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Irretrievable Breakdown

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Laurel paused in the doorway, turning to the guard who’d been about to follow her into the room. “I’ve got it.”

“No one sees him without a guard present.” He told her.

“I’m his lawyer, remember?”

“No exceptions. Warden’s orders.”

“Warden's orders or not, I’m going to see my client alone. Meetings between the incarcerated and their attorney cannot, by law,  be monitored in any way. That includes having a guard present in the room at any time without the express request of the incarcerated.”

“The warden said – “

“I don’t care what the warden says, I care what the law says.” She dropped the polite lawyer smile, it was making her face hurt anyway. “And I care about my client. So, unless the warden would like to be the key defendant in the lawsult I’ll bring against this prison, the county, and the state – and you’d like to be the star witness –  I’ll be going in alone.”

“Ma’am, I respect the law, but I can’t let you go in there alone.”

“Do you know who I am?”

His forehead creased in a frown. “District Attorney Lance.”

“I’m also the Black Canary.” She put her hand on the door knob. “He gives me any trouble, I’ll just scream.”

“I’ll have to tell the warden.” The guard insisted.

“You do that. And while you’re at it, tell him that the cameras and recording devices in this room had better be off.” Turning her back on him, she went inside. Ollie was sitting behind a metal table staring at the scarred top, he looked up and she stopped in mid stride, holding onto the door handle for support.

His face was battered and bruised, dotted with stitches and bandages, and his eyes had a hopeless look.“What the hell happened to you, Ollie? I thought you beat up a couple guys not the other way around.”

“This was before that.” He raised his hand to touch his face, only to have the shackles stop his hand a few inches above the table top. “I got beat up in the cafeteria and then jumped in the shower.”

“Your face is a mess.” Laurel turned to the guard, who was hovering in the doorway. “Get in here and get these cuffs off of him!”

“I can’t do that, the warden – “

“Told you not to, I understand, and I’m telling you to do it. Do I need to make a phone call to Station 52 and tell them how inmates are being handcuffed and beaten here? And denied their Constitutional right to a private consultation with their lawyer? Do I? Because I will.”

A look of concern crossed the guard’s face. “Ma’am, with all due respect, he’s dangerous.”

She took a step into his personal space. “So am I.”

After a momentary staring contest, the guard blinked. Reaching for the keys at his belt, he stepped around her to undo the handcuffs shacked to the table. “You behave, you hear me, 4587? You’ve already got a month in the hole, don’t make it longer.”

“Number one, his name is Oliver Queen, not 4587. You may address him as ‘Mr. Queen’ or ‘Inmate Queen’ –  not by a number.” Laurel was seething. The idea that Ollie had been trapped in here, bullied, beaten, and reduced to a number pissed her off until she had to dig her fingernails into the palm of her hand to keep from blasting the guard into next week. “Number two, Mr. Queen’s time in solitary confinement is to be referred to as just that – solitary confinement – not the hole or any other demeaning slang names the guards have for it. Number three, get out.”

“I’ll have to – “ Straightening, he realized she’d moved next to him without making a sound.

“Get. Out.”

The guard had seen the look in her eyes before. The look of someone who’d rather kill you than talk to you and then step over your body without a backwards glance. He took a step back and his hand dropped to his baton in reflex.

Ollie rubbed his wrists, watching the confrontation with interest. He could see his Laurel in her outrage, but he’d never had to worry his Laurel would actually kill someone.

Glancing at him, the guard tapped the handle of his baton in silent warning. “I’ll be right outside.”

“There’s a law about how close to the door you’re allowed to be.” She leaned in until she was nearly nose to nose with him. “You’d better not be any closer than that.”

After the guard left, Laurel checked the door to be sure it was securely closed before putting her oversized briefcase on the table. It took a moment to unclench her fingers from the handle and to force her other hand to open from the fist it’d been in since she’d seen Ollie’s face. She needed a deep breath before she could speak.

“Are you okay? Do you need to see a doctor?”

“I’ve been to the infirmary.” He told her.

“Are you on antibiotics?” Pulling a pen out of her pocket, she hit the button on the end and laid it on the table between them.

“No. They gave me a couple of shots, though.” He recognized the pen as one his lawyer – his actual lawyer – had put on the table during her visits. Cisco had designed it to block any surveillance devices and broadcast a white noise sound for any that his device might not block. Having seen what Cisco could do, Ollie doubted anything would escape it.

