Oliver walked into the visitation room, wondering who had requested to see him. John had already had his monthly visit, and while he hoped it was Felicity – he doubted he would see her anytime soon, if ever – and there was no one else Oliver could think of who would want to visit him. He stopped short when he saw it was Laurel on the other side of the glass.
She smiled and waved when she spotted him and he smiled back, happy to see her before remembering she wasn't his Laurel and she had no business being here. Angrily he went to the chair directly across from her on his side of the thick glass. He snatched the phone off of the holder. “What are you doing here?”
“I came here to tell you what information I've gotten so far. I told them I was your lawyer so that we could get a consultation room rather than sit here in this – “ Laurel gestured to the other people in the visiting area. “– very open area. But they wouldn't buy it.”
“Maybe that's because you're not my lawyer.”
“I know that. All you need to do is tell him I am your lawyer and then they’ll let us have a private consultation room.”
“That's not going to happen.” He was irritated just looking at her. What the hell did she think she was doing? It was bad enough she was pretending to be Laurel – his Laurel – and playing at being Star City's district attorney when she didn't have a clue what she was doing. But now she wanted to pretend to be his lawyer? Ollie shook his head in disbelief.
“Okay, well if you want to do it this way…” Laurel flipped open the folder she’d brought with her. “I’ve been trying to get a pardon from the President. After all, the guy did give you two medals, and he could give you a pardon based on saving the world. Twice. I'm also trying with the Governor. Basically the same thing; you saved the world which includes his little state, not to mention Star City, numerous times.”
“You're trying to get me a pardon?”
“Yes I am. Why would you think that I wasn't?” She looked up from the file, surprised he’d think otherwise.
“Well, l I figured you were too busy playing bigshot DA.” He said sarcastically.
She raised an eyebrow, but ignored his tone. “Luckily for you, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. The other option I’ve been exploring is that the FBI bitch basically ignored FBI protocol. She sat back and let Diaz take control of the city – actually, before him she let Cayden James take control of the city. She actually ordered her agents to stand down. That is a serious breach of FBI protocol and more than a few laws.
“Right now she's on a desk in DC because she helped Felicity break into the CDC. I could have told her that was a stupid idea. Once I get this report to their Internal Affairs division, and they see that she deliberately sat back and let not one, but two , criminals take over Star City – she’ll be lucky if she's able to get a job as a crossing guard.”
“Wait, Felicity broke into the CDC? Why?” What the hell was she thinking?
“Who knows? Diaz was involved.” Laurel shrugged. “Add to that she waited – even after being asked by the mayor to step in and help – she refused to do so until you admitted that you were the Green Arrow and agreed to go to prison for his crimes. I’m pretty sure she didn't bring enough agents in to help catch him, either. She left that completely up to you.”
Oliver gave her a dirty look. “I did catch him and you let him go.”
“You did catch him and I didn't let him go.” It irritated her that people thought she’d deliberately helped Diaz escape. “I hit him full blast, blew him off a building, and a couple of blocks away into the bay. He should be dead. You know he should be dead. How he's alive, I have no idea. He didn't display any type of special abilities, besides being a bully, when I was with him. If he's some kind of meta, he was keeping it hidden.
“Regardless, she coerced you into giving yourself up and confessing that you were the Green Arrow. You were forced to incriminate yourself in order to get a federal agent to do her job. There are laws to prevent that from happening.” Laurel held up a hand and started counting on her fingers. “So we've got a coerced confession. You were incarcerated here twenty–four hours after they arrested you. Your trial is literally fifteen minutes long.”
“Well, everyone is guarantee a speedy trial.” Ollie said mockingly.
“That's just a little too speedy.”
“Well I did confess.” He shrugged. “So there wasn't much to it besides ‘are you the Green Arrow and did you commit his crimes?’ I said ‘yes’ they said ‘guilty’ and then they shipped me here.”
“Even when someone confesses to a crime, there is still an actual trial. It's not the same as the usual trial with presenting evidence and arguing the sides, but there is still a process. And it was completely ignored. So you were incarcerated here without a fair trial.” Laurel was holding four fingers up and she smiled. “I may be able to get the conviction overturned on that alone.”
He stared at her, not quite sure what to think as Laurel continued listing reasons why she thought she could get his conviction overturned even though he had confessed to being the Green Arrow and Green Arrow had been accused of more than one murder. He didn’t know what she thought she was doing. Was she trying to impress him somehow? Was his part of her masquerade of being the real Laurel?
“What exactly are you trying to prove?” Oliver asked her.
Laurel looked at him like he was the village idiot. “I'm trying to get you out of here, Ollie.” She said it slowly just in case he had a head injury. Judging from the bruises all over his face, it was a possibility.
“If nothing else, I can probably get you moved back to Iron Heights, so we can go through a proper trial in Star City. Where I will advise you to renounce your claim to being Green Arrow. You’ll say you were coerced into confessing and that you are in fact not the Green Arrow.”
