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[personal profile] daylight_darknight
And the adventures continue! Posting these almost weekly on AO3. Let's see how long I can keep that up. I've got a whole list of more to come so it's not like I'm running out of ideas just time to write in.

Title: The Adventures of Time Dad
Characters: Rip, Mick, Ray, Sara, Martin, Jax, Leonard
Rating/Warnings: PG
Genre: Humor, Crack, Fluff, Family, Friendship
Word Count: 18,000 so far
Spoilers: Takes place between seasons 1 and 2 with random visits from Leonard because I keep forgetting he's dead.
Summary: Some days Rip wants to strangle them. Some days he wants to hug them. Some days he wants to do both.

Parts 1 - 4

Parts 5 - 8

9. The Small Matter of Birthdays: Mick

It would be over a month until there was another birthday but Rip watched the numbers count down beside the next name with a particular dread. He told himself he was worrying too much, that the past birthday trips may have been trials but not complete disasters, and yet he couldn’t help being concerned about just what sort of place Mick Rory would like to go to for his birthday.

Mick left things to the last minute, not bothering to tell Rip what he wanted until the actual day, prolonging the captain’s worry and making him wonder if perhaps Mick didn’t want a birthday trip after all. His hopes were dashed however when the pyromaniac arrived on the bridge that morning with an expectant grin on his face and said, “We ready for my trip?”

“It’s hard to be ready when we don’t actually know where we’re going,” Rip replied, peevishly.

His trepidation must have been evident because Mick clapped him on the back, though with rather more force than Rip thought necessary, and said, “Don’t worry, Captain. I’ve got the perfect spot picked out. You’ll love it.”

Rip sincerely doubted that. “I wouldn’t have thought you were the sort to celebrate birthdays.”

“I’m not,” said Mick. “But you don’t think I’m going to pass up an opportunity like this.”

Rip sighed wearily. “At least, tell me it’s somewhere warm.”

Mick’s eyes practically glowed. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “Real warm.”

And then he told them exactly where he wanted to go.

Rip’s shoulders slumped and he cast his eyes upward, sending a pleading look to the heavens, a silent cry of ‘why me?’ Upon returning his gaze to Mr. Rory though he saw the eagerness in his expression, the honest joy at the prospect of the trip, so instead of going to his study to bang his head against his desk or retreating to his quarters to hide under the covers as he felt like doing, Rip girded himself for what was to come and set about arranging Mick’s birthday treat.

Fulfilling Mick’s request, however, proved rather more difficult than the previous ones. The others trips hadn’t required much more than dressing in the appropriate clothing and finding a convenient place to park the Waverider. This trip took a bit of research, some careful planning, and a little delicate manoeuvring, but eventually they managed to get to the right spot, and the whole team was able to look down on the sight Mick had so wanted to see.

Mick had been right about one thing, Rip thought as he stared in shock at the city in front of him. It was warm.

“Wow,” said Ray as he gazed at it. “That’s...”

“Something else,” said Sara, shaking her head. “It’s...”

Jax nodded. “Yeah, it’s really... I mean...”

“Quite,” added Martin.

“It’s utterly awesome,” said Mick, a manic grin spreading across his face.

Attempting to add his own opinion, Rip took in a deep breath and immediately began to cough as smoke filled his lungs. Once he’d gotten the coughing under control, he managed to say hoarsely, “To some people perhaps.”

Mick turned to him with genuine confusion. “You don’t like it?”

Rip rolled his eyes. “Unlike you, Mr. Rory, it’s not my fondest wish to see my home town burn to the ground!”

“Huh,” Mick said and shrugging his shoulders, went back to watching the city burn.

Technically, it wouldn’t be Rip’s home for a few centuries but he still had no desire to see it turn to ash.

It was September 3, 1666, and London was burning. It had already been burning for over a day and would continue burning for a couple more, the fire spreading quickly through the wooden buildings. The Legends were watching from, appropriately enough for Mr. Rory, the parapets surrounding the Tower of London since they knew it was one of the few places that wouldn’t be burnt to the ground. This had only been made possible through a little trickery, a few disguises, and the fact most of the guards were more concerned by the fire currently consuming the surrounding city than a few strangers.

“Ooh, what was that?” asked Ray pointing at a particular structure as it tumbled to the ground.

Rip tiredly told him. The other Legends actually seemed to really get into watching the blaze, after they had been reassured few deaths were attributed to it, and during the long hours they spent standing on the parapet, Rip ended up playing tour guide as he named all the buildings as they caught fire and were turned into blackened rubble.

Mick’s second request to round off the day was a simple one, a visit to a specific bar in 2016. Actually, his original request was a trip to a strip club but Rip quickly vetoed that idea much to Jax’s, and surprisingly or perhaps not so surprisingly Sara’s, dismay. Mick insisted this bar had the best drinks though Rip later wondered if the drinks were the real reason Mick had chosen the place considering the inevitable brawl they ended up in was rather enthusiastic and managed to involve every single one of the bar’s current patrons. The Legends won, of course, but not before sustaining between them multiple bruises, four cracked ribs, three black eyes, two concussions, and a knife wound.

Rip dragged the team back to the Waverider glad to have survived.

At least, Mick had been the happiest he’d seen him in a long time, thought Rip as he sat on the chair in the med bay while Gideon fixed the gash the knife had left in his leg.

