The rhythmic hum of the hub swirled around the room once again, undeterred by the previous events that had nearly torn the room and the people within it apart only three days ago. The click-clack sounds of fingers pressing against keys, the muffled voices of those commanding affairs from oceans over, and the sound of feet gliding quickly against the carpeted floor, all added to the ambiance that was ARGUS main command center.
Oliver ignored all of it as he entered the room, Diggle by his side. He had finally left ARGUS secondary infirmary after being assured by all the ARGUS doctors and scientists and Felicity herself that she was okay. The counteragent that Martin Smoak had injected Felicity with began infecting the virus that had ravaged her mind and body almost immediately, rendering it inert and harmless. The newest tests conducted showed only small portions of the virus still within Felicity’s system. The doctors assured him that in a few days time that no traces of the virus would be found. While the virus was slowly disappearing, the damage that it had caused was significant.
All the doctors and scientists agreed that recovery would be a slow process. Felicity’s motor functions were still shaky. She could only manage twenty to thirty minute stretches on her feet before the exhaustion would be too much for her body to handle. Her memories, while the last to fully recover, were coming back in droves. It was a delight for him to hear about all the memories that Felicity had yet to reveal to him. Some making him laugh, some making him blush, others made his fists clench in anger and frustration but he couldn’t ask for anything better. He could hear her voice, her happy, breathing, loving voice, fill his ears once again, and that was all that mattered.
He was sure to tell and remind her of how much she meant to him and the gift that was having her in his life. He knew that her recovery would continue long after they left ARGUS’s facility but he would be by her side, supporting her every step of the way, doing whatever he could, whatever he had to do to make her as happy and loved as she did him. It was that reason why he had left her in the infirmary to see what was unfolding in front of his eyes.
“What’s their status,” asked Diggle, as they stood beside Waller watching multiple screens beaming back footage from across the planet of the continued raids of HIVE safe houses, warehouses, and facilities.
“We’ve been able to dismantle 75% of HIVE’s hierarchy and organization across the planet thanks to the information that Mr. Smoak revealed to us. His mind may be unsettled but he’s been surprisingly able to provide us with a substantial amount of information on HIVE and all its activities,” Waller answered, what looked to be a smile crossing over her cold features as she continued to stare at the screens, a sense of giddiness flowing from her. What Martin revealed must have been advantageous for Waller to be in the realm of such, dare he say, happiness. “The Squad is about to infiltrate HIVE’s headquarters as we speak.”
This is what had driven Oliver away from Felicity for the time being, to see the final steps in the complete dismantling and destruction of HIVE. He needed them vanquished, completely destroyed, for what they had done to Felicity and he knew he wasn’t the only one. He could not be more grateful for John, for his guidance, for his friendship, for his brotherhood, especially when he had learnt the steps that John had taken to find them, to save them. John had stepped up when he could not, leading when he could not, and he was completely humbled by his actions. But he knew the pain that was festering inside John. HIVE had taken his brother from him. They had killed Andy in order to closer to ARGUS because of his relationship with Lyla. Oliver knew that no guilt lie with John for HIVE’s callous actions but the memories of his brother and all that was lost would linger, forever. He only hoped with HIVE’s destruction it would provide him with some sense of justice and a little bit of peace.
The simple squeeze of his open palm against John’s shoulder and a nod shared between them was a reassurance that he was there, that he would stand by him, support him, when and if he needed. They were a team. But more importantly they were a family and he would endeavour to be there for his family.
They all watched silently as the sounds of explosions and gunfire poured out of the monitors they were watching. The Suicide Squad, backed up by over a dozen of highly trained ARGUS agents had begun storming the compound located near the Amazonian forest. The sounds of grunts and screams echoed across the screens, as more gunfire erupted.
“We already captured a number of upper echelon members of HIVE. The last few we will try and round up alive if possible. But their deaths will not be a great loss to us,” said Waller, answering Oliver’s silent question on whether any they were taking any prisoners. “Though I would like to get my hands on the head of HIVE,” Waller continued, her lips curling up in a cold, calculated smirk. “Mistress, Mr. Smoak calls her.”
They all continued to watch the unfolding events on the screens in front of them. Oliver’s eyes drifting from one screen to another, watching the events unfold through the eyes of agents that were wearing the live feed cameras. The compound was mammoth in size, only slightly smaller than ARGUS’s own head quarters, but large enough that conducting a thorough search was taking some time. The Squad members and the agents had broken off into smaller groups, all assigned to collect as much information possible and dispatching with anything that was not.
