“I can’t believe you did that!” Nate shouted as they all rushed through the portal, making a hard landing on the ship’s bridge. He was holding his shoulder, scowling at Zari from a distance.
“Next time try not to get in the way when I’m using my totem!”
“I wasn’t in the wa-”
“You jumped right in front of me to tackle the demon!”
“I steeled up!”
“I see how that went for you,” Zari sneered, throwing herself on the bridge’s stairs.
Sara shook her head and decided to let the children sort it out themselves. She reached for the controls to check on the state of the anachronism map – now complete with their own “Demon Tracker” update, courtesy of a Zari Tomaz and John Constantine team up – to make sure they hadn’t made history implode in the process of dealing with a minor demon.
They were forced to make about at least thirty jumps through time and dimensions to put the demon back where it belonged. Since ‘I don’t own a phone’ John Constantine was apparently nowhere to be found and they hadn’t been able to find the right incantation on the first try, Sara decided that trial and error would be the best course of action. Luckily enough, history seemed still intact, despite their messy way of fixing things. Ava would be proud. Well, maybe not proud, but at least relieved.
Ava. Oh, crap. With all the commotion she forgot about lunch. “Gideon, what time is it?”
"It’s 1:30 pm, Captain Lance. It appears you will be able to make it to your lunch-date. And congratulations on the successful mission!” The AI seemed a little too cheerful for her taste.
“There’s always a first, Gideon,” she chuckled, as she exited the bridge. She was about to open a portal straight to the restaurant, when she realized the state she was in: some sort of plant was entangled in her hair, her dress was torn, and she was covered in dirt and what she was pretty sure was demon bile.
She stopped by the fabricator and set it to a pair of black jeans, a white t-shirt and a brown leather jacket. She wasn’t really in the mood for a dress. It was just lunch after all.
Once she felt clean enough, she went back to the bridge and snatched the courier from Nate’s hands who was fumbling with it.
She turned to her team. “I’ll be at lunch. If anything else happens, I will personally kick your asses to the demon realm and leave you there.”
Sara opened a portal with Ava’s spare courier and stepped through.
The landing wasn’t what she expected. Hard, but soft at the same time? She also felt sore in so many places and a bit nauseated.
She massaged her head with her palm and opened her eyes. Her vision was still kind of blurry, but from the chirping sound of birds and the smell of manure and hay, she realized she was nowhere near the restaurant. Or a city for that matter.
She managed to push herself up on her knees and tried to catch her breath. What the hell just happened? She squeezed her eyes, trying very hard to discern her surroundings, but the high noon sunlight was almost blinding. After a few seconds, her eyesight adjusted enough to realize she was in the middle of a field or a pasture, that extended as far as she could see. It was enclosed in steep hills and it was hard to see farther than maybe a mile or two in every direction.
Still disoriented and fighting what was going to become a hell of a headache in a couple of hours, Sara tried to calm her breathing and looked down. As she was about to close her eyes to concentrate, she caught a glimpse of something conspicuously blue, amid the seemingly unchanging green. She squeezed her eyes tighter and gasped at the sight.
She hurried on her feet and ran over to the woman lying face down on the grass.
“Ava?” she tried as her fingers were frantically searching for a pulse. When she found it, she let out a breath and started to lightly shake the unconscious woman. “Ava!”
Ava’s eyes fluttered open, confusion reigning on her expression. She grunted and pushed herself up, trying to sit upright, her frown betraying the pain she was in.
So, that’s what Sara had landed onto when she stepped through the portal.
“Are you ok?” She asked, trying to assert the nature of Ava’s injuries or, at least, if she had any.
Ava suddenly jerked away from her and for the first time, she lifted her gaze. She looked shocked and confused and pissed.
But mostly pissed.
“What the hell are you doing here, Miss Lance?” she groaned, while she attempted to straighten the collar of her blazer.
Sara gave her a sly smile and tilted her head, teasingly. “Miss Lance?”
“You should know by now I’m never going to acknowledge you as ‘Captain’,” she hissed harshly, still a little bit bleary and obviously trying to avoid eye contact.
Sara’s mouth fell open.
It couldn’t be.
“What?” Ava inquired, disdain outpouring from every word. “Just because you gave up Rip, it doesn’t mean we’re suddenly friends or on good terms for that mattter,” Sara was frozen in place. Her expression a mix between amused and concerned. “Are you going to answer or what?”
“I, uhm…” she suppressed a sly smile. This was not her Ava. Not yet, at least.
