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If Well Lived

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“Who’s this?” Lita asked.

It was Reading Week; and she had informed her father that she was spending it on board.  She clearly hoped for adventure, and was disappointed that they were idle between missions.  Still, each crew member thought up ways to amuse her.  Nate’s offer of a tour of American history was vetoed on the grounds that it seemed too much like homework.  (“Little do you know,” he muttered under his breath.)  She did, however, take up Sara’s offer of a bar-crawl through the centuries.  Perversely, given his own predilections, this flat-out alarmed Mick—especially since it was planned as a girls’ night out, and they refused to let him come along.  Once Gideon’s hangover cure took effect, Zari took Lita to a Mary Quant fashion show in the sixties.  Behrad took her disco dancing a decade later.  And a couple of days after that, Constantine sported her to an eighties’ concert by the Smell.  The Legends were fond of Mick’s daughter, each in their own way; and so her days of holiday counted down, pleasurably but inexorably.

On the last day of freedom, Gideon offered Lita her own (well curated) transcription of the ship’s mission logs.

Now, the last thing any college student wants to do is hit the books in Reading Week.  Lita was intrigued, but decided instead to pester her father to recount their adventures.  She found him watching Die Hard 8 on the main viewscreen.  Irritatingly, he barely turned his head long enough to grunt “Fight, steal, drink.”  She knew him well enough by now that she didn’t doubt this was a fair summary, but it was hardly informative.  “Go pack,” he added laconically.  “Soon as it’s over,” and he gestured at the screen, “I’ll take you back to school.”

“I hardly brought a thing!” she said to the back of his head.  After all, Gideon could fabricate pretty well anything she needed.  Feeling more than a little put out, she turned to leave the bridge.

“What is it you want to know?”  She spun back to see Ray leaning against the doorway to the Captain’s office.  People had got used to having him around again, mopey though he was.  He wouldn’t explain why he’d come back, though he assured everyone who asked that, yes, Nora was all right.

“Anything,” Lita said.  Then she walked over to join him.  He seemed, for a change, to be in a fairly good mood.  Only Sara had had the chutzpah to point out that, even though his wife might be fine, it was obvious that he wasn’t.   Ray had always been the sunniest of optimists; but now, if their lives had been a cartoon again, a little grey cloud would have drizzled over his head, with now and then a snap of lightning and grumble of thunder.

“How about the tale of how you all got here?” Lita suggested, as he backed slightly from the doorway to let her in.  She pointed a thumb back over her shoulder.  “All Dad’s ever said was you were recruited by someone named Rick Hunter who wanted to kill a savage vandal and destroy some guys called Time Masters, whoever they are.”

Rip Hunter.”  Lita looked past Ray, and saw Nate across the room by the shelves.

“And Vandal Savage.”

“Though, if you ask me,” Nate added, “‘savage vandal’ has a lot of truth to it.”  He closed the volume he’d been browsing.  “Well, your Dad was there for most of it; but so was Ray.  He can tell you.”

Lita looked hopeful.

Ray sighed.  “Sure,” he said, only a little reluctantly.  “Come on in.”

He sat; and she curled up cross-legged.  As the tale began, Nate put his book back on the shelf and joined them, kibitzing even though he hadn’t been on board back then.

“I gotta say,” said Lita when Ray concluded, “I’m surprised you all bought Rip’s recruitment spiel.  It sounds pretty sketchy.”

Very sketchy,” Nate agreed.

“We picked up on that pretty soon,” said Ray defensively.  “Some of us nearly walked out.  But stopping Savage mattered.  Okay,” he admitted, “more to some people than others, maybe; but saving the world was certainly the right thing to do.  Still is.”

Lita chewed on this for a moment and then pointed out that most of the original Legends were no longer on board.  “Dad is,” she said.  Automatically, she turned her head towards the bridge, where Die Hard 8 continued to hold Mick’s attention.  “But the Hawks.  Rip Hunter.  It’s just a list of names.  I don’t even know what they looked like.”

Gideon chipped in with an offer of holograms.

