Ray had only been away from the team for two minutes when there was a sudden flash and a little girl, no more than four years old, with brown hair and brown eyes came bounding over to him, hugging him tightly.
Ray blinked and simply wrapped his arms around the little girl. Maybe she was confused. He had to get her back to her family before Sara noticed. Somehow, he didn’t think they’d be allowed to kidnap another child. But the little girl didn’t move, she hugged him tight and placed her head against his shoulder. Ray couldn’t help but coo a little. She was adorable and he’d be honoured to be her father.
“I’m so happy I found you!” she said. “Mummy told me not to touch it but I did and then I was here and then I saw you!”
Ray nodded, pretending to understand and patted her back. “Right. Touch what?”
She held out a device that looked like a watch. “Daddy? I don’t feel too good.”
Ray’s eyes widened as he noticed the tell-tale look on her face, a look he got whenever he’d eaten bread. “Uh, okay, okay. Come here…sweetheart.” Ray picked her up properly and ran to the nearest trashcan, allowing her to upend whatever meal she’d had before this.
She whined quietly and hugged Ray again when she was finished. Well, he couldn’t leave her like this! He had to take her back to the ship. They could take care of her in the medbay, find out who her real parents were.
“Ray? You still there? You were supposed to be finished with recon by now!” Jax yelled through his comms.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m – I’m coming. I just…tell Sara not to yell.” Ray turned off his comms, not wanting to hear from his teammates what a bad idea this was. “Come on, sweetheart. You wanna see how Daddy’s – er, my ATOM suit works?”
Her eyes widened and she nodded eagerly. “Are we gonna be very small?”
Ray paused for a moment, unsure of how to explain how she’d know about his suit’s powers unless she did know him somehow. “No, not this time. Just hold on tight and we’ll fly, okay?”
She nodded and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Superhero Daddy!”
Ray preened, unbelievably proud. “Yeah, superhero Daddy.” He could get used to that.
They flew to the Waverider and Ray turned on his comms again, Sara’s voice filtering through.
“Ray? Ray, answer me right now! Where are you?” Sara demanded.
“I’m here, about to walk into the Waverider.” He set the little girl back on the ground and held her hand. “How’re you feeling now?”
She shrugged and started skipping. “My ship!”
“You know the Waverider?”
She nodded eagerly. “Mummy’s the Capan!”
Ray blanched at that. There was no way he could be married to Sara. She was wonderful, yes, but he was hardly her type!
“Daddy, up!” She reached out her arms and looked at him with big eyes.
“Right, okay.” Ray picked her up, cradling her gently. “Now, sweetheart, listen, the thing is, your mommy might not know who you are right now. Did – did we ever tell you what time travel is?”
She nodded. “Yup!”
“Right, well right now, I think you’re from the future.” That was, if she was even his daughter.
“Mummy on the ship?”
“Uh, yes, she is.” He hoped Sara would remain calm in the face of his – her – their future child. Possibly future child.
“Mummy!” She grinned at him.
“Right, let’s go see Mommy.”
Ray walked as slowly as he could and entered the cargo door. He was met by Jax and Rip.
Ray winced, Jax’s crossed arms dropped dumbfoundedly, and Rip blinked at the small girl in his arms.
“Doctor Palmer, care to explain?” Rip asked tightly.
“Um, this is…” Ray looked at the little girl who had his eyes.
“Ella. Oh, that’s a pretty name,” Ray complimented.
Ella smiled. “Tank you, Daddy.”
Rip inhaled sharply.
“Daddy?” Jax demanded.
“Well, she thinks I’m her dad and she just sort of appeared. Oh, she had this.” Ray held out the strange watch device.
Rip took the device, turning it over in his hands with a small frown. “Probably time travel.” He looked at Ella softly. “How do you feel?”
Ella pouted a little. “My tummy hurts. And my head.”
Ray cooed again, smoothing back her hair and holding her closer. Rip nodded understandingly.
“Side effects of time travel, no doubt. Children this young shouldn’t time travel, it’s not good for their bodies, they can’t handle it.” It was one of the reasons he’d always denied Gideon taking Jonas to the moon. “She doesn’t seem too affected, nothing a glass of ginger ale won’t cure. It’ll have to do for now since Gideon’s still offline. Ella, can you tell me where you got this?” Rip held up the watch.
