Leonard knew that it wasn't the smartest move going all the way to Starling City for a solo job, but he couldn't bring Mick or Lisa on this one. They'd ask too many questions and he wasn't ready for them to know the real reason for this trip. The heist was just an excuse.
He was really going to see Sara Lance.
It had been six months since she had wandered into his life on a snowy December day. Newly eighteen and lost in an unfamiliar city, he had walked her back to her hotel. She'd asked to see him again. At first he'd turned her down. She was Lisa's age for Christ's sake, and he didn't need that kind of complication in his life. Even if she would be going back home in a few days. She was too young for a fling and he didn't do casual friendships. But then she'd kissed him goodbye and he'd decided that, for once, he would do what he wanted instead of what was smart.
They'd spent the rest of her visit together. He'd shown her around Central City and found her to be a good companion.
When she'd left, she'd insisted they exchange email addresses, even though they already had each other's phone numbers.
He'd kissed her goodbye. A quick press of their lips, but if they were never going to see each other again, then he wanted to remember the taste of her lips.
Only now he was on his way to see her.
As much as he'd expected to never hear from her again, he did. She had texted him when she'd gotten home. She sent him long emails about her family and school. She even called him sometimes because she "missed the sound of his voice." And he responded to every message and answered every call.
Somehow, Leonard found himself becoming friends with this beautiful, innocent, girl.
She didn't know he was coming. He didn't want to get her hopes up in case he came to his senses and didn't go. But she'd just graduated from high school, and he wanted to congratulate her in person.
He pulled up in front of her house and got out his phone.
Hey, kid, whatcha doing? he texted.
Her quick response gave him hope that she was free.
just getting ready to go to the beach with some friends
He groaned at the mental image of Sara in a bikini. He'd only ever seen her under multiple layers of winter clothing, but he bet she had a stunning body.
Think you can get out of it?
lol why would i want to do that?
He blew out a breath. Here went nothing.
Because I'm sitting in front of your house. Thought you could show me around your city.
There was no immediate response.
He glared at his phone, willing her to write back, until he heard his name being called.
"Leonard?" Sara squealed from her front porch.
He looked up and there she was. The sun shone off her blonde hair, nearly blinding him as she beamed at him. She was wearing a yellow sundress over her white bikini and it made him think of sunshine, summertime, and happiness. She was absolutely glowing.
This was a mistake, seeing her again, but it was too late now.
Leonard slid out of his car and rounded the hood to lean against the passenger side of the car.
Sara ran over and threw her arms around him. "What are you doing here?"
"It's not every day that a girl graduates from high school," he said, relishing the feel of her pressed against his body.
"You came for my graduation?" Sara asked, confused, taking a step back so she could look at him. "That was last week."
"I know," Leonard acknowledged. "I figured I'd wait until after all of the family celebrations were over to come congratulate you. Congratulations."
"That's so sweet," Sara said, grinning up at him.
"I'm not sweet," Leonard huffed.
"Whatever you say," Sara said, nodding, but still grinning.
"So, do you think you can get out of your plans?" Leonard asked.
"For you, definitely," Sara said. She lifted her phone, which was still clutched in one hand, and quickly dialed. "So, something came up and I'm not going to be able to make it… No, I didn't get grounded again… There will be other beach days. I don't leave for college until August." Leonard's ears perked up at that. She hadn't told him what her college plans were yet. "Look, a friend from out of town just showed up and I'm going to spend the day with him… Yes… Yes… Shut your mouth…" Sara flushed and turned her back to Leonard and he wondered what the other girl had said to elicit that reaction. He could guess, having heard Lisa talking with her girlfriends often enough. "Okay, I'll call you tomorrow. Have fun."
Sara hung up and turned back to Leonard. "I'm all yours," she said.
He smirked at her and she blushed again. He idly wondered how far down that blush went.
"Go get whatever you need for the day and let's go," he suggested.
He watched Sara run back into the house, enjoying the view, and shook his head as he climbed back into the car and turned it on, blasting the A/C.
If some man his age acted this way towards Lisa he'd break his arm, or worse. And yet he couldn't seem to stop himself from wanting to be near Sara.
He was pulled from his self-recriminations by the passenger door opening and Sara sliding into the car.
"So, what are we doing?" she asked, fastening her seat belt.
"I thought I'd leave that up to you," Leonard said. "This is your city, after all."
"Head downtown," Sara suggested. "We'll find a place to park and we can walk around. If you don't think you'll die of heat. I never met anyone who dressed in black from head to toe in the summer."
"I burn easily," Leonard deflected, moving the car onto the road and heading for downtown.
"There's this thing called sunscreen," Sara said, pulling a bottle out of her bag.
Leonard shifted uncomfortably and grimaced. He'd never told her about his childhood; about his father. "I don't like to expose my skin. Can we leave it at that?"
Something in his voice must have gotten through to her because Sara changed the topic.
