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Unexpected Allies

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April 2014

A figure stood in a dingy motel room, staring at a report on TV. Two days ago, a masked man had attacked a vehicle in broad daylight, seemingly for no reason, and then vanished. Yesterday, Captain America himself, and the Black Widow had been arrested on live TV. An hour ago, the federal agency SHIELD had been exposed as being infiltrated by Hydra. Their masterplan had been stopped, the helicarriers had been crashed into the Potomac River and SHIELD was now in shambles.

The figure didn’t look away from the television as the reporter droned on about what happened. Then, he said something that caught the person’s attention.

“According to some reports, the masked man seen two days ago was seen again during the events of this morning. No one knows the identity of the man, but sources say he is known throughout the intelligence community as the Winter Soldier. Authorities ask that any person with information on the man please contact them.”

“So that’s how you wanna do this. Great.” The figure said while hitting power on the remote. “I always liked hunting anyway.”

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Probably the rest of ‘the team’. Without waiting for an answer, a man opened the door.

“You saw the news?” He received a nod. “Good. We need to go.” He didn’t get a response or any acknowledgement. Instead, the person raised their gun and fired. Two more came running into the room and met the same fate.

“Why?” one of the fallen men asked as he bled out.

“I hate you. All of you. Every single fucking one.” They gripped the thumb drive in their hand like it was their lifeline. “And the Asset and I have unfinished business.” 


 

January 2017

It took Bucky over two years, but he did eventually get his head together. The longer he spent away from Hydra, and Steve and the US, the better he got. More and more memories came back everyday. It was small stuff at first. His mother's laugh. The way Becca would hum as she did her chores. Steve's petulance when he'd insist he wasn't sick. Then, the memories of the war came back. Zola and the train. Losing his arm. The chair.

The first time Bucky remembered a mission as the Asset, he didn't leave his hideout for a week. As those memories returned, he came to a conclusion. He had to turn himself in. He owed it to his victims, and himself to try and set things right. He flew back to the New York and drove straight to the FBI. After a lot of commotion and confusion he was taken to an interrogation room while the FBI tried to figure out who to call. A member of the team assisting with the investigation into Hydra eventually arrived, as well as a profiler. Bucky called a lawyer and a US attorney arrived as well.

"I'll tell you everything I know." He told them as soon as the agents and his lawyer were present. His attorney tried to shut him up.

"In exchange for what? Immunity?" An agent asked. “Because that’s-“

"No, I don't want it and I don't deserve it. Hydra might’ve been the brains, but I’m the one who pulled the trigger. I only want two things." He answered. "I don't want Hydra to be able to find me wherever I end up. And-"

"And what?"

"I know I’m not getting off scott-free from this. I know I’ll be put on trial for some of what I did. The kind of charges I’m looking at, they tend to have a certain sentence.” Bucky said. “I’ll plead to whatever it is, in exchange for no death penalty.”

“Could I have a moment alone with my client?” Bucky’s lawyer asked. Everyone else nodded and left the room.

"If you do this, you'll never get out of prison. You’re looking at several life sentences."

"I know." He responded

Two days later, during a sequestered court hearing, Bucky Barnes was sentenced to life in prison. He was sent to Slabside Maximum Security Prison.

Chapter Text

Slabside-May 2018

It was only the years of self-control Oliver Queen had developed after the Queen’s Gambit sank that kept him from reacting or even flinching as the other inmates of Slabside shouted at him during his arrival. As soon as Watson told him her terms, he thought it would end like this. He was now in prison with several dangerous criminals he’d gotten arrested in the first place. It was only a matter of time before someone decided they wanted revenge.

As the door to his cell slammed shut behind him, his conversation with Felicity, possibly the last one he’d ever have, echoed in his head. He had wanted more than anything to say yes, to take her up on her offer to get him out of his deal with Watson, but he couldn’t. Letting her break him out made everyone else targets for the FBI.

“I’ll be seeing you real soon, Queen!” someone shouted from across the cell block. “You can count on it!”

“Get in line!” Another yelled.

Oliver heard a dull thud followed by muttering in what sounded like Russian from the cell next to him. Then, a hoarse voice spoke out. “Shut it or I’ll tear your throat out.”

“What? You a friend of his or somethin’?”

“No, but you screaming idiots woke me up. And I don’t like being woken up. As Caldera could tell you.” the voice yelled back. The noise level decreased noticeably after that. “That’s what I thought.”

 

Three weeks later, in the prison cafeteria, Oliver met the man from the cell next to him. Saying his last three weeks were rough was an understatement. Most of the criminals he’d put in Slabside had made their dislike known to him. A few, like Brick and Ben Turner, had attacked him. Other than a shallow cut and a few bruises, they didn’t manage to do anything. Still, they were in here, waiting for the moment to strike. The only prisoner he met that didn’t seem to want him dead or avoid him was Stanley, who needed someone to watch his back for his own reasons.

Oliver got out of the food line and sat at an empty table. Stanley sat down a few minutes later. They both waited for something to happen. The routine was the same almost every day. Oliver would be minding his own business, and someone the Green Arrow had put away sat down near him and started making threats. They’d leave, knowing they were being watched and Oliver would turn back to his food. Today, he was choking down the world’s worst baked chicken when, as usual, someone sat down in front of him. It was Brick and he’d brought a friend.

“Hope you told that pretty little wife of yours you loved her before getting locked up in here. Y’know, since you’re gonna leave here in bodybag. Maybe I’ll find her after I get-”

“Brick-“ his lackey said.

“What? I’m a little-“

“Move or I’ll move you.” A brunette man around Oliver’s height said interrupting him. The only remarkable thing about him was that his left arm appeared to be a metal prosthetic. “Now.”

“This isn’t over Queen.” Brick said before leaving.

Oliver was perplexed by what had just happened. Clearly, the man in front of him was feared by Brick, and many others given their reactions. Getting a better look at him, Oliver knew why. He’d been all over the news last year. The man sat down at the other end of the table and began eating.

“Since when are you and the Winter Soldier friends?” Stanley asked Oliver in a low tone.

“You know I’m right here and can hear you, right?” Bucky said. “’And don’t call me that.”

“I-“ The table fell silent.

“Why did you do that?” Oliver asked.

“I felt like it.” He shrugged. Some parts of Bucky that existed before the war were still there. Those parts really didn’t like people like Brick. He also had his own reasons for interfering.

“Barnes!’ One of the guards barked. Bucky rolled his eyes and stood up. “You got a visitor.”

“Yay.” He muttered under his breath as he walked away. Visitors meant one of three things: he was being charged with another murder, Steve or one of his friends had tried to find another loophole or the FBI had new questions for him. He didn’t like any of those situations.

Oliver and Stanley were still at the table. Oliver was overall confused and wary about Bucky while Stanley was terrified.

"Well, that was lucky."

"It was?"

"He hasn't threatened you yet. Then again, with who he is, maybe he doesn't need to. The arm is a threat enough."

“How does he still have it?” The archer found himself asking.

“Because they can’t remove it. It fused to his body. They’d need to do a bunch of fucked up shit to remove it and give him a different one. They had to let him keep it.” Stanley answered. “It was the talk of the yard.” 


 

Prague

As soon as the bullet found its mark, the woman who pulled the trigger began packing up her kit. For the last four years, she’d been tracking down the people on her thumb drive. The drive wasn’t meant to be a kill list, but that’s what it had turned into. Now that she was done with eastern Europe, Western Europe and the United States was calling her name. Not to mention, she still had a few things to discuss with the Winter Soldier.

Chapter Text

Slabside

Bucky was taken to the visitor’s room when he was escorted from the cafeteria. But strangely, the only person in the room was Agent Anderson, the agent who’d arrested him. He walked over and sat down at the designated seat, picking up the phone.

“What happened?” Bucky asked.

“Nothing that concerns you. The FBI- its been a while since we checked in, saw if you had any new intel.” Anderson said. “My bosses don’t think you’ve told us everything.”

“I’ve remembered some new things. It won’t mean anything to you.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because, last time I checked, the FBI can only handle domestic threats. My new memories? They’re more foreign than you can handle.” Bucky said. He’d remembered a lot in the last week. But the FBI didn’t have jurisdiction in Europe.

“They started a task force right before we sent you here. FBI, CIA, ARGUS, Interpol.” Anderson said. “Even if I can’t do act on it, someone can.”

 “There’s a Hydra base in Siberia. Something tells me that taskforce would want to check it out.” In all honesty, Bucky was on the fence about the FBI. Yes, they’d kept up their end of the arrangement, but they also wouldn’t leave him be. The last three weeks was the longest he’d spent without someone from the agency bothering him for information. 


Hope Springs

Felicity Smoak, now Megan Shapiro, nearly tore her hair out in frustration. Three weeks. Oliver had been in prison, she’d been in protective custody, for three weeks. She thought she’d have some idea, some lead to how to get him out of prison by now. Instead, she hit brick wall after brick wall. To make things worse, she couldn’t even see Oliver. Visiting would defeat the purpose of going into hiding. When, not if but when, she got Oliver out of prison, he’d have a lot to answer for.

Looking at the clock, she knew William would be home soon. She needed to get all of this put away before he came home. He was still angry and upset with Oliver and she didn’t want to keep reminding him of what had happened. He also seemed worried that, in trying to save Oliver, she’d get herself thrown in prison as well.

She got all the law books put away and every program closed down right as the door opened.

“Hey, how was it?” Earlier in the week, he’d mentioned a flyer he’d seen for a summer math camp. Today was the first day of the program.

“Fine.”

“That’s a very not-fine response.” She remarked, waiting for him to start talking.

“It’s just- “ the teenager couldn’t find the right words. This wasn’t home. He wanted to go back to Star City. He wanted Oliver to be there. He was angry he had to pick up and leave for the third time in two years.

“I miss him too.” Felicity said. She was going to figure this out. She was going to find some way to make their family whole again.  Then, she and Oliver were going to have a very frank conversation.


Dallas

A woman rolled her eyes as a demure smile and short skirt got her access to her target’s house. She thought a man with as much security and as many bodyguards as he had wouldn’t let just any attractive woman walk into his house and be allowed to wander around. Then again, she thought most men were incredibly stupid.

It didn’t take her long to find the room she was looking for. With everyone outside getting drunker by the minute, she knew they’d forget all about her and not wonder where she went. She waited, in the dark, as the part died down, the guests left, and her target made his way inside. He walked into the room she was hiding in.

“You know, you should really improve your security. Anyone could just walk in.” she said from behind him.

“You-?”

"Good, You remember me. That saves time."

"What do you want?"

“I think you know. Besides, why would I waste my time answering a question like that?” the woman asked. “Especially since you’re not leaving this room alive.”

She attacked. Their fight didn’t last long. The man’s death did. She didn’t want him to die quickly or painlessly. When she was done, she left, knowing he’d be found by his staff in a few hours. 


Slabside

Another day. Another crappy meal of prison food. Another chance for the other inmates to harass or threaten Oliver. Same old, same old. Surprisingly though, none of the eyes in the cafeteria seemed to be on him today. They were on Barnes.

“No one knows why he-“

“Probably wanted to do it himself.”

“-think he wouldn’t give a shit. He’s never getting’ outta here, so-”

“Yeah, so if he does-“

“Wouldn’t wanna be the guy who-“

Oliver wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth and just went with it. He didn’t let his guard down, but the reprieve was nice. He ate his food and observed the other inmates reactions to Barnes. Almost all of them were scared. Most of them were also curious, which wasn’t the best thing to be in prison.

As Bucky walked from the food line to a table, the conversations stopped as he passed. He sat at the same table as Oliver again, and began eating. About halfway through, he said something to him in Russian.

“They all still staring at me? Yes, I know you speak Russian.” Oliver nodded. He snorted. “Worse than teenage girls, I swear. It’s like they’ve never seen a murderer before.”

“Your reputation precedes you.” He answered. “They all seem scared of you.”

“Yeah, that’s ‘cause for the first year I was here, they didn’t let me be around other inmates, worried I’d snap and kill ‘em. They changed their minds after a year, and then I put Caldera in the hospital wing. They should be scared.”

Caldera had been in the visitors room the same day Natasha came to visit Bucky. He’d made several rude and obscene comments about the redhead in the middle of the night. Bucky took offense to that and lashed out the next day. No one could prove it was Bucky, but everyone knew who it was.

“Are you saying I should be scared?” Oliver asked in English. Bucky didn’t respond. The two men fell silent. Each one was analyzing the other. The cafeteria noise began picking up again.

“Told ya he wanted to handle Queen himself.”

“Queen doesn’t look very scared.”

“He also got himself sent to a prison filled with enemies.”

“For the record, I wasn’t gonna threaten you.” Bucky said in Russian.

Chapter Text

Slabside

Oliver tried to control his breathing as he came down from the adrenaline rush of fighting. Two inmates, both friendly with Sampson, had attacked him in the shower. Being naked made his survival instincts go crazy, and led to him doing a lot more damage than he usually would have. He was ordered to dress and taken back to his cell.

“What’d you do?” Barnes asked from the cell next door.

“Someone tried to shiv me in the shower, I fought back.” He said in a bored tone. “And I broke a wall with his face.”

“Memorable. Why are you here anyway?”

“Murder and vigilantism. It was all over the news.” He joked.

“No, its what you were charge with. Why are you here?” Bucky asked again. “You aren’t here because you couldn’t escape or got caught. You’re here because you let them arrest you. Kinda like me. What’s your reason?”

“You chose to be here?”

“I’m a legend. Anyone they tried to send after me, I could’ve handled. Any task force designed to bring me in, I could’ve taken down alone. I turned myself in, because this is where I want to be.” He said. “Now, answer the question.”

“To keep my family safe. To keep my wife and friends out of prison. I wanted to give them their lives back. Because I wanted Agent Watson off my back.”

“Like I said, you chose to be here.” Barnes said. “And if you think being thrown in here’s gonna give them their lives back, you’re dumber than I thought.”

 

Oliver was in the yard the next day when Sampson walked over to stand above him. “Bet you think you’re smart, tricking Barnes into being an ally.” He didn’t even bother looking up from his book.

“Probably wasn’t even him, probably was his wife.” Another prisoner said. “If she’ll fuck the Green Arrow, why wouldn’t she fuck some ex-Hydra crony.”

“If she hasn’t already, as insurance.”

Oliver closed his book, set it down beside him and stood up. He didn’t even bother responding and punched Sampson in the face. Then, he struck out at his friend. By the time the guards stopped the fight, Oliver had Samson and five ‘friends’ of his laid out on the pavement. They dragged him back inside as some other members of Sampson’s crew yelled threats at him. He didn’t care about threats to his person or people insulting him. He wasn’t going to let anyone insult or threaten Felicity, however. 


 

Hope Springs

“I don’t know what to tell you, Felicity.” Digg said for what felt like the thousandth time.

“So, you’re telling me there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, I can do to either help Oliver get released or help find Diaz?” the blonde argued. “I don’t need to be looking at you to know you’re lying.”

“Felicity-“

“I’m going crazy here, John. William’s settling in okay, but I’m not. This wasn’t- it isn’t supposed to be my life.”

“I can’t-  there might be something. Don’t get your hopes too high up, but I might have something you can help with.” Digg sighed. “I’ll call you later.” 


 

Boise

Alexander Guttman stepped out onto the platform. The 40-year old father of two was about to make his first campaign speech in his bid for the 2020 governor’s race. He approached the microphone and opened his mouth to speak. Before he could get a single syllable out, a bullet from a sniper rifle hit its mark. The crowd descended into chaos.

“You sure that was a good idea? Shooting a politician at his own campaign rally.”

“Everything we’ve done in the last four years has failed to draw him out, to draw either of them out. By framing him, either the government will start looking or he’ll come forward to clear his name.”

“Ok, what about her though?”

“We need to deal with one target at a time. First, the Asset. Then, the Operative.” 


 

Slabside

Bucky had been told he had a visitor but was escorted to the warden’s office instead. He walked inside to see Agent Anderson and an agent he didn’t recognize talking to the warden.

“Your intel was a bust.” The unknown agent said angrily.

“What do you mean it was a bust?” Bucky asked.

“When ARGUS arrived at the base, at the coordinates you gave us, they didn’t find anyone.” Anderson answered. “They found plenty of files, but no one was there.”

“No one?” he asked.

“No one alive. Plenty of dead people.”

He torn about how to feel about that news. On one hand, a lot of Hydra agents were now taken off the board. On the other, not everyone at that base was there willingly. Plenty of Hydra’s prisoners were being held there. He hoped they weren’t among the dead, but knew it was likely.

“Given your surprise, I guess the culprit wasn’t you.” the other agent said. “The files are concerning. We’ve got a problem now, Barnes. It’s clear people are dying. We need to bring you in.”

“You’re gonna need more than just me.” He told them.

Chapter Text

Slabside

The first three months Oliver was in prison went a lot like Oliver’s first three weeks. John would visit every other week and he’d give him updates on Felicity and William. He’d avoid questions about Diaz or how the city was faring. He kept urging Oliver to fight back more than he was, but he refused. Digg always asked if he wanted to pass a message along to Felicity, even though Oliver’s answer was always the same. He wanted him to tell her he was doing fine and loved her.

On days he didn’t get visits, it was pretty monotonous. He’d go to the yard. Someone would try to start something, Oliver would defend himself, barely, and be taken back to his cell. By now, only the very angry or very stupid criminals he put away tried to jump him. His sort-of friendship with Barnes continued. The former assassin wasn’t big on words, and the longest conversation they’d had was the one about why Oliver had turned himself in. He and Barnes being on good terms led to other inmates making remarks about what Bucky was getting in return for saving Oliver’s ass. Those rumors didn’t last very long.

Three and a half months after Oliver was sent to Slabside, he was in his cell reading when three guards approached. “4587, 3119, on your feet. Face the wall.”

One went into Oliver cell to cuff him, while two went into Bucky’s. Neither put up a fight and they were escorted to the main entrance of the prison and put into a van being driven by US Marshals. Sometime later, they arrived at a nondescript office building. Inside, FBI, CIA, and several other agencies were at hard work. Oliver thought he recognized a few ARGUS agents from his time in Hong King. The Marshals escorted them into an office where Watson and Anderson were waiting.

“What happened?” Bucky asked Anderson.

“Queen.”

“Watson.”

“Good, you two know each other.” Anderson said. “Mr. Queen, you’re probably wondering why you’ve been brought here.”

“You want something from me. What is it?”

“A number of high-profile people have been killed all over the world in the last four years, that trail of bodies reached US soil three months ago. All our attempts to solve this the traditional way have come up short. We want the two of you to find and eliminate this threat.”

“How high profile?”

“Well-known businessmen, former government employees. We’ve found some….disturbing information about some of our victims after the fact.” Anderson answered. “If you agree, you’ll be released into the task force’s custody and, following the success of the operation, you’ll be a free man again. Before you answer, your attorney is outside.”

Jean came into the room and asked for privacy. Bucky and the two agents went into another office while they talked. The lawyer told Oliver this was a good deal, far better than anything they could’ve hoped for. Focusing on wanting to see his family again, and willing to do almost anything to achieve that, he signed the deal.

 

The others came back into the room. Bucky still hadn’t been told what had happened that prompted this meeting. Anderson opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off.

“Actually, we’re waiting on one more.” Watson said unhappily.

They heard footsteps storming down the hallway. “I swear to Google, if you don’t tell me what the frack is going on, you aren’t gonna like what I do, John Diggle!”

Oliver’s eyes snapped to Watson. “Are you serious?” She wasn’t supposed to see him like this. His face was still bruised from his fight with Sampson’s crew a few days ago.

“It’s an extreme situation, we need her.”

Just then, the door opened. Felicity ignored Bucky and Agent Anderson. She stared at Oliver for a long moment, torn between wanting to know he was okay and yelling. Then, she noticed Watson and turned to John. “Are you fracking kidding me?”

“It wasn’t my call.”

“And you couldn’t have warned me?” she directed at John.

“Mrs. Queen-“ Watson began.

“No, you don’t get to talk. Not only did you send my husband to prison, but you haven’t even kept up your end of the deal he stupidly took. Talk to me after you catch Diaz, which you still haven’t done. Until then, do not speak to me.” Felicity said before turning to the other agent. “What do you want?”

“The government needs your husband’s help. In exchange for his assistance, he’ll be released. He spoke with his attorney and agreed to our terms.” Anderson said. “We also….would appreciate your help. Your skills could be useful.”

“None of that explains why the Winter Soldier is here.”

“My skills are useful and there’s a chance this is Hydra or related to Hydra.” Bucky answered. “And I refused to work with anyone other than Oliver.”

“That’s not a bad explanation.” Felicity said. “I’ll be back in like five minutes, I need to call home, tell them everything’s ok. then, I need to talk to Oliver alone for a second.” She walked out of the room.

Bucky looked amused, Watson looked annoyed, Anderson looked bored, but John’s expression worried Oliver the most. His face said ‘you have four minutes to come up with something to say to your wife that doesn’t sound stupid’. It was scary because it was right. 


 

Langley

Two CIA agents stood in front of their boss’s desk arguing about what to do. One wanted to come clean to their comrades about what was going on. The other didn’t because it would compromise their operation. Their boss only half-listened as they argued.

“They’re getting ready to make a deal with Queen. They’re pulling in outside help. Shouldn’t we step in before that happens?”

“She’s only responsible for some of what they’re investigating. We need the intel she can give us now more than ever. And our agreement is ironclad.”

“Nothing she’s done happened on a sanctioned mission.” Their boss spoke up. “And we’ve agreed to look the other way about what she does off the clock.”

“So, we do nothing.”

“For now. They don’t know who or what they’re investigating yet. Let the task force narrow the field of suspects. We’ll step in if and when we need to.”

Chapter Text

Task Force Headquarters

After Felicity had calmed William down and told him everything was okay, she went back into the office where Oliver and the others were. They began clearing out to give the couple some privacy. The door clicked shut behind John, leaving Oliver and Felicity to stare at each other.

Oliver had been so excited and nervous to see his wife that he hadn’t really taken a good look at her. She looked good. The ends of her hair were dyed pink, which looked good on her and fit her really well. Her glasses were gone, likely replaced with contacts. Gone also were her heels and dresses, replaced with flats and more casual clothing like jeans and flannel shirts.

While Oliver was studying Felicity, she was studying him. clearly, he’d made John lie to her about how he was doing, judging by the cuts and bruises on his face. His hair was shaved closed to his head, which she wasn’t a fan of. He also had a very long beard that she didn’t like. The worst, though, were his eyes. The look in them reminded was a mixture of Al Sahim and pre-Undertaking Arrow.

“Your hair looks-“ He began to say.

“What the frack is on your face?” she interrupted. “Sorry, its just- not a fan of the beard.”

“Me neither but- I couldn’t really shave.” He said awkwardly. “I like the pink.” He knew it was a matter of time before she started yelling and wanted to get some things out beforehand.

Felicity stepped away from the door and crossed over to where Oliver was in the blink of an eye. He braced himself for yelling or her slapping or poking him, and was surprised when she grabbed his face and started kissing him. They broke apart.

“I missed you.” she kissed him again. “So much.” Another kiss. “Still angry. You should’ve told me.”

“I knew you’d talk me out of it.”

“Yeah, because it was a dumb plan and didn’t really work. Diaz is still at large.”

“I know, but I didn’t know what else to do. I needed you and William to be safe. How- how is he?”

“Doing better than I am. He’s been in this situation before, but I don’t think that makes it any easier.” She said. “I’m still way to excited about seeing you, but don’t think we aren’t gonna have a very long conversation about the choices you made, mister.” She poked him in the chest. “How are you even more muscular than before?”

