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Promises Made, Promises Kept

Chapter Text

 

 

Early mornings, just as the sun begins to rise, are always his favourite time of day. It’s the only time of the day that he really allows himself to savour a moment of peace before their hectic day began. It’s made extra special and even more precious because of the person with whom he shares his bed with. The rays of light streaming through their bedroom window create a halo of light around her head, a literal embodiment of the light that is her. His Felicity.

 

For three years he has been able to bask in her light, her goodness, her innocence and intelligence, her love and belief in him. These three years that they have been together have been his happiest, and frustrated, stubborn, crazed and scared years of his life, but he would not have traded them for anything in the world. It has all been worth it because he has her. She is the light of his life, his partner, best friend and lover all wrapped up in a beautiful and remarkable package, and soon, he was hoping to add the title of wife to that list. The ring, specifically designed for her, had been sitting in the back of the drawer of his side table for over 3 months. Every time he had planned to ask her something would always come up, an emergency at QC, or another target for the Arrow, or babysitting duty for their godson. It felt like fate was conspiring against him, but he was not so easily deterred. He had her and he was never going to let her go.

 

“Good morning,” Felicity hummed sleepily and she snuggled even closer into him, breathing in his scent as she settled her head into his shoulder.

 

“Good morning, beautiful,” replied Oliver as he ran his hand slowly and delicately up and down her back, placing a kiss on her head.  

 

He marveled at the peace her presence brought to him. She was always able to bring him back from the darkness and grief that had become permanent fixtures in his life. She fought his darkness and protected his heart and soul without even acknowledging or knowing it. For that he was grateful. He was grateful that he had her in his life. She was his light, his other half and his heart. The nightmares that used to plague his sleep had slowly dissipated and only made a rare appearance after a mission went awry, and it was all thanks to her. She made the darkness that he had lived so long in dissipate. She made them disappear with her light, her goodness and her intelligence. He never thought that he would be graced by the presence of an angel after everything that he had done, everything that he had been through, but there she was a babbling beautiful angel that he had never expected that made every morning worth waking up for. She made his day better because she was in it.

 

“Stop thinking so hard, Oliver, you might hurt yourself there,” teased Felicity as she snuggled even closer into his body.

 

“I wouldn’t want that now would I,” he teased as he placed a kiss on her lips and holding her tighter to his body, right before their alarm goes off.

 

 

The QC board meeting was going as planned, with each the heads of departments going over the advancements that had been made that quarter when Oliver’s phone began beeping, then Felicity’s. Diggle rushing into the boardroom, with a look of discomfort on his face, solidified that something was wrong, really wrong. All three of their calls had come from an unknown international number. Their calls were coming from Amanda Waller, and that was never a good thing.

 

“What is it, Amanda,” answered Oliver, much more harshly that he had intended to. His dealings with Amanda and ARGUS never turned out how he planned.

 

“We have a problem, Queen,” replied Amanda even more coldly, “there has been a prison break at one of ARGUS facilities.”

 

“Well, the state of ARGUS’s prison systems doesn’t really apply to me, Amanda.”

 

“Well this should, Queen. The break happened at one of our maximum security prisons. It happened on Lian Yu.”

 

Oliver’s heart literally stopped in that moment. Lian Yu, the island that was his purgatory, a place that he had scarcely thought about over the last three years, the prison that held Slade Wilson.

 

“He escaped didn’t he,” asked Felicity, fear dripping over her words.

 

Oliver had never told her the promise he made to Slade in that prison all those years ago. She may know everything about him, every piece of him, but that didn’t mean she needed to know what Slade had promised to do to her if he ever got his hands on her again. Felicity dealt with her own nightmares after that night, nightmares that he never wanted her to ever have to face. When he promised Slade that he would do everything in his power to protect her that meant not telling her things that he never thought would ever happen. Why burden her with such thoughts when she did not need to know about them?

 

“How the hell did he escape, Amanda,” voiced Oliver, his voice dropping several octaves becoming the voice projected by the Arrow.

 

“We don’t know. The facility is one of our most secure in the world. It’s supposed to be unescapable. All I know is that Slade escaped and almost all of our guards are dead, expect one.”

 

“What are you not telling us,” asked Diggle.

 

A moment of silence settled around the room when Amanda didn’t immediately answer.

 

“He escaped during one of our test experiments.”

“What kind of test experiment, Amanda,” Felicity questioned.

 

“That is classified, Ms. Smoak.”

 

“CLASSIFIED! What the hell were you thinking, Amanda! The man is a crazed mass murder and you decide to experiment on him. What the hell did you do to him?” bellowed Oliver.

 

“That is enough, Queen! We were experimenting with his bio-electricity. Our scientists have been toying with the idea that human beings may have the capacity to control small amounts of electricity around them. Slade was a perfect specimen for the experiment. We don’t know how he escaped the restraints. We’ve been trying to track him but we’ve had no luck in finding him. We won’t stop until we have found him. The only reason I am contacting you Oliver is because of courtesy. I know what Slade promised and I’m contacting you now in order for you to prepare yourself.”

 

“How long since his escape,” Oliver queried, his blood beginning to boil and fear beginning to push its way into his mind.

 

“72 Hours.”   

Chapter Text

 

 

Oliver was well acquainted with nightmares, having suffered through countless of them after this return home. He had more sleepless nights than he could count because of them. But there was one particular nightmare, a recurring one that was a cut above all his others, one that shook him to his very core.

 

The nightmare would always start out as a dream. She was always with him, golden light surrounding the both of them. Her light. She was always smiling and laughing or babbling about something. She was breathtaking in every one of them. He could feel her love, her light encompass every part of him. Her hands entangled in his gave him strength and an anchor. The sense of peace, warmth, and safety that engulfed him in those moments made everything that he had been through worth it because he was with her. His love for her in those moments was immeasurable, in those moments his heart only beat for her. He couldn’t help but smile in those moments. He always felt incredibly happy in those moments, like nothing could touch them, like nothing could hurt her and take her away from him.

 

The air would shift suddenly, becoming icy cold, the air constricting his lungs. The bright sky would be darkened by rolling black clouds. The light that they were surrounded in moments ago was gone. The smile on her face would disappear and be replaced by a look of fear. He could hear himself trying to reassure her that they would be okay, that she would be okay. He would protect her, he kept promising her that just before he felt her hands being ripped from his. He could hear Slade in those moments, his promise to him about Felicity. He would turn around and see Slade with a blade against her neck. The same words would always spill out of Slade’s mouth, “I keep my promises, kid.” Panic and helplessness filled Oliver in those moments, his vision becoming blurred by tears. He couldn’t move in those moments as much as he tried, his body frozen to the ground. He could see Felicity’s feet leave the ground as Slade picked her up by the neck with only one hand before his blade pierced through her abdomen and her screams ringing through his ears. Screams that would awaken him from his nightmare.

 

Her name would always leave his lips the moment he awoke. Just like tonight. His body was drenched in a cold sweat. His heart beat wildly. His mind frazzled. He lost all sense of balance and time. Fear imprisoned him in those early moments after his nightmare. It was always her voice that drew him out of his nightmare.

 

“Oliver,” she said quietly, repeatedly, as she swept her hand stroking the side of his head, trying to calm his beating heart, kissing his face to erase the tears that had been spilled. She tried to banish the nightmare that had invaded his sleeping mind once again.

 

“I’m right here, Oliver. I’m safe. I’m okay. I love you,” a mantra she repeated after every one of his nightmares.

 

He clung to her in those moments, tighter than she would’ve been comfortable with, but she would never complain and for that he was grateful. He buried his face into her hair, breathing in her scent, placing his hand over her heart, waiting for her heart to beat. It was her heartbeat that brought him back to the present. Knowing that she was safe and unscathed, protected in his arms, was what brought him back to reality.

 

They would stay like that, sometimes for a few minutes or sometimes a few hours. Felicity would usually stay awake with him, trying to calm him to the point where they could drift back to sleep together, but tonight was different. She drifted back to sleep after the first hour, but he couldn’t. He wouldn’t. He knew she needed the sleep. She had been pulling double duty to try and find out where Slade could have gone but with no luck. It had been a week since Slade had escaped Lian Yu and no one, not Felicity nor ARGUS, had been able to track him. That terrified him. Ever since Amanda had called about Slade’s escape Oliver’s worst nightmare had plagued him every night. He couldn’t get the image of Felicity dying at the hands of Slade out of his head. Her screams echoing in his mind.

 

Fear and panic had gripped him in a death-like vice in the last week every time that she was not within his sight.

 

The last three years had seen the Arrow become a hero in Starling City. The Arrow was no longer a vigilantly fighting the criminals of Starling, but a hero they called on when the City needed his help. Queen Consolidated had rebuilt itself, slowly regaining the pedestal it once resided. All of it was all due to her. Oliver knew that without Felicity’s help and guidance, he wouldn’t be where he was today, either as the Arrow or as Oliver Queen CEO. They had faced their fair share of obstacles over the last three years but they emerged stronger than ever, together. Thea’s return to Starling and the events that followed nearly broke Oliver. The anger and lies that their family had been built on had nearly destroyed everything that Oliver held dear, but now they were stronger, they had rebuilt their family and they were better for it.

 

Not once in the past three years had Oliver revealed to Felicity the promises that were made in Slade’s jail cell on Lian Yu. He never wanted those images in her head, the images that played in his mind as Slade revealed his promise to him. He never wanted those images to come to fruition and for three years he had lived in bliss believing that they never would because Slade was locked up, mirakuru-less, powerless and locked up in one of the world’s most secure facilities. Slade was locked up in purgatory with no way out. Amanda’s call destroyed that bubble of bliss.

 

Oliver knew now, more than ever, that he could not survive without her. His love for her had only grown in the past three years, becoming stronger and resilient in the face of everything that had faced together. Doubts about their relationship, about their feelings for one another no longer existed. He needed her, in every single way imaginable. He loved her not just for her beauty, her intelligence, her wit, her strength, or her unrelenting belief in him but because she was just Felicity, his Felicity. He was hers as truly and equally as she was his. His love for her was indescribable. He never thought that after going through everything that he had, committing the exploits that he had, that he would get to have someone like her in his life. She was his light, his best friend, his partner, his lover. For so long he believed that he never deserve someone like her in his life. To be allowed to love for someone like her. The appearance of Slade and the events that followed forced Oliver to rethink his logic when it came to Felicity. He was forced to admit his feelings for her. Feelings that he had tried so hard to bury because of the pain that he knew that it would eventually bring to her if he had admitted them. Luckily they hadn’t brought them pain. For three years they had lived in anything but pain, they lived in love and happiness and Oliver knew that he would do everything to protect her from any type of pain, even if it cost him his life. 

 

He knew that Slade would come for her. Slade wanted to break Oliver, to destroy him, and Felicity was the key to that, he knew it and Slade knew it. The last week of inactivity and silence on the Slade front terrified him immensely. He knew he had a decision to make about Felicity’s safety. He had made his decision, and she was not going to like it.

 

 

The foundry was deserted except for the two of them. Oliver had informed Diggle and Roy about his plans on protecting Felicity, neither one of them believed that his plan would work or that Felicity would agree but they made themselves scarce anyway.   

 

He stared at her for a while, watching her ponytail swing as she furiously typed on her keyboard trying to find any information on the whereabouts of Slade. He knew he had to tell her, but he basked in their moment of peace for a moment longer. He was preparing himself for a fight, a fight he knew that needed to happen but was reluctant to initiate.

 

“Felicity,” said Oliver, speaking her name like he had thousands of other times through the years, chalked full of emotions and meaning.  

 

“What is it, Oliver,” replied Felicity, looking him in the eyes, asking a thousand more questions that did not have to be expressed verbally.

 

“What’s wrong, Oliver?”

 

Oliver closed his eyes and drew in a breath before he uttered the words that he never wished to say to her.

 

“You need to leave.”

 

“What,” retorted Felicity, incredibly stunned and incredulous to the words that had just come out of boyfriend’s mouth.  

 

“You can pull your idiotic chivalrous head out of your ass, Oliver! I’m not leaving! I know what you’re thinking, okay, and I’m not leaving,” Felicity’s voice was filled with fury as she stomped her way across the room and moved into Oliver’s personal space.

 

Felicity stared him directly in his eyes and repeated, “I am not leaving, Oliver!”

 

Oliver was prepared for her anger, her response. He knew her well enough to know that she would fight him on this front. He knew that she would never willingly leave him. Never willingly place her safety above his, but right now, at that moment it didn’t matter, her opinions didn’t matter. He needed her safe and secure at all costs, even if he was the recipient of her wrath.

 

“You heard me, Felicity, you are going to leave. I’ve already instructed Diggle and Roy on what to do. You are going to go home and pack some bags and leave. This is not up for negotiations! Slade is out and he is going to come after you, I know it. I can feel it in my bones. You need to leave right now!”

 

“NO! If you think that I am going to leave you, leave Diggle and Roy, to handle Slade yourselves, you are absolutely out of your mind,” Felicity shouted, the frustration, anger and fear that had plagued her the last week bubbling up to the surface.

 

Oliver knew he had to get Felicity to see the bigger picture. To see the fear for her safety that he had lived with for the last week. He placed his hands on her face and let her see the turmoil, the pain, the fear that he had been embroiled in for the past week through his eyes.

 

“Felicity, I need you to leave! I need you safe! I need you protected at all costs! You don’t know what it would do to me if I lost you. I cannot live without you. I. Cannot. Lose. You.” spoke Oliver. Completely lay bared and open to her, his heart on his sleeve as neither had ever seen him before. Felicity’s anger faltered in the face of his words.  

 

Felicity understood Oliver, better than any other person on the planet. She knew where his motivation, where his passion, where his strength came from. She had seen his heart, knew all of its lines, the folds, and the cracks and scars that marred it. Her knowledge of his heart was ingrained in her mind just as much as her knowledge of ever scar and tattoo on his body. She loved all of him, every part, all the pieces that were broken and scarred and the ones that she had helped to heal.  She had seen this man, a man she loved with her whole heart and soul, at his worst points, where he had been the most broken and fragile, but she had also seen him at his best, his brightest. She understood where his sense of protectiveness over her was coming from. In the last three years that they had been together he had become even more protective of her and vigilant of her well-being. But she wasn’t going to let his need to protect her put the people she loved, put him in harm’s way.

 

“You don’t think I need you as much as you need me? I need you, Oliver, alive and breathing, just as much as you need me. I’m scared out of my mind every time you go out on patrol or when you go on a mission. But knowing that I am there to guide you, to keep you out of harm’s way is what keeps me sane,” declared Felicity as she placed her hands on top of his, grasping his fingers, her gaze never wavering from his.

 

“I know you’re scared. I am too. But that does not mean that you get to make a decision like this, especially when it concerns me. I know that you can be overprotective at times and I’ve come to live with that, but you cannot tell me to leave because I won’t. I would never, ever, willingly leave you. Especially at a time like this where there is a psycho maniac bent on revenge is after you. I love you,” Felicity’s declaration and stance on Oliver’s decision crystal clear.

 

Oliver’s resolve would not be tempered by her declaration.

 

“I love you too. That’s why I need you to leave. I need you safe, Felicity! It would destroy me if anything ever happened to you. I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to you and I could’ve prevented it!”

 

“I won’t leave, Oliver,” Felicity’s anger at his words flaring up again.

 

“You have to,” said Oliver his hands moving from her face and gripping her arms instead.

 

“NO! I will not go! I will not leave you,” bellowed Felicity.

 

“Why won’t you listen to me,” shouted an exasperated Oliver.

 

“I am listening, Oliver. I’m listening to a plan that is both idiotic and ill-advised. I helped you defeat Slade last time. What are you going to do without me, huh? You’re going to wait for him to turn up and end up in a battle royal with him? How long would you keep me away, Oliver? Months? Years? How long do you think it will take Slade to show up? I won’t live away from you in fear because of that psycho maniac. I won’t! I won’t live without you! If you even think about making me leave, Oliver, I swear I will knock some sense into you myself,” shouted an equally exasperated Felicity.

 

Oliver hangs his head, eyes closed, hands scrubbing through his hair, trying desperately to find something to hold onto, something to make her realize that she has to leave for her own safety or if not for his sanity at least.

 

“Slade made me a promise,” whispered Oliver, knowing that she heard his words. He doesn’t know what else to do, doesn’t know what else to say, but to tell her the truth. To tell her the promise that Slade had made in purgatory three years ago.

 

“I know about the promise, Oliver. I know what Slade promised. He promised to make you suffer like he suffered, to make you feel complete despair, before he would kill you.” The promise that had come to fruition three years ago that nearly destroyed Starling City and took the life of Moira Queen.  

 

“He made me another promise,” responded Oliver, grief and sadness colouring his words.

 

“Slade made me a second promise in his jail cell on Lian Yu. It is a promise that I will never let him fulfill. I would die before I let Slade ever fulfill that promise. What Slade promised is unthinkable to me,” fear and determination evident in his voice.   

 

“Slade promised he would take you away from me. He promised that he would rip you away from me. He promised to kill you in front of my eyes, torturing you and inflicting unimaginable pain upon you. He promised it would be slow and the last sounds I would ever hear leave your mouth would be your screams before he would kill you,” Oliver spoke, tears immersed in his voice, the images playing in his head as he spoke of the promise Slade made to him about Felicity. Panic gripping him as he relived his nightmare.

 

“I cannot let that happen, Felicity! I cannot let him get to you, do you understand? Hurting you would be worse than killing me. It would destroy every piece of me. Everything I am, I am because of you. You are the light of my life. You guide me. You’re my best friend, you’re my partner. You’re my other half. You’re the reason I wake happy every day, the reason I get out of bed. You’re the one person that I love most on this Earth. You’re my salvation. I never thought that I would get the chance to love someone like you, that I would be even worthy of being with someone like you, filled with so much light and kindness. I would die if anything ever happened to you. Do you understand?”

 

While Felicity knew Oliver loved her, she had never heard this kind of admission from him. Oliver was a man of few words. He expressed his emotions physically rather than verbally. It was why his admission shocked her. He said I love you enough over the last three years but never had she heard him verbalize the love he felt for her quite like this. It made her happier than she ever thought it would, knowing now that he felt the same about her that she did about him and verbalizing it too. Tears began to form in her eyes.

 

“I love you too, Oliver. I would never be able to live without you either. That is why I’m not going to leave because you think it’s the best way to protect me. The best way to protect me is when I am with you. I would never leave you. I need you just as much as you need me. You, you make me safe, and happy, and loved. I would rather be with you than anywhere on this planet. I know you’re scared. I know what Slade promised but I can do one better,” said Felicity as she clung to him looking him straight in his eyes.  

 

“I can make you a promise. I promise I will not leave you! Ever! Not even my dying breath will take me away from you. You are a part of me, just as much as I am a part of you. You make me whole, Oliver. You make me better. Without you my world would be a sad and lonely place and I am grateful every single day that you walked into my office that day and told me that ridiculous lie about that laptop. I will do whatever it takes to spend as much time as I have on this earth with you. That is my promise to you,” Felicity’s vow striking every chord within Oliver’s heart.

 

She was the only one to ever breakthrough his walls. And just like that she broke through the last of his. His plan crumbled before him, his plan to make her leave, to keep her at an arm’s length to keep her safe. He should’ve known better. She was the smarter one, always coming up with a better plan than he could never even imagine. This promise, the promise she had just made to him, was better than any other promise that was ever made to him. He trusted her above everyone else. He should’ve known better to fight her. She would always win when it came to his heart. He needed her and he would be damned if anything ever happened to her.

 

 

“Welcome back to the land of the living, Mr. Wilson,” spoke an accented female voice.

 

“Where am I,” spoke a disoriented Slade, his head throbbing, “who are you?”

 

“You may call me, Mistress, Mr. Wilson. I’m glad to see that you’re finally awake.”

 

Slade tried to look around but the light was blinding. He tried to move but restraints held him down.

 

“What the hell,” bellowed Slade as he tried to break free from the restraints.

 

“Now, now, Mr. Wilson, you don’t want to aggravate your sutures do you?”

 

“What did you do to me? Where am I?”

 

“You’re somewhere safe Mr. Wilson. And I didn’t do anything to you. Well our scientists did. They just enhanced what the ARGUS scientists were trying to do to you. You’re perfectly fine, you’ll readjust accordingly.”

 

“I said, what did you do to me,” bellowed Slade.

 

“We have a common interest, Mr. Wilson,” spoke the woman, completely ignoring Slade’s question.

 

“Oliver Queen. He and his little team have become a thorn in our side, a thorn that needs to be dealt with and you are our best hope of ridding this for us. We understand that you made Mr. Queen a promise and we our here to help you fulfill that promise. Think of this a quid pro quo, Mr. Wilson. You get to fulfill your promise of Oliver Queen by taking Ms. Smoak away from him and then killing him of course and in return you continue to work with us after you have fulfilled your promise,” spoke Mistress, her voice had become an eerily pitched.

 

“Why would I do that,” retorted Slade.

 

Mistress laughed.

 

“We saved you, Mr. Wilson, a little gratitude is customary at a time like this. We have the resources for you to fulfill the promises you have made to Mr. Queen. Be well advised that we can easily terminate you at any moment if I chose to do so,” her voice clear and curt.

 

“What do I have to do?”

 

“That is up to you, Mr. Wilson. As long as Oliver Queen ends up dead that is all that matters. Once he is dead you will return to us and we will proceed.”

 

“Fine. Can you please turn off the damn bloody lights then?”

 

“Why don’t you do it, Mr. Wilson.”

 

“I can’t! I’m bloody restrained to this chair,” roared Slade.

 

“Imagine the currents that are running through the lights, Mr. Wilson. The energy that courses through them. Now imagine the currents completely disappearing. Imagine the lights going out, Mr. Wilson,” Mistress’s voice sounding wickedly as she said them.

 

Slade imagined the lights going off. The energy that coursed through the currents being blocked. One by one the lights began to go off. The blinding light that surrounded Slade literally disappeared. All because he imagined they would.

 

“Congratulations, Mr. Wilson, it seems that you were the perfect candidate for this power,” replied Mistress as she walked away, the click-clacking of her heels on the cement becoming quieter and quieter.  

 

Slade began to laugh. It was a deep laugh, emanating from his belly. The laugh became louder and more hysterical by the second.

 

What Mistress couldn’t see was the evil, maniacal smile that began to appear on Slade Wilson’s face in the darkness that he had literally caused. The darkness that he would reign down upon Oliver Queen and his beloved. 

Chapter Text


  

Oliver was filled with a sense of dread and fear as he moved silently and quickly down the stairs.

 

It was the shattering sound of glass that had awoken him from another night of fitful slumber. In a split second all of his finely honed instincts had hijacked his body. Oliver’s gun, stashed in his bedside table, was in his hands within seconds. His body had instinctively moved to shield Felicity from any imminent harm. It was only then his brain registered that Felicity wasn’t beside him. She wasn’t even in their darkened bedroom.

 

It was Felicity’s cry of pain that drove Oliver out of their bedroom and bounding down the stairs.

 

He dreaded the scene that would meet him as he got closer to the source of Felicity’s cry. He feared what Slade could have done to her as he rushed down the stairs. And for a moment, Oliver let his demons that had arisen during his nightmares come forth. He was nearly paralyzed by the images that flooded his head, until he heard Felicity swearing.

 

“Felicity,” shouted Oliver, as he rounded the corner into their kitchen, fear once again spurring his movements as he saw the blood dripping down Felicity’s arm.

 

“Stop,” screech Felicity, halting Oliver’s movements towards her, “there’s glass all over the floor. I dropped a mug on the floor. And before you ask ‘why is there a broken mug on the floor,’ I wanted some hot chocolate. But someone put my favourite mug on the wrong shelf, which is really inconsiderate since you know how much I like my hot chocolate and you know that I can’t reach that top shelf without a boost.”

 

Before Oliver could even respond to Felicity’s, he was once again interrupted.

 

“And why don’t you have any pants on? Not that I’m opposed to you not wearing pants because you look really good without pants on. But you look good with pants on too. But you aren’t wearing pants right now. Or a shirt. And it’s kind of distracting because you look a muscular and touchable and hot,” huffed Felicity, as her cheeks began to turn a pretty shade of pink.

 

A small smile briefly crossed Oliver’s face as he carefully stepped over the broken pieces of glass towards Felicity, after dropping the gun on the counter and quickly wrapping a tea towel around her hand to stem the bleeding.

 

“Are you okay,” asked Oliver quietly, as he stared into her eyes.

 

“I’m fine,” responded Felicity, trying to calm the frightened and worried look that she saw in his eyes, “I’m fine, Oliver. It’s just a little cut.”

 

“I heard glass breaking and you weren’t in bed. And I thought, I thought…” Oliver stammered, fear colouring his words.

 

“You thought that Slade had broken into the house and gotten to me,” responded Felicity, finishing his sentence. “I just wanted some hot chocolate and I didn’t want to wake you, which is completely blown to bits now that you’re awake. But you haven’t been sleeping well all week and I didn’t want to wake you from whatever sleep you were getting. I’m sorry, Oliver.”

 

“Hey. Hey,” said Oliver softly, as he cupped her cheek in his hand, noting the ever present dark circles under her eyes, “you don’t ever have to apologize, Felicity. You’ve been getting just as little sleep as I have. You need rest too. And I know how much you love your hot chocolate. I’m sorry you broke your favourite mug. Here,” he said, as he lifted her up and onto the counter, “sit here. I’m just going to go and grab the first aid kit, a broom, and I’ll make us both a cup of hot chocolate after. Okay?”

 

 

Nearly a month had passed since they had received the news of Slade’s escape from Lian Yu and they were no closer to tracking him down. The entire team had been on high alert for the last month, which had begun to take its toll on everyone. Anxiety, desperation, exhaustion, and frustration weighed heavily on each member of the team.

