Work Header

How to Save a Life

Work Text:



Chapter 1: Uncomfortable

Gasping for air Nyssa woke up, jolting into an upright position. Sweating from her last dream, firmly clutching the knife in her hand, she knew that something had happened. Something had gone terribly wrong. She’d been having those spinning, recurring dreams since she had left Nanda Parbat with Sara three days ago. Nyssa had order to go complete a mission in Italy and Sara needed to go after something back in Starling City. The orders had come fast and there hadn’t been time to discuss them, the only thing Nyssa knew about Sara’s mission was that it had something to do with the Dark Archer possibly being alive. It was supposed to be an exploration mission, nothing that would take too long. They had planned to meet in Rome the next day to go back to Nanda Parbat together.
Usually Nyssa didn’t need to worry about the blonde’s well-being. Sara was strong, she was a fighter and not easy to take down, Nyssa knew that. But she kept having this uncomfortable feeling for the last few days. And with the second she was awake while it was still darkest night she felt absolutely sure that something really bad had happened to her love.
Within the next minute Nyssa was all dressed up in black leather pants, a dark red tank top and her favorite worn-out and yet so comfortable pair of black boots. She grabbed her motorcycle jacket and helmet from the only chair in the small apartment she had spent the night in, snatched the already packed bag from the top of the wardrobe and left the room.
Nyssa sprinted through the softly illuminated narrow alleys of the small Italian village called Castelmezzano, jumping down the stone stairways and within minutes arrived at the somewhat hidden place where she had parked her bike. The ancient village incorporated in the Dolomites was sleeping; however, some residents may have woken up by the boisterous, roaring sound of the assassin’s black Ducati 1199 Panigale. Nyssa didn’t care. She had completed her mission last night without any incidents and she was sure no one would establish a connection between her and the old man’s suicide.
Only one road was leading to and from the hamlet and after speeding through the tunnel separating the village from the rest of the world Nyssa used the Bluetooth in her helmet to call Sara. As Sara didn’t pick up the phone the bad feeling in Nyssa’s guts spread a little more.
She was way too fast but she didn’t care about speed limits this morning – this early she wouldn’t be seen by anyone and even if she was seen by anyone this person should have better overlooked her. Her head was replaying that dream over and over again. And with every time it seemed more dangerous, more threatening, more horrible. More real.
An archer. Then a blur, Sara’s eyes wide, her expression showing shock and then it seemed like she would never stop falling. Nyssa gritted her teeth, increasing her speed a little more. Deeply bent over the motorcycle handlebar, tearing up the streets, dark silhouettes of trees, mountains and road signs flew past the assassin, as mile after mile passed by under the bike’s wheels.

“Sara. This is the third time I call you and you’re not picking up. I’m coming now.”

Thank God she was Heir to the Demon. Her contacts made it possible to just get on a private jet without further ado. Nyssa usually didn’t make use of her status, she preferred travelling like a normal tourist as it was less conspicuous. But this time she needed to reach Starling City as soon as possible and she didn’t mind taking advantage of The League’s financial possibilities.
Instead of the usual two hours it took to get to Bari, Nyssa needed 1 ½ and still time seemed to be running against her.
It wasn’t even 6 am when Nyssa parked her Ducati directly in front of the airport and in a hurry handed her keys over to a young man called Paolo, as Nyssa could read on the sign on his chest. She could feel his fear when she hissed some Italian words in his ear before she entered the building. She knew he would take care of her motorcycle, people tended to believe Nyssa promising them death.