“Spent a lot of my time working out in my cell.” He said. “I don’t think they’ll give us much more time alone right now.”

“I haven’t seen you or been able to touch you in 109 days. They can wait.”

There was a knock on the door a second later and John stuck his head in. “I know you’re…..reuniting, but the task force would like to brief. And after the briefing, you’re both going to the safehouse and can talk more then.”

“I’m going to a safehouse?

“He’s not going back to Slabside?”

“Nope. They decided moving you back and forth would waste too much time.” He said. “You ready or-?”

“Yeah, let’s get this over with.” 


 

Cleveland

Nadia looked up at the man she’d tied to a chair and whispered, “I’m sorry about this, but I have to do this.” She didn’t have anything against the man, Bill according to his name tag, but he was one of the few people who could get into the house she needed to enter. The resident, Victor King, was a shut-in according to his neighbors. He didn't seem to ever leave his house, getting everything delivered instead. She hoped he wouldn’t think twice about his normal grocery deliveryman calling in sick. He hadn’t seen her in over ten years anyway and hopefully wouldn't recognize her.

“Why are you doing this anyway?”

“I made a promise a very long time ago and I’m trying to keep it.”

“What kind of promise did you make?” he asked incredulously.

“The less you know the better.” she said as she walked away. 


 

Task Force HQ

Anderson was standing next to a projector as he went over what was happening. “The first victims we know of were in Ukraine in 2014, three months after Hydra’s existence was exposed. We now know two of the three were low-ranking Hydra members. We weren’t and still aren’t sure if this is cleaning house, revenge or something else.” He clicked over to the next slide. “The person or persons responsible made their way back and forth across Eastern Europe for the next three and a half years. Roughly two and a half months ago, they reached US soil. Yesterday, the projected frontrunner in Idaho’s 2020 governor’s race was assassinated at a campaign rally. We have reason to believe it’s the same individual.”

“We haven’t been able to isolate a pattern with the victims. Hydra members, non-Hydra members, diplomats, we don’t know who they’re after, but its clear they’re hunting.” Watson said.

Something Oliver and Felicity both recognized as realization passed over Bucky’s face for a millisecond before it went away. He knew something, just by looking at the photos, that the task force hadn’t worked out yet.

“A week ago,” Anderson continued, “Sergeant Barnes informed this task force of a Hydra base in Siberia. ARGUS traveled there to investigate but everyone there had been killed. Identifying the dead has been difficult so far. We were able to recover a number of documents, however, that the CIA is translating.”

‘So, you want Barnes and I to find and eliminate this person or group so people stop dying.” Oliver said. “And Felicity’s technical skills are gonna help with that.”

“Exactly.”

“Did any of the SHIELD agents that were folded into ARGUS go to the base?” Bucky asked. When SHIELD collapsed, it wasn’t allowed to rebuild. Instead, agents were transferred to whatever other agency fit their skillset. Most went to the FBI or NSA, but a handful went to ARGUS and the CIA.

“Only about five agents joined and they weren’t on that team.” John answered. “Why?”

“We need to go there.”

“What for? The place was searched thoroughly. Every scrap of paper is being combed through.” Watson asked.

Bucky was sure that she believed that, but it didn't make it any more true. The place was searched thoroughly for ARGUS and the CIA. Every scrap of paper they found was being cataloged and analyzed, but he didn't doubt for a second that there were plenty of files they didn't find and places they didn't look.

“That’s not why we need to go.”

Chapter Text

Boise

The woman who assassinated the would-be governor was enjoying the panic and confusion that citizens all over Idaho were experiencing.

“Clearly, your ruse didn’t work very well, Katerina.” Her partner said.

“It’s a layered idea. They’ll look into his opponents, old rivalries, connections to illegal activities. When all of those leads come up empty, they’ll have to at least explore the idea that the conspiracy nuts screaming about the Winter Soldier are right.”

“Leading us right to him.”

“Exactly. The Soldat has been ‘off the reservation’ for too long as it is. Who knows what kind of ideas people have given him?”

Katerina hadn’t decided if she was going to kill the Asset when she found him or not. She just knew finding him, and bringing back to Hydra, would mean she’d get whatever she asked for. 


 

Cleveland

Nadia cast a bored glare at the man she’d attacked in his own home as he tried to break free. Her plan had gone remarkably well. She knocked on the door, and claimed the usual delivery man had called in sick. When King began causing a fuss about not letting a stranger into his house, she remarked that she was just doing her job, had other deliveries to make and if he didn’t want to let her in, she’d take the food back to the store. He relented and opened the door.

As soon as she got inside, she dropped the food and knocked Victor King, AKA Vasily Karpov, out. He woke up bound to a chair that was bolted to the floor.

“Who are you? What do you want from me?” he asked.

“You don’t recognize me, Colonel?” she asked, stepping out of the shadows tilting her head slightly. “And to think, you told me I was the best weapon you ever made.”

“Ah, Operative.”

Without speaking, Nadia pulled out a knife and stabbed it into his leg. “That’s not my name.”

“Why are you here? Why did they send you?”

“If by ‘they’ you mean Hydra, they didn’t send me.” she said. “No one sent me.”

“So you defected and want answers, I assume.”

“It’s not really defecting if you never believed in the cause to begin with, is it?”

“But you want answers. About who you are. About your family.” Karpov mocked. “Pathetic.”

“No, I have all the answers I need.” She said, stabbing the knife in once again. “But you have something I need. You’re going to tell me where it is.” She also came because she needed revenge. She’d swore, years ago, that one day she’d kill everyone involved in making her into what she was, a weapon.

“Why would I tell you anything?”

“Because, you of all people know what I’m capable of. You’re the one who made me this way.” She said as she put the knife down and picked up a different tool. “Now, where should we start?” 


 

Safehouse

Once the FBI were done briefing Oliver and Bucky, the two agents left to update the rest of the task force and get a trip to Siberia approved. Bucky had been rather insistent that they needed to go, and Anderson knew he wouldn’t be this stubborn over nothing. As soon as Watson and Anderson were out the door, the US Marshals came in with an annoyed looking woman. The woman, Agent Bobbi Morse, explained that they were heading to a safehouse soon and needed to get a few things straight. It was mostly going over the same warnings Watson and Anderson had given them.

Bucky and Oliver were put in one black SUV, while Felicity was put in another. By that point, the ARGUS safehouse she’d been living in had been cleared out and William was being escorted to the new one by Lyla.

“Given how important not wasting time is in this situation, you’re being housed in the same area. We need you in the same location, but protocol says we shouldn’t house you together.” Morse explained once the drive had started. “Luckily, the CIA had a duplex they weren’t using. So you both are and aren’t sharing a safehouse.”

“Why does the CIA have a safehouse on US soil?”

 

After driving for about an hour, the SUV pulled onto a quiet suburban street. It reminded Oliver painfully of Ivy Town. In the last few months, he wondered what could’ve happened if he had just gone back there with William and Felicity after being impeached. He knew he never would’ve done that, but the thought of what might have been plagued his mind.

They pulled into a driveway about halfway down the street and everyone got out of the car. Felicity got there a few moments later, followed by another vehicle. As soon as the third vehicle stopped, the back door opened and someone came rushing out onto the lawn.

“Feli- Megan, what’s going on? Why did Lyla pull me out of school? Why are we moving again? Is he- Did he find us?” William asked as soon as he saw his stepmom. There were a few people standing between Felicity and Oliver, so William hadn’t noticed his dad.

“No, Will, he- everything’s okay, I promise. It’s-“

“Hey Bud.” Oliver said as he stepped around the agents in his way.

“Dad? What-?”

“We should go inside.” One of the agents said.

“I’ll explain after we get settled, okay?” He offered and the teen nodded before embracing his dad.

 

Bobbi laid down a few ground rules for everyone before leaving. Oliver and Felicity went to their part of the house with William and explained what was going on. The government’s deal, how he knew Bucky, why they were in protective custody together, and what the mission was. Will nodded before asking if he could go unpack.

“He hates me.”

“He’s conflicted. He missed you, but just like me, was really pissed about what you did. He’s had to deal with enough change in the last year and this is just adding to it. he needs time.” Felicity said. “All three of us do.”

“I don’t-“

“Yes, you do. You were in prison for months, you need to adjust to not having to watch your back every second of every day.”

 

Once Bobbi was done explaining things, Bucky took off to his part of the building. He didn’t want to intrude on Oliver’s reunion with his son or eavesdrop on the fight his wife looked ready to have. Besides, the briefing, those photos had given him a lot to think about. He moved into his bedroom to find that he wasn’t alone.

“How did you get in here?”

“I worked with Morse a few times, she cleared me to visit.” Natasha answered from her spot on the bed. “And I figured, you’re out of prison, I should visit.”

“Visit or visit?” he asked.

“Little bit of both.” She shrugged. “Something good should happen before you wade back into the shit heap that is Hydra. Then again, you’re so ready for a fight, you already wanna go back to Siberia.”

“I don’t want to go, I need to go.” He said. “The feds finally told me the whole story. Going is the best option for both them and me.”

“If you say so.”

“You don’t think I should.”

“What I think doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you pretty much the same thing I told Steve four years ago. You might not want to go down that road because you probably aren’t gonna like what you find.”

“I need to know, Natalia. We don’t know if any of them are still alive, if she’s still alive.”

Chapter Text

Siberia

No one spoke as an ARGUS agent swung open the door to the Siberian bunker. Many agents were annoyed at having to come back here. The building had been searched and it gave everyone the creeps.

“We’ve already searched this place. Why did we have to come back?”

“Because, you search like ARGUS, like the FBI, and CIA. Hydra knows that. They avoided detection for decades by exploiting what they knew about your procedures.” Bucky said as he walked past the agent.

“I really hope this trip to Russia doesn’t end up like our last one.” Felicity said absentmindedly. “The first wasn’t that bad, considering.”

“Really?” John asked.

“I’d take breaking someone out of a gulag and Isabitch being….well, Isabitch over some crazy US general with a nuke anyday.” She answered.

“Have to agree with you on that one.” Oliver said.

“You broke someone out of a gulag?”

“What happens in Russia, stays in Russia.”

They walked through the base in silence. At one point, Bucky stopped and stared at a door. “Sergeant Barnes-?”

“It can wait. Where did you find the bodies?”

“Just at the end of this hallway.” An agent answered. “Word of warning, we can’t move any of the bodies until they’ve been ID’d so most of them are still there. We've started cleaning up the carnage but-”

“Have you identified any of them?”

“Three. Ivan Petrov, Ruben Bezrukov and Lika Zubareva.” Anderson answered. “The two men were former FSB and she was a well-known neurologist.” No one had worked out what Hydra wanted with a neurologist and most didn't want to ask.

By now, they reached the room where all the bodies were found. Over a dozen laid sprawled out on the floor. With the exception of one, they were all wearing either lab coats or military gear. These were the scientists and guards stationed at the base, not any of the prisoners or projects.

“He was the subject.” Bucky said pointing to the man dressed in black sweatpants and no shirt. “They were ‘working’ on him and got interrupted.”

“And by ‘working on’, you mean-?”

“I think you know what I mean, Agent. You’re a smart man.” He turned to Digg. “Are these the only bodies you found?”

“Yes. Why does it seem like you know there should be more?”

This place was Hydra’s best kept secret. There should’ve been a lot more bodies. “Because they’re should be.” He said before walking over to a wall where a bookcase stood. “Wow, the might of the US government’s intelligence community. Beaten by a bookcase.” He said right before pushing it out of the way. “Like I said, they know how you search places like this.”

They tiptoed down the hallway and soon found themselves in a room that looked like it hadn’t been entered in years. It was a lab of some kind, taken straight out of a horror movie. In the very middle sat a chair with various machines surrounding and attached to it. It took all of Bucky’s self-control not to bolt from the room or vomit upon seeing the machines.

“We got bodies.” One of the agents said, which prompted Bucky, Oliver, and Digg to turn around. Felicity didn’t want to look so she kept her eyes focused on the machinery.

Several scientists and guards were piled up in the corner of the room, but the agent was looking at something else. There were five cryopods in the lab, four of them were being used and all four were dead. Shot through the head. The last one was empty.

“Who are-?”

“Hydra’s attempt to make more of me.” Bucky answered. "That answers that question."

“That’s why you wanted to come here. To see if they were still alive.” Oliver said.

“Partly. I needed to know if they were alive. There was a chance all the deaths were because of them. Now we know. Don’t feel too bad, they volunteered for this.” he said before turning and leaving the room.

Bucky had no sympathy for anyone who willingly joined Hydra and especially those who volunteered to be experimented on. They wanted to be what he was forced to become. Still, the four soldiers being dead didn’t mean his suspicion was incorrect. There were a few others who could be responsible, and he hadn’t found their bodies or any sign of them so far. He also hadn’t found any trace of the person he was looking for.

Not knowing what else to do, they followed. He led them out of the secret wing, past the other bodies and towards the entrance of the base. He walked over to the door he stopped at earlier.

“Blueprints say its just an electrical room.”

“Yeah, because anyone who would need to see the blueprints wouldn’t be familiar with the base.” Oliver pointed out. “The people that worked here, they lived here. They wouldn’t need a map or blueprints to know the layout.”

“And it’d be risky to have an accurate map lying around.” Bucky said as he tore the door off its hinges. It gave way to show a hallway lined with doors on each side. “Then, the prisoners would know how to escape.”

“Prisoners?”

“Hard to do some human experimentation without someone to experiment on.” He said as they walked down the hallway. ARGUS agents checked rooms as they went. Most were empty, a few had bodies. Finally, Bucky stopped in front of the last door on the left side of the hallway. He turned the knob.

“What the fuck is this?” Someone behind him asked.


United States

A CIA agent let out a sigh of relief as the number he dialed went to voicemail. The CIA's involvement with the task force had put him and his partner in an uncomfortable situation. They were the only two CIA agents on the team who knew about the woman's status or her involvement in the case they were trying to solve.

"I was told to keep you up to date on anything involving Siberia. Barnes has convinced some of the task force to return to the bunker as you predicted. That's all I know."

Chapter Text

Siberia

Bucky stopped in front of the last door on the left side of the hallway. He turned the knob.

“What the fuck is this?” Someone behind him asked.

“You know what it is.”

The room didn’t look like any of the other rooms in the hallway. The others were generic cells, typical for someone being held prisoner. This room was vastly different. If Oliver or Felicity didn’t know any better, they’d say it was a kid’s room. There were drawings taped to the walls, books piled up on the floor. Unlike any of the other cells, this room had a closet and dresser. It wasn’t meant to look like a cell, it was supposed to be someone’s home.

“But I-.”

“You’re standing in a building where some of the worst people who’ve ever lived committed acts so atrocious we don’t have words for them.” Bucky said. “It shouldn’t surprise you that they held children here as well.” He moved further into the room.

“We didn’t find- there were no files that indicated children were held here.”

Bucky wasn’t sure if he believed that. On one hand, whoever killed everyone here could’ve taken the files. On the other, the government didn’t read Hydra files correctly. They thought a prisoner or asset would be described like a human being, not like an object. Hydra didn’t see their prisoners or their operatives as humans though, and didn’t refer to them as humans either.

“Do you have any idea how many childr-?” John started to ask.

“I don’t.” he lied. He looked around the room before his eyes fell to something. “Did you check any of the vents?”

“The air vents? No, why?”

“There was…..its the only place they didn’t search. Removing the cover was too much work for the guards to do every time they searched a cell, and they aren’t big enough to crawl through.” He answered. “You might be able to find something important in the other cells.”

“Let’s go check ‘em out.”

“I’ll be there in a second.” Bucky told them. Everyone filed out of the cell, leaving him alone. He moved over to the air vent and removed the metal cover. Inside, he found a small notebook and a file folder. On top of the folder was a sticky note with the date '17-5-14’ written on it. He hid both items on his person before walking out of the room.

“We found some personal items in a few of the rooms, nothing too concrete though.”

“It was a long shot.” Bucky said. “Does anyone know when these people died?”

“According to the access log, the last time someone entered the bunker before us was May 2014.” An ARGUS agent said.

So whoever killed everyone in the bunker could’ve hidden the file. Bucky just wondered who that person was. The group packed up all the physical files they found, made copies of all the digital ones and headed back to the US. Bucky still didn’t have all the answers he needed, but the notebook and file were steps in the right direction. He couldn't show it to the task force, not yet. He needed to read them for himself first.

 

“You knew them, didn’t you?” Felicity asked once they’d gotten back to their safehouse and the agents had left. “The child who lived in that room.”

“Yes, I did. I didn’t, and I don’t, know if they're still alive. I hoped going to the bunker would give me answers, it didn’t.” He said. “I imagine they’ll wanna see us bright and early tomorrow to analyze everything, so goodnight.” 

No one slept well that night. They all had horrible nightmares about the bunker. Most of Bucky's were memories.


 

Cleveland

As Nadia left Karpov’s home, she couldn’t help but smile. Sure, what she’d done to him was horrible, and if he was anyone else she’d feel bad, but it felt kind of fantastic. She hurt someone who hurt her for years and finally made him understand how it felt. She was also one step closer to finishing her mission.

She got into her car and noticed an alert on her phone. The Winter Soldier had finally gone back to the Siberian bunker. Perhaps a phone call to an old friend was in order. Natalia wouldn't be difficult to find, especially after her behavior in front on Congress.


 

Task Force HQ

“I’m not stupid, and I like to think you won’t lie straight to my face, so I’ll ask this once,” Watson began, “why did you make us go to that bunker?”

“Because what you told me you found didn’t make sense.” Bucky answered.

“In what way?”

“The list of victims was too short, you didn’t ask me about the prisoners or experimentation or the clear evidence there were kids there which indicated you didn’t find anything related to either of those things.” He said. "There was also a chance I might find answers there."

"Answers to what?"

"I'm sure as we go through the files, things will become clear. You don't care about me getting answers, I know that. I also know you want to ask me about what I was able to show you. Whether its the experiments or the children. Ask."

“Tell me about the kids.”

“Some were taken as leverage to keep their families in line. Some were orphans they kidnapped and trained. Some were born there as part of an experiment, but only one was still alive the last time I was there.” He answered.

“Tell me about him.”

“It was a girl, actually. Her name was Nadia.”

Chapter Text

“Her name was Nadia.” Bucky said. “She was the only one born there who made it past the age of three.”

From behind him, he heard several people including Felicity gasp in shock. Maybe it was the news, maybe it was the way he said it, like the information wasn’t worth feeling bad over.

“What happened to her? Where is she? How old is she? Why did they want her?”

“Why would I know the answers to any of those questions?” He argued. “You’re aware that I was the Asset right?”

“We’re extremely aware of that fact. Now, answer the question.”

“That is my answer.”

“Ok, I’m confused. Why is that an answer?” Oliver said.

“They didn’t view me as a human being. I was a tool, a weapon to be used. Half of my Hydra file refers to me as ‘It’. Would your bow know the answers to questions like that? I only knew what they saw fit to tell me, none of it had to do with her.” He lied.

“So, you have nothing useful for us.”

“I led you straight to a cache of documents that can answer those questions. I wouldn’t call that nothing.”

“I suppose we’re done for today then. It seems we have an abundance of files to sift through. Your help won’t be needed.” Agent Anderson said. “I’ll send you a share of the digital files, Ms. Smoak.”

Oliver, Felicity and Bucky were driven back to the safehouse. The trip passed in silence. Upon arriving, Bucky stopped Oliver and Felicity before they could head to their room.

“I need a favor, and it needs to not get back to the agents.”

“What is it?”

“I found something in Siberia. It’s written in Russian, I need you to translate it.”

“You speak and read Russian, why do our need my help?”

“In case anything written in it triggers me. Hearing it in English is fine since all of the brainwashing and conditioning was done in Russian.”

“Why didn’t you turn what you found in and why don’t you want the agents to know?” Felicity asked.

“I plan to, but- those answers I was looking for? Its related to that. I need to know what it says before I turn it over.”

“Fair enough. Let’s see it.”

Bucky walked upstairs and came back carrying a journal. “I found this in the vent of Nadia’s cell.”

Oliver took it from him, opened it to the first page and skimmed it. “Are you sure you want me reading this?”

“Yes. What does it say?”

“My name is Nadia. My mother tells me I’m six years old. She gave this book to me so that I can always remember who I am. I don't know what that means.” Oliver read aloud. “It doesn’t have a year. The next entry is dated a few days later. The last entry is dated May 2014. It says-”

“Don’t.” Before anyone could say anything, Bucky snatched the book from Oliver’s hands and walked away. The last entry meant Nadia was alive during, or at least before, the bunker was attacked. Perhaps she was still alive. Bucky hid the notebook away once again, not ready to know what else she’d written. He called Natasha wanting to tell her what he’d found out, but she didn’t answer.

 

Very early the next morning, they were back at the task force’s base. It surprised them all that they’d managed to look through that many files that fast.

“You’ve already looked through everything from Siberia?” Felicity said. “I’ve been digging through the files you’ve sent me and I’m not even a quarter of the way done.”

“No, we haven’t. We’ve got a new victim. Queen and Barnes, you’re coming with us to the scene. Ms. Smoak, I suggest you keep looking through those files.”

 

As Oliver and Bucky walked into where the victim was found, they knew his death wasn’t a pretty one. There was blood everywhere. The walls, the floor, the furniture. In addition to blood, there were a few body parts strewn all over the floor. The body was unrecognizable. Whoever had killed him did so with extreme prejudice. There was also a giant hole that had been smashed into the wall, although they didn’t know why.

“Victim’s name is Victor King. A passerby called it in, saying she heard someone screaming like they were being murdered. We haven’t been able to find the woman who called yet but we’re canvassing.”

“How do you know this death is related to what we’re investigating?” Oliver asked. He noticed Bucky was staring at something through a door that was ajar.

“It is.” He said matter-of-factly.

“I know that, how do you know that?” Anderson asked.

He walked over to the door, opened it slightly and picked something up. “This is how.” He showed them the picture frame. It looked like a photo from an academy graduation. “Let me guess. He’s between 47 and 51. Six feet tall and weighs approximately 80 kilos.”

“How do you know all that?”

“Because I know exactly who this piece of shit is. I’ll tell you more when we get out of here.”

 

They got back to their headquarters and the FBI agents immediately wanted an explanation from Bucky. He refused to tell them, saying the ARGUS and CIA agents should hear it too. Everyone waited for the others to arrive.

“Okay, they’re all here. Explanation, now.”

“The dead guy in Cleveland, his real name is Vasily Karpov, Hydra agent embedded in the Russian Armed Forces. He was- he played a big part in some of the fucked up shit in Siberia. He was the leader of that base and ran the Winter Soldier program for a number of years.”

“You didn’t just know of him, you knew him.”

“Yes. Trust me, its better that he’s dead. His death brings up an interesting question though.”

“What question is that?”

“He’d been…retired for at least twelve years. The person who killed him didn’t just stumble upon him, they tracked him down. They were looking for him. His name didn’t pop up during any investigations in the last four years. None of you had even heard of him. How did the killer know who he was?”

“We’re hoping you can tell us.”

“Do you have ID photos of all the previous victims? I don’t need their names, just pictures” An ARGUS agent nodded, left the room and came back in with a stack of photos.

He went through the stack once and pulled out every person he recognized even slightly. He then went through it again, moving the photos around to organize them in a particular way. With that done, he took a step back. He knew how the victims were being chosen.

“Someone needs to call Natasha Romanov.” He said.

Chapter Text

“Someone needs to call Natasha Romanov.” Bucky said.

“Why?” one of the agents asked.

“Because I said so. None of you are very useful for this.”

