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[personal profile] daylight_darknight

This is one of three fics I'm writing which explore what happened to Rip during the season 1 finale when he left the team in 2016 and went off on his own. It was supposed to be one fic but it somehow split into three. The second one covers Rip taking the team's younger selves back home and is pretty much done already so it should be up today or tomorrow. The third one will take a little longer.

Added disclaimer: The song We'll Meet Again was written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles

Title: We'll Meet Again
Characters: Rip, Rip's Mother
Rating/Warnings: G
Genre: Angst, Family, Emotional Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene
Word Count: 3500
Spoilers: Set during season 1 finale
Summary: Sometimes what we really need is our mother.

The Refuge was the same as ever, the large, Tudor style house with its red bricks, white-washed walls, and ornamental half-timbering, the carefully tended flower beds surrounding it still in bloom. Rip stood on the path leading up to the front door and stared up at the house's gabled roof. Once upon a time, he used to climb out through the upper windows, clamber up to the highest point on that roof, and perch beside one of the chimneys. He'd sit there and stare out at the countryside hiding until his mother began calling for him. It had been his safe spot, the place he went to escape when things became too much. He felt the strong desire to be up there now.

His mother emerged from the house. She was also unchanged, still prim and proper, still stern and iron willed, still full of warmth and concern. Only a few hours had passed for her since he'd last been there, but she looked relieved to see him. She must have been alerted of the Waverider's arrival the moment the time ship had landed.

“I told you you'd be back,” she said, smiling warmly as she walked down the path towards him.

Rip smiled back, or at least, he tried to. He could feel the smile wavering as he struggled to hold himself together. “You were right,” he said, “as usual.”

His efforts, however, proved futile. The moment his mother reached him, her smile faded and her forehead creased with concern. “Are you alright?” she asked, looking him over searchingly. “Where are those friends of yours?” She glanced around as if expecting them to appear.

“They've... gone home,” he replied. It was the truth. They had gone though not exactly willingly. “I just came by to pick up their younger selves. I need to get them back to their proper times as soon as possible.”

She raised her eyebrows, her questioning gaze boring deep into his. “Then you did it? You completed your mission?”

“Uh, no,” Rip said quickly and evasively. “It's complicated. We took care of the threat from the Time Masters, but I'm still searching for Savage.” He was trying hard to hold it in but he could hear his voice starting to crack. “I really need to...” He stopped as his mother reached up and placed a hand against his cheek. The look in her eyes was one of heartbreaking sympathy.

“Oh, Michael,” was all she said.

Rip felt himself crumbling. The feelings of grief, of guilt, of hopelessness, of betrayal, the ones he had forced down since his return to the Vanishing Point all threatened to burst forth.

“Come on,” his mother said wrapping an arm around his and pulling him towards the house. “Come with me.”

Rip fought to keep his composure as they entered the Refuge. It made his jaw ache and his throat burn, but he had to stay in control, maintain the semblance of detachment for a little longer. The last thing he wanted was for his younger self, or any of the other children, to see him falling apart. As his mother led him through the front hall and up the stairs, he could hear some of the children running and laughing in the background, but they seemed far away. Everything seemed far away and unreal as if he were walking through a holographic construct of his former home instead of the real thing.

His mother led him to her private study. This was where she took all her children when she wanted to have a talk with them. Rip had been there countless times before for private chats and for lectures, mostly lectures. It was strange and oddly disorienting being there as an adult. The room was long with a large oak desk at one end beneath an even larger window and bookcases full of old leather books going along the walls on either side. Everything was decorated in the 19th century style his mother had always preferred. She sat him down on a sofa covered in green velvet and told him to stay there as she hurried off to deal with some of the children who were causing a ruckus outside.

For a moment, Rip just sat there staring unseeingly at the bookcase opposite him as the hollow ache he'd been holding back welled up inside his chest, part nausea, part despair. Thoughts seemed to have fled, but images tumbled through his mind: Savage's wicked grin as he stood among the Time Council, Druce's infuriatingly calm expression as he told him the truth, the Vanishing Point bursting into flames, Miranda and Jonas' bodies lying crumpled on a dark and fiery battlefield. Finally, it grew too much and he placed his face in his hands taking slow, shaky breathes as the tears finally began to fall.

