telling himself to smile even more than I am? He wins. Also, who stops in the middle of fleeing the Cretaceous Era for a handshake? "Thank you for getting here when you did." Oh. Oh. Right, somebody who's being genuinely polite.

"That one was Mick, actually. He flew Gideon."

"Mmm." Does he just walk away whenever? "Gideon." And he's still mumbling to himself.

Crap. I haven't met Gideon yet, either. The fourth—third, the third time this gets me killed is going to be once I've outlived my usefulness and Mick outs me. And anytime I die could be the last. Not in a good 'live forever' kind of way, either.

"Try not to take it too personally, he's like that with everyone." Arm back around my shoulder. Maybe trying to drag me along because I'm some random guy with no special skills who showed up out of nowhere and needs protecting?

Nah. No. No on both counts and I'm being too paranoid. Probably. It might be the first time, but it'd still be paranoia. I did just show up out of nowhere, to both the legends here with me. And I already knew about them. I could've known about Gideon, too. Even if, you know, the ship doesn't exactly go outside of the ship to interact with whatever time period they're in, like the walking ambulatory people do. 

And Raymond Palmer does not know I have hemophilia. He is not trying to treat me like I'm made of glass and I have absolutely no reason to be pissed off at him. Over him being nice. Try being nice back.

"Oh, I wasn't." My face had to have fallen like a badly thought out game of jenga, and just what do I think I'm doing? You don't double down on a lie like that just because it's the first thing that popped into your head, unless you want everyone thinking you're a pathological liar. And lying isn't nice. "I mean, I know. Heatwave doesn't exactly have the best press." And, a sympathetic shoulder squeeze. What'd I do that earned that piece of interaction?

"The same press that thinks I'm dead? I wouldn't believe everything you read. We've all changed since joining the legends. For the better, obviously."

Industrial playboy who rebrands everything he owns to 'Palmer Tech?' "Yeah?" Let's try my arm around his shoulder, now. No big nefarious reason on how reciprocity makes people . . . okay, yeah, that would've been a good reason to do it and I should have thought of applying all the failed to get work experience that interviews amount to, but mostly, this is me being a jerk. Except maybe not because he might actually be this friendly, and, again, it would be good to have a friendly face. Uh. Of the three homo-sapiens even alive in this Era, I do not want to be outnumbered and voted off the island.  

"Yeah, getting to really see different time periods. It has me thinking more critically about where I come from. And what I can do with my life."

"Stop swapping life stories back there, Lover Boys, and help me find the Waverider."

Wait, "wait, find it?" 

"Yeah, buddy. What do you mean 'find it'?"

"I mean, the spaceship didn't come with a key fob."

Swallow. "Is it just me, or has it really started raining out?"

Chapter Text

“Nah. Just you, Pretty.”

Oh. Right. Actually managed to forget for a second there, that my face isn’t wet.

Learnt to die pretty quietly, eyes closed and all. Apparently. Being considerate, don’t give the surviving you a double vision and a headache or anything. Is that what I think in those situations? That's bleak. 

Dear Methuselah, I hope half of what goes on inside my head isn’t real. That’d be a blessing. Not even up to the criteria for a full miracle, in light of how I'm not picky about which half. 

The issue, if there is one, is probably that I send my prayers to some old guy the church hasn’t sainted, and who would likely provided me a curse of exactly the kind I’m praying release from.

And, also, that I’m not really praying. And there’s hopefully no one to pray to. If angels are real, then, nope, no. Demons are still not real. Purgatory is exclusively for the dead. The living get make belief nightmares. Or just nightmares. But they certainly do not get anything that viciously veracious. They don't get pitted mano a mano against their worst nightmares. That's not objective about whether they've had a good life or not. Calling the bet's in early and calling it for the house—remember about original sin?—It's not fair.

The post death nightmares always just passed, anyway, after a night or three. No more Hank and/or mom trading places with me to save my immortal soul, having to take on every bit of what got me down. down? there.

Purgatory's more of a slanted thing, hard to climb up, weigh the dice for snakes eyes and yadda yahda yahda.

"I wouldn't have gotten into this mess if it weren't for you, Nathaniel." And for all that that's true there's my dad bleeding out. For my sake.

