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“Hey Sara, it’s me, Ava. I think I must have just missed you, which probably means the Legends are out breaking all of time again.”



 

*



 

It takes six rings before Sara gets her voicemail.

“Hey, you've reached Ava, obviously I'm not able to answer the phone right now. Since there are about four people that actually have this number, if it's something that can be said in a text just send me a text. If you think that comment is about you, it is…” Ava trails off for a moment, almost like it would be the end, before she says, “If this is Sara then… I love you too. And you’re a nerd for making me put this in my voicemail for everyone to hear…” The recording of Ava laughs, a soft little tone. “Anyways just, leave me a message or something. Bye.”

She waits, one second, and then another.

Listens for the soft sound of Ava sighing, before she managed to stop the recording, then the familiar beep.

“Ava, it’s me again,” Sara says, after the tone. “I know you’re… You’re busy, but I miss you. I miss you so much. I know I said that I could do this, that I would be fine without you here, but it wasn’t supposed to be this long.”

She can feel the tears already beginning to prick at the edge of her eyes. She told herself that she wasn’t going to do this, wasn’t going to cry in Ava’s voicemail inbox.

Not again.

No matter how lonely it felt.

No matter how empty her bed was without Ava beside her.

It seems almost silly laying here, in a bed that Ava had always complained was too cramped for the two of them (especially when she had a King sized one back at her apartment in Star City), a bed that she had taken Ava back to for the first time what seems like ages ago. When kissing Ava had been something new and incredible and different from any other person she’d taken a tumble in the sheets with.

Now though…

It just feels empty.

Sheets that don’t smell like Ava anymore.

“I miss you,” she says, again, into the phone pressed against her ear. “I miss you so much, and I just want you to come home. And, I know, I know you’ve said the Waverider isn’t your home, but it doesn’t feel like my home either, not right now, not without you here. Look, Ava, I just need you to-”

A beep cuts her off.

The voicemail having gone on too long.

She knows the prompts by now, what number to press to delete the message that Ava will never hear. Sara pulls the phone away from her ear, pressing down on the number three with hands that shake, before hanging up the phone.

She waits one minute.

And then another.

Trying to ignore the ache in her chest, tight and overwhelming.

“Fuck it,” she says, a breath of air, a rush of emotion that she can’t keep in, before she dials the familiar number again.

Six rings and then, as always - “Hey, you've reached Ava, obviously I'm not able to answer the phone right now…”



 

*



 

“Hey, you.”

“Hey,” Sara echoes, staring at the screen propped up on the table in front of her. She’s in her office. Doors closed off to everyone else. Refusing to have this moment interrupted, any anachronism could wait.

The whole of time could wait.

If only she could have Ava here beside her right now.

She supposes a phone call across all of time is better than nothing.

Ava’s smiling on her screen, color on her cheeks, hair down for once. Looking so happy to see Sara, that it makes her smile a little too. Especially when a moment later Ava asks, “Miss me?”

“More than you know,” Sara admits. There’s longing and desperation in her voice.

Longing she would normally have tried to hide, but this was Ava.

Ava, is smiling at her like she’s made the greatest of jokes, not confessed the loneliness inside of her heart.

“You know what they say: distance makes the heart grow fonder .”

“I don’t feel fonder,” Sara says, because apparently there was no end to her truth telling tonight. “I feel lonely.”

Ava pouts at that. Her lips pitching down slightly for a moment. Looking genuinely upset for a moment. Sara wishes she was there to kiss that pout off of Ava’s lips.

“I wish I could be there with you right now,” Ava says, her tone soft. A contrast to the still over exaggerated pout on her lips.  

“You could be? Isn’t that the beauty of time travel? You could just be here in a second if you wanted to.”

“You know I can’t-”

“I know.” Sara sighs. Heavy, and sad, when she says it again. “I know.”

Ava’s lips quirk into something a little teasing. Familiar, in a way. “It would be against Bureau policy.”



 

*



 

They pick up a mission like it’s supposed to be a distraction. A level six anachronism, challenging enough, even without adding the Legends to the equation, that it should be enough to keep her busy. She had been counting on that, counting on the team to mess things up, to turn a level six into a level ten and put them on the Time Bureau’s radar.