Ella looked down guiltily, shifting her hair back. “I found it,” she told the floor.
“Mmhmm, found it where?” Rip asked softly. “We need to know so we can get you home.”
“In your things.”
“My things?” Rip frowned, looking up at Ray. The other man simply shrugged. Everything the girl said was news to him.
“I was just pwaying Capans and Piwates with the ship and I found it in your room.”
“You like playing on the ship?” Jax asked, seeing the smile on her face. Ella nodded. “Yeah, so do I. Love working on her engines. You ever learn that?”
“Mummy said she’d teach me when I’m older. I’m gonna be a Capan.”
Rip felt a sudden rush of possessiveness, over his ship. His ship that the Legends had claimed, that Sara had become the Captain of in his absence. He’d always hoped to one day take the Waverider back. The Waverider and Gideon.
“I bet you’ll be a really good Captain, right Rip?” said Jax.
“Hmm? Oh, yes, a good Captain indeed, Miss Ella.” His heart ached, remembering how he and Gideon had discussed plans for Jonas taking over the Waverider one day.
“I should get her some ginger ale, for her stomach,” Ray said.
“And see Mummy?”
“Her mommy is on board too?” Jax asked, raising an eyebrow.
“She’s a Capan!”
Jax let out a low whistle. “This’ll be fun.”
Ray ignored him and carried Ella out of the cargo bay and onto the ship. Sara stopped him in the hall, hands on her hips. She narrowed her eyes at Ella.
“No, we are not kidnapping anymore children. We have to find Darhk and the rest of the Legion of Doom. We don’t have time to babysit,” Sara waved her hand, gesturing to Ella, “whoever this is.”
“Actually, this is Ella,” Ray said in a squeaky voice. “And she’s, well actually it’s a funny story. She’s – she’s our daughter, Sara.”
“Excuse me?” Sara looked caught between glaring and passing out.
“Ella, say hi to Mommy.”
“That’s not Mummy,” Ella said surely.
Ray looked at Ella and back at Sara. “Really? Are you sure? Take a good look now.” Ray held Ella out a bit closer to Sara, who tried to smile as nicely as she could.
“That’s not my Mummy!” Ella all but screamed.
“Okay, okay.” Ray held her close again.
“Where’s Mummy?” Ella demanded, eyes watering with tears.
“I-um-” Ray looked at Sara with panicked eyes.
Sara sighed and took Ella into her arms, bouncing her up and down a bit. All those years of babysitting finally paid off. Ella calmed down only a little and reached out for Ray again. He took her into his arms and continued to soothe her as Sara had.
“Mummy!” Ella cried.
“I know, I know. But could you tell me a little about your Mommy? Like what’s her name?”
“Mummy,” Ella said simply.
“Oh, right.” Ray made a mental note to himself to teach his daughter to memorize their names, phone number, and address by the time she was two. “What does she look like?”
This was going nowhere. “I’m sure she is. What about her hair, Ella? What colour is it?”
“It’s like mine. See?” Ella held out her brown hair for Ray to take a closer look. There was no one on the ship that matched that description.
“Okay, how about we get your ginger ale and then we’ll look for your mommy, okay?”
Her bottom lip trembled but Ella nodded, hugging Ray tightly. “Okay, Daddy.”
“I’ll be in the galley with her,” Ray told Sara.
“Yeah, you do that. I’ll make the announcement. Your daughter’s on board.” Sara smiled a little when she saw how cute Ray was with his future daughter.
“Rip should be working on a way to send her back. Let me know when he gets it.”
Ray left and walked into the galley where Martin was sitting and having a grapefruit. He looked up and smiled, then froze when he saw Ella.
“And who might this be? I thought we had stopped kidnapping?”
“Oh, well, this is Ella. She’s actually…she’s my daughter. From the future.” But he didn’t know how far into the future or who her mother even was.
Martin smiled, unable to hold back in the joy of having a child, something he’d learned only recently with Lily. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Ella.”
Ella giggled and waved. “Hi Grandpa!”
Martin choked on his grapefruit and Ray’s eyes widened. “Grandpa?” he asked Ella. Well, that would make sense. Because Lily had brown hair, but he’d hardly spent any time with her. He didn’t think anything was going to happen between them.