“You should be on antibiotics. A place like this is just crawling with infectious bugs.” Sitting on the bench next to him, Laurel took his face in her hands, gently turning it one way and then the other to access his injuries. “I heard you beat up a couple of guys in the yard. Looks more like they beat you up, instead.”

“No, there was a fight in the cafeteria and then, like I said, I got jumped in the shower. Most of this is from the shower fight.”

“Mess, not cafeteria. You’re not in college, Ollie.”

“Too bad. I’ve got a great record of getting kicked out of colleges.” He joked.

She frowned, not liking the blood she saw in the corner of one eye. “Have they looked at this eye?”

“Laurel, I’m fine.” He assured her. “I’ve had worse.”

“I’ve been in one of these places, Ollie. they don’t care if you’re permanently injured or not.”

“I wish I could say you’re wrong, but you’re not. Star City General would have spent more time patching me up, and they let a woman deliver a baby in the parking lot once.”

“Same on my world. Not the place to go unless you have money.”

Satisfied that he didn’t need to see a doctor, Laurel pulled her briefcase over to her and unfastened the latches. It was an old fashioned bag that reminded Ollie more of a carry on bag than a briefcase. His eyes widened as she pulled out a plastic food container. “What’s that?”

“Your favorite food.” Smiling, she pulled the lid off and handed the dish to him. “Food of the gods, am I right?”

He inhaled the spicy aroma, closing his eyes, and sighing. “Chili...”

“Wow, I remember hearing that tone of voice, but usually we were in bed. Should still be warm, in the car I had it in this thing that keeps dishes warm. Here’s crackers, I know you can’t have chili without saltine crackers. Heaven forbid.” She laughed softly as she handed him the crackers and a spoon.

“I know the kind of food you get in these places, so I figured you could use some good food for a change. I brought chocolate cake and some milk, too. Oh, and a cold beer.” Laurel pulled an insulated bag from her briefcase.

Ollie stared at the bottle of beer she offered him. There were beads of condensation running down the side. He watched one drip onto the table.

“Ollie?” When he met her eyes, she smiled. “It’s real. Go ahead.”

“I”m pretty sure I’m not supposed to have this.” Twisting the top off, he took a sip.

“I won’t tell if you won’t. I’d make fun of you for sipping a beer, but I know how it feels. Take your time.” Getting up, she patted his shoulder gently and moved around to sit at the other side of the table. If she sat next to him, she’d probably end up stroking his hair or his arm, and he was a married man. And not her Ollie.

Nodding, he ate the chili and drank the beer as slowly as he could considering how good it tasted and how much he’d missed good food. Ollie knew she was curious as to why he’d insisted she come to see him instead of his lawyer, but she wasn’t pushing him for answers while he ate.

When he’d finished and had practically licked the bowl, Laurel asked why she was there. “I’m not your lawyer, Ollie, so why did you call me? I’ll visit anytime, you don’t have to say I’m your lawyer.”

“You are. Laurel was my lawyer after her dad arrested me and she helped with the permits and legal stuff I needed to get my club going. I never fired her. So –  “ He shrugged. “She’s – you’re still my lawyer.”

“There’s not much I can do to get you out that the lawyer you hired for your trial isn’t already doing. Jean’s working her ass off to get either a presidential pardon or one from the governor.”

“First – you are a lawyer, right? A real one?” He wasn’t sure if she was or had managed to fake her way into Laurel’s former job as DA. Quentin had told him she’d said she’d never had a real job and that he didn’t think she’d been to college. That didn’t seem possible. Not going to college he could believe, but there was no way she’d never had a real job. Why she’d lie, he wasn’t certain.

“I am. You should have seen Felicity’s face, when she found out. God, I wish I’d had a camera.” She laughed. “She just knew I was a golddigger who’d sponged off Ollie all my life.”

“You told Quentin you’d never had a real job.” He pointed out.

“Yeah, well, he was trying to make me into a carbon copy of his daughter. So I told him I’d never held down a job and that I used my looks to get what I wanted.”

“Trying to be the anti-Laurel?”

“Something like that. I think he figured it out, though, he caught me reading some of her books he’d dragged out.” She lowered her voice in an imitation of Quentin. “Nobody reads law books for fun, you’re not foolin’ me one bit,sweetheart.”

