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The Magician

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It’s several days later, as Laurel is walking home from work after a long day, that JC Constantine falls in step with her, seemingly out of nowhere, materializing on the sidewalk as if out of the ether.

Laurel’s in civilian lawyer clothes, nowhere near fully armed, but her hand goes to the knife sheathed at her waistband. Then she sees who it is and, though she doesn’t entirely relax, Laurel sets aside immediate plans of lethal self-defense.

“Counselor.” JC nods a greeting. She’s again dressed in that completely terrible trenchcoat and an ill-fitting oxford shirt that appears to have come straight off the rack at Walmart. It’s a fashion sense so egregious that it must be purposeful.

“Exorcist, demonologist, and master of the dark arts,” Laurel replies. “I thought you left town.”

“I plan to, and I advise that you do the same,” JC says. “But I have a couple of errands to run first.”

They’re down the block from her building, and Laurel fishes her keys from her bag. “Errands in my neighborhood?” she asks with a raised eyebrow.

JC shrugs, which isn’t an answer. “Aren’t you going to invite me in for a drink?”

“I don’t drink,” Laurel says, but she unlocks the front door.

“Jesus bloody Christ,” JC mutters, but she follows Laurel inside anyway. “Coffee, at least?”

“I have that,” Laurel says, and lets them both into the apartment.

 +||+||+ 

JC pushes her against the closed door, and it lasts for all of about a second until Laurel pushes back, and then it’s JC between Laurel’s body and the brick, and JC tangles blunt fingers into Laurel’s hair and kisses her. Laurel kisses back, and it’s like a fight for a moment until JC murmurs, “Yeah,” way too satisfied with herself, and goes just lax enough that their hips slide together. Laurel can’t help the sigh that rises unbidden, and JC moves one hand to sneak those fingers underneath the hem of Laurel’s shirt, just enough to tease the soft skin of her belly and side.

Laurel pushes the objectionable trenchcoat off JC’s shoulders, and JC shrugs so that it falls on the ground, where it belongs. With it off, her build is more apparent: lanky but solid, angular shoulders, small breasts. JC tries to do the same thing with Laurel’s blazer, but Laurel does not dress objectionably, and she wants to save a trip to the dry cleaner, so she turns for a moment to drape it over the back of one of her kitchen chairs.

Underneath is a camisole, and JC runs her fingertips up and down Laurel’s bare arms, making her shiver. JC bends, blond bangs falling into her dark eyes, and presses her lips to the side of Laurel’s neck, to the tendon at her shoulder, and then to her collarbone. Laurel gasps, and JC says, “That’s my girl,” and adds teeth, just a little.

Laurel begins unbuttoning the oxford shirt, which isn’t quite as terrible quality as it first appeared (primarily, it needs an iron and a better fit); JC, smug, watches her fingers, which trip for a moment at the attention. “Need help?” JC asks, and Laurel replies, “Shut up and let me undress you.”

“Aye, aye,” JC says, still so damn smug, and Laurel undoes the rest of the buttons.

Underneath is just skin, pale and intermittently scarred; no bra. She doesn’t really need one. JC shrugs off the shirt, revealing a tattoo on her left shoulder: in the low light, Laurel can see only spiky, angular black lines extending most of the way down her bicep, but no definite design. JC stands before her half naked and entirely unashamed.

“You do the rest,” Laurel says.

“Seems inequitable, me starkers, and you dressed and cool as a cucumber?”

Laurel pulls JC’s head down into a kiss, and when it breaks, she says, “Do I feel cool to you?”

“No, love,” JC says, trailing a finger up Laurel’s spine and down again. “But I want you even hotter.”

Laurel steps back and strips off the camisole, conscious all the while of JC’s appreciative eyes. She doesn’t have much in the way of cleavage, either, but unlike JC, Laurel does have a professional job that requires professional dress. The bra she’s wearing today is actually, and accidentally, one of her better ones: gray and lacy, understated but pretty. JC steps forward and runs a thumb over Laurel’s nipple beneath the delicate fabric, and JC’s smile grows as the nipple hardens. She moves the lace aside, and the callused pads of her fingers send a shock down Laurel’s body, between her legs. JC moves the straps down onto Laurel’s arms, exposing more skin. Laurel says, “Why don’t I make this easier for both of us,” and reaches behind herself to unclasp the bra and take it off. (It goes on the kitchen table, near her jacket, because it too was expensive.)

“You read my mind,” JC says, and Laurel has to balance herself with an arm around JC’s neck, because that touch is confident and knowledgeable and just rough enough to feel exquisite.

JC’s other hand starts to wander down Laurel’s torso, over the inseam of her slacks, and it takes effort for Laurel to block its path and say, “You’ve still got some undressing to do.”

This time JC gives in. She kicks off her shoes, then unbuckles her belt, undoes the button and zipper to her trousers, and lets them drop. Underneath are a pair of simple black boxer-briefs, and JC pushes those down and kicks them aside. Naked, she’s all wiry muscle, with narrow hips and just a slight round to her belly, only enough to remind you that she’s a human being who might eat a meal now and again. “Well?” she says to Laurel.