The compound was scarcely occupied other than the guards that had patrolled the outer rim of the compound.
“This is weird right,” questioned McCabe, her voice drifting quietly through the comms. “This can’t be normal. Our intel said that all the remaining members of HIVE’s were here,” an underlying hint of unease coating her voice. “Where the hell are they?”
“Keep moving towards the inner sanctum of the compound, Vixen,” Waller ordered. “Our drones our monitoring movements from above and they’re picking up a number of heat signatures coming from the centre of the compound.”
A sense of unease bloomed within the hub as the different units moved closer and closer towards the inner sanctum. Something felt off. Oliver couldn’t put his finger on it but something felt wrong. Years of experience and training were telling him something was amiss about the situation that he was watching unfold on screen.
“Command,” sounded Floyd Lawton’s voice, “we’ve arrived at the target’s entry. Do we have a go ahead?”
Diggle had told Oliver what had happened with Lawton and the actions he had taken at Waller’s directive to serve as a triple agent for ARGUS and the lengths he had gone to, to maintain his cover. The other members of the Suicide Squad we’re still wary of Lawton, temporarily appointing Mari McCabe as their leader in place of Lawton.
“You have a go ahead, Deadshot,” Waller answered. “All teams move on my count.”
Oliver felt his own muscles tense at Waller’s command.
“3. 2. 1.”
Fiery implosions blazed across all the screens.
Commands of “go, go, go,” screeched across the sound system of the hub.
As the dust and debris settled, the screens became clearer, revealing an image that no one expected.
The sight, spread across the dozen screens, was horrifying.
“Oh, my god,” pierced Cliff Devoe’s disbelieving voice.
Dozens of bodies, broken, bloodied, lifeless, covered the floor of HIVE inner sanctum. Some piled on top of each other. Others had weapons still protruding from them. Some were twisted in such unnatural angles that looked like their body parts had been pulled free and pushed back together in utter disorder. Large pools of blood covered some patches of the stone floor. The sight looked like it had been taken from a horrifying portrait depicting Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell.
The incredulous gasps, including that of his own and everyone surveying the scene in front filled Oliver’s ears.
“How…how is this…possible,” questioned Susan Thorne, better known as Black Orchid, her voice trembling.
“Are they all dead,” inquired Waller, her face showing no emotion, her voice as cold as ever. “Are they all dead?” demanded Waller, when she saw no one make a move to answer her question.
Oliver eyed the screen that dispatched the video from Ben Turner’s live camera feed, as he started to slowly move toward the broken bodies. The camera’s angle shifted as Turner crouched closer to the one of the pile of bodies. The slight tremble of the camera betraying the nerves that Turner had tried to hide.
A shriek from one of the members of the Squad erupted across all the screens as a bloodied hand shot out from the pile of bodies and grasped Turner’s forearm.
The camera zoomed onto the face equally as bloody as the hand the gripped Turner’s. The face belonged to a man, dark eyes, with dark blood-matted hair, whose mouth opened and closed but released no sound.
A small crease appeared over Oliver’s brow, as he tried to decipher what the dying HIVE operative was saying.
The realization struck Oliver the same moment it struck Turner.
“Run,” said Oliver, hoping that the agents could hear his demand.
The camera zoomed in onto a blinking light, barely visible between the mess of bodies that lay in front of Turner.
“BOMB,” bellowed Turner, quickly turning from the danger.
“RUN,” Oliver heard McCabe order.
The jostling of feet pounding against stone floors ricocheted from one screen to another and another as the remaining members of the Squad and ARGUS agents rushed from the room.
They had barley passed the entrance of the inner sanctum before the sounds of explosions filled the screens. The cameras broadcasting the live feed from the Squad members and agents all went dead seconds later.
The command hub of ARGUS was once again ensconced in complete and utter silence.
His eyes delighted at the sights surrounding him.
The room was a very bright white.
It made him deliriously happy.
He had always loved the colour.
His body only ached in a few places now.
But the pain was worth it.
Felicity was safe.
Felicity was cured.
And the man that had hurt her, that evil, evil man, was gone.
And books. So, so, so many books at in piles all around him.
The bed beneath his body was one of the comfiest he had ever slept on. The pillow like a cotton candy spun cloud. The sheets soft like silk.
He felt like he was in heaven.
And he was.
Only hours ago he had gotten to visit Felicity.
His little girl.
His reason for living.
She had been sleeping but he had the chance to see her, to look over her charts to ensure the counteragent was working, as it should be. The virus had almost completely disappeared from her system. She was going to be okay.
