Sara wakes from her slumber with a strangled sob. Her breaths come rapidly and, with a start, she realizes she is sitting instead of lying down. She closes her eyes and lets her body fall back, swallowing hard as her head hits the pillow.
She opens them again, blinking as her eyes readjust to the darkness, and rolls onto her side, spotting the small watch on her nightstand. She has slept for all of an hour. Great.
She closes her eyes again and images from her dream — no, not a dream, her nightmare — flash inside her head. She quickly forces her eyes back open and looks around her room to remind herself of where she is.
It’s not real , she tells herself. Except it is. Sure, she had conjured the images in her sleep, but all of them were things she has done in the past. Things she can never take back, no matter how much she tries to balance the scales.
She lets her eyes fall shut one last time, hoping to be able to go back to sleep, preferably without any form of dreams. However, she is not so lucky, and sleep eludes her. In the end, she reaches for her tablet. Maybe there is something she can do to take her mind off of everything.
Her index finger accidentally hits her contacts list when she tries to switch pages. The list is fairly small, only containing a direct line to the Team Arrow hideout, her father’s phone, the Time Bureau, and — Sara pauses when her gaze lands on “Ava Sharpe”.
She tries to remember when she had added the name specifically, instead of relying on the Time Bureau’s formal channels to connect them. When had they grown so close, started talking so much, that Sara has a direct line to her personally? She doesn’t even have current phone numbers for Felicity, or Oliver, or Diggle. Only one shared line to reach all of them wherever their current lair is hidden. She doesn’t even have a line to Star Labs at all.
But Ava Sharpe’s personal number is saved, something Ava has in common only with Sara’s dad .
Sara’s fingers hover above the name. Should she call her? She glances at the watch again. Sara might be in a timeless void, but the numbers on the watch on her nightstand shows the time she would be living in in Starling. The time Oliver, the Star Labs team, her dad, and… Ava live in.
It’s much too late — or early, she supposes — to call anyone there. Then again, this is Ava . If anyone’s awake, it’s her. Sara smiles, just a small upward tug of the corner of her lip, at the thought of Ava still working diligently. Sara knows she would do so with no thought of her own needs. That woman really needs to learn to take better care of herself.
Sara sighs and turns off the tablet, placing it on her nightstand.
Seeing as she’s obviously not getting any more sleep tonight, Sara swings her legs over the edge of her bed and jumps to the floor. A nice, quiet walk around the ship will do her some good.
Walking through the halls, Sara misses the ability to open a window or step into a garden and just feel the cold night breeze on her face and smell the fresh smells of nature.
It’s not often that Sara finds herself missing “normal” life. Of course, she misses her parents, the few friends she has left, and the people she has lost. But the loud noise of traffic, having to actually cook for herself, having to pay for her own clothes… She can’t admit to missing any of those.
But, in the rare moments when she has been confined to the ship for too long or just hasn’t done a simple thing like skipping a rock across a body of water in a while, she feels just a hint of longing deep in her stomach. She can usually ignore it in favor of continuing her work, but there are times when the pull is strong enough to block out everything else and bring it to the forefront of her thoughts.
Right now, as a particularly cold kill flashes in front of her eyes, she misses being able to crawl into her parents’ — or even Laurel’s — bed after a bad dream.
She looks up to find herself standing on the bridge, just a step away from her Captain’s chair, and staring out at the green shimmering light of the time stream. She closes her eyes and imagines that the window leads out into the street of her childhood home, and if she stretches her hand out to open the nonexistent latch, cool air will find its way onto her face.
She shakes her head and turns around. Perhaps some exercise will do her good.
Sara pauses when she spots her office. The big screen she’s used for many conversations is lit up with dim light, showing a mirror screen of the one she had viewed on her tablet. She narrows her eyes while walking towards it, certain she had turned it off before going to bed.
As she approaches it, the screen brightens, showing Sara a perfect picture of one Ava Sharpe.
“Gideon, turn o—” she starts before cutting herself off. She glances at the time down in the right corner. Surely Ava is asleep. But what if she isn’t? No, there is no way she would answer her call. Sara nods to herself, preparing to turn everything off and make her way to their small makeshift gym.
“Gideon?” A beat passes. Sara looks from Ava’s serious gaze to the time, then back to her face again.
“Yes, Captain?” Gideon prompts.
Sara frowns and makes a split-second decision. Before she can second guess said decision, Sara says, “Call Agent Sharpe.” It doesn’t even take a second before the picture on the screen changes to “Calling Ava Sharpe” and the familiar ringing sounds through the small room.
One second passes, and Sara leans against the small table, waiting for Ava to pick up. Two seconds pass, and Sara draws her bottom lip between her teeth. Three pass, and her eyes flit back down to the time reminding her what a bad decision this is. Four pass, and her hand tightens on the edge of the table.
As the fifth second passes, Sara is certain she made a mistake. Ava’s either asleep, or simply not bothering to answer a call from Sara. And it’s not like Sara can blame her, she wouldn’t answer a call from herself either, certainly not at this ungodly hour.