Or

"It's okay, my little boy. I forgive you." and "How could you kill your mother. You deserve this." And a knife in my back and what even did she need to die for then if this is the end result?!

Or

The universe swallowing itself in a giant gulping contraction.

And

Repeat

Never any longer than three days, cycling through themes on the above. And yeah, melatonin works. Waiting it out works. So does weed. Sometimes it doesn't even happen, and I sleep just like the dead, and better doesn't always mean good.  

From all that a distributed soul albeit given more to the body, would be the conclusion. Hypothetically. So, yep, pure conjecture. Helped along by weed. I don't know; Actually, I do know we all react differently to different strains. And generally worse to a few too many being lit up in the same place, open windows or no.

And it wasn't Hank making that judgement call. Not that he might not, anyway, to get one over on me. But. People are complex. Maybe, I can be the fair one here. He'd be doing it to teach me a lesson, because he cares, and heck, this'd be on hell of a way to show it without having to say those words. And because he's man enough.

And if demons were real, well, they can go straight to hell. They'd go straight to hell. They're not. I'm not. Nothing is going to hell.

So no demons and everything is going great. Worldview is still on the up and up. Bit red. Not rose tinted.

Whatever's going on has nothing to do with my soul.

Still. Bleeding from. From. From certain sensory apparati. I’d like to think that there’s at least one scenario where Mick got us here, found Ray, and told him to fix me by fixing Gideon. I figure whatever stasis can keep a person alive for the better part of a century is capable of a few medical miracles. So, that scenario follows what you'd expect from the shows: Find the genius, and it's all supposed to work out. It took us a bit of time to find Palmer, though. And Mick never panicked. Optimal efficiency, which is optimal. Consequentially, not anything I can do better than. And I’m pretty sure as futuristic as Gideon is, she’s not a god. She'd be a good one though, no tormenting of innocent souls—the damned, whatever, it's freaking eternity, man—but decent as she is compared to the alternative, injecting workable clotting factors into my blood? Yeah, they’re still gonna need to circulate and that would be a wee bit of a problem while actively bleeding out. That would very much be the problem. Wouldn't it.

But it's not, not this time around. It's rhetorical.

How much do you need to bleed from your eyes, anyway, to bleed out from your eyes?

I did. not. want. to know. the answer to that. Was supposed to be rhetorical. Bad timing on my part. Got nightmares coming my way, tonight. 

Which I can have no matter what, and they're not causally related.

Okay. This is why, Nathaniel, come on try hearing it Hank’s voice and it might make you sensitive enough to internalize this first go, because this is important. This is why, Nathaniel, you do not actively focus on suppressing anything. Just go with the flow. Be mindful. Try suppressing something else, if it comes to kingdom come. There has to be only so much the working brain can labour on during the day.

The 'flow' still has me thinking 'bout how cause and effect play with each other. Go with the flow.

So. I’m not just remembering something that had a slim chance of happening, anyway. When I'm 'remembering' anything at all. It’s what happens if that had gone wrong. Has to be why it always starts with the precipitating incident, and not the whole. Hell. The whole heck of it. If there had been certain side effects I'd be dead, or as good as. The legends can’t save everybody all the time. Or some people most of the time. It falls on the other side of that spectrum. They can save some people some of the time. Okay. So. It covers the whole range except no people none of the time, because you save even one person and you’ve beaten that standard. The minimal standard.

Pessimism. Not my strong suit. It’s not a strength and I didn’t even really think I’d make it as far as I already have—I mean, hello, onto the Waverider and have time travelled, and would totally buy the shirt, that’s proof of concept right there—and. And yeah, I’m good now. Yeah.

Just gotta save one person and this will be worth it.

And maybe redeem my eternal soul for entry tickets right on through those pearly gates. Who doesn't love the carnival? I mean, that's my idea of heaven. Squirt guns and fake bullets and, you know what, stop being morbid. Happy, smiling, people and cheap magic tricks that don't need to be anything special to get applause. Everybody playing. Eating the most sugary and salty foods in existence, and it's heaven so there'd be no puking. 