“This task force is-“

“This task force is run by people Hydra spent decades outwitting. Everyone here, except those two,” he gestured to Felicity and Oliver, “were trained by the same system that allowed them to operate under your noses. Sure, you’ve all gotten training recently to fix that, but habits are habitual for a reason. And despite hopes to the contrary, you didn’t get all of them when SHIELD collapsed. Only two of the agents in here have given me any reason to trust them. Would you like me to continue?”

Anderson ended the meeting and only Watson and Digg stayed behind.

“What’s your real reason?” John asked.

“I want her to look at this before I tell you my suspicion.” He gestured to the collection of photos on the table. “She has the clearance to be here. And she already knows about the task force.”

“No, she doesn’t.” Watson said.

Bucky found it kind of funny how easily people underestimated Natasha. Even though the entire world knew about her past and what she was capable of, they still didn’t believe she could obtain information as easily as she did. When Natasha wanted to know something, she found it out one way or the other.

“I’m guessing you’ve never met her. There’s no way she didn’t know about this team before you pulled me outta Slabside and she definitely knows where we are. She was at our safehouse.”

The two FBI agents were about to demand to know who compromised the location of a secure safehouse to a former SHIELD agent with a questionable past when Bobbi Morse came in.

“We got a hold of Natasha. She’ll be here in about an hour.”

The base was in the middle of nowhere, so if she was on her way, she had to be pretty close already. “She’s that close?”

“She was already on her way. Said she had news for Barnes.” Bobbi said before leaving the room.

“Like I said.” He told the two shocked agents. They stormed out of the room and John needed to update Lyla, leaving Felicity, Oliver and Bucky alone.

“This has something to do with Nadia, doesn’t it?”

“What makes you say that?”

“Up until now, you answered every question they had about anything they found. The only times you didn’t involved either her or Siberia. It’s not hard to figure out.”

“Yes, it’s about Nadia. I dragged everyone to that bunker because I didn’t even know if she was still alive. I hid evidence because that evidence could tell me if she died. I lied to the agents about what I knew about Nadia, because they don’t need to know. And unless I have to, I’m not going to tell them the truth.” He said. “Don’t give me that look, Queen. All you cared about was getting home to your family. All I care about is finding the answers I need, figuring out what happened to Nadia.”

“She’s your family.” Felicity said.

“I’m not anything to her anymore.”

They sat in silence until Anderson, Morse and Digg came back into the room with Natasha. “I’ll admit, I was confused when it was Morse, and not you, who called me.”

“I called, you didn’t answer. That’s not what this is about.”

“It’s not?”

“No, it’s about-“

The redhead cut him off. “Wait, there’s something I need to tell you. She’s alive.”

“She is? How do you-?”

“Because she paid me a visit yesterday.” Her wording made it sound much more pleasant than it actually was. 


 

New York-One Day Earlier

Natasha slid into her car and spoke without looking into the backseat. “You aren’t very good at this.”

“I’m not here to hurt or kill you. I wanted you to know I was here. I wasn’t trying to be sneaky.” Nadia said as she sat up. “It’s been a while.”

“I guess I should thank you for not just sticking a bomb next to the fuel tank and walking away. Dying in an explosion is kinda messy. Not exactly how I wanna go.”

“That would defeat the purpose. Putting a bomb in your car would kill you. I don’t want you dead. If you die, you can’t do what I need you to do.”

“Ah, so I’m still alive because you want something from me. I’ll pass.”

“No, you won’t. First, because you were going to do this anyway, even if I didn’t want you to. Second, because you, more than almost anyone else on the planet, owe me.” Nadia said. “It’s not that big of a favor. Just tell him I’m alive. I know he’s either looking or going to start looking soon. I've got stuff to take care of and can't deal with that right now.”

“And if I decide not to do it?”

“Then, I go with Plan B. Then comes Plan C, and D, and you know how the alphabet works.”

Natasha knew Nadia well, at least she did before her defection to SHIELD. She knew the other woman wasn’t playing around. “Fine. Just answer me this, how do I know you aren't going to kill him?”

“If I wanted to kill him, or you, I would’ve done it already.”

“Why would you kill me?”

“Because, the way I see it, or saw it rather, you’re as much to blame as he is.” Nadia opened the door and got out of the car. “Drive safe. It’s a long way to Midway City.” 


 

Task Force HQ

“I don’t know who this ‘she’ is, and I don’t care.” Anderson interjected. “Unless ‘she’ is the killer or the Nadia girl Barnes knows nothing about, you two can wait to talk.”

Natasha gave Bucky a surprised look. She was shocked the authorities even knew Nadia’s name. It didn’t shock her that he pretended not to know anything about her, however. He had a very good reason not to want them to know more about her. The look only crossed her face for a moment before she schooled her features.

“You’re right. Why am I here?”

“He was looking at pictures of our victims and had a moment. Then immediately demanded to see you.”

Bucky handed her a stack of discarded photos. “Do any of these look familiar to you?”

She searched through the stack and pulled four photos out. Bucky added them to the collage he had on the table. Natasha took one look at the collage and said, “oh. Now I see.”

“What? See what?”

“These people all have something in common. They ‘created’, for lack of a better word, the Winter Soldier and Black Widow.”

“These are the people that trained you.”

“Not just trained. Conditioned, tortured, mind-fucked with, experimented on.” Natasha said. “There’s only two ways someone could know about all of these people. They were part of the program or they stole the Roster.”

“Uh, what roster?”

“When your plumbing isn’t working, you call a plumber. When your computer breaks, you call IT. Same principle. Hydra kept a list of everyone who worked on the Black Widow program or the Winter Soldier program. In case they needed to ‘fix’ something.”

“Would something like that have been at the Siberian base?”

“No.” Bucky and Natasha both answered. He then elaborated. “There was only one copy of it, it was kept on someone’s person at all times and it disappeared right before Project Insight was supposed to launch. The Americans all thought he used his last few moments to destroy it.”

One week before Project Insight launched, the Russian Hydra agent who kept the list was in a car accident. They went to great lengths to secure the scene and thoroughly search the vehicle, but they never managed to find the thumb drive. Then, Insight failed and Hydra had bigger problems.

“So if they didn’t steal this list, that means it has to be someone who was trained as either a Black Widow or a Winter Soldier. Who else was there?”

“That time’s a little fuzzy for me still.”

“We don’t need to know who it is. We need to know where they’ll strike next. There are a few more people who your killer is gunning for. James and I will come up with a list back at the safehouse.” She took one last look at the photos they’d discarded. It was clear to her, and most likely Bucky, that the team’s case was actually two different cases.

 

“So, how much do they actually know about Nadia?” Natasha asked as they entered the safehouse. “How much do you two know?”

“The FBI knows Nadia was born and raised in the Siberian bunker but that’s it. They know it was part of an experiment but not what the experiment was. All Oliver and Felicity know is that I’m looking for Nadia.”

“I don’t suppose you wanna fill us in on the details.” Felicity said.

“Nadia’s conception and birth was part of a Hydra experiment called Project Scion. When it became clear they couldn’t turn a normal person into a supersoldier, they decided to breed one. That was the actual phrasing they used. She was the only success.”

“When you say they bred one-“

“They used my sperm to impregnate a former athlete they’d abducted.” Bucky said. “Nadia isn’t just some girl, she’s my daughter.”

Chapter Text

“Nadia isn’t just some girl, she’s my daughter.”

“Why didn’t you just tell us that from the beginning?”

“I needed to be sure you wouldn’t go running to tell Watson the second I hid something from her. You didn’t tell her about the journal, so I decided to risk it.”

“You found her journal?” Nastaha asked.

“Yes, in Siberia. Along with her file.”

“Good. When the time comes, you might need to show it to them.” If Nadia was the one responsible, as Natasha and Bucky both believed, the government would go in guns blazing to catch her. Her file, which detailed everything she did under Hydra's control and, more importantly, everything Hydra did to her, would help them realize why they shouldn't rush to close the case. It could also sway some agents thinking.

“As for why I waited to tell you Nadia was my daughter until now, there was too much unknown. I didn’t know she was alive. If she was alive, I didn’t know what side she was on. I still don’t know who’s side she’s on.”

“She’s on the same side she’s always been. Her own side.”

“How do you know that?”

“If she was on Hydra’s side, she would’ve killed me rather than stop by for a chat. If she was on ‘our’ side, she wouldn’t have waited so long to reveal herself. She hates Hydra but we’re too ineffective for her.”

“How are you ineffective?”

“Well, I had to play nice after that mess in DC. And Bucky got himself thrown in prison and his ‘action’ up until now has been telling the FBI what he remembers and nothing else. She’s not a fan of that method.”

The room went silent, then Oliver asked a question he knew Felicity was also pondering. “Is there a chance Nadia’s the person we’re looking for?”

“It’s possible she killed Karpov and the other handlers. She certainly has knowledge, motive and the skillset needed. Then again, I can think of at least three others who fit the bill.” 


 

Las Vegas

Nadia stared at the man in front of her with a bored expression. Her biggest issue with what she was doing was the sheer amount of time she had to waste. Sure, she usually got the drop on her targets, but she ended up knocking them out more often than not and then had to wait for them to wake up. It ate up more time than she would’ve liked.

She was trying to think of a better way to handle things when the man began to stir. “Good, you’re awake.”

“Operative?” he asked in a groggy voice.

She didn’t speak, but put the muzzle of her gun against the man’s left hand and pulled the trigger. “That’s not my name.”

He screamed in pain. “I order you to let me go. You will comply.”

His right hand soon met the same fate as his left. “Not really into compliance these days. Just ask your buddies. Oh wait, I killed them.”

“So, its revenge you’re after.”

“No, we’re just going to take a little trip down memory lane.” She said walking over to the table where she’d laid out her equipment. “After all, a brilliant doctor like you only tortured me to expand on his medical knowledge, right?” She walked closer to him with a scapel in her hand.

“I was only-“

“Following orders? Is that what you were gonna say? I remember everything you did to me, and you weren’t just doing it, you enjoyed it. At least have the balls to own up to it.” By now, she was standing over him and brought the scalpel down to make an incision. ‘Remember that time you cut out one of kidneys to see how long it took to grow back? Without anesthesia. Ever wonder what that feels like?”

“No, I- “

“On second thought, let’s wait on that one.” She said putting the weapon down. “Instead, you’ll get to see how it felt when you broke both my legs to see how they’d heal.” She walked to another part of the room and came back with a sledgehammer. “I would’ve broken your back, but then I’d have to untie you. Plus, you wouldn’t be able to feel the that much, so-“ She brought it down right on his left femur. His right leg received the same treatment.

It lasted for hours. She injected him with various chemicals, just as he’d done to her. She stabbed him, cut him, amputated a few fingers. Each time, she’d remind him of what he did to her. Finally, when it became clear he wasn’t going to live much longer, Nadia had one last thing to do.

“Wake up.” she said, slapping him as he nearly drifted into unconsciousness. “Don’t worry, we’re almost done. Just one last thing. Remember that time you doused me in gasoline and set me on fire?”

It was at this moment, he noticed the gas cannister in her hand. He couldn’t move as she poured the liquid all over his body. She struck at match and threw it onto him. “Now you know what that felt like.”

Countless down, three more to go. 


 

Star City-Outskirts

Ricardo Diaz was so startled by the news one of his men gave him that he actually needed to hear it again. Then, his surprise turned to anger.

“What do you mean Oliver Queen isn’t at Slabside?”

The plan had been simple. Track down Queen’s family, attack him in prison but leave him alive to know he failed his family and they were dead. If Queen wasn’t in Slabside, and his wife couldn’t be found, they couldn’t carry out the plan, could they?

“No one’s seen Queen in over a week. I thought he mighta gotten sent to the hole, but no one’s there for that long.”

“Bribe a guard. Find out where he is.”

“I did. All Sanders would tell me was that he wasn’t at Slabside any longer.”

“That’s….unfortunate. I guess a different plan’s in order.”

Chapter Text

When Oliver, Felicity and Bucky walked into the task force’s office the next morning, he had a list of names, and potential victims, like he and Natasha had promised. Anderson and Watson read over the list and gave Bucky a skeptical look.

“Nicole Abendroth, Cornelius Avdeev, Ismail Ponomaryov, Laura Honsic. That’s it?” Anderson said, handing the list over to another agent.

“Yup.”

“You know this list only has four names on it?”

“You’ve been on this case for three months. Whoever our killer is, they’ve been doing this for over four years. We’re lucky there are even names left.”

“I looked up all these names. I’m not getting any results.”

“Of course, you aren’t.” Felicity said. “These people committed atrocities and went into hiding. Those are their real names, not their aliases.”

“How do we find out their fake names?”

“They’ll have the same initials. Hydra wasn’t particularly creative when it came to things like that. They found it was easier for agents to remember their covers that way. Victor King was really Vasily Karpov. They won’t be ghosts, but they aren’t the kind of people who make waves. In order to survive this long without being caught, they have to be completely unremarkable. Natalia and I can give you general descriptions.”

“Ah, guys?” An ARGUS agent said running into the room. “I think we might have a new victim.”

“You think?”

“It’s kinda- LVPD hasn’t finished processing the scene, but given the damage to the body it might be our guy. Or girl. It’s clear to them he was killed very slowly by someone who knew exactly what they were doing.”

“Cause of death?”

“They don’t know if it was the blood loss, shock or immolation.”

“He was set on fire?” Bucky asked. “Do you have an ID or a photo?”

“Dr. Ian Parker.” The agent held up a photo.

“That’s Ismail Ponomaryov.” He’d hated everyone who kept him in Siberia, but Bucky didn’t hate Ponomarvov quite as much as he hated others there, like Karpov. He still felt almost nothing when he saw the man was dead or heard how he died. The fact he was set on fire didn’t surprise, given what he remembered from Nadia’s childhood.

“Call the Vegas field office. Tell them to handle the investigation and pass along whatever they find.” Anderson said. “We need to find the other three people.”

“Shouldn’t you tell them?” Oliver said to Bucky too quietly for any of the agents to overhear.

“Not until I have proof its her.”

“Why not?”

“She isn’t the villain in all of this.” he answered. “I’m not saying she’s a hero, but she isn’t the bad guy either.”

“She’s killing people. She probably set someone on fire. If she’s not a villain, who is she?”

“Someone who wasn’t given a choice. She’s not like us- she didn’t have a ‘before.”

“What does that mean?”

“We can split our lives into two chunks: pre-Island Oliver Queen and the Oliver Queen in front of me. James Barnes before I fell from the train and the Winter Soldier. Easy, simple, we have a defining moment or experience that separates the two. She doesn’t have that. She was never a normal kid. She didn’t have a normal life and then was forced to become the way she is.”

“So, you think she’s the victim in all of this.”

“A victim, yes.” Bucky answered. “It might not matter, it may not be her we’re looking for.” He seriously doubted it wasn’t her, but needed to say it just in case.

 

Two days later, the task force was still at square one. They were still going through files. The security footage from the Siberian bunker hadn’t finished decrypting yet. And, unsurprisingly, finding three people out of the estimated 327,615, 272 living in the United States wasn’t easy.

Midmorning on the third day, Bobbi Morse came running into the room. “I might have a lead on one of the potential targets.”

“How?”

“An old colleague of mine from SHIELD. She’s CIA now. The agents on this task force have been keeping their bosses up to date and their boss passed along the list of names Barnes gave us. Agent May's sometimes partner, Agent Silva, has a strong suspicion that Cornelius Avdeev is going by the name Colin Avery and living in Chicago.” She explained as she pulled something out of the file folder in her hands. “This is his I.D. photo.”

“That’s him.” Bucky said. “Older and grayer, but that’s Avdeev.”

“I guess we’re heading to Chicago.” Watson said.

 

Unfortunately for the task force, it took them a few days to get everything set up for a sting operation in Chicago. There was a huge street fair going on the day they arrived, but an agent saw someone fitting his description in the crowd. With no other option, and believing the killer wouldn’t attack with a crowd, Oliver, Bobbi, Watson, and three other agents hid in the crowd to keep an eye on the man but not approach him unless they had to.

For the first hour, he stayed within someone’s eyeline the whole time. After an hour, the man began to wander away from them and they tried to follow. Watson and Bobbi both got caught up with persistent merchants trying to sell them something. One agent thought he was made and retreated. Oliver was nearing him when he collided with a young woman walking in the opposite direction. She tripped and dropped what she was holding. Wanting to avoid further attention, he bent down and started to help her grab her things. She mumbled something about him needing to pay attention before running off.

Oliver looked back to where his target had been and caught sight of him walking away from the crowd. He followed, along with two others, bumping into more people as they went. They found him standing in an alleyway with his back to them.

“Everything okay?” Oliver asked.

The man turned and he saw that the man he’d been following wasn’t the person they were looking for. He looked a lot like Avdeev from far away, but when Oliver was standing only a few feet away, he could see this wasn’t the man they wanted. He’d never been there.

“Why are you following me?” He asked.

“Sorry, you….I thought you were someone else.”

“Status?” Watson asked as Oliver and the others went back to the fair.

“It wasn’t Avdeev. He looks a lot like him, but its not him. I don’t think he was ever here.”

“He wasn’t.” Felicity cut in on the comms. “Colin Avery moved out of Chicago a week ago. We haven’t been able to find his forwarding address yet.”

“Back to Square One.” Watson lamented as she ordered everyone to pull out so they could return to their headquarters.

Nadia continued on her way through the streets of Chicago. She'd done what she needed to do, planted what she needed to plant. She didn't kill Avdeev yet, but the FBI hadn't found him either. All in all, a successful day.

 

“Well, that was a bust.”’ Bobbi said when they got back to their offices.

“Not exactly.” Felicity said as she walked in with her laptop. “I mean, it was a bust for you guys, with him not being there, but-“

“The point, please.”

“We decrypted the surveillance video from one of the cameras in Siberia a few minutes ago. No one’s seen it yet.” She pressed play and began fast-forwarding through the footage to the right day. “If the log's right about the last time entered besides us, we should see our ghost at any moment.”

She pressed play. The camera was from right inside the bunker's door, but all it caught was the back of someone's head. They had a hood pulled up, so it didn't show much. She was about to fast-forward through the tape when a phone started to ring. It wasn’t an office phone or anyone’s cell phone. It continued to ring.

“Queen, your phone’s ringing.” Bucky pointed out.

“I don’t-“ he started to pat himself down and realized there was a burner phone sitting in one of the interior pockets of his jacket. “Hello?”

“I have to say, you look way better than you did the last time I saw you. Kapiushon.” A female voice said.

Chapter Text

“Queen, your phone’s ringing.” Bucky pointed out.

“I don’t-“ he started to pat himself down and realized there was a burner phone sitting in one of the interior pockets of his jacket. “Hello?”

“I have to say, you look way better than you did the last time I saw you. Kapiushon.” A female voice said. “Long hair makes you look like an insufferable douchebag.”

“How- Who-?”

“How do I know that? Who am I?” she finished for him. “Let’s save ourselves, and your FBI friends some time and put the phone on speaker.”

“What FB-“

“Let’s skip past the part where you try to lie to me. I know you’re currently, let’s use the word assisting, a task force with a case they haven’t been able to solve. FBI, ARGUS, CIA,, NSA and more. A few agents are probably staring at you right now wondering who the hell you’re talking to. They might even be trying to trace the call, unsuccessfully.” Everything the woman said was right. Several agents were giving him pointed looks. Felicity was trying to trace the call and Watson looked ready to grab the phone out of his hands. “Put the phone on speaker.”

Oliver put the phone on speaker before telling the caller he’d done so. “Who are you?”

“We’ll get to that in a second. Can I assume that one of the people listening to this conversation is James Barnes? If not, go get him.”

“Yeah, I’m here.” Bucky answered.

“Good. I’m guessing by now, Ms. Smoak, or is it Mrs. Queen? Smoak-Queen? Anyway, by now, I’m guessing the brilliant Felicity has decrypted the footage from at least one camera in that Siberian bunker. That’s why I’m calling.”

“How do you-?”

“I guessed how long it would take someone of her skill level to decrypt something like that and planned accordingly. Have you, meaning the agents in the room, figured it out yet?”

“Figured what out?” Morse asked.

“So, that’s a ‘no’. Your case is actually two cases. The dead Hydra scientists and the political assassinations that Hydra is actually behind. Really, the bodies alone should’ve told you that.”

“Who is this?” Watson demanded to know. “Do you know anything about the murder of Dr. Parker? Or the others?”

“Who do you think killed them?”

“You don’t even care, do you?” Bucky asked.

“No, not at all. After what they did to hundreds of people, including me, they got off easy.”

“How-?”

“I don’t know if you really feel this way or you just don’t want to piss the FBI off, but let me make something clear. Hydra lives don’t matter.” She said. “And that position really shouldn’t be a surprise to you of all people.”

“What do you mean ‘him of all people’?”

“Oh, he hasn’t told you. The Soldat and I go way back.”

“Why are you calling now?” Oliver asked. This whole conversation had to be either the woman stalling for time or looking to make a deal.

“Two things. One, I needed everyone, specifically you and Barnes, to realize you were working on two separate cases. I didn’t want to take the fall for people I didn’t kill.”

She needed to talk to them before they watched the tape from Siberia. Talk to Bucky while he still had some hope she wasn’t the killer. Once they saw the footage, Bucky would definitively know that she was the killer they were after. He’d need to admit a few things to the FBI and couldn’t claim as much ignorance. Oliver might recognize her from the footage and remember her from his time in Russia. It would be harder for her to evade arrest then. She only had three more people to kill, but the attention would become a problem.

“And two?”

“I wanted to ask him how he felt about what I’ve done.”

“Conflicted.” Bucky answered. “The people you killed deserved to die. Part of me is angry I didn’t get to kill them myself. Part of me is proud of you for doing what I couldn’t. Most of me wishes we were never in this situation to begin with.”

“Yeah, don’t take this the wrong way, but I kinda wish Rogers had left you to die in Austria sometimes.”

“So, you called and confessed. I don’t suppose you want to turn yourself in?” Anderson asked.

“No, of course not. I’m not done yet.”

“We know who you’re trying to kill. We’ll stop you.”

“No, you won’t. Because you’ve been on this case for three months and I’ve been planning this in some form or another most of my life. I’ve been focused on this for four years. And, as Barnes will no doubt tell you, I’m not the type to fail or give up.”

“Who are you? Who is she?”

“Right, I never answered that question. My name is Nadia. The Winter Soldier is my father.” She said. “Show them that file you took. Give Natalia my regards.” She hung up the phone.

The room fell into silence. Calling the conversation that had just happened shocking was an understatement for the ages. All the agents seemed too surprised to form questions, let alone ask them.

“I know that was a huge bombshell,” Felicity said, “but I found footage of her leaving the bunker.”

The time stamp showed that two hours had passed between Nadia entering the bunker and her leaving. As she walked towards where the camera was, everyone watching became more and more unsettled. She was covered in blood from head to toe. It looked like someone had dumped a bucket of paint over her head. She stopped while still in view, and removed the mask she was wearing, which was a replica of Bucky’s mask. She looked up at the camera and waved.

“No fucking way.” Oliver said before he could stop himself.

Chapter Text

The time stamp showed that two hours had passed between Nadia entering the bunker and her leaving. As she walked towards where the camera was, everyone watching became more and more unsettled. She was covered in blood from head to toe. It looked like someone had dumped a bucket of paint over her head. She stopped while still in view, and removed the mask she was wearing, which was a replica of Bucky’s mask. She looked up at the camera and waved.

“No fucking way.” Oliver said before he could stop himself.

“What?”

“I’ve met her before.” He said, not taking his eyes off of the image on screen. The woman on the video looked exactly like the one he’d met years ago. Same long, brown hair, same expression that was always somewhat angry, same eyes. One blue, one green.