It was an approximately 14-hours flight from Bari to Starling City. For the most parts of the first few hours Nyssa just sat in her seat, perfectly still, eyes closed and breathing even, letting time flow by in meditation, trying to overcome the uncomfortable feeling. Then they had to stop in Reykjavík, Iceland, to refuel the plane. Under different circumstances Nyssa would have taken some time to visit the country, since it was one of those she hadn’t been to yet. Though under different circumstances she wouldn’t be there after all… Instead she dialed Sara’s number for the twenty seventh time and still – no one answered. Nyssa was not used to being scared and she tried to calm herself, tried to pull herself together by recalling every way assassins were trained to be professional and cold-blooded. Nothing worked.
Nyssa was not the kind of woman who worried a lot. She wasn’t anxious and had absolutely no problem with leaving Sara sufficient freedom to work things out on her own. Sara was able to look after herself. But usually she didn’t feel that bad when Sara was gone for a few days and definitely she had no nightmares about her falling from what could have been a building or a cliff or something from similar height. Usually, Sara answered her phone. And if she was on a mission she’d call back as soon as possible. And since Nyssa had been calling for hours, Sara would have at least made sure that nothing had happened to Nyssa resulting in her calling this often. Only once in her life she had felt similar pain and fear. Something was terribly wrong and Nyssa’s stomach clenched when she thought about the worst case scenario. The only time she had felt this way she had been back in that boathouse and Sara had slowly died in her arms. Slightly shaking her head she took a deep breath pushing the piercing thought aside. She would be there soon and since Nyssa hadn’t gotten much sleep in the last few nights, especially not last night, she should probably use the next six hours to rest. And even though Nyssa was trained to sleep whenever and wherever – it took a long time until she had found enough peace to fall asleep.


Chapter 2: Emotions in a basement

Nyssa remembered very well the last time she had been standing in the basement underneath the Verdant club. The last time she had been there, the million dollar equipment had been destroyed almost completely and desperation and fear had been in the air. People had been waiting for a miracle. When Nyssa observantly walked down the stairs without being noticed by anyone in the now clean and again professionally equipped room she could feel this too familiar tension again. It felt like everyone in the room was paralyzed, shocked.
Nyssa froze on the last step and her heartbeat seemed to stop as well, when Nyssa caught sight of very familiar blonde hair, stained with dirt and blood, her beautiful Sara lying motionless on a metal table in the middle of the room, still dressed in her black leather outfit.

“No…” she whispered, her eyes wide, heartbeat now hammering against the vacant feeling spreading through her arteries, all of a sudden feeling vulnerable and lost.

The atmosphere in the room changed within the glimpse of an eye as five heads turned into her direction, now alarmed and ready to defend themselves. But Nyssa didn’t care. With four quick steps she was at her beloved’s side, her face contorted with pain and feeling like somebody had just crushed her heart with his bare hand. She had the overwhelming feeling of the basement’s walls coming closer and closer, her pulse was pounding in her ears, too loud and threatening to tear her eardrums, the trivial news on the flat screens and the cold, white light were driving her crazy and the dry air threatened to choke her. All those emotions settled in her core and Nyssa felt like her universe was torn into pieces. This couldn’t be true. She had to be dreaming again.
Her instincts set in when she felt someone approaching her from behind and she spun, drawing a short dagger from her waistband, ready to fight for Sara’s body to her own death. She saw fear in her counterpart’s eyes for just a second, then grieve washed over the woman’s gaze and Nyssa recognized the MIT girl who had introduced herself as Felicity when they had first met. And surprisingly enough Nyssa felt her body relax as the other blonde came closer and eventually pulled the assassin into a soft embrace. This was probably the first time someone dared to touch her without asking for permission. Someone she didn’t even really know. And it felt odd but yet somehow warm to Nyssa, at least until she realized why the girl was hugging her. She straightened her back and turned back to Sara. Swallowing hard she let her eyes wander over her love’s lifeless body, noticing three wounds in her stomach and chest. The archer she had seen in her dream had been real.

“Why didn’t you stay with me…?” – all the heartache Nyssa felt was expressed in those few words and nobody in the room made a sound. It seemed almost inappropriate to watch Nyssa mourning over her love; it appeared as if there was an invisible but clearly perceptible protective shield around the two assassins and looking at them felt like an attack on their privacy. It took Nyssa a few minutes to be able to lift her gaze from the body in front of her but when she did she knew exactly what to do.

“I am going to take her with me.” She stated and of course it was Oliver Queen who had to object her decision.

