She’s halfway through the rest of yesterday’s takeout and a glass of wine when she gets the call.
“Found our hacker,” Detective Lance tells her.
It sounds like he’s out on a smoke break.
“You should get down here if you can.”
Laurel already has her coat halfway on, keys in her hand and the glass of wine washed down the sink.
“I’ll be there soon,” she says, and hangs up the phone.
When she gets to the station, her dad leads her to the interrogation room where they’re keeping the suspect. Laurel nearly scoffs, because this is absolutely not what she was expecting. A middle-aged man who still lives in his mom’s basement and lives to cause trouble for the fun of it, or maybe an evil mastermind with ties to the mob. But not this…girl, for lack of a better word, with pink streaks in her hair and dark eyeliner that seems like it’s meant to hide the bright intelligence behind a set of defiant blue eyes.
“You’re sure this is her?” Laurel asks her dad.
Quentin just shrugs.
“Should’ve seen the set up she had at her place. Looks like she’s running the whole damn government from there,” he says. “Anyway, she asked for you specifically.”
Laurel frowns at that, but it wouldn’t be the first time. People see her on TV after a big case and then they want to talk to her once they get picked up, see if they can make a deal. They rarely get what they want from her.
“So,” Laurel says when she walks into the room, “I hear you’ve been having quite the time wreaking havoc on Star City’s government servers, Miss…”
“Call me Felicity. And I wouldn’t say it was fun. Your system is easier to search through than Google. You should really hire some quality people to beef up the security in there. A basic firewall and a ten-character password doesn’t really cut it anymore. I’m pretty sure my grandma could hack into this place. Not that she would probably want to because she’s dead, but even so.”
Laurel can’t help the frown that she makes as Felicity rambles on. This is definitely not how she thought her night was going to go. Not that she’s complaining. Falling asleep to reruns of The Golden Girls again is nothing to write home about.
“I’ll be sure to let our IT department know,” Laurel says skeptically. “I’m ADA Laurel Lance. I heard you wanted to talk to me.”
“You’re even prettier than you look on TV,” Felicity says. “And between you and me, I never believe all of the things the gossip blogs say about you. Just because you and Oliver Queen broke up, they act like it’s open season to make misogynistic comments about you every other day. It’s been months, so you’d think they’d be over it by now, but of course they’re taking the millionaire playboy’s side.”
She honestly can’t believe she’s even thinking this, but there’s something strangely charming about this little criminal.
“Anyway, you wanted to know why I asked for you. I need your help. Does the name Barry Allen ring a bell?” Felicity asks.
“Of course,” Laurel says. “He was convicted for murder.”
“Right. You were the prosecutor on his case,” Felicity says, leaning forward and tapping her nails on the table in a way that suggests that she’s about to share some huge secret. “But you got the wrong guy. And now you have to make it right.”
Laurel is immediately filled with dread. There’s always that lingering fear when she puts someone away that they might not be the right person. But then she remembers the overwhelming amount of evidence they had against Allen. Eyewitness accounts, video of him walking to and from the murder scene, and his DNA near the victim.
“That’s not possible. That case was a slam dunk,” Laurel says defensively. “And this has to be the worst excuse I’ve ever heard someone give to try to get out of trouble when they get arrested.”
Felicity rolls her eyes so hard they look like they might tumble right out of her head.
“Please. You think I’m here because I made a mistake? I could have released every prisoner from Iron Heights in five minutes and never left a trace of evidence. All I did was dig into the police files and make a mess so that your detectives would come after me.”
“Why?” Laurel asks skeptically, crossing her arms and leaning back against the two way mirror.
“To get someone to listen to me. I’ve left tips. I’ve come in here and talked to a dozen different cops. I’ve even tried sending in evidence. No one wants to hear it. So I made myself impossible to ignore. Now you’re here and I’m asking for your help. If you truly care about upholding the law and helping people the way you say you do, I need you to work with me. I can help you find the real killer and fix your mistake.”
There’s a part of her that wants to turn around and walk out of this room and never look back. Laurel knows an airtight case when she sees it, and that case was practically picture perfect. But then again, that’s kind of the part that’s making her stand here consider Felicity’s offer rather than walking away. The more she thinks about it, the more it seems like all of that evidence was gift wrapped and handed to them on a platter.
Felicity stares back at her. Laurel is her last hope. Or at least her last hope before she illegally breaks this Barry Allen out of prison and they go on the run together. She wonders what it would be like to have someone who had her back like that. The only person who ever came close was Sara, and she’s halfway across the country right now.
Laurel heaves a sigh and Felicity’s mouth quirks up in a small smirk.
As it turns out, Felicity’s apartment really does look like she’s running some sort of illegal operation out of it. She isn’t (Laurel assumes), but the amount of monitors and cords and fans she has running throughout the place is absolutely insane.
Her dad wasn’t happy when she told him she was coming here alone, but she’s taken enough self-defense classes that she feels comfortable coming to this little nerd’s home by herself. Felicity lets her in with a bright smile, ponytail almost too tight, and Laurel wonders just how many energy drinks she’s guzzled in the last hour.
“Thanks for coming. This is pretty cool. Well, not the part where my best friend is locked up for a murder he didn’t commit in a prison that he will almost definitely die in if I don’t get him out of there, but the part where I’m teaming up with the ADA to exonerate him. It’s like a movie, you know?”
Laurel wonders if she’ll ever get used to that weird rambling that Felicity does. She also wonders why she can’t stop smiling when it happens. She has no interest in finding this girl cute. She just wants to see if Felicity is actually right about this case, or if she’s just crazy.
It turns out that she’s not crazy. Laurel doesn’t quite understand the logistics of it all, but Felicity shows her very thoroughly how someone managed to alter all of this evidence for the express purpose of incriminating Mr. Allen.
Laurel almost can’t believe it. She’s spent her entire career working for the good of the city, promising to protect the innocent and put away the bad guys. This time, it seems like she did the exact opposite. The knowledge that she put this kid away for several decades (and Felicity is right: he really doesn’t look like he can last very long in prison) has her skin crawling with guilt. Watching the system fail before her very eyes, and being a part of the failure, makes her want to hit something.
“It’s okay, you know,” Felicity assures her with a soft smile. “You were just doing your job. There’s no way you could have known this was a frame up. Whoever did it is almost as good as me. But not quite. I just need your help figuring out who it actually was. Want a Snickers?”
Laurel can’t stop herself from smirking at this little dork offering her a full-size candy bar. She shakes her head, so Felicity tosses it back into a drawer and takes another sip of her Monster.
“What do you say, Counselor. Wanna make things right?”
It takes them nearly two months of late nights at Felicity’s place, but they finally figure it out. Laurel usually grabs Big Belly Burger on her way home from the courthouse. She has Felicity’s order memorized by now, and she is truly concerned about that girl’s nutrition intake, but Felicity shrugs her off and offers her a grin while she digs into her large fry and peanut butter milkshake.
She learns a lot about Felicity over the course of their investigation. Laurel has never met anyone who can talk herself breathless the way that Felicity can, but somehow it’s still endearing each time. And for as much as she likes to talk, she’s also a really good listener. Laurel finds herself sharing information about growing up with a cop for a dad and trying to be a good sister and dating a rich playboy through college and beyond. The two of them bond over having absentee parents, and Felicity has the grace to not look at Laurel with some form of pity when she slips up and says that she’s afraid she’ll end up alone forever.
Between Felicity’s tech skills, Laurel’s contacts throughout the city, and Quentin’s detective work, they finally manage to gather the evidence they need to arrest a man named Eobard Thawne.
Thawne isn’t really talking, so they don’t have much of a motive yet besides a connection to Barry’s mother from twenty years ago. But that’s a problem for another day. Today, they have enough evidence to exonerate Barry and get him out of Iron Heights.
Barry thanks her at least twenty times when they go to pick him up.