“Raymond, explain. Now.”
“I – I can’t. She just showed up. I thought Sara was her mother, but apparently not. And if it’s not Sara and her mom has brown hair then maybe she is…your granddaughter,” Ray babbled.
“No, no. I absolutely forbid it! Is she at least being raised Jewish?” Martin demanded.
“Um, are you being raised Jewish?” Ray asked her.
“What’s that?” Ella asked.
“I’m gonna go with no.”
“Daddy, can I have ice cweam?”
“I thought your tummy hurt?” Ray asked.
Ella looked down sheepishly. “It does. But I want ice cweam. Mummy always lets me!”
Ray kissed her head. “I’m not your mommy. Maybe later. When you’re feeling better.”
Ella sighed heavily and pouted at him. It took all of Ray’s willpower not to cave at her face. “Pwease, Daddy?”
Ray gulped and looked between Ella and Martin. The older man shook his head and Ray turned back to his daughter. “Later, okay? When you’re feeling better. How about some ginger ale, and maybe some berries?”
Ella looked very disappointed by this turn of events. Ray kissed her head and placed her in the seat next to Martin. He fabricated a glass of ginger ale and a bowl of berries complete with a big helping of whipped cream. Ella perked up immediately when she saw the treat.
“Tank you, Daddy!” She took a big spoonful of the berries and cream, enjoying every delicious bite. Ray smiled and sat down next to her. He thought he could never tire of watching her grow up.
Ray was just taking it all in when Nate came running through the doorway.
“I heard you had a daughter!” he said, gasping for air. “I just ran here.” He jerked a thumb behind his back. “Had to meet her.”
Ray grinned at his friend. “Nate, this is Ella.” Ray pulled back Ella’s chair so she could look at him more clearly. Ella glanced up at Nate and then looked back at her ginger ale. Ray frowned.
Nate cleared his throat and stepped forward. “You probably know me as Uncle Nate-”
Nate blinked. “No? No, you don’t know me or you don’t call me Uncle Nate.”
Ella looked between Ray and Nate and shrugged, kicking her feet back and forth. “No.”
Nate stared at Ray. “I don’t understand.”
“Ella, honey, could you tell me all the adults you know? The ones that Mommy and Daddy are close to?”
“Mummy and Daddy. Uncle Jax, Grandpa, Aunt Lily, Rip…”
“Wait, Aunt Lily?” Martin asked. “Isn’t Lily your mother?”
Ella looked at him blankly. “She’s Aunt Lily, silly! She makes really good cookies whenever I pway with Ronnie!”
“So, Lily isn’t her mother,” Ray said slowly. Then who was it?
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Focus people. So you have no idea who I am?” Nate asked her.
“No.” Ella looked more interested by her shoes, how they lit up when she kicked them. She reached down and redid one of the Velcro straps, clapping at her job well done.
“Yeah, but surely I visit your dad a lot, right?”
“I dunno. I live with Mummy.”
“You don’t live with me?” Ray’s heart broke. He got married, had a perfect daughter, and apparently got divorced and didn’t even get to keep her.
Ella kissed his cheek. “We have lots of fun. Like with the snake!”
Ray’s eyes sparkled. “Did I ever tell you about my pet snake?”
Ella nodded. “I want one! But Mummy says no!”
Ray patted her back and nodded. He was about to share a look with Nate when he saw how hurt the other man was. “Marty, would you mind looking after Ella for a little while? Rip might need some help with the thing that sent her here.”
“It would be my pleasure.” Now that he knew Ella was not his granddaughter, Martin felt much more amenable to the little girl. “So, why do you call me grandpa?”
“Because that’s what you are to all of us.”
“All of us?”
“Ronnie, Teeny, me.”
“Ah, I see,” Martin said, even though he most certainly didn’t.
Ray smiled at the pair and put his arm around Nate. “Come on, let’s go help Rip with the thing.”
“What if we can’t get her home?”
“We will get your daughter home, Doctor Palmer,” Rip assured the other man. “Once Gideon is back online she can verify my work. Jax should almost be finished with her mainframe.”
Ray looked down at the mess on the lab table. “You know she doesn’t live with me in the future? I guess her mom and I got divorced and she kept Ella.”
