The nightmare was always the same…cobbled together images of that god-awful day the aliens tried to level Central City.
Him and Mick, striding through the wreckage of STAR Labs, guns at the ready. No one answering the comms. No sign of the lab’s usual denizens…just ruined and broken equipment, and blood. A lot of blood.
Finding Caitlin and Sara huddled together in the supply closet. Sara nearly bleeding out before Caitlin can get her stabilized.
Ramon in a coma and unable to tell anyone where or when he tried to vibe Lisa…and the baby.
His eyes blinked open in the darkness. Sara was still asleep. Good. At least he hadn’t disturbed her this time. She needed to rest and to heal.
Leonard hated this place - always had. The sunlight never seemed to filter through to the streets, and the crumbling bricks and wrought iron - not to mention the goddamned army of gargoyles - gave the place an overdone air of melodrama. And then there was the local criminal element, who apparently had all been raised on a steady diet of penny dreadfuls as bedtime stories during their formative years.
Still, they weren’t planning on moving in. They were here to work. Two low level anachronisms. Something to ease Sara back into field work. She’d been holed up with Gideon, searching for Lisa and their baby, long past the point of any hope. At first, when her body had needed so much rest and recuperation, he hadn’t objected to the long hours spent in the study, but now…now it was time to give her something else to focus on. So…work.
“Come on, birdie,” he coaxed, holding out his hand. “Fresh air’ll do you good.”
“Fresh air? Here?” But she did set her hand in his and step off the ship.
Leonard reveled in that for a few minutes - walking through city streets with Sara’s small, warm, hand clasped firmly in his. He was a trifle twitchy about having left the cold gun back aboard the Waverider, but he knew Sara never went anywhere unarmed, and he was pretty formidable himself.
“Any idea what we’re looking for?” Sara asked after a few minutes pleasant wandering.
“Actually...no. All Gideon has so far is two people who don’t belong here. She‘s working on it, but you know some of her memory banks were damaged in the attack.”
“And it’s not like there’s anyplace we can go to get a timeship fixed. Sooooo…we’re just gonna wander around one of the largest and most dangerous cities in the country and hope we fall over two anachronistic people. That’s your plan?”
“To be fair, it is one of the largest and most dangerous cities in the country. I suspect we’ll find something to keep us occupied.”
“Still…two people displaced in time. Do you think…?” Sara’s tone was wistful.
“I don’t know if I can bring myself to hope,” Leonard confessed. “All I know is that we still have a job to do.”
Sara grinned, and bumped her shoulder against his, and most importantly - kept walking.
That was how they coped, these days - one foot in front of the other. Sara hadn’t really been comfortable in Star City since was she was, well…murdered…there, and neither of them could bear to be in Central any longer. The parts of the city still in ruins seemed to echo the gaping wounds in both their hearts. And the bits that had been paved over and repaired - all shiny and new - seemed to insult their tragedy. And so they ran, and tried to stay two steps ahead of their pain.
It really didn’t take long at all before their path was barred by a police investigation. They joined the crowd milling around as the police collared a couple of morons wearing - seriously? Zoot suits. Len just shook his head at the idiocy, then froze as he felt a small hand in his pocket.
“I don’t think so,” he murmured in a low, dangerous tone, one hand locking around the wrist of his hapless assailant. He glanced down and his eyes widened fractionally with…recognition? Surely not.
The would-be thief was a teenaged girl with a mop of wild, curly hair and startling greenish-grey eyes. She smoothly adopted an innocent smile, though her eyes kept their glint of mischief.
“I’m really sorry, sir. Someone pushed me.”
Sara just stared with a raised eyebrow.
“Selina!” one of the police officers bellowed.
Len and Sara exchanged glances at the name, but retained their composure in the face of rapidly approaching law enforcement.
“Good afternoon, Detective Gordon,” the girl replied, still in wide-eyed innocent mode.
“Please tell me you’re not involved in anything going on here right now,” the detective demanded.
“Of course not.”