“But I am the Green Arrow.” There was no way anyone would believe he wasn’t at this point.
She held up a hand and shushed him. “No. You’re not. Do not say that again. We saw in court Tommy Merlyn was the Green Arrow remember? He came in, planted himself on the stand, and confessed. Remember?”
“And I stood on the courthouse steps and said that Tommy was in fact not the Green Arrow. Remember?” He said sarcastically.
“I do. I saw it on TV along with everybody else. However…” Laurel grinned. “No one has ever explained exactly how Tommy Merlyn was alive and in that courtroom. You said Tommy wasn’t the Green Arrow – but we saw him. It was on TV. It’s all over the internet, Ollie.” She grinned even bigger. “And you’re here, but Green Arrow has been seen in Star City several times over the last month. Millions of people have seen Tommy’s heroic entrance and confession – and they believe it’s him.”
“We both know it’s not Tommy. Whoever that is, he’s not Green Arrow.”
“He’s dressed in green and shoots arrows, ergo, he’s the Green Arrow – and since you’re here – “ She waved a hand to indicate his position on the wrong side of the glass. “– you can’t be.”
“We both know – “
“We both know – more importantly, the public knows – I was the Black Canary. Ollie, I sat in court and swore under oath that you are not the Green Arrow and I’ve repeated that in more than one press conference when asked about the Green Arrow who’s currently active in Star City. The public believes me, because who else absolutely knows who he really is?” She tapped her chest. “If not Black Canary?”
Despite himself, Ollie felt a glimmer of hope. “It’s not going to be that simple.”
“We’ll see. I'm going to need the details of what happened to get you sent to Level Two. I know that you injured some guards, but I get the feeling they were dirty and you were defending yourself. Plus, you didn’t cause any permanent injuries. We can easily spin that into self defense.”
“It wasn’t self – “ He stopped as Laurel shook a finger at him.
“Don’t say that, either! I want the details on how you were out of your cell in the middle of the night and how you manage to get the shiv. I don't for a minute believe you sat around making it.
“They're already saying that you were trying to escape. I don't believe that, either, because I think if you wanted to escape you would have. Apparently another prisoner did escape and you could have gotten away with them. Were you covering for the person who escaped? Possibly. Or possibly you were just trying to hide because there was a riot in progress.”
He wondered how she knew that little bit of information. ”Did she give you the flash drive?”
“Talia? Yes she did. Genius getting that to us by the way.” Laurel gave him a thumbs up and a smile. “For this prison to have a hidden level where they were experimenting and torturing prisoners and killing them – that’s going to help get you out of here. We can show that you are in danger – number one – and – number two – in spite of grave personal danger you exposed this terrible thing that was happening – and – number three – saved who knows how many lives in the process.”
“That, I did do.” While he hadn’t done it in the hopes of getting himself out of prison, Ollie wasn’t against using it to get out if he could.
“That shows that even though you’re not the Green Arrow, and you most certainly are not, you are still a good man and a heroic type of person who doesn't deserve to be here. I’m going to need a few more details to flesh that out, Ollie.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” What Dr. Parker had done to him was still too raw to talk about. His forced therapy had brought too many questions to the surface, things he’d never thought to ask himself about the promise he’d made to his father..
“I’m sorry, I know you don’t want to talk about what he did, but we have to.” Laurel bit her lip and then gave him what she hoped was an encouraging smile. “We really should do this in a consultation room where we will have more privacy. It’ll be easier for you that way.”
The short walls formed a small booth of sorts to give some semblance of privacy, but Laurel was easily able to overhear the discussion next to her about how little Johnny had been caught smoking pot and was in juvie and it was all his father’s fault for being locked up in the first place. On the other side she was hearing some pretty detailed dirty talk. She wasn't really sure why someone would visit someone in prison and talk dirty over the phone to them because it wasn't like the guy could beat off with guards standing right behind him.
“We don't need any privacy.” Ollie told her.
“We do.” She insisted. “Anything we say out here isn’t privileged because it can be overheard. We need to be somewhere where we can talk and everything we say is privileged information that can’t be used against you. Just tell the guard I’m your lawyer.”
“Why would I ever tell them you're my lawyer?”
“Do you want to get out of prison?” Maybe he did have a head injury. Laurel made a mental note to check on what medical care he’d received.
“Of course I want to get out of prison. What kind of stupid question is that?”
“Then you need to help me help you to get out of here.” She patted the folder. “I’ve got plenty of material here I think we can use, but it’s still going to be difficult unless – “
He interrupted her. “It must be difficult to win a case when you're not a real lawyer.”