Rip placed a hand on Ray’s shoulder. “It is clear that despite that she still loves you very much.”
Ray gave him a small smile. “I like spending time with her. She’s sweet, and bubbly, and so energetic, and-”
“Ray,” Rip stopped him, seeing exactly where this was going, “we need to get her back to her time.”
“I know,” Ray said sheepishly. “Can’t I just enjoy her for a little bit.”
“You will, when you have her. You still have time for all of that.” Rip felt a bitter stab of jealousy that he would. “And think of how distressed your future self must be, losing Ella.”
Ray nodded. “Yeah, yeah, you’re right.”
“Besides, time wouldn’t allow it. You can’t keep her forever. You need to send Ella home so you can have her. One day.”
“You know, I’ve never thought much about life after the ship. When you recruited us, we were nobodies.”
Rip winced at his former choice of words. “Yes, well-”
“Being on this ship, being a Legend, it’s given me purpose. I was always scared I’d die without doing anything good in the world. But I have Ella. And she’s really good.”
“Yes, she is.” Rip smiled. “Now, let’s go find your daughter.”
The two men walked out of the lab and wandered the ship, calling for Ella. Rip remembered the days when Jonas would play hide and seek and Gideon would always be on the little boy’s side.
“-and then Teeny said that we should make the cookies. So we did.”
“Yeah, yeah, can we go back to who Teeny is?” Jax said.
Rip nodded and gestured Ray to follow the sounds of the voices and they entered the bridge. Ella was sitting in the middle of a very elaborate railroad set up, complete with bridges and tunnels. Jax sat next to her, a screwdriver in his hand to work on Gideon’s systems while he watched the little girl.
“Mr. Jackson, be careful that you aren’t asking something directly in your future,” Rip warned lightly. He hoped the young man wouldn’t still hold a grudge and would listen to him.
Jax rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, whatever. I was watching her for Grey, man,” he told Ray.
Ray nodded and kneeled down to Ella’s level with a huge smile on his face. “Wow Ella, did you make all this?”
Ella nodded and crawled into her Daddy’s arms. “Uncle Jax helped too!”
“It’s amazing!” He kissed her hair. Clearly, she was a chip off the old block.
“Tank you, Daddy.”
“Hey, Rip, I’m about ready to turn Gideon back on,” Jax said.
“Excellent. Hopefully she will be able to direct us to where Ella needs to be returned in the time stream.” Rip stepped forward and checked all the wiring, pleased to find that Jax had done everything properly. There was a reason Gideon had only ever let Jax work on her systems other than Rip. “Seeing as you put in all the work, you might as well have the honours.”
Jax smiled and closed the panel, flipping the necessary switches. There was a hum from the console and the lights became brighter.
“Gideon, are you there?” Rip asked, heart beating with worry.
“I’m here. Simply running the necessary routine start-ups and everything seems to be in order. Thank you Mr. Jackson. And I see the Legends have kidnapped yet another child,” she said brightly.
“Mummy!” Ella said with joy.
“What?” all three men responded with confusion. Ella squirmed to be let down from Ray’s arms. He dropped her dumbly. Ella started running around the bridge.
“Mummy!” she called. “Mummy, where are you?”
“Is she talking about Gideon?” Jax whispered. Rip’s heart dropped and he shook his head, having lost his voice. Ray blinked and shrugged.
“I – I – Ella? Are you sure you heard your mommy?”
“I did! Where is she, Daddy? Is she pwaying hide and seek?”
Rip placed a hand on the console, realizing that Gideon had been quite for far too long. “Gideon?” he said quietly. “Can you scan her?”
“Gideon, did you hear me?”
“I heard you just fine,” she responded. Ella’s eyes lit up when she heard Gideon’s voice. A light emitted from the console and swept up and down Ella’s body. She giggled and tried to grab the light. “Scan complete.”
“She is genetically Doctor Palmer’s child.”
Rip let out a frustrated breath of air. Of course they wouldn’t know if it was Gideon, she wasn’t human yet. No DNA to compare to.
“Mummy, where are you?” Ella’s bottom lip began to tremble and her eyes went shiny. Ray ran over and picked her up.
“Gideon, could you…” Ray trailed off, unsure of what he was asking. Or how to talk to the woman whom he might have one day married. He glanced at Rip and away again.
