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Bloody Secrets

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Oliver Queen's P.O.V.

 

Oliver almost turned right back around as soon as he rounded the corner into the main area coming in from the alley entrance. He'd been expected only Digg's disapproving frown and crossed bowling-ball arms—both of which were present—but the other two people waiting for him were a surprise. He made himself keep going, nonetheless; heading for the gear station even as he asked, "Tommy? What are you doing here?"

 

Somehow the childhood best friend that'd recently learned he was The Vigilante seemed like a safer bet than either of his unhappy partners. Because he already knew what Digg was going to say, and the fact that Felicity hadn't turned from her computers when he came in didn't make Oliver think talking to her right now was a great idea either.

 

"Here for the show, I guess," Tommy shrugged, wincing as the move made him his hand hurt. "So helping the crazy chick didn't go well, huh?"

 

Olive ignored the undertone of sarcasm that said that wasn't a surprise as he answered, "The entire thing was obviously a setup by the S.C.P.D," he sighed, then he shook his head. "They have Helena in custody. I have to go," he said as he grabbed the smoke grenades and gas mask he'd had to stop here for, making himself go on even as he searched for the right filter in the setup case.

 

The arrows he had for this, after all, wouldn't be enough for openly invading a police station—not nearly enough smoke—and he didn't carry the mask around all the time, either. And he needed both, because he needed a lot of smoke. Needed the cover; because he was not going to start killing cops tonight. The silence was quickly starting to feel heavy again—broken only by the faint, strangely slow sounding clicks from Felicity's keyboard—so he went on as he started fitting the right filter into his mask.

 

"They'll be at the station by now. Breaking her out of there's a lot easier than Iron Heights. I couldn't stop them on the way there—"

 

"Without killing a bunch a cops, yeah," Digg interjected before he could say it any other way; likely not wanting to let him wander back around to the argument they'd had by comm as soon as he'd turned his back on the scene of Helena's capture. Then again, if that meant the former soldier wasn't going to carry on with the short rebuke he'd given him about cutting comms during the chase, going on about all the benefits of open comms or something like that, that was fine by him.

 

"Why are you even helping her?" Tommy wanted to know, the angry accusation in his eyes like a knife. But it was one the other man had every right to wield.

 

"Tommy..." Oliver sighed, grimacing as he started loading the new gear up to go. "Sorry, I don't have time to explain—"

 

"Yes, you do." Felicity interrupted this time, turning her chair around to face him for the first time since he'd come in tonight.

 

This was the first time since he'd seen her since he had sent her away last night, because she hadn't answered her door later that evening. Not that he'd really expected her to. Once he'd been sure she was asleep in bed, safe, sleeping in his car outside hadn't been impossible, just uncomfortable. Though he'd been more than a little unhappy when he'd realized she'd left for her morning jog out the back door and deliberately taken a very different route from normal so that it took him almost twenty minutes to find her after he'd realized she'd left. Still he'd known better than to yell at her for it then, instead keeping his distance for the remainder of the route back. She'd known he was there, he was sure of that just from all the unnecessary twists and turns she'd thrown in there that'd made following her from a distance so hard. But she'd never slowed down or stopped to let him catch up: her sneakered feet pounding the pavement a lot faster than the normal leisurely run they'd started to make a habit of once he'd realized she really did normally jog too close to the Glades and wasn't going to stop doing it... all of that wasn't something he could talk to her about right now though. Even with Helena's snide comments about their jogs still cutting a route through the back of his head.

 

"Why are you doing this?" Felicity asked him now, her gaze locking with his while he frowned at her. "Helping her?"

 

"Fe-liss-ity..." Oliver sighed her name, because he couldn't growl it. "I don't have any choice!" he growled that, and gestured around them. "She knows everything!"

 

"I doubt that," Felicity shook her head far too calmly. "You two dated for what? A week? Maybe a few days more?" she raised an eyebrow, "I may not rush into relationships like she does, but I've known you—known about all of this—a lot longer than that, and I'm sure I don't know everything."

 

"That's not..." Oliver sighed again, and shook his head. "She knows I'm a vigilante, Felicity. The Vigilante."

 

"Yes." Felicity shrugged. "The police accused you of that before. Arrested you, even." She tilted her head this time, as if looking at him from a different angle would make their different views align. "That video you planted for them was better proof than a madwoman's word could ever be. A madwoman you took on a few dates. So any lawyer could easily paint her as a jealous ex without even paying too much attention to her obvious lack of sanity."

 

"No," Oliver shook his head, scowling. "I can't be accused again, Felicity. Last time it was only a few days before a hired gun came after me." He grimaced at the memory. "Who's to say they won't go after my family instead?"

 

"The S.C.P.D won't arrest you again, Oliver. Not on Helena Bertinelli's say-so." She responded evenly, sounding perfectly reasonable. "I can't imagine the D.A was happy with Detective Lance last time, but they'd have to crucify him if he did it again without concrete, absolute proof. Which, I'll say again, your psycho ex-girlfriend's word is not."

 

"He brought her here," Digg put in from where he was watching them with crossed arms. "Even gave her the password."