10. The Small Matter of Birthdays: Martin

The next birthday Rip was much less worried about. After all, Martin was one of the more sensible members of the team. At least as the eldest, he was supposed to be. However, when Martin approached him on the bridge a few days before his birthday with a pronounced bounce in his step and a childish grin on his face, Rip began to wonder if he had been quite right in his assumptions.

“I assume you’ve made your choice,” said Rip, looking up from Gideon’s analysis of the timeline which was currently displayed on the main console in the middle of the room.

“Oh, I made my choice ages ago,” said Martin with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I’ve been dreaming about an opportunity like this for decades. Of course, it took a little research to find the precise date I wanted but I believe I’ve found it: August 25th, 1893.”

Rip searched back through his extensive knowledge of history but the date meant nothing to him. “And where exactly did you want to go?”

“The Chicago’s World Fair,” Martin declared, his eyes gleaming. “We have to go to August 25th because that’s when I know Tesla is going to be there. He gives a lecture on mechanical and electrical oscillators to the members of the International Electrical Congress.”

Rip raised his eyebrows. “So it’s Nikola Tesla you want to see?”

“The man’s absolutely brilliant,” said Martin. He began pacing the room as he went on. “An amazing visionary, way ahead of his time, and such an astounding intellect. I mean the sheer amount of inventions attributed to him alone.” Clasping his hands together, he turned back to Rip. “I was thinking we could attend his lecture, and then arrange to meet up with him, have a bit of a conversation, perhaps convince him to join us for dinner?”

“You will be careful with what you say to him,” said Rip, earnestly. “The man is rather important to the timeline. If you were to lead him astray, give him information about future scientific discoveries...”

“Of course, of course,” said Martin, waving his hand again. “I’ll be careful.” He sighed, dreamily. “Just imagine. Nikola Tesla.”

Rip sighed too but his sigh was full of exasperation. Obviously, there was no such thing as sensible when it came to this team.

The rest of the crew were all for going to the Chicago’s World Fair but while Ray was almost as excited as Martin at the prospect of meeting Tesla, there was no way Jax, Mick, and Sara were going to listen to a lecture on mechanical and electrical oscillators. They were much more interested in exploring the various pavilions and riding the world’s first Ferris wheel.

Opting to go with Martin and Ray, Rip said to the others, “Now can I trust you to behave this time and stay out of trouble?”

Rolling his eyes, Jax gave an emphatic nod while Mick just as emphatically shook his head.

Sara placed what was probably meant to be a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Despite what you might think, we aren’t some group of reckless hoodlums.”

“You aren’t? That's news to me,” Rip said, and then quickly dodged out of the way as she tried to smack him.

The lecture went well enough. It was interesting though not quite Rip’s cup of tea, science being more a means to an end than a passion for him like it was for Ray and Martin, but the lecture was undoubtedly more peaceful than whatever the rest of the team were getting up to and he could use some peace and quiet for once. Martin seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself and his near constant grin grew even brighter when they managed to get a hold of Tesla once the lecture was over. A tall, finely dressed man with deep set eyes, Nikola Tesla proved to have a quick wit and a surprisingly good sense of humour. The three scientists were soon in an animated conversation about his recent inventions. It fact it was such an overly enthusiastic conversation that Martin and Ray often strayed into rather dangerous territory forcing Rip to keep stepping on their feet as a reminder to be careful.

Martin was just about to invite Tesla out for dinner when Rip heard a beep from his comlink.

“Uh, Rip?” came Sara’s voice over the link.

Rip quickly excused himself. “What have you done now?” he demanded once he was out of hearing range.

“Nothing,” Sara protested, unconvincingly. “I just wanted to let you know we’ve left the exposition and are going to the Wild West show across the road.”

“You left?” said Rip in surprise.

“More sort of got kicked out.”

Groaning, Rip ran a hand through his hair. “How the hell did you manage that?”

“Well, there was a bit of an incident involving Jax, some idiots, and these watermelons,” Sara replied.

“At least, tell me no one was hurt.”

“Only the watermelons.”

Rip shook his head in disbelief. “Fine,” he said. “We’ll meet back at the ship. Just try not to get into any more trouble.”

Sighing, Rip turned back to the scientists only to find that while he’d been gone the passionate conversation had turned into a raging argument. Rip rushed over and quickly intervened pulling Martin and Ray away and thanking Tesla for his time.

“Honestly,” Martin fumed as Rip led them out of the lecture hall. “How can a man so brilliant refuse to believe in the basic existence of electrons. I mean, seriously...”

Rip patted him on the shoulder consolingly. “Come on,” he said. “There’s still plenty of time to check out the rest of the fair.”

Back out in the fair among the crowds of the people, they wandered around the many pools, waterways, and fountains, and in and out of the large exhibition halls, white, neoclassical buildings several of which were decorated with red splatters of watermelon which Rip pointedly ignored. They visited the Electricity Building, the Machinery Hall, the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, and more. They rode a moving walkway, a captive hot air balloon, and the Ferris Wheel. Thankfully, Martin’s temper was soon quelled and he was able to have a good time. The fair was so large they didn’t even manage to see half of it, but they stayed late enough to see the lights of the fair turned on and to watch the people marvel at the new electric lightbulb.

Even Rip had to admit it was quite spectacular though he emerged from the fair incredibly tired and footsore.

When they returned to the ship, they were reunited with the rest of the team and Rip was pleased to find they had managed to avoid burning down Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. All he had left to deal with was a disappointed Ray who was upset to have missed out on the chance to see it. Considering most of the team hadn't seen much of the fair before they were kicked out and Martin was rather keen on seeing the stuff he hadn't had the chance to get to, it took a lot of effort to convince them they were not allowed another day to make up for what they’d missed.