And. There has been more than enough time to prep for 1942. The JSA being involved, bit of a sucker punch especially since the legends prefer to handle things themselves. But it doesn't change anything. A few small things, but that's only the same as what I'm doing. The small things, I'm just gonna give them a pass.

Maybe thing's will even turn out better than good. I get to met my hero. That's already up there: Adding it to the bucket list now, in fact. 

So. Stop with all the shallow breathing already and time them out properly. Five in, ten out. Gracias Hank's voice, nice of you to give some workable advice. Going to put in the work on it. It's worth it, not to miss these opportunities. Five in, ten out. Repeat.


“—his deal.” Deep baritone.

“Nate?! Nate!” There’s a hand still on my shoulder and I’m leaning right on Ray Palmer. First impression, check. Big fat check mark with a not so nice red pen.

Pessimist. The first first impression is that I saved his life. This is just an impression.

Make eye contact. “Uh-huh?” And welcome back to the world of the living.

“So are you alright now? Please say that you're alright." Give him a nod. And don't puke. "Whew. That's a relief.”

Gonna give in and wipe at my face, quickly, here. “Yeah-huh. I’m sorry, heard the word stranded and must've had a moment.” Not even any tears.

“You don’t need to be sorry, man. Panic attacks can happen to the best of us.” And hey, it can’t be all that bad if he didn’t push me away. I mean, I'm not getting disgust.

“Not me. I don’t ‘panic’.”

Seriously, just too cold. “Why don't you just shut up, Rory.”

Ah, great. Menacing. Maybe my fault. “And how about you watch it, Pretty.” And, okay, yeah, this is not going to play out well; Raymond Palmer, protecting the damsel in distress, bravely and oh so heroically stepping between him and the fire breathing dragon. Without a suit of armour. Or just the atom suit, would be good.

With his hands up because who wants to get in a fight in this era. “Mick, now's not a good time.” See. A bit of hand waving. “Like, really not a good time.” Seriously, is the atom suit on the ship? Where else could it be. Did we come here to save The Atom and leave his atom suit on the ship and then misplace the ship? Why'd he even thank me for saving his life.

Hhygh.” Holy crap Heatwave just took his hand off of the heat gun. His hand was on the heat gun. Ready to burn me to—

Huh.

I’m a big idiot. Guess my head's really knocked off my shoulders. Because Mick Rory did not once use his heat gun on me when I wasn't paying attention trying to twist the damnable thing back on. Screw tops, gotta go with the thread to get anywhere. I know how to do this, how to regain some semblance of control, but, yeah, not the right time when you don't exactly have time aplenty, which, fairness again, is apparently impossible even with a timeship. Need to be more focused on the people infront of me.

“Look. I'm sorry.” That’s right, “Ray, you can, uh, you can put your hands down now.”

“Dude, yeah. Pfft. Of course I can.” Okay, that is either nervous laughter or fake laughter. “Like I was telling you. Mick’s one of the good guys now, right Mick?” Slow and steady, I guess. No sudden moves to scare the angry guy with the gun, Raymond? Yep, we definitely all had a tense moment there. Because we're all such great guys.

Hhygh. Just don’t do it again, or you next time you won’t stay so ‘Pretty’, Pretty.”

Liar, pants on fire. No worries, you're in good company.

“Do what again?”

“Nate!” If he’s worried about what's going to happen then is turning his back on Mick really that brilliant of an idea?

Also, seriously, is everybody I met going to side eye me today. Last I checked I didn't have an egg on my face or spinach between my teeth or really, any food at all to prep for being stranded in the Crustaceous Era. 

“You know Mick’s right over there, right?” Did he just slap my hand down like pointing at a person is going to break an ancient Egyptian invisibility charm and make him take notice of us? “Stage whispering isn’t going to make him not hear you.” Do invisibility charms muffle it when you make sound?

No. I'm not going to read some heebie jeebie grimoire on the very off chance that there's something magical to it. One crazy thing is the checkout limit for being allowed to leave the supermarket before they call the orderlies and lock you in the freezer. Padded freezer? Insulated freezer. Huh. Okay. That metaphor, nope. Doesn't really check out, unless we're talking discount bin deals. And I'm at least not reading any grimoires until I have my own stable baseline for figuring out if they've cursed me or not. Too many ancient Egyptian artifacts involved to run the risk.