“Well, he was a detective.” Ollie smiled sadly. “I miss him. Hard to believe, considering he was always threatening to taser or shoot me when Laurel and I were dating. He should have; might have done me some good.”

“I miss him, too. It felt good to have somebody care again.”

She said it so softly, he almost missed it. Reaching across the table, he rested his hand on hers and stroked the back of it with his thumb. “I care. You’re not alone anymore.”

The gentle touch and soft voice brought back a rush of memories and she pulled her hand away. “What do you want, Ollie?”

“A divorce.”

“Well, gee, and here I thought we had a good thing going. I mean, I did bring you dinner and beer like a good wife.” She winked. “And they do have trailers out there for conjugal visits.” When he didn’t smile, she realized he was serious. “A divorce? I don’t – why?”

“Can you help me with one or not?”

“I’m not a divorce lawyer, that’s not my area of practice.”

“What is?”

“Criminal law. The Lances and the Drakes have a very long history in law enforcement.”

“I know.” He smiled. “Laurel was going to be a cop and changed her mind, decided to go to law school instead..”

“Me, too. I’ll get a divorce attorney for you, it turns out I know a few.”

“No.” He shook his head. “I want you to help me.”

“Ollie –  “ That stubborn set of his jaw was so familiar it hurt. There was no changing his mind once he had it made up. The Queens had a long history of stubbornness. “Why don’t you tell me why you want a divorce and I’ll see how I can help. But, Ollie, it’s not my area, so if it’s complicated, you may have to have someone else.”

“Someone else can help you if you need it.”

She sighed. “You’re a pain in the ass.”

“I know.” His grin was unrepentant.

Getting a tablet out of her briefcase, Laurel turned it on and began to make notes. “I need to know why so I can determine if you have grounds for divorce.”

“I have to have – “ He frowned. “ You mean I can’t just say I want one?”

“Doesn’t quite work that way. They don’t want people getting in a fight over nothing, petitioning for a divorce, and then getting back together a few days later, and remarrying. Think about it, how many couples would’ve divorced and remarried a dozen times if it was that easy?”

That made sense. “I have reasons. good reasons.”

“Alrighty, then give me one.”

“She’s sending William to a boarding school. Without my permission, obviously.”

Laurel’s mouth gaped open and she nearly dropped her tablet. “She’s what? What?”

“She came to see me right after Diaz found her and William. I was so happy to see her, the guys that jumped me in the shower told me she was dead.”

“You got jumped in the shower – “ She raised an eyebrow. “Not because you’re sexy, but because they wanted to tell you your wife was dead?”

A smile softened his face. “You sound disappointed.”

“Well… I just assumed… you’re… “ Waving a hand at him, she grinned. “More than a little hot… and there’s no women in here.”

“Do I look like a bottom to you?” Ollie laughed in spite of himself. “Seriously?”

“Well, no, but you might to someone else. You do have a great ass.”

“I…. “ Some guy in here thinking he had a great ass was something he didn’t even want to think about. “Yeah, no.”

“Let’s get back to business. She’s sending him – where? Is it an Argus school? I assume they have them for their agents who have kids, right?”

“I don’t think so, but I don’t know. She said Cambridge. I didn’t think to ask if she meant England or Massachusetts. I begged her to go back into witpro with him. She wouldn’t do it. She asked me – she asked me –  “

Laurel waited, he was struggling and she didn’t want to make it harder for him. When Ollie looked up, his eyes were wet with tears and she wanted to find Felicity and punch her in the mouth for causing him to hurt like this. Reaching across the table, she took his hands and squeezed gently.

“She asked –if i knew what it was like – “  He gave a bitter laugh. “ – if I knew what it was like not to be able to protect my family.”

Are you fucking kidding me? “Ollie, I’ll find William. I’ll get him somewhere safe. Don’t worry about him. What did William say? Did he want to go?”

Ollie shook his head. “She didn’t bring him with her.”

“She…” The fact that Felicity had come to see Ollie to tell him about the attack by Diaz and that she was sending his son away without even bringing William to see him one last time was hard to believe. She’d known the woman was self-centered, she’d witnessed her behavior first hand, but this? This was beyond self-centered. “Do you want to see him? I can do that, I can bring him here and then get him somewhere safe.”