Laurel stared at him in shock. That was a slap in the face. Of all people she hadn’t expected this from Ollie. Everyone else, sure, they always thought the worst of her, but he hadn’t. Apparently he’d finally decided that she was absolutely worthless like just his ‘Team Arrow’ friends did. She threw up her hands in frustration. “Why does everyone keep saying that?”
“Because you're not a real lawyer. You're just pretending to be a real lawyer. Like you're pretending to be the real Laurel.”
Her temper bubbled up and she forced herself to keep it under control. “I am the real Laurel. My name is Dinah Laurel Lance. That's the name I was given at birth by my mother and my father. Now, maybe I wasn't born here, but it’s still who I am.”
Oliver shrugged, trying to pretend the hurt look on her face didn’t make him want to apologize. “Maybe you should go back there and be who you really are.”
“Well, I would if I could. But I can't.” She shrugged. “So I won't.”
The nonchalant way she said it pissed him off. “You shouldn't be pretending to be a lawyer; taking Laurel’s job. You're going to screw up and it's going to ruin her legacy – her memory.” My memories!
“Are you serious?” Here she was working her ass off trying to get him out of prison and his biggest worry was about his dead Laurel’s legacy?
“As a heart attack. You're not a real lawyer.”
Until now, she’d been dismissive of his friend’s belief that she was only pretending to be a lawyer, not bothering to justify their snotty comments by asking why they thought what they did. Now, however, she was tired of it and wanted the source the rumors. “How do you know?”
It was his turn to shrug. “Because I just know.”
“Because you just assumed, is what you mean.” She shook her head. “You really don’t know anything.”
“You told Quentin you’d had never had a real job, that you had no idea how to even write a resume, and you hadn't been to law school. There’s no reason to believe Quentin would lie.”
“That is not what I told him.” So that was where everyone had gotten the idea she was faking being a lawyer. “I told him I've never had a real job, and that's the truth. I've never worked in fast food, I've never been a babysitter, bagged groceries – never had what a lot of people would consider a–” She made air quotes. “– real job.”
“That's because most people don't consider stealing, destroying buildings, and killing people as a real job.” Ollie deadpanned.
“Well, actually, some people do consider that a real job.” She said snidely.
“You were pretty good at it, so I don't understand why you didn't stick with it.”
“I am doing this for two reasons. I'm doing it for Quentin, because he wouldn't want you to be in here. He would want someone doing everything they could to get you out of here.”
“What's the second reason? Getting your jollies off pretending to be someone good for a change? Why keep pretending that you’re someone that you’re not?” Her decision to take over Laurel’s life and Quentin’s acceptance, even encouragement, was something Oliver couldn’t understand.
She leaned in until her nose was practically on the glass between them. “Because you may not be my Ollie, but you're still Oliver Queen, and I am not going to let you rot in here for the rest of your life. Don’t you think that's what your Laurel would want me to do?”
“Don't you even bring her up to me.” He snarled at her.
“You assume that I am absolutely nothing like her don't you?”
“I don't have to assume, because I know that you are absolutely nothing like her.”
“That's your problem – you’re assuming. When I came to this – ” She wasn't sure she should go around mentioning multiple Earths in a waiting room full of people. It was doubtful they’d believe it, but they might think she was crazy. “ – place – I thought you were dead. Turns out you weren't, of course. And then I assumed that, like my Ollie, you had gotten a bachelor's in business and economics from SCU.” She smirked at his startled look before continuing. “And that you had enrolled at Hudson to get your MBA right before you left on the Gambit with your father. Oh, for a business trip, not to cheat on me, by the way.
“Imagine my surprise to find out that you flunked out of not one, but four colleges. And you were on the Gambit because you were screwing your Laurel’s sister. I assumed you were exactly like my Ollie and it turns out you are nothing like him at all. Absolutely nothing .”
Oliver was surprised to hear his counterpart on Earth-2 had actually managed to stay in college long enough to earn a degree, but it didn't change anything. “Thank you for making my point.”
“Oh, I didn't make your point, Ollie, I made my point. You assume that I'm nothing like her and I assumed you were exactly like him. We were both wrong. Because that's what happens when you assume.”
“If you’re really a lawyer – “ He sat back and smiled at her. “Prove it.”
“I can't show you my law degree because it was destroyed along with everything else I owned after ARGUS arrested me. They were very careful to make everyone think I’d gotten a job offer on the east coast and just packed up and moved. They didn’t want anyone to realize I was missing and start asking questions.”
That was something Oliver hadn't heard before, and he wasn't sure if she was telling the truth or not. Barry had told him Laurel had been in prison on Earth-2, but he didn't have a lot of details. Other than the fact Zoom had broken her out and she had helped him go on a rampage there before coming to their Earth to do the same.
“I’m sure they had a good reason for arresting you.” He smirked.
“Oh, they did.” She nodded in agreement. “I was a meta.”
“A meta? What does that have to do with it?”
