Letting Go - Chapter 7

She watched as Oliver typed a code onto the numeral lock. This was it. He was finally coming clean, showing her where the Arrow ‘lived’. She would’ve been elated had this happened a few months ago, but now...Too late for that. Too late for anything and everything. And he was only coming clean, revealing everything, because she already knew the truth. She already knew Oliver Queen was the Arrow.

God, that really pissed her off. The fact he didn’t trust her enough—at all—to tell her the truth from the start. Or in the middle. Or in the end. It took her cornering him, metaphorically speaking, for him to do something.

And now the man probably expected her to be happy, to go all ga-ga because he deigned to invite her into the Arrow’s sanctum. The Arrow’s inner circle, she noticed, since Felicity and John Diggle waited for them at the bottom of the stairs.

But Felicity and Diggle, even Oliver, receded into the backdrop though, at her first sight of the Arrow’s home base. The basement was illuminated by strategically placed white reflectors, a few of them arranged into a rectangle hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the basement. Three computer screens were arranged on a metal desk at the end of the basement, more metal desks providing ample space for various tools and equipment. Metal storage containers and glass display cases were set on either side of the large space, displaying a breathtaking amount of arrows, daggers, flechettes, crossbows...And the requisite bow, of course.

Her feet carried her to the narrowest display case. The one containing the Arrow’s uniform. The green-hooded jacket. She curbed the urge to touch the glass.

Her fingers clenched into fists at her sides, she turned to her silent audience, and smiled. She knew it didn’t reach her eyes. She didn’t want it to. “Nice digs. Great setup. And I just love the costume in the display. So very comic-book-superhero.”

Felicity blushed and Laurel knew it had been the girl to set up the entire basement. The girl who was crushing on her employer. Because the whole arrangement, the computers, the display cases, the hood front and center screamed of a crush. The sideway glances, the soft smiles, the even softer gaze screamed of a big crush.

Poor girl, Laurel grimaced inwardly. She had no idea what she’s gotten herself into. She might be smart—a genius even, if rumors were to be believed— she might have spunk, a strong backbone, and nerves of steel, but she was no match for Oliver Queen. The man ate girls like that for breakfast. She should know. She’d been one of them.

She leaned back against a metal worktable, hands flat on the table surface behind her, crossed her ankles, and cocked her head. “Ask whatever you need to ask so I can get back to the party before my father comes barging through that door with a battering ram.”

“How long have you known?” Oliver asked finally.

Thankfully there would be no beating around the bush. She didn’t have the patience for small-talk and bullshit.

“I knew it was you from the moment you first stood in my living room.”

The unspoken question in his slightly widened eyes prompted her to elaborate. “Come on, you really think that hood is a good disguise? For someone who doesn’t know you, maybe. But it covers only the upper part of your face, and you, buddy, have a very distinct chin.” And mouth. A mouth she’d kissed for years, dreamed of kissing for five, six more. A mouth she would know in the blackest night by touch only. “And the stubble is a dead giveaway.”

Oliver was silent, staring at her intently, while Felicity giggled and clapped. “I like you.” She looked at Oliver. “I like her. There is still hope. You’re not a total knucklehead after all.”

“Hang on a minute,” Diggle interrupted, looking at his two compadres. “You’re all forgetting something. She hunted the vigilante. Remember the trap she set?” He glared at her. “What was that all about?”

Laurel sighed and looked straight at him. “When I started working for the DA, I was assigned the vigilante case as a side project. Donner knew I had worked with the vigilante before and decided I was the perfect person for the job of catching the guy.” She shrugged. “It was either work on the case and make sure no one discovered who the vigilante really was or let someone else work on it and risk exposing his secret.”

“Okay, it sounds plausible,” Diggle admitted. “But what about the SWAT team?”

“I told him not to come back to the office, but the idiot just wouldn’t listen.”

Felicity spoke again, “I like her.”

Laurel gritted her teeth, anger swelling inside at the thought of that night. “Donner decided to speed thing up. Gave me a remote saying it would call in a response unit. He simply neglected to tell me the unit was SWAT and they were already in the building.”

“Shit,” Diggle muttered.

“Oh, my,” Felicity added.

Oliver was still silent.

Laurel smiled slightly. “Good thing my sister came along or I would’ve had to improvise. And letting the vigilante escape wouldn’t have looked good on my resume.”

“Sister?” Oliver asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “The blonde vigilante that got you out of there. Sara Lance, you know, the girl you fucked behind my back a long time ago?”

There was a slight wince. “She told you it was her?”

“Yes, Oliver. She told me the truth. It’s called honesty. You might want to look it up.”

She pushed away from the desk and made her way to the stairs. Once again, his hand around her wrist stopped her.

“If you knew, why didn’t you say anything?”

“I was waiting for you to tell me. To tell me the truth. To trust me. To be honest for a change.” She shook his hand off. “Unfortunately it didn’t happen. You always know how to disappoint.”

She walked calmly up the stairs, punched in the code he’d used, and rejoined the party, leaving her heart behind. Again.

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