“Thank your friend, here. I’m the one that got you convicted in the first place,” Laurel says, waving him off. “Felicity got herself arrested just to convince me that I was wrong.”
She’s never done well with gratitude. It’s a family trait.
“Well you were willing to listen to her, and that makes all the difference.”
Barry is a cute guy, and Laurel wonders for a moment just how Felicity actually feels about him. It makes her gut twist unexpectedly when she thinks about the two of them bonding over this experience, but really they seem to be a good match and Felicity deserves a nice guy like that if she wants him.
“I didn’t have much of a choice,” Laurel replies, looking fondly at Felicity. “She would have talked me to death if I didn’t agree to work with her.”
“Hey, this ramble is an art form,” Felicity says with crossed arms and fake indignation.
Laurel smirks. She’s going to miss this girl.
“Come on Barry, I hear Big Belly Burger calling your name. And mine. Mostly mine.”
He thanks Laurel again and then the two of them leave. Laurel tries not to feel like she’s losing something important.
Two weeks later, she gets a call. At least this time she’s still at the office rather than wearing her comfy flannel lounge pants at home while watching TV.
“Someone’s asking for you here,” her dad says.
Laurel sighs and wonders when interrogating suspects became part of her job description. When she finally makes it to her dad, he just gives her a wry smile.
“Sorry to drag you down here again. Seems like you’re pretty popular with Star City’s criminal population.”
“Lucky me,” Laurel says with an eye roll. “What do we know about this one?”
“Wouldn’t tell us anything. I’ll be right here if you need me though.”
Laurel nods and turns to enter the room. The sooner she gets this over with, the sooner she can go home and have alone time with her television.
The sight of blonde hair (blue streaks this time) and a mischievous smirk stops her dead in her tracks.
“Is this a hobby for you now?” Laurel asks, but she cant’t really pretend to be annoyed when she has such a stupid grin on her face.
Her dad must have helped orchestrate this, which she almost can’t believe.
“Well I heard this was the best way to contact you, so here I am,” Felicity says.
She’s sitting on the edge of the table wearing ripped jeans and a t-shirt that’s too big for her. It’s a good look. One that Laurel’s never been attracted to before, but there’s a first time for everything.
“Right, because cell phones are so inconvenient these days,” Laurel replies.
She draws in closer, but Felicity doesn’t move.
“So do you lawyers get time to go on real dates, or are you only allowed to flirt with people while you’re working a case to free their wrongly accused friends?” Felicity asks, head cocked to the side.
“I guess that depends. Will you burst into flames if you emerge from your nerd cave for too long?
Felicity hops off of the table and closes the short space between them. She smells like energy drink and grape gum underneath a blanket of some sort of flowery shampoo (gardenia, maybe). It’s not a combination that Laurel ever though she would find intoxicating, and yet here she is, breath catching on the scent as Felicity invades her space.
Laurel eliminates the remaining gap between them, fingers raking through blue-streaked hair as their lips meet briefly. Felicity looks slightly dazed as they pull away, licking her lips with a quiet sigh. Laurel smirks, satisfied by that reaction.
“We’re going somewhere nicer than Big Belly Burger,” Laurel says when they finally step away.
“And here I was hoping for Chinese takeout and a trip to the arcade,” Felicity quips.
“I wouldn’t put it past you,” Laurel says, and kisses her again.
The call comes on her way out of the office.
“Overwatch found a lead on the Vertigo manufacturer. We’re going to check it out tonight. Could use the Black Canary’s help if you’re available.”
Working with the Green Arrow is a time consuming effort, but it’s one that Laurel wouldn’t trade for the world. It gives her a purpose, something to do so that she doesn’t have to think about all of the people she’s lost over the years.
Felicity is already there when she gets to the cave. She gives Laurel a small wave and a bright smile from behind her monitors. Laurel grins back and ducks her head. Felicity has been an unexpected surprise in an otherwise bleak life.
Diggle is talking quietly with Roy in the corner, so Laurel grabs her batons and starts loosening up on the training dummy. There’s something about the weight of a weapon in her hand that instantly relaxes her. She loses herself in the routine of striking and stepping.
“I think you’ve sufficiently beaten that dummy into submission.”
Laurel spins around to find Thea behind her, easy smile on her face. She’s worked up a sweat without even realizing it and pushes the fallen strands of hair out of her face.
“Got to make sure I’m ready in case there’s trouble tonight,” Laurel replies.
She glances over at Felicity, who quickly clears her throat and spins back around to face her computer. Laurel tries not to frown. Felicity’s had a crush on Thea for as long as Laurel’s known her. It stings more than she would like.
“Supposed to just be a recon mission tonight, so hopefully no trouble,” Thea assures her.
“Right,” Laurel says wryly.
Thea chuckles and walks over to the display case containing the green hooded suit.
“Time to suit up, guys.”
There was a time when tragedy was just a word that Laurel heard on TV when her dad would watch the news at night and the broadcaster would talk about some crime or another that occurred over in the Glades.
“I wish we could get it cleaned up over there,” Quentin would say. “Those families deserve some peace.”
Laurel was thankful that her parents kept them far away from that life and waited for a time when she could graduate law school and do something to help.
It didn’t take long for Laurel to learn that tragedy could happen to anyone, even a rich playboy who stole away on his father’s yacht with his girlfriend’s little sister. The wreck of the Queen’s Gambit brought Laurel’s world crashing down around her. She lost her boyfriend and her sister in one day. The pain of both of their betrayals on top of that only wrenched the wound open further.
A year later, her mom left them. Laurel somehow made it work, taking care of her dad (picking him up off of the floor most nights) and finishing up law school. But walking into a house that might as well have been empty except for all of the ghosts lingering in it made her feel like giving up some days.
Tommy made it better. He was there to comfort her when no one else was, when it felt like the conflict between the hole Sara left behind and the reason she left in the first place would tear Laurel in two. He gave her loyalty and respect when Oliver brought her grief and heartache.
Of course, Tommy’s father made sure to put an end to all of that. Sometimes Laurel still sees him, hand grasping hers weakly as he chokes on his own blood and tells her to find happiness without him.
So now she just has the Black Canary to occupy her time, to try to bring a little bit of light to this city. And if that job just happens to come with a family of its own, then so much the better.
It’s not just a recon mission.
Ten minutes in, Roy gets into a physical encounter with a lookout. It all goes to hell from there. Thea descends from the rooftop while Laurel and Dig rush the warehouse with a flash bang and the canary cry.
There are more people in the warehouse than the four of them can reasonably handle, even with Thea and Roy sniping from the sidelines. Laurel puts up a valiant fight, but all it takes is one distraction for one of these idiots to get a good swipe at her with a switch blade.
The cut is deep enough to restrict movement on her right side. Laurel tries to fight through it, but Dig swoops in to drag her away while Roy and Thea lay down cover fire.
Felicity flies out of her chair at the sight of Diggle carrying Laurel down the stairs.
“What happened?” she yells, rushing to Laurel’s side as Dig puts her on top of the med table.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Laurel insists, but she’s sweating a little from the pain and she can feel the blood turning sticky down her side.
“Felicity, can you help her?” Thea asks, looking worried.
“Everybody go away,” Felicity snaps, waving her hands at them.
Thea nods and the three of them leave the immediate area to go discuss next steps on the drug operation. Felicity hovers over Laurel, brow furrowed deeply behind her glasses as she cuts Laurel’s suit away from the wound.
“Cisco won’t be happy,” Laurel mutters.
Felicity glares at her, but doesn’t say anything. It’s rare, and it can only mean that Felicity is really pissed or absolutely terrified. Really, Laurel thinks that everyone is overreacting. She’s lost some blood, but once the wound is closed, she’ll be good as new.
She has to grit her teeth to keep from yelling while Felicity cleans the wound. She settles for a pained growl instead.
“The stitches will hurt worse,” Felicity says, and at least sounds a little sorry about it.