“Everything. There were metas – that’s what the newspapers were calling us – popping up all over the place and most of them weren’t good. You have to understand, it wasn’t like here with Barry and Dinah and Cisco – “ She shook her head. “They were robbing and killing and – well, doing what some people will do when they discover they have an ability that lets them do just about anything they want.”
“And… you weren’t one of them?” Oliver could see how angry she was, but he still wasn’t sure he believed her story.
“No! My father was a cop, for god’s sake! Like his father and his grandfather and – “ Laurel stopped, not sure how to impress on him that she’d had respect for the law practically stamped into her DNA. “I became a lawyer instead of a cop because I thought it would be a better way to make sure people got the justice they deserved instead of seeing the person who hurt them get away with it because they used the legal system to twist the law to their advantage.”
Oliver blinked in surprise. He’d heard this exact same statement from his Laurel when she’d made the decision to go to law school instead of the police academy.
“I didn’t break the law, Ollie. I never hurt anyone” Laurel tapped her chest. “I never did anything to anyone. I never used my new, really scary ability against anyone. I actually practiced to figure out how to control it so I wouldn't accidentally hurt someone. I – didn’t do – anything – wrong!”
She was jabbing her finger against her chest hard enough he thought she’d probably have bruises later. She stopped and he could see she was struggling to control her emotions. “What happened?” He asked softly.
“It was early, and we – we didn’t know – so I didn't know to hide it. I mean, I didn't walk around waving a sign saying ‘hey I can do this sonic scream’ –” Laurel touched her throat. “– but I didn't necessarily hide it from people I knew.”
“Someone you knew turned you in?”
“Nothing like that. I stopped a mugging. I – uh – “ Laurel laughed, she still remembered the feeling of happiness and triumph that night thinking that her life was finally back on track. “Outside this club – I’d been dragged out to have fun with Iris and Barry and some friends – karaoke and – “
She smiled at the memory of realizing she actually was having fun and didn’t have to pretend for a change. “We were leaving and there was this guy getting beat up in the parking lot by two guys who’d taken his watch and his wallet and apparently that wasn’t enough, I don’t know. Maybe they just wanted to beat him up.”
“You know Barry and Iris? That Barry and Iris, I mean?” He’d met both through his Laurel; Iris and Laurel had been friends since they were kids.
“I’ve known Iris for a long time, she’s why I moved to Central City. After the Glades – “ There were a lot of bad memories tied up with the destruction of the Glades. She could still hear Tommy gasping for breath, see his blood everywhere, hear his confession – I always loved you, Laurel – feel his heart stop beating. “I had to get out of Starling City. Everyone I loved was dead.”
Her eyes were wet and he could see she was struggling to hold back tears. Oliver wanted to believe her, wanted to believe she wasn’t faking it.
“So, I wade in – I’ve got a handful of black belts and I’m a cop’s daughter, no way I’m just dialing 911 and not helping. After I hit them a few times, they took off running, and I just let it out and knocked them down – and out. It was the first time I ever used my cry on someone.”
There was a big smile and a faraway look on her face as if she were reliving the moment. She looked so much like his Laurel he had to look away.
“We could hear sirens and I didn’t want to explain, so we left.” Laurel took a deep breath as the good memories faded. “I never thought that I shouldn’t do it. I mean, why not?”
“There’s a reason we wear masks, and it’s not just because we want privacy.” Oliver shook his head. “People don’t like what they can’t understand. They’re afraid of it.”
“Yeah, I found that out. A few weeks later, I was at City Hall working late and there were four CCPD officers in the elevator I got on. I didn’t think anything about it, there were always police everywhere, it was City Hall. One of them said ‘Ms. Lance you’re working late again’ and I assumed I’d met him and just didn’t remember. Then after the doors closed, one of them tasered me” Laurel shuddered at the memory. “Have have you ever been tasered, Ollie?
Holding up his left wrist, he showed her the mark left by the bracelet he’d been wearing on Level Two and grimaced at the memory. “Yes. Too many times.”
“I never had. It felt like every cell in my body was on fire and it just went on forever. I thought I was going to die. I finally passed out. When I came to I was strapped down to an examination table and I had a metal collar on. My cry wouldn’t work – it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the collar was shutting it off somehow. This woman – Waller was her name, I found out later – she was smiling at me and said ‘Ms. Lance, we’ve been looking for you’ like we’d bumped into each other at party or something.”
“Waller?” The name startled him and he nearly dropped the phone. “Amanda Waller?”
“The same. I guess she was a bitch here, too, huh? Too bad she’s dead.” Laurel frowned. She’d been looking forward to killing this Earth’s Waller, too, and the bitch had already been killed.
“I had a – unpleasant experience with her.” Which was the extremely short version of what had happened.
“Do you know what the policy is for meta humans on my particular floating rock in space?” She asked.