 

Every one of them, Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, Roy, and even Sara and Lyla, had been relentless in trying to find any scrap of information on Slade’s whereabouts. But they were all coming up unsuccessful. None of them were letting down their guard, especially Oliver. Felicity’s safety remained the top priority for everyone.

 

Oliver’s overprotectiveness nature of Felicity increased tenfold since Slade’s escape. Felicity was rarely left alone, whether it was at QC or in the lair, someone was always with her. The only time that Oliver was not with Felicity was during his patrols of the city. Patrols that were increasingly becoming more and more dangerous for those criminals that ran into the Arrow.

 

This was one of those nights. Oliver and Roy had already stopped a number of attempted robberies that night, leaving the thieves strung up for the SCPD to find and arrest.

 

Felicity had yet to leave her chair since entering the lair after learning about another weird power failure in Mumbai, leaving the city darkened for hours, causing chaos for the city’s infrastructure and its citizens. A number of cities around the world, Hong Kong, St. Petersburg, Cairo, Rome, London, Toronto and now Mumbai, had all been struck by these mysterious city wide power failures causing chaos and destruction for some of the most populous cities in the world. Governments, news agencies, hackers, as well as regular citizens from around the world were now speculating that these were targeted attacks against these cities but the purpose and the people behind them were still being debated about.

 

“Another city hit,” questioned Diggle as he watched the stream of information crossing Felicity’s monitors.

 

“Mumbai this time, it’s the seventh city to be hit in the last month. The hacker forums have erupted with speculation, but nobody can figure out who’s doing it or why.”  

 

“Who’s doing what,” sounded Roy as he bounded down the stairs, Oliver trailing behind him.

 

“You’re not going to like the answer, Mr. Harper,” announced Amanda Waller’s cold voice spilling from the speakers of Felicity’s computer.

 

Felicity’s gasp broke through the silence that had engulfed the room.

 

“Now that I have all your attention, please listen and listen carefully. Seven cities around the world have been hit by power outages over the last month. Many have suspected that these are terrorist attacks aimed at either these countries governments or other multinational institutions. They are half right in their assumptions.”

 

“They were attacking ARGUS,” responded Oliver, astounding everyone in the room, Waller included.

 

“So you did pay attention during those briefings, Queen. You’re right. Each of these cities are home to top secret ARGUS facilities, all of which were attacked right after the black outs began.”

 

“What does this have to do with any of us,” questioned Oliver, his patience beginning to wane.

 

“Each of the top secret facilities were researching and working on a number of different projects. Projects that if fallen into the wrong hands could have irreparable consequences for millions of individuals on this planet. A number of these projects, their schematics and their by-products were stolen from these facilities.”

 

“Again, what does this have to do with us,” spoke Oliver, clearly agitated.

 

“We have now discovered who was behind those attacks and thefts of our facilities. And it seems that we share the same adversary, Queen.”

 

Video footage began streaming across all of Felicity’s computer screens showing a full equipped mercenary team smash through a secure door of a facility and killing every person that came into their line of sight. Regrettably that wasn’t what terrified every one watching. The person bringing up the rear pack of mercenaries moved forward, zapping the electronic door the divided the secure area from where the mercenaries where now standing without even touching the door or its control panel. That person was none other than Slade Wilson.

 

“How long have you known about Slade and his participation in these attacks,” Oliver bit out, his frustration and anger level rising as Amanda Waller’s face returned to Felicity’s screens.

 

“This footage was taken from the last attack in Hong Kong. We believe that Slade has been involved in every one the seven attacks that have been perpetrated against ARGUS.”

 

“What aren’t you telling us, Waller,” questioned Diggle.

 

“We believe that someone helped Slade Wilson escape our facility in Lian Yu. And we believe they are the same people who are behind the attacks against our facilities. What you just saw happen on your screens wasn’t the trick of the eye. It seems that this group has advanced Slade’s powers beyond the initial points that we had begun experimenting with. The group in question in one that we have faced before, and one that we would like to see dismantled as soon as possible. It’s also one that you have faced before, Queen, inadvertently of course.”

 

“Who are these people,” asked Felicity.

 

“We believe that they are an organization called HIVE. The organization came together after the Second World War and made up of like-minded scholars, scientists, and wealthy benefactors that have joined together to see their twisted aspiration fulfilled; an aspiration that would see to the de-civilization of the entire global population, discounting themselves of course. They have been implicated in numerous biological terror attacks across the globe, biological cloning and DNA splicing, as well human trafficking, drug smuggling, and the sales of black market weapons. And that’s just scratching the surface of HIVE operations.”

 

“Again, Waller, what does this have to do with us,” questioned Oliver, patience gone from his voice.

 

“It seems that the Arrow and his team have disrupted a number of HIVE’s transactions that have occurred within Starling City. These failures have cost them am untold amount of revenue. And they want you to pay for them. It’s why we believe they broke Slade out of prison and why it seems they have enhanced his physiology allowing him to see what you saw on your screens.”

 

“So you want us to do what,” questioned Roy, his attitude clearly not in check.

 

“Well, Mr. Harper, we want you and your team to track down Slade Wilson and capture him and retrieve any useable information from him pertaining to the HIVE organization. We are willing to offer you any resources that you may require to capture him again.”

 

“And why would we do that, Amanda,” probed Oliver.

 

“Whatever HIVE has planned, they seek to use the stolen projects from our facilities to do so. Along with that I doubt they would have broken Slade Wilson out of our prison for kicks. They want you and your team eliminated, Oliver and they chose Slade to follow out that order. You know what Slade is capable of and you know he has the motivation to follow through with those promises and HIVE’s orders. We are giving you the ability to get ahead of him and eliminate him as a target, before he gets to you. And if I were you, Oliver, I would take it.”

 

“Question,” spoke Felicity, “how did you get passed my firewalls?”

 

 

Slade stepped into the Mistress’s office, a room filled with numerous priceless relics, paintings, and ancient fossilized specimens. The scent that lingered in the room caused the pace of his breathing to uptick just a little.

 

“I see that you’ve been enjoying your powers, Mr. Wilson,” spoke Mistress as she approached him.

 

“I can’t say I haven’t,” replied Slade. “I’ve retrieved all the materials that you have required. They are currently being unloaded in the secure labs as per your request.”

 

“Good. Did you run into any trouble while you were attaining the items,” asked Mistress, walking out of her office and into a concealed door and into a conjoining empty hallway.

 

“Nothing we couldn’t handle,” replied Slade, the delight clear in his voice.

 

“Good. We need you to retrieve one more item for us, Mr. Wilson. And I believe you’re going to like where it’s located,” spoke Mistress, as she turned a corner into what looked like a high-grade militarized communication room.

 

“Pull up the file, Mackenzie,” ordered Mistress, “I think you’re going to just love where you’re headed next Mr. Wilson.”

 

Mistress’s cackling did little to deter Slade’s delight as he looked upon a map of Starling City.

 

 

Sweat dribbled down his forehead as he carefully watched the nuclides separate on screen. This was the result he had been waiting for. This was the result he had spent his life working towards and the moment was finally here. He couldn’t believe it. The final steps of his life’s work were finally coming together. And he couldn’t be happier.

 

HIVE had recruited him while he was in his last year of his PHD program in molecular evolutionary biology. They had offered him an untold amount of resources to continue and further his research. It was an offer only a fool would turn down, and he was no fool. They had given him a generous living bonus and salary, as well as a new home and car in the suburbs of Las Vegas. It was a chance to really begin his life, a better life for not just him but for his wife and their unborn child. That was over two decades ago.

 

While he had been saddened that he had to abandon his wife and young child, he knew what he was doing was going to change the course of not only molecular biology, but science and the world as they knew it. It was a painful sacrifice, but a sacrifice to serve the greater good.

 

He couldn’t fathom what had just witnessed. He was finally at the brink of what they had all been working towards. He just needed one more step to complete it.

 

“I see you’ve been busy, Doctor,” trickled Mistress’s voice through the intercom.

 

“We’re almost there. We just need that last piece of equipment and we’ll have all we need for the serum.”

 

“That’s very good, Doctor. The last piece of equipment will be here shortly, don’t you fret. We’ll see that all your research and hard work pays off,” declared Mistress.

 

Yes, all his research and years of hard work would finally pay off. The world would be a better place for it. A place only fit for his one and only, his little girl. His little Felicity.

Chapter Text


 

Oliver felt like he was constantly yearning for home. For all the days that he had spent on the island and every day that he was away from home during those five horrifying and agonizing years he had craved to return home. He ached for home. He wanted the sense of belonging, of comfort, of familiarity, of peace and warmth that only a home could provide.  

 

The desperation to return home saturated every other thought that was not concentrated on his survival. That determination, that need, was what allowed him to survive purgatory and return. He returned to Starling City as the prodigal son returned from the dead. He returned to his childhood home that held so many precious memories. He returned to the family he thought he would never see again.

 

And yet, he never felt like he was home. Oliver didn’t feel at comfort or at peace in the city that had been plagued by the misdeeds of the corrupt. He didn’t feel safe in the house that he had spent the majority of his life in. He didn’t feel the warmth, the familiarity, or the sense of belonging in the family that he had left five years ago. Oliver returned to a city, a house, a family that had radically changed in his absence, leaving him deprived of the home he had been desperate to return to for so long.

 

Eventually Oliver came to terms with that, burying that need for home deep within the crevices of his soul. He came to terms that home was going to be a place that he no longer recognized, a place he didn’t feel at peace, a home that was just as cold and desolate as the island he had left.

 

He had a mission to complete, a death wish from his father to fulfill, to rid their city of the evils and atone for the sins of his father. He became consumed by that promise, clearing the list of the names that littered the journal that his father had left him. Oliver became judge, jury, and executioner in order to protect his city, his home.

 

It wasn’t until they had come looking for him on the island that had been his purgatory that Oliver realized that he had found his home in Starling City, a home with her and their team, a home where he felt like he truly belonged.

 

Oliver once again ached to return home, to return to the one person that was him home. He ached to return to her.

 

The exhaustion that had been plaguing Oliver since he had learnt of Slade’s escape was now beginning to settle in as the plane began cruising at maximum altitude. His body was bruised and battered after the last two weeks that he and Diggle had, had. And all he wanted to do was fall asleep in his bed, with his arms holding the woman that he loved.

 

Diggle and himself has been criss-crossing the globe for the last two weeks, looking for any clue as to Slade’s whereabouts. They had trekked through the Amazon forest of Brazil, escaped capture in the Souks of Marrakech, and dodged bullets in the bustling streets of Hong Kong. But they were no closer to finding Slade. For two weeks they felt like they had been chasing a ghost, which was in reality, the truth.

 

For all intents and purposes, Slade Wilson was a dead man. He had died during a tragic training accident over the Indian Ocean nearly a decade ago, or so the Australian government had led his family and friends and the world to believe. He had died when the Mirakuru began flowing through his veins, destroying all remnants of his humanity and sanity. He had died when he was stripped of his Deathstroke persona when he undermined the strength of one Felicity Smoak. Slade Wilson was a dead man, a ghost, one who could do irreparable harm to all that Oliver held dear and all those he loved.

 

Slade Wilson was once again the source of Oliver’s nightmares.

 

The past the Oliver fought so hard to overcome was once again haunting his present.

 

It all, however, paled in comparison to the future that now stood before him in the form of the one person who was able to harness the light that remained inside of him and banish the ghosts of his past.

 

Home was what stood in front of him on the tarmac after an exhaustive trans-pacific flight.

 

“Hey,” whispered Felicity, as she clung to Oliver like a life line, banishing the exhaustion and worry that had followed him for the last two weeks.

 

“Hey,” Oliver responded, looking into the eyes of the person that made his heart perpetually beat, with a small smile shining upon his face.  A wordless conversation transpiring between the two of them, each letting the other know all that they had missed during their time apart from one another.

 

“I missed you too, Felicity,” Diggle chimed jokingly as he stepped off the plane.

 

“Hi, Digg,” spoke Felicity, as she released Oliver to give Diggle a quick hug, “I missed you too. Thanks for taking care of him.”

 

The smile that bloomed on Diggle’s face said all that was needed to say about the friendship between the three of them shared.

 

“Waller wants a complete debrief before the night is over,” uttered as exasperated Felicity. “And she won’t take no for an answer, I tried.”   

 

 

“You found no sign of Slade? Absolutely no sign,” Amanda Waller coldly articulated. The debrief taking longer than either side had thought it would, fatigue and frustration beginning to set in on both sides.  

 

“Do I need to repeat myself again, Amanda! We found no sign of Slade. No sign of HIVE involvement. Nothing,” Oliver said, his annoyance tinging the words he had spoken.

 

“Feels like you sent us on a wild goose chase, Waller,” interjected Digg. “We’ve been chased, shot at, bruised and bloodied and we have absolutely nothing to show for it. It feels like we’re chasing a ghost.”

 

“I’ve found nothing on Slade’s whereabouts as well,” added Felicity, “or anything about HIVE to add to that matter.”

 

Amanda’s cold steely façade remained in place as she stared down the three of them. All three oblivious to the internal debate Amanda was waging on whether to reveal more of what she knew.

 

“HIVE is most likely keeping Slade on the move, across the globe, not only to keep control over him but to keep him out of our hands as well,” Amanda spit out. “What I am about to tell you is highly classified, not even the highest echelons of international security organizations or governments have access to this information. I hope that it remains secure in your hands.” The threat underlying her professional statement was clear. 

 

“As I’ve said before that HIVE have existed since the end of the Second World War, but over the years its members and the group have become more fanatical in attaining their goals. Their manifesto is becoming more radicalized as the years have gone by. The current motto that HIVE is operating under is the famous quote by Carl Sagan, ‘Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.’ The survival of HIVE and its members is of their utmost concern. HIVE believes that our world is headed for a complete social and economic collapse, an extinction of the entire human race. They cite the wars, civil disobedience, famine, climate change, and disease that plague our world as the causes of our extinction. But the greatest cause of this extinction is the frailty and greed of the human race as a whole.”

 

“Well they’re not completely wrong. Numerous scientific studies have shown the damage that human beings have done to the planet and ultimately ourselves in the process,” piped Felicity, before realizing that she had interrupted Waller’s diatribe of HIVE’s activities and goals.

 

“You are correct, Ms. Smoak. The human race has made a number of mistakes. But that does not mean that we should pay for these mistakes with the countless of innocent human lives. HIVE’s goal is to survive such an extinction, but not only to survive, but to thrive in doing so, no matter the cost. And unfortunately they have amassed the means and the power to do so over the years. Their goal is to de-civilize the entire global bringing us back to a period of lesser human advancement in order to stem an oncoming extinction.”

 

“With them at the helm, no doubt,” Diggle stated.

 

“I see that you are finally catching on, Mr. Diggle,” Amanda said somewhat condescendingly. “They want to control the further evolution of human beings in order to ensure that such an extinction does not occur.”

 

“Exactly how would they de-civilize the entire global population,” questioned Oliver.

 

“That, Oliver, is what we are trying to determine. And we do believe that Mr. Wilson factors into such a plan. We believe that they plan to do so bio-chemically, whether through a biological terror attack on high-value targets and nations or some equally devastating means. From what we can gather from the equipment and research they have stolen not only from our facilities but other research facilities around the world we believe that it will most likely occur through a biological attack. And we believe that tracking down and capturing Slade Wilson may provide us with the best logical step in order to stop such an attack.”

 

The silence the echoed through the lair as the information that Amanda had provided sunk in.

 

“I will contact you as soon as we receive more information on the possibility of Slade’s whereabouts,” spoke Amanda before the screens went dark, cutting of communication between the two sides.

 

“What are we going to do,” asked Felicity, her voice unsure, vocalizing what all three of them were thinking.

 

 

The sun was just beginning to rise as Oliver and Felicity returned home. They had spent the majority of the night scouring the massive amount of documents that ARGUS had sent them regarding HIVE and its activities since its inception. What they had learnt had unnerved all of them. HIVE had been behind or involved numerous terror attacks, international black market and criminal dealings since its creation. An organization that had purposely remained in the shadows, operating on their own moral code with no regard for the lives and other organizations it destroyed in the process, an organization that was now controlling the likes of Slade Wilson.

 

Even with the inundation of hundreds of reports, personal accounts, money trails linking thousands of individuals across the planet to the organization, they were no closer to discovering the whereabouts of Slade or HIVE’s possible endgame in their use of Slade.

 

It wasn’t until Diggle had received a call from Lyla that had prompted the team to break, with a promise to return rested and ready to continue with their search for Slade.

 

“You need to get some sleep, Oliver,” Felicity spoke quietly, easily pulling Oliver up the stairs and towards their bedroom.

 

Oliver prepared to argue with Felicity, but was cut off by the stern knowing look that was directed at him. The look that said, ‘don’t even try to say no. I know you’re dead tired. I know you’re sore. You need to sleep. You need to rest and relax, or at least try for my sake. I’ll be right here, by your side, like I have always been and always will be.’

 

It was that look that made Oliver reconsider trying to argue with her, knowing that it was futile. Arguing with Felicity was always futile, she was always right.

 

Oliver had only gotten a few hours of sleep before he was awoken by Felicity, her hand smoothly and softly stroking the side of his face

 

“Hey. I’ve got to head into the office for a few hours. Apparently one of the execs lost the only copy of a proposal for the new applied science tech that we’re supposed to be presenting to the board tomorrow. I need to go in and try to manage the situation or all hell is going to break loose,” said Felicity, as she continued to gently stroke the side of his face, a habit that had become a source of calm to him over the years that they had been together. “And don’t worry. Roy’s here to escort me to QC, like he has been since the day you and Diggle left. Just try to get some more sleep, or eat something, okay? I’ll be home in before you even know it, and then you can show me how happy you are to see me,” Felicity whispered teasingly into his ear, mischief sparkling in her eyes, before placing a number of kisses across his face.

 

Oliver banded his arms around Felicity, trying to get her to stay in their bed.

 

“I love you,” stated Oliver, the love and adoration he had for Felicity ever present in his voice, “you know that right?”

 

“I know, Oliver. And I love you, too. And as much as I would like to spend the rest of the day in bed with you, duty calls. I’ll see you in a few hours,” said Felicity, kissing him one last time before leaving the house.

 

As tired as Oliver was, the loss of the feeling of Felicity in his arms is what drove Oliver out of bed.

 

Oliver’s hands drifted to his side table, searching for the box that held the key to his future. The vintage Cartier emerald cut diamond ring sparkled in the beams of sunlight, a true reflection of the essence of light that beamed from the woman that was destined to wear it. He was determined, now more than ever, to see the ring upon Felicity’s finger. He just needed to figure out a time and place to do it. Even now, three years into their relationship, there were times that he felt undeserving of the love that she had bestowed upon him. He wanted to do everything to make her understand just how grateful he was for her love, belief and guidance in him. She meant the world to him, and he wanted the world to know.

 

Oliver aimlessly wandered around the house that he had shared with Felicity for the last two years, trying to gain a glimpse into the life that she had led without him for the last two weeks. Clothes and shoes were strewn around the house, a small pile of mail sat atop the side table by the door, dishes sat unwashed in the sink, and nearly a dozen of white peony bouquets littered around the house. He thought it peculiar that white peonies littered their home. Tulips were Felicity’s favourite flowers, something that he had learnt early on in their relationship when he discovered her dislike of roses. While the flowers seemed of no inconsequential threat, Oliver had a nagging feeling that the flowers meant something much more than they seemed on the surface.

 

 

 

 

The only source of light in the darkened room came from the three computer monitors that he had been monitoring for the last 72 hours, barely moving, barely blinking, and barely eating. The aches in his body grew by the hour, the fatigue setting in long ago, but he could not leave, he could not tear his eyes away. Not yet. He needed to stay. He needed to see his creation come to life. His life’s work had culminated into this trial, these moments, and he could not leave until it had all come to fruition.

 

The anticipation, the excitement, the fear that had bloomed within him over the last 24 hour brought back memories of a time in his life so similar to the one he was currently in. It was a blistering summer night that his little girl had entered the world. His wife had been in labour for nearly 24 hours, and all he could do was watch and wait, just like he was right now. Waiting for something so precious, so special, that words could not truly describe the feelings he had felt. The love, the fear, the joy that bloomed within him as he held his little girl for the first time could not compare to anything he had ever felt before, at least until this moment. All his life’s work had boiled down to this and he had to see it through.

 

He was so absorbed in monitoring his creation that he did not hear her enter. He didn’t feel her presence until she stood next to him.

 

“Hello, Doctor,” said Mistress, her voice sounding of silk and ice, “have there been any advances?”

 

“They’ve made tremendous advances, Mistress, but were not at the endpoint yet. They still need some time. But we’re close, so close. I can feel it.”

 

“That is good. It seems that all your hard is finally paying off, Doctor. But time is of the essence! The sooner we can implement the plan, the better it will be for us, as well as everyone else on the planet.”

 

“I understand, Mistress – there, there. Do you see that, Mistress,” he announced, barely containing the excitement in his voice, as he stabbed his fingers at one of the monitors, pointing at the newest spike in information that had appeared. “They’ve entered the final phase. I’ve done it, Mistress.”

 

“It seems you have, Doctor. I am very pleased, as the others will be when they hear of this. I must take my leave and contact them. When will the trials for human-to-human contact begin?”

 

“We can begin in an hour. I will remain to oversee the trials.”

 

“That will not be necessary, Doctor. Go, sleep. Eat. The others can take over from here. We need you ready and able to start the trials when you are well rested, and you are no such thing in your current state. You’ve been awake for nearly 72 hours. We can begin the trials eight hours from now, after I have made contact with the others. Many will like to see this first hand. It will give many of them enough time to come here. Go, Doctor, rest. You’re going to need it when we begin.”

 

As weary as he was, he could not rest. He needed to see the beginning stages of the trial, in order to monitor that things had gone smoothly. He could not trust the others. Not with this. They had not spent their entire lives working to reach this point, they had not given up all they knew, all they loved, to be here and see this through. He had sacrificed so much, his wife, his child, a life that he cherished, for the betterment of humanity. He needed to see this through. He could not leave. Not yet.

 

As he stared into the monitor linked to the camera in the room he saw the last vestiges of intelligent life leave the glassy eyes of the man that had been brought in for him to experiment on. The prion virus had affected the last vestiges of his brain, removing all traces of emotion, of intelligence, of humanity, from him, stripping away many eras of human evolution, reverting the man back to the evolutionary phase of our ancient ancestors. Only be de-evolving the human race could they save the human race from themselves. It was the only way, the most logical way of saving the world, of saving his little girl from the horrors derived from mankind.

 

For weeks now he had inconspicuously had dozens white peony bouquets delivered to her at her office. White peonies were a sign of a good omen, representing healing and good fortune, an emblem of affection and love. They symbolized everything that he wished for his little girl. His little girl that made all the sacrifices, all the pain and heartbreak worth it, knowing that the world that she would live in would be a better place than the one she had born into. He had ensured that she could not trace the flowers back to him, knowing his daughter and her penchant for figuring out mysteries. The desperation to see her grew day by day, but his reveal to her would come soon enough.

 

 

 

The excitement that surged through him did little to affect the cold demeanour that he had on display. He was close, so close, to fulfilling the task that had been set out before him. The plan had been set in motion two weeks ago when Mistress had alerted him that Oliver Queen and point man had set off on a global escapade to find him. Unbeknownst to Oliver, he had been in Starling City all along, waiting, watching, for the perfect moment, the moment that he could fulfill his promise to Oliver.

 

The setting sun served as the perfect backdrop to what he had planned.

 

The car surged forward as they passed through another green light. Slade monitored the tablet that displayed the information from the other car as well the vehicle that Felicity was in.

 

Oliver never did learn from his mistakes.

 

“Now,” was all that said as Slade awaiting what would happen next.  

 

The screeching of tires and the sound of compacting metal and shattering glass filtered in through the open windows of the car.

 

The adrenaline pumping through Slade spiked, he felt his powers surge. Sparks flew from the shorted lights on lining the sidewalk as he got out of the car.

 

“Grab her. Leave the boy,” ordered Slade, a smirk appearing upon face. He needed to leave Oliver some hope, however futile, that he could save his beloved.

 

 

The first thing that Felicity felt when she awoke was the freezing cold air that surrounded her. She didn’t think she had ever felt as cold as she was right now, unable to move since her legs and arms bound to the chair she was sitting in.

 

Her body ached and her head hurt as she tried to adjust to the darkness of the freezing room that she had been placed in. She tried to remember what happened but all she could recall was getting ready to leave the office to head home to Oliver.

 

Before she could even recollect more of what had happened to her the creaking of the solid metal door alerted her to another presence entering the room. The terror that surged through body was a visceral reaction to the person standing before her.

 

“Hello, Felicity,” spoke Slade, a menacing grin adorning his scared face.   

 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

Oliver’s mind was in a state of chaos, as he continued to pummel the dummy in front of him. Nearly twelve hours had passed since Felicity had been taken by Slade and they were no closer to finding her. The onslaught of images that flickered through him mind of what Slade could be doing to Felicity made his stomach roil and his heart hurt. He couldn’t calm his mind or his body, no matter how he tried to exhaust himself. He could not wash away the panic and guilt that had plagued him since he had learnt of Felicity’s kidnapping.

 

He was supposed to protect her. It was his job to protect her and he failed. He failed the one person in his life he promised himself he would never fail. He failed her. And now she was in the hands of a madman bent on making him pay for sins that he knows he could never atone for.

 

The anger, the fear, the guilt, and the self-hatred he felt bubbled violently to the surface, propelling every punch, every kick, and every hit towards the dummy in front of him. The pain that radiated through his fists, that radiated through his body did little to temper the emotions that were running rampant through his body.     

 

He hated feeling this helpless, this lost, this out of control. He hated this feeling of being without her by his side. The last three years that they had been together only solidified the knowledge that he needed her. She was his guiding light, his partner, his best friend, his other half, his heart. And he had no idea how to do this without her. He had no idea how he was going to survive if he lost her. He didn’t think he could survive it. He wouldn’t survive without her.

