Letting Go - Chapter 28

He’d held her as she’d cried herself to sleep. He still held her, pressed tightly to his side, her head in the crook of his shoulder, listening to her even breathing, thanking the powers that be for this second chance he—they—have been given.

He could’ve slept, perfectly content with holding her close, having her beside him, but he couldn’t. Not after what’s happened, what he’s heard tonight. Sara’d texted him a few hours after she and Laurel had left the gym, instructing him to get his tight, sexy butt—her words—to Laurel’s apartment and wait outside for the right moment. He’d wondered what that sign might be, but he’d waited and then...He’d heard Laurel and her reason for not wanting to let him back into her heart, and his own heart broke.

If he were a better man, he’d have left then and there, left her alone, granted her wish...But he wasn’t that man. He was selfish, an egotistical bastard, and he couldn’t do it. He loved her, he needed her, wanted her in his life, wanted to be a part of hers. He just couldn’t walk away. So he’d entered her apartment Arrow-style, and taken her into his arms, begged her to give him, them, another chance, hoped against hope that she’d relent. He hadn’t even noticed Sara leaving the apartment, leaving them alone. All he could see, hear, touch, breathe in, was Laurel as he’d waited with batted breath for her decision.

And when she’d turned, hugged him, cried against his chest, his heart had broken all over again. For her, for them, for what he was asking her to do, for what he was asking her to sacrifice. And he’d made a silent promise to her, to both of them. He’d sworn he’d never let her go again, that he’d protect her from anything or anyone who would want to cause her harm, want to hurt her. And he’d made a silent oath he’d try his best, do everything that was in his power, not to leave her ever again. He might not keep that promise, God only knew the world was a dangerous place, made even more dangerous by his choice of living a secret life as a vigilante, but he’d give it his best shot.

He wanted to live his life with her, alongside her, grow old with her, tell tales of the Arrow to their children and grandchildren.

She’d cried a long time, holding on for dear life, and he could do nothing but hold her as tightly as he could, murmuring soft nonsense in her ear, kissing her cheek, her forehead, her hair, until she’d calmed down, until her hold loosened a bit.

He’d been prepared for another argument then, but she’d surprised him and asked him to stay. She’d said she didn’t want to be alone, not tonight. He’d wanted to ask what was wrong, knowing it wasn’t all because of him, but refrained. He didn't want to upset her further, she’d been through enough. So he’d followed her to her bedroom, where she’d quickly changed in her bathroom, and invited him under the covers with her. Where she promptly snuggled against him, her hand on his chest, over his heart.

There wasn't anything sexual about her request for him to stay with her, and he’d had no intention of changing that. They both needed this moment, this night to be one of closeness, of reconnecting, of gentle touches, and whispered words. This was a special kind of intimacy they’ve been lacking since his return from the island, a special kind of intimacy they needed to regain, before anything else could and would happen between them.

They’d talked, just like old times, when they could spend hours just talking. For Oliver it was a special kind of blessing to be able to get that back. He’d told her about the island, even things he didn't share with anyone, not even Diggle and Felicity. He’d told her about how it felt to return to Starling City after all those years, his motivations for becoming the vigilante, his plans for Arrow’s future, for the future of Queen Consolidated.

She’d told him about the five years he’d been gone, of her finishing school, deciding to help the less fortunate by working at CNRI, she’d told him about her training, about meeting Adam Bachman...About how she’d come to meet Adam Bachman and why.

Oliver’s blood had run cold at hearing the truth. The truth she hadn’t shared with anyone before. Something had broken inside her when she’d learned about his death, she’d said. Not his betrayal, his death! For a while, she’d gone on as if nothing had happened, until one day she’d snapped.

She’d gone to Star reservoir and drove her car into it. She’d wanted to die the way he had. She wanted to drown. But someone had pulled her out in the nick of time. An early-morning jogger had noticed the car plunge into the water from the other side of the lake, but before he’d reached the other shore and jumped in, Laurel had already lost consciousness. She’d already been dead. The jogger had brought her back from the dead.

Adam Bachman had saved her that day, and slowly brought her back to life in the following months. He’d talk to her, train her, teach her. He’d become her friend and mentor, a father figure when her biological father descended into his own private hell.

The next time they met, Oliver would shake the man’s hand and thank him for keeping Laurel alive. For keeping her safe. He’d forever be indebted to him.

He looked down at her as she mumbled something in her sleep, her forehead creasing as if she were troubled. He knew she hadn’t told him everything, that there was something else she was keeping from him, but there would be time to talk later. They had all the time in the world. Or so he hoped.

She snuggled even closer, and he sighed as he leaned his head on top of hers. This was home. This was where he belonged.

He closed his eyes. After more than six years, he was finally fully at peace.

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