But the mission goes off relatively without hitch.

It turns into a level seven, but only for a moment, and Ray and Amaya take care of things quickly enough.

There’s not even a fight to be had.

No blood pounding risk of death to land her in the medbay as a distraction.

Just a successful mission.

Something that normally Sara would have been proud of them for, but in this case…

“The Time Bureau thanks you for your assistance,” Gary says, on the screen in her office. Sounding professional for once. Gary was apparently the professional one now, the one handling the Legends affairs since Ava was unavailable.   

He could be surprisingly competent when he wanted to.

Something they had been seeing more and more of as of late.

“Yeah, yeah, you’re welcome,” Sara says, waving at the screen to end the conversation.

Gideon takes the hint quick enough, closing off the window, in the middle of whatever Gary had been saying next. Imagining his dumbfounded look when he realized that she had hung up on him only brings Sara the most mild of enjoyment. Her lips quirking up into a smile for only a second.

Just one because Amaya says, “You should be nicer to him.”

Zari, of course, backs her up a second later, “Amaya’s right, I mean, I know he’s no Ava but-” She cuts herself off, freezing mid sentence.

Sara doesn’t have it in her to turn around and take her feelings out on either of them. Because apparently she had feelings now, a lot of them, ones that hurt and ones that wanted to lash out and ones that were just… Tired.

She can’t remember the last time she felt so tired.

Instead she just says, “No, he’s not.”



 

*



 

“You've reached the desk of Director Ava Sharpe. I'm not available to take your call at the moment. If this is an emergency, you may contact my assistant at extension 1-0-6-6, otherwise please leave your contact details and I will return your call.”



 

*



 

“Hey. What are you up to?”

Sara stares for a second at the image of Ava on the screen in her hands. She’s supposed to be sleeping but she can’t, she hasn’t been able to, not for a while. Not in what feels like far too long.

Which was why doing this had felt like the only option.

“You look tired,” Ava says, that slightest hint of concern in her voice.

“Well, I have been for a while,” Sara says, voice dry, mostly from exhaustion, “Thanks for noticing.”

There’s a small flush to Ava’s cheeks when she replies, speaking quickly, stuttering over her words. Nervous. God, she’s so nervous, that Sara can almost feel it too. The butterflies in her stomach all over again.

“No no no, I didn’t - I - uh - I mean,” Ava rambles, the flush on her cheeks only growing. Sara knowing all too well how far that flush will spread. How good Ava always looks flushed just so, the way she only does for Sara. “You always look good. I just… You have a long day or?”

Sara laughs, because what else is there to say.

A long day.

More like a long week.

More like a long month.

“I guess you could say that.”



 

*



 

When she does manage to sleep it’s restless. Nothing that lingers. Nothing that lasts. A nightmare that comes too sudden. Walls crashing in on her, darkness taking over consuming her, in a world tinted blue, even though she knows -

“Hey, you've reached Ava, obviously I'm not able to answer the phone right now. Since there are about four people that actually have this number, if it's something that can be said in a text just send me a text. If you think that comment is about you, it is…. If this is Sara then… I love you too. And you’re a nerd for making me put this in my voicemail for everyone to hear. Anyways just, leave me a message or something. Bye.”

The beep doesn’t come soon enough.

“Hey, I had a bad dream, and I know you’re busy,” Sara says, voice lost and bitter. She forces herself to put some cheerfulness in it. “But the plus side of being my girlfriend is that you have to listen to my problems. So, I’m just going to assume you want to hear about my dream.”

If Ava was here she would want to.

How many times had Sara woken up from a nightmare with Ava by her side?

At first she had been nervous, worried about showing all the broken pieces of herself to Ava, worried that she would judge her and find her not worthy of being loved. But then… Then, Ava had held her close, tight to her chest and let Sara cry it all out, without asking or pressing for anything more.

Sara could use that right now.

Desperately so.

She’d give anything for the feeling of Ava’s arms around her.

“I keep thinking that we’re back there, back on fucking Beebo Day of all things, except you didn’t save me from Mallus. You’re not there to pull me out, to pull me back from the edge, and I just… I can’t do it.”

The dream comes more often than she would like to admit.

The feeling of loneliness that comes afterwards and lasts for hours.