Two CIA agents in the back of the room exchanged looks, but no one noticed. They hadn't known Oliver Queen had met Nadia before. They needed to tell their boss ASAP.

“Where? When?”

“Back in Russia when I was- it was years ago.”

“How exactly did you meet her?” Anderson asked.

“It was shortly after I joined the Bratva. There’s this ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ mentality with them. I needed intel on Kovar and we crossed paths while I was doing a favor for someone.”

“Crossed paths in what way?”

“We were after the same person and came to an agreement. I’d get the information I wanted and she’d get to kill him. It took me a few days to get the information so…. “ He trailed off. “I didn’t know her name was Nadia. She said her name was Ksenia.”

“That’s the name she gave you?” Bucky asked in confusion.

“Yeah. Why?”

“Her mother’s name was Ksenia.”

“Speaking of her parents, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do.” Watson said. “She’s your daughter.”

“Wait, wait, wait.” Morse said, interrupting Watson’s line of questioning. “She mentioned a file. What file?”

“When we went to the bunker in Siberia, I found all the files related to Nadia hidden in an air vent. I elected not to turn them over. They weren’t relevant to the investigation at the time. That’s the same reason I didn’t tell you about my connection to Nadia.”

“Where are they?”

“I gave them to Romanov.” He said. “She pointed out to me that I was compromised when it comes to Nadia, not that she’s much better.”

“What do you mean ‘compromised’?”

“Emotionally compromised. I’m unwilling to do whatever’s necessary to stop her, mostly because I don’t want to stop her, but also because I owe her that much.”

“Owe her? In what sense?”

“When Natalia gets here with the files, you’ll understand.” He said. “She should be here soon.” The room fell into silence for the next half hour. Felicity was trying to recover the footage from other cameras in the bunker. They needed to know what exactly happened between Nadia entering the building and her leaving.

“She was in Chicago.” Oliver said. He was still focused on the screen. He already knew everything Bucky had just said, so he didn’t pay attention to it. “She’s the woman I bumped into, I think. She looked kinda like her. If she was her, I didn’t even recognize her.”

“That’s not surprising.” Natasha said as she entered the room with a thick stack of papers. “She is a master of disguise.”

“Are those her files?”

“Yup. Hope you’ve got a strong stomach.” She said handing over the stack. She knew they’d go in order, and Nadia’s medical file was the first thing they’d read.

They began reading through it. Most of the agents excused themselves to throw up within the first few pages.

Saying Nadia had a rough childhood was an understatement. She was tortured frequently. Sometimes because she didn’t cooperate the way they wanted, sometimes seemingly for no reason. Hydra had broken almost all of her bones, most of them more than once. Waterboarding, burning her, electrocuting her, starvation, exposure and that was just the physical torture. The psychological torture was something else entirely. Sleep deprivation, gaslighting, drugging her frequently so she couldn’t always tell what was real. Then, they reached the part of the file about experimentation Hydra had done on her. Removing her organs to see if and how they’d regrow. Timing her recovery. Killing her and then bringing her back to see how long she could be dead and still be resuscitated. Sometimes, the torture itself wasn’t the worst part, but what happened afterwards.

"Given your reactions, I suggest we forego watching the tapes." Natasha said.

"Tapes?"

"They recorded everything, for posterity."

"How can someone do this to another person, let alone a child?" Digg asked.

"I told you, they didn't see her as a human being."

“How did she survive this?”

“The supersoldier serum will heal almost anything. They knew exactly how hard to push to break her without killing her.” Bucky said bitterly.

“No, I mean mentally.”

“I have no fucking clue. The promise of revenge. If it were me, if this had been my childhood, I would’ve blown my brains out the second Hydra handed me a gun.”

“She tried that.” Natasha said. “It didn’t work, and they were furious that she tried it. She was 15.”

“Well, some of the crime scenes make sense now. She isn’t just getting revenge, she’s making them understand what they did to her. What it felt like.”

“Now that we know what they did, and why she’s doing this, we need to figure out how to stop her.” Watson said. “Barnes knows her best of all, so-“

“I probably can’t, we probably can’t, stop her.”

“She was in the Winter Soldier program right? No one knows it like you.”

“She isn’t just a Winter Soldier, she’s also a Black Widow. And she excelled in both programs.” Natasha said. “He trained her as a Winter Soldier and her Black Widow instructor was the best of the best.” She wasn’t being cocky. She’d been the best Black Widow they had and got her to train Nadia from an early age. “She’s the best, or worst depending on how you look at it, of both programs.”

“So, basically, Nadia’s what would happen if you and Barnes had a baby.”

“Exactly. The only thing she got from her real mother is her left eye.” Bucky said.

“This doesn’t explain why you can’t stop her.” Anderson said.

“Because she has my combat training, Natalia’s experience with subterfuge and deception, and a ‘success at any cost’ mentality that’s been drilled into her head since birth.”

“She’s ‘The Queen of Not Fucking Around’.” Natasha said.

 “Um, guys? I managed to decrypt the rest of the surveillance footage from Siberia.” Felicity said. “It’s- watching it, I gotta agree with what those two are saying.”


 

Chicago

Nadia was sitting in her safehouse. She had gone past the point of no return. She couldn't turn back, she couldn't go back into the shadows. They would know who she was and what she was doing now. Her thoughts were interrupted when her phone rang. She was expecting her colleagues to keep her up-to-date on the search to find her. Instead, it was her occasional partner.

"We have a new assignment. They want us in Langley by tomorrow morning for the briefing." Melinda said before hanging up.

Chapter Text

May 2014

Once Nadia entered the bunker, she made it most of the way down the hallway before seeing another person. She wasn’t sure if they didn’t view her as a threat or if there simply wasn’t anyone left there to notice. A small part of her was hoping for the latter, most of her was counting on the former.

She reached the part of the base where the labs were, a place that gave her nightmares to this day, and saw two guards posted outside the door. One opened his mouth to speak and she shot him in the head. His partner went down a few seconds later, with no chance to call for help or defend himself. She kicked the door they were guarding open.

Inside, there was an older man crouched over a desk, writing. He looked up when the door opened. “Ah, Operative. You have returned. We had suspected you may have been captured during that mess in Washington. I am pleased to see that was not the case. Where is the rest of your team?”

“Dead.” She answered, closing the door behind her. She needed at least some privacy for this.

“At SHIELD’s hand? The US governments?”

“No.” She said, quietly and slowly pulling a knife out of one of her hidden pockets. “At mine.”

“You killed them? Why would-?”

She threw the knife, which landed in his abdomen, before he could demand an explanation. “Because I’m not loyal to Hydra. I hate you, I hate all of you. I want to watch you, watch everyone like you, die. I want to kill you all. My father, yes I remember who he is, his actions in Washington gave me an opening, I took it.” she walked around the desk and pulled the blade out of the man.

“And you came here, where Hydra is strong. You’re less intelligent than I thought.”

“Am I? No one here is suspicious of me. I killed Petrovich in Moscow without making anyone even suspecting it wasn’t an accident, let alone that I killed him. The flashdrive he had on him is really gonna come in handy.”

“You killed Petrovich?” All of Hydra’s investigating pointed to his death being an auto accident.

“Yes, you’d be surprised the things you can learn on the internet.” Nadia said. “Like, how to cripple, but not completely destroy, a car’s fuel line. Then, all I had to do was follow and wait for him to run out of gas.” she looked between the knife in her hands and the man in front of her. “I’d love to talk, but its time for you to die.” Faster than he could react, she slit his throat and left the office.

Someone must have noticed the dead bodies, because they were gone when she stepped back outside. She continued on her way and, when she turned the corner, found herself staring down a dozen guards, armed with machine guns.

“Operative! Comply-“

“Are you sure you want to do this?” She asked tilting her head to the side. “Because I have no intention of surrendering and none of you are walking out of here.”

“Stand down!”

Nadia rolled her eyes, pulled her gun out and shot the guard who was speaking in the head. All hell broke loose after she did that. They opened fire. Unfortunately for them, Nadia’s body armor was built to withstand shots from machine guns like the ones they were using. Slower than she would’ve liked, Nadia fought her way down the hallway, leaving nothing but bodies in her wake.

She checked the other offices and found them empty. Clearly, security had told the scientists about her presence and herded them into one room. That room ended up being the laboratory where most of her torture took place.

The Hydra doctors were in the lab, with only two guards present, working on something. Or rather, working on someone. A man in his early 30s was strapped to a table and screaming in pain. Reflexively, Nadia pulled out a knife and threw it at a piece of machinery, which caused the machine harming the man to shut off. Everyone turned around when that happened.

“Oper-“ Both guards and a scientist hit the ground in a matter of seconds.

“Anyone who moves or speaks out of turn will die very badly.” Nadia told them. “And slowly.”

“How dare-?” the man who spoke up was shot in his left calf, followed by his right.

“I have plenty of ammo and all of you have plenty of body parts I can shoot. If I run out of ammo, well, you all know what I’m capable of.” She said. The man she shot started whimpering. “Anyone else have anything to say?” No one spoke. “Good.” She shot all but four of them in the head, killing them quickly. She turned to one of the remaining doctors. “You’re a chemist, right?”

“Yes.”

“Well, that settles it then.” She wandered over to a set of drawers that she remembered Hydra agents pulling IVs and syringes out of. She grabbed a handful of needles, all with different names on them, and stabbed them into the man. “I think you should experience the result of all your hard work for yourself.”

 The chemist turned pale, then he fell over. Then, he started to seize. He convulsed for a while before he finally stopped moving, completely dead. She turned to face the other three agents. One had been a ‘physical therapist’ for Hydra, so she broke every bone in the woman’s body, saving her neck and spine for last. Another scientist she beat to death, she didn’t have specific reason for beating the man to death, but it felt like the right thing to do. Finally, she only had one scientist left: the neurologist.

“Well, get it over with.”

“Oh, no, no, no, no, no.” Nadia tsked. “I’m not gonna kill you. Not yet. First, I’m gonna hurt you. Really, really bad.” She stepped towards the woman, causing her to involuntarily step back, unknowingly cornering herself. “Do I scare you?”

“No more than any other rabid dog.” The doctor spat.

Nadia grabbed the woman’s neck and knocked her head against the wall, knocking her out. she was trying to decide what to do first when a voice behind her spoke.

“Kill me.” it was the man the doctors had been experimenting on. She’d completely forgotten he was there. “Please, kill me.”

She walked over to the table he was strapped to. Physically, he seemed fine, but there was a look in his eyes. The look of someone who was already dead. “I’m very sorry this happened to you.” She reached over and broke his neck, killing him instantly.

The neurologist came to, strapped to an exam table. Nadia was messing around with an ECT machine a few feet away. “I imagine you’re wondering how this happened, how I broke free of your conditioning.” Her words were soft-spoken.

“You’re disobeying orders, betraying Hydra, which you swore loyalty to, and now you want to monologue?”

“One, ‘betrayal’ implies I was loyal to you, which I wasn’t. At most, it was a twisted version of Stockholm Syndrome. Two, I’m not monologuing, I’m explaining. What I tell you won’t matter, you’ll be dead, but I suppose I need someone to know. After all, I managed to pull off the ‘mindless killing machine’ act for two years before DC gave me a chance to finally stop pretending.”

“Two years?”

“Yes. The chair, the machine, whatever you want to call it, it hasn’t worked on me for some time. I’m not a doctor, but I’d guess it has something to do with when you started to use it on me. I was eight, my brain was still developing. Over the next decade or so, my brain developed defenses I suppose. Slowly, it all came back. Everything you did to me, what you made me do, my mother. I remember everything.” she said. “Enough talking. I did my time being tortured, now its your turn.”

 

When the doctor was dead, Nadia headed into the secret room where the other Winter Soldiers were kept. Two scientists were there, as always, to keep an eye on the frozen assassins, along with a dozen guards. She opened fire as soon as they turned around. When they were dead, she walked over to stand in front of the cryopods. Four were in use, the last one was empty.

“Shit. Of course they let her out.” Nadia remarked. Of all the cryopods to be empty, it had to be Katerina’s. She turned back to the comatose soldiers. “I’m apologize for this, but you signed up for this shit.” She fired four bullets, one into each assassin’s head.

She piled all of the bodies in either the secret room or the lab she’d just left and began to search the rest of the facility. Killing all of the Hydra agents at the base wasn’t her only reason for coming here. She had to find her file before someone else did. She needed to search other documents for leads. She needed to release the other prisoners. Last but not least, there were things in her childhood cell that she didn’t want to leave behind.

Nadia found her way to the wing of the bunker where all the prisoners were held. She checked every cell one at a time. Some were empty, some were filled with bodies. She was the only person still alive. She gave herself ten seconds, ten seconds to mourn them, ten seconds to feel like she failed them for not returning sooner. When the ten seconds were up, she went back to work. She encrypted all of the surveillance equipment and computers. She hid her file where only her father or Natalia would think to look. She grabbed the two things she wanted from her cell and left. A picture of her mother and an old stuffed animal. Those were the only two things she didn’t want to leave behind in Siberia. She walked towards the door, stopping to wave at the camera on her way. She exited her personal Hell and locked the door, leaving the dead to rot. 


 

Task Force HQ 2018

“She took all of them down by herself?” An agent said. “Impressive.”

“Impressive or not, it doesn’t matter.” Watson said. “She shouldn’t have taken matters into her own hands.”

“You read what was in that file. You know what they did to her. You can’t expect her to just get over crap like that. Is she breaking the law? Yes. Do I blame her for a nanosecond? Absolutely not.” Felicity said. Oliver, John, Bobbi, Natasha, Bucky and several others all murmured in agreement.

“She’ll be happy to hear that.” A voice said from the back of the room.

Everyone turned. Oliver and John both got into combative stances, Felicity’s eyes widened.

“What are you doing here?”

“Hello to you too, Oliver.” Talia said in an amused tone.

Chapter Text

“Is she breaking the law? Yes. Do I blame her for a nanosecond? Absolutely not.” Felicity said. Oliver, John, Bobbi, Natasha, Bucky and several others all murmured in agreement.

“She’ll be happy to hear that.” A voice said from the back of the room.

Everyone turned. Oliver and John both got into combative stances, Felicity’s eyes widened.

“What are you doing here?”

“Hello to you too, Oliver.” Talia said in an amused tone.

“You survived the island.”

“I did, only to run afoul of an old foe in Gotham.” She said. “I will admit, for a time I was allied with your foe Mr. Diaz.”

“Was allied?” Felicity piped up. “What happened?”

“I received a better offer.” 


 

Slabside-Last Week

Talia was shuffling around Level Two when suddenly there was a loud bang at the end of the corridor, followed by a fight. Several guards rushed towards the noise. She didn’t even bother to look. The noise was likely a new ‘patient’ being brought to Level Two and fighting to escape. Every new patient fought against the Level Two guards and the doctor. Their fight left them within a few days, thanks to the drugs, shock bracelets and Dr. Parker’s methods.

She only turned around when other prisoners began to murmur. The sounds of a fight grew closer to her. A figure, likely a woman based on their size and stature, clad all in black was fighting off the guards who tried to stop her. Within minutes, they were unconscious.

The figure grabbed Talia by the arm and pulled her into the room where Parker conducted his ‘therapy sessions’.

“Talia al Ghul.”

“You know my name, I’m afraid I cannot say the same.”

“I’ve gone by a lot of names.” Nadia said as she pulled her helmet off. “How would you like to get out of here?”

Talia wanted to escape, but she knew nothing came for free. There was always a price tag attached. “At what cost?”

“Mail something to the papers, anonymously, and pay an old friend a visit to give him a message.” She said. “And this time, don’t kill or torture him.” She’d been watching Slabside for a while, at first to keep an eye on Bucky, and after he left, out of habit. She knew all about Level Two and what the prisoners there went through. They might be criminals, but no deserved to be treated like that. The world needed to know, Dr. Parker needed to be stopped.

Before Talia could answer, the door was pushed open and Dr. Parker entered the room. “I don’t know who you are, or who you think you are, but I can’t let you abduct my patient.”

Nadia snorted. “Patient, right.”

The doctor then turned to Talia. “Inmate 2376, return to your cell.”

“I don’t believe I will.”

“Fine. Mr. White.” He said, referring to the guard standing to his left. The man held up a device of some kind and pointed it at Talia.

Nadia pulled out a knife and threw it at him, hitting him right between the eyes. She then turned back to Parker. The therapist was in shock. “You know, you remind me of someone I knew when I was growing up.” she took a step closer. “I killed him.”

“Why?”

“Because, like you, he didn’t seem to give a shit about the Hippocratic oath.” she said, taking a step closer. “But mostly, because I could. That’s why you treat your patients like they aren’t human, right? Because you can.”

“Even if you kill me, you won’t escape.” He responded calmly.

“Yes, I will.” She picked up a drill from the table next to her before turning to Talia. “Would you like to do the honors?”

Soon enough, Talia’s shock bracelet was off and Parker was dead. They broke out of the prison the same way Nadia broke in. If you were willing to get a little dirty, it wasn’t that difficult to escape Slabside.


Present

“What ‘offer’?” Watson asked.

“That is not your concern. I was told to inform you that she’d prefer if you stayed out of her way. She also wanted me to give Oliver this.” Talia answered as she handed him a photograph. It was the picture he’d kept in his cell. “My message is delivered. My business with Nadia Sidrova is finished.”

“She was at Slabside. She knew where we were. She knows where we are.”

“Of course she did. And of course she does. Much like Adrian Chase, she’s been several steps ahead of you this whole time.” she said before walking away.

“Not always.” Morse said when she was out of earshot. “She wasn’t ahead of us in Chicago.”

“Chicago was lucky.”

“No, it wasn’t. May’s partner found one of her targets, or was closer than any of us. It’s worth reaching out to them.”

“You can’t.” One of the CIA agents, Agent Blake said. “May and Silva are on an assignment. They’re specialists and they only go into the field when the CIA has no one else they can send. The brass won’t pull them out of the field for this.”

“People are dying.”

“And if you demand they abandon their assignment, a lot more people will die.” He was stalling. The CIA needed to know about the latest developments in the investigation. They’d played ignorant so far, but it wouldn’t last much longer, not with the taskforce demanding to talk to both agents. 


 

Kasnia-Several hours later

Melinda May walked back into the safehouse she and her partner were holed up in. She’d gotten a phone call a few minutes earlier from their boss, the division chief, and now needed to inform the other woman about what he’d shared with her.

“Your friend Talia delivered her message.”

“Talia isn’t my friend. We had an agreement, I help her escape Slabside, she delivers a message.” Nadia responded. “I get the feeling that isn’t the only reason he called.”

“You’re right. It’s not. Morse pointed out that you gave them the fake identity of one of the three people you are trying to kill. I still don’t get why you did that anyway.”

“I needed to open a line of communication and it seemed like the easiest way.”

“Well, Blake can only stall for so long. What’s the next step in your master plan?”

“Easy. When this mission is over, we go home, you set a meeting with the taskforce. Eventually, someone’s going to ask why your partner isn’t there. Something about how Agent Silva found Avdeev and shouldn’t she be here to help us find the others? Tell them the truth.”

“You want me to tell them that they’re chasing after a CIA agent and at least three people they’re working alongside have known this the whole time?”

“Exactly. My position was need-to-know information. Blake, Hand and Clark were the only ones with the clearance to know and they were under orders not to divulge unless orders came from the boss.” 


 

Task Force HQ

“We got a hit.” One of the FBI technicians said.

“A hit on what?”

“We’ve been running facial recognition on every camera feed we’ve got access to. All looking for her, Nadia. She can change her name, or her hair, but she can’t change her face.” The tech answered. “Entering Kasnia.”

“Observe. Don’t move in yet.” Natasha said unprompted.

“Your opinion is noted and ignored.”

They began discussing how to apprehend her without raising alarm or causing an incident. Oliver, Felicity, Bucky and Natasha stayed quiet. Eventually, it was decided Oliver would go with the team to arrest Nadia. An agent came into the room with a crate containing Oliver’s old suit and bow. While everyone was preparing, Oliver pulled Natasha and Bucky aside.

“What don’t I know?”

“I’ve never known Nadia not to be exactly where she wanted to be.”

“She let the camera see her.”

“Yes, but I don’t know why she’d do that.”

Chapter Text

Kasnia

The task force arrived at a safehouse in the capital of Kasnia and most of the agents wanted to hit the ground running. After months of work, they were exhausted and ready to close this case. Finally, there was an end in sight and they were looking forward to this whole mess being over. The only person who wasn’t ecstatic about seeming to catch Nadia off guard was Oliver.

“What’s with the face, Queen? I thought you’d be excited. We catch her, your job’s done and you’re a free man.”

“If we catch her.” he said quietly.

“You don’t think we will?”

“No, I don’t. Watson, Anderson, Morse, Blake, they’re pissed Barnes and Romanov didn’t tell them everything, so they ignored what both of them said about this. And that’s a mistake.” Oliver didn’t run into situations blind, he never had. The task force was forcing him to do that when they didn’t listen to the advice Natasha had given them.

“In what sense?”

“I don’t know the whole story between her and Natasha, but those two know Nadia better than anyone else on the planet. They’re the only people who truly know her. How she works, how she thinks. Ignoring what they say because they made you feel stupid is a dumb mistake.”

“This is an opportunity we couldn’t afford to pass up.”

“This woman has stayed off the grid for four years. She’s managed to not only evade capture by Hydra, but also to not even arouse suspicion from the authorities. You didn’t even find a connection between her victims until Barnes got involved. Everything we know about her came either from her or from Barnes, which she knew would happen.” Oliver explained. “If her actions prove anything, its that she’s precise, methodical even. People like that, they don’t make mistakes. They don’t get caught unaware. And they definitely don’t, after calling the people hunting her, do something as amateur as getting spotted on a security camera.”

“You’re just saying that because you were her friend.”

“She helped me torture someone to death, that didn’t make us friends.” He said.

 

Across town, May and Nadia were in their own safehouse, debating what to do now that the task force was in the country. May wanted to lie low and avoid suspicion, Nadia didn’t. The pair were here for work, they had important things to take care of. She wasn’t worried about Oliver or the team with him.

“If the intel is right, the buy is tonight. We have to do our jobs.”

“What do you suggest then?”

“The old draw and dump.” She shrugged. “They know I’m here. They’re probably patched into a surveillance feed already. I let them spot me, they follow, I lead them on a merry chase while you get everything squared away to deal with Chernobog later.”

 

Oliver was in the room he’d been given when there was a knock on the door. One of the ARGUS agents stuck their head in and told him they’d spotted Nadia on another surveillance feed. She’d been spotted heading into an office building in the middle of the city. The team was mobilizing and, since it was broad daylight, Oliver needed to blend in.

They arrived on the right street and everyone took up different positions around the building. ARGUS was patched into the cameras and watching everything. Forty-five minutes after she was seen entering, Nadia exited the building along with a few others. None of the people with her seemed worried or coerced.

“I have eyes on target.” One of the agents said. “Heading west down the street.”

“Follow but do not engage.”

“She’s about to walk right past Gomez.” The agent argued.

“Its broad daylight and we’re standing on one of the busiest streets in the busiest, and most populated, part of the city.” Oliver pointed out. “It’s too much of a risk.”

“Follow but do not engage.” The leader repeated.

