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an angel on the cutting room floor

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Felicity moans painfully, pressing the palms of her hands harshly into her eyes. The throbbing in her skull remains, although now somewhat eased by blocking the afternoon sunlight streaming in through her window. Her window that had been shuttered for the past four days.

“Who the fuck-” Felicity groans, rolling onto her side and fighting the rising nausea.

“That would be me.”

Felicity stiffens, heart racing, head pounding; and slowly removes her hands from her red eyes and squints across the room.

Laurel Lance is sitting in the armchair across from her bed, long legs crossed, a sympathetic smile on her beautiful, beautifully alive face.

Felicity throws up

 

*

(Eight months ago, in a sterile hospital hallway that felt airless due to clawing grief, Felicity had heard someone say that Laurel still looked beautiful even in death. After a shaky walk to the bathroom she had vomited then, too. Right before punching the edge of the sink so hard her knuckles split.

How could she be beautiful if she was dead? What was beautiful about a beautiful woman dying? There was no poetry, no life lesson. Just cold lips and hot tears and shaking, bleeding hands.)

*

Felicity assumes Laurel must clean up the vomit, because the next thing she remembers is being hoisted up into muscled arms and carried into the bathroom. I’m shaking, Felicity realizes numbly, looking at where her hand is grasping at Laurel’s blouse, her real blouse, that Felicity can feel and touch. But that means this can’t be Laurel.

Because Laurel is dead. Has been for months.

She’s set down gently on the closed toilet seat, and when Felicity looks up ‘Laurel’ is eyeing the shower the way one might look at an armed Slade Wilson. It’s incredibly endearing, the way the real Laurel always was.

Felicity blacks out again for what must only be for a few seconds, and when she comes to ‘Laurel’ is holding her by the shoulders, looking worried. When Felicity's eyes meet hers, she smiles softly, looking so real it hurts.

She wants to throw up again.

“Honey.” ‘Laurel’ whispers gently, and Felicity hums; feeling foggy. “Felicity, sweetheart, I want to get you cleaned up, okay? Is that alright?”

Felicity must nod, because not real Laurel begins to carefully unbutton Billy’s shirt. (it was the one he wore on their first date. The dark red had all but made him glow in the candlelight of the Mexican restaurant. Four days ago it still held the scent of his cologne. Now it just smells like beer and sweat and vomit and tears. Felicity wishes she could feel shame for that. Wishes she could feel anything.)

She doesn’t feel not-Laurel slide the shirt off her shoulders. Doesn’t feel her carry her into the shower and set her down on the stool inside. Although she doesn’t feel much of anything at the moment.

Until not-Laurel turns the shower on full blast.

Felicity wails as the cold water pierces her skin like needles, and then everything goes dark.

*

She wakes on the couch to early morning sunlight this time. Grey and cool and crisp. Her head is still pulsing, but she feels more clear than she had since Oliver stuttered to her in the lair that her boyfriend was dead by his arrows.

After stretching and flexing her hand experimentally in front of her face a few times until satisfied it won’t double, after counting to ten so she knows it’s not a dream, Felicity turns towards the quiet cluttering in the kitchen.

Laurel Lance is making coffee. The spoon hits the side of the mug softly. Laurel looks up, their eyes meet. Car horns scream outside. Laurel’s hair glows even bathed in grey. Her eyes are bright. Felicity counts to ten.

“You’re real.”

 

*

 

The wind outside bites, her phone buzzes with missed call after missed call. Detective Billy Malone is to be buried in two days, and Felicity has no idea if she’ll be able to leave the bed, let alone the house, when the time comes.

But as her hand slips into Laurel’s for the first time in months, she knows she won’t be alone.