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The Crow

Chapter Text

**

Her frozen hand
Takes your breath away
As she leads your soul
Through the dark
You know that she came
To break your heart
But oh when she moves
You fall in love again

And she spreads her wings when she’s gonna fly, the crow
If you make her sing when she’s coming she will let you know

She spreads her wings and they black out the sun
You won’t her sing and she’ll leave when the damage is done

Cold heart, warm gun, a dying soul
Bright eyes, black soul, she’ll never let you go

And she spreads her wings when she’s gonna fly, the crow…
If you make her sing when she’s coming she will let you know

She spreads her wings and they black out the sun
You won’t her sing and she’ll leave when the damage is done

 

Oliver Queen stood in his walk-in closet, his calloused fingers moving through a large selection of ties laid out in his dresser drawer. His hand stopped over a dark grey stripped one that matched his suit perfectly. He let the silk tie rest against the top of the dresser as he pulled on his white dress shirt; the cut looking perfect over his strong back, adorned with well cut muscles, tattoos and endless scars. They told a very different story about Oliver Queen. They were proof that he was much more than a billionaire, CEO of Queen Consolidated, playboy and philanthropist. They told the story about The Crow.

Some could say that a bad start in life was what brought Oliver to the path that he was on today. Broken homes and broken families. Lost souls and empty hearts. But it was nothing like that. Oliver had a very happy childhood, a wonderful family and only happy memories of them. He had a regular life as a child, as normal as it could be. He went to school, did his homework, went to bed when his parents told him to, fought with his little sister Thea from time to time and would get into all kinds of trouble that a ten year old only could. He was a happy kid, Robert and Moira Queen made sure of that.

He was born into a wealthy life, a life that brought many privileges and that as a child he never questioned. His father was the founder and CEO of Queen Consolidated, a Fortune 500 company that dealt with a wide array of aspects dealing with industrial manufacturing. They had accounts, factories, and clients all over the world, and with the passing of the years, the family’s fortune only grew.

As a child, Oliver would meet countless business associates of his fathers’ at parties, galas and functions that he attended with his parents. And yet, out of all these business associates there was only one person whom his father considered a family friend: Anatoly Knyazev.

Anatoly Knyazev was a Russian businessman that worked in the gun-manufacturing sector. He and Oliver’s father had met in the early eighties, right after the Soviet Union had fallen apart. They had formed a business partnership that was beneficial for both of them, and as time passed they became great friends. Anatoly would come visit the Queen’s at least once a year, always bringing gifts with him, spoiling Oliver and Thea tremendously. As he didn’t have any of his own children, he treated the young Queen siblings as his own, loving and caring for them. Anatoly was like an uncle to Oliver, someone that he trusted and cherished. And it was always Oliver’s favorite time of the year when his ‘Uncle Toly’ would come to stay with them for two weeks before going back to Russia. The partnership between Anatoly and Robert Queen worked for almost twenty years.

It all changed with Robert Queen’s death.

At the time of the ‘accident’, as the media portrayed it, Oliver didn’t understand what had happened to him and his family. One moment they were driving in his fathers Mercedes, going to have dinner at Thea’s favorite Italian restaurant – his father and mother catching up on their day and Thea and himself playing in the back – and in the next moment everything was spinning. Their car was hit, sending them whirling, glass and metal cutting and twisting around them. He could still hear Thea’s pained screams and cries. His mother’s pleading tears. His father’s desperate hands scrambling to free himself and the feel of blood on Oliver’s skin. He remembered shaking, trying to breathe through the growing panic and pain in his chest because he was so scared; terrified to the point where he couldn’t even move. It hadn’t been an accident – they had been pushed off the road by a large SUV. As if that wasn’t enough, them being disoriented and stuck in the wreckage, someone opened fire upon them.

Thea was the first one to die; a single gunshot in the chest, making the world a bit less brighter at the lose of her happy and bright six year old nature. His mother was next; the gunshots went through her as if she was made of paper, the red copper of her blood staining her creamy silk blouse and the dash in front of her. His father was the last one, his wounds making it impossible for him to fight back or struggle before a shot to the head finished him off. The small pop of the shot and his father’s head falling to the side where the last things that Oliver heard or saw before his world turned black.

Later he would learn that he had been shot twice, once in the back when he had reached out for his father and once in the chest, the bullet almost hitting his heart. When they had eventually found them and took him to the hospital he had been carted away to the ICU unit where he had flat lined twice. Yet life didn’t seem to want him to join his family and Oliver Queen survived. He spent two weeks in a drug-induced haze where he didn’t know what was happening or where his family was.

When he finally woke up with a clear head, the room was filled with strangers and attorneys discussing matters that they thought he wouldn’t understand. He heard words like ‘sole heir’ and ‘worth billions’ float by him and he understood. Oliver Queen was now the sole survivor of the Queen family, and as such the heir of billions of dollars. But none of that mattered when he came upon the startling conclusion that he was now completely alone in the world. His mom, his dad, his little sister…gone. None of the attorneys noticed when Oliver’s breathing hitched and tears began to stream down his face; the ten year old feeling as if his small world were collapsing inward and being replaced by the pain and agony of knowing that his entire family was gone, and that there was nothing he could do about it. He didn’t know how long he lay there trying to comprehend what was going on. Just as his tears were turning into sobs, he felt a warm comforting hand grip his shoulder. He looked up and for the first time since he’d awoken, Oliver felt hope.

Uncle Toly,’ Oliver sobbed, as he wrapped his arms around the older man.

‘Ollie,’ Anatoly whispered sadly as he held Oliver in his arms. ‘ Are you ok?’ the older man asked, his Russian accent strong and familiar, bringing comfort to Oliver in his most painful moment.

‘They’re all gone. They’re gone. How can they all be gone? I…I don’t understand. There was so much blood,’ Oliver sobbed, his tears soaking Anatoly’s suit as his mind began to flash back to the last moments in the car. ‘I’m alone. I have no one. I want my mom! I want Thea! I want my dad!’ Oliver cried out as Anatoly tried his best to comfort the young broken boy.

‘That is not true Ollie. You are not alone. You have me, my boy. You will always have me,’ Anatoly reassured Oliver as he ran his hand over Oliver’s head, rocking the fragile boy’s body in a calming motion, ‘You’ve got me.’

‘I do?’ Oliver asked as he pulled back slightly to peer up at Anatoly with the innocence and hope that only a child would possess, his eyes still filled with tears.

‘I promised your father that I would always take care of you. And that is what I am going to do. I promise you Oliver, I will always be here for you. We are going to be each other’s family, ok?’ Anatoly said, softly wiping away Oliver’s tears with his large hands.

‘Ok, Uncle Toly,’ Oliver whispered, softly nodding as he rested his head against the older mans chest. His arms tightened around the man and he tried to focus on Uncle Toly’s hand running soothingly over his head; pushing all the bad thoughts away. He couldn’t understand what was happening but with his uncle maybe he wasn’t all alone like he thought.