Nadia wasn’t sure if this was a distraction or if they were really this stupid. She spotted three people clearly watching her as soon as she stepped out of the building. Not only did they send the most ‘Federal Agent’ looking people to apprehend her, but they also brought Oliver Queen. Giving him sunglasses and a beanie and dressing him like a hipster didn’t do much to disguise him.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw two people follow her as she moved with the crowd. Since she was in the middle of the group, it was hard for them to keep her in their sights at all times. She shed her sweater and put it into her bag. One of the men shadowing her pulled back and another took his place. She took out plain blue shirt with three-quarter length sleeves and slipped it on while the two men were switching positions. She added a hoodie moments later. Looking ahead, she spotted the next camera they’d see her on. She had until she reached that point to vanish. Seeing an opening, she bumped into the person next to her, giving her about ten seconds where she was mostly out of their sights. In that window, Nadia put in the set of contacts that would make her eyes look brown. Two feet before she reached the camera, she cut in front of someone, pulled up the hood of her jacket and removed the wig she was wearing, letting her real, and much lighter, hair down. Nadia walked right past the camera and continued on her way. Just past the equipment, she turned the corner.

The team had been heading in the same direction she was, but hadn’t tried very hard to keep their eyes on her at all times. They believed the cameras would do enough and all they had to do was listen to the person watching the live feed and he’d lead them in the right direction. Only Oliver tried to keep his eyes on her, with some success. He’d only lost sight of her when she cut in front of a man, causing him to stop short. As they passed the camera, he heard an agent’s voice in his ear.

“We lost her in the crowd.”

“No one’s broken off from the group.” he said. “She’s still here.”

“I can’t see her on the feed.”

“We’ve been shadowing her since she left the building. She didn’t just disappear.”

“Yes, she did. Get back to the safehouse.”

“Wait.” Oliver said as he realized she might’ve planned on this happening.

“Queen-.”

“Two minutes. Give me two minutes.” He argued. He didn’t get a response, and assumed it meant yes. He turned the corner and walked down the street. It was less busy than the previous one he was walking down. He didn’t see Nadia, or anyone who looked slightly like her but kept walking.

Something felt off. He heard one footstep behind him nanoseconds before something hit him in the head. Nadia felt bad about kicking Oliver in the back of the head, but she couldn’t let him catch her. “Sorry, Queen. It’s nothing personal.”

She returned to her safehouse. She and May arrived just in time to the secret sale Chernobog, a terrorist organization, were having to try and buy weapons-grade uranium. They broke up the party and took down the cell.

 

It took Oliver a few moments to get his bearings, and when he stood back up, she was gone. An agent rushed down the street and found him. They went back to the safehouse and he heard an earful about running off.

“We lost her. How did we lose her?”

“Romanov said she was a master of disguise. Meaning she’s good at pulling off a quick change. I told you this wasn’t going to be that easy. I’m pretty sure she let herself get caught on that camera.”

“Still, what’s the point in dragging us all the way to Kasnia to find her?”

It was rather simple. Nadia was trying to prove a point. The team didn’t find her, they couldn’t find her, not unless she wanted them to. It was time for them to realize how the game worked. They didn’t even know what game they were playing. She also needed them distracted so Natasha could do her a favor. With everyone focused on Nadia, no one cared what the redhead was up to.

“That doesn’t matter. The CIA called, May and her partner are flying back from their mission. We’ve requested to speak with them.”

Chapter Text

Outskirts of Madison

Laura Honsic’s eyes struggled to adjust to the light when the black bag was pulled off of her head. it had been so dark that the light was now blinding. She didn’t know anything that happened after she got into her car that morning.

“Who- who are you? What do you want? If its money you’re after, I don’t have it. I’m a just a receptionist.”

“We both know that’s not true.” Nadia said.

Unlike most of her departed colleagues, Honsic didn’t seem surprised or angry, but resigned. She’d realized someone was hunting them down right after Cornelius Avdeev turned up dead outside of Chicago. “So, my time has come.”

“Yes, it has. It’s been long overdue.” She said as she pulled out various weapons and instruments.

“You kill me, you plan to kill the few others that remain. And then, what? When does it end?”

“Well, I only have one person after you, so very soon.” She said. “I hope you told your husband and kids you love them. You know, because you’re never gonna see them again. Poor Jack, Briana and Alex. Oh well, they’ll get over it Maybe that’s where I’ll end things.”

“You stay away from my family!”

“Or what?” Nadia challenged. She had no interest in going after the Harris family. They weren’t Hydra, their only crime was being related to Laura Honsic. Killing them for that would make her as bad as Laura was. “Now, eenie, meanie, minie, blow torch.” 


 

Task Force Headquarters

The members who went to Kasnia sat in a conference room getting reamed out by agent Watson. She was furious that Nadia had slipped right through their fingers. Oliver tuned it out after a while. Bucky and Natasha were forced to attend the meeting as well.

“She evaded you. How could she evade all of you?”

“Did you forget the part where we told you to observe and not engage,” Bucky said referring to himself and Natasha, “or when Natalia informed you she was, among other things, a master of disguise?”

“She evaded capture or suspicion for four years, she killed dozens right under your noses. She managed to get the drop on Captain America and threw him off a roof. She did all of that, and suddenly messes up?” Natasha stated. “No. My star student is plenty of things, sloppy isn’t one of them.”

“Your student?”

“Yeah, I trained her. They wanted her to be the best, so they assigned the best.” she answered. “And before you get all angry that I didn’t tell you, you could’ve asked, at any point, how I knew Nadia and I would’ve told you.”

“None of this matters.” Digg pointed out. “The CIA agents who managed to get ahead of her are on their way here. It doesn’t matter how she escaped or evaded the team, now we have extra help catching her.”

Everyone sat in silence in the conference room until Bobbi Morse got a text. Moments later, Melinda May and Agent Blake entered the room. The latter agent introduced May to everyone and they all sat down.

“So, we’ve finally called in the cavalry.” An ARGUS agent who used to be a part of SHIELD remarked. He’d only known May by reputation.

Morse, Blake, and Romanov all stiffened. May turned to face the agent and, in a deadly tone, spoke. “Do not ever call me that.” She turned back to the others. “Let’s cut to the chase.”

“Where is your partner?” Anderson asked.

“Not here. Are you gonna stop wasting my time and tell me what this is about?”

“Colin Avery, aka Cornelius Avdeev, he’s Hydra.” Watson began.

“What about him?”

“He’s on our suspect’s kill list, but the CIA located him before we even knew we needed to. It was the first time we were ahead of this woman, Nadia. We think you and your partner could be the key to finally arresting this woman and closing this case.”

“I doubt it.” May remarked.

The answer surprised Oliver. His gut told him May knew more than she was letting on. “Why?”

She pulled something out of the folder she was holding. “Because this is my partner, Agent Silva.” She turned the sheet around and it was a photo of Nadia. “Agent Silva and Nadia Sidrova are the same person.”

Various shouts of shock echoed through the room. Blake, his partner and Natasha were the only people who didn’t seem shocked by the news. Blake and his partner knew from the beginning. Natasha had suspected Nadia was working for either the CIA or MI6.

“So, she’s infiltrated the CIA for her own ends.” Watson said.

“No, she’s a fully-fledged, completely legitimate CIA agent. And she has been for nearly four years.” May countered.

“There’s no way the CIA would let her join, not with who she is.”

“Yes, they did. When she joined, she didn’t try to hide who she was or what she’d done at all. She’d handed over her Hydra file and everything.”

“So, she gave them proof, of everything Hydra did to her, of everything she did working for them, and they still recruited her.”

“Yup, after some convincing.”

“You should call your boss, tell them what she’s been up to.”

“The CIA is very aware of her actions, and they have been all along.” Blake spoke up. “See, in exchange for the agency looking the other way about certain deaths, she provided them with priceless information about Hydra, active cells, operations.”

“In fairness, they didn’t know her list was so long. And since she didn’t kill anyone on an official mission, it didn’t violate the CIA’s jurisdiction.” May added.

“So, that’s it then. She kills dozens of people and faces no consequences. No justice is served.”

“They scooped out one of her eyes with a teaspoon when she was seven. The person who did that is now dead, I’d say justice was served.” Bucky said.

“Like she told you, Hydra lives don’t matter.”

“And anyone who isn’t on her list, any Hydra agent that wasn’t involved with the Black Widow or Winter Soldier programs, she’s turned over to the proper authorities, so its not like she’s just slaughtering everyone.”

No one knew what to say to that, until something occurred to Oliver. “You said she joined the CIA ‘after some convincing’ what does that mean?”

“She wanted to make up for what they made her do. The CIA wasn’t completely sold, until they realized she had leverage over them.”

“What do you-?”

“Her file alone meant the government couldn’t charge her with any assassinations she carried out. Any sane lawyer would submit her medical records as evidence and no jury would convict her if that happened. But, just because they couldn’t charge her didn’t mean she couldn’t sue them. Several high-ranking US officials turned out to be Hydra and she had evidence they were aware of what was happening to her, even if they weren’t involved. In exchange for handing those officials over to the ICC to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and giving her a chance to right her wrongs, she agreed not to sue.”

“So, she’s a CIA agent, her kills exist in some weird middle ground and we can’t touch her. If all that’s true, why weren’t we informed from the beginning?”

“One, she wasn’t responsible for all the deaths you’re investigating. Two, only six people in the CIA had the clearance to know about this. Two of the six were put on this team to determine when, if ever, the rest of you should be told. Three, she said she owed Queen a favor.”

“She does?”

“What favor does she owe me?”

“She didn’t say.”

In Russia, Oliver helped Nadia get revenge for her mother, and set her on the path to be free from Hydra. He helped her gain her freedom, she wanted to return the favor.

“Where is Nadia now?”

“Don’t know. I’m not responsible for her when she’s on US soil.” May shrugged. "When I said I was coming here, she just said to tell you she'd see you soon."

Chapter Text

The day after everyone learned the truth about Nadia, the task force met like normal. Oliver could tell several agents were wondering what they were doing there. They couldn’t charge Nadia with anything, so many didn’t see the point in keeping the team active.

“Why are we still on this detail?” One of them asked.

“In case you’ve forgotten, Nadia Sidrova was only responsible for about half of the deaths we’ve been investigating. It’s time we find who’s responsible for the rest.”

“Are we sure she had nothing to do with it?”

“Excluding Hydra members, the victims have been foreign diplomats, low-level American politicians and CEOs.” Agent Blake said.

“And?”

“And, Nadia doesn’t care who the next governor of Idaho is, or who’s running Intel or who’s the ambassador to Turkey. And they were all killed by snipers.” Natalia pointed out. “If she’s gonna kill someone, she’s gonna do it up close and personal. And her target’s gonna matter to her.”

Watson was about to argue, when a flustered looking Bobbi Morse came into the room. “Sorry. Traffic.” She said taking a seat.

Oliver watched her sit down, but couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Something about Morse just seemed off, but he couldn’t quite explain it. The meeting continued. The different agencies argued back and forth about the best way to proceed. Some wanted to look back through the autopsy reports again. Others wanted to confirm the CIA wasn’t hiding any more secrets before moving forward. The meeting ended, and as everyone stood up, Morse spoke.

“Sergeant Barnes, I need to speak with you for a moment.” She said, gesturing for him to follow her. She took him to an office on the other side of the hall and closed the door.

Oliver watched them both leave, unable to shake the feeling he was missing something. “Am I the only one feeling like something’s off about that?”

“You’re not, I just-“ Felicity started.

Natasha was already out of her chair and following after Bucky. “Morse isn’t left-handed. She’s also two inches taller.”

Oliver, Natasha, Digg and Anderson rushed over to the door ‘Bobbi’ had just closed. It was locked and something was blocking the door. After some pushing on Oliver and Digg’s parts, they managed to break it down. They found Bucky being held at gunpoint by ‘Bobbi’ on the other side.

“Took you long enough. You’re getting slow in your old age Natalia.”

“Put the gun down.” Anderson said.

“Do you mind?” Bobbi said. She touched something behind her ear, and Bobbi’s face was replaced with Nadia’s. “I’m in the middle of a family reunion here.”

“Where’s Agent Morse?”

“She’s fine. I just stabbed a huge hole in three of her tires so she couldn’t be here.”

“I thought you wanted nothing to do with us, or this team.” Oliver remarked. “Wasn’t that why you called us and sent May to clear your name?”

By now, they had an audience. “No, I did it because you’re gonna need my help.”

“I doubt that.” Watson scoffed.

“Really? Because the dead politicians say otherwise.”

“So, you do know something about it.”

“You know what those bodies reminded me of?” Nadia asked before gesturing to Bucky. “Him.”

“Me?”

“We’ll get to that.” She said. “First, everyone who was not a vigilante in Stat City or trained by Hydra needs to get out.”

“You can’t-“

“What? Make demands like that? Yes, you’ll find that I can. Twenty minutes is all I need.”

“You should go.” Natasha told the other agents. “You won’t change her mind and if she was going to kill us, she would’ve done so already.”

Begrudgingly, the agents dispersed until only Natasha, Bucky, Felicity, Digg and Oliver remained. For a solid minute, they all stood there, staring at Nadia, waiting for her to say something.

“You know what the problem with most people is? When they say ‘this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me’, the thing they describe isn’t really that bad. Losing a job, a break-up, maybe a death. When I was- before I found it hard to feel bad for people. Most of that’s on Hydra. See, getting fired doesn’t seem so bad after getting your spine broke for the fourth time. Breaking up is a cakewalk compared to having to watch someone you care about, the only person you care about, die a slow agonizing death. And death, well, after a while death is a relief.” She said. “Most people don’t get that, not even Watson or Anderson. The worst thing that happened to Watson was her father being killed in a random mugging. Most people don’t understand, you five do. And Director Michaels of course. She looks better than the last time I saw her.”

“The last time you saw her?” Digg asked in a threatening tone.

“You know that won’t intimidate me, right? I’ve dealt with worse than you.” she remarked. “Last time I saw her was in Russia, in that shitty gulag.” She turned to Oliver. “Did you really think Hydra was just gonna let an ARGUS agent slip through their fingers?”

“What happened?”

“The strangest thing.” Nadia said in a nonchalant tone. “Me, Nadia Sidrova, the Operative. I, of all people, missed. For the first time in my life, I missed.”

“You let us break her out?”

“Well, yes and no. I didn’t really care what happened to her, no offense, I just needed the lookout they sent with me out of the way. He was starting to get suspicious. So, she escaped, I shot him and blamed one of the guards for it.”

“As interesting as this is, I don’t think its why you demanded to see us alone.” Felicity said.

“Right. I needed to tell both of them,” she pointed to Natasha and Bucky, “that I’ve decided not to kill them, but I’m still pissed. And I needed to tell you I might have a lead on Diaz. I’m trying to verify certain details.”

“How could you-?”

“I know threatened a guy who knows a guy.”

Chapter Text

Felicity, Oliver and Digg all stared at Nadia, unsure of what to say. Oliver hadn’t stopped worrying about Diaz being at large since he went to prison. The other two had spent months trying to track him down. Yet, Nadia just appeared and claimed to have information on him.

“Wha-?”

“I was…..questioning someone on where to find a certain psychologist. Dude kept running his mouth, talking about how is friend knew the guy who got Green Arrow sent to prison. I convinced him to give me his friend’s name.” she shrugged. “Then, Talia and I had a little chat. He knows you aren’t in Slabside anymore. He’s planning something, not sure what, to draw you out.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because men are idiots and their actions are incredibly easy to predict.” She said. “It’s how I pulled off being a step ahead of you for so long.”

“Where is-?”

Before Felicity could finish asking, the door to the room opened and Watson and Anderson entered. “Your twenty minutes are up.”

“Wow, time really flies, doesn’t it?” she said, following them out of the room. They went back into the conference room, where the other agents are waiting. By now, the real Bobbi Morse had arrived. “Sorry about your car, it was unavoidable.”

Morse glared but didn’t say anything.

“I have a question.” One of the ARGUS agents spoke up. “When you called us, you said you weren’t turning yourself in-“

“And I haven’t. Turning myself in implies that you could arrest me, which you can’t.”

He continued like she hadn’t interrupted. “You said you weren’t turning yourself in because you weren’t done yet.”

“I wasn’t.” she responded. The room fell into silence as the weight of that statement hit everyone.

“You- you can’t just kill people. That’s illegal, you know that right?”

“And? What does the law have to do with anything? Plenty of horrible things are or were once legal. Slavery before 1865, ethnic cleansings throughout history, most notably the Holocaust. Would you like me continue? I can come up with many more examples that prove my point.”

“And what point is that?”

“Legality and morality have nothing to do with each other. They coincide on occasion, but just because something’s legal, it doesn’t make it right.”

“We’re getting off topic here.” Anderson pointed out. “You said you had information about the deaths you weren’t responsible for.”

“I do. Like I said, I looked at the autopsies and they reminded me of him.” She gestured to Bucky.

“What exactly does that mean?”

“Barnes and Natalia, and only Barnes and Natalia, tell me if this sounds familiar. Shot from between 100 and 500 yards away. Soviet slug, no stripping. Ballistics are impossible to match.”

“That’s-“

“That’s what?”

“It’s the Winter Soldier’s M.O.” she said. “Well, his and mine, but its wasn’t either of us. Me, because I don’t care. Him, because while some of these murders have happened, he was either in Slabside or in your custody. So, here’s the question, why would someone use the Winter Soldier’s M.O. to assassinate low level politicians and businessmen? It’s a bit of a step down for him.”

“What do you mean?”

Nadia turned to Bucky and shot him a surprised look. “Oh, they don’t know.” The agents didn’t know that the Winter Soldier had killed JFK. “Did you deny it, or have they just not asked?” he didn’t react, so she turned back to him. “He’s killed some rather high profile people. Anyway, why use his M.O.?”

“To frame him.” Felicity said. “If he’s framed, the authorities start looking for him, which forces him out of hiding. Same goes for you.”

“Yes, but who would want to frame him? While his situation isn’t public knowledge, the US government and foreign governments know he’s in custody.”

“Hydra.”

“Yes, the first assassination happened shortly after SHIELD fell. The last one was last week. More importantly, who would they send to recapture him or me or both of us? Smoking us out is one thing, but apprehending us-”

“The fifth pod.” Oliver said.

“What?” Several people asked.

“In Siberia, in the bunker, with the dead Winter Soldier attempts. There were five cryopods. Only four of them were in use and all four were dead. The fifth one was empty. We thought that was yours, but it wasn’t, was it? They woke whoever was in it up to track you down. You need a Winter Soldier to catch a Winter Soldier.”

“Yes. Her name is Katerina.” Nadia said. “And I think the only person she hates more than him is me.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m better.” 


 

Outskirts of Star City

Diaz was starting to get agitated. Queen wasn’t in prison. None of his sources could tell him where he was. His ace-in-the-hole Talia had apparently vanished. On top of that, one of the Longbow Hunters had been found dead. He was angry and needed to work it out somehow.

“You, you and you, come with me.” He said, pointing to three people. “And the rest of you, find me someone who can really hurt Queen.”

“I know the perfect person, if she’ll agree.”

“Get her here then.” Diaz ordered. “There’s a long overdue conversation I need to have with the DA.”

Chapter Text

Hub City-Two days ago

A woman stood facing a large bay window, looking out over the city. She felt someone move behind her and spoke without turning around. “You know, not many people can sneak up on me.”

“I don’t doubt that, but I’m not most people.”

The woman spun around, surprised. The voice that answered wasn’t the person she thought it was. She was expecting it to be one of her colleagues. Instead, it was a complete stranger. “Who are you?”

“That doesn’t really matter, does it?” The unexpected visitor asked. “Well, are we gonna fight, or did I bring all my knives for no reason?”

Two seconds later, the woman launched herself at her opponent. They fought for a few minutes before the woman found herself being held up by the throat, unable to breathe.

“So, I guess now I know who’s better.” Her opponent said before breaking her neck and throwing her out of the window. Seconds later, cars screeched to a halt as her body hit the asphalt. 


 

Task Force HQ-Present

“You need a Winter Soldier to catch a Winter Soldier.”

“Yes. Her name is Katerina.” Nadia said. “And I think the only person she hates more than him is me.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m better.”

“Better how?” One of the agents asked.

“You’re thinking about this wrong.” Natasha said. “Katerina, the four dead soldiers you found in Siberia, they were supposed to be James but better. It didn’t work out so well. They went back to the drawing board and that’s how Nadia was created. She’s Katerina, but new and improved.”

“Basically, Katerina’s one of those shitty smartphones people bought back in like 2009 and I’m an iPhone.” Nadia explained. “Everything she can do, I can do better and it drives her insane.”

“Why?” Oliver said.

“She’s not like the two of us.” She gestured between herself and Bucky. “She actually believes all that bullshit Hydra spills, rest of her team did too. So, someone promises to make them even better than the infamous Winter Soldier and they jump at the chance. Except the serum they got doesn’t exactly live up to what he got. Still, they’re the deadliest kill squad in Hydra history. They can’t smash through concrete, but they’re pretty deadly. Then, they use the Winter Soldier’s sperm to knock-up a kidnapped gymnast and I’m the result. Hydra’s got a new favorite weapon and I actually live up to the Winter Soldier legacy.” Nadia chuckled a bit. “She wasn’t totally sane before I passed my ‘final exam’ but that pushed her over the edge.”

“Your ‘final exam’?”

“I had to fight the other Winter Soldiers, and I almost put her into a coma before they stopped it.”

They asked her more questions but Nadia put off explaining anything else about Katerina. She knew they’d want to know specifics about her tactics, habits, even her psych profile. She said there were documents that needed to get sorted through and files they needed to pull before she could go in depth about how to track or stop Katerina. The task force called it a day.

Bucky, Felicity, Oliver and Natasha got into an SUV and drove back to their safehouse. As always, an agent had picked William up from school and taken him home. William was telling his parents about his day, and wondering when they were going to go home when everyone heard a key turn in the lock.

Oliver pushed Felicity and William behind him while Bucky pulled out a gun from under the table. The door opened and a figure entered the building.

“What are you doing here? We were done for the day.” Oliver said.

The woman shot him a ‘how dumb are you’ look before answering. “I feel like you were smarter than this back in Russia. I’m here to see my family. You do remember he’s my father, right?” Nadia asked gesturing to Bucky. “And they want everyone housed together, because gas is expensive or something. Or they wanna know where I am. I don’t care, I’ve lived in worse places than this.”

“Dad, who’s she?” William asked poking his head out from behind his father.

“Hey, I’m Nadia. I’m helping your dad and step-mom on their assignment.” She said introducing herself. “I also figured you might want to talk about a certain lizard that caused you a bunch of problems.”

“You found Diaz?”

“Yes and no. I didn’t find him, but I did find one of the Longbow Hunters he hired.” She admitted. “And I’ll tell you more later.”

“Why can’t you-?”

Nadia looked from Oliver and Felicity to William and then back to the couple. “Knowing what you know about me, are you sure you want him to hear this?”

“I’m not a little kid and my dad’s the Green Arrow.” William pointed out.

“Ok.” she shrugged. “In learning what I could about Diaz, I also became aware that he hired the Longbow Hunters. I tracked them to Hub City. I don’t know if I got there before the other or way after, but when I found them, I only found one. The woman who likes to shoot darts a people. Anyway, we fought. I can see why they make the League nervous, but I think most of their reputation is hype. We fought, I won, and I killed her.”

“Why?”

“Well, one, Diaz now has one less ally in his corner. Two, she wouldn’t have told me anything useful, so there are no reason not to kill her. Three, let’s just say I’m not a fan of their work.”

“Their work?”

“I’ve been forced to do bad things. And I’ve done plenty of bad things without being forced or coerced.” Nadia said simply. “In fact, there’s very little I won’t do. But I don’t kill kids. That’s my one line in the sand. Longbow Hunters crossed it.”