“No, I think it’s too dangerous. You know Diaz is probably watching the prison, he’s got men in here.”

“Guards?” Her experience with prison guards had taught her that they were sometimes worse than the people they were guarding.

“Not that I know of, but maybe. The guy I put in the hospital – he’s the one who told me that Diaz had killed Felicity.”

“I knew she was with Diggle, but I thought it was temporary and she’d be going back into witpro. I thought William was with her. I had no idea, Ollie, I’m sorry. You  know I won’t let anything happen to your son.”

“I know. What is she doing with Diggle? Did he leave Argus?”

“No, he’s still with them. Felicity’s doing what she does best, she’s screwing things up.” Laurel picked up her tablet and started making notes again. “He had a safe house Diaz’s goons were using under observation and she went in to plant tracking devices and blew the operation. Dragged Curtis and Rene with her. Curtis nearly lost his job.”

“Let me guess, she talked him into hacking Argus for information.”

“Interpol, actually. And then she somehow – god knows how – talked Diggle into letting her help with an op to catch Diaz and it turned into a huge cluster fuck. A couple of agents were killed and a few others injured. It was a mess.”

“Why would he let let her help?”

“Why does anyone let her do anything?” She shrugged. “I don’t get it.”

“He’s always let her talk him into anything. I think he’s her biggest fan some days.” At some point, and he couldn’t remember when, John had started to side with Felicity in nearly every argument they had.

“Yeah, well, that may have changed. They almost had Diaz. He was there and they didn’t get him.”

“Because she – “ Had to do things her way, Ollie knew without a doubt.

“There’s no guarantee the op would have been a success, however , it probably had a better chance of succeeding if the person who’d trained with the team had been the  one on the comms with them. Argus isn’t Team Arrow. It’s apples and oranges.

“It came down Diggle being the last one standing and he had this weapon – no, wait,  it’s a battery for a weapon – anyway, he told Felicity to uncouple the train car he was on from the rest of the train because Diaz and his goons, the Longbow Hunters were going to take it from him.”

Startled, Ollie interrupted her. “The Longbow Hunters?”

“You’ve heard of them?”

He nodded. “They’re legendary assassins. I was told they weren’t in business anymore, for lack of a better term.” This was not good. The Longbow Hunters reputation had been one even Ra’s had spoken of with respect.

“Looks like they’re back in business. They’re working for Diaz and were on the train with him. That’s why Diggle told her to do it, only she wasn’t going to do it.”

“Do it? You mean uncouple the train?”

Laurel nodded. “She wanted Diaz caught so bad she was going to take the chance that Diggle could somehow manage to take him and his goons out instead of Diaz getting his hands on this battery.”

“What exactly is this battery?”

“I don’t know, it’s a battery.” She shrugged. “But I do know it powers a weapon that can level a city. Guess which city the train was headed for.”

A chill crawled down his spine. “Star City.” He didn’t need to guess, there was only one target Diaz would be using a weapon like that on.

“Dinah and I took down one of the Hunters, but she got away. She had something that cut off all the sound. My scream didn’t work against it. Luckily, two screams did.” She grinned at the memory.

“So you’ve got Silencer?”

“No, the bitch got up and ran off.“ Laurel was still pissed off about it. “The thing short circuited and blew up and then she caught a double blast – “ She made a motion, spreading her hands from her mouth outwards. “ – put her through a wall and into another one – and she got up and ran off before we could get to her. Has to be a meta.”

“Probably, or maybe chemically enhanced like Slade. There’s way too many ways people can be changed.”

“Curtis took the keyboard away from Felicity and cut the car loose, so Diaz is still out there somewhere. Which does not make it easy for me to sleep at night, let me tell you. But we’ll get him, Ollie.” She assured him. “It’s just a matter of time.”

“So John’s going to make her go back into protective custody now? Because of what she did?”

“No, she won’t go and I guess he can’t make her.”

“What’s she going to do?” Felicity had always had an overinflated sense of her own skills, but this was well out of her wheelhouse. “Diaz will find her if she’s out in the open.”

“Well, she’s joined forces with the FBI Bitch.” The stunned look on Ollie’s face probably matched the one she’d had when Diggle had told her about the unlikely team up. “She told Diggle that he’s not trying hard enough to catch Diaz and she’s going to work with someone who’ll do things her way. I guess that’s the FBI.”

