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Vigilantes' Dawn (FFN Link) by Kylia is an Arrow For Want of a Nail Fan Fic. The premise is simple: what if it was Laurel, not Sara, that went on the Queen's Gambit with Oliver?

Official Summary: What if Oliver Queen hadn't let his commitment issues sabotage things with Laurel? What if he'd invited Laurel onto the Queen's Gambit, instead of Sara? And what happens in Starling City when, five years later, The Arrow and the Black Canary, together, go after the List and the rest of the City's criminals? And what happens when Detective Sara Lance finds out her sister is one of the two Vigilantes that are bringing on the dawn of a new age?

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Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Ra's al Ghul has yet to actually appear, but Laurel repeatedly states he's an awful father.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Not to say Laurel had it all that easy in canon, but this Laurel has it far worse, due to having (essentially) canon Sara's backstory. At the same time, her angst is a tad lighter than canon Sara because Laurel managed to reunite with Oliver and get out of the League earlier than she did.
  • Adaptational Badass: Laurel is far better trained than her canon counterpart due to having more time and more teachers. Accordingly, she's a overall better hand-to-hand combatant than Oliver is right now (and much better than Diggle is and could ever hope to be); Oliver, however, is the superior marksman.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • Sara, technically. Sara did not make an in-person appearance (beyond flashbacks) until Season Two. However, since it was Laurel that went on the Gambit, she's present from the beginning.
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    • Nyssa also makes an early appearance, due to Laurel exposing her survival earlier than Sara did with hers in canon.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Laurel never took the LSAT or went to law school, and thanks to being too busy with her vigilante activities, she has no inclination to deal with all that work when she gets back. She goes into charity work instead, figuring that if she can't help the world as a lawyer, then she'll help the world like this.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Sara is still a badass as a rising detective, but she's much weaker than her canon counterpart.
  • Berserk Button: Don't threaten Sara in Laurel's range of hearing.
  • Bi the Way: Sara, of course. She admits to Laurel about having a crush on Oliver at one point, and is instantly attracted to Nyssa the moment she sees her.
  • Big Sister Instinct: When Laurel hears that Vanch intends to kill Sara, she is so enraged that's she willing drop her no-killing policy.
    • Also inverted, upon hearing the implications that Ivo raped Laurel, Sara wishes that he was still alive so she could kill him herself.
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  • Didn't Think This Through: Laurel fakes her own death in Russia to escape the League — but then blows the ruse sky high when she very publicly returns from the dead by being rescued from Lian Yu alongside with Oliver Queen. Her internal monologues both before and immediately after the arrival of Nyssa make it clear that she really didn't have any sort of plan to deal with the the League, instead hoping that her very public return from the dead would make going after her too risky, for the sake of their anonymity. It doesn't work. Thankfully, however, between Nyssa's desire to see Laurel alive and happy, and fortunate timing, Laurel manages to strike a deal for an official release from her oath.
  • Dramatic Irony: After Nyssa gives Laurel some limited information about the Dark Archer, Oliver and Laurel try to use that to narrow his identity down. Oliver complains that the criteria is so vague that Malcolm Merlyn comes up as a hit — something that Oliver and Laurel both appear to find absurd.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Every chapter starts with an Epigraph from a fictional book called Age of Superheroes: The Dawn of the Vigilante, written by Diana Queen, one of Oliver and Laurel's descendants.
  • Faking the Dead: Laurel faked her death to escape the League with Oliver. The ruse is blown to hell after she and Oliver are rescued from Lian Yu.
  • For Want of a Nail: Switching Laurel with Sara initially seems to have caused only some minor changes, but the ripples eventually begin to snowball into greater changes.
    • The most obvious change is that Laurel, not Sara, is the one who received training from the League of Assassins and becomes the first bearer of the Canary mantle. In exchange, Sara is the one to "run to the law", by becoming a detective like their father. Tommy also never develops feelings for Laurel, only seeing her as a good friend.
    • The switch seems to imply that Laurel was given different missions from the League than Sara, leading to her last mission in Russia. During that mission she spotted Oliver, which prompted her to fake her death and ditch the League for him. Together, they easily managed to kill Kovar and then spent the rest of their time on Lian Yu while Anatoly arranged their "rescue".
    • Since Laurel returned with Oliver, his relationships with his friends and family are considerably warmer since she is better able to act as his conscience and is not an Elephant in the Living Room like Sara was. This especially applies to Quentin, who, in canon, took years to really soften on Oliver.
    • Another vigilante means that Oliver is better able to balance between his civilian life and his vigilante life. For example, after Helena's assassination of Paul Copani, Oliver stays with Moira instead foisting the responsibility on Thea, thanks to Laurel taking care of the investigation for him.
    • Since Laurel takes care of Helena, Oliver never meets nor becomes romantically involved with her, and kills off Frank Bertinelli a season prior to his canonical death. Helena also never receives any vigilante training, and the Triad remains untouched.
    • A minor example: as Laurel never went to law school, she never met Joanna De La Vega. As a result, Joanna works at Merlyn Global and is better acquainted with Tommy (who she may or may not be romantically involved with).