 

He knew the consequences of his choices that he made three years ago. He chose not to kill Slade. He chose another path, another way. He chose not to kill. He knew that that Slade would come after Felicity if he ever escaped from Lian Yu, but he never thought that that was a possibility. This time he would chose different. This time he would end Slade. There was no other way. Slade needed to die in order for him to protect the people that he loved most. Slade would pay for taking Felicity, no matter the cost it would have on him.

 

The pounding of footsteps on the stairs was the only thing that stirred him from his continuing attack against the dummy in front of him.

 

“Anything,” questioned Oliver, as Diggle walked towards him.

 

“Nothing,” answered Diggle frustratingly, “the tri-state APBs that Lance put out have come up with nothing. No one has seen them since they left the crime scene. All the surveillance cameras on the street and the surrounding areas have been wiped clean. We have nothing,” voiced Diggle miserably. “How about your Bratva connections?”

 

“Nothing! How’s Roy?”

 

“He’ll recover. Only a few broken ribs and a greenstick fracture to his ulna.”

 

“Good,” voiced Oliver angrily, moving away from the dummy.

 

“Oliver, you can’t blame Roy for what happened. No one could have stop Slade and his men,” the calm clarity of Diggle’s voice underscoring the logical reasoning of his statement.

 

Oliver hung his head as he gripped the table in front of him until his knuckles turned white before crashing of his fists against the table top jostled all the instruments atop of it.

 

“I know that. I know that it wasn’t Roy’s fault that Slade got to Felicity. I know that he couldn’t have stopped Slade or his men. I know that,” Oliver shouted, “it was my job to protect her, Digg. It was my job to keep her safe and I failed. I failed!” Oliver’s voice wavered as he finished speaking. “I have a ring you know. I’ve had it for months, sitting in my bed side table. I’ve been waiting for the right moment, the perfect moment, to ask her to marry me. I want to give her the world, Digg. It’s the least that she deserves. She deserves so much more than me. I wanted to give her a home, a family. I was going to ask her when she came home. I was going to ask her to spend the rest of her life with me. And now because of me she…she may have only hours…she may be dead. And it’s all my fault. It’s all my fault because I fell in love with her. Because I was stupid enough to believe that I had finally escaped my past, that I could finally have a happy story, a happy story with her. I don’t blame Roy. I don’t blame anyone but myself.”

 

“We’re going to find her, Oliver. You’ve already given her a home, a family, Oliver. She has it here, with you, with all of us. And I know that she would not trade this life, this life with you, for anything. You just have to believe in her as much as she believes in you. We’re going to find her and you’re going to ask her to marry you, Oliver.”

 

A hollow laugh, devoid of all emotion, emanated from Oliver.

 

“How are we going to find her, Digg? We’ve tried everything! We have nothing! Slade covered all his tracks and he has HIVE’s help. We can’t do this without her, Digg. We can’t find Felicity without Felicity.”

 

“Have we run out of all our options, Oliver?”

 

 

Amanda Waller is not a woman to be trusted. She operates on her own agenda, with no government oversight or any strict adherence to any kind of moral code. She could do whatever she deemed necessary to protect the people and the interests United States of America and no one could question her but the President himself. She had access to some of the world’s most dangerous and highly classified secrets, technology, weapons, and even people in the world. Amanda Waller was not a woman to be trifled with. She was not a woman that you willingly antagonize.

 

Storming ARGUS’s headquarters was at the tops of the list of the ways to antagonize her, and was not one of Oliver’s brightest ideas, but he had no options left. He needed to find Felicity and take down Slade. And enlisting ARGUS for their help was the only possibility left.  

 

“Oliver, you may want to calm it down,” he heard Digg implore, as he incapacitated two more agents blocking their path toward Amanda Waller’s office.

 

But he could not calm down. His mind and heart were racing as they moved closer and closer into the inner sanctum of ARGUS. He knew that Amanda would not willing help them find Felicity. Amanda never did anything without expecting something in return.

 

Amanda’s voice bellowed from the speakers, halting their movement. “Queen, you and your team need to stop this habit of storming into ARGUS. Meet me in the central operation room. I’m sure you’ll remember where it is, Mr. Diggle.”  

 

The central operation room served as ARGUS’s central command hub, controlling the operations of hundreds of agents and assets around the globe. More money and power were transferred by the analysts in this room than in any government building, board room, or back room anywhere in the world. Both Oliver and Diggle noticed the increase in activity of the room as they entered, having been unceremoniously stripped of all their weapons before being allowed to enter.

 

“Gentlemen,” declared Amanda, as they came into her purview. “Next time you decide to make an entrance into ARGUS, call first,” she said, as she walked passed the two of them, expecting them to follow. “We we’re alerted of the attack on Ms. Smoak and Mr. Harper shortly after the incident occurred. We tried tracking Slade and his men but to no avail, unfortunately. HIVE has covered their tracks as we expected them to and from the chatter that we’re picking up on they’re moving ahead with their planned attacks.”

 

“Do you really think I care about what HIVE’s plans are,” shouted Oliver, inching closer to Amanda’s position, “I came to you because you can track them. You can find them. You can find Felicity. Slade’s escape is on you. The deaths he’s caused since is on you. You have the manpower and the capabilities to track Slade down. You owe us, Amanda. You. Owe. Me,” spoke Oliver, aggression rolling off his body.

 

Neither Amanda nor Oliver back downed as they stood their ground, staring each other down, willing the other one to fold first.

 

Amanda folded first.

 

“As I’ve said, Queen, we haven’t been able to locate Slade. We’ve tried. HIVE has become more elusive in the past months than they have ever been in its history. They’re closing ranks and ensuring that only their highest echelons have access,” she said, as she walked towards a bank of monitors. Images, documents, videos appeared all across the screens. “This is what we have gathered, but none has led to any conclusive leads as to the whereabouts of Ms. Smoak or Slade Wilson. The only thing that we have discovered is this,” pointing to a picture of a single white peony, “we believe it is the calling card for HIVE’s chief scientist. He’s been behind some of HIVE’s more virulent creations and we believe that the break-ins at our numerous sites were at his behest because he needed the knowledge and technology to continue with his work. We believe whatever they are planning that he is behind it.”

 

“It can’t be a coincidence,” spoke Oliver, his voice slight shaky.

 

“What can’t be a coincidence, Oliver,” asked Diggle, noticing the look that graced his partner’s face.

 

“White peonies, they’re all over our home. There are over a dozen bouquets of them all over the house. I was going to ask Felicity about them when she came home…but I never got the chance. She doesn’t like peonies. Her favourite flowers are tulips,” said Oliver, as he turned away from the screen. “Why would someone send her white peonies?”

 

“Find out who made the deliveries and where they came from,” Amanda ordered, sending numerous analysts into a flurry, searching for connections and information. “HIVE’s assistance in Slade’s escape and their assistance in the kidnapping of Ms. Smoak may be more than just giving him an incentive to come after you, Queen. They may be targeting her for other reasons.”

 

“Why would anyone target Felicity? Her only fault has been helping me,” said Oliver, fear and panic beginning to breakdown his tenuous hold against the emotions that had been brewing since he learnt of Felicity’s kidnapping.

 

“Ms. Waller,” spoke on the analysts, “we’re receiving an encrypted transmission that bounced of the Arrow’s servers. You may want to take a look at this. It’s Ms. Smoak.”

 

 

“Hello, Mr. Wilson,” Felicity grounds out, as she tries to maintain her composure of calm against her wildly beating heart beneath her chest.

 

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Ms. Smoak. I see that you’re impeccable etiquette is not discouraged by your situation. It’s quite commendable given the circumstances,” sneers Slade, his grin growing ever wider on his face. “You must be wondering how I got to you. That brilliant mind of yours never stops, or so I’ve been told. HIVE is quite a resourceful organization. They had a mole implanted within Queen Consolidated well before I was even rescued. They’ve been keeping tabs on you and the rest of your team. Watching and waiting for Oliver to slip. He left you all alone, to be defended by a child. Oliver never truly learns from his mistakes does he? Car accidents do have the possibilities to do so much damage.”

 

Slade’s laughter was met with resounding silence from Felicity as he continues he tirade of Oliver’s character and inability to meet the demands placed before him.

 

“Don’t worry, Ms. Smoak, I’m not going to hurt you. Not right now at least. I’ve taken what is most precious to Oliver; I’ve taken you. Oliver’s been going crazy trying to find you. He’s turned over every stone, met every contact, every source, to find you. He’s even gone to ARGUS,” Slade says as he paces the area in front of her, like a hunter watching its prey, before advancing upon her, trailing his fingers up and down her arm. “I wonder? Did Oliver tell you about our little conversation in my lovely jail cell on Lian Yu that he stuck me in three years ago? About the promises that were made? Those promises are all that I have thought about every day, every moment of the last three years,” Slade said as he leaned down towards Felicity, before hauntingly whispering into her ear, “and all that I have dreamt about. I am going to make Oliver Queen pay for his sins. And you, my dear, you are the price he must pay.”

 

Felicity didn’t think her heart could beat any faster than it was beating at that very moment, as she stared into the darkened eye of Slade Wilson, watching a smile grow upon his face.

 

 

Slade watched as Felicity was strapped into the chair pointed directly at the camera. He was delighted in the fear he saw in her eyes. The straps were a necessary precaution, he underestimated her once and it landed him back on that godforsaken islasnd. Oliver saw something in her, something that put her above the rest of all the women that had come before her. Oliver’s restraint in not killing him was just one of the many indications of how much Oliver had changed since they had parted and a large part of that, he knew, was due to the woman strapped to the chair. He intended to keep his promises to Oliver.

 

The serum was being prepared by a few of the men that very moment. They were given specific instructions by Mistress on what to do with the serum. When he was told of what Mistress and HIVE had planned, and how they were going about in fulfilling their plan, he was horrified then excited. The world was changing and this time he was going to be on the winning side. This time he would get to watch Oliver and his allies fall. Oliver would finally pay for Shado’s death and his time spent of ARGUS prison on Lian Yu, all thanks to a little serum.

 

“Hello, Oliver,” Slade said, as he moved behind Felicity, placing his hands on her shoulders, causing in to involuntarily shiver, staring directly into the camera. “I fulfilled the first of my promises you see. I got your Felicity, Oliver, stole her right from under your noise. You never learn from your mistakes do you? She’s gotten more beautiful since the last time I saw her. Her radiance is blinding now,” Slade taunted. “Now I’m going to fulfill the rest of my promises I made to you, Oliver. I’m going to take her away from you, but not in the way you think.”

 

One of the men that had been preparing the serum neared him and handed him a syringe filled with a milky white substance.

 

“You see, Oliver, the people that helped rescued me, they have grand plans for the world. They have vast amounts of money and power, and they’ve been waiting a long time to initiate their grand plan. And they’re nearly there. They’ve been waiting in the shadows, watching, as the world crumbles beneath the weight of human beings like yourself, selfish individuals that have only care about themselves and they are going to make you all pay. And I’m more than happy to make you pay, Oliver. In my hands is a substance, a beautiful creation, a mixture of science and philosophy. And dear Ms. Smoak here is going to be one of the first to feel its effects,” Slade goaded, as he brought the syringe against Felicity’s neck. “I promised you that I would rip her away from you, that I would take away your beloved. I promised that I would kill her in front of your eyes, that you would watch all that light, all the innocence and intelligence, all that goodness and belief in you, all that love that she has for you, drain from her eyes. And I keep my promises, brother,” plunging the syringe into Felicity’s neck.

 

The screams that came from Felicity after Slade injected her with the serum echoed across the room. The screaming only stopped when she finally lost consciousness after a few moments.

 

“You’ll be receiving a video feed soon. It will show you the effects that this serum has on human beings. It’s quite innovative actually. Along with the package you will receive the coordinates to our current location. You have a limited amount of time to say goodbye to your beloved, Oliver. I never got that time. I would use it wisely if I were you.”

 

The connection with Oliver and ARGUS was cut abruptly. The video feed was sent first, with the current coordinates to be sent an hour later, it would be a few hours before they would get to their current location, and they would be long gone by then.

 

Slade was a bit melancholy that he would not get to watch the effects of what Felicity’s condition would have on Oliver, but he had seen enough of the video feed to know that the promises he made Oliver would be fulfilled. Oliver Queen’s destruction was imminent and he couldn’t be happier.    

 

 

Oliver watched as the video feed showed a man in a white gown drift listlessly around a padded white room. The video showed the man being injected with the same milky white substance that Felicity had been injected with. The time stamp showed the increasing loss of faculties by the man, hour by hour after he awoke. Coherent movement was the first of the man’s faculties to disappear. Trouble speaking, trouble making coherent sentences came next. He watched as the man deteriorated to the state where he was no longer able to move, or to speak or even blink as he laid on the ground staring lifelessly at the camera. The light drained completely from the man’s eyes, all sign of human intelligence disappearing as the feed continued. The man eventually stopped breathing, death finally taking him.

 

The anger surged through Oliver caused him to smash numerous objects around him. It took Diggle and three ARGUS agents to restrain Oliver.   

 

“We have to find her, Digg! We have to get her to a hospital! She needs help, Digg. She needs our help,” Oliver cried before crumpling to the ground. The fear, the panic, the anger, the guilt and other emotions that he had tried to keep at bay engulfing him, finally breaking free of the fragile hold he had had on them since Slade had taken Felicity.

 

“We’ve received the coordinates of the location that we believe that Ms. Smoak is being held at. We’re going to send a HAZMAT team with you. They are to go into the location first to ensure that whatever they injected with Ms. Smoak does not leave the premise if they deem it contagious. Do you hear me, Queen? I’m going to allow you and Mr. Diggle to go with the team to rescue Ms. Smoak. In return you bring Ms. Smoak back to this facility, you allow us to run tests on her, and you and your team help to track down HIVE’s head scientist. Do we have a deal, Queen?”

 

“Yes," answered Oliver begrudgingly.  

 

“Good. But if you so as even step a foot out of line my agents have a standing order to put a bullet into you, Oliver,” Amanda declared coldly. “Gear up, gentlemen, boots up in 20 minutes.”

Chapter Text

 


 

 

The incessant sound of the rotating helicopter blades did little to silence the erratic beating of Oliver’s heart. The closer they got to her, the faster his heart seemed to beat. The rising feeling of desperation of seeing her, of seeing her alive, only spurred his constant rubbing together of his thumb and ring finger.

 

They were minutes away from the coordinates that had been sent to them by Slade. He was minutes away from being able to see Felicity, to hold her and ensure that she was still breathing, still alive, still with him. The screams that emanated from her mouth after Slade had injected her with the serum tore at every fibre of his being. His entire body seized the moment he heard her terrified, pain-filled screams. He hated hearing those kinds of screams. He hated them even more knowing that they had come from her. He could still hear them, echoing in his mind, every time he closed his eyes. He could picture her in those moments, the look of pain entrenched on her face and fear in her eyes.

 

He was supposed to protect her. And he failed. He didn’t know if he could ever forgive himself for this failure, the failure to protect the one person who was never supposed to be harmed because of him.

 

He could still picture the sickening look of pleasure that radiated from Slade as he stared into the camera, acknowledging that he had fulfilled his promise that he had made all those years ago in that dark and damp underground prison on Lian Yu.

 

His fists tightened until his knuckles were white as he let his anger towards Slade bubble to the surface. He wanted, eagerly, for Slade to pay for what he done to Felicity. He wanted Slade to pay for what he had done to his mother. He wanted Slade to pay for what he had done to his city. Oliver remembered his own promise that he had made to Slade in ARGUS’s prison. He had promised Slade that he would kill him if he ever laid a hand on Felicity. He would fulfill that promise. He would kill Slade. He would make Slade pay for all the pain, all the horror that he had inflicted upon him. Slade would die. He had to die. If he didn’t kill Slade, Slade would always remain a threat, a threat to him, to Felicity, to Thea, and the entire team. And he could not let that stand. Knowing that he would never forgive himself if Slade hurt his family once again, knowing he could have prevented it.

 

The pilot’s voice filtered through his headphones, telling him that they had arrived at the coordinates that Slade had sent. All they could see through the darkness was an abandoned-looking cabin in the middle of the woods.  

 

It took all of Oliver’s will power to not jump out of the plane and rush into the building. But he understood the repercussions if he were to do so. Three ARGUS agents sat in front of Diggle and him, their weapons trained on them, all with shot-to-kill orders if they even stepped a foot out of line. He had no choice but to sit still and watch as soldiers, doctors, and scientists, ARUGUS’s very own Infectious Diseases and Viruses Control team, file out of the three landed helicopters in front of theirs. They were dressed head-to-toe in HAZMAT suits, and entered the building in search of Felicity.

 

“The building is clear. We’ve located the package,” cited the rescue mission’s team leader minutes later.  “She’s alive.”

 

Oliver, upon hearing those words, could breathe, really breathe, for the first time since he had heard of her kidnapping.

 

“She is still unconscious, but her pupils are responding to light stimulation. She has a temperature of 104.5 degrees Celsius. Her pulse is steady. Please be advised, we are about to start the quarantine process,” said ARGUS chief medical doctor onsite.

 

“How long does the process take,” asks Diggle, knowing not only how anxious he is to see Felicity, but how anxious Oliver is to see her too.

 

“We don’t know. We know that the package was injected with a pathogen. We have no idea what that pathogen is. We have no idea of how contagious it is, or if it’s transferable through human-to-human contact. We are taking every measure to ensure that whatever the package was injected with does not spread beyond these four walls,” responded the doctor clinically.

 

The scientist’s response did little to quell the tension that already existed within the cockpit of the helicopter. Oliver was itching to get out of the helicopter and rush to Felicity’s side.

 

“I would not do anything impulsive if I were you, Mr. Queen,” sounded Amanda’s voice through the helicopter’s communication system. “The faster my people are able to do their jobs, the faster you can see Ms. Smoak.”

 

While Oliver knew that Amanda’s words were true, it did little to ease the emotions that were churning through his body. He hated waiting, knowing that she was just inside the building, all by herself, separated from those who truly cared about her. She hated needles. And he hated knowing that she was being poked and prodded by a number of ARGUS medical doctors because of him. He hated knowing that he had done this to her. That his sins somehow had transferred to her.

 

Nearly two hours had passed before ARGUS’s IDVC team cleared both Felicity and the site. The pathogen, whatever its composition, was not contagious. The numerous tests that the doctors had run located the pathogen within Felicity’s nervous system. It was attacking her nervous system. That was the one thing, the only thing that the doctors were completely sure of.

 

“They’re rolling her out, Mr. Queen. You and Mr. Diggle may join Ms. Smoak in the medevac,” said one of the agents in the helicopter.

 

Oliver couldn’t get out of the helicopter fast enough, rushing to Felicity’s side as the doctors rolled her stretcher out of the abandoned building. He watched the rise and fall of her chest as they moved her into the medevac, beads of sweat rolling down her forehead.

 

“Can…can I touch her,” Oliver asked of one of the doctors, desperately wanting to feel her beating pulse for himself. He needed to assure himself that she was alive, that she was safe, that she was still with him.

 

“You can, Mr. Queen,” answered the doctor monitoring her vitals. “She’s not contagious and her vitals seem to be stabilized at the moment. We’ll know more about her condition when we reach our facility. But from what I have seen of the video footage that was sent to us, I would suggest that you prepare yourself for the worst possibility. We will of course try and do absolutely everything possible to save Ms. Smoak. But we have a limited amount of time and know little of what Ms. Smoak was exposed to. We are excellent at our jobs, we’re some of the best in the world, but not even we can promise miracles, Mr. Queen.”

 

Oliver let the doctor’s words sink in as he clutched Felicity’s hand, his thumb carefully tracing circles on the back of her hand, hoping that he could somehow transfer some of his strength to her. He couldn’t remember the amount of times that she had given him the strength to keep on fighting, to keep on living, when the world was crumbling down on him. She was the strongest person that he had ever known and he wished that he could do the same for her in her greatest moment of need, as she had always done for him.

 

He needed her to fight. He needed her to keep breathing. He needed her to stay alive.

 

He didn’t want to hear those words. He didn’t want to prepare for the worst. He didn’t want to think about having to fall asleep every night without her in his arms. He didn’t want to prepare for a future without her. She was his future. She was the only possibility for a future that he ever thought possible since he returned home from the island. In a single moment she had changed him. She had changed his entire universe without even knowing it. She had become his sun, his guiding light, in a world that was filled with so much darkness. He didn’t want to live without her light. He didn’t want to live in a world without her in it.  

 

 

 

 

Hours had passed as Oliver remained glued to Felicity’s side in the private medical room within ARGUS’s headquarters. Felicity had yet to awaken from slumber that the serum had caused.

 

Oliver continued to watch the rise and fall of her every breath. He listened to every single beep of the heart monitor attached to her body. He was careful not to disturb the IV that was attached to her hand, giving her body the badly needed fluids to help her body fight whatever pathogen it was battling. He mindlessly traced patterns up and down her arm, from her elbow to the very tips of her finger, feeling the sickly warmth of her skin and every pulse of blood through her veins. Willing her to wake up and let him see her eyes, eyes that had captured his attention, his heart, the moment he saw them when he walked into her officer all those years ago.

 

ARGUS’s doctors and scientists remained ignorant as to what pathogen Felicity was infected with and inept in trying to help her.

 

“Oliver,” he heard emanate from Digg, as he entered the secure room. “Waller wants to talk to us. She says it’s important. She says she has information as to who may have created the virus that’s affecting Felicity. She wants to see us right now.”

 

Leaving her side was the last thing that Oliver wanted to do. But he knew he had to go. Amanda wasn’t a patient woman, he would have to go to her or she would come to him. He would rather the former than the latter in this instance, not wanting Amanda to disturb Felicity.

 

He traced his thumb down her arm once again, before placing a kiss on her forehead.

 

“I’ll be right back, Felicity. I’ll be quick, okay? I just need to talk to Amanda and I’ll be right back. You better not die while I’m gone. If you do I’m going to be so pissed, okay,” spoke Oliver, hovering above her, as he prepared himself to leave her, holding back tears.

 

“The doctors still can’t figure out what’s attacking Felicity’s nervous system. They’ve never seen anything like this,” said Diggle, as the two of them walked towards Amanda’s office. “They have no idea how to save Felicity.”

 

Oliver could hear the frustration in Diggle’s voice. Diggle cared about Felicity just as he much as he did. Diggle wanted to save her just as much as he did.

 

“Gentlemen,” spoke Amanda, as they entered office, “one my scientist has discovered something quite significant concerning Ms. Smoak and her current condition. It seems that the virus that is attacking Ms. Smoak’s nervous system has quite a few major genetic commonalities with a virus that a university researcher was working on over two decades ago.”

 

“Where is the researcher? Is the researcher still alive? Is there any way that he could help us? Is there any way that he could help save Felicity,” asked Oliver, the desperation clear in his voice.

 

“The researcher, a doctor, disappeared shortly after his research was made published. He hasn’t been heard of since. And we have been unable to locate his exact location. We do, however, believe he is still alive,” responded Amanda.

 

“You think the doctor was hired by HIVE,” questioned Diggle.

 

“You are correct, Mr. Diggle. We believe that HIVE either hired or captured this doctor because of his research. Under HIVE’s guidance we believe the doctor was able to further research and develop the virus into its current form. We believe this is the doctor that created the virus that is currently attacking Ms. Smoak’s nervous system. We also have evidence that supports our claims that it was he that sent Ms. Smoak all those bouquets of white peonies prior to her kidnapping.” 

 

“Are you saying the HIVE specifically targeted Felicity,” asks Oliver, his mind not comprehending why HIVE would want to target Felicity.

 

“We do not believe that HIVE was specifically targeting Ms. Smoak, per say,” answered Amanda. “The doctor’s last known location was in Las Vegas, Nevada. He disappeared over twenty years ago, leaving behind a wife and young daughter.”

 

The air seemed to disappear from the room, as Oliver and Diggle let the knowledge they just heard sink in.

 

“Are you saying what I think your saying, Waller,” asks Diggle, “that the man who created this virus, the virus that is killing Felicity, is her father?”

 

“We believe so,” responds Waller tersely. “We believe that either the doctor knew that his daughter would be kidnapped by Slade and injected with the virus or that key members of HIVE targeted Ms. Smoak as a way to keep the doctor in line.”  

 

“How long have you known, Amanda? How long have you known that Felicity’s father was a high ranking HIVE member? How long have you kept this from us,” posed Oliver, anger colouring his voice.

 

“We discovered that knowledge shortly after the rescue team departed. We had no prior knowledge of the connection between Ms. Smoak and HIVE,” responded Amanda, hostility rising in the room. “You cannot blame us for this, Mr. Queen. We may be the only ones that can help you at this point.”

 

“Help us? You’ve never done anything to help anyone that doesn’t benefit you, Amanda. There is always a price when it comes to your help,” voice Oliver.

 

“You’re right, Mr. Queen. Everything in this world has a price. When you find the good doctor, you are to bring him back here and have him synthesize a cure for Ms. Smoak. In return, we get to keep him and learn all we can about his work.”

 

“So that you can develop your own biological weapons from his knowledge,” voices Diggle.

 

“The world isn’t some utopia, Mr. Diggle. We live in a world that exists as a zero-sum game. You either kill or be killed, there is no other option. The only way that we will be able to defeat HIVE and render them useless is if we debilitate them. And this is one way of doing that. You and Mr. Queen will join with the Suicide Squad to track down and bring the good doctor back here.”

 

“No,” answers Oliver. “I won’t leave Felicity’s side. I won’t leave her alone in your care, Amanda. You can send the Squad out there by themselves and track down and bring him back. I won’t leave her all alone.”

 

“That is quite noble of you, Mr. Queen. But you don’t have that luxury. Time is running out and we need to find this doctor before it’s too late, before it is too late for Ms. Smoak. You have the expertise to find and capture the doctor.”

