Ava is not sure how they ended up here. She had been dragged to a frat party by Charlie — all of them had, because Charlie had decided it was time for them to hang out as a group and that a frat party was the best way to do so.
Ava had only gone because Nora threatened to kill her if Ava left her alone with the rest of them. Of course, Nora had left her the moment she spotted Ray. Figures .
Ava had not quite realized how many people Charlie hangs out with — and how many of them she did not really know. Among them, one Sara Lance.
Of course, Ava knew who she was. But before tonight, they had never properly met. So how did they end up here, in Ava’s bedroom, with Sara giving Ava’s naked body a lingering glance before collecting her clothes?
As Sara gets herself dressed, Ava pulls the covers over her body, suddenly feeling too exposed.
“This was fun,” Sara says, shooting her a smug smile.
“Totally,” Ava says, mentally facepalming herself at her reply.
“Well, I better get going. Goodnight, Ava.” Sara gives her — now covered — body a last once-over before sauntering over to the bedroom door. Ava wonders if she walks so slowly because she wants Ava to stare at her ass.
“Goodnight,” Ava rushes out before Sara disappears.
When she hears the apartment door open and close, she groans, pulling the covers over her head. How did she allow this to happen? Obviously, it is Charlie’s fault. Ava is not eager to go to parties under usual circumstances, plus, this week in particular had not been great. Of course, Charlie had been adamant a party was exactly what Ava needed.
Ava wants nothing more than to say she was wrong. And it’s not like the party had helped. But, as she allows herself to sink into her bed, she cannot say that sleeping with Sara hadn’t helped relax her. In fact, she cannot remember being this relaxed since she started college.
Still, it’s not like she can just run off and have sex whenever things get extra stressful. That would be irresponsible, and stupid, and so not like her. And getting a girlfriend is definitely off the table — that would interfere far too much with her studies. So, this would have to stay a one-time thing.
Ava nods to herself, pleased with having reached a conclusion she can stand by. Besides, it’s not like she is going to have to speak to Sara again or acknowledge their night together. She can live happily pretending their night together was just a dream and that she had not swerved from her studies to do something stupid.
That feeling lasts the rest of the weekend. Ava spends it in her apartment, catching up on the studying time she lost while at the party. However, when Monday rolls around, she has no choice but to go to class. Of course, she is happily ignoring everything that happened that night.
Her friends, however, have other ideas.
“You know,” Nate says, looking at Ava with something akin to hurt in his eyes, “you didn’t tell anyone when you left the party Saturday.”
“Oh. Sorry about that,” Ava says, creasing her brow. “I think the week just finally got the best of me and I had to get home.”
“Nah,” Charlie says, inspecting her as they walk across campus. “There’s somethin’ different about you.”
“What?” Ava asks, having long given up on trying to understand her friend.
“You’re less… stuck up than usual.” Ava makes a sound of protest, but Charlie ignores it. “Oh my God , our girl got laid.”
Ava chokes on her own spit and has to stop walking to catch her breath. “Excuse me?” she sputters, not knowing how to deal with the accusation.
“This is great!” Charlie exclaims, ignoring Ava’s words. “I’ve been tellin’ you you need to get laid since we met. Who was it?”
“No one!” Ava tightens her hold on her bag and picks up her pace again, eager to get to class.
“Sure, luv, whatever makes you sleep at night.” Charlie offers her a lewd smile and slings her arm around Ava’s shoulders.
When Ava finally escapes through the door to the class she has alone , she lets out a breath of relief. Her relief is short-lived, however, when just a few minutes after she has taken her seat, she walks through the door.
Because of course she does.
Logically, Ava knows they share classes and should not be surprised to see her here. But she had been so focused on not thinking about what happened that she was not expecting to see Sara again at all. And it’s not like they have ever paid attention to each other before in class anyway.
Now, however, as Sara spots her, she has the audacity to send Ava a smile and a short nod. What is even worse is Ava finds herself returning it.
This is not how it is supposed to go. It is bad enough the night happened at all — that Ava allowed herself to sleep with someone she barely even knew — but to have to be reminded of it? Someone kill her now. How is she supposed to get through class with a reminder of the mistake she made sitting only a few desks away?
(Not very well is the answer.)
“Please, make yourself at home,” Ava sighs as Charlie plops down in one of her chairs, hanging her feet off of the armrest.
