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Until Next Time

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He shouldn’t be here. The Monitor told him he was only supposed to do the mission and then go back to the place they would meet. But he couldn’t. He had to see them. He had to see how his girls were doing.

The house looked exactly the same as it did when he had left almost five years ago. Felicity didn’t change a thing despite the new playhouse with monkey bars, two swings and a big slide that was now on their backyard. The place was quiet and he wondered if they were even at home. Maybe it would be for the best if he didn’t see them. He wasn’t sure he could go through another goodbye. Five years and his heart still ached for his family. He was lost in his thoughts when the backdoor opened suddenly and a little blonde ball of energy came running in the direction of the playhouse.

He stopped breathing. She was so beautiful. She was wearing polka dot leggings, a plaid jacket and sparkly shoes. He couldn’t help smiling, probably his first smile in almost five years. She was adorable and obviously had dressed herself. Her blonde hair was up in a ponytail and he couldn’t believe how much she looked like her mother. He remembered lying in bed late at night, his head rested on Felicity’s large belly, hoping their baby would look just like her mother. Seemed like he’d gotten his wish granted. She was a tiny version of Felicity. The little girl stopped in the middle of her way to look at something on the grass. She squinted and her little tongue stuck out as she picked up a little flower. Happy that she’d gotten it, she put the flower behind her ear and ran to the monkey bars.

She was good. She was agile and strong, going through the bars with so much easy. It was impressive. He was so focused on how amazing his daughter was that he didn’t notice that the little face was now looking at his direction. Oh no.

In a matter of seconds, she went down the slide and ran to him.

No, no, no.

She was not supposed to see him.

He had to leave befor-

“Who are you?” She asked him, her little voice going right through his heart. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had to go. He had his back to her, maybe if he- “Hey!”

She pulled on his jacket and he automatically looked down at her. Curious blue eyes were staring up at him. “Oh.” She looked at him up and down, like she was trying to figure him out. “Hi”, she said finally. “My name is Mia. I’m not supposed to tell my name to strangers, but you look just like my daddy, so you can’t be a stranger, right? Mommy told me my dad is dead, but how can he be dead if you’re here? Sometimes I do something and Mommy says I’m just like him. And then she cries. I hate when she cries.”

“Your mom is right, you shouldn’t talk to strangers.” It was all he managed to say. He barely recognized his own voice, he was having a hard time trying to breathe.

“But you’re not a stranger, are you? I’ve seen videos of you. And pictures. Mommy shows them to me everyday. She tells me you are the most handsomest daddy in the whole wide multiverse.”

“Does she?” He smiled at the little girl who just wouldn’t stop babbling. He loved her so much it hurt.

“Yep. And the nicest and strongest. She also says she misses your food, because she’s really bad at making food. Once she tried to make a lasagna and it burned so bad the house was stinking for daaaaaays. Mommy says it’s a Smoak thing, because grandma Donna is also not very good at cooking.” She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t think I’ll be good either, because I’m also a Smoak. And a Queen. But we don’t tell people that… But mommy can make pop-tarts! And popcorn! We love popcorn! We always have to have popcorn for movie nights. Do you like popcorn, Daddy?”

He felt like he was just punched in the stomach. Falling down from that cliff after the fight with Ra’s Al Ghul hurt less than this. He dreamed of the day he’d hear his daughter calling him “Daddy” and now here she was, this wonderful, amazing little girl, talking to him like he’d been there for her for her entire life. He couldn’t leave her again. He couldn’t go through all that pain again. But he did. He knew he had no choice on that matter. For her safety, he had to go back with the Monitor and save the multiverse. Even if it killed him.

“Yes, very much. Your mommy and I used to have movie nights too. We’d share a bowl and she’d steal all the popcorn.” He smiled as he remembered all the times he teased her about it. He always said that the next time they’d get separate bowls, but they never did. He just loved teasing her.

“Mommy says I steal all the popcorn too, but I don’t!” She pouted and he went down on his knees to get a closer look at his baby girl. He would probably get in trouble with the Monitor for talking to her, but what could he do? She’d already seen and recognized him, he might as well spend as much time with his child as he can.

He was staring at her, trying to memorize every single detail of her perfect face when she creased her eyebrows. “Daddy? Are you listening?”

“Sorry.” He chuckled and touched her cheek. “It’s just that I miss you and your mom so, so much. The last time I saw you, you were very tiny…” He smiled through his tears and stroked her face with his thumb. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t be here for you all these years… I’m… I’m so sorry that I still can’t.”