“My answer is still no, Amanda. I won’t leave her. Not now, not ever.”

 

The finality of Oliver’s statement silenced further orders from Amanda.

 

“Mr. Diggle, you will join the Suicide Squad and find the doctor and bring him back here. The Squad is ready to go with all the information we have been able to gather about the possible locations where HIVE could be holding him,” informs Amanda.

 

“John…,” Oliver says, as he turns towards his partner.

 

“It is okay, Oliver. You stay here. You stay with our girl and make sure she’s okay. I’ll find her father. I’ll bring him back. I’ll force him to save her if I have to. I’ve got this.”

 

Oliver couldn’t help but be grateful for having a friend, a brother, like Diggle, in that moment.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“I know you would do the same for me if our situations were reversed. You stay with her. She needs you, now more than ever.”

 

…     

 

All he wants is for her to just open her eyes and wake up. It has been hours since they had brought her to ARGUS’s medical facility and she has yet to open her eyes.

 

Felicity’s condition wasn’t getting any better; it was actually getting worse by the hour. More and more of ARGUS’s doctors and scientists had been called in from around the country and overseas but none could clearly identify the pathogen that was attacking her nervous system.  

 

The pathogen, whatever it was, was not responding to any type of antibiotic known to man. ARGUS’s doctors and scientist knew that the pathogen was man-made. Nothing like it existed in nature. But whatever it was, it was working fast, and it seemed near impossible to stop.

 

Oliver was terrified, more terrified than he had ever been in his entire life. He couldn’t lose her. Not like this. Not now. Not when they had the rest of the lives to spend together. He couldn’t lose her. Not when they were this close, this close to having the life that they had both dreamed about. Not when they had just begun to build their life together.

 

This is his worst nightmare come to reality. He’s had a countless amount of nightmares where she has ended up hurt or dead because of him, because of what they do. But nothing can measure up to the pain, the guilt, and the terror that fills him as he watches her unconscious form prone in a hospital bed.

 

“Mr. Queen,” the doctor acknowledges as she entered the room, the same doctor that rode with them in the medevac on their way back to ARGUS HQ. It’s another hourly visit to checkup on Felicity’s vitals.

 

“How is she doing,” Oliver asks quietly.

 

“She’s as stable at the moment. Her vitals are looking better. Her fever hasn’t gone down though. And her brains scans are showing signs swelling in her brain.”

 

Oliver closed his eyes, desperately trying to hold back every emotion that washed forward as he listened to every painful word that the doctor said.   

 

“Have you figured out what’s attacking her nervous system?”

 

“We think the pathogen is a modified form of a prion virus. It’s the only reasonable explanation as to why only her nervous system is being attacked by the virus. Prion viruses are hard to treat, near impossible actually. We have no known cure for prion viruses. We have some of the world’s leading scientists and doctors in microbiology trying to figure out a way to at least slow down the virus that is attacking Ms. Smoak. But we haven’t been able to find anything. I’m sorry, Mr. Queen.”

 

“Thank you,” Oliver says, dismissing the doctor.

 

Silence permeates around the room for minutes after the doctor leaves. Oliver is once again clinging to Felicity’s hand, his fingers tracing the lines on the palm of her hand.

 

“I need you to wake up, Felicity. I need you to fight this,” Oliver says, hoping she can somehow hear him. “You’re strong, you’re so strong. You’re the strongest person I know and you need to be strong now. I need you to be strong now. I can’t do this without you. I don’t want to do this without you.” Tears begin to form in his eyes as he continues speaking, his voice breaking. “You’re my life. You’re the love of my life. And I need you. You’re the first person who I could see as a person. You’re the first person who could see through all my bullshit. You’re the first person who could see me.”

 

His hand, the hand that wasn’t clinging to Felicity’s like a life line, began slowly caressing the side of Felicity’s face as he continued to speak.

 

“You changed my life, Felicity. You changed my entire universe without even knowing it. You have saved my life, more times than I can count. You’ve given my life meaning. You’ve given me something to live for. And I need you to live. I need you to fight. And I know that I sound selfish, but I can’t help but be selfish with you,” he says, as he brings her hand up to his lips, placing small kisses on her knuckles. “I need you. I need you so much, baby. So please, just please, Felicity, open your eyes and fight.”

 

Oliver could only hope that she could hear his plea.

 

He could not imagine his life without Felicity in it. For so long, he didn’t believe that he could have or deserved a normal life, a real life, filled with happiness, and love, and family. But by some miracle he had walked into her office and his life was forever changed. The axis upon which his world spun changed with a cant of her head and a red pen in her mouth. She irrevocably changed his life. And there was no going back. She, and only she, could abolish the darkness around him and draw out the light, the humanity that was left, buried deep within him. And she had done that time and time again, saving him when he was at his lowest point, believing in him when no one else would. She made sure that he was never alone. He didn’t think that he could ever live alone again. He didn’t think he could live without her ever again.

 

“Oliver,” Felicity whispered, her eye lids flickering.

 

“Hey. Hey. I’m here, baby. You’re safe,” concern and relief peppering Oliver’s voice, “I got you. I got you, Felicity.”  

 

“Where am I,” asked Felicity, slightly dazed and confused.

 

“You’re at ARGUS’s medical facility.”

 

“I feel hot, Oliver. Really hot! I feel like I’m burning, Oliver,” Felicity moaned, her face scrunching in pain. “It hurts, Oliver! Why does it hurt?” she screams.

 

“I don’t know, Felicity. I don’t know,” responds Oliver, deathly concerned. “The doctors are coming, okay. They’re coming. Just hang on.”

 

Oliver violently mashed the help button on Felicity’s side table, alerting the doctors and nurses.

 

He tried to calm Felicity the best he could as she continued to scream that she felt like she was burning. He continued to do so until she became unconscious and the sound of her flat lining pierced his ears.

 

Oliver froze, just for a moment, not knowing what to do, watching the woman he loved with his whole heart fade in front of him.

 

Doctors and nurses rushed into Felicity’s room, pushing Oliver aside, before beginning to resuscitate her.

 

It snaps Oliver back to reality.  

 

“Felicity,” he screamed. “Don’t leave me, Felicity! Please,” he begged, as he tried to force his way back to her side. He is stopped by the same doctor that had previously visited them.

 

“Mr. Queen,” she pleaded, “you need to calm down! You need to let us do our jobs and save Ms. Smoak.”

 

Oliver crumples to the floor, watching helplessly as nurses place the defibrillator’s leads on her chest and doctors push drugs into her IV.

 

He couldn’t lose her. Not like this. Not now. His world was shattering right in front of him and he couldn’t do anything to stop it.

 

 

Chapter Text


 

 

“Daddy? Daddy! Daddy, wake up,” she giggled. “Come on, we’re going to be late. You promised me that you would take me to the museum today. Come on, daddy. It’s time to get up,” she said rocking him with her little hands, trying to wake him.

 

He still felt the imprints of her small hands on him as he awoke, covered in sweat in a darkened room, clinging, desperately, to those precious moments of his little girl. He missed her so much. Every single day was a struggle. But everything he was doing, everything that he had done, was for her. It had always been for her. It would always be for her.

 

It was the first time this week that this particular recurring dream appeared. He was supposed to take her to the museum that day but he didn’t, he was so close to a breakthrough that he had to be in the lab that day. He promised that he would take her to the museum the following Saturday. He promised her an all-day daddy and daughter day, but that day never came. He left her five days later.

 

While he made many regrettable decisions in his life, not taking her to the museum that day ranked high on his list, but not high enough. He knew that every decision he made has lead him here to this moment. He was so close, he could feel it. His life’s work would be unveiled in ten days’ time and would bring about an evolutionary change the world had not seen in thousands of years. And it would all be for her. For her future and he could not wait to join her and see it.

 

He looked over to the clock on his nightstand and saw that it was 4:45 in the morning. He had only gotten about three hours of sleep. But it did not really matter to him. He had not been able to get a full eight hours of sleep in over a decade. True rest was not needed for his mind to do its work.

 

He smiled, looking at the dozens upon dozens of photographs and drawings of Felicity that surrounded him, taped haphazardly all over the four walls and the ceiling of the room.

 

He had more work that needed to be completed. Final tests had to be run on his remaining subjects, more observations needed to be noted, and more research to be catalogued. He knew that his remaining subjects would not survive the final steps of the experimental process, but their lives were lost for a noble cause. Their lives would bring about a change that the world and its budding population would need to survive the oncoming extinction that it had brought upon itself.

 

Extinction is the rule.

 

Survival is the exception.

 

And he fully intended to survive Earth’s latest extinction.

 

His life’s goal was only a hair’s breadth away.

 

Nothing would stop the fruition of his work. Nothing would stop him.

 

 

“T-minus 60 seconds till drop zone,” Diggle overheard the pilot say, as he strapped himself into the seat of the open air jeep.

 

Diggle looked to his left as Floyd Lawton jumped into the driver seat, strapping himself in, flashing him a smug smile in the process.

 

“You ready,” asked Lawton.

 

“As ready as I can be,” Diggle replied.

 

In less than 60 seconds they would be air dropped thousands of feet into a deserted region near the Gobi Desert. ARGUS intel placed a highly secure HIVE facility in the area, a facility they believed to be the location of Felicity’s father.

 

He had spent the entire flight going over every piece of intelligence that ARGUS had collected on the site. He memorized all the ingress and egress points, location of windows, staircases, the many rooms, laboratories and living quarters. While the numerous satellite images had provided cursory blueprints of the facility, they didn’t detail everything. Major parts of the facility had some sort of shielding over them, making them undetectable to satellite imaging.

 

The unease and fear that he felt on the plane ride over did not dampen as he received continuous updates from Oliver about Felicity’s condition. She continued to deteriorate hour by hour. ARGUS’s doctors and scientists were no closer to developing a treatment to combat the prion virus that was attacking her nervous system. Many of the doctors and scientists feared that they would not be able to develop one in time to save her. He needed to find Felicity’s father, and he had to find him soon if they had any hope of saving her in time before the virus completely destroyed her nervous system.

 

John watched as the other members of the Suicide Squad strapped themselves into their respective seats and vehicles. A total of three vehicles would be air dropped into the desert. He and Lawton occupied one vehicle, while the other two vehicles housed the remaining members of the Suicide Squad. Diggle had, had a chance to overlook their dossiers while on the plane ride over.

 

Six members made up the Squad’s current lineup. Ben Turner, aka Bronze Tiger, was the team’s resident combat specialist. Bette Sans Souci, aka Plastique, was the team’s EOD specialist. Mari McCabe, aka Vixen, was the team’s medical and combat specialist. Susan Thorne, aka Black Orchid, was the team’s camouflage/tradecraft expert. Cliff Devoe, aka Thinker, was the team’s resident genius and expert computer hacker. And finally, Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot, was the team’s expert marksman and de facto leader.

 

This current lineup of the Squad’s members had been together for almost two years, completing a number of highly critical and sensitive missions for ARGUS. With each successful mission they completed, the higher their chances of survival became within the organization. The current lineup of the Squad was considered the best that ARGUS had ever had.

 

“Deadshot, you are a go,” voiced Waller through interconnected comms. This would be the Squad’s final communication with Waller. There would be no contact between ARGUS and the Squad until the scheduled extraction three hours from their initial drop.

 

The klaxon sounded as the hanger doors of the C-130J Super Hercules began to open. ARGUS had redesigned a fleet of Super Hercules jets, rendering them completely stealth and undetectable to all forms of radar. The plane they were currently in was one of the newest redesigns, able to camouflage within any environment it was in. They couldn’t take any chances of tipping off HIVE, the Mongolian or the Chinese government of their encroachment of their airspace. Mistakes would not be afforded for this mission.

 

The lights turned green indicating that the hanger doors were fully open. The vehicle carrying Turner and McCabe dropped first, followed by the vehicle carrying Thorne, Devoe and Souci. The vehicle carrying himself and Lawton dropped last.

 

The rush of air that swept around him as the vehicle went into free fall took his breath away. He felt his body and the vehicle jerk as the parachutes deployed, slowing their descent. Lawton had the vehicle running before they even hit the ground, his foot hitting the gas pedal the moment they hit solid ground propelling the vehicle forward. Sand and very little vegetation surrounded them as they moved closer and closer to the GPS location that ARGUS had provided. The setting sun surrounded them as they inched closer to the location. The chill of the night air did little to lighten the gravity of the mission and their objective.

 

Diggle was grateful for the scarf that surrounded his face as their vehicles ploughed through the many sand dunes that surrounded them; sand flew all around them due to the speed the vehicles were travelling at.

 

“Satellite images shows no guards surrounding the facility. But there are 50 heats signatures that we have been able to detect within the building. They are most likely armed, so prepare yourselves,” Lawton informed everyone over their comms.

 

“You got you’re A-game ready,” questioned Lawton.

 

“I’m ready,” responded Diggle, remembering the conversation that occurred between the two of them on the plane ride over. He had questioned Lawton on his knowledge of HIVE, but Lawton had readily admitted that he had none. He recounted that his only contact with HIVE was when they hired him to take out Andy Diggle. Lawton had been told to make it look like he was targeting the man that Andy had been hired to protect, but that he was the intended target. Lawton had never been told why the younger Diggle had been targeted, and at the time he did not care. HIVE had paid him a large amount of money for the hit. Diggle had combed through all of the files that ARGUS had on HIVE and none made any mention of Andy and his assassination.

 

Diggle hadn’t only questioned Lawton on his connection with HIVE, but also his new leadership role in the Squad. Lawton had recounted that the job and his team members had changed him over the last two years. For Lawton, the Squad had become his family. They all worked together to keep each other alive, that’s how their team worked and had proven successful up until this point in time. All of the Squad members, Lawton included, had come to look at their work as an atonement of sorts for the many sins they had all committed. Every member knew that freedom would not be granted, unless it was through a body bag, if they were so lucky.

 

“We have eyes on the facility, Deadshot,” voiced McCabe, her vehicle stationed almost half a mile from the facility’s entrance.  

 

“Thinker, what’s the security like,” asked Deadshot.

 

“I’m picking up numerous eyes and motion sensors surrounding the facility. Hacking them now,” Diggle heard Thinker say over the quick clacking of keys of a laptop that he was working from. “Done,” Thinker yelled. “The cameras are running on a loop feed and I’ve gotten into their internal alarm system.”

 

“Team Two, you have a go,” Deadshot ordered.

 

The facility looked like an ancient stone fortress that had risen from the sands of the desert. Not even ARGUS had been able to correctly date the construction of the facility.

 

All three vehicles continued to the right side of the stone fortress, Thorne’s vehicle pulling up first. ARGUS satellite images had found a soft ingress point on this side of the building.

 

“Plastique, you’re up,” directed Deadshot.

 

Diggle watched in wonder as Souci removed her gloves and touched the stone wall, sweeping her arms in a large circle across the stone wall. The circle began to spark purple and gold as if explosive charges had been placed on them, blowing a hole into the building.

 

“You remember what Waller said, all hostiles are expendable. We have one objective that is to find and bring the scientist in alive. We level everything after,” Deadshot ordered, as everyone swiftly removed their extra weapons from the vehicles.  

 

All the members of the Squad and Diggle were given a number of explosive charges that they were to position all around the building as they moved around it. While ARGUS wanted the Felicity’s father, they also wouldn’t let the chance of destroying a highly secure HIVE facility go.

 

It wasn’t even five minutes in when Turner and McCabe began taking out guards. They were met with over a dozen more as they moved towards the centre of the facility.

 

The team moved as a unit towards the part of the facility that had been shielded from ARGUS’s satellite imaging. If HIVE was housing Felicity’s father at the facility, he would most likely be here. They had yet to encounter any individuals that were not guards. Whatever the facility was, it was incredibly guarded and secure. The level of adrenalin in Diggle’s body spiked as they inched closer to the shielded part of the facility.

 

A massive electronic door blocked their path. The door was part of a massive 100 foot wall made of reinforced steel, concrete, and as they learnt, bulletproof glass after Turner unload a full clip into it.

 

“Thinker,” Lawton ordered.

 

“Got it,” Devoe responded, quickly connecting his tablet to the electronic control panel. They watched in silence as Devoe worked on breaking into the secure panel.  

 

Diggle observed fluidity of the team’s dynamic, as each member quickly and silently took sentry positions around Devoe, forming a shield between him and any immediate threats.

 

“Done,” Devoe said triumphantly. “We’re in.” Devoe quickly moving aside as Turner and Lawton headed through the door first.

 

They moved quickly down the brightly lit hallways, quickly clearing all the rooms. Most of the rooms looked to be conference rooms or very simple living quarters.

 

The door at the end of the hallway was secured by another electronic panel, different from all the other ones that they had previously encountered in the facility. Devoe moved towards the door before being pushed aside by Souci.

 

“Hacking is going to take too long. We’re running out of time,” Souci said, before removing her gloves and placing her hands. “Let’s simplify the situation. You may all want to back up,” she quipped, throwing her head to the side, indicating where they should all stand.  

 

The team watched in silence as Souci placed her bare hands on the door, and began to glow red instantly. The effect was immediate. The door imploded, creating a gush of warm air over them.

 

The long hallway in front of them was dimly lit. The darkness was truly unnerving, hairs stood on the back of Diggle’s neck as they moved further down the hall. They could hear moans and screams emanating from the walls, the further they went.

 

They were met with a set of swinging metal double doors at the end of the hallway, a large sign with large red blocks letters indicated access was restricted to Authorized Personnel Only. No locks obstructed their entrance through these doors.

 

What they were met with made Diggle’s stomach roil.

 

They now knew where all the screaming and moaning were coming from. Individuals in different states of delirium and distress were screaming and moaning in pain in each occupied room. Some were banging their fists against the windows of each room. Others were banging their heads against the walls.  And a few looked catatonic in their beds. They counted 12 occupied rooms as the moved down the corridor.

 

Diggle now knew where the video that Slade had sent them was recorded.

 

“What the hell are they doing to these people,” questioned Thinker, visibly shaken by what he was witnessing.

 

“I’ve got no fucking clue,” replied McCabe, fear visible in her eyes as she watched one individual run into the wall repeatedly, causing open wounds and blood to pour from their body.

 

“We’ve got to find the scientist and get out of ASAP,” ordered Lawton. “Fan out! Plastique. Thinker. Stay here and guard the doors. Shot anything that isn’t us.”

 

Thorne, Turner and McCabe took the hallway to the right, while Diggle and Lawton took the one on the left.

 

Minutes passed as each team moved farther and farther down their chosen hallways.

 

“Deadshot,” whispered Turner through the comms. “I think we’ve found him.”

 

Lawton started running towards the other end of the hallway with Diggle trailing behind him.

 

Turner pointed to a set of doors with large windows, as they reached them. A laboratory was situated behind the doors. Inside a man that looked to be in his late 50s, early 60s, with greying dark hair, was pacing about the room with his back turned to the doors, large headphones situated upon his ears.

 

The man matched the description that ARGUS had given them.

 

“Black Orchid, you’re up,” Lawton said.

 

Before the eyes of the Squad and Diggle, Thorne physically morphed into an exact copy of Donna Smoak. While Diggle was aware of individuals with meta-human powers, it was still odd to see them in action.

 

Thorne silently walked into the room, and stood a few feet behind Felicity’s father.

 

“Martin? Martin Smoak?” Diggle heard Thorne ask through their comms.

 

Diggle watched as the man that was Felicity’s father turn around and look at Thorne in disbelief.   

 

“Donna,” asked Martin, his eyebrows elevated, looking at the woman in front of him as if she were a figment of his imagination. “What…what are you doing? Why are you here? Did Mistress send you? Where’s Felicity?” he asked, alarm clear in his voice.

 

“Hello, Martin,” Diggle heard Thorne speak, her cadence and voice matching exactly to that of Donna Smoak. “Felicity needs help. She’s sick, Martin. Our daughter is sick and she needs help. Only you can help her. You have to come with me,” she pleaded, moving towards him, indicating he should come with her.

 

“She probably just has the flu, sweetheart. She such a curious little girl, always wanting to explore the world, she must have gotten it from one of her classmates. Don’t worry. She’ll beat the little buggers soon. I have important work to do here. I can’t leave, sweetheart. You know that. You know how I get when I become engrossed in something I’m working on. I have to work through it until I’m done.”

 

“I know, sweetheart. But we just don’t have the time,” Thorne said, as she removed a gun from the small of her back. “Sorry, sweetheart.” Thorne emptied three tranquilizer darts into Felicity’s father.

 

“Move,” commanded Lawton rushing through the doors. “We’ve only got an hour to get to the extraction point. Bronze Tiger, grab the scientist,” Lawton pointed at the unconscious body of Martin Smoak. “Vixen, grab all the medical samples you can. Thorne, grab all the hard drives from computers. Diggle, embed your remaining devices in this room and the corridor leading out of here. Ten minutes. Let’s -”

 

Alarms began blaring throughout the facility. Lights began flashing throughout the lab.

 

“Doomsday self- destruct sequence initiated. Three minutes to total detonation,” spoke a ghostly computerized voice over the facility’s intercom system.

 

“Shit! Let’s get the hell out of here before this this place lights the fuck up,” hollered Turner, grabbing Martin Smoak and throwing him over his shoulder fireman-style, moving past the rest of the team who scrambled to grab their things, rushing after him.

 

The Squad was faced with a couple of more guards as they tried to exit the facility, Lawton silencing with bullets before they could take their shots.

 

They made it to their vehicles with seconds to spare. The facility was rocked with a sequence of detonations that were most likely compounded by the explosive devices the team had planted.

 

They made it to the extraction site just as the hanger doors of the C-130J Super Hercules began to open, driving right onto the plane.

 

“We have him,” announced Lawton, knowing their comms had automatically reconnected with ARGUS and Waller.

 

They had found Felicity’s father and now Felicity had a fighting chance of surviving the prion virus that Slade had injected her with. Diggle just hoped that they were not too late to save her.  

 

 

Oliver watched the rhythmic rise and fall of Felicity’s chest, as she lay sleeping, looking for any signs of disruption to her breathing. Looking for any sign that he could lose the woman he loves once more. It had been agonizing, watching the doctors’ work to resuscitate her after her heart it had stopped beating. For a few moments, he thought he had truly lost her. Every fibre of his being screamed as he stood frozen, watching in horror as the doctors rushed around her, pushing drugs into her IV, and placing the defibrillator leads on her chest. It had taken almost a minute for the doctors to get her heart beating again. It had been the longest minute of his life he thought, as he continued to watch her sleeping.

 

He couldn’t take his eyes off of her, his mind wouldn’t allow it. Every time he closed his eyes, he could still hear the piercing sound of her flat-lining from her heart monitor. ARGUS’s doctors were constantly monitoring her vitals, looking for any signs of change, any signs of deterioration as the virus continued to mount an assault on her nervous system. None of them had come in with good news, the virus continued to infiltrate her nervous system, breaking it down bit by bit. While some of the drugs they had administered slowed it down, nothing seemed to be able to stop its war-like path.

 

“Mr. Queen,” asked the doctor, the same doctor that rode with them in the medevac on their way back to ARGUS HQ, whose name he had learnt was Dr. Sims, “I’m going to need you to remove your hands from Ms. Smoak’s and take a step back while I draw some blood.” He hadn’t noticed the doctor entering the room, a testament to how solely focused he was on Felicity and not the environment around him.

 

Oliver reluctantly let go of Felicity’s hand, removing her hand, finger by finger, delaying the moment he had to physically let go of her. His desperation was palpable, as he moved aside, allowing the doctor to take yet another sample of Felicity’s blood. He knew it was an irrational thought, but he couldn’t help but think that as long as he held onto her in some physical way, that she couldn’t leave him, that she wouldn’t die.

 

He watched as Dr. Sims worked meticulously, drawing blood from Felicity’s arm before bandaging it up.

 

“Ms. Smoak’s vitals are stable for the moment, Mr. Queen. We do believe that her white cell count remains unchanged since our last check but only the blood test can confirm that. Her last CT scan showed that the swelling in her brain continues, but at a slower rate than before the latest round of a drug cocktail was introduced. We have yet to isolate a single cause as to why Ms. Smoak went into cardiac failure,” she paused, before turning to face Oliver, her eyes downcast. “I know that you don’t want to hear this, Mr. Queen, but I do have to reiterate the dire circumstance that Ms. Smoak is in. We are working extremely hard to combat this virus; unfortunately nothing seems to be working. You need to prepare yourself, Mr. Queen, for the possibility that we won’t be able to save her in time.”

 

Oliver hated hearing the words that spilled out of the doctor’s mouth. He felt his body weaken as he tried to comprehend what she was saying once again. He knew the chances of survival that Felicity had, every doctor that had come in had told him different probabilities, and none of them had been good. He was sick and tired of hearing the same thing over and over again, every hour, doctors telling him of her slim survival rate, even though they were doing their hardest to save her.

 

“You’re right, Dr. Sims, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear that this woman, this intelligent, kind-hearted, loving woman, a woman who I love with all that I am, who has done so much good in this world, is dying, even though all of you keep saying that you are working so hard to save her,” Oliver spat, unable to contain his grief and anger. “I don’t want to hear you talk about hard you’re all working to save. I don’t want to hear the probabilities of her survival. What I would like you to do is to get back to work and save her,” Oliver bellowed.

 

Oliver’s outburst did little to shrink Dr. Sims’ demeanour, but instead propelled her to remain by Felicity’s beside as she told Oliver the news. “I understand, Mr. Queen. We believe that Ms. Smoak will wake up soon, if that eases your concern. The heavy sedatives that were administered should be wearing off about now. You’ll be able to speak with her soon. You should try talking to her. It’s been scientifically proven that patients are still able to hear conversations even in such a deep sleep.”

 

“Thank you, doctor,” Oliver said quietly, as he reclaimed his seat beside Felicity, drawing her hand into his once again, feeling for her steady pulse.