Laurel huffs. Being a recovering addict definitely has its downsides. Like no good pain medication after a night of fighting crime, for instance.
She thinks she must pass out once or twice, but she makes it through the ordeal eventually. Felicity ties off the stitches with shaky hands and sighs heavily, head dropping with exhaustion now that the adrenaline is gone.
“You still mad at me?” Laurel asks.
Felicity shoots a tired glance in her direction.
“I wasn’t mad at you, Laurel. I was scared. Do you have any idea how hard I panicked when I saw you being carried in here, covered in blood? Knowing that I would be responsible for making sure you were okay? If something happens to you, I...”
The rest of her words get lost somewhere, but they hit Laurel harder than any punch. She forces herself upright, ignoring the burning in her side and hoping that she doesn’t pop any of Felicity’s stitches.
“Hey,” Laurel says quietly.
She tucks a strand of hair behind Felicity’s ear, allowing her fingers to trail down Felicity’s jaw. Felicity’s breath catches in her chest and she looks at Laurel with eyes that are so expressive it almost scares her.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Laurel promises.
That seems to be the deciding factor for Felicity, who surges forward, catching Laurel off guard with a desperate kiss. Laurel sinks into it, hands gripping the edge of the table while Felicity’s fingers graze the sides of her neck.
It takes a minute for Laurel’s eyes to refocus after they break apart, but once they do, she finds Felicity looking at her with worry, biting the corner of her lip. It’s almost enough to make Laurel forget about her injury and drag Felicity down onto this table with her.
“What about Thea?” she says instead.
“What about her?” Felicity asks, frowning with confusion. “She’s probably wondering if you’re okay and here I am making out with you when you should be resting instead.”
She’s so goddamn endearing it’s enough to drive Laurel to distraction sometimes, but she just shakes her head.
“No, I mean, aren’t you in love with her?”
Felicity lets out a quick burst of laughter at that.
“Thea?” she asks, just to make sure that she heard right. “I mean, she’s my boss and I think she’s great, but I’m not in love with her. You seriously don’t know?”
“Know what?” Laurel asks, feeling like she’s missing out on some big secret.
Felicity’s smile is shy and she blushes a little.
“Laurel, I’ve wanted you from, like, the first second I laid eyes on you. I thought it was really obvious.”
It takes a moment for Laurel’s world to realign itself while every interaction she’s ever had with Felicity replays in her head with this newfound knowledge at hand. When it’s done, she grins up at Felicity.
“Maybe you can show me again what I was missing,” she says, and she’s already reaching up to pull Felicity towards her again.
When their mouths connect, Laurel sighs into the kiss. It feels like she’s been waiting for this for a long time. Something to look forward to again.
Someone clears their throat behind them, forcing them to separate. Thea’s shit-eating smirk would normally be enough to make Laurel throw a shoe at her head, but she doesn’t have the energy right now.
“First of all, I’m glad you’re still alive,” Thea says, arms crossed over her chest. “Second, it’s about fucking time.”
And honestly, Laurel really can’t argue with that.
There are days when the sweltering heat of Nanda Parbat is enough to choke its own inhabitants. On those days, the weakest recruits are sent out to man the watch all day. There, they will either survive or collapse from exhaustion. If they collapse, they die.
Laurel is long past those days, but she remembers them well. It’s been four years since she joined the League. She’s still not used to the heat, but thankfully the compound is carved deep into the mountainside. It’s cooler there, but she does get tired of living by firelight sometimes. She thinks Ra’s is really underestimating the usefulness of electricity here.
The crack of a bo staff brings her attention back to the matter at hand. Sara and Nyssa are sparring again. A crowd of assassins stands by to witness, at Ra’s al Guhl’s command. To him, this is entertainment. Or maybe it’s a lesson. For Sara and Nyssa, it’s probably foreplay, but Laurel tries not to think about that.
Sara has lasted longer this round than Laurel thinks she’s ever seen. But then she makes a mistake, attacks when she should be defending (Nyssa set her up for this by taking a step back, feigning an open shot), and suddenly her legs are swept out from under her and she lands on her back, bo staff pointed right between her eyes.
Ra’s claps, pleased that his heir is still undefeated, even against her beloved. Nyssa helps Sara up off of the floor, and Laurel is happy with her sister’s choice. She’s never seen anyone be loved the way that Nyssa loves Sara. She just wishes that Sara didn’t get an immortal psychopathic father-in-law out of the deal.
“Taïr al Aswad,” Ra’s calls out.
The crowd parts, and there is now a clear path between Laurel and the Demon’s Head. She can see Sara’s look out of the corner of her eye, but Laurel knows better than to look away from the man addressing her.
“Would you like to see if you can succeed where Taïr al Asfar could not?”
It’s not really a question, even though it’s phrased like one. Laurel bows to him and enters the circle. She glances at Sara, whose lip is bloody from her fight. Her sister’s expression doesn’t change, but Laurel knows her well enough to know that she’d be winking right now if she could.
Laurel takes the two batons off of her belt and readies her stance. Nyssa doesn’t even look tired from her battle with Sara, so Laurel already knows that this will suck. The only thing she can hope for is to last longer than Sara did so that she can have bragging rights later.
But Sara has been doing this longer than she has, and Nyssa always seems to hit harder when she’s fighting with Laurel. Sara tells her later that it lasted for seven minutes, but Laurel’s pretty sure she has a concussion, so she can’t really say.
“I have an assignment for you, okhti.”
Nyssa only calls her okhti when they’re alone or surrounded only by people they can trust. If Ra’s got wind of Nyssa affectionately referring to Laurel as her sister, there would be hell to pay for all of them.
Laurel sets her dinner aside to allow Nyssa to spread a file out in front of her containing the necessary information.
“Who’s the mark?” Laurel asks.
She’s been getting antsy. Too much time spent in Nanda Parbat makes her nervous. She doesn’t trust Ra’s, and the less she has to be around him, the better. Sometimes she dreams of challenging him to battle, killing him where he stands and allowing Nyssa to ascend to the throne. At least then she knows that Sara will be safe. As it stands now, she half expects them all to be killed in their sleep some nights. But that’s not a battle that she can win right now, or maybe ever. So she takes solace in killing other bad people instead.
The mark is no one she recognizes, but the location makes her eyes widen a bit.
“We suspect that she is working with the snake Damien Darhk, although we do not know why yet. As you can see, her resources would make her a powerful ally to him,” Nyssa explains. “We need information. Once you have that, you can eliminate her.”
“And you want me to go? To Starling City?” Laurel asks.
“Taïr al Asfar is going with you.”
Sara walks in at that exact moment, smirk already in place.
“Hey, sis. Ready to go home?”
“This is a trap,” Laurel says on the plane ride to the states. “Ra’s would never send us on a mission to our hometown together unless he had some ulterior motive. He’s going to have us killed.”
“Nyssa would never allow us to walk into a trap,” Sara responds defensively, but her furrowed brow gives away her worry.
“I doubt Nyssa knows. Just be ready for anything. In the end, we can only trust each other.”
Sara looks like she wants to add to that, to tell her that they can trust Nyssa, too. But she doesn’t. As much as she hates to admit it, neither of them really know that for sure.
Felicity Smoak is not an evil mastermind. Laurel figures that out within five minutes of her first observation. She watches Felicity flit around the R&D lab at Smoak Technologies, babbling at about a thousand words a minute as she excitedly explains her idea for some sort of particle decelerator that’s supposed to be able to cure cancer or something if it works correctly. Her hands fly around her head while she talks and she chews her gum like a cow. Whatever Damien Darhk wants with her, Laurel is pretty sure that Felicity is not going to be a willing participant.
It turns out that Felicity knows her old college school flame, Oliver Queen. Laurel decides to make that her in. She bumps into Oliver at his club that night, tells him she just moved back home after several years working humanitarian projects oversees, and casually mentions that she’s looking for a job. Luckily, she’s kept her law license up to date all of these years. It comes in handy sometimes.