His little girl was going to be okay.
He was delighted.
A smile, growing wider and wider, blossomed across his face.
The rumbling sound of the scraping metal and electronic locks on the doors to his room stirred him from his discovery of the comfort of his bed.
He stood and moved towards the bright chrome metal desk and chairs that sat at one corner of his room.
His smile slighted as he saw the individual walk in. He had hoped that it was Felicity visiting him. But she must still be resting. She needs the rest. His mind repeating the hymn over and over and over again.
Yes, resting. She needed the rest. She deserved the rest. Yes, resting.
“Hello, Martin,” said the woman in front of him, his new Mistress.
This Mistress was different from his former Mistress. She did not look as kind, more cold, more calculated, but more trustworthy.
His head cocked to the side as he stared at her more. This Mistress dressed differently as well. She always seemed to wear suits and heels, her hair slicked back in a tight bun as the base of her neck.
New Mistress. Different Mistress. Mistress who allowed him to see Felicity whenever he wished.
“Hello, Mistress,” he responded.
“Do you like your new home,” she asked.
“Yes, very much,” he replied, smiling as he looked out the wide window that showed him the bright green lawn and small lake outside of his room. He was delighted when he saw ducks swimming in the lake yesterday.
He wondered if Mistress would allow him to venture out to visit the ducks.
“You may visit the ducks whenever you would like, Martin,” answered Mistress, a small smile lighting up her lips.
“Thank you, Mistress.”
“Are you ready to begin your work,” asked Mistress.
“Yes, Mistress,” Martin answered. The new Mistress had a new project for him, a project that would bring no harm to Felicity. She promised. A project that would remain secret until Mistress chose to reveal it to the world.
“Then let’s begin. Come Martin. Pandora awaits your arrival,” Mistress command.
He was delighted to work on a new project. While the project was not of his own creation he was still very interested. Mistress had only revealed some of the project. He wanted to know more. Like they said, knowledge was power. While he had no use for power, he did like knowledge.
He got up. Put on his new bright white lab coat and followed Mistress out the door.
The sight and sound that met Oliver’s eyes and ears was one he never thought he would ever see. Slade’s prone body, bound to a medical bed, heart beating at a uniform rate, wires and tubes worming in and out of his body, an oxygen mask atop his face. He had never seen Slade so still. So quiet. So lifeless. Yet he still alive. And that knowledge burned Oliver at his core.
Oliver wanted Slade to be in pain, suffering for all the pain that he had caused, all the bloodshed he had committed, and all the lives he had taken. Oliver knew that blood coated his own hands. He had come to terms with it. He had stopped killing. He had begun to pay his penances for the crimes he had committed. He had changed, changed from the boy he was before he stepped foot onto the Gambit, changed from the husk of a man that he was when he had arrived home fives years later. He was different. He wasn’t Ollie. He wasn’t the prodigal son returned. He was Oliver. Her Oliver. He became the man he was now thanks to her, all thanks to his Felicity. She had shown him another way, a better way. And Slade had nearly destroyed all of that.
Slade had caused Felicity insurmountable amount pain and suffering. Slade had almost taken Felicity from him. Right in front of him and he had been helpless to do anything to stop Slade. But he wasn’t helpless now. He could end all of it. Right now. He could kill Slade. He could end Slade’s life. End all the pain and suffering he had caused. End all the danger he posed. He could end it all. Right now.
He could end Slade’s life so easily. His mind drifted to all the scenarios that saw him extinguish the breath that still flowed through Slade.
The sound of the door opening was what stirred him from his dark thoughts and caused him to take a step back from Slade’s bedside.
“Mr. Queen,” spoke Waller, as she walked up to his side looking at Slade.
“Waller,” Oliver replied, his voice not betraying all the emotions brewing beneath the surface.
“It seems Mr. Wilson was injected with the same virus that he himself had injected Ms. Smoak with. The virus has begun the same intensive assault upon Mr. Wilson’s nervous system as it did Ms. Smoak’s, at an accelerated rate in fact. At this rate, he’ll be in the same amnesic, self-harm phase in only a few hours. We’re keeping him sedated for the time being.”
“What are you planning to do with him,” Oliver asked, knowing Slade’s ultimate fate lay in the hands of ARGUS. He had just lost one of the few opportunities to end Slade’s life without interruption or obstruction.
