She’s not supposed to be here.
Technically, nobody is supposed to be here.
Or even know that here exists.
But she isn’t just anyone, and now of all times…
“I didn’t want you to be alone,” she says, as if that’s any excuse.
Felicity is still dressed in all black, unable to attend a funeral for an empty grave, but mourning all the same. They’ve all attended far too many funerals in their lives, and will likely attend plenty more. The world has not been kind to them.
This is a fate that she had accepted long ago.
But it still hurts.
Each one still hurts.
Even when she thought that she couldn’t hurt anymore.
A true weakness of humanity, to get attached to people that could leave this earth at any moment.
“Laurel,” Felicity’s voice is soft, filled with concern of her own, “You don’t need to worry about me.”
A name that still only barely seems to fit her.
But now, she supposes that it has to.
She’s Laurel now, the only Laurel there ever was, the only Laurel there ever will be.
How long did she spend trying to get back to her own world? To her own way of life? Only to be presented with this new reality, where there are no other worlds to go back to, no slight differences between the reality she knows and the reality that everyone else knows.
Now all she has is this life.
A fact which seems harder to accept than Oliver’s passing.
She still can close her eyes and recall the looks that they all gave her in the aftermath. Hoping beyond all else that in the face of all this horrible tragedy, at least something good might be able to come out of it. That she might somehow have been able to turn into the version of Laurel that they all seemed to miss with an ache in their heart.
She sees that look now and again in Felicity’s eyes too.
Though it’s overshadowed by the sadness of her husband’s passing.
And that, at least, is something that Laurel can handle.
“Someone has to worry about you,” Laurel replies.
As if that’s enough to explain it.
Easier to admit than the fact that she didn’t feel comfortable going back to her own empty apartment. To a space that is both her own and forign, to the physical proof that this world was a little bit different than it should be.
At least here, in a house that could almost be domestic, with Felicity and a baby constantly needing attention. She could pretend that the world hadn’t changed just enough to mean everything.
The only place that she can play at being normal.
“You can’t stay here forever,” Felicity points out.
Rationally Laurel knows that, and yet - “Won’t you miss me?”
The smile on Felicity’s face is sad, as so many of them have been as of late, “I’m not the only person that would miss you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Felicity acts for a moment as though she hadn’t heard Laurel’s question.
“I miss all of you, too much to even put into words, but…” Felicity trails off. Her eyes settling on the bassinet in the corner of the room. “Star City needs saving, it always has, and I can’t be there anymore. But you can, don’t you understand that?”
“Maybe I’m not ready,” Laurel says, Maybe I’ll never be ready .
“Nobody ever is.”
When she goes back, her apartment is as empty as it was when she had left it all those weeks ago, before the crisis began.
Just with everything a little off center, a little not just right. She bumps into an end table coming into the apartment, an end table that she didn’t remember being there, jostling a set of knickknacks, a sea salt scented candle, and a photo that she doesn’t remember taking.
The world’s a little bit different now.
And this world needs a hero.
But Laurel is more than well aware that she is not that person.
That she never will be.
And maybe that’s the great tragedy of it all. That when the world’s combined and people took their places on this Earth - and on others - that she stayed the same. That she didn’t suddenly turn into the Laurel Lance that everybody knew and loved and had desperately hoped to find in the aftermath.
That she was still herself .
A Black Siren at her core.
Not a hero.
Never a hero.
“You need to stop doing this.”
“You like it,” Laurel counters.
Dinah rolls her eyes in reply, but it isn’t a refusal. It never could be, not after how many times they have done exactly this. It would be hard to say which one of them started this first. The chemistry between them, the chemistry that had always been there, finally becoming both too much and not enough. Tipping past an inevitable point and pulling the two of them together.
It wasn’t love , or romance, or anything more than the need to feel another body against her own and remind herself that this was what being alive felt like.
At least, that was what she told herself each time that she came here, to the comfortable space of Dinah’s home - a place so much more comfortable than her own apartment.
“You could knock,” Dinah says, the only real objection that she is able to make.