Gideon activated her avatar. “I’m here, Ella.”
Ella looked at the blue bald head and shook her head. “Not Mummy! Where are you, Mummy?” She started to cry even as Ray bounced her up and down.
“Gideon, perhaps the other form,” Rip said quietly. Jonas had also always responded better to Gideon’s humanoid form. She had stopped using it after they’d lost their family.
A beautiful holographic woman appeared in front of the pilot’s seat. Ray’s grip on Ella slipped when he saw her. “Gideon?” he murmured.
Rip nodded. She was exactly as he remembered in his mind prison.
“Mummy!” Ella scrambled down and Ray simply let her go. It was so obvious that this woman, that Gideon, was Ella’s mother. They had the same shape of eyes, same nose, same sparkle in the iris. Ella ran to her and Gideon held her arms out for her.
Ella ran right through her. She turned and circled the hologram, poking her finger out to touch her. “Mummy?” she whispered. Gideon’s smile dropped as she watched the little girls’ bottom lip tremble again. The hologram flickered out immediately. Ella fell to the floor and started screaming loudly, crying for her mother.
After only a few seconds of ear-splitting screaming, Ray went to pick her up, trying to comfort her as best he could. It didn’t work. Ella continued to cry loudly.
“What is going on?” Sara demanded as she walked in. “Why’s she crying?”
“I want Mummy!”
Sara looked contrite, nodding. “Any luck on finding the mom?”
“Yeah, and get this, it’s Gideon,” Jax said.
“Gideon? Our Gideon?”
“You should put her to sleep,” Gideon finally spoke, ignoring all the Legends. “She is tired and needs rest.”
Rip touched the console, knowing that Gideon was just as hurt as Ella for not being able to touch her. She always got so curt whenever she couldn’t hold Jonas.
“I don’t think she’s going to go to sleep!” Ray yelled over the shrieking.
“Ella?” Gideon called softly. “Ella, listen to me.” Slowly, the her cries waned and Ella hiccupped, looking around for the source of her voice, for her Mummy. “It’s nap time now.”
“I’m not sweepy!”
“I know you think that, but if you take a nap, you’ll feel better.”
Rip swallowed the lump in his throat and stepped up to Doctor Palmer and Ella. “If you go to sleep you can see your…Mummy in your dreams.” He always saw Gideon.
Ella sniffled and wiped her eyes. “Really?”
Ray sighed with relief. “Let’s get you to bed.” He nodded at Jax and Sara and started carrying her to his room when she pointed at the Captain’s quarters.
“What? Oh, no, that’s Rip’s-”
“It’s all right, Ray,” Rip assured him. “She can sleep in here for the time being.”
Rip pulled back the covers of the bed and fluffed up the pillows. Ray placed his daughter on the bed and tucked her in, smoothing her hair and kissing her forehead.
“Okay, now just…go to sleep.”
Rip laughed softly. “It’s not so easy. I’m sure Ella has a bedtime routine. Is there anything you need, Ella?”
“You don’t think she means a real dragon, do you?” Ray muttered.
“No, Gideon likes stuffed animals.” Slowly, Rip got up and walked to the far corner of the room. He took a deep breath and opened the treasure chest. He didn’t spend much time looking at all the pictures of Miranda and Jonas he’d locked away. Rip reached inside and pulled out a small teddy bear. He walked back to Ella and offered it to her. “Your mother made this for my son once,” he whispered. “Jonas loved it very much. Do you think you can sleep with Beary?”
Ella took the bear and squeezed it tight. She looked at Rip and nodded. “Okay. Are you sad?”
“Only a little.”
Ella sat up and crawled over to Rip, hugging him around his neck and kissing his cheek. “Mummy says hugs and kisses make everything better.”
“Thank you, Miss Ella.” Rip gave her a hug in return.
“Aww, that’s sweet,” Ray said. He helped Ella get settled down in bed again. “You need anything else?”
“Mmmm, stowy! And a song!”
“What story would you like to hear?”
“Cinderella for my little Ella.” Ray kissed her and started the story. He made funny voices as he spoke and made Ella laugh and giggle. Rip watched with another stab of jealousy, he’d lost so many nights of stories with his son. At the end, Ray asked, “Now, what song?”