 

Felicity grimaced. "Yes, that's why I changed it just now, which—just F.Y.I; we should do a lot more often anyway. And a reason to set-up another base just in case."

 

"Wouldn't help us here if the police got a warrant," Oliver objected, because almost everything down here had to belong to the vigilante.

 

"On the homicidal, jealous ex's say-so?" the blonde shook her head. "If that's all you're worried about, we should just start moving out. There's plenty of warehouses nearby that'll let you pay all in cash and not ask any questions—or even want a real name. Give Digg a good disguise and some cash and there'd be almost no way for it to be connected to you." She paused for a breath, then added: "That's assuming you don't already have a second secret base?"

 

Oliver's face twitched. Because yes, he did. But he was still frowning. "The accusation alone would put my family in danger, Felicity. And you. All of you," he nodded towards Tommy and Digg, but kept his eyes locked with hers. "Forget the police task force that would be focusing on us. It'd get out that they were. If corrupt businessmen didn't start hiring hitmen right away, the Triad would still come after me just on principle."

 

"Principle, right," Felicity snorted, rolling her eyes. "I'm surprised you haven't already had that problem. Especially with your club."

 

"Hey now," Tommy objected, but he didn't say anything else. Likely didn't have any idea what to say.

 

Oliver blinked because he didn't know what she was getting at either. "What's wrong with..." he trailed off, and shook his head. "The club's a perfect cover."

 

"In theory it is. Definitely," Felicity nodded, before she rolled her eyes again. "Then you went and named it 'Verdant' to justify the green theme. And the 'V' in your sign? In all the signs? I mean, are they supposed to look like arrows pointing down?"

 

"What? No!" Oliver denied straight away, even though she'd hit very close to why he'd picked the name he had for the nightclub. He didn't think it was that obvious. And the V's just looked like V's... didn't they?

 

Diggle snorted, but didn't otherwise inject his smirking self back into the conversation he was still just watching with his arms exactingly crossed.

 

Tommy, too, stayed silent, though he was blinking like he was also only now making the mental connection to the imagery all around the new club as she drew it out for all of them. The few parts of the club's decor that Oliver himself had picked.

 

This time the brilliant woman's sigh sounded so tired Oliver wanted to refill her coffee cup for her, like had had more than a few times when she came here after all day at work, to help him through most nights. And that was before he'd really realized exactly how much and how hard she did work before she ever set foot in the Foundry each day. Never mind the days that started with them still here long after midnight, when she was headed home for barely a catnap before heading in to work while he and his bodyguard were still catching some shut eye. But tonight was the first night the vigilante could remember seeing her computer station without one of her coffee mugs on it for him to consider refilling, and he really didn't have the time to be arguing about any of this, let alone making coffee.

 

"Oliver, I know you tried to fix the timing problem. That that's why you had yourself arrested a few months ago. And all things considered it mostly worked, but it's not enough."

 

"Felicity—"

 

"No, Oliver, listen to me. Hiding all of this," she gestured around them, and he couldn't help but be a little relieved that even that wide gesture didn't make her wince anymore. "It isn't just the timing. It's not just one time. It's all the time. Every day. Everything you do."

 

"I know that, Felicity—"

 

"No! No, you don't!" Her golden ponytail whipped around as she snapped her head from side to side. "You might think you get it, but you're only looking at what's right in front of you. You're not seeing the big picture. Any of the big pictures."

 

"What'd you mean, Felicity?" Digg spoke up, his disciplined calm almost hiding his concern while Oliver tried to let the same dark emotion make him scowl at the earnest genius.

 

His tech-girl closed her eyes, looking so tired he thought again of how much she worked. Too much. He'd want to send her straight home to bed, but that wouldn't go over well even if they weren't already arguing.

 

Then she took a deep, slow breath, before her lashes went back up and her big blue eyes met his again. "Oliver, what sort of profile do you think the police are working with on 'The Vigilante?'"

 

"Modern day Robin Hood," he answered, tone turning a little sour all on its own.

 

Mostly he'd been able to ignore the comparisons. With all the similarities even he could see: the bow and arrow, stealing from the rich to give to the poor, and the same color choices, he probably should've expected it at some point.

 

To Oliver, though, it was Shado's hood, formerly her father's: Yao Fei's. Camouflage on the island that'd been lifesaving more than once, and a still useful disguise for him in the city, yeah. But he'd chosen to use it, to wear it, to honor both of them and everyone else he'd lost on the painful path from the clueless playboy to a man trying to finally fulfill his father's dying wish; to save his home and right his family's wrongs.

 

That, all of it, had nothing to do with some thief that'd probably always been more stories spun to entertain than any one real person had never come close to Oliver's thought process—let alone crossed it. At least not until the media started saying something about it just about every time they reported anything at all about him. Be it a statement from the S.C.P.D or something dug up by some resourceful journalist after they'd gotten a 'no comment' from the cops, or some variation of both mashed together. Like his wearing a hood and aiming arrows at anyone had to be compared to the guy whose men had to be beyond drunk while they sang merrily about wearing tight tights in the woods...

