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Are You On My Side

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Ollie's first thought – apart from oh, crap - is that he needs better security. Way better security. As in, security who've actually heard of liquor licensing laws and don't just let any sixteen year old wander in from off the street.

Although, to be fair, she's not just any sixteen year old. She's his sister, which is much worse.

"Where the hell am I?" she asks. Slurs, really, but her gaze is sharp, not like Ollie can just pretend she's going to forget any of this. "Wait, Ollie?"

And that's it, pretty much; the final nail in his coffin. If he weren't screwed before, he is now.

Maybe, in retrospect, it wasn't his best idea ever to build his super secret hideout directly underneath a popular nightclub his sister was known to frequent. Hindsight being 20/20, and all that. (Still, the fact that it can apparently be accessed directly from the nightclub without his knowledge or permission? Definitely something he's going to look into.)

"Thea," he says, and then takes a deep breath, skips the lecture. He doesn't really think it would take right now, anyway. "Come on, let's get you out of here."

"No way," she says, pushes past him as he tries to take her arm. "Where the hell am I?"

"It's just the club basement," he says, his mind spinning out a thousand excuses, but Thea's never believed his bullshit before, he doesn't know why he's hoping she'll start now. "It - "

"No," she says, cutting him off. "No, this is like some secret agent shit or something." And then she leans into him, close enough he can smell the alcohol on her breath, the lingering hint of expensive perfume underneath a sheen of smoke and sweat. Looks right into his eyes, like she's searching for an answer to the mysteries of the universe. "Ollie, are you a spy?"

And that, right there, is so ridiculous Ollie bursts out laughing. Like, okay, maybe he dresses up in a green hood and goes out and shoots people with a bow and arrow, but working for the government? Yeah, that sounds stupid.

"No," he says, when he can catch his breath. "I'm not a spy."

"Well then, what the hell are you?" she asks, looking around. Spinning around, in fact, which sends her lurching into him again, looking a little greener than usual. "Are you an assassin? A mobster? Are you – wait." And then a light comes on, and he knows it's coming, even before she says it. "You're that Robin Hood guy the police are after. You are, aren't you?"

Ollie doesn't answer. He knows he doesn't have to.

"Oh my god," she says. "My brother, the vigilante. This is so cool."

It's a lot of things, he thinks, but cool is not exactly one of them.

"So is this, like, your secret lair? Oh my god, it totally is. That's where you keep your bows. And the outfit – this is great. You are seriously so much cooler than I thought you were." A pause, and then something he definitely wasn't expecting. "I should totally be your sidekick."

"You can't be my sidekick," he says, but it takes him a few seconds to respond, and he can already see her eyes light up at the prospect, a million possibilities running through her head. She's too much like him, sometimes. Except that she doesn't know what this means. How hard it is. How dangerous. "Thea, I'm serious. We need to get you out of here."

"I'm serious, too," she says. "Ollie, come on. At least think about it."

"If I promise to think about it," he says, "will you leave?"

"Yes," she says, more like it's a victory than like she's agreeing with him. "You won't regret this."

"I already am," he says. "And Thea. You can't tell anybody about this. Ever. Not even mom."

"Yeah," she says. "Like I tell mom anything."

"You have to promise me."

"Cross my heart and hope to die," she says. "Shoot an arrow through my eye."

"Not funny," he says, but she just grins.

"Of course it was."

-

He has no intention of letting Thea be his sidekick. Obviously. There are so many things wrong with it, so many ridiculous, laughable things, he's pretty sure even she doesn't expect him to seriously consider it. In fact, he's mostly hoping she'll have forgotten it by morning, blamed it on too many drinks or a bad trip or just blacked out the whole thing.

She hasn't. Of course.

"So," she says at breakfast, and the fact that she's even up at breakfast is something he would be celebrating under any other circumstances. "Green mystery man."

He nearly chokes on his cereal. "Thea," he hisses, because even though there's nobody else around, he knows well enough that you're never truly alone in this house.

"Relax," she says, like it's no big deal, and he has a lot to teach her. If he were going to teach her anything. "I promised, didn't I?"