Gym it is.
Sara pushes away from the table and berates herself for even thinking of calling Ava.
“Sara?” Sara’s heart skips a beat at the sleepy voice almost whispering her name.
“Ava,” she responds just as quietly, spinning back around to face the screen. Ava’s eyes are half-lidded and she is only wearing a tank top with her long blonde hair hanging messily off her shoulders. It’s not fair, Sara thinks, how stunning she can look even in this state.
“What’s wrong?” Ava asks, her soft features laden with worry despite the way they still droop with sleep.
“Nothing,” Sara says and shakes her head slightly.
“You called me in the middle of the night for nothing?” Ava arches one of those perfect eyebrows, and how is Sara supposed to resist that?
“It’s stupid,” Sara sighs, leaning back against the table.
“Tell me.” Ava’s request is so sincere, her blue eyes so honest, that Sara feels powerless to do anything but comply.
“Just a bad dream.” Sara averts her gaze as her cheeks heat up from the embarrassment she feels. How could she ever have thought calling Ava was the right idea?
“Oh.” It is clear from the way Ava breathes the word and crinkles her brow that she hadn’t expected the answer. What kind of assassin gets shaken by bad dreams, anyway? “What can I do to help?
Sara’s mouth falls open as Ava’s words run through her mind. Ava wants to help?
“I don’t— I don’t know.” Sara grimaces at her own words. “Look, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt your sleep and bother you with old night terrors—”
“What can I do to help?” Ava repeats, cutting Sara off. Sara narrows her eyes, slightly annoyed by Ava cutting her off, but her tense features melt at the way Ava’s eyes seem to pierce her soul.
“I hadn’t thought that far,” Sara answers honestly. She hadn’t thought of calling Ava at all, really. It had purely been a spur of the moment decision. However, as she spots Ava’s curtains flowing lightly in the air behind her, Sara gets an idea. “Hey, Aves, do you have a balcony?”
“I— Do I have a balcony?” For the first time since answering Sara’s call, Ava looks confused and utterly taken off guard.
Sara only nods in reply — her question speaks for itself.
“I do,” Ava says, narrowing her eyes at Sara. When Sara only looks at her, Ava sighs and reaches for something out of the view of the screen. Seconds later, the familiar noise of a portal opening sounds behind Sara.
Sara turns around with a smile, happily walking from the familiar metal floor of the ship to the unfamiliar feel of Ava’s wooden floor underneath her bare feet.
“Where’s the balcony?” she asks, casting a glance around Ava’s dark bedroom.
“Follow me.” Ava’s eyes, which had previously looked Sara over as she entered the room, flit up to the door behind Sara. Ava clears her throat as she moves toward it. Sara can’t help but smirk as she follows Ava through her apartment, torn between getting a proper look around now that she’s here, or simply getting to the balcony as fast as possible.
As she stands waiting for Ava to unlock the door, Sara feels her body tremble with anticipation. How long has it been now since she could just enjoy the night? Any time she has been outside during the night lately has been during a mission, allowing her no time for her to appreciate it.
The moment she hears the click of Ava’s door unlocking, Sara pushes past her, eager to exit out into the night. Ava’s balcony isn’t big — just big enough for the small chair she imagines Ava reading in and a table next to it, leaving just enough room for a body or two to stand in the unclaimed space.
Sara places her palms on the cold railing and closes her eyes as she draws in a deep breath. The breeze engulfs her and, even in the polluted air of a town like Star City, Sara feels free. Like she can finally breathe in the fresh wind that touches every bare part of her skin.
“You’re going to freeze,” Ava says with a frown in her voice before she disappears inside.
Sara can’t bring herself to care about where she’s gone, simply continues to stand there with her eyes closed, just existing in the moment. A car passes by, and Sara hones in on the sound of it. The Waverider always gives off a quiet hum, but it’s been a long while since she’s heard the roaring of a good old fashioned car.
The sudden appearance of heat around her startles her, causing her to jump slightly. She opens her eyes and turns her head to find Ava gently wrapping a blanket around her, with Ava’s body mere inches away from her back.
“You didn’t come here just to leave with a cold,” Ava chastises, flitting her eyes from Sara to the building across the street, her hands still resting gently on the blanket to hold it up.
Sara looks down at herself, standing in her light tank top and the short shorts she’d slept in. If she was anyone else, she might feel embarrassed about her current state. But she’s not anyone else, and she can’t bring herself to care about Ava seeing her in so little clothing. All she cares about is the calming feeling of the night air against her skin.
“Thanks,” Sara says, turning her gaze back to Ava. Sara takes the opportunity to just stare at her, properly seeing her now that she’s so close. Her hair is a little bit neater, as if Ava had tried to comb it with her fingers while searching for the blanket. Her features are more awake after being touched by the coldness of the outside air. Her eyes sparkle in the moonlight, and her lips look softer than any lips Sara’s ever kissed.
