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it’s gotta be flesh and bone

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Laurel pushes back the rising panic and the mostly unfamiliar urge to punch someone as she hurries through the car park of Starling City General and then into the too familiar halls of the hospital itself. The winding corridors are cool and bright, soothing against the harsh heat of the night Laurel’s just come out of, but the pounding of her blood keeps her from noticing.

She takes two wrong turns before she finds herself in the right wing and once she’s there she has to ask a nurse for directions. But she finally finds herself outside the door she’s been looking for. She takes a moment to catch her breath and try to calm her heart rate to something that’s not going to leap out of her chest.

She pushes the door open and steps into the private room. Felicity is lying, eyes closed in the bed, skin pale with a livid bruise that stretches from the temple to the edge of her jaw and across part of her cheek bone – where neat strips of tape are holding a cut together. Her lip is split and she’s probably lucky her nose isn’t broken – like the arm that’s in a cast.

Her eyes open as Laurel closes the door with a sharp click and she attempts a smile that quickly turns into a grimace either in pain or at the look on Laurel’s face – which has got to be ugly at this point.

“Hey. In my defence you should see the other guys.” She’s lisping a little. “I mean. As my attorney you should see the other guys. I think they’re planning on suing me.” She tries to push herself up before realising that she has only one hand, making the movement awkward and ungraceful.

Laurel feels she should help or point out the device that would lift the top half of the bed but she’s glued by the door, hands pressed against it while her breath comes in soft pants. “If I see the men who did this to you they won’t be able to sue you, because I’ll be on trial for their murders.” She isn’t surprised that Felicity flinches at the tone of her voice. She finds herself almost frightened by it.

“Laurel…” Felicity’s brows are pulled down, her lips pressed together.

“What were you thinking, Felicity?” And Laurel tries to convince herself that her voice isn’t now breaking.

“I was thinking I couldn’t allow that poor girl to be mugged – or raped – by those two guys. I was thinking that I knew I could put the fear of god into those two assholes. And it turns out, I was right, because they’re in this hospital under police guard.” Even injured and hurting Felicity is still stubborn as hell about defending her decisions, not giving an inch.

Laurel tries to drag out her own stubborn argumentative side but she’s more frightened than she’s ever been. “It shouldn’t have been you.” Felicity isn’t a fighter. She has enough skills to get herself out of beating – which is why she’s here arguing with Laurel and not dead – but she manages the computers not the fights. Her hunts are through electronic pathways, not out on the streets with the literal monsters.

“But it was me. They had knives, you know. They were threatening to cut her if she didn’t give them what they wanted. ‘Cut her face off.’ Neither of us got stabbed or cut. One of them did get stabbed, though – accidentally by the other one. He screamed and I broke his nose.” She’s not undeservedly proud of herself.

Yet all Laurel can see is all the ways the fight could have ended. All she can see is herself standing at Felicity’s grave, weeping. She presses her hand to her mouth, turning away, trying to hold back the sobs. It’s not fair because Felicity’s the one who’s hurt in a hospital bed and she doesn’t need to deal with Laurel’s fears.

Felicity sighs, a heave of her chest that Laurel doesn’t see, barely hears through the terror shouting in her head. “It’s different, isn’t it? Staring at a hospital bed and not out of it? Thinking about all the things that could have happened.”

Laurel still can’t look at Felicity’s face. “Stop it.”

“But it didn’t happen.” Behind Laurel there’s the slide of fabric on fabric and a soft thud. Seconds later, Felicity is standing beside her in a hospital gown, reaching for one of her hands and pulling it up to rest against an uninjured cheek. “See. I’m okay. They’re just keeping me overnight to make sure I didn’t rattle anything loose when I got punched. I mean, what if I had to ask Lyla for a A.R.G.U.S. password rather than finding my own way in?” She turns her face into Laurel’s hand pressing a kiss to her palm, heedless of her lip.

“You could have died.” Laurel strokes her hand back and through Felicity’s hair because touch helps reassure her that she’s really there.

“And how many times have you nearly died? But both of us are standing here in this room. Besides can dead women do this?” She leans over and presses her lips to Laurel’s. Just a gentle pressure that lasts barely more than two seconds but has to have hurt because Laurel can feel the broken skin against her own.

But it does serve as undeniable proof that they’re both alive and in this hospital room.

"You should be in bed." Laurel gently places a hand in the small of Felicity’s back, guiding her back and fussing with the covers, checking her for injuries beyond the obvious ones. “I should be looking after you, not the other way around.” But Felicity’s good at being the carer, better than Laurel.

Laurel’s the fighter, battling people in court and in the dark. She’s not good with other people’s pain. Watching them hurt when she’s powerless to stop it is her Achilles’ heel. If she can fight for them then she can cope but watching them suffer leaves her helpless.

“Hey.” Felicity catches her wrist from where she’s compulsively smoothing the blanket down. “Promise me something.” She waits for Laurel’s nod. “Don’t hurt them. And tell everyone else not to hurt them either.”

“What makes you think I would?” It’s not like getting past the cops and into those rooms would be difficult. It’s not like two injured thugs who were put down by Felicity would put up much of a fight.

“I know you hate killing anyone and if you hurt them you’ll regret it.” Felicity studies Laurel’s face, still more worried about her than herself.

“They deserve to hurt.” She knows wanting to kill those men – knowing she can kill them or have someone kill them for her – is irrational. She knows Felicity is right she’ll regret their deaths more than anything, regret the marks they’ll leave on her soul. But regret and irrationality doesn’t change how she feels about the bruises on Felicity’s face or the cast on her arm or how much she wants to make someone pay for every second of pain.

"No. They deserve to go to jail – you taught me that. And tomorrow we can dig through the SCPD database to see if they fit the profile of any unsolved crimes so they can go to prison for a long, long time.”

“I love the way you think, Felicity Smoak.” Laurel drags a chair from the corner of the room and sits down beside her girlfriend’s bed.

“And I just love everything about you. Now go and tell whoever is sitting on the roof of the building across the street to either go home or go buy me flowers.” She leans back against the pillows, eye lids dropping for a few seconds.

Laurel considers lying but one of them will be there by now. She reaches for her phone.