The right kind of domesticity
Sara can't go back to sleep after her nightmare so she joins Zari for her midnight snack, because apparently, their insomnia is better synced than their periods.
She jostled awake, her heartbeat strong and loud in her ears, flashes of her nightmare still playing in front of her. A hand slowly came to her neck and she stilled, her own hand reaching under the mattress to her knife when she recognized the touch of Ava. She closed her eyes and exhaled deeply, forcing her muscles to relax.
"It's alright, babe, you're with me."
Ava's voice was soft and loving, and thought she could detect the heaviness of sleep in it, she knew her girlfriend didn't mind. Quite the contrary in fact, she had repeatedly told her she rather be waken up when Sara had a nightmare than let her suffer on her own and wake up alone in the morning without knowing why. Finally, she opened her eyes and looked at Ava, relishing in the love and care she always found in her eyes. She smiled at her, brought her hand to her lips and kissed it softly. They stayed silent for a moment as Sara lied back on the bed and Ava moved to pressed against her side. The warmth of her body always did the trick to loosen up her stiff limbs and helped her relaxed a bit more. A couple of minutes passed by, but it was one of those nights and she couldn't lie still.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Ava asked in a whisper, her face pressed in Sara's neck as her lips brushed against her skin with her words.
"Do you think you can go back to sleep?"
Sara sighed, guilt pouring in her chest.
"No, I'm sorry."
Ava kissed her jaw before rolling on her back.
"It's okay, Sara, go on. I'll see you in the morning."
God, you're perfect, thought Sara, I don't deserve you.
"Don't even think you don't deserve me" Ava started with her no-nonsense voice, reading in her mind like a freaking Jedi. "Now get out there to do whatever you need and bring me breakfast in bed for 7:30. I want grapes with my French toasts this time."
Sara couldn't help her smile; she was so in love with this woman.
"Of course, babe."
She adjusted the cover around her body, kissed her brow and left.
Bare foot, she walked aimlessly in the hallways of the Waverider for a moment, her mind still lost to the darkness of her dream.
"Captain Lance, you wanted me to warn you if Miss Tomaz was awake in the middle of the night when you were too."
Sara smiled and shifted her directions, walking now to the kitchen.
"Yes, thank you Gideon."
So it was around 1am. She didn't check the time before leaving Ava, but Zari was always punctual in her insomnia. She usually woke up twice a week around 1am and only went back to her room after a couple of hours. When she could, Sara made a point to go see her and be with her until she felt good enough, calm enough to go back to sleep. At first, they used to laugh that their insomnia was better synced than their periods, it was an inside joke between them that always confused Nate and made Ava rolled her eyes. But that was how their relationship worked. They weren't deep into feelings and teary confessions in the middle of the night, they weren't big on hugging each other. They just took comfort in the knowledge that they weren't alone and that they could confide in the other if they wished to.
Sara entered the kitchen, trying to be heavier on her feet than she usually was lest she startled Zari. It had happened the first time, and it had been bad, like panic-attack-bad, and she wasn't particularly inclined to repeat the experience. Though the lights were on, Gideon knew to keep them dimmed enough to create a peaceful atmosphere.
"Hey Cap" Zari saluted from the other side of the counter. She already had her snack ready: one donut with pink icing and white sparkles on and a tall glass of milk. The sight brought a smile to Sara's face and warmed her heart. She knew that objectively, they were around the same age, yet she couldn't help but feel protective of her, just as she was with Sin, back in Starling.
"Z" she mumbled back as she reached for a beer in the fridge.
She sat next to her and nursed her drink in silence. She kept sending furtive looks at her friend. She wasn't herself. Her hands still hadn't stop shaking and she didn't touch the food in front of her, only fixed it with that faraway look that meant she clearly wasn't in the present. When she put her bottle on the counter, the sound of the glass made Zari jumped and she clenched her fists at her sides as she forcefully shut her eyes closed.
Damn, Sara thought, it must have been a bad one. She passed a hand on her face while she thought.
"Hey Gideon, is everyone else still asleep?" Sara asked, careful to keep her voice low.
"Indeed Captain, Director Sharpe easily fall back asleep and the other members of the crew don't show any sign of waking up before several hours."
"Lucky bastards" she grumbled. "Thanks Gideon"
Turning to face Zari, she gently touched her shoulder to get her attention. When she felt her shaking under her hand, she tightened her grip to ground her here with her. She still had her eyes closes, but her own hand went to join Sara's on her shoulder and squeezed it back. After a while and some deep breathing, Zari opened her eyes and looked at Sara, her gaze teary but more focused than before.
"What about a couple of rounds of Mortal Kombat in my office?" she asked, stressing the last word.
She knew the girl was in no shape to return to her own room. Zari let out a breathy chuckle as she nodded.
"I thought you was about to offer we talk about feelings" she replied as she gathered her snack on a tray to bring with her.