“I've heard that it's not very –”
“Meta humans are illegal. The policy is that we should not exist. The only good meta human is a dead one. We’re rounded up and executed.” Laurel laughed bitterly. “Well, the lucky ones are. The ones that aren’t lucky are kept alive so they can be tested .”
“Tested?” That had a decidedly unpleasant similarity to what had just happened to him on Level Two.
“I was kept in a ten by ten room with no windows, and I didn't see anyone except for the times they would come to get me to ‘test’ me or take samples. I have this really cool scar on the back of my head –” She reached up to the back of her head and ran her fingers over the familiar scar. “I’ll show it to you once we get you out of here – they just kinda cut a chunk open and then poked around on my brain to see if they could set off my cry without me actually doing it for them. They wanted to see how to make me scream. Which I did, but not the scream that they wanted.”
The thought that they had opened her skull and played with her brain while she was conscious was horrifying. “Jesus Christ…”
“The lighting never changed, it was always this dim twilight. It never got brighter and it never got dark. I'm sure you found out during your short little trip to solitaire, being alone with only the thoughts in your head hour after hour and day after day and you can’t get a good night’s sleep – you're going to go crazy after a while.”
Solitaire hadn’t actually been effective with him because he’d learned meditation techniques to keep track of time and keep his mind active. He somehow doubted Laurel had had the same training.
“So when Zoom showed up two years later and he broke the collar off, you bet I was happy to help him out.” Her smile was bitter. “And that was my job from then on.”
“Two years?” His short time on Level Two had been nearly enough to make him lose his grip on who he was, he couldn’t imagine what his mental state would have been like after two years.
Laurel took a deep breath, willing the unpleasant memories to get back behind the door where she kept them. “Now, let me tell you what you need to know about me so you won’t assume anymore.” Her voice was shaky and she took another deep breath to calm herself. “Unlike your Laurel, I didn’t grow up with my parents and my little sister. I don’t have a sister. I don't even remember my mother; I was so little when she died. My father died on my thirteenth birthday, while bringing home my birthday cake.”
Quentin had told him how her father had been killed on her birthday by a drunk driver. If it was a fake sob story, she was sticking to it.
“I had great foster parents, thank god, because there’s some horrible ones out there. They didn't want me to work while I was in high school. They wanted me to focus on getting good grades because I had already decided to be a lawyer, and law school is very, very expensive.”
He nodded, remembering Laurel filling out stacks of forms for scholarships in case her college fund didn’t cover the cost of law school.
“I had a college fund that my mother's life insurance had gone into, and then my father’s, too. When I went to college, I had scholarships and grants that paid for everything – housing, food, books – everything. So I didn't have to work.”
“And having a rich boyfriend. That probably helped quite a bit.” He smirked.
“Yes, I did have a rich boyfriend. A very rich boyfriend.” She smiled and nodded. “And if I’d needed any money, I could have asked Ollie for it and he would have given it to me. No questions asked and no strings. But I didn't need it, and I didn't ask. I wouldn’t let him spend too much on me for gifts, dinners, or whatever – I assume your Laurel was the same way.”
“She was.” More than once Laurel had handed him back something she thought was too expensive. He still remembered the fight they’d had because she wouldn’t let him buy her a new car.
“When I went to law school I actually turned down scholarships and grants because I suddenly had a lot of money that my rich boyfriend had left to me – when – when he died.” Laurel’s voice cracked despite her effort to keep it steady. Even now it was hard for her to say the words about Ollie dying and remembering the excitement they’d had of planning their life together vanishing.
“He left you money?”
“Yes. Is that so hard to believe?” She frowned at him. “Oh, wait, you didn't have a will?”
“No why would I?” He’d only been twenty-two.
“Because that's what people do; especially when they have a lot of money. They have a will so that it goes to where they want it to go and not to where the state thinks it should go. Which is usually into the state’s pockets.”
He knew that now, after finding his mother had a very detailed will, but he hadn't thought about any of that when he was twenty-two. When he’d returned he’d found his trust fund had been dissolved and put back into the family money. His cars had been transferred into his mother’s name and sold because she couldn’t stand seeing them in the garage.
“I'm sure it was pretty easy for the Queens to get things tidied up. You didn't really own anything that I know of. Well I'm assuming anyway.” Laurel said scornfully. “I'm sure you didn't own any houses, or property, or any shares of QC yet. There was just your trust fund, right? I'm sure it was easy enough for your mother to get it dissolved. Your cars were no big deal, they probably put them in her name and sold them. Any lawyer’s going to be able to do that, and your mother could afford some good ones.”
Oliver was startled that she knew exactly what he just been thinking.
“My Ollie, however, was smarter than you are. He had a will set up. His trust fund, his cars, and his shares in QC were all left to me. I didn't really want any of it, but there it was. His mom didn't fight it because she considered me part of the family. Just like I'm sure your mom considered your Laurel part of your family. Or so I assume .”