“You’re supposed to come back when I ask you to, Ava, that’s how this works.”



 

*



 

“...would be a Beebo day miracle.”

“Did you just say Beebo day?”



 

*



 

“Hey, you.” Ava’s voice is as cheerful ever. Happy to see her.

For a second Sara can feel it too. The warmth in her own chest. The feeling that only comes when she can see Ava’s face right in front of her. On a screen, too far away to touch, but it’s something.

“Miss me?”

“Just a little.”

Ava’s smile matches her tone. Easy and light, despite the fact that they clearly both miss each other.

Despite the fact that she -“You know what they say”

Sara finishes the sentence with Ava, matching her in pitch and tone, words that are familiar by now, familiar enough that she feels them tattooed on her very soul. “ Distance makes the heart grow fonder .”



 

*



 

“Where were you?”

She tries not to bristle at his tone. She knows that he means well, that the tone he’s aiming for is concern, even if Nate doesn’t actually know how to regulate his tone. Making him second in command for this mission may have been a mistake, but it had been right up his area of historical expertise, and Sara hadn’t wanted to think too hard about the mission.

Not with so many other things running through her mind.

Too many thoughts to keep ahold of.

“I was busy,” Sara says, a clear misdirection.

She ignores the way Nate frowns at her.

At least Mick has the sense not to bug her, just passes her one of his beers. A gift that Sara accepts easily, twisting off the cap and tossing it on the ground without a care in the world, before she takes a swig of the drink.

It’s cheap beer.

Because apparently with a supercomputer able to fabricate them whatever they liked, Mick still went for cheap beer. Normally she’d protest, but cheap beer reminded her of home and Star City and a couch that she had sat on what seems like ages ago, watching those terrible soap operas that Ava loved so much, sharing a six pack of whatever Ava had been able to pick up at the liquor store across the street from her apartment.

“Busy,” Nate prompts.

“Drop it,” she says.

“Sara-”

“Don’t make me make it an order.”

Nate seems to consider that for a moment. But only a moment, since when Nate had become no longer scared of seeing what a pissed off former member of the League of Assassins looked like, Sara didn’t know.

Nate turns traitor in an instant, asking, “Gideon, please tell me Sara wasn’t doing what I think she was, again?”

“Gideon, don’t answer that,” Sara says sharply.

But apparently, nobody listens on this ship.

Including the very ship itself.

“I’m afraid so Doctor Heywood.”



 

*



 

“If you need to talk to someone-”

“I don’t,” Sara insists. Hitting the punching bag in the gym is a lot easier than talking. And taking out her aggressions on an inanimate object is a lot easier than taking them out on the team that has only ever been worried about her.

“I know,” Ray offers.

Ray would be the one that they sent to check on her.

Ray Palmer and his soft heart.

“I’m just offering, I’ve been there,” Ray continues, “So if you ever need-”

“I’m fine,” Sara insists, stopping her work out to turn to him. Where he stands at the edge of the mats, somehow managing to look small despite being significantly taller than her, hands tucked into the pocket of his jeans. Soft enough that she feels bad. Something Sara didn’t know was still even possible. “But if I change my mind, I’ll let you know, okay?”

“That’s all I could ask for.”



 

*



 

“I just wanted to call and say… To say that I love you so much, and I’m the luckiest woman in the world to be able to fall a little more in love with you each day.”



 

*



 

“Apparently we’re the type of people that do this now.”

“Video chat dinner dates,” Ava replies, “Kinda feels tame for us?”

Sara had kicked everyone else out of the kitchen and used her Captain’s codes to lock off the room. She’d even gone so far as to make it look romantic on her end. Lighting a candle, having Gideon fabricate a plate of pasta, the good stuff, like that Olive Garden shit, even put on a fancy dress.

The red one that Ava likes so much.

Ava isn’t nearly as dressed up, a carton of take out, and her Time Bureau suit still on. But the top three buttons are undone and Sara can imagine taking her back to her room and undoing the rest of the buttons, revealing the skin underneath.

“You’re right,” Sara says with a nod,”We should step up our game.”

Ava hums a little at that. “What did you have in mind?”

“Next step phone sex?”