"Yeah, and that includes not talking about it in public."

"We're not in public," she says. "We're in our dining room."

"Close enough," he says. "First rule: Never assume anything. Especially that you're alone."

Her eyes light up like that, and he realises it may have been a mistake.

"And that's all I'm going to teach you," he says. "Ever."

"Come on," she says. "Ollie, you promised you'd at least think about it."

"I did think about it," he says. "All night. The answer is no, Thea."

He's used to her being mad at him, at least since he came back, but it still always takes him by surprise. It's hard to reconcile, sometimes, the sweet eleven year old sister he left behind with the angry sixteen year old stranger standing in front of him.

"You never take me seriously," she says. "Ollie, I'm not a kid any more."

Yeah, he's aware of that much.

"You don't think I can handle it, but I can," she continues. "I know it isn't a joke. I'm not stupid. I just want to help."

"You can't help me if I'm out there worrying about getting you killed," he says. "Thea, I do take you seriously. And I know you're not stupid. But this is something I have to do by myself."

"Yeah," she says, slumping back in her chair. "Whatever."

He doesn't say anything else, because there really isn't anything to say. And because, angry or not, at least Thea's dropped the subject.

(He thinks.)

-

She doesn't come to the basement again; maybe because he's tightened up security, or maybe just because she wants to surprise him.

If that was her intention, he has to give her props.

"So," she says as he rounds the corner, and if he weren't expecting danger at every turn anyway, he would have jumped. At any rate, she still gets the drop on him, which isn't something a lot of people manage. "Off to catch some bad guys?"

"I was," he says. "Now I'm off to take my little sister home, where she should be."

"God, you sound like mom," she says, which may be the worst thing she's ever said to him. It still isn't particularly persuasive, though. "I just want to tag along. I'm not going to get in your way. I swear, you won't even know I'm there."

"You can't just tag along on this," he says. "Thea, what I'm doing is dangerous. These guys -"

"Are bad guys, I get it," she says. "That's why I want to help you."

"You can help me by staying away."

"So you just want me to go back to the club," she says, and shrugs. "I can do that. There's a guy in there who's got some really great blow."

"What I want," Ollie says, clenching his jaw, trying to keep his voice even, "is for you to go home."

"Yeah, that's not going to happen."

"I can make it happen."

"And get wherever you're going in time to stop the bad guys?" she asks. And then, when he hesitates, "That's what I thought. Your call, big bro. I go back in there or I come with you."

It's not exactly an ideal situation – in fact, it's a pretty damn terrible one – but Ollie still knows what his choice should be. There's no way he can take her with him; it's reckless, dangerous, way out of her league. If she comes, she'll almost certainly be hurt, or worse. But he's been where she is – the clubs, the drugs, the epically poor life decisions – and he just can't send her back there, not willingly, not alone.

"Stay out of my way," he says. "Stay behind me at all times. Do not let anybody see you. Do not interfere in any way. Don't get hurt."

"Yes!" Thea says, and she's way, way more excited than she has any right to be. It almost makes him reconsider. But he owns the club, and he knows firsthand it's probably more dangerous in there for her than it is out here. "I'll be the best sidekick ever, I promise."

"You're still not my sidekick," he says, but he knows her too well to think it makes any difference.

-

It doesn't go terribly.

It also doesn't go well.

Thea isn't hurt, or killed, or scarred for life, which were his main concerns. So much so that he almost forgets why he's there; as Thea would put it, to stop the bad guys.

He does stop them, puts an arrow through one guy's shoulder that neatly misses anything vital but puts him down long enough for Ollie to get a name. It's what he came for, so it's technically a success, but with the name comes the guy's partner and a knife in Ollie's side, Thea rushing forward, screaming, kneeling beside him, his blood on her hands.

So, it doesn't exactly go according to plan.

It's his own fault. He went in distracted; thinking about Thea, not the mission, not surprising it went south. He only has himself to blame.

"I told you you shouldn't have come," he says back in the basement and just because he shouldn't blame her doesn't mean he won't. It's easier than thinking about how that knife could have been meant for Thea instead, about how it could have been her blood on his hands instead of the other way around. "Are you okay?"

