Disclaimer: I do not own LOT or any of its characters. All hail our lord and savior Beebo!
There's a loud boom and a major quake that ripples through the ship. Zari clutches onto the side of her bed for safety (even though she's pretty sure that's not actually safe), vowing to obliterate whoever decided to attack this early in the morning. When the shockwaves pass twenty terrifying seconds later, she rushes to the galley.
The other legends have also run there- in various states of undress. She eyes them all (she's trying really hard not to stare at a shirtless Ray) and sees matching looks of panic on their faces.
"Was that a time quake?" Nate asks.
"Are we under attack?" Zari adds.
Sara urgently presses buttons on the monitor. "Gideon, give me the status of the ship."
"All systems are functional, Captain," the AI informs.
Sara heaves a sigh of relief, while Zari mumbles a "thank God". (Some days, she seriously hates being The Time Mechanic.)
Nate sits down on the floor, fully awake yet very tired. He covers his face with his hands and yawns. "What happened?"
"Actually, I think-" Ray begins, but Sara cuts him off quickly.
"Not now, Ray. Gideon, can you triangulate the location of the quake?"
"I can tell you the exact location, Captain," chimes Gideon. "It came from Dr. Palmer's room."
All eyes turn to Ray, curious, angry, or a mixture of both.
"Haircut blew up his room?" Mick comments between sipping on his beer. "Nice. I'm impressed."
Ray smiles sheepishly. "Like I was trying to say. I've been doing this experiment-"
"How many times have I told you not to do experiments on the ship?" Sara barks.
"Where am I supposed to do my experiments then?" Ray stands his ground, countering her.
"I don't know and I don't care. I just know that someday you'll blow a hole in this ship and get us all stranded in the time stream because you couldn't keep it in your pants. This is your last warning, Ray. One more experiment, and I will maroon you at the peak of the Roman Empire where they will execute for your science stuff."
"Actually, at the peak of the Roman Empire-" Nate begins, but Sara shuts him up with a deadly glare. He swiftly changes the topic. "So where will Ray stay now?"
Sara thinks for just a moment before making up her mind. "He can stay at Zari's room for the time being."
No, no, no, no, no. This is not happening. This can't be happening. She's been trying her best to avoid him, keeping note of the times when he's in the laundry room (she has vaguely registered him singing "who let the dogs out" and might kill him for that alone) or the kitchen so she doesn't have to bump into him, and keeping their interactions during dinner to a "pass the salt please" minimal. She can't live inside the same four walls as him without going insane.
"Why does he have to stay at my room?" Zari protests immediately, trying her best to sound annoyed instead of terrified.
"Because you're the only one with an extra bed and no roommate," Sara explains, calm and decisive.
"I can switch rooms with Nate. He and Nate can do their bromance. I can bunk with John."
Zari watches from the corner of her eyes as Ray visibly tenses for just a moment- long enough for her to notice, short enough that the others don't (Nate probably would have noticed if he wasn't dozing off every five seconds). She wonders what that is all about.
"You're stuck with Ray," Sara says sternly. "You two clearly have some team bonding to do."
"We are fine," Zari answers curtly.
Sara smiles. She's got them where she wants them. "Then this wouldn't be a problem."
Zari's room is so perfectly neat- neater than his actually- it takes him by surprise. He has been at the doorway many times, but never inside. Zari never invites him in (partly because he's always knocked on her door with some annoying board game in hand, and protocol dictates she shut the door on his face with a simple "Nope".)
Zari takes in deep breathes, reminding herself that this is temporary, willing herself to stay calm and in control, and lay down the laws of the land for him. She faces him, trying her best to be friendly. "Rule one, don't touch my food. Ever. Rule two, stay out of my underwear drawer unless you want to know whether I can choke someone to death with the straps of a bra. Rule three, don't speak unless spoken to. Are we clear?"
"Rule three sounds like prison rules to me," Ray complains.
"You would know," Zari mumbles, loud enough for Ray to hear her.
He looks at her curiously, an eyebrow arched up. "What's that supposed to be mean?"
"Nothing," she says in a sarcastic tone. "You're a boyscout. Why would you ever be at a prison?"
"Actually, I got thrown into a Russian gulac once with Mick." His eyes light up in the way they do when he's about to talk about something that's exciting to him, the way that makes her stomach do that weird thing. "Did I ever tell you that story?"
"No. Thank you for that. Anyways," Zari gestures awkwardly at the room that's starting to feel too small for two people. "Make yourself at home then, I guess."
"Are you always this hostile to your roommates?" Ray wonders out loud.
"At first," Zari admits with a tiny smile.
Ray is, by all accounts, an ideal roommate. In the one hour since he moved in, he's settled in without making much of a hassle (if you don't count his "dorkumentary" on how the color of the wall affects moods and emotions). Zari notes that his books and DVDs outnumber his clothes, and he has some kind of system for organising them. He has managed to stack them in just two drawers and taken up only one-eighth of her closet space, all his clothes neatly ironed and folded. She's kind of impressed.
"What do you wanna do now?" He asks when he catches her staring at him. She looks away quickly, busying herself with the book she's pretending to read, but he continues. "Do you wanna play video games? Didn't you have a new one of bar fighting?"
"Don't you have somewhere else you need to be?" She asks without looking up from the book. Judging by the time clock on her wrist, this is when he takes off on the jump ship.
Of course he completely misses what she's trying to imply. "No. I took care of my chores already," he announces proudly, and then adds, as an afterthought, "Although, if you want something to eat, I'd be happy to cook. It's the least I can do to thank you for letting me sleep here."
"I didn't let you sleep here," she points out. "Sara made me."