“I could,” Laurel agrees with a shrug.
This earns her another eye roll, and a half hearted offer for Laurel to help herself to any of the beer in Dinah’s fridge. But she isn’t here for the beer, isn’t here for talking about everything that they went through over the new year.
She’s here for something else.
For someone else.
She reaches out and grabs Dinah’s hand, stopping her from escaping to the kitchen with a thin excuse to give them both a bit of space, to actually do something close to talking, rather than just fucking. And when she pulls Dinah in, the other woman goes instantly, because as much as she would like to pretend that having a conversation was important.
They both knew, from the second that Laurel broke into Dinah’s apartment, that it wouldn’t end that way.
Usually they kiss like they fight, rough and aggressive, each of them battling for dominance.
But this time there is something softer to it.
When Laurel kisses Dinah in is not with a greedy and desperate need to consume the woman before her. The hands that go to pull off layers of clothing seem to almost tremble as they skim over her shoulders, as they undo the button of her jeans. And they spend more time gasping into each other’s mouths than biting.
For once, It is not a fight. But instead it is the closest Laurel has ever come to romance.
She doesn’t know what to make of this.
So she doesn’t think about it.
She pushes it out of her mind as best she can.
Ignores the fact that this is the first time they’ve done this since the crisis occurred.
And instead pushes Dinah down onto her couch, ignoring the look that is both amused as aroused that Dinah sends her, and settles down between her spread legs.
“Let me make it up to you, Officer,” Laurel says, settling between Dinah’s thighs, “For the breaking and entering.”
“It’s Captain, ” Dinah corrects, even as she spreads her legs apart, her skirt shifting to reveal more of herself as she does so, “And don’t talk like that, it sounds like the start of a bad porno.”
“You watch a lot of those, Drake?”
Dinah rolls her eyes. “I thought you were going to put that mouth of yours to better use?”
She pushes Dinah’s skirt the rest of the way up, and slips her panties down, before moving to press soft kisses against the inside of Dinah’s thighs.
Telling herself that it is to draw this out, to make Dinah weak for her, that there’s no real softness to the action at all.
She teases and teases until finally Dinah’s hand moves to tug at Laurel’s hair in an attempt to move her to where she needs her.
So Laurel presses another kiss, right there against Dinah’s core. Her mouth finally right where Dinah wants it, but not doing at all what she wants.
She waits until Dinah speaks, her voice desperate as she does so, “Stop teasing.”
Laurel’s lips brush against Dinah when she replies, “Say please.”
Which is about the closest Laurel is going to get to a please .
So she finally, finally , gives Dinah what she wants.
And tells herself that it isn’t romance, the way her chest feels a little tighter when Dinah comes undone with the soft sound of Laurel’s name spilling out on repeat from her lips.
Normally Laurel leaves before the morning light has a chance to stream in.
Long gone, into the dead of night, where they don’t have to talk about.
But for once she lingers.
Maybe it’s how slow their hands had been with each other the night before.
Maybe it’s Felicity’s words still lingering in her mind.
But when the sun comes up, Laurel is still there.
The bed beside her is empty, and it takes Laurel a second to remember where she is, not uncertain that the whole universe didn’t decide to just reset itself again thanks to Barry Fucking Allen.
But nothing has changed.
The world was still as it was when Laurel fell into this bed the night before.
The only thing that has changed is her, staying far beyond her usual. She lingers there for a moment, letting the sunlight streaming in through Dinah’s window wash over her. It would be so easy to fall back asleep. To give in the comforting warmth around her, to settle into the moment.
But she can hear the sounds of Dinah out in the kitchen.
They’ve never been domestic.
To even think about calling the thing that they have anything close to domestic would be laughable.
But when Laurel finally makes her way out of bed and into the kitchen to the sight of Dinah there, in a loose tank top and soffe shorts cooking breakfast feels so domestic that it makes Laurel’s stomach churn.
All of this is too much.
It’s so much more than whatever last night was.
