Chapter 1: prologue
“This is a joke.”
“It has to be.”
There's a sort of desperate edge to the words as they slip past her lips. The sort of desperation that was not usually in her tone.
No, usually her tone was civil, proper, the right words at the right times, exactly what her superiors had complimented her for many times before.
Ava had prided herself on always following orders.
On being aware of where the lines were and staying within them. On working her hardest to complete her academy training and then rise through the Time Bureau’s ranks immediately following the completion of it.
Ava took orders well, and this, this was supposed to be her first chance to give the orders.
To run a team of her own.
Rather than just following them.
A moment to prove herself, to the Directors, to the whole of the Time Bureau, and most importantly to herself.
But now -
She's half tempted to say that she doesn't want the promotion, that she’ll go back to being a part of Agent Bishop’s team. Surely that would be better than this? She’d at least get to travel through time then.
Or perhaps she could even volunteer herself for desk duty. Something she had ever wanted, but now couldn’t help consider as a half decent possibility.
She doesn't say either of those things though, mostly because of stubborn pride, and the need to prove herself, to prove that coming here to the Time Bureau wasn't a mistake.
It couldn't be.
She’d left her future, her family, her people for this - lost now to an abandoned time line that didn't even exist.
There was no way to go back even if she regretted it.
Perhaps that was why they'd given her the worst possible assignment for her first leading operation. Because the Directors knew Ava didn't have a choice but to say yes. That there was nowhere else to go if she decided that the Time Bureau wasn’t for her, that she’d be stranded in the early 2010s with nothing and nobody.
No, she couldn’t quit.
But that didn’t mean she had to accept this assignment without any fight.
She had to try.
“I think this has been a mistake,” Ava tries again, this time with a logical appeal, “Surely my potential shouldn't be wasted on something as benign as this. There’s other agents with more experience in surveillance, my record is one of action and accuracy.”
There's a look not quite like pity but almost in Director Hunter’s eyes. She finds herself hating that look. “There hasn't been a mistake, Agent Sharpe.”
“I didn't join the Time Bureau - I didn't leave my future- for this,” Ava insists, her logic slips as her voice risings. “To be running surveillance on one of the idiots who managed to fuck up all of time.”
If Director Hunter seems shocked by her language or tone he doesn't say anything. In fact his features hardly change at all.
“It’s not just any one of them it’s-”
“That makes it worse,” she bursts out cutting him.
Oh yes, the Legends.
She had heard all about them.
They were a cautionary tale for all Time Bureau agents, a case of what not to do and who not to be.
There'd been one moment briefly at the Academy when she’d been interested in them, fascinated by the tales of adventure, assuring herself that this was why she decided to become a Time Agent. The foresight granted by time travel had helped correct that misconception. Research proving that they weren’t anything special.
They became a study that Ava had carefully gone over in her days at the Academy, pointing out every misstep and mistake they'd ever made. A flawed system, a flawed team, that didn’t know when to stop themselves, didn’t know how to make things better rather than worse.
Sure, they had saved the world once, maybe twice, but at what cost.
She'd even written her dissertation on them, though more accurately on all the ways they had done wrong and how it easily could've been prevented with the right guidance.
After all, was it not their captain to blame in most of these bad decisions.
That woman, who had lacked the qualifications and the training to run a time ship, and had messed it all up in the process.
And now Ava was expected to - “Can I file an objection?”
“You can,” Director Hunter says, “If that's truly your wish.”
“Though I must say,” the Director pauses. Moving around from behind is desk, picking up the folder as he does so, and going to stand across from her. Her eyes drop to the folder insistently, seemingly locked there. “This assignment is very important to me. She is very important to me. There’s very few agents I would trust with an assignment such as this one. I know surveillance isn't a glamorous position, certainly not what you had in mind when I came to recruit you, but this is one of the most important and sensitive jobs the Bureau had to offer. You were selected for this, because I choose you myself, as the most suitable, and the one agent I can count on.”
There's something about the way he says it. Stressing the importance that gives Ava pause. She knows that Director Hunter used to be their captain, that he knows all of the Legends personally, in ways much more intimate than any numbers or sentences in a file or data packed could describe.
She knows that he was there when all of time came unspooled.
That the memory of that still weighs on him from time to time.
“I want Agent Green on my team.”
“Then you're accepting the assignment?”
She doesn't mention that she hardly had a choice.
Not when he put it like that.
“Hypothetically, if I accept the assignment, could I file an objection later if it does not suit my interests,” Ava asks.
His smile is not hidden at all. Her unspoken answer clear there in the quiet of the Director’s office.
She's going to do this.
Even if she ends up regretting it later.
Ava nods once, then once more.
“Could we not stop her now, here in this time, before any of this happens?”
“Well, then we’d both be out of a job,” he replied, handing the folder over to her.
“I suppose that’s true,” she says, taking the folder from him with one final nod.
It's a heavy weigh in Ava’s hand. Thick with pictures and notes and fact files and data.
“I won't let you down, sir,” she says, tucking it under her arm.
When Director Hunter dismisses her, Ava hurries from the room. Her heels clicking against the tile floor as she makes to back to her own office with more speed than necessary, quickly setting about making plans with the Agents that she will need to be on her team and the supplies they'll require to succeed.
She doesn't look at the folder though.
Not there in her office.
Not even once.
Not until much later when she's home, a protein bar open in one hand, while she scatters the contents of the folder out over her kitchen table.
“Okay, Sara Lance, time to figure out why you’re so important.”
Chapter 2: chapter one
So I'm probably updating too soon but I couldn't help myself! All of your amazing feed back on the first chapter just made me want to write more (though the next chapter probably won't be up till Friday because Star Wars/Con prep has to happen over the next two days!)
It’s 2013, and right now Sara Lance isn't anyone all that important.
Certainly, she's back from the dead.
Fighting crime by night.
Working in a bar by slightly less night.
Sleeping all the daylight hours away.
But she's not-
She's not breaking all of time just yet.
She’s not a Legend.
She's not even very interesting.
For all of Director Hunter’s stressing about how important this woman was (to the Bureau, to himself, and to all of time) she didn't actually manage to seem or do anything all that special. Certainly nothing worthy of constant surveillance.
No, instead Ava spent most of the time listening to Sara watch reality television shows and call her sister - Laurel, a lawyer, the future Black Canary - than she did seeing any actual action and it's just boring.
She's bored .
A feeling that Ava is not entirely used to or comfortable with, and one that only seems to grow with each passing moment.
She almost can't believe it, that this woman in just a few years will break all of time, and will be the very reason that the Time Bureau even exists.
Though Ava supposes, listening in on Sara’s phone call to her sister (a rambling commentary of a reality show about children that dance and their overly passionate dance instructor) she does seem like the sort of person idiotic enough to break all of time. The type of person that would ruin all of Director Hunter’s carefully laid plans just by existing and having no clue what to do with her new found position and power. The type of person that would think the rules of time travel didn’t apply to her.
Yes, Ava could see it so clearly.
If only she could steer the Director away from ever having recruited her in the first place, present a carefully put together folder of facts of why Sara Lance was nothing special and certainly not worth all the trouble that she brought. Then that at least could be one thing to be counted as a success out of this mission.
One good things out of many disappointments.
Of course, she’s not the only one that’s bored.
Though, at least, she has the common sense to keep quiet about it.
Gary, on the other hand, seems to think stake outs are for conversation- “Did you really tell the directors that you were the heiress to a floating lesbian planet and didn't deserve this?”
Gary grins at her from where he's sitting on the other end of their cramped surveillance van. All the technology the Time Bureau has at their disposal and Ava is the one stuck in a cramped van, listening in with headphones, on one of the idiots that managed to break all of time.
At least she wasn't entirely alone.
There was Gary, and technically Agent Davies though he barely talked and seemed focused entirely on his work - something Ava could very much respect.
Gary’s need for conversation was something else entirely, but there was a reason she’d picked him for her team. Their shared time on previous teams and projects together making Ava at least used to his ways.
“Did you really-”
“Do you believe everything that people tell you?”
“So you're not the heiress to a planet from the future?”
Ava doesn’t bother to answer him.
Hoping it will deter his attempts to make conversation on what has been the most boring week of staking someone out probably ever in the history of stake outs. Only rivaled by the week before this one. Likely to be topped by the next week.
“Because that would be really-”
“Tell me what you've found out about Miss Lance,” Ava says, cutting him off, and gesturing instead to headset draped around his neck instead of over his ears.
“Right, well- We know she's the Black Canary right now.”
“I know that, tell me something I don’t know.”
Gary pauses, flipping through his notes, “Uh… She puts mayo on her hamburger?”
“That’s disgusting and I’m not even surprised. That’s the point I’m at now. Not even surprised.”
“She’s staring at the van,” Gary announces, far too cheery for the news that he’s delivering.
Ava pauses in the middle of what she had been doing - tossing a rubber ball up at the roof of the van repeatedly as if to subside her boredom - and turns to look at him.
He’s staring at one of the screens, and when Ava turns to look at it, she can see that Gary’s not wrong.
There she is, Sara Lance in all her glory. This time dressed in her Black Canary get up, a bow staff resting in her right palm, a pair of narrowed eyes watching their van from behind a mask that barely disguises the features of the woman behind it.
“Do you think she’s realized that we’ve been following her?”
“She’s trained by the League of Assassins,” Ava says, remembering what she had read in the files, “She’d be an idiot not to.”
Ava doesn’t let him finish his question, not when she can see Sara moving on the screen in front of them, already heading towards the van.
The only real option is to open up a time portal quickly and efficiently, that they both step through, leaving their surveillance van behind and ending up inside of Ava’s office at Time Bureau headquarters instead.
No doubt just in time.
There’s another headache growing behind Ava’s eyes and she pinches at the bridge of her nose before leaning against the side of her desk.
“That’s going to cause an issue,” Ava says, more annoyed at herself than anyone else.
Of course, Sara would notice that she was being followed.
For all that she was an uninteresting mess of a person that was going to one day endanger all of time. She was also highly trained by some of the most skilled people in the world. Why Ava had thought that a trained assassin wouldn’t notice a van appearing at her most frequent locations was a serious oversight on Ava’s part.
She was supposed to have been better than that.
She had been chosen for this job because she was better than this.
“We could get a new van,” Gary suggests.
She almost feels bad shooting him a glare because he is trying to be helpful.
Trying being the key word.
The problem was that no matter what they did Sara would know that someone was watching her, unless -
“It is?” Gary replies hesitantly, before correcting himself, “I mean, of course, it is, I-”
“I have an idea.”
Just as she expected the van is thoroughly searched and scavenger when they come back for it the next morning.
Ava doesn’t bother to hide as she searches it over, opting for her Bureau suit rather than the more casual clothing she would use if she was trying to maintain a cover.
Gary and Davies make quick work of gathering what’s left of their equipment, while Ava does her best not to turn around when she senses that they’re being watched.
Instead she just says, loud enough that her voice will carry across the empty shipping yard, “Do we still have her place bugged?”