As Lita flicked through them, the others put names to faces.  Rip, she said, looked as skeevy as his story.  Carter looked “a dick”, which got round agreement from Ray.  Then she stopped.  “Who’s this?  He’s hot.”

“He’s married,” said Nate.

“Bummer.  He’s about the only one who looks halfway close to my age.”

“Jax.  That’s his name—Jefferson Jackson, if you want the full thing.  He was half of Firestorm.  He went back to Central City years ago.”  Nate looked at Ray.  “Has his daughter been born yet?”  To Lita he added, “We don’t hear from him much.”

Lita ran her fingers over the holo controls, turning the image full circle.  “Firestorm,” she mused.  She was old enough to remember the hero from his Central City days, but … “Flamy hair and could fly?” she asked, just to be sure.  When they nodded, she went on, “Why’d he leave?”

The others shared a long glance.  It was an obviously unwelcome question.  Just as she’d decided to flip on to the next picture, though, Nate finally broke silence to say simply, “The Professor died.”

“Professor Stein,” said Ray.  “The other half of Firestorm.  He and Jax were able to fuse together; but, on his own, Jax had no powers.”

“Stein was brilliant,” said Nate fervently.  “He had a lot of insights into … well, time and space and all that.  He died very bravely, fighting Nazis on Earth X.”

Lita leaned forward, her face lighting up with interest.

“Which won’t mean anything to you,” said Ray flatly, “unless you want the whole story in excruciating detail, along with what Earth X was, which means the whole Crisis thing that hardly anyone knows about nowadays with the multiverse gone.”

Nate got up.  “Save it for some other day,” he said dismissively.

Someday-maybe-never, thought Lita.  “Sorry,” she said quickly.

“I can provide you with the details,” put in Gideon, in her cool emotionless voice, “if you want them.”

“Thanks, Gideon,” Lita said gratefully.  “I’ll take you up on that, I think.  Though not right now,” she added tactfully.  Music was playing out on the bridge; and she turned her head and saw credits rolling on the viewscreen.  “You know,” she said, getting up, “you people really don’t know how to use time travel, do you?  You could go back and fix all that stuff, you really could.  You know how it all happened; you could go back and make sure it didn’t.”

“Not allowed,” said Nate succinctly.

 


 

The next day their idle time came abruptly to an end as the time seismograph detected an aberration in 3109; and they found themselves thrown into the middle of a desperate battle against someone who called himself the Time Trapper.  They found allies among the heroes of that century, who were familiar with the power and plots of the enemy.  “His identity keeps changing,” Brainiac 7 told them.  “Each incarnation … if that’s what they are … appears differently as he draws on the power of time itself.  Our ancestors fought him, we fight him, and I dare say our children will do so in the future.”  Indeed, in the end the heroes of no fewer than four time periods joined with the Legends to track their quarry to his lair at the End of Time.  After a vicious counterattack, he was finally destroyed.  (“Well, maybe,” said Tarlok Gand grimly.)  Those heroes who survived returned to their own eras, and the Waverider slipped into the time stream with a new crew member.

“Welcome aboard, Mlle. Foccart,” said Gideon.

“You don’t mind?” Jacqui asked the Legends.  “Only I don’t have much reason to stay in my own time.  Not anymore.”

“We all have reason to leave our own time,” said Zari Tomaz quietly.  There’d been a swap round again, and she was out of the Air Totem.

“I sometimes think we come out of every major fight with new Legends,” agreed Nate.  “People come and go around here.  Welcome to the crew, Jacqui.”  And he gave her a broad friendly grin and patted her shoulder.

As for Mick, he made a silent bee-line for his trans-temporal communicator in order to check on Lita.  “I ain’t saying don’t party,” he said firmly, “but you save it till after you do your finals.”  She rolled her eyes, told him she hoped everyone was in one piece (“More or less,” he replied), and demanded details about the mission.  At some point, he mentioned the new crew member and the serum she had recreated from her grandfather’s formula.  “Sounds handy,” was all Lita said.  An hour later, though, she called back to say that it sounded more than merely “handy” but flat-out useful.