    • Because Laurel came home with Oliver, the League gets involved with the affairs of Starling City in Season One rather than Season Two, with Nyssa making an Adaptational Early Appearance.
    • Laurel and the Dark Archer immediately recognize each other as former members of the League, which gives Oliver and Laurel an early lead on his identity after Nyssa enters the scene.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The epigraphs at the beginning of the chapter reveal some information about the future, making some things inevitable.
    • Oliver and Laurel will be exposed as Green Arrow and Black Canary. Whether it is before or after their deaths has yet to be clarified.
    • Oliver will be taken to trial three times on suspicions of his vigilante identity. He'll barely evade another two trials as well.
    • The League of Assassins will become a publicly-known entity within the next hundred years.
    • A vigilante called "Frostbite" is mentioned, suggesting that Caitlin Snow will become Killer Frost (or a heroic version of her, at least).
  • Groin Attack/Pay Evil unto Evil: Sara muses that the Black Canary leaves rapists with injuries so severe that they may never have fully functioning genitals again.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • The Lances still get divorced, despite Dinah not having the angst of allowing Sara to go on the Gambit with Oliver and not telling anyone. Laurel even wonders at some point if there was something wrong in her parents' marriage that she didn't notice before she left.
    • Season One is mostly following Stations of the Canon, though there are noticeable differences that are beginning to build into bigger changes.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Oliver, as per canon. Laurel actual deconstructs the idea, calling it toxic; according to her, love isn't a "prize" to be "won" for being virtuous.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Once Ra's al Ghul learns that Malcolm Merlyn/The Dark Archer is violating the ideals of the League he tells Laurel, via Nyssa, that he knows the identity of the Dark Archer, but that he won't tell them — the implication being that he wants to see who will emerge victorious from the conflict.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Oliver and Laurel are borderline codependent on each other. After all the hardship they've gone through, including believing each other to be dead twice, they hate being apart for too long. It's easier in Starling because they can at least call each other there, but even so, they spend most of their time together. It's obvious that if one of them were to die for real, the other would most likely break for good.
  • Love at First Sight: Downplayed. Sara gets an instant, massive crush on Nyssa the very moment she gets a good look at her. Laurel is mortified when she finds out.
  • Official Couple: Oliver and Laurel. All of their friends and family, even Quentin, regard their eventual marriage as an inevitability.
  • Omniglot: Laurel can speak multiple languages like Oliver. Thus far, it's confirmed she knows Russian and Arabic. As she's had the same training as canon Sara, she may know Cantonese as well.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Laurel describes her relationship with Nyssa as this, equating it to her sisterly relationship with Sara. Presumably, the reason why it never went further than friendship is due to Incompatible Orientation. Thus, when Laurel's deception was revealed, Nyssa took it almost as bad as she did Sara's departure in canon.
  • Mistaken for Romance: In the backstory, Quentin assumed Tommy and Sara were shagging (or in some sort of romantic/sexual liason) to cope with their grief, and seeing the similarities between Tommy and Oliver, the latter of whom he blamed for Laurel's "death", threatened the former to stay away from his remaining daughter. According to Tommy, however, all they ever did was commiserate and get drunk together; while Tommy did recognize Sara's attractiveness, she wasn't his "type".
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Sara thinks Laurel's attempt to dissuade her from pursuing Nyssa is this. As the readers know, Laurel has very legitimate reasons for wanting to nip Sara's interest in the bud.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Laurel notes the League of Assassins isn't a proper name for the organization, as they are essentially vigilantes, not hired killers.
  • Rape as Backstory: Just like with Sara in canon, heavily implied with Laurel.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The Lances' divorce. Even without the angst of indirectly causing one of her daughters' "deaths", one could hardly expect Dinah Lance to be willing to deal with Quentin's alcoholism while in the midst of dealing with her own grief.
    • One of the epigraphs note that vigilantes that lack powers often have to make unsavory deals for the sake of the greater good.
    • Tommy and Joanna genuinely do like each other, but have purposely and indefinitely stalled the progression of their relationship due to all the possible consequences that may come of a romantic affair if it doesn't work out.
  • Ship Sinking: If it wasn't already established by Oliver and Laurel's devotion to each other, Word of God outright stated that there won't even be so much as a hint of Olicity in the story.
  • Ship Tease: Despite Oliver/Laurel being set in stone at this point, there are some implications that Tommy felt something deeper for Laurel prior to the Gambit. It seems, however, that he's given up on those feelings by the time his friends return home.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: After everything they've gone through the last five years, neither Oliver nor Laurel have any interest in being with anyone else.
  • Too Clever by Half: As the opening quote of one chapter notes, this applies to criminals who learn a superhero's identity to target their loved ones
    "Do you do what criminals with just enough brains to get themselves into just a bit too much trouble do, and kidnap and threaten their loved ones?"
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Tommy describes his relationship with Joanna as this. While they are close friends and recognize the romantic tension between them, they've yet to take the next step due to how Joanna's friends and coworkers would perceive the hypothetical relationship.
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