“We’ve collected all we needed to know about the experiment we performed on him prior from his escape on Lian Yu. The data is quite eye opening and overwhelming. Our experiment didn’t fail as we thought it had. Slade gained an immense number of abilities from the specialized medical operations we performed on him. The added surgery that HIVE executed is even more astonishing. It fixed failures that we could not and prevented ones that we did not even know existed. Slade would have been the perfect specimen of augmented human DNA.”
“I thought splicing human DNA was illegal.”
Waller huffed before retorting, “So is a man masquerading in a green leather suit trying to save his city, Mr. Queen. I don’t see anyone stopping you.”
“I think those are two very different things, Waller.”
“Well that’s one of the benefits of being the head of an agency with no oversight that reports directly to the President of the United States,” Waller countered, turning to face Oliver. “We can do whatever the hell we want,” an air of arrogance surrounding her demeanour as she spoke those words. “The world sometimes needs to face an necessary evil in order to continue forward, stronger and better than before. Similar to setting a small forest fire in order to stop an even greater one from starting. The world isn’t black or white, Mr. Queen. It is better to have the knowledge to do harm than have that knowledge fall into another’s hands.”
“You still haven’t told me what you’re planning to do with him, Waller.”
Waller hummed, as Oliver turned away from her still trying to figure out what ARGUS was going to do next.
The sound of a single gunshot pierced the air, forcing his body and mind to react instantaneously. His body’s autonomous fight mode emerged before him.
His eye searched for the source before zeroing in on the splatter of blood coating the wall behind the hospital bed.
The flat-lining sound of the heart monitor now penetrated the drums of his ears next.
A look of shock clouded his face, his brow furrowed as he looked towards Waller. Her face bore no emotions, back stick straight, her gripping the just fired gun.
“What did you do, Waller,” Oliver asked, disbelief, confusion, and anger filling his voice.
“What was necessary, Mr. Queen. Mr. Wilson was no longer of any use to us. He no longer served a purpose. We got all we needed from him. His death was inevitable anyway. I just saved us having to keep him on life support for the next day or so,” Waller replied coldly. “I know there is a wealth of anger, of vengeance, that brews just beneath the surface when it comes to you, especially for Mr. Wilson. This was an act of mercy not only for him, but you as well,” she continued, her eyes staring right into Oliver’s. “I’ve always known that darkness was a necessary part of this job. Doing what others were incapable of. Doing what was necessary to save millions at the cost of a few. You have only faced such a choice once or twice,” stepping right in front him. “I hope that it stays that way, Mr. Queen. Go home. Be a hero. Get the girl. Leave the dirty work to those who can eat the sins of world,” Waller finished, before placing the gun inside her suit jacket and walking out the door.
Oliver felt frozen to the ground, unable to move forward, unable to move back. Slade was dead. Slade was gone. The threat that he posed had been eliminated. He couldn’t quite believe, turning to look at the listless body still strapped to the bed.
Slade was dead.
Slade was really dead.
Slade was gone.
He could not describe in words what he was feeling. His brows furrowing even deeper as he continued to stare at Slade.
“Sir,” a voice sounded from behind him. “You’re going need to vacate the room. We have a job to do,” the voice continued to say, slightly muffled from the mask that covered his face. Biological waste buckets trailed in behind the man being pushed by another individual. Sat atop the buckets was a large, folded, body bag.
“Of course,” Oliver answered, before looking at Slade’s body for the last time, before vacating the room. That was the last time he would ever glimpse Slade Wilson. His mind still could not completely comprehend all that had happened in such a short amount of time. Slade Wilson was dead. Slade Wilson was gone. Yet his hands were not covered in that man’s blood. It was both a strange and definitive, this feeling he felt as his feet moved down the hallway, out of one section of the ARGUS building, moving towards another. Moving away from a shadow that had been a constant in his life for so long. He didn’t know how to feel but a sense of relief fell over him the farther he walked away from the room that held Slade’s deceased body. The shadow that been Slade Wilson was finally gone. Dead. Just like that part of his life that he had held onto for so long. The farther he walked away, the lighter he felt. It was over. He could scarcely believe it.
The warmth that surrounded her body made her want to burrow herself in deeper into the bed. She was awake, but barely. She could see the light of a new day through her closed eyelids. She knew she would need to get up eventually. But for right now she would stay right here. Surrounded in warmth. Bathed in sunlight. Wrapped up in the arms of the man she loved beyond all others.
A small hum of contentment fell from her lips as she felt the prickle of the stubble brush against the skin of her neck.
“What are you doing,” she asked, her voice husky, still entrenched in sleep, eyes still shut.