"Am I okay?" she asks, and she sounds shaken but not hysterical. That's good. It's something. "Ollie, you just got stabbed."

"I'm fine," he says.

"You got stabbed," she says again, like maybe he missed it the first time. Like he's not the one with a bandage wrapped around his torso.

"I've had worse," he says, and it's the truth, but that doesn't mean he has to like the way she tenses up, the expression on her face. Bad idea, bad idea, bad idea. Ollie's always been great at those.

He doesn't know what he expects, but it isn't for Thea to get closer, looking down at his chest, his stomach, tracing her hands over the scar tissue there. It's not like she hasn't seen them, not like she doesn't know, but she's not used to them like he is; he doubt he'd be able to take it in stride, either, if their positions were reversed.

"I want to help you," she says. "You don't have to do this alone."

"Thea -"

I know," she says. "It's dangerous, I could get hurt. I was there. I saw what happened. I know it's not a joke."

"Then you know why I can't let you."

"No," she says, and she suddenly sounds way older than sixteen. It makes him realise how much he's lost; more than time, more than just five years of her life. "It's why you need me with you."

"You can't," he says. "What if you're the one who gets hurt next time?"

"I won't," she says. "Because you'll be with me. And if I'm with you, you won't get hurt either."

It's not that simple; he'd tell her that, try to explain, except he's pretty sure she already knows. Which means she's just being stubborn; another family trait.

"Besides," she says, "if I'm there, we can catch twice as many bad guys. What's not to like?"

"How about the part where I'm putting you in danger?"

"How about the part where, if you say no, I'm just going to do it anyway?" she asks. And she has that look, that set to her jaw, that tell him she isn't kidding about this. She's not going to back down.

And at least if he knows she's there, he can protect her.

"All right," he says finally, and he wish he didn't feel like such an asshole for giving his sister what she wants. "But we do this my way. I didn't just pick up a bow one day and decide to hunt down criminals. You need to be trained, and until I say you're ready, you don't go anywhere near any actual bad guys. Period. You break the rules, and we're done. Do you understand?"

"I understand," she says, and to her credit, she looks like she actually does. Maybe that's worse. Maybe if she treated this like a joke, he'd have an excuse to tell her no for real. "Trust me, I'm going to be the best sidekick ever."

"I'm going to regret this, aren't I?"

"Almost definitely," she says. "Hey, do I get my own costume?"

-

She's not great with a bow.

Of course, neither was Ollie the first time he tried; he wasn't used to the motion, didn't know how to aim, how to pull the string back and wait for that moment in between breaths. Thea's a little better than he was – her arrow almost hits the edge of the target, or would have if it didn't bounce off.

"That's … good," he says, and Thea snorts, rolls her eyes.

"Really?" she asks. "That's good? That's how you catch criminals with precise aim and expert focus?"

"Well," he says. "Maybe not precise aim." And she laughs at that, in a way he hasn't heard since he got back, so maybe this wasn't the worst idea ever. Just one of the top ten.

"Should I try again?" she asks. "Maybe I'll shoot my own foot off this time."

"You're not going to shoot your foot off," he says, but he takes a step backwards jut in case. "You just need practice. And to keep your elbow down."

"I am keeping my elbow down," she says. "It's hard."

"I know it's hard," he says. "Everything about this is hard, and this is probably the easiest thing you're ever going to do. But if you want to give up ..."

"No," she says, almost before he's finished speaking. He probably should have been goading her, wanting her to say yes, but he knows he wasn't. He's not sure what that says about him. "I'm good. I'll practise."

"Yes," he says. "You will. And then you'll practise again, and again, and again, and you'll keep practising until I say you're perfect."

"Are you perfect?" she asks.

"No," he says. "Which is why you need to be."

Her second shot is worse, wide by a mile, and the third gets stuck somewhere up in the corner above Ollie's head. The fourth actually bounces off the target, though (after he goes over and holds her elbow down himself), and her fifth shot actually lands, sticking out proudly from the top corner of the target. Thea actually jumps up and down, clapping her hands together, and Ollie gently takes the bow from her hands; it's not like those things come cheap.