The detective clearly didn’t buy that, but he had quite enough on his plate just then. His eyes flickered to Len and Sara, and his expression hardened the tiniest bit as his instincts kicked in. Something about the two of them hinted of barely contained violence.
“That so, sir?” was all he said, however.
“It is,” Len affirmed smoothly. “Kid just bumped into me in the crowd. No harm done.”
“All right,” the detective agreed, in that same mild tone, though something in his eyes belied the sentiment. He turned back to the girl. “Go home. Please. Or go to Wayne Manor. I don’t care. Just…stay clear of this, all right?”
“Of course, Detective,” she replied sweetly.
The detective looked as though he had more to say, but a fellow officer chose that moment to call him back to the crime scene. The girl took the opportunity to melt away into the crowd.
Len felt Sara shiver slightly beside him, and tightened his grip on her hand, looking around for someplace a bit less crowded. He tugged her towards an alley. His mind was whirling - a teenaged pick pocket (quite talented, actually, if her mark had been the tourist she mistook him for), who bore a startling resemblance to Lisa at the same age and…
“Selina,” Sara murmured. “That’s the name…” She leaned into him, obviously in need of contact just then, regardless of the not-so-private location.
“The name we chose for the baby,” he acknowledged, wrapping his arms around her, in need of a bit of contact and comfort himself just then. “Lisa knew that.”
Sara tilted her head up to look at him, eyes wide with…shock? That same odd recognition he’d felt? “There’s no way…right?”
“The time frame is all wrong,” he replied thoughtfully.
“I still dream about her,” Sara murmured into the front of his jacket.
“I couldn’t save her for you. I should have…”
“You had just given birth with an army of pissed off aliens dismantling the building around you. You get a pass. If anything, I should have -”
“You were out there with Barry and the others, trying to keep them from trashing the rest of the city.”
“I should have been with you. We both failed her.”
Sara nodded, trying to hold back tears, long after she thought she’d used up her lifetime allotment. Then she froze. “There’s someone watching us,” she whispered.
Len didn’t move, just raised his eyes to the network of fire escapes that lined the walls. He didn’t see anyone.
Far above, Selina Kyle observed the couple curiously. She wasn’t sure exactly why they attracted her. They didn’t look particularly rich or easy marks. The opposite, in fact. She was pretty sure she didn’t want to get on the wrong side of them.
She shrugged it off and headed across the roof. Plenty of easy targets to be found in some neighborhood where Jim Gordon wasn‘t.
Len and Sara smiled and tried to look benign and friendly as they waited for the butler to open the door to the vast mansion. They’d spoken through the security box at the gate, then walked down the drive after it opened.
“Well, then,” the immaculately dressed man greeted them pleasantly enough. “You’re looking for Miss Kyle, are you? I’m afraid she’s not here at the moment. I’d offer to take a message, but we’re never quite sure when she’ll turn up.”
A quick glance of appraisal had Sara discarding their original plan to tell a half-truth about discovering a missing valuable after their encounter in the city. She’d grown up with Ollie and Tommy, and knew a body guard when she saw one. The accent had her leaning towards former SAS. She strongly suspected that anything less than utter truthfulness would be detected - and dealt with. She touched Len’s arm before he could speak.
“Actually…we’re searching for our daughter, and my sister in law. We encountered Miss Kyle briefly in the city, and a Detective Gordon mentioned that she might come here.”
Alfred could only imagine the circumstances, if Jim Gordon was present. And he mentally cursed the man for leading these two to Master Bruce’s doorstep. There was clearly a great deal not being said. And yet…the pain and grief in that woman’s eyes was real enough. He smiled blandly, trying to think how to get rid of them before -
“Alfred? Do we have guests?”
Alfred sighed quietly, then stepped back, opening the door. “Master Bruce, this lady and gentleman are searching for their daughter. They were hoping to speak with Miss Kyle.”
The young man smiled. “Won’t you please come in?”
Bruce Wayne smiled at his guests as they sipped their tea. “So, you’re from Central City? I’d love to see the particle accelerator someday.”
“What for?” Alfred asked, passing a plate of biscuits. “You’ve seen the one outside Geneva, haven’t you? And that one didn’t blow up and kill people, did it?”