“I might have something for you,” he tells her, and writes a number down on a cocktail napkin. “Felicity Smoak. She’s looking for some new legal advice now that her company is getting nationally recognized. Lots of other people trying to cash in, you know?”
“Of course,” Laurel says, with an easy, pretty smile. “I’ve missed swimming with the corporate sharks. I think I’ll enjoy this. Thanks, Ollie.”
She leaves before he can ask for her number. She has no use for his type anymore.
“You passed up a chance at sex with your hot, rich ex-boyfriend?” Sara asks incredulously when she gets back to the safe house.
“It wasn’t that great ten years ago,” Laurel replies. “I doubt it’s gotten much better since then. No one wants to tell a rich man that he’s garbage in bed.”
“Wait until the gossip blogs hear about that one,” Sara says with a smirk.
Felicity’s assistant escorts her to the CEO’s office at the top of the Smoak Technologies building and leaves her waiting there. Laurel hates waiting, but she occupies herself by looking out of the large window and down at a city that feels like it’s been standing still since the day she left it. As uncomfortable as she is in Nanda Parbat, Starling doesn’t really feel like home anymore either. Not since her dad died, anyway.
“Hey! Sorry to keep you waiting. You must be Laurel.”
The fact that she allowed herself to be caught off guard is something that Laurel will be kicking herself for later. She whips around to face Felicity, who is looking bright and bubbly in a slim pink dress, bouncy ponytail, and a smile that slides right off of her face the second she lays eyes on Laurel.
“Wow. Oliver mentioned that you were pretty, but he didn’t say that you were...”
“What?” Laurel asks, eyebrow raised.
She has her hand on her hip, ready to retrieve the knife that’s hidden in her skirt if necessary.
“Gorgeous,” Felicity finishes, and then immediately looks regretful. “Sorry, I know that’s not the way one should generally start a professional conversation. My mouth does this thing sometimes where it doesn’t connect to my brain and then I just say things without meaning to. It’s really unfortunate.”
Laurel’s hand relaxes at her side and she grins. This woman is one of the weirdest people she’s ever met, but somehow she finds it...cute. Laurel has never liked using her looks to her advantage (that’s Sara’s specialty), but she thinks maybe she can get on board with it this time.
“No problem. Most CEOs aren’t as cute as you are, so I think we can call it even,” Laurel replies.
Felicity’s blush is dangerously pretty, but Laurel stays focused throughout the meeting and closes the deal.
Sara teases her for nearly an hour, only promising to shut up about it after Laurel threatens to stab her.
“She is cute, though,” Sara says while scarfing down Big Belly Burger. “Nothing wrong with mixing business and pleasure as long as it helps you get the job done. I’m jealous though. Darhk isn’t nearly as attractive. You definitely got the better mark.”
As it turns out, one of the buyers interested in Felicity’s particle decelerator is a shell corporation owned by Darhk. Laurel doesn’t understand how any of this works, so she’s can’t figure out why he would want technology that’s supposed to cure cancer. Sara’s intel helps fill in the gaps.
“He wants to get your girl to turn it into an accelerator instead of a decelerator.”
Laurel understands the difference fundamentally, but not why it would be important to Darhk. So she asks Felicity over milkshakes one evening.
“What would happen if you made the particles accelerate instead of decelerate? It’s part of HIVE Corp’s interest in the product.”
Felicity launches into an explanation that makes Laurel wish that Sara was listening to this instead. Her sister was always way better at physics.
“So, if you accelerate them enough, the particles will basically explode. It would act like a vaporizer of sorts. Definitely the opposite of what I’m trying to do.”
That catches Laurel’s attention. She shoots a text to Sara under the table letting her know that Darhk intends to weaponize the accelerator.
Felicity has no idea. She doesn’t even know who he is or that he’s involved.
Sara sends back a frowny face, which is typical. But it doesn’t help Laurel at all. She knows in her heart of hearts that her mission here is false. Felicity doesn’t know she’s being used for evil, and killing her would be wrong. If Laurel knows Ra’s, he’s already got someone standing by waiting to finish the job if she doesn’t. So she walks Felicity home that night, and when Felicity invites her in, Laurel doesn’t refuse.
For as much as Felicity talks under normal circumstances, she doesn’t say much during sex. She communicates more with her hands, which drag deep red lines down Laurel’s back. As Felicity comes apart underneath her, Laurel’s heart squeezes at the knowledge that she will do anything she has to in order to protect the woman that she was sent here to kill.
Laurel rarely sleeps through the night. She wakes up around 2 AM and wanders into the kitchen to get a glass of water. She hears the arrow breaking the glass of Felicity’s window half a second before she dives out of the way. Any longer, and she’d be dead.
“Shit,” she swears under her breath, crawling as fast as she can over broken glass to get back to the bedroom.
Felicity is already awake, frantic at the sound of another arrow flying into the room. Laurel drags her off of the bed and onto the floor.
“What is happening?” Felicity asks in a panic.
Laurel shakes her head. There’s hardly time to explain when they’re being shot at by Ra’s men.
(He didn’t even send his best to kill her, Laurel notes. If he had, it would be Nyssa and Sarab, and she would be dead already. His mistake. Underestimating her will be his undoing.)
She wishes more than anything that they weren’t both naked right now, but she’ll have to make due under the circumstances. She hastily stuffs herself into the nearest clothing she can find and equips her weapons as quickly as she can. There’s a robe on a chair nearby that she tosses in Felicity’s general direction.
“Put that on and stay down. We’re getting out of here.”
Felicity doesn’t seem to be able to speak, so she does what Laurel says and the two of them leave the bedroom to find two League assassins already in her apartment. Laurel shoves Felicity to the ground and throws a knife at one of the assassins. It hits him in the neck and he falls to the ground, choking.
The other assassin comes charging at her with two swords. Laurel grabs a dining room chair and uses it to block the attack, then dislodges a sword from her attacker’s hand. She’s not as practiced with a sword as she probably should be, but when the assassin nearly impales Laurel with her other sword, Felicity screams. It’s enough to distract her attacker, and Laurel stabs her in the gut. Laurel feels a pang of regret for Felicity’s carpet as the woman falls to the ground.
Felicity chooses this exact moment to get sick, and if they weren’t under threat of attack, Laurel would be sympathetic. As it stands, she pulls Felicity to her feet and drags her along, out of the apartment and down the stairs.
Laurel tries to call Sara, but her sister doesn’t answer. Not a great sign, but Sara can handle herself. She needs to focus on getting Felicity somewhere safe. They can’t go back to the safe house—it’ll be overrun by the League. Instead, she heads for the pier, the place that she and Sara had agreed to meet in case they became compromised at some point.
“I’m going to pass out if we don’t stop running soon,” Felicity wheezes beside her.
It’s the first time she’s spoken since they left the apartment. Laurel feels awful about all of this. She looks tired and terrified. And she’s still only wearing a robe and some underwear.
“You’ll be killed if we stop,” Laurel says. “It’s just a bit further, I promise.”
“Yeah, and are you ever going to explain that part?”
“As soon as we get somewhere safe, I’ll tell you anything you want to know. But right now I have to focus and we have to keep moving.”
Felicity looks unhappy, but at least she’s still breathing. For now.
They run straight into Sara and Nyssa halfway there.
“Thank God,” Laurel pants. “You weren’t answering your phone. I was worried.”
“I shoved it down Nahr’s throat when he tried to kill me,” Sara says.
She glances at Felicity and grins.
“Hey, I’m Sara.”
“Felicity. I’m not usually wearing a bathrobe.”
Sara smirks, and it’s a face that’s made a thousand girls swoon before. If they weren’t running from a bunch of assassins, it would probably work on Felicity, too.
“You’re cute. Good choice, Laur,” she says.
Laurel rolls her eyes. Only Sara would find the opportunity to flirt at a time like this.