"Good," he says. "Again. Without my help."

They're going to be here a while.

-

The next day is physical training, running as far and as fast as Thea can keep up, jumping over fences, climbing up buildings. Thea tries that once and falls straight on her ass, pouting up at him from the street.

"Seriously?" she says. "You climb up buildings. This is, like, an essential part of the job requirement."

"It's something I do," he says. "And when some guy with a gun has chased you down a blind alley, you'll want to be able to do it, too."

"This is a lot less fun than I thought it was going to be."

"Give up?"

"Never," she says, and gets back on her feet, dusts herself off, and jumps for the nearest landing.

She misses, but that's okay. Ollie can wait.

-

"No," she says when Ollie comes to get her in the morning, before it's even light outside. She buries herself a little deeper in her blankets, covering her head, and Ollie pulls them back as she blinks up at him sleepily. "It's still nighttime."

"Which means you get to bed, what? A couple of hours ago?"

"One and a half," she says, looking blearily at the clock. "It was an early night."

"Make it earlier next time," he says. "You want to do this, you can't party all night any more. You have to take this seriously."

"I am taking it seriously," she says, tugging on a hoodie over her pyjamas. It's not exactly the best outfit for what he has planned, but she'll learn that soon enough.

He learned by making mistakes. So will Thea.

"Good," he says. "So I guess you're ready for a trial run."

-

She's not ready. (But she isn't as far off as he expected.)

-

"When is my training going to be over?" she asks. They're in the basement of the club again, Thea with a bow in her hand, holding it like a proper archer now. She's more ready than she thinks, but Ollie doesn't tell her; overconfidence could get her killed.

"Your training is never over," he says, taking the bow from her. His shot, barely glancing at the target, splits her arrow down the middle. "You'll always be learning. Getting better."

"Obviously," she says, rolling her eyes. (She shouldn't feel too bad. Her arrow hit the bullseye.) "I just mean, when are you actually going to start bringing me with you when you hunt down bad guys? I can't be a very good sidekick if I'm stuck in some warehouse all the time."

He knows. Overconfidence isn't going to get her killed; he is.

"Tonight," he says, and Thea stares at him.

"No," she says. "Really, when are you taking me out with you?"

"Really," he says. "Unless you don't think you're up to it."

"Oh, I'm up to it," she says. "Just you watch. I'm going to be the best damn sidekick ever."

"Just try not to get yourself killed," he says, and it comes out wry, almost joking, but that's not how he means it.

"Right back at you," she says, shouldering the bow. It's smaller, lighter than his; it looks good on her. "So what's the deal?"

"Francis Simone," he says. "Big time developer. Big time bad guy."

"Francis? He sounds like a wuss."

"He isn't. He has close ties to just about every shady organisation that operates in Starling City. Some pretty scary people are afraid of this guy."

"But we aren't."

"We are," he says. "Which is why we're doing this quietly. We get in, take his money, and get out again before anyone knows we were there." Before they have a chance to hurt you.

"Sounds boring," Thea says, and then, at his look, "I mean, sounds great. Good plan."

"I know it is," he says. "You think you can follow my lead on this one?"

"I was born to follow your lead," she says, and he thinks maybe she's only half joking. "Trust me, I'm ready for this. I'm not going to screw it up"

-

It gets screwed up.

Correction: He screws it up. He's too used to working alone, covering all bases, doing everything himself. He's never relied on anyone before, and it's too hard to do it now, to trust Thea to be where she's supposed to be, to do what she's supposed to do.

She does, and he's not expecting it, and it screws everything up.

Ollie's on the east side of the building, Thea on the west, and it's supposed to be a simple takedown. Ollie's the distraction while Thea slips in and corrupts the hard drive; she should be out of danger while Ollie takes on the bad guys, and it'll only take a couple of minutes. Only, he doesn't give her that long.

Once Simone and his bodyguards are distracted, Ollie doubles back, slips in before the others can show up, goes straight for where the hard drive's supposed to be. Except he's not alone - Thea's there too, and he should have expected that, but he didn't, and she looks up in surprise.