Technically this was breaking the rules, giving up her non-interference policy, disobeying orders in a rare moment of recklessness, but if it worked it would be worth it.
And anyways, weren’t people always breaking the rules where Sara Lance was concerned?
“She’s on the move.”
That’s her cue.
Ava adjusts her suit jacket one last time,the Time Bureau pin on her lapel switched out for a more traditional American flag pin. The last thing she needs to complete her look and her cover story.
They’ve been hiding out in a burger joint - one frequented by Sara - where they’d been not so conspicuously hiding, Gary with a laptop out and a set of obscenely large headphones around his neck to complete the look. While Davies leans back on the other side of the booth, a pair of dark sunglasses to shade his eyes as he watches the restaurant's patrons. None of them having once touched the food that they ordered, it long having grown cold in front of them.
“Don’t have too much fun without me,” Ava says, knocking twice on the table, and getting two sharp nods in return. “And someone tip the waitress.”
“I always tip,” Gary insists eagerly.
But she waves him off already heading for the door.
The cool evening air hits her first when she steps out of the restaurant. Time Bureau suits not made to keep heat in, purely meant to create a uniform yet inconspicuous look.
Though Ava hardly feels inconspicuous as she moves down the street, absentmindedly fiddling with an outdated earpiece tech that’s grown long since absolute, and keeping her gaze up towards the buildings roof tops.
To the figure she can see just barely against the night sky.
Following her this time.
She makes it two blocks, before she’s pulled off her path, and into a dimly lit alleyway.
Ava’s more disappointed that it took so long than anything else. Annoyed at having had to walk two blocks in the cold, only to get pushed back up against the brick walls of an apartment building.
An irregular brick digs into her back, pressing hard through the suit and likely to cause a bruise, to anyone else it might seem silly to worry about that when there’s also a knife against her throat.
The Black Canary in all her glory.
Ava must admit that from up close it's a nice look. The wig Sara wears to make her hair a shade blonder than it actually is, the mask tight to her face covering her cheekbones while black paint follows the curve of her eyes, so that it is only in the vague hint of light from the streetlamp that Ava can make out the blue in her eyes.
She’s shorter than Ava imagined, though no less lethal, and when Ava looks down at her, her eyes settle momentarily on Sara’s cleavage pressed up and presented as a distraction by the tight corset she wears as the Black Canary.
It can’t possibly be easy to fight crime in a corset and leather pants that left little to the imagination.
But it did make a pretty picture.
Ava could at least give her that.
“You and your goon squad have been following me,” Sara says.
Her voice seems higher pitched in person than it does over the recordings they’ve gathered from her apartment, but that might have something to do with her Black Canary persona.
“We have been,” Ava admits.
Sara seems momentarily put off by her having admitted it so readily.
The knife at her throat wavers briefly, before strengthening it’s resolve.
“Are you Argus?”
“The fuck is an Argus,” Ava says, without thinking.
Making a mental note to look into Argus later. Surely the Time Bureau had information on them, and if it had been excluded from her information packet then-
“If you’re not Argus what are you?”
The annoyed look on Sara’s face brings a small rush of satisfaction to Ava. At least now Sara can experience a little bit of the frustration that Ava’s felt with this whole assignment.
She’s not surprised a moment later when the hand not holding the knife to her throat immediately goes to Ava’s blazer pockets before slipping beneath it when dissatisfied with what she finds, ignoring the gun holstered beneath her blazer, a hand brushing against Ava’s side in a way that could almost be considered intimate in any other circumstance.
But this was not.
She was being searched.
Just as Ava had expected she would be.
Sara Lance was at least predictable if nothing else.
“It’s in my back pocket,” Ava says with a put upon sigh. Thankful when Sara’s hand stops brushing down the curve of her back, and instead reaches into the back pocket of her slacks, fishing out the planted badge with in there.
The knife finally moves away from her throat, though Ava makes no effort to move away from the wall, as Sara flips open the badge, scoffing under her breath when she sees what it reveals, “FBI, really?”
“Are you insulting the Bureau,” Ava says, barely having to adopt an annoyed tone.
“Why is the FBI following me?”
“Well, Miss Lance, you did just come back from the dead and decide to become a vigilante.”
She watches carefully as Sara stills. A pause over taking her, seemingly a moment of fight or flight, and Ava braces herself for the inevitable fight. Her hand already moving to her weapon, but she never gets the chance, because in a moment of surprise, the sound of sirens cut through the empty night air, and Sara jerks her gaze away from Ava.
“This isn’t finished,” she says, tossing the badge back to her, which Ava easily catches.
“I certainly hope not,” Ava replies, though when she speaks it’s to empty air.
Sara already gone.
Off to save the day or whatever she thinks she’s doing.
Ava lingers there for a moment, trying to put it all together, to catalogue all that she’s seen in her first interaction with the famous Sara Lance. For the report she will inevitably have to write as soon as she gets home.
It’s disappointing. As much seems to be the mood lately.
Still, the mission was back on, and now could continue without major incident.
She reaches up to tap her earpiece, the real one, and tells her team, “She took the bait. We’re good to go.”
Chapter 3: chapter two
The thing is nobody said anything at the Time Bureau about them breaking the rules.
And such, her team doesn’t mention it.
She tells herself that leaving her interference out of her mission report isn’t lying, it’s just omitting information which is not pertinent to the questions that Director Hunter asked of her.
Nowhere in his request for an update did it ask if she had spoken to Sara.
So nowhere did Ava mention it.
Though that didn’t stop the tense feeling from following her around, even after she had handed in her mission report in to the Director. It lingers there in the back of her mind even when she returns to her team to go over their new plan for surveillance, the van swapped out for a handful of empty buildings where they can set a temporary shop. Though it was hard to make a definite decision with the headache that kept cropping up whenever she thought too hard about how much trouble they were going to be in when they were inevitably found out.
This was why she didn’t break the rules, why she always stuck to the plan, as to not feel this .
Something which had become harder and harder lately, and not just because of the headache, but because of Sara .
Sara, who lingered in Ava’s thoughts, still, days after their brief encounter.
If she closed her eyes she could see it all too clearly, she could be back in that alley again, Sara in front of her in that skin tight get up, her blue eyes meeting Ava’s, her pink lips parting to throw a threat in Ava’s direction.
She needed to get that thought out of her head.
She needed a break through.
She needed to have never taken this assignment.
She’s at HQ when the alarm goes off.
A simple thing, the vibration of her phone against her desk, a dull noise, while she’s in the middle of going over Director Hunter’s old reports, looking for something that could help them with their Sara situation.
Looking for a solution to stop thinking so much about that woman.
This though was not going to be that solution.
“Do you need to take that,” Gary asks, he’s sitting on the opposite side of her desk going over the same set of files.
She swipes her thumb over the fingerprint reader, to open the notification, frowning down at it as if she hadn’t recognized the sound, “Someone’s broken into my apartment.”
“Do you need back up?”
Ava hesitates for a moment.
The truth was she might.
After all, by following Sara around there was a chance she could have invoked the fury of all sorts of dangerous people - the League of Assassins, this mysterious Argus, the Green Arrow - but no, Ava was almost certain she knew who this was.
Certain enough that she shook her head in Gary’s direction, “I’ve got this. Why don’t you head home for the night, we can go through the rest of this tomorrow.”
Gary nods at that, before giving her a smile that is meant to be supportive, “Take care of yourself.”
Once he’s gone she quickly creates a time portal, not into her apartment, but down the hall, near the supply closet where nobody ever seems to look or linger. She exits the same as always, without any incident, before rounding the corner back to the main hallway and going three doors down to room 5C.
Her door is slightly ajar, something that Ava realizes is more for appearances sake than actual haste of the person who had broken in. After all, there was no way for herto know that Ava had a Time Bureau security system in her apartment, and clearly the person inside had wanted Ava to know that she was there.
Still, Ava removes her gun from it’s holster beneath her suit jacket and switches her posture into a more alert one before nudging the door open with the toe of her boot.
The door creaks slightly as it does so, alerting the person on the inside to her presence.
Which is probably why a moment later Ava is greeted with the calling out of a voice that has recently grown far too familiar to her.
“I’m in the kitchen.”
“You do know that breaking and entering is a crime,” Ava says, still holding her gun up as she moves down the hall and into the kitchen.
Though she lowers it at the sight of Sara.
The fact that this hadn’t happened sooner is more of a surprise. If she’s being entirely honest she had been expecting this. Still, she had hoped to avoid another confrontation.
After all, under the past few days of observation Sara hadn’t been doing much of anything exciting. Something which had managed to be both a blessing and a curse, but now -
Now, she was sitting in at Ava’s kitchen table, going through the pile of mail that Ava had been ignoring - mostly store advertisements and credit card offers - in her full Black Canary get up like she had nothing better to do.
Perhaps she didn’t.
“Don’t you have crimes to fight?”
“The state of this apartment is a crime.”
“What are you-”
“You know, they don’t send me these,” Sara cuts her off, flipping through Ava’s mail, “Dying kind of messes up your credit, I mean, who knew right?”
“But you must be doing great. I mean not great great, this does say an apr of twenty six percent, but like better than I am,” Sara continues, “Most of these are trash, but this one,” she holds up one envelope in particular, “Says no interest for the first sixteen months which is real deal, and no annual fee. If I were you-”
“You’re not,” Ava says cutting her off. “Thankfully.”
This earns her a sort of laugh from Sara.
It’s not a pleasant sound, not really.
But why then does it cause Ava’s stomach to flutter.
She ignores that feeling, and instead asks, “Is there a reason you broke into my apartment, or was it just to advise me on which credit card company was best?”
“Ava,” Sara says after a moment, holding the white envelope aloft in her hand. “Your name is Ava Sharpe.”
The dread that surges up in her is to be expected, interfering as she already was had been a risk, a risk that Ava had carefully calculated, but this was so much more than that now. This was Sara Lance not just knowing that someone was following her, but knowing who Ava was. Or at least what her name was. Which felt like the first step down a slippery slope.
She stays still as not to let the feeling show on her features and betray her.
When she finally speaks it’s to say “Congratulations,” with a voice that is aiming for sarcastic indifference.
From the way Sara wrinkles her nose slightly Ava can tell at least in this aspect that she hit her mark.
“I can stalk people too.”
“Do you want an award?”
Sara pauses as if considering that, presses the envelope up against her lips in a brief moment of contemplation, before shrugging a bit. “I mean, if you’re offering.”
“Well, if you were-”
“So you broke into my apartment what just to learn my name? Really? You couldn’t have just asked like a normal person?”
“Would you have told me the truth.”
“No,” Ava admits easily.
“Case in point,” Sara points at her, “Look it’s only fair, if you’re going to stalk me for your FBI bosses or whatever, I feel like I deserve to know who you are, and what your favorite pizza topping is?”
“Pineapple,” Ava replies instantly
“Why did you ask if you were just going to insult me?”