“I see you’ve decided not to carry out your assignment, okhti,” Nyssa says, but she doesn’t look as disapproving as Laurel thought she would.
“It wasn’t right. She doesn’t know anything. Darhk’s the only one doing anything wrong here. And your father, apparently.”
“He’s gone too far with this,” Nyssa agrees furiously. “I have forgiven him many transgressions over the years, but his attempt to murder my beloved right under my nose will not go unpunished.”
“So you’ll challenge him then?” Sara asks.
She looks worried. Laurel understands. Ra’s al Guhl is not a man that’s easily killed, even by his own daughter.
“Yes,” Nyssa says resolutely, and she doesn’t look sorry. “But first, we must escape this place. He underestimated his two birds, but he likely sent more of his men after he realized I was gone. Talia is waiting for us with a boat at the docks.”
“Let’s go, then,” Laurel says. “I need to get Felicity to safety as quickly as possible.”
Laurel explains everything, as promised.
Felicity looks horrified at the prospect of having slept with her own assassin, but more than anything, she is hurt and betrayed.
“So you got close to me just to kill me?” she asks, tears welling in her eyes.
“No, Felicity,” Laurel insists.
She reaches for Felicity’s hand, but then thinks better of it.
“I was sent here to kill you, but honestly I think I knew the moment I met you that I wouldn’t go through with it. I got close to you to try to figure out what Damien Darhk was up to, and I know this sounds cliche, but I actually ended up liking you. You’re the best person I’ve met in a while. I’m sorry I couldn’t be that for you, too.”
“I thought you were, though,” Felicity says quietly.
A tear slips down her cheek and she wipes at it angrily.
“Whatever. I’m not crying over a murderer.”
That stings, but it’s not like she’s wrong.
“I’m going to make this right and keep you safe,” Laurel vows. “If you never want to see me again, I get that. But I won’t let them hurt you. We’re going to put an end to this. Just promise me you’ll keep your head down. And whatever you do, don’t sell anything to Darhk.”
Felicity agrees to that at least, albeit grudgingly. Laurel smiles sadly.
“Ma assalamah, Felicity,” she says, and turns to leave.
Nyssa is waiting for her by the boat.
“Talia will stay behind to ensure her safety,” she says, and Laurel is thankful that Nyssa understands human emotion where her father does not.
“Thank you, okhti.”
Nyssa cracks the slightest smile at that. Sara waits for her on the boat and slings an arm around Laurel’s shoulder when she arrives.
“She’ll come around,” Sara promises. “No one can resist a Lance.”
Laurel is grateful to have her sister with her. If they’re going to charge into Hell with the intent to slay the Demon, she’s glad they get to do it together.
When this is over, she’ll come back to check on Felicity and try to make things right. But first, she has to survive.
The sound of the lock bolting shut on Felicity’s door is a trigger that sends electricity coursing through Laurel’s veins. Felicity barely has time to turn around before Laurel pins her against the wall, pressing in close enough to suffocate them both. Her kisses are deep, longing, desperate things that leave Felicity gasping when they separate.
These are the worst days, when it’s been too long since they were last able to be together like this. When Laurel’s cravings threaten to overwhelm and consume her, and all she can think about is devouring Felicity until there is nothing left of the two of them. These are the days when, after they are both spent and limp and tangled together and the haze has finally cleared away, Laurel remembers why it’s been so long since they last did this in the first place.
The realization always feels like the weight of an anvil dropping heavily on her chest. But that part, at least, means that she’s still normal. That reaction is to be expected. What she fears more than anything is the day when the weight of her actions stops feeling so heavy.
They fall onto the couch together, no time or patience to make it to the bedroom. As they move frantically against each other, Laurel soaks up every whimper and moan and hot breath against her neck. It’s over too soon, but the few minutes after, when Felicity collapses on top of her in blissful recovery, are perfect.
And then her phone rings.
Felicity stiffens immediately. The spell broken in an instant, the sound of Laurel’s phone rips them back into reality. For a moment, she’s tempted to ignore it, but she knows she can’t. Felicity shifts off of her to sit on the opposite end of the couch, readjusting her dress while Laurel fishes her phone out of her back pocket.
It’s Tommy. He wants to know if he should pick something up for dinner on his way home from the barber shop. Laurel tells him he should. The more time she has to collect herself, the better.
“I love you,” he says just before they hang up the phone, and when she says it back to him, it feels like broken glass on her tongue.
“I have to go,” Laurel says reluctantly, once the call has ended.
Felicity doesn’t respond. She keeps glancing at Laurel’s wedding ring. Laurel forgot to take it off before she came. Not that it really matters. It’s not as if Felicity doesn’t already know that she’s married. They stopped pretending that what they’re doing isn’t wrong a long time ago. Now they just sort of ignore it when they can.
For a second, Laurel thinks about what would happen if she stayed. If she pushed aside whatever fear and guilt and obligation is holding her down to a set of vows she could never keep. If she followed her heart instead of her head and curled up with Felicity on this couch and just never left.
She grabs her keys off of the coffee table and lets herself out. Felicity doesn’t look at her when she goes.
Laurel doesn’t know if Tommy knows. If he does, he’s never said anything to her. Most days he acts like they’re just as in love as they were when they were twenty-five, when he got down on one knee in front of her entire family and she felt like her heart would burst with happiness. But sometimes, if she catches him at just the right moment, he gives her a look that reveals all of the cracks in their foundation, and she thinks that he must feel how things have changed.
She still loves him. She loves how well he knows her and how he always finds just the right time to make her laugh. She loves how kind and selfless he is.
But she’s not in love with him. Not the way that she was when she walked down the aisle and promised him forever. She couldn’t even give him ten years.
The worst part is that she really can’t pinpoint the moment that she fell out of love. She wishes she could. Maybe that would make it easier to leave, give her something to focus on, a good foundation to call it quits.
Instead, all she knows for certain is the moment she first laid eyes on Felicity Smoak, and how one smile set her on fire in a way that Tommy could never hope to achieve.
It’s not his fault. She was hooked from the start. Just not on him.
“No one can straddle two worlds forever,” Felicity tells her. “Every hero or villain gets unmasked eventually.”
The problem with Laurel is that she is both and neither at the same time. When she’s with Felicity, she can see the future that she always wanted. But she’s already promised that future to someone else, and she can’t bring herself to take it back.
Laurel Lance can command any courtroom with fierce confidence, but when it comes to her personal affairs, she can’t make a decision to save her life.
“I don’t want to be a secret anymore,” Felicity pleads.
It breaks Laurel’s heart. The look on Felicity’s face is almost more than she can bear. But Laurel isn’t ready to give her up, and she’s not prepared to dismantle her other life yet either, as selfish as that is.
Felicity avoids her for three months. During that time, Laurel feels her body ache from the loss. When she sees Felicity out and about by chance, there is a man on her arm, tall and a little goofy, but he seems nice and she actually looks happy.
Laurel feels a pang of regret and wave after wave of jealousy. She’s angry at herself more than anything. She should be the one taking Felicity out in public, showing her off to the world. Anyone would be proud to have Felicity by their side. Laurel’s been a coward, so someone else took on the job.
This is what Felicity deserves. Still, when Laurel shows up at her apartment three days later, Felicity invites her inside.
Afterwards, when they fall away from one another in Felicity’s bed, Laurel finally understands that she’s not the only one straddling two worlds. If nothing else, at least they can suffer through this together.
There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from leveling an entire building with nothing more than the sound of her own voice. It’s a rush of power that she can’t get anywhere else. Before the S.T.A.R. Labs explosion, Laurel had never really been able to make her mark on the world. Now, she can make as many marks as she wants whenever she wants. There’s no one in the world who can tell her what to do if she doesn’t want them to. That’s true power, and no one can ever take that away.
The world has never been very fair to her anyway, so why should she be fair to it?