“I’m snuggling with my girlfriend,” Oliver answered, mischief playing in his voice.
“Well your girlfriend would like some more sleep.”
“But there are so many more wonderful, more pleasurable, things that we can be doing in this bed other than sleeping,” Oliver spoke as lips brushing against her neck, then the tops of her ear.
“Really?” Felicity’s hands grasping Oliver’s a little tighter.
“Really,” Oliver answered. “Would you like a demonstration?”
“A demonstration sounds quite good right now.”
“Your wish is my command,” Oliver responded, turning her body towards his until she felt his breath puff across her face, the heat from his body melting into the front of hers.
“Good morning, Oliver,” said Felicity, her eyes opening, locking onto the clear blue of his.
“Good morning, Felicity.” Oliver’s smile growing wider before he sunk deeper against her body, their lips fusing against the others. Her hand coming up to brush against his cheek, as he placed a kiss against her palm before their eyes returned to each other’s.
A few months had passed since her kidnapping and subsequent hospital stay. Her body had recovered from all the trauma that had occurred, but her mind was still a trailed a little bit behind. She still woke up in the middle of the night from nightmares haunted by Slade and flashes of things that had occurred while she had been infected by her father’s virus. Sometimes those flashes, those memories, would linger well after the nightmare had passed but Oliver would always be there, supporting her, helping her through it all. He never wavered in his commitment to her, never wavered in his love for her. In actuality their relationship, the love that they shared, only became stronger after Slade’s attack.
She marvelled at his ability to love, to love so deeply, his light, his strength, his steadfast support and belief in her. She had once said that they had found themselves in each other. Those words were truer today than when she had first said them. They had found themselves in each other. They had found their true selves, by loving each other, by supporting each other, by communicating with one another. Yes, there were days where they would bicker and fight, and others full of romance and tension that boiled her blood and want to rip his clothes off his body. But that was who they were. They were not perfect, no one was. But they were perfect for one another. That belief never wavered.
She smiled, eyes full of love, before her head lifted off the pillow, pushing her lips against his, their tongues tangling against each other, arms running over the different planes of each other’s body. This is where she felt most at peace, where she felt the safest, where the world just faded away and all that was left was the two of them, surrounded in the love that they had for one another.
“Felicity,” Oliver whispered against her lips.
“I have a something I need to ask you.”
“Yes?” Oliver spoke, his head drawing away from hers, ever so slightly, brows furrowed, eyes questioning hers.
“Yes, I will marry you,” Felicity answered, a coy smile playing upon her lips.
“How did you know?” Oliver’s voice tapering off at the end.
Felicity chuckled before raising her eyebrow at Oliver. “Oliver Jonas Queen. Do you actually think you can keep anything from me?”
An irritated rumble rattled through his lips as he looked at her, trying to figure out if he could actually keep anything from her.
“How did you find out?”
“You should really know by now the ability to ramble and drop innuendoes at the most inappropriate times is a Smoak family trait,” Felicity teasing admonished him.
“At least I’ll be able to whittle the truth out of our daughters when the time comes.”
“Daughters,” Felicity questioned.
“Daughters,” Oliver replied, a wide infectious grin covering his face, before his lips pressed lightly against hers.
Felicity immediately felt the loss of heat from Oliver’s body as he lifted himself off of her. His hand diving into the drawer of his nightstand, digging around until he had gotten a hold of whatever he was looking for.
Her arms happily welcomed back Oliver’s body as he snuggled back into her.
“Felicity Smoak, for better or for worse, will you make me the happiest man on the face of the earth by marrying me?”
Felicity could barely contain the grin that ached to blossom from her lips, her teeth dragging against the bottom of her lip before nodding.
They were both smiling, brighter than either had ever before, as Oliver carefully slipped the custom designed engagement ring onto Felicity’s left ring finger.
Felicity didn’t stop herself as her arms encircled Oliver’s neck, pulling him closer into her body, as their lips joined together.
The clothes covering their bodies quickly disappeared, as Oliver meticulously and passionately demonstrated how wonderfully and pleasurably their bed could be put to use for something else other than sleep. Over and over and over again until the sun had fully risen in the blue sky just outside their window.
Her eyes scanned the development in front of her. Construction had stared only a month ago but they were already well on their way to completing the building she had drawn up.
All great empires needed a base. While the one before had been destroyed she had survived. With her survival they would rebuild, become stronger, better, more resilient than they had ever before. “Extinction was the rule. Survival was the exception.” And she was a survivor.
HIVE would rise once again. She was sure of it.