"Ollie," she says. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," he says. "Are you done?"

"Almost," she says. "I just need another minute."

If Ollie had been where he was supposed to be - on the other side of the building, leading them away - Simone's bodyguards wouldn't have shown up just then. But he isn't, and they do; before he can draw them off - leave Thea to her part of the plan, which he should have done from the beginning - she's diving for her bow and he's dropping to the ground, clutching at where a bolt of white hot fire is spreading up his side.

"Thea," he grunts. "Get out of here."

"But I'm nearly finished," she says. He ignores her, grabbing her on his way to the open window, leaping out and hoping his escape route is the same as he left it. It is, and that's probably the only part of tonight that goes right.

Back at what Thea's affectionately dubbed the Arrow cave, Ollie pulls off his shirt so he can inspect the damage, but Thea's face tells him pretty much everything he needs to know.

"Bad?" he asks, and she visibly tries to smooth her expression. She does a really, really bad job at it. "Hand me the disinfectant."

She does, and he starts cleaning the wound; it's shallow, not serious, but it hurts like hell, and he tries not to wince. He does a pretty bad job at that, too.

"I'm sorry," she says, so quietly he almost doesn't hear, and he looks up.

"For what?" he asks.

"For …" She shakes her head. "Everything. For getting you shot. For screwing up."

Right. He can't say he never expected to have this talk, but not like this.

"You didn't screw up," he says, and before she can protest, he holds up a hand to stop her. It hurts. "You didn't screw up," he says again. "I did."

"Yeah, right," she says. "Ollie, you don't have to protect me. I'm a big girl."

"I know," he says. "But you didn't screw up. You followed the plan. I didn't."

She looks confused, and Ollie realises that maybe - just maybe - he didn't explain his part of the plan very well. It wasn't her business still echoes in his head; she's not the one's who's terrible at this whole sidekick thing.

"I shouldn't have doubled back," he says. "I just wanted to make sure -"

Then it clicks for her. "You didn't trust me."

"It wasn't like that," he says. The traitorous voice in his head whispers, yes, it was. "I had to check that you were okay."

"You mean, you had to check that I didn't screw it up."

"Thea -"

"You know what?" she says. "Forget it. I thought I was going to screw something up, but I didn't expect you to think the same thing."

It should be a relief when she storms out.

It isn't.

-

Thea doesn't talk to him at breakfast, or at dinner, so when she leaves - in the direction of the club, not that he can really blame her this time - he follows her. Drops in on her as she rounds the corner, and gets an elbow in his side - in his wounded side - for his trouble.

Serves him right.

"Ollie," she says, which, lucky for him, stops her before she does any more damage. "What are you doing?"

"Training you," he says through clenched teeth. "You never know when you're going to be attacked. Need to be prepared."

"So?" she asks flatly. "How'd I do?"

Yeah, okay, she did fine.

"Anyway," she says. "My training is over, remember?"

Right. That whole quitting thing. "Your training is never over."

"Ollie," she says, and sighs. "I can't do this if you don't trust me."

"I do trust you."

"You don't," she says. "When it mattered. You didn't."

"I trust you," he says again. "I'm just not used to … working with a partner. I screwed up. I'm sorry."

"Wow," she says. "The great Oliver Queen, apologising."

"Thea -" Which is when he notices what she's wearing. Black pants, black hoodie. No jewellery. Hair pulled back. "You're going to the cave."

"Duh," she says. "You can't get rid of me that easily."

"So all that was for …"

"Getting you to apologise," she says. "I liked it."

"I'm glad."

"So," she says, as they start walking again. "I'm your partner, huh?"

-

The first thing they have to do is fix their screwup.

(Your screwup, Thea points out.

Our screwup, Ollie says. You're responsible for what your partner does in the field.

Please tell me it's only in the field, she says. I don't think I could handle that kind of burden all the time.

Right back at you.)

"Tomorrow night," he says. "Simone's hosting a charity auction."

"At his house?" she asks. "That's convenient."

"That's PR," he says. "One of his developments went bust last month. A lot of people lost their jobs."

"Developments go bust all the time," she says. "How's that his fault?"