"So you drove all the way to Starling City just to congratulate me on graduating high school?" she asked.
"I may also have some business to conduct in town," Leonard said. "You were an added bonus to taking this job."
"Are you ever going to tell me what it is that you do?" Sara asked. "We talk all the time but I feel like I don't know anything about you."
Yet another reason seeing her in person was a bad idea.
"Let's just say that I don't want you to let slip to your father what I do. It could get us both into trouble," he said, slowly.
"So you're some kind of criminal?" Sara pressed. She sounded far too excited by that prospect.
"I'm a thief," Leonard finally admitted.
"Are you a good thief?" Sara asked.
"I'm one of the best," Leonard stated.
"That day we met," Sara began, realization dawning on her. "You were casing that jewelry store, weren't you?"
Leonard simply smirked at her.
"Don't you want a normal job?" Sara asked.
"Now why would I want that?" Leonard countered. "I choose my own targets, I make my own hours, and I don't answer to anybody. I make a lot of money doing what I like and I'm good at it. Why would I want to give that up?"
"Because it's breaking the law," Sara said, innocently. "Have you been arrested?"
"A few times," Leonard admitted.
He glanced over at her to see if she was afraid of him now. He wasn't sure if he should be relieved or not when she merely looked thoughtful. She wasn't panicking and she didn't seem afraid.
"Do you want me to take you home, now that you know who I am?" he offered.
Sara smiled shyly at him. "The fact that you're even offering makes me want to stay. You may be a criminal, but you're a good man."
"You take that back," he barked, causing Sara to laugh. He could listen to that sound all day.
They had reached the city center and he found a place to park his car. There was a park up ahead and Sara headed in that direction.
"If I may ask you a question, now," Leonard hedged. At Sara's nod, he continued. "Where are you going for college? You've never mentioned that you were even planning on going, although I guess I should have assumed that you would."
Sara ducked her head shyly. "It was going to be a surprise," she said. "I'm starting at Central City University in August."
Leonard stopped walking, stunned still. He reached out to grab her arm. "You're moving to Central City?"
She bit her lip and nodded, unsure of what his reaction meant.
He wasn't so sure himself. Sara was moving to his city. He could see her on a regular basis. And if she were a college student then maybe he could get over the stupid age difference and just be with her. He could actually have a relationship with Sara. While this was something that he had fantasized about, he never let himself believe that it could somehow be a possibility.
"I-I thought you'd be happy about this," Sara said, her voice wavering as her eyes became glassy with unshed tears.
Leonard swooped down and kissed her, apologizing without words for making her think the idea of seeing her every day could make him unhappy.
"You have no idea how happy you've made me," he said when the kiss ended.
"Oh, thank God," Sara sighed in relief. Her hands grasped at his sleeves. "Laurel told me it was stupid to choose a college because of a guy, but I ignored her. Who is she to give dating advice when her boyfriend keeps cheating on her, but she always takes him back?"
"You do realize that we haven't been dating," Leonard pointed out as he ran his fingers through her hair.
"But we will be," Sara confidently stated. "You don't kiss a girl like that if you don't want to date her."
"Maybe I just want to get you into bed," Leonard teased.
Sara pretended to think about that and shook her head. "Nah, you don't strike me as the kind of guy to drive for hours just for a booty call."
"You know me too well," he said.
"Or not nearly well enough," Sara said, running her hands down his cloth-covered arms.
Leonard shivered. "Someday," he promised. "I'll tell you someday, just not today."
"I'm going to hold you to that," Sara said, slipping her arm around his waist as he dropped an arm around her shoulders and they continued to the park.
They walked in silence, simply enjoying being together and being able to casually touch in public.
Sara brought them to a small copse of trees and led the way through a narrow opening. It was cool and dark under the trees and there was a narrow stone bench in the center.
"Do I even want to know how you knew about this spot?" Leonard teasingly asked.
"Probably not," Sara acknowledged as they sat, him straddling the bench beside her. "I figured this would be a better place to make out than standing in the middle of the sidewalk, though."
"You think I'm that easy?" Leonard postured.
Sara boldly ran her hands up his chest. "I'm rather counting on it. I am moving a couple hundred of miles from home to be with you, after all."
"Only you," Leonard groaned, his hands settling on her waist as he pulled her closer. "Only you could make me lose control like this."
"You're not a fan of not being in control, are you?" Sara guessed.
"Only when it comes to you," he admitted. "You drive me crazy. I never let myself believe that this could happen."
"It's happening," Sara assured him.
"Enough talking," Leonard growled as he claimed her mouth again.
In that moment, he didn't care about the difference in their ages or lifestyles. All he cared about was keeping this woman close, because he couldn't remember the last him he'd felt this happy, and he wasn't going to let her go.
As she moved to deepen the kiss, he realized that he wasn't going to have to, because as unfathomable as it was, she wanted him, too.