“Because I didn’t think you’d pick the worst topping ever,” Sara replies, “And there’s a buy one, get one coupon in here, which I thought-”
“Miss Lance,” Ava says, cutting her off, “I have no interest in sharing pizza with you, because if I’m being entirely honestly, I don’t like you. My job may be to watch you, but it’s not an aspect of my job that I particularly enjoy.”
“Excuse you, I can be plenty enjoyable,” Sara says, her voice dripping with innuendo.
Innuendo that Ava chooses to ignore.
“No. You’re borderline incompetent. You have terrible taste in television shows. The only thing you really have going for yourself is that you can pack a punch and even that-”
“Have people ever told you that you’re kind of a bitch?”
“More than once,” Ava reassures her. “I’ve chosen to take it as a compliment.”
“You would,” Sara replies.
It’s familiar almost, the way she says it, as though she has any sense of familiarity with Ava.
No, Sara doesn’t even know her.
Only just learned her name, and if Ava had a say in it that’s all she would ever know.
“Miss Lance, I’ve already called for backup,” Ava lies, “It would be in your best interest to leave before my fellow agents arrive and we use your breaking and entering as the crime I finally need on record to put you away for a very long time.”
Sara scoffs, a sort of half noise, barely there, but she stands up from Ava’s kitchen table dramatically enough. Tipping back her chair so that it falls on the floor with a clatter, before making her way to the open kitchen window.
“Don’t miss me too much,” Sara says, giving a mocking half salute to Ava, before slipping out the open window and into the darkness of the night.
“Oh I won’t,” Ava replies, once again to empty air.
“How is Sara doing?”
Ava jolts, nearly dropping the bottle of new stronger headache relief pills in her hands at the sound of Director Hunter’s voice. She had been carefully reading the list of possible side effects as she’d exited medical, having finally been convinced by last night’s Sara related encounter that she needed something stronger than the drug store aspirin to deal with her frequent headaches, when he’d appeared without her notice.
That shouldn’t have happened.
She was better trained than that, but she had been distracted lately.
“What,” she blurts out, before she can catch herself.
Though thankfully the Director doesn’t seem to see her outburst as too odd. If anything he looks slightly pleased with it, a small hint of a smile, as if he understands exactly what the tired look in her eyes means.
Did Sara Lance have this effect on everyone?
“Among other things,” Ava says, shoving the bottle in her pocket, “I’m sorry, sir, what were you saying?”
“I read your report on Sara’s current condition and happenings.”
“It’s not very exciting,” Ava replies, pointedly not mentioning that this was because she was keeping all of the exciting bits out.
“No,” he agrees, “You have a gift for dry report writing. You’d giver Director Bennet a run for his money.”
“I’m taking that as a compliment.”
“As you should,” he replies. “Though it did inspire me to stop and ask... how is she doing? Not what is she doing or facts on a sheet of paper, but emotionally, does she seem well to you?”
Well, enough to break into people’s apartment and sort through their mail, that much was for sure.
Though Ava knows that isn’t what Director Hunter means.
No, it’s something else, something deeper.
He genuinely cares about her.
For whatever reason Ava cannot understand.
And he’s worried.
Another feeling Ava cannot imagine ever feeling.
Still, she can at least assuage some of that worry. “She’s been really annoying lately, which I think for her, means she’s doing well.”
“That does indeed sound like her.”
There’s a note taped to her door when she gets home that evening.
Or no -
Not a note.
An advertisement for the pizza place down the street for her apartment.
With the buy one, get one deal circled in blue sharpie, and messy handwriting scrawled next to it so that Ava can barely make out the words, disabled your alarms and your left pizza in the fridge xoxo sara .
“For fuck’s sake.”
Chapter 4: chapter three
Another quick update! I'm a little under the weather, so sorry if this one doesn't flow as well as the others. Just trying to get as much of this story out for y'all as I can before I have to go home for the holidays.
Somehow watching Sara becomes more fun after that.
If that were possible, and if that were even a word that Ava used in her daily vocabulary. But as odd as it seemed, and while she never would voice it to the rest of her team, she was actually beginning to like watching Sara.
There was something about her, something that drew Ava in, that made her pause in the middle of filing reports to look at the screen in her office, the one that showed CCTV footage of Sara’s where abouts as she moves through the city as the Black Canary.
She was talking with the Arrow, words that Ava didn’t need to hear or didn’t bother to listen to, it wasn’t important to her mission. But still, she was drawn to watching Sara, the way her lips moved, the way she leaned against the side of her motorcycle, switching her bow staff from hand to hand as she talked.
It was casual and indifferent, but Ava is constantly drawn to watching her.
Drawn to the lines of her body.
To Sara Lance.
Of all people.
Ava shakes her head, trying to shake herself out of the thought.
There’s nothing endearing about her, not at all, and especially not now when she waves the Arrow away, with what looks like a reassurance that she will follow in a moment, before turning to look up at the traffic camera. The very camera that Ava is watching her through. And giving the camera a far too wide smile and a mocking salute.
Sara Lance was a public menace.
The fact that Ava’s heart may have picked up speed at her smile, only proved that point.
The note on Ava’s door reads Working Late?!!! I ordered take out!!!
She tears it off before somebody could notice and slips inside of her apartment.
As always she does a quick check over it to make certain that nothing has been changed or moved, that her future tech is still locked away and that her weapons are where they belong, before moving into to the kitchen.
Her mail had already been brought in, the usual unorganized mess now three piles - bills, letters, and advertisements - and next to it is a pair of chopsticks in a paper holder, as well as something else...
It’s outdated by Time Bureau standards, but by current time standards it’s actually quiet advanced. Ava picks up the earpiece sliding it over her ear, opposite to the one her Time Bureau comm is in.
“I suppose you’re wanting some sort of thank you,” Ava says, feeling almost silly for talking to herself, and hoping that there will be someone else on the other line.
She doesn’t have to hope for too long.
“I better get one,” Sara replies not a moment later, and Ava is already digging out her laptop in order to check the CCTV footage for wherever Sara is tonight. “It’s Chinese tonight. I was in a fried rice mood and you weren’t there to object.”
“As though you would’ve listened to my objections.”
“Yeah, no, I would’ve ignored you,” Sara confirms, “But you have bad taste in pizza toppings and literally the only thing in your cupboards are protein bars, so you don’t get an opinion on food.”
“Is that right Miss Lance?”
“You know, you can call me Sara, right? You are stalking me for a living. Which, while flattering is-”
Sara stops, cut off not by Ava but by someone on her end. Another voice joins them before silence on the comm, Sara clearly have elected to turn it off to keep Ava from hearing things she didn’t want her to.
Ava snorts, as if that could stop her.
Though when the CCTV footage finally pulls up and Ava can see who she is talking to, she doesn’t entirely blame her. There’s two people gathered there, one is the familiar Arrow, Oliver Queen. Though the other Ava has only seen from her records, Nyssa al Ghul - the final head of the League of Assassins, sister to Talia al Ghul, Sara’s ex-girlfriend.
She watches on the screen and before rerouting the comm unit so it turns back on and she can listen to whatever conversation Sara wanted to keep out of Ava’s ears.
It sounds important. Or at least important to them. Things that were important to the vigilante's of Star City and things that were important to the Time Bureau (and thus the whole of time) were completely different.
Whatever this was, while dangerous sounding, was not something that Ava needed to concern herself with.
As far as time was concerned all of this had already happened, and would occur as it should without Ava’s interference.
So while Sara was busy making plans on the screen, Ava went to the refrigerator, pulled out the carton of fried rice and mushroom chicken, popping them in the microwave before returning to her seat at the kitchen table.
She watches on the screen as Sara finishes up her discussion in between bites, and when they finish, Sara reaches up like she’s brushing her hair away, but Ava can tell a signal when she sees it.
Time to pretend the comm just got turned back on.
“Sorry about that,” Sara says in her ear.
“Looked like that was something important,” Ava asks, between bites.
“Dangerous more like,” Sara corrects, eyes scanning the empty warehouse, before settled on the dusty window that Ava’s camera is looking through, it’s hard to make out Sara’s expression dimly lit as it is, but she’s certain that it must be a grin. “You know me, living on the edge.”
Oh, didn’t she know that much.
It was Sara’s living on the edge that caused so much trouble throughout all of history.
Though Ava couldn’t point that out not just yet, no matter how much she wanted to.
So she doesn’t say anything, and without waiting too long Sara fills the silence.
“It’s going to be a late one tonight and Ol- The Arrow, says it might go badly.”
Ava knows at once what Sara’s tone means. Not finding it odd that she can tell Sara’s tones apart, she’s been listening to Sara for over a month now, knowing her the careful inflections of her voice was just part of the job, and this time -
Time time Sara was looking for reassurance.
“I’ll be here, monitoring your frequencies.”
She has Davies help her reroute the frequency of the comm Sara had given her into the one that Ava already uses for the Time Bureau, thankful enough that the other agent keeps quiet and doesn’t question orders.
Which means there is no way for the Time Bureau to find out about this.
Another secret that Ava is keeping because of Sara.
Another violation of the rules of her mission parameters, of the very rules of time travel.
She can hardly blame Sara for this, even though she wants to, and even though technically she was the one that gave Ava the direct connection to her.
It was Ava that had taken it.
Ava that kept reaching out.
Ava that wanted so much more.
This was going to end badly.
She was sure of it.
It was only a matter of time.
But in the meantime - “So Aves-”
“It’s Agent Sharpe,” she corrects, not for the first time and probably not for the last. “Ava, at least, god you’re frustrating. Has anyone ever mentioned that?”
“Plenty of times, it’s one of my charms.”
“It is not.”
Sara’s laugh fills her earpiece, making her usual walk through the Time Bureau lobby suddenly so much more exciting. A private treat that only Ava gets to hear.
She does not dignify Sara with a response a second time.
“-What should I watch left? More Say Yes to Dress or Dance Moms, personally I’m feeling-”
“I don’t care, I have meeting, Gary’s watching your feeds.”
“Boo,” Sara says.
And Ava can picture it, the exact look on her face, that minor annoyance that settles between her brows that she pushes off as a joke a moment later.
Ava can even imagine the mischievous smile that no doubt settles on her face, before she speaks up a moment later, “So porn is what I’m hearing? Very loud and graphic porn.”
“I hate you, you do know that right?”
Chapter 5: chapter four
this chapter got long and probably should have been split up into two, but oops.
“I need to talk to you.”
“You’re talking to me right now, Miss Lance.”
There’s a dismissive snort in her ear, and she can see the matching expression through her laptop screen. Sara in her apartment bathroom, stopping from putting on her make up momentarily to cast a less than amused glance at the mirror knowing that somewhere somehow Ava will see it.
She’s grown complacent.
They both have.
Months of this and it’s easy to grow used to it.
Used to this tug and pull, to watching and being watched, and it’s become, not a game or a friendship but something almost like that. Something Ava tries not to dwell on thinking about too much.
The idea that she might care, that she might genuinely have feelings for Sara Lance.
Which was preposterous, Ava didn’t have feelings.
And yet, she had started to look forward to this, their moments of communication.