"Rumour has it he went bust deliberately," Ollie says. "Set the whole thing up as a front. Tax evasion, maybe money laundering. Then he sank it when he was done."

"Ouch," she says. "So, what? He throws a party for all his rich friends, donates a couple hundred thousand dollars to charity, and he's off the hook for millions?"

"Something like that."

"Jackass," she says. "Let's bring him down."

"My thoughts exactly."

"So we crash his party."

Ollie smiles. "We're not going to have to crash it."

-

It's easy enough to secure an invitation; Oliver Queen plus one, and he has to admit, Thea cleans up pretty well.

"You don't look terrible," she says, after giving him a once over.

He grimaces. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," she says. "So, this thing has an open bar, right?"

"Thea," he says, suddenly serious, and she laughs.

"Relax," she says. "I was kidding, okay? You don't have to worry about me tonight."

He wonders if the rebuke is intentional, or if he's just reading into it. Either way -

"Okay," he says. "But you know your job, right?"

She rolls her eyes, and then, as if reciting something she's memorised for school, "Stay out of the way, don't get noticed, don't go anywhere near Simone, keep an eye out for bad guys, tell you everything, don't do anything unless you tell me to."

"And don't get hurt," he says. Otherwise, she has it pretty much down.

Not that there's much chance of that, if everything goes smoothly tonight. Not that he's left his bow at home - two high-tech collapsibles are stashed under his suit, though he's hoping they won't need them - but unless this thing gets majorly screwed up, they should be able to get in and out without violence.

There's a first time for everything.

"What now?" Thea asks, and he shrugs; now, he's pretty much running on instinct.

"Now we mingle," he says. "Keep our eyes open. Fid a way to get to Simone's computer. Shouldn't be too hard."

"Right," she says. "You mean not too hard like 'it shouldn't be hard to get Tommy to say something stupid,' or not hard like 'it shouldn't be hard to climb to the top of this building using only your bare hands?'"

"Both," he says.

"Okay," she says, rolling her eyes. "So we sneak out of the party, find the computer, and then what? We take some of his money?"

"No," he says. "Then we take him for everything he's got."

The first part isn't hard. It's a silent auction, and Ollie's been to enough of these things - at least, he's been drunk at enough of these things - that it's easy to look like he fits in. Simone's bodyguards aren't trying to be discreet, either, which is a bonus, and maybe it makes him a little cocky; he almost gets caught trying to sneak out through the kitchen at one stage, and ends up putting down a hefty bid on some ridiculous spa package just to get the guy to stop noticing him.

"You could have just put in a low bid," Thea says, when he tells her about it. "Bid ten bucks. It's not like anybody's going to know."

Right. That would also have been an option, yeah. He's spent too long paying stupid amounts of money for things he doesn't need.

"Well," she says, "at least you'll look pretty."

"Plan B," he says. "We go in through the front door."

"We?" she asks, but he's already moving. He doesn't look back, but he trusts Thea to follow him, and a moment later he feels her touch his elbow. That's good; they're just two people, wandering down the hall to get some privacy or fresh air or a better look at the parts of Simone's mansion he doesn't open up to the public.

The fact that it's a good cover doesn't mean they're not followed, but that's okay, too.

"Around the corner," he says, leaning in close to Thea. He presses a compact arrow into her hand; she won't be able to fire it, but it should still do the job if she gets in close enough. "Just keep going until you find it. I'll distract them."

"Ollie -" she says, but he's gone before she can finish, blocking her from sight as he moves forward towards the guards. One of them still looks to be moving past him, so he veers to the right, stumbles into the nearest room; it only takes a beat for them to follow him.

"This isn't the bathroom," he says, looking around him like he's surprised. "I wanted to go to the bathroom."

The guards look at each other, and visibly relax; that's a mistake. "Come on," the bigger one says, reaching for Ollie. "Let's get you back to the party, and then we'll go fetch your friend."

Yeah, that's not going to work for him. He can stall, but only for so long, and if it's going to come down to a fight, here's as good a place as any.