"I know. Look, Z, I'm sorry you're stuck with me," Ray says sincerely.
"It's not-" She finally looks up at him, and sees the look of worry on his face. He has clearly caught on to her annoyance with him- the only person in the Waverider to do so. It makes her a smile. "It's fine, Ray. Really."
"Are you sure?" He asks tentatively, now fidgeting with the shirt he's been folding. "Cause I feel like you've been kind of mad at me lately."
Truth be told, she knows it's none of her business who he dates. She has no right to be mad over it. (She's certainly not jealous). But when he's dating the wrong girl and being so secretive about it, when he might walk into danger-again, being annoyed with him isn't optional anymore.
"I'm not mad at you," she lies, and, because she is being passive-aggressively mad, adds, "Why would I be? It's not like you're doing something worth being mad over, right?"
"Right," he echoes, unconvinced, but knowing he's not getting anything out of her now, decides to drop it for the time being. "So. Video games?"
He sure is persistent, and she might feel a little better after kicking his ass. "Sure. Why not?"
Two hours pass playing video games, and for those two hours, it's just her and Ray, hanging out like they usually do, with no shadow of a third person lingering over their heads. Well, minus Nate, who comes to call them for dinner, and ends up grabbing the third controller to turn their duel into pretty much a lawless brawl. After fifteen minutes, Gideon issues an ultimatum that they can either eat now with the rest of the team or "suit yourselves".
They continue playing until Ray finally gets a little tired of losing. "I'm hungry," he says, "Maybe we should grab some dinner now?"
Zari gestures at a side of her closet. "Rule four, I always have food in my room."
That gets both the men curious enough to pause the game and get up from their seats. Ray opens the closet, and Nate pokes his head from behind his towering figure, both curious to see what exactly she has stashed in there.
It turns out to be bags of chips, lots of mints, and a few boxes of cereals. There's also a mini fridge (thank you Mick's shoplifting skills) with a couple of donuts, cakes and pastries.
Food really is Zari's one true love.
"That's not dinner," Ray announces, and before she can yell at him, clarifies, "Not a very healthy one anyway. I'll see what I can cook."
"Okay," Nate concedes, and returns to battling it out with Zari.
Ray returns an hour later, barely balancing a tray on his hands. "A little help, guys?"
Nate rushes to his rescue, while Zari stows the controllers away and wipes the desk clean.
It's strangely domestic for a bunch of time travelling superheroes.
Nate bids them goodnight after dinner, and it finally dawns on her again that she's going to be sleeping in the same room as Ray.
Zari's cheeks flush a tint of atom-suit red. She plops down on the bed hastily, not bothering to change into her pajamas, and crawls under the sheets, hiding from the object of her many embarassing dreams and hoping she doesn't talk in her sleep.
She can't see how Ray stares at her in confusion. "It's a hundred degrees out here. How can you sleep like that?"
Zari pokes her head out. "It's cosy."
Ray looks like he wants to argue, but only shrugs, before sitting down on his new bed.
And then he takes off his shirt.
Zari quickly covers her face once again. (Breathe, breathe, breathe).
They're awakened by the sound of alarms the next day. There's a demon on the loose, and the entire day is spent chasing after it. By the time they crash into bed, they barely even have the energy to say goodnight.
Zari wakes up the next day to catch Ray staring at her with a smile on his face. "Were you watching me sleep?" She asks, intrigued.
Ray blushes, clearly flustered at being caught red-handed. "No, I," he fumbles for an excuse for a bit before giving in and accepting that he's incapable of lying, "I'm sorry."
She studies his face, trying not to let her amusement (and the fact that her heart is beating wildly in her chest, like a drum solo on Metallica's songs) show. "Careful, Ray Palmer. Your perv side is showing."
He gasps, petrified. "It wasn't like that, I swear! Scout's honor! I just woke up a few minutes ago. You looked really peaceful. But I have to say, is sleeping on your back the best option? I've read it can-"
"Ray," she warns, not letting him off the hook that easily.
He pouts. "All you do lately is scowl at me. Like Batman. Or worse, Mick. It's such a rare sight to see you smile. I couldn't look away. My eyes were up at your face one hundred percent of the time, I promise. You can ask Gideon, I'm sure she saw the whole thing. Right, Gideon?"
"I'm an AI, Dr. Palmer, not big brother," Gideon chimes in. "I do not keep a log of what people have been staring at. I can confirm though that Ms. Tomaz indeed looked peaceful. It was probably because of the dream she was having of a picnic at Central Park with you. She thought the food was delicious, and you were a great ki-"
"Thank you, Gideon," Zari dismisses quickly (she's going to do a hack that'll leave Gideon trippy. That'll teach her for spilling her secrets), now wide awake. It's her turn to be petrified now, but she'll be damned if she lets it show. "I do look peaceful when I dream of food."
"And me," Ray adds. It's his turn now to not let it go that easily.
Zari rolls her eyes. "Must be because you're the last thing I saw before I fell asleep. It's better than falling asleep while watching Aliens, I suppose."
"We can have a picnic sometime," Ray offers, and then adds, uncertainly, "if you want."
Now this is the part that gets confusing. There's Ray telling Nate he has a thing for Nora, risking his life to save hers, not once but twice, and taking the jump ship to visit her in prison. (Again, for the record, she's not jealous. She's just concerned. That chick is insane.) And then there's Ray giving her these looks and saying these things. He's not the kind of man who two times, this she knows. So what the hell is he thinking?
"I'll never say no to food," Zari answers carefully, "but a picnic is not really my style." She sits up quickly, slips her flip flops on, and heads for the bathroom, letting Ray know the conversation is over.