“You can go back in time and save your friend Professor Stein now,” she declared brightly.  “All you need do is get her to sneak around and kill the Nazis first.  In fact, she can do the whole pulling-the-lever stunt herself.  Anyone who can turn invisible won’t be spotted by a sniper till it’s too late; and, if they shoot at her, she can run any which way and they won’t know where to aim.”

Mick was silent.

“Go for it, Dad,” she urged.  “Take some control over fate for once.  It’s not enough just to go fighting the bad guys.  You gotta go out and save the good guys, too!”

Which might be true; but Mick didn’t bother to trouble the rest of the crew with a suggestion that he knew would be promptly shot down.  Sara, after all, had refused to use the Spear of Destiny to resurrect her own sister; and Mick himself had scribed no tales of rescue into Brigid’s diary.  They had faced down that temptation almost as often as they faced down villains.  He had not, however, reckoned with Lita—which was foolish of him, for she took after her father in so many ways.  A few days later, when he was still ignoring her calls, she did a search on “Jefferson Jackson”, combined that with her memory of Nate saying Jax had returned to Central City, and hopped a bus with Google maps at the ready on her phone.  She had no intention of leaving it all to Dad.  She could give Jax the news herself.  Bubbling with enthusiasm, she accosted him at work.

Instead of responding with reciprocal excitement, he hurriedly whisked her off the premises.  “Anyone could hear you!” he said urgently.  “Half of them wouldn’t believe their ears; but too damn much goes on in this town for someone not to take you seriously.”

“But Jax!” she protested, as he hurried her along, then broke off to ask, “Is it okay if I call you ‘Jax’?”

“You can call me whatever you want,” he said flatly, walking her firmly out the front door, “but we gotta talk about this.  And we can’t do it here.”  He steered her over to his car and drove to Jitters.  Then, realizing that there were too many ears there as well, he grabbed a pair of take-out Flash coffees and drove to the waterfront park.  There they sat in the lot with the windows rolled safely up.

Lita took the lid off the cup, breathed in the fumes, and sipped slowly.  It was still a bit hot to drink.

“Now say that all again,” demanded Jax, leaving his own coffee untouched.

“My Dad’s Mick Rory,” Lita began.

“And that, right there, is where I start to doubt you.”

“No, no, I really am,” she said urgently.  Jax continued to look sceptical.  “Okay,” she admitted, “he only pops in now and then—my Mom basically raised me on her own—but he really is my Dad.  They dated in high school.  Met at a reunion.”

“Jeez,” said Jax, shaking his head.  “You sure there wasn’t some time travel shenanigans in there?  I remember how Gray got himself a daughter….”  He trailed off, with a suspicious look at Lita.  Not knowing anything about Lily, she looked puzzled. He sighed. “Yeah, okay,” he admitted, “you’re Mick Rory’s daughter.  If you say so.  But—” and he heightened the emphasis with a frown “—he could’ve got in touch himself, if he wanted.  I do got one of those time phones Gray invented.”

Lita bit her lip.  “Yeah, well,” she said reluctantly, “Dad didn’t exactly send me.  I told him what the new Legend, Jacqui, could do for you; but I don’t think they plan to try it.  At any rate, he hasn’t said anything to me.”

“Surprise, surprise.”

“So I thought I’d tell you myself.”  Reproachfully, she added, “I thought you’d be thrilled.”

“Thrilled?”  He looked at her incredulously.  “You come here, say you’re going to turn my whole life upside down, change the past few years totally … and you expect me to be thrilled?”

“But he’d be alive!” she protested.  “Professor Stein—you and he were partners, weren’t you?  The two halves of Firestorm?  Gideon told me about it all, how he died:  I’d’ve thought you’d be glad there was a chance to save him.”

Jax took a deep breath.  “Yeah, well, there was a chance to save him.  Kind of, anyway.  I went back to warn him, but he didn’t.  Wouldn’t.”  He shook his head.  “You don’t understand, Lita.  We aren’t supposed to alter the timestream.  What’s past is past:  it’s happened; and it’s had consequences.  If you reverse it, you run the risk—no, more like the certainty—that you’re going to change more than you intended.  If it’s bad enough, you could change all of history.”