He grabs the guard's arm as it reaches for him, twists it hard. Using it as leverage, he pushes down on the guy's knee, hears it snap painfully; he hopes Simone gives his goon squad health benefits. One down, he turns just as the second guard rushes him, deflects one hit and takes another, waits for his opening. When it comes, he doesn't hesitate, and he rushes forward to slam his palm into the guy's nose. It's enough to put him down, but probably not enough to kill him, and that's good enough for Ollie. He elbows the first guard in the head on his way out just to make sure he won't be following, pauses to readjust his suit jacket, and heads down the hallway to seek out Thea.

She's bent over a computer when he finds her, arrow planted under the desk, and she looks up and smiles as he comes in.

"All clear?" she asks.

"For now," he says. "How long?"

"A few minutes. There's a lot of data here, it's going to take a while to make sure we get it all."

"Longer then we have," he says. Simone's guards may be stupid and obvious, but what they lack in intelligence they make up for in number; they probably only have a minute or two before more of them come this way.

Or less, he reflects, as he hears a muffled shout coming from down the hallway. Well, 'no violence' was a good plan, but this one will work, too.

"Keep an eye on it," he says, shrugging out of his jacket. A few seconds later he's moving up beside the doorway, bow in hand. Only a few arrows; he'll need to make them count.

He puts one each through the legs of the first two guards to rush through the door. They collapse in a heap a foot into the room, enough to make a decent barricade; it won't stop bullets, or even more of them rushing in, but it might slow them down a little. He was right about their numbers, though, and the first two are quickly followed by two, three, four more, including the two from before. Apparently he didn't put them down hard enough the first time.

"Thea," he calls, and tosses her the second bow. She catches it neatly with one hand, draws a compact arrow out of her purse with the other. He always wondered what women kept in those things. Without speaking, she moves to flank him, takes out the first guard on the right as he hits the one on the left. Two to go, and Ollie's out of arrows; he hits the guy closest to him with his bow instead, trusts Thea to take out the last guard and prays he's right.

He's about to be hit with a mean left hook when the guard he's fighting with cries out. Ollie blinks; there's an arrow sticking through his shoulder, and Ollie twists, waits until the guard collapses in pain. Then he turns around, and sees Thea standing over the last guard, bow in hand, looking triumphant.

"I'm out of ammo," he says, and he knows Thea can't be far off. "Is it done?"

"Yeah," she says, glancing over. "Out the window again?"

Ollie grins. "Out the window again."

-

"Aren't you worried that they saw our faces?" Thea asks, once they're out and around the corner. Not strictly out of danger, but by the time they're followed, they'll be long gone.

"Not really," Ollie says. "Those arrows were loaded up with enough toxins to make an elephant forget his own mother."

She stares at him for a moment, and then says, "You roofied them?"

"We roofied them," he says. "Nice shot, by the way."

"I was aiming for his head," she says, and then laughs. "Oh my god, Ollie, you should see your expression. I'm kidding."

Right. Of course. He knew that.

"You could say thank you, though."

"I said thank you."

"No," she says. "You didn't. You said 'nice shot.'"

"Well, thank you," he says. "You did pretty well, for your first official time in the field."

"Pretty well?" she says. "I was amazing."

"You were all right."

"I was better than you."

"Okay, now you're exaggerating."

"But we totally got the job done," she says. "I say that means we celebrate."

"Celebrate?" he asks. "I've got a black eye and you're in a torn evening dress. Where do you suggest we celebrate?"

She shrugs. "Smoothies in the Arrow cave?"

"That's your idea of a celebration?"

"Well, we have to do something," she says. "It was my first official time in the field, after all. And I kicked ass."

"You did," he admits. "Maybe next time I'll bring the hood, though. Just in case."

"And what am I going to do, pull my shirt up over my head?"

"As much as that would probably distract them, I'd rather you didn't," he says.

"Well, it's not like I have a fancy costume or anything."

"Well then," he says, "maybe we'll just have to make you one."

"Seriously?" she asks.

"Seriously."

"And smoothies?"

"And smoothies," he says.

Thea grins, and takes his arm. "Best mission ever."

"Until next time," he says, and she grins even wider.