 

"Okay." Felicity nodded. "That was probably something that came up with Adam Hunt. Well before the media started running with it. That was almost six months ago. A month after that, they arrested you, then they had to let you go with apologies." She raised an eyebrow, her eyes still unwavering when he looked back at her. "What have the S.C.P.D learned about you since then?"

 

Oliver finally let himself scowl. "Detective Lance can't—"

 

"He's one man. The man in charge of the task force, yes. And yes, your trick probably made him doubt his judgment when it comes to you as Oliver Queen. Considering your history with his family I don't get how he was allowed to stay the lead detective on the case while investigating you. A lawyer's dream and a prosecutor's nightmare in a lot of ways—he's really lucky you didn't decide to press charges yourself. Though that might've kept attention you didn't want on you. But he's not the only one looking for the vigilante."

 

The archer certainly did not want to talk about Laurel or Sara, or anything to do with the Lance family right now. He wouldn't want to even if Tommy wasn't watching—or contemplating his hurt hand just to not be uncomfortably watching. So he focused only on the last part with a nod. "I know your neighbor's—"

 

"It's not just Nick. Or McKenna Hall, or Lucas Hilton either. There's two more detectives working the case with them and Lance. Six S.C.P.D detectives actively working to find you. Full time. Nonstop. Every time you put an arrow in anyone, the autopsy report is copied to all of them. And most of the thugs or drug dealers you intimidate in the Glades might not file police reports, but they could be someone's C.I. The white collar crooks? Some of them might not report their terrifying encounter with you, but many of them will. More since the thing back in December wasn't you."

 

"What's your point?" he ground out. Still wanting to head for the door sooner rather than later, but knowing deep down this wasn't a conversation he could just walk away from. Did it really have to happen now though?

 

"My point is almost every time you cross someone off your List? That name gets added to the S.C.P.D's list for you." The genius shook her head so sharply it looked like her hair was alive again as she threw her hands wide. "Everything you do, each time, gives away something about you. And there are a lot of people thinking about all of that, so you can't afford not to."

 

"I know that, Felicity," the vigilante sighed.

 

"Do you?" she cocked her head to the side to look at him.

 

"Yes."

 

The blonde nodded as if accepting what he was saying this time. "Then explain Helena Bertinelli to me."

 

Oliver couldn't help but deflate at that. "I thought I could help her. I was wrong. But now she knows too much—and I can't kill her. Or leave her in cuffs to talk."

 

They'd all talked about all of this already—minus Tommy. In bits and pieces apart more than together. With mostly censure and crossed arms from Diggle; and softer frowns and concern from Felicity. Tommy was the one this was all new to, so that was probably why he was just listening to everything while the other two went after the archer. From Digg he'd expected it, and he couldn't say he didn't deserve it from Felicity at this point, too. But what else could he say?

 

"Because," Felicity nodded deliberately. "The viability of her testimony won't matter till it comes to a trial, which you want to avoid," Felicity nodded. "But you're thinking damage control, Oliver, without seeing all the damage." She shook her head. "Say she hadn't been caught tonight. Say she realized it was a trap, got away and left town. Unlikely, but hypothetically, say it happened. Her brief return would still be a problem. Do you know why?" she demanded.

 

"No," Oliver sighed again, turning to double-check his quiver because he still did not have the time to be arguing about all this right now. "Enlighten me."

 

"Because the S.C.P.D knows Helena Bertinelli is the Huntress," Felicity responded so systematically he couldn't not see what she was getting at as she said it. "They know she started shooting a crossbow instead of a gun while she was working with the Hood. And, in that same timeframe, she was photographed a few times dating Oliver Queen." She shook her head again. "Just one reason her giving them your name will make sense, even if a lawyer can get it thrown out later."

 

"Which is why I have to go get her before she decides to say it!" Oliver exploded, turning to do just that since he now had all the gear he'd had to come back here for to make a raid on the S.C.P.D's central station even plausible.

 

Felicity's voice followed him, "The doors are locked, Oliver. And I just changed the password."

 

He stopped halfway across the room, vibrating with tension as she went on.

 

"You won't be able to unlock them. Not without blowing a hole through, or something like that, anyway. And then no one will need a password—or a warrant—to get in."

 

The vigilante spun back around, storming a few of the steps back towards her, but stopped just as suddenly as he recognized the security screens on each monitor. Not the one he'd installed months ago on the one computer he'd setup. This was the tech genius's upgraded system, which—while it was still supposedly a work-in-progress to get the already impressive setup 'just right'—wasn't something he would be able to get into on his own. And that was help that she wouldn't give him before she was ready, and he knew he didn't have it in him to even try to make her give him the key to either lock.

 

Not that Diggle would let him if he could. And the bodyguard wouldn't make any effort to help him either. Protecting the team was something he could count on the ex-soldier to not hesitate on, but saving Helena was something else all together.

 

And Tommy, while still watching nearby, wouldn't help him either. Even if he could... though the fact that he was still standing down here, listening, almost felt like it helped. But he didn't have time to think about that either right now.

 

"Fel-liss-ity," Oliver managed to growl her name out, barely. None of the animosity he could direct towards most people easily while wearing the Hood would come now. Not at her.

 

So, not surprisingly, his aggravation didn't faze her. "Oliver," she nodded, holding his gaze steady again. "Stop. Think. Please."