“I half expected you to sneak out the window,” Dinah says, not really acknowledging her. “Left it open just in case.”
But there’s something to her voice, a softer note.
And there’s breakfast being made.
The truth there is clear to see, Dinah had hoped that she would stay.
And despite leaving every time before, this time she had.
“I considered it,” Laurel lies.
Dinah lets out a non-committal hum at that. Seeing through every act that Laurel puts up, she always has seemed to be able to, even back before when they weren’t close - “Well, there’s coffee in the pot, so help yourself.”
It keeps happening.
The world feel to fucking ruins, and put itself back together not quite right, and a part of Laurel wants to blame the newfound domesticity of that.
Another part of her knows better.
Knows that the fact that she can still recall the taste of blueberries and early morning coffee on Dinah’s lips has to mean something.
But she locks that away, back in the small part of her brain where she’s locked up any notion of becoming the sort of hero that Star City needs.
Planning to keep it there until she dies.
Because they all die.
Sooner or later.
And falling for someone in the meantime, only makes the inevitable end hurt that much more.
She’d seen the proof of that with her own two eyes.
But heeding that warning suddenly seems harder that it had ever been previously.
It’s easy to blame in on the wine that they had been drinking, the way they had gone from drinking and ranting about work of all things. Some case or another that they were stuck working on together. Something so normal and different.
To talking about… This .
“What was it like being the Black Canary?”
Dinah still against her side, no longer her casual companion, but suddenly putting space between them and focusing on where the television is playing the news nearly muted, what had previously been their background noise now suddenly her only focus.
“I’m still the Black Canary,” Dinah insists.
Her voice tight.
As if it hurts her to say so.
She hasn’t worn the suit since the world fell apart. Laurel is all too well aware of that fact. Well aware of where Dinah keeps that part of herself locked up. Protecting herself from thinking about all that they lost in her own way.
They’ve all got unhealthy coping mechanisms.
And really who is Laurel to judge.
Laurel shouldn’t push, this thing between them is fragile, and Dinah has plenty of hurts - has the scars to prove it - but the wine has made her lips loose and so she can’t help it. “I mean, back when you had your powers.”
“Fucking shit, Laurel,” Dinah says, “You can’t just ask that without warning… I’m not… We have the same powers - Had, I mean - Fuck-”
“Forget it,” Laurel says, waving the topic off, turning her eyes towards the news as well. There’s a weather report rolling now, storm clouds brewing over Star City. And Laurel’s voice lacks any inflection when she says - “Lovely weather we’re having,” in a desperate attempt to change the topic that she had brought upon them.
“Yeah,” Dinah replies, her voice smaller than it has ever been.
They’re both silent for far too long.
The weather report on the news playing in the background.
Rain is coming to Star City.
Rain to wash everything away.
To keep the streets clean for at least one more night of peace.
It’s only when the weather report changes to some national news that Dinah speaks, her voice still small and tight and nothing like it had been moments before, “We had the same powers, what does it matter?”
“It doesn't,” Laurel replies, “I said to forget it.”
But she can’t.
Of course, not.
There’s bitterness in her tone when Dinah continues speaking, “You can still know what it feels like any time you want to whereas I’ve lost that part of me.”
She didn’t want to bring this up.
Didn’t want to hurt Dinah.
She hasn’t wanted to hurt her in a long while.
Laurel sets her wine glass down on the table, hard enough to draw Dinah’s attention, to draw eyes to meet her own that look hurt for the first time in so long. They’d let themselves get complacent. Let themselves get domestic in the aftermath of the world turning itself upside down.
Everything that’s happened to her on this Earth has been a mistake.
Sometimes she wished that she had never come here.
To this Earth.
To this city.
To this home.
So Laurel leaves, before the urge to stay, the urge to comfort after it was her own words that brought pain to Dinah, takes over.
It’s only as she’s leaving, heading out the door, with Dinah’s eyes still anywhere but her that Laurel asks the real question she had meant to say at the beginning of it all - “What was it like to be a hero ?”
She doesn’t stick around to hear the answer.