The truth is, though, that Zoom is a threat to her. His speed makes him nearly unstoppable, and that’s something that pisses Laurel off to no end. The Black Siren should be beholden to no one, and yet here she is having to carry out the orders of a madman in order to survive.
This time, he wants them to break into a facility that he believes holds the key to him being able to steal speed from other speedsters. It sounds completely ridiculous. Laurel wonders what would happen if he finally achieved a speed that he was satisfied with. How fast can one man really go? He can already travel through time. What more does he want?
“Theoretically, the fastest he could possibly go is at the speed of light. But I don’t think that’s actually possible. At least, not according to what I learned in college. That was a while ago, and physics isn’t my specialty, so don’t quote me, but if he tries to move at the speed of light, I’m pretty sure he’ll kill himself.”
Oh right. This is why she’s here. Laurel levels a look at the blonde hacker sitting at the desk in front of her. She’s been talking out loud without realizing it, and of course Felicity has an answer to her question. Now Laurel’s annoyed that she even asked it. Science has never been of any interest to her.
“So what do you guys even need me for? Can’t you just blast the door to this place open with your loud, loud voice?” Felicity asks. “Not that there’s anything wrong with being loud! It’s a lovely voice that you have. Actually, I’d say that you have one of the most pleasant speaking voices I’ve ever heard. It’s just the supersonic screaming that gets a little dicey for me, you know. Not that you care what I think about your voice, of course.”
“Are you sure you’re not a meta, too? I’ve never met anyone who talks this much. Except maybe Reverb,” Laurel says, rolling her eyes.
In truth, as annoying as Felicity can be, she is a refreshing change of pace from Zoom’s constant doom and gloom sometimes. It’s even better now that Laurel doesn’t have to threaten her to get her to do things anymore. She doesn’t believe for a second that Felicity wouldn’t escape this place given the opportunity, but they’ve at least formed a sort of…mutual respect for one another, she thinks. Felicity can do things with a computer that no one else can, and Laurel can turn things to ash with her voice. In a another life, they’d probably make a really good team.
“The place is set up to be anti-meta. None of us can get in using our normal methods,” Laurel explains. “That’s where you come in.”
“Lucky me,” Felicity mutters.
Laurel smirks. She is lucky. Zoom ordered them to kill her months ago. Laurel convinced him that she was too useful to waste. Felicity doesn’t know that, though, and Laurel understands the resentment. She resents having to work for Zoom as well. But she’s biding her time until the opportunity to leave presents itself.
Of course, her decision to save Felicity’s life had everything to do with Felicity’s talents and nothing to do with the way that she actually kind of looks forward to these opportunities to spend time with her. In some weird, twisted way, they’re almost kind of like friends. At least, Felicity is the closest thing that Laurel’s had to one in a very long time.
But attachments are a weakness, and Laurel would kill Felicity and never look back if she really had to. That’s what she keeps telling herself, anyway.
Felicity comes through as always. She gets them into the facility without a hitch, but their security turns out to be a lot stronger than anticipated. Zoom gets his device all the same, but Laurel ends up with a few more cuts and bruises than she’d like.
“That looks like it hurts,” Felicity says when Laurel enters her room (it’s more of a cell, really, since she’s technically a prisoner here) after the fight.
Laurel shrugs and takes a seat on the cot that Felicity sleeps on. She’s not really sure why she’s here, other than the fact that there’s nowhere else she needs to be. She has no family, no one who cares if she comes home at night. Felicity will at least babble her way through any conversation, and that’s something that’s become sort of comforting for Laurel (which she will never admit, even under the threat of death). It doesn’t hurt that she's pleasant to look at, as well.
“I’ve had worse,” Laurel replies.
Felicity sighs and gets up, walking over to a cabinet that contains some very basic (non-lethal) medical supplies. She gets out the gauze and some peroxide and walks over to where Laurel is sitting.
“Your stubbornness is not endearing, in case you were wondering,” she says, pressing some gauze into the cut just under Laurel’s right eye.
It stings more than she was expecting, and Laurel hisses, but Felicity just raises an eyebrow, unconcerned.
"You know, there are probably a thousand other careers you could have chosen that don’t end with you having gashes and black eyes every other night.”
“Spare me the lecture,” Laurel bristles. “This is who I am.”
“It’s who you chose to be,” Felicity counters. “It’s who you’re choosing to be every day. You could make a change at any second. You think your power sentenced you to this life, but it could be a gift if you let it. You could do a lot of good things—help people. I know there’s a good person inside of you, but you choose to do bad things because it’s easier. Because you’re scared you’ll fail if you try anything different.”
Laurel growls and shoves her away. Felicity stumbles backwards, trips and falls onto the ground where Laurel towers over her, eyes bright with fury.
“You don’t know me. Just because I haven’t killed you yet, doesn’t mean I won’t. Don’t pretend like you know anything about my life,” Laurel snaps. “You don’t get to lecture me about being scared. I dragged you out of the basement of some nameless corporation. You were troubleshooting internet problems for people who can’t figure out how to click a mouse when we both know you could be running half of the world right now if you really wanted to. I’m not scared of anyone or anything. I have real power. You’re just a weak little girl who can’t even stand up for herself.”
The fear and loathing in Felicity’s eyes is enough to turn Laurel’s stomach, and that fact only makes her more angry, so she turns to leave and slams the door shut behind her.
Sometimes Laurel walks the streets alone at night and wonders what her life would have been like if things had worked out differently. If her father and Oliver hadn’t died, if she’d never moved to Central City, if she’d never gotten this power when the particle accelerator exploded.
What does it matter?
The voice inside of her head is Felicity’s, which is enough to make Laurel’s blood boil. Still, she can’t seem to get it to shut up.
Your life is what it is. You can’t change what happened in the past. What you can do is stop making excuses for yourself. If you’re supposed to be so strong and powerful, why do you keep acting like a victim?
Laurel wants to scream. She wants to watch this entire block crumble before her eyes. She wants to claw at her own scalp until she digs Felicity Smoak out of her head.
Someone screams from the next block over and catches her attention. She needs to go check it out to make sure it’s not a meta. The sound leads her to an alley where she finds a kid in a hoodie pointing a gun at a woman for her valuables. This is nothing that she needs to concern herself with. And yet, almost against her own will, Laurel opens her mouth and sends him flying into the alley wall.
The mugger gets up and points his gun at her. Laurel just smirks and screams again. She directs the sound waves at him until he’s crumpled on the ground, ears and nose bleeding. The woman looks slightly terrified, but she turns grateful eyes on Laurel and starts thanking her profusely.
This is uncomfortable. If this is what Felicity was talking about by making a difference, Laurel doesn’t want any part of it. She doesn’t deserve thanks from anyone, and she’s certainly not a hero.
It’s only after the woman leaves that Laurel realizes she dropped her wallet in the scuffle. She takes it with her. She still doesn’t know why.
“You saved her life,” Felicity says, and the worst part is that it’s not disbelief in her voice.
It’s pride. Like she knew along. Like she expected it. It makes Laurel want to punch something.
“What does it matter? It’s one person,” Laurel scoffs. “People die all the time. The world moves on.”
“You’re one person, too,” Felicity says, as if that’s supposed to mean something.
“So?” Laurel asks. “You say that like you think I’m worth saving. We both know that I’m not.”
Felicity levels her with a look that makes her insides twist.
“Laurel, if I didn’t think you were worth saving, I would have stopped talking to you a long time ago,” she says. “And if you didn’t think it, you wouldn’t be here right now either.”
She doesn’t really have an answer for that. There’s no explanation for the way that Felicity seems to believe in her, even after Laurel has proven time and time again that she’s irredeemable. There’s also no explanation for how that makes her feel, like her heart is actually burning inside of her chest.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” Laurel asks, flipping the wallet open for the hundredth time since she picked it up.
“What any good samaritan would do,” Felicity tells her with a grin.
The woman, Katherine, opens the door just a crack to see who’s been knocking. When she realizes who it is, she flings the door open with a smile.