‘I will protect you with my life, Oliver,’ Anatoly promised as he kissed Oliver’s blonde hair, a sea of tears pooling in his green eyes, ‘It will be alright.’


 

Anatoly’s idea of protecting Oliver was to take the little boy with him to Russia, thousands of miles away from the place he used to call home and all the memories it held.

Anatoly and his older sister Raisa raised Oliver in Moscow. Raisa had her own children, that were adults, and Oliver’s presence brought a new sense of meaning to her life. Oliver fell instantly in love with the older Russian woman, her warm and gentle nature coming through even though they had some communication problems at first. Oliver learned to love her like a mother with every all encompassing hug, heartfelt meal and soothing bedtime story to fight off his nightmares. And while Raisa helped Oliver by giving him the maternal figure that he needed, Anatoly supplied him with the stern father figure. While not as vibrant and involved with his son’s life as Robert was, he was very involved with Oliver’s development in Russia. He made sure that he taught Oliver Russian, that he knew about the life and history of Russia through rigorous home schooling and how to survive on his own with a strong set of morals that Anatoly hoped would guide him into adulthood. With them, Oliver finally felt safe again and the three of them became Oliver’s small family.

Back in the United States, the ‘accident’ that killed the most powerful man in Starling City, was a media circus. While Oliver worked to get past the grief of the lose of his family and rebuild in Russia, months later the tragedy was still used to sell all sorts of magazines and newspapers. Anatoly protected Oliver from the aggressive media from Starling City, which was made much easier since Moscow was on the other side of the world and Anatoly lived on an isolated estate where Oliver’s companions were his guards, Raisa, and his Uncle Toly.

Another thing that Oliver had no clue about while in Russia was the status of his families company. Queen Consolidated had been set in the care of Robert Queen’s old friend and CFO, Walter Steele. The British man would act as the active CEO until Oliver became of age and stepped up as CEO. He made sure that the Queen’s family heritage would be taken care of and that the Queen family lawyers secured Oliver’s trust fund until he turned 21 years old.

When Anatoly finally sat him down and told him about his families legacy being secured until he could take the reins he was happy to a certain extent. To a ten-year-old Oliver, the dynamics of billion dollar transactions and all its complexities was the last thing he wanted to hear about and to a certain degree he didn’t care. To Oliver, all that he mattered and that was important to him, was that Anatoly would take care of him like he promised. And for years that was enough for Oliver.

Until it wasn’t anymore.


 

It took Oliver a while to fully understand what his father and Uncle Toly did for a living. Not that QC wasn’t a real company, it was. It had more than twenty thousand employees all over the world to prove it. But it was so much more than that.

The first time Oliver heard about ‘money laundering’ it was on the news a few months before his family was killed. At the time he thought it was boring as most things that he saw on the news and went back to his G.I. Joes while his mom and dad exchanged heated glares at one another over something or the other and Thea colored.

It was a while before he heard it again, not because it wasn’t a common occurrence in Russia, because it was, but because he didn’t understand Russian enough at the time. Being a quick learner he breezed through a lot of his lessons with Anatoly and by the age of 13 he knew enough to understand and hold a full conversation. One day as he was walking the halls of his ‘new’ home he happened upon a conversation he shouldn’t have heard. He listened to Anatoly and one of his business associates, Sergei, heavily discussing something that was clear as day and cleared a lot of things for Oliver: Queen Consolidated was a front for money laundering for the Solntsevskaya Bratva.

Oliver had been shocked at first. He’d known about the Bratva from a distance, thinking of it as a distant danger that existed somewhere beyond the walls of his home in a secluded space he’d never see. The Bratva was the biggest and most powerful crime syndicate of the Russian mafia. The group had been taking charge of all Russian criminal activities since the late eighties and even though it was an extremely violent organization; it still lived by a code and the trust of its brotherhood.

After that incident he made it his personal mission to see if he could catch his Uncle Toly talking; trying to piece together what the heck was going on and what it had to do with his Uncle. He found out that Anatoly Knyazev, one of his father’s best friends, the man that had raised him after his entire family was murdered, the man that used to stay with him the entire night when Raisa’s stories wouldn’t chase his nightmares away and Oliver was too scared to fall asleep, the closest thing he had to a father…was the leader of Bratva.

During this particular listening/stalking session the door he’d been leaning on opened up and he was caught.

Oliver!” Anatoly said, his tone filled with frustration and something else, something that Oliver couldn’t exactly pin point. He did understand one thing though…the older man wasn’t happy with him.

Uncle Toly,” Oliver said, his breathing coming quick and his eyes slightly scared as he was caught listening in on things he shouldn’t have been.

You should be in bed already,” Anatoly stated, rubbing his hand against his dark beard, as Oliver visibly gulped, “You know the rules, Oliver.”

“Yes, uncle,” Oliver said quickly, his eyes moving down in shame. He’d wanted to listen in and learn more but he didn’t want to get caught. Neither did he want to make his uncle angry with him.

Anatoly and Sergei exchanged a long glance, and a silent conversation happened between the two Russians. With a nod of his head, Sergei stood up and exited the room, disappearing from sight. Anatoly took a deep breath and put a hand on Oliver’s shoulder. He gave it a small squeeze as his eyes flickered over Oliver’s face.

Come, Oliver. It’s time,” Anatoly muttered, the words tasting like ashes in his mouth. He always thought he would have more time; that Oliver would be able to keep some of his innocence. He was wrong.

Time for what?” Oliver asked, his voice low and questioning. He didn’t know what was going on or if he was in trouble; that much was clear.

Anatoly gave Oliver’s shoulder another gentle squeeze as he coaxed him to turn and walk to the door. He knew that the boy that Oliver Queen was, would be gone after today. But he didn’t have any other choice. It was the only option to keep him safe because he probably knew too much already. It was better to bring the boy in than letting him run around without a true understanding of what was happening in their lives.

Oliver let Anatoly guide him.

Time for you to learn the truth. It’s what you were hoping for, wasn’t it?” Anatoly asked as Oliver gulped nervously, not sure what to say to his uncle, “You are a man now, Oliver. It’s time for you to learn the family business. Let’s go.”

They walked side by side in the stone mansion that they lived in, through a long corridor and into Anatoly’s office. He pushed a bookcase to the side and opened up a hidden door. Oliver took everything in as they walked down three flights of stairs he’d never known about. It became darker and colder the further they went down. The air was humid, and Oliver knew they must have been in a very deep and well-hidden basement. They were in a part of the house that Oliver had never been before that day.

They passed by a couple doors before entering a dark room filled with men that Oliver knew worked with his uncle. He had seen them quite often, walking around the house, guarding the front gate and grounds. He even saw some that were on what Anatoly liked to call his ‘protection detail.’ They all had a dark look on their faces, like all light had disappeared from their eyes, and flushed cheeks as if they’d rushed down to the room.  They were all armed, stocky and deferred to Anatoly when he entered the room with a nod of their end. Oliver realized that this was it. This was Bratva.

