“If you’re a time traveler, you’re never late,” Ava announced when Sara finally answered the comm. “It’s that was Rip always used to say?”
“Ava, hi,” said Sara. He eyes darted between the screen and what Ava could only assume was the windshield of the WaveRider. “I know, I’m late, but I promise I have a good reason.”
Ava clocked Sara’s frantic voice, the sweat on her brow, and Ray in the background with his arm in a sling. “What’s wrong?” Ava asked at once. “Do you need back-up? I can—”
“No,” Sara practically yelled. “No,” she repeated a little more calmly. “We’re fine, I’ve just got one more tiny aberration to fix, and then I’ll be there.”
Ava nodded, but Sara must have sensed her doubt, because she added, “I’m not gonna stand you up on your birthday, Ava, I promise.”
“Well, it’s a phony birthday anyway,” Ava pointed out. “It won’t make a difference if we celebrate tomorrow.”
“No, Ava, don’t say that,” Sara told her, even as the WaveRider seemed to shudder with an explosion. “I swear, I’ll be there soon, okay?”
“Okay,” Ava repeated, still hesitating. “You’re sure you’re all right?”
“Right as rain, babe,” said Sara, with a quick glance at the comm. “See you soon.”
Sara disconnected before Ava could reply. She was left staring at dark, black screen. She watched her reflection frown for a moment, then activated the computer system and ran a check for time aberrations.
But before the search could be completed, Gary appeared on her screen — at an uncomfortably close angle.
“Gary,” she said, averting her eyes from his nose hairs. “What is it?”
“Oh, hi Director Sharpe,” said Gary brightly. He still hadn’t adjusted the camera. “How are you?”
“I’m fine, Gary,” Ava answered impatiently. “You called me, remember?”
“Oh, yeah, right.” Gary scratched his head.
Ava waited a beat, and finally asked, “What do you want, Gary?”
“Oh. Uh, just to talk. You know, we never talk anymore.”
Ava rolled her eyes. “Goodbye, Gary,” she said, moving her hand towards the disconnect button.
“Wait!” Gary exclaimed. “Wait, just— uh. I need your help.”
Ava paused despite herself. “With what?”
“Uh.” Gary’s eyes moved around behind the comm, clearly looking for something. “I need your advice on what to wear—”
“—on a date,” Gary finished quickly.
“I got asked— yeah, it’s a— it’s a real date.”
Ava’s eyebrows were halfway to the ceiling by now. “A date with who?”
“Nobody you know,” Gary said in a rush. “Just… someone.”
Ava took in his demeanor and guessed. “It’s not John Constantine, is it?”
“No,” Gary said quickly. “No, no, it’s definitely not… that. Whatever that was.”
“Okay. Good. “ Ava felt relieved despite her annoyance with Gary. For some reason, the idea of Sara’s ex sleeping with her assistant — again — just seemed wrong. “So…?”
“So, yeah,” Gary said. “I can’t decide what I should wear.”
Ava sighed. She glanced at her watch. Unless Sara walked in the door right this minute they were going to miss their dinner reservation, but there wasn’t anything she could do about that. Helping Gary seemed like a good distraction, if nothing else.
“Okay,” she said. “Show me the options.”
Gary hopped up from the comm excitedly and came back with an armful of shirts and pants. He held them up to his body in various combinations, presenting the seven — seven! — outfits he was considering.
Finally, they’d narrowed it down to two, but Ava was spared from having to make a final decision by blip of a portal behind her. She turned, just in time to see Sara’s cabin at the WaveRider blink out of existence, leaving just Sara — and her very revealing dress — in Ava’s office.
“Hi,” Ava said, getting up from her desk to greet her.
“Hi,” Sara said, somewhat sheepishly, accepting Ava’s kiss on her cheek.
“Hello Captain Lance,” Gary chimed in from the computer.
“Goodbye Gary,” Ava said pointedly. Gary saluted in Sara’s direction, then disconnected without another word.
“Hi,” Ava said again, leaning in for a proper hello. It was then that she noticed that Sara had a bag slung over her shoulder, much larger than the clutch that she typically brought when they went out.
“Did you bring weapons?” Ava asked, eyeing the bag.
“No, it’s— never mind.” Sara took her hands. “Let’s just get dinner, I’m starving.”
They had missed their reservation, of course, but Ava knew a little Thai place around the corner from HQ that was never busy at this time of night. They had the place to themselves, the food was delicious, and the owner even gave them a discount.
While they were waiting for dessert, Sara pulled her bag into her lap and opened it. She took out a large object wrapped in newspaper.
“This is for you,” she said, almost shy. “Sorry it’s not properly wrapped.”
Ava eyed the newspaper and noticed the date. “Whoa, 1964? Is this why you’re late?” she asked.
Sara nodded, seeming embarrassed. “As a matter of fact, yes. In taking that, I may have created a small disruption in the timeline that I had to fix.”
Ava blinked. “Anything serious?”
“No,” Sara replied quickly. “Well — not really. Only a six.”
“Only a—” Ava sighed. “Why didn’t I get an alert?”
Sara opened her mouth to explain, and the pieces fell together. “You had Gary cover for you,” Ava said.
“Guilty,” said Sara, though she didn’t look it. Ava shook her head and decided to open her present instead.
When she saw what it was, she literally squealed in delight. The owner of the restaurant looked up sharply from behind the front counter, but Ava barely noticed. She was over the moon. She finally had one, an original Troll with violently orange hair and a perfectly adorable round belly.
“I love it,” she cried.
Sara was beaming. “That reaction makes fighting a giant lizard worth it.”
“A giant— oh, who cares.” Ava brushed back the doll's hair. Its squat feet were like tree trunks, perfect for it to sit between them on the table.
“I’ve always wanted one of these,” said Ava.
“I know,” said Sara, with just a little smugness. “Happy birthday, Ava.”
“Thank you, Sara,” said Ava. She felt oddly overcome, and she chuckled to lighten the emotional resonance of the moment. “I guess this comes with the territory when you’re dating a Legend, huh?”
Sara’s smile turned a bit wicked. “I’ll show you what comes from dating a Legend,” she said.
Ava laughed, even as a thrill of desire ran through her. The waiter brought them their dessert. She clinked spoons with Sara and dug in; she couldn’t wait to get Sara home for the next part of her birthday celebration.
She had a feeling it would be legendary.