My name is Oliver Queen. For five years I was stranded on an island with only one goal: survive.
It's never truly quiet on the island. The vigilance is exhausting. An innocuous noise could mean danger, or it could mean a bird in flight. Deep sleep is a luxury I cannot remember.
There's a snap of twig, a sharp sound that cannot be ignored. The sound came from no more than one hundred feet away, so, moving silently I grab my bow and creep towards the source of the noise. I know the terrain of this island and the darkness of the pre-dawn light hardly slows me down. I maneuver myself so the sun will rise behind me, but I don’t identify the figure before I draw my bow, there are no friends on this island anymore.
I move closer to check the kill, I... I see Diggle standing in front of me an arrow through his chest. That can't be right, Diggle's not on the island, he's in Starling City.., or is that Afghanistan, what year is this? I... he's not bleeding, just standing with the arrow in his chest, not moving, not speaking, not crying in pain. His eyes are dead, he must be dead, I never miss, but he's standing, he …
With a flare of pain I wake to darkness. My heart is beating so fast it cannot be good for me. My arm hits something hard, I hope I didn’t break another of mom’s antiques. Why she keeps putting them in here when I break so many is a mystery to me. I know I'm awake now, that it was a dream, but, something heavy hits me from the left. The darkness is oppressive. It’s a different quality from the natural black of the island. It’s completely black here, I can't see where the hit came from. I strike out in the general direction and make contact with, something, a man I guess by the force of the returning strike. In the pitch black we wrestle. I quickly get a sense of the shape of him and he’s larger than me. A particularly lucky blow forces us right through a door, in the new space there is light and I can see but there is no time to think, no time to process. With the light, there is no contest, after a few more exchanges of blows and the crash of breaking furniture I get him on the ground and my hands around his throat, I wish I had my bow, killing with my bare hands is always more difficult and takes too long.
“Oliver! Diggle!” Someone cries from behind me. There's no click of a gun or any sound of another weapon, they could be holding a knife, but they aren't coming any closer, so I ignore them in favour of pressing harder. I think I recognise the voice but...The sudden shock of ice being thrown at my face causes an unexpected and unfortunately uncontrollable flinch. I... I look down and immediately loosen my grip, not enough to let him, Diggle, up, but...
“Oliver,” Diggle says, his voice is raw, he can barely get the word out. I jump up and leave as fast as I can. I can't believe I let this happen, I … I knew sleeping with him would turn out to be a bad idea. Last night... this morning? Had been the first time we'd slept together. Sex had been happening for awhile, but the sleeping thing was new. Clearly it was all a huge mistake. I always hurt people, I don't know why I thought Diggle would be different. I'm clearly just too damaged to be with people. I hurt everyone. I can't seem to help it.
“What happened?” I hear Felicity's voice ask hesitantly as I flee.
“What happened?” Felicity asks from the doorway as I watch Oliver go, still holding an empty jug she must have used to hold the ice she threw. When I'd given her that key I never thought it'd be used at, what? Three in the morning?
“Why are you here Felicity? Not that I'm not grateful, but it must have been important for you to be here at this time,” My voice comes out scratchy and too low, I try to clear it but it doesn’t seem to help, “Felicity?”
“Oh! I was just going to slip this information under your door, I, um, left you a message too. I wasn't going to disturb you, but I heard the, the noises and I came in.” She's waving in the general direction of the front door aimlessly, she’s clearly a bit in shock, her eyes darting around the room at the wreckage to avoid my eyes.
“That wasn't smart. You didn't know what you were walking into.”
“Yeah, well, it looks like I was needed. And I repeat what happened here? Why was Oliver even here?” As she asks her darting eyes catch on the discarded bits of clothing. “Are you two?” Her voice squeaks painfully highly as she gets the picture.
