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The Start of Something Else

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“Dig,” Oliver said and then stopped. He shrugged, his shoulders tight, his posture defensive. He was just so tired and the latest Malcolm induced headache wasn’t helping.

Diggle gave a quiet sigh, then squared his shoulders, ready to start again.

Oliver walked across the room to the training equipment, flinching a little bit with each step, waiting for Diggle to start.

“Oliver, you have to take time out and feel things,” Dig said.

“I don’t get the luxury to feel,” Oliver scoffed, “everyone counts on me. You're the one that keeps me level-headed half the time, but it's all on me. I make all the hard decisions and see the looks of blame. I never wanted to add Thea or Laurel and Felicity to the team.”

He doesn’t voice Sara’s name. The wound still too fresh.

Diggle watched his friend walk and pace around the Arrow cave like a trapped animal, seeing something of himself from years ago at war. Knowing Oliver this long, he could read that Oliver wasn’t telling him everything with this latest round with Merlin.

Oliver lightly pressed his head in his hand while also picking up an arrow to throw. Oliver couldn’t believe what position Malcolm had put them in. Oliver knew he was going to have to make a big sacrifice that nobody would understand.

“Look, I know you still have things you’re carrying,” Digs said, quiet voice carrying over the hum of the computer equipment. “But you have to keep it together. We have a lot of enemies gunning for us right now. Yes, you're right it doesn’t help what Malcolm tricked your sister to do. She Killed Sara and we have to deal with it. We, Oliver. Not just you.”

Oliver slammed his bow back down into the stand, fingers still curled around the hilt, other fist clenching and unclenching. Diggle walked over, closing the space between them. “You’re all my responsibility. I’m in charge here.” Oliver says through clenched teeth.

“We are going to go camping and get away from our problems man,” Diggle said, kind of joking while lifting his hands in surrender. “But look. You’re not the only one with things going on. I could use an ear about what’s going on with me and Lila.”

Oliver stopped his fidgeting to look at Diggle, thinking about what he wanted to say or whether he just wanted to have a proper fight and get it over with. He took a breath.

“Do you want to talk about it or spar about it?” Oliver asked, trying to be level headed.

Diggle goes and grabs a staff from the armory and tossed one to Oliver. Oliver eyes go dark, a dangerous glint to them. Dig takes a swing at Oliver with his own staff. Oliver moves swiftly to the side, ducking as Diggle takes a swing at his head. Oliver parries as Diggle’s next strike makes contact with his staff and them immediately with Oliver’s arm.

“Nice Dig!!” Oliver smiled.

“Thanks man. I've been practicing more to keep up with you.” He said while moving around the practice area for the next round. Before they can start, the computer monitors start beeping, signaling an alert.

“Hey, maybe we should go camping,” Oliver said suiting up while Diggle checked the computer bay. Warehouse break-in. Malcolm's men would probably be long gone, but it’d still be worth checking out.

“Oliver’s dad had a cabin a couple hours north of here,” Felicity supplied helpfully, walking in from the elevator and gently pushing Diggle away from her monitor.

“Yeah, my dad has a cabin,” Oliver said. “It’ll beat sleeping in a tent. C’mon. It will be a bonding exercise that doesn’t involve us driving across town to deal with League grunts.”

***

“Bonding exercise, Digs,” Diggle grumbled, more firmly settling down on the ridge behind some shrubbery.

“We’ve bonded this weekend,” Oliver said somewhat defensively.

“It’ll be some guy time,” Diggle muttered, giving his best chipper and exaggerated Oliver impression then dropping back into his own cadence. “Just get out of the house. Do some fishing.”

“What’s wrong with fishing?” Oliver asked.

“Like you’d ever even fished before other than spearing fish with a stick you sharpened yourself while marooned on that damn island,” Diggle carried on, unabated. “I don’t remember ‘taking care of a group of meth-making shitheads’ being part of the itinerary.”

“That’s what you focused on?” Oliver said, fighting a groan. “We’ve had a good time before we ran across this little operation.”

“And how am I supposed to know that you didn’t find it already in some scouting mission and just wanted a little backup cleaning it out?” Diggle lifted an eyebrow and looked back through his scope, trying to get a handle on the guard rotation.

“Hey, you were the one that suggested camping,” Oliver protested.

Diggle lifted an eyebrow, his face all really?

“Because I’d honestly wanted to have a nice weekend with you and for you to have a nice little reset from Sarah and Lilah,” Oliver said. “Is it just me, or do these guards just seem to be not at all efficient at covering grounds?”

“You know, if you need backup, you just have to ask? Or if you need someone to suggest maybe turning this over to the state police instead, I could have answered that for you too,” Diggle said. “With a phone call. Or a nice meetup in a cosy restaurant. Not out in the woods surrounded by illegal drug-making activities.”

“Yeah, but, we’ve got the one runner tied up back at the cabin who’ll be awake soon,” Oliver shrugged, then quieter. “Yeah, I know that can call if I need you. You know that goes both ways, though. Right?”

“Yes, the guards are doing everything is the most ass-backwards way possible,” Digs agreed, changing the subject. They could get mushy later when there wasn’t possible gun fire to be had.

“Well, since their patterns don’t make any logical sense,” Ollie said, giving Diggle a small smile. “Do you want to just take pot shots with the tranq or should we stage a slightly impressive explosion?”

***

“So, I see that the state police responded to a very small blaze and found that no less than twenty-seven would-be chemists and foot-soldiers were tied up to a tree near what appears to be a very large drug operation.” Felicity said. “Does this mean that camping was a rousing success?”

Diggle and Oliver shared a look. Oliver smiled a little. Diggle rolled his eyes.

“Yes,” Oliver said. “Yes it did.”

Diggle just gave him a playful shove and went about good-naturedly muttering about “fools with more guns than sense” and how “some people’s definition of relaxing and fishing are vastly different.”

Oliver laughed while walking further into the arrow cave. “Thank’s for asking Felicity. How have things been here while Dig and I have been gone?”

“Things have been relatively quiet except for a few low level disturbances that Laurel and Thea took care of. Drug dealers, car thieves, no biggies,” Felicity said. “Merlin’s been quiet too.”

Oliver fidgeted a little bit when Merlin was mentioned. Why did Merlin have to be mentioned? Dig gave Oliver a nod of his head, noticing Ollie’s discomfort at Merlin’s mention.

“Ok that’s good Felicity,” Diggle said. “How are things going with Lance?”

“Lance is still the same, but he is also on edge. I think he knows something happened to Sara.”

Oliver walked over to the training area, letting Felicity’s recap to John how things with Lance went. Oliver started to feel the guilt of Sara’s death all over again.

Great, all that relaxing camping weekend is out of my head now, Oliver thought to himself, fighting anger. I’m going to have to start putting plans in action to save everyone, especially Thea. I can’t help but feeling guilty about everything that has happened from the moment I stepped back in starling city. I’ve never wanted to hurt my family, I wanted right my father's wrongs. I know I’m going to have go to a darker place than before when I started this three years ago. I’m so thankful for John for keeping me from going someplace I can’t return from. I for John for a fact is going to hate me for what I’m going to have to do and how. It’s going to be the same with Felicity.

“Hey,” Diggle said, trying to pin Oliver in a headlock and settling into the rhythm of sparing.

“What? I didn’t look busy?” Oliver grunted, evading another round of blows.

“Well, it looked like you were over here brooding on things that were out of your control,” Dig said, dodging. “Don’t make me take you back fishing.”

“Sure, Dig we could go back fishing, but it wouldn’t help this time.” Oliver dodges Dig’s next advance towards him.

“And why not?” Diggle ducked and spun to counter.

“You think I like being the self loathing asshole that people call me. I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.”

“Which you don’t have to carry alone, man,” Diggle caught Oliver’s fist, meeting his eyes. “You don’t. Don’t shake your head. You’ve got a team. You’ve got Felicity and you’ve got me. You hear me?”

“Dig, I hear you. But I don’t really have you or Felicity man.” Oliver takes a step back when Dig released Oliver fist.

“Have you seen the way Felicity looks at me man. She is expecting to have a life with me and all I do is disappoint her. You have Lila and baby Sara now. So I don’t have you.”

“Well then you’re an idiot,” Felicity said, standing up from her work station.

“Not you too,” Oliver started. She held up a hand, cutting him off.

“You do have us,” she said walking over. “If you would stop beating yourself up about everything, about things out of your control, you’d see that.”

Oliver stopped training with Diggle to look at Felicity. “Felicity please I don’t have you. I told you months ago that I wanted to be with you and I couldn’t because of the life I’m leading. You turn around and play mind games with me. What makes matters worse. I came to see you at Palmer Corp and you were wrapped up in Palmers arms.”

“Dig, told me to go works things out with you that is what I was doing. Diggle I don’t have because he has a family now. I won’t put you in that type of danger. You both don’t understand what it takes for me to be The Arrow or Green Arrow. I have to go to a Dark place that no ones needs to go.”

“I can’t deal now. I have to go. I’ll see you both later.”Felicity says, grabbing her purse and walking out, high heels clacking in her wake.

Oliver turned to Diggle and gestured as if to say, ‘See?’

“This proves only that you need to get your head more firmly out of your ass,” Diggle said, giving Oliver’s shoulder a squeeze. “To start, I expect you at dinner at mine at 8. Lila is making lasagna. Don’t miss it because you were here brooding.”

Diggle gave him a clap on the back as he grabbed his coat and made his way out.

Oliver sighed. Right, dinner. I should probably shower, at least. He supposed he could at least humor Diggle. Maybe if he pretended hard enough, he could act like he wasn’t carrying so much. And maybe if her were really lucky, he’d actually start to believe it.