“She’s –  she’s going to –  “ Of all the people for Felicity to team up with, she chose the woman who maneuvered him into a corner with no choice but to give up everything and go to prison?

“Digg said Felicity thinks that catching Diaz solves everything. That’ll they’ll let you out of prison and you all go back to your old life. William will go to school, she’ll be a housewife –  or whatever she was – and you’ll be Green Arrow again. He told her that life is gone, but she’s just won’t accept it.”

“That’s why I made the deal I made. She and William would be able to have a normal life. Even if I do get out of here, and that’s a big ‘if’, there’s no way we can go back. I’m always going to be a target and anyone I care for is going to be as well. We can’t – ” He let out a huff of frustration. “Does she think we’ll just go be able to go out dinner and walk down the street and live like normal people again?”

“Apparently. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt for some people, Ollie.” Laurel frowned thoughtfully. “Maybe she has a mental issue. PTSD or something.”

“I should never have allowed her to join the team. That hallucination was right.”

“Hallucination? Oh, the Vertigo? Sorry about that, I mean, I wasn’t involved directly, but –  I wouldn’t have helped him if I’d known what he was going to do.” She sighed. “I was such an idiot.”

“Yeah, well, get in line.”

There was a knock on the door and they both jumped.

Laurel got up and opened it. The warden was standing there. She cut him off before he could speak. “Mr. Queen needs antibiotics for these injuries. I expect them to be here before I leave, I want him in the infirmary after we’re done here so that eye can be examined, and he’ll need to see a doctor within the next forty-eight hours to follow up. I’m not done here yet.” She shut the door in his face.

Ollie chuckled. “I may pay for that, but it was worth it.”

“There better not be any reprisals. You know you have the right to ask to speak to your attorney once a day, don’t let them tell you otherwise. Even if your phone privileges are suspended, you can still contact your lawyer.”

“They wouldn't let me call anyone after Sampson told me Felicity was dead. They took me to the infirmary and back to my cell and wouldn't let me call Jean.”

“I’ll tell her that. She’s trying to use the danger you’re in here to get you moved. Bias from the guards isn’t something we were expecting.”

He watched her make some more notes. “So, what do you think? Do I have grounds?”

“Oh, Ollie, you have more than grounds. You have piles, you have absolute mountains.” She studied her notes and made a list to one side. “You’ve got grounds for an At-Fault or a No-Fault petition, whichever you want.”

“What’s the difference?”

“At-Fault says you’re ending the marriage because of things she’s done. I think we can prove mental abuse, desertion, endangerment, child abandonment, and we could probably throw mental illness on there without anybody saying otherwise.”

He shook his head. “This is partly my fault. I put her –  put us – in this situation.”

You wouldn’t have put yourself in this situation if it wasn’t for her. “Okay, well, No-Fault would be irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, or irretrievable breakdown.”

“What's irretrievable breakdown? That sounds like a mental issue.”

“No.” Laurel grinned. “You’re right, it does sound like one. If I remember right, it’s where one or both are no longer willing to live with the other one. Granted, you’re in prison anyway, but that’s not automatically grounds for divorce because when you get out, you could live together if you want. Plus, conjugal visits are allowed, like I said earlier.”

“I don’t want to live with her. Not ever.” Ollie shook his head. “I shouldn’t have married her to begin with. I just… she loves me, I mean I think she does, and I loved her. I mean, not like – ” He shook his head. “I just didn’t want to be alone anymore, you know?”

Oh, I know. “That means there’s no hope of redemption of spousal duties –  living together – once you’re free, so the marriage is basically already over.”

“It is.” It had been for some time, he just hadn’t wanted to admit it.

“I’ll get someone to help me with this so there’s no issues, and get the papers to you as quick as I can.”

“Then what?”

“You sign them, we file them with the court, and a judge signs off. Usually they want a ninety day period in between, but I may be able to get it reduced to thirty considering the circumstances.” She smirked. “And I know some judges, which is so handy.”

“What if she says no? What if she fights it?” Felicity had always considered him her property even when they weren’t a couple, she wasn’t likely to let this go unchallenged.

“She really can’t, Ollie. This isn’t the dark ages where people can force you to stay married to them. We can have her served with a copy of the petition or since you’re in prison, I may be able to do an in absentia, and just run notices in the area papers advising her that you’ve filed. If she doesn’t see them, that’s her problem.”