“Doctor Palmer,” Gideon spoke up, “if you don’t mind, I would like to sing to Ella.”
“Oh, of course. I mean, she’s your daughter too.”
Rip smiled and sat on the other side of Ella, watching Ray stroke his daughter’s hair. Gideon’s voice was soft and sweet as she sang one of Jonas’ lullabies. There were many nights when Gideon would sing him to sleep, Rip too. Ella yawned and closed her eyes, curling in closer to her father as she hugged the teddy bear. Three songs later and she was out like a light, snoring softly,
“Aw, she’s so cute!” Ray whispered.
“Indeed. We should let her sleep. Gideon, you’ll look after her?”
“Of course, I will.”
Gideon watched the little girl play through the cotton candy clouds. Her wires sparked with something she hadn’t felt in ages, nervousness. Was this sweet little girl really her daughter? Gideon had always loved children ever since Jonas has wiggled his way into her metaphorical heart. Though she didn’t get to see children often, she was always amused whenever they visited Rip’s mother and the children came to play on her ship.
Gideon took a deep breath and stepped forward out of hiding, slowly heading towards the giggling Ella. She stopped and watched her for a long time.
“Ella?” she called softly.
Ella looked up at the voice and her eyes widened with delight when she saw Gideon. “Mummy!” Ella ran to her and Gideon had just enough time to wrap her arms around the child, the force of the hug threw them both back into the soft clouds. “Mummy, I missed you! I knew you wouldn’t leave me.”
Gideon stroked her hair, holding her tightly and wondering if holding someone this precious felt the same in the real world. “Never, my love,” she found herself promising, “I missed you too.”
“Mummy, guess what?”
“Daddy and I flew!” Ella said excitedly. “Really, really high!”
“Did you?” Gideon matched her tone of awe and excitement. “It must have been so fun!”
Ella nodded. “Mmmhmm!” Ella snuggled against her mother and hugged her. Gideon started humming a soft tune and rocked Ella like she used to with a young Jonas in his dreams. It helped soothe him back to sleep in his nightmares.
“Do you want to play a game?” Gideon asked. She used to love playing tag and hide and seek with Jonas in his dreams.
Gideon laughed and kissed her cheek. “What would you like to play? What’s your favourite?”
Ella hummed and bit her lip as she thought. “Um, I like, I like…I like playing Capans!”
“Oh? How do we play that one?”
“Silly Mummy. I get to be the Capan and we go on lots of adventures.”
Gideon nodded. “That does sound like great fun. Well then, my Little Captain…lead on.”
Ray paced the floor while Jax watched him with annoyance. “You’re gonna burn a hole through the ship,” he said.
“What?” Ray looked up, forgetting that there had been someone with him.
Jax sighed. “You know, you could just talk to her?”
“Talk to who?”
Ray looked sheepish and wrung his hands, taking a seat next to Jax. “I can’t just ask her about my – our future daughter. I mean the implications of that alone are-”
“Look, you’re not doing anyone any good by sitting here and working yourself up like this. Gideon’s the one that knows the future the best, I mean she literally has knowledge of the timeline.”
“Yeah, but I haven’t had a relationship in, well, a while.” Not since Kendra.
“Just go talk to her!”
Ray looked at the ceiling, waiting for Gideon to make the first move. “I don’t think she wants to talk to me,” he whispered.
Jax sighed and shook his head.
Rip sat in the parlour and took a sip of his whiskey. Many thoughts swirled in his mind, the main one being that Gideon wanted a child. That Gideon had a child. And, as much as the pain in his heart was a shock, that he was not the father. And he wanted to be. He’d hardly had time after losing his memories as Phil and being brainwashed by the Legion of Doom to even think about his feelings towards his best friend, to think of the kiss they’d shared briefly in his mind. She had said she’d enjoyed it, as had he, but apparently it didn’t mean anything more. She’d moved on with Ray.
“Gideon?” he called quietly.
Rip chose not to notice how she precisely never used the title Captain for him anymore. His place on this ship, in this team, was more precarious than ever. “How’s Ella?”
“She is sleeping, dreaming of dragons and cookies.”
Rip smiled to himself. “Are you with her?”
“Not anymore. She has entered REM sleep.”
Rip drank some more and poured himself another glass, steeling himself for the much needed conversation. “You never told me you had feelings for Doctor Palmer.”