“That’s not gonna happen.” He answered, his teeth gritted and Nyssa couldn’t help but feel rage about him still trying to force Sara to stay with him. Sara had told Nyssa about the tracer Oliver had put on her and that by this he had managed to follow her every step. There were no words to express how furious this information had made Nyssa. How could he dare to believe Sara was an object?! Or even if he didn’t believe this, how could he dare treat her like one? A precious little toy, too important to lose but still an object with neither dignity nor a free will – this was outrageous.

“Excuse me..?” Nyssa’s voice was low, her gaze filled with anger and hatred.

“She will not return to the League” Oliver explained, now angry himself. “You will have to kill me first.”

This was ridiculous. Nyssa shook her head and hissed: “It would be a pleasure. But I am certain that Sara would never forgive me. She is Ta-er al-Sahfer, she is a member of the League of Assassins, she is The One for me and she will live.”

“She is dead!!” Another woman screamed at her. It was Laurel Lance, Sara’s sister, the one person Sara had always cared about most. “My sister is dead! And it’s your fault! You brought her back to your fucking League and now she’s dead. She’s dead and nothing on earth can bring her back!!!”

‘If she would have stayed home with me, safe back in Nanda Parbat, she would still be alive…’ Nyssa thought but bit her tongue. Instead she said: “I can feel your pain, Laurel Lance. Nothing earthly can bring her back but being a member of The League has its benefits. I am able to bring her back but there’s not much time left. I have to take her with me. Now.”

Every single person in the room stared at her. There was the boy who had fought with them against Slade’s army; Felicity Smoak, the IT girl; Laurel, Sara’s sister and a Lawyer; Oliver Queen who was The Arrow and the ex Special Forces member who had gun pointed her at their first meeting. It was an extraordinary group, very diverse characters but though they dealt differently with it, they were all the same in one point. They were grieving over their friend’s death.

“Go…” Felicity whispered.

“No.” Laurel interjected. “How should I believe you? Why are you even here? How do you even know what happened? Nobody except the five of us and the one who actually killed my sister on that rooftop could have known what happened! So: How do you know?” – “Laurel, stop it-”

“It’s okay, Mr. Queen”, Nyssa breathed. “You want to know how I am here? I love your sister. I told you she is The One for me and our connection is strong. It is eternal and the Spirits value our love. And as I awoke from a nightmare last night I knew that something had happened to Sara. I could see an archer and I could watch her falling. I believe that this happened about 16 hours ago? I saw it happen even though I was sleeping in an Italian hamlet. I looked at Sara in my dream. And my love for your sister brought me here.” Nyssa paused but this time nobody wanted to interrupt her speech. “I know a place where death is an illusion. I know there is a possibility to save our Sara and I will try even if it means risking my own life. But I have to go now because chances to bring her back decrease with every hour she stays dead and if I can’t bring her to where she needs to be to overcome death within the first 24 hours… she will not be saved.”

There was silence in the room and it took almost a minute until someone found his tongue. This time it was Laurel who swallowed but said: “Go. Bring her back.” Nyssa nodded once and gently lifted Sara’s body from the table. She was already carrying her beloved towards the steel staircase when Felicity spoke again.

“I will come with you.”

Nyssa stopped and turned. “Felicity, you cannot come. No one outside The League, in fact not even most members of The League, must ever know about that place. Don’t you trust me?”

“I do trust you with Sara. I know you would rather want to die yourself before you let anything happen to her. But something happened already and you weren’t there to save her. I don’t blame you, nobody was. She was shot by I don’t know who yet but I swear I will find out. But this is not your fault! I trust you with Sara because I know you love her more than your own life and I could tell by the way she looked at you that she felt the same about you. And I know very well that Sara would not want to live while you weren’t there to live along with her. She would want you to live. So if you died saving her she would always blame herself. I do trust you with Sara, but I don’t trust you with yourself.”