“That’s the Large Hadron Collider. It’s not the same thing,” Bruce objected.
“Well, it’s in a much safer neighborhood, in’it? No masked crazies flying about the place.”
Len carefully smothered a smile, being well acquainted with a few of the ‘masked crazies.’
“Forgive me,” Bruce apologized, “you’re here trying to find your daughter. That’s not a laughing matter. How can we help?”
Sara steeled herself, then began speaking. “Our daughter was born the day the aliens landed in Central City.”
“But that was just a few months ago. You’re looking for a baby,” Bruce concluded. “How is it that you think Selina can help?”
Leonard leaned forward a bit. “The aliens were right outside STAR Labs when Sara gave birth. My sister took the baby and tried to escape. Your friend Selina bears an uncanny resemblance to my sister at the same age. She also has certain…skills that Lisa could have taught her.”
Alfred stepped forward smartly. “Ah. Right, then. Mr. Snart, Ms. Lance, I am truly sorry for your loss, but I believe this to be a case for a grief counselor, not a missing persons investigation. May I see you out?” His tone left no room for negotiation.
“No - wait!” Bruce exclaimed. “They’re sad, yes, maybe even heartbroken, but they’re not out of their minds with grief. Please, tell me…why would you think Selina could be your daughter?”
Sara sucked in another deep breath. “All right. Those ‘masked crazies’ in Central City? They’re metahumans, ordinary people who gained extra abilities when the particle accelerator exploded. One of them is our friend, Cisco. He’s a tech genius, and he has the ability to open breaches in time and space. He was trying to send Lisa and the baby to safety, and he took a hit. He was in a coma, and when he woke up, he had no memory of where or when he was trying to send them.”
“So, it’s possible that they could have been sent here, to Gotham, but years in the past?” Bruce asked intently.
“Master Bruce, I really must -”
“Yes,” Leonard stated firmly. “It is possible.”
“Well, anything’s possible, now, in’it mate? Give me a ‘probable’ or even ‘feasible,’ and then we’ll talk, won’t we?”
Bruce felt the breeze from the French door and spoke without bothering to turn around.
“You met a man and a woman in the city today. Detective Gordon said something that led them here looking for you.”
“OK, Bruce that is seriously creepy. How’d you know it was me?”
“Because it’s always you coming in that window.”
“And if it had been a burglar this time?” Selina demanded in exasperation.
Bruce smiled as she climbed up the back of the sofa, then swung around so her legs dangled next to him. “Technically, you are a burglar. But if it had been someone else, they would have been thrown off by me being creepy.”
Selina sighed rather theatrically. “Sometimes, you’re just weird, you know that? Anyway, I hope you told those people that they had the wrong house and you never heard of me.”
Selina slid down onto the seat so she could face him properly. “Bruce. What. Did. You Tell. Them?”
“It’s more what they told me,” he began. “They’re from Central City -”
“Wait. Where that …thing exploded -”
“Particle accelerator -”
“And they have all those weird people who can fly and stuff, and aliens, and those Nazis from another Earth? I mean, not that I believe all that crap -”
“It’s true,” Bruce told her earnestly. “It’s all true. And it makes what they had to say a lot easier to believe.”
“Bruce, they’re obviously running a con. I only saw them for a couple of minutes, but they’re definitely some kinda players -”
“They think they might be your parents.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah. Like I said. Con artists.”
“Why? What do they have to gain?”
Selina made a show of looking around at their surroundings. “Oh, let me see, I can think of a billion or so reasons.”
“Selina, no one could make up something so improbable. I really do think they’re telling the truth. I think you should talk to them.”
“Why? So they can make up some sob story about how they just had to leave me, but now that I’m friends with a super-rich guy, they just happened to find me? I don‘t think so.”
“Selina, they didn’t abandon you. They were trying to send you to safety, and something went wrong.”
“Listen. Their daughter was born the night of the alien invasion -”
“Which was just a few months back.” She looked rather pointedly down at herself. “Hello? Sixteen year old. Not infant.”
