Letting Go - Chapter 10

Oliver entered the hospital at the same time as Sara.

“It’s for Laurel,” she explained as she saw him look at the small bag she carried. “She asked me to grab some clothes for her since her suit was covered with blood.”

Oliver felt a fist clench around his heart at the memory of how Laurel’s suit had become bloody. It had only been her wrists that had been cut, he couldn’t even contemplate the fact she could’ve gotten hurt more. Maybe even killed.

“Ollie,” Sara touched his arm. “It wasn’t your fault.”

But it was. It was all his fault. All he wanted to do was protect her, keep her safe. Even the lying, the hiding the truth from her, had been for her protection. And he’d failed yet again. Helena had kidnapped her because of Laurel’s connection to him. She’d only gone after Felicity once she’d realized she’d had no other option. Laurel had been her target all along.

“You better wipe that expression off your face before you see her,” Sara said with a small smile. “You do want her to find you attractive, don’t you? Well, that expression sure isn’t attractive.”

Oliver managed a small smile of his own. “Thank you, Sara.”

She shrugged. “I didn’t do anything. And stop moping and beating yourself up. Laurel knows how to defend herself.”

He turned to Felicity who waited for him in front of Laurel’s room and almost missed Sara’s words, “Better than you think,” as she entered the room.

“Are you okay?” he asked Felicity.

She nodded. “I’m fine. My shoulders are sore and my wrists are chafed, but the cut on the neck hasn’t even bled much.”

Oliver immediately tucked his finger under her chin and gritted his teeth at the small incision.

Felicity placed her hand on his wrist. “It was just a little prick, don’t worry about me. Laurel’s worse.”

His mind conjured all sorts of scenarios. She’d been cut, bled without any of them knowing. She’d had a concussion and was at risk of brain hemorrhage. She’d—

“Oh, no,” Felicity quickly said. “I didn’t mean it like that. Her wrists were cut when she got rid of the ropes. That’s it. A nurse bandaged her up, they prescribed antibiotic in case of infection, but that’s it. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

He wasn’t upset. He was terrified. And furious. He wanted to make someone suffer for hurting Laurel and since Helena was out of the picture, there was only one person left. The guy who’d been on the ground when he and Quentin had barged into the warehouse.

“How’s the other guy?” he asked, hoping the man was fine and awake so he could kick the living shit out of him.

“He’s dead.”

Oliver turned toward the raspy voice and his eyes collided with Quentin’s. Laurel’s father was leaning against the wall outside her room.

“Crushed windpipe.”

“That’s what the crunch was,” Felicity whispered, then elaborated. “When Laurel got free, she...I don’t know, it was all a blur, really, but I think she punched the man and I heard this crunch—”

“I didn’t tell her,” Quentin said. “It was self-defense.”

Felicity nodded.

Quentin shook his head. “There’s no need to upset her further.” At his pointed gaze, Oliver nodded. He wouldn’t say a word. And he trusted Felicity wouldn’t either.

“How is she?” he asked.

“She’s fine. Cranky, with bandaged wrists, but otherwise fine.”

Oliver smiled. He knew very well how cranky Laurel could get when achy or sick. “Can I see her?”

“Sure.” Quentin waved him in, but stopped him with a hand on his elbow. “Thank you for calling me.”

Oliver froze. It had been Arrow to call Lance, not him. He looked at Quentin and there was a strange light in the man’s eyes, and a crooked smile playing on his lips. The man knew Oliver was Arrow, but unlike a year ago when he’d hunted him with a vengeance and hated Oliver with fervor, this time Quentin’s eyes conveyed thankfulness—for placing himself between Laurel and danger whenever she needed it, probably—and reluctant approval.

Still, the man didn’t speak, refusing to acknowledge the truth out loud—he was still a police officer after all, hence at the right side of the law—and Oliver simply nodded, a silent understanding passing between them.

It struck him as ironic, though, that when Quentin Lance has finally mellowed toward him, it was his daughter that has turned frosty.

Her eyes turned equally frosty as she saw him walk through the door. “What are you doing here?”

Oliver fought a smile. Gone was the soft tone she’d used to send him on his way in the warehouse. She was bristly once more. He wanted to kiss her.

Instead he went for glib. “Is that how you greet someone who saved your ass?”

She rolled her eyes. “You didn’t save my ass, Queen. I was doing very well on my own, thank you very much.”

“Right.”

She narrowed her eyes. “I eliminated one threat and was working on the other one when you and my father decided to play knights in shining armor.”

“You’re welcome,” he insisted.

Sara sighed, rolled her eyes. “I’d say ‘get a room’, but you’re already in one, so I’ll leave you to it.”

“Sara, don’t you dare move,” Laurel snapped.

“Oh, I’m moving, sister.”

Oliver smiled affectionately as Sara closed the door behind her. Then he sat on the bed beside Laurel and gently took her wrists, lifted them for closer inspection. He was glad the bandages were pristine, the blood hasn’t seeped through.

“How are you?” he asked gently.

Her eyes softened and she sighed. He hid a smile. Tenderness was the perfect weapon to use against her. She could never get mad, or stay mad, when people were gentle with her. She just couldn’t. She was just that particular type of person. Nice, always thinking the best of people. Always seeing the best in him. He adored that trait of hers.

“I’m fine,” she whispered.

She tried to tug her hands away, but he wouldn’t let her. “I’m sorry,” he said softly.

She looked at him with wide eyes. “What do you have to be sorry about?”

“Everything.” He sighed. “Lying to you.”

She was instantly on guard. “Let me go.”

“No,” he retorted. She didn’t want to talk about the Arrow thing, fine, but he wasn’t letting go. He wasn’t letting her go. Ever again. He could be patient. “I’m sorry for today. This wouldn’t have happened if not for me.”

“Oh, please.”

“No, Laurel. Helena took you because she knew I’d do anything for you. Even let her get a shot at her father.”

She scoffed.

“She knew I would do anything to keep you safe, Laurel. Because I love you.”

She pulled her hands away, crossed them on her lap, and stared down at them.

“You might not want to hear it, you might not believe it, but I do. I love you, Laurel. I’ve always loved you.”

She was silent, staring down at her hands.

“There was this woman...on the island. We...I told her there was someone and she asked me if you knew how much I loved you.”

“Figures,” she said cynically. “Leave it to Oliver Queen to find a willing female even on a presumably deserted island.”

He ignored the sarcastic remark. “I told her you would know how much as soon as I got back.” He sighed. “It took me a while, but here I am. Telling you. Willing to show you. I can wait. I will wait. And I will get you back. I’m not letting you go again. Ever. Because you’re mine and I’m yours. And you know it.”

There. The gauntlet was thrown.

After a long, too long, silence, she finally mumbled, “Good luck with that.”

He grinned. “Fighting words. I love challenges.” He leaned over and pressed a kiss against her short hair. “I’ll go now. You need to rest.”

He stood and walked to the door, when her quiet question stopped him. “Why did you lie?”

He didn’t turn. “I wanted to protect you.”

“You suck at it.”

Lying or protecting her? He suspected she meant both. He grinned and left her room without another word.


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