“That’s legal?”

“Absolutely. You don’t have any property, or money, she’s not pregnant, and William is your son and not hers –  she’s abandoned him in a manner of speaking, anyway, – clearly she’s not interested in custody – so there’s nothing to do but give her a copy saying ‘congratulations, you’re divorced’ and that’s it.”

He was quiet, staring at the table top and tracing random patterns in the moisture left on the beer bottle.

“It’ll be okay, Ollie, eventually. Here –  “ Laurel took the chocolate cake and bottle of milk out of the bag and set it on the table in front of him. “Chocolate fixes everything.”

“I don’t think it’ll fix this.”

“No, but it won’t hurt.” When Ollie didn’t pick up the fork, she picked it up and handed it to him. “When I get back, Raisa’s going to ask me if you ate everything and I can’t lie to her.” He raised an eyebrow and she added. “The woman is a human lie detector on any Earth, you know that. Now eat.”

“Raisa made this?”

“Of course she did. You couldn’t tell that was her chili?” Laurel pretended to be insulted. “Do you think I’d bring you food from anybody else?”

“I honestly thought I was imagining it.” Taking the fork, he cut into the cake. “I just figured it was so good because I haven’t had any real food in so long. Please don’t tell her I didn’t know.”

“I won’t, but you owe me.”

“Hmmfph.” He was too busy eating the cake to answer. It was so good he felt like crying. There was a chocolate brownie they had on Sundays, but he wasn’t convinced there was any chocolate in it. Brown chalk dust, maybe, but definitely not chocolate.

Laurel watched him eat the piece of cake like it was the last piece of cake in the world. Once again, she wished Ollie would let her blow a hole in the wall and get him out of this horrible place. If those pardons didn’t materialize soon, she was going to whether he wanted her or too or not.

Signing, she made a few more notations before saving the document. “I can be back tomorrow with the papers and, once you sign them, file them by tomorrow afternoon. Is that soon enough?”

Ollie looked up from chasing the last crumbs around the dish with his fingers. “Is it possible to do it sooner?”

“Yes. You can give me power of attorney and I can sign the petition for you and have it filed today.”

“Power of attorney?” He stared into her eyes, looking for a sign of deceit. The hazel eyes were so like his Laurel’s that he struggled to see past his memories to her real meaning.

“Ollie.” She met his gaze squarely. “You don’t have any money. No house. No car. Nothing. You have nothing to steal.”

That was true. He had less now than he’d had when he was washed up on Lian Yu twelve years ago. There was nothing left for her or anyone else to steal from him. “How do we do it?”

“You sign a power of attorney statement.” Digging in her briefcase, she pulled out a folder. “Jean said to bring these with me, I thought she had a screw loose.”

Ollie looked at the papers in the folder. “So I just sign?”

“Not yet.” Getting up, Laurel went to the door and opened it. Leaning out, she made a mental note of where the guard and the warden were standing. They were just outside the defined legal limit. “I need someone to notarize a power of attorney.” When they stared at her she spread her hands. “Now.”

Closing the door, she leaned on it. “Should we time them? I bet it’s less than ten minutes.”

“I think they’re more scared of you than that.” He grinned, remember how the guard had backed away from her. “I say it’ll be less than five.”

“You’re on.”

Ollie waved a hand at his prison uniform. “You forget I don’t have anything to bet with.”

She shrugged. “Eh, I’ll let you take it out in trade.”

Before he could ask what she meant by that, there was a knock on the door and Laurel turned around to let in a man in a guard’s uniform holding a notary stamp. “You needed me?” He asked.

“Yes. Standard power of attorney.” She went back to the table and sat down next to Ollie again. “To save a trip back out here tomorrow to file papers for him or any legal paperwork that needs to be done in the future.”

The man nodded. This was standard for many of the prisoners in Slabside. Their lawyers didn’t like to come up here if they didn’t have to.

“There’s three copies.” She told Ollie. “One to put in your file here, one for Jean to file with the court, and one for me to carry. That way no one can question anything I sign for you or say you were coerced into giving me your power of attorney.”

“Okay.” Ollie took the pen she handed him and signed all three copies on the line above his name.