 

For the next hour, he sat and continued his vigil, watching the rise and fall of her chest, counting every breath she took. He had envisioned himself here many times, in this exact same spot, all part of the many nightmares he had where Felicity had been seriously hurt because of him. He always knew it was a possibility, especially with the work they were doing. But actually living it was worse than any nightmare his unconscious mind had dreamt up.

 

He honestly didn’t believe that he would ever be able to forgive himself for putting her here.

 

“I’ve always liked watching you sleep. It’s probably a weird stalker-like thing to say, but I wake up early all the time just to watch you sleep,” Oliver chuckles bleakly. “You know, you snore like clock-work? Every day at around 4am you snore for about 2 minutes before you drift off into a deeper sleep. And you make this cute squishy face every time you’re about to wake up. It’s like your face is trying to fight off the urge to wake up every morning.”

 

Oliver’s lips quivering as he uttered his plea. “I need you to make that squishy face, Felicity. I need you to wake up. I need you to come back to me,” his voice breaking at the end, clutching her hand a little tighter. “I – I don’t know how to do this without you. I don’t know how to live without you. You are the only person that I can talk to about everything and anything. You know my past, my present, and - and you knew my future before I could even see it. You can see the man I truly am and I don’t know if I can be that man without you.” Oliver sighs deeply, his voice clouded by the tears that are on the brink of falling.

 

“How can I explain to you that you, you are my happiness? You are my Felicity. And that I am all yours. I have been since the first day we meet.” His thumb slowly began to trace over her knuckles. “Barry once said, that I wouldn’t have survived what happened to me, much less become the person I am today, if I didn’t have a light inside of me. That light would have died if it hadn’t been for you. You harnessed that light, and you made me see it. I am the man, the mask, today, because of you. I love you. I love you, I need you, I want you, unbearably,” Oliver says, still desperately clinging to Felicity’s hand while caringly stroking her cheek. “So I need you to wake up, I need you to open your eyes and fight. I don’t know how many times I can ask you of that, but I will continue to until you come back to me.”

 

Oliver leaned over and reverently placed a kiss to Felicity’s forehead, his tears finally escaping and falling onto her face. His lips remained in place, as he asked her silently, willing her to wake up.

 

He sat in silence, saying all he had to say, hoping that she had somehow heard it all.

 

Oliver felt drained, like everything good, everything light had silently disappeared from his being. His head dropped, falling onto the mattress, right in the crook of Felicity’s neck. He closed his eyes as he listened to the beat of her heart emanating from the monitor, feeling the rise and fall of her chest, knowing for the moment that she was still with him. Still breathing. Still alive.

 

“I don’t snore,” Felicity croaked quietly, fatigue colouring her voice.

 

“Felicity?!”

 

“I don’t snore,” Felicity repeated. Her voice raspy and eyes still partially closed.

 

“Yes, you do, baby,” Oliver laughed, his relief evident. “How do you feel? Do you want me to call the doctors? Are you feeling hot? Do you need anything?”

 

“I feel tired. Don’t – don’t call the doctors yet. I want to talk to you, just you,” Felicity pleaded softly, opening her eyes fully and turning her head to face Oliver. “I heard what the doctor said, Oliver. We need to prepare. We need to be ready when the time comes…”

 

“No. No,” Oliver said vehemently. “We don’t need to prepare, Felicity, because Digg is out there right now and he’s going to find the person who’s going to cure you of this virus. Okay? You’re going to beat this thing,” the eagerness so clear in his voice. “You’re going to beat this and you are going to be fine, okay. And I am going to take you on that vacation I promised you, the one we’ve been talking about, the one to the Bali, okay.” Oliver had been planning that vacation for months; it was where he was planning to propose to her. 

 

“Please, Oliver. Humour me?”

 

Oliver could never deny her anything and nodded his head in compliance, afraid of what she was going to say next.

 

“We need to prepare. I need to know that when I go, that you and our family are going to be taken care of,” Felicity pled, her blue worried eyes meeting Oliver’s. “In our safe, there’s a file that contains a copy of my will and my power of attorney. Jerry has access to a master key with my passwords to everything that I’m working on at QC. On the computers in the foundry there’s a master file marked ‘Bad Wolf’. It contains everything that I’ve worked on and everything that will keep the computers running in the foundry.” Tears began to trickle Felicity’s face. “In the drawer of my nightstand there is a box. In that box you will find a letter addressed to you. It’s for you to read after I’m gone.”

 

“Good thing I will never need to read it,” Oliver responded earnestly, his hand moved to cradle her face in the palm of his hand. “I will never need to read your will or use your power of attorney. I will never touch the file marked ‘Bad Wolf’ on the computers in the foundry. I will never touch any of those things because I will never need to. You are going to beat this thing. Digg is going to find the person who’s is going to create the cure for you. I believe that. I need you to believe that, baby. I need you to believe that you are going to survive, because I don’t know if I can survive without you.”

 

“Oliver, please,” Felicity asked, with fear in her eyes, moving her hand to her face, covering his hand. “If I don’t survive, I need you to do all the things I am asking of you, please. I need to know that all of you will be taken care of,” Felicity spoke with tear running down her face. “I need to know that you will be taken care of.”

 

“No,” Oliver said, shaking his head. “I won’t do it. You are going to survive. It’s taken me a lifetime to get to you and I am damn well never letting you go, Felicity. I am never letting you go!” Oliver leaned over, peppering his face with butterfly kisses, begging her to keep fighting.

 

They clung to each other, hands intertwined, foreheads touching one another, for what felt like hours, neither one willing to let go of the other. Wishing that they could remain like this, tangled together, forever!

 

“Oliver,” Felicity spoke, her voice alarmed, startling Oliver from their moment of peace together. “Oliver! I can’t – I can’t feel my legs! Oliver, I can’t feel my legs.”   

 

  

 

“Love is a weapon few know how to wield correctly. It sits on a precarious precipice between a great strength and a damning weakness,” says Mistress from her seat. “Love is primal. It infects how we think, how we act, and how we feel. Love renders human beings powerless,” she laughs, her voice full of delight. “It’s personally my favourite weapon of choice when it comes to dealing with, shall we say difficult individuals. Love can compel a person to do things they never thought they could, or never thought they would. Love is quite brilliant that way, Mr. Wilson.”

 

Slade watched in silence as Mistress removed herself from her chair and move towards a wall that had slowly began to retreat, revealing a bank of monitors, all thrumming awake. Moments ago he had ripped through the door of her office without even knocking. He had informed her that one of HIVE’s facilities in the Gobi Desert had been breached. It was the facility that housed the doctor who created the virus that HIVE intended to unleash upon the world, the same virus that he had injected Felicity Smoak with just days ago.

 

“I’m sorry to interrupt, Mistress. But we do have pressing matters to attend to, like the fact that we have been unable to locate the doctor, Mistress. The doctor who created the virus that you intend to release in a week’s time, the doctor who created the virus in which I injected into Felicity Smoak. There is no doubt in my mind that it was ARGUS that breached the facility. We must have a mole in our ranks for them to have found out about the Doctor’s location so quickly,” sounded Slade, surging from his seat. “We cannot allow ARGUS to develop a vaccine for the virus. Felicity Smoak cannot survive. You promised me that you would help me destroy Oliver Queen, and the only way to do so is through her,” spat Slade, the lights in the office flickering around them.

 

“I would calm down if I were you, Mr. Wilson. You still have yet to master full control of your powers,” commanded Mistress, her voice becoming cold. “We have dispatched a first response team, which is en route to the facility in the Gobi Desert as we speak. From what we’ve seen through satellite imaging the facility was decimated, as was everyone in the building, as it should be after the Doomsday protocol was activated. But do not worry, we have supplies of the virus situated across the globe, all ready for distribution,” replied Mistress with confidence in her voice.

 

“Did I tell you that men are more susceptible to the use of love as a weapon than women? You would think the opposite, but I’ve proven otherwise,” her pride evident in her voice, as she moved towards a particular monitor. “Love can make men accomplish matters that they wouldn’t have otherwise undertaken.” The wicked smile upon her face grew as she directed him to look at the monitor.

 

Slade could only see an empty conference room through the monitor. He had no idea as to what he was supposed to be looking at. The camera’s view angle seemed to be emanating from someone’s eye level, like they were wearing glasses with a hidden camera in them.

 

A few moments later, the door opened a number of individuals filed in, two men and three women, all of whom seemed to casually greet the person who was holding the camera. Seconds later, Slade’s eyes lit up in delight as he watched John Diggle enter the room, followed by Amanda Waller. Whatever he was viewing it seemed that ARGUS and Oliver Queen was definitely involved.

 

The video contained no audio. Soon words began to scrawl across the screen – Find the location of the doctor. Infiltration will commence shortly.

 

“You see, Mr. Wilson. HIVE has been able to survive and thrive, and remained hidden, as long as we have is because we are always prepared for every scenario, every outcome, that we may face. ARGUS while powerful is not impenetrable, and it is their arrogance in this belief that will be their downfall. The agent that is recording the video that you are currently viewing is one of the longest we’ve had on our rooster, and one that was and remains highly susceptible to my favourite choice of weapon. His name is Floyd Lawton, or better known as Deadshot, a wonderful marksman for hire. Well, he was until he was captured by ARGUS and folded into their ranks. Now he is our inside man.”

 

Slade could feel the fury coursing through his veins calm as he continued to listen to Mistress’s explanation.

 

“Mr. Lawton has a daughter, Zoe. She’s a beautiful and intelligent girl. Quite delightful from what I’ve heard. Poor child was born with a heart defect, a defect that would have killed her if our doctors had not stepped in and saved her. Mr. Lawton, in return for saving her, became one of our agents, removing individuals that stood in the path of HIVE’s survival. We of course made it look like he was an assassin-for-hire to ensure our anonymity. Over time he proved his usefulness. When ARGUS became an issue for us we decided that Lawton would be our best bet to dismantle the agency from within. One of his last targets for us was a man named, Andrew Diggle.”

 

Slade immediately made the connection between Andrew and John.

 

“I know what you’re thinking, Mr. Wilson, why Andrew Diggle. You see, not only did we make Mr. Lawton a prime individual Task Force X, but we also intimately linked him to the spouse of one of ARGUS’s top agents, one Lyla Michaels of which is married to one John Diggle. As I’ve said, love is a powerful weapon if wielded correctly. HIVE has existed for a long as we have because we plan. We have been patient, weaving a carefully thought out path towards our final objective, which is our survival. All of these different parts are finally falling into place. Soon we will have reached what we have strived so long for,” her voice becoming distant, as she moved away from the monitors and coming to face Slade.  

 

“And you will join Mr. Lawton in dismantling ARGUS, and fulfill all of the promises you made to Oliver Queen all those years ago.”     

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 


 

Oliver stood achingly still, listening to the gentle rhythmic hum of the MRI, watching and waiting as Felicity slide into its core. He hated this waiting, this not knowing. He didn’t know what to do. There was no target to hit, there was no mission to accomplish, nor was there a board member he had to charm. He didn’t know what to do or how to help, and he hated it. He hated feeling this powerless.

 

What were mere minutes felt like hours, as he continued to watch and wait. Fear and helplessness surrounded his heart once again. He couldn’t soothe her pain or shield her from her fear. He couldn’t do anything to help the woman he loved and it tore at him like nothing else ever had before. He felt like he was on the life raft again, drifting in the South China Sea, with no anchor, no hope, and no control, waiting to arrive at Death’s door.

 

All of his focus, all of his concentration, was placed solely on her. He blocked out all the noise around him, the whispering of the doctors, the orders of the technicians, and the hurried steps of the many assistants crowding the observation room. He blocked it all out and focused only on her. It was the only thing that kept him standing, kept him sane, kept him from spinning out of control.

 

He already knew the results of the scans without any medical training or knowledge. The pathogen was spreading and becoming more aggressive and invasive, worming its way into more areas of her body and shutting them down in the process. ARGUS’s doctors and scientists had thrown everything they had at the pathogen, to stop it, to slow it down, but nothing, nothing had worked. The pathogen couldn’t be stopped. The pathogen’s invasion had only been slowed ever so slightly, allowing Felicity, allowing them, borrowed time.

 

Time he wished he had more of. Time he would give anything and everything he had for.

 

The squeeze upon his shoulder was his only indication that Diggle had entered the observation room. He didn’t know how successful his mission was, but Oliver hoped that Diggle had succeeded in bringing in Felicity’s father. She needed him, now more than ever. And he needed him, because as much as he hated this man for abandoning Felicity, he was the only one capable of saving her. He knew he should talk to Digg, find out what happened, whether they were successful, figure out what next to do, but he only heard the gentle hum of the MRI machine moving again. He was out of the room before anyone could stop him. He was in the room in a matter of seconds, moving towards the machine, moving towards her, ignoring the protests of the technicians in the room.

 

All he could think about was her. All that mattered to him was her. All he cared about was her.

 

His arms bounded around her before the machine came to a full stop, one arm beneath her knees, the other clutching her underneath her arms, drawing her into his body. The warmth emanating off her body loosened the tight hold around his heart, but only slightly. Her arms tightened around his neck as they moved out of the room, neither one willing to let go of the other. Both clinging to each other like they were their only salvation.

 

The nurses worked quickly to reattach Felicity to the many monitors tracking the changes in her vitals after they arrived back to her room.

 

Silence permeated through the room once the nurses’ left. All that could be heard the constant beeping of Felicity’s heart monitor. But Oliver could hear the pounding of his own heart just as well. A quickened beat that had not slowed since the moment he had discovered that Slade has escaped from Lian Yu.

 

He didn’t dare move once she was fully settled back in the bed, standing at the foot of the bed, watching and waiting for her to tell him what to do next, because he really didn’t know what to do next without her. For the last five years she had been the voice in his ear, the voice of logic and reason, the voice that calmed him when the nightmares got bad, the voice that told him she loved him and believed him unequivocally and eternally, without fail everyday. He didn’t know what to do without her and he didn’t want to know.

 

“Felicity,” Oliver asked, trepidation clear in his voice. Asking her a thousand questions with just saying her name.

 

“I don’t know, Oliver,” Felicity answered him, her voice trembling. “I don’t know how we’re going to get through this. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I don’t know,” she said, before inhaling deeply. “But I do know three things. The first is that you are not alone. I will always be by your side no matter what happens. The second is that I believe in you. I will always believe in the man that you are and the man that you are posed to become. The third is that I love you. I love you with every ounce of my being, my heart and my soul. Those three things will never change, Oliver. Those three things are what I know with absolute certainty.”

 

He looked at her and saw every single emotion she was feeling stream through her clear eyes, all those that fought to reassure him of the words she had just spoken, and all those that had been left unspoken. He could see her, all of her, he always did, just like she could see him, all of him when she looked into his eyes.

 

He moved slowly around the bed to her left side, toeing his shoes off, helping her adjust on the bed, before crawling in himself. He was careful of all the wires and IV still attached to her, as he shifted his body close to hers, every part of his body touching every part of hers. Their bodies aligned like pieces of an intricate puzzle, hands folding onto each other’s with natural ease, with their foreheads brushing the others.

 

“I’m scared,” Felicity spoke, the tremor of her voice underlying the tears that began to stream down her face.

 

“I know, baby. I know,” Oliver responded, tears burning his own eyes. He knew how scared she was. He was just as scared. Losing her had never been an option. It hadn’t been he had first time he met her and it wasn’t now. He couldn’t lose her. And yet he was waiting and watching her lose a battle that she should have never been in in the first place.

 

They continued to stare at each other, their hands covering the others’ heart, as the light dimmed in the room from the setting sun.

 

“Tell me a story, Oliver,” Felicity asked, exhaustion colouring her voice.

 

“There was once an angel, full of light and kindness that was sent from the Heavens to save a dark and broken man on Earth. The man had faced many great evils and had lost bits of souls along the many battles that he had faced. The man no longer knew how to live, but only survive. The gods took pity on this man, for so he had defeated so many evils in their name, that they allowed the angel to remain on Earth for longer than they had intended her to. The angel taught the broken man how to live once again, to see the good in people once again. The angel taught the broken man how to love again; a love that he never thought existed until he had met her. The angel showed this man that even in the darkest moments it is possible to see the light, to seek it within himself and let it shine through. The angel saved the man. And for that man would be forever grateful for the presence and the love of that angel had given him.”

 

Felicity had drifted off into sleep by the time Oliver had finished the story, his story about his angel. He allowed himself a moment of peace, with the woman he loved comfortably enclosed in his arms, as he finally let his eyes rest.

 

 

Oliver awakened to a darkened room with Felicity still asleep in her arms. He didn’t want to leave her side, but knew that he needed to talk to Diggle about his mission in apprehending Felicity’s father and if they had discovered anything that could help them save her. He carefully untangled himself from her body, missing her warmth instantly. He placed a tender kiss on her forehead, whispering his I love you, before heading out the door.

 

Diggle was easily tracked down as he was in ARGUS’s central command hub, watching the live footage of Felicity’s father in solitary confinement.

 

“John,” Oliver acknowledged as he approached him, noting the exhaustion in his friend’s eyes.

 

“How is she,” Dig asked, knowing that Felicity had taken a turn for the worst while he had been away.

 

“She can’t feel her legs. She can’t walk. The pathogen has wormed its way through her spinal cord and has been shutting down a number of her nerves in the process. The doctors and scientists don’t know what else to do. They’ve exhausted every path, every surgery, and every drug cocktail to stop and destroy the pathogen. But’s nothings worked,” Oliver said, anger and desperation clear in his voice. “Tell me you have some good news.”

 

“We got him. We got Felicity’s father. He was at the site ARGUS said he would be,” Dig shuddered, trying to forget the things he had heard and saw in the HIVE facility. “Man, there were things in there that I hope to never see again. He’s definitely the one that created the pathogen that’s Slade injected into Felicity. They had test subjects there; most of them were in the last stages of the pathogen’s assault. We retrieved all data and samples we could before the place self-destructed. We tried talking to him,” Diggle said, pointing to the screen. “But he hasn’t given anything up. He just keeps rambling random numbers. Waller even sent in one of her top psychiatrists and interrogators to figure what’s wrong with him and to get him to talk.”

 

“We need to get him talking, Dig,” Oliver said, facing him with his arms crossed. Worry clouding his eyes. “Felicity is running out of time. And we are out of options.”

 

“That time may be diminishing even faster, Mr. Queen,” spoke Amanda Waller, as she stepped up behind them.

 

“What do you mean, Waller? What’s going on,” asked Oliver hurriedly, the look of confusion and worry adorning his face as he turned towards her.

 

“It seems that Ms. Smoak’s condition has taken a turn for the worst. You should return to her side immediately,” Waller answered, a dour look gracing her face.

 

Diggle wasn’t far behind Oliver as they raced towards Felicity’s room.  

 

Oliver could hear her screams, full of pain and fear, before he even laid eyes on her, moving him even faster down the halls. Her cries became more panicked the closer he got. She was crying his name over and over and over again. Oliver arrived to absolute chaos, doctors and scientists streaming in and out of the room, and nurses trying to calm Felicity down.  

 

“Felicity,” Oliver practically screamed atop all the chaos that he was witnessing.

 

“Oliver,” Felicity answered, her voice shaky and vulnerable.

 

“I’m here. I’m here,” he said, rushing to her side, his body enveloping hers. “What’s wrong, Felicity? Tell me what’s wrong?”

 

“Oliver,” Felicity spoke with tears running down her face. “Oliver?”

 

“I’m right here. I’m right here, Felicity,” he said, before drawing back and cupping her face with his hands, his thumb soothingly stroking her check. “I’m right here. It’s okay. I’m right here. Tell me what’s wrong?”

 

“Oliver…I can’t…I can’t remember…I can’t remember,” Felicity cried hysterically.

 

“What do you mean you can’t remember? What can’t you remember,” Oliver asked softly.

 

“I woke up and you were gone and I couldn’t remember things. Important things. Things I should know. I can’t remember any of my childhood memories. I can’t remember my hometown. I can’t remember what my mother’s name is,” Felicity spoke quietly, fear, panic and vulnerability colouring her every word. “I can’t remember, Oliver,” she cried. “I…I can’t remember. And everything in my head feels like a jungle. It’s all mixed up and I can’t put anything in its right place. I can’t remember.” Her body quivering as she ducked her head to shield the many tears that continued to fall down her face.

 

Oliver felt his heart break as he watched the tears roll down her face. He hated seeing her this distressed. All he wanted to do was protect her and shield her from all of this. He hated it. He hated all of it.

 

“Hey! Hey, look at me, okay,” he said, tilting her head up. “I’ll help you remember, okay. I will be right here, right by your side. I promise, okay. I’ll be right by your side,” Oliver said, trying to soothe her. “You grew up in Las Vegas, with a single mother named Donna. Donna did everything she could to provide for you, her genius little girl. You didn’t always have the best of relationships but the both of you love each other unconditionally.”  

 

“It’s starting, Oliver,” Felicity spoke, terror clouding her eyes. “I’m scared.”

 

“I know.” Smoothing her hair, trying to calm her. “I know you’re scared. I am too. But we’re going to get through this. We’re going to get through this together, like always. I’m going to be right beside you. I won’t let you forget. Everything you can’t remember, I’ll be there to remind you, okay?”

 

 “Okay,” Felicity answered, her eyelids flickering, her hold tightening on his sleeves. “I feel sleepy, Oliver, really…sleepy. I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s okay, Felicity. Just close your eyes. I’ll be right here when you wake up,” Oliver said, carefully lowering her back down onto the bed. 

 

“They gave her a sedative. It should keep her under for the next five hours,” Diggle uttered. The room cleared of all but two nurses, continuing to monitor Felicity’s vitals. “Her vitals and brain activity were off the charts. The doctors thought it best to keep her sedated until they can figure out how far the pathogen has gotten.”

 

Oliver was visibly trembling, as he lowered himself onto the seat beside Felicity’s bed.

 

“John,” Oliver said, tears beginning to fall down his own face.

 

“I know, Oliver. I know,” Digg said, squeezing his shoulder. “We’re going to find a way to save her, Oliver.”

 

“What if we don’t, John? What…what if we don’t,” Oliver asked, turning towards Digg. “I don’t know if I can do this without her, John. Slade told me that he would take her away from me and she’s slowly slipping through my hands right in front of me. And I can’t stop it! I can’t help her! I can’t do anything,” Oliver spat out, anguish filling his eyes. “Slade was right. She is half of me and I don’t think I can do this without her. There is no me without her. I don’t think I could continue on without her.”

 

“Oliver,” Diggle said softly, understanding Oliver’s reasons. “I’ve seen Felicity become the absolute epitome of strength when she thought we had lost you to Ra’s al Ghul. I saw her become this indomitable force in your absence. You can do it too. You can be strong for her.”

 

Oliver laughed hollowly. “The thing is, Digg. I know I’m not as strong as Felicity. I’ve always known that, that she was stronger than me. Without her I know that I’ll succumb to the darkness. And I know that I won’t be able to create light in that darkness because she’s the only one that has ever been able to harness whatever light was left in me.”

 

“Oliver?”

 

“John, I need you to stay by her side and alert me whenever anything changes okay?”

 

“Where are you going, Oliver,” Digg asked, as Oliver stood from his seat, brushing Felicity’s hair off her forehead before placing a kiss on it.

 

“I’m going to the one person who can save her, John. I’m going to make him talk. I’m going to make him save her. I don’t care what I have to do. He’ll talk and he’ll save her. He owes her that much.”

 

A simple nod from Digg told Oliver all that he needed. Digg would stay and protect her, just like he always had when he was gone. Oliver knew he could count him as he walked out the door towards ARGUS’s central command hub. He wanted answers and a vaccine to save Felicity, and he was about willing to do anything to get it.

 

 

He didn’t like the bright lights of the room. The lights were too bright. The lights were hurting his eyes and hurting his head. His breathing was still erratic. The small bed did little to comfort him. The blue concrete walls of the room were closing in on him, slowly but surely. He could feel it.

 

The large metal door in front of him was impenetrable. He tried to break through it, but it wouldn’t budge. His shoulder throbbed from being pushed against the door. There was no way through it. There was no way out and he didn’t like it. The door was electronically sealed.

 

Sweat began seeping into his clothes as he grew more and more nervous in the room, feeling trapped by its walls.

 

The man was finally gone. The man that lied was finally gone. The blonde hair, blue eyed muscular man, whose eyes seemed so haunted were finally gone. The dangerous man was gone. The dangerous lying man was gone.

 

The man said the year was 2017. But he was wrong. It was 2002. The man was lying. The man was testing him. Was it 2017? No, it was 2002. But why did the man keep repeating that it was 2017? Mistress must have sent him. Mistress was testing him again. He did not understand why Mistress was testing him again. He was so close to completion. He didn’t understand why they had taken him from his research. He needed to finish his research. He needed to complete his creation. He needed to finish. He didn’t understand why they had taken him away from it. He didn’t understand why they had asked him all those questions. They knew the answers to all those questions. Why did they keep questioning him?

 

He began pacing across the room, reciting every number of pi. Reciting the numbers of pi always soothed him. It helped clear his mind of all the noise and let him concentrate on what was important. But it wasn’t working. Not this time.

 

The man showed him a picture of a blonde hair woman claiming that she was his daughter. But he knew that was not his little Felicity. His little Felicity was 12 years old. He would never hurt his little Felicity like the man said. He would never hurt her. He couldn’t.

 

But Donna had said that Felicity was sick. Why was Donna here? Had the Mistress brought her here? Mistress promised that they would stay away from Donna and Felicity until the time was right. The time was near. Was that why Mistress had brought Donna and Felicity to him?

 

Why did the man say Felicity was dying? Felicity couldn’t be dying. She couldn’t be sick.

 

He was so confused. His head was pounding. The woman in the picture had the same beautiful blues eyes as his little Felicity. Eyes that had been ingrained in his memory the moment he saw them when she opened her eyes in that hospital room.

