"The Victim or the Perp"

By Wtchcool

Disclaimer: Don't own.

Chapter One

There was no help for it, not after Laurel had torn apart Thea on cross and dropped the little bombshell that their mother had (once, a very long time ago) had an affair with Malcolm Merlyn.

Moira needed another character witness, and that meant Oliver taking the stand. Direct examination seemed simple enough: he testified as to what a great mother she'd been to him and Thea, what a terrific job she'd done of raising them. He hadn't considered that what he was doing was called 'opening the door', but he could tell Laurel was waltzing through that door now.

"Mr. Queen," Laurel addresses him formally, as if they'd never dated, let alone slept together. "You went missing for a few months after the bomb went off. Where were you?"

"Objection, relevance!" Moira's attorney calls, rising to her feet.

"I think it's just as relevant as his sister not being able to face their mother until—"

"Alright," the judge interrupts Ms. Lance. "Objection overruled. Continue."

"I—"

"May I remind the witness he's under oath?" Laurel prompts him, ready to preempt another of his lies.

"I was on an island."

"Which one?"

"The one that I was stranded on for five years," Oliver replies, keeping his eyes on Laurel. He doesn't want to see the expressions on his family's faces. He can imagine Thea and Moira wouldn't take this news too well. Christ, and Walter had shown up in the gallery, too…

"The same island that's given you flashbacks?" Laurel asks, doing her best to cover her own surprise. The flashbacks she'd discovered after being present during one of them—not pleasant—but she clearly hadn't expected Oliver's answer. Rookie mistake; she'd been taught as a 1L in law school you never ask a witness a question you don't already know the answer to.

"Object—"

Laurel talks right over opposing counsel.

"You would sooner return to a place of traumatic memories than face your own mother after what she'd done?"

"It's complicated," Oliver affects a shrug. "The island is actually not that bad a place when you have a way off of it at your fingertips," and after you've cleared out the horde of ninjas, he adds silently. "And anyway, I didn't go there to avoid my mother—"

He went to try to outrun his grief over Tommy's death; he could say that, he knows it's a sore issue with her, he could push her buttons the way she's been pushing his.

But the thing is he knows she's doing her job. And what's strange is he doesn't resent her for it. In fact, if he wasn't sitting on the witness stand right now, he might even be proud of her.

She continues firing questions at him.

"You testified on direct that your mother did a good job of raising you, correct?"

"Yes…"

"So you've never been arrested?"

"Objection!"

"Overruled," the judge replies.

"Maybe once or twice," Oliver answers.

"Drunk and disorderly ring any bells?" Laurel asks.

"Sounds about right."

"How about assault?"

"…I'm really not the same person now that I was before the island," Oliver replies. He can barely remember the incident she's referring to; it was probably contemporaneous with the drunk and disorderly, not that he hasn't committed assault innumerable times since then.

Hell, that's not the half of it, he has more blood on his hands than his mother does, if anyone should be on trial here it should be—

"Objection, Oliver Queen is not the one on trial here!"

Has Oliver missed a question?

"Wrap it up, Ms. Lance," the judge admonishes the prosecutor, rather than sustaining the objection. Moira's attorney chooses to sit down, rather than pursue the issue.

Laurel has gotten closer to the witness stand.

"You're exactly what you were before the island—a good for nothing play boy that couldn't care less about what happens to the people of this city. Your mother must be so proud."

"OBJECTION!"

"Sustained; Ms. Lance, do you want to be held in contempt?"

Laurel shakes her head; then heads back towards her seat.

"No more questions, your honor."

"Re-direct?" the judge asks, and after receiving the answer in the negative, "you may step down, Mr. Queen."

Oliver nods. A look at the audience proves to be a mistake. Thea has tears in her eyes; Walter looks just shy of anguished. He'll have to avoid them for days.

Later, outside the courtroom, Laurel tries to apologize for her behavior on cross. Oliver brushes away her apology; tells her it's not necessary.

He's not sure which of them was hurt more by the experience.

Author's Note: Story title from Michael Friedman's "Love's a Gun."

Un-beta'd. Quibble away.