Laurel signed her name on all three and then slid them to the guard to officially witness and notarize. “These can be rescinded at any time. You call me or Jean and we tear them up. Only me or Jean –  “ She tapped a fingernail on his arm. “– no one here. You trust no one here.”

“I’ve figured that out.” He told her.

She put two of the papers in the folder and back into her briefcase. “I want that one in Mr. Queen’s file. I’ll check the next time I’m here and it better be in there.”

“It will be, Ms. Lance.” The man picked up the prison’s copy and tucked into an empty folder he’d brought with him. “Despite what you think, we do try to do everything by the book.”

“The question is, which book?” She gave him a smile that could have frozen water. “We’re done. Get out.”

After the man left, Ollie laughed. “I bet you’re giving them hell at City Hall.”

“Oh, I am. It was amazing how many defense attorneys thought I was going to let their clients skate the way Armand did. No, not happening. Sell drugs to school kids? Go to jail. Steal old people’s food stamps? Go to jail. Rape a girl walking home from work at night? Go to jail.” She paused. “Under the jail if I could manage it.”

“You know what they say…”

“I do.” She put the empty containers back into her bag. “Let’s go with ‘nothing like a reformed villain’ instead of what you’re thinking.”

“I wasn’t thinking that.” He held his hands up in protest. “I would never think that.”

“Good, because I literally have power over you now. So, watch it or you’ll be on a gluten free vegetarian diet.”

“Couldn’t be any worse than what they’re already serving me. I once cooked a chicken over a fire - mostly burned it -  and I hadn’t gotten all the feathers off – it was better than this.”

“I’ve had prison food; I believe it.”

That wasn’t the first time she’d mentioned being in prison and Ollie was curious, but decided against asking for details. Maybe someday they could sit somewhere far from here and swap stories. “I was going to say that the Lance’s believe in justice.” When she looked at him, he smiled. “And you don’t ever want to get in their way.”

“Damn straight.” Closing up her briefcase, Laurel turned to him. “I know what you think about me –  what everyone thinks about me – but I wasn’t always like I was when you met me, Ollie.”

“I know.” When they’d talked while she was a captive in the Bunker and later in front of the statue of Black Canary, he’d seen the despair in her eyes. the silent plea for help that he’d been unable to answer. He’d often wondered since that night how different things might have been if Felicity hadn’t ordered the team to ambush her. Would Chase have been caught before he destroyed William’s life? “And I wasn’t always the way I am now.”

“Well…” Sighing, she trailed her fingers along his jaw, scraping her fingernails through his beard. “All we can do is try to be more like… who we were supposed to be.”

“Get me out of here and I’ll start trying. William deserves a better man for a father.”

“You are a good man, Ollie. You just have questionable methods.”

“Questionable? Murder isn’t –  “

“Ah-ah!” She shook her finger at him. “Your lawyer councils against you saying words like that. Let’s stick with questionable.”

“Questionable.” He nodded. “Got it. I questionabled a lot of people.”

“That’s the spirit.” Getting up, she picked the pen up and hit the button on the end. “I’ll call you once I’ve got these filed.”

“They may not let me come to the phone.”

“Oh, yes they will.” Laurel smiled. “They don’t want me to come back out here.”

Ollie shivered slightly, the look in her eyes left no doubt what would happen if she had to come back to Slabside to enforce his rights. It was a look he’d seen in his Laurel’s eyes when she was about to tear into someone. Her smile softened and he wondered for a moment if he’d imagined it.

“I want you to behave. No more beating people up, not with books or anything else. Keep your eyes open and watch your back, but don’t antagonize anybody.”

“Yes, Mom.” He rolled his eyes, what did she think he’d been doing for the last five months? Not counting the thing in the yard, which was perfectly understandable.

“Ollie.” Laurel tugged on his beard to get his attention. “I’m serious. Jean is working her ass off trying to convince everyone that you’re not a dangerous criminal who deserves to be locked up in here. I know you’ve kept your cool ‘til now, I’m asking you to just hang in there a little longer.”

Her earnestness caught him off guard, he hadn’t believed that anyone was really trying to get him out of Slabside. Jean was polite and honest that his chances were slim to none, and John never mentioned the possibility of his getting out at all. His visits were always focused on Diaz and that Felicity and William were still safe. No one else ever visited.

“What is this thing?” Laurel frowned and tugged on his beard again.