 

"Think about what?!" he demanded as he set the case of smoke grenades back down because he clearly wasn't going anywhere with them right this instant.

 

"About what the Hood rescuing the Huntress would mean. What it would do."

 

Oliver blinked at her. "What are you—"

 

"It'll give her credibility the next time she's caught. And she will be, if someone doesn't kill her first."

 

Oliver blinked at her again, incredulously.

 

Before he could think of a response, Diggle was speaking up again. "She's right, man," the former soldier uncrossed his arms, to stick his hands in his pockets as he thought about it. "Right now all the cops have got linking her to the vigilante are the complaints of a bunch of crooks. Lot of 'em probably contradicting each other." He shook his head. "You attack the police station to bust her out? That's the word of who knows how many cops."

 

"All of them trained observers," Felicity tacked on quickly. "That is proof. Even without their security cameras, those are just the whipped cream and cherry on top."

 

"So what?" Oliver snapped. "If she gives them my name now—"

 

"That's not proof." Felicity insisted. "And if Detective Lance is actually stupid enough to pretend it is without investigation—again—he'll lose his badge."

 

"He won't make that mistake a second time," Oliver ground out. "But the task force will start investigating me. Again."

 

Felicity's eyebrows seemed to rise in slow motion this time, and it felt like the warning it was. "What makes you think they ever stopped?"

 

"They dropped—"

 

"The charges, Oliver. Not the case." The genius shook her head as he stared at her, slower this time though, too; so her ponytail only barely swayed with the move. "They have to be more careful of you. That's why even Detective Lance treated you with kid-gloves when you were spotted meeting with Count Vertigo. He's about as bad as they come, and you were spotted with him by a cop. But all you got was, what? A warning? A verbal warning, not even on record, right?"

 

Each and every word she said just made it more and more obvious. One, that she really was a whole lot smarter than him; probably most other people, too. And two, that she was only thinking about all of this because she really did care... about him.

 

Oliver couldn't be angry with her for that, but he still had to go. He shook his head. "I was at the mansion being saved from a hitman by Lance when the Hood disrupted an arms deal across town. Can't be in two places at once."

 

"Two people can," she answered immediately. "That's how you did it. And even though none of the cops would like to think there might be more than one vigilante, that doesn't mean it won't occur to someone. Especially after the other archer went after all the same people as you."

 

He ignored the part about the man who'd almost killed him, because the so-called 'Dark Archer'—another Vigilante with yet another copy of The List—hadn't been seen in months. Hadn't done anything since he almost killed Oliver a few days before Christmas, and it wasn't like he'd been the first to almost do that—far from it.

 

"No," Oliver shook his head. "There's no reason they'd—"

 

"Most cops aren't stupid, Oliver. They can't afford to be. And detectives? They spend a lot of time thinking. About what they know, and what they don't." Felicity grimaced. "And if that idea pops? If it occurs to them that there might be more than one man in the hood? Why can't one of them be Oliver Queen?"

 

"Makes sense," Diggle agreed unhappily. "Leads right to me quick, too. No one asked why I wasn't at the mansion to stop the attack that night, but that's exactly where your bodyguard shoulda been. If Lance remembers I wasn't there—"

 

"You could've been anywhere in the mansion," Oliver objected. "Or I sent you home early 'cause it wasn't like I was going anywhere that night."

 

The bodyguard snorted. "With all the people at your stupid party that you gave the mansion security staff barely a few hours to prep for? I should've said 'no' without someone there to cover for me," he shook his head. "You and I know you don't need a real bodyguard, but that's supposedly what I've been getting paid for these last few months. Not something we want the S.C.P.D thinking about either."

 

"And he lives by himself, Oliver," Felicity added, softly now. "No one to confirm he was home. Or not."

 

The archer grimaced. "He was seen at the party."

 

"Till you sent me to stop an arms deal," Digg nodded.

 

"And wow, I really haven't had any idea of what's been going on most of the time..." Tommy's stunned sounding comment to himself was just barely loud enough for all of them to hear.

 

Oliver opened his mouth to try another defense, but then forced himself to stop, shaking his head as he took a deep breath. "We don't have time for this!" he bit out, and pointed at the computers. "Open the doors."

 

The blonde held his gaze for another long moment, her face pretty even in the absence of all the emotion and brightness that usually animated it to the point of pure beauty. Then she shook her head calmly, so slightly her hair didn't sway at all this time.

 

"Felicity!" he snapped her name out as harshly as he could. It was even harder  than the few times he'd tried to yell at Thea before she became a teenager while he was gone, but she didn't flinch.

 

"Oliver," she answered calmly, unperturbed.

 

"Open. The. Door. Now."

 

"No."

 

Oliver growled, but still he couldn't really direct his anger at this impossible situation Helena had put him in at Felicity. He knew she was trying to help. Knew she wasn't mostly wrong either. Mostly. So he took another breath, then tried more gently. "Felicity, please."

 

Her coldly calm mask immediately softened with warmth that he'd missed every second it wasn't there.

 

Then her computer beeped. Repeatedly.

 

BEEP-BEEP! BEEP-BEEP! BEEP-BEEP!