“By saving Professor Stein?” Lita said incredulously.

“You don’t know,” he insisted.  “I don’t know.  But look at it this way:  if we’d managed to go back only just a minute or two later, maybe we could’ve done it without hurting time much.  Now, though, years have gone by.  You want the two of us back together as Firestorm?  Well, I don’t live on the Waverider.  Not now.  It’s been ages since I last set foot on the ship.  I been to college, got a job, got married, had a kid.  If none of that had happened….”  He shook his head.  “If Gray had lived, then things would at least have happened at different times, in different ways.  Things that seem so little; but, in the end, mean so much.  The butterfly effect, they call it.”  He stopped for breath.  Something in Lita’s eye made him think that maybe … just maybe … he was getting through.

Crestfallen, she mumbled, “Maybe.”

“Come on, drink up your coffee,” he said kindly.  “Have mine, too, while you’re about it.  Where you live?  I’ll drive you home.”  And he saw her safely back to campus, and watched while she walked to the door of the dorm.  After that, of course, he had to return to work.  That evening, he said nothing to his wife about it all:  there was a fair bit about his past that he didn’t talk about much, even to her; and his time on the Waverider was the most of it.  But he lay awake beside her for hours, thinking; and eventually, quietly so as not to wake her, got up and slipped downstairs.

He caught Sara in what was, on the timeship, the middle of a quiet evening.  She was in the lounge—it really served as Captain’s office only when they were actively on mission—and, though he largely spoke directly to her, their conversation was quite audible to anyone else in the room.  Specifically Mick, to whom she promptly turned.

“I told her no,” was all he said.

Zari was there also.  The decision of the others was clear; and she made no protest.  Later, though, she took Lita’s suggestion to Jacqui.

“I don’t know anything about the guy,” was all the new Legend said, but she looked thoughtful.  A few days later, having looked thoroughly through Gideon’s log of the events, she turned to Constantine (who happened to be present) and said, “You know, Zari’s right.  I think I probably could save Dr. Stein.  Always assuming there’s a way to get me to the right place at the right moment.”

“It’s not that easy to change time,” said Constantine, with the certainty of experience.  “I know I didn’t manage it—got some weird results, but not the one I was trying for.  Still, that’s not to say it can’t be done.”

Zari, who had tried to save her brother (and actually succeeded, after a fashion), totally agreed.  “Stein was a good guy,” she said.  “He didn’t deserve to lose his life.  His wife was devastated that he never came home to her.  All she got out of it was a funeral.  On top of that, he was planning to leave the Waverider anyway after that mission.  I bet, with the Professor gone, Jax would have left too pretty soon.  And that means he would still have had the life he now has.  All the rest of it is just Rip Hunter’s crap influence on the crew.”  Three heads, therefore, were put together.  And if, for several days, their next mission interrupted any chance of putting their plans into action, it didn’t really matter.  After all, as Constantine pointed out, “The thing about time travel, you can wait for as long as need be and then just zap back to the exact year you want.”

That Gideon—who must, after all, have heard everything they said—did nothing to stop them ought to have made them wonder.  But none of them thought of that.

Given the impossibility of using a time courier to travel to the Waverider outside their own personal timeline, the three of them opted to take the jump ship for the trip back to 2017.  There had been some argument about the exact time they should aim for, given that most of them had—courtesy of J’onn J’onzz—preserved their memories of the multiverse and Stein’s heroic sacrifice to stop the Earth-X Nazis, while Jacqui had viewed Gideon’s post-Crisis logs, which described a somewhat different history.  In the end, though, they agreed that it would be best to insert her into S.T.A.R. Labs just after everyone had returned from the interrupted wedding ceremony.

“And then I shadow Dr. Stein until he doesn’t die,” said Jacqui.  Constantine put in dryly that this oversimplified things more than a bit. But it did get straight to the important point.