When his mother returned, she sat beside him. She didn't say anything. She just sat there rubbing a hand along his back.

It was several long minutes before the tears stopped and Rip was able to get some semblance of control back. He sat up and his mother wrapped an arm around him letting him lean against her.

“I'm sorry,” his said, his voice hoarse.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” she said, and produced a handkerchief from somewhere holding it out to him. “Here.”

The sight was so familiar it almost made him smile. He took the handkerchief and blew his nose suddenly feeling like a young child again.

His mother squeezed his arm. “Now, I think it's time you told me what happened,” she said. “And I mean all of it.”

Rip took a deep breath and he told her. He told her of capturing Savage in 2166 because Kendra wouldn't kill him. He told her of how they'd found out Savage had been manipulating time and decided to take him to the Vanishing Point. He told her what Druce had told him, how the High Council had manipulated him, had ordered the death of his family so he would do what they wanted. He told her about destroying the Oculus, about the death of Snart, about leaving the team behind in 2016. And he told her about his family, how they were finally beyond any hope of saving.

“I've crossed that point in time so many times now,” he said, “if I were to even set foot there again the damage to time, to the universe itself could be catastrophic. Not that it would make much difference if I did. It's a closed loop. My family was killed by Vandal Savage because I tried to stop Vandal Savage from killing my family. I should have never tried to interfere in the first place. Look at all the damage I've caused.”

“You wouldn't be you if you hadn't at least tried,” his mother told him. “You'd have regretted it just as much if you hadn't.”

“I suppose.” He gazed down at his hands rubbing his fingers together. “Did you...” He swallowed barely able to think about the question he was trying to ask let alone voice it. “Did you know...”

“About the Oculus?” his mother finished for him. “No,” she said. “But I'd heard rumours. Did I know about what the Time Council were doing with it? Of course, not, but I can't say I'm surprised. You know I've never really gotten on with them.”

Rip's lips twitched. That was true. The Time Council had tried a few times to interfere with how his mother ran the Refuge. Her fights with them were almost legendary in themselves.

“You know it's always been my children I care about,” she said stroking a hand along the back of his head. “Not Time Master politics. And you know I would never do anything to hurt you or your family.”

“I know,” he said. “It's just...”

He should know that but the revelation at the Vanishing Point had thrown his whole life into question. People he thought were his friends were anything but. The entire organization that he'd been a part of for so long, that he'd pledge his life to serve hadn't simply abandoned him when he needed them, they had been working against him, playing with him, manipulating his life. So much of what he'd believed had been a lie. It was hard to know where the manipulation ended and where it began. Had the Time Council arranged for Miranda and him to be partners at the academy because they'd known they'd fall in love? Had they chosen him to be a Time Master because they'd known what he'd be willing to do if they killed someone he cared about? Had they arranged for him to be an orphan in the first place, left him struggling and starving as a child on the streets because they'd known that would forge him into the sort of person who would do what they wanted?

His mother took his face in her hands turning his head so he was forced to meet her eyes. “Listen to me,” she said. “I have never lied to you and I'm not lying to you now. You are my son and I love you with all my heart. That is one thing you never have to doubt.”

Rip felt the tears start to trail down his cheeks again. His mother pulled him forward into an embrace and he held her tightly. It felt like she was the only stable thing left in the chaotic storm his life had become.

After a moment or two, he pushed away from her wiping the tears from his face. As the turmoil of emotions in him started to subside, other matters were coming to the forefront of his mind.

“I'm such an idiot,” he said shaking his head. “I shouldn't have told you so much. The timeline...” Being with his mother had been such a relief, such a comfort, he'd forgotten that this version of her had barely known him a year. For her, he was still a child, he hadn't become a Time Master or formed a family. All that had happened was still in some ways in the future.

“Don't you worry,” she said. “I happen to have a lot of experience dealing with the disjointedness of a non-linear life. I can manage.” She gave him a sad smile. “I'm still very much looking forward to meeting that family of yours.”