“One day, one trip,” Rip exclaimed to them. “That’s all you lot get and it’s more than enough. I never meant for any of these bloody trips to happen in the first place. Thankfully, there are no more birthdays for another six months, and I, for one, plan on enjoying the well deserved break.”

And he stormed off in the direction of his study completely failing to notice the way Sara’s eyes narrowed thoughtfully in his direction.

11. Not Angry. Just Very Disappointed.

“And another thing...” Rip cut himself off, stopping in mid-lecture, and gazed at the team gathered in front of him around the bridge’s main console.

The Legends looked weary and miserable. It had been a tough mission, one which had nearly ended in complete disaster, and perhaps berating them right at that moment wasn’t the best idea. Rip really didn’t mean to keep lecturing them but sometimes they simply drove him insane. The team had such potential for greatness. If only they were more careful with the timeline, and their own lives for that matter.

“Listen,” he said, clasping his hands together as he started again. “I know it was a difficult mission. The events we were involved in were rather distressing and there were a lot of tough calls and hard decisions to make, but we made a mess of things out there and I know you can do better.” He sighed heavily. “I’m not really angry with you. I’m just disappointed.”

Rip leaned against the console casting his gaze to the ground, which is how he ended up missing the twitch of Sara’s lips and the flash of amusement in her eyes. He looked up again when he felt her wrap an arm around his and he found her gazing at him, her face the perfect picture of dismay, her eyes shining with a pleading hope a shade too innocent.

“But you still love us right?”

“What?” he sputtered, staring at her wide-eyed.

“He doesn’t love us anymore,” declared Ray, quickly catching on. He pouted his bottom lip but the laughter in his eyes ruined the effect.

Jax snickered. “Awe,” he said, “I’m hurt,” and snickered again.

“I personally will be forever heartbroken,” said Martin, grinning.

Mick crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head. “I knew you never really cared about us.”

Rip stared at them, flabbergasted.

They gazed back with exaggerated expressions of mock sadness.

“This is ridiculous,” he said. “You can’t seriously...”

The bottom lips grew larger. Jax let out a loud sniff.

Rip put his face in his hands. He knew they were joking. He knew they were just teasing him but he couldn’t exactly say no.

“Well,” said Sara, looking expectantly at him, her grip tightening on his arm.

“Alright. Fine,” he said, feeling the blood heating his face. “I do love you,” he muttered quietly.

“What was that?” asked Ray holding a hand to his ear.

“Yeah, I didn’t quite catch it,” said Jax.

“Something possibly about love?” suggested Martin. “I couldn’t really make it out.”

Rip groaned. He was never going to live this one down. “I love you,” he repeated louder, sure at this point he must be bright red.

Mick raised his eyebrows. “All of us?”

“Yes, I love all you!” Rip yelled glaring at them. “Now get out of my sight before I shove the lot of you out the airlock!”

The team hurried away laughing and looking much happier than before. Rip shot Sara a look before she left and she just grinned smugly back at him.

Sighing, Rip went to get a drink. This team was definitely going to drive him insane. That is if they didn’t give him a heart attack first.

Technically though, he admitted to himself as he poured a glass of whiskey and quickly drowned it, what they’d made him say was completely and utterly true.

12. The Small Matter of Birthdays: Rip

With no more birthdays in the near future, life on board the Waverider resumed its normal routine of chasing aberration after aberration, and Rip was perfectly happy with that. It meant he only had to deal with the usual chaos and danger that accompanied their missions and not that which came with the team’s increasingly bizarre birthday requests. He thought it was over. He thought he was safe, and then one day while he was fetching himself a drink in his study, a glass of a fine brandy he’d acquired sometime in the 18th century, he turned around to find Sara standing directly behind him, arms folded across her chest and a reproachful look in her eyes.

Rip’s heart leapt violently in his chest, and it was only through a great deal of effort that he managed to stop himself from jumping and dropping his drink. He cursed silently as his fingers tightened around the glass, his knuckles turning white. You’d have thought that after all this time he’d have gotten used to having an assassin on board his ship.

“Is there something I can do for you, Ms. Lance?” he asked acting calm and collected and pretending not to be the least bit effected by her sudden appearance.

The tiny twitch at the corner of her mouth indicated he hadn’t fooled her in the slightest. “We need to talk,” she said.

“About what?”

“About the small matter of birthdays.”

“If I'm not mistaken those are all over until Mr. Jackson’s comes around again in six months time,” Rip said and took a sip of his brandy. “Unless of course,” he added hopefully, “you’ve managed to convince the team that once was enough and we don’t have to go through the whole ordeal again next year.”

“I think it’s a little late for that,” Sara replied with a wry smile. “But the problem is we seem to have missed one.”

“Oh, no, no, no, no,” said Rip, shaking his head emphatically. “We celebrated everyone’s birthday. I know. I counted. There was Jax’s trip to 1950s New York to sit in the cold and watch men run around a field with a ball, there was Ray’s trip to the coldest place on Earth to look at birds, there was your trip to 1960s Germany to celebrate Christmas, there was Mick’s trip to the 15th century to watch London burn, and there was Martin’s trip to the Chicago’s World Fair from which I still have blisters on my feet. That’s it, all five. So unless there’s another crew member no one’s told me about...”

“You, you idiot,” Sara exclaimed interrupting Rip’s rant. “We haven’t done your birthday yet.”