 

"What's that?" Oliver demanded, moving closer as she immediately turned and disengaged her impossible security system with a handful of flying keystrokes.

 

It was tempting to pull her away from the computers—gently, but firmly—as soon as she'd unlocked them. So he could finally get out of here. But those beeps sounded like an alarm. And the only thing he could think of that should trigger any of Felicity's alarm programs right now would be the S.C.P.D looking for Oliver Queen after the Huntress had given up his name. He didn't think Lance even could be that hasty again, but he'd been wrong before and could be again.

 

Felicity scanned quickly through the lines of code like it was more than a bunch of gibberish that only looked like it was made up of letters and numbers crammed together. "Something's happening... I think it's on the police scanner..." She hit a few keys and a man's voice came through her speakers.

 

"...Repeat," the S.C.P.D dispatcher's odd—almost wavering—voice got steadier as he finished. "All units resume patrol."

 

"Dispatch," another man's voice quickly followed over the radio. "What about the officers in need of assistance?"

 

"'Officers,' plural?" Digg caught it too.

 

"SWAT's got the station covered, patrol. Multiple buses are already here. Resume patrol." The dispatcher barely paused before going on brusquely, "All units, be on the lookout for two perps. One male, one female. Male approximately six-feet tall; may be dressed in all black. Female is twenty-five, white, brunette. May be wearing purple leather. Both are armed and extremely dangerous."

 

"What happened?" Oliver demanded, eyes already watching what the tech genius was looking at while Diggle muted the radio, all of them trusting that—however her programs did it—they'd know if something else came over the police scanners. "Who the hell broke her out?"

 

Felicity's hands flew over the keyboard for a few more moments, numerous windows popping up across her screens, some of them disappearing or being blocked by another window just as quickly. When she stopped typing seconds later it was to study what looked like surveillance footage.

 

Oliver's eyes narrowed as he realized it had to be the security system for the S.C.P.D, but he didn't really care how she'd done that so quickly. "Felicity?" he asked her again.

 

Whatever the hell had happened there was over, except for the mess it'd left behind. Fortunately—amazingly—that mess looked like a lot of people stumbling around, and not a lot of dead bodies. All of it a lot more chaotic than the normal controlled-anarchy the archer had used before to slip in and out unnoticed. With evidence, which while guarded wasn't expected to just get up and walk away on its own, so the security around it wasn't anywhere near as tight as it should be for a dangerous prisoner.

 

"Working on it," the blonde replied just as tersely, not looking at him anymore. After a few moments—in which he realized she wasn't really looking at the security footage, but at the window of code next to it—she nodded. "They didn't loop the footage. This is—well, was—live. Um, just a sec..."

 

The vigilante's eyes went back to the screen as surveillance footage from inside the S.C.P.D's main station as she gestured to it, watching as the grainy videos of police officers and detectives in the late evening hours went backwards—rewinding on command. "Slow it down," he told her when it started to go to fast for even his eyes to follow as Digg came up beside him to watch.

 

"Just a sec," Felicity replied. "The first alert was from almost fifteen minutes ago, it just didn't hit the radio for almost the first ten minutes, so..." she hit a few keys again.

 

Then they were watching as the cops and detectives were working again, without the stumbling, paramedics and all over disorder that was there now, in the present.

 

There were some of the same people that'd be there later. The only one that looked shaky on their feet so far was an obviously angry drunk that four beat cops were escorting to lock-up. Some of the detectives he knew Lance worked with were obviously anticipating something—Felicity's neighbor kept glancing down the hall from his desk as he talked on the phone—but no one was rushing around like something had just exploded.

 

Oliver stiffened as Helena appeared, in cuffs with Lance and McKenna Hall on either side of her, being led to interrogation. "Anything from inside the—"

 

"Different system," the tech interrupted, tapping a few keys again. "Here it is."

 

Another video appeared, that was maybe a little clearer than the images from the hallway. Newer camera probably.

 

Lance kept an eye on Helena as McKenna sat her down. But the brunette didn't put up any fight at all. She just watched them, not seeming to care as the pair of detectives then turned and left the room.

 

Apparently leaving her alone to stew and get more worried. Not that that'd likely work on her. Why would it? She was fully expecting him to rescue her. Knew he had to. So she didn't expect to be there long at all.

 

"Fast forward," Oliver ordered with a frown. "Slowly."

 

"No, wait," Digg said before the blonde could comply. "Look," he pointed at one of the hallway shots.

 

Where one of the officer's had been bracing themselves against the wall, coughing for a moment. Another took a step towards them, as if to ask if he was alright, and stumbled. Then both of them started to sag towards the floor. The civilian that was sitting in a nearby chair was clearly already insensible as the pair passed out.

 

Oliver's eyes darted over all the other miniature images as the same scenario seemed to be happening—in some of them.

 

Outside the interrogation room, Lance had caught McKenna before she could fall face first to the floor, but his knees were buckling even as he did it.

 

The rest of the room wasn't in any better shape. One of the detectives at the desks had face-planted into his paperwork while reaching for a coffee mug that ended up shattered and spilled on the floor. Another had slipped sideways off his chair, barely missing cracking his head open on another desk.