Ignoring her question I walk into the kitchen my voice isn’t improving so maybe water will help. “I don't know exactly what happened, but I can make a fair guess that two guys with our kind of pasts don't always sleep well together. I don't remember, but I must have woken up badly and I probably hit him and ...” I break off, I can't believe I did that to him. “I don't remember dreaming, but ...” I gesture around the room at the wreckage.
Felicity crosses to me and puts her hand on my shoulder soothingly, but I can tell she's conflicted, her eyes flicking the way Oliver had left.
Oliver is always putting himself in danger, he deserves to be safe with me, I thought he was.
“It's OK Felicity, you should go home and get some sleep.” I hold in my remark about her being up and about at these hours, she can take care of herself I know. I make eye contact with her and say, “Thank you Felicity.”
She opens her mouth a few times, trying to find words, but in the end just pats my shoulder a few times and leaves quietly.
I turn a few times around the room, the 3am clean up, it's been awhile. We seem to have made one hell of a mess. The broken bedroom door will have to wait until morning, but I can clean up the wreckage of the mirror, television and wow, how did we manage to break the sofa?
As I dig out the dust pan and brush I see Oliver out of the corner of my eye on the balcony.
Oliver hasn't left, that's surprising. I didn’t think he’d stay long, somewhere he wasn’t safe. I don't know whether to go out to him or let him think about this at his own pace, I'd rather leave him alone, but I don't want him to leave and that's the most likely outcome if he's left to his own devices for too long. The brooding, it's a problem. Oliver spends way too much time alone.
A shuffling alerts me to the fact that Felicity hasn't actually left like I'd thought either. She's staring at Oliver like she wants to go and talk to him, wants to comfort him, wants to help. There's nothing she can do though and when our eyes meet she ducks her head and nods, but doesn't make any move to leave.
“Felicity?” I call out. I turn my head back and forth between Felicity and Oliver. “Sorry to make you go Felicity, but Oliver wouldn't want anyone to see him like this,” I cross to her and gently hold her arm while I tug her towards the door. “It wasn't his fault, but he needs time to calm down”.
Doing my best not to force her out the door, eventually she goes. She's a good friend. Oliver deserves as many of those as he can get, ones that won't hurt him accidentally.
Once I'm sure she's gone and not going to be returning I pick up the discarded folder from the floor and flick through in aimlessly. The information must be important, but after a few pages of barely absorbing any information I put it down again. I've read enough to know it's not important, or not important right now.
I need to talk to him, or rather see if I can get him to talk to me.
He hasn't locked the door to the balcony, so I open it the minimal amount and slip outside to join him. I sit next to him on the make shift bench of old boxes, making sure to leave plenty of space between the two of us and leaving a clear path from him to the exit. Not that he couldn't find an escape involving going over the balcony or climbing up to the roof. It's important that I give him all possible avenues of escape. He's precariously close to the edge, but I doubt he'd respond well to me worrying about him right now.
“Oliver...” I finally ask, my words fail and his vacant eyes he turn in response.
“Oliver...” The sound of Diggle calling my name calls me back to reality, startling me out of my unpleasant thoughts.
The Island. I'm never going to be free of that place.
Being drugged and knocked out for however long. I’ve been trapped in a cage every since that ship sank. Ever since my father and Sara died. I planned to go back home and avenge my father and right his sins. To use that pain, that grief to ...
“Oliver do you know where you are? ” Diggle's voice is such a contrast to the darkness, his voice it, he, doesn't belong on that island, with me. I'm stuck back there always and I...
Why didn’t I die?
“Oliver, Oliver,” I know Diggle is calling for me, wants me, but I can't, I'm bad for him. My inability to separate reality from the past led to me nearly killing him, and let's not forget the state of his place.
I slowly move back from the edge of the balcony towards Diggle, towards his hovering hands. He hasn't touched me, but I can tell he wants to. I move until our thighs touch and force myself to make eye contact.
