Letting Go - Chapter 27

“You guys were really amazing.”

Laurel sighed. Sara obviously didn’t want her older sister to fuss over her. And she obviously didn’t want to talk about why her older sister might want to fuss over her. Laurel wasn’t sure she wanted to talk about it. She just knew she was scared. Because the threat was close, it was imminent. She might lose Sara any day now.

She’d seen the blood oozing from Sara’s nose back at the gym and had done her best so the others hadn’t. She’d dragged Sara to the changing room, and they’d tried to stop the bleeding, but to no avail. Which meant a quick and clandestine exit through the back door and a visit to the emergency room. There was nothing the doctors could do in terms of cure for Sara, but at least they’d been able to stop the nosebleed.

It took a long time to do that. Too long for Laurel’s peace of mind.

And it had finally driven home the realization Sara’s days were numbered. It’s not like she hasn’t thought about it before, she has, but this time it was right there, like a punch in the face. They had to go to the hospital, and the doctors hadn’t been surprised at seeing Sara there, hadn’t been surprised at the time it took them to stop the bleeding. Her sister was a regular.

Then the doctor, once aware of their relationship, had taken Laurel aside and told her the whole truth about Sara’s condition. Thrown the doctor-patient confidentiality aside and told her what Sara hasn’t. Laurel had almost tossed her cookies then and there. It was much worse than she’d imagined. So much worse, the doctor had actually begged her to reason with her sister and get her to agree to be hospitalized, to be put on adequate medication for the pain she was in. Which he’d claimed was excrutiating and patients usually took morphine to numb it.

Morphine!

Jesus. Sara’s never mentioned any pain. She looked perfectly ‘normal’, perfectly healthy. But, judging from what the doctor had told her, Sara was lucky to still be functioning. Jesus!

She’d breached the subject as soon as they were in the car, but Sara simply said she and pain had come to an understanding a long time ago. Whatever that meant. And that was that. She’d adamantly refused to speak about what had happened, what would happen, how she was feeling, and Laurel had no idea how to get her to open up. Share at least a bit of the burden.

She could never share the brunt of it, no matter how much she wanted to. She couldn’t share her sister’s pain. Sara was dying. And there was nothing she, or anyone, could do about it. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t fuss, couldn’t spoil her little sister just a tiny bit. If only Sara let her.

She didn’t. She’d rather talk about her and Oliver and what they’d done at the gym. A topic Laurel wanted to avoid like the plague, so she merely shrugged. “A fluke. Want some tea?”

Sara scoffed and made herself more comfortable on the couch. “That was no fluke. That was instinct, pure and simple. Like you two were made to fight side by side.”

Laurel rolled her eyes. “Fight side by side? Sheesh, Sara, just listen to yourself.”

“I am. I’m thinking about it, too. And I can also see a picture of you two in my head. He in green, you in black, fighting crime side by side.”

“That’s it. I’m making you some chamomile tea. Are you sure you’re not feverish?”

Sara laughed. “I’m just peachy, Laurel. I must say, your friend Adam’s idea of improvising a fight was brilliant.”

Laurel placed a mug of hot tea on the coffee table in front of Sara and sat on the opposite side of the couch, curling her feet underneath her. “It was an idiotic idea, and I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Want to watch a movie?”

Sara shook her head. “Nope. I want to talk about it.”

“I don’t.”

“Tough.” Sara took a sip of her tea. “You could make such a great team, Laurel.” She grinned. “You’ll have to. He’ll be there 24/7 to protect you now.”

Laurel gritted her teeth, fighting the urge to hurl the mug against her wall. “That’s the problem. I don’t want him to protect me.”

Sara sat a little straighter. “Want? You don’t want his protection?”

“I meant I don’t need his protection.”

“You said want, Laurel. You admit you need protection?”

She huffed. “Of course I need protection. We’re talking about the League of Assassins, here. I’m not so stupid to think I can take them all by myself.”

“Oliver can protect you.”

“I know he can, but I don’t want him to.” Laurel shot to her feet. She couldn’t sit anymore. She didn’t want to talk about it.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want him to.”

“Don’t you trust him?”

She lifted her hands in exasperation. What has she done to earn this third degree? Was it too late to throw Sara out? “Of course, I trust him.”

“Then what’s the problem? I don’t understand.”

Neither did she, she suspected. “The idiot just might die protecting me, that’s the problem.” At Sara’s slow blink, she continued. “He’s liable to jump in front of a bullet or a flying knife if he’s too late to shoot one of his damn arrows.”

Comprehension dawned onto Sara’s face. “You don’t want him to die for you or get hurt because of you.”

Laurel just sighed, pacing across her living room.

Sara grinned. “You love him.”

“Of course I love him,” she snapped. “I’ve always loved him. Nothing could change that.”

“Not even him lying to you about his secret identity?”

She rolled her eyes. “I know why he did it. It pissed me off at the beginning, but I get it.”

Sara placed her mug back onto the coffee table, stood, and met her gaze across the room. “Then what the fuck is your problem?”

Laurel blinked at the vehemence in her sister’s voice. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me.” Sara frowned. “You tell me you love him, yet you insist on pushing him away. You love him, yet you don’t want to be with him. What’s that all about, Laurel?”

Laurel just stared at her, refusing to word her fears.

“He loves you.”

“I know.”

“He’s changed. He would never cheat on you, Laurel.”

“I know.”

“Then what is it?”

“Sara...”

Sara took a step forward, her expression beseeching. “What is it, Laurel. Tell me. Let it out. Let whatever scares you out.”

“I don’t want to get hurt again. I don’t want him to break my heart again.”

“He won’t.”

She smiled, tears flooding her eyes. “Yes, he will. Sooner or later he will.”

“Laurel...”

She shook her head. “Not by cheating, but by leaving.”

“He’d never leave you, Laurel.”

Tears were threatening to spill so she blinked them back. “He will. Sooner or later he will. One mistake, one distraction, and it’s all over. It takes just a second. And he’s gone.”

“Dead,” Sara whispered.

She nodded. “I lost him once. It hurt so much, some days I though I just might die too. But we were together then. Maybe, if I keep him away, if I protect my heart from him, this time it might not hurt so much.”

“You’re not making any sense.”

“I know,” she whimpered. “You think I don’t know that? You think I don’t realize how stupid I sound? It’s just that...”

Muscular arms circled her from behind, pulled her back against a strong chest, as warm breath tickled her nape. “You’re scared,” he whispered and tears spilled down her cheeks. “I’m scared too. I’m scared of how much I love you. I’m scared of how much I need you in my life. I’m scared of losing you, too.”

Through her tears, she saw Sara’s brilliant smile and small wave as she closed the front door behind her, leaving them alone.

Oliver pulled her even closer, his arms hugging her even tighter. “But we can’t let our fears define us, shape our lives.” He pressed a kiss against the side of her throat. “I might leave you, but I’ll never do it willingly, Laurel. Give me another chance. Please, give us another chance. I’m miserable without you. I can’t live without you.”

If she’d learned anything today at the hospital, as the doctors helped Sara, as they’d told her she was lucky to still have her sister with her for however brief amount of time, it was that life was short. There were no guarantees that she would outlive her sister. As clichéd as it might sound, you really had to live your life as if every single day was your last. It just might be.

A tremulous gasp escaped as Laurel threw caution, logic, and self-preservation to the wind. It was her heart that was taking the shots, that would take them from that point forward when it came to Oliver Queen. It had always belonged to him anyway.

So instead of pushing him away and ordering him out of her house, out of her life, she did the only thing she could. She turned in his embrace, circled her arms around his neck, and sobbed against his throat. That would have to do for now.


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