Rip swallowed, his heart threatening to break once more. That was one of the curses of being a time traveller, knowing all the good and bad that would happen to someone in their future, knowing exactly when and how someone died. It was something that really made you appreciate the present moment. You did get used to it, sort of, but it was never easy when it was someone you cared about. That was one of the reasons the Time Masters discouraged emotional attachment. He didn't know how his mother could stand it. He'd always known growing up that she knew so much more than she ever told, but he'd never have believed that she'd been keeping something like this from him.

“Have you thought about the future?” his mother asked. “What do you intend to do after you get this Savage fellow?

Rip shook his head rubbing at his red eyes. “I have no idea,” he admitted. Now that his family were finally and truly gone, all that was left was his revenge against Savage. He found himself completely unable to picture a future beyond it.

His mother though seemed to have something in mind. She had that thoughtful look on her face, the one that had always made him want to run the other way as a child. “You know that without the Oculus the Time Masters will be at quite the disadvantage,” she said. “I imagine there wasn't much left at the Vanishing Point after it exploded.”

Rip felt a sharp pang of guilt at that reminder. Destroying the Oculus had been necessary, but he prayed there hadn't been too many lives lost. The Time Council had proven itself ultimately evil, but they hadn't been the only ones at the Vanishing Point. Outside the study, he could still hear the children capering about. He knew at least one of them had grown up to be a Time Trooper. He really hoped they hadn't been one of the ones he'd been against fighting at the Oculus. He hadn't kept in touch with many of them even though they were almost brothers and sisters. The Time Masters liked to put the orphans who grew up together in different time periods at the academy in order to discourage attachment. It wasn't unusual to run into one of your former siblings and find them now decades older or younger than you. Another curse of a non-linear life. As for friends, Rip hadn't had many among the Time Masters. He had been shunned by most of them for breaking tradition by getting married and having a child. Still the thought that he may have caused the death of people he'd grown up with, been taught with, or fought along side was a dark one he didn't feel he was ready to deal with. Dealing with what had happened to Snart was more than enough guilt to contend with.

He cleared his throat. “What are you getting at?”

“It's unlikely they'll be able to truly rebuild,” his mother said. “And there are still rifts where the fabric of time has worn thin. There are still time pirates out there, people using time technology for their own ends or who simply don't know what they're doing. The damage they could cause would be catastrophic.” She gazed pointedly at him. “Someone needs to be there to keep the timeline intact.”

Rip stared back at her, eye widening. “You're not seriously suggesting that I...”

“I can't imagine anyone more qualified,” said his mother as if were the most obvious thing in the world.

Rip leapt to his feet. “But I can't simply...” he said as began pacing back and forth across the room shaking his head. “The Time Council...”

His mother remained seated calmly watching him, her hands folded on her lap. “The Time Council may have been corrupt but that doesn't mean that all they taught you was untrue,” she said. “You know first hand what can happen if someone pushes time too far, not only can it lead the history of Earth to its own destruction, but there's also the time wraiths to contend with, the time storms that can occur. If time were to fracture...”

“I know,” Rip declared gesturing vehemently into the air. “But do you really think I can take on the job of the entire Time Fleet.”

“I believe you can do a better job than they ever did,” said his mother. “You can be a new type of protector of the timeline, one with a lot more compassion than your predecessors.”

Bringing his restless pacing to a halt, Rip crossed his arms across his chest and stared out the window. “On my own,” he said, his voice falling to almost a whisper.

“Not necessarily,” said his mother as she got to her feet. “What about those friends of yours?”

Rip grimaced. “I extremely doubt they'll want to have anything to do with me, especially not after...” he trailed off.

It was his mother's turn to cross her arms. “Michael,” she said, raising an eyebrow at him. “What did you do?”

Rip winced. That was one of the drawbacks of visiting his mother, being scolded as if he were still the young child he knew was undoubtedly causing mischief somewhere in the house. “They didn't so much go home as got left there. I took them back to 2016 and sort of left them behind.”

His mother gave him a disappointed look. “Really."

“I may have also sort of tricked them so I could do so,” Rip reluctantly added.

“Honestly, Michael,” his mother said. “What were you thinking? They must be furious.”

