Letting Go - Chapter 5

Laurel loved her apartment’s new look. Beth had truly been a godsend. And the fact she didn’t cost a penny was just the cherry on the cake. Laurel had helped Beth’s brother and father obtain the severance pay after the company they’d worked for had gone bankrupt and the powers that be had refused to fulfill their obligations toward their former employees. It had been pro bono work through CNRI, but Beth had made Laurel promise to let her know when she or any of her friends would need an interior decorator.

When they’d said goodbye earlier in the day Beth had claimed they were even, but walking through her apartment, admiring the color scheme that flowed seamlessly from room to room and salivating over her new furniture, that had come incredibly cheap thanks to Beth’s cousin who owned a boutique furniture store, Laurel knew she should be the one to owe Beth a favor now. Because the final bill, for the paint, the contractors, and the furniture—even though Laurel had given permission for her old furniture to be sold to compensate—was ridiculously low.

She was sitting on her new, iron-framed, king-sized bed, running her hand lovingly on the emerald green coverlet—it felt cool and smooth under her palm—when her doorbell rang.

She closed her eyes and slowly counted to ten—mentally preparing for the confrontation with her father—and went to answer her door.

Only it wasn’t her father on her doorstep. It was her sister.

She should’ve counted to a hundred. “Sara.”

“Laurel.” Sara smiled sheepishly. “Can I come in.”

“Sure.” She stepped back, letting Sara through the door. “What brings you here?”

Sara didn’t reply. She was too busy gawking at her surroundings.

“Sara?”

“Oh, sorry.” Sara turned to look at her. “Dad told me you were redecorating, he just didn’t tell me—”

“He hasn’t seen it like this.”

“Oh.” Sara gnawed at her lower lip. “I like it. And I like your hair.”

Laurel lifted her hand to her neck, where long honey-colored tresses had still hung loose a week ago. “Thank you. Like with the apartment, I needed a change.”

“And you went green with the apartment and back to blonde with the hair.”

Laurel sighed. Maybe the green color scheme hadn’t been such a good idea, but she’s learned to really love the green color. In all its nuances. “You’re not here to discuss my décor or my hair, Sara.”

“No, I’m not.”

Laurel walked into her kitchen. Yes, it was green as well. “You want some tea?”

Sara followed her. “I’d love a cup, thank you.”

Λ


They were sitting at her kitchen table, hands clasped around their respective cups, when Laurel finally broke the silence. They needed to get through this conversation. Sooner rather than later. “So, why are you here, Sara?”

“I’m here to ask you to forgive me.”

And there it was. “For what?”

“For sleeping with Oliver.”

Yes, this was it. “Mom told me that she’d seen you the day the Queen’s Gambit sailed for China. That you were packing.”

Sara just nodded, staring down into her cup.

“She said you told her you were in love, that you needed to follow your heart.” Laurel swallowed. This wasn’t easy to say without bursting into tears, yelling at her younger sister for helping Oliver break her heart. “And you did. You went on a boat trip with the man you loved. There’s nothing to forgive.”

Sara finally looked at her and Laurel swallowed hard at the tears and anguish she saw in her sister’s eyes. “There is. Because I didn’t love him.”

“What?” The word was barely a whisper.

“I slept with him, because he was your boyfriend. I wanted to hurt you.”

Laurel clenched her fingers into a fist. “Why?”

“Because I was jealous.”

“Of what?”

“Of what you had with him. You loved him and he loved you. He was a bastard back then, yes. Cheating on you, lying to you. But he loved you. He always loved you. You could see it when he looked at you, smiled at you, held your hand. I was jealous of that. So I decided that if I couldn’t have something like that, neither should you.”

Laurel couldn’t believe her eyes. Her sister had slept with Oliver, had broken her heart, prevented Laurel from truly grieving for her because of the anger at their betrayal...Because she had been jealous.

“You bitch,” she spat. “You spoiled little bitch.”

Sara was crying now. “Yes, I was. I know I was. And I’m so sorry, Laurel. I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am. And yet, I’m asking, no, I'm begging you to forgive me. I was selfish, and angry, and jealous. And I’m so sorry.”

Laurel sneered. “And that’s supposed to make me feel better? You broke my heart. You and Oliver broke my heart!”

“I already asked him to forgive me as well.” Sara leaned across the table and placed her palm on her hand, but Laurel shook her off. “He’s a different man now, Laurel.”

“No, he’s not.”

Sara nodded. “No, you’re right. He’s the man you always saw underneath that bad boy exterior. I don’t know what happened to him on that island, but it scraped off his mask, turned him into a man. A man you deserve. And who deserves you.”