“Oh,” said Rip, dumbstruck. “I... um...” The fact she’d meant him, the fact anyone would want to celebrate his birthday simply hadn’t occurred to him.

“We need to celebrate your birthday too,” Sara went on. “So when is it? Did we miss it already?”

Rip held up a hand and said, “That really isn’t necessary.” Turning away, he downed the rest of his brandy and placed the empty glass down beside the bottle. For a moment, he debated whether or not to pour himself another, but though it was tempting, decided against it.

“Of course, it’s necessary,” said Sara. “We’re not going to celebrate everyone else’s birthday and not yours.”

“That’s very thoughtful,” said Rip as he turned back to her, “but I don’t normally celebrate it and I see no reason to start now.” He crossed to the other side of the study and began absently rearranging the contents of his desk.

Unfortunately, Sara, who was not so easily deterred, followed him. “Why not?” she said. “Those birthday trips have been fun. They’ve been a welcome break from all the stress of chasing time aberrations.”

“You mean they’ve been near disasters,” Rip corrected her, still playing with the items on his desk.

“No more than the rest of our lives.” Apparently growing tired of his attempts at ignoring her, Sara grabbed the books currently in his hands and slammed them back on the desk. “Why don’t you want to celebrate?”

Rip scowled at her but said nothing.

“Is it your age?” Sara asked, teasingly, raising her eyebrows. “Scared of growing old? How old are you anyway?”

“Isn’t that a rather personal question?” said Rip, a half-hearted attempt at deflection.

Sara gave him a look obviously not buying it. “You already know all our ages.”

Rip’s jaw tightened and he remained silent.

“Don’t make me ask Gideon,” said Sara with mock sternest.

Their eyes locked and stayed locked for several moments as they each waited for the other to make the first move.

It was Sara who acted first. “Gideon?”

“Gideon, don’t you dare,” Rip called out a fraction of a second later.

“Captain Hunter is approximately 34 years old,” the A.I. announced.

Rip slapped a hand against his forehead. The computer was obviously growing much too fond of their new crew.

“Ha!” Sara cried, a look of triumph on her face, and then her forehead furrowed once more. “Wait, seriously? You’re only 34?”

Rip gave an amused snort. “Are you implying I look older?”

“No, no,” Sara replied, shaking her head. “It’s just... You said the Waverider’s been your ship for 13 years. That would mean you were only 21 when you started. You were flying around on your own chasing down time criminals at 21?”

Rip shrugged as if was no big deal which to him it wasn’t. “It’s slightly younger than average for a Time Master but not that unusual.”

Sara continued to stare at him in astonishment.

It was at times like this Rip was reminded that he and his crew grew up in very different worlds. “It’s really not that big a deal.”

From the look on Sara’s face, he could tell she didn’t agree with him, but she said no more on the subject. Instead, she asked, “Why ‘approximately’ 34? Gideon knows all our ages down to the minute. How can she not know yours?”

Rip winced. That was the one thing he’d really hoped she wouldn’t ask.

“Is it some sort of Time Master thing?” said Sara when he didn’t immediately reply.

“Sort of,” Rip said, hesitantly. He tried to come up with a plausible excuse, but before he could, Gideon once more proved her fondness for Sara.

“I can not give an accurate age,” the A.I. told her, “because no birthdate for Captain Hunter exists on record.”

“Come again?” said Sara, confused. “Are you saying even you don’t know when Rip’s birthday is?”

“That is correct,” Gideon replied.

Sara’s eyes bored into Rip’s demanding answers.

Rip took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Apparently, there was no avoiding the issue any longer. “Gideon doesn’t know when I was born,” he explained, “because I don’t know when I was born.”

“What? How can you not know?” Sara asked, taking a step towards him.

Rip in contrast moved away crossing the room again back to the forgotten bottle of brandy, deciding he would have that second glass after all. “As you are aware,” he said as he poured out the amber liquid, “I didn’t grow up under the best of circumstances.” He put the glass to his lips, finishing half of it in one go.

“Yeah, you mentioned the whole orphaned cutpurse thing,” said Sara.

Rip’s voice grew distant. “Yes, the orphaned cutpurse thing.” He took a seat, slumping down in one of the study’s leather chairs, the glass still clutched in one hand. He continued speaking but avoided Sara’s eyes, unable to handle the pity he might see there. “I was orphaned at rather a young age, ended up on the streets doing what I could to survive, not the ideal place for celebrating birthdays, and what life I had before that I can scarcely recall. I certainly don’t recall having a birthday.”

“But afterwards you were at the Refuge,” Sara pointed out. “The Time Masters took you in.”

Rip nodded. “Yes, but it wasn’t like I had a convenient piece of paper to say I was born on such and such a date, and celebrating birthdays wasn’t something the Time Masters really encouraged.” He finished the rest of his drink focusing on the burn in his throat rather the shadows of memories which were trying to haunt him. Still unwilling to meet Sara’s eyes, he stared instead at the empty glass.

There was a moment of silence, and then Sara said, “So what.”

Rip looked up in surprise. There was no pity in Sara’s eyes, only sympathy and a lot of stubborn determination.

“You’re not an orphaned cutpurse anymore and you’re not a Time Master,” she said. “Pick a day and celebrate. Who cares if it’s not the right one.”

“Celebrate what?” said Rip, morosely.

Sara shrugged. “You, life, the fact you’re not dead yet,” she said. “Birthdays are days for taking a break, for treating yourself, and I can’t think of anyone who deserves that more than you.”