“It’s you!” she says happily.
No one has ever been this happy to see her. Not since Ollie died, anyway. Laurel shifts awkwardly on her feet and holds the wallet up.
“I, um…I found this. I guess you dropped it,” she says lamely.
“Oh my God, I’ve been looking everywhere,” Katherine exclaims, taking the wallet. “You came to my rescue again. You truly are a hero.”
“I’m really not,” Laurel says seriously, and for a split second she has half a mind to show this woman just how awful she actually is.
But she doesn’t. There’s nothing to gain from proving that point.
“Mommy? Who is it?” someone asks from inside the apartment, and then a young boy comes running up to the door and latches onto Katherine’s leg.
Katherine beams down at her son, brushing the hair back from his face. He must be six years old, at most.
“This is the nice lady who saved Mommy’s life, Brandon,” she says.
The boy looks up at Laurel shyly. Laurel flashes back to a girl at thirteen, receiving a phone call that her father had been killed by a drunk driver. She never felt more alone than she did that day. This kid doesn’t have to experience that, thanks to her, and the weight of that realization makes her throat close up.
“I have to go,” she chokes, and turns to leave.
Katherine yells something after her, maybe another thank you, but Laurel doesn’t hear it. She swallows back her tears as she runs.
Felicity is asleep when Laurel bursts through the door, but she jumps awake in a panic, scrambling to find her glasses in the dark.
“Laurel? What the hell is happening,” Felicity gasps, holding a hand to her chest like she’s in the midst of a heart attack.
“How did you do it?” Laurel asks, standing tensely in front of her.
“You’re really going to have to be more specific,” Felicity says, looking confused and slightly annoyed at having been woken up like this.
“I’ve lived like this for years. I do what I want, when I want. I don’t care about people. I don’t get attached. I don’t get hurt. But you...”
Laurel looks at Felicity, hair missed up and eyes still sleepy, and feels physically pained in a way that she’s never experienced before.
“You got in my head. You made me care. I saved that woman’s life and found out that she had a son and I’m...happy that I saved her. She called me a hero, and for a second, I actually believed her. But I’m not a hero. I don’t deserve..."
She chokes on a sob, furious that she’s crying right now. She hasn’t cried since Oliver’s funeral, and she doesn’t want to do it right now. Especially not in front of the woman who’s tearing her world apart.
“Laurel,” Felicity breathes.
She looks torn between wanting to comfort her and looking slightly afraid to touch her. She decides to risk it, grabbing Laurel’s hand and pulling her down to sit on the bed.
“I didn’t do anything, Laurel. This is who you’ve always been. You’ve just been running away from it all this time. You are a good person,” Felicity says softly.
Laurel takes a shuddering breath and shakes her head.
“How can that be possible? I’ve done so many things. And I’ve lost so much.”
“Tragedy happens to people, sometimes. It has nothing to do with being good or bad,” Felicity explains. “You’ve made some bad choices, but you’re not evil, Laurel. You don’t think I know that you’re the reason I’m still alive?”
Laurel’s head snaps up at that.
“Reverb told me. He was trying to be mean, but I don’t care what he thinks. You saved my life and you kept me from going insane in here all of this time. You didn’t leave me alone. Aren’t you tired of being alone, too?”
Laurel doesn’t know what to say to that. She’s been alone for so long that she doesn’t remember what it feels like to have someone that cares about her. But Felicity makes her feel like maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. The thought is kind of terrifying.
Felicity reaches out hesitantly and rests her hand on Laurel’s cheek, wiping a tear away with her thumb. Laurel closes her eyes and shivers at the warmth. She doesn’t know the last time someone touched her this softly, but she doesn’t want it to end.
When she opens her eyes, Felicity is biting the corner of her lip and looking at her like she’s not a lost cause. Everything about this makes her whole body ache, but she wants it so much. It’s like her heart has cracked wide open and now she’s afraid she’ll never be able to close it again.
“So I really want to kiss you, but I also don’t want you to make my brain melt out of my ears,” Felicity says, and Laurel actually laughs.
“If I have to be brave, so do you,” she replies.
“That’s fair,” Felicity mutters.
She leans forward and kisses Laurel so gently that it nearly breaks Laurel’s heart. At the same time, it feels like part of her is being stitched back together again. Laurel sighs into Felicity’s mouth, traces Felicity’s jaw with her fingertips. Felicity whimpers and it sets a fire in Laurel’s veins.
“Wow,” Felicity whispers when they pull away. “I mean, that’s an understatement. It was more than wow. It was so wow that my brain stopped working and now I can’t do words.”
“You sound like you’re doing fine,” Laurel says with a chuckle.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile like that. It’s beautiful,” Felicity says.
Laurel averts her gaze.
“I should go,” she says, trying to ignore Felicity’s disappointment. “It’s been a long night. I need to...think, I guess. I’ll come back as soon as I can.”
Felicity nods and Laurel gets up to leave.
“Sorry for waking you,” Laurel says on her way out the door.
“It worked out in my favor,” Felicity says with a smirk.
Laurel laughs again and closes the door behind her.
The next day, Zoom tells her that he intends to take them all to Earth-1 and use their powers to bring pain and misery to the inhabitants there. It’s beyond insane, and something that Laurel has zero interest in participating in.
Zoom tells her to meet them somewhere, but she blows him off and heads for Felicity instead. Reverb is there, but he’s never been a threat to her. She brings him to his knees with one shout.
“Let’s go,” she says coolly as soon as she enters Felicity’s room.
“Oh, it’s happening now?” Felicity asks, hopping up from her chair and adjusting her glasses. “Good thing I travel light.”
“Hilarious,” Laurel says wryly. “Hurry up. This is our best chance.”
They run through the building, past Reverb, who’s still out cold.
“Well, he deserves that,” Felicity says as she steps over him.
She’s already got two train tickets out of the city. When they get back to Starling, she’ll find a guy who can get them anything they need—IDs and passports, a whole new life. She has plenty of money from her life of crime, and she really doesn’t care where she ends up, as long as it’s far away from here.
But she can’t assume that Felicity will want to come with her, no matter what she hopes for.
“Once we get to Starling, I’ll help you get anywhere you want to go,” Laurel tells her.
“And where will you go?” Felicity asks.
Laurel shrugs. She doesn’t know. She hasn’t really thought about it.
“Away. Maybe Europe. I’ve always liked the sound of Paris.”
“Hmm. Paris sounds nice,” Felicity says. “You think it would be too cliché if I wore a beret there?"
Laurel glances at her. She wants to reach out and touch her, to feel that warmth again. But she hesitates, afraid that everything that happened the night before was just a dream. Felicity must be able to read minds, because she smiles at Laurel and intertwines their fingers together.
She knows this isn’t going to be easy. She has a lifetime worth of demons and bad habits to exorcise. But she has hope, and that’s more than she’s had in a very long time.
Laurel gasps for air and pushes the helmet off of her head. Cisco rushes to her side, searching frantically for something, an injury, whatever is making it impossible for her to catch her breath. But there’s nothing physically wrong with her.
She came here to pick up a new suit from Cisco, some upgraded gear that he wanted her to have. When she arrived, he told her about a device that he’s working on that lets people see every version of themselves on every Earth without actually having to travel there. He promised it wouldn’t fry her brain, so Laurel agreed to try it out. She never would have anticipated what she was about to see.
There are fifty-three Earths. Laurel somehow manages to find Felicity on all of them.
She feels like this shouldn’t really be a surprise. It’s not like she’s oblivious to the flutter she gets around Felicity, or the way that every run-on sentence has her smiling like an idiot. The way that Felicity’s perfume makes her light headed or how she’s the first person that Laurel looks forward to seeing every day and the last person Laurel thinks about before she goes to bed at night. She’s felt this way for a while now. Felicity was there for her after Sara died in a way that almost no one else was, and she was Laurel’s rock long after Sara returned. So it’s not that hard to believe that the rest of the Laurels out there feel the same way. But to experience it the way she just did—to feel it as if she were actually there living their lives and to experience falling in love with Felicity fifty-two times over...well, that’s something she was unprepared for.