When it was Sara’s voice she heard in her ear.
“That doesn’t count.”
“In that case, I’ll just end this conversation right now.”
“Come to the club tonight,” Sara says, pointedly ignoring her. “Take off that dreadful suit, let your hair down, and I’ll make you a drink.”
It sounds like a terrible idea.
The worst possible idea.
And yet, Ava’s already thinking about it.
The one place they can never seem to get cameras is inside of the club, probably due to the fact that The Arrow keeps his base underneath it. A part of her could accept the offer, call it a reconnaissance mission, set up some sort of surveillance inside of those walls.
“How do you know my hair’s not already down?”
“Is that yes, Aves? You’ll be there.”
She pauses just for a moment, staring down at her screen, watching for the look in Sara’s eyes. A look that is almost hopeful but not quite. It’s something. Probably having something to do with whatever it is that she wants to talk about, not the concept of Ava going out for the night.
In all honest, Ava can’t remember the last time she went out .
Certainly, before the Time Bureau.
“It’s not a no.”
She drags Gary along with her, because while this may be a bad decision, it’s not a bad decision that Ava is going down for alone.
And well, he had suggested going in and bugging the bar months before, so pitching this as his chance to finally do so, and not a direct invitation from Sara felt better.
Easier to brush this all of later.
Even if in the moment she felt absurd stepping into the sort of nightclub that hadn’t been in Ava’s interests in any time period.
She waves Gary off once they enter, letting him get about his plans to bug the club, knowing that they’ll be able to communicate by comms if anything comes up.
Though she hopes nothing will.
She’s only here for Sara, so she ignores everyone along the way and makes a beeline for the bar and more importantly for the woman behind the counter. Sara looks in her element here, more so than anywhere else that Ava’s observed her. She’s mixing a drink while flirting with one of the patrons, her blonde hair flowing gracefully down her shoulders, a smile that’s far too wide on her face.
A thought that Ava dwells on for only a moment before pushing it down and away. She shouldn’t be thinking of Sara like that. No matter how well she had grown to know the woman as of late.
Thankfully, she’s kept from having anymore traitorous thoughts by Sara noticing her. That smile somehow seeming to get more bright for a moment as she says, “If it isn’t my favorite FBI Agent that stalks me.”
Trust Sara to be dramatic.
“What was that?”
It’s not Sara that speaks, and when Ava finally tears her gaze away from Sara she realizes who exactly Sara had been making that drink for: Oliver Queen - the Green Arrow, future mayor of Star City, currently very distrustful of government authority figures.
“Mr. Queen,” Ava says curtly, trying to quickly think of something to explain away her presence.
She’s saved from that as Sara speaks up, “I’m only kidding, Ollie. It’s a inside joke.”
He doesn’t seem to buy it, and via the comm in her ear Gary unhelpfully suggests, “Would it be better or worse, if you mentioned that we know he’s the Green Arrow?”
“Worse,” she says probably too loudly because two sets of eyes instantly shift to her direction.
Meanwhile Gary snorts a half laugh in her ear. If she knew where to find him she’d glare at him.
As she doesn’t she turns back to Oliver and Sara putting on her best patented Time Bureau smile.
“You’re making it worse, Sara,” she says trying again, “I may be an agent of-” she waves her hand a kind of all encompassing movement, “But that’s not why I’m here tonight. My day job doesn’t matter.”
“It doesn’t,” Sara says backing her off, before pressing a glass into Oliver’s hands, and saying in a voice that was probably meant to be a whisper but was clearly anything but that, “Go bother someone else, can’t you see I’m trying to get laid.”
Still, it works, and a moment later they’re alone.
Or as alone as two people at a bar could be.
“You let your hair down,” Sara points out.
Almost instinctively Ava wants to tie her hair back up, back into a senseable bun at the back of her head, that way she always wears it.
She only just resists the urge.
Probably due to the fact that Sara says, “I like it,” a moment later.
“I feel like an idiot,” she says, “I don’t normally do this.” She adjusts her dress instinctively, a little black dress, not the most flashy of things but more than Ava usually liked. Why she had thought a dress was a good idea, with her height, was a decision she would really need to rethink if she ever did something like this again in the future.
“No, you look good,” Sara reassures her
It takes Ava a moment following that to understand the sweeping look that she gets a moment later means. Sara’s checking her out. The realization doesn’t seem so shocking with everything that Ava knows about Sara and yet.
She makes a sort of half cough noise to draw Sara’s attention back to her face and not other parts of her body. “Aren’t you supposed to be making me a drink?”
“What do you want?”
“Surprise me,” she says, not wanting to think about it. Not able to. It’s recently become hard to think of much of anything, especially now that she’s registered the interest in Sara’s eyes. Ava’s not entirely used to being looked at like that. She’s done everything in her power for years to avoid having people look at her for too long.
But Sara was, Sara still is as she works on mixing Ava up something.
She knows that it doesn’t mean anything. For all that she feels like she knows Sara, having watched her near constantly these past few months. Sara doesn’t really know her. She can’t. So that look in her eyes in the same look that she gives to every pretty girl that walks into this place.
Certainly, Ava has seen enough to know about Sara’s conquests , and she wasn’t about to be one of them.
No matter if a part of he would be willing.
Their fingers brush against each other when Sara hands her the drink, a small spark at the contact and Ava wants to jerk back, because this was not how this night was supposed to go these were not thoughts that she was supposed to be having.
“Something sweet,” Sara says, “Like you.”
“Thank you, I-” she can’t be here, anymore. She speaks quickly, “I need to find, Gary, and - have a good night,” before taking her drink and hurrying away from the bar top.
It is only then, as she moves among the crowd hunting for wherever Gary has gotten off to that her head clears. Free of the distraction from her logical mental sensibilities caused by being in proximity to Sara Lance.
“Agent Sharpe?” Gary asks concern in his face evident, when she finally does catch up with him. “Are you alright?”
“I need another drink. Maybe two.”
She’s hungover in the morning. A pounding in Ava’s head that reminds her exactly why she didn’t go out and do this sort of thing. She knew exactly how the night had gone down hill, because it was Sara there, and her traitorous brain kept having thoughts about Sara. Because she was the idiot who had managed to catch feelings for the person she was supposed to be watching, for the train wreck that was going to ruin all of time.
Thinking of Sara as a train wreck didn’t make the feelings go away, and it certainly didn’t help her headache.
She needed advil, and a protein bar and maybe -
“What are you doing here?”
“Typically people say good morning.”
Ava blinks at her, at the figure sitting at her kitchen table, nursing a coffee while proudly gesturing to a box of donuts. Ava takes the second coffee on the table, hoping that it will give her some of the energy she needs to deal with this.
To deal with the very person she had gotten drunk to avoid thinking about, suddenly being in her apartment.
“We didn’t sleep together did we?”
“No,” Sara reassures her, before adding “Don’t sound so horrified, I’m great at sex.”
“I’ve heard, quite literally.”
Sara’s laugh, which has recently grown into a pleasant sound, is only grating to her hungover head.
“You should let your hair down more often,” Sara says.
To which, Ava quickly replies, “No thank you,” pointedly using the hair tie on her wrist to tug her hair up into a messy bun so that at the very least it stays out of her face.
Another half laugh, half snort from Sara. An annoying sound now.
Ava ignores her, figuring she might as well make the most out of Sara’s presence, and opens up the box of donuts, taking one for herself. She’s long used to Sara buying her food by now, but normally she didn’t stick around for conversation afterwards.
It’s not until Sara says, “We never did get a chance to talk,” that Ava remembers the reason she had gone out the night before in the first place.
It hadn’t been to realize that what she was feeling for Sara might be more than platonic.
A realization Ava still wasn’t entirely comfortable with.
It had been because Sara had wanted to talk.
So she lets her talk, gestures for her to go ahead, and listens as Sara gives her warning. Talks about whatever it is that the Arrow team has been dealing with, and Sara’s thoughts on that matter. Trying to determine if any of it was actually important, actually relevant to her mission with the Time Bureau.
The short answer was, no.
Which was why when Sara wraps up her whole explanation, looking almost desperate, though Sara would rarely do desperate, and says, “Can you get in contact with your FBI people, because shit is seriously about to go down and I don’t want you to be in danger.”
She only feels a little heartless when she says, “My people won’t listen.”
Sara’s face is shocked and disappointed at the same time, “Aren’t the FBI supposed to help people?”
Probably they were.
But Ava didn’t work for the FBI.
But Sara didn’t know that.
“Why are you even watching me?”
Ava blames the hangover for what slips out past her lips, before she can think twice and stop it, “Because I’m protecting you?”
“What,” Ava echoes back, internally cursing herself for the slip up.
Well, there was one way to fix this, and if she was going to go that route, she might as well, go all the way. There’s been things she’s wanted to say for a while.
“If you’re here to protect me then how come your people won’t help me and Ollie keep this city safe and-”
“I don’t care about this city,” Ava says, cutting her off. One truth, to one lie, “And I don’t really care about you.”
The lie hits its mark, Sara looking hurt for just a moment before she covers it up.
“Who are you protecting me from?”
“I think I deserve that.”
And she won’t remember this if Ava does it right so.
She moves away from the table, heading for her Time Bureau brief case, the one that she keeps in her home office, waiting for the sound of Sara following after her. As they walk she speaks, “From the people who want to come back in time and kill you.”
The shock in Sara’s voice this time is not mocking, “What?”
Ava turns the handle just right opening up the door to her office, the one place she’s made sure to make it impossible for Sara to sneak into accidentally, before going around to her desk.
Predictably Sara follows her inside, her eyes sweeping around all the futuristic tech in the room.
“One day,” Ava says, drawing Sara’s attention back to her. “One day you’re going to fuck up all of time, because you, Sara Lance, are good at one thing, and that is ruining everything that you touch.”
“Hey, I’m not-”
“You are, you will. It’s inevitable. A fixed point in time, like the Titanic or JFk, it has to happen. However, there are people who logically want to avoid that, I don’t blame them, people who will travel back through time and try to kill you to avoid this whole mess, it’s my job to watch you and make sure you get to fulfill your destiny .”
Sara’s expression is hard to place.
Not really either of them.
But more a cold acceptance.
Still, her voice is tight when she says, “You’re joking.”
“No, Miss Lance, I’m not,” Ava says.
Saying this, remembering all the ways Sara is destined to ruin things. Makes it easier to push down the things she might have been feeling the night before. To reaffirm the belief that anything involving Sara was a bad idea and a mistake.
After all, “You were a cautionary tale all though my studies, the sort of guide of what not to do, and now I’m stuck here watching you,” falling for you , “It’s all sort of terrible, worse than I ever could have imagined, and I-”
“Shut up,” Sara’s voice is sharp, but tight, and when Ava looks up from where she had been fiddling with the knobs on the memory wiper, she sees there’s something like tears in her eyes, “Stop telling me this, I don’t want to know.”
Of course, not.
“Don’t worry,” she says, bringing the wiper up to level with Sara’s head, “You won’t remember any of this.”