 

The only one still awake for some very long seconds was Felicity's neighbor. Detective... Nick something-or-other. He wasn't on the phone anymore. He'd managed to get up a few steps down the hall where they'd all started collapsing first, before his knees were giving out too. He visibly struggled against it the whole way down, trying to keep his chin up and point his gun down that hall. Until his eyes finally rolled back in his head, and he passed out with his gun still in hand, his own weight still holding him partially propped up against the wall as he nodded off, too.

 

"Knock out gas," Digg stated the obvious.

 

"Looks like," the vigilante agreed.

 

"So-So Laurel's dad's gonna be okay, right?" Tommy asked shakily.

 

Making Oliver's eyes fly back to the window where he'd seen the detective fall: where everyone was clearly out cold.

 

"He should be," Felicity answered reassuringly. "Remember there are already E.M.T's there. They'd take him to the hospital if he wasn't one of the ones that was already up on their own—but it looked like a lot of them were, I think."

 

From what Oliver remember that was true, but he was already frowning as he looked at the interrogation room again.

 

There, Helena was out cold, too.

 

"Wait, how did she..." he trailed off as the images all went dark.

 

No, not all. Just the interrogation room, the bullpen and the hallway. All around that floor, if he had to guess. It looked like all the other cameras were still going: recording dozens of victims of what was obviously some kind of mass-attack using sleeping gas.

 

"Why would they cut the cameras?" Digg asked.

 

Felicity immediately shook her head. "They didn't... look, they're still recording," she pointed towards the dark screens, which did have the timestamps still changing by the second in the corner of their frame.

 

"They killed the lights?" Oliver realized. "But not the power." He shook his head then. "Why? And who are 'they'?" he demanded, even though neither one of his teammates could obviously know that.

 

Felicity actually flinched a little in her seat, and the sight of her shrinking away from him, even just a little, made the archer himself wince.

 

"Sorry," Oliver found himself saying without even thinking about it as he gently gripped her shoulder, forcing his fingers to loosen, to gentle just a little bit more in case it was tighter than he'd thought. His frown deepened a little as she seemed to only shrink further under his hand—she'd never shied away from him before. Hell, just a few minutes ago she wasn't giving a single inch as he yelled at her.

 

Felicity shook her head before he could decide if he should ask something or apologize again. "No, it's not—you don't need to apologize," she told him, hands starting to move over her keyboard again. Just a little too slowly for her. "I know it's frustrating... let me see if I can..."

 

All the men stayed quiet as she trailed off, and for a few more long seconds there was only the slightly too slow sounds of her typing echoing around the basement.

 

Click-click.

Click. Click-click.

Click. Click-click-click.

Click. Click. Click.

 

"There," she stopped to point at another screen even as it opened, her emerald-green nail sparkling over the grainy black-and-white image.

 

Oliver vaguely recognized the alleyway only because he'd considered it as a place to ambush Lance; back before Deadshot's attack on the UNIDAC industry's auction. He'd decided it was better to wait for him to walk all the way out to his car in the police lot: and the camera right over that side door had been a big part of that decision.

 

The man walking out was only a vague shape in the shadows that were very long without the lights from inside the building to illuminate him and the door blocking the spotlight as it opened. When it swung shut behind them he was still a departing black shape. Obviously fit, around six feet like the S.C.P.D had guessed themselves, and not just all in black; but in what looked like all black body-armor. His outline was a bit too uniform, too rigidly lined, for it to just be from muscle.

 

Helena was thrown over his shoulder, clearly completely out of it still, just like all the cops inside. He didn't seem to be paying her much mind either, so whatever he'd knocked her—and more than a few of the S.C.P.D—out with was undoubtedly supposed to keep them out of it for a while longer.

 

Oliver was about to ask his new girlfriend to repeat the timeframe to get some idea, but stopped as the image got a little clearer another few steps away from the camera. Not completely clear... but the bow harnessed over a quiver full of arrows was unmistakable to another archer's eyes. Despite the darkness and the inert Helena hanging there too.

 

"Is that..." Digg trailed off in question.

 

"A bow," Oliver nodded slowly: wanting to un-see it. Or for the image to change right in front of his eyes. No, more than almost.

 

But it wasn't happening. The shadowy shape wasn't changing as the man on the screen walked steadily away without a care for the police station he'd just stolen a wanted criminal from. The audacity of it alone was reminiscent of that 'ransom video' he'd called The Hood out with back in December, all but confirming the unwanted realization that'd shot to mind as soon as he saw the weapons and the armor.

 

"The Dark Archer..." he said it softly, not wanting to believe it. If he were more superstitious he might think his earlier thoughts had summoned the man.

 

Next to him Digg stiffened, "Wait, you think that was the other archer rescuing her?"

 

The 'Dark Archer' or the 'other archer' were the names the S.C.P.D had attributed to the man, at least indirectly, and just like they'd thereby picked the two names he was known by: 'The Hood' and 'The Vigilante,' it had seemed to stick. Even though he hadn't been seen at all this year... until now.

 

"Apparently... " Felicity opined dryly.