Clearly taking my tentative movements as permission, Diggle grabs my arm and pulls me into a hug. It's a gentle hug, even if it was the tightest hug he was capable of I know I could break it, but the gesture is touching. His left hand hovers by my cheek and I grab it and push towards my face, he gets the picture quickly and cups my jaw. I think he's moving in to kiss me, but instead he whispers in my ear, “I'm so sorry Oliver. I should have warned you, there's a reason we hadn't slept together before now, my dreams can get...”
What? He's blaming himself, that's not right.
“Stop Diggle it's all my fault. I just can't seem to leave the Island behind.” I manage to say, we tried, Diggle and I, but it was clearly a bad idea, I tend to have a lot of those.
“Oliver!”, Diggle says, he sounds mad, “you have to stop doing this. You have to stop blaming yourself for everything. Stop hurting and destroying yourself.”
I kiss him softly to stop him from talking[. H]e means well, but he doesn't know what he's talking about.
He lets me get away with it for one kiss, two, but then he pulls away, only far enough that our lips no longer touch, but still so close. He gives me one of those looks of his, the ones which say I know you and your bullshit isn't fooling me.
I start to pull away but he won’t let me go. “Oliver look at me,” Diggle says and when I don't it's his turn to pull me into a kiss, a fierce kiss this time. I let him, I can't find the strength to stop him, to save him.
He kisses me and kisses me, and I let him. I let him touch my face, my neck, run his fingers through my hair. I respond, with my hands on his chest, my tongue in his mouth. Neither of us are the type to go in for deep and meaningful, emotional conversations. We let our actions do the talking for the most part. I let our bodies talk, let my protestations fall away, let my acceptance of all the things I know Diggle wants to say be read into the reception of my body to his touches.
We're too far along this road for either of us to bail now. I can't see anything changing, but I know I can't just cut and run from this, from him.
Eventually he leads me back to bed, somehow most of the actual damage was limited to outside the bedroom. It takes us a few minutes to straighten the bed up and climb in.
We don't touch in the bed and neither of us sleep.
After a few hours of either of us decidedly not sleeping I get out of bed to get some water, Olive ignores me but I keep my movement quiet anyway.
I'm no stranger to the 5 am light, but Oliver and I didn't even get in until after midnight and even then we didn't get to sleep for at least an hour after that. Neither of us will function well on this little sleep. So, I decide to make another attempt at it and bring back to the bed two glasses of water, navigating the wreckage of my apartment carefully. .
Oliver acknowledges me this time, taking his glass from me and drinking deeply. Once he's finished I take the glass from him and put both on the side table, helpully out of the way of flailing limbs. Although, I hope there is no repeat performance.
“Thanks,” Oliver says awkwardly. Oliver is so rarely awkward, under usual circumstances I'd find it charming.
“No problem,” I say, hovering beside the bed. I should lie back down, but the idea of spending any more time in that bed not sleeping is painful to me.
Oliver rolls his eyes at me and reaches for my hand. I look at it for a few seconds before taking it and letting him pull me in.
It takes some arranging, but we end up curled together, I'm the big spoon and it feels nice. I know he's stronger than me, more skilled, more vicious, but it's nice to pretend I can protect him.
I'm still too tense to sleep and eventually Oliver huffs and clear his throat.
“Maybe we're not perfect together, but I think we need each other too much for this to be something we.. I can give up,” Oliver says quietly.
I think about that for a little while, would it even be possible to go backwards? Maybe, if I thought he could make it work with Laurel, but he's proven time and again that that's not possible for him. I need him, true, but I'd give him up if I really thought he'd be better without me.
“Yeah,” I reply eventually, kissing the back of his neck, “we're better together'. I've always said that he needs me, and that definition has only gotten broader, but it goes both ways now, that need. I need him as much as he needs me and I didn't know that he knew that.
Oliver makes a grunt of agreement and turns his head to kiss me quickly, before turning back around.
There's still so much undecided, so much darkness hidden beneath the surface, but we have each other and somehow we do fall asleep.