Charlie simply gives her a mock salute in reply as everyone else starts pouring through the door. How had Ava let herself be convinced into this?
Charlie had, of course, insisted they attend another party once the weekend rolled around again. Ava had refused, not having recovered from the last frat party she had been dragged to. Not even Nora’s threats could make her go.
So, of course, Charlie had decided that, seeing as Ava is the only one in the group with an apartment of her own, they would have their own party there. Ava had reluctantly agreed — it is better than the alternative, and it’s not like she really had a choice in the matter.
Of course, what Ava did not think of, is that Charlie meant the whole group. Not just the people Ava is used to hanging out with, but the people Charlie is used to hanging out with. Which includes Sara.
Sara is the last one through the door, and Ava gets the impression she had been herding everyone else through it, with the way she quickly looks over everyone and gives herself a slight nod. Ava cannot help herself from thinking it adorable.
Sara gives Ava a smile when her eyes land on her, and Ava is helpless to return it.
“For you,” Sara says as she dumps a six-pack of beer on the counter.
“Thanks?” Ava says, eyeing the beer warily.
“Something wrong?” Sara asks, a hint of defiance in those blue eyes.
“No… It’s just, I’m not really a fan of beer.” Ava turns her nose. Her parents had never been big on beer, preferring fancy wines and whiskey, and their expensive tastes had rubbed off on Ava.
“More for me,” Sara says with a shrug, pulling the case towards herself. As she pulls a bottle out, she asks, “Got an opener laying around?”
“Top drawer next to the fridge,” Ava says, pointing in the drawer’s direction.
Sara passes by her to get to it, and Ava shivers as she gets close enough for Ava to feel the warmth oozing off her body.
“Oi, Sharpe! Where do you keep your whiskey? I know you have some,” Charlie says, her sudden appearance by the counter startling Ava.
Ava sighs. She should have known Charlie’s primary objective would be to drink her dry.
“Sit back down and I’ll go find one,” Ava says, staring suspiciously as Charlie weaves around Sara in the kitchen to get glasses.
“You got it,” Charlie says after a second, emerging with a handful of glasses in her arms.
“Whiskey, huh?” Sara raises an eyebrow at her as she opens her beer bottle.
“Yep,” Ava says, hyper-aware of Sara’s eyes curiously following her as she finds the whiskey in its hiding spot.
Walking back to the rest of the group, Ava pauses when her eyes fall on a burly looking man lighting a match as Charlie stares at him.
“That’s Mick,” Sara says beside her. “Leaving him and Charlie alone is the opposite of a good idea.”
Ava shakes her head. She will consider the night a victory as long as her apartment is still standing in the morning.
Which it miraculously does at the end of the night. Ray and Nora are the first to leave, after the former spent a good twenty minutes asking if Ava was sure she did not want them to help clean up. Amaya and Nate do the same when they leave, as opposed to Mick, who simply grunts out a goodbye and disappears out the door.
Charlie and Zari also ask, but Ava gets the feeling it is more of a courtesy than a genuine offer. Either way, Ava refuses. She appreciates everyone’s offers, but she has always preferred to clean with peace and quiet around her — the one thing this group could never offer.
“Sara, you coming?” Zari asks, frowning at Sara’s position on the couch.
“You go ahead.” Sara offers her a wave but makes no move to get up.
“If you’re sure…” Zari says, waiting a beat for Sara to change her mind before Charlie drags her out the door.
When they are gone, Ava arches an eyebrow at Sara and crosses her arms in front of her chest.
“Someone should stay behind and help,” Sara says. “And that bunch is not great at the cleaning part.”
“I appreciate it, but you can leave with Zari if you want. She’s your roommate, right?” A wave of guilt washes over Ava — she does not want to keep anyone from more important things.
“Nah. She’ll probably end up at Charlie’s anyway.” Sara shrugs and makes herself comfortable on the couch once more. “Just gimme a minute with your couch. I didn’t get to make its acquaintance the last time I was here.”
Ava chokes on some wayward spit as heat rushes to her cheeks. There is a smirk on Sara’s lips that Ava chooses to ignore.
Despite Ava’s reservations towards cleaning with others, tidying up the mess left by their small group goes by surprisingly quick with Sara’s help. Ava lets her shoulders relax as she closes the dishwasher, having put the last dirty dish into it.