“The part where you talk down to me.” Gonna take that as him stepping into easy hearing range. Not menacing.

“Okay, timeout. You’re the one who talked down to me.”

“And neither of you are listening to me. I love the whole talk out your feelings approach, believe me, it's my jam, but now is not the best time for it.” Okay. So, Ray still has his hand on my chest like this is going to be a physical fight.

The thing is, Mick can move fast. And physical fights? Yeah, I don’t do so well with rough and tumble the same way other people don’t do well with falling out of a three story building. I mean, there’s still a chance of survival. But, there’s also a real chance of splat. Might need to fall and splat first to know which one it is, but I can figure it out from there. And Mick’s had a few heavy inhales with which to decide if he’s going to deck me one or not. So, I’m betting ‘or not’.

Here’s the lesson on escalation that I'm sure a lot of vigilantes could benefit from. I mean, the bad guys, they could benefit too, however they are the bad guys for a reason, usually, so it likely wouldn't stick for them. It's an intro one, but that just makes it a good foundation. If you don't want to get physical with people, then you don’t get physical with people. I want Ray to stop touching me? Easy. I want Mick to know that if it’s a physical confrontation, he’s already won? Easy. Same step for both. Just take a step or two backwards.

But I'm not putting my hands up because what I'm not doing is surrendering.

“I don’t panic. You calling me a liar?” No reciprocal step forward.

“Sure, you don't. But I do.” Make it less of a statement just set up for the challenging. And, you know. Less of a big deal. “Or, I mean, I can, anyway. You have a problem with that?” Less of an antagonizer, not a more direct one. “I don’t care that you like fire. Much.” Less is better. Quitting while I have my head, here. 

Because on second thought, I might have just made myself a nice big practice target by putting some distance between myself and somebody that Mick's actually spent time with.

“People, we’re all—”

“Mmm. If it doesn’t become a problem, I won’t have one.”

“—doing great here, keep the good vibes going.”

“I mean; we’re still stranded.” Was that a laugh from Mick?

I think it was. Like, a cross between a snort and a laugh. “Yeah, Haircut. What’s your optimism gonna to do for that?” That counts. I'll count it.

“It’ll keep our spirits up while we find the Waverider. Obviously.” Obviously.

If.” And the hand’s back on the heat gun. I’m pretty sure it’s a dinosaur thing, though, this time. Which is actually pretty comforting. I mean, as comfortable as you can get when dinosaurs look a lot like big reptiles with proportionally sized teeth. Big teeth. 

“Sure we well.” We'd better.

“Thanks, Nate!”

Mick gets back to the actual walking and searching task first. Ray and I? Not quite acting like bosom buddies, like before. Benefit: I have Mick in front of me and Ray on my six. So anything trying to kill me is going to have to go through them. Except my dad trying to kill me for disrespecting military culture. That one's an in my head issue.

Hey. Mick’s in front because he has the gun. It should be fine. Ray'll be fine. I mean, he'll be fine? He already knows the lay of the land.

I have absolutely nothing to feel guilty for so long as none of the legends die.

Please, nobody die.

It’s still sunny out though, and the sounds of nature don’t include anymore screaming. Who dies on such a nice day? That ought to be an affront to mother nature. 

Unless we startle a mountain lion or whatever, probably enormous, monstrosity predates it.

I mean, cats are too quiet. You won't even know about them until they've decided 'hey look, there's todays meal! Mmm, soft flesh, my favorite. So chewy.' Mother nature loves all her creations the same. Sure, she habitually makes them vie for survival, but that creates a kind of equality. Is based off of, anyway. It does tend towards creating something of a hierarchy.

And it's a touch quiet in the pristine heartland of mother nature.

And right swallowing doesn't work well with a dry throat cat's aren't domesticated out here. No bells on these furry fellas.

“Hey, does anybody want to sing—”

No.” “Sure.”

Likewise, no bells on Dr. Palmer. Dude nearly gave me a heart attack walking up behind me like that. Metaphorically speaking. Singing, thought? Why not. If we go out, we may as well go out merrily. And together.