“Mommy misses you a lot. I do too. I wish you were here with us all the time so we could do cartwheels and headstands! And you could teach me how to shoot an arrow! I want to learn that, because I saw the pictures of you with your bow and arrow! Mommy says you were a hero and I also want to be a hero and save the world!” She said excitedly and then frowned. “But mommy said I can’t get a bow and an arrow until I’m big, but I’m a big girl, Daddy. I’m five, I’m not a baby anymore! I can read and all! Mommy says I’m very smart.”

“That you are.” He smiled at her, fascinated. “You look just like your mom.”

“Mommy says I’m just like her in the outside, but I’m all you on the inside.” She pointed to herself. “Aunt Thea says Mommy better prepare for when I become a teenager, because I’ll be a force to... I don’t remember exactly what she said and I don’t know what she meant, do you, Daddy? Why should Mommy prepare?”

“I have an idea.” He chuckled. He was happy to learn that Thea was in Mia’s life. The last time they talked she was still on the other side of the world on her mission with Nyssa. “I hope you won’t give your mommy any trouble, baby girl.”

“I won’t! I’m a very good girl!” She put one hand on her waist and the other started counting as she spoke: “I eat all my veggies, even the yucky ones, I do all of my homework, I don’t touch mommy’s computers and I always turn off Youtube and go to bed when Mommy tells me to…” She pursed her lips. “Well, most of the time. But that’s it!”

“I love you so much, Mia.” He said. He wanted her to know how true that was, even if he couldn’t be here for her.

“I know, Daddy.” She said like he was telling her the most obvious thing in the world. “Mommy tells me that every night.”

He felt tears running down his face. He didn’t even notice that he had started crying. All he wanted to do was get Mia, go inside that house, find Felicity and never let either of them go.

“Daddy… why are you crying?” Mia frowned, wiping away his tears. “Are you sad, Daddy?”

Before he could answer, the little girl threw himself at him and hugged him tightly. “Don’t cry, Daddy. I’m here.” She peppered kisses all over his face. “When I’m sad, Mommy hugs and kisses me and it makes me feel better, are you feeling better?”

He hugged her back, wanting this moment to never end. She was so small and so innocent. So precious and perfect. “Yes, Mia.” He smiled through his tears.

“Can we go inside now? Mommy will be so happy when she finds out you’re here!”

“I can’t, sweetheart…”

“Why?” She was confused. “Because you have to save the multiverse?”

“Yes… I need to go to make sure you and mommy stay safe.”

“Can’t you do that here? With us?” She asked hopefully. “I can help you! I’m very strong!”

His heart tightens.

“There’s nothing I’d love more in the world than to stay here forever… but to keep you safe, I have to go. But I promise you, Mia. I’ll do everything I can to come back to you and your Mom. There’s nothing I want more in the world than to come back here and do cartwheels and headstands with you and to teach you how to shoot an arrow. But for now, I can’t.” He held her tiny hand in his. “I need you to know that you’ll always be with me and I’ll always be with you, no matter where you are or where I am. Because you’re always here.” He placed both their hands over his heart.

“Mia!” Felicity shouted from the house surprising them both. “Where are you? How many times do I have to tell you not to leave the house without telling me?”

“She was working on her computers and I got bored.” Mia told Oliver, a guilty expression on her face.

“I have to go.”

“No! You won’t talk to Mommy?”

“Mia! This is not funny! Where are you?” Felicity’s voice sounded closer and he looked back at the backyard to see her. She was walking around the playhouse searching for their daughter, a worried look on her face. Five years and she didn’t change a thing. If anything, she looked even more beautiful. She didn’t have any makeup on and her hair was up in a messy bun, she was probably deep lost in work when Mia sneaked out, but she never looked more beautiful to him.

“I’m okay, Mommy! I’m here! I’m talking to Daddy!” Mia yelled back.

Oliver froze. He couldn’t let Felicity see him. He was already in enough trouble with the Monitor for talking to Mia. As much as he wanted to run to Felicity, hold her tightly and kiss her senseless, he knew he couldn’t. Not if he ever wanted to come back to them for real.

“I can’t let her see me, honey. I shouldn’t even be here.”

“Will you get in trouble?” She was worried.

“Probably…” He smiled at her. “But I missed you so much I had to come see you, even if it was just from afar.” He told his daughter softly. “Will you do me a favor and tell Mommy I love her very much? That I think about her every single day and that I’m doing my best to come back to you?”

“You could tell her yourself.” She sniffed and he hugged her one more time.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart.” He breathed her in, wanting this moment to last forever. She smelled like strawberry shampoo, chocolate chip cookies and Felicity. He gave her one last kiss on the forehead and walked away before her mother reached them. “I love you, Mia.”

And then, he was gone.