She calls in the dead of night, going to voicemail instantly, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me, and the worst thing that ever happened to me, all at the same time.”
Laurel doesn’t call her back.
She takes two advil and deletes the voicemail, watching the thunderstorm outside of her kitchen window.
The weather report was right.
A crackle of thunder overhead.
She’s looking for trouble, a little more reckless than she should be.
She’s never been a hero.
Never was meant to be.
But maybe being an anti-hero instead of a villain wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
So she does something just a little bit heroic, gets into a fight just because she can, stops a minor drug deal, yells until her lungs burn and the wreckage around her feels eerily familiar.
She gets a crowbar in her face for her trouble.
And a police chase not shortly after.
But standing there, in that apartment that still never feels like her own, soaking wet, with a bag of cold peas to what will inevitably turn into a black eye, she feels more alive than she’s felt in a very long time.
So she picks up the phone, calls a number that she knows will take her straight to voicemail and replies to a message from the night before - “You didn’t mention how much how much it fucking hurts.”
There’s still a case for the District Attorney to handle.
And still a Police Captain that watches her with worried eyes throughout the whole trial.
She wants until it’s over, until they’re dismissed and waiting for a verdict before Dinah pulls her into an empty room. They’ve done this before too, pulled away after a court session, fucking hard and fast, trying to keep quiet so nobody hears what’s going on.
But this is different.
Dinah’s hands aren’t busy undoing the buttons on Laurel’s blouse.
Instead they brush over her cheekbone, where her make up couldn’t quite cover the bruising there.
“What trouble are you up to?”
“No more than the usual.”
She kisses Dinah instead of letting her reply.
Unable to take that look of concern again.
To take that softness.
They’re not supposed to be soft.
Not them .
They’re supposed to be rushed, too bodies pushing and pulling together, hands only being careful enough not to tear off buttons as they make the most of their fifteen minute recess. She needs that, today of all days, she needs that more than anything.
So she kisses Dinah, desperate with the need to forget about everything else other than the woman pressed up against them. Taking brief control of the situation, she flips them around, so it is Dinah’s back pressed against the wall, Dinah who gasps into her mouth with pleasure and surprise as the sudden change.
She doesn’t pull Laurel away.
Instead her grip on Laurel’s blazer tightens, holding her in place, as though she thought Laurel might try to slip away.
Couldn’t imagine passing up this moment.
As they kiss Laurel begins to undo the buttons on Dinah’s blouse, careful, ever so, because they still have to go out there and pretend to be normal soon. Dinah seems to take the hint, doing the same, going from holding Laurel in place with her blazer, to instead pushing it off of Laurel and onto the floor below.
“It’ll wrinkle,” Laurel says, with a faux pout, against Dinah’s lips.
“Since when do you care,” Dinah replies, kissing up against Laurel’s lips again.
But it’s fun to tease.
“Oh, I don’t,” Laurel replies, “Just, if you want the judge to know that you fucked me, there are other ways.”
As if sensing what she means, Dinah moves away from her lips, to press the softest of kisses along the side of Laurel’s neck. Too soft. A tease.
Neither of them are really meant for soft things.
“Want me to give you another bruise to match that black eye,” Dinah asks.
She’s barely asking permission.
They both know what Laurel wants.
To look a little less like the perfectly put together Laurel Lance .
Dinah complies, of course she does, she’s a little bit possessive, whether she wants to admit it or not, and biting down just a little against Laurel’s neck always seems to get her going.
Laurel shifts slightly, her skirt already well ridden up her thighs, to press one of her legs between Dinah’s. Dinah’s wearing slacks, incredibly inconvenient for what Laurel wants from her, but it works all the same.
And a second later when they’re kissing again, Dinah is rocking her hips forward, in a desperate attempt to get herself off on Laurel’s leg.
“Fuck, you’re so hot,” Laurel tells her, between kisses. “Fuck, fuck me.”
“We don’t have time,” Dinah says, voice nearly a whine.
Because they’re not home.