Rip let out a contemptuous huff of air. “And what exactly would I do?”

“Whatever the hell you want,” said Sara, tossing her hands into the air. “All of time and space, remember? Where do you want to go?”

Rip knew he was letting self-pity take over again but he couldn’t stop himself. “There’s only one place I want to go,” he told her, his voice darkening. “And you know I can’t.”

Sara sighed, loudly. “To see Miranda and Jonas,” she said, saying the names he couldn’t bring himself to. “I get it. I do, but you can still celebrate...”

“I’d really rather not,” said Rip, shaking his head. “If I were to suddenly start celebrating my birth, I’d want to do it with my family, and since I can’t, what’s the point?”

“Rip,” Sara protested, trying to get through to him one more time.

“Thank you, but no.” Rip got up deciding a third glass of brandy was in order. Turning his back to her, he once more filled his glass. “I appreciate what you’re trying to do, Sara,” he said, his voice taking on a more austere, authoritarian tone, what the team like to call his captain’s voice, “but you’re fighting for a lost cause. There will be no celebrating of my birthday or whatever day you’d like to pretend is my birthday. You’ll just have to wait until Mr. Jackson turns 22 for our next grand outing.”

Rip downed his third drink, already too numb to feel the burn as it went down. He could feel Sara’s eyes boring into the back of his head, but he kept his back to her until he heard her steps quietly leave the bridge.

Sighing loudly, he sat back down and rested his head on his hand. It was nice to know Sara cared even if she had unintentionally brought up some dark memories. She just didn’t understand that he’d never had the chance to develop the same nostalgic fondness for birthdays that she had. He was glad she had finally backed down. Hopefully, the matter would quickly be forgotten and they could all go back to their normal time travelling lives.

He would soon learn to never underestimate the stubbornness of Sara Lance.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Rip slowly began to suspect his crew were up to something. That was nothing new, of course. They were often up to something behind his back but those were usually small things like sneaking off to the nearest bar or borrowing the jumpship to go to a famous historical concert or running an experiment to combine the technology of the Atom suit with that of the galley’s coffee maker or trying to create an onboard distillery or using the fabricator to replicate enough bedding to make a giant pillowfort in the cargo bay.

This, by comparison, felt like something big.

Rip kept catching the team whispering behind his back. They’d stop their conversations the moment he entered a room and would send him odd looks or smile at him a tad too brightly. They also asked him odd questions, questions about his past, about his favourite things to do, and about whether he preferred chocolate or vanilla.

All of this was tingling the sixth sense he’d gained after months of having to put up with them, the one that let him know when they were up to no good. He tried questioning them but they all pleaded innocence, some more convincingly than others.

After a couple weeks of this, Rip finally broke down and asked Gideon what was going on.

“No one is performing any acts which may potentially harm the ship or the rest of the crew,” was the A.I.’s reply which wasn’t as reassuring as it sounded considering Gideon’s judgement of such matters wasn’t always good.

“But they are planning something,” Rip asserted.

“The crew appear to be planning various things at the moment. Dr. Palmer is planning to construct new parts for the Atom suit. Professor Stein is planning what to make for dinner. Mr. Rory is planning to steal Mr. Jackson’s last Kit Kat bar. Ms. Lance is planning...”

Rip groaned. “I meant planning something behind my back, something I would not approve of.” Gideon might be a computer but she didn’t usually take things quite so literally and Rip was beginning to suspect she was trying to avoid answering.

There was a pause before Gideon continued, something else that was unusual for the A.I. “What type of actions would not meet your approval?”

“Forget it,” Rip said and sighed. It seemed he would have to wait and see, brace himself for whatever was to come, because knowing this team, he would need to.

He didn’t have long to wait.

A few days later, Rip was woken up from what had been a nice peaceful sleep in his quarters by a violent jerk which shook the entire ship and threw him out of bed. Disoriented, tangled in his sheets on the floor, he was still cognizant enough to recognize the familiar feeling of a timejump.

“Gideon,” he called out as he disentangled himself. “Who’s flying the ship?”

“Ms. Lance,” the A.I. replied.

“What?!”

Getting up, he rushed out of his quarters and staggered down the shaking corridors towards the bridge. When he finally arrived, he was surprised to find not only Sara but the entire team strapped into their seats in front of the forward window.

“What the hell is going on?!” he demanded.

The team craned their necks around and grinned at him. “Happy birthday!” they cried.

Rip stared at them, completely bewildered. “What....?”

“Congratulations, Rip,” Sara called out from the pilot’s seat. “You are now approximately 35. Strap yourself in. We’re going on a little trip.”

Rip opened his mouth to protest but instead stumbled as the ship jerked once more, the Waverider still convulsing from its journey through the time stream. He would have fallen on his face but Mick, who had just unstrapped himself, lunged forward and grabbed Rip’s arm yanking him over and shoving him down into the seat beside him.

“You...” he grumbled as Mick pulled the restraint down over his head.

“Shut up and enjoy yourself,” was Mick’s reply.

Of all the things Rip had imagined his team committing mutiny for this was not one of them.

“This is ridiculous,” he cried. “You can’t just take over the ship. Gideon...”

Ray reached over and placed his hand over Rip’s mouth though he looked very apologetic as he did so.

Unable to speak, Rip glared back at him.

“Captain?” Gideon enquired, a touch of concern in her normally cheerful voice.

“Don’t worry, Gideon,” Sara reassured the A.I. “This is for his own good.”

Rip said something extremely rude and explicit but it was fortunately muffled by Ray’s hand which was still over his mouth.