“Hey-ho! That makes it two out of three. Gotta love a democracy. The circumstances being what they are, I was thinking it would be fun to go with a travelling song. So, what's it going to be to first. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean my Bonnie lies over the sea.” Nice tune. “Or maybe: I’m Gonna Be 500 Miles just to be? Hmm mmh.”

“S’that because we crashed the Waverider”, you know, him stroking the heat gun like that is probably just a nervous tick. Since not panicking does not mean not stressing, “or because we lost the Waverider?”

“If it’ll keep the mountain lions away, either one’s fine by me. Hmm mmh”

“We’re not 500 miles lost.” Nervous tick.

“Totally not. I'd say we're barely lost at all. Everybody can forget where they've parked. Furthermore, to put everyone’s mind at ease, I'd like to be clear that I haven’t seen any mountain lions. Like, not a single one. And I’ve been here for a while.” That’s . . . good news? A case of taking the good with the bad, kinda. He lived through it.

“The beard gives that away. You need a haircut, Haircut.”

“Do I ever!” How does that sound cheery? Why does that sound cheery. “I just thought we might, you know, all like a nice little tune. Get to hear another human voice.” I’m a jerk. He’s been the only human here for—however long he’s been here for. Even if he survived. I haven't even managed to go three hours. And I feel lonely? “I’ll carry the chorus.”

“Uh, one problem. I don’t actually know the words to, uh, either of those song.” Damn. No. Not getting the right point across. Please don't do a jenga face. Or puppy dog eyes. Honestly, he could probably do puppy dog eyes, pretty deep enough of a colour. 

“Don't worry, buddy. That just means I get to do me a bit of impromptu teaching.” Eh. Guess the point got across anyway? Stanford smile versus jenga face, though, I'm not sure which one is more disturbing. 

Puppy dog eyes, obviously, get their own category. "Awesome? Yeah, that’d be awesome.” I am not getting puppy dog eyes.

“Hey, Pretty." What now? "He said there weren’t mountain lions because you're a scaredy cat. S’probably giant ones all around us. Right now.”

“No.” Ha, thank you. Somebody else getting glared at. Which maybe does speak to Mick's not so subtle point about me being pandered to. “There’s seriously not a lot of mammals here, like, at all. There’s just these raccoon-esque things. That obviously aren’t raccoons, because that would be an aberration. They do look at bit like them. They’re cute, too. From a distance. I mean, they smell absolutely rank. Actually, you can kind of get used to the smell.”

So. Can nobody address their issues directly, or what? "We can't force you to sing. Obviously."

"And you're not going to."

"Yeah, like I said, we seriously can't."

"What if we did 99 Bottles of Beer?" Seriously, Ray?

"I'll shoot you."

And now I see why the direct approach may have fallen into disuse. "Bro, harsh." 

"You don't mess with beer. It's sacred."

Well. Sacred. Okay. Not gonna mess with that level of dedication. "Everyone needs a little pick me up."

"Good call, Newbie. I'd hate having to teach you proper manners." Wait. Is he pissed that I maybe kinda or at least from his perspective brought in somebody to beat him up and then that same person went and told him to have me tag along? 

"Okay, so. There's not any problem here. We'll just go back to the classics. Which are the absolute best." Or, it could just be like what Ray said and he's this recalcitrant with everybody. How am I supposed to fit in with people who don't get along amongst themselves, though?

Pretty sure those classics aren't as classic as Nirvana, or I'd be familiar with them. No Nirvana to be found out here.

On the other hand. Maybe all the infighting carries with it that I don't need to fit in all that much, even to fit in. Ray keeps being friendly enough. Check that thought. He's also a human that's been stranded with no other human contact, literally, not even anything to read or listen to. No version of me could outlast those odds.

"Don't. Get all touchy feely with me, Boyscout." Mick literally lifts Ray's hand off his shoulder. Heh palms off, Palmer. It's probably an everybody thing, then.

And why is Ray looking at me with puppy dog eyes? I haven't said anything mean to him. I haven't said anything to him except how awesome singing would be.