“We could do that now? I’ll just take my top off, while you lock the door and make sure none of the Legends come in,” Ava says sounding so fiercely serious, even going as far as to set her chopsticks down. Fingers moving below the screen like she was about to undo her buttons.

Sara waits it out. Waits until Ava inevitably chickens out. Ducking her head, her cheeks flushing.

“You are joking, right?”

“Of course, I’m joking,” Ava replies, a laugh tumbling off her lips open and free. Sara misses that laugh most of all. The one only she can manage to coax out of Ava. “No, seriously though, what are you doing?”

“I thought we agreed to not talk shop while eating?”

“Honestly, I could use a little Legendary nonsense to distract from all of this?”

“That bad?”

“You have no idea,” Ava replies, “So tell me, what trouble have the Legends gotten up to since the last time we talked?”



 

*



 

“Where are you calling me from? I don’t recognize that part of the Waverider.”

Sara’s sprawled out on the exercise mats, phone held up above her head, looking up at where Ava is smiling down on her with that adorably confused look.

“Welcome to gym,” Sara says, though she doesn’t tilt the phone around to show Ava the rest of the room. Instead she keeps the image of Ava focused on her, taking in everything she can about the woman right before her eyes.

That soft knowing smile on her lips, her hair all falling over her right shoulder, her slightly rumbled suit.

The way she almost looks like she’s teasing, when she asks, “Are you hiding, Miss Lance?”



 

*



 

“You've reached the desk of Director Ava Sharpe. I'm not available to take your call at the moment. If this is an emergency you may contact my assistant at extension 1-0-6-6, otherwise please leave your contact details and I will return your call.”

She knew Ava wouldn’t pick up, but she still calls Ava’s number first.

Tells herself that this is just because it’s familiar, muscle memory reminding her what numbers to press to get to Ava’s line.

She waits, until the beep, the part where she would normally leave a message, before punching in the extension code.

This time she doesn’t have to wait six rings.

It only takes one for him to pick up.

“Hey, Gary, we need an anachronism. Either you tell us how to help the Bureau or I’m picking one at random in the next, oh let’s say, four minutes.”



 

*



 

The mission goes bad.

Predictably.

She should have known. They’d had too many go right for far too long, it was only a matter of time before something would have to go off. She’s not even sure who to blame. A part of her wants to blame Zari and her idea that she could find loopholes in time.

Loopholes that Sara had stopped believing in.

Another part of her wants to blame Gary for having selected the anachronism for them, even though she had badgered him to the point that he was stressed and panicked and read off one at random.

While the strongest part of her knows that this is her fault.

That she had rushed into the situation carelessly, foolishly, without any concern for her own life and that this was what she got in return. This was what she deserved. A bruised body and a bruised ego.

She locks the doors to her office. Kicking them all out is a coward’s approach; certainly not one befitting a captain.

Somewhere in the back of her head she knows that, but she can’t bring herself to care.

She slumps down in her arm chair, pouring herself a glass of something strong, the good stuff collected throughout time by Rip before he’d left the team behind to form the Time Bureau.

“Gideon, play the bad day message.”

“Are you certain, Captain? Agent Sharpe said to save it for-”

“This is a bad day,” Sara says.

It feels like the worst day.

Or no…

Not the worst.

The worst was…

But this was close.

“Play it, Gideon, please.”

Gideon complies a moment later. A hologram of Ava appearing in front of her a moment later. Transparent such that Sara can see right through her, it’s like she’s not even really there, like she was never even really there.

Maybe it would have been easier to…

The recording of Ava starts part way through her sentence, a misstep in the recording. “Listen to this on a bad day. I’m recording this in advance, just in case, I’m busy or I can’t be there or I… You’re sleeping in my bed right now, and I snuck downstairs to record this so, it might be a little bit of a mess...” the hologram of Ava trails off.

Sara watches the way she shifts in place. Looking small and embarrassed for a moment, before looking up at where Sara sits.

She meets the eyes of Ava’s hologram.

Those eyes that she fell for long ago.

“I love you,” Ava says, “I don’t tell you that enough, but I do. I love you. I loved you since the first time I saw you, I mean, you frustrated me to no end and your team was…” Ava trails off laughing a little at a private joke. “They still are actually, but I also saw something in you that made my heart skip a beat. I think that’s called love at first sight.”