The clock is ticking before people will inevitably notice that they’re not where they’re supposed to be. Not on their sides of the courtroom playing their part.
When Laurel shifts positions again, she does her best to ignore Dinah’s noise of protest that she no longer has Laurel’s leg to grind up against. Especially since she knows that Dinah won’t really mind the change of pace.
Not when Laurel is undoing the buttons on Dinah’s slacks, and tugging them and her panties down to midthigh so that Laurel can touch her exactly where she needs to be touched.
She’s so wet, something that really shouldn’t be a surprise given how often they do this, and how everything was clearly leading up to this moment. But Laurel cannot help the smug smile that finds its way onto her face when presented with the fact that she was the one to make Dinah so desperate and needy.
They know each others bodies well by this point.
Familiar in a way that only lovers tend to be.
It won’t take her too long to make Dinah come undone, slipping two fingers inside of her, knowing that Dinah is more that wet enough to take it. Dinah’s body is as familiar to Laurel as her own. She knows just how she likes it - thrusts a little hard - searching for that spot inside of Dinah that has her gasping at Laurel’s mouth. She slips a third finger inside right at the same time as her thumb settles against Dinah’s clit, rubbing harsh circles there. Just the way Dinah likes.
The hand that’s not inside of Dinah, reaches up for her breasts inside, slipping inside the cup of Dinah’s bra to pinch at a hard nipple.
“I got you,” Laurel replies.
It doesn’t take long at all.
Moments later Dinah is shaking beneath her, legs unsteady with only the wall behind her supporting her, and the hand that Laurel has now moved to hold steady against Dinah’s hip.
She knows all too well the telltale signs of Dinah falling apart.
The way her eyes fall shut, her kisses turn more into desperate noises against Laurel’s lips, and when Dinah finally comes it is with Laurel’s name choked off against her lips.
She slides her hand out of Dinah after working her through the aftershocks, and watches as Dinah comes back to herself. The flush of her skin, the way her open blouse sticks to her body, and the slow process as Dinah seems to remember how to breathe.
For a moment, she doesn’t look like a police captain.
Or a superhero.
She looks just like any other woman.
She looks like someone Laurel could fall in love with.
Someone she might already have.
“I need to-” Dinah stops, tries again to catch her breath, “Let me return the favor.”
“We don’t have time,” Laurel insists. Pressing a kiss that really is too damn domestic to Dinah’s lips. “We’re due back in court in-” a quick glance at her watch “-Less than a minute.”
“Fuck me,” Dinah groans, head slamming back against the wall.
Laurel laughs, “You really are insatiable, aren’t you?”
“You started this.”
“I want to be a hero,” Laurel says as they lay there in Dinah’s bed basking in the aftermath.
They keep doing this.
And maybe it’s the post orgasm haze that has her not thinking, but the words slip out before she can think to stop them. Breaking the silence that have previously been filled with both of them trying to remember how to breathe.
Dinah lets out a small noise that could almost be a laugh, “Am I really that good at eating you out?”
“I’m serious,” Laurel says.
She really is.
She’s never been more serious about anything else in her life.
“I know,” Dinah says, “I got your voicemail last night.”
“I got yours the night before,” Laurel points out.
They’re both terrible at this whole communication thing.
“You really went out there looking for trouble?”
“Just like old times,” she replies.
“I want to be the fucking Black Canary.”
“That’s a heavy mantle to wear,” Dinah insists.
But she’s not saying no.
“You wore it once,” Laurel says. “Still do.”
They’re both thinking about it.
The suit that Dinah has locked away.
That she keeps insisting she’ll put on once again.
That she hasn’t been able to since the whole world fell apart.
“It changes you,” Dinah says, “In a way that can’t be changed back.”
“You’ve already changed me,” Laurel tells her.
Because she must know.
She has to know.
Laurel has changed.
The whole damn world has changed.
What is one more change between them in the grand scheme of things?
“I want you to train me,” Laurel continues. “To be a hero, not just to be whoever I was before, you know what it’s like, being a hero.”