"We're good, though, right. This is fine. Just friendly, everyday, you know, guy stuff." Another slap on the back. "Sorry for not asking. I totally should have asked. You probably think that I'm a creep." 

"Uh, n—"

"Notwithstanding not asking, I can completely promise that I am not a creep. Scout's honour." Did he just cross his other arm over his heart. Wow. It's not that big of a deal. Frankly, it's altogether funny when his other arm is still across my shoulder.

"Christ. Put him out of his misery already. I need a beer. Shoulda brought one." And he has no beer so he's taking out the heat gun why, exactly? "Let's hurry this along." Not seeing the point, here.

"Mick, no! Buddy, we're legends." That's that solved, then, and directly jumping infront of an angry Mick with a gun, is that one of his bad habits? Or, being a legend, he'd probably take it better if I thought of it as the admirable character trait better known as self-sacrifice. Please don't be a generalizable jump infront of a gun habit. "We don't burn nature down."

"Burn the haystack, find the needle."

I did that one time with a mugging. Once or twice. Once during a mugging, and the other during the invasion thing that I hadn't known about when it was actually happening. Jumping infront of deadly weaponry, not committing arson. It's one-hundred percent a bad habit. The second time was a real wrong choice. Duh, dun, I'm not gonna crack. 

Yeah, Nirvana actually works out pretty well. What was it that Ray said, earlier?

"Wait. Were you actually in the boy scouts?"

"You're asking me about that now?" Hey. Great. He finally looks appropriately wide eyed for somebody standing in the line of fire. Huh. Literal line of fire.

But, my inanity has got Mick looking over his shoulder at me too. And. Gun safety. He should look in the direction he shoots before pulling the trigger. So he shouldn't pull the trigger.

Honestly, I'm aware this is a probabilities situation. With a probable hair-trigger.

"Yeah, I'm asking. Don't you get taught tracking in the scouts?"

"Mmm. Has all the merit badges, too. We've got us a real Boyscout."

"Actually, I'll have you know—I was an Eagle Scout." Does time travel have, potentially, a few longterm side effects? He. He has better achievements under his belt if he needs to brag. Mind, gutter. I meant, he's a certified genius. From a geographically grounded institution of higher education. Whereas I fund my travelling via online universities. Different leagues.

"Don't care."

And, moreover, he's straight. Not just speaking probabilistically, but also with the expertise of pop culture publications. Those things pick up nearly every hint of conspiracy. Just gotta learn to filter out the crazy. Labels, though. Argh. They're like these greeting stickers with cheap glue on the back which invariably wears down. Every century or there about swaps them out for their own valuations. Ideally for useful ones that don't restrict too much, contra the whole valuations bit. The short of it, he's not pinging. He verbatim called it normal guy stuff. Normal? Everyday. He called it everyday guy stuff. The traditional adversary to gay stuff, at least when done with the reconstructivist tilt which lets anybody call anything traditional to begin with. Before there was even a gay lifestyle, there was the crusade against the gay lifestyle. And before that there was just liaisons before marriage. Eh. Marriage to the opposite sex.   

Wait. Wires got crossed their. That no-homo qualifier usually pisses me off, justifiably so. So, oh. Amen. Stick to the basics. Nothing but adrenaline trying to worm it's way out. I, beyond any doubt, do not need feeling complications with the legends. Even as a distraction.

The beard, too? He smells about as bad as those racoons apparently might. Gideon, also. I mean, it's like Alexa. Created with an artificially pleasing voice that means nothing. Mick? Goes straight for the vertebrate and I like living. As a thing, for its own sake. Automatic no go for Micky here. Gotta calm down to get my mind where it needs to be, instead of in it's worn in ruts.

"Listen here, Haircut—"

Holy heck. And Mick's been calling me Pretty. Have I been pinging everybody. I mean, how, even?

Raymond shouldn't be the one worried about being creepy. Actually, neither should I. Just, you know, maybe I shouldn't automatically attach myself at the hip to the first person who hasn't expressed any desire to do me harm and, the opposite, has been doing a decent job pandering to me. Protecting me. Heck, is actually thankful I'm trying to help.

Oops.