She doesn’t even realize she’s crying until she’s already left the building.
Felicity is very excited to hear about Laurel’s experience with the Multiversinator (she told Cisco that was a stupid name, but he’s stuck on it now and refuses to let it go). Laurel doesn’t really know what to say. It’s not something that’s easily described, and even then, there’s a lot that she’s not ready to talk about.
“It was very intense,” Laurel says over Chinese takeout. “I couldn’t just see my other selves...it was like I was them. I felt their emotions and I knew all of their pasts. It was like having dozens of other lives crammed into my brain in a matter of minutes. And I’m not always a very good person, apparently.”
“Our circumstances shape us into who we are,” Felicity assures her.
“I made some pretty questionable choices that can’t be excused by circumstance, Felicity,” Laurel says tersely.
Felicity covers Laurel’s hand with her own and looks sympathetic.
“Hey. You’re not responsible for the choices that other people make. Those Laurels aren’t you and you aren’t them. You’re a good person.
If she were any other Laurel, she’d probably kissing Felicity right now. But she’s not them. And this isn’t any other Felicity. So she bites her tongue and keeps her mouth shut.
The insistent knock on her door in the middle of the night has Laurel reaching for one of her batons. When she opens it, she finds Felicity on the other side with a tortured look in her eyes. Laurel knows immediately what it means. Felicity was in Central City this week. She must have used Cisco’s machine. Laurel sighs and drops the baton.
“You knew,” Felicity says accusingly, letting herself into Laurel’s apartment. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Laurel laughs humorlessly.
“What was I supposed to say? That I put on the magic helmet and realized that every version of me loves every version of you? No matter where I am or who I am, I always seem to find my way back to you. You are the one good and constant thing in all of my lives. You never would have understood that without experiencing it for yourself.”
There are tears in Felicity’s eyes, which is the exact opposite of what Laurel wants to see, but there’s nothing she can do about it now. Neither of them can unknow what they know. Laurel’s not sure that she wants to, but she also doesn’t know how to move forward.
“You said that every version of you is in love with every version of me. I saw fifty-two Laurels. But what about the fifty-third?”
“What do you think, Felicity? I’m consistent in every universe. You’re the best part of every me,” Laurel tells her painfully.
“Why haven’t you said anything?” Felicity asks quietly, sounding a little bit hurt.
“You’ve been in love with Oliver since I’ve known you. How was I supposed to compete with that?”
Felicity’s silence says too much and not enough at the same time. Laurel’s head aches from the pressure of this conversation, of laying herself bare like this.
“I have to go...process,” Felicity says.
Laurel calls her sponsor once she’s gone.
It’s weird after that. Felicity avoids her gaze and stumbles over her words when Laurel is in the room. She has half a mind to go back to Central City and destroy that godforsaken device so that no one else ever has to go through this again.
“Is everything okay between you two?” Thea asks.
Laurel shakes her head.
“I don’t know. I think sometimes there are just things you shouldn’t ever know. Once you do, it changes everything.”
Thea doesn’t ask anything more after that, just squeezes Laurel’s shoulder and tells her she’s here for her. And that’s one of the many things that Laurel loves about Thea Queen.
Days later, the Black Canary suffers a nasty dose of poison at the hands of an enemy. It makes her feel like there are fire ants crawling inside of every part of her until she finally loses consciousness. When she wakes up at the hospital, Sara is there, which means she’s been out for days and she must have been pretty close to dying. But it’s nice to see her anyway, despite the circumstances.
“Felicity told me about Cisco’s device,” Sara says after a few hours by her side. “Sounds messy.”
“I don’t recommend it,” Laurel says, and Sara chuckles.
“I’ve lived enough lives on this Earth. I don’t need to see any of my other ones. What are you going to do about Felicity?”
“Talk to me, I hope,” Felicity says from the doorway.
Sara takes that as her cue to leave. She kisses Laurel’s head and promises to come back in a little while. Felicity takes Sara’s spot by Laurel’s bedside.
“You scared the shit out of me, I hope you know,” she says, toying with the edges of Laurel’s blankets.
“Sorry,” Laurel says wryly. “Next time I’ll try to avoid the poison-dart-shooting bad guy.”
Felicity looks at her, really looks at her, for the first time in weeks. There are dark circles under her eyes and it looks like she’s been crying for days.
“I thought I was going to lose you,” she says, voice raw with emotion.
Laurel thinks about how many times they’ve been in similar situations across multiple Earths, always one close call after another. But always coming back to each other.
“Hey,” she says softly, reaching out to brush a few strands of hair away from Felicity’s face. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Felicity catches Laurel’s fingers between her own and brings their hands to rest on top of the mattress. There are still things left unsaid between them, but for now at least they can be somewhat normal again.
They meet up at Big Belly Burger for dinner one night, just the two of them. Laurel gets her usual fries and milkshake, while Felicity scarfs down a burger.
“It’s kind of funny how we always seem to end up here,” Felicity says as she steals one of Laurel’s fries.
It takes Laurel a minute to realize what she means by that. Big Belly Burger was a pretty consistent staple across more than half of their parallel universes.
“Well it’s pretty clear that they have the best milkshakes in every universe,” Laurel replies with a smile.
They haven’t talked about this yet, aside from their initial discussion after Felicity returned from Central City. It’s not that Laurel minds—she thinks it might be good for them to share their experiences. Not a day has gone by that Laurel hasn’t thought about what she saw on the other Earths. She just doesn’t want to talk about this if all they’re going to do is ignore the giant elephant in the room.
“So which Earth was your favorite?” Felicity asks.
“I don’t know. The one where Ollie and I were divorced and I ran Queen Consolidated while he ran the city was kind of fun,” Laurel says.
“I was just going to say that!” Felicity exclaims. “Corporate life looks good on you.”
“Well, it looked pretty good on you, too, Ms. Smoak Technologies,” Laurel counters, and Felicity blushes.
“I cannot believe you’re an assassin in another life.”
“It makes sense,” Laurel says with a shrug. “Sara was all that Laurel had left. So she followed her to Nanda Parbat. I probably would have done the same thing.”
“Between you and me, I’m pretty sure that Felicity will forgive her if she goes back to Starling,” Felicity says.
Laurel smiles. She doesn’t know if that Laurel will survive the attack on Nanda Parbat, but she hopes it works out for them.
They fall into a comfortable silence for a few moments. Felicity plays with her napkin, tearing it to shreds piece by piece. She’s nervous, which means she has something to say. Laurel waits patiently.
“You were right, you know,” Felicity finally says.
Laurel is usually right about a lot of things, but she doesn’t say that now.
“I’ve spent so much time focusing on Oliver the past few years. This year is the first time I’ve ever really taken a step back from that. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw in the Multiversinator.”
“Neither was I,” Laurel admits. “It’s a lot to take in.”
“Especially when you’re not really ready to address any feelings you might have for your best friend,” Felicity says sheepishly.
Laurel freezes right in the middle of dipping a french fry into her milkshake. Felicity takes a deep breath to collect herself before looking at Laurel resolutely.
“If the Multiversinator taught me anything, it’s that every version of me loves every version of you, too, Laurel.”
Those words make Laurel’s heart stall for a minute as she tries to determine exactly what Felicity is trying to say to her.
“Even this version?” she asks when Felicity doesn’t offer anything else.
Felicity bites her lip, and it's all the answer Laurel really needs.
“How could I not?”
Laurel’s smile is probably blinding. If she were any other Laurel, she would already be kissing Felicity across the table by now. But she’s not any other Laurel, and this isn’t any other Felicity. And Laurel is okay with that.
“Cisco’s going to be so proud of himself,” Laurel says, and Felicity’s laugh sounds like the beginning of something amazing.