“Yeah,” Dinah replies. “I guess I do.”
“Let me think about it,” Dinah asks in the morning.
Over two cups of coffee.
A plate of pancakes growing cold between them.
So fucking domestic that it hurts.
She almost wants to pretend that she doesn’t know what Dinah is talking about, but that wouldn’t be fair to either of them. So Laurel just nods her head, fingers drumming against the side of her coffee mug, and replies, “Take all the time that you need.”
“You’re going to get yourself killed.”
“Would that really be the worst thing ever?”
Despite the fact that she told Dinah she would wait for an answer. She keeps going back out looking for trouble.
Keeps glueing that damn mask to her face and walking into a danger zone.
Keeps screaming until she can taste blood.
Keeps hiding the bruises and avoiding Dinah’s worried gazes whenever their paths cross in the light of day, or when in the darkness of night Laurel cannot hide the hiss of pain as Dinah’s hands settle against a fresh one.
Keeps thinking about being some sort of hero .
Dinah’s reply doesn’t come until hours later, when surely she must think that Laurel is asleep. “Losing you would break me, don’t you understand…”
This Earth’s Laurel was an alcoholic, a small difference between them, because usually she knows when to put the bottle down. To stop drinking away her problems, and instead find a distraction in a familiar body instead.
But Dinah is working tonight.
And Laurel feels like she’s at the edge of something.
Like she’s one second away from falling into the abyss, from taking things to a point that she can’t come back from.
So she drinks.
Thinks of a world she used to live in.
And the world that she lives in now.
And of the way regret still stings in her chest.
The disappointed look in the eyes of a sister that could have been hers when she realized that the world resetting didn’t bring her Laurel back.
Or the way Felicity, sad and dressed in all black, had reminded her that this messed up city still needed a hero now that hers was gone.
Or the taste of coffee on Dinah’s lips, first thing in the morning, when they’re both trying to pretend that Laurel choosing not to leave again doesn’t mean have to mean anything.
She knows that she shouldn’t call Dinah at work, but she can’t help it, they haven’t talked in days. Not since there was a bruise across her rib cage, and Dinah watching her with worried eyes as she pulled her shirt back on the next morning. And Laurel needs her, needs proof that she is alive, and that Laurel isn’t alone in a universe made up of this empty apartment.
“Laurel, I’m bu-”
“I’m sorry,” Laurel cuts her off. Because she has to get this out now, before she forgets to. “For everything. For coming into this world and ruining your life, and hurting the people that you loved, and not being enough to save enough people, for not being the Laurel that everyone keeps wanting me to be, keeps expecting me to be, for not being your Laurel and-”
“You’re my Laurel,” Dinah cuts her off.
Voice steady and strong through the phone.
“You’re the only Laurel, I’ve ever known,” she continues, “The only Laurel that I’ve ever loved.”
For a second, Laurel forgets how to breathe.
She doesn’t speak.
Not until she hears the distant sounds of Dinah moving around the police station, of her office door shutting behind her.
Only then does she speak, “What?”
“Did you ever think, when everyone was waiting for crisis to bring their version of you back, that all I was able to do was to hope that the woman I was falling for would still be here.”
She doesn’t know what to say to that.
Her eyes burn without her intending to.
The last time she cried was when a man that could have almost been a father to her died.
She won’t now.
She wills herself not to.
But it’s a damn near close thing.
“You don’t need to become a hero, Laurel, you already are one.”
“Train me,” Laurel says, “I don’t trust anyone but you.”
“This is going to be a mistake.”
It’s not a no.
It’s never a no.
“This whole damn universe is a mistake.”
Laurel holds the phone just a little bit tighter.
Listen to the way Dinah seems to struggle with breathing on the other side of the line, choked up, over the thought of her, over the thought of this .
And says those words that Felicity said months ago, “Star City needs saving, it always has.”
Dinah’s voice is tight.
Laurel wonders if she can feel it too, a tightness in her chest, anticipation of what is to come.
“But why does it have to be us , you know?”
“Who else would it be?”