She reaches up, fast forwarding the recording. Past the parts she knows too well, to get to the part that she needs to hear.

“Sara, you are the strongest person I know, and don’t deny that. I know I’m not the first person to say that, and we all keep saying that because it’s true, because you are. You’re incredible. You’ve been through so much and you just keep going, you keep pushing on no matter how much it hurts, and I envy that. I envy you. I wish I could be as strong and brave and incredible as you are…”

“You’re braver than I am,” Sara insists to the hologram. The one that can’t hear her back. That never could. A message recorded just in case things got bad and Ava could be there.

A romantic gesture.

Ava ever the romantic one.

Ava smiles at her from the hologram,“Sometimes I think that I’ve never been more in love with you than I am at any moment, and then somehow, you always prove me wrong, by making me fall even more in love.”



 

*



“You do realize that that little stunt of yours could have destroyed us both?”

“You tried to kill us first.”

“No, tried to warn you first, but you don't take warnings, do you?”



 

*



 

She’s well past drunk when Rip shows up. Doesn’t even have it in her to ask who called him. Probably Gideon. She was always the nosy one and always the one to jump to involving Rip , something Sara would be more than willing to call the AI out on. If she could focus on anything other than the burning that lingers in her chest and behind her eyes.

Sara ignores him.

Focuses on the recording of Ava instead, the way she smiles soft and uncertain in that moment, laughing a little as she ducks her head.

Leo had called it a look of courtship.

Though she had been unwilling to admit it at the moment.

“Yeah, well I better go, so I will let you know how things progress.”

“This isn’t healthy,” Rip points out, taking the glass from her hand. Though he only ends up drinking it himself. Finishing the whole thing in one gulp, before pouring them both another generous helping of scotch.

Sara takes the glass from him. “And you’re the one to lecture me on healthy coping mechanisms.”

“No,” Rip says, “No, I’m probably the worst person for that.”

“At least he’s self aware,” Sara quips sarcastically, holding her glass up in a mock toast.

A toast that Rip meets with his own glass a moment later.

The alcohol has stopped burning on the way down, has stopped numbing the pain.

“Why are you here?”

Rip shrugs.“I’m the only other person with Captain codes that could open up that door.”

“I should have Gideon delete those codes.”

“She loves me a little bit too much for that,” Rip points out.

“Touche.”

She turns away from Rip, waves her hand at the recording in front of her, rewinds it, starts again from the beginning.

“Ugh, not yet. I just want to let you know that I’m still waiting to meet with Director Bennett, unfortunately no one here believes that Rip was right about Mallus being real. I’ve even been barred from visiting him while he’s incarcerated it’s a whole mess of red tape.”

When she casts a sideways glance at Rip, his brows are furrowed in concern.

“Did Ava know that you recorded this?”

“Gideon records every incoming transmission to the Waverider,” Sara points out, “Can’t help that.”

“You could resist watching them over and over again,” Rip points out.

Hypocrite.

Like she didn’t walk into this very same office years ago, their positions reversed.

“Like you did with Miranda?”

It’s harsh.

She feels a bit sick finding satisfaction in the pained look in Rip’s eyes. The pain that he pushes down a moment later, that he forces himself to power through, she wonders maybe if time had made it easier for him.

“That’s different,” Rip insists.

“Is it really though?”



 

*



 

“Hey, you've reached Ava, obviously I'm not able to answer the phone right now. Since there are about four people that actually have this number, if it's something that can be said in a text just send me a text. If you think that comment is about you, it is…. If this is Sara then… I love you too. And you’re a nerd for making me put this in my voicemail for everyone to hear. Anyways just, leave me a message or something. Bye.”

She barely manages to wait for the beep before she starts speaking.

“I need you to come home,” she says, because she’s a little too drunk to stop it. To stop the words from tumbling off of her lips. Too drunk to take it all back. To push it down.

At least she’s not crying anymore.

Though that’s probably because she has no tears left in her to cry out.

There’s only so many times she can do this.

“Ava, if you love me, you’ll come home. You’re supposed to come home. I - You said it wouldn’t be this long. That it was classified and Rip won’t even - he was here tonight and he wouldn’t tell me where you were. Too much red tape and classified Bureau information.”