Rip snorted, a quick huff of air tinged with bitterness. “Angry and alive is better than happy and dead.”

His mother's disapproving expression turned to one of sympathy. “My poor boy,” she said. “I know how much your family's death hurt you, but you can't spend your life worrying that those you care about will die.”

“I've already lost three of my crew, one's dead and two others are just as good as. I can't lose anyone else I care about,” he declared, his voice full of desperation.

“And don't they get a say in this?” his mother asked.

“I'm trying to protect them,” Rip snapped.

“I'm so sorry, my dear.” His mother came over and placed her hands on his shoulders. “I know this is hard for you to understand, but you can't protect everyone.”

Rip tried to move away but she kept her hold on him.

“You never had the chance with Jonas,” his mother continued, “but at some point every parent has to realize that they simply can not protect their child from all the dangers of the world. You prepare them as best you can, love them as much as possible while they are with you, and then you let them go.”

Closing his eyes, Rip bowed his head and his mother took the opportunity to reach up and place a kiss on his forehead.

“I'll try, Mother,” said Rip, his voice cracking.

His mother gently patted him on the shoulder and let him go. “Does that mean you'll go back for those friends of yours?”

“I don't know,” said Rip shaking his head. “Like I said I doubt they'll want anything to do with me after what I did, and it wasn't as if I was the greatest Captain. I expected too much from people who'd never had to deal with the intricacies of time travel before and I'd get so caught up in the mission to save my family that sometimes I didn't always take their feelings or even their safety into consideration.”

“Well, next time you'll know better,” his mother said confidently.

Rip laughed, a light chuckle. As always, his mother was resolute and unwavering when she got an idea into her head.

“You'll consider it though?” she asked. “I don't like the idea of you out there on your own.”

“I'll consider it,” said Rip.

“You never know,” his mother said, “they might surprise you. From what little I saw of them, I'd say they cared just as much about you as you do about them.”

Rip frowned. “We spent most of the time yelling at each other.”

“Yes, well, families do that, dear.”

Rip rolled his eyes.

“Now none of that,” she said pointing sternly at him. “What about taking over for the Time Masters? Will you consider that too.”

Rip took a deep breath letting it out slowly. “It means starting over, a whole new life.”

“One I believe you've already begun,” said his mother. “Besides you've done it before. It was quite a change for you going from living rough on your own to living in this house with all these people. It took you a long time to trust anyone. I still haven't managed to convince your younger self to stop carrying that knife of his everywhere. At least, I finally managed to stop him hoarding food in every nook and cranny.”

“Actually...” said Rip with a guilty look.

“You...” His mother slapped him on the arm. “At least, tell me the stuff you're hiding isn't perishable. The last thing we need is ants and rats all over the place.”

“I don't believe so,” said Rip mentally crossing his fingers. It was hard to recall exactly what he had been doing at that age, but he knew the food hoarding hadn't stopped for a couple more years. “I guess some things aren't easily forgotten.”

His mother shook her head at him. “The point,” she said, “is you managed to adapt to a new life and you can do it again.”

“I hope so,” said Rip. He reached forward and impulsively wrapped his arm around her in another hug, one she happily returned. “Thanks, Mum,” he whispered into her shoulder. “For everything.”

“I'll always be here for you,” his mother said as they separated once more.

He gave her a wavering smile. “Without the Time Masters or my family, you and the Waverider are about all I have left.”

“There's those friends of yours,” said his mother. “Promise me you'll give them another chance if it arises.”

Rip recalled his last glimpse of his team, the wavering holographic image of them standing in the empty paved lot, expressions of shock and anger on their faces. Would they really want to rejoin him after that? He could feel the sourness of guilt festering in his gut, but part of him was still sure he'd done the right thing, that he was better off on his own, that it was better not to risk anyone's life but his. Another image shoved its way to the forefront of his mind, his team gathered around his study happily drinking stolen vodka and listening to Vera Lynn sing We'll Meet Again. It had been one of the first times they'd truly felt like a team and he was unable to deny just how good that had felt or just how much he would miss it. A new wave of loss washed over him.

“I promise, Mother,” he said.

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day

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