It works instantly, a flash of light.
Sara collapses, leaning forward so that Ava has to move to catch her in her arms. She’s a steady weight there, as Ava helps move her out of the office, carefully locking in behind her, before settling Sara down on the couch.
However, the weight in her chest does not leave even when she settles Sara down and drapes a blanket over her.
Instead it seems to linger.
Guilt clawing its way up her chest and in between her rib cage.
It doesn’t matter that Sara wouldn’t remember any of their conversation, Ava will, and she knows what it looked like, that sadness and cold acceptance that had lingered in Sara’s eyes.
She wishes that she didn’t care.
Wishes that she had it in her to be indifferent.
Her usual indifference, her usual inclination to follow the rules, her usual discretion - these were all the reasons Ava had been chosen for this assignment, and she’d failed on all accounts.
She waits just a moment for Sara to blink back to wakefulness, she does slowly, squinting at the bright light in Ava’s apartment like it’s her first time seeing the sun all day. Which as far as her newly rearranged memory would let her know, it was.
“Good morning,” Sara says, as she wakes up properly, smiling at Ava with a smile that only makes Ava feel a little bit like a monster.
“Good morning,” she echoes back, like she should have first thing this morning.
“We didn’t sleep together did we?”
“No,” Ava reassures her. “I bought us breakfast.”
Sara’s face brightens up at the prospect of food, already moving off of the couch and heading for the kitchen. “I will accept your bribe of food, but don’t let me forget later that I actually have something to talk to you about, Ollie says it’s going to be serious.”
“Donuts first,” Ava insists, not just ready to hear Sara’s story again.
“Of course, donuts first.”
Against her better judgement she mentions it to the Time Bureau, puts it her in next report, because Sara had asked her to. Insisting in that second time around that Ava promise to at least mention it.
So she does.
And the disappointment on the Directors’ faces made it all too clear that this was a mistake.
“Your mission was very clear, Agent Sharpe, one of non-interference.”
Though it is Director Bennet speaking, she looks beyond him, for Director Hunter, for the sympathetic look he shoots her way. He, at least, understands what she feels. The need to break all the rules for Sara.
“She doesn’t know that I work for the Time Bureau, I’ve made sure of that, I am very careful,” Ava insists, looking at Director Hunter as she speaks, even though her words are meant for Director Bennet.
She’s still looking at him.
Still waiting for a sign.
Which is why she sees all to clearly the way his expression shifts to some sort of deep sadness, the second Director Bennet says, “In any case, it won’t matter in a few months.”
“Because Miss Lance is going to die.”
Chapter 6: chapter five
“What do you mean there’s nothing we can do to save her?”
“Just a few months ago, you were all, but suggesting removing her from the time line altogether to avoid the ruinage of time,” Director Hunter points out. “I would have thought you’d be happy for a break from watching her.”
She had been.
The Ava of a few months ago would have relished this moment.
But times had changed.
She had learned about Sara, who she was, and while she was clearly still a mess, she wasn't a mess that deserved to die.
Even if it was only temporary.
“That’s different,” Ava insists, “This is-”
“This has already happened,” he cuts her off, “This is not the first time Sara dies, and it won’t be the last time. As far as the grand scheme of time is concerned, this has already happened and despite the knowledge that she will come back, I understand that it hurts.” He pauses, looking somewhere beyond Ava for a moment. Before finally speaking with a much softer voice, one that is heavy with loss. “More than anyone, I understand that.”
She cannot dwell on what the Director feels.
Not when she barely understands her own feelings.
“My job is to protect her.”
“You job is to watch her,” Director Hunter corrects, “And to stop any outside influences from hurting her. Saradying is part of her timeline, therefore it is your job to watch it occur and write a report following the incident.”
“Ava,” there's something about his voice, not a warning but an understanding.
She should be getting a warning, a reprimand, for having snapped at a superior agent that way.
But instead he just looks like he understands, like he knows all too well the feeling that burns inside of Ava making her chest tight. The feeling of a knowing a loss is coming that she isn’t certain she can handle.
“Why don't I buy you a drink? You look like you could use one? I know I certainly could.”
She barely notices the fall out. The damage that Starling City takes, which as far as the Time Bureau is concerned, they're not to get involved.
Which is why she ignores any of Sara’s attempts to contact her about the matter.
Which is why she stays late in her office, until only the cleaning crew remains drowning herself in weeks old reports.
Which is why she buys a bottle of scotch, the expensive stuff, and knocks on Rip’s office door when she can’t stand being alone with her thoughts.
Which is why she accepts going on one of Rip’s away teams, spending a few days anachronism hunting in Medieval England.
It’s not enough to distract her, not really.
Not when she comes home to a calendar on the wall with one day circled in red pen.
A day that only seems to get closer and closer.
But it’s worth a shot.
Eve if it only takes away the pain for a moment.
The thing is she’s not surprised when she finds Sara in her apartment weeks later.
Still, there had been some part of her that was already braced for the worst. That knew what was coming would have to happen eventually and functioned as if it had already happened. That startled at the sight of her, as if seeing a ghost.
But it hadn't.
But she wasn’t a ghost.
Not yet, because Sara was alive and well and standing in Ava’s living room with two pizza boxes and a hesitant smile, not at all surprised by the gun pointing at her head.
“I got pineapple this time, just for you,” Sara says, and it’s soft sort of like a peace offering.
Forgiveness and an apology all in one.
A rare tone from Sara.
Ava lowers her gun slowly, tucks it back into its holster under her suit jacket and turns to focus on Sara.
She looks good, a little worse for wear, there’s a bruise under her right eye, knuckles that have seen better days, and a healing cut on the back of her hand, but she’s alive and well and that has to count for something.
That does count for something.
“What are you doing here?”
Sara takes the unspoken invitation for what it is, setting the boxes down on Ava’s end table, and moving crossing the room so that the distance between the two of them seems almost nothing. It’s only then when they’re less than a foot apart that Sara speaks.
Her voice, so quiet Ava could almost miss it. “You stopped following me around.”
The words, “I’m on probation,” bubble forth from her lips before she can stop them.
It’s a truth that she didn’t intend to admit.
Sara frowns at that, “Because I asked you to tell them what was happening?”
“Because I interacted with the subject of my observation and can no longer provide a unbiased report.”
“You’re biased,” Sara says, and there’s weight to her words. They seem to fill up the space of the whole room. The air constricting around them, pulling them closer and closer together, and Ava can feel it. She can feel it deep inside of her. She can feel it in the way Sara’s gaze lingers on her lips, before jerking up to meet Ava’s eyes. “For me or against me?”
Of course, for her.
Who couldn’t be, once they’d met Sara, once they’d gotten to know her in the way Ava had.
She doesn’t let her voice betray her feelings when she says, “It doesn’t really matter.”
“No,” Sara agrees, “But still you didn’t leave my city?”
She can’t say that the Time Bureau Headquarters is in Starling City.
The truth is she can’t find it in herself to say anything.
Not when faced with that hopeful tone, the one that Ava can already tell what it means, because she can feel it too.
She shrugs her shoulders ever so slightly.
An answer and not one all at the same time.
Before saying the only thing she can manage to say, the one truth that Ava knows.
“I couldn’t leave you.”
Sara kisses her.
Sara kisses her and it feels like falling.
Sara kisses her and it feels like a mistake.
Sara kisses her and it feels like breaking all the rules.
Sara kisses her and it feels like the greatest thing that has ever happened to her.
So Ava kisses her back.
Open mouthed and greedy. She reaches for her, pulling Sara to her, closer so that she can touch her, can hold onto her, because she needs this. She needs her. Needs to know that Sara is alive, and that this is real. That the person kissing her, the person pushing her suit jacket off her shoulders, carefully removing her shoulder holster, moving towards the buttons on the front of her blouse is real.
Ava pulls back, just for a moment, catching her breath, as her eyes meet Sara’s.
Seeing what she is feeling mirrored back in them.
“This is real,” she asks, almost certain that this is all just a dream.
A nightmare, and the best dream she’s ever had, all at the same time.
The sort of dream that she would never want to wake up from.
“Why wouldn’t I be real,” Sara asks, laughing almost like it’s a joke.
Because she doesn’t understand.
She doesn’t know.
How could she?
Ava kisses her again so that she doesn’t have to answer that question.
Ava had told herself that she would wipe Sara’s memory in the morning. That she would take this away, just as she had taken away the confession of what was to come, but she can’t.
Not when the morning sun rises as Sara is still there, on the other side of Ava’s bed. Her blonde hair framing her face like a halo, just a thin sheet covering her body, as the morning sun streams in the window.
She stretches like a cat there in the sun, back arching, and Ava can remember oh so clearly just how flexible Sara was.
“You’re not supposed to fall in love with me,” Sara tells her, voice heavy with sleep, teasing even so, “That’s why you got put on probation remember”
“I’m not in love with you,” Ava insists.
Because she’s not.
This is Sara Lance - breaker of time, ruiner of lives, a known example of what not to do, everything Ava had been insisting was not her type for years.
And this moment, this sunrise, the rapid beating of her heart, this woman in her bed - it meant nothing in the grand scheme of things.
After all, it was only a matter of time now.
Something that even time travel couldn’t stop.
A fixed point in time.
“How do you feel about cold pizza?”
“As long as you keep your gross pineapple to yourself.”
Chapter 7: chapter six
this is a really quick update because i felt bad about last chapters angst, even though this one isn't much happier...
“You shouldn’t be doing this to yourself.”
“It’s my job to watch and file a report following the occurrence,” Ava says, voice tight, refusing to look up from her laptop screen, the CCTV footage of the city showing her exactly where Sara is at the moment. Still alive, for now.
“You’re the one that told me that.”
“I did,” he agrees.
“I’m trying to do my job, Director, if you’ll let me-”
There’s a sigh that sounds more annoyed than anything else, that cuts her off.
And Ava looks up from her screen for the first time in hours, her eyes taking a moment to adjust to the normal light rather than the bright glow of a laptop, as she focuses on Rip standing there. His suit is rumpled, dark circles under his eyes, and two days worth of stubble on his face.
He looks about the same way she feels.
“You could delegate the task,” he points out, “Agent Green is still in his office.”
She knows he is.
In fact, Gary had taken one look at her this morning and insisted that he could do this particular night of their job. Despite the fact that she had dismissed him hours before, he had continued to linger around headquarters, stopping by every so often to peek in on her with a worried look on his face.
The same look that was on Rip’s face now.
“I’m fine,” Ava insists.
Because she has to be.
She’s not going to cry.
She’s already cried today.
Her eyes still red even hours later.
“You’ve read the report on how it happens,” Rip asks, though it’s barely a question, not when they both know the answer.
“Yes,” Ava confirms nevertheless, “She’s going to have a conversation with her sister, at which point a brainwashed Thea Queen will appear and put three arrows into her body, following that she will fall from the building to the ground below, assuring that if the arrows had not killed her the fall will.”
Ava had studied the report.