Nadia went upstairs after revealing that, leaving the others downstairs. William left to do his homework while Oliver and Felicity told Bucky and Natasha a little more about the situation with Diaz. Five minutes into the discussion, Felicity’s phone rang. It was Diggle.

“I just got off the phone with Dinah.” He said. “Black Siren’s been attacked. She thinks Diaz might be involved.”

Chapter Text

“I just got off the phone with Dinah.” Diggle said. “Black Siren’s been attacked. She thinks Diaz might be involved.”

“How bad is it?” Oliver asked. He might not like Black Siren, but that didn’t mean she deserved to be targeted by Diaz.

“I don’t know. Given the situation, ARGUS wants to call you both in. A few others too.” He explained.

“I’ll go grab Nadia.” Natasha said, standing.

“She doesn’t need to go.”

“Well, aside from this Black Siren person, she’s gotten closer to Diaz than anyone else. Besides, you might wanna listen to what she makes of what happened.” The redhead said before heading upstairs.

Nadia came down moments later. “Ok, we’re leaving now. Should be in Star City in about….three hours.”

“It’s a five-hour drive.”

“Not if you drive the way she does.” Bucky remarked.

 

At Starling General, Dinah put the wing Black Siren was in on lockdown, anticipating Oliver and Felicity’s arrival. If the captain seemed surprised that they weren’t alone, she didn’t show it.

“I’m kinda shocked he would do this.” Dinah remarked.

“Why?” Nadia asked.

“Well, she’s the DA.”

“And? They caught JFK’s death on tape and didn’t even arrest the right guy.”

“Yes, they did. Lee Harvey Oswald.” Diggle said.

“Right.” She responded in a clearly sarcastic tone. “Even though the trajectories don’t match up. And in a complete coincidence, Oswald was killed before anyone could question him.” She turned back to Dinah. “My point is, DA, police captain, President, no one’s actually too high-profile to die.”

Dinah turned to Oliver and Felicity. “Who is she again?”

“Name’s Nadia.” She answered, walking over to Siren’s hospital bed and picking up her chart. “Let’s see, most injuries are around her throat and neck. To damage her voice box no doubt. Smart move.” She flipped to the next page. “Oh, well, he tried to damage it. Points off because all he did was fracture her larynx. Not very effective in the short term.”

“Did you really just compliment a sociopath?”

“I didn’t say what he did was good or nice, I said it was smart. If she can’t scream, she isn’t as much of a threat.” Nadia shrugged. “If you or her came at me, first thing I’d do is take away your scream.”

“I don’t-“

“There’s no need to lie, everyone in this room knows you’re the Black Canary.” Nadia responded without looking up. “And you can stop pretending to be asleep, Laurel or whatever your name is.”

“Fine.” She whispered. “Who are you?”

“Nadia. You’re gonna tell me everything that happened or I’m gonna send you to a very not-fun place.”

“You can’t-“

“Oh really? Who do you think’s gonna stop me? Queen and his wife won’t for a few reasons, you can’t scream and I doubt Captain Drake could beat me without using her scream. She could use her scream but then the other officers would know she’s the Black Canary and that would mess a few things up for her.” She pointed out. “Or you can tell me what I wanna know.”

She rolled her eyes before she launching into her story. She’d been getting into her car when Diaz appeared behind her. He had some kind of dampener on his person that cancelled out her scream. While she was distracted, one of his guys knocked her out. He was angry about how things had worked out last May, blamed her for some of it and thought it was time for revenge.

“How’d you wind up here?” Oliver asked.

“He let me go. After reminding me that he could always get to me.”

“Did he, at any point in his ranting, mention anyone else?” Nadia asked.

“Well, he said Oliver was next.”

“Yeah, no. I knew that. Anything useful?”

“How is that not useful?”

“Everyone and their mother knows he wants to kill Oliver. If he’d let slip how he was gonna do it or when or anything more substantial, that’d be helpful.” Nadia elaborated.

“You aren’t working on the Diaz case.” Dinah said.

“Aren’t I?”

 

In his hideout, Diaz was growing impatient. Hurting Laurel had felt good, but he hadn’t gotten revenge on Oliver Queen yet, and he wanted to make him suffer already.

“Your ‘perfect person’ to hurt Queen? Where are they?” Diaz asked his guy who’d mentioned it.

“Does business through an intermediary, I gotta wait to hear back. Chick’s real paranoid.” He said. “But her work speaks for itself.”

“Meaning?”

“She’s got a bit of a rep. Word on the street is she’s never missed and never botched a hit. Buddy of mine saw her kill three guys in a bar with a pencil.”

“And why would she kill Queen for us?”

“She’s a merc. She’ll kill whoever you want as long as she gets paid.” He explained. “Any target, any way you want, just meet her price.”

“Do you even know this chick’s name?”

“She goes by Ksenia. But I doubt that’s her real name.”

 

Having gotten everything they could out of Black Siren, Oliver and Felicity thought it might be time to head to the ARGUS base right outside of Star City. Nadia told them to go, but mentioned that there was something she wanted to look into and now seemed like the best time to do it. The pair shot her a weird look but didn’t try to stop her.

That’s how Nadia wound up standing outside of a foreclosed building. It appeared to be abandoned, but she was aware that looks could be deceiving. She broke a window and made her way inside. She crept inside. She was heading down a hallway when she heard one footstep and then a ringing sound in her ears. She supposed to a normal human, it would sound like complete silence. She sped up and rounded the corner, knowing she’d be followed.

As she expected, a black woman who looked about 30 followed after her. The woman rounded the corner and Nadia stabbed her in the shoulder. Judging by the slight look of surprise on the woman’s face, she hadn’t expected to be caught. While she was reacting to the stab wound, Nadia reached down, grabbed the sonic dampener off of her belt and smashed it onto the ground.

“You know, your friend had the same look on her face right before I broke her neck and threw her out of a window.”

“You-.”

Nadia didn’t let her finish and instead pulled the knife out and stabbed the woman again. This time in the heart. She fell to the ground dead. “Two down, one to go.” She dragged the body out of the building.

Killing the second Longbow Hunter wasn’t why she was there, but she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Nadia began to coat the building in gasoline before striking a match. “When your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to.” She said as she watched the building, a purchase made by Ricardo Diaz a few months ago, go up in flames.

Chapter Text

After she burnt down Diaz’s building, Nadia headed back out into the city. In all her travels, all her missions, Star City was one of the few places she’d never visited or even gotten close to seeing. That, combined with Oliver’s desperation to get home seven years ago, made her curious about the city. Vigilantes appearing only further intrigued her.

She’d found a diner that was open late and headed inside. She was hungry and at the moment, she didn’t have any pressing things to worry about. Katerina had gone dark, Diaz wouldn’t know about the building or the dead Longbow Hunter yet and it wasn’t very busy.

The waitress was just setting Nadia’s food down when the TV started airing a report. “A spokesperson for the DA’s office gave a statement earlier today.” The report switched to footage of a press conference.

“We’re continuing to investigate the issue, but at this time, we have no new information about the new Green Arrow.” A man behind a podium said. “As my colleague Laurel Lance stated weeks ago, the only thing we are sure of is that this unknown vigilante is not Oliver Queen. This is someone new.”

Nadia snorted. Really, how dumb were these people? Of course the new Green Arrow wasn’t Oliver. They had some footage of this person, and they were about four inches too short to be Oliver.

“Not a fan of the Green Arrow?” the waitress asked, having seen Nadia’s reaction.

“It’s not that. Seems like they have a press conference every week just to say they don’t know anything. Waste of time if you ask me.” She responded.

Nadia ate her food in silence before leaving a few bills on the table and leaving the restaurant. She’d finally found something in this city worth looking into. It wasn’t difficult to find all the information the SCPD had on the new Green Arrow. They didn’t have much to begin with and their security was kind of a joke. Nadia was reading about the latest sighting when her phone rang.

“What?”

“There’s someone who wants to meet you.”

“Who?”

“Wouldn’t give a name. He’s offering a lot though.”

“Don’t care. If I don’t know who I’m working for, I don’t take the job.” She said before hanging up.

 

After a restless night at ARGUS, Felicity, Oliver and Diggle went back into the city the next day to get back to work. Natasha had driven to Star City as well, although they didn’t know why. When they walked into the SCPD, all eyes were on them. Oliver was certain that the only reason no one tried to arrest him was because there were ARGUS agents with him. They entered Dinah’s office only to find the new mayor in there, yelling at her.

“What is he doing here? He’s supposed to be in prison.” Mayor Pollard stated.

“I’m trying to explain.” Dinah said.

“I don’t want him in my city.”

“Good thing its not your call then.” Nadia said from the doorway. “Star City might’ve decided they don’t want Mr. Queen, but the federal government disagreed. He’s helping us with a case or two. We might need the SCPD’s assistance on one, which is why he’s here. Now, your deputy mayor is being briefed on what the case is. We’ve decided that you shouldn’t in involved.”

“Oh, and why is that?”

“Because there’s a conflict of interest. We’ve got reason to believe Hydra might be involved and given what happened a few years ago-.”

“I see. Well, I hope you solve your case quickly so Mr. Queen here can go back where he belongs. A cell.”

“Oh, did I forget to mention that he’s being released in return for his assistance? Oops.” The mayor stormed out. “Have I mentioned I hate politicians.”

“Once or twice.” Natasha answered.

“What are you doing here?” Dinah asked.

“We’ve got cases to solve and a dragon to slay.” She said. “But first,” she turned and walked out of the room. She let out a loud whistle, getting everyone’s attention. “Ok, I only wanna say this once. You all know who he is,” she gestured to Oliver behind her, “he’s currently helping the federal government with some issues. For all intents and purposes, consider him a federal agent for the time being. I understand some of you might be upset about Mr. Queen’s confession several months ago. It’s understandable. However, if any of you put your hands on him, I’ll have to assume you’re assaulting a federal agent and I’ll be forced to shoot you. Are we clear? Good.”

“Was that necessary?”

“Yes, it was.” She said sitting down. “Where are you on Diaz?”

“Nowhere.” Dinah answered.

“Really? So, in the few weeks between when I decided to take this assignment and now, I found what you couldn’t in over five months. Well, I guess you did have entire police force to rebuild from the ground up, so that puts things into perspective.”

“Ok. Since you’re so much better, what do you know?” The captain challenged.

“He’s somewhere on the outskirts of the city. He knows Oliver is no longer in Slabside. He’s still focused on revenge against Oliver for what happened, apparently overthrowing his criminal empire made him look ‘like a loser’ and he’s not happy about it. Oh, and he’s down to one Longbow Hunter.”

“How do you know that?”

“Well, I killed one in Hub City a few days ago. And last night, when I was in the process of burning down one of the buildings he owns, I got into a fight with a second one. She was trying to kill me, so I killed her.”

“You killed her?”

“Sorry, was I just supposed to let her stab me?” Nadia asked rhetorically. “I wasn’t expecting to run into anyone while I was committing arson.”

“Why burn the building down?” Felicity asked.

“One, it sends a message. Two, it’s a tactic I learned a long time ago. Your enemy wants to hide, you leave them with nowhere to hide.” Her phone began ringing and she walked out of the room.

“It’s a very effective tactic.” Natasha interjected.

“Who is she again?” Dinah asked Oliver and Felicity.

“She’s a genetically engineered supersolider.” Natasha answered.

“Ok, fine. Don’t tell me.”

 

Nadia left the precinct before she answered the call. “What?”

“The job I called you about, the client isn't taking your silence too well.”

When Nadia first joined the CIA, she informed them there were a lot of people in the criminal underworld who were aware of her. Her skills as an assassin had gotten out. She kept up the reputation after joining the CIA in order to keep an ear to the ground and possibly find information on criminals on the world’s most wanted list. Since no one who ever saw ‘Ksenia’ lived to talk about it, no one thought it was weird that she didn’t meet with her clients directly.

“Tell him he’s piqued my interest, but I’m on another assignment at the moment.”

Nadia sent a text to Oliver saying she had to take care of something on a different mission and drove away from the station.

 

Emiko returned to her lair and changed out of her hood. There’d been an increase in the police trying to arrest her lately, but they hadn’t come any closer to actually catching her. She pulled out her notebook and crossed another two names off of her list.

“Well, this is a surprise.” A voice said from behind her, causing her to jump.

Chapter Text

“Well, this is a surprise.” A voice said from behind Emiko, causing her to jump. She turned around to see a brunette woman standing there. She didn’t appear to be hostile, but Emiko decided she’d rather be safe than sorry.

Emiko moved in to attack, which the other woman blocked. They fought for several minutes, but frustratingly, she wasn’t able to land a single blow on the other woman. Her opponent didn’t try to do anything besides block her blows, adding to her frustration. After an unknown amount of time, the woman spoke again.

“Look, I didn’t come here to start anything. Hell, I didn’t expect anyone to be here. so if you wanna keep trying to hit me until you pass out, be my guest, because I don’t really care either way.”

Emiko dropped out of her fighting stance and took a step back. “If you weren’t looking for me, why were you surprised to find me?”

“It’s a long story.” She wasn’t surprised that she’d found the new Green Arrow. She was surprised that the new Green Arrow wasn’t who she thought it was. “But I’m tracking an old enemy of mine. She liked to hide out in places like these. I’m Nadia.”

“Emiko.”

Nadia nodded and looked around. She saw Emiko’s board of suspects. “Who are you avenging?”

“How do-?”

“You didn’t put on that hood to take up Oliver Queen’s mantle. It’s personal, and given what the news has been saying for the last few weeks, I’m guessing you’re trying to avenge someone.”

“My mother. Last year there was a fire in our apartment complex. Someone set it to cover up the fact that they’d killed my mother.”

“That’s a pretty good reason.”

“Don’t mock me.”

“I’m not. I’m the last person to judge someone else’s family situation. My birth mother’s dead, died a long time ago. My father and the closest thing I have to a mother helped turned me into a human weapon and let a lot of bad shit happen to me. I went on my own revenge quest against the people who hurt me, and the only reason my dad wasn’t on that list is because he tried to atone for his mistakes and I owe Oliver Queen a favor.”

“You’ve met him?” Emiko asked.

“Yes. I met him in Russia before he miraculously came back from the island, even though he wasn’t there the whole time.” she said. “I found it strange that someone had become the Green Arrow after he went to Slabside, and I wanted to know who it was and why. Now I know, so I’ll leave you alone.”

“That’s it?”

“Well, unless there’s something you wanna ask me, yeah. You want justice for your mother. I’m the last person to talk anyone out of that.” She said. “I hope you get it.”

“So I’m just supposed to believe you aren’t gonna head straight to the cops and tell them who I am. Not likely.”

“Well, I don’t see the problem in what you’re doing, so why would I tell them? Besides, what proof do I have. It’s a case of your word against mine and this isn’t my business to begin with. You aren’t the person I’m looking for, so I don’t need to do anything about this situation.” She pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket. “But, if you ever need some help, here’s how to find me.” She placed the paper on the table and walked out, leaving a confused Emiko behind.

 

After leaving the SCPD, Oliver, Felicity and Natasha went back to ARGUS. They were surprised to see that Bucky and William were there already. “What are you doing here?” Oliver asked.

“Task force decided to move us since the case led them back here.” Bucky answered. “Bunch of agents packed up all your stuff and took it to the new safehouse. Where’s Nadia?”

“Said she had to take care of something relating to another mission.”

“She doesn’t have other missions. She only works on one thing at a time.”

“Well, then I don’t know where she is.”

“No one knows where she is unless she wants them to. It’s why she’s so effective.” Bucky remarked.

“Can I ask you something? How did you know she wasn’t loyal to Hydra? That this wasn’t a trap and she didn’t want to kill you? I know she’s your daughter, but she’s been through more than anyone should have to endure.”

“That journal, her journal, that I found in Siberia. She wrote a lot of things in there. It was hard to read, but it gave me a window into her mind. It didn’t take her long to realize what they were making her do was wrong. She talked a lot about how she wanted to make everyone who hurt her pay for what they did. Initially, that included me. She wanted to save me for last, her final kill. She hated me for a long time, until she decided I wasn’t the one to blame. She’s wrong, but it’s a nice sentiment.”

“What do you mean she’s wrong?”

“Her life, her mother’s life, they were ruined the day I fell from that train in ‘45.” He said. “Yes, it would mean Nadia wouldn’t exist, but that might be better than the life she was given. And Ksenia, god, what they put her through.”

“What was she like?”

“I don’t know. I never met her, I only know her name from overhearing it and reading old files.” Bucky admitted. “I was in cryo when they impregnated her.”

“None of that makes it your fault.”

“Yes, it does. Because I see it that way. The same way that everything that happened in the last twelve years is your fault, according to you.” Bucky said. “But its worse, because my surviving, just not dying, made things worse for everyone. Zola had almost shut down the program, but then I fell from that train and he had his guinea pig back.”

“Am I interrupting your brooding?” Felicity said walking over to them. She’d just finished catching up with Lyla.

“It’s not brooding.”

“Whatever.” She rolled her eyes. She held out her hand which Oliver took. “I can’t believe Diaz has something to do with Hydra. it’s not unbelievable, but its surprising to me, if that makes sense.”

“He doesn’t.” Bucky told her.

“But Nadia-“

“She’s a spy and an assassin. She’s a very good liar.” Natasha pointed out. “One who’s decided to help you with your problem. So, she’s going to insist there’s a connection as long as Diaz is at large and then deal with Katerina.”

“Why would she do that?”

“I don’t know. You’d need to ask her.”

Chapter Text

Felicity, Oliver, Bucky, Natasha and William all left ARGUS and headed to their safehouse. The teen was grumbling in the backseat about how annoying it was that he kept having to pack up and move. Oliver and Felicity were both hit with a massive wave of guilt. William’s life had been so unstable in the last few years and it was all their fault. They hoped that this move would be the last time they had to move at all.

“I know it sucks, bud, but this’ll be over soon enough.” Oliver ended up saying to placate his son.

“Sure, until the next psycho shows up in Star City.” He scoffed.

Oliver didn’t have a good response for that, but Natasha did. “Look, I know things have been tough for you, but-“

“But there are starving kids in third-world countries who have it way worse than me.” He said in an annoyed tone.

“That wasn’t what I was gonna say. The last two years have been tough, I don’t even know your dad or your story that well, but I know that much. But, as tough as things have been, you haven’t been alone. You had your dad, you had Felicity. That’s more than some of us got.”

Will started muttering something underneath his breath but didn’t say anything. The adults rolled their eyes at his teen angst. They pulled up outside of their new safehouse to find two black SUVs parked outside along with an older model Harley.

“Oh great.” Bucky said when he saw the bike.

“You don’t wanna see him?” Natasha asked.

“I don’t think I’m in the right headspace.” He admitted as he got out of the car.

The Queen-Smoak family exchanged looks, wondering what Bucky’s worry was about. They got out of the car, walked around the SUVs and immediately knew why Bucky was so hesitant. Standing there in front of the house was Steve Rogers, Captain America himself, who seemed nervous but excited to see his friend.

“Buck?”

“Hey Steve.” Barnes answered, trying to sound excited. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to see Steve, but it had been a taxing few weeks. A lot of bad memories had resurfaced and the situation with Nadia wasn’t helping. Natasha seemed to sense this, and stepped in.

“Hey Cap, what brings you by?”

“Well, I wanted to see Bucky, and Sharon told me he was out of Slabside but still in custody because he was assisting the government on a case. She couldn’t tell me where he was without approval, but I guess her boss finally gave the ‘OK’ because I got a call last night saying he’d be in Star City.” He explained. “How’re you doing?”

“It’s been a difficult few weeks.”

“Why don’t we go inside?” Felicity suggested.

“Oh, sorry. I’m being rude. Steve Rogers.” He said, introducing himself.

Felicity introduced herself, Oliver and William before explaining that they were working on the same case Bucky was. They moved inside and got settled in the living room. Oliver’s family made an excuse to give the others some privacy. Steve, Natasha and Bucky sat in the living room, making awkward small talk until the front door slammed shut.

“Man, that was annoying!” Nadia exclaimed. Everyone rushed into the foyer.

“Where did-?” Bucky started to ask.

“Is that blood?” William cut in.

Nadia looked down at her shirt and saw that there was a sizeable blood stain on her shirt. “Oh, yeah. Don’t worry, it’s not mine.”

“What are you doing here?” Steve asked. The last time he’d seen the woman in front of him, she’d attacked him. He was worried for the others.

“I take it neither of you had time to tell him about me.” She said, looking in between Natasha and Bucky. “My name’s Nadia Sidrova. I’m Sergeant Barnes’ daughter. Oh, and Natalia’s the closest thing I really have to a mother.”

“How-?”

“Hydra couldn’t make another Winter Soldier, so they decided to breed one. I won’t trouble you with all of the hairy details.”

“You attacked me and threw me off of a roof.”

“Ok, well one, you survived, so I don’t see why you’re upset. Two, I was in a very bad place. I’d spent most of my life in a prison, being tortured and experimented on unless they let me leave to kill innocent people. Now, thanks to the DC incident, I was able to escape their grasp, but I had a lot of issues and unresolved anger, especially when it came to my father. I wanted to kill him, some of that anger transferred to you.”

“Why?”

“My entire life was hell, and as irrational as it sounds part of me blamed you. Because I wouldn’t exist if he wasn’t the Winter Soldier. Which wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t rescued him from that base in Austria.” She said. “I know it was irrational reasoning, and after a year or two of getting justice for myself, I realized that. Which is why I haven’t killed Barnes or Natalia and I don’t plan to.”

“If he’s your father, why do you call him Barnes?” William asked.

“It’s complicated, but I don’t wanna call him ‘Dad’. I feel like addressing him as the Winter Soldier would be rude and I refuse to call him Bucky.” She said before looking at Steve. “Are we good now?”

The captain nodded. Everyone went back to what they were doing.

“Where did you go?” Oliver asked Nadia.

“Well, let’s see. I chased down a lead on Katerina. It turned out to be a bust. I met the new Green Arrow, and we’ve come kinda to an agreement. Then, I went looking for a lead on Diaz and ran into some guys who don’t understand what the word ‘no’ means. Your friend Dinah wanted to know why both men had to be taken to intensive care. Oh, and I stopped at a diner and had some pancakes.”

“You met the new Green Arrow?” Felicity asked.

“Yup.”

“And what agreement did you two reach?”

“They told me what their motivation was. I told them I’d stay out of it and gave them my number in case they needed help.” She answered. “And yes, I know who’s under that hood.”

 

Rene walked in to Emiko’s hideout to see her staring at a piece of paper in her hand. He stood there for a good two or three minutes before she seemed to notice him. It had been roughly a week since he found her bleeding behind his apartment and learned her identity.

“Everything okay? Cuz you’re looking at the paper like its got all the answers to life written on it.”

“Someone came in here. She saw me. Without my mask on.” Emiko explained.

“So, some chick knows you’re the Green Arrow? What’re you gonna do about that?”

“Nothing. She didn’t seem to care that much about my secret, just wanted to know why. When I told her, she left. She even offered to help me. Oh, and she’s a friend of Oliver Queen’s.” She wasn't sure if she should reach out to the woman. On one hand, she didn't seem hellbent on turning Emiko in or anything. On the other, she didn't know who Nadia actually was.

Rene asked what her name was, Emiko answered and he said that he’d never heard Oliver mention a Nadia.

“You and Oliver have only known each other for two years.” She pointed out.

 

Diaz sat in his hideout fuming. Oliver Queen’s return to Star City had made the news shortly after he arrived. None of the news stations had been told why Queen was in the city or how he’d gotten out of prison. Someone from the government released a statement saying he’d cut a deal and his presence in Star City was related to him fulfilling it. He was happy for a split second when the news broke because now he at least knew where Oliver was. His happiness dimmed when it hit him that Queen had beaten him and once the deal was complete, he’d be a free man again. He would win, which meant Diaz was still a loser.