“Yes?” Ava stared at her, expecting an answer.
She needed to come up with an excuse. Something believable.
She was drawing a blank.
As Sara’s arm shot up to scratch her head, she noticed Ava’s eyes widen and her jaw clench. “Where did you get that?” She pointed at the courier. “You can’t keep stealing Time Bureau couriers!” Ava was almost yelling now.
“Av- I mean, Agent Sharpe, please. I can expl-”
“You can explain why you knocked me unconscious in the middle of a very sensitive mission and why you’re using stolen technology?” Ava stood up, she took a few deep breaths and started to fix her hair back into a dignified bun.
“Yes,” Sara started calmly as she pushed herself up as well. She needed to find something to say and fast or she would probably end up in a Bureau cell, possibly breaking time in the process. Ava said that she just had given Rip up, that meant they were a long way from the Vikings mission. Which also meant, unfortunately, that she and Ava were still kind of hating on each other. She had nothing to work with, nothing to offer her that wouldn’t seem like a lie. She took a deep breath, hoping this was the right call. “You gave me the courier.”
Ava’s shock, if it was even possible, seemed to get worse. Her mouth hanging open. “I,” she blinked incredulous. “I did what?”
“Listen, Ava,” Sara stepped closer taking Ava’s hands into her own. She stared directly into her eyes. A gesture she had lovingly done a hundred times, but that felt strange and somehow wrong the moment Ava winched at her touch. But the agent didn’t back away. She just glared at her, confused and aghast. Sara continued. “I can’t tell you much. I just… well, I think the courier malfunctioned, and I ended up here. I’m not here to hijack or mess with your mission, I don’t even know what mission this is.”
Ava kept staring for a few more seconds. Studying her expression, surely trying to see if she was lying. She moved away and the moment her hands slipped away, Sara felt her heart ache. She knew this wasn’t her Ava. Not yet, but her antagonism and rejection, despite the initial humor of it all, hurt more than she would’ve thought possible.
Ava let out a small cough, to clear her voice. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing, Miss Lance, but-”
“I’m telling the truth,” she urged. “I wish there was a way to show you. A way that you could possibly trust me, but I can’t-”
“You’re from the future,” Ava stated coldly. It wasn’t a question.
There was no point in lying anymore. They could always wipe her memory later. “I-”
“Don’t,” she commended, as she was trying once more to avoid eye contact. “Anything you say will make things even worse.”
Sara just nodded. “Well, since my courier is broken, I’m going to have to borrow yours, to… you know…” she made some sort of gesture with her hands, trying to mimick a time courier portal whooshing open.
Ava raised one eyebrow. She then displayed her bare wrist and Sara exhaled a very deep breath. “A teenage Leonardo Da Vinci has it.”
“So, that’s where we are!” Sara looked around, she always imagined the Renaissance period to be more… well, she didn’t know exactly what she imagined it to be, but she wasn’t expecting barley fields and pastures. “Anyway, where to?”
Ava scanned her surroundings and pointed to a narrow path uphill with her head. “He’s living with his grandparents. As far as I know, their house is in that direction.”
“Alright, Agent Sharpe,” Sara teased, bumping her jokily with her shoulder. “Ready for a team up?”
They had been walking in silence for about twenty minutes. Engulfed in the distressingly loud sounds of nature, burning beneath the midday Tuscany sun and adding the fact that she was hiking with a very irritable past version of her current girlfriend, Sara was starting to lose it.
“You asked that five minutes ago.”
“You didn’t answer five minutes ago.”
“It’s because I don’t know,” Ava seethed.
“No need to be rude,” Sara nudged. “I’m not the one who keeps getting her couriers stolen,” she muttered, which made Ava stop in her tracks.
“So, you admit you stole that courier!”
“I never said anything like that,” she huffed. “I didn’t steal this one.”
“Oh, my God!” Ava was losing her patience and so was Sara, who, even if she knew she would eventually fall in love with this uptight, insufferable, overbearing know-it-all, was tempted to ditch everything and start her new life in the late Middle Ages. “You are impossible.”
“Hey, you’re the one who said I shouldn’t say anything lest we screw up time!”
"Well, you did screw up when you abused government technology and ended up stranded here!" Ava scoffed. "Those things need constant maintainance. You would know that, if you hadn't acquired one illegally."
"Oh, trust me. I know," she quipped. "And for the hundreth time, I didn't steal it!"