“It’s a beard. They won’t let me have a razor.”

“Hmm…” She made a face. “It’s okay, but the neck beard is just… not attractive.”

“Considering I shower with men who haven’t had sex in god knows how long…” Making a face, he shook his head. “I don’t want to look attractive.”

“You’ll need to lose those washboard abs and gain about a hundred pounds before that happens.” His eyebrows went up and she wished she’d never mentioned his abs. Standing, put the tablet in her briefcase and secured the clasps. “I have to go or I won’t get these filed before the courthouse closes.”

Standing, he put a hand on her arm. “Laurel, I appreciate this.”

“Yeah, well, you haven’t gotten my bill yet.” She joked.

“Laurel.” When she turned to face him, he slid his hand up to her shoulder and squeezed gently. “I mean it. I appreciate it, more than I can say.”

If she said anything, she’d start crying and she hated crying. Pulling Ollie into a hug, she held him for a moment, rubbing her hands up and down his back.After a moment, he returned the hug, holding her against him, and resting his cheek against hers.

Laurel pulled back after a moment. Ollie’s eyes were bright and he was blinking hard. Human touch was something she’d craved so badly when she’d been alone in her cell for months, he probably felt the same way. She ruffled his beard with her fingertips, trying to lighten the mood. “When you get out,  just trim that up and shave the neckbeard, ok?”

“You think?” He hadn’t given much thought to what to do with his beard if he ever got out of Slabside.

“Sure.” She leaned in to whisper in his ear. “Chicks dig a man with a beard.”

Patting his shoulder, she went to the door. “I’ll find out where William is and I’ll go get him.”

“What if Felicity won’t tell you where he is?”

“Oh, Ollie…” Her smile was vicious. “I can be very persuasive.”

He wanted to feel sorry for Felicity, but she’d put his son in danger. Any love he’d had for her had vanished when she’d told him she’d sent William away and told him how hard things were for her as if he hadn’t sacrificed everything for her safety.

Opening the door, she looked at the warden and the guard who were still exactly at the edge of the legally defined distance. “I’m ready to go. Where are those antibiotics?” When the warden showed her a packet, she took it and examined it carefully. “Water? Is he just supposed to dry swallow these?”

“There’s a water fountain on the way back to the his cell.” The warden told her.

“I guess that’ll do. Be sure that guy –  “ She jerked her thumb at the waiting guard. “–  doesn’t forget to stop.”

“I’ll go with him and make sure Mr. Queen takes his medication.” He assured her. Anything to get her out of his house as quickly as possible.

Satisfied that Ollie wouldn’t be forced to take the pills without water or simply not given them at all, Laurel stepped back so they could enter the consultation room.

The guard gestured to the forgotten shackles on the table as he came in. Ollie sat down and put his arms on the table obediently.

“I better not see any bruises on him the next time I’m here.” Laurel told the warden as he followed the guard in. “And I will be back soon. Randomly. Unexpectedly.”

“Ms. Lance, as long as 4587 –  “ He backed up a step at the look of fury in her eyes. “Mr. Queen behaves himself, he won’t have any more bruises.”

“I want guards specifically assigned to be sure there’s no repeat of the attacks on Mr. Queen like there were in the mess and the showers. His well being is your responsibility.” She tapped a finger on his chest hard enough to make him wince. “If he’s hurt, your grandchildren will still be paying the lawsuit damages.”

Turning from the warden, Laurel smiled at Ollie. “You call me anytime you need me, Ollie, night or day.”

“I will.” He watched her walk out, cell phone already in her hand before the guard blocked his view. Ducking his head down, he stared at the floor as the shackles were placed around his wrists once again and tried not to let the helplessness he’d felt earlier come back. Instead, he focused on Laurel’s voice as she started giving orders to whatever hapless assistant had gotten her call and he strained to hear her voice as long as he could.

“Joanna, I’m going to email you my notes and I want the papers ready when I get back to Star City so we can file them before the courthouse closes. Just read the email when you get it, you’ll know what to do. And look up the in absentia for petitioners who’re incarcerated. Call Judge Castle, I want a rush on this. And then, find out where Felicity Smoak is staying. I need to have a word with her.”

A smile covered Ollie’s face as he shuffled out the door towards his cell. He couldn’t wait to hear about that meeting.