“Will you listen? They have a friend who can open these…portals…in time and space. He was trying to send the baby someplace safe, but he got hurt, and when he woke up, he couldn’t remember where he was trying to send her.”
“Time and space? Will you listen to yourself?”
“Selina, you have a chance that these might be your parents, that you can have them back. That’s a chance that I’ll never have. How can you turn your back on that?”
“That’s a chance for nothing but a world of hurt.”
“If they’re lying, we turn them over to Detective Gordon. Unless…you‘re afraid to learn the truth?”
She shot him a look. “I’m not afraid of anything.”
Alfred politely ushered Selina and Bruce into the coffee shop, then firmly pushed the door shut in front of Sara and Snart.
“I did a bit of digging on the two of you,” he informed them in a bland tone. “You, Mr. Snart, have very spotty records, save for a conviction for murdering your own dad. Not that he was any great loss to society, but still. And you, Ms. Lance - how many times have you died?”
“Died, or been reported dead?” she asked lightly.
“Be that as it may…that little girl’s been on her own most of her life. People hurt her, until she learned to push ‘em away, so’s they couldn’t do it no more. So what I’m telling you is this - you hurt that girl, and I will hunt you down.”
Sara cracked a small smile. “We wouldn’t expect any less.”
“Right then.” Alfred opened the door smartly, inclining his head slightly to Sara.
The five settled at a table and Bruce made introductions. Selina did her best to remain unimpressed by the couple before her. They were certainly an interesting pair, and she was immensely grateful that they didn’t immediately launch into the whole tearful-long-lost-parent routine.
Instead, the man - Mr. Snart - slid a photograph across the table to her. “Do you know this woman?” he asked with quiet intensity.
“That’s Ivy,” Bruce blurted.
Sara snickered as Selina shot him a look that was quite likely accompanied by a kick under the table.
“That’s my sister, Lisa,” Leonard said in a very careful tone. “The night our daughter was born, she tried to get her to safety. The man who was…transporting them…was hurt, and he couldn’t tell us where he’d sent them.”
Alfred studied the couple across the table carefully. They were…well, not quite soldiers, but…something. Something that had taught them to conceal their emotions, but there were cracks now. Glimmers of hope in both their eyes.
“She took care of me when I was little,” Selina said slowly. “Then, one night, she went out on a job and didn’t come back, not for a long time. And when she did, she was…different.”
“We haven’t seen her in a while,” Bruce added.
Alfred looked thoughtful. “All right. Let’s say that Ivy is your sister. She arrives here with your baby daughter, she’s got to know you’d be frantic - why didn’t she get in touch with you? You lot - you talk about traveling in time and space, surely you’ve got something to communicate with?”
“We need special equipment to communicate across time,” Sara began.
“Well, that’s convenient, in’it?”
Sara tensed, and Leonard laid a hand on her arm. “When I went out to join in the defense of the city, we didn’t realize how bad it would get. We thought STAR Labs was secure. I never would have left Sara there otherwise. They may not have had time to grab the correct equipment, it could have been damaged in transit, Lisa could have been injured - there’s no way to know what happened.”
Try as he might to hold onto his cool exterior, Leonard’s voice was cracking on the final words.
Sara looked down at the tabletop and swallowed. “I don’t recall much. The building started to shake while I was in labor. There was debris falling all around us, and electronics shorting out…my memories are spotty.”
“You almost bled to death,” Leonard reminded her.
Bruce nudged Selina’s arm. “See? They didn’t abandon you.”
“OK, you know what? This whole thing is just crazy.” Selina leaned back in her seat and crossed her arms with a rebellious expression.
Leonard looked at her with a warmth in his eyes that was usually reserved for Lisa or Sara. “I know, kid. That was pretty much my first reaction. But we can prove that we’re telling the truth.”
“And how’d you do that then?” Alfred inquired.
“The same way the man who recruited us proved it,” Sara relied. “We take you back to our ship and you see for yourselves. We’ve also a got a pretty good computer that can run a DNA scan.”
“Or we could take a little trip to GCPD and let their forensics fellow run a DNA test,” Alfred countered.