Turning around, however, all the tension returns to her body as she finds herself much too close to Sara. She briefly registers the sound of a bottle sliding against the counter as Sara places it down behind her. Ava is certain the bottle could have gone anywhere on the counter that did not require Sara to get right up in her personal space, basically trapping Ava between her and the counter.
“Thank you. For the help.” Ava clears her throat as she glances between Sara’s face and her kitchen.
“You’re very welcome,” Sara purrs, her voice silky smooth as she moves her hand from the counter to Ava’s arm.
Ava opens her mouth but no words come out. Her heart pounds in her chest as Sara takes half a step closer. She stumbles slightly and Ava’s hands, which had been hanging uselessly at her side, come up to hold her steady, unintentionally pressing their bodies flush.
Ava is given no time to prepare as Sara surges up, catching Ava’s lips in a searing kiss. Sara tastes of beer, whiskey, and pizza, and in any other instance Ava would have found the combo repulsive. On Sara’s lips, however, it only leaves her wanting more.
This is a bad idea . First and foremost because Ava has already decided that she and Sara were a one-time thing, a mistake, but also because, if Sara does not come home at a decent hour and Zari — and by extension, Charlie — notices, they will conclude that they have slept together.
Of course, they would be right. But Ava cannot stand the thought of Charlie teasing her with that information.
“Sara, what—” Ava says out of breath as she ends their kiss.
“What do you mean ‘what’?” Sara asks innocently as her fingers move to unbutton Ava’s button-up from the bottom.
Ava finds it hard to come up with a logical answer as Sara pushes up on her toes and leaves light kisses down Ava’s jaw.
“Don’t you have to get home?” Ava asks, flexing her stomach as cool air travels through her now half-open shirt.
“Like I said, Zari’ll end up at Charlie’s,” Sara says, making no move to stop what she is doing.
Ava closes her eyes. This is a mistake, she repeats to herself. A mistake she has already made at that. But it is hard to think straight with Sara so close, and it does not take long before they are back in Ava’s bed, reacquainting themselves with each other’s bodies.
It ends the same way as before — with Sara letting herself out as soon as they have both recovered and with Ava cursing her recent lack of self-control.
So it has ended up being a two-time thing. But it will not go any further. At least, that is what Ava tells herself.
Ava bites the end of her pen. Her desk is a mess. She has five different books open, for three different classes, all of which she has exams for in a little over a week. To go with them, she has three new notebooks, each with a few pages filled, and she-does-not-even-know how many old notebooks filled to the brim with notes.
She knows she has to study, but she has reached the point where she can’t even tell her Criminal Science book apart from her Political Science one. How is she going to survive this?
Ava jumps when she hears the loud sound of someone knocking on her door. She scrunches her face. She has not ordered anything, has she? She glances at her phone — her next food break is not supposed to be for a few hours yet.
Curiously, she makes for the apartment door. She does not know if she should be annoyed or happy to see the person on the other side — she settles for a mix of both.
“Sara?” she says questioningly, narrowing her eyes at her.
“Hey, Aves.” Ava creases her brow at the newly given nickname — no one has ever called her that before, not even Nora.
While Ava is lost in her thoughts, Sara easily pushes past her into the apartment.
“Please, come in, make yourself at home,” Ava says dryly as she closes the door.
“Thanks.” Sara shoots her a charming smile, and it catches her off guard. Why does she have to be so pretty?
“Why are you here?” Ava asks, curious about why Sara decided to show up at her apartment of all places.
“Because you’re really cute?” Sara says, flashing her that smile again. Ava simply arches an eyebrow, making Sara sigh as she drops down on the couch. “Charlie’s coming over so Zari kicked me out. So, I decided if they’re getting some, I might as well get some too.”
Ava spends a moment longer trying to decipher Sara’s words until it hits her. Sara’s come over for a booty call .
“I’m… in the middle of studying for exams. Shouldn’t you be, too?” Ava asks, still trying to wrap her brain around the situation.
Sara simply shrugs and jumps up from the couch. “You’ve been studying for hours,” Sara says with certainty in her voice, as if she had a window into Ava’s life. Not that she is wrong. “Exams have got you all stressed. So, you need some stress relief.” Sara widens her arms as if to show herself off.
