"I believe you said something about my counterpart as well?"
"He called himself Deathstorm."
Jax paused in the hallway, stopping himself from entering the room. The first voice had been Gray's, calm and proper, but the second had been Cisco's, shaken and uncertain. Jax thought Cisco was pretty cool, but he didn't have the same relationship with the other man that Gray did. He didn't want to interrupt. He turned to leave.
"He... it was Ronnie. You and Ronnie. But, but it wasn't." Cisco's voice shuddered and stumbled, hesitantly getting the words out in a broken tone.
Jax paused. Gray didn't talk about Ronnie very much, and he understood why, but he was curious about that other world. Curious about what Firestorm was like without him.
"I assume our counterparts were evil as well, given the name?" Gray asked, keeping his voice calm, gently coaxing Cisco to continue.
Cisco let out a strangled noise, half cry of frustration, half sob. Jax reconsidered his eavesdropping – this was clearly something emotional that the professor had encouraged Cisco to get out into the open, a private conversation between only the two of them. They'd been holed up together for a while now, who knew what else they'd already talked about.
"That's the thing!" Cisco cried out before Jax could come to a decision on whether to stay or leave. "Ronnie was evil. You... I, I asked him about you."
Jax could feel Gray's concern, imagined him reaching out and putting a gentle hand on Cisco's shoulder. Hesitant, because Gray didn't think he was any good at the emotional stuff, but comforting, because Gray actually was pretty damn good when it came to empathy and sympathy and compassion.
"And?" Gray gently prompted.
A moment's pause. "He said, said he hadn't let you out in years," Cisco choked out. "Said you hadn't spoken in a long time."
Jax froze even more than before, tensing up immediately. His mind repeated the words Cisco had just said, trying to process the idea of it. One phrase in particular ("hadn't let you out in years") ran on repeat in his head. No. Just, no. No, no, no – that couldn't be possible, couldn't be true, couldn't be real. No, he definitely should not have listened to their conversation.
"That wasn't Ronnie, Cisco, and it wasn't me. Just like it wasn't you." Gray's words were comforting, his tone calm, but Jax barely heard them.
Quietly but quickly he hurried away from the door. He'd come to get Gray for lunch, to return him to the Waverider, but that could wait until he'd recovered from the terrible, terrible news he'd just heard.
Jax wasn't too familiar with Star Labs, so it didn't take much for him to get lost in its many halls and rooms. Ducking into one such unused room, sheets covering the little furniture in it, Jax threw himself against a wall and slid to the floor. He pulled his knees up to his chest, and tried to get Cisco's words out of his mind. ("hadn't let you out in years").
He was panicking, he knew, and he couldn't let himself. Couldn't feel too strongly, because then Gray would know and Gray couldn't know. Jax couldn't face him right now. Trying to calm himself, taking a deep breath, Jax forced his brain to slow down. He needed to think about this logically, consider whether or not it could be true. With another deep breath, slowing his racing heart, Jax thought back to what he knew about the Firestorm before him.
Gray and Ronnie had started out unstable, in danger of going nuclear and fighting for control of Ronnie's body. Then Wells (not-Wells?) had invented the splicer, they'd stabilized, and Ronnie had had control of his own body once again. Jax had only ever merged with the splicer, so he'd never experienced a Firestorm in which he'd had to fight for control.
With Vostok (the only other human who had an inkling of what Firestorm really was), well, Gray had still disappeared inside her, but they'd been more like the early version of Gray and Ronnie. Without the splicer, they'd been unstable and Gray had managed to wrestle control from her, stopping a body that wasn't his and unfusing with the help of Jax. (But could he have unfused without Jax there, without Jax reaching forward and helping to pull him free? Without the other half of Firestorm, someone else who had merged with him before?)
Jax didn't want Cisco's words to be true, didn't want to believe that what he'd described was even possible, but it seemed like it might be. Every time he and Gray merged it was a mutual decision – they reached for each other and where they once stood Firestorm sprung into appearance. Or, more accurately, where Jax once stood. Every time they unmerged was either accidental on both their parts – namely when they were attacked – or, again, a mutual decision.
But what they did as Firestorm? That was all on Jax. Sure, he had Gray as his co-pilot, bossing him around and coaching him forward and occasionally being annoying, but it wasn't the same thing. Jax got the body (his body) and Gray got nothing.
Martin Stein, the other Martin Stein, on the other Earth, had apparently gotten the same deal. Ronnie Raymond had gotten control of his body back and had decided he'd liked being Firestorm (Deathstorm) a little too much. He'd pushed Gray to the back, ignored his words, and forcibly kept them from unmerging.
Jax didn't even want to consider that he could be capable of doing the same. With the splicer, he was almost certain that Gray couldn't do that to him, couldn't even take control of their body for a second, but Jax could. He already had most of the control, the power of Firestorm at his fingertips.
He knew, logically, that he wasn't Firestorm without Gray. That, if he'd merged with any other man besides the professor that Firestorm wouldn't be the same. Gray had the power, Jax was just the vessel – just like Ronnie had been. Firestorm did not exist without Martin Stein, despite Jax getting the majority of the control.
Still. Logic didn't stop him from wondering if he could do what Ronnie (the other Ronnie) had done. It didn't stop him from wondering if Gray, each time they merged, wondered if he'd ever get his body back. It didn't stop him from wondering if, now that he'd heard Cisco's story, Gray would ever trust him again, trust him wholly and completely with his very self. Because that was what he did each time, gave himself to Jax and trusted that, at the end of the day, he'd walk away as himself again.
But what made it worse, worse than knowing that Jax could seize control at any time, essentially erasing Gray from existence and taking the Firestorm powers for himself, was that Gray didn't have any say in the matter.
On every Earth, it seemed, Martin Stein was the unstable partner, the one who needed Firestorm to survive. Gray had to merge with him, if he wanted to live. Had to surrender himself to someone and exist in a situation that he had no control over.
Even if he'd managed to separate from Deathstorm, to free himself from Ronnie's control, he'd have to return eventually. Either that, or die.
And Jax had never thought about seizing control, about pushing Gray down, never even considered it, but now he couldn't stop. What if there was a world out there where he had control of Firestorm, where he had shoved Gray to the side and ignored him and didn't let him walk on his own two feet?
And oh God, Jax couldn't even consider the possibility. He could never, never, hold Gray prisoner like that, could never take away his agency.
But what if he did?
The truth was that he had the power, and Gray didn't. Oh how he wished he'd never overheard Cisco's words, wished that he didn't know what he was capable of. But he did, and now he was going to have to live the rest of his life as Firestorm aware of what Ronnie (the other Ronnie, not Gray's Ronnie, never Gray's Ronnie) had done to Martin Stein (the other Martin Stein, because Jax would never, could never...).
But what if he did?
It felt like days had passed by the time Jax wandered into the dining room on the Waverider (located in the always empty parking lot beside STAR Labs), joining his fellow Legends for lunch. In truth, it hadn't even been an hour. There were two circular tables in use, with five seats each: Sara, Snart, and Rory at one, Gray, Kendra, Ray, and Rip at the other. Funny, how they were in Central City for once and actually all gathered for a meal.
Jax moved along the counter, picking foods at random, then sat down next to Sara, ignoring the concerned looks Gray was sending his way and the empty seat the professor had saved for him.
"Everything alright?" Sara asked, amusement in her tone as she raised an eyebrow at him.
Jax shrugged, trying to seem casual. "Why wouldn't it be?" Apart from learning that he had the ability to remain Firestorm forever, to hold Gray prisoner and never let him go, Jax had had a lovely visit in Central City.
"Aside from the fact that you're sitting with us?" Snart asked in his usual half-hearted drawl.
Jax frowned at that, momentarily distracted. "I've sat with you guys before," he said. It wasn't like he and Gray were attached at the hip – they spent plenty of time apart.
"Or maybe it's the fact that Stein keeps glancing over here, looking concerned?" Sara continued, undeterred.
Jax scowled. "Everything's fine," he said. He'd hoped Gray hadn't picked up on his emotional state but apparently the man had noticed something. Was Gray worried because of what Cisco had told him about Deathstorm? Or had he simply noticed the varying emotions traveling across their psychic bond?
"You're a half hour late, and you were supposed to be the one to get Stein," Sara added.
What was it with the twenty questions? "I got lost, okay!" Jax blurted out angrily. "It's a big building – last time I checked that wasn't a crime!"
Sara frowned at him as Snart raised an eyebrow and even Rory glanced his way.
"I'm fine," Jax repeated firmly, in a quieter tone.
The assassin and the two thieves weren't the type of people to be fooled easily, but they were the type to understand needing your space (or maybe they were just the type to not care about other people's problems, though Jax doubted that given what they'd been through together). They left Jax alone.
Unfortunately his own mind wasn't so understanding. Still in turmoil over what he had learned, Jax spent the beginning of his lunch picking at his food, wondering how he could ever face Stein with them both knowing what they did. That was, at least, until Rip had left, followed shortly by Sara and Kendra. Gray was talking about some science thing with Ray (Jax could hear them behind him), but who knew how long that would last. Jax did not want to be left alone with Firestorm's other half.
He finished the rest of his lunch quicker than he thought possible and hurried out of the room. Gray glanced up as he stood, but Jax left before the man could say anything. The Waverider wasn't a huge ship, but it wasn't small either and group meals were a rare thing. It wouldn't be too hard to avoid Gray until their next mission.
Or maybe it would be. Jax had only spent an hour in the engine room, studying it as much as he could without actually taking it apart, when Gray wandered in.
"Jefferson," he said, obviously pleased to have found him. "I've been looking for you."
Jax grunted, not looking up from the machinery in front of him.
"Is everything alright?" Gray asked. Jax could hear the frown in his words.
"Fine," Jax said, trying to seem distracted by the ship, as if he hadn't already studied every part in front of him.
"It's just, you seemed a little, scared, earlier." Gray paused. "Or perhaps horrified would be a more appropriate word."
"I'm fine Gray!" Jax snapped at the older man. How could the professor even stand to be around him, knowing what he did? Knowing that Jax could reach forward and pull him inside and never let him go? How could he be so calm, so focused on whether or not Jax was alright after everything he'd just learned about what Jax could do?
Forcing himself to relax – Gray didn't deserve his anger – Jax finally looked up. "I'm fine," he repeated firmly, if softer than before. "What about you?" He thought back to what he'd felt from Gray before he'd eavesdropped – the concern and small tinge of sorrow that had been what prompted him to volunteer to look for the man. "You seemed upset earlier."
Gray frowned, studying Jax, but seemed to accept the change in topic. "I was talking with Mr. Ramon," he said. "And learned a few unpleasant things about the other Earth. Earth-2, as they've taken to calling it."
"Yeah?" Jax asked, faking his curiosity but not his concern.
This time Gray's frown was directed inward, rather than at Jax. "Yes," he confirmed. "Mr. Ramon ran into his counterpart there, a rather unctuous villain it sounds like, who went by the name of Reverb. And it… it seems as though Ronald's life was not any easier there either. Cisco witnessed Zoom killing him himself, in front of Caitlin again, no less."
Jax's eyes widened slightly and he stared at Gray. Seriously? That was what the man had taken from that conversation? From the limited information Jax had heard, the Ronnie over there had been evil. He'd certainly ruined the other Stein's life – and yet all Gray could say was that he felt sorry for the man? Sorry that he too had died, just like the Ronnie from this Earth? Except that the other Ronnie had died as Deathstorm, and had taken Stein with him – Jax couldn't feel sorry for a man like that.
Maybe Gray just didn't want to talk about it in front of him, Jax reasoned, didn't want to give him any ideas. Or maybe it was just too painful to consider, a life imprisoned.
Whatever the logic behind Gray's words, Jax didn't know what to say. He hadn't even known Ronnie in this life and his feelings for the man were complicated enough as it was. Ronnie's death had caused Gray so much pain, but without it, Jax never would have met the man, never would have become Firestorm.
He ducked his head, tinkering with the blueprints that Rip had lent him.
An awkward silence filled the room, Jax unsure of how to respond and Gray unsure of what to say next.
"Sorry man," Jax ended up saying, somewhat distractedly.
Gray hummed lightly in acknowledgement of Jax's empathy and even that small sound conveyed the concern Gray had for him. Just from that, Jax could tell that he hadn't fooled Gray one bit.
"So how many Earths are there?" he asked.
Staring up at the professor as Gray began to ramble about theoretical physics and the multiverse theories that existed Jax let himself get lost in the other man's words. He could never, ever hold the other man prisoner, but he certainly wasn't looking forward to the next time Firestorm was needed.
Jax wasn't sure that he'd convinced Gray that he was fine, but it became easier to avoid him after that. They left Central City and floated through the timestream for a few days as they tried to work out the next time and place they could find Savage. Life on the Waverider quickly shifted back to their normal.
For the most part the Legends split, occasionally congregating in smaller groups but rarely coming together as a whole. Sometimes some of them gathered for cards, or someone put on a movie in the library and others wandered down to join them. Sara and Kendra trained. Ray tinkered with his suit. Who knew what Snart and Rory got up to in their free time, and if Rip didn't want to be found, he could disappear easily. Jax learnt the ship's nooks and crannies, wandering through the halls. Gray worked in his little lab on the Waverider, mostly theoretical stuff but occasionally he tinkered with small experiments.
When Gray got caught up in his experiments he didn't participate much in the same 'team-building' events that the rest of them did, which only made it easier for Jax to avoid him. All he had to do was grab his meals at a different time than usual, use the bathroom on the other side of the ship, and make sure not to go near Gray's lab.
At the same time, it made it harder for Jax to avoid him too. Gray wasn't as bad as the typical cliché movie scientist - he remembered to eat and sleep and all the important stuff and he would talk to you if you ran into him or paid him a visit - but Jax was still usually the one who pulled him from his workshop and reminded him that there was more to the world than physics (at which point Gray would point out that the world was physics and Jax would sit down and force him to watch some sort of action adventure movie that blatantly ignored science and that Gray actually enjoyed slightly – more than he would ever admit to at least).
But the fear of holding Gray prisoner was stronger than his guilt at avoiding the man, so Stein mostly stayed in his lab in the week between leaving Central City and their next mission-adventure-thing.
Avoiding Gray, however, came with other consequences, as Jax came to discover when he found Sara waiting for him in his room one night.
"What's up?" she asked casually as he entered, scaring the shit out of him.
Jax jumped, spinning around to face her and tensing up.
She laughed. "Relax, I'm not here to murder you in your sleep."
Hoping Gray hadn't noticed the momentary panic, Jax forced himself to let out a weak chuckle in return. He knew Sara was joking but, also, it was Sara… International assassin who used to be dead. He shook his head. "Don't do that."
Sara just grinned mischievously before tilting her head and studying him. Her expectant expression seemed to say 'alright, I know something's up, now talk.'
"What?" Jax asked defensively. He should have known someone other than Gray would be the first to notice. The people on this ship were just too damn nosy.
Sara only raised an eyebrow.
"What?" Jax repeated. "Is there a reason you were trying to put me in an early grave or do you just enjoy scaring people?" Probably a bit of both, actually.
"You've been avoiding Stein," Sara said plainly, clearly expecting an explanation as she leveled an unimpressed look at him.
"No I'm not," Jax said quickly, probably rather unconvincingly.
Sara just stared at him.
Jax had been bottling up his fears for a week, worrying about Firestorm and what he could do if he ever felt the need, the desire. Sara's calm stare was just the straw that broke the camel's back. "So what if I am?" he blurted out suddenly, desperately, wishing for someone to talk to but not really wanting to tell anyone the truth.
"What did he do?" Sara asked, still calm and unimpressed with Jax's outburst.
Her calm expression and lack of judgement at his explosion convinced Jax to answer. He shook his head. "Nothing, it's… he didn't do anything."
"Then what did you do?"
Jax looked away. "That's … ugh, that's not it either. It's not what I did, it's what I might do." He turned back to face Sara, aware he sounded a little desperate. "Does that make any sense?"
"Maybe," she offered easily, studying him. "Depends on what you're talking about."
Jax sat down, elbows on his knees and face in his hands, before taking a deep breath and resigning himself to telling the assassin the truth. Oddly enough, out of everyone on the ship, if he had chosen someone to talk to, it probably would have been her. He was avoiding Gray. Snart, Rory, and Rip were definitely not options. Kendra was nice, but Jax's crush on her would have just made things awkward for him. And Ray was nice too, but he was a little too… cheerful, for this type of conversation. Jax didn't want to hear the optimistic, I'm-sure-you'll-never-do-that type of statement, that Ray would have probably told him. No, Sara was surprisingly easy to talk to, for all she projected the stone cold I'm-an-assassin-don't-mess-with-me aura.
"I, I overheard Gray and Cisco talking about Earth-2, while we were in Central City," Jax said.
"Let me guess, you were evil there too?" Sara asked, taking her own seat on Jax's bed.
Jax shook his head. "No, Ronnie was – the first Firestorm. Apparently he called himself Deathstorm."
"What's that have to do with you?" Sara asked, looking slightly confused for the first time. "Unless you think Stein is going to turn on you?" Despite her casual tone, there was a steel to her words that suggested Sara would never let that happen. Jax wasn't sure if that was just Sara's loyalty to her teammates, or anger at the thought of betrayal.
"No." He shook his head adamantly. "No, Gray wasn't evil."
"But then how…" Sara trailed off, staring at him, and Jax could practically see the wheels turning in her brain. How could Firestorm be evil if only one half of them was?
"You wanna know what Cisco said?" Jax asked, aware he sounded disgusted and angry, that he was taking his frustration out on someone who didn't deserve it. "His exact words?" He scoffed, the words that had been on repeat in his brain easily coming to the surface once more. "He said he hadn't let Gray out in years." Sara blanched, eyes widening slightly. "Let him out, as if Gray never had a choice in the matter, as if he was just there so Deathstorm could exist."
Sara took her time to respond, obviously processing the news. There was a touch of horror in her otherwise calm face, and a tinge of understanding as to the source of Jax's panic.
"You're worried that Stein doesn't have a choice in the matter."
Jax shook his head, not in denial but in frustration. "Of course he doesn't have a choice in the matter! He was dying! If I hadn't agreed to be Firestorm he wouldn't be here. If I don't… he has to become Firestorm, or eventually he'll die."
"Sounds to me like it was your choice to become Firestorm."
"And if I hadn't agreed he'd be dead!" Jax repeated angrily. "What kind of a choice is that?"
"Jax," Sara said simply, bringing him back to the present instead of a distant, terrible, possible future. "I can't pretend to understand what Firestorm is, exactly, but I'm pretty sure the professor doesn't regret signing on to be your partner."
"How do I know?" Jax asked wildly. "How do I know he's… he doesn't just agree to be Firestorm to stay alive?" It was a wild accusation, and Jax knew it, but he couldn't get the image of himself as Firestorm out of his mind: Gray shoved to the back, forever silent, cowed and broken by Jax refusing to even let him free. He knew Gray loved the possibility of time travel, knew it each time the man called something new 'Astonishing!' or 'Amazing!' or 'Fascinating!', knew that it had been Gray who'd dragged them along on the Waverider and that he hadn't even wanted to come in the beginning. His knowledge didn't stop his doubt.
Sara leveled a stare at him, standing. "You ask him," she said simply, as though it would be the easiest thing in the world.
Easier said than done.
Jax honestly thought about Sara's words, knew that the best way to resolve his dilemma was to simply talk to Gray, but he still couldn't bring himself to do it. Unfortunately, the very next day Rip set down the Waverider and he and Gray had had to merge into Firestorm.
The situation was dire, Jax knew what had to be done, but he still hesitated as he reached for Gray. Still hesitated as they clasped hands and he pulled Gray inside him. Their conversation was rather… one-sided, with Gray still offering his usual input but Jax barely responding. And as soon as the deed was done, as soon as they were safe and the foe defeated, Jax instantly set down and let Gray go.
It was clear the professor hadn't been expecting to unmerge so quickly, but he followed Jax's lead and went along with it, stumbling as his body reformed and glancing over hesitantly at Jax. Jax ignored the hollow feeling in his gut and Gray's concerned looks and followed the rest of the Legends back to the Waverider. But Sara was right, and he couldn't avoid this conversation forever, especially because, as much as Jax didn't want to merge, Firestorm was a necessity for Martin Stein.
"Hey Gray," Jax called out as they entered the Waverider, the rest of the team going their separate ways. "Can we talk?"
Gray paused, looking back at him. "Certainly Jefferson," he said easily. Jax didn't think he was imagining the tinge of relief that colored the professor's expression. "Maybe now you can tell me what's been bothering you."
Jax shifted sheepishly. "You've noticed, huh?"
"I may need these to see," Gray said, adjusting his glasses, "but I'm not blind Jefferson. You've been avoiding me ever since Central City. Did something happen there that you haven't told anyone?"
"No, no that's not it," Jax said, already dreading the conversation. "I … I was supposed to get you for lunch that last day and, and-" ugh, why couldn't he just say what he wanted to say? "-and I overheard your conversation with Cisco."
"Mr. Ramon?" Gray clarified with a frown. "I believe we were talking about Earth-2, and our counterparts. You need not worry, he didn't mention an evil version of you."
Jax clenched his fists, resisting the urge to pace. "But he did mention Firestorm," he said hesitantly. "He, he mentioned you."
"Ah," Gray said, realization coming over him as he studied Jax. "You heard that, did you?" It was clearly a rhetorical question. "Well you don't need to worry – I haven't felt any urges to conquer the world or go around calling us Deathstorm." He said the name scornfully, as though he found it patently ridiculous, but he still didn't get it. How could Gray be so smart and so dumb at the same time?
"No – it wasn't you who was the problem," Jax said harshly. Did Gray not worry about what Jax was capable of, did he not see the problem?
Gray frowned. "And it wasn't Ronald either," he countered unhappily. "A version of him, perhaps, but not the Mr. Raymond of this Earth."
Closer, but still not what Jax was getting at. "You don't get it, do you?" Jax asked. "I'm not… not trying to … to insult Ronnie. I'm just saying…" he deflated somewhat, knowing that it wasn't Gray he was really mad at, "I'm just saying, if Ronnie could do it, could keep you prisoner, then that means…" He couldn't say it, couldn't voice the words.
He didn't need to though, realization dawning on Gray's face as he took a step toward Jax. Jax took a step back – how could Gray reach for him now, with this out in the open between them?
Gray faltered. "Did you, did you think I didn't already know that Jefferson?" he asked softly, nothing but concern on his face.
It was Jax's turn to falter, meeting Gray's eyes in shock. "What?"
Gray smiled gently, a remembered pain in his eyes. "What Mr. Ramon said was, shocking," he admitted. "To think that Ronald would be capable of…" he trailed off, seemingly also unable to speak of the horror. Straightening, Gray shook off such thoughts and faced Jax head on. "Nevertheless, I don't think that's something we have to worry about Jefferson."
It was a statement, calm and assured and confident, but also a question. An unspoken, 'do you?' in Gray's words.
Jax quickly shook his head. "I couldn't… I would never…"
Gray reached forward, placing a hand on his shoulder. "There you see. There's nothing to worry about."
Jax shrugged him off. "How can you say that?" he asked in astonishment. "How can you still want to be Firestorm, knowing what I could do to you?"
"As I said Jefferson, did you think I didn't already know that? It's always been a possibility."
"But what if, what if something happened?" Jax asked wildly.
"Something already has happened," Gray interrupted before Jax could spout any more wild theories.
He stared at the professor, wondering what he was talking about.
"In Russia," Gray reminded him gently. "When, when Vostok merged with me I thought, I thought it was over. We didn't have the splicer, so I knew were we unstable. I thought we would die together – I thought she would use Firestorm's powers to wreak havoc and destruction and that I would be forced to watch, helpless." Jax thought back to that horrible moment when he'd first seen another Firestorm, when he'd realized that Gray had been swallowed by a mad scientist, his powers doing her bidding.
"Do you know who pulled me out of that? Who saved me from being stuck with her until our death?" Gray asked, watching him gently. "You did that. So no, Jefferson, I am not worried about something happening. Something already did happen, and you saved me from it."
Jax stared at the professor, speechless. He'd never really thought about it that much. He'd convinced himself that he would save Gray, had never let himself consider the possibility of an evil Firestorm, but obviously Gray had. There had been moments, he'd known, where Gray had started to lose hope.
"I…" he didn't know what to say.
"Jefferson," Gray said gently. "I am sorry that you have to bear this burden alone, but know that I have the utmost faith and confidence in you. Firestorm is safe in your hands."
But that, Jax was startled to discover, wasn't entirely the source of his anger. All this time he thought he'd just been afraid, afraid of what he was capable of, but there was something else too, something he hadn't even realized he'd been feeling.
"He held you prisoner!" Jax blurted out angrily. "That's… Firestorm is, is not-"
"Not meant to be that," Gray finished for him, voice soft and understanding.
"Exactly!" Jax cried out.
"It's a perversion of the truth," Gray admitted easily. "But it's not our truth Jefferson. It never happened on this Earth. That Martin Stein was not me – for all we know, he deserved what happened to him."
Jax stared. "You don't actually believe that, do you?"
Gray shook his head. "No," he said sadly. "I'm afraid I don't. But the truth is we will never know their circumstances. I appreciate you being angry on my behalf, but you must remember that that wasn't me Jefferson."
"And it never will be," Jax replied strongly, meeting the professor's gaze.
Gray smiled softly. "One can only hope not."
Jas was still angry, still afraid, but not as strongly as before. Gray had no doubts about Firestorm, no doubts about Jax. And he was right – not only would Jax never hold him captive, the one time it had almost happened, Jax had been the one to pull him free.
Jax would have to live the rest of his life knowing what he was capable of, but also knowing that Gray trusted him anyway, wholly and completely. The two of them were Firestorm, together, and Jax would never let the situation be anything other than that.
AN: I just, I love Firestorm, okay?
If you do too, check out icarus_chained on AO3 - they wrote a wonderful fic in which Martin and Cisco discuss Firestorm long before I ever thought of this story - as well as many other wonderful fics.