She knows the reason Rip wouldn’t tell her.

Because she would go there.

Go to that exact moment.

An infinite number of times.

If that was what it took.

“I hate the Bureau. I hate them for taking you away from me. I hate them for having made our paths cross. I hate -”

The beep cuts her off before she can finish the sentence.

Probably for the best.

She wasn’t certain what words would have found their way out.

What new ways she would have found to hurt herself.

She lets her phone slip from her fingers, falling onto the floor, before she stumbles into a bed that always seems to empty, in clothes still covered in grime from their mission, without even caring to take them off.

If Ava was here she would complain, but Ava wasn’t here.

Ava hadn’t been here in a while.



 

*



 

“Where are you calling me from? I don’t recognize that part of the Waverider.”

“This is the laundry room,” Sara explains, not looking at the screen, while she works on shoving her sheets into the drier. She catches a glimpse of Ava out of the corner of her eye. About all she can manage at the moment.

Treasures that glance somewhere deep inside of her heart.

“Because, I might have gone to sleep in pants that were covered in volcanic dirt from Pompeii. Which, before you say anything, yes I know it’s a risk to time, which is why I am here doing laundry, even though I am very much hungover.”

She tries not to let it bother her when Ava’s reply doesn’t match up just right. When she doesn’t say the words that Sara would have expected to hear at her admission.

“Are you hiding, Miss Lance?”

 

 

*

 

 

“I wish I could be there with you right now.”

Ava’s admission is soft enough that Sara can’t help the burning in her eyes. She’s supposed to say something. Tell Ava that it’s okay that she understand that this mission is important or even make some joke about time travel being a thing that exists, but she can’t manage that.

She can’t manage anything more than the word, “Please,” desperate from her lips.

“You know I can’t-”

“No, because you’re-”

“It would be against Bureau policy.”

Ava doesn’t understand.

How can she understand?

The anger over takes the sadness.

Her voice more bitter than it has a right to be, “And you’ve always been a stickler for Bureau policy.”

“Look at that,” Ava says, voice soft and teasing, a contrast to her tone, “You really do know me.”



*

 

 

“Hello, you’ve reached the Time Bureau automated answering system. The number that you are trying to reach is no longer in service. If you believe that you may have mistyped your extension, please press pound and then try your extension again. If you would like to speak to an operator press zero.”

Sara stares down at the phone in her hand.

Shock, mixed with something else.

Something that hurts.

Before she presses the pound key and then a pattern of numbers that she knows won’t give her the only person that she wants to talk to.

1-0-6-6.

He picks up before the first ring even finished.

“I told them not to-”

“Shut the fuck up, Gary.”

“Hey! You called me!”



 

*



“Not that I haven’t been tempted to change the past.”

“I don’t even want to start looking for loopholes…”



 

*



 

“No, seriously though, what are you doing?”

“Missing you,” Sara admits. “Then again. When am I not missing you? Does it get easier? Someone said this was supposed to get easier?”

Rip.

Ray.

Jax.

Amaya.

Zari.

Hell, even Mick.

This was supposed to get easier, but it wasn’t.

She was sitting here, a bowl of oatmeal in her lap. A bowl that had long since gone cold. As she watches Ava pick up her chopsticks one more time. “Honestly, I could use a little Legendary nonsense to distract from all of this?”

Sara sighs. “Couldn’t we all.”

“You have no idea,” Ava replies, “So tell me, what trouble have the Legends gotten up to since the last time we talked?”



 

*

 

 

“Listen to this on a bad day. I’m recording this in advance, just in case I’m busy or I can’t be there or I… You’re sleeping in my bed right now, and I snuck downstairs to record this so, it might be a little bit of a mess...” Ava trails off.

The same way she always does.

Sara holds up a hand to pause the recording, freezing the hologram of Ava in the middle of telling her that she loves her.

Words that she only ever hears as a recording now.

Instead she asks, the image of a woman, that she knows cannot answer her.

“What if every day is a bad day? What if every day without you is a-” She can’t finish her sentence, the sob over taking her more than any words could.

Because every day is a bad day now.

She just keeps trying to pretend that they’re not.