That was true. His mother had acted like Laurel was her future daughter in law as soon as he’d told her they were dating. Probably sooner, considering how she’d smiled and said it was about time.
“Like your Laurel, I graduated magna cum laude and in the top ten percent of my class, except I went to Stanford. I had originally been enrolled at Harvard, by the way.” At his surprised look she grinned. “That's right. Harvard Law School. I chose it because it was close to Hudson. Wait, that’s not quite true.” Laurel held up a finger. “Ollie chose Hudson because it was close to Harvard. He wasn’t as picky about where he got his degree as I was”
Her smile faded. “Then his father said he wanted Ollie to come with him on this little business trip to China. Just the two of them. Father and son male bonding and all that.”
He knew how this part of the story ended. His counterpart had drowned when the Gambit sank. Oliver wondered if the Gambit on Earth-2 had gone down for the same reason it had here. Had his father’s trip been an attempt to stop the Undertaking as well?
“He didn't really want to go on the trip, we were getting our apartment set up. Trying to get everything figured out, all the logistics. We wanted to be able to come home every day and be together just like we had at SCU.”
His eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You two were living together? Not just talking about it?”
She nodded. “Ollie and I started dating in high school, senior year. After graduation he wanted to party and get wild with Tommy, and I didn’t, so we took a break and didn’t see each again other until Christmas. Best Christmas present ever.” Laurel smiled at the memory of bumping into Ollie at a friend’s Christmas party. They’d ditched their dates, left together, and never looked back.
The smile on her face was contagious and he couldn’t help smiling with her. Whatever their differences, it was obvious she’d loved her Oliver Queen as much as he loved his Laurel.
“By junior year if we weren't at his place, we were at my place, and it was really stupid to have our clothes and stuff spread out over two different places so we decided to move in together.” A laugh burst from her before she could stop it. “Tommy said ‘will I have my own room?’.”
Doing the math, Oliver realized that they’d started living together at about the same time he and Laurel had started dating. “You’d already been living together for two years?”
“He didn't have your commitment issues. Or your can’t-keep-it-in-your-pants issues.”
“I – “ There was no good excuse for what he’d done. It was a bit of a relief to find out that he wasn’t a cheating jerk on every Earth.
“I couldn't live there. I couldn’t live in the funky little place we’d found. The little cafes we planned to eat at. The coffee shop we thought would be a perfect place to study. All the places that we had scoped out where we were going to spend the next four years. I - I could not stay there.” Her voice was cracking again and Laurel didn’t care. Let him see how much pain she’d been through. Let him see that he wasn’t the only one with a broken heart that would never heal.
“I went to the other side of the country about as far as I could go. I went to Stanford and I worked my ass off. I wanted Ollie to be proud of me just as much as I wanted my father and my mother to be proud of me. So I busted my fucking ass. They don't just hand out magna cum laude, and you don't just accidentally end up in the top ten percent of your class.”
Laurel was trying to keep her voice down, aware that she was already getting looks from the visitors on either side of her at her sharp tone. “The reason that I said I never had a real job is because when I graduated – actually before I graduated – I had more job offers than I knew what to do with.
“I have no idea how to write a resume because I've never had to. I came back to Starling City because it was home. I took the job at CNRI so I could help people. I took it for exactly the same reason that your Laurel did. Because those are the people that need help they can't afford. After the Glades – “
She stopped and closed her eyes for several moments until Oliver wondered if she was going to continue. Whatever happened to the Glades on her Earth was probably at least as bad as what had happened here.
Shoving the memories back, Laurel opened her eyes. “Iris told me to move to Central City. She was a good friend and gave me a shoulder to cry on more than once. I called the public defender's office and said ‘I'm thinking of moving to Central City’ and they said ‘we would love to have you come here and work for us’.
“I never actually applied for the job, Ollie. I just said I was interested in moving there and they said ‘Oh, please come and work for us! Here is your job, here is your corner office, here is your salary, and your benefits!’ And that's where I was when the particle accelerator exploded and this happened.” She touched her throat again. “So that's why I’ve never had a real job and I don't know how to write a resume.”
Oliver knew his Laurel had gone from law school to CNRI even though she’d had offers from several law firms. She’d joked about how she’d thought about going on a recruiting tour of the country just to see the sights. Had she applied or had they come looking for her? He frowned when he realized he’d never asked.
“Your turn.” She gave him a bright, fake smile. “Can you write a resume, Ollie? Because I'm pretty sure you can't. You haven't had a real job, either, because you had a trust fund. You did run QC for a short time, which you were absolutely not qualified to do and you lost your ass.”
There was no arguing that point. As hard as he tried, he been out maneuvered. He wasn't stupid by any stretch of the imagination, but the business world was something he had absolutely no experience with and it had cost him his family’s company.