Nyssa looked down at the lifeless woman in her arms. She knew Felicity was right. She was brave and maybe a little reckless but she was right. The assassin made eye contact with the IT girl and gave her a small smile. “Thank you, Felicity. I appreciate your concern about my well-being, at least on Sara’s behalf. But this is what we do right? We put ourselves in danger to save the ones we care for. We risk our lives every single day to protect the ones we love. We all know that. It’s part of our job. It’s part of our personality, part of our life. You would do the same thing, wouldn’t you? If you had the chance to save the one you love most by risking your own life? I am sure you would. I remember you saved Sara once, taking a bullet that was meant for her. And I will never forgive myself if I don’t try to do anything possible to bring Sara back. You have to let me go.”

The blonde bit her bottom lip. “Then let me at least offer to take you to wherever you need to go. Or do you already have a car?”

Nyssa had a car or at least knew someone who would give her his but until it arrived at Verdant it could take another half an hour, depending on the traffic. So she looked at the other woman’s face, being able to read every emotion from it and nodded.

“Thank you.”


Chapter 3: Hopes and Wishes

They didn’t make much conversation – Felicity was clearly intimidated by the assassin, every now and then glancing in the rear-view mirror, looking at Nyssa embracing Sara tightly on the backseat, apparently wrapped up in her own thoughts, watching the landscape fly past the window. From time to time Nyssa told Felicity to turn left or right, time flowing by way too fast. Thankfully there was a Lazarus Pit quite close to Starling City, but still, time was short and they had to make their way through the city traffic and then it again took almost 3 hours to reach their final destination. Nyssa flinched at the irrevocable words and prayed that they wouldn’t stay true.
The road now wound over hills and through a forest, probably something like a national park and it had been almost half an hour since they had seen the last car passing by. Nyssa told Felicity to slow down and all of a sudden signaled her to stop. The IT girl parked her bright red car on the hard shoulder somewhere close to what seemed like in the middle of nowhere.

“So… here?” Felicity seemed confused. “Are you sure?”

Nyssa opened the door, stepped outside the car, looked around and noticed the familiar pattern of three different kinds of trees marking the closest accessible path towards the cavern she was searching for. She was sure, this was the right place. She nodded and turned back to the car to heave Sara back into her arms. Nyssa just couldn’t help but shiver, she just couldn’t get used to the cold and stillness of her love’s body. She deeply inhaled the damp air surrounding them and hoped so much that it wasn’t already too late. The 24 hours weren’t up yet, but chances were decreasing… The two women shared one more moment of silence and then Felicity whispered, almost as smooth as the wind: “If anyone can save our Sara, it’s you. I will wait here until you’re back. So go now, be Heir to the Demon and save the Canary.” And she softly touched Sara’s motionless face one last time, a single tear falling from her face, saying goodbye without a word. And the Heir to the Demon understood that she was meant to leave with this.

Nyssa carried her beloved, holding her close to her chest, walking down the narrow path a normal tourist would have mistaken for an uninteresting animal track. She had to be careful, since the trail was not only narrow but also slippery as it had rained over the day. Rocks, leaves, branches and twigs made it hard to move forward but Nyssa knew there was no other possibility than to walk this stony and difficult path. Sara’s body seemed to become heavier with every step Nyssa took and the assassin had to get a grip on herself to keep on moving. She sighed with relieve when the entrance of the sandstone cave came into view. Water was dripping from the rock spur above the small hole making it look inconspicuous and plain but Nyssa had noticed the ancient Arabic symbol carved into stone about 12 inches above the ground next to the hole. The entrance was too narrow for Nyssa to carry Sara through it and inside the tunnel so she gently laid her back onto the damp ground and crawled through the opening in the rock. It was dark inside and Nyssa granted her eyes some time to adjust to the lighting conditions and her arms a little rest from the weight of Sara’s body. Then she drew the blonde woman into the cave, lifted her again and moved further into the tunnel. The tunnel bent several times and then suddenly opened into a mysteriously illuminated cavern, almost as big as the basement beneath the Verdant. In the middle of the cave there was a pool of clear fluid, looking almost like water but yet somehow so perfectly calm that it appeared to be empty. Nyssa felt a wave of exhaustion washing over her, as she knelt down next to the pit, laying Sara down on the hard ground, intensively praying to the Spirits to hear her plea and save the woman’s body and soul.