Trying to be someone she’s not.

Somebody normal.

She manages to bring her hand back up, to start the recording once more, to listen to the message that Ava had hoped would help her make it through this.

“I love you. I don’t tell you that enough, but I do. I love you. I loved you since the first time I saw you, I mean, you frustrated me to no end and your team was… They still are actually, but I also saw something in you that made my heart skip a beat. I think that’s called love and first sight.”

 

 

*

 

 

“I don’t want you to be normal.”

“You don’t?”

“Hell no.”



 

*



 

“I’m concerned.”

“I don’t need you to be concerned,” Sara snaps at Gideon.

She feels a bit bad about this because Gideon doesn’t deserve that. Gideon has only ever been loyal and trying to help. Who has enabled her up until this point, but who now -

“I need you to play the recording again, Gideon, I need to-”

“You need to sleep,” Gideon corrects. She’s already dimmed the lights down pointedly to prove her point. “It’s nearly two in the morning and-”

“Time doesn’t exist in the temporal zone,” Sara points out.

“Technically, Captain-”

“No,” Sara says, shaking her head, because she doesn’t want to debate time and she knows that it is only Gideon trying to distract her from the overwhelming sadness that had made its home in her chest for far too long.

“I can call Director Hunter, if that would help.”

The laugh that escapes Sara is bitter, a harsh unwelcome sound that comes out of her suddenly. Rip, of course, that’s always who Gideon would call.

Rip, another Captain she’s had to watch go through loss and heartbreak.

“What did you do when it was bad for him? After Miranda, can’t you do whatever you did for him?”

Gideon doesn’t reply for a second.

Seeming to process her request, before finally the AI says, “I can try.”

 

 

*



 

She wakes to find tears on her face.

Not a nightmare.

But the sadness was still there.

Sadness that was ever lasting.

Sadness that came upon waking up and realizing that the dream wasn’t real. That they weren’t happy. That Ava wasn’t here beside her, smiling in the morning sunlight that streamed in through the large bay windows in an apartment that had been boxed up, all pieces of the woman that had lived there before being put in a Time Bureau storage facility.

As if everything Ava had ever been could just be packaged away.

Locked up until it was nothing.

Once the tears start they can’t stop.

It takes her a moment to find her phone, tucked between her bed and the wall. Takes her a moment to force her blurry eyes to focus on the buttons. To call a number she know won’t be picked up.

A number that hasn’t been picked up in weeks.

Six rings.

As always.

Before a voice that she’d last heard in her dream, speaks to her.

If Sara closes her eyes she can imagine Ava is there beside her.

“Hey, you've reached Ava, obviously I'm not able to answer the phone right now. Since there are about four people that actually have this number, if it's something that can be said in a text just send me a text. If you think that comment is about you, it is…. If this is Sara then… I love you too. And you’re a nerd for making me put this in my voicemail for everyone to hear. Anyways just, leave me a message or something. Bye.”

She waits for the beep.

“I love you. I’ll always love you, Ava. Do you know that when you left you took a piece of my heart with you. I didn’t even know that it was possible for me to hurt more, but somehow you managed that.”



 

*



“I can't wait to come home and see you and kiss you and just… God, Sara, I’ve missed you so much, but I’ll be home soon I promise. I love you, goodbye.”



 

*



 

“Hey, you.”

Sara doesn’t say anything. Just stares at the screen.

Waits for the inevitable reply.

That hint of hopefulness and hesitation that had been in Ava’s voice when she asks, “Miss me?”

“No,” Sara says.

It’s a lie.

Angry and bitter in her chest.

One that the version of Ava on the screen before her doesn’t even react to.

She just says, as she always does. “You know what they say: distance makes the heart grow fonder .”

Sara can’t help the anger.

The hurt, that Ava isn’t even really here to see.

But the anger is overtaken by something else.

Something endless, that swallows her whole, sadness so deep Sara’s not certain she’s ever felt anything else.

“I wish I could be there with you right now.”

Sara’s not certain that she’ll ever feel anything else.

“You know I can’t-”

Sara doesn’t cut her off, but she still stops. The same way as always. Reacting to a version of Sara that she hasn’t been in a long time.

The Sara that had been lucky enough to get to joke around with the woman she loved.

