telaryn: (Mockingbird 1)
[personal profile] telaryn
Title: Never Good Enough
Author: [ profile] telaryn
Word Count: 1244
Fandom: Arrow
Characters: Sara Lance, Quentin Lance
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit obtained.
Summary: Sara struggles with the pull of duty and family.
Author's Note: Written for [ profile] hc_bingo's Round 6, for the prompt "fighting".

Sara resisted the urge to sink further back into the shadows. Her father was breathing heavily enough after chasing her up here. She wasn’t so mad at him anymore that she would leave him with nothing for his effort.

“What is it with you hero types and rooftops?” Nyssa had told her once that it was possible to hear a person’s heartbeat. Sara closed her eyes, trying to push away the idea that she could hear her father’s heart, and the tale it told with every faltering beat.

“Not a lot of caves in the city,” she said, opening her eyes and turning to watch him as Quentin leaned against the top of the parapet wall. “You didn’t have to follow me. That’s what – thirty floors?” The elevator hadn’t worked since she had returned to Starling City. Sara preferred it broken; it was a strong deterrent to anyone trying to follow her.

Most of whom were considerably less stubborn than her own father. “Do you know how hard it is watching you leave?” He was obviously trying to hide how hard it was for him to catch his breath; she wondered if she should call Ollie or Laurel, or somebody in case her father’s condition was worse than anyone had thought to tell her. “I can’t shake the feeling that I’m never going to see you again. When we fight, it’s that much worse.”

That struck home, as deadly as one of Oliver’s arrows. “Wasn’t Mom always the expert on making us feel guilty,” she asked, briefly ducking her head, “or am I remembering wrong?”

She felt Quentin’s reproachful look before she raised her head again to confirm it. “That’s not fair. Five years, Sara. I know you went through hell baby, and I’m sorry I’m not dealing with this better, but…”

“No.” She reached out and grabbed his arm, stopping him before he could get rolling. “Dad, don’t. Please. I know this isn’t easy on you, and I know I’m not making it any easier.” She turned on her perch, dangling her legs on the safe side of the ledge. The movement brought her closer to Quentin, and her father leaned into her almost by reflex.

“Sara, you need to come further out of the shadows,” Quentin said after a long moment of silence. “I know things are easier out there where the Arrow and his groupies operate, but it’s too far. You’re one, maybe two steps away from being where he was a year ago – when I was chasing him with the same end in mind as any of those costumed psychopaths the two of you go after.”

“Creed isn’t a meta-human.” Sara knew it wasn’t the point, but she was beginning to get tired of her work being tied so closely to Oliver’s crusade. “He’s a sadistic bastard responsible for at least eight rapes in the Glades that I know of.”

“You nearly killed him.” Quentin didn’t yell this time, but Sara could feel his struggle for control shiver across her skin. “Doctors are saying it’s going to be at least a week before he’s stable enough for the DA to charge him.”

The quip about Creed not resisting arrest was dancing on the tip of her tongue before Sara managed to swallow it back. She wasn’t a police officer. She knew that. She was about as far away from being a police officer she could get and not actually be Oliver, and it wasn’t fair to make Quentin remind her of that. “Laurel can do something with the evidence, can’t she?” She didn’t bother bringing up Creed’s confession – the one he’d sobbed out around the end of her staff digging into his throat. Sara had known at the time that wouldn’t be admissible; she’d just wanted to hear the son of a bitch admit who and what he was.

Her father nodded, but it was punctuated with a non-committal sound that called forth every moment of Sara’s life where she’d been a disappointment, where she hadn’t been good enough. “You need to tell her, you know,” Quentin said, breaking into her surge of self-recrimination. “It’s not fair keeping this side of your life from her.”

“Dad, please,” she sighed. “I can’t do this right now.” She slid off the wall, landing lightly on the balls of her feet. Avoiding Quentin’s gaze, she took a step away from him – and stopped as he grabbed her arm.

“What…Sara? Honey, stop – please.” His grip tightened, but Sara didn’t pull away, even though being restrained was the last thing she needed right now.

They stood that way for another long moment, not speaking or looking at each other. “I’m screwing this up,” Quentin said at last, his voice breaking. “Sweetheart, please look at me?”

Even in the darkness, Sara saw the evidence of tears on his face, and it broke her heart all over again. “I can’t be who you want me to be,” she sighed. “That Sara went down with the Gambit. You were right to mourn her, and I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to stay away…” Adrenaline spiked through her system then, as Quentin pulled her in faster than she would have expected possible in his current condition.

Her father’s arms went around her, holding her safe in that way he always had. Dead pets…deadbeat boyfriends… Quentin had been there for all the little tragedies of her childhood, and no matter how much she had been convinced her life was over he’d kept her safe and held her up until she was ready to stand on her own again.

You can’t save me anymore, Dad. But Quentin was as stubborn as ever.

“Don’t you ever apologize for surviving,” he murmured, his large hands clutching desperately at her. “Not to me – not ever.” He pressed a kiss to her hair, then stepped back so that she was standing at arm’s length. His hands were on her shoulders, but Sara understood that he wasn’t trying to restrain her, not anymore. “I can’t pretend to understand what’s brought you to this,” he said, and she could feel him willing her to listen, to understand what he was trying to say. “But nothing is going to change the fact that you’re my daughter and I love you.”

Tears spilled down Sara’s cheeks as she tasted the truth of his words. She would never have a fiercer champion than the man standing opposite her, but it didn’t change the truth of who she was. “I don’t know what you want from me,” she said at last, her voice thick with grief over everything they’d lost. “I don’t know how to do this.”

Silence stretched between them then – everything in Sara’s world screaming at her to run, and only the look in her father’s eyes keeping her in place. “I want you safe,” he said at last. “You can’t blame me for that. I want to get to know who my daughter is now.” Sara was surprised to find she still had tears to cry.

“Most of all,” Quentin said, “I don’t want to ever end up on the opposite side of the law from you. You’re not the Arrow, Sara – I want your promise that you’ll come to me before things get that bad.”

Her life after the Gambit had taught Sara the folly of making promises like that, but standing opposite her father in this moment Sara knew she couldn’t deny him anything.

“I promise.”
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September 2015

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