Sara's bed is warm, familiar, as Rip lies with his back to Sara, feeling the soft press of her torso against his spine. He's drowsy, still half-asleep, when a scream pierces his ears and jerks him coldly out of his semi-slumber.
He turns to find Sara's eyes and mouth wide open, and he's sure he's never seen her so terrified in his life.
"Sara?" Rip mumbles, and he's more alert now, as he straightens a little on the bed. Automatically his hand goes almost of its own accord to tuck her hair behind her ear.
But she pulls away from him, gaze dropping, her breaths coming out only a little shorter.
"Go back to sleep," she says in a hollow voice.
"I'm not going to ask you if you're okay," he says, "because you're clearly not. But I… I am here, Sara."
Despite his apprehension, the ghost of a smile edges its way onto her lips.
"Yeah," she says softly, "you are."
Their eyes meet and Rip wonders once again if they're ever going to talk about it - properly.
It's not the first time they've slept together, but it's still a relatively new feeling for both of them and Rip is still unsure about what they are, the two of them. She hasn't said and he hasn't pushed, because the last thing either of them need is to make whatever it is between them any more complicated than it already is.
"What's on your mind?" he says instead, leaning on his elbow.
"What's on yours?" Sara counters, and her eyes glint almost dangerously with that oh so familiar steel that drew him to her in the first place. She copies him, though, elbow sinking into the pillow as she stares back at him.
"You," Rip replies simply, giving in to her change of subject without protest. "Or, more specifically - us."
"Having second thoughts?" Her question surprises him and for a second his composure wavers.
"No," he says instantly, and Sara raises her eyebrows. After a second he relents. "Perhaps a little."
"Is it me?" she asks bluntly, and once more Rip is reminded of why they ended up here, together, in this bed. Her soul speaks to his in a way very few ever could. "Is it… my past? Are you scared of me?"
"I used to be," he says, "but not for the reasons you might think. You see… you represent - the future."
And this time Sara chuckles and the knot of worry in his stomach loosens a little. "Kind of ironic given you're the one from the twenty-second century."
"Perhaps. But for the longest time I felt like I didn't have a future."
"Now I don't know," he tells her honestly. "But I do wonder. About what Miranda must think of me."
"I didn't know her," Sara says, "but I think she'd be proud of you."
"Of failing to save her?" he says bitterly.
"For avenging her death. And I'm sure she would want you to move on. Find yourself."
"You think that's why I'm here? With you? To… find myself?"
"You tell me."
There's silence. It's the companionable kind, though, the kind that Rip has never minded. Eventually, though, he breaks it.
"What's on your mind?" he says again, gently.
And to his surprise Sara doesn't immediately turn away.
"I - was dreaming. About…" But after a second she trails off.
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to," he offers. "But I think you should talk about it with someone."
"The way you do?" Sara says, and her quip is said lightly but there's no mistaking the way her tone is edged with something a bit sharper. "Oh, come on, Rip. It's not like you talk about your issues with anyone either. It's… kind of what we have in common, really. We don't exactly wear our hearts on our sleeves."
"I -" he starts to say, but she interrupts him.
"For the record? My nightmare was about the people I killed when my sister first brought me back from the dead."
"With the Lazarus Pit, you mean."
"Yeah. I had been dead longer, so the bloodlust affected me more. And I didn't have my soul."
"Can you remember… that time?" he asks, and he knows he's treading on uncharted waters now, but his curiosity gets the better of him.
"Bits of it," she answers. "I was… looking for my killer."
"You mean your friend Thea Queen." He's heard this part of the story before - about how Thea was drugged when she fired three arrows into Sara's chest. It still makes him wince thinking about it, though.
"Yeah. Apparently I killed three girls who looked like her before Oliver and Laurel managed to stop me and get my soul back." She speaks more haltingly now, not quite able to look Rip in the eye and instead focusing on a spot just above his shoulder. "And… I remember, Rip. I remember snapping those girls' necks. In my dream. And it's just awful because I felt better, after I killed them."
"It's not your fault," Rip says quietly.
Her eyes turn stony for a second. "Don't even think about telling me it was Laurel's."
"I wasn't," Rip tells her truthfully. "It's not her fault either. She loves you, and from what you've told me about her, she thinks you deserve the world and more."
"Did you know she even apologised to me?" Sara says, and her eyes shimmer with tears, now, as they finally meet his. "She sat me down and told me how sorry she was for bringing me back to life when it came at such a price. How it was selfish of her."
"What did you say?" he asks.
"I told her about all the selfish decisions I've made in my life. Like getting on the Queen's Gambit. I reminded her of the horrible consequences of that - most of all to her. And I told her that bringing me back doesn't even come close."
"You're not selfish," Rip says. "You're many things, Sara, but not that."
Her lips tremble towards a smile again, but they don't quite manage it this time.
"I was, though. Before the Gambit… I wasn't a good person. And, after, I tried to make up for it. Just in the wrong way."
"What do you mean?"
She looks at him, then, and she's frowning as though considering telling him something. When she speaks it's slow, as if she's contemplating each word.
"I… once thought the only way to save my family from the League was to take Tibetan pit viper venom and poison myself."
It doesn't surprise Rip a huge deal. Still, he's not sure what to say next, and after a second she says, "You can probably relate, can't you?"
Of all the things he expects her to say, it's not this. He's silent for a moment. "You mean when I tried to take the Waverider to the sun."
"I mean when you tried to kill yourself," she says bluntly. But instantly she softens and unexpectedly her hand goes up to stroke his cheek. It's the first time since she surfaced from the nightmare that she's touched him, and it reassures him a little, calms him. "I mean… I get it."
"You do?" he whispers.
"You wanted to… take one for the team. And you'd be with your family again. I get that."
"That wasn't the whole reason," Rip admits.
"I know," Sara says softly. "You don't have to say it. I know how you felt. How you feel."
"How do you know?"
"Because… it used to be what I saw when I looked in the mirror."
"Used to be?" he repeats.
"Yeah," Sara says. "Until some guy claiming to be a Time Master told me I was destined for greater things." And this time Sara does smile, properly. "You look so surprised."
"I am," he says. "I didn't realise I played a part in your -" He wants to say "recovery", but that doesn't sound right.
"You gave me purpose," she tells him. "Laurel brought me back to life but you were the one who convinced me that life was worth living. And I just - I wish I could do the same for you."
"I had a purpose," Rip says. "Defeating Vandal Savage was the end point for me. It's hard to see beyond that. Even now."
"How about we start with - this?" She leans in, then, and ever so gently kisses him. Her mouth lingers on his for a few seconds, and when she pulls away he can feel the warm flutter of her breath against his throat.
"Okay," he says softly, nodding. "Okay."
He reaches out, touches her wrist and slides his hand up to hers until their fingers are linked together. Her hand is warm, and impulsively he finds himself lifting her hand to his mouth and kissing her knuckles.
She laughs lightly. "What was that for?"
"You've… reminded me that even through the cracks the light can still get in."
"Poetic," Sara says, and the amusement sparkling in her eyes reassures him somewhat that she's okay.
"I just mean… perhaps there is hope. For me. And for you. Despite what you might think."
"I know. If there's anything I've learned during our… time travelling adventures, it's that I can always be better. And I intend to be."
And when her lips meet his this time it's easy for Rip to lose himself in them, in her, to kiss her and lie in her bed and just forget the world.