“I assure you, Captain,” said Martin, “you have nothing to worry about. We have thought long and hard about this and have come up with the perfect way to celebrate your birthday. We have the whole day planned out.”

“Yeah,” Jax agreed. “You’ll have a great time. It’ll be just like all our other birthday trips.”

That did not reassure Rip in the slightest. He briefly considered trying to escape, activating Gideon’s mutiny protocols, and locking himself in his quarters for the rest of the day, but then he saw the earnest looks on the team’s faces, well, all except Mick’s. He just look extremely amused by what was going on. They really had done this all for him and they really were hoping he would have a good time. Fighting this would only lead to a very grumpy and very disappointed group of Legends.

Rip’s shoulders slumped as he resigned himself to his fate.

The time jump was long though not overly so, a few centuries by Rip’s guess. After so much time time travelling, he could tell just by the feel of the jump, but all he could see through the forward window as they emerged from the time stream was a glimpse of blue sky and some trees, so Rip was still left in the dark as to where they were when they landed.

“You’d better clean yourself up and get dressed,” said Sara as she got up from the pilot’s seat. “You’ll want to look nice.”

Rip, who coloured slightly when he recalled he was still in his nightclothes, said, “Any particular reason why?”

Sara raised an eyebrow as she gazed at him. “Well, I don’t think your mother will approve if you go out like that.”

Rip’s jaw dropped. “You didn’t.” He removed his restraints and jumped out of his seat. Lunging for the pilot console, he checked their coordinates. “You did. We’re at the Refuge. How did you even...?”

“Gideon helped us get in touch with your adopted mother, Ms. Xavier,” said Ray, a smug grin on his face. “She thought this was a great idea.”

“You’ve been conspiring behind my back with my mother?” Rip exclaimed. Why did that simple fact fill him with complete and utter terror?

“Relax,” said Sara, patting him on the back. “All we’ve been conspiring about is breakfast. Now hurry up and get dressed.”

Rip didn’t feel any better but he went and got dressed, various horrible scenarios playing in his head as he did so.

Once Rip was ready, they left the ship together and Mary Xavier was there waiting for them in front of the old Tudor house, a smile on her face and a twinkle of amusement in her eye.

“Well, Michael,” she said, using Rip’s birth name. “It seems congratulations are in order.”

“I can’t believe you went along with this,” he said, sullenly.

“Of course, I did,” she replied. “How often do I get to celebrate the birth of one of my children? Besides, I missed you. You don’t come around anywhere near enough you know.”

Rip grimaced. “I know.”

She gazed at him sympathetically though the amusement was still there in her eyes. “Cheer up. It’s your birthday.” Her expression became more serious as she added, admonishingly, “And stop slouching. Honestly, Michael, how many times do I have to tell you? No one is going to take you seriously if you keep slouching like that.”

“Yes, mother,” Rip replied automatically.

There was a snicker from behind him. He swung around and glared at the team but couldn’t figure out which of them it had done it.

“Come on,” said Ms. Xavier, taking his arm and escorting him inside. “I’ve got an enormous breakfast prepared for you, all your favourites.”

It was quite an enormous breakfast. The Refuge’s large dinning table was covered in plates of food: sausages and bacon, french toast and pancakes, baked beans and hash browns, eggs prepared in all types of ways, a large tureen of fruit salad, and a wide variety of pastries. The sight of it and the incredible smell of it made Rip’s mouth immediately start to water. He’d forgotten how much he had loved the food at the Refuge when he’d been living there.

The rest of the Legends seemed to agree with him about the food. They attacked it like ravenous beasts. The Refuge’s current occupants, at that point in its timeline a group of mischievous thirteen year olds, were fortunately occupied elsewhere so they had the place to themselves. There was little talk at first, mostly small talk concerning the deliciousness of the food, but eventually the team, as they tended to, grew a little noisier and a little rowdier.

That didn’t last long.

Without batting an eyelid and barely raising her voice, Ms. Xavier said, “Mr. Jefferson, food is for eating not throwing, and we will not be throwing the cutlery either, Ms. Lance. I don’t know what sort of things you get up to in your own homes but there will be no food fights at this table. Mr. Stein, at your age you should really know better. Mr. Palmer, if you would please refrain from talking with your mouth full, and Mr. Rory, I know what you’re thinking and I will not have that sort of behaviour in this house.”

Thoroughly chastised, the team, even surprisingly Mick, quieted down and took on rather more civilized behaviour.

Rip’s lips twisted into an amused smile. No one gave a dressing down quite like his mother and it was nice to have someone else tell off the team for a change.

Jax meanwhile turned to Martin, eyes wide, and said in what was probably meant to be a whisper but which still managed to carry across the table, “So that’s where Rip gets it from.”

Pointedly ignoring that remark, Ms. Xavier said, “So tell me what you’ve been getting up to. Are you still getting yourself into trouble wherever you go, Michael?”

Martin’s eyebrows rose in curiosity. “I wasn’t aware getting into trouble was a long standing habit of, um, Michael’s.”

“Oh, yes,” replied Ms. Xavier. “Ever since he first arrived. There was barely a moment when he wasn’t in some sort of trouble.”

Sara cast a sly look in Rip’s direction. “Please tell us more.”

“Yeah, with lots of embarrassing detail,” added Mick, between bites of raspberry tart.

Rip’s eyes widened. “I really don’t think that’s such a good idea,” he said, hastily.