Honestly, maybe I should be actively and sufficiently helping out the sole person who's been plain nice to me with the spurt of violence also actively heading their way.

Mick's grabbing him by the collar. "—if you've been holding out on me, I'm gonna hurt you. Slowly."

Best way I know how to do that; make a person worth something. "The point stands, Ray can get us out of here!"

"I mean, maybe? I, I wasn't there when you guys landed. We'd have to go all the way back and retrace from there back to where you guys started."

Trees. Ouch. Can't be pleasant, they're also not the smoothest thing in the world to be pinned against. "Shoulda said so from the start. We've been wasting our time for what? Some stupid sing-along." Honestly, I agree with the words bit of that. First half. Maybe if I find him some music he likes, that'll vent all the violent feelings? We didn't even get to the sing-along.

"I didn't know we were lost at the start! Come on, Mick, buddy. We're friends!" 

Friends. Huh. He's said that a lot. Yeah, gimme a second to shift my perspective of friends to include people who can selectively restrain their worst impulses, and yet still make the decision to act on what remain bad impulses.

At least somebody has gone to their de-escalation training. Ray hasn't even tried dislodging his quote, friend's, end quote, grip.

Yeah, my ability to change my own mind has limits.   

"And yet somehow you have the time to waste on an even stupider confrontation?"

Nope, he's not letting go. "Look who's talking." Smart move Mick, more menacing footwork, but you can't exactly drag an unwilling participant with you so you can go beat somebody else up too. Especially when they manage the whole unwilling thing fittingly and go all dead weight on you. Ray even gets a passing mark on his training. "You've been riling me up." Oh, boy. Fun. But. Seriously, gonna keep gambling on this because he can manage his feelings well enough if the only strike he has is when he woke up from a 76 year induced coma.

Ixnay on Hank 2.0.

"Maybe this is something in the air."

Okay. New note to self. Replace the not getting decked one, since, well. Since this is where I've already found myself. Twice. Instead, say the stage whispering complaint as many times as it takes. Maybe stop other people getting up in arms. By the same token, maybe don't complain aloud, as much? I can manage to keep my internal thoughts internal. It's more convenient for everybody. Okay. Combine notes: Minimize the amount of people getting decked. Whatever means work.

"First, you stalk me." And hey, if he has more than five complaints he's gonna have to get his hands off of my newest friend. Ally, newest ally.

"I stalked everybody." I. Yeah. Those types of responses merit not interrupting. Shut up, Nate.

"Then", second finger, up. "You stowaway." Never gonna trust Ray again; Mick has personal issues with me.

"Oliver did just leave me there. I haven't—"

"Don't care, shut up." Ouch. That has to be hurting Ray. Then again. Gasping. Good. Still getting airflow.

—even piloted anything today. Minimize harm. Don't say that. "Shutting up." I think I deserve some slack for talking to say that I'm not talking since it was between that or biting my tongue.

"Mmm. You're hiding something." Three fingers, getting there. Getting too close, too.

"It's called—" privacy.

"Don't. Care." Violence has a way of punctuation.

"Nate." Arghck. "Maybe let him finish."

"Then you call me Rory. Told ya not too." Huh. Chest puffed out and classic fatality head tilt up, never was a fan or Mortal Kombat. "Then you accuse me of lying." Fourth and fifth fingers. Why are my fingers sausage-y? My body might just be of a disposition to also not be a fan of mortal combat. Whatever he does when he gets his hand off somebody who is his friend and on someone who's distinctly not a friend is not going to be fun and games. "Then you encourage this idiot's choir practice." Time for the fun and games. "Now you can talk."

"What?"  Thank you Ray, for saying what I was thinking. I was not expecting that.

"I guess, I uh. I was only trying to help?"

And Mick's blinking like he surprised himself with this whole talking business. "No sing-alongs."

"Okay, got it" "But what about—"

Okay, I may be the one making the situation bad, but I am not the one making it worse, "—humming." Do it in you head, Ray. 

But this is Mick so of course he's already walking off ahea, uh, actually, back the way we came. "Gideon must've done—"

"I wouldn't risk the humming, to be perfectly honest."