Nyssa had never used a Lazarus Pit but she had learned that it could take life as well as it could give it. And that with touching the surface of the fluid the pit began working its magic and nobody was able to tell what would be the result. Nyssa knew one thing about the pit’s magic for sure. The one thing she had been told by Ra’s al Ghul himself was that the second someone unwounded made contact with the holy water the pit would immediately draw every bit of life out of his body, killing him without mercy.

She couldn’t possibly get Sara into the liquid without touching it or being hit by some splashes. The pit exacted a blood sacrifice. Without hesitating another second Nyssa drew the dagger from her waistband again and with one last look on Sara she positioned it on her left wrist and cut her forearm open lengthwise right up to the inside of her elbow. Blood rushed from the wound and stained the stony ground of the cave, Nyssa’s vision blurred from pain, the cave seemed to spin rapidly and the assassin had to concentrate very hard to stay focused, avoiding giving in to the dizziness clouding her thoughts. She dropped the weapon and slightly swaying took a few steps towards Sara who lay right next to the pool. Unsure how do it the right way, Nyssa hesitated but then decided there was not enough time to think about every single step. If she was to die – so be it. Taking a deep breath, she sat down at the edge of the pool and pulling Sara’s body close she slid into the pleasantly warm fluid, immediately being drawn under the surface by some inexplicable power. Nyssa tried to swim, survival instincts kicking in, struggling for air - but she could do nothing, somehow she was paralyzed by the water-like fluid. Sara was floating weightless, her blonde hair spread around her head like a halo and slightly illuminated by an unknown source of light she looked like an angel to Nyssa who was slowly losing consciousness.

Nyssa felt cold air on her wet skin and opened her eyes, facing the cave’s ceiling as she was floating on her back. Her arm didn’t hurt anymore… Within a second the peaceful feeling inside her was driven away by fear. Where was Sara?! She turned, fluid splashing and saw the blonde floating next to her, about 5 inches beneath the surface, motionless. Her expression was calm and with her eyes shut, blood and dirt washed out of her hair and from her body, she almost looked like she was sleeping. Nyssa dove her right hand back into the water to grip Sara’s arm, trying to pull her up but while she could touch her beloved she was not able to move her even the tiniest bit. Pulling herself closer, she felt anguish washing over her again,clenching her heart, as she softly touched Sara’s cheek, cupping her face with one hand - wishing and hoping with all her existence to be able to detect a movement, a sign of life, anything but deadness.

“It’s okay, my love, you’re going to be alright. I’m here, I am with you, you’ll be fine. We’ll be fine. You will live. Just hold on, listen to my voice. I’m here with you. Just open your eyes, love, please, open your eyes!”

Nyssa all of a sudden saw images before her inner eye, images of Sara and herself, memories of all the moments they had shared, the first time she had seen the younger blonde, starving and almost as lifeless as now, the first time she had heard her whispering her name, their first kiss, images of all those nights they had spent together, missions they’d completed, obstacles they’d overcome… memories of the good times. But she could also see what could have been, images of their possible future together. She could see them living in their own little home in the mountains of Tibet, flashing images of Sara, sitting on a soft, fawn carpet close to the fireplace, gently holding a small, stunningly perfect human in her arms, watching it in awe, looking as happy as she could possibly be, almost glowing from love - impressions of their own little family. And as Nyssa already started to believe that she had come too late, that she had failed to save the one she loved most, that she had lost the most important part of her life, those unbelievably clear, topaz blue eyes flew open, vibrating energy spreading through the body, now struggling against the water around it, and with a gasp for lifesaving air Sara broke the now softly glowing surface of the pool.

Nyssa sobbed in shock, somehow not able to believe the miracle she had just witnessed with her own eyes but at the same time feeling an indescribable weight lifting from her soul, relieve spreading through every fiber of her body and love overwhelming her like a crashing wave as she made eye contact with the most amazing woman she had ever met. Tears started running down the usually professionally calm assassin’s face, now showing all possible kind of emotions, when she heard Sara whisper in the same confused and yet grateful way as she had whispered more than five years ago.