Read it over and over again looking for some sort of loophole, some way to fix all of this, so that history didn’t have to play out the way it was written. There wasn’t one. This was a no win scenario if there ever was one, and Ava was at a loss of what to do.
“Ava,” he says in that worried tone that she’s heard too much of today.
“Rip,” she replies back in his same tone.
“Let Agent Green take this one.”
“No,” he cuts her off, “Don’t make me make this an order. Let him watch tonight and make the initial report. If you want to hurt yourself and then feel to watch the footage tomorrow morning. know, I probably won’t be able to resist watching it, even though we both know that only pain will come from that.”
He did know.
He knew better than anyone.
After all, he has spent two years traveling with her throughout all of time. He had been part of that team when it all went down. As far as the whole of time was concerned Sara Lance should have meant more to Rip than she did to Ava, but Ava had been the fool that managed to fall for a woman that she knew was doomed from the beginning.
That was her own mistake.
One she was finally paying for.
“I’m buying tonight,” Rip says. “I’ll give you five minutes to hand everything off to Agent Green, and then we’re leaving.”
Ava takes one last long look at the screen, at Sara standing on some rooftop, watching the city sprawled out before her having no clue what is coming.
Ava could have warned her, the day before when she’d sat on the edge of Ava’s bed doing up the buttons on her shirt, or two days before that when Sara had shown up with take out and curled up against Ava’s side on the couch, or a week before that when the sunrise had shone just right over her such that Ava forgot how to breathe.
It was too late now.
And waiting to watch her die wasn’t helping anyone.
It certainly wasn’t helping the ache in Ava’s chest.
She’s hungover the next morning.
A pounding in her head that she blames on Rip and his need to drink to forget, but it’s a good pounding, because it makes her forget for a moment what day it was, what had just happened, and who -
She freezes in the middle of opening her fridge to pull out a slice of cold pizza for breakfast, hands shaking because she remembers this pizza being brought in two days ago as a bribe how she jokingly complained that apparently they had gone back to the now pineapple life and Sara had insisted that next time they’d get Chinese since Ava was so picky about pizza toppings.
But there wouldn’t be a next time because Sara was -
Sara was gone.
Even if it wasn’t forever, even if Ava knew from facts and file folders and the whole unspooling of time that Sara was eventually going to come back, it didn’t make this easier.
Didn’t make this moment any easier.
“My team needs an anachronism to solve.”
“I thought your team would be relishing their break while Miss Lance is-”
“I didn’t join the Time Bureau to take breaks.”
She accepts the first anachronism offered to them, a level three during the French Revolution.
It isn’t much, just a little thing to clear up, making sure that an early attempt at revolution fails according to plan and in just the right place to inspire a certain book and then musical to come many years later.
The whole situation is an easy get in and get out.
Correcting time without anyone being any wiser, and erasing the memory of anyone that might have looked at them for too long.
This was the sort of thing that she had trained for, a clean efficient strategy, a team that worked flawlessly to put time back in order so that they future functions properly and as it should. The satisfaction of returning to headquarters afterwards and being able to look at the map of all the anachronisms spread out through time knowing that she did a little something to clear up that map. Filing a report that is straightforward with no room for interpretation or personal bias.
This was exactly what she had always wanted.
Leading a team that fixed anachronisms.
Yet, now even after she’s turned in the report, crossed her t’s and dotted her i’s, there’s still a feeling inside of Ava that she cannot shake.
A feeling that lingers.
A feeling that says this is no longer just enough.
She’s gotten very good at cleaning up anachronisms.
Even if she still keeps getting assigned low level ones.
Keeps getting a sad worried look from Rip whenever she passes him at headquarters.
Despite the fact that months have passed. That time is still ticking on, inevitably as it always does, without waiting for anyone. The months and seasons passing with one less person in the world.
Despite all of that -
“I think they’re doing this on purpose,” she says, putting the words out there, into the cold empty night air. “I think it’s punishment, or probation still, or something …”
They’re holding her back.
As if Ava needs to be coddled.
As if watching Sara had made her weak.
But, hadn’t it? In a way.
Something had changed inside of her.
Something that Ava was just going to have to put back together properly.
Something that she wasn’t ready to handle just yet.
“I honestly think that-”
The questioning voice, one that is not entirely unfamiliar causes Ava to jerk back. Away from a snow covered headstone with the right name, but the wrong date, and instead to a woman standing a few feet behind her.
She looks familiar, and it takes a moment before Ava pieces together why, but when it does come to her Ava can’t help the smallest gasp that spills out from her lips. Especially when she can see all the little subtle similarities between the woman in front of her and the one resting beneath her feet.
“Do I know you?”
“No, not really,” Ava says, “I’m sorry, I was a sort of a friend of Sara’s, I sometimes come to talk to her when I’ve been having a bad day, which I - I should go.”
“It’s okay,” Laurel insists, moving so that they’re standing side by side, shifting her gaze to Sara’s headstone instead of at Ava and she does the same. “Sometimes I come and talk to her too when I don’t know what to do. She always had been a good listener.”
“Well, when she wanted to be.”
Laurel lets out the smallest noise, a sad one but almost a laugh, before she turns to look over at Ava, “You really did know my sister, didn’t you?”
“Just for a little while.’
Chapter 8: chapter seven
im supposed to be asleep because im driving 5 hours thru the snow tomorrow, but instead i wrote this update
“Sara’s alive again, right on schedule. Which means your task force is back in action, Agent Sharpe.”
It’s been a year.
Over a year.
Not that she’s been counting.
Not that she’s been keeping track of the days.
Not that she called in sick earlier in the month to spend a day getting more drunk that she ought to have because it was the anniversary of -
“She’s really back?”
“Yes,” Rip says, “I told you that it was only a matter of time.”
The urgency that Ava wants to leave that room seems overwhelming, and she barely holds it together, barely resists the urge to leave, and for what - for Sara . It had been over a year and whatever she had felt for the other woman, it was gone, as dead as she had been. Locked away inside of Ava, a part of herself that she was not ready to deal with.
She couldn’t deal with that pain and loss agan.
So she’d closed it up, put it away, never to be touched again.
Until the inevitable moment when Sara came back.
“My team is to resume of observation of her,” it’s not so much a question, as a need for confirmation.
At this Rip pauses,robbing her of that need, as though that were not what he had just said moments before. His hand comes down to rest softly against Ava’s wrist, holding her in place. It could be considered comforting almost were the motion coming from any other person. But Ava knows better, they’re friends now, more than coworkers sharing the loss of Sara had brought them together.
Though now it meant that he expected her to feel the same thing that he did.
But Ava - no, Ava had closed that box months ago. When she stopped going to Sara’s headstone, when she stopped letting the pain of an almost consume her, when she poured one out one last time in honor of a woman that she knew but could never truly know .
Ava was beyond this.
Beyond the person Sara Lance’s influenced had made her want to be over a year ago.
Beyond the woman that woke up on a sunny morning to someone she could almost love in another life in bed beside her.
“If you’re up for it,” Rip says slowly “If not, I could put another agent on the case. You can keep doing what you’re-”
“No,” Ava says quickly, because the thought of anyone else watching Sara was something she could not bear. “No, I can do this.”
“Are you sure?’
“I’ll stick to my orders this time,” Ava insists.
Which doesn’t seem to entirely be the right answer, Rip pressing his lips together to keep in something he clearly wasn’t ready yet to say.
When he does speak, she can tell he’s choosing his words carefully, “I know how hard it can be, when Sara is involved.”
“She’s just an assignment, just like any other anachronism.”
“We both know she’s so much more than that.”
Rip had said that Sara was back.
He just hadn’t said what state she was back in.
There had been research to do, checking the Time Bureau’s references and intelligence on the League of Assassins and the Pit and everything connected with it.
What she had found wasn’t pleasant.
A lack of soul.
It would all inevitably be fixed, bringing the Sara they knew from all their records finally into proper existence.
But in the meantime, what they were left with to observe was a bit… complicated, to say the least.
She reads the mission report off to the team, a few new faces, but mostly the same, all of them nod with understanding while truly understanding nothing at all. The only one that does is Gary, who grimaces at the report, and tries to mouth something that she’s pretty sure is an are you okay at her before the briefing is over.
Ava pointedly ignores Gary.
This is fine.
She can do this.
Without any bias this time.
She has to.
There’s not other alternative.
Not now that she knows what it’s like for it all to fall apart.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“That’s the last thing I want to do.”
She should have made Gary do this, bugging the room where Laurel was keeping Sara locked up like a creature rather than a person.
Not that Ava can blame her, not when she opens the portal up in the room, and the shadow of what Sara used to be looks up at the sound and her arrival without any recognition, hissing at her more like a rabid dog than like the person Ava knows - no, knew .
Sara looks terrible, but she looks alive, and that Ava supposes has to count for something.
She stares at Ava, following her with her eyes, but not moving against her bounds, as Ava puts cameras up around the room, making sure that they’re at the best angle to get continuous recordings of Sara’s imprisonment.
As if watching her will make this easier, will make the wait between now and when she becomes herself again somehow tolerable.
A part of Ava, the smallest part, almost still wishes that Sara was still dead.
Because death seems as if it would be easier to bear than this.
The constant gaze.
The one that makes Ava long for a familiar one instead.
“You won’t remember this,” Ava says, after she’s finished putting the cameras into place, “But I wish you would.”
No, that wasn’t right.
Wiping Sara’s memory of this incident was necessary, a part of the job.
She didn’t regret that.
What she meant was - “I wish you would remember me.”
Sara predictably does not respond.
Ava’s not sure what she really expected.
“I thought a lot about what I would do when you came back,” Ava says, uncertain why she’s talking to someone she knows cannot reply, and yet desperately needing to. “I knew this was coming, one of the blessings of time travel, I suppose. There’s still so much left for you to do…”
Time to ruin.
Worlds to save.
Hearts to break.
“I told you this once, the you that was in the ground, not the you that could hear me, but I - I don’t regret it.”
How could she?
Even with the pain.
“I shouldn’t have interfered before, I should have stuck to my orders, and certainly I should have fallen in lo-”
Ava stops, cutting herself off, at the sound of a floorboard creaking over her head.
Laurel wasn’t expected to be back for another few hours.
That was why they had chosen this moment in time to set up their cameras.
Which meant that someone else was coming, someone unscheduled.
“For fuck’s sake,” Ava mutters, shooting a glance over her head.
She steps forward for a moment, into Sara’s space, close enough for this feral version of her to lunge at Ava if she had so chosen to, but she doesn’t. They stare at each other for a moment, two sets of blue eyes meeting, the eyes meeting hers with only confused chaos swirling with in them.
There’s no flicker of understanding there, nothing that Ava hoped for, all she gets is a terrible tightness in her chest instead. One that creeps up into her throat, suffocating her with its weight, overwhelming almost.
The creaking comes again, and she knows that she needs to leave.
She reaches to her waist, pulling out the memory gun, “Until next time, Sara.”
“You know it’s okay to have feelings right?”
“Do your fucking job.”