Sara forces herself to look away. The thought crosses her mind to drown her sorrows in Ava, to forget her painful memories by losing herself between Ava’s thighs. She’s almost certain Ava would reciprocate if Sara were to close the minuscule amount of distance between them. But she can’t — she doesn’t want that with Ava, to just spend one night with her and be done with it.
Sara pulls the blanket closer around herself as her body shivers, the cold of the night finally getting to her. Ava’s hands — which had still been holding the blanket up — fall down to her sides, but Ava doesn’t move from her spot behind Sara.
“What was your dream about?” Ava asks, so softly that Sara barely hears her.
“My past,” Sara says, casting her eyes down on the street. “All the things I’ve done.” She didn’t plan on telling Ava anything, but she finds herself helpless against Ava’s genuine request. “All the people I’ve wronged who I’ll never be able to repay, no matter how much good I try to do.”
“You’re right.” Ava’s words make Sara flinch. Deep down, she has always known herself to be irredeemable, despite the small moments with her team that have made her feel like a hero. “Those people are dead and nothing you do will ever bring them back. But that doesn’t mean that you have to agonize over them, Sara. It doesn’t mean that every single life you’ve saved has been in vain.”
Sara looks back at Ava again, finding the latter looking right at her. The intensity of her gaze throws Sara off. Sara doesn’t think more genuine eyes have ever been directed at her.
“To many people, more than I can count, you are a hero, whether or not they know it.” Ava’s hand comes up to cup Sara’s cheek, and Sara allows her head to relax into the touch.
Oh, how easy it would be to lean up and permit herself to find comfort in Ava. Before she has the opportunity to make any decision to ruin their friendship, however, Ava leans down and presses a featherlight kiss to Sara’s forehead. Sara closes her eyes, not realizing a tear has escaped them until Ava gently wipes it away with her thumb.
“You’re getting cold,” Sara says with a frown as she looks up at Ava’s bare shoulders.
Ava nods, releasing her hold on Sara as she backs into her apartment. Sara follows, all thoughts of enjoying the night forgotten.
“You should sleep here tonight,” Ava says as Sara closes the door behind her. “If you want, of course.” Ava pulls her mouth into a line and moves her gaze away from Sara.
“You sure you want a Legend spending that much time in your apartment?” Sara jokes, feeling a thrill when Ava’s lips pull up in a smile.
“I think I’ll take my chances with this one,” Ava says, the smile still evident on her face. Sara nods, searching the room for the couch she assumes she’ll sleep on. Only, before she can properly look at the room, Ava gestures for Sara to follow her then promptly starts walking.
Sara frowns but dutifully follows her all the way back to her bedroom, where Sara had first entered the apartment. When they arrive, Ava sighs as she crawls under her bedsheets, and Sara feels a pang of guilt for waking her.
Sara simply looks on as Ava makes herself comfortable, uncertain of where exactly Ava expects her to sleep. The floor doesn’t look that uncomfortable. It’s only when Ava reaches over to pat the other end of the bed that Sara tentatively goes and sits down. When Ava doesn’t immediately order her out of the bed, Sara slowly lies down, curling up inside the blanket Ava had wrapped around her.
“G’night, Aves,” she says as she looks at Ava, who is wrapping the bedsheets properly around herself.
They both lie facing each other, but as close to the edge of their side of the bed as they can get.
“Goodnight, Sara,” Ava responds, offering her a soft smile before they both try to sleep.
Sara feels calm as her eyes slowly close, with Ava’s face being the last thing she sees before slumber almost takes her. Almost.
The moment Sara relaxes completely, one of her kills is conjured before her eyes. Of course, Sara should have been prepared for it. But Ava had made her drop her guard, and the image takes her by complete surprise, making Sara let out a strangled cry for the second time that night.
“What’s wrong?” Ava asks, and Sara feels her shuffling closer before she has the chance to open her eyes and see the movement. “I’m right here,” Ava whispers, reaching a hand out for her. It lands on the spot right above her heart, and such a simple touch shouldn’t calm her, shouldn’t make all her worries be absorbed up where Ava’s warm hand presses against her. But it does .
Sara’s hand comes up around Ava’s wrist to ground herself, and she feels all the tension leave her body.
“Are you okay?” Ava’s voice is so soft, so caring , that Sara doesn’t know what to do other than nod. “Good.” Sara hears a smile in Ava’s voice. Then, unexpectedly, she feels cold air on her skin as her blanket is pulled away. The freezing air is replaced a moment later by Ava’s arms wrapped around her and the bedsheets resettling warmly around both of their bodies.
Sara tenses again in the unfamiliar position. Her whole body relaxes into the touch when Ava rubs gentle circles into her back, and Sara permits her head to rest gently against Ava’s chest. She draws in one last, shuddering breath, and allows sleep to take her one last time that night. Mercifully, the rest of the night is spent dreamless in Ava’s arms.