“Then you were the mayor, which you were also absolutely not qualified to do –”
“I did a good job as mayor!” He protested.
Laurel stopped and held up a hand. “I will admit, you were a good mayor in spite of everything, and I'm kind of sorry now that I told Armand how to impeach you.”
“You told him how to impeach me?” He’d assumed the man had thought of it on his own. Oliver winced at how often ‘assumed’ was coming up in his thinking.
“I did. I'm still surprised that idiot didn’t think of it.”
“You told him how to impeach me?” He repeated, trying to wrap his mind around what she’d done. “Why?”
“I did it because I thought it would get you out of Diaz's sites. I did not realize the scope of his obsession with you and Green Arrow – and in proving that you are were one and the same. I thought Diaz wanted to kill just you – and you were more than capable of defending yourself.”
Oliver nodded, he absolutely was capable of defending himself. “Yeah the only problem was it wasn't just me he wanted.”
Laurel grimaced. It had been a bad decision on her part. “I didn’t know that. If I had, I wouldn’t have suggested impeaching you because it put my dad right into the crosshairs.”
“Your dad – “
“Quentin.” She corrected. “You do know I have to say ‘my dad’, right? Otherwise, it’d be weird.”
Ollie nodded, he did understand that people would think it was strange for Laurel to call her father by his first name.
“Now, let's talk about Felicity.”
“No.” He shook his head. “You leave her out of this.”
“Oh, I don’t think so.” Laurel smirked. “I'm sure she knows how to write a resume, because she’s had a real job. What was it she was doing?” She pretended to think about it. “Oh, yeah! She was working in tech support at QC. She wasn't running tech support. She was the person you would call when you couldn't figure out how to open your email.
“With her fancy MIT degree, I wonder... why she was working as a nameless, faceless drone at QC when she should have been working for Google? Or starting her own company?” She tapped her chin thoughtfully. “Could it be because of her almost felony arrest and conviction while she was at MIT?”
“She was cleared of those charges” Oliver told her. “Felicity was never convicted of anything. She was cleared.”
“Yes, she was.” Laurel nodded, a grin on her face. “Because her boyfriend lied and took the rap to protect her. However, she was accused, people know she did it, and word gets around. Believe it or not, the computer geek community – the hacker community – is a surprisingly small world. Felicity’s lucky she could get a job that even involved a computer. I'm surprised she made it through the background check to get hired at QC.” She scoffed. “I wonder if she did little hacking there?”
“We’re not talking about Felicity – “
Ignoring him, she continued. “Then Felicity had a job as your secretary. I don't know if she was able to do anything more than get you coffee and take dick-tation . I assume she was qualified for that.”
“She absolutely did not do what you're inferring. We weren't even dating at the time. So I was not chasing her around the desk –” He glared at her. “– or anything else.”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t have had to chase her very far. She definitely wanted to be caught.” Laurel gave him an exaggerated wink before snapping her fingers. “I almost forgot, she’s had one other job. Ray Palmer made her CEO of his company because she was his girlfriend.”
“He didn’t – they were no longer dating when he made her CEO.” Oliver was a hundred percent, well maybe ninety percent, sure that Ray had given Felicity his company after they had broken up.
“Well, maybe he was trying to get her to be his girlfriend again. Either way, she was absolutely not qualified to be CEO of his company any more than you were qualified to be CEO of QC, and the end result was pretty much the same. The board kicked her out because she was running the company into the ground.”
Shaking his head, he searched for a rebuttal that wouldn’t sound like he was trying to make excuses for something that was the truth.
Laurel sat back and gave him a moment to let everything she’d told him sink in. She had first hand experience at how thick Ollie Queen’s skull could be. “Now that you have my qualifications, Ollie, tell the guard that I am your lawyer.”
“I'm not going to do that.” He said stubbornly.
“Okay fine. I'll just get out of the way because I know there's other lawyers lining up ready to take your case on and get you out of here.” She stopped and looked over her shoulder before turning back in mock surprise. “Oh, my, except there’s not. There actually isn't anyone lined up to take your case.”
“You’re wrong, there’s –”
“No one is trying to get you out of here, Ollie.” Laurel repeated. She leaned forward again and held up a two fingers. “John and Curtis are busy at ARGUS. They're trying to catch Diaz and they've got lots of other things on their plate. Plus, they don’t think that you can get out of here, anyway.” She held up a third finger. “Dinah, well, she's busy being a police captain. SCPD is seriously understaffed and she's got a lot of work to do. Rene?” A fourth finger went up. “He’s busy being a working, single father and that’s a full time job.”
“That doesn’t mean – “ Her insinuation that his friends had abandoned him was beginning to make him angry.
Laurel shook her head. “None of your friends think that there's any chance of getting you out of here. So they're not even trying, Ollie. They’re not even trying.”