 


 

Even before entering, Jacqui cloaked herself with her light-bending powers.  From the perspective of those waiting in the jumpship, she disappeared from their view as completely as the ship itself was cloaked from sight of anyone in S.T.A.R. Labs.  The general consensus—though Zari was the only one who had known Professor Stein at all well—set his likely location as one of the laboratories in the building.  However, the very name “S.T.A.R. Labs” indicated these were plural.  Where he might be specifically at this particular moment was a whole other matter.  Gideon had only ex post facto accounts of events; and, although these had been studied for clues, the matter remained inconclusive.  Jacqui had therefore studied the schematics of the building; but, as she found when she got in, that was less useful than it might have been.  The place seemed to be full of corridors, all of which looked identical.  “Also,” she hissed into her communicator, “half the rooms are shut up, if not actually locked; and I think there’s been some rebuilding done.”

“You probably want one of the labs,” said Zari unhelpfully in her ear.

“I know that!” Jacqui said, as quietly as she could manage.  “But where are they, and which one is his?”

“You’ll just have to search the place till you find him.”

With a roll of her eyes, Jacqui made her way round the curve of the corridor, through a doorway, across a room that had only empty lab desks, mothballed equipment, and a fair amount of dust, and out another door into yet another corridor.  Ahead, she heard brief voices and the sound of a door.  She crept closer and saw  a blonde in a red cape talking to an athletic-looking dark-haired woman.  Their conversation was embarrassingly personal; and Jacqui hesitated to enter.  There are ethical complications to the use of invisibility:  some things are just not proper to eavesdrop on, especially when people literally can’t know you’re listening.  She was half-decided to go back the other way when the blonde swivelled suddenly round, looking keenly towards the door.

“Whoever you are, show yourself!”

Jacqui froze.  Indeed, by now knowing something of the skills of Captain Lance’s training, she even held her breath.

“Someone’s there?” said the dark-haired woman.

“Yes.  They’re cloaked in some way, though.”

The other woman took a step away, poised for action.

“There’s no point in pretending you’re not there,” said the blonde in Jacqui’s direction.  “I can hear your heartbeat.”

Oh, damn, thought Jacqui.  She must be one of this time period’s meta-heroes.  Then, fitting costume to alias, she realized she was confronting Supergirl.  An instant later, she was seized firmly—not quite hard enough to hurt, but far too securely for any chance of escape.  Jacqui could only hope the Legends on the jump ship had heard enough to keep prudently silent and their presence outside remain unsuspected.

“God, that looks weird, Kara,” said the other woman.  She relaxed from her fighting stance.

Supergirl—Kara—looked down at her hand gripping an invisible arm, and grinned.  “I guess it does at that.”  To Jacqui, she said, almost kindly, “Look there’s no point in staying invisible. We know you’re here; and there’s no way you can escape.”

After only a moment’s thought, Jacqui decided this did make sense.

“Well,” said Kara, almost letting go her arm, “that’s a surprise.”

A few bewildering, breath-taking seconds later, they were in the Cortex; and Jacqui was trying to keep her balance, her lunch, and her focus.  “Found someone creeping around,” said Kara succinctly.

“A spy?”  A man in costume—from his tight head-to-toe red suit, it must be the Flash—looked at Jacqui dubiously.  Absently, he rubbed the back of his head.

“No way!” put in a man with skin as dark as Jacqui’s.  With a start, she recognized him as a younger Jefferson Jackson.  There was an older man present, leaning against the wall, as well as a silver-haired woman; but nowhere in the room did Jacqui see anyone who might be Dr. Stein.

The Flash turned his head briefly to point out, “Unless they’re forcing her.”  He turned back and asked, “They holding your family hostage or something?”

Jacqui remained silent.  After a moment, sounding more than a little exasperated, the Flash said sharply, “Look, who are you?  Can you at least tell us your name?”

That should be safe enough, she thought.  “Jacqueline Foccart.”

He shook his head slightly:  it meant nothing to him.  Turning to the older man, he asked, “What do you think, Harry?”