"Feelings are dumb, Z."
They walked in the hallway to the Captain's office, passing the bridge.
"You're not singing the same song when Ava's around" Zari joked.
Sara dropped herself sideway on one of her armchairs, resting her back on the armrest and letting her legs hanged on the other side.
"Shut it, Tomaz, or I won't let you win" She said as she reached for a glass and her scotch.
Zari got herself comfy on the ground beside her and gave a controller to Sara before asking Gideon to play the game.
"As if you ever let me win anything."
They fell silent for a moment, choosing their characters and settings. The familiarity of the situation was grounding, even for Sara. Being in her office always brought her peace; Zari sitting at her feet, leaning against her armchair, focused on the game felt the right kind of domesticity, the one that wasn't scary or overwhelming, just nice and comforting; and the tasty burning of alcohol in her throat was always a nice bonus. They played two rounds before she saw Zari start to relax, and after the third one, they agreed on a break. Zari almost threw herself on her donut, letting a contented moan escape her throat as she chewed on her first bite.
"Please Z, keep it PG, I don't need to hear you like that."
The girl only laughed as she continued to eat.
"Just as you and Ava always keep it PG in the training room?" she sassed back.
"Isn't it a bit sad that you compare Ava and I… activities to you eating a donut?" she countered with a smirk.
Zari seemed to thought about it before shrugging.
"It's a really good donut"
Both women burst out laughing and the last thread of tension dissolved. They put the game back on, but this time, they chatted lightly, commenting each other techniques or sharing some anecdotes from their real fights.
"It's nice, having you on the ship" Sara finally said as she executed a complex combo with her character that put her opponent KO.
"Why? You needed another person to beat at this stupid game?" Zari complained good-naturally as she started another round.
"I'm not complaining, it's a nice bonus" she started, making her friend chuckled. "But I meant in general. You bring something good to us, not only mission wise, but to the crew's alchemy and all."
Zari stopped and paused the game, craning her neck to look at Sara in the eyes. The Captain had to keep herself from groaning. Why did she have to say that, she didn't talk feelings with Zari when they played, it was their tacit rule number one. She sighed and sat straighter. She had to go on, it was more awkward to let things hanging.
"We needed your point of view and experiences as much as we needed your sarcasm and annoying comments. I… I know that I'm glad to have you around. You're important to this team, but, you're also an important part of our weird dysfunctional family."
Silence hanged between them for a while, and if Zari's eyes got misty, none commented on it. Nothing had to be said, their understood each other. Sara had known that this night might have been harder on Zari than her usual nightmare, so she decided to taka a page out of Ava's book and give a try at this communication thingy. Because Zari was special for Sara, she had this affection for her that didn't match what she felt toward the other member of her teal. She was like her little sister, annoying but fun to hang out with. She cared for her and for once, it needed to be acknowledged out loud, even if she knew Zari wouldn't respond. She had said her piece, it had been well received, end of the show.
"Now put the game back on so I can whip your ass one more time before your bedtime" She declared with her Captain voice, breaking the emotion of the moment.
Zari rolled her eyes and turned back to the screen, discreetly wiping away a tear that had managed to escape.
"You're on Cap"
They played one more game, and if Sara let the teammate win, well no one needed to know. Zari gathered her tray and gulped her milk before leaving, mumbling grumpily as Sara laugh at her for her milky moustache. The Captain watched her leave before getting at ease on her armchair, quietly sipping her second glass. After a while, she was about to speak when Gideon beat her to it.
"Miss Tomaz managed to fall back asleep, Captain. Her vitals show that she's already in her paradoxical sleep, free of any dreams."
She stood, drained her glass and went to the training room. She might feel calmer now than when she woke up, but she knew sleep still wasn't for her. She had several hours before Ava would require her breakfast and she didn't feel in the mood to just drink alone in her office. Her time with Zari gave her energy and the punching bag would have to be at the receiving end of her insomnia.
At precisely 7:29, Sara entered her room to find Ava awake and sitting against the pillow on the bed. She had taken the time to shower before preparing her girlfriend food, feeling mushy enough to add a red rose on the tray.
"Hey babe" she said, as she put the tray in front of Ava.
She was about to join her on the bed on the other side, but Ava pulled on her tee-shirt to lower her. She kissed her sweetly.
"Hi you" she whispered on her lips, before pecking them one last time.
Sara had to bit her tongue to contain the dumb smile that threaten to split her face. She took place behind Ava, cradling the taller woman between her legs, and let her feed her grapes. Again, it was the right kind of domesticity, and it brought warmth in her heart. It always a bit surprising when she caught herself thinking that, but it felt good, and maybe she that was what a happy ending ought to be. Those quiet moments where she and the people she cared about could just be.
"I love you" she whispered as she kissed Ava's neck.
"I love you too, baby" Ava answered between bites of her French toasts, and it was easy and natural, and everything Sara needed.