And that’s when all hell broke loose.
Patrons screamed as a hail of bullets shattered the windows. Alfred drew a handgun and dragged the two youngsters down to the floor. Sara’s bo materialized in her hands as Leonard helped himself to the knife sheathed at the small of her back.
The drive-by ended as quickly as it began. People picked themselves up from the floor as sirens wailed in the distance. And Bruce then let out a cry of dismay at the blood staining Selina’s shirt. Alfred grabbed a wad of napkins from the table, pressing them to the wound, and grabbing Bruce’s hand to hold it in place.
“Hospital,” he muttered, pulling out his cell phone.
“Our ship is closer,” Sara said urgently.
“How much closer?” Bruce asked.
“The park,” Leonard told him.
Alfred looked unconvinced. “You swear to me - swear to me - that you can save her.”
“We can,” Sara promised.
“Alfred,” Bruce said quietly. “I believe them.”
Leonard held Selina tightly as Alfred sped through the city streets. She was just a kid…and she might be his daughter. Either way…
Sara tapped her comm. “Mick, we’re inbound for the medbay. Have Gideon prep for a GSW.”
“Is Gideon a doctor?” Bruce asked, face pale, and hands stained with his friend’s blood.
“Something like that.”
Mick met them at the cargo hatch. He stared in wonder at the girl in his partner’s arms. “That the kid?”
“Maybe,” Leonard replied tightly as he strode down the corridor.
“She looks just like Lisa at that age.”
“I know,” Leonard ground out as he set her gently in the medical chair and snapped a bracelet on her wrist. “Gideon!”
“Of course, Mr. Snart.”
Bruce stared in open curiosity, and Alfred in lingering disbelief, as lights flickered and readings flashed across screens.
Finally, Gideon announced, “Miss Snart is completely healed and should regain consciousness shortly.”
“Wait - what?” Alfred exclaimed, as Sara reached out to clutch Len’s hand.
“DNA analysis shows this to be Selina Snart, or Lance, if you prefer. Daughter of Leonard Snart and Sara Lance, born earlier this year at STAR Labs, in Central City.”
Sara all but collapsed into Leonard’s arms.
“Boss…it’s really her?” Mick asked.
“It is, indeed, Mr. Rory,” Gideon replied, sounding rather smug about the whole thing. “I might also add, she is one of the anachronisms you were searching for.”
Sara lifted her face from Len’s chest. “Wait. Two people, displaced in time and space. So, if one is our daughter, than the other should be Lisa?”
“I…regret that I am unable to provide a definitive answer, Captain.”
Selina slowly blinked her eyes open and looked around. “So…it’s all true?” she asked slowly.
Alfred glanced shrewdly at the two women staring contemplatively at one another. “I don’t know about you lot, but I could bloody well use a drink!”
“Man after my own heart,” Mick agreed, clapping him on the back.
Len laid a hand on Sara’s shoulder and leaned down to speak in her ear. “I’m guessing you ladies need a moment?”
“Yeah, I think we do.”
He dropped a kiss to the top of her head, and took one last, lingering glance at his…their…daughter. “Come on, gentlemen, I’ll show you where we keep the good stuff.”
Bruce grinned at Selina as he followed the older men out of medbay. Her eyes trailed after him, then turned back to Sara.
“So, you really didn’t abandon me?”
“No, we didn’t.”
“And all this - this spaceship - it’s real?”
“And it can travel in time?”
“So why can’t you just go back to that night? Find baby me and take care of me? We could be a real family.”
“Because it doesn’t work that way.”
“Of course not,” Selina snorted.
Sara sighed. “Look, going back in time and trying to change your own life just messes things up. Ask your…ask Leonard.” Sara looked up and smiled at the girl in front of her. “And besides…everything that you are now? You made that for yourself. Maybe it wasn’t easy, but…you are someone pretty extraordinary, and I look forward to getting to know you.”
Selina cocked her head to one side, thoughtfully. “Do I have to call you Mom?”
Sara smiled. “Do you want to?”