“We’ve never talked about our feelings. Might I remind you how long it took you to tell me about your illicit romance with Miranda?”
Rip winced. She always held a grudge.
“As it stands, I did not tell you because there is nothing to tell. I have no romantic feelings for Doctor Palmer.”
“The existence of your daughter speaks otherwise,” he said dryly, trying to keep the jealousy out of his voice.
“There is no proof other than Ella’s words that I am her mother.”
“But you believe her, don’t you?”
Gideon was quiet for a long time. “Yes,” she finally said.
Rip nodded. It was obvious to him now that Ella was Gideon’s daughter. It was simply the how that was a mystery now. “Do you want children?” he asked quietly.
“I heard you. It is a complicated question, one in which an answer cannot so easily be computed.”
“It’s not something to think about, Gideon. It’s something you feel. Do you want children?”
“Yes. Maybe. I – I don’t know.” The lights flickered as her processors overworked, trying to find a solution to the impossible question.
“Shhhhh.” Rip ran a hand over her console. “It’s okay, it’s okay. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pushed. I didn’t know I wanted a child until Miranda told me she was pregnant.” He’d been terrified and excited all at once.
“You panicked and nearly set fire to my ship.”
“I put it out!”
“Barely. Miranda did most of the work.”
Rip grumbled under his breath about favouritism. Neither of them discussed the other elephant in the room; that Gideon would one day be human. He couldn’t bring himself to ask and she couldn’t bring herself to hope.
Rip swallowed the lump in his throat. “No matter what happens, between us, you know how important you are to me, don’t you?”
“You’ve told me numerous times.”
“And if, one day, you want a child, I mean, obviously it’s Doctor Palmer’s, and even if you do fall in love with him,” and wasn’t that a stab to his heart? “just know that I want to be a part of your life. A part of Ella’s life. In some capacity.” Even if it wasn’t as Gideon’s husband or Ella’s father. “I mean, you’re my best friend. I could never leave you.”
“The prospect of a child doesn’t sadden you?”
“I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing Jonas, but your child should be celebrated with joy, not sorrow. I promise, I would never want to ruin that for you. You deserve that happiness, Gideon.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
Rip smiled about to speak when their bliss was broken by the sound of crying.
“Oh dear, Ella has woken. I’ll alert Doctor Palmer,” Gideon said.
“No need, Gideon. I’ve got her.” Sara walked in with a crying Ella hugging her teddy bear. “Any clue where Ray is?”
“He’s in the galley, he’ll be here shortly,” Gideon informed her.
“Mummy?” Ella looked around the parlour and Gideon went quiet again.
Rip sighed. “Mummy is just…busy right now.”
Ella’s expression wobbled. Clearly, it had been the wrong thing to say.
“Ella!” Ray ran into the parlour, Jax towing behind him, and took her from Sara’s arms. “Are you okay?”
“Any luck on finding a way home for her?” Jax asked quietly. Ray was clearly getting attached.
“Yes, I did have some ideas actually. The device-” Rip stopped speaking when he noticed a portal open on the bridge and a figure walk through. Multiple figures.
“Oh, my Ella!” Gideon looked only slightly older, laugh lines, a frazzled look in her eyes, and relief.
“Mummy!” Ella scrambled down and ran to her mother and hugged her tightly.
“Don’t you dare do that to me again, do you understand me? We don’t touch things if we don’t know what they are!” Gideon scolded her gently, smothering her with hugs and kisses. From behind her, the future Ray Palmer leaned over and joined in on the hug.
“I’m sowwy, Mummy. I was just cuwious.”
“Curiosity killed the cat.”
“But satisfaction brought it back,” future Ray finished with a smile. He faltered at Gideon’s glare. “But that is not your mother’s point. Not that this would have happened if Rip had just taken better care of his things.”
Finally, Rip noticed his own future self, lagging behind and sighing loudly. “I said I was sorry!”
“You’re still on the couch tonight,” Gideon snapped at him.
He nodded. “Yes, Gideon,” he muttered. Future Rip stepped forward and ruffled Ella’s hair. “Next time you want to look through my stuff you have to ask Mummy’s permission, okay?”
Ella nodded. “Okay, Rip.”