Naive.

Not knowing what was to come.

“It would be against Bureau policy.”

This time Sara can’t stay quiet. Her voice breaking over the words, a rhetorical question, asked to the universe more than anyone else. “What’s the point of time travel if I can’t save the people I love?”

Ava doesn’t answer her question.

“Look at that,” she says instead, “You really do know me.”

Sara makes a choked off noise of sadness. Pushing past the burning behind her eyes.

For once, saying the words that follow the script.

“I love you.”

Ava’s smile is soft. So happy. They had been so happy back then. “I love you too, baby.”

She knows she’s supposed to say something, but she can’t.

She can’t say anything more at all.

Because Ava had loved her.

Truly loved her.

Had seen all the bad parts of her and still chose Sara, imperfections and all and now she was...

“I’ll see you soon, okay? We’re nearly finished here, just a little bit more,” Ava insists, not knowing what was to come.  “If this one last thing goes well I’ll see you sooner than you know.”



 

*



“Hey Sara, it’s me, Ava. I think I must have just missed you which probably means the Legends are out breaking all of time again,” Ava laughs at that, one last laugh. “I’m about to go dark. I should be able to make contact in a few hours once we finish all of this up, but I just wanted to call and say… To say that I love you so much, and I’m the luckiest woman in the world to be able to fall a little more in love with you each day. I can't wait to come home and see you and kiss you and just… God, Sara, I’ve missed you so much, but I’ll be home soon, I promise. I love you, goodbye.”



 

*



She knows that she’s risking all of time to do this.

That Ava wouldn’t approve if she knew, but Ava’s not here.

She’s dead.

Buried somewhere else in time that Sara isn’t suppose to know about because of stupid Time Bureau policies. A body in a grave with a wrong name, nothing to show for the woman that Sara loved. The woman that she would have died for if she had the chance. That she would have done everything else in her power to save, risking all of time if she had to, if only to have her Ava back safe and sound in front of her.

If only to kiss her again.

If only to hold her again.

If only to hear the words I love you too from something other than a recording that she knows too well.

But instead....

This would have to do.

It isn’t perfect.

It is a risk to all of time.

Even as small and as simple as it is, she used Zari’s program to look for one loophole. Not to save Ava, but just to have one more moment. An instance that didn’t matter to time. Completely insignificant as far as the rest of time was concerned, but for Sara… For Sara it meant everything.

A chance to take back a moment that she’d lost before.

She knocks on Ava’s door, two swift knocks. The way she always had, the way she always used to.

She waits.

Not for six rings this time.

But for the sound of feet against old creaky floorboards, for Ava to pull the door open, and smiles at her with a smile that Sara swear she’s forgotten.

Real and alive in front of her, and god, doesn’t that just steal Sara’s breath away.

“Hey, you,” Ava says. “I thought you said that you had team bonding night?

She almost says it all right there. Begs Ava not to go on the mission. Not to leave. Not to go to the one place that she won’t return from. Nearly does the exact same thing she’d told Mick and Jax not to do when they’d been given the chance. Nearly breaks all her rules.

It would be worth it.

Ava’s always been worth it.

“Baby, you’re crying,” Ava says, her voice soft.

Sara hadn’t even realized, but now that she is she can’t stop it.

The sobs only become worse when Ava pulls her into a hug. Sara’s arms come up easily, holding Ava in place against her, hugging her one last time. Feeling her warm and steady and real in her arms. Not a hologram. Not a recording of a video chat. A real human being, with a heart that beats steady in her chest.

Ava’s hand is in her hair, running lightly through the strands, offering comfort in her own special way. Not knowing or understanding why Sara aches so much, but wanting to be there. She’s always been there.

Until she wasn’t.

Until she couldn’t.

Sara pulls back from Ava, because she needs to look at her face, needs to commit the image of her to her memory. To treasure this last moment most of all, the last one that she’ll ever be able to have.

She can’t help her voice from breaking as she says, “I’m going to miss you so much. Ava, I love you, and I can’t-” Keep going without you , “- You know I’m going to miss you, right?”

Ava’s smiles, that soft one, that one that is just for Sara, as she reaches up to brush her thumb against the tears along Sara’s cheek.

“I promise, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”