“Nonsense,” replied his mother, patting him on the arm. “You really worry too much about these sort of things.” Addressing the others once more, she said, “Other than his tendency to make certain things disappear...” She gave Rip a pointed look. “...one of his favourite things to do when he was living here was to go out on the roof. He used to sneak out through one of the upper windows. I was worried he’d fall and break his neck, so I forbid him to do so. He didn’t listen, of course; then one day he went and got himself stuck up there. One of the other children closed the window and he couldn’t get back inside, and instead of calling for help like a sensible person, he tried to climb down.”

“Did he make it?” asked Ray.

Ms. Xavier shook her head. “Fell when he was about half-way.” She turned to Rip. “Was that the first time you broke your arm or the second?”

“Second,” Rip admitted reluctantly.

“Right,” she said. “That was after you fell out of the chestnut tree.” She paused and pursed her lips thoughtfully. “No, that time you broke your leg. You broke your arm when you were walking along the top of the fence in the back garden.”

“He fall off a lot of things?” asked Sara, her lips curving into a teasing smirk.

Rip glared at her. The rest of the team were showing equal signs of amusement.

“Off of things and into things,” replied Ms. Xavier. “He’s been in the infirmary more than any of my other children. There was this one time when one of the members of the council was visiting and Michael...”

“Mother!” Rip cried, desperately trying to stop her from saying more.

“The poor man was traumatized for life.”

Rip gave her a pleading look.

“Alright,” she said. “I won’t tell that story.”

The Legends gave audible sounds of disappointment.

“Oh,” she declared, suddenly. “Then there was the time he ruined my favourite set of curtains. You won’t believe what he was trying to do with them.”

The Legends perked up and Rip groaned, his face flushing a brilliant shade of red. His mother, however, didn’t show the slightest sign of remorse as she continued the tale.

After Ms. Xavier had, for the moment at least, run out of stories, Rip had died multiple times of embarrassment, and the team had stuffed themselves with more than enough food, Sara declared it was time to move on to the next part of Rip’s birthday celebration.

The team took their leave and Rip’s normally prim and proper mother surprised him by giving him a hug goodbye.

He hugged her back tightly.

Once they were done, Ms. Xavier pulled back and took his face in her hands. “My dear boy,” she said. “You will take care of yourself, won’t you?”

“I will,” Rip replied. “I promise.”

“And look after those friends of yours too,” she added. “They’re something special.”

Rip made a face. “Special isn’t quite the word I’d use.”

His mother gazed at him chidingly.

Rip rolled his eyes. “I’ll look after them,” he promised. “After all, someone has to.”

After they'd finished their goodbyes, Rip returned to the Waverider and the awaiting team.

“Well...” he began unsure what to say. “That was...”

“That was only the beginning,” said Sara. “We’ve still got a lot more celebrating to do.”

“Must we?” said Rip, shoulders slumping once more. “Visiting my mother was enjoyable, for the most part, but surely that was enough.”

But the team had already grabbed ahold of him and were dragging him off to the bridge where they happily strapped him back into a seat. When they arrived at their next destination, Rip was almost too nervous to see where they’d ended up. When he finally found out, he was at first confused, and then his eyes widened with realization.

“Please tell me you haven’t...” he began.

“Oh, it took some research,” said Ray, his grin an especially wide one even for him. “But we were able to track him down to this very time and place.”

The feeling of complete and utter dread was back. “This is not going to end well,” Rip said but he went with the team without another complaint as they got dressed in period appropriate clothing, though he did make a quick side trip to ensure Gideon had the medbay ready just in case.

The only person who felt more consternation about the situation than Rip was Jonah Hex when he looked up from his seat at a back table of the nearly empty saloon to find five faces grinning down at him and one gazing at him rather glumly.

Jonah’s eyes widened and he nearly fell out of his chair. “My God,” he exclaimed. “Haven’t you people caused enough damage ‘round here?”

“This wasn’t my idea,” Rip declared quickly, raising his hands.

“I assure you we don’t intend to cause any trouble,” said Martin. “We’re just here to celebrate the captain’s birthday.”

“You’re here to do what?” said Jonah in disbelief

Rip sighed. “Apparently, the team’s decided I need to celebrate my birthday whether I’d like to or not, and for some reason, they thought I might like to spend some of it with you.”

Jonah snorted. “You have my sympathies.”

“What’s wrong with wanting to have a birthday celebration?” Jax protested.

“Well, you’ve certainly picked a great place for it,” said Jonah, nodding at their surroundings, the admittedly rather squalid and run down saloon.

“You’re a worse party pooper than Rip,” said Sara, shaking her head. “We came here to celebrate.”

“And I came here for a quiet drink,” said Jonah. “Not much chance of that with you lot hanging ‘round. Don’t suppose you’d consider moseying straight back to that ship of yours.”

“Not until we’ve done what we need to do,” said Ray with a nod of determination. “Mick?”

“Bring on the booze!” Mick exclaimed.

Booze was soon had by everyone severed to them by a rather wary and bemused barman. Rip took a seat beside Hex glad to see him despite the circumstances and glad to have at least one person who commiserated with his circumstances. The others all gathered randomly around the table creating a rather interesting spectacle for the rest of the patrons to stare at.

As they drank, the team began prodding Jonah for tales about his bounty hunting and for tales about Rip’s time in the Old West. They insisted it was because they were there to celebrate their captain but Rip had a feeling they were just searching for more embarrassing stories. This lead to Jonah and Rip jointly telling a long tale about how they’d tracked down a gang of kidnappers across the desert which lead to an even longer argument between the two of them about who exactly had fired the shot which had killed the gang’s leader.