He felt like their grim expressions were because of him.

They stepped further into the room and stopped in front of what looked like a jail cell with stonewalls and floors. It was made of iron bars and had a bed made of used newspaper in a corner. When he peered inside he caught movement. Curiosity won him over and he stepped closer to the bars. Inside there was a man, dirty, bloody and beaten to a pulp. He had cuts and bruises all over his body, and one of his eyes was swollen shut. The man tried to speak, but he couldn’t form any words. Oliver felt fear grip him tight as he realized that his tongue had been cut off. He stood frozen, looking down at the bloody man, not able to fully absorb that the man that he considered a father, probably was responsible for the state of this broken man.

Anatoly, realizing Oliver’s clear fear and shock, decided that it was time for the young boy to know the ways of the brotherhood.

You see this man?” Anatoly asked, looking at the pleading man on the other side of the iron bars.

Yes,” Oliver whispered, his body shaking. He couldn’t believe that this was going on beneath his feet while he slept, ate, and ran the halls upstairs.

This man put our family in danger, Oliver. He was selfish, and he chose himself over the brotherhood. He is a rat,” Anatoly accused, pointing at the man. The man seemed to shake even harder, now falling down on his knees, “And I told you, I will always do whatever it takes to protect this family.”

Before Oliver could even think of a reply and before he could ask what the heck was going on, Anatoly took a gun from inside his heavy winter coat and quickly shot the man in the head.

The man’s body fell over with a thump, blood spraying against the wall behind him. Oliver gasped, voice stuck in his throat, fear and desperation now filling his body. He was terrified. How could his uncle kill a man in cold blood just like that? What was going on?

Anatoly put the gun back inside his coat like it was no big deal that he had just killed a man, and not only that, but also in front of the closest thing he had to a son. Oliver felt like he couldn’t breathe as tears of frustration, confusion and shock started to pool in his eyes. He just couldn’t understand why this was happening. The Bratva was a distant concept that didn’t happen to people like him. It couldn’t be actually here in his home and in his life.

That is how we deal with traitors in this brotherhood,” Anatoly clearly said, his voice cold and detached, as he looked around the room. All eyes were on Anatoly and him. If possible, Oliver became even more afraid; the kind of fear that freezes your emotions and puts a pause on everything. If it truly was the Bratva then this was a crucial moment for his uncle and Oliver. The brotherhood did not take kindly to the weak, and Oliver was going to be Anatoly’s heir, somehow he knew that. In this moment he had to show that he was a man. That is what his uncle meant by it being his time. He had to be a man to be one of them…to survive.  

Do you understand that, Oliver?” his uncle said, tone leaving no room for Oliver to doubt or question what he meant even though his words had been presented as a question.

Oliver steeled himself and looked up at the man that had watched him, taken care of him for the past couple of years; the man he now associated as a father. He didn’t see his uncle at that moment. He saw a stranger. A stranger who was telling him to choose if he wanted to join this brotherhood he never even knew he was destined for.

Yes, uncle,” Oliver said, holding back a sob. He had to say yes.

Yes, what?” Anatoly said, his voice harsh; further proof that things weren’t what Oliver believed them to be or thought anymore.

Oliver pulled his eyes from the man’s slumped body and focused in on his uncle. He felt wound up, shaky but most of all horrified, at the turn his eavesdropping had taken. “Yes, sir,” Oliver corrected, holding back the tears that wanted to pool in his eyes as he tried not to picture the dirty cell right next to him, blood painted on its walls.

Good,” Anatoly said proudly, patting Oliver on the back as all the other man watched and nodded in acceptance. Oliver had passed the test…but he felt something break inside of him as if he’d lost something in the last ten minutes; a part of whom he was, “Welcome to the brotherhood, Oliver.”

That night, Oliver realized that the first piece of his soul died with that stranger, on that cold, dirty stone jail. That night he was longer the boy know as Oliver Queen. That night he was Bratva.

Never again, did he call Anatoly ‘Uncle Toly’.


 

After that night Oliver’s life changed completely.

Anatoly now treated Oliver more like an official member of Bratva than part of his own family. Oliver’s time was now filled with schedules, meeting and tasks to complete. And as each day passed, he lost more and more of the young boy that he once was. Long gone were the hours spent chatting with Anatoly over the newest thing he’d learned. Long gone were the hours spent baking and laughing with Raisa. Long gone were the endless hours riding his bike or playing video games. Long gone were the days of daydreaming of what he’d do when he got older. Those days were now replaced with self-defense classes, Bratva structure and on how to use a gun. The kid in him was long gone. He was now treated as a man.

After his introduction to Bratva the biggest change in his life, besides how he was now treated, was his education.

He was enrolled in a private school for ‘all Bratva sons’. Anatoly liked to say that it was for Oliver’s security and for his own benefit, but he knew that it was just another excuse for him to not know anything outside the world of Bratva. So he had moved from homeschooling to a private school where the teachers were part Bratva, where the students would soon be part of Bratva and where all that everyone was concerned about was Bratva. He took normal courses such as Mathematics and Classic Russian Literature, but he also learned special things such as how to work with explosives and how to create and maintain a fake identity with fake passports, fake birth certificates and even fake credit cards. It was an education that honestly was the furthest from what he would have learned in an American high school environment.

In the beginning he had thought of distancing himself from what it meant to be Bratva. Try to deny it, fail his classes, not try learn their ways. But then he would think about that man in that cell under his home. If Anatoly did that without an inch of remorse in front of Oliver, then he didn’t know what he’d do to Oliver if he refused this great honor. To top it off Oliver learned that the Bratva were more than a brotherhood of murders and thieves. They were a brotherhood that expected for high-ranking children as him to take over the reins of responsibility when their parents/guardians passed away or couldn’t handle the burden. That is why the Bratva School was so important.

He and his colleagues were the ones that were expected to rule the brotherhood one day. But being the godson of the Bratva leader didn’t make Oliver’s life any easier; in fact, it only seemed to make things worse. Bullying came from unending sources, and it was considered something usual, a way to ‘strengthen’ a young man into defending himself against the everyday dangers that he would experience in Bratva. Oliver was beaten and humiliated by his peers for months. It only took one look from Anatoly, when Oliver told him of his beatings, for him to realize that he was on his own in this. That Anatoly was ok with it and that Oliver had better defend himself and not embarrass Anatoly.

He bit back hard the next time they came after him. But of course, it was nearly impossible to fight back when it was one against ten; the odds not in his favor. It was when he was down on the floor, blood running down his nose and into his mouth, with his hands trying to protect his head the best he could from punches and kicks, that Slade Wilson came into his life.

Slade was two years older than he was, and much taller and stronger, and for some reason he decided to help Oliver out. In a sea of Bratva rivalry he somehow decided that Oliver was worth helping.