Fair is, after all, fair, and so Laurel steps out of the heels she wears to work. It makes her even shorter than JC, who is affirmatively tall (which grates on Laurel), but it can’t be helped. Laurel takes off her own belt, then undoes her slacks and shimmies so that they fall to the floor. “Let me do this part,” JC says, low, and directs her hands onto Laurel’s hipbones, beneath her underwear. Laurel watches avidly, wanting JC’s touch on her clit, but instead JC pulls the panties the rest of the way off, guides Laurel back so that she’s leaning against the arm of the couch, and drops to her knees.

Well, this is fine, too.

JC starts surprisingly slowly, kissing the insides of Laurel’s thighs, pushing them a little farther apart as she goes. She uses her tongue and gentle fingers, exploring Laurel’s labia and the creases of her legs, nothing but gentle, nothing but teasing, and Laurel wants to kick her in the back. “Goddamnit,” she gasps, and JC actually laughs.

“Impatient,” JC says, and licks up to Laurel’s mons, just tantalizing centimeters from where Laurel wants her tongue, but JC’s still taking her time. She breathes hot over Laurel’s clit, and Laurel buries her hands in JC’s hair—and then JC pulls back and says, “You know, your bed would be much better for this.”

“Now she has the brilliant idea,” Laurel mutters, but she doesn’t actually argue.

In her bedroom, on her bed, Laurel tucks a pillow under her hips and lets JC get serious, now that she’s finally decided to. Her hands are massaging and rubbing, her mouth leaving kisses in their path—and then she touches tongue to clit, and Laurel moans.

JC stays slow at first, slow and careful until Laurel’s shuddering with the effort of not begging for more. Her hands find JC’s hair again, and JC goes harder, sucking at her clit, fucking Laurel with just the tip of her finger until Laurel says, “Give me two, now,” and JC does. With JC’s fingers solid in Laurel’s cunt, her mouth hot on Laurel’s clit, Laurel comes, her cries loud in the small room.

Laurel sprawls back in the aftermath, sweaty and short of breath, and JC pulls herself up next to her. JC moves one of her legs between Laurel’s thighs in a way that feels surprisingly good against her clit—not too much pressure, just enough to be pleasant. Laurel sighs and stretches. She says to JC, “Not that your ego needs the boost, but that was pretty spectacular.” JC looks pleased—and, yes, a bit smug.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Laurel asks. She lets a hand wander over JC’s belly and up her ribcage, cupping one of JC’s small breasts in her hand. Laurel strokes her index finger back and forth over the nipple, which hardens under her touch. JC’s hips squirm with arousal, and Laurel reaches down to touch where she’s molten-hot and unbelievably soft, parting like ripe fruit under Laurel’s fingers. “Want me to go down on you? I feel like I owe you.”

JC’s hips arch, meeting Laurel’s touch, and she laughs a little. “You definitely don’t owe me, love. No, just keep doing that.”

Laurel does, but she leans down to put her mouth on JC’s nipple. She sucks, then scrapes gently with her teeth, and JC’s hips jerk up. Laurel does it again, then again, and JC gets even wetter. Laurel rubs her clit with three fingers, and JC rises to meet her; she keeps going, feeling the tiny knot of JC’s clit hardening with her arousal, and finally she can’t help herself: she spreads JC’s long legs and takes it into her mouth. JC bites back what sounds like a shout, and Laurel kisses her clit with lips and tongue, sucks on it until JC actually screams. She’s panting, her hands clenched tightly in Laurel’s hair, and Laurel gives her what she wants, licking and sucking until JC’s writhing underneath her, trembling on the verge of climax. Laurel holds her steady with hands on her thighs, circles JC’s clit with the flat of her tongue, and JC comes with a guttural moan, shaking.

It looks like the kind of orgasm that would have Laurel ready for some naked cuddling and a nap, but instead, after just a moment of breathless silence, JC pushes herself up and excuses herself to the bathroom. She doesn’t bother asking for a robe or a T-shirt, or going to find her clothes, but she does kiss Laurel and then, unexpectedly, dip her fingers between Laurel’s legs. “Mmm,” JC says, “still wet,” and she runs her fingertips over Laurel’s labia and around her cunt, lightly enough not to overstimulate, more like JC’s checking her progress. Well, whatever—she’s a British weirdo with an egregious trenchcoat; she’s bound to have some other weird habits.

Laurel hears JC go into the bathroom and close the door, and she means to stay awake to clean herself up after, but it’s been a long week and she’s had a mind-clearing orgasm, and she falls asleep instead.

 


 

There are two candles in Laurel’s bathroom, one blue and one green—fewer than are ideal, and bought at some chain store rather than poured and carved by witches, but they’ll have to do. Needs must and all that. Careful to produce only a small amount of fire, JC lights them.