The plastic phone creaked as his grip tightened on it in his effort to control his temper. She didn’t know anything about his friends or what they were trying to do to get him free. Except he already knew she was right, Jean had told him as much on her last visit two months ago.
“And your wife?” Laurel unfolded her thumb from her palm. “ She's not trying, either. Felicity’s obsessed with catching Diaz. It’s not because she believes it will get you out of here; because she knows it won't. I think he really pissed her off when he found her in Hope Springs and tried to kill her. I can't say that I blame her, because of him her life pretty much ended. She was the mayor’s wife one minute and then her husband's in prison and she's got this lunatic trying to kill her the next.”
Laurel shrugged. “I don't blame her with being a little bit obsessed with that. If I had nothing better to do, I’d track him down myself. Only I have someone that I care about in prison and I'd like to get him out. It's a bitch having better things to do.”
“Since when do you care about me?” Oliver asked. It hurt like hell knowing she was right, but he wasn’t about to let her see it.
Damn. She hadn’t meant to say that, but what the hell, the cat was out of the bag now. “I've always cared about you, Ollie. Well, okay at first, I hated you just because you were alive. My Ollie’s dead. He was a good man – and you’re not. Then I met you, you tried to help me, and maybe you could have if you hadn't sicced the whole damn team on me. Why did you do that, anyway?”
“You didn’t? That’s not how I remember it.” Frowning, Laurel thought back to that moment. The cell phone with the information on Chase had been in her hand and she was about to hand it to Ollie when his team came out of hiding and attacked her. Ollie had seemed surprised but she’d thought it was because they’d jumped the gun too soon. “So... if it wasn’t you… “
“It was Felicity. I told her – I ordered her to let us talk and not do anything. She did it anyway.” That betrayal still stung. Not just that she’d gone behind his back and ordered the team to ignore what he wanted, but that they’d gone along with it as if she were the leader of the team.
That made perfect sense. She’d wondered why Ollie had seemed so passionate about giving her a chance and then thrown it away. “I believe you, Ollie, but you should have known better. She was jealous at the party. She did not want me around.”
“I know.” He looked down at the scarred counter and sighed. “She still is.”
“Ollie – ” Laurel leaned close to the glass and tapped a finger on it. When he didn’t look up she tapped again and dropped his nickname. If he was like her Ollie, he’d realize she was being serious. “Oliver.”
When he looked up, she continued. “Oliver, listen to me. Absolutely no one but me is trying to get you out of here. It’s not because they don’t care, I’m not saying that, because they do care. They just don’t think it’s possible. If you want me to stop trying, then fine, I’ll stop trying, but I really don't want to. Because I know Quentin would not want me to give up no matter how stupid and stubborn you're being. He would want me to keep going ‘till I got you out.”
“He would.” Oliver admitted. Quentin would be like a dog with a bone. “He’d be up here every day making the warden’s life miserable.”
“I want you to understand something, it's not just that I want to make Quentin proud of me, or live up to what he thought that I could be or should be. I want my father to be proud of me and I want my Ollie to be proud of me, too.” She blinked hard as tears stung her eyes. “I even want your Laurel to be proud of me.”
He could see that admission wasn’t one she’d wanted to make.
“I have been mired in the darkness for so long that I thought that was the only way to live. If not for Quentin, I would have went ahead and skipped town a long time ago. There's no reason for me to hang around, I could be sitting on a beach somewhere with a cold pina colada and a hot guy.” A deep sigh escaped before she could stop it. “But here I am.”
They sat in silence for few moments. Oliver absorbing everything she’d told him. Even through the thick glass he could see she was telling the truth. ”I'm sorry, Laurel. I’m sorry. I –” He shook his head at all the miscommunication that had happened since they’d met. “I’m really sorry.”
“Don't be sorry. He jumped to a conclusion and I wasn't necessarily trying to give him any other impression, to be honest. I had no idea he would tell you and Felicity, and that it would just take on a life of its own.”
“I guess we just wanted to assume the worst.” He laughed softly. “And you're right about assuming. It made an ass out of me. That seems to happen a lot, actually.”
The way he smiled and ducked his head to hide it like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar reminded Laurel of her Ollie. She could never stay mad at him when he looked that adorable. She smiled in spite of herself. “Ollie, don't be sorry, just tell the guard I’m your lawyer. Then we can go somewhere and have a completely private and privileged conversation about how I think I can get you out of here.”
“Okay.” He turned around and motioned to the guard standing a few feet behind him. “Guard. Ms. Lance is my lawyer.”
The guard looked at him quizzically. “She’s your lawyer? DA Lance? She’s your lawyer? Does she know you don’t have a chance in hell of getting out of here?”
Oliver turned back to see Laurel looking expectantly at the guard. “Yeah, she’s got this crazy thing about trying to save the world.” He smiled at her and she smiled back. “I can’t seem to talk her out of it.”