“Any word on this super-merc of yours?” He asked one of his men.

“Not much. Her contact reached out, said we got her attention, but she’s on another assignment.” The man answered. “Which I’m pretty sure is code for ‘gimme more details about what you want’ because our offer was kinda vague.”

“Vague? Vague how?”

“You didn’t want me to give specifics, so I said you wanted someone hurt really bad. Someone getting hurt really bad is a given in her profession. Not a lot to go on.”

“I want him to watch me take everything he loves away from him. Same thing for all his friends. Then, I want him dead. Is that less vague?”

“Definitely.” His minion said as he pulled out his phone.

Chapter Text

Nadia excused herself from the others to change and wash off the blood on her hands. While she was freshening up, the CIA agent posing as her middleman called her.

“You’re not gonna believe this.”

“There isn’t a lot that surprises me, but what is it?”

“That new client. The one who’s very eager to hire you to hurt someone really bad.”

“What about him?”

“The person he wants hurt is Oliver Queen. I’m gonna read you exactly what his associate told me over the phone. ‘I wanna make him watch me take everything he loves away from him. same thing for all his friends. Then, I want him dead’.”

“That sounds like it could be the stupid lizard, but there isn’t any proof its him and nothing you just said clarified Oliver was the target.”

“No, it doesn’t. But when I expressed surprise at the level of anger I was hearing, his idiot friend slipped up and said ‘the dick made him look bad, so he really hates Queen’.”

“You should’ve led with that.” Nadia told him. “Have they mentioned other contracts?”

“As in, is he recruiting others to do this? I don’t know.”

“Find out for me.” She said before hanging up.

“Everything okay?” Oliver asked as she stepped out of the bedroom.

“Yeah, just someone calling to ask for more info about Katerina.” The woman hadn’t been active lately, which made the agent nervous they wouldn’t be able to catch her.

“Then why were you talking about me and Diaz?”

“Eavesdropping is rude, Oliver.”

“So is killing people. Answer the question.”

“We got onto the topic about leads on Diaz and Blake wanted to know why I was certain they wouldn’t team up.”

“And why are you certain?”

“Because he’s too volatile. He might’ve been patient last year, but his actions recently have been erratic and impulsive to say the least. Remember, she wants to prove she’s better. Teaming up with a sociopath that’s just a sore loser won’t help her that much.” She explained. “She’d pick someone who, unknowingly or not, wants me to suffer as much as she does.”

 

Diaz sat back behind his makeshift desk in his hideout. Queen was out, his empire was turning to ashes and now he had an angry Longbow Hunter to deal with. The man stood in front of him, demanding to know where his two cohorts were.

“Your friend with the darts decided to take a walk off the 21st floor of a building. And how would I know where the other one is?” He rebutted.

“You called her here for a reason. Now, she’s missing. Where’d you send her?”

“I own a building near the edge of the Glades. I sent her there to get rid of some squatters. She never came back and the place got burned down. When she failed that badly, I wasn’t too heartbroken about it.” Diaz said. “I’ll tell you where the building is, you can go check it out yourself.” He had other problems right now than a missing, and subpar, assassin.

He would regret tell the Hunter where she went when, less than an hour later, the last Longbow Hunter returned with Silencer’s body.

“You’re telling me you didn’t know about this.”

“All I knew was that the building burned down. I thought maybe she died, maybe she just took off. it wasn’t my top priority.”

“Does she look like she died in fire to you?”

“She’s dead. I can’t bring her back. What do you want from me?”

“Nothing, we’re done.” The man said as he began to walk away.

“After the money I paid-“ The Longbow Hunters were his big gun against Queen. He’d paid them to destroy Oliver, and they hadn’t kept up their end of the deal.

“Her death makes us even. Next time I see you, you die.” He threw over his shoulder. Two of Diaz’s men tried to stop him from leaving, but he easily defeated and killed both of them. Someone killed his partners, and he needed to get to the bottom of that.

“Get rid of them. Find me someone to make Queen suffer already.” He told his remaining guys.

They’d been going through some unsavory channels for hitmen and other mercenaries, but unfortunately, Diaz wanted something not many would agree to. Very few people were willing to attack or kill kids. Diaz was insistent about killing everyone Oliver cared about, including his son.

“Who knew hitmen had a conscience?”

“Children are usually their line in the sand. They’ll take any job that doesn’t require that.”

“They’re contract killers, how is a kid their hard limit?”

“Probably some bullshit about how kids are innocent or something. Or maybe they think they aren’t complete monsters if they stick just to adults, no matter how much they make their marks suffer.”

One of his men came into the room. “I’ve got good news and bad news. I heard back from Ksenia’s contact. She’s interested.”

“What’s the bad news?”

“She wants to know who else we’ve talked to before we go any further. Says this ain’t an auction.”

“And who have we talked to?”

“Talia was gonna suggest some people, but she’s gone dark. Found a few on the dark web, but we only got aliases. That’s it.”

“So tell her. I wanna end this already.”

The man left to call her contact back.

 

Bear, the last Longbow Hunter, went back to the burnt down building. Silencer had been stabbed three times in the chest. There was no way her death was accidental. He knew he needed to go back to the scene of the crime in order to find out what had happened. He had to applaud whoever killed her, she wasn’t an easy target and shouldn’t have been easy to kill. The lack of clear defensive wounds threw him for a loop. Not only had someone killed her, but they’d done it quite easily. Who was this person and where were they trained?
He started searching the building, even though he knew any evidence would’ve been destroyed by the fire. There wasn’t much to find, but he rounded a corner towards a back office of the building and found something on the ground. Bending down, he saw that it resembled Silencer’s sonic dampening belt. Brushing off the ash, he saw that that’s exactly what it was, except the device had been broken.

“So, that’s how they did it, by destroying her main weapon.” He said.

“How pathetically predictable.” A female voice said from behind him. He spun around and saw a woman with dirty blonde hair standing there. He moved to attack. “Relax, I didn’t kill your friend, I’m not here to kill you.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Because I think you and I could help each other.” She smirked. “My name’s Katerina.”

Chapter Text

The next morning, Nadia was in the safehouse’s kitchen making a cup of coffee. Oliver and his family were seated at the table, eating some pancakes he’d made for them. She was about to take her first sip when her phone rang.

“This had better be good.” She said, answering.

“That depends. Would you consider confirming Diaz is the only trying hire you good?” Agent Blake asked.

“It’s confirmed?”

“And they’re waiting for a response.”

“Set up a meeting then. Three days from now, I’m thinking. Oh, and let’s keep this quiet. Like, my connection to the Agency quiet.”

“You’re the expert.” He said as he hung up.

“And I thought today was gonna be boring.” Nadia said as she sipped her coffee.

“What changed your mind?” Felicity asked.

“I’ll tell you later.” She answered. “Your phones are ringing, so I’m guessing someone needs your help.”

Oliver and Felicity’s phone were both ringing. One call was from Dinah while the other was from John. Both calls coming at the same time meant they had a case to work on and were needed at the SCPD. John mentioned Bucky should come as well, so Nadia yelled upstairs to wake him up. She also decided to tag along when they went into the station.

 

Dinah was just starting her briefing about a sting operation the SCPD was planning to run that night. They’d received an anonymous tip about an arms deal going down later, and an officer was posing as a potential buyer, but they hadn’t learned the location until now. Dinah wanted Felicity to help with surveillance and comms while Oliver, Bucky and a few ARGUS agents stayed on standby in case things got serious.

“The dealer, what’s his or her name?” Nadia asked from the back of the room.

“His name’s Hajnal Taksony. Known in some circles as The Butcher of Budapest.”

She snorted at the nickname. “And is the goal to apprehend him, stop the sale or both?”

“Both obviously.”

“Ok, if you had to pick one though, would it be stop the sale or arrest him?” Nadia said, rolling her eyes.

“Who is she again?” One of the police officers asked.

“Someone who’s got more experience at this than you do. Answer the question, Captain Drake.”

“Stop the sale. He always conducts business in person, so even if we can’t catch him tonight, we’ll know what he looks like.”

“Fair enough.” Nadia said, tuning out of the conversation.

The briefing ended, the officers went on their way and Oliver, Felicity and Bucky went into Dinah office. Nadia followed after. They all stood there in silence for a moment until Bucky spoke up.

“Are you gonna tell them or am I?”

“Tell us what?” John asked.

“The Butcher of Budapest, we’ve met.” He clarified, “And Nadia knows him very well.”

Everyone in the room except Bucky gave her judgemental looks.

“What’s with the judgement? He’s a well-connected arms dealer. Are you really surprised I’ve met him before?” She defended. “And I needed information from him, and if my training taught me anything, its that people are easy to manipulate, especially when they think they have shot. Not the first man to fall for it, won’t be the last.”

“You slept with him.”

“I did what I had to do to complete my mission.” She corrected. “Look, the point is this. You can have your undercover fake-buyer take the night off. I’ll do it.”

“I find it very suspicious that you happen to know the black market arms dealer we’re trying to catch.”

“I’ve lived a very weird life. I know a lot of people you wouldn’t expect me to know.” She said.

“We’ll pass on that offer.”

“Fine. Actually, you know what? Give me two minutes.” She pulled out her phone and started dialing. “Hey honey.”

“Tatia Majewska. I don’t believe it.” A male voice said from the other end. “You sound good.”

“I look even better. I hear you’re in Star City. As it happens, so am I. I was hoping we could do conduct some business.”

“We need to discuss what happened last time we saw one another before I can do business with you.”

“Don’t tell me you’re still upset about that.” She pouted. “I didn’t have much of a choice.”

“You shot me in the chest.”

“And we both know if I wanted you dead, it would’ve been the head. Fine. Just a drink then, for old time’s sake?”

“Well, I can’t say no to that.”

“You never could. I’ll text you the address of the hotel I’m staying at. Meet me there in an hour.” She hung up. “There, now you have your arms dealer and we can deal with what’s really important.”

“What’s more important than keeping dangerous weapons off of the streets?”

“What I’m about to say doesn’t leave this room. SCPD doesn’t hear it, ARGUS doesn’t hear it and the FBI definitely doesn’t.” Nadia said. She waited for everyone to nod before continuing. “How about the chance to take down Ricardo Diaz?”

“What-? How-?”

“As I told Oliver, and as I’ve said for years, men are predictable and thus, they’re idiots.”

“We all know that, but explain please.”

“He wants to kill everyone Oliver ever cared about and then kill him. Since that didn’t work, he’s hired someone else to do it. That someone’s me.”

“Diaz hired you to kill me?”

“Well, he’s in the process of doing that. He’s contacted me. There’s gonna be a meet. If he shows up himself, we’ll arrest him. If not, I’ll argue my way into a face-to-face meeting.” She said. "I'm good at that."

 

Dante picked up his phone and growled into the receiver. “You better have a good reason to call me after the mess you’ve made.”

“I almost got Queen taken care of.” Diaz told him. “Meeting with a hitman in a few days.”

“That doesn’t work for me. Meet the guy, yes, but don’t take out the hit just yet. I need him alive for now.” Dante ordered before hanging up. “You might wanna make a move on Oliver Queen soon. He’s living on borrowed time, and it would be a shame if he never got to meet his sister.”

Emiko didn’t look happy, but didn’t argue.

Chapter Text

Nadia revealed that she and the CIA were very close to catching Diaz. Dinah opened her mouth to ask a question, but before she could, there was a knock at the door. A uniformed officer opened the door. “We’ve got a situation.”

“What kind of situation?”

“Hostage situation.”

“I gotta go.” The captain said.

“We’ll come with you.” Nadia gestured to John, Felicity, Bucky and Oliver. “We might know a thing or two you might find useful.”

“They don’t have any law enforcement training. And you aren’t SCPD.”

“Since when does that matter?”

 

The group went with Dinah to the location of the hostage situation. The archer had expected to be happening as part of a bank robbery or something else. Instead, the hostage-takers had several people captive in a warehouse and that was the only thing the SCPD knew by the time they arrived. They didn’t even know how many hostages there were.

“How do you know they even have hostages?” Bucky asked.

“Their leader claims they do.”

“And? People do crazy or stupid things all the time. Creating a fake hostage situation isn’t new. Hell, I’ve done it.” When Hydra was trying to eliminate a police captain they couldn’t blackmail or bribe into looking the other way, they had the Asset take about twelve ‘civilians’ hostage in order to cause the SWAT team to respond and when they sent someone to negotiate, the captain, he was ordered to kill the man. The people the Asset had taken hostage were, of course, Hydra agents. “You don’t even have a headcount.”

“Do you have any visuals from inside the building?” Oliver asked. He’d dealt with multiple hostage situations as the Green Arrow, so he knew how these things typically went.

“Not yet, we gotta wait for SWAT to arrive and a negotiator.” Dinah answered. She was upset they didn’t know anything else, but at the same time, they needed officers who had the right training dealing with things.

Nadia took off her jacket and put it on the roof of Dinah’s cruiser as she pulled her hair back. “I’m gonna go take a look.” To most of the officers’ confusion, she walked away from the building after she said that.

“What is-?”

“She’s not gonna walk up to the front door. It might spook the men.” Bucky said as he pointed over Felicity’s shoulder. “And no one ever looks up.”

Nadia had scaled one of the nearby buildings and then jumped from there to the warehouse’s roof.

“What is she doing?” An officer asked.

Before anyone could answer, Felicity’s phone rang. “Hello?”

“Put me on speaker. They actually do have hostages, eight or nine by the looks of it. I can’t see what kinda firepower they’re working with or what defenses they might’ve set up from here. And I can’t get closer without tipping them off that they’re being watched.” Nadia said.

“Get down from there and come back here.”

“Wait a sec. I wanna see if I can get a better angle from the other side of the building.” She moved to the west side of the building and saw that the hostage-takers were building something. “How far out is the SWAT team?”

“Twenty minutes.”

 Yeah, you don’t have that kinda time. They’re making something, a bomb I’d guess. I’m seeing a lot of C4 and Semtex down there.”

Bucky pulled out his phone and called someone. he was speaking Russian, so only Oliver and Nadia knew what he was saying. Neither felt the need to translate for the others. Felicity walked over to where an SCPD tech was setting up some equipment and told the woman to move.

“You can’t-“ the tech argued.

“I can jam the signal so that the explosives can’t detonate remotely, but I need you to get out of my way so I can do that.”

“You aren’t a law enfo-“

“Kelly, let her work.” Dinah ordered. Felicity pulled the laptop closer to her and began typing.

“Ok. Good news and bad news, remote detonation is off the table but manual is another story.”

“We can take care of that.” Oliver said. “How many assailants?”

“I can see three. All men. Caucasian, late thirties, average height. Two brunettes and one dirty blonde.” She answered. “At most, there are two more, but I can’t see them.”

Felicity opened up a new program and started running thermal imaging on the building. “Thermal shows 13 inside and one outside.”

The SWAT team arrived and Dinah brought them up to speed. The hostage negotiator arrived soon after and made a call to inside the building.

“What do you want?”

“It doesn’t matter what I want. What are you looking for?” the negotiator said.

“Why does it matter?”

“It matters because you have several people hostage in there and I wanna find a way to come to an agreement with you so that no one has to get hurt.”

“No one has to get hurt? That’s really what you’re going with?” the man inside asked sarcastically. “Are you new at this or something?”

“I’m just trying to open a dialogue.”

“See, that’s the problem. You wanna open a dialogue, try and reason with us, it won’t work. I wanna speak to someone who can actually give me what I want. Put them on, or I’ll kill one of the hostages.”

“I assure I’m-“

“He’s standing behind a crying woman with a gun against her temple. Now isn’t the time for platitudes.” Nadia reported.

Dinah couldn’t risk something happening, so she took the phone from the negotiator’s hand. “Hello, this is Captain Drake of the SCPD. You wanted to speak to the person in charge.”

“Finally. I’ve seen you on TV. I only wanna talk to you from now on. We’ll call you back with our demands. Until then, don’t do anything stupid.” The man hung up.

“’What was that?” the negotiator asked.

“He was holding a gun to someone’s head. I couldn’t risk your assurance pissing him off and causing him to shoot her.”

The SWAT team had found a blueprint of the building was starting to debate the best way to breach the building. They knew the explosives couldn’t be triggered remotely, but that still left motion sensors and manual detonation on the table, along with them just shooting the hostages. While they were debating points of access, a blue Mustang drove up to where all of the SCPD cruisers were parked.

“Ma’am, you can’t-“

“Trust me, kid, you don’t wanna get in her way.” Bucky said, walking up behind the officer who was doing crowd control. “She’s with us.”

Natasha smiled and ducked under the caution tape, carrying a large duffel bag. She opened it and started looking through it. “These are yours.” She handed Bucky two handguns, three extra clips and a knife. “And this, I believe, is yours.” She gave Oliver his bow and quiver. “And where’s Nadia?”

“She wanted a closer look.” Digg explained.

“So, I pulled out her old rifle for nothing then.” She said.

“Former sergeant Diggle is a pretty good shot. He can cover them. Let’s just hope he isn’t rusty.” Nadia remarked.

“Um, what are you doing? This is an SCPD operation.” Dinah said, cutting in. “You guys are civilians.”

“Not really. Diggle’s an ARGUS agent. Queen was black ops and so was Barnes ” Natasha said. “Oh, and Nadia’s the most dangerous person alive.”

“Aw, you really know how to compliment a girl.” She snarked. “Look, is this ideal? No. But we don’t have a lot of time to debate. Your suspects are wiring the doors to blow the second they’re opened as we speak. It’s send in Oliver and Barnes or be in a stand-off for the next eight hours. Barnes comes in the front door. Oliver takes the back and I’ll strike from above. SWAT will back us up. It’s now or never.”

“The hostages-“

“The suspects are spreading out. Two with the hostages, three near the doors. Two in the front, one in the back.” Felicity reported.

All eyes turned to Dinah. “Everyone get into position. Breach at my signal.” Oliver took half of the SWAT team with him around the back of the building while the rest stayed with Bucky. Nadia stood up and prepared to break through the window. “Three. Two. One.”

Banging was heard, followed by gunshots and yelling. “Two suspects down.” Oliver reported.

“Make that three.” Bucky said.

Hostages started to run out of the building, screaming. There was a problem though. The group had nine hostages, but only eight of them ran out of the building. The last hostage, a woman who was around 20, wasn’t able to move because her foot was on top of a bomb.

“Please. Someone get me out of here. I don’t wanna die.” The woman cried.

“It’s gonna be okay.” Oliver said, trying to reassure her.

“You think you’re heroes, don’t you?” The last remaining hostage-taker said, waving the remote around. “But you don’t save everyone, do you?”

“Put the remote down, or we’ll shoot.” One of the SWAT officers said. “I’m gonna count to three.”

“No need.” The man turned the gun on himself and shot himself in the head.

Nadia turned to the frightened woman. “What’s your name?”

“Ashley.”

“Okay, Ashley, I need to you to take a deep breath for me. Can you do that?” The woman nodded and did so. “Ok. Barnes, if you could come over here.” Nadia moved closer to the bomb. “Sorry about this.” She said as she pushed Ashley off of the explosive. She put her foot on top of the trigger before it could go off. Bucky caught Ashley as she fell. “Clear out, all of you.”

“What about you?”

“I can wait for the bomb squad. Or defuse it myself.” She justified.

Everyone left and the bomb squad arrived on the scene quickly. Defusing the bomb was easy after that.

 

“What exactly was your plan?”

“To get your brother’s attention when you saved the hostages.” Dante explained. “I didn’t count on him or the SCPD being so quick to respond.”

Chapter Text

With all of the hostages safe, and most of the hostage-takers in custody, the police’s focus soon turned from resolving the situation to discovering why the situation had arisen in the first place. As was the norm, the three suspects they arrested were taken to different interrogation rooms and made to wait for someone to come question them.

“I don’t even know where to start with this one.” Dinah admitted.

“Start with the one in Room #2.” Nadia advised. “He seems the most freaked out by the situation he’s in. Freaking out turns into getting nervous which turns into telling you anything you wanna know.”

“It’s not bad advice.” Oliver said.

“What happens if they don’t talk?” Felicity wondered.

“Well, they took nine people hostage, which is a crime. They nearly killed them, almost a crime. And there are about seven other things we could charge them with.” Dinah said.

“Or, and just hear me out, if your interrogation doesn’t work, we can try my way.” Nadia said.

“You can’t torture them into confessing.”

“One, its not torture, it’s the ‘use of intense interrogation tactics’. Two, that wasn’t what I was suggesting. You’re a good cop, but you’re a crappy manipulator. I manipulate people for a living. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. If they gave out degrees in manipulation, I’d have a PhD.” She said. “I’m just saying, if your questioning doesn’t work, I can get them to admit their motives.”

“They took people hostage. I think their motive was money.”

“Then why didn’t they choose a bank? Or holding some rich asshole for ransom? They kidnapped nine people, drove them to an abandoned building and then created the hostage situation. And then there’s what the dead one said, about how you guys aren’t really heroes. That’s indicative that they were trying to draw someone out.”

“And I’m sure if we hadn’t rushed the building, he would’ve told us in his list of demands.”

“Or, he could’ve told you when he called the cops on himself.” Natasha said.

“What?”

“While you were getting those three contained and worrying about the bomb squad, I convinced the dispatcher to let me listen to the 911 call that came in about the hostages. The man you shot, he was the one that called you. And he called before there was even a trap set for the SWAT team. Most hostage-takers, in my extensive experience, don’t call the police on themselves. At most, they force a hostage to do it. And they definitely don’t do that until there’s no way for the police to get the jump on them. Kinda makes it sound like the whole situation was a set-up for something else.”

John went into the first interrogation room, and Dinah went into the second. Nadia waited for them both to start their questioning before going into the third room. The man handcuffed to the table just stared at her as she took a seat.

“So, about your little performance. You wanna explain why you did that?”

“Nope. You wouldn’t understand.”

“I wouldn’t understand, huh? Well, the way I see it, you could only have a few reasons. Money, maybe? Revenge? Nah, I think you did it to send a message. Not sure what that message is or how a dentist, four college students, a car salesman, a single mom, a waitress and a retired teacher were gonna help you send it, but then again, you said I wouldn’t understand.” She said. “Whatever that message was, must’ve been pretty important if you’re willing to go to prison for the next 185 plus years to send it.”

“I’m not going away for 185 years.”

“Well, you tried to kill nine innocent people, so that’s nine attempted murder charges, with a max sentence of 15 years each. Your buddy was shot during the crime and because Washington allows the felony murder charge, that adds another 25. Oh, and you attempted to kill a federal agent, which is the same as trying to kill any other person, but judges look on that very harshly and give out longer sentences. Not to mention all of the terrorism charges you’re facing.” She laid out. “Like I said, message must be important.”

“Well, we didn’t know they’d mobilize so fast.”

“You didn’t think the police force of a major city would act quickly?”

“Not that quickly. He told us not to worry about the cops.”

“He, as in your deceased friend?”

The man seemed to realize he’d said too much and his facial expression turned hard. “I’m not saying anything else.”

“You don’t need to. Enjoy prison.” She stood up and left.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Dinah asked when she stepped into the hallway.

“Questioning a suspect.”

“You aren’t an officer of the SCPD.”

“No, but I’m a CIA agent and I do know how to interrogate someone. These guys, they didn’t do it for themselves. Someone else is behind it.”

“What makes you say that?” Oliver asked.

“Because, like I told you, this wasn’t about money, it was about getting attention. And it wasn’t about getting our attention.”