There's the jenga face that I didn't get earlier. "Right. Well. The democracy's in." Damn. Just a sad smile, not even Stanford false cheer. Okay, right up until the end there. "You go on ahead, I'll just make sure there aren't any dinosaurs following us. It'll be pretty easy to tell when we're back where I was being chased."

"Wait, actually."

Huh. Attentive fella, "Yeah."

"Did you catch that last bit." Okay, steadily less excited. "I mean, of what Mick was saying?"

"No. I. Hmm. Something about Gideon. She's not as annoying?"

Hilarious. I could swear that that's not what Mick said. Maybe. Ray did indicate he's extrapolating.

"On that note, though. Remember: Keep your eyes and ears open."

Wait. I should have just kept it simple and asked him if he wanted to make small talk. To scare away any predators, if he even needed an excuse. 

Whatever, back to being safe and sound.


"Finally." Guess Mick's back to short sentences.

"It was getting pretty dark out, too." Just gotta encourage him?

"Mmm. Hey, Haircut. Sorry." Guess not. But hey, at least we don't need a key fob to get onto the Waverider. Cya, Mick.

"Wow. Weird."  Wait, is Ray waiting for me to get onto the ship first? I know this isn't a wait for a gilded invitation situation, but this is their home so I—"Has anyone given you the tour, yet?" Don't have to wait long for an invitation.

"Uh, no. It can wait, though, until we get the rest of your team." Feet, lead the way to the flight deck. Today has been a long day. "I did get to explore a bit when Oliver and I were trying to find you guys."

Ray's following along, physically and with the conversation, nodding his head. "You know the Green Arrow, too. That's cool!" 

"I mean, I don't really know him. But he did believe me when I was warning him that the legends—you guys, I mean—were in danger."

Flight deck, take us away.

"Haircut, fix it."

That doesn't sound like good news.

"Fix what, now? It probably just needs to be turned on." Why not follow Ray now and see what's up, just, you know, stay out of his way. Still need to seem useful by being there when things are getting done. "Actually, there's a timer. For, hmm." he's twisting that blue glowing orb every direction, and an appropriate first thought is not that it's a countdown until self destruction, "It looks like Gideon needs to recharge before flying anywhere. A few parts of her are still damaged, and they seem to be taking up a huge amount of reserve energy. They're eating into functionality, but with a bit of time Gideon can get everything running again, for a bit, anyway."

Looking at the blue orb, huh, it has writing on it, some type of flight heading by pure guesswork and who knows what else a timeship needs. Or even what a flight heading including a specific time looks like. Target areas based on gravitational pull of a place and that of everywhere around it? It seemed to warp that first time 'flying', so it can't be navigating based on the usual vectors.

"Fix it." 

"I mean, without Jax, I wouldn't want to go tinkering with the Waverider. The timer's only set for", having to lean in and look does not comfort me, "less than two days. We'd be able to get a few nights good sleep."

"Whatever. If you need me, I'll be in the medbay." Door, swish, open. "Don't need me." And swish, closed. "Gideon—" Still can't make out what he's mumbling to himself.

"So," 

"Yes, how can I help out?"  

"uh, if this thing can make beer, I'm guessing it can also conjure up some food."

"Food, yes. That's a fantastic idea! How about food first, and then I can give you the grand tour."

More walking, joy. "After that much hiking, I could kill for a steak."

"Don't I know it. I'd totally kill for a sirloin. With salt. And sauce." And hey, I'm pretty sure I'm about to get a crash course for how to select every type of food from the replicator, and I'm really on a trekkie ship. "I mean, I would've also killed for strawberries, or a bit of variety." That's definitely a fake laugh. Right, stranded with dinosaurs, can't be easy to get food instead of to be food.

Real smile though as he's digging in. How does he do that?

Maybe I'm not the best judge.

"Oh, it's all," gulp, "Where are my manners, today? The food's all safe to eat. No weird chemical additions or anything of the sort, and it's super tasty, to boot!"

"That's," Seriously. "Good news. Thanks, man."

Don't need to be thinking so much and stalling out on people. Don't need to be talking so much and simply stalling them.

Just shut up already and eat, Nate.