 

She was tense, too. Oliver couldn't say whether it was because Helena wasn't behind bars anymore, even though he wasn't the one that'd rescued her, or if it was because of this man that she'd only heard about in passing. As someone who had, after all, put him in the hospital. He could identify with the second himself, and he could not hold the first against her.

 

"Why would he help your psycho-ex?" his bodyguard asked the obvious question that the vigilante hadn't wanted to ask himself.

 

Oliver started to shake his head, but stopped—a new rush of alarm bursting through him—as he realized the answer. "He wants to know who I am."

 

"What?" Felicity was still frowning at him when he looked back at her again but now she looked more confused than unhappy. "You guys mean the guy that tried to kill you before Christmas, right?" she was shaking her head even before both of them nodded. "There hasn't been any sign of him for months. Why would he bother coming back now?"

 

Apparently then, it had been Helena's unexpected escape she was unhappy with before if she was just making that connection now.

 

"He stole her from the S.C.P.D for the same reason the Major Case Squad was focused on her, like you said," Oliver replied, not biting the words out only because she was staring at him with so much concern clear in her eyes. "Because she's tied to me. Because she knows who I am." He started to turn towards the doors again. "I have to—"

 

"Have to what?" Felicity cut him off.

 

Oliver looked back at her in shock, because how could she still not want him to go now?

 

Her eyes were narrowed behind her glasses as she went on without waiting for any answered. "To save her? You're not seriously thinking that, are you?"

 

"Not that simple, Felicity," Diggle spoke up before he could muster a response. "If he finds out from her who the Hood is, none of us are safe. That man's a killer. And even if he kills her when he's done, he'll just come after all of us next."

 

"Well, yeah," the blonde allowed with a wince that was probably related to the fact that the bodyguard was starting to back him up. "But it might not even be him. I mean, the all black body-armor can't be impossible to find, right? And you picked up archery on an island somehow, but that doesn't mean everyone that wants to learn it has to get shipwrecked themselves for a few years to do it."

 

Oliver could only stare at her for several long moment, too horrified by the very idea of there being another other archer to speak at first.

 

"Not sure which worries me more now," Digg said carefully. "The thought that the other archer is after you again right now, or that that might be someone else. 'Cause that'd mean you've started some kind of movement."

 

The second was definitely worse, thought the other archer being back wasn't great either. Hearing it said aloud, however, snapped him out of staring at his girlfriend. "I don't want to start a movement," he snapped at the ex-soldier immediately.

 

"Why not?" Tommy wondered, raising his hands in surrender when the archer's glare turned to him and wincing when that move made his hand hurt. "I'm just saying, if what you're doing is good, and they're copying you..."

 

The wince made it stop glaring at the man that maybe, might still be his friend, but he still had to shake his head as he admitted, "I don't like the idea that somebody dangerous is out there..."

 

Tommy didn't say anything in response, but both his eyebrows shot straight up.

 

"Somebody else," the vigilante amended with an eye roll. "'Cause typically?" he shook his head. "They don't show my level of restraint."

 

Felicity wasn't watching him when he looked back at her again, which surprised him a little. It made him wonder what she was thinking about, but not knowing where he had to go to find Helena now didn't mean they had any time to waste.

 

"Either way," Oliver carefully placed his hand on his new girlfriend's shoulder again, and gently squeezed it when she blinked up at him: glad that this time at least she hadn't jumped or shrunk away. "I need you to find them. Can you..." he trailed off to nod towards her computers, a little surprised she wasn't already volunteering something since she'd seemed so at ease with pre-empting him with what he needed before. "Hack more cameras or... uh, something?"

 

The computer genius blinked at him for another long moment, then her brow furrowed. "But they covered almost all the cameras they needed to—"

 

"By killing the lights inside," the vigilante nodded. "But he didn't bother with the alley. So maybe—"

 

Bzzzt...

Beep-Beep!

 

The sound of Oliver's phone vibrating almost at the same time as Felicity's computers beeped again made them all pause. He took the phone out as the genius started typing again, but she spoke up before he'd unlocked it.

 

"It's her. They—He, I mean, must've let her go? She's fine," Felicity jerked her chin towards the phone when his eyes darted back to her. "Well, she's mad about you not rescuing her yourself from the looks of that text, but—"

 

"You hacked my phone?" the vigilante asked her, blinking between her and locked, supposedly military-grade encrypted phone.

 

"Is that judgment I'm hearing?" His girlfriend didn't look at him as she answered, eyes on her computer screen while she typed some more.

 

"No," Oliver shook his head slowly, knowing a trap when it was laid out before him. "Pride," he answered honestly.

 

Not just because it was a way around that trap, but because it was true. The ARGUS phone was supposed to be completely secure from everyone but ARGUS, but Felicity had hacked it. Probably when she was working to make their comm system in general more secure, but the fact that she'd been able to do it—with Waller's people apparently none-the-wiser since she hadn't sent any single the device was no longer considered secure—was amazing. Remarkable, just like this woman was in every way...

 

The surprised smile the response earned him was a more than welcome change from the tension in the room. "She wants you to meet her," Felicity told him, voice a little warmer. A little more her.

 

"Course she does," Diggle snorted.

