It hurt less each time, returning to Star City and standing vigil inside a graveyard which once held a monument to her own memory for several years, long before she'd finally been buried under its shadow, albeit temporarily. The new captain of the Waverider wondered whether she actually missed the pain. Sara Lance was not a masochist, not by a long shot, yet the former assassin thought that she might prefer physical pain, second nature to a woman who'd been killed (or nearly killed) more than once, compared to the anguish she was feeling now, an anguish which, the first time she stood beside her sister's grave, had felt more unbearable than the worst torture she'd ever experienced or could imagine.
It was better now than before, but that was like saying taking two arrows to the chest was better than three. Yet if physical pain served sometimes as a reminder that she was still alive, the anguish Sara felt standing before her sister's grave reminded her that her soul was not completely extinguished. Not yet, anyhow.
"Oliver." She did not look back as he meandered solemnly beside her. They knew each other too well, over the span of the many lives they'd led, to need bother with niceties.
"Didn't know you were in town." Oliver Queen frowned. "Or time. Am I getting it right?"
"Close enough." Sara laughed softly. Her old friend and once lover was not the kind of man to easily wrap his mind around the concept of time travel. "Martin's returning Lily to Central City. Figured I'd bring the jumpship here."
No need to explain to Oliver that said daughter did not even exist until their foray into 1987.
"You could've called," Oliver replied, a slight hint of reproach in his voice. Last she'd heard during the alien invasion (did that really happen?), he and Felicity were still estranged romantically. Was he trying to rekindle an old flame? Sara doubted it, and did not give the idea much further thought.
"Didn't think I'd have the time for a social call."
"Isn't time kind of your team's whole thing?"
"Not when we're going up against another time traveler and a speedster to boot."
Oliver's expression changed from amused to concerned, and Sara explained to him how Eobard Thawne had somehow survived the oblivion of being wiped from existence by his ancestor. She filled him in additionally about the Spear of Destiny, and how Malcolm Merlyn had also joined what Nate (and unfortunately the rest of the team) now called the Legion of Doom.
"Thinking you should have killed Merlyn when you had the chance," Sara asked, finishing recalling their discoveries since the Dominator invasion while Oliver stood in solemn silence. Thea had confided in her during the invasion crisis that Oliver was less non-murdery these days, after everything Darhk did to wreak havoc on his life and Star City the past year. She didn't blame him for the overdue bloodlust, nor Sara did not judge him for it, because she out of all people could relate, especially knowing that Laurel's killer was still out there somewhere, alive again and stalking through time thanks to Thawne's evil shenanigans.
For a long time he did not speak.
"Are you going to kill Darhk?"
When he did speak, his words struck fear straight into her heart. Fear of herself, for what she'd wanted to do in 1942 and 1987. And fear of what she still might do before this Spear mission was over.
Will you chance everything, risk everything, to save Laurel?
"I shouldn't," was all Sara said in return. She didn't need to elaborate more. Oliver could sympathize with her dilemma too, even if he did not fully understand the intricacies of time and the work her team did.
"Is Thea in town," she asked, thinking she'd change the subject, "slaving away to make you look good?"
"She isn't, actually," Oliver said with a smile. "I thought she deserved a well-earned vacation after, well, you know, fighting off an alien invasion."
"You're getting soft in your old age, aren't you Ollie?" Sara grinned as she spoke, and for a brief moment Oliver thought that he saw a glimpse of the light-hearted, carefree girl she'd been before stepping aboard the Queen's Gambit.
He shrugged off her teasing, and Sara watched while he reverently pulled out a small photograph from his back pocket. "Got this at the office today, actually."
Upon closer inspection, it was a postcard.
"She'd always wanted to see Paris," he added, handing her the slim sheet of glossy paper.
Something was wrong. She'd picked up numerous languages in her time with the League, and while the former assassin could not fluently read either language, she could still tell the difference between French and...
"Why would Thea buy a postcard in Paris printed in German?"
The new Mayor of Star City frowned, taking back the souvenir. "That's funny. I don't remember, I could've sworn..." It had looked different earlier that day, when his assistant delivered him his mail, and Oliver smiled when he read Thea's note to him, a bright sliver of a minute amidst yet another bad day in what was already a brutal year after Darkh's rampage. He could have sworn the prints on the postcard had been in a different language at lunch...like it should have been, right? "French. France. Paris is a city in Germanic Europe...but it should be in...France?"
"Oh fuck." Immediately, she tapped to comm her team on the Waverider. "Guys, I think something's wrong."
Oliver watched his friend's eyes grew wide as she listened to whomever was talking into her ear. He saw fear, and sadness and...and hope?
"Sara? What's going on?"
"You wouldn't believe it even when you see it."
Less than an hour later, Oliver stared in shock and disbelief at the historical text displayed by Gideon aboard the Waverider, docked outside Central City.
"Laurel Lance," the historian on Sara's team narrated to him as his eyes glazed over the fuzzy text. The man he remembered as Nate continued, vaguely aware of his distress. "The Black Canary, historians and contemporaries both called her. A mysterious assassin..."
"...who murdered Queen Anne of England in the year 1708," Sara continued reading in growing horror, eyes flickering back and forth between the text and the 18th century painting depicting a woman in a black mask stabbing the British Monarch in the back. "Subsequently caught and locked away in the Tower of London. Tried after...extensive interrogation by Parliament. Executed as a traitor in the year 1710...believed to be the most prominent woman in history to have been hung, drawn, and quartered..."
There wasn't much more to say, and there wasn't much more she'd be capable of voicing right now. Sara felt a firm hand on her shoulder trying to comfort her as she read those last nauseating words. It was Jax, standing protectively over her. Oliver continued staring several feet away, slackjawed, while Sara heard Barry cough nervously on the opposite side of the console.
"How is this possible," Barry Allen heard his friend from Star City finally ask in a quivering voice.
The metahuman they called The Flash knew better than Caitlin and Cisco the long and tortured history between Oliver and Sara's sister...which was why he'd chosen not to reveal to his friend the fact that they'd taken Laurel Lance's evil Earth-2 counterpart into custody the year before. The Legends had originally brought him onto the ship from Cisco's party to ask him about Thawne; upon finding out about this new time...aberration, that's what they called it, Barry had excused himself for a supposed bathroom break before running all the way back to Star Labs in order to verify with his own eyes and ears that the Earth-2 Laurel was indeed still locked away deep in the accelerator.
"I'm sorry," Kara Danvers interrupted the stilted silence, hands playing with the glasses she wore while off Supergirl duty. "I'll admit I'm the last thing from a history buff...but why would the Queen of England dying in the 1700's result in the Nazi's taking over the world more than two hundred years later?"
"Again," muttered the older professor standing next to her, obviously in reference to some previous adventure of theirs.
It was the rather attractive historian who answered her. "The Queen's death in June resulted in the recall of the Duke of Marlborough from field duty to attend her funeral. Without their commander, the allied armies of Great Britain, the Habsburgs, and the Dutch Republic were subsequently routed at the Battle of Oudenarde one month later. Britain sued for peace, and King Louis XIV of France thus kept his preferred candidate upon the Spanish throne...which was kind of how the War of Spanish Succession ended anyway, albeit several years prematurely."
"So what you're saying is," Oliver said, wondering just how much his brain could take in one day, "is that history didn't really change that much, despite Laurel somehow rising from the grave, time travelling, then killing the Queen of England for no reason at all."
"It changed enough," Sara replied, trying to repress all the emotions swirling through her heart at the moment so she could focus on the task at hand. Yet even as a time captain, she still didn't quite understand. "Laurel or no Laurel, this is a mess we have to clean up. But Nazi's? Seriously?"
Nate continued. "Lord Marlborough returned to the continent to try to salvage the war, but as brilliant a general as he was, his forces were depleted, the Dutch were already in the middle of secret negotiations with Louis, and Marlborough was subsequently killed months later at the Siege of Ostend, prompting Anne's heir, the Electress Sophia of Hanover, to seek peace terms with France."
"Sophia?" Ray looked confused. "I don't remember much from my old time history classes, but I've never heard of any Queen Sophia's."
"Sounds hot," Mick Rory mused.
"She was a distant cousin of Anne's," Nate continued explaining, "but her closest Protestant relation. She was also the mother of the future king we know as George the First, but in the original timeline, Anne was the one who outlived her cousin, albeit by only two months, thereby removing the possibility of any Queen Sophia's in history."
Still no revelations that made sense to her, except Sara saw the Professor's eyes light up. Apparently he knew knew something about this time period that she didn't.
"Churchill," Martin blurted out to Jax's confusion as well, but Nate nodded affirmatively. "The Duke of Marlborough was John Churchill, and his descendant..."
"Winston Churchill," Kara blurted out, finally understanding. "What, it wasn't like I slept through all of high school history either," she maintained defensively, seeing everyone eyeing her quizzically. "I was a straight A student!"
"You would be," Rory grunted from somewhere in the room.
"Exactly," Nate continued, ignoring Rory, heavy book open in hand. "While the Churchill lineage continued, they lacked the prestige, fame, and wealth the family originally possessed when John Churchill survived the war with two additional victories on the battlefield under his belt." Running his fingers over the futuristic interface, he pulled up another headline. "Professor Winston Spencer-Churchill was nothing more than an obscure historian when he was executed by the Nazi's in 1943 for sedition." He gulped, no doubt imagining a similar fate for himself should they lose their conflict against the Legion.
"Without Churchill, Britain is conquered by Germany," Stein said, picking off where Nate left off, "and the United States..."
"Withdraws into isolationism after FDR loses the election of 1940," Nate continued, pulling up another map. "Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East are eventually split into German and Soviet zones, with cataclysmic wars breaking out between the two evil superpowers every decade or so."
"Talk about Legion of Doom," Ray muttered glumly.
"All because my sister came back from the dead and decided she harbored a newfound and homicidal hatred for royalty," Sara muttered. It was too much to handle all at once, so she turned to the one person she did not expect to see on her ship upon her return.
"Kara, it's so good to see you again." They hugged. "But I didn't know you were in town." She hesitated. "Or...in universe, I guess...is that what you'd call this?"
The Kryptonian looked across to Barry. "Cisco's surprise birthday party." Her blue eyes gazed back at Sara. "I have the worst timing, I know."
Or best timing, Kara whispered to herself. While she wasn't the kind to completely nerd out about a timeship like Winn or her sister, it was still pretty damned cool, and upon hearing of the Legends' arrival she'd been more than eager to make a social call with Barry and tour the Waverider in less dire circumstances than before. Until now, that is. Kara had never met Laurel, but from everything she'd heard, Sara's sister had been a formidable force of a woman whose brutal and tragic death at such a young age had hit Oliver extremely hard, along with the rest of his team.
Not to mention Sara.
Whatever this time crisis was, Kara had no doubt her knew friends would be able to figure things out; she'd come to form a healthy respect for the Legends during the invasion crisis, and especially their captain...when Sara wasn't undressing her with her eyes, that is. Still, it was far from a foreign feeling for Kara, to want to help her friends out.
"From what I've seen of Barry," Kara said, the thought refusing to leave her mind, "speedsters can be pretty dangerous." She looked to the shorter blonde on the ship. "If you guys need a helping hand, or fist..."
"I'll go," Barry interrupted curtly. He seemed more on edge than usual, though Kara figured that the surprise reemergence of an archenemy thought not just dead, but wiped from existence, could prove quite unnerving indeed. "I know Eobard. He exists...he's out there, because of me. If there's any chance he's responsible for this...that he'd abduct Laurel to the 1700's for whatever twisted reason, I need to be there."
And Barry hoped fervently that time travel was the precise and only reason a previously dead Laurel Lance had just committed regicide in the distant past. Because the alternative...Oliver might not have taken Flashpoint personally because it didn't affect him personally...but hiding from him the existence of a bizarro Laurel from Earth-2 was a wholly different class of lying where it pertained to the Green Arrow, one that he feared stood beyond forgiveness.
And a darker voice whispered in his head that Oliver was bound to find out sooner or later regardless, because that's just how things went for superheroes like himself.
"I need to be there," Oliver grumbled loudly from the small corner of the ship he'd retreated to. "If this is really Laurel...our Laurel," he looked at Sara when emphasizing the last part..."
"My sister's a grown woman," Sara replied, knowing where Oliver was heading. "Was, anyway." It wasn't that she didn't want Oliver to join them, but Sara wasn't sure just how well her old friend could handle a time travel mission, highly personal stakes notwithstanding. Sara also knew however that, captain titles or not, Oliver in this kind of mental state wasn't easily talked out of whatever he'd determined on his own.
"Sara," Oliver said, addressing her and only her amidst the crowded bridge of the Waverider, "I am responsible for so many of the horrible things that's happened to Laurel, so much of her suffering..."
"You didn't kill Tommy. Malcolm Merlyn killed Tommy. Malcolm Merlyn was the one who had me killed, not you. And Damien Darkh and Damien Darkh alone is responsible for Laurel's death." Did she see him blink? She sighed, and conceded. "But if it is our Laurel that's out there, however she got there...you can help her."
"Thank you," he whispered just to her at first, even though everyone else could hear him, before stepping back into his Oliver Queen voice. "This is your ship, Captain Lance, and your mission. I will follow your lead from beginning to end."
"As will I," Barry added, a little too quickly, Kara, Oliver, and Sara all thought to themselves, the young man's trademark smirk looking more forced than usual. "You're my captain," he said to Sara, "but I do know a thing or two about evil speedsters."
"Uhhhh, I might need a favor though."
"What's that," Barry asked, seeing that Oliver's inquiry was directed at him.
"I may have left my suit and arrows back in Star City."
"Oh, no worries, I can go grab it while they prep the ship."
"Ahem," Sara coughed loudly, getting both their attentions. She forced a smile while she forced her own apprehensions towards confronting Laurel deeper and deeper inside the void in her heart. "Mr. Flash man," she continued in a light tone while visibly appraising the speedster up and down. "Wanna race a time travelling jumpship out to Star City and back?"
"Oh, you're on!" It was the first time all day she seen him smile, Sara thought.
"Ahem," Kara coughed loudly, feeling slightly alone in the room. It wasn't that they were trying to ignore her, but she did come from a different universe, after all. "First off, count me in for the race. And secondly..." She paused, not quite sure how to word her own request.
"Thought we're only allowed one crossover per year," she heard the tall scientist, Ray, mutter to himself.
"I mean, it's kinda already a crossover," Kara replied, trying not to sound too eager, "so there's no harm in inviting along your favorite alien and besides, from what you've told me about them, Darkh and Malcolm Merlyn are no joke, even without a speedster helping your...uh, what do you guys call them again? The Doom Patrol?"
"Legion of Doom," Ray corrected, arms folded nervously. "We don't say those two other words together, in that order. Ever."
"Hey, I get it," Nate said, sidling closer to the Kryptonian, an almost childishly goofy grin on his face. "I was in your shoes just a few months ago. I mean, time travel, it's soooo cool right? I don't blame you for trying to tag along."
"It is pretty cool," Kara admitted with a smile, Nate's eagerness rubbing off on her. "But I'd like to think I'm capable of more than just being a stray stowaway."
For effect, she tried her best to flex her arms underneath her rather loose blouse, all the while thinking about jealous Winn would be if she returned to National City with a time-saving mission under her figurative belt. Lena too, although Kara figured her new friend was more likely to disappear for a decade trying to figure out the technology once she knew of its existence, even in a different universe. Not that she could tell Lena, considering the whole multiverse thing would give away her identity and all, though Kara felt bad that she hadn't brought Winn along on this trip. But how was she supposed to know ahead of time that the Legends were in town? (Or was it 'in time'? Kara still wasn't sure.)
"Green Arrow, Flash, and now Supergirl...that's a lot of very powerful superheroes on one mission." Even though Amaya Jiwe was addressing Sara with her arms crossed, Kara couldn't help but think she was glancing at her and Nate from the side of her eye while she spoke. "Don't get me wrong, having so many powerful heroes on our side was very advantageous when we were fighting off an alien invasion, but time...Sara, you said it yourself, time is delicate. A mission like this...it requires something more of a scalpel, not a buzzsaw."
Ray whispered to Nate out of the side of his mouth. "I thought we weren't doing the chainsaw/scalpel metaphors until season 3."
Nate shrugged indifferently. "She said buzzsaw, not chainsaw. Besides, I'm pretty sure this is definitely a crossover now...all rules are officially out the window."
Sara sighed. The mission hadn't even started yet, and she was already feeling beyond exasperated. Amaya did have a point, bringing along too many superheroes was just as likely to break time even further as it was to save it. Especially an alien, no matter how well intentioned. She'd forgotten to quiz Rip on the protocols regarding taking super aliens along on missions back in 1967, not that her former captain was in any state to answer her anyway.
"If Thawne's behind this," she began, thinking out loud, "then we could use Barry's help. If Laurel's been brainwashed or something, another familiar face from our childhood will probably be good for her." She looked over apologetically to an increasingly downcast looking Kara, who had minimal connections with her sister. "The rest of us should be able to handle Darhk and Merlyn, especially with Oliver onboard. We've beaten them before."
"It did take Oliver almost an entire season...ahem, almost an entire school year, each time," Ray muttered to no one in particular.
"I'm sorry Kara," Stein said, sensing the ebb and flow of the discussion had fallen upon him. "I have to agree with Amaya, our team already can barely get by the easiest of missions without causing a catastrophic timequake."
"It's not like we're batting .500 against the Doom people right now," Mick said, siding with Kara to the surprise of most in the room. "We had to run from them in LA tails tucked in, we had to give them the damn amulet in Chicago to save your life, old man," he added pointedly at the professor.
"Plus they kinda literally nuked us all across the timeline back in 1942," Ray added. "Supergirl probably could have helped with that."
"Look," Kara said, palms out amicably towards the rest of the group. "It's fine," she maintained, turning towards Amaya and Martin. "I completely understand. You guys are a team, a well oiled machine. I can do a lot of things, pretty cool things, I might add...but changing time without screwing it up? Not exactly my expertise."
More importantly, as much as she wanted to help...and as much as she'd love to add time traveler to her growing resume, Kara did not want to be the reason for any conflict amongst a team that she wasn't a part of...
"Well oiled machine," Sara snorted. "Think that's the best compliment this team's ever received."
...any more conflict, that was.
"I don't know about the rest of you," Jax spoke up, "but Grey and I almost lost our heads the last time the bad guys nuked us. I've got no real urge to go back to medieval England..."
"Enlightenment era England," Nate interjected quietly.
"...but if I do, I'd rather go with Supergirl on my side."
Scanning the room, Sara caught Oliver's almost imperceptible smirk. You're on your own here, kiddo.
"Kara comes along," she decided, as Kara pumped her fists in triumph as if she'd just won game night (again).
Amaya and Stein's concerns were more than valid, but Sara also kind of just wanted Kara to join them for this mission. Because she liked her dammit, as a friend (not that Sara would turn her away from the bedroom, not by a long shot, were that situation ever to present itself).
Because whereas Kara wasn't exactly a scalpel, to quote Amaya, she was still much less of a screwup than the rest of their team.
Because she trusted Kara, and on such a precarious mission where she didn't even trust her own instincts, or emotions, Captain Sara Lance was not about to turn down willy nilly offers of assistance from the people she trusted most in this world(s?).
"Great," Ray exclaimed, pumping his own fist and looking less coordinated than Kara as he did so. "Powder up your wigs and load your muskets, team Super Legends is ready to go succeed in the War of Spanish Succession!"
To his surprise and chagrin, he found his audience much less captive and enthusiastic compared to when Sara delivered the mission punchlines.
Nate. "Team Super Legends? Really bro?"
Mick. "Shut up, Haircut."
Sara. "No. Just, Ray...no."
Most of the rest of them held their chins, hands over lips holding back barely suppressed grins, including Oliver and Kara.
At least they're laughing with me, not at me, Ray thought. Right?