 

Emiko watched a news report about the hostage situation and got angrier and angrier as the report went on. The SCPD was being praised for its quick response, along with Oliver and the two unidentified others who helped him take the building with the SWAT team. Things weren’t going according to plan and now, with the original Green Arrow back, getting recognized as anything other than a copycat would be harder.

“’And what’s your brilliant idea for fixing this one?” She asked Dante.

“Simple. He’s out of the shadows, probably working with the police. You find out where he’s gonna be and show up. He gets curious and voila. He’ll come to you.” She scoffed and grabbed her jacket. “Where are you going?”

“I need a drink.” She was feeling around for her phone and found a piece of paper in her pocket. It had Nadia’s number on it. Nadia knew Oliver. Maybe meeting him wouldn’t be as hard as she thought.

 

Diaz saw the news report about Oliver Queen saving a bunch of hostages and wanted to vomit. All of the work he’d put in last year to make the city hate Queen and one good press piece ruined it. Soon, they’d be back to kissing his ass again.

“Call that contact of yours. I wanna meet her tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

After Nadia had gotten her answers from one of the hostage-takers, she left the police station. It was starting to irritate her, the attitude some people on the SCPD seemed to have towards her. Yes, she was a CIA agent. Yes, she’d killed and hurt people both before and after breaking free from Hydra. That didn’t mean that murder or torture was always her go-to. It didn’t mean that her experience wasn’t valuable. The police force was basically a skeleton crew at this point and they needed all the help they could get.

She was heading towards the safehouse where everyone was staying when one of her disposable phones rang. “Hello?”

“Hey, its me.” Emiko said. “I was wondering if we could meet up and talk about a few things.”

“That depends. What kind of ‘things’ would we be discussing?” Did Nadia want to observe Emiko a little more and try to figure out what her angle was for using Oliver’s alter ego? Yes. Was she going to rush into a situation blind? Absolutely not.

“Look, I wanna drink, but I don’t wanna drink alone. You in or what?” She asked.

“You should’ve started with that. I hate it when people beat around the bush.”

They met at a bar at the edge of the Glades. Emiko seemed to be in a bad mood, which she blamed on her search for her mom’s killer hitting a dead end. It took Emiko less than five minutes to bring up Oliver and start fishing for information. It didn’t surprised Nadia all that much; Emiko had clearly wanted to ask when they first met, but held back to avoid being too obvious. Bringing him up now wouldn’t seem quite as suspicious. Unfortunately for her, Nadia knew exactly what she was doing and was too smart to fall for that. She gave some answers, but they weren’t all that useful. Nadia and Oliver met in Russia. He got in her way and she decided not to kill him.

Emiko got a phone call and left the bar frustrated. Finding a way into Oliver’s life was proving to be more difficult than she thought. She had to do it though. Dante needed her close to Oliver and she owed Dante everything. Nadia watched her leave and decided two things. One, she wanted something from him, which explained why she was trying so hard to get his attention. And two, getting close to Oliver wasn’t entirely Emiko’s idea.

When Emiko left, the bartender came over to clear the glasses. Nadia ‘accidentally’ knocked Emiko’s drink over, causing the glass to break. She helped clean up the shards, and the bartender didn’t notice the large chunk of glass she slipped into her pocket.

She walked out of the bar and her phone rang. “What?”

“Diaz wants to meet. Tomorrow.” Blake told her.

“Ok, have the people we talked about meet me at the safehouse. I’ll get Queen, Barnes and the others.” She said. “Oh, and I need one of those ‘no questions asked’ favors from Fitzsimmons.”

 

While Nadia was trying to figure Emiko out, Felicity, Oliver and John stayed at the police station. There were forms they needed to fill out and reports they needed to submit about the hostage situation. They used the time to, somewhat awkwardly, catch up with Dinah.

“So, how’d you end up working for the CIA?”

“I didn’t. There was this joint task force that recruited me in exchange for my release from prison. There were two cases they were trying to solve. One’s been closed, the other one hasn’t, which is why we’re here.” Oliver answered.

“And him?” She gestured to Bucky, who was in the corner, reading a newspaper.

“His cell was next to mine. They made him the same deal. Somewhere along the way, Romanov and Nadia got roped into this.”

“Hey, Dinah, I was- holy shit.” Rene said, walking into Dinah’s office. “You really are back.”

“Nice to see you too Rene.” Oliver said. “How have you been? How’s Zoe?”

“Good, she’s good. How have- so how much of what the news said is true?”

“What is it saying?”

“You cut another deal with the feds. You help them with a case and they let you go.”

“Well, that’s the gist of it.” Felicity said. “The case is- I really miss the simplicity of Deathstroke.”

“Same here.” Digg agreed.

“You really shouldn’t. He’s basically me, but less efficient. And with a lower body count.” Bucky remarked from the corner. “I’m actually offended that he gets compared to me.” Was Bucky proud of his actions as the Winter Soldier? No. He’d still be feeling guilty about what he’d done, what he’d been forced to do, when he was cold and dead. However, he felt a certain sense of pride about the skills he developed during that time. He was the world’s most deadly and feared assassin. So, when the truth about Mirakuru came out, he didn’t like his name getting thrown in alongside Slade Wilson’s. If he had to fight Wilson, Wilson wouldn’t last fifteen seconds.

“Who the hell is he?” Rene asked, pointing to Bucky.

“I’m a cyborg from the future.” Bucky deadpanned while waving his metal hand. “Oh, and I used to kill people. I was good at it too.”

Silence fell over the room after he said that, and it was interrupted when his phone rang. “Yeah…uh-huh…yeah. Ok.” He hung up. “We need to go.”

“What are you talking about? Why?”

“We’re here for a very specific reason, and May just found new evidence.” He said. “We gotta go.” He started ushering Felicity and Oliver out of the room.

“What about Natasha?”

“Trust me, she’ll catch up.” He said as he pushed them out of the building.

“Who really was it on the phone?” Felicity asked.

“Nadia. She got a call from Diaz. He wants to meet her tomorrow night.” Bucky admitted. “Which means we need to plan tonight. And since she clearly doesn’t want the SCPD or ARGUS involved, I needed to lie.”

Chapter Text

By the time Oliver, Felicity and Bucky made it back to the safehouse, Nadia was already there. So was Agent May, Morse, a few other agents they recognized from the task force and some people who were clearly technicans of some kind.

“Good, you’re here. Let’s get started.” Nadia said.

“Wait. Agent Silva, I have- we ran that test you asked for.” A petite brunette woman with a British accent said, holding out a piece of paper.

“Already?” Nadia asked in surprised. She knew Fitzsimmons were good, but she didn’t expect Simmons to have already run tests on the glass shard she’d brought them. She took the piece of paper from Simmons and read it quickly. “Don’t mention this or the results to anyone, got it?”

“Why wouldn’t you-?”

“It doesn’t matter right now. Diaz is more important. This can wait.”

“What’s going on?” Oliver asked.

“I’ll tell you after we’ve arrested Diaz.” She turned to the assembled group. “Ok, this is a sting operation. All of you have experience with that in one way or another. Our goal is to arrest one man, Ricardo Diaz. Anyone else we happen to get, I’ll see as a bonus.”

“What’s the plan?” Morse asked.

“Easy. I’m going to show up at the designated place and introduce myself to him as Ksenia. Most of you will be planted nearby to keep an eye on things and keep him from running. Once we have confirmation its really Diaz, the others will move in and arrest him.”

“How can you plant us there if you don’t know where you’re meeting him?” One of the agents asked.

“Diaz moved up the date of the meeting. I don’t know why, but he did. Because any hitman you’d find on the black market would be paranoid as hell, I agreed to the change as long as I could pick the location. I picked a bar a few miles outside the city.”

“You’re gonna run a sting operation in a crowded bar?” Oliver asked.

“No, it’s a dive bar. The owner’s a friend of Natalia’s.” Nadia explained. She wasn’t exactly sure why Tony Stark would buy a dive bar in the middle of nowhere and he didn't know why Natasha would ask to use it for one night, but Stark agreed to let her use it for the operation.

“Ok, that explains why the agents are here, but why did you ask us to come?” Felicity asked.

“I believe that justice is about balance. You two lost a lot to Diaz. Oliver went to prison. You went into hiding. He took something from you. The way I see it, what’s more fitting than Oliver being the one who gets to arrest Ricardo Diaz?” Nadia answered. “Here’s blueprints for the bar. Memorize them, because while I don’t think he’s gonna see a trap coming, I doubt he’s gonna show up alone.”

 

The next evening, most of the team was in their places. May was behind the bar, posing as the bartender. Two agents were working as waitstaff. Others were posed as customers, spread out through the building. Blake and Felicity were hidden in the back, pretending to be the cook and dishwasher respectively. Oliver was wearing the face mask Nadia had stolen that could make her look like anyone. He was sitting in a booth next to the pool table, completely unrecognizable. Bucky was at the far end of the bar. For once, his grimly homeless man look worked in his favor, as he seemed to blend in with the scenery like some old barfly.

 

About fifteen minutes before the meeting was set to start, three men no one recognized came into the bar and sat down at one end of it. They ordered a drink and kept to themselves. Another man came in ten minutes later and took a seat. May approached him to get his order, and to see his face, but he kept his head down and said he was waiting for a friend.


“Fine. Let me know when you’re ready.” She told him before walking over to where Bucky was. She started to pour him another drink while talking into her comm. “That who I think it is?”

“Not sure. I couldn’t see his face.” Oliver answered. “Sounded a lot like him.”

The door to the building opened, and Nadia walked in. She was wearing a brunette wig that made her hair look almost black. She wore combat boots, ripped skinny jeans and a loose-fitting long sleeve shirt. She didn’t look out of place for the dive bar, but she also gave off a vibe that said she wasn’t to be messed with. She walked up to the bar and took a seat a few chairs down from the group of men. One seat was between her and the man they thought was Diaz.

“What can I get you?” May asked.

“Whiskey.”

“You don’t strike me as a whiskey girl.” The man one seat away from her said.

“I get that a lot.” She said without looking at him. May poured the whiskey and then Morse, who was pretending to be a patron, walked over to the bar. May walked away to talk to her.

“Ksenia?” The man asked as soon as May had gone.

“What are you new at this or something?” Nadia asked. From the corner of her eye, she saw the man turn to face her. “Don’t look at me, look straight ahead.”

“I need to-“

“What’s your name?”

“It’s Diaz.” Oliver said from his spot at the bar.

“Ok, move in.” One of the agents in the kitchen said.

“No, don’t.” May said while she was wiping off the bar. “He needs to either give her the money or admit to the job first.”

Oliver stood and made his way over to the other side of Diaz on the pretense of paying his tab.

“My friends call me the Dragon.” Diaz answered.

“Felix tell you the deal?” Nadia asked. “10 up front, the rest after the job’s done.”

“Yeah, he did.” Diaz reached into his jacket and pulled out an envelope. He laid it on the chair between them. She moved her hand over to grab it. “The target is-“

As soon as Nadia’s hand touched the envelope, Oliver grabbed Diaz’s other arm and pulled it behind his back. All of the other agents drew their weapons. Morse made a show of arresting Nadia to avoid suspicion. The former assassin started yelling, demanding to know which of Diaz’s people was a rat.

“Ricardo Diaz, you’re under arrest for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, drug-trafficking, racketeering and about seven other things.” May said from her spot behind the bar.

“I told you I’d get my city back.” Oliver said as he held Diaz, waiting for someone to come cuff him.

“Queen. You think this is gonna stop me? it’s not gonna stop anything.”

Diaz, and the three men he brought with him, were taken out of the bar and driven to a secure location while the CIA tried to figure out what to do with them.

Outside of the bar, a member of the Ninth Circle saw Diaz getting escorted out and made a call to Dante. He needed to know that Diaz was now in custody and thus, no longer of use.

 

“So, Diaz is finally defeated.” Felicity said. “What happens now?”

“Well, you still have that other case to solve.” Nadia said.

“What about you?”

“I’m leaving for a few days. There’s something I need to take care of.” Nadia would need some help to handle the Emiko situation properly, and two people she needed, Thea Queen and Roy Harper, were on the other side of the world. “Stay away from the new Green Arrow if you can. I don’t trust her.”

“Wait, her?” Oliver asked as she walked away.

Chapter Text

“I’m leaving for a few days. There’s something I need to take care of.” Nadia would need some help to handle the Emiko situation properly, and two people she needed, Thea Queen and Roy Harper, were on the other side of the world. “Stay away from the new Green Arrow if you can. I don’t trust her.”

“Wait, her?” Oliver asked as she walked away. “She just said ‘she’ right? The new Green Arrow is a woman?”

“Clearly. Why is that so surprising to you?” May asked.

Oliver realized that his shock might’ve sounded a little sexist, and he didn’t mean for it to sound like that. “It’s not, I just- I don’t know, it kinda caught me off guard. I think I’m more surprised that Nadia told me something specific. She’s more of a ‘I didn’t tell you because you didn’t need to know yet’ type of person.”

“Yeah, she is.” Bucky agreed. “But she kinda sees you as a friend, and as her kinda friend, she needed to tell you ‘stay away from new Green Arrow’ to stop you from not doing that.”

“If we’re done dissecting all of the possible meanings of the two sentences Nadia said, can we go now?” Bobbi asked.

The group packed up and left.

 

Emiko was working out in her hideout. She was torn between trying to catch Oliver’s attention so they could meet or waiting for another excuse to meet with Nadia and try to wrangle information out of her. She was creating a pro vs. con list in her head when the door to the building opened. She tensed, but relaxed when she saw that it was Dante.

“Diaz’s plot to kill Oliver Queen is no longer a concern.”

“You killed him?”

“No, the idiot was spotted at a dive bar and got himself arrested.”

“He flew under the radar for months and he suddenly messed up?” Emiko asked.

“You don’t know him very well. Oliver Queen’s big gamble last May was unexpected. It made Ricardo look bad, which made him blinded by anger, which made him sloppy. Something I hope you’re smart enough to avoid.”

“You should know me well enough by now to have the answer to that.” She said. “So, he was arrested. What now?”

“I’ll let him rot for a while. As for you, you might wanna start putting that plan of yours into motion.”

“What do you think I’ve been doing? I told you from the beginning that this was gonna take a while. I can’t just walk up to him, say ‘hi, I’m the daughter your father abandoned. I need something from you’. He’s plenty of things, trusting isn’t one of them.”

“Playing dress-up doesn’t seem to be moving things along any faster.” Dante argued.

“Playing ‘dress up’ as you call it is how I managed to worm my way into the lives of two people he’s somewhat close to.”

“Two people? I know about Rene Ramirez, but who’s the other one?”

“Her name’s Nadia. And all I’ve managed to get out of her so far is her name and the fact that she met Oliver in Russia.” Emiko answered. “She wanted to know who the new Green Arrow is, so she tracked me down. Left after her curiosity was satisfied.”

“I wanna meet her.” Dante said. He was curious about a previously unknown connection to Oliver Queen and how it could further their agenda, but more than that, he doubted Nadia had discovered Emiko’s secret and then decided she didn’t care. Unless, she had an ulterior motive.

 

“Um, why does it look like an army of filing cabinets exploded in here?” Felicity asked when she, Bucky and Oliver made it back to their safehouse. Stacks of file folders covered the kitchen table. There were also half a dozen boxes on the floor.

“Oh, paperwork. That’s the one thing I don’t miss about being Mayor.” Oliver responded. “Even if we aren’t bonafide CIA agents, there’s still a mountain of forms they probably want us to fill out about Diaz’s arrest.”

Bucky started looking through the papers and chuckled. “Most of these aren’t for you and aren’t about Diaz.’

“Okay, then what are they for?”

“I’ve killed a lot of people. A lot also disappeared never to be seen or heard from again.” He answered. “The government understandably wants to know the details about those people. Especially the federal agents who disappeared or died under questionable circumstances.”

Felicity looked around and estimated how many files there were. She came up with a number somewhere between 300 and 500. “You’ve killed this many people?”

“Me, no. Some I became aware of, some I knew were potential targets. And some were killed while I was training a student.” He said, looking through the files. “Leonid Zakharov. That one doesn’t sound familiar to me.” He flipped to another page. “Died in Russia of a broken neck.”

Oliver stilled. “I think that one’s mine.” He took the file from the former assassin and looked at the picture. “In the Bratva, I killed him to get intel on Kovar.”

“Well, he was an informant for the CIA, so you killed him way nicer than anyone else would’ve. If that makes you feel any better. Which I know, it doesn’t.”

They spent the next two days working their way through the files. 


 

Tanzania

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Roy asked as he, Thea and Nyssa made their way further into the cave.

“I have not been wrong once on this mission.” Nyssa said, sounding insulted. “And I know how to read a map.”

The last several months followed the same cycle. They’d use Malcolm’s map to find a Lazarus Pit, fight off anyone protecting it, destroy the mystical waters, and then wait for Nyssa to decrypt the next location on the map. According to Nyssa, this was the last one.

“I wasn’t saying you were wrong.” He defended. “It’s just- normally these places have been guarded.”

The cave was starting to give both Roy and Thea an uneasy feeling, but they hadn’t seen a single person since they approached it. They turned a corner and found four dead bodies spread across the interior of the cave. In the center, there was a large pool of water, most likely the Pit. Standing in front of the Pit was a brunette woman who was around Nyssa’s height.

“I was wondering when you’d get here.” Nadia said as she turned around. “I took the liberty of destroying the Pit for you. Saves time.”

“Who are you?” Thea asked.

“How did you know of this place?” Nyssa asked.

“I have my ways. I need both of you to come with me.” She answered, pointing to Roy and Thea.

“Why? We don’t even know your name.”

“My name’s Nadia. I’m a friend of Oliver’s. He needs your help.” She said. “And we don’t have a lot of time.”

Chapter Text

“My name’s Nadia. I’m a friend of Oliver’s. He needs your help.” She said. “And we don’t have a lot of time.”

“Ollie’s in prison. Even if we believed you, there’s nothing we can do.” Thea said.

“No, he’s out of prison. It wouldn’t have made the news out here, but he made a deal with the government that if he helps them close two difficult cases, he gets his freedom and his record is expunged. We’re in the process of closing the last case.” Nadia said. “Google it if you don’t believe me. Call Felicity and ask, if that’s what it takes.”

As suggested, Thea pulled out her phone and started looking for something to back up what Nadia said. it took her a few moments to find an article, read it and give Nyssa and Roy both a nod of approval. “So, it’s the case Oliver needs out help with.” Roy said.

“Not exactly. It’s about the new Green Arrow. Or more accurately, what she’s trying to pull.”

“New Green Arrow’s a woman?”

“Yes, and while I don’t know exactly why she chose to take up Oliver’s mantle, but it isn’t to help Star City and she clearly has an ulterior motive.”

“if you know she’s up to something, why not stop her yourself?” Nyssa asked.

“I’m not sure she’s acting alone. So, me stopping her would be like Roy trying to stop your father by killing one single assassin who wasn’t overly important to him.” Nadia said. “Yes, I know who you are. I ran into your sister a few weeks ago.”

“Oliver may be out of prison. What you’re saying may be true, but you haven’t given us any reason to believe you are a friend of Oliver’s or that we should trust you.”

“Well, if it turns out I’m lying, I give you full permission to try and kill me.” She said. “Are we going or what?”

Thea, Roy and Nyssa were still suspicious of Nadia, they knew she was leaving some things out, but went with her anyway. Thea and Roy went because if she wasn’t lying, Oliver needed them. Nyssa tagged along because she didn’t have a mission or a purpose at the moment. Nadia also intrigued her.

“How do you know Ollie?” Thea asked after their plane was in the air.

“We met in Russia, he helped me torture someone to death.” She said blandly. Roy and Thea both looked disgusted. “If it makes you feel better, the man was a Nazi and all-around piece of shit. The world’s a better place without him.”

“Is that where you met my sister?” Nyssa asked. She learned from Oliver after Chase's demise that he and Talia had met while the former was in Russia.

“No, I met her when I broke her out of prison. A prison she was being illegally held in.” Nadia shrugged. 


 

Star City

 Two days after Diaz’s arrest, Oliver, Felicity and Bucky went to the SCPD because Dinah said she needed to speak with them. They got there and found Dinah, the mayor, Rene, Watson and Laurel waiting. None of them seemed happy.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Dinah asked as soon as they entered her office.

“Tell you what?” Bucky asked.

“About Diaz. He was arrested, he’s in custody. You three were involved in the operation to capture him. You wanna explain why none of us were involved?” Watson asked.

“It was a top-secret mission. You didn’t have the clearance to know.” Natasha said, stepping into the room. “And they certainly didn’t.” She gestured to Dinah, Laurel, Rene and the mayor. Watson seemed to accept the answer and left. Nat turned to the others. “You’re welcome.”

“Why wasn’t I notified?” the mayor asked.

“Ok, I think there’s something that you really don’t seem to understand here.” the redhead said. “You don’t even have the most political power in this room. You’re the mayor, that’s it. The federal government and a federal agency do not answer to you. So, why are you even here?”

Pollard didn’t have a response for that and stormed out.

“Have I ever told you how sexy you are when you tell politicians to fuck off?” Bucky asked.

“Maybe once or twice.”

“I understand why Pollard didn’t know, or Watson. Why didn’t you tell us?” Rene asked.

“We couldn’t.” Felicity answered. While she was still on the fence about Nadia as a person, she didn’t think Nadia would’ve insisted on keeping the old team in the dark for no reason. “Even if we told you, none of you could’ve done anything. It wasn’t an SCPD case and you would’ve been arrested for breaking the Anti-Vigilante law.”

Dinah nodded and started asking Laurel about a case that was going to trial soon, while Rene pulled Oliver off to the side.

“Speaking of vigilantes, I’ve been…teaming up with the new Green Arrow.” He said. “I think you two should meet.”

Oliver was a little pissed. He’d gone to prison to get his team immunity and Rene turned around and decided to go out as Wild Dog again? On top of that, Nadia’s warning about staying away from the new Green Arrow echoed in his head.

“That’s not a good idea right now.” He said. “The government’s- I’m under a lot of scrutiny and if I meet him, it might blow his secret identity.”

Rene accepted that response and left, saying he needed to pick Zoe up for a doctor’s appointment.

Felicity got a call from John, saying they needed to come to ARGUS, so she, Oliver, Bucky and Natasha headed to their headquarters outside of Star City. Digg didn’t say what he needed to see them about, just that they needed to come see something. They arrived and were taken to a small office with four people already inside. Upon hearing the door close, three of the four figures turned around.

“Ollie!” Thea shouted as she ran towards him. Roy walked over to greet him and Felicity too, while Nyssa gave them both nods of acknowledgement. Nadia watched the reunion and was only moderately uncomfortable with the level of emotion.

“Was this the thing you needed to take care of?” Bucky asked her.

“No, not quite. But Thea and Roy being here will certainly help.”

The door opened and an agent walked in. He started to speak but then he saw Nadia. “You.”

She waved at Colonel Rick Flag. “Hello Ricky.”

“Don’t ‘hello’ me. You seduced me in order to get information about ARGUS out of me. I almost got arrested for treason.” He shouted.

“One, I’m a spy, or at least I was. Two, if I recall correctly, you enjoyed every second of it.” She smirked. “Thanks for bringing them, but you don’t need to be here.” Flag glared at her and left. “Ok, so we need to have a chat about the new Green Arrow.”

“You wanna talk about her now? I thought you wanted to keep us all in the dark.” Felicity said.

“Not in the dark permanently. Just until I worked out her angle. Which I have.” She responded as she took out a piece of paper and handed it to them. “Her name’s Emiko Adachi. She’s Oliver’s half-sister.”