Erase and Rewind - Chapter 3

Laurel quickly realized that if she wanted to get out of her apartment alive, she’d have to fight dirty. No fancy self-defense moves would help against the superior weight and brute force of Blood’s henchmen. So she’d reached deep inside for all the dirty moves her father had taught her, and fought dirty. She went for the groins, for the knees, for the throat...And it did her absolutely no good.

The two men have easily overpowered her, and while one of them slammed her against the floor and straddled her, the other disappeared inside her kitchen. When her straddle wrapped his meaty fingers around her throat, she smelled gas.

They were going to kill her. They were going to choke her and then cover it up by setting fire to her apartment. They were going to blow up her apartment. What about her neighbors, the apartments next to hers? Were they home? Were they in danger? Were they insured?

Then, as the man squeezed, a leer on his face as he stared into her eyes, all thoughts of her neighbors and the damage the explosion might do to their property, vanished and pure egoistic survival instinct took over.

She didn’t want to die. She wasn’t going to die! Not like this! Never like this! She was getting free! She might die trying, but at least she’d die knowing she did something!

She lifted the hands, that have been pawing at the fingers around her throat, above her head and reached, tried to grab something, anything that might do enough damage for the gorilla to let her go. She almost fainted in gratitude as her fingers brushed against a thin, long object underneath her sofa. She grabbed it, and thrust it upward, straight for her assailant’s face.

He roared and jerked back and she saw she’d used a golden pen, the one she’d received when she’d first started working for the DA’s office and promptly lost it a few days later, as a makeshift spear. It jutted almost comically out of the man’s eye. There was no time for comedy, though, or for much pondering.

Pure instinct took over and she ran into her bedroom, dropped onto her knees, and pulled a small, metal box from underneath the bed. She frowned as she pressed the box to her chest. The two men haven’t followed her. Her frown turned into wide-eyed fear as she heard the snap of a lighter and the slamming of the front door.

Not even thinking, she threw the box at her window and followed it immediately after the pane disintegrated. She didn’t bother with the fire escape stairs, she just vaulted over the railing and jumped. She hit the platform on the story below hers the moment all her windows burst and flames rushed out, greedy for oxygen to fan them.

Λ

Laurel had spent the next year on the run, constantly looking over her shoulder, dreading the day they would catch up with her. Because they always did. That first attack had just been an appetizer, a promise of things to come. She knew too much, she’d seen too much. And she’d never been able to tell anyone, not even the Arrow, the whole story. And Sebastian Blood had made sure that even if she did, no one would believe her.

Still, she was a loose end and she needed to be taken care of.

She’d known, when she’d climbed down the fire escape and gathered her box, that she couldn’t remain in the city. No one would believe her that someone had tried to kill her, anyway. She was a druggie, after all, and no one believed a druggy. She couldn’t go to her father, she’d just put him in danger—and she also suspected he’d find it hard to believe her, too. She couldn’t go to her friends, not that she had many, for that same reason. She could’ve contacted the Arrow, but having seen his reaction to her speculation the night before, she had chosen not to go through with the plan. She wouldn’t know where to look for the man anyway.

So she’d split, jumped bail—like she cared—and left Starling City.

The metal box had been her salvation. It had contained a couple of fake IDs she’d used in high-school, a copy of all her real documents, a couple thousand dollars, and the key that opened a locker at the train station where a bag with a change of clothes, some more IDs, a wig, and some more money was stashed.

Maybe she had been paranoid to prepare all that, but it had paid off in the end.

She’d spent the next months waitressing her way across the country, small town to small town, identity to identity. She hadn’t been able to stay anywhere for long, Blood’s men always found her. She’d begun carrying a loaded gun tucked into the back of her jeans—God bless America for the loose arms laws—and a taser strapped to her ankle, and she’d always had at least a pencil in her pockets. She’d become quite proficient at disappearing after each incident, resurfacing miles away with a new identity and a new hairstyle.

Until she’d finally realized she’d never be really safe, no matter what she did, the change in appearance, the town she lived in, the identity she used...She’d never be safe, not if she kept on breathing, so she’d gathered her measly belongings and left Crystal Springs, Mississippi, before they got to her.

She needed a completely new identity, one that would hold up even under most intense scrutiny. Laurel Lance needed to die, if she already hadn’t following the explosion of her apartment in Starling City—she hadn’t kept up with the news—and someone else had to be born in her stead.

There was only one person who she knew could pull off such a feat. And no one, not even her father, knew of the connection between them. As far as the world was concerned, Gabriel Dougherty has never moved in Laurel Lance’s orbit. He hasn’t. At least not under that name. She was the only one who knew about his hacking and forging abilities. And although those abilities and his propensity to using them clashed with her principles, she’d never judged him. She suspected she’s always known knowing him would come in handy someday.

It hadn’t taken long to convince Gabe to help her—there were still good people in the world, and together they’d created a woman that had absolutely nothing in common with Laurel Lance, except the facial features, eye color, and age. The girl was born on May 17th 1985 in Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, her parents had died in a climbing accident when she’d been twelve, and soon after graduating from Edinburgh Business School had left the UK to explore the world with her backpack. A woman whose lifelong dream had been to own a B&B in the Scottish Highlands.

Gabe had smuggled her to Europe on his private plane—God bless him for using his abilities for good and turning them into a profitable business of designing computer security for high-profile companies and corporations. In Milan’s Central station he’d hugged her, wished her good luck, and slipped a padded envelope into her pocket. In it had been a scrambled phone, computer password, and the deed to a cottage on the bank of river Spean in the small town of Spean Bridge in Lochaber, Scotland.

She’d boarded the Eurostar strain bound for London as Laurel Lance—at least in her mind, she’d known she’d have to stop thinking of herself as Laurel Lance, and alighted in Edinburgh as Caitriòna Wallace.

Caitriòna Wallace who’d quickly turned her cottage in the Highlands into a modest little B&B. Caitriòna Wallace who’d spent the last two years working hard to forget the past and a life that seemed more like fiction these days. The same Caitriòna Wallace that, at the moment, sat ramrod straight on a bar stool in her quiet little town in the Scottish Highlands, hoping against hope that she was hearing things and that the man who was about to enter the bar wasn’t Oliver Queen. Hoping against hope that her new, simple life would not be upset by the sudden appearance of her ex and his and her families, and that the past she’s tried so hard to escape could remain buried forever.


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