She puts her index and middle fingers, slick with Laurel’s fluids, to her forehead and draws them in a straight line down her face, over her lips, over her throat, between her breasts, and to her belly, where she draws a circle. “Mera kaam anushhan jald ho amaanz,” she says, looking into her own eyes in the mirror. Then JC reaches down between her own legs, gathers her wetness on her fingertips, and retraces the path she made with Laurel’s. “Mile molara muptenda hawalee.” JC takes the candles, tips them, and drips their wax together in the sink until the colors are nearly indistinguishable from each other. “Moroo torande hoye naa abhi.”

Laurel’s going to wonder what the hell JC was doing in here. JC barely knows herself.

When JC goes back into the bedroom, Laurel is asleep, apparently deeply. JC finds her clothes in the living room and, after a moment’s consideration, leaves Laurel’s where they are. Better than Laurel think of her as crude and thoughtless. Fewer questions that way. JC dresses and makes sure she has all her things. Then, on impulse, she goes back into Laurel’s bedroom and kisses her forehead. “Dushman ko zer kare maanumaa," JC murmurs, though she's under no illusion that the spell will have any real effect. Some futures are unchangeable.

Laurel doesn’t wake.

Who knows whether any of what JC has done will have any effect at all. Only time, and a great amount of it, will tell.

 


 

Oliver calls JC during one of a series of apocalypses, and she shows up with a baby strapped to her chest.

“Did you steal that?” is maybe not the most tactful thing Oliver could have said, but he feels it’s a legitimate question. Felicity’s glare suggests that she may disagree.

JC rolls her eyes and pulls the top of the sling aside a bit as if checking on the baby, who seems to be peacefully asleep.

“I’m serious,” Oliver says. “Where did that come from?”

“I see the American educational system is even more lacking than I had realized,” JC drawls, at the same time Felicity remonstrates, “They’re a baby human being, Ollie, not an object!” Then she turns to JC and rsays, “What’s her name? Can I hold her? I don’t even know why I assume she’s a her. She could be anything. Literally. She’s got all the future in the world. I mean, assuming we hit pause on this apocalypse.”

“Assuming,” JC says, and, to Oliver’s surprise, she unwraps the baby, who is unbelievably tiny and has a dusting of soft-looking hair across her (his? their? zir?) scalp, and gives her gently to Felicity.

“Hello, little one,” Felicity coos, and Oliver feels a stab in the heart—that he’ll never have this with her, that he's fucked it up so badly. Thea crowds close, and John too, and the world’s impending doom is forgotten for a moment as everyone admires Grifter Morally Ambiguous Jr.

“Ohhhh, she’s opening her eyes—I hope we didn’t wake her up!” Thea says, but the baby stays quiet. She seems to be looking around, just curiosity, no startlement or fear. “You didn’t tell us her name. Or his. Whatever,” Thea adds to JC.

Felicity, who was rocking the baby back and forth, goes suddenly still, and the baby lets out a petulant little yelp. “Her eyes,” Felicity says, soft and shocked.

Thea freezes, too, then stares up at JC. “She has Laurel’s eyes. How is that possible? It’s not possible.”

“Her name is Dinah,” JC says. “After her father.”

There’s a silence.

Oliver feels he has no choice but to break it with the obvious. “I can state with certainty that Laurel didn’t have that equipment.”

“Ew,” Thea interjects.

Oliver ignores her. “So back to my first question: did you steal a baby?”

“There are more things in heaven, hell, earth, and beyond, Mr. Queen, than your philosophy seems able to comprehend.”

“So”—Felicity stumbles—“you had a…magic baby with Laurel?”

“I wish that was the strangest thing that’s ever happened to someone we know,” Diggle points out.

“That’s a rough summation, Ms. Smoak, but not an inaccurate one,” JC says.

“Why?” Oliver asks. He has so many questions, but this is the one that surfaces first.

“Because in about twenty-five years, we’ll all be mucking about in yet another apocalypse, and a child of the Lance lineage is the only chance we—and anyone else—have. Sara seems disinclined, and I suspect in any case she’s infertile as a result of her death. Laurel is obviously incapable. I improvised.”

Diggle reaches down and takes Dinah from Felicity, cradling her comfortably in his enormous arms. Dinah stares up at him and waves a hand toward his face. “Hey, darling,” he says to her. “I wish you could have known Laurel. She fought her whole life for what was right. And she’d have loved you.” He smiles a little. “Once she got over the shock.” He looks up at JC. “She deserves love, and a childhood, and safety. She’s not a weapon. She’s a little girl who needs her mother.”

JC meets Diggle’s eyes. “None of us are in a position to guarantee safety,” she says. “But the other two: the first she’s had since the first time I saw her, and the second I’ll fight like hell to give her.”

Dinah closes a stubby fist around Diggle’s thumb, and Oliver finally steps close enough to run a finger over the light down of her hair. It occurs to him with another stab that he never knew William at this age. “We will too, Dinah,” Oliver promises her. “We will too.”