Selina hesitated. “I…don’t know. Yet.”
“That’s OK,” Sara assured her. “We’ll figure it out…together.”
Leonard poured each man a generous measure of one of Rip’s finer brandies. He glanced at Bruce, then splashed a bit into a glass and handed it to him. Bruce took a tentative sip, then screwed up his face in disgust. Mick guffawed, and Alfred smiled tolerantly at his young charge.
Leonard eyed at him speculatively. “So, tell me…what are your intentions toward my daughter?”
Selina sat cross-legged on top of one of the galley tables, surrounded by a variety of goodies conjured from the Waverider’s food replicator. Bruce sat rather more correctly in a chair. His proper posture did nothing to diminish his appreciation of the sweets they were sampling.
“Are you going to live here now?” Bruce asked.
Selina licked icing off her fingers and looked around. “I…don’t know.”
“But your parents live here, and you just got them back. Don’t you want to -”
“Look, it’s complicated, all right? I’ve lived in Gotham my whole life.”
“Mostly on the street. This is a space ship!”
“I’m not gonna abandon Ivy, just for two people who literally turned up yesterday!”
Mick wandered in and rummaged around for a beer, then stopped to stare at Selina, mouth twitching in the beginnings of an affectionate (and approving) grin.
“Who’re you?” she demanded.
“I’m yer Uncle Mick,” the big man told them, dragging over a chair and reaching out uninvited for a cupcake.
Bruce tipped his head to one side curiously. “Are you Ms. Lance’s brother, or Mr. Snart’s? You don’t really resemble either of them.”
“Neither. I’m still her uncle.”
Selina grinned, a speculative glint in her eyes as she sensed a potential partner in rule breaking. “Anyone else?”
“Lisa really is yer aunt - she’s Snart’s baby sister. Sara’s dad is in Star City, and her mom is…somewhere. I forget. Then there’s Team Flash, and Team Arrow - hell, there’s folks on a couple other Earths that’d come running if you needed help. Thing is, kid, you may not have a lot of blood relatives, but you got a helluva lot of family.”
Sara, Leonard, and Alfred entered the galley at that point.
“Mind if we join you?” Len drawled, dragging over a chair and sitting in it wrong-way-round.
“It’s your ship,” Selina said with a half-shrug.
“It’s amazing!” Bruce said enthusiastically. “I almost wish I could come live here.”
Selina shot him a glare. “I’m not going anywhere until we find out what happened to Ivy!” she declared rebelliously.
Sara laid a hand on her daughter’s knee. “Hey. Neither are we.”
“If I may?” Alfred interjected diffidently. “With your approval, Master Bruce, p’raps the Snarts - all three of them - might stay with us, at Wayne Manor, while they search for Mr. Snart’s sister?”
“Yes, of course,” Bruce replied immediately. “Perhaps Detective Gordon might be able to assist them?”
Selina crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. “I like how you’re all just assuming that I’ll go along with whatever you say. I can disappear pretty well when I put my mind to it.”
“How can you be so selfish?” Bruce demanded, before any of the adults could speak. “You’ve got a family! A real, living family that wants you!”
“Wants you to come live in their space ship, of all things,” Alfred muttered. “Rather an improvement over the streets of Gotham.”
Finally, it was Leonard who spoke, his usual drawl laced with weariness. “Look, kid…no one’s going to shanghai you. We know it’s been a lot longer for you than it was for us.”
Sara took his hand. “We want you with us, but we know you have connections here. We’re not going anywhere until we figure out what happened to Lisa. There’s time for us to get used to each other.”
Selina eyed them speculatively. “If I was to live here - if - do I get my own room?”
“Of course,” Sara replied, as Len visibly relaxed.
The tiniest bit of a smirk twitched at Selina‘s lips. “And a cat?”
“We’ll talk about it,” Sara said.
“Yes,” Leonard declared simultaneously.
Sara glared at him. “Ray is allergic,” she hissed.
“Gideon can deal with Raymond. If my kid wants a cat, she gets a cat.”
Selina grinned at Bruce, looking rather like a cat that had got into the cream herself.