Slade beat down three of the teens that were thrashing Oliver, before the others decided to let go and run from the tall and very imposing figure that Slade set. As Oliver lay there, spitting blood from his cut lip and bleeding nose, he wondered why Slade would stop them when no one else had. He wondered what it would cost Oliver for such assistance. But when he asked Slade the answer was simple: Slade had been in Oliver’s place not so long ago.

Slade was an Australian whose father had been a part of the brotherhood. His father had been a mercenary that worked along with Bratva for many years until he died protecting Anatoly from a heist. Feeling a debt with the Wilson’s, Anatoly took Slade into his inner circle, and the young man was now preparing to officially join Bratva. That however, caused quite a commotion among the students and for a long time Slade had been a victim of numerous attacks. A combination of puberty and learning how to defend himself rather quickly made it so that he gained a reputation in a matter of months. No one messed with Slade Wilson. And if the glare that he sent the scattering students said anything, no one would mess with Oliver as well.

You ok there, Kid?” Slade asked, offering his hand to help Oliver off the floor.

I’m fine,” Oliver said, even though his ribs were aching and he could barely see from his swelling right eye. He didn’t need Slade to think he was weak too.

You don’t look fine to me,” Slade said with a small chuckle as the skinny 14-year-old boy tried to get up on his feet.

I’ve had worse,” Oliver ground out, stumbling/walking towards the bathroom sink to wash the blood off his face and check for damage. It wasn’t as bad as he expected it to be.

So I’ve heard,” Slade countered, making Oliver cringe. Everyone seemed to know that he was constantly beaten. Everyone seemed to also know that Anatoly’s heir wasn’t strong enough to defend himself even when he tried. Oliver knew that his uncle wanted him to be able to defend himself, to be strong and independent. He always said how a Bratva Leader needed to be strong, immovable. And as Oliver looked at himself in the bathroom mirror, cataloguing his injuries, he realized he desperately didn’t want this anymore. He didn’t want to be pushed from all sides and just follow the flow of things. He wanted to be strong and immovable just like his uncle wanted. A force to be reckoned with so no one would hurt him again.

Oliver cleared his face before turning and offering a hand to the imposing and waiting figure behind him, “I’m Oliver Queen.”

Slade Wilson,” he replied, shaking the younger man’s hand.

So I’ve heard,” Oliver said, making Slade chuckle again at having his response thrown right back at him. Everyone knew who Slade was.

Slade gave him a once over again and Oliver wanted to cringe. He looked like a mess and he knew it, but he held his ground. “So, are you ready to stop being beat up by those punks on a daily basis? Ready to stop practically kissing the bathroom floor?” Slade asked Oliver, and for the first time in a long time, Oliver actually smiled even though it hurt like hell when it split his lip again.

Someone was actually offering to help him. And not just because he was Anatoly’s heir or because they wanted something. An unlikely friendship grew between them from that moment on. Slade helped Oliver to become stronger, faster and better than his peers. They ran, trained, lifted weights and spent most of their free time together. With his companionship and teachings, Oliver’s grades became to climb and surpass all the others at the school and no one ever messed with him again. They would continue this unlikely relationship for years to come, as Slade was Oliver’s only friend in Russia. And without his friend fighting with him, helping him, saving him, he wouldn’t become the man Anatoly handed the reins to in the future.

It came to pass that there was only one man that Oliver trusted with his life. And that man was Slade Wilson.


 

By the time he was 16, he was stripped of all the nuances of being a youth. He was colder and reserved. He was more calculating and could pick up on even the tiniest fluctuations of a persons nature. He was also more cut off from the world. All that he knew was Bratva and how to survive its challenges and politics. Things had changed ever since he became friends with Slade. He was feared by his peers and not challenged as much as he was when he started in Bratva School. And when he was, he always landed on top.

Anatoly was extremely proud of the progress that he had made in his studies and in the ranks of Bratva. They never gained back the companionship and trust they had when Oliver was a child but they gained something else, the trust of the brotherhood and his position as the next Bratva captain if anything were to happen to Anatoly. He would be lying if he said he didn’t miss the times of his youth, the innocence that he once held, but he couldn’t get it back. He had to keep on moving forward. Keep on learning to be able to protect himself because no one else was going to do it.

That’s what led to where he was now. A bar in one of the Bratva districts.

When he was at school he mainly kept to himself. Slade was his constant companion but he spent some time with others at Bratva School. He didn’t like his peers but he understood that he at least needed to pretend to want their friendship to a certain extent as he was going to be the next Bratva captain and loyalty was key. That and fear.

With his new sense of control at school his peers fell into line behind him. And he was able to have some of these close ‘peers’ as companions when Slade was not available or on a Bratva mission. So when these companions started acting strange he noticed almost immediately. For the past couple weeks they had gone from fearing him and following his lead to being…inviting and personable.

Being as sharp and clever as he was he saw past their less harsh mannerisms, their watching eyes and their invitations to hang out after their classes. He waited for weeks to play whatever card they were holding onto. And it all came to a crescendo when they invited him to go to a known Bratva bar. Invitations like this were not unheard of in Bratva, the youth going out to clubs and bars often. What was unheard of was the next Bratva captain going to a common Bratva bar.

Obviously Oliver had to go when they invited him. There was something going on right under his nose and he was going to figure it out. Even if he had to do it on his own since Slade was off doing Bratva business.

He tells them yes, that he’ll accompany them, hiding the fact that he’s watching and listening as they head out. He feels it in his bones that something is wrong when Anatoly’s guards don’t stop them or question them as they left the house or walked the streets. He becomes even more curious and cautious as they enter the Bratva bar. His companions shout with glee as they find a table and order drinks, moving Oliver along with them without touching him. No one touched him.

He settled into the bar with his back to the wall, noting all the patrons and the exits of the bar. For being his first bar it was exactly what he expected; sleek bar top that ran along the entire side of the bar with an array of tables and chairs opposite of it. He noted that the crowd was relatively young, filled with people that looked like they were in their early twenties. His companions ordered them drinks and all the while Oliver kept an eye out. He watched his companions. He watched his drink. He watched the crowd. And he waited.

Twenty minutes into pretending like he was having an ‘all right’ time, because a future Bratva captain didn’t outwardly act jovial and happy, a group of girls came over and joined them. Being sixteen had made it so that with a smile and a simple touch of their hands, he was distracted for only a couple minutes. He was just beginning to talk to a small brunette, when a man approached him. He had looked admittedly nervous, eyes wide and clothes askew, when he approached Oliver.

So you’re the little punk who did it!” the man accused in broken Russian, some of his pronunciations slightly off, as his hands shook. He was dressed in a grey suit with small rips on his knees and bruises on the right side of his face.

Oliver glanced back at his companions in question but they all had their eyes on the man in front of them, practiced confusion on their faces. His hands gripped the table and he narrowed his eyes slightly. This is what he was waiting for all day. Placing his hands on the lapels on his jacket he ran his thumb over the inseam that held a hidden blade. He was ready.