Harry straightened and said thoughtfully, “Well, we’d sort of decided the Nazis must have come from the future.  There’s no record of Hitler experimenting with time; but, if there were a resurgence some centuries from now, it would make sense that they might time-travel back to ensure a lasting ‘Thousand Year Reich’.  Killing us—killing you and others with metagenic powers who might stop them—would certainly be a priority.”  He paused for thought, and then he asked, “Miss Foccart, does this mean that you are also a time traveller?  Working for a Resistance movement or something?”

“She must be,” said Jax.

“No ‘must be’,” said Kara firmly.  “She could be acting under duress.”

“I think … we should ask Gideon,” said the Flash slowly.  “She knows about the future—if she’s willing to tell us.”

Gideon?  Gideon was aboard the Waverider!

It made no sense.  Jacqui almost panicked, and had to force herself to show no reaction.   However, to her relief, there was no call to the ship.  Instead, the Flash and Harry headed towards an elevator—or what Jacqui thought looked like the doors to one—and, still holding her arm, Supergirl steered her after them.  Then they all stopped suddenly short, as the doors opened ahead of them and a woman hurried out.  “Iris!” the Flash greeted her.  But before he could explain Jacqui’s presence, the woman broke into hasty speech.  “The Nazis are attacking,” she said.  “Not here.  A building in the city.  Felicity knows.”

“Let me help!” said Jacqui immediately.  It might not be the way she and the others had planned it; but being with the heroes’ team would be an excellent alternative strategy.  If she seized this opportunity, she could openly stay close to the situation.  Her face lit up eagerly as she anticipated their mission to the future, helping to stop the Nazi time ship, saving Dr. Stein….

“No,” said Kara with great certainty.

“Who is this?” asked Iris, her attention drawn to Jacqui; but, before the Flash could answer, Kara went on, “Flash, we know nothing about her.  This could be exactly what they want.”

“She’s right, you know,” put in the silver-haired woman.

“I vote we put her in that Pipeline of yours for the duration,” said Kara.  “That way we can be sure she can’t interfere.  Only,” she added with a wry look, “maybe search her first in case she also has a poison pill.”

After the briefest moment, the Flash nodded.  “Caitlin, Jax,” he said, “you keep looking for the main Nazi base.  Kara, you’re with me.  Iris, has Felicity told Oliver?”

“He’ll meet you there.”

“Harry, would you take our guest here to the Time Vault and find out what Gideon knows about her?”

The older man nodded; the others left; and Jacqui shortly found herself heading down yet another corridor, this time with her arm held by Harry.  “You’ll have noticed we’re a little busy here right now,” he said.  “In fact, our big guns have just flown off—literally—to engage the enemy.  I don’t know why you’re here, Miss Foccart; but, if it’s supposed to be coincidence, you picked a hell of a time to show up.”

She twisted her arm free, kicked at his legs, and turned invisible.  Harry staggered back, hit the wall hard with his hand to regain his balance, and turned—but she was, of course, nowhere to be seen.  Looking round wildly, he seemed to assume she must have run off, for he called out, as if to someone round the bend of the corridor, “You can’t go far.  We’ll find you, you know.  This place is like a maze if you don’t know it.”  Then, with another look back and forth, he headed off at a run in the direction from which they had come.

When she was sure he was out of earshot, Jacqui started off in the opposite direction.

 


 

The jump ship returned to the Waverider to be met by an unwelcoming committee.  There was no better way to describe their reception.  “What the hell were you thinking?” Sara demanded as soon as the hatch opened.  She walked escort behind them, glowering all the way to the Captain’s office.  (There was no doubt that, this day, it was serving that function.)  Jacqui turned her head once or twice, and the Canary’s expression never lightened.  The rest of the crew must have been summoned when they’d come into dock, for everyone else was there waiting.  Ray looked worried.  Mick stood stony.  Nate was the only one showing any sympathy; and, even then, he gave no indication that he actually supported their mission.  It did not bode well.

So we’re on trial, thought Jacqui; and she wondered what the outcome would be.  Zari and Constantine had been Waverider crew for a long time; but she was new.  She wondered if it meant being told to leave, and felt regret.  Being a Legend had promised new purpose in life.