It feels like forever, and not long enough, when Gary sitting on other side of their new makeshift field base, staring at the screen that Ava cannot stand to watch any longer says, “Hold on, isn’t that John Constantine?”
Chapter 9: chapter eight
“Sara’s back, properly, soul and everything,” Ava states matter of fact when she hands in her next report.
“That’s good,” Rip says, accepting her report and skimming over it. “You know, it won’t be long now before another version of comes to recruit her for the Legends.”
“I’m aware,” Ava says curtly. “Counting down the days until this whole mess can be settled.”
It’s 2015, just for a few more days.
This time the date on her calendar, the next year’s one that she’s yet to put up in her kitchen, is circled with black pen, a date that was less than a month away.
The end of a mission that has been going on for far too long.
The end of an observation that has been unpleasant for the most part.
She’s still watching Sara, though she’s mostly delegated the task to the other members of her team this time around. It’s easier this way, no chance of interacting, no chance of developing bias again, no chance of those feelings Ava had carefully locked away returning.
It was easier.
But still -
The dinner she had made, poorly cooked pasta, sits heavy in her stomach as she watches the CCTV feed of Sara moving around the city, finding out who she is again, what sort of hero she wants to play at being.
She misses it.
The way things had been before, when she’d have Sara’s voice in her ear, teasing her about the constant observations. When a late night of trouble in the city, would come with an apology box of donuts the next morning, or a pizza delivered in the middle of the night. When watching Sara had turned from a chore into something that she genuinely enjoyed doing.
Of course, that was what had led to all the trouble in the first place and Ava didn’t need that.
Not now when she was almost done.
Just a little longer now.
“Are you doing anything for the New Year’s?”
“Yeah, but you should-”
“I know this great bar, not in the best part of town, but there’s this bartender I think you’d like, who just got back and-”
“I’m working right now , Gary.”
The New Year comes without much pomp and circumstance from Ava.
She declines offers from her fellow agents to join them for a few drinks at a bar near HQ, carefully avoids passing by Rip’s office so he can’t make a similar offer, and even goes as far as to give her team the night off, insisting that in all likelihood Sara Lance was going to be too busy celebrating with friends to cause too much trouble.
Something Ava herself had even been banking on.
She’d picked up a bottle of something strong on her way home, whiskey, because Rip had started to rub off on her. Her plan for the evening had extended no further than: get drunk alone, put on the New York stream, fall asleep before the ball even drops on this year far before her own birth.
Though that plan goes right out the window when she opens her door to reveal someone else in her apartment.
For a second, Ava is certain that she’s dreaming.
She’s had this dream before.
Because the alternative, that this really is Sara Lance sitting on her couch in her full Canary get up New Year’s Eve hardly seems real.
But when she bites down on her cheek there’s a burst of pain that means this is real.
“What are you doing here?”
“You’re still in town,” it’s a statement, not a question, and it’s certainly not an answer to Ava’s question. .
Ava sets her brown bag down on her coffee table.
“Yes, I’m still in town,” she confirms.
Not that Sara really needed the confirmation when it was obvious that she still was.
Not that she had anywhere else to go.
Not that Sara knew that.
“You rearranged the furniture,” Sara says, casually, almost indifferent.
“You died,” Ava says, in the same tone.
Sara shrugs, a causal movement of her shoulders, like it’s no big deal.
Like dying and coming back to life wasn’t a big deal.
Fine, if that was how she wanted to play it then.
Two could play that game.
When Sara says nothing, Ava moves away from her, taking her bottle out of her bag and heading into the kitchen. It takes a moment, but Sara follows her, the click of her heels against the floor and steady rhythm, a sound that once used to be familiar.
Ava pulls two glasses out of the cabinet, pouring a generous helping in both of them, before offering one to Sara.
Sara swirls the liquor around in the glass without actually drinking it.
“How do you know about me dying?
“I know a lot of things,” Ava says. “You’d be surprised.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
There’s so many things that Sara didn’t know. A whole universe full of things, a past and present and future that she couldn’t understand. But there was no way to explain that. She wasn’t ready for that.
Twenty-One more days.
“January’s going to be a good month for you.”
“You’ll know what I mean when it happens,” Ava says, finishing the line of conversation by taking a drink.
When she sets down her drink, now empty, and reaches for the bottle to pour another, she finds that Sara is still watching her, a curious look on what Ava can see of her face behind the mask.
She has half a mind to tell Sara to take it off to just be herself rather than the Canary.
To go back to the way things had been once before, in a summer where there was peace in the world, peace in this apartment, just for a little while.
But that would mean inviting Sara to stay and… Ava couldn’t do that. Not after how much it had hurt when she dead. Not after she had spend the better half of a year putting herself back together again after falling for a woman she should have never talked to in the first place.
She couldn’t do that.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be, a city to keep watch over, or something?”
“Don’t you,” Sara asks, “It is New Year’s, Aves.”
She bites down the urge to correct her name.
Refuses to give into the familiarity.
“I have cable,” Ava insists.
“Sounds thrilling,” Sara replied sarcastically.
“Go save the city, Miss Lance, I can keep myself company.”
“Don’t act like you didn’t miss me.”
Too much to ever explain.
But she can’t say that, so she lies, easy and effortless aided by the alcohol in her system, “I didn’t. I actually had a great time while you were dead, doing other important things, filing paperwork and saving the world, very exciting.”
Sara laughs, “You missed me, I can tell.”
There’s a knock on her door the next morning, and Ava rolls off of her couch where she’d fallen asleep, in order to make it to the door. Squinting at the too bright morning light that only serves to aggravate the pounding that’s already made it’s home in her head.
When she opens the door there’s a stranger on the other side, holding a brown paper bag that says the name of the brunch place down the street from her on the side of it.
“Order for Aves?”
“Ava,” she corrects, “And I didn’t order this.”
“No,” the delivery boy agrees, still handing the paper bag to Ava.
Which she takes because she already knows who it has to be from, the only person that buys her food, the only person that called her Aves despite her repeated insistence against the name.
“Your girlfriend left a note when she ordered, it’s on the bag.”
“I didn’t read it,” he insists, “It’s just there, so… Have a good New Year’s.”
With that the delivery boy turns away, leaving Ava with the bag containing her gifted breakfast, and a note.
She pulls the note off of the bag first thing, before even investigating exactly what it was that Sara decided her first meal of the New Year should be.
There it is, in a handwriting that Ava knows too well: I missed you, xoxo Sara .
Chapter 10: chapter nine
The thing was, it was only a matter of time.
And time was something Ava has always been far too well aware of.
She knows what this is the second Sara shows up at her door.
One last pizza box in her hand, and a sort of hesitant grin on her face. She’s dressed down this time, not the Canary get up (which seems fitting because after tonight she won’t just be the Canary, she’ll be the White Canary ) but a simple sweater and jeans. Ava had dressed down too, seeing as her assignment was officially closed as of three hours ago when a younger Rip Hunter than the one she knew had met the woman in front of her in a bar.
Ava lets herself have a moment to soak up the image of Sara standing there, one last time.
“What’s the occasion?”
“You were right, I don’t know how, but you were,” Sara says, stepping inside. She toes off her shoes as she slips in the doorway, handing the pizza boxes to Ava, which Ava takes sitting down on the coffee table.
She doesn’t have it in her to send Sara away.
Even though she should.
Even though this is a bad idea.
Even though this was certainly not how Sara spent this night the first time around.
Sara hesitates there for a moment.
Leaving Ava has to wonder what sort of story Sara was going to come up with to try and explain it all away, to the FBI Agent that had been watching her all these years, that hadn’t blinked twice at the idea of coming back to life, but who would surely question time travel.
Ava lets Sara stew in her quiet contemplation, taking a seat down on the couch and opening the two boxes of pizza.
The first with Sara’s usual favorite, but the second - “You actually got me pineapple?”
“I figure why not go out with a bang,” Sara says, finally moving, taking the seat beside Ava and opening up the other box, grabbing a slide of her own.
“Go out,” Ava prompts, already knowing the answer.
“I’m leaving,” Sara says, “Going somewhere that you won’t be able to watch over me anymore.”
She knew this was coming, and yet still, hearing Sara say it hurts.
Ava can’t explain why.
The tightness in her stomach.
The knowledge that tomorrow she will file her final report on Sara Lance.
The knowledge that this is the last time she will know this woman for who she truly is.
“That’s good,” Ava says, picking at her piece of pizza, her voice more monotone than usual.
Sara takes this as an invitation to talk about what’s going on. She’s careful and vague, but she stressed the importance of this mission and how she needs a new start and how it could maybe even be fun. Ava listens to her while she eats the pizza Sara brought.
Not listening for her words, but watching her face.
This is it, the moment she could stop all of time, and give Sara a reason not to get on Rip’s ship.
Save all of time, and get the girl.
But that wasn’t what her mission was.
Despite the fact that doing so would give Ava everything she wanted, she couldn’t do it.
She couldn’t take this away from Sara. She couldn’t take that smile from her face. Sara deserved this. Even if Ava knew it would inevitably go badly, Sara needed to become the woman Ava had read about in her textbooks.
She needed to become a Legend.
“I mean, I haven’t completely made up my mind,” Sara insists, rubbing her hands off on her jeans rather than a napkin like a sensible person. “But I think I’m going to do it?”
‘You should,” Ava tells her, “Good luck, and try not to fuck up all of time.”
Sara laughs at that.
Ava tries to savor the sound.
“I mean, I figure if someone doesn’t come back from the future to stop me that I’m doing pretty alri-” Sara stops, her words hanging in the air, eyes widening with surprise, and when they meet Ava the realization clicks in her head too.
“Wait, did you just say time ?”
“I’m going to need to wipe your memory,” Ava says, standing up from the couch abruptly and trying not to panic.
Because she had just blown her cover.
Because she didn’t want to wipe Sara’s memory.
“You’re not an FBI Agent, are you,” Sara asks, following her down the hallway to Ava’s office.
A bit of irony strikes her, that they’ve been here before, but of course, Sara wouldn’t remember that.
Or she shouldn’t.
Why then did she linger in the doorway of Ava’s office, eyes not confused but almost as though she gets the same familiar feeling - “You’re from the future, aren’t you?”
“I cannot confirm or deny-”
“Oh my god, Aves, fuck, you’ve been from the future this whole time?”
“I’m not at liberty to disclose that information.”
“Saying that is basically admitting that you are,” Sara insists, which, she does have a point. “Look, I had this dream once, during the fog that you were from the future and had come back to stop me. I thought it was nothing, but, was that real?”
“It’s complicated,” Ava says, finally having opened the right drawer and pulling out the memory wipe, “Now hold still, I need to make you forget the last five minutes.”
“No,” Sara insists, moving towards her.
Ava could still pull the trigger, could erase the moment from her mind in one burst of light, but she can’t. Her finger stills unable to pull the trigger, and Sara moves to stand across from her, side stepping her outstretched arm until she’s in Ava’s space, toe to toe.
“You’re my favorite FBI Agent, or not FBI Agent, but you know-” Sara pauses, her fingers holding tightly to the fabric of Ava’s sweater.