When he turned to the man it seemed like he was ready too, a knife already in his hands and his face lit up with anger before yelling, “It’s you! You are the one! Now it’s your turn!

Oliver felt himself tense as he slowly stood, ignoring the girls and his companions, as his fingers slowly curled over the blades handle. This challenge had come out of nowhere, but was clearly connected to the strange behavior of his companions and the night in general.

Without a second thought to the group of companions behind him watching or the entire bar who had suddenly turned to watch the situation, the man jumped towards Oliver with his knife raised. Oliver grabbed the man’s arm just in time and swiveled it behind his back, whipping out his own blade and pressing it up against the man’s throat. A threat was on the tip of her tongue when the man slammed his head back into Oliver’s and effectively disoriented him. He fumbled backwards into his table as the man came towards him again, eyes crazed. Without a second thought Oliver pivoted to the left, sending the man past him and into the table occupied by his companions. They all jumped up in shock and the girls screamed as their drinks were knocked over them.

The turn of events only seemed to infuriate the man and he came at Oliver again. He lashed out at him, but Oliver stepped to the side again and cleanly avoided the man, sending him crashing into an empty table and overturning it. He squared his shoulders and clenched his jaw as he circled the man.

I don’t know who you think I am,” he spoke in a flat voice, noting the eyes on him. They were always on him, “Or what you’re trying to achieve. But I am not him and I will not be taken down by a man like you.

I know exactly who you are!” the man shouted back as he got to his feet, “And I have to take you down.”

Still gripping his blade in one hand he grabbed a half empty vodka from a table, holding it by its neck. The man’s desperate nature and words confused Oliver but not enough to make him stop. He swung the bottle at the man’s head when he tried to come at Oliver again. It hit the man’s head with a sickening thud but the man didn’t go down. He shook his head as if trying to shake the pain off before going after Oliver once more, this time swinging his arm and slicing the air by Oliver’s stomach.

On instinct he tucked his belly back and slugged the man with his blade arm. All he remembered was the quick sound of parting flesh and the choked out sound that the man made before he dropped to the ground. He felt like he’d been put back into his body for the first time that night, seeing everything clearly for what it was. The man was clutching at his neck where Oliver had managed to lodge his blade, blood pouring out as if the blade was a spout.

For the first time in years it wasn’t Bratva Oliver Queen, future heir and captain, staring down at someone who wanted to hurt him. It wasn’t the man who had learned to be cold and calculating because it was necessary for his survival. It wasn’t the man who’d promised that he wouldn’t be weak again. It was Oliver, the boy who loved reading books with Raisa and who fought nightmares off with his Uncle Toly’s hand running comforting fingers through his hair.

It was as if he was in a tunnel, world devoid of sound as he saw the man shake, hands lazily pushing at his neck before simply stopping. He wasn’t moving. He was lying there on the ground, his own knife still in hand and eyes open as blood pooled out underneath him.

Oliver couldn’t move from his spot. His body ran cold as he realized what he’d just done. He’d killed someone.

One of his companions came out of nowhere and rushed to the man, checking for a pulse. He looked up at Oliver and shook his head. Oliver couldn’t help but stare at the pool of blood coming closer to his shoes with every second that passed. The man was dead. Oliver had killed him.

Dropping the bottle he looked down at his hands. They were drops of blood on his hands and forearms, his skin smeared red. He looked up, remembering where he was. Everyone was looking at him. Everyone had stopped moving, stopped drinking as they watched Oliver Queen stand over the body of the man he’d just killed. And no one was scared. No was screaming. No one was calling emergency services. They were just watching.

Not understanding what the hell was going on, Oliver bolted to the bathroom. He needed to get this blood off his hands. He’d killed someone. Out of nowhere a man had come and approached him…attacked him…and then Oliver had killed him. This had to be it. This had to be why his companions had been so adamant for him to come with them to this bar. Somehow it had to do with that man, Oliver was sure of it but couldn’t understand why. Was it a challenge? Did they want to take him down a notch in question of his leadership in the future?

He felt the guilt creep in as the man’s last gasping breathes came to him…the way that he had laid there as his life pooled around him, soaking into his ripped suit. He had no other choice but to defend himself against the angry man. But that didn’t erase or excuse the fact that Oliver had spilled that life. He had used the training and skills he had gained at school to end the life of a living and breathing person.

His hands shook as he saw that some of that same life was under his fingernails. He started to wildly scrub at his hands, wanting to get rid of the evidence of what he’d down when the bathroom door opened behind him. He wheeled around to yell at the person, to tell them to leave, when his eyes widened at who stood there. It was Anatoly. He was smiling.

Well done my boy,” Anatoly said, still smiling as he came over to Oliver and placed his hands on his shoulders, “You did it.”

Did what?” Oliver asked, clearly confused.

Your first kill,” Anatoly replied back like the proudest father as he started to explain.

Oliver felt disgust and anger begin to course through him.

Hands still covered in blood and cuts, Anatoly explained how Oliver had passed his test with flying colors. How Oliver was now a man for killing the man that lay in the other room. How his companions had complied with orders to bring him here. How the man was sent to him because he owed a debt and if he killed Oliver the debt would be cleared. It had all been a plan. That’s why no one in the bar, including his companions, had freaked out when he’d killed the man. It was all part of some plan to see if Oliver was worthy. And by the smile on Anatoly’s face, he was more than worthy for defending himself and ending that desperate man.

According to Bratva law, that night Oliver had established himself as a killer capable of carrying on the Bratva name. He’d established himself as no longer a boy, but a man who would kill anyone who came after him without a second thought with the prowess and agility of a strong future leader.

That night had been his true first step in becoming The Crow.


 

With his first step in becoming The Crow he learned some harsh truths, things hidden from him in his youth. Things that Anatoly thought he couldn’t handle in the past but that he could handle now; the truth of his family’s death. Anatoly hadn’t gone into detail but he had told Oliver that the Triad had been responsible for his family’s death. A longstanding rivalry for control with Bratva that had left the Queen family dead and Oliver Queen an orphan.

Oliver had been enraged when he found out, wanting Anatoly to tell him who it was so he could tear them apart. But Anatoly held still and told Oliver to control himself, to channel his anger while he dealt with the Triad. While he ‘handled’ them. So that’s what he did. He channeled all his anger, all his loneliness, all his helplessness into becoming better, faster, harder to one day take care of Triad himself, no matter what Anatoly said.

He became something else after these harsh truths and his first kill, his second kill, his third kill…someone brand new. The last traces of the young boy that loved to chase his little sister in the mansion gardens, that would sleep with his mothers favorite book under his pillow, that chatted with Raisa about happy endings, was long gone. There were no happy endings in this life. Only endings for the ones he killed.

As the years passed he lost himself even more and became something his mentor, Anatoly, lovingly called ‘The Crow’.