“How did you know where we went?” asked Zari.  She was genuinely curious.  It was Gideon who replied, “It was I who informed Captain Lance, Ms Tomaz.”

“You narced on us, Gideon?”  Constantine eased into a chair, and nonchalantly slung a leg over the arm.  Sara bent swiftly and flipped it off.  “Hi!” he said indignantly.

“Take this seriously,” she said flatly.  “You're not here for borrowing the jump ship without saying:  you guys do that whenever it takes your fancy.  But going back and trying to change the past—I mean deliberately trying to change history!—haven’t you already seen how that works out?  Or doesn’t work out!”

“Hope springs eternal, love,” said Constantine.  He took out a packet of cigarettes, and stuck one in his mouth.

“I thought you quit,” was all she said.

“Haven’t lit it yet, have I?”  He snapped his fingers, producing a tiny flame, touched it to the tip of the cigarette, took a single long draught of smoke, and then—with another snap—unlit the tobacco.  He blew the fumes out ostentatiously.  Sara snorted.  Constantine ignored her.  “Gideon,” he said, “you told Sara after we’d gone.  Why didn’t you stop us from the get-go?”

“It was unnecessary, Mr. Constantine.  I knew your mission would be a failure and time would remain unaltered.  Captain Lance did, however, need to know that you had made the attempt lest you repeat the effort with different results.”

“And why shouldn’t we?” asked Zari.  “It makes sense.  Why not try to save the Professor?”

“There’s probably not one of us who hasn’t thought of it,” said Sara crisply.  “But that’s not our mission.  We’re here to preserve history, not change it.”

“We’ve had chances more than once,” said Nate.  “We could have used the Loom of Fate for wholesale resurrection.   I could’ve brought my Dad back.”

“Anna,” murmured Ray under his breath, looking down at his shoes.

“But we didn’t,” declared Sara; and there was in her voice the pride of one who has been tempted, yet not fallen.

“Rip really got you to drink the Kool-Aid, didn’t he?” said Constantine dryly.

“I’ve seen my sister’s grave,” said Sara flatly.  “Nate buried his father; and we all went to Martin’s funeral.  They’re dead.  They couldn’t be more dead.   We mourn them and miss them; and that’s the way it has to be.  Don’t you get it?”

“Of course I do!” Zari said, stung.  “Of all of us, I get it, better than anyone.”

“Yes, but we’re not talking about Behrad,” Sara replied.  “We’re talking about Professor Stein, and the three of you deciding … on your own! … that you have the right to change history.  Did you think of this from Jax’s point of view?  Because I thought he made that pretty clear when he called us.  Sure, back then he’d have done a lot to save the Professor.  Now…?  He has a life back in Central City, and he doesn’t want to lose it.  What if it meant he never met his wife?”

“You know how easy that could be?” put in Nate.   “All it would take is a phone call at just the wrong moment.  Or deciding to work late, or having a cold.  Dumb little things that are totally down to chance.”

“I know that’s not what you were trying to do,” added Ray.  “But that’s what could happen.  And what if his daughter was never born?  You want to be responsible for that?”

Jacqui bit her lip.

“We mourn him and miss him,” said Sara with finality.  “And move on.”

In the immediate future, though, they “moved on” to the habits of an idle evening.  Oh, dinner was not celebratory but solitary; and Mick did not call Lita.  (Sleeping dogs and daughters, so to speak.)  Sara did call Ava in 2348, but spared her even the hint of details.  When someone is trying to found a new Time Bureau, they do not need to know that their home base—so to speak—is even a picosecond off violating the most basic rule of time travel.  Nevertheless, in due course, each member of the crew found solace in slumber.

Sara dreamt of Ava; Mick dreamt of gold.  Nate slept the sleep of the just.  Zari fretted with a only modicum of frustration over the vagaries of the Air Totem; and Jacqui relaxed with the assurance that Legends always screw up, but never get booted.

Constantine probably had nightmares of Hell; but that was nothing new.