Holding her in place, not that Ava could’ve even considered leaving her proximity.
Not when this so clearly the end.
“I don’t want to lose you.”
“You’re not - I shouldn’t - this doesn’t matter, you’re leaving with Rip in the morning,” Ava insists, “You’re not even supposed to know who I am.”
“But I do,” Sara insists.
“That’s the problem, don’t you see, if you-”
The rest of Ava’s sentence is lost as Sara pushes up on her toes to claim Ava’s lips with her own. It’s not like the time before, the heat and passion and the need to pull each other apart and pretend that it was healing.
This was softer a kiss that meant both hello and goodbye all at once.
And so, Ava says goodbye.
The sun rises.
And Sara is long gone.
Ava closes her eyes for a brief moment, imagines that there will be someone else there when she opens them, that she will have stopped all of this, kept Sara by her side for one night and then another and another, to damn all of time, for a moment more of happiness.
She reaches out to the empty space next to her, the rumpled sheets, cold to the touch.
Letting the fantasy slip away in the cold reality of the morning.
She still has one last report to file.
The folder is heavy in her hand, think with years world of observation.
So much more than the report she had wrote years ago, back when she was at the Academy, the report she had made on the fuck up that had ruined all of time. Back then Sara had been a lesson of what not to do, a case study from her textbooks of all the ways to go wrong.
She still would make all those mistakes. Travel through time with her team of so called legends leaving their muddy fingerprints all through time until they inevitably broke it.
But Ava no longer felt anger at having that knowledge.
No, now she felt something else.
Because Sara was not just the woman who broke time.
No, now she had changed into something else.
Something the Ava of years ago could have never understood, and certainly never would have expected.
More than anyone else had ever mattered before.
This report could not do her justice.
Two hundred pages and none of them could say exactly what Sara was, who she was, how much she mattered not only to the world or all of time, but to Ava.
No page could describe the feeling of waking up beside Sara, the sunrise dappling colors over her freckled skin.
Or the way her hands were always a little cold, as they skimmed up Ava’s sides.
Or the way she kissed, like it was a competition that she needed to win.
Or the way she pressed up on her toes, wrinkling her nose each time as if Ava’s height offended her very existence.
Or the way she looped her y’s, whenever writing Ava a note.
Or that way she cared, selflessly and easily offering up little pieces of herself without hesitation.
Or the way she said Aves , with just the hint of a mischievous smile on her lips.
Or the way she loved.
No, this could never be enough.
But it would have to do.
“You must be happy to be finally finished,” Gary says, having just handed in his share of the report, and decided that rather than letting Ava keep to her own mind he would accompany her on the walk to Director Hunter’s office. He had been prattling on for a bit, most of which Ava had been ignoring, but those words cause her to stutter a step, nearly tripping over her own feet. Something which makes Gary shoot her a look of confusion.
“I’m fine,” Ava insists, unsure as whether she’s answering his words or his gaze.
Gary accepts it without question, “The Directors said they’d give us a week off before any new assignment, which I personally plan on spending asleep, I don’t know about you. Actually, I-”
“Yes,” he asks, blinking back at her, a small smile on his face.
He doesn’t understand.
How could he?
For Gary, and for the rest of this team, it was just a job.
A tiring one at times, annoying too, nothing like what they had actually trained to do. Maybe a little boring when considering the alternative of traveling through time and correcting anachronisms was what they had actually signed up for.
For them, being done with this Sara Lance situation was a blessing and not a curse.
“I’ve got a headache,” she lies, “I spent all night finish this report, and really rather just have some peace and quiet.”
“Right, sorry,” he replies far too chipper, “You should relax once you turn it in, you deserve it.”
He diverges from her path after that, leaving Ava alone to continue down the hall to Rip’s office.
A short walk that seems a lot longer than usual suddenly.
Though that probably has to do with the fact that she’s walking slower than usual,
It’s been a while since she called him Director Hunter in a serious tone, a while since she saw him as some as the flawless founding father of their organization. But now, she remembers how she had felt at the beginning of this, when she had insisted that Rip was making a mistake, that she was being punished for this assignment.
It wasn’t punishment.
No, she knew that now.
It was gift.
A gift that she hadn’t been prepared for.
A gift that hurt when it was taken away.
She knocks twice on his door, two short raps, and when it opens he’s there looking business as usual.
“Did you ever think about stopping yourself,” Ava says, as she steps inside the office, “Stop all of this before it happened.”
Rip does this thing with his face, a half smile, almost sad, as he takes the folder from her hands. Not flipping it open, but just holding it there. “The Legends are a fixed point in time, you know that, time has a way of making certain that some things happen if with our interference.”
“I know, I just thought perhaps-”
“You wanted to stop it,” Rip says.
A statement, not a fact, because he knows.
She’d wanted to stop it before.
For different reasons.
Reasons that seem so insignificant now.
“I wanted her to stay,” Ava says, even though she shouldn’t, even though admitting that there in the space between just the two of them is more than she should. “I think I might have - that I -”
“I know,” Rip says.
And he does.
Of course, he does.
Who could spend so long in Sara’s orbit and not fall in love with her?
“She came by last night, and I almost,” Ava sucks in a short shallow breath, choking down on the tight feeling in her chest, the burning at the corners of her eyes, “I almost broke all of time just to keep her.”
He doesn’t reach out to comfort her.
Not like another person might have.
He stands there like an immovable force, but with a look like understand, and somehow that’s exactly what she needs. To have been able to confess her transgressions to him, all the rules she had been willing to break for this one woman, and to know that he knew the exact feeling.
After all, was that not how they had all got in this situation in the first place.
“Did you know that this would happen?”
“No,” he admits. “I had hoped that you wouldn’t. That would’ve have made this a lot easier.”
“It was worth it,” Ava insists.
Admitting this both for him, and for herself.
Rip nods at that. Finally tucking the folder under his arm, moving away from her and to his desk. A dismissal, if she ever saw one.
Though not before, he asks one last question, “Did you wipe her memory?”
“What choice did I have?”
thanks to everyone who has read along so far, epilogue will be up in a few hours
To say that she was surprised to see Sara there, wasn’t exactly a true statement. She had known that Sara was around, she had been there before cleaning up the messes in Los Angeles all those months ago in the exact moment that time had split and fractured.
She hadn’t looked for Sara then.
She’d been part of a clean up crew, hand picked by Rip, but she had been aware that Sara was there.
Just as Ava was aware that she had been back in Star City for the last few months, working at a store that Ava avoided at all costs, making certain that their paths never crossed.
If Sara had wanted to see her she would have tracked her down.
That is if Sara had remembered her.
“Welcome,” Ava says stepping up to the gathered group, Sara and two of her fellow Legends. She tried to focus on them, the men speaking, annoyingly so, rather than on Sara. It was easier to channel mild annoyance that way. “On the floor, hands behind your heads.”
Though she gives in to the temptation, turning so that she meets Sara’s eyes briefly, just for a moment, as Sara gets down on her knees.
For a second Ava swears that there is something that lingers in the gaze that holds, but it’s gone the next second as Sara jerks her face away, wrinkling her nose as she does so.
It’s almost as if she had, but no -
Ava channels the sort of hollow feeling in her chest, into cutting Ray off, and pushing him down on the ground since he had refused to, “-a mistake, we’re the Legends.”
“Oh, we know exactly who you losers are,” Ava reassures him.
This time she can’t miss it, the scoff of a noise, and when she turns to the sound. To Sara, because, of course, it would be Sara there’s a smirk on her lips. Before Sara’s lips move ever so slightly in the shape of a name that could only be her own.
“Lady, why are you so mean?”
Sara’s still meeting her gaze, that smirk on her face, the one that Ava knows far too well, “Maybe it’s that polyblend pantsuit, that’s got her so grumpy.”
“I didn't know Men’s Wearhouse gave group discounts,” Nate chimes in.
“What’s wrong with you people? Do you want to get shot?”
“I’d totally rather get shot than look like a Sears model.”
Rip interrupts them before they get much farther than that. A blessing and both a curse, and Ava keeps her gun steady and pointed at Ava, through all of Rip’s explanations. She doesn’t listen to him, doesn’t need to hear it, doesn’t need anything more than where she is right now.
A moment that she’s been waiting too long for.
It’s been nearly two years since she’d last seen Sara.
Probably longer on her end thanks to the Legends making a mess of Time Travel as they went along, but -
She looks good.
Alive, and well.
And still smirking at Ava with a look that makes the parts of Ava’s heart that she had locked away slowly come unlocked again. Even at risk of being hurt again. The pros far outweigh the cons.
She blames that distraction for the fact that Sara is able to take her gun from her far too easily.
From the fact that a moment later she’s the one looking down the barrel of it, confident at least that Sara won’t shoot her while her teammates sort out their drama.
“Alright,” Sara drawls when they’ve finished, “This is just awkward.”
When Ava motions for her gun back it’s placed in her hand a moment later. Their fingers brush together for a brief moment, Sara’s hands as always icey to the touch, and Ava barely manages not to jolt at the touch.
She’s only half listening as Sara details some anachronism that may or may not even exist, still focused on the lingering feeling in her hand, as she rubs it on the opposite sleeve of her suit jacket, as if that will take some of what she’s feeling away.
“Agent Sharpe,” Rip says, and she turns to glance over at him. Finally looking away from Sara. “Have we seen anything that would match such an anachronism?”
“Absolutely not, sir,” Ava replies.
“Well then I guess you must have missed one then,” Sara retorts with that usual amount of sass.
The sort of tone that always used to rile her up.
That made Ava want to bite back, that had them insulting each other over the comm unit that Sara had gotten for her, or as a teasing commentary over yet another box of take out, back when Ava was watching her move.
“I find that very hard to believe,” Ava insists, taking the bait, every time, “And you know what I-”
Rip says something. Cuts her off.
Giving an order to go prepare a team.
But she doesn’t hear him, because at the same moment, Sara reaches out, her hand there on the sleeve of Ava’s jacket, and all of the fire, all of that push and pull, falls away in an instant.
Because the eyes that meet hers know her.
It’s not just an assumption, not a hopeful feeling.
Beyond all doubt Sara knows her.
It’s the reality.
Though when Ava thought about it, it was hardly a surprise.
If anyone could find a way, it would be Sara Lance.
“Hey, Aves, miss me?”
AND THAT'S IT.
thank you all for following along with the journey, when i set out to write this i had no clue how supportive and receptive this fandom was going to be and honestly, i feel like the most blessed person ever. your sweet comments, your kudos, the reblogs and messages over on tumblr like, they've made my end of the year, and made me want to write so much more for this ship.
i tried my best to keep to the original idea of this fic, by making sure that it was canon compliant in the end, which i hope was satisfying for some of you (i personally felt a little accomplished getting to tie it back to the canon scene and not diverging as i had originally thought possible), though there's plenty of little other things i wanted to add to the fic from my outline that just never ended up fitting right.
thank you again, for reading along. hope 2018 treat you well