Killing became easier as he let go and pushed aside any kind of guilt or remorse he ever had. He became more distant from his humanity, more skeptical and withdrawn from others, and more respected/feared as the days passed. With each killing, with each bullet and each beating, he would turn further and further from the man he could have become. It came to a point where he didn’t even know if there was anything left of the boy he was before.

For Bratva, for the brotherhood, for Anatoly…Oliver lost who he was.

And as it turned out Bratva saw Oliver as one of the best soldiers they’d ever had. The darker, distant and more critical man was an excellent killer, precise and efficient. He became one of Bratva’s most loved sons and Anatoly couldn’t be prouder. He was the heir of the brotherhood, and he was truly unstoppable because he would do anything that his leader told him to in his quest to bury and destroy his last traces of guilt and find out the truth of his family’s death.

The soon to be Captain became Bratva and Bratva became him by the time he finished school and started active duty with the Bratva. He became a man that danced with death. A man that not even Hell wanted. A man where all that was left was The Crow.


 

Oliver lived with Anatoly and Raisa in Moscow for fifteen years. When the time came for him to finally go back to Starling City, he was 25 years old and a powerful and respected Bratva Captain ready to take over the reins.

For Anatoly it was the perfect time to re-connect with all Bratva business in America and to finally be able to use Queen Consolidated again to its full capacity. While Walter Steele had made the company thrive during the years as a legitimate business, he wasn’t Bratva, and he had no idea what Anatoly had planned for it.

Isabel Rochev had been the one to deal with Bratva business at Queen Consolidated after Robert Queen’s death. An obedient Bratva daughter, she had kept the money-laundering going in an inconspicuous and efficient manner. She had contained the money laundering to a lesser capacity than when Robert Queen was alive. And now that Oliver was going back to claim his place as CEO of QC and heir of the Queen fortune, Bratva would finally be able to reclaim its territory from the Italian and the Chinese mobs that had thrived in the past fifteen years of their absence.

Oliver was more than ready to rule the American branch of Bratva. He had been preparing for it since he was a child, and finally he would reclaim everything that belonged to him and more. But most of all, it was time for him to claim what he desperately desired. What he thought about every time he killed, every time he followed an order, every time he sat down and listened to Anatoly drone on and on about the Bratva way of life. What he had truly desired and had been denied to him on every front.


 

To the Starling City media, the return of Oliver Queen was like the return of a member of the royal family. The landing tracks entrance for his private plane was filled with press, and they all wanted a piece of the young heir of the billion-dollar company. They wanted to know who he was since no one had seen the young man for fifteen years, as he was kept secluded in Russia with no contact with the place he’d been born in. So no one knew exactly what to hope from the only remaining member of the Queen family.

To the delight of all, he had turned out to be a handsome man. He was about 6 feet tall, with broad shoulders, short blonde hair, bright blue eyes and a square jaw covered with stubble that looked like it had a perpetual 5 o’clock shadow. He had a mysterious and dangerous vibe, and it drove the press and all the women crazy.

It was exactly what he wanted. What Anatoly wanted.

His handsome looks worked in his favor; no one looking past his blinding smiles. No one looked past his gracious manner or the playboy act. No one had any idea what had happened to him in the time that he lived in Russia, Anatoly made sure of it and Oliver made sure no one suspected anything; never breaking character. No one would ever imagine that the young billionaire was a Captain for the most dangerous criminal Russian organization.

As he integrated himself to Starling City and to his families company, he made sure that he used his appealing, gracious and charming playboy manner to his advantage. No matter if it was to get a decision in his favor from one of the many Queen Consolidated board members or to get off from a speeding ticket from a lovely female cop. He kept his act up and slept with an endless array of women – models, heirs of multi-million dollar companies, lawyers, women that attended parties at his club Verdant, cops, and even Isabel Rochev – before Oliver demanded her to be sent back to Russia as he didn’t need the woman to babysit him.

He was the Captain and he could do as he pleased.


 

Five years later, after he returned to Starling City, Oliver Queen ruled this city in more ways than one. Queen Consolidated was the biggest company in California and one of the top ten in the entire country. Walter had done an amazing job maintaining the company in his absence and Oliver would be forever grateful to the older man. With Oliver’s reappearance, Walter was returned to his previous position as CFO – something he deeply appreciated so he could spend more time with his own family. And while Oliver Queen took care of Starling City during the day, The Crow did the same thing during the night.

The Bratva had reclaimed its territory in his home city. And even though it was a delicate balance of letting the gun and drug trafficking business continue to be run by the Italian Mob and the despicable Triad, the money-laundering business was all for them. Anatoly had desired to expand the Bratva business but Oliver knew the complications that some of their business practices in Russia would bring upon them if the American government became aware. So he made the wise decision to leave the Bratva and his families company out of other illegal business, no matter how much Anatoly didn’t like it, as he knew that sooner or later the FBI would find a way into those crime sectors. Money laundering was safer, and no one would have any reason to doubt QC or question such a long-standing and trusted business. Besides, the profits were too high and the risks were low, when he compared money laundering against the gun and drug traffic business.

While the community of Starling City respected Oliver as a businessman, philanthropist, and even a playboy, The Crow was feared in every dark corner of the city. No one would see his face or know of his presence until it was too late as he was always hidden in the shadows, watching. But they all knew what he was capable of. The crime lords knew that the Heir of the Demon now ruled Starling City in Anatoly’s absence. They also knew that Oliver Queen was behind it, but no one would even dare utter his name or wish him ill will because of what he was capable of.

Oliver didn’t even have to get his hands dirty anymore; a select few working for him that he trusted. He had gained this right a long time ago, and he preferred it that way if he could. His decisions were calculated, and not done with passion or hate, but with rationality and clarity. That was what made him so good in at all that he did. He simply was detached from all of it. He was void of emotion, as any Bratva Captain should be.


 

Living behind two masks wasn’t fun for Oliver.

Being in Starling City was living a double life; a mask for board meetings and another for his nights with Bratva. No one knew him; not really. All anyone saw was smoke and mirrors. But he preferred that way. To show himself was to expose all his weaknesses and he had learned a long time ago during his schooling that he could never show this side of himself. Not if he wanted to survive this life.

Even as he tried to be detached from all kinds of emotion in his new life in Starling City, there was one thing that he never could let go of: his family. Living in the Queen Mansion had been jarring, eye opening. This house had once belonged to his parents, from the intricate marble floors of the foyer to the crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, to the pastel tones of the long halls. Everything looked the same as it had twenty years ago. And while Anatoly insisted that he change things up, give the house a new look, he never had a heart to change a thing. In these walls were the last traces of his family.

Leaving everything the way that it was like before they were all murdered, was almost like having them with him. Sometimes at night, when he walked the halls of his home and if he concentrated hard enough, he could almost hear Thea’s happy laughter as she ran down the halls, his mother’s voice echoing in the ballroom, and the smell of his father’s cigar in his office, that now belonged to Oliver. This house was the only thing he had left of them and it was the only place that he could sometimes still see the young Oliver Queen, the last piece of himself that he kept tucked away and that the Bratva never tarnished.

