Letting Go - Chapter 24

“Really, Laurel? Fire escape? Again.

Doris shook her head as Laurel kicked off her pumps and pulled a pair of Chuck Taylors out of her desk drawer.

Laurel shrugged. “I’m meeting a friend for lunch.”

“And you need to use the fire escape to get out of here?”

Yes, she did. Because she had no intention of bumping oh-so accidentally into Oliver on her way out. And bump into him she would. And it wouldn’t be accidentally. That has been his MO lately. No more subterfuge, no more dedicating songs over the radio, no more cute messages over the phone, no more flowers—okay, he still sent flowers, but only to her home. Nope, he was a lot more open about his intentions nowadays. Laying in wait for her outside her apartment building to walk her to work, laying in wait for her outside the DA’s office to walk her home or take her to lunch. Constantly taking her hand when they were together, hugging her, touching her, kissing her cheek, the top of her head...

He was acting like they were a couple again. A couple that didn’t kiss on the mouth in public or had sex, that is. However, people didn’t know that. And speculation has started flowing yet again. They were in the morning news, they were on the radio gossip news, in the gossip column in the Sentinel, they were on blogs...Their pictures, taken by common passersby observing his antics, women who gushed how romantic he was, how sweet, how lucky she was to have the love and devotion of such a man, yadda-yadda-yadda, were plastered everywhere. That Aisling or whatever her name was that had written that romance column in the Sentinel last month had written a sequel to that column, taking her and Oliver as a living example of what she’d written about. She’d even speculated that O that had been dedicating songs over the radio was Oliver—lucky guess—and that he’d stopped only because the ‘love of his life’, namely Laurel, according to Aisling—another lucky guess—has forgiven him or whatever and they were together again.

Laurel had constant headaches because of the whole situation—the speculation, the rumors, and Oliver. So she’s devised a cunning plan for having quiet lunches all by her lonesome. The fire escape became her escape route. And that meant keeping a pair of All Stars in her drawer. She’d probably break her neck if she attempted to scale the back of the building in her stilettos.

Today her plan B, namely the fire escape exit, was coming in very handy. She was meeting Adam Bachman for lunch—he called her earlier, telling her he had some important news that couldn’t be shared over the phone and couldn't wait until later—and she needed to do it solo, without any extra guests. Because knowing Oliver he’d probably demand to be told how she knew Adam, how well, how long, and all the whys. It was personal, and it was none of his business.

Shaking her head, she changed her footwear, winked at Doris, and left the office in the direction of the back of the building. Just a quick trip down the fire escape and she was ready for lunch.

Λ

Shalom, Dinah,” Adam Bachman greeted her and kissed her on both cheeks. “Ma shlomech?

She smiled. “I’m fine. How are you?”

“I am well and you are lying.” He peered at her closely. “You do not look fine. Another headache?”

She’d complained to him about the incessant pressure behind her eyes she’s been experiencing for the past few days. She’d also told him not to worry, that it was all because of the stress—who wouldn’t be stressed with Oliver Queen following them around like a persistent puppy—but he chose to worry nevertheless. She loved him for it.

“I’ll be fine in a minute.” She nodded toward the stall under the trees in the park that was their favorite spot to grab a bite. “As soon as Aziz fixes me up.”

Adam grinned. “Bourekas for you? Cheese?”

She nodded. “Yeah, no seeds, please.”

“Coming right up.” He waved toward the picnic table nearby. “Take a seat.” He took two steps toward Aziz’s stand, but stopped and looked back at her with a frown.

“What is it?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Nothing. Food first.”

Ten minutes later her pot-cheese bourekas—she didn’t like the very salty ones, so Aziz made a special batch just for her—got lodged in her throat as Adam advised her to call her friends.

“What?” she mumbled, her mouth still full of phyllo dough and crumbly cheese. “Why?”

“Because this does not concern just you.”

She took a sip of yogurt and swallowed. “Okay, I’ll call Sara.”

Adam looked at her sternly. “Call Oliver as well.”

“Damn it, Adam,” she groused. “I actually managed to evade him for a quiet lunch, and now you’re telling me I should invite him to join us?”