Laurel shook her head. She was still processing her sister’s earlier confession.

“In a way, this separation, his disappearance, my death, everything that happened during the five years he was gone, what happened in the last year...It was all part of the journey. You both needed this to open your eyes to what you really want, how you really feel.”

Laurel felt her heart in her throat. Who was this woman in front of her? So different from the spoiled, carefree girl she’d known before.

“If the ship hadn’t gone down, he’d still be the Ollie from before, and you’d be the Laurel from before. He’d continue cheating on you and you’d continue ‘understanding’.” Sara made air-quotes saying the last word. “And you’d both be miserable. Now you’re both different, changed, more mature, stronger.”

Laurel couldn’t speak. She just stared at her younger sister. A younger sister that seemed much older than her 26 years.

“Now you’d kick his ass to the curb if he even thought about cheating and he knows it. And he’d never cheat now and you know it.”

“While I could buy this theory of yours, where does you sleeping with my boyfriend fit in?”

“It doesn’t. I was a bitch.”

Yes, Laurel thought. There was that. But Sara had also been the catalyst she needed to see what Oliver had truly been like five years ago. And how much he’d really changed in comparison. Not that it mattered how much he’d changed. Or how much she still loved him. He didn’t trust her. And without trust there couldn’t be anything else.

“When did you become an expert in psychology?” she asked, striving for some levity.

Sara’s eyes turned bleak. “I had a lot of time to think.”

“How did you survive, Sara? Where were you?”

A mirthless chuckle. “I swam to an island and a ship picked me up. And I wished I’d have died every day since.”

Laurel grasped her sister’s hand. “What happened? What have they done to you?”

Sara shook her head. “Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

“Sara—”

“No, I won’t tell a soul. I can’t.”

“Oh, Sara.”

“And that’s not why I’m here.”

“Right,” Laurel smiled softly. “Forgiveness.”

“Not just that. I have to show you something.” She pulled a small latex mask from her pocket and placed it in the middle of the table.

Laurel sat back with a groan. “You’re the other vigilante.”

“Yes.”

Sara didn’t elaborate on the one occasion they had met, before everybody had discovered Sara Lance was back. The occasion in which Sara, as the blonde vigilante, had helped the Arrow escape from the D.A.’s office despite being surrounded by a SWAT team. And Laurel was glad to follow her example.

“You must be pretty good to pull the whole vigilante persona off,” she said instead. “You’ve kept up with your training?”

“You have no idea,” Sara replied. “But so did you, right?”

It wasn’t exactly a question. “What has dad told you?”

“Not much. Just that you still train four times a week.” At Laurel’s nod, she asked, “What do you do?”

Laurel shrugged. “Close-quarter hand-to-hand, taekwondo, kickboxing.”

Sara just looked at her expectantly as if knowing that wasn’t all.

“Krav Maga,” Laurel said finally.

“Dad never mentioned Krav Maga.”

“Because he doesn’t know.” Laurel sighed. “No one does. I started six years ago.” She felt a sheepish smile curl her lips. “I had a lot of anger back then and yoga wasn’t helping that much.”

“Who taught you?”

“A former IDF officer. We still spar together, though he says I’ve become better than him in the first year he trained me.” She smiled. She loved Adam Bachman dearly, but the man was such a liar.

Sara nodded, her expression solemn. “I knew you were the right person to come to.”

Laurel glanced down at the black mask. “What’s going on, Sara?”

“I want you to wear this mask.”

“What?!”

“You can do it, Laurel. I know you can.”

Laurel was shaking her head. Where did that one come from? What the hell was wrong with her sister?

“You already have the right training, we would just need to work on the gymnastics part. Maybe some free running. With your degree of fitness that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Are you insane?” Laurel exploded. “What is wrong with you? I can’t be a vigilante! I’m a lawyer, dammit! I work for the D.A.’s office. Besides vigilantism isn’t an answer. Remember what dad always said? We don't need to go outside the law to find justice.”

“You know that’s not always true. You’ve seen too much, Laurel. You know too much to still believe that crap.”

Sara was right. There had been times, many times, in the last year or so, that Laurel had seen for herself that sometimes working inside the law didn’t guarantee justice. She herself has worked alongside a vigilante, the Arrow. Has seen that sometimes to guarantee justice, one had to go outside the law. Even her father had realized that, becoming less particular from what side of the law justice was dispersed and who dispersed it.

Still...

“Okay, I’ll give you that one,” she acquiesced. “But why should I wear the mask. You’re wearing it.”

“I won’t be for much longer.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m dying, Laurel.”


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