Living as a Bratva Captain in Starling City was also very jarring, eye opening, and dangerous. He now lived in the same city that held the people responsible for his family’s death. Those people were the Triad. Ever since he’d found out that they were responsible he felt this churning anger in the pit of his stomach, this need to find every single member and tear them limb from limb. But Anatoly forbid it; assuring him that he had taken care of the people responsible. Throughout the years Oliver covertly invested himself in knowing everything he could about these ‘responsible’ people. And Anatoly was right. He did take care of all the people responsible, except two: the current leader of Triad, China White & her father.

Oliver knew that they would be the toughest to take down, the head of the snake that had brought ruin to his family. So he bid his time and waited. He acted like he didn’t care what Triad or their counterparts, the Italian Mob, were doing; that they were beneath him as he stripped them of their control and ruled supreme in Starling City. He acted like nothing was wrong as he brought QC to its full glory and took control of Bratva territory. One day he would find a way to take them out and Anatoly wouldn’t be able to stop him. No one would.

He was interrupted from his thoughts by small footsteps approaching him as he made his way down the main hall stairs. He knew who it was before they appeared in his line of sight.

Good morning, Mr. Queen,” Anya greeted him in Russian. The fifty-year-old Russian housekeeper had moved to Starling City with him at the time of his return. Her orders to manage the mansion had come directly from Anatoly. His mentor said she was a gift since Raisa was hesitant to leave her home country. But Oliver knew that she was another pair of eyes and ears to keep an eye on him. He missed Raisa.

Morning, Anya,” Oliver replied in Russian, finally reaching the bottom of the stairs and following her to the large dining room. The table was already set for breakfast, “Is Mr. Diggle in yet?”

Anya gave a swift nod as she brought coffee over and the morning newspaper, “He is talking to Yuri and Dimitri. Do you need me to summon him?

Yes,” Oliver replied shortly, as he began to eat his breakfast, his eyes already scanning through the newspaper.

Anya walked out of the room, and a few minutes later John Diggle walked in. Diggle was a tall, dark skinned man that was in his early forties. He had come into Oliver’s life in the most surprising way – he saved his life. A few years ago, while Oliver was chasing down one of the men that were involved in killing his family, he fell into the line of fire. If it weren’t for John getting the man first Oliver would have been injured. Diggle, just like Oliver, was chasing after his own revenge. Triad had been responsible for the death of his younger brother, and John – ex army – was tired of the SCPD’s failed attempts at getting his killer. And so he’d decided to get revenge on his own terms and by his own hands. The two of them got along quite well after that, joining forces to get revenge for their loved ones against the Triad. Along the way they developed a solid bond of trust, and apart from Slade, Diggle became his best friend. He was one of the few men that Oliver trusted with his life and a part of his inner circle, along with Slade Wilson, Roy Harper and Sara Lance. Now years later, they were still looking for a way to destroy Triad.

“Morning, Mr. Queen” John said, as Oliver arched an eyebrow at him. John and him were friends, a term he didn’t take lightly, and he would still call him Mr. Queen even if no one were listening. A part of him thought John might have done it on purpose to bug him, something that he wouldn’t allow of anyone else beside ‘a friend.’

“Are we all set for the meeting tonight?” Oliver asked him.

“Yes, sir. Miller will be there to report to you the latest transactions.”

“Excellent.”

Oliver finished his coffee and walked out to the foyer with John. When they reached the door Anya walked up to him and handed him his leather briefcase. John kept on walking and exited the mansion, opening the back door of a dark Rolls Royce.

“I will expect some company tonight, Anya. Take her to the usual room,” Oliver said as he walked to the car.

“Yes, Mr. Queen,” Anya replied, closing the door behind Oliver.

It was time for another day of masks.


 

Oliver’s breathing was labored as he steadily moved above her. He held tight onto Helena’s thighs as he felt her nails running down his back. She moaned his name, lost in her own pleasure. He kept pushing, chasing after his own gratification until he could see nothing but white light and feel pleasure. He closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation, the quick release. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to make him feel free from all of it. The darkness that was his life.

The feel of Helena’s hand on the small of his back brought him back from his nirvana. He opened his eyes, looking down at the woman under him. She was smiling, her pale skin flushed and her blue eyes shining; she looked debauched. He felt sick.

To feel her hands against his skin was too much. He hated himself for getting lost in the mess that was Helena one more time just for a couple seconds of pleasure. It was a mistake.

Oliver slowly removed himself from inside of her, ignoring her small pleads for him to stay inside of her. He held tightly onto the condom, making sure that it was still intact. He sat down on the bed as he removed the condom, tying it off and throwing it in the small bin next to the bed. While he liked to get lost for a couple seconds in selfish pleasure he wasn’t stupid. And getting someone like Helena pregnant was not on the list of things he wanted to happen.

He peered back at her lounging body. The relaxed feeling he felt a few seconds ago was long gone. And the sight of her on the bed brought back everything to him. Helena Bertinelli was another mistake like endless others he had done in his life. She was a gorgeous woman, no denying that, with her long dark hair, big blue eyes and creamy skin. But the only reason he kept her around was because she was available and willing. That and she was the daughter of Frank Bertinelli – the head of the American branch of the Italian Mob in Starling City – a man that Oliver despised. Yet, for Bratva and his future need for revenge against the allies of the Triad, he kept a somewhat civil business relationship with them. Plus screwing his precious daughter brought as much pleasure to Oliver as the sex itself.

He quickly slid his black boxers back on and grabbed his pack of cigarettes. He lit one while she sat on the bed staring at him. Oliver could feel her eyes moving over every inch of his body, trying to ignite a reaction from him. Helena always wanted more from him, sexually and sometimes even emotionally, but he’d never allow it. He didn’t need anyone and he saw no point in letting anyone inside. She was just a quick release, just like many others faceless women that walked in and out of his life. Plus she was too much trouble. She was crazy as much as she was gorgeous.

They had been having this casual affair for the past three months – quick, hard and dirty – and while Oliver never made her promises, Helena always turned clingy and possessive, in a slightly obsessive way. And every time they had sex, he would promise himself it would be the last time, but he would always find himself calling her when he was up for a quick fuck. Helena provided that to him, but lately it wasn’t even worth it anymore.

Oliver let the cigarette smoke out of his nostrils, as he enjoyed the last seconds of silence. He knew exactly what was coming next. She was extremely predictable in that way.

“Oliver! Are you really going to stand there and ignore me?” she asked him, her tone angry and right on time.

“You say it like I care,” he said shortly, pushing the burning ashes of his cigarette into an ashtray on the side table. His eyes followed the lazy trail of smoke up.

“You cared while you were inside of me!” she shrieked, her dark hair flying against her as her face turned red with rage.

Oliver contemplated looking up from the billowing smoke. He didn’t. “Don’t flatter yourself, sweetheart. I have been inside many women. None of them mattered, just as you don’t.”