He just looked at her and she felt herself go first warm knowing she was being silently berated, then cold and pale at the implications his news might have. On Sara, on Oliver, on anyone who chose to stand between Sara and the League. She felt appropriately chastised. This was no time or place to throw tantrums, not when her sister’s safety was at stake.

B’seder,” she said, wiped her fingers, and fished her phone out of her purse.

“Good girl.”

Λ

Oliver closed the car door and frowned at Sara waiting at the curb. “What are you doing here?”

“Laurel called me.”

Nice. He’d received only a short text to meet her at the waterfront park to talk about the League. He’d texted back his offer to give her a ride, to which she’d replied that she was already there. He really hoped she wasn’t using the fire escape to get out of the DA’s building without encountering him. That would mean her scaling multiple storeys in high heels. Which spelled danger. And thinking about Laurel and danger in the same context gave him the hives.

“What are Felicity and Diggle doing here?” Sara asked.

They were a team. If there was trouble brewing on the horizon, if the League was once more in the city, they’d need all the help they could get. And Diggle and Felicity were it. They might even involve Quentin Lance, although that particular point will have to be thought over and discussed thoroughly.

“They’re with me,” he explained.

“So drop it,” Sara finished the unspoken thought. “Understood.” She pointed toward a picnic table set under a tree close to a food vendor. “She’s over there. Shall we?”

She wasn’t alone. She was sitting at the table, obviously having lunch, with the man in the barn gym. She had her back to them, so it was the man who spotted them first, alerted her to their presence. As Oliver watched, she seemed to square her shoulders, before she got up. He arched an eyebrow at the sight of her in her dark business suit and All Stars on her feet. Well, at least she wasn’t scaling the fire escape in heels.

“Hey,” she greeted. “This is Adam Bachman. Adam, the gang. The entire gang.”

Oliver smirked at the accusing look she shot him. Yes, he brought Felicity and Diggle along. So what? He turned to Adam Bachman. “Hi. Oliver Queen.”

As they shook hands, Oliver quickly assessed the man. He looked pretty average, probably in early to mid-fifties. Average build, average height, tanned skin, brown eyes, brown hair with a fair amount of grey at the temples. He didn’t look like someone adept at Krav Maga, but looks could be deceiving. He knew that very well.

“It is nice to finally meet you, Oliver,” Bachman said with an accent Oliver couldn’t place. “I have heard much about you.”

Shtok!” Laurel hissed and Bachman grinned.

“What was that?” Oliver asked.

“She told me to shut up,” Bachman provided, since Laurel was mulishly quiet.

“In what language?”

“Hebrew.”

Israeli. That explained Krav Maga. And the average look. IDF usually recruited people who could blend in.

“You speak Hebrew?” he asked Laurel.

“What? You think you’re the only one allowed to speak multiple languages?”

“Dinah,” Bachman said soothingly.

Slicha.

“Dinah?” Oliver asked. The guy called her by her first name? “He calls you Dinah?”

“That is her name, is it not?” Bachman said with a smile.

“And she is still hungry,” Laurel responded and walked back to the vendor.

Bachman chuckled and nodded at Diggle. “Lieutenant.”

“Jesus.” Diggle shook his head. “It is you.”

“You know him?” Felicity asked and then looked at the Israeli. “I’m Felicity.”

Bachman smiled. “Yes, the IT genius. A pleasure to meet you. And yes, Lieutenant Diggle and I served on a joined mission a long time ago.”

Laurel was back with a paper plate filled with some sort of pastry. “Okay, dig in if you want. And Adam can bring us up to date with the whole League thing.”

“So,” Oliver started after taking a bite of the pastry—which turned out to be delicious, “is the League back in town?”

“If they are not, they soon will be,” Bachman replied.

Oliver frowned. Here was a man of few words. It looked like he waited for someone to ask before he said anything. He was either building suspense—which Oliver doubted, given the man’s background—or the news was so bad he’d rather postpone telling them.

“What did your contact find out?” Laurel asked.

“They’re coming for me,” Sara supplied and caught her sister’s eye. “We knew they would eventually.”

“No,” Bachman said, looking at Laurel, “they are coming for you.”


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