He smiled and kissed her hair. “That’s a good girl.”
“Mummy, can I have chocowate ice cweam?”
“Of course, darling.”
“After you eat your vegetables,” her father added. Ella pouted but Gideon nodded in agreement.
“Your Daddy is right. But I’ll give you an extra scoop,” she whispered, kissing her cheek. “Now, let’s go home then.”
“Wait!” Ray stepped forward, a crestfallen look on his face as his hand reached out for Ella. Gideon looked at the Legends in surprise, as if for the first time noticing they existed. Her eyes swept over them and back to Ray. He looked on at them heartbrokenly.
Jax placed a hand on his shoulder. “You gotta let go, man.”
“Just, let me say goodbye. Please?”
Gideon squeezed Ella tightly and nodded. They met in the middle and it took all of Rip’s willpower not to follow Doctor Palmer, to remind himself that his Gideon was still here, albeit quiet and not yet human. Gideon placed Ella on the ground and Ray knelt down next to her. Ella looked between her Daddy and Ray in confusion.
The older Ray let out a low whistle. “I really hope this doesn’t cause any nightmares growing up.”
“The human mind is capable of more than you think. Especially a child’s mind,” Rip replied.
Gideon glared at them both to be quiet and nudged her daughter forward slightly. “Ella, say bye to Ray now. He’s going to miss you.”
“But Daddy’s coming with us,” she said confusedly.
“Yeah, your Daddy is,” Ray said, “but I’m not. And I’d just really like a hug before you go. If that’s all right.”
Ella nodded, happy to share her love and hugged Ray tightly. He held her snug and closed his eyes, kissing her hair.
“I love you already, Ella,” he murmured.
Ella pulled back and gave him a kiss on the cheek, placing the teddy bear in his arms. She waved by to the Legends and waddled back to her father who picked her up and kissed her cheek. Ray watched with tears in his eyes. Gideon cupped his face and for the first time he noticed the wedding ring on her finger and lack of on his own.
“She is mine, right?” he whispered.
Gideon nodded. “Very much so, if not in the traditional way.” She looked down for a moment. “When I turned human, I dreamt of having a child. You were a good friend and agreed to father her. And Ella adores you so much. Thank you, for giving me her, Ray.” Gideon kissed his cheek. “You’ll see her again. Soon.”
“I’m gonna miss her so much.”
Gideon stood up, pulling Ray with her. “Actually, you won’t. You won’t even remember her. None of you will.”
“It’s too dangerous. Gideon?”
“Yes Gideon?” the AI responded.
“You know what to do. Run protocol 230. Rain, tiger, blue. Make sure you forget too.”
The three adults and Ella disappeared through the portal and it collapsed after them. Before anyone could ask what was going on or Rip could dispute the earlier command, a flash of light surrounded them. Everyone blinked out of a daze and stared at each other.
“What are you all standing around for?” Sara demanded. “We have to find Darhk and stop the Legion. And Ray – are you crying?”
“I – I don’t know.” Ray wiped his eyes and frowned when he saw water. “Must be allergies.”
“Well, go to the medbay. Gideon, you up and running?”
“Yes, Captain Lance,” Gideon replied cheerfully. “I just finished running a full systems scan. Everything is in order.”
“Okay then, everyone knows their jobs, get to work.”
Rip looked down as the Legends started to disperse. It was becoming more and more clear he had no place on this ship, not even Gideon thought of him as a Captain anymore. He made to follow Sara when he saw Ray standing still.
“Ray? Are you all right?” he asked.
“Yeah, yeah, fine, just out of it. I’ll be right there. Just…give me a minute.”
Rip nodded, about to place a hand on his shoulder when he saw a teddy bear in Ray’s hands. He inhaled sharply. Ray looked down at it and frowned.
“It’s Jonas’” Rip whispered.
“Rip, I’m sorry. I don’t know where I found it. I didn’t mean to go through your stuff I just…”
“It’s fine.” Rip took the teddy bear back and held it delicately.
Rip smiled sadly. “The loss of a child isn’t easy to get over. It’s a dull ache that eats away at you, something you never quite forget.”
Ray watched him walk away and couldn’t shake the feeling that the hollow ache in his heart was exactly the kind of pain Rip was talking about. He just didn’t know why he felt it.