“Fuck you, Oliver,” she shouted angrily. He could practically hear her shaking in anger. Helena was used to getting her way and she hated not having the control she wanted.

Oliver lit another cigarette and finally set his cold eyes on her as he pulled out his 9mm, and personal companion, from the side table; the cigarette hanging from his lips. “You can find your way out.”

Her eyes flickered to the gun and she met his blank stare with a furious one of her own. “You’re kicking me out of your bedroom? Again?”

Oliver scoffed, throwing her ruby pair of underwear in her direction, followed by the rest of her clothes. “Actually I’m kicking you out of my house, Helena. And no, this isn’t my bedroom.”

“You can’t keep doing this to me, Oliver! Who the hell you think you are?!” she shouted, all of her control slipping as she got out of bed. Her nakedness did nothing to him.

“Why don’t you go and argue with someone that actually gives a fuck about you, like your fiancée for instance. Or did you forget about that clown that put that big rock on your finger?” Oliver asked as she looked down at the huge diamond ring that her fiancé Michael had given her over six months ago. He was a bookie for the Italian Mob, and he listened to every word Frank Bertinelli said. The excess of faith and devotion that Michael had towards Bertinelli was what made Helena seek out Oliver in the first place. Even Oliver could admit she was full of daddy issues.

“I thought we had a clear agreement, Helena. I fucked you till there was no tomorrow – so that you fulfilled your bad boy fantasy and gave to you all the things that your fiancé was lacking, and you walk away from here happy and satisfied. No strings attached. I don’t see how you keep on misunderstanding that!” Oliver shouted, his words hitting Helena hard. She liked to think she was turning him around, that The Crow had finally let someone in. She was wrong.

“You are such a fucking asshole!” Helena seethed as she threw her clothes on, her black pumps in her hands, as she stormed towards the door.

“That’s the rumor,” Oliver replied sarcastically as he walked ahead of her and opened the door so she’d leave. He was tired of her.

“You will call me back. You always do,” she said as she paused in front of him, challenging him.

Oliver signaled for the guard on duty to come over. He always had one when Helena was around. And it was moments like this that Oliver knew that he needed to stay away from Helena Bertinelli, permanently. That woman was much more trouble than she was worth.

“Don’t hold your breath,” he said coldly as he signaled from the guard to escort her out. Helena struggled against the guard for a second but said nothing as she was led out.

Not wasting another second on her he closed the bedroom door. He really needed to stay away from her crazy ass.


 

After he put some pants on he walked over to the bed, stripping the bed of its sheets. His encounter with Helena was a mistake; something that he wouldn’t be doing again. And even though he couldn’t stand the thought of Anya ‘watching/spying’ on him, he didn’t want the fifty-year-old woman to have to take care of these sheets. Placing them in the laundry basket in the bathroom he pulled out another bed set and made the bed.

After that was done he made his way to his room on the other side of the mansion. More days than not he always ended up in his room, isolated and alone. He spent half of his day at the office in QC and then another quarter in his office at the mansion. After that he always retreated here. His cave of solitude.

He did a sweep of his room like he did every night; checking the closets and the bathroom connected to his room, even checking the windows with his weapon in hand. He had been cautious as a child but being part of Bratva had elevated that caution and diligence. Plus he might be part of Bratva but he wasn’t an idiot. There was never a dull moment in his life.

He entered his bathroom and pulled off his clothes, placing his weapon and watch on the counter. He still smelled a bit of Helena on his skin and it made him sick. He entered the large glass walk-in shower and set the water to practically steam the room in seconds. He let out a low hiss as the soothingly warm water hit his chest; the muscles loosing instantly. Grabbing his soap he began to scrub any and all reminders of her away.

His fingers slipped over his scars. Helena might have appreciated his body, seen the appeal of the play of muscles and strength, but there was a part of him that felt a twinge of shame when he ran his soapy hands over the scars. What would his mother say if she saw the scars he now had on various parts of his body? What would his father do when he explained that each mark was a sign that he’d survived another day? Would his little sister cry and ask what happened?

Taking a shuddering breath he closed his eyes and washed his body quickly; washing the smell of Helena and the thoughts of his family away. He let the water wash it all away. When that was done he excited the shower and realized he hadn’t brought a towel with him. Without a second thought he left the bathroom naked but for his weapon and constant companion. He made his way to his walk in closet, feet leaving a trail of wet prints. He dried himself and threw on a pair of sweats before doing another sweep of his room. Diligence.

When he confirmed that all was well he retrieved his watch and placed his weapon on his side table. It was time for his nightly ritual.

Digging around in his side drawer he pulled out a small blue book before slipping into bed. Pulling his duvet cover up to his chest he sunk back into his pillows. Like in the shower this was the only time of the day when he could really let go of everything and think back on thoughts he’d rather keep hidden. Revenge and anger thwarted him throughout the day and he was a cold, detached and dark presence that put fear in people’s hearts. But here with this book in his hands he could relax a bit and remember the boy he used to be, the man he could have been if…if his family was still here.

Opening the first page he tried to not let the bitter taste and need of revenge overwhelm him. This was his moment to just remember that this blue book was a part of him, a part of his family. When he had been five his mother had given him the book in his hands. She told him that when she was little her mother used to read to her so she was keeping the tradition going. And she’d kept her promise. Every night since he was five his mother, and even his father, when his mother wasn’t available, would read The Little Prince to him. He loved the story of the young boy who had fallen to Earth on a tiny asteroid and who wondered about the adult world. Within the pages his mother would write small notes and dates of things that she wanted him to remember. Flipping to the back of the book he took in Thea’s messy scrawl when she’d attempted to help her mother and Oliver. He ran his fingertips over where she wrote his name and let the tired feeling weigh him down, the years without their love and support.

He’d had this book with him when everything went to shit. When their car was sent spinning this had been tucked into his jacket by his feet, never too far from his reach. Even now he could still spot little flecks of brown where blood had dried on it, small nicks where glass had cut at it. All signs of a past that he wanted to forget and that he was still grieving for. He masked it now with anger and detachment but his grief was still there hidden behind his mask and the pages of this book.

Gripping the book tightly he slid down the bed and started to read the book for what felt like the thousandth time. He pushed away the bitter anger and thought of Thea’s bright smile. He pushed away the isolation and thought of his mother’s warm hugs. He pushed away the darkness and thought of his father’s comforting words. He would do this all for them. He would survive, thrive, and seek revenge for his family, even if they weren’t there anymore. Even if it were a dark and lonely path that he was walking on, he would do this for them.

As Oliver Queen.

As The Crow.


 

A/N: Hi guys! We hope you all have enjoyed the first chapter of The Crow and that you will take this journey with us! We are very excited for it!

Please let us know what you guys think!

An official soundtrack for The Crow will be up soon as well!

Love,

PoisonAngelMuse and TheAlternativeSource