Ava groaned in exasperation. She took a couple of breaths, before heading back to the path. She didn’t turn around, but she soon addressed Sara in a calmer voice. “Anyway, I’m not the one who lost the courier. Mine broke,” so, she had been here with a team. It had seemed odd to Sara that a Bureau agent would be left to roam the XV century all alone. “Da Vinci stole Gary’s. I sent the team back to the Bureau, while I went to retrieve it. I didn’t think I’d get knocked out by a Sara Lance from the future.” Was that a hint of humor Sara caught in her tone?
“Well, I’m sorry I messed up your day, but it’s not like I was planning on crashing through time,” she admitted. “I kind of had other plans too.”
She caught Ava turn slightly to face her: she was studying her through the corner of her eye. She immediately turned back to face the road and started speeding up.
“We need to hurry. We have no idea of the consequences of leaving Leonardo Da Vinci with a time courier if he figures out how to-” Ava cut herself off and stopped in her tracks.
“What is-” before she could finish the question Ava shushed her.
Sara heard a whooshing sound coming from the barley plantation on the left side of the trail. How could she have missed it? There were at least two people walking towards them. The two women shared a knowing look and simultaneously assumed a fighting stance. Sara was basically a stranger to Ava at this point in her life, but she was reassured by the fact that they had been on the same page from the start when it came down to a fight.
A man appeared behind Ava and, from the other woman’s expression, she knew another one was just a few paces behind her as well. The trail was narrow, but a third figure wielding an axe appeared in between the two women just a few seconds short of his associates.
Three medieval bandits. Great, as if she needed to ruin another outfit.
Ava tilted her head and offered Sara a mischievous look she had come to know so well. She instinctively returned one and before the three men could even move, Sara could see Ava extract her expandable baton and lunge forward.
Since Sara was supposed to be having a lovely lunch with her mother and girlfriend and the only blade she was supposed to be handling, at the moment, was the one to cut the filet mignon she had been dreaming about for twelve hours, Sara really wasn’t as prepared for a fight. Despite that, she never left the ship without at least a couple of shuriken and a knife. In one swift movement, she threw three stars into the chest of the man behind Ava – who fell down with a loud thud – while with the other hand she reached for the needle point knife in her boot. One down, she grinned.
From the corner of her eyes, she saw Ava sparring effortlessly with the axe brandishing man, who – in the time it took Sara to face the guy behind her – was already on his knees, trying to wriggle out of Ava’s choke hold.
The man in front of her leaped forward, a big dagger in his hand. She easily predicted the trajectory of the blade and smoothly avoided it, moving her whole body sideways. Her attacker, caught off guard, lost his footing and landed face first into the ground, groaning loudly as he hit the dirt trail. The dagger fell from his hand and, before he could even start to crawl towards the weapon, he was knocked out by Sara’s knife’s handle making contact with his temple.
Sara didn’t even break a sweat.
She turned around to see Ava letting the axe wielding man's body fall to the ground. She let out an amused chuckle.
She was just starting to relax, when she felt someone tackle her from the side.
A two hundred-pound, foul-smelling, bearded brute was pinning her to the floor. She managed to turn her head enough to see Ava had her hands full as well with another two – if smaller – bandits. Sara’s attacker had her knife hand immobilized, as he was trying to wiggle the blade out of her fingers. She let go of the knife and seized the chance of him diverting his gaze to pick up the weapon to headbutt him in the nose. She didn’t seem to do much damage, but he was definitely taken aback. He loosened his hold on her just enough for Sara to free one of her legs and knee him in the groin.
He cried out in pain and let her go. He was strong, but she was fast.
By the time the ache faded enough for him to realize Sara had broken free from his grasp, his throat was already cut, and his body was collapsing in the dirt.
Sara turned around and she smiled in relief, resting her palms on her knees and bending slightly to catch her breath. Ava was facing the other way, but Sara could clearly see the agent standing over the bodies of the other two attackers, a bloody dagger in her hand.
“So much for not attracting attention, huh?” Sara joked, in between heavy breaths.
Ava turned around, responding to Sara’s playful comment with a smile of her own. “I have to hand it to you, Miss Lance,” she was panting, and her voice was hoarse. Sara straightened herself and gave the other woman an inquisitive look. “You sure know how to have fun.”
With that, Ava raised her right hand and placed it on her side.
Just as Sara lowered her gaze following Ava’s movements, Ava collapsed on one knee.
Before she could touch the ground, Sara was already by her side, breaking her fall.