 

For the first time in a while, Tommy spoke up, too. "Doesn't sound like a good idea, buddy."

 

Oliver blinked at the best friend he was only starting to hope didn't hate him now, but then he shook his head once again. "I've gotta get her to go. To leave town." He looked at Felicity. "I booked her a ticket—"

 

"To Rome for tonight, yeah. Joanna De Santis is all checked in. She can fly out of Starling International in a couple of hours. I'll print it out now," Felicity clicked a few keys as the nearby printer came on and started spitting something out. "She has enough time to get through security, the airport's not that busy tonight."

 

"Wait, you can hack the T.S.A, too?" Tommy asked, sounding more shocked than he really should. "Isn't that... uh, really hard?"

 

No, hacking his bank accounts and keeping track of all his communications should be hard. Ideally, hacking the group responsible for securing all flights around the country should be impossible. But the military-level encryption of the phones provided to him by ARGUS should be even harder.

 

Not that that was something Tommy should understand well enough to be adequately impressed by without knowing about any of the important facts. And he was probably still assuming, at least a little, that the main reason Felicity was involved was because Oliver was dating her. Given his track record, the idea that he might've started working with her long before he asked her on a date likely hadn't occurred to his former wingman.

 

"I can if I have to," Felicity confirmed evenly.

 

How easily she said it made Oliver exchange a quick smile with Digg, even while his mind was both listening to her go on and going over what the hell the other rescuing Helena and then letting her go could mean.

 

"But I'm just looking through the airport's security system now. The T.S.A has access to it, just like they have access to the No Fly List, but they don't control either one. Not that that matters," the blonde shook her head much more gently than she had earlier, and met Oliver's eyes again. "If the S.C.P.D sends a request to the F.B.I to add her to the No Fly List—"

 

"They'll do it," Oliver nodded. "She's a known serial killer who came from a mob family—

 

"And she's tied to an attack on a police station now," Digg added. "They'll call that terrorism."

 

The vigilante nodded again, unable to deny it. "How long?" he asked, looking back at Felicity. "Before she's on that list?"

 

Felicity frowned, shaking her head slowly. "Hard to say. There's no F.B.I office here in Starling—there probably should be, but the closest one's in Milwaukee. It's not like they have to send someone on a horse though, they'll just email or fax it. Or both."

 

"Might call over after what just happened tonight," Digg pointed out.

 

"They might," Felicity nodded. "Once whoever handles the vetting and approvals there gets it thought," she shrugged. "Like you said, they don't really have any reason to not add her."

 

"So? How long?" Oliver pressed.

 

Felicity sighed. "It probably won't happen tonight, because it's late and it is Sunday. Can't promise she won't be on it by tomorrow morning though."

 

"Can you..." Oliver shook his head. "Do anything?"

 

Felicity looked at him for a moment, then glanced at her computer, then back at him. "About her being labeled a terrorist?" she shook her head. "Why would I want to?"

 

"Uh, maybe we should..." Tommy started uncertainly, stepping towards the door while looking at Digg, but the bodyguard didn't look ready to go anywhere and neither one of them needed to.

 

"No, you two can stay," Oliver told them sharply, immediately turning his attention away from Tommy's disbelief and Digg's smirk and focusing on the genius again. "Felicity, the harder it is for her to leave, the harder it'll be for us to make her leave."

 

"That's why she has to leave tonight and you should go be really persuasive about that," she replied evenly. "Like, now, 'cause the text you didn't look at? It really wasn't very nice."

 

"But the alias I created for her will—"

 

"Will hold up, tonight," Felicity told him, shaking her head again. "After that? She'll have to be a lot more careful picking airports, 'cause her picture will be in the system."

 

"What does that mean?" Tommy asked, while the vigilante sighed because he already had a pretty good idea of what she was talking about.

 

The tech genius sighed. "It probably means no international airports, definitely not ours—because I know they have facial recognition software here. When you fly back into the country and they scan your passport?" she explained at Tommy's confused look. "Your face is being checked against the Terrorist Screening Database—that's what the No Fly List comes from, mostly. It can be fooled, of course, but it'd probably be better if she just avoided it."

 

"Well that means once she's in Rome she won't be able to come back, right?" Tommy sounded a lot happier at the idea, now that he was getting it.

 

But that was the point, and Felicity wasn't wrong—now she was the one saying he should go, after all.

 

"Not without being arrested, and she'll know that," Oliver nodded.

 

"That's why you want her flying out of the country," Digg realized.

 

The vigilante just finally picked up the pages from the printer, quickly folding them to stick them in the envelope that already held the passport he'd booked the flight under last night. "I should go," he told them, turning towards the door again. "I'll be back soon."

 

Tommy's cough made him pause, because the cut-off billionaire had a twisted wrist, not a cold, and that specific clearing of the throat was too deliberate to miss. When Oliver frowned at him in question, he jerked his chin towards the side door, but only waited till they were a few steps away before he spoke to him softly. "You're not seriously going to run off to your ex without fixing things with Smoaky first, are you?" he asked with a frown. "Don't remember you ever being that dumb without a lot of booze bein' involved, Ollie. And we were both pretty dumb kids back then."

 

The vigilante blinked at him, looking back towