“Oliver, are you near a TV?”
Oliver, about to make a jump to the next rooftop over, paused and drew up to his full height at the sound of Diggle’s voice in his ear. “I’m a bit indisposed,” he said, as there didn’t seem to be any televisions on the roof.
“Still got your phone on you?”
“After Felicity yelled at me for losing the last one, I’m taking this one to my grave.” Oliver paused. “Don’t tell her I said that.”
“She’s the reason I’m asking.”
Oliver dug out his phone and loaded the app Felicity had designed. If she were at the computer bay in the Foundry, whatever she wanted him to see would already be ready to go, but Diggle wasn’t as proficient with the technology. So it took a few seconds for video to appear. He squinted at the screen, trying to make heads or tails about why Diggle would be sending him a Starling City Breaking News update…and then Felicity’s picture flashed on the screen, next to Malcolm Merlyn’s.
He went very still. “How long has this been going on?”
“Just broke, as far as I can tell.” Frantic typing sounded in the background. “I don’t know if she knows yet. Her tracker has her at her apartment and she didn’t pick up her phone. I can be there—”
“I’m a couple miles away,” Oliver said. “Meet me there.”
And then he jumped off the roof.
Because he was hooded up, Oliver climbed the fire escape with a grappling arrow. He wouldn’t have preferred such an unsubtle approach, but time seemed to be of the essence. He landed on her fire escape and knocked four times on the pane, in the pattern they’d worked out. He couldn’t see her, but that just meant she wasn’t in her bedroom.
There was no answer. After twenty seconds, he pushed the window up and rolled into the apartment. He didn’t call out just in case she had friends over, though he did head for the door.
She pushed it open right before he reached it, nearly hitting him in the nose. “Oh, hey, that was your bike I heard,” she said, her face lighting up with a brief grin. “You’re just in time. I made some kick-ass Pasta con Asparagi, it’s going to blow your—Wait, is there trouble? Arrow trouble? What do you need?”
He really didn’t know how to break this, so he took a deep breath. “Felicity, have you watched the news?”
“No, I just had some music on…”
He followed her out of the bedroom and into her living room, where she picked up the remote from a little basket on the end table and clicked the TV on. “What’s so urgent that it’s on the news and—oh my god, that’s my face. What is my face doing on the…”
She trailed off and went quiet, her eyes wide.
“You should sit down,” Oliver said.
“My face is on the news next to Malcolm Merlyn’s. Oliver, he’s the guy that you…” She turned suddenly and reached out, her fingers trailing down the front of his chest, right where he had stabbed himself to kill his best friend’s father. He was amazed she was even able to pick that scar out when he had so many, but her eyes look huge and glassy behind her lenses.
“Felicity?” he asked slowly.
She dropped her hand and shook her head. “They’re…they’re saying I’m a ‘missing heir.’”
“That I’m Malcolm Merlyn’s daughter.”
“Felicity, you need to sit down.”
But she took a step back instead, and then another, putting her hands over her face. When he moved forward—to do what, he had no idea, really—she held up one of those hands, and it seemed delicate. It was also shaking, but Oliver stayed rooted to the silly little pink rug in front of Felicity’s couch. His fists clenched at his sides. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“Not remotely. I…” She trailed off, looking around her apartment in bewilderment like she had no idea how she’d even gotten there. “Is that true? Is the news telling the truth? You were…you knew Malcolm Merlyn. You’d know something, right? You’d know if they’re lying or if—if this is a hoax, or a bad joke.”
Oliver opened his mouth and shut it, feeling helpless. “I wouldn’t know. I didn’t even know he was the Dark Archer.”
“Right. Right, yeah, that makes sense, that makes perfect sense. Um, no offense.”
“None taken. Look, you should—”
She dropped her hands, an intense glare taking over her face. “If you tell me to sit down again, I swear I’m not gonna be responsible for what happens next.”
“I was going to say you should call your mother,” Oliver said.
“Oh. Oh. Um. Right. Yeah, yeah, I should…my phone—”
“Here,” Oliver said, grabbing it from its charger in the same basket that held the remote. “I’ll go into the kitchen, let you have a minute.”
She nodded tightly, like she wasn’t sure she could speak, and her fingers shook as she dialed. He hadn’t even made it to the kitchen before he heard her strangled, “Mom? Is it true?”
The sheer, unrelenting pain in her voice was enough to make him indulge himself. He made sure not to dent her refrigerator when he punches it. Even though he was rich enough to pay for the damage, she had developed a policy that she didn’t like Oliver paying for things that she considered hers, and he respected that rule, though he really, really wanted to hit something.
Malcolm Merlyn had found yet another way to screw them all over from the grave, and it would be fine if it was him, but now it was Felicity.
In the living room, Felicity’s voice grew louder. “How could you not tell me? How could you lie about this? You didn’t think it was important to mention that the man who fathered me was a homicidal maniac? You didn’t think I would find that handy to know in case I needed to fill out, I don’t know, a survey or something? God, Mom.”
There was something that smelled delicious on the stove, though he really wasn’t hungry. Carefully, he turned off the heat under it and moved it to a different burner. He had a feeling Felicity wouldn’t be hungry either.
“Yes, I’m pissed,” Felicity said, and she was shouting now. “I had to find out over the news. They’ve got a not-very-flattering company picture of me on the news and it’s all over the place and I had to find out from them and not you, so yes, I am pissed—oh, don’t yell at me about language, you lied.”
Oliver’s phone buzzing nearly made him jump as he reached for the bottle of Jim Beam he knew that Felicity kept for egg-nog. He hit Talk. “Yeah, Dig?”
“Oliver, are you seeing what I’m seeing?”
Oliver moved over to Felicity’s little kitchen window, which looked over the street, and promptly swore under his breath.
“The doorman’s keeping them out, but there are a lot of them,” Diggle said. “My advice is if you don’t want her on the news in person tonight, the two of you get out of there.”
“This night just keeps getting better and better. They might look for her at my place, and I don’t think the Foundry’s a great spot for her to be.”
“My place it is. I’ll pull around the back.”
“No, we’ve got my bike. We’ll be okay. Distract any of them from coming to the back alley.”
Oliver moved from the kitchen to the bedroom, grateful that Felicity’s back was turned to him. Her voice had dropped out of its loud setting, which didn’t actually portend good things: some of her most vicious barbs had been delivered at a whisper. But that was a problem to worry about later, now he had to focus on getting them out of there. In her bedroom, he grabbed her toiletries kit from the dresser, her neatly packed make-up bag from the bathroom sink, and the go-bag he’d insisted she pack from under the bed. He tossed the paperback novel on her nightstand into the bag and then headed for the living room.
Felicity had hung up. She stood, staring at the news screen (which was showing b-roll from a charity function she’d attended as Oliver’s date, actually), the phone forgotten in her hand. When she turned to look at him, he felt the confusion and misery plow into him. He opened his mouth.
Before he could talk, though, she blinked at him. “Why do you have my luggage?”
“Reporters downstairs. Dig says we need to leave now if we want to avoid them.”
“I…” They both looked over at the knock on the door.
“Okay,” Felicity said. “The pasta—”
“I shut it off already. Sara can come deal with it later.”
They escaped out of her fire escape and even though he saw her blanch a little at the motorcycle, she didn’t complain as he gave her the helmet. She clung to his back and he revved the bike, heading the opposite direction from the journalists. He was familiar with the route from her place to Diggle’s, and being the on the motorcycle wasn’t great for conversation, so he had plenty of time to sit and wonder. Felicity had said her father abandoned them, and judging by her reaction tonight, she’d had no idea what had really happened. So who had spilled the beans? How had the press discovered her? He was going to call the office and get the legal team working on it right away, to make sure that she was protected from being harassed. And he could probably call Tommy’s old lawyer while he was at it. They’d been arrested so many times together that Mr. Harrow had basically ended up defending Oliver as often as he’d looked after Tommy.
Either way, all of this was a nightmare, and he really, really wanted to hit something.
When he felt Felicity’s torso begin to shake against his, he dithered. It took less than thirty seconds for him to make up his mind; he pulled over into an alley and turned off the bike.
Felicity immediately scrambled off of the bike and yanked off the helmet, wiping her hand across her face. “This isn’t Dig’s.”
“It’s not far. I just thought you might need a minute.”
She nodded, and her face twisted, contorting in a way that told him she was trying not to cry. She apparently lost the battle, though, for her shoulders crumpled forward and she began to shake once more. This time when he stepped forward, she didn’t back up. Instead, she kind of collapsed into his chest and began to sob in earnest, and there was absolutely nothing Oliver could do but hold on.
“What the hell?” she asked, her voice thick. “My dad was supposed to be, like, an astronaut or a rocket scientist or a mathematician.”
“When I was ten, I secretly wanted my dad to be an American Gladiator,” Oliver said.
Felicity lifted her head to look at him. “What?”
“It was a TV show. Tommy and I used to…”
The realization seemed to hit both of them at the same time. Felicity seemed to wobble on her feet and her eyes went huge. “Oh, god, Tommy,” she said. “Tommy was my…”
“Half-brother,” Oliver said since she didn’t seem able to.
“I didn’t—I mean, I never really paid attention to him? Like, he was nice and he always gave me free drinks at Verdant, but I didn’t look at him and just know ‘hey dude, you’re my brother.’”
It could hit you like a falling anvil, Oliver had discovered. Those were the worst times, when he was completely fine and then suddenly he was faced with the reminder that his best friend was gone and wouldn’t be back. There wouldn’t be a drunken phone call at 3 a.m. to come pick his sorry ass up outside Verdant. Just…gone. Oliver took a deep breath.
Felicity grimaced. “And now I’ve stuck my foot in it. I’m so sorry, Oliver. You guys were…”
“If he’d known, Tommy would have loved having you as a sister,” Oliver said, keeping his voice even. “He would have teased you so much, though. And you probably would have gotten revenge by putting him on the no-fly list.”
For some reason, this only made Felicity start crying again. “Whoa,” Oliver said. “I was trying to cheer you up. I’m sorry.”
“N-no, it’s—it’s okay. It’s just weird and it just figures and I had a sibling the whole time and—no. Two siblings. Thea. I have a sister. All that time I thought I was an only child, but now I have a sister who doesn’t know I’m her sister, and I have a sister.”
“Nothing’s ever simple,” Oliver said, brushing a stray lock out of her face.
“I have a sister,” Felicity said again. Her face twisted. “No, we have a sister.”
“Let’s…never put it that way again,” Oliver said, grimacing.
The sound of a throat clearing put him on edge, but he turned and Sara was there, her Black Canary jacket zipped up over her gear so that she just looked like a random college student in leather. “Hi,” she said, and her expression told him that Diggle had filled her in.
“Sara.” Felicity stepped back from him, wiping furiously at her face in some kind of attempt to appear presentable.
The other vigilante, however, just stepped up to her and hugged her. “I’m sorry,” was all Sara said. “I’m so sorry.”
He could see the surprise work its way across Felicity’s face—Sara wasn’t normally the type to give hugs—but she hugged Sara back for a moment before stepping back. “So you two are my escort, huh?”
“Actually, just me,” Sara said. “Diggle thinks it might be good for you to keep me around as security for a few days, while we work this out. And Oliver, there’s a robbery on Lexington and Fourth.”
The relief that flooded through him was so intense, it almost embarrassed him. “Thanks,” he said. “You got it from here?”
He’d addressed the question to Sara, but it was Felicity that nodded. “It’s going to be okay,” she said, reaching out and grabbing his hand.
Oliver paused. “Isn’t that my line?”
“It’s still true, either way. Go punch a bad guy, Oliver. You’ll feel better.”
'Thanks' felt like a really stupid thing to say, as did everything else that possibly came to mind. So Oliver settled on a nod. As much as he wanted to do anything he could to help Felicity, he really, really wanted to beat something. His main regret was that he couldn't bring Malcolm Merlyn back from the dead and pummel him a few times. Felicity didn't deserve this. Tommy hadn't deserved it either. And Thea, if she ever found out, wouldn't deserve it either.
But something needed to be said, so he cleared his throat. “That pasta stuff smelled delicious, for the record,” he said rather lamely, and both women blinked at him in puzzlement as he left.