 

Why did the man say his little girl was dying and it was all because of him? He would never hurt Felicity. He would never hurt his little girl.

 

The man screamed at him, anger rolling off his body, as he told him about what was happening to the woman in the picture. The picture that he claimed to be of his little Felicity. He kept saying she was dying. Dying because of what I had created.

 

He kept telling the man what his research was all about. It was to save the human race, not to destroy it. Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception. His research was going to save the world and the human race. It was the only the way. The only way! The man kept saying that I was committing mass genocide by killing billions because of what I had created. But I wasn’t. My creation will help save many not kill billions.

 

It had to be a test. Mistress was testing him again. Mistress was assuring herself of his loyalty to the mission. He was always loyal to the mission. It was why he left Donna and Felicity, to ensure them, to ensure all of human kind, a fighting chance at survival. The planet was dying and so was the human race.  His creation was the only way to stop it. His creation was the only way.

 

His heart was still pounding. The counting was not working. Why did the man say that he had hurt Felicity? He would never hurt Felicity. The man was lying. The man was testing him. Mistress was testing him. His breaths were becoming shorter and heavier.

 

They needed to release him soon. He was sure he had passed Mistress’s test. His research was almost complete. His creation was almost ready to meet the world. They needed to release him soon. Soon he would be reunited with Felicity and Donna. Soon he would show that man, that lying man, that his daughter was healthy and strong and not dying like he had said.  

 

His daughter was always the exception. His daughter would survive. He was sure of it. He was sure of it? But why did that blonde woman have his daughter’s eyes? Why?

 

Too many questions! Too many lies! Too many lights!  

 

 

Diggle sat and watch the video play out in front of him in the conference room. The video showed the entire confrontation between Oliver and Martin Smoak.

 

He could tell there was something wrong with Felicity’s father. The man was overly agitated, confused, and sweating profusely. He kept pacing back and forth, muttering numbers while maintaining then ignoring the conversation he was having with Oliver.

 

“He’s reciting the numbers of pi,” said Cliff, from across the table.

 

“He’s suffered tremendous brain trauma. Trauma that existed well before we ever found him,” Mari voiced as she looked over scans of Martin’s brain. “He’s cognizant and lucid at times but other times, like this,” she pointed at the screen, “he’s not fully there. He’s regressing to his long-term memories. He believes truly believes that it’s 2002. His brain scans show that parts of his hippocampus have been damaged. We don’t know how exactly but it was definitely not natural. Someone surgically altered this man’s brain.”  

 

“HIVE.” Susan stated, giving a voice to what all of them were thinking. “HIVE did this to him. Surgery? Indoctrination? Psychological torture? Who knows what these people did to him. But it’s turned him into this.”

 

“He’s lucid enough to have created the pathogen though,” sounded Bette, looking completely unapologetic. “What? It’s true! His brain may be damaged but he had the cognitive ability to create a pathogen that kills a human being slowly. We saw what it did to those people in that facility. We’re witnessing right now. His own daughter is dying because of what he created and he can’t even come to terms with that notion.”

 

“The better question is how are we going to get this guy to make us a cure for his pathogen,” said Ben, looking around the table. “The guy is pretty much useless and unless we get a cure for this thing, HIVE could release it around the world and kill billions and us in the process.”

 

“Floyd. Floyd? Floyd!” Susan shouted.

 

“What?” answered Floyd, pulling himself from his thoughts, looking around confused at his team.

 

“No opinion on what to do next,” questioned Mari.

 

“You mean on Mr. Martin Smoak? Let the psychiatrists and doctors deal with him. None of us, other than Mari have any idea what to do to help him. Let the professionals do their job. We did ours. We caught him and brought him back. We brought back all the samples and research we could. We did our job. It’s done. Let’s move on.”

 

Susan looked at Floyd with furrowed brows and speculative eyes.

 

“What,” Floyd said, catching the look on Susan’s face.

 

“I thought you would have more to say, Floyd. You never taken such a hands off approach to those we bring in, especially in high-level cases like this one.”

 

“Maybe I’m just trying to recover from what we all say in the building,” spat Floyd, as he got up from his chair and moved out the door quickly. Removing himself from further lines of questioning from his team members.

 

“What’s up with Mr. Eye Patch,” queried Cliff, as he spun around on his chair. “He’s been weird since we got back from Mongolia.”

 

“Who knows,” answered Ben.

 

“Let’s get to central command and see what steps Waller wants us to do next. We know HIVE’s planning attacks across the globe. We should get prepared. We have no idea what kind of fallout is going to happen when they do attack,” said Bette, as she got up from her seat, gesturing for the rest of the team to come with her.

 

Diggle remained seated, as he watched the Squad leave the room. He had a gut feeling that something was off. He just couldn’t place his finger on it. He just hoped ARGUS’s doctors and scientists could decipher and create a cure from all the samples and research they were able to bring back from the facility the Squad had infiltrated. Time was of the essence. Felicity only had hours left. He knew that if they failed there would be no coming back for Oliver. There would be no coming back for their family. Felicity was central to their family, she was the glue that kept them all together and kept them running. Without her they were all just pieces of a puzzle with no clue how to put themselves together. Fear was something that Diggle felt on a daily basis, but the fear that had taken hold of him now was nothing compared to that. They were all sitting on the edge of a cliff, waiting for the drop.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 


 

Oliver couldn’t imagine a life where he was not in love with Felicity Smoak. He couldn’t help but admonish himself for taking as long as it did to realize that she was the one, the only one for him. He knew a piece of him must have known, even from the very beginning when he heard her babble to herself about how cute he was as he remained concealed in his mother’s office all those years ago, that she was the one. He did not know what he had done to earn him the right to meet this remarkable woman, to become friends with her and to ultimately fall in love with her, but he knew he would do whatever to keep her in his life. He felt the burning of tears in the back his eyes, as he slowly trailed his fingers gently down the side of her face, all the anger, the fear, the anguish, and exhaustion consuming him as the darkness of the room surrounded him.  

 

He could not lose her. He could not live without her. He did not want to live without her. She was his world, his heart, and his home. The mere thought that he would not be able to wake up to her smiling face every morning pained him more than any physical wound could ever do. Her time was running out. Their time together was running out. And he had no way to stop it. He had broken his promise to protect her when he brought her into his life. He was the reason she was here, lying in a hospital bed, an incurable virus ravaging her body, and he could do nothing to stop it. He didn’t protect her. He couldn’t save her. The devastation of that realization continued to drown him in anguish as he sat beside her prone body.

 

His hands trembled as his fingers drew small circles across her wrist, feeling the beat of her pulse under his fingers. His world was coming crumbling down around him and he could nothing to stop it. He could not save her.

 

Tears fell from his eyes, as he bowed his head and kissed her open palm. His arm wrapped tenderly around her waist, as he desperately clung to her, feeling the burning heat of her body seep into his was his only salvation in that moment. Knowing that she was still alive, still with him, was the only thing keeping him upright.

 

It was the soft squeeze he felt upon his shoulder that brought him out of his moment of escape.

 

“Oliver,” sounded Dig, as he took the seat on Felicity’s other side. “How is she?”

 

“The same, I think,” Oliver sighed, hastily wiping the tears from his face. “The doctors have been in regularly to check her vitals and they’ve said nothing has changed.”

 

“That’s a good thing, Oliver,” Diggle said quietly. “That means the virus isn’t spreading. It gives us a greater chance of saving her.”

 

“And how do you propose we save her, Dig,” questioned Oliver, anger and fear colouring his voice. “The virus has already infected her spinal cord, its now attacking her brain,” he implored. “How do we save her when the one person who had the only chance of saving her has had his brains scrambled to the point where he isn’t even cognizant enough to recognize what year it is? Hell, he can’t even recognize his own daughter,” Oliver quietly bellows, as he carded his free hand over his face.

 

“Oliver,” Diggle voiced, acknowledging the situation.

 

“I can’t do this without her, John. I can’t,” Oliver’s voice broke, the anguish in his voice so clear. “I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to live without her,” he said as he looked up and locked eyes with Diggle. “I walked into her cubicle that day with that bullet hole-ridden laptop and my entire world changed. She means everything to me. She is my something to live for,” he spoke quietly. “And I…I…I don’t know what to do, John. I don’t what to do if she isn’t here to help push me, to help guide me, to call me on my bullshit! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I have the strength to continue on without her. She’s my tether, my anchor. She is everything that I have fought for. I don’t know what to do, John,” Oliver said, tears spilling from his eyes again, looking to his partner, his friend, and his brother for guidance and support.

 

“You believe in her,” Diggle said, locking eyes with Oliver, his voice leaving no room for questioning. “You believe in yourself, just like she always has. Believe that this is not the end. Believe in the love that the two of you share is strong enough to see you through. Loving someone with your whole heart isn’t easy, Oliver. Love, like the love that the two of you share, lays you bare, it makes you vulnerable. But it’s worth it. It’s worth all the pain, and the fear, and the tears. I’ve had the rare chance to see true love flourish between two individuals that deserve it more than most. I’ve had the chance to see the two of you fall in love and struggle and come through stronger and better, each and every time, Oliver. Believe in that, Oliver. Believe in it. That’s all you can do in a situation like this.” Diggle paused, steeling himself knowing the other possibility, before continuing. “But know that no matter what happens, no matter what the outcome, I will be there to support you. As will the rest of our family.”

 

Oliver bowed his head, his forehead resting in the palm of Felicity’s open hand, as he let Diggle’s words sink in. He didn’t notice the tears that began to trickle down his face until he felt the soft caress of Felicity’s thumb across his cheek, wiping away the tears that had fallen.

 

His head snapped up the moment he felt her touch, searching her eyes for any signs of pain or confusion, fearful that she would no longer recognize him, and luckily seeing none of it.

 

“Hi,” she whispered, her voice hoarse.

 

“Hi,” Oliver replied.

 

“It’s okay, Oliver. I’m okay,” she whispered to him, trying to reassure him, her hand cradling his cheek as her thumb continued to gently tracing across his cheek. “Don’t cry, baby.”

 

His chest tightened as he listened to her words, bringing back memories of when he returned to her from his battle with Ra’s al Ghul. He moved without thinking, gently placing a kiss upon her lips.

 

“I’m here too you know,” Diggle quietly spoke, trying to lighten the mood within the room.

 

“Hi John,” her voice full of quiet delight, her head turning towards him, her other hand moving to clutch his. “It’s kind of hard to ignore you, with your big giant arms,” a small smile gracing her lips.

 

They sat there, the three of them together in the darkness and silence, letting the weight of the situation before them settle in.

 

“I need the both of you to promise me some things,” Felicity sounded, her voice leaving no room for argument even in her weakened state. Catching Oliver and Diggle’s eyes, as she looked between them. “I need you to promise me that whatever happens, the two of you will be there for each other, to watch out for each other, okay. I need you to take care of each other when I’m gone. I need you to take care of him when I’m gone, John,” she said, looking to Diggle, “because I know he won’t.”

 

“Felicity,” Oliver said trying to the stem where the conversation was headed.

 

“And I need you to let John take care of you, Oliver,” Felicity spoke, her eyes pleading with Oliver to let her continue, to say what she needed to say. “I need to know that you will okay when I’m gone,” she said, her eyes sparkling with unshed tears. “Okay?”

 

“Felicity,” Oliver said, his voice breaking, not wanting to even fathom acquiescing to her promise, solidifying the idea that he had to live a life without her in it.

 

“I know. I know, Oliver. But we don’t know how much time I have left. And I need to know that whatever happens that you will be okay, that the both of you will be okay. I need to know that my family is okay.”

 

“How can you think that I will be okay without you,” questioned Oliver, his voice full of pain, “that we would be okay without you? How can you think that I could live without you?”

 

“Because you’re a survivor, just like John. You have survived so much, Oliver,” her hand clasping his face, having never let go since the moment she had awoken. “You’ve survived despite all the tragedies, all the pain, and all the darkness. You have survived, Oliver.”

 

“I survived because I had you,” Oliver beseeched. “I had you. I had you! I had you by my side, pushing me when I needed it, drawing me from the darkness when it tried to consume me,” his voice shaking. “I had you! You are my happy story. You are worth the pain, all the shit that happened to me, all the losses I went through. I had you,” both of his hands enclosing hers, as he drew hers even more tightly into his.

 

“Felicity,” Diggle spoke, drawing the attention onto himself, unshed tears shining in his own eyes.

 

“John, please,” Felicity said. “I need you both to promise me. I need you to promise me. Please.”

 

“I promise,” said John, his voice cracking, his hands clutching hers a little tighter.

 

“John,” Oliver sounded, disbelieving what he had just heard come from his friend’s mouth.

 

“Oliver,” Felicity admonished. “Please.”

 

“I will only promise you on one condition.”

 

“What condition?”

 

“If I promise to what you’re asking of me, then you have to promise you won’t give up. You don’t stop fighting. You stay strong. You’re so strong, baby,” Oliver whispered so quietly that only the two of them can hear, as his hand stroked her hair. “You can beat this. You keep fighting. You give us the time to find a way to save you. Please? Please, baby.”

 

“I promise, Oliver.”

 

“I promise, too,” Oliver replied, placing a kiss on her forehead as some of his tears trickled onto her face.

 

“Thank you.” She said as she looked to Oliver. “Thank you. The both of you.”  

 

“You have to fight now too, Felicity. You have to keep your promise, okay?”

 

“I promise,” whispered Felicity, her voice full of fatigue as her eyes drifted close, sleep taking her once again.

 

Oliver and Diggle were shaken from their moment of quiet reflection the moment Felicity’s heart monitor began blaring, her heart rate becoming dangerously erratic.

 

“Felicity? Felicity,” Oliver screamed, watching as her heart rate skyrocketed and her body convulsing. “Felicity!”

 

Oliver’s mind stopped, as Diggle pressed the button, alerting the doctors and nurses to the situation.

 

“No! No! No! No! No! No,” Oliver bellowed, his body looming over Felicity’s, his hands cradling her face, as her body continued to rapidly and uncontrollably shake, her eyes rapidly moving beneath her eye lids. “You promised, Felicity! I promised, Felicity. I promised! Felicity, please,” he begged.

 

Oliver tried to fight off Diggle, as he pulled him back from Felicity as the doctors and nurses rushed in.

 

He felt himself collapse against Diggle as he sunk to the ground. He felt like time had slowed as he watched the doctors scream at each other and the nurses, checking her vitals and pushing drugs into her IV. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think straight. Moments ago she was awake, talking to him, making him promise her things that he wished he never agreed to.

 

It was only when he felt Diggle pull him up off the ground and back into the chair beside Felicity’s hospital bed, that he felt time return to normal.

 

“The virus has spread farther into Ms. Smoak’s nervous system. It’s why she seized,” he heard Dr. Sims say, as she stood at the foot of Felicity’s bed. Diggle stood behind him, squeezing his shoulder, trying to reassure him, as she continued to speak. “We’ve decided that the best course of action is to induce a medical coma. From what we’ve seen from the video that was sent to us and what we’ve learnt from the research that the team was able to bring back from the HIVE lab, seizures are a common symptom that leads into the psychosis that can occur when the patients have completely lost all their memories. By keeping Ms. Smoak in the coma we hope to at least stop the onset of further memory loss and psychosis.”

 

Oliver’s mind reeled as he heard the words tumble from the doctor’s mouth. Slade’s promises echoed in his mind. Slade promised to take Felicity from him, to destroy her just as he had destroyed him. The virus he had injected Felicity was doing the same thing that the Mirakuru had done to Slade, taking over a person’s mind, plummeting them into a state of madness.

 

He needed to stop it.

 

He needed to save Felicity.

 

And he knew just the person who could save her. He wasn’t going to take no for an answer this time. If he had to put a gun to the man’s head and force him to create a cure to save Felicity her, he would. He didn’t care if that man was her father.

 

“Oliver,” Diggle shouted, as Oliver shot up from his seat, storming out of Felicity’s room. “Where are you going?”

 

“I’m going to make him talk. I’m going to make him create a cure for her,” Oliver said, moving assertively and quickly down the hallways headed from the solitary bays that held ARGUS’s prisoners. He had one mission, and that was the make Martin Smoak synthesize the cure to save Felicity.

 

“How do you plan on doing that, Oliver,” asked Diggle, the warning clear in his question.

 

“Whatever I have to do,” Oliver spoke, desperation and something else, something darker, filling his voice. “Whatever I have to do.”

 

 

Why? Why had the dangerous man returned? Why was he here? Why did he have to bring an even larger and more dangerous looking man into the room with him? The room was already small enough, the walls kept inching closer and closer to him. He felt the beating of his heart become more erratic the closer they moved towards him.

 

Why were they here?

 

He could feel the fury roll off the blue-eyed muscular man. He could see anger and desperation clouding the man’s eyes. This was a dangerous man. More dangerous than any of the men Mistress had ordered to watch him before.

 

He thought he had passed Mistress’s test.

 

Maybe Mistress had sent the dangerous man and his companion to bring him to her.

 

Yes, that’s what it had to be.

 

But Mistress always came for him herself when she needed him.

 

He did not like this. He did not like this at all.

 

His clothing was already drenched in sweat, but he felt his body began to sweat to profusely once again. He felt his breathing become heavier as the men moved closer towards him.

 

He did not like this.

 

He hoped the man wasn’t here to ask him questions again. He could not listen to the man’s lies again. He couldn’t listen to him talk about how sick Felicity was. Felicity was not sick. She was fine. She was safe. That’s all he wanted. That’s all he ever wanted.

 

The dangerous man moved closer to him. He asked what I knew about my creation. How I created it. Why I created it.

 

I answered his questions. But the fury in his eyes did not dissipate. It became even more intense.

 

I told him that everything I was doing was for Felicity, to keep her safe, to keep her alive. It had been proven over and over again how dangerous the human race was to the Earth, to all the living beings on it, and to ourselves. We had destroyed thousands of ecosystems, permanently damaging the biosphere in our wake. We were past the point of no return. There was no saving the human race from what it had inflicted on the Earth. We were already beginning to turn on one another.

 

The Earth was beginning to collapse.

 

Extinction was the rule. Survival is the exception.

 

Everything I did was to save Felicity. Her safety was paramount.

 

I cowered and whimpered as the man grabbed my shirt, lifting me off the bed. He told me that I had to create a cure for him. He told me I had to create the cure to save Felicity.

 

But Felicity was safe. She was safe. She was safe with Donna. Mistress promised. Mistress promised that she would keep them safe.

 

The dangerous man told me that Felicity was not safe, that Felicity was sick. She was sick because she was injected with my creation.

 

No. No! He was lying again! I don’t understand why he was lying again?

 

Why would he lie about Felicity? My Felicity!

 

No! No! He was lying again!

 

He had to be lying!

 

He had to be lying?

 

My body trembled in delight as both men grabbed my and hauled me out of the small shrinking room.

 

They were taking me to see Mistress!

 

I was right. I passed Mistress’s test.

 

I startled when the lights around us shattered, consuming the hallway in darkness. The loud blaring of a klaxon told me something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

 

The look that crossed the faces of the dangerous man and his companion worried me even more.

 

I knew that I was not going to be seeing the Mistress soon.

 

 

“We’ve been breached,” seethed Waller, her eyes narrowing as she looked upon the screens showing the invasion of her building. HIVE had come to play. Just like she knew they would. The klaxons continued to blare as lights flashed within the Central Command Hub. “Initiate Protocol Omega Black. Secure and wipe everything,” she ordered every technician and agent in the hub. “Alert every agent and Squad member. I want these intruders’ heads on my desk before the sun rises,” she bellowed.

 

“You heard the boss,” shouted Mari as she rushed into the armoury, the rest of the Squad not far behind her.

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of ARGUS HQ being invaded before,” sounded Cliff in disbelief, as grabbed his favourite 9mm from the caged cabinet.

 

“It’s because no one ever has,” replied Susan, sliding her blades into sheathes attached to her thigh.

 

“Well let’s show them how the Squad welcomes uninvited guests,” stated Bette, as she slid on her combat gloves.

 

“Let’s,” sounded Ben delightfully, as he blades glinted in the light of the armoury.

 

“Where the hell is Floyd,” asked Mari, as she led the team away from the armoury towards where the breach had occurred.

 

“Right here, Mari,” sounded Floyd, as he listened in on his team, knowing they could not hear him, as he aimed his weapon at the ARGUS agents that were now engaging in combat with the HIVE team and firing.

 

 

Slade plunged the underground tunnel into darkness, disabling any of ARGUS’s defence systems, as he and his team hurried through, their weapons drawn. The electrical currents surging through his hands destroyed all the electric cables and devices located in the tunnel, rendering them absolutely inoperable. He couldn’t help but marvel at the powers contained within him, his control over them had only increased every passing day since HIVE’s doctors has operated on him.    

 

He listened through HIVE’s secure comms as two separate HIVE teams breached ARGUS’s defences, as they moved stealthy through one of ARGUS’s few underground passages into the building.

 

The two other teams were ordered to distract and divide all of ARGUS’s resources and leave them a clear entry into their target. They had been ordered to secure and retrieve the Doctor and bring him back into their custody before ARGUS could gain any information from them. Slade knew how unlikely that would be. From what he had heard from Mistress, numerous HIVE doctors had executed numerous invasive surgeries, electroshock therapy and hypnotherapy on the Doctor, rendering the Doctor completely under HIVE’s control.

 

“Lawton, do you have a location for our target,” asked Slade through the encrypted HIVE comms.

 

“You’ll find him in ARGUS’s prison solitary confinement unit,” replied Floyd, the sound of gunfire in the background. “Just follow the schematics that were sent to you.”

 

“You heard him,” Slade ordered his team, “head to the solitary confinement unit and secure the Doctor.”

 

“Where the hell are you going,” questioned one of the agents in the group.

 

“I’ve got some unfinished business to attend to,” he smiled. “Find the Doctor and meet me at the rendezvous site. GO!”

 

Slade watched as his team headed in the opposite direction through another network of tunnels. While Floyd Lawton had supplied HIVE with information on the Doctor he had provided no information on the status of Felicity Smoak. He wanted to see what kind of havoc the virus had caused to Ms. Smoak, and in turn Oliver Queen. Oliver had lost so much already, his father and his mother. He had nearly lost his sister too. But he knew that none of those losses would compare to the loss of Felicity Smoak. He knew she is much more than the woman Oliver loves; she is his light, his heart, and the other half of his soul. She was his salvation when the darkness nearly consumed him.

 

He remembered the vow he made to Oliver in that godforsaken ARGUS prison on Lian Yu, the first time Oliver had locked him up. Every word ingrained in his mind, replaying itself time and time again: I will take away your beloved, Oliver. I will take away your Felicity, and I will do to her everything that you have ever inflicted on me. I will show her your true nature, the murderer you really are. Then I will kill her in front of your eyes. You will watch all that light, all the innocence and intelligence, all the goodness and belief in you, all that love, spill from her as her blood pools around her dead body. And it will all be because of you, brother. I won’t be fast. It will be painfully slow and torturous. I will make her scream like you’ve never heard her scream before. Those screams will be the last sounds to ever leave her beautiful mouth and they will haunt you for the rest of your miserable life.

 

He had every intention of fulfilling the vow he made to Oliver.

 

He moved down the tunnel, through different flights of stairs, killing every person that attempted to block his path, following the schematics towards the infirmary of ARGUS’s HQ. Nothing was going to stop him from fulfilling his promise.

 

The secure doors of the infirmary were mere inconveniences to him, as he overwhelmed the electrical system securing them.

 

The agents stationed were put down before they even had the chance to fire their weapons.

 

He left the nurses and doctors in the ward scrambling and screaming, grabbing one of the doctors demanding to show him to Felicity’s room.

 

He could see her prone body in the hospital bed, her hair glittering in the moonlight, through the window. He couldn’t help but smile.

 

He dropped the doctor on the ground, the body sizzling, as he entered the room. His smile growing wider and more maniacal the closer he got to Felicity’s body.

 

He couldn’t help but stroke the blonde hair off her face that had drifted there. Her skin was ashen, her body already losing the lustre of life. He took notice of the drug that hung from her IV, grinning in the process.  

 

He was so close. He had dreamed of moments like this. His promise so close to being fulfilled.

 

He took the seat facing the window to the hallway, and waited.

 

It didn’t take long.

 

He could see the look of horror cross Oliver Queen’s face as they locked eyes through the window.

 

Watching Oliver panic as he tried to pry the door open made him laugh. There was no way that he would be able to get through the door. He had short-circuited the electronic lock on the door, making it impenetrable. The glass covering the door and window was state-of-the-art bulletproof glass. Nothing could penetrate it.

 

Oliver Queen would be forced to witness the death of his beloved.

 

“Don’t you dare touch her, Slade,” he heard Oliver bellow, fury and anger blatantly clear in his voice.

 

While he had short-circuited the electronic lock on the door, he had not destroyed the intercom system.

 

“Nice to see you again, kid,” Slade spoke through the intercom. “It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, face to face.”

 

“Come out and face me, Slade,” Oliver roared.

 

“I think I’ll just stay right here, kid,” Slade said, his face the picture of calm. “She’s quite beautiful, your Felicity. Beautiful, intelligent, innocent, and kind, just like Shado. And then you had to taint her. You brought her into world and you darkened her. You never changed, kid. You’re still just as selfish as the day I met you.”

 

“Slade,” Oliver warned. “Don’t. Please.”

 

“It’s a change to hear you beg, kid.” Slade chuckled. “I heard about your continuing escapades, becoming a symbol of justice to the citizens of Starling City, little do they know of the coward that lies beneath their supposed green-hooded hero!”

 

“Please, Slade.”

 

“I told you once that I would make good on my promises, kid,” Slade swore. “I always make good on my promises.”

 

Slade felt the current of electricity run down his arm before he touched his hands to the wall in which all of Felicity’s health monitors were connected. Sparks flew all around him and Felicity, as all the instruments fried instantly.

 

“Slade,” Oliver screamed, pounding on the glass separating them. “What did you do?”

 

Slade couldn’t help himself, removing himself from Felicity’s side and walking up to the window that separated Oliver from him.

 

“You see, kid. I read all the research that the Doctor had on his virus, the one that’s working its way through your beloved’s body. They tested the same exact method on some of his earlier human guinea pigs. They put those them into induced comas too, to see what effects that would have on the spread of the virus. The induced state slowed down the virus’s warpath, but nothing could stop its spread. You see,” uttered Slade, waving towards Felicity’s prone body. “I just took out all the systems that were monitoring Ms. Smoak’s health, as well as stopping the flow of barbiturate drugs into her body. She’s going to wake up soon and she’ll be in an immense amount of confusion and pain. You’re going to hear her scream, brother,” he laughed manically. “You’re going to see her descend into a state of madness. You’re going to see her torture herself into agony. And you won’t be able to do anything about it, brother.” Slade grinned. “You are going to stand there and watch me take her away from you bit by bit,” his voice thundered. “You are going to watch your beloved disappear right in front of your eyes. And then you’re going to watch me end her life. You are going to watch me run a blade through her just I like I did your mother.”

 

Slade could see the fury, the horror, and the anguish of his words in Oliver’s eyes as they sunk in. It was a delight to see.  

 

“You’re a sadistic son of a bitch, Slade,” Oliver seethed.  

 

“That I may be, kid. But I do I keep my promises. I always keep my promises, brother. And you are going to feel the pain that I felt when I lost my beloved. At least you get a chance to say goodbye to yours. I never had that opportunity. You took that opportunity from me. You should be grateful that I am granting you such a courtesy,” Slade said, nodding, before taking a seat by Felicity’s bedside, watching as the torment spread through Oliver.

 

 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

The incessant blaring of the emergency klaxon pierced his ears, as the blinding flashes of the red emergency lights continually assaulted his eyes. He breathed in deeply, trying to calm the pounding of his heart, ignoring the burning sensation of the zip ties rubbing his wrists raw, as he tried to concentrate on the HIVE agents circling the room. His head still throbbed from the blow he had taken when they had been ambushed by a group of HIVE agents.  

 

They had all been sequestered in ARGUS’s central command hub after being captured. HIVE agents had overrun ARGUS’s headquarters from what he could tell. Killing or capturing as many agents and staff as they could. Diggle watched as more agents were brought into the darkened room, most bloodied and bruised, some even seriously wounded. He felt anger and frustration bubble within him, knowing that he could do nothing but watch as HIVE continued to tear ARGUS down from within. But what terrified him most was that he had no idea where Oliver was and if Felicity was safe and secure within ARGUS’s infirmary. His family was in danger and he could do nothing to extinguish the threat.  

 

The humming of computers and monitors in the hub offered the only background noise, as every agent remained silent and stoic in face of their hostage takers. Every single agent in the room had been trained to withstand the worst torture techniques known to man and all of them would die before revealing ARGUS’s secrets to members of HIVE. All servers within headquarters had been completely wiped of all traces of ARGUS intelligence due to the Omega Black Protocol. The HIVE agents knew this, which is why Diggle didn’t understand the purpose for rounding them up and sequestering them in the hub if all they were going to do was slaughter them like cattle in the end.

 

Diggle watched as Cliff’s left knee bounced up and down erratically. He knew from what he had read of Cliff Devoe’s file that tight spaces, packed like the hub was being now, made him quite uncomfortable. As a child, Cliff had been routinely locked into a small cupboard in the house he lived in with his mother and stepfather for days on end every time he had acted out. Cliff developed a mild case claustrophobia because of it, a case that seemed to be surfacing as more agents were brought into the already crowded hub.

 

To Diggle’s surprise he watched as Mari, stretched out her arms to an uncomfortable position, moving her bound hands up and down the small of Cliff’s back, attempting to help calm him. He noticed the close and protective positions that the members of the Suicide Squad had taken in regards to one another. For whatever purpose they had been brought together, he could tell that the members had truly bonded and became more than just an off the books unit used to remove threats to the United States and its citizens when no other unit could. They had formed an unbreakable bond, built on trust and loyalty, just like he had with Oliver and Felicity all those years ago.

 

Waller seemed completely calm and impervious to the situation they were all in, her face devoid of all emotion as she watched more of her agents being brought in. But he saw a glint of something in her eyes, something he recognized as betrayal as the doors to the hub room were sealed shut as the final ARGUS agents were brought in, followed by members of HIVE.

 

“Floyd?” sounded a shocked Bette, as they all saw Lawton walk into the hub, completely unharmed and armed to the teeth alongside the members of HIVE.

 

“Hello, Bette,” answered Floyd, a smug look adorning his face.

 

“Mr. Lawton,” Waller enunciated, her voice cold, drawing his attention away from the Squad, as she looked upon the assassin. “Seems you’ve come out the other side unscathed?”

 

“Helps to pick the right side, Waller,” Lawton answered nonchalantly.  

 

“Something you forgot to inform your team about,” replied Susan venomously, the look of utter disgust marring her face.

 

“What can I say, Susan. I was always in this for myself,” Lawton huffed. “You all deluded yourselves into thinking we had something more, an actual bond, a family,” stated Lawton, as he moved closer to his former teammates. “We were never a family. We were prisoners, tools for them,” he pointed to Waller, “to use at their disposal. We’re replaceable to them, parts that could be interchanged at random. They don’t care about us,” Floyd said menacingly. “They never did and they never will. Just like I never cared.”

 

“Sir,” Diggle heard one of the HIVE agents call out, waving Lawton away from the remaining members of the Suicide Squad. Two of the HIVE agents that had arrived with Lawton had taken up positions by one of the Hub’s main computers. Diggle deduced that they were trying to hack into ARGUS’s servers, servers that had been completely wiped. He could not make out what they were saying but the look of concern and anger that graced the face of Lawton was concerning.

 

“How do you disarm the beacon,” growled Lawton, as he stalked his way back to Waller.

 

Waller remained completely silent in the face of Lawton and HIVE agents.

 

“How do you disarm the beacon?” howled Lawton, as he gripped Waller’s chin in his hand, forcing her to look up at him.

 

Waller laughed. “You and your men are as good as dead. Why would I tell you how tell you how to stop it?”

 

“We won’t be the only ones who will die if you don’t disarm it,” smirked Lawton.

 

“Every agent and asset in this building knew what they were getting into the moment they joined ARGUS. They knew exactly what the Omega Black Protocol entailed.”

 

“What is Omega Black Protocol,” Diggle asked warily.

 

“Omega Black is a failsafe protocol built into the very foundation of ARGUS,” answered Cliff, his knee still slightly jumping. “It wipes every server, hard drive, satellite in ARGUS’s possession. Removes every trace that ARGUS ever existed on the planet,” he said quickly. “It alerts the highest branches of government that ARGUS has been breached and triggers the arrival of several F-16 fighter jets. Which I’m going to bet are already circling the building, looking for targets to shoot down.” His head bows before looking up at Diggle. “It also happens to initiate ARGUS’s self-destruct procedure. And if my time-telling skills are correct, we have about 15 minutes and 32 seconds before we all go kaboom.”

 

“Which is why you are going to tell us the code to stop the self-destruct,” spoke Lawton, releasing Waller from his grip. “I’d rather walk out of this godforsaken building alive and not in a freaking urn.”

 

“You’re never going to get the information that you seek,” Waller spoke, her voice calm but deadly. “Whatever information that you were tasked to retrieve, you’re never going to collect it. Everything has been wiped. Everything has been destroyed. Whatever information you do happen to retrieve will be corrupted beyond repair,” Waller’s voice tinged with an air of arrogance and certainty.

 

“It seems that you’ve played your hand correctly, Amanda,” an accented voice croaked from the communication systems on one of the HIVE agents’ uniforms. “But the best players know that to win you must anticipate the next ten moves of your opponent.”

 

“Mistress?” Waller spoke, her voice full of animosity. “It’s finally good to put a voice to the being.”

 

Mistress laugh echoed through the silent room. “Your organization is on its knees and bleeding to death, Amanda. I would be a lot nicer if I were you,” sing-songed Mistress. “It seems that my agents have not been able to retrieve the information that I seek. No matter. Mr. Lawton would you be a dear and have Mr. Devoe retrieve the information.”

 

“Certainly.”

 

Diggle watched as two of HIVE’s armed agents roughly pulled Cliff from his seated position, pushing him towards the computer station that was previously occupied.

 

“Get to work, Cliff,” Lawton commanded.

 

“No,” Cliff retorted.

 

Lawton huffed. “You either get me that information or I start putting bullets into you ‘family’, Cliff. Who should go first? Ben? Susan? Bette? Mari?” his voice drawing out on Mari’s name. “Hmmm? Who goes first, Cliff? Who are you willing to sacrifice, Cliff,” Lawton responded, as he confronted Cliff, moving into his personal space, gun waving towards members of the Suicide Squad. “Who are you willing to say goodbye to?” spewed Lawton, his voice rising. “Whose blood are you willing to have on your hands?”

 

“You really are a sick son of a bitch, aren’t you, Lawton?” Diggle voiced.

 

“And Johnny boy has to chime in,” Lawton laughed, tilting his head, voice void of humour, spinning from Cliff and moving towards him. “What can I say, John, I was never really a team player.”

 

“Clearly,” Diggle retorted.

 

“Get a move on it, Cliff. Time’s a wasting.”

 

“What exactly am I looking for?”

 

“Anything related to the Pandora Project.”

 

The spark of fear that disappeared almost instantly in Waller’s eyes went noticed by Diggle. Whatever the Pandora project was, Waller did not want it found. And that was never a good thing if the mere mention of a name could incite such fear in her eyes.

 

Minutes passed as Cliff meticulously moved his hand over the keyboard, searching for anything related to the project. In many ways Cliff reminded Diggle of Felicity, the tenacity, ingenuity and genius wrapped in one person. His mind drifted once again to Felicity and Oliver and the question of where they were and if they were safe. The self-destruction of ARGUS’s HQ inched closer, minute-by-minute. He had to find to warm them, get them out of the building before the building imploded on itself.

 

“There’s nothing,” Cliff announced. “I can’t find anything,” he said, completely astounded that his search had found nothing.

 

“What do you mean you can’t find anything,” Lawton said, whirling towards him. “There has to be something?” his voice becoming more and more aggressive.

 

“Well if there was something, I would have found it,” Cliff responded just as aggressively. “Even with the self-destruct program wiping all of ARGUS’s systems there would still me minute breadcrumbs that I could find, but there is nothing,” he exclaimed. “There’s no trace of a Pandora Project anywhere. It doesn’t exist,” he enunciated.

 

“Check her,” barked Mistress. “She must have it on her.”

 

“You heard the Mistress,” snapped Lawton. “Check her.”

 

Three of the HIVE agents did as order, patting down Waller. Looking for anything that could contain the information that they were looking for.

 

“STOP,” Lawton shouted, as one of the agents held the necklace Waller was holding in his hand. “That. That’s it.”

 

The agent ripped the necklace from her neck before placing it into Lawton’s palm. Lawton headed to one of the main table computer stations, dropping the necklace on it surface. The smirk that crawled onto face showed that they had found what they were looking for.

 

“It’s here, Mistress. I’ve found Pandora,” Lawton exclaimed.

 

“Good. Very good, Mr. Lawton,” Mistress commended. “Kill them all. Leave no one behind,” Mistress commanded, her voice full of utter delight.

 

Adrenalin spiked within Diggle as he watched the HIVE agents raise their weapons, before a blinding flash of light exploded around them, blinding them all momentarily.

 

When his vision finally returned, the site that he saw was nothing he expected. Every HIVE agent in the Hub was unconscious and lying on the floor.

 

“Well done, Mr. Lawton,” proclaimed Waller, as Lawton moved to cut the zip ties binding her hands together. “For a moment there I actually thought you had actually become a double agent.”

 

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Lawton replied sardonically, before moving to free other ARGUS agents.

 

Diggle watched as Waller moved quickly to one of the hub station, pulling up numerous windows on the screens and entering codes upon codes.

 

“Omega Black Protocol has been disabled. They F-16s will stay in the air for now until we have regained complete control of HQ. Those who are hurt and those able to help, please move into the tertiary medical site. Now!” ordered Waller.

 

“What about the infirmary,” questioned Diggle, desperately needing to know if Felicity had been protected from HIVE’s onslaught on the complex.

 

“I do not know, Mr. Diggle. The security system went into lockdown the moment the protocol went active. It will be another forty-five minutes until we can access it,” Waller answered, actually looking concerned. “Take a team with you when you head down there. We don’t know how many HIVE agents are still within the building.”

 

Before Diggle even knew what was happening, Lawton was on the floor with a split lip and Mari cupping her hand with a look of pain on her face.

 

“Let’s go, Diggle. We got to go see if a blonde genius is still in a medically induced la la land,” grunted Mari, gathering her weapons and indicating the rest of her team to follow as she exited through the doors. Completely ignoring Lawton.

 

“Go Mr. Diggle,” ordered Waller. “I’ll deal with Lawton and the fallout later. The complex needs to be retaken as quickly as possible. HIVE has already spent enough time in ARGUS’s inner sanctum.”

 

As he exited from the Hub, Diggle could not stem the urgency that he needed to get to his family and get them out of the complex as soon as possible. The farther they were away from ARGUS and HIVE business the better he would feel.

 

...

 

He hated the ceaseless ringing that kept erupting around him.

 

He hated loud noises. Absolutely despised them! And now he could not get away from them.

 

The ringing became louder and louder as he wandered down the darkened hallway.

 

He felt his feet falter as his body collided with a wall. His head was throbbing from the loud ringing.

 

He sees people in black uniforms running past him. He knew these people! He had seen the uniforms so many times before.

 

They were HIVE!

 

He was in HIVE!

 

The Mistress had been testing him. She must still be testing him!

 

The feeling of elation and relief that flooded his body made him giddy, a smile breaking upon his face and a laugh filled with joy escaped from his lips.

 

He felt his body finally release all the tension that he had been holding in since the dangerous man visited him.

 

It had all been a test.

 

The Mistress was testing him. Ensuring that his loyalty remained with HIVE.

 

He knew it!

 

He admonished himself for believing that it wasn’t all a test.

 

He admonished himself for believing that Mistress would hurt Felicity and Donna.

 

He admonished himself for almost believing that the dangerous man spoke actual truths.

 

He began moving in the same direction as the HIVE soldiers that passed him did. He must reach the Mistress and tell her he passed her test. He must tell her to stop the relentless ringing noise.

 

He hated it.

 

He hoped that the ringing had a true purpose other than to annoy him.

 

The loud ringing did not stop but became even louder, the farther he moved down the hallway.

 

His feet rushed quicker down the darkened hallway, the only light in the hallway coming from flashing red lights. He had to get to the Mistress. He had to get her to stop the ringing. It was driving him mad.

 

The hallway stopped and forked into two separate paths.

 

He did not know what path to take.

 

He did not like not knowing which path to take. It made him nervous. Not the good kind of nervous that spurred great leaps in scientific discovery but the kind that makes your stomach churn. He hated this feeling.

 

He turned right.

 

The ringing noise lessened the farther he walked down the darkened hallway. And for that he was eternally grateful that he had taken this path. His head stopped throbbing the closer he came to the only light source in the hallway.

 

What he saw through the window enraptured his attention, his head tilted in the same mannerism that he shared with his little girl.

 

The screens through the window seemed to be showing a beautiful and profoundly familiar organism being assaulted by other organisms that were seemingly trying to control and attack it all at once.

 

He did not understand why anyone would want to control such a beautiful thing. He was mesmerized by it. His eyes following the path it was taking. He did not know how long he stood there, observing such a beautiful thing.

 

The spark that went off inside of him the moment he realized what he was seeing was instant.

 

This was his creation! The organism that was being attacked was his creation! The organism was the culmination of his life’s work! And it was being attacked!

 

The fury the engulfed his body was instant and deadly. His fists pounded against the glass. His screams for them to stop echoed through the hallway.

 

He did not understand why Mistress was attacking his creation. She wanted his creation. It was why she brought him into HIVE. It was why he left everything he knew, everything he loved behind to create this thing this destructive beauty.

 

He felt sadness and panic as the other organisms continued to attack his creation.

 

He felt fear that everything that he had worked so long for, everything that he had given up, was for naught.

 

He felt betrayal as he realized that Mistress had lied. She had lied to him. Why would she lie to him? He always did as she asked. He never stepped out of line. He did not understand why.

 

His breathing sped up as he tried to comprehend everything he was seeing in front of him. His head was spinning. His entire body became tense and distress fuelled his blood.

 

Why?

 

Why?!?

 

None of this made sense.

 

Anger. Anger filled every ounce of him.

 

His fists stopped pounding the glass, as he turned and rushed back down the same way he had come.

 

He had to find Mistress!

 

He had to find out why his creation was being attacked!

 

He needed answers. Real answers. Not lies. He would no longer listen to Mistress’s lies. He needed Mistress to tell him the truth!

 

He needed the truth!

 

...

 

Two hours.

 

Two long hours had passed since Slade invaded Felicity’s infirmary room and taken her hostage.

 

Two excruciating long and agonizing hours had passed, that saw Oliver forced to wait and watch in fear, in anger, and in utter desperation as Slade casually wandered about Felicity’s hospital waiting for her to wakeup.

 

The flow of medication that had kept Felicity in a medically induced coma, stemming the advance of the virus demolishing her body, had almost disappeared from her system. Or so said Slade, as he gently stroked the side of Felicity’s face, waiting for her to come into consciousness.

 

Oliver wanted to rip Slade apart, limb-by-limb, for even placing a finger on Felicity. He hated feeling this helpless, being forced to watch as the man who had caused so much destruction and death be so close to the one of the two person in the world he could not fathom losing.

 

His hands hurt from gripping the metal bar under the window so hard. It was the pain that kept him standing upright. It was the pain that kept him from trying to smash through the impenetrable window into Felicity’s room. He would give anything, do anything, to be in the room with her to protect her from Slade. All he ever wanted was for her to be safe and happy, a future where the two of them could be happy together. And now everything that they had worked so hard for, everything they had fought for, together and apart, was in danger.

 

Oliver now knew the need for vengeance had infected every part of Slade’s soul. There was no good, no peace, no humanity left in Slade. He was the husk of the man that Oliver had called his brother all those years ago on Lian Yu. Nothing and no one could stop Slade. There was no saving Slade at this point. He was passed that point. Oliver knew that if given the chance, he would have to take Slade out. Hesitation was not a possibility.

 

Every decision that he had made concerning Slade’s life had resulted in a negative effect. He had chosen to end Slade’s life on that freighter all those years ago, only to have him resurface in Starling City years later, costing his mother her life. He had chosen to spare Slade’s life three years ago and place him in purgatory, only to have him escape and become more powerful and dangerous than before. Now Felicity’s life hung in the balance and this time Oliver would do whatever it took, even if it cost him his own life to save hers. Felicity would not pay for his sins. He already lost his mother to Slade. He would not, could not, allow for the same fate to befall Felicity.

 

Slade had to die. There was no other choice to make. Slade had to die. He was going to make sure of it this time.

 

His breath hitched, then stopped momentarily, as he saw Felicity’s leg twitch. It was the first movement she had made since he had found Slade in her room. She was beginning to wake up.

 

His eyes closed involuntarily for just a moment, hoping that the virus had not progressed as fast and as far as he knew it could. He hoped the virus had not progressed to the point of no return. He didn’t even know if ARGUS had been able to procure a cure for her. But he held out hope, sheer irrational belief, that maybe, somehow ARGUS or her father would be able to save her. Her life could not end like this. Never like this. In so much pain and agony that had resulted because of her relationship with him. This is what he always feared. What he had pushed to the back of his mind for three years and he let the happiness of finally being able to be her partner, in every capacity, come into the forefront.

 

His nightmare was becoming his reality and he had no way of stopping it.

 

He watched as Felicity fully began to stir from her medically induced slumber. The way her body moved was unnatural. From the movement in her legs, to the rise and fall of her chest, to the twitch in her fingers, to the tilt of her head, this was not how Felicity moved. For three years, he had watched her, in awe, in delight, in amusement and desire, and in love. He had committed her every movement, every look, every desire and need, to his mind. Knowing how precious, how grateful, how lucky he was to have her in his life.   

 

The way she was moving now was not natural.

 

Her screams pierced the air, as she shot upright from her prone position in bed. Her screams did not waver, did not lessen, as the seconds passed. His heart ached, as he watched on, frozen by her screams, as Slade looked on in utter delight as pure amusement broke out upon his face.

 

Her screams stopped as quickly and abruptly as they began, her body slumping back onto the bed.

 

“Slade,” Oliver screamed, pounding his fists against the glass. “Please stop this!”

 

“Why would I stop, kid,” Slade questioned, his voice filled with glee. “The show has only just begun,” he smirked, pushing Felicity off the bed and onto the floor.

 

His jaw clenched, as his grip tightened even more against the metal rod. His felt his breathing quicken, as he watched Felicity try and push her self off the ground but falling back onto the ground every time. Her body was still weakened by the effects of the drugs that had induced her coma and she could not hold her own weight.

 

“Stop this, Slade! Please,” pleaded Oliver, his heart breaking as he watched Felicity try and push her self off the ground, only to fall face first back onto the ground. “Please, Slade.” His fist pounded against the glass. “Please!”

 

“Well since you asked, kid,” Slade replied, coming around to stand in front of Felicity before pulling her up roughly.

 

Felicity’s screams pierced the air once more as Slade’s bare hands made contact with her skin. He dropped her unceremoniously onto the bed before turning to face Oliver through the glass, as her cries lessened.

 

“I told you the show was just beginning, Oliver,” spoke Slade. “You see, thanks to HIVE, my body’s natural electric flow has been amped up. I discharge an electric current every time I touch something with my bare skin and it seems that the virus has made your beloved extra sensitive to such a charge,” Slade described, as his hand wavered over Felicity’s body, before pressing his palm into her arm.

 

Her pained cries broke Oliver’s heart even more. His fists thrashing against the glass, wishing he could smash right through it and save her from Slade’s sadistic torment.

 

“You son of a bitch, Slade,” Oliver spat out in disgust, his voiced laced with unhinged fury. “She has nothing to do with us! She’s innocent,” he cried, tears prickling his eyes. “Please, Slade! Stop this! Stop hurting her,” he implored. “I am at your mercy, Slade. I’ll do anything you ask. I’ll throw myself off this goddamn building if you ask. But please. Please stop hurting her. She’s done nothing wrong.”

 

“She fell in love with you,” Slade spoke sombrely. “She fell in love with a man that did not deserve her love. She fell in love with a selfish man, a man who knows only how to bring pain to those he cares about,” Slade continued, moving away from Felicity and towards the window. “She fell in love with Oliver Queen and this is her punishment.”

 

Oliver was engulfed in absolute fury, as his eyes glazed over in anger. He wanted to wring Slade’s neck between his hands until the light was completely gone from his eye.

 

Slade laughed in Oliver’s face before moving back to Felicity’s side. Pulling her up like a rag doll with his gloved hand, pulling her towards window.

 

“She doesn’t even recognize you, Oliver,” taunted Slade, as he pushed Felicity right up to the glass, holding her head up with his gloved hand and clothed arm around her waist to keep her from falling. “The virus has ravaged her brain, stealing all of her memories. All those precious memories of your time together, all those precious moments the two of you shared, are gone. Lost forever,” Slade snickered.

 

Despair and grief overcame him, as he saw the truth of Slade’s words. Oliver saw no flash of recognition in Felicity’s eyes as he stared into them. Eyes that he had engrained into his memories. Eyes that offered him belief, and happiness, and love in spades that he did not deserve. Eyes that he dreamed of for so long before he had the chance to wake up to them every morning. Oliver could feel his heart, his world crumble around him. His body shook, as he gingerly lifted his hand, touching the glass separating the two of them, trying to connect with her once again.

 

Felicity remained encased is Slade’s grip unmoving and untouched by Oliver’s gesture.

 

“Please, Slade,” Oliver begged, his voice breaking. “Please stop this! Please let her go!”

 

A sickening and triumphant smile blossomed upon Slade’s face. “I always keep my promises, kid. Always. The time to say goodbye to your beloved inches ever closer,” Slade announced, drawing Felicity away from the window, moving her towards the bed.

 

“Felicity?” spoke a quiet and surprised voice from behind Oliver. The voice belonged to a man that Oliver had only heard speak rambling incoherent thoughts before. The voice belonged to a man he had only heard within the confines of an ARGUS prison cell. The voice belonged to a man that had abandoned his young daughter. The voice belonged to a man that he had tried to terrorize into synthesizing a cure for his daughter. Oliver heard the voice of Martin Smoak from behind him.

 

 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

Diggle could feel the reverberations of feet pounding against the hard linoleum floor as he moved down the hall. His feet were light, body tense, gun raised and ready to fire, looking for any sign of HIVE agents still loose in the building. This was the last section of the building that they had yet to sweep and the closest section to the infirmary. Exhaustion was pulling at all of them. He knew it, the team knew it but they needed to finish this. They needed to end this. They could not stop until they did.

 

They were still in the dark about what was happening inside the infirmary. ARGUS technicians had assured them that there was no backdoor into the lockdown protocol that had fortified the infirmary from infiltration, making any attempt into trying to crack it near impossible. A flicker of a smile grew on his face as he thought of Felicity, knowing she could crack the thing in less than 10 minutes flat if given the opportunity.

 

His chest tightened at the thought of Felicity and how she was doing. He hoped beyond hope that they would find way to save her, save them both.

 

If they lost Felicity they would lose Oliver too. He was sure of it. The two of them were intrinsically intertwined, like two souls sharing one heart. The joy he felt when the two of them finally admitted their true feelings for one another and began dating was indescribable. He did not know how he would handle the blow of losing the both of them. He had already lost one brother, he could not lose another and his sister.

 

The helplessness that wormed through him of not knowing what was happening to two of the most important people in his life did little to help reign in the anger he felt when he came face to face with a HIVE agent. They did not give in easily. They fought, tooth and nail. Every HIVE agent they faced, fought them either to their deaths or suicide by releasing cyanide capsules into their system to escape capture.


There would be no HIVE agent alive inside the ARGUS compound when this was all over. He had no qualms about the body count that would be tallied at the end. HIVE was the reason Andy was dead.

They had destroyed countless of lives and caused insurmountable destruction across the planet. They had attacked his family. Eradicating them did not bother him as much as it should have. HIVE had brought hell to their front door. It only seemed fair to return the favour. He wanted to cut off every head of HIVE and burn them all to the ground. They all seemed determined to help him on such a path with the suicide of every agent they had encountered. He needed information though. He just needed one of them to talk, to tell them what was going on. Being blind to his surroundings was something he had experienced in a long time and he took no enjoyment or comfort from it, unlike his ARUGS counterparts who were relishing in the rush of adrenaline.

 

The sweep was coming to an end. There was only one room left before they reached the sealed entrance to the infirmary. The flickering of lights became more erratic as they moved closer to the end of the hall. Diggle watched as Turner stepped into the room, followed closely by McCabe and Souci. His finger hovered over the trigger, waiting, watching, and listening, to any indication of what was going on in the room. His body moved before his mind on instinct as the sound of a terrified scream sliced through the air.

 

Cowering in a corner was a woman dressed in scrubs, covered in splatters of what looked like blood.

Every one of them lowered their weapons as he moved closer to the woman, crouching, slowly, to her eye level, trying not to scare her.

 

“We’re not going to hurt you. We’re with ARGUS. Can you tell us what happened,” asked Diggle, his voice soft and steady as he watched the woman pull closer into her body, her entire body shaking in fear. “What’s your name?”

 

“Sally,” the frightened woman responded, her voice wavering and filled with terror, as her head remained tucked against her knees. “He came in through the main doors,” she recounted, “the next thing I know the room was in total darkness and then the screams started,” she paused. “Every one was screaming,” she softly spoke, as if afraid that Slade would hear her, the look of terror filling her eyes as she finally raised her head timidly to look at Diggle, tears spilling from them. “He took out the guards so quickly that I didn’t even see it,” she said, tears filling her eyes. “One moment we were just working and the next thing…the next thing…the next thing was there were bodies all around me. I could smell their flesh burning. I can still smell it,” her face filling with disgust. “I hid behind the counter as I watched him walk into one of the rooms. I snuck out one of the side exits before he could see me.”

 

“Did you see him come out of the infirmary? Is he still in there,” Diggle asked urgently. Time was a factor. If Slade was still in the infirmary and had been in there the entire time, the danger he posed to Felicity and to Oliver only exponential.

 

“He’s inside,” she said, her voice calm as tears continuing to stream from her terrified eyes. “The room he went into, the room belongs to Ms. Smoak.”

 

He felt his stomach drop at the revelation. Slade had gone after Felicity. God knows what Slade could have done to her in her condition, the condition that Slade had placed her in when he had injected her with the life-threatening virus, especially if Oliver was present to witness his actions. A vicious bout of anger rose in him as he turned towards the men and woman behind him.

 

“Let’s get Sally some help and figure out the fastest way to get into the infirmary and take the son of a bitch out. Permanently,” Diggle ordered, leaving no room for opposition or negotiations.

 

 

A deep, agonizing desperation that he has never felt before, that he never thought he could ever feel before, clawed from deep within him. His throat is raw from his screams. His hands were swollen and throbbing from pounding against the thick impenetrable glass. His heart ached as he continues to watch the love of his life, the woman that captured his heart and soul, his Felicity, suffer at the hands of a madman he helped create.

 

Felicity’s condition was worsening with every second that passed by. She now appeared to be reaching the final stages of the infection, self-harm. Slade had ensured that every attempt she made to harm her self was made in his interest, chaining her to her bed and releasing her when he felt the need to taunt Oliver. The only solace that he had was that Felicity was trying to harm Slade in the process as well; kicking, screaming, and even biting him when she had a chance. The virus may have ravaged her mind to the point where she did not know what was happening or who she was but some part of her still remained, fighting against the evil that was Slade.

 

Slade had condemned her to a world of pain that she was never supposed to have felt by removing Felicity from her medically induced coma. Pain and suffering that was never supposed to touch her. Pain and suffering that he was supposed to protect her from. Pain and suffering that he had a hand in causing.

 

His fists pounded against the glass. Glass that only shook from his attack. Glass that separated his fists from pounding into Slade instead.

 

“Slade, please stop this,” Oliver begged, his voice subdued and hoarse. “Please, Slade. Just stop this. Stop,” he implored, his fingers fanning out against the glass. “Please stop making her suffer for my mistakes. Please, Slade! Please let her go.” There was nothing left to do but plea for Slade to stop. Oliver had tried everything he could think of, every wild thought, every crazed idea, everything. But none were working. He did not see another way to save her in time. “She doesn’t deserve to suffer for my mistakes. She doesn’t deserve to hurt like this because of me,” his voice rising, pain and anguish filling the voids that his words could not accomplish. He pounded his fists against the glass again. His pain, his fear, his hate, did not lessen. It only strengthened. He looked into the eyes of the man that he yearned to tear a part, limb by limb.

 

Slade’s laughter crackled through the intercom connecting the isolated and barricaded room.

 

“I’m taking from you all that you took from me, kid,” Slade spoke, his voice calm, dripping with menace and pure hatred. “I’m taking from you the woman that you love. The woman that walks through your dreams in the peaceful moments of your slumber since your first met. The woman that guides you through the darkness that has surrounded you from the moment you stepped on that faithful Gambit. The woman that embodies the future you have so quietly dreamt for,” Slade stated, his voice growing in volume as he continued to speak. “I am taking away the fiancé that you wish to make her when you place a ring upon her finger. I am taking away the wife that you will utter vows that you never intend to break. I am taking away the mother of your child that you will watch in unadulterated love and awe as she cradles your daughter in her arms. I am taking away the woman you love. The one person that you trust above all others. The one person that you cannot live without,” Slade spat. His face was red with anger as he screamed, “I am taking away from you all that you have taken from me!”

 

To hear Slade utter those words shattered something inside of Oliver. Every one of Slade’s words was true. They encompassed all he had wished for, all he had hoped for, all he had dreamed of, when he finally uttered those three words to Felicity all those years ago. He let go of so much pain, so much darkness, and self-hate that had clouded him after the Gambit capsized, all because of her. She had stood by him through all the darkness, all the bloodshed, and all the pain that had followed him from Lian Yu and shown him another path. A path the he took hold of with both hands. He couldn’t imagine a life without her in it. She was his present and his future. She was his hope and his happiness.

 

He felt like Slade was slowly, methodically, pulling him apart, piece-by-piece. His breath felt trapped within his airways as he watched Slade leisurely loosen the cuffs that kept Felicity constrained to her hospital bed.

 

“Please, Slade,” Oliver cried, dread clouding his eyes, terror filling his voice, knowing what was going to happen next. “STOP THIS! STOP THIS, SLADE,” Oliver bellowed, his fists hammering the glass, trying to catch Slade’s attention. “Don’t do this, Slade! DON’T! Please, Slade!”

 

Slade paid no mind to Oliver’s pleading. The moment the cuffs were unlocked Felicity launched herself off the bed to Oliver’s horror. Oliver’s pounding against the glass only increased as he watched Felicity throw herself at Slade, trying to attack him.

 

“FELICITY,” Oliver cried, hoping that he could somehow dissuade her from her current actions. But it was for naught, as Felicity continued to thrash at Slade.

 

“Slade,” screamed Oliver, as he watched in shock as Slade’s hand curled around Felicity’s throat before picking up. Her body dangling in the air like a ragdoll’s. Her screams pierced the air from the pain she felt from Slade’s touch. “Stop! Please stop this, Slade,” Oliver’s panic only growing as he watched Felicity’s face start to turn a sickening shade of blue, her body thrashing slowly against Slade’s resistance. “STOP, SLADE! PLEASE! STOP!”

 

Slade’s thundering laugh could be heard through the intercom before his hand let go of Felicity, her body crumpling to the floor.

 

Pure eternal hate flowed through Oliver as Slade strode to the window. A malevolent smile graced his face as he looked into Oliver’s eyes.

 

“You brought this onto yourself, Oliver. You could have stopped this. She wouldn’t be in this kind of pain, hurtling towards an even more painful death if you had only chosen Shado all those years ago instead of that garbage that is Sara Lance. You could have stopped all of this, Oliver,” Slade’s hand waving about, small sparks flying from his fingertips. “Felicity Smoak would not be here if only you had made the right choice on that island all those years ago,” Slade sneered. “All of this, everything that has happened to me, to Felicity, to your mother, to your sister. All of that could have been stopped. All that pain, that misery, that darkness that you dragged back from Lian Yu could have been stopped if only you had made the right choice that night in front of Ivo.”

 

Oliver felt himself recoil from Slade’s words. He knew what Slade was saying was false. But that small seed of doubt that existed within him, that had existed within him for so long, that part of him preened at Slade’s words. Oliver swallowed that rising moment of doubt, his fingers curling into his hands, eyes flickering shut for just a moment as he gathered himself. He let the memory of Felicity’s words of comfort, her words of love, wash over his heart and his mind. Washing away the doubt, the fear, the heartache, that bubbled within him. She had never given up on him. She believed in him. She believed in the best of him. That was the man he wanted to be. For her. Only for her.

 

Slade was no longer a man but a monster. Built of hatred and vengeance. He would not let Slade’s words blind him to the situation at hand. Felicity was fading right in front of his eyes. He would not let that happen. He couldn’t. He would save her. He would place a ring on her finger, utter vows to her that he would never break, and be the father of her children if she so pleased. Slade would never lay a hand on her again, not after he was finished with him.

 

His eyes shot open as a resounding boom entered his ears and an enormous vibration played beneath his forehead. The sight that met his eyes horrified him. Felicity had run into the glass window. It was her body that created the force of the vibration and boom. Blood was trickling from her hairline, as her eyes looked into his, not an ounce of recognition in them.

 

His fists pounded against the glass. His voice reaching octaves they never had before as he screamed for her to stop. He stood still, frozen in fear, as he watched Felicity prepare to make another run at the window.

 

“STOP! FELICITY, STOP! STOP! BABY, PLEASE STOP! PLEASE DON’T DO THIS,” he bellowed, panic coursing through his veins. Palms sweaty, as they continued to pound at the window. He didn’t know how to stop it. He didn’t know what to do.

 

His screams resonated across the entire infirmary as Felicity came hurtling towards the window.

 

Oliver’s body froze, eyes locked on Felicity’s, as she barrelled towards to window. Time slowed. This sense of helplessness, which had been with him since Felicity had been taken, intensified. He watched, unable to do anything as the woman he loved came closer and closer towards him. His voice shrank to that of a whisper. “No. No. No. No,” spilling from his lips, as his darkest fear was hurtling towards reality.

 

Every part of his body felt like it was closing in upon itself, crashing into each other, the space in between them getting smaller and smaller, waiting. Waiting for what he knew to be the inevitable to happen. A question that he had long buried in his mind resurfaced. Slade had asked him, “How many people can Oliver Queen lose until there is no more Oliver Queen?” He knew the answer now. He had known the answer when Slade had asked him, but feared its significance then. He would do whatever was necessary, whatever it took, to save the two most important people in his life. He had saved Thea from the grips of death. But watching Felicity come closer and closer towards him, he feared that he could not save her. He just didn’t know how. And time was no longer on their side. Her death would bring about his. Without Felicity Smoak there was no Oliver Queen. She had rebuilt the man he is, painstakingly, meticulously; with every ounce of love and care another human being could give to another. She was his light, guiding him through the darkness.

 

“Felicity,” he whispered, looking one last time into her eyes before his shuttered, forehead falling onto the glass. He poured everything that was left, his love, his hope, his happiness, into her name like the benediction of a dying man.

 

He waited for the sound of impact, of flesh meeting impenetrable glass, for the vibrations that would mark the end.

 

But nothing came.

 

He tentatively opened his eyes, wary of the sight that would meet them. His eyes widened in surprise. His breath fogged the glass. Stood, just inches away from the glass was Felicity. Completely frozen. Standing still, arms by her sides. Her blues, eyes that he had memorized, gazing into his, a look flickering in her eyes.

 

Every function of his body stopped, as her hand began to rise, slowly, towards the glass.

 

He felt his body tremble as her fingers fanned out against the glass. His hand moved, with no will of his mind, towards hers. There hands pressed against each other, like they had done so many times before. He swore he could feel the heat of her hand through the glass.

 

He watched as her mouth opened, trying to say something. Opening and closing a few times before he could make out what she was saying.

 

Tears spilt from his eyes. His heart thundered to a start once again as he read her lip. His own lips trembling.

 

Felicity was whispering his name. Felicity was whispering, “Oliver.”

 

A smile began to grow upon his face just before the sounds of an explosion and shattering glass penetrated the air, enveloping them.

 

 

 

Quickly.

 

He must move quickly.

 

Quickly. Quickly. Quickly.

 

His feet moved soundlessly against the ground, returning to the hallway he had where he had seen all the screens. Because next to the window from where he could see the screens was a door. He had to get through that door.

 

His eyes sparkled as he spotted the fire extinguisher. It would be the perfect key to opening the door.

 

Smash. Smash. Smash.

 

He cheered as the doorknob fell to the ground, the door swinging wide open. His elation only last a few moments as he eyed the security panel that opened the next door.

 

Damn! Damn! Damn!

 

Any other time he would have been delighted to face such a challenge but now was not the time for such frivolous activities.

 

Felicity was sick. His daughter was sick.

 

Sick? How could she be sick?

 

Mistress had lied.

 

Mistress had lied to him.

 

How long had Mistress been lying to him? Had she lied from the beginning? Had she only started lying? He wanted answers. Oh how he wanted answers. But the answers would have to wait.

 

He needed to save his daughter. He needed to save Felicity. Or everything he had worked for would be for naught.

 

He had left all those years ago, leaving Felicity and Donna all alone, to create a better world for Felicity. He wanted his daughter to be happy, to be safe, and live on a planet that was not slowly dying. But now his creation, his key to saving the planet was slowly killing his Felicity.

 

He did not understand how it had happened. How could it have happened? Was Mistress punishing him? Was this his penalty for leaving Felicity and her mother all those years ago?

 

No. He had to stop thinking of those things for now. He had more pressing issues to attend to. He could not let his mind run in all the different manners it wished. No matter how the thoughts pulled at him.

 

No. Now he needed to get through the door and get to the lab and synthesize the counter agent to save Felicity. He had to. There was nothing of more importance than saving his daughter.

 

His fingers quickly moved over the keyboard, typing out codes and commands to hack into the control panel and forcing it to open. He was no computer genius but he knew his way around a hack.

 

The lab that met his eyes was like something from his dream.

 

White walls.

 

Stainless steel counters.

 

Glass cabinets and cases lining all the walls, filled to the brim with everything one would need.

 

State of the art machinery!

 

He could barley contain his excitement. It was like he had stepped through the looking glass and into a wonderland for scientists.

 

But now was not the time for exploration! He had something more importance, more significance than his wandering mind. He had to save his daughter. Nothing could happen to Felicity. He would never forgive himself if something were to happen to her.

 

His hands moved quickly as he grabbed various samples of his creation, and other chemicals and biological agents that he needed and headed towards a free lab bench, closely situated to the larger centrifuge, hybridization oven, and DNA sequencing machines that he would require.

 

His mind and body moved instinctively, taking apart and putting together the counter agent that would cure Felicity and sequencing the sample.

 

Time flowed quickly. He was counting the minutes, waiting, watching as his test sample was slowly starting to disintegrate from the counter agent he had begun to synthesize.

 

He smiled.

 

There was only one last step that was need for the counter agent to be fully effective. That step required a bit of his bone marrow.

 

He stilled as he eye the large needle that he was holding. He still felt slightly sick from the sight of needles but he knew it needed to be done. He cut out a small whole in his pants, swabbing the area, and grimaced as he pushed the needed into his thigh.

 

The pain was agonizing.

 

His screams echoed around the lab.

 

But he could not stop.

 

He had to collect the marrow.

 

He had to save Felicity.

 

His body was trembling, sweat shining from his skin, as he placed a bandage over the puncture wound.

 

He used the centrifuge to separate the parts he needed to complete the counter agent. He moved as quickly as he could extracting what he need from the separated concoction before placing it in the sample of the counter agent.

 

The hybridization oven was the next stop.

 

He watched on the screen connected to the microscope as his creation started to vanish. The counter agent was working, as he knew it would.

 

Felicity was going to be okay.

 

His rapid heartbeat slowed at that thought.

 

His Felicity would be okay. She had to be.

 

The sound of an explosion reached his ear, even inside the secure lab.

 

His heart quickened again as a fission of fear slide down his spine.

 

He hoped that she was all right. That she was safe. That he still had time to save her, to see her.

 

He quickly grabbed all the needed and scrambled out of the doors.

 

 

The cold air of the early morning clung to him as he sat, dangling from the top of ARGUS’s infirmary wing. The sun had yet to peak across the horizon, as the rest of the Squad moved into place.

 

The plan was simple, or a simple and as thought out as an hour of planning and prepping could be. They would rappel down the side of the building to where Felicity’s infirmary room was located, blow the windows and move in, incapacitate Slade and remove Felicity from harm as quickly as possible. It was not the perfect plan but it was all that they had left at this point. Waiting any longer to infiltrate the infirmary was no longer an option when it had been revealed that Slade had gone after Felicity.

 

Diggle tried to clear his mind of all the terrifying thoughts that he had imagined when that nurse had revealed that it had been Felicity’s room that Slade had entered. What he feared even more was what Slade could be doing to Felicity if Oliver was present. They had, had no luck in finding or contacting Oliver since they had retaken ARGUS from the HIVE agents. Just the mere thoughts were overwhelming. What kind of hellish torture would he inflict on both of them? Were the injuries life-threatening? Could the damage be undone? Would either of them still be standing at the end of it all? He shuddered at the thought before he heard his comm spark to life.

 

“The surveillance drones have detected that Slade and Ms. Smoak are the only occupants in the room from their heat signatures. The drone picked up another heat signature from just outside of the room. We believe it may be Mr. Queen on the other side but we cannot be sure. You have the go ahead for infiltration,” Waller announced.

 

“Ready,” Mari McCabe called out, dangling a few spots to Diggle’s left. Her hand already at the lever, ready to rappel down, outfitted in head-to-toe state of the art Kevlar suit that they had all donned. The suits were bullet, fire, and with the newest modification, shockproof. While the drones had provided preliminary surveillance, they had no concrete idea of what they were walking into.

 

Diggle nodded, as did the rest of the team as they dropped into place.

 

“Bette, you’re up first,” Diggle stated, as he looked at her to his right and seeing her nod in agreement. This would be the first time she would push her abilities to the farthest of that she ever had before. It would be her job to blow through the windows, allowing them all access into the room.

 

Diggle watched as she rappelled down the side of the building, smoothly, efficiently, but at a moderate pace, getting closer and closer to the window. Once she was at the floor just above Felicity’s window, she gave the signal.

 

“Turner,” Diggle nodded, informing him to move next. While Bette had the skills to blow the window out, hand-to-hand combat was not one of her strongest suits. Turner would be the first one in through the window and take on Slade, the rest of them following him in.

At the count of three, she would blow the window and they would all drop down as fast as their rappel lines would allow and enter the building. It was no small feat but all of them had been trained, all of them were ready for the different possibilities that could occur. That and they really had no other choice.

 

“Three,” said Diggle, watching the rest of the Squad ready themselves for the dramatic drop, their hands gripping the rappel line levers.

 

“Two,” he spoke, as he watched Bette push back against the wall, dropping slightly, her hands extended in front of her, readying to send a concussive force against the window.

 

“One.”

 

The explosive force that came from Bette shook all of the rappel lines as they came plummeting down. The sound of glass shattering echoed through the air, as Diggle watched Turner dived through the window through the smokey haze with Bette right on his heels.

 

They had hoped the surprise ambush would stun Slade for at least a few minutes allowing them to situate themselves and prepare for a fight.

 

Diggle reached the window next, swinging through the shattered window and into the room, quickly detaching himself from the rappel line. Mari was right after him with Susan and Cliff bringing up the rear.

 

The sight that met all their eyes was that of chaos. Bits of wall, of glass, of metal littered the floors and punctured the walls. Smoke filled the room. Luckily no fires or other hazards appeared.

 

Time seemed to slow as Diggle scanned the room.

 

Felicity and Slade had been thrown off their feet from the force of the explosion.

 

Felicity, lay unmoving by the door.

 

Slade struggled to stand.

 

Turner immediately moved towards a confused Slade with Mari backing him up.

 

Bette was at Felicity’s side, giving her a cursory look over to see what injuries she had sustained.

 

Susan began her transformation into a Shado look-alike in order to cause Slade even greater confusion, giving a greater advantage of against Slade.

 

The moment that Diggle locked eyes with through the glass Oliver, and saw the look of surprise, of relief, of fear, of heartbreak flicker in his eyes, he knew the damage Slade had inflicted was immense but not irreparable.

 

“Cliff, get Oliver into the room,” Diggle ordered, moving towards Felicity.

 

“Her airways are clear. Her pulse is thready. She’s really burning up,” Better recounted, her voice was calm but the undercurrent of concern could be detected, as Diggle crouched beside the both of them.

 

“Help Cliff get Oliver in,” spoke Diggle, trying to convey a sense of composure to Bette even though the situation held no molecule of such a state.

 

Time seemed to return to normal the moment that Bette left his and Felicity’s side.

 

Diggle could hear the fighting between Slade, Turner and Mari. The grunts, the sounds of flesh hitting flesh, and the cries of pain from both sides pierced the air around him. But none of that deterred him as he preformed a more invasive exam of Felicity. His worry for her grew even more as he noticed the multiple wounds splattered across her person, bruises all over her body, and skin that was hot, way too hot, to the touch.

 

The screams of Bette telling Oliver to stand back flitted past his ear before another small explosion rocked through the room.

 

Ringing sounded in his ears as he turned to see Turner slammed into the wall with Slade’s first clenched tight around his throat before Mari plunged two blades into his side, causing him to drop Turner onto the ground.

 

Susan took Mari’s place, halting Slade in his pursuit of his attacker as a vision of faux Shado entered his line sight.

 

“It can’t be,” Diggle heard Slade call out. “Shado? No. It can’t be. Shado, is it really you? SHADO,” Slade bellowed, before Turner and Mari launched another attack against him, blocking Susan from Slade.

 

The bedlam only increased as Oliver ran into the room and to his and Felicity’s side.

 

The look of terror reigned supreme in Oliver’s face, as his arms circled Felicity’s prone body as if his body could be used as a shield.

 

Voices, some low, some high, continued to bounce around him as well as the ones in his comm. The smoke continued to swirl around in the air as the fighting continued around them. Oliver covered Felicity from the back, now hovering over her body, as Diggle sheltered Felicity’s anterior.

Cliff and Bette rushed out of the room, relaying that they would try and open the infirmary doors to create another exit for their escape.

 

The smoke had yet to dissipate as a sight that Diggle did not expect to see came into view.

 

Martin Smoak, harried and flushed, ran into the room, two syringes grasped tightly in his hands.

 

The growl that erupted from Oliver would have terrified most but did not discourage Martin as he scurried to Felicity’s side.

 

“This will help,” Martin spoke. “This can save her,” he quickly announced. “This will save my Felicity,” he repeated over and over again, staring into Oliver’s eyes, pleading for him to release Felicity from his hold so he could inject her with one of the syringes he was holding in his shaking hands.

 

Oliver looked to Diggle, silently asking if he should let this crazed man near Felicity. The contemplation was clear in Oliver’s eyes, as it must have been in Diggle’s. Could they let him near her? What was in the syringe? Would it actually help her? Or would it cause even more damage? Did they really have a choice at the point?

 

A quick nod of assent from the both of them occurred before Oliver slightly, ever so slightly, freed a small section of space for Martin to close in on Felicity.

 

The syringe in Martin Smoak’s left hand plunged into Felicity’s arm, the murky liquid quickly draining completely into her body before Martin quickly stood.

 

The syringe in his right hand swayed, as did Martin’s body before he moved rapidly across the room towards where Slade was continuing to fight against Turner and Mari to get to faux Shado.

 

The look of shock crossed all of their faces as Martin dived through the small opening between Turner and Mari’s agile bodies. None of the could stop the oncoming collision between Martin and Slade.

 

Martin was able to plunge the syringe into Slade’s neck a flow of electricity discharged from his hands, entering Martin’s chest.

 

Martin quickly collapsed onto the ground as Slade fought to stay upright before his knees hit the cold hard ground, his body quickly following Martin’s descent onto the floor.

 

Diggle’s heart hammered like a jackhammer under his chest, as he surveyed the scene around them. A quiet stillness had broken through the chaos as three unconscious bodies lay around a group of stunned fighters. The first rays of the rising sun shone through the fragmented window that had been there entrance into chaos only mere minutes ago.

 

The plan had succeeded.

 

His chest finally released a breath of relief. 

 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

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.

 

Stun?

 

Gun?

 

Done?

 

Run.

 

Run.

 

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.

 

White.

 

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 Felicity.

 

His little girl.

 

His reason for living.

 

His everything.

 

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.

 

“Oliver?”

 

“Felicity?”

 

“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.

 

“Yes, Oliver.”

 

“I have a something I need to ask you.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“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?”

 

“My mother.”

 

“Your mother?”

 

“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.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Yes!”

 

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.