“You've got it all wrong,” said Rip, shaking his head. “It was my bullet that hit him. Your bullet went wide. All yours did was knock his hat off.”

“Like hell it did,” said Hex. “We both know I’m the better shot. Hell, I’m the one who taught you how to shoot in the first place.”

“I did know a thing or two about guns before I met you.”

“Yeah, everything except how to aim them.”

This in turn lead to an inevitable shooting match. Rip and Jonah stood in the middle of the town square aiming at more and more difficult targets while the team watched and cheered. It was Rip who won, hitting the arrowhead of a weathervane on top of a building at the other end of the street while it was turning in the wind, but Hex immediately declared he had only let Rip win because it was his birthday. There would have been a rematch but the town’s sheriff emerged and it soon became clear they were in danger of being run out of town, so they returned to the saloon to have more drinks.

It might have been the alcohol but Rip found he wasn't having as bad a time as he’d expected. It was good to spend time with Jonah even when they argued, which happened rather often. He’d almost forgotten how much he enjoyed the man’s company. And it was good to be back in this time period enjoying the familiar sights, smells, and sounds of the Old West. He was really starting to enjoy himself.

That is until the gang of armed desperadoes, whom Jonah had conveniently forgot to mention were tracking him, appeared and a giant gun fight erupted in the middle of the saloon.

The good guys won, thankfully, though the saloon was thoroughly trashed. Rip shook his head as he gazed at the broken furniture and fallen desperadoes. He'd known something like this would happen. He was just grateful to have gotten through the chaotic fight without getting shot. Actually technically, he had gotten shot but the bullet only grazed his cheek so it didn’t count. The team also survived intact and emerged from the fight in good spirits, feeling energized and pleased to have participated in a real Old West gun fight once more.

Hex looked at their cheery faces and the messed up bar, and said to Rip, “You know these friends of yours are crazier than a pack of rabid coyotes.”

Rip nodded. “Oh, yes,” he said. “Trust me, I know.”

After the fight, they decided it was best to leave before anymore desperadoes showed up or before they really were run out of town, neither the sheriff nor the barman feeling particularly welcoming towards them at that moment.

“It was good to see you again, my friend,” said Rip as he shook hands with Jonah.

“Likewise,” said Hex, squeezing his hand warmly. “And I’m grateful for your help and all, but maybe next time, you leave the rest of your team at home for the sake of my life and my sanity.”

Giving him a wry smile, Rip said, “I’ll try to but I’m beginning to think I’m stuck with them.”

“Well, you could do worse,” Jonah replied, a smirk crossing his scarred face.

Back on the Waverider, Rip didn’t even bother protesting as Sara flew them to their final destination. He just sat back and waited for whatever disaster was to come next.

“So where are we this time?” he asked somewhat apprehensively when they’d landed.

“Why don’t you go out and see for yourself?” said Sara, smiling an impish smile.

He gazed at her warily but got up from his seat and headed out of the ship.

Outside, it was a warm summer evening and the sun was nearing the horizon, streaking the blue sky with pink and purple. They were in what appeared to be a park, situated in the midst of a grassy hillside dotted with large boulders and surrounded by clusters of fir trees. Everything was very quiet and peaceful, the only sound the faint echo of bird songs in the distance.

“Where is this place?” he breathed.

“Falcon Stone Park,” said Sara from behind him having followed him off the ship. “It’s just on the outskirts of Star City. Dad used to take Laurel and I up here sometimes. I thought it would be perfect for this last little part of our celebration.”

“For what exactly?” asked Rip.

“For our picnic,” Sara replied.

Rip’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “That actually sounds rather nice.”

Sara shrugged. “I thought you’d like something a little calmer to end with,” she said with a knowing smile.

As usual, she was right.

The team brought out large armfuls of supplies from the ship and spread out blankets over the grass upon which they set out piles of food and more alcohol as if they hadn’t had enough already. There was even a large cake with candles which they made Rip blow out as they sang Happy Birthday to him, some with rather more talent than others.

They talked and ate and drank until the sun set and the stars appeared.

“Are you sure this is such a good idea?” Rip asked later as they watched Mick and Ray set up a fireworks display.

“Sure it is,” Sara reassured him. “After all who knows more about pyrotechnics than Mick. Besides, Ray will keep an eye on him.”

“I suppose,” Rip replied, unconvinced.

Taking a hold of his arm, Sara leaned her head on his shoulder. “So what did you think about this whole birthday thing?”

“It’s been... interesting,” said Rip.

Sara rolled her eyes. “You enjoyed yourself. Admit it.”

A crooked smile appeared on Rip’s face. “There may have been a few times when things were not completely unpleasant,” he confessed.

Sara gave an amused snort before growing serious once more. “I’m sorry you couldn’t spend it how you wanted to,” she said.

Rip thought about his mother and about Jonah; then he gazed over at Jax and Martin who were squabbling over the last piece of cake, at Ray who was busy trying to keep a particularly large firework away from Mick, at Sara by his side resting her head on his shoulder as she gazed lazily up at the stars.

“I wanted to spend my birthday with my family,” he said. “And I did.”

As the team clustered together on the picnic blankets watching the fireworks shoot upward and explode among the stars, Rip found himself filled with a contentment he hadn’t felt in a long time. Maybe birthdays weren’t so bad, he thought as the Legends oohed and aahed at the shimmering, sparkling lights.

Parts 13 - 14

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