Ava rolls her eyes. Stress relief . So that is what they are calling it now.
“I have studying to do,” she says, narrowing her eyes as Sara takes a few steps closer.
“You have stress relief to do ,” Sara says lowly, reaching a hand out for Ava’s belt buckle.
Ava continues to look at her skeptically, but allows herself to be pulled closer. When Sara wraps her arms around her waist, Ava lets out a slow breath. Taking a break from her studies might do her some good. Logically, she knows breaks are important, but it is hard when her entire future relies on her grades.
But, stress relief might be exactly what she needs.
Which is the only reason why she leans down as Sara leans up, pressing their lips together as she buries her hands in Sara’s hair. Sara moans as Ava lightly bites down on her lip. Ava takes a step forward, then another, and yet another, pushing Sara backwards until they arrive at the bedroom door.
On the way, Sara reaches for the hem of Ava’s sweater, their kiss only breaking long enough for her to tear the sweater off. Ava’s bra goes next, and Sara just about opens the zipper of Ava’s pants before Ava has her pinned against the wall right inside her bedroom.
She takes half a step back, having to stop herself from allowing Sara to chase her, and takes a look down. Ava is nearly naked and Sara still has all her clothes on. That has to change .
“Now wasn’t that just what you needed?” Sara asks, climbing up from between Ava’s thighs.
“Maybe,” Ava admits with a roll of her eyes.
“Good,” Sara says, leaning down to give Ava a kiss. Ava moans into it as she tastes herself. “I’m starving!” Sara declares after, putting half her body over the edge of the bed to search for something. Ava does not see what it is until her own phone is shoved in her face. “Open it?”
“Why?” Ava asks warily, hesitantly taking her phone from Sara.
“Because you can actually afford Uber Eats.” The duh in Sara’s tone is not lost on her.
Ava sighs, quickly unlocking the phone and handing it back to Sara. “And why, exactly, are you eating here?” Ava does not mean it in any negative way, but she has studying to get back to and having a wayward guest really was not in any of her plans.
“Long enough to make sure you eat.” Sara looks at her from the corner of her eye and Ava rolls her own.
“What makes you think I wouldn’t?” she asks with a huff.
“Because when I first got here you were resisting a break. And when I leave, you’ll get right back to your studying, probably getting lost in it.” Sara raises an eyebrow and glances at her.
Ava does not dignify it with an answer, but she cannot say for certain that Sara’s analysis would be wrong .
“Food will be here in half an hour!” Sara announces, putting the phone on the nightstand as she rolls her body on top of Ava’s again. Ava gives her a questioning look at the action. “ A lot can happen in thirty minutes,” she says as way of explanation, trailing a hand up Ava’s bare side as she leans down for a kiss.
Ava sighs, but wraps her arms around Sara to pull her closer again.
A three-time thing. With a one-time food after the stress relief . But it is only because exams are much too stressing and Ava needed the release.
Ava stares down at the paper in her hands. Her Political Science exam. That is definitely an ‘A-’ in the top right. It is not just her exhaustion lying to her.
She had studied so hard, spent all those hours worrying about it…
Ava cannot remember the last time she got anything less than an ‘A+’. How is she supposed to show her parents this? What if this makes her final grade drop? Surely there is something she can do for extra credit?
“Ready to leave?” Amaya asks, suddenly appearing by her side.
“Right,” Ava says, glancing up at Amaya. She hastily shoves the paper into her bag, but the red symbols are all she can see as she mindlessly follows Amaya to where the group is supposed to meet up for lunch.
“There they are!” Nate exclaims. “How’d it go? Top score?” he asks, looking excitedly between them.
“It went well,” Amaya says, accepting a hug from her boyfriend.
Ava cannot even find the words to answer, just sits down in one of the free chairs she can find.
“You okay?” a soft voice asks from the other side of the table. Ava looks up to find Sara staring at her with worried eyes. Of course Ava had chosen the one chair facing her.
“I got an A—” she starts, before she is interrupted by the group congratulating her. “Minus,” she finishes, curling her hand into a fist.
“That’s great!” Ray says with a grin, a stark contrast to the way Sara draws her eyebrows together and flexes her hand that is laying on the table.
It is Nora’s hand, however, that calmly touches her shoulder and shushes their group. “It’s not a bad grade,” she says calmly, her thumb rubbing Ava’s shoulder. “It’s still an A—”
“An A minus ,” Ava cuts her off. “It’s basically a B!”
“But it’s not a B. If the professor thought you deserved a B, they wouldn’t have given you an A. You studied for three exams at the same time, had them all the same week, and still managed to get an A on all three of them. Ava, that’s amazing!” Nora’s words calm her down, just a little. Nora is no stranger to Ava’s high expectations from herself, along with her parents ’ high expectations of her, and Ava is not sure what she would have done on many a night if not for her dear friend.
“Thank you,” she says, the corner of her mouth turning up slightly.
When Ava looks away from Nora, she finds Sara eyeing them curiously. When Ava spots her, however, she is suddenly very interested in her coffee.
“I think I’m going to go home. I feel like I could sleep the entire weekend,” Ava says, pushing the chair out as she stands up, forcing Nora to take a step back.
“Do you want company?” Nora asks, placing a reassuring hand on her arm.
“I’ll be fine. You guys enjoy lunch.” Ava gives them all a half-hearted smile, then turns on her heel and starts the trek to her car.
She has been home for about two hours when there is a knock on her door. Ava has half a mind to ignore it and continue her true crime marathon, but after the third burst of knocks, she reluctantly pauses the TV and makes her way over to the door.
“What?” she asks as she pulls it open, before she can even see the person on the other side. Hopefully it is not the sweet elderly woman who lives across from her.
“Hello to you too,” Sara says, holding up a bag of Chinese food like a shield.
“What are you doing here?” Ava asks, and maybe it comes out harsher than Sara deserves. Ava cannot find it in herself to care, though. She just wants to be alone.
Sara regards her for a moment, her tongue poking out of her mouth as she tilts her head. “I brought your favorite,” she says after a beat, jostling the bag.
“How do you even know what my favorite is?” Ava asks, finally relenting and gesturing for Sara to enter when it becomes apparent she won’t leave anytime soon.
“You pick Chinese anytime Zari declares she’ll trust the food picking to you, and you always order something with chicken, spicy but not too spicy.” As she talks, Sara puts the bag down on the living room table and extracts the boxes hidden within. “Also noodles, though you always hesitate with them as if you shouldn’t order them. I brought extra.”
Ava’s stomach rumbles as she takes in all the food, and it occurs to her that she has not eaten a single thing since breakfast.
“Thank you,” she says, helpless from keeping a small smile off her lips as she joins Sara on the couch. Sara flashes her a brilliant smile as she hands her a pair of chopsticks.
“True crime? That’s what you’ve been doing?” Sara asks, looking between Ava and the TV with wide eyes.
“Everybody has their hobbies.” Ava shrugs as she reaches for the noodles, her mouth watering as she opens the box.
As they eat, it occurs to Ava that the two of them have never been alone together, save for when they were having sex. It feels nice, to hang out with Sara as a friend, and it makes her forget about her grade and feeling miserable for a little while.
“You’ve got a little...” Sara says, pointing at the corner of her own mouth as she puts her nearly empty food container on the table.
Ava tries to get it with her tongue, which only results in Sara laughing.
“Here,” she says, leaning closer and wiping whatever it was away with her thumb. Ava watches almost mesmerized as Sara brings the thumb to her mouth and sucks it clean. She curses herself at the tingle she feels between her legs at the action.
Before she gets the chance to do anything else, Sara’s lips are on hers and her body is in Ava’s lap. Ava wraps her arms around her, pulling her closer before she has even processed what is happening.
“Forget about today’s grade,” Sara whispers in her ear, her hand trailing down to Ava’s chest. “The two other ones were both A-pluses, and they deserve to be celebrated.”
Ava cannot really argue with that logic. Especially not when Sara kisses her way from Ava’s ear to her neck, lightly sucking on her pulse point when she gets to it.
“We should move this to the bed,” Ava breathes as Sara lightly bites down on her neck.
“Or we could stay right here,” Sara argues, leaning back for a second to pull off her sweater.
“Why?” Ava says, making a face.
“Because couch sex,” Sara says with a shrug, working on undressing Ava next.
“I have a bed,” Ava tries to argue, but Sara’s hand pushing her bra away makes her forget whatever other arguments she had.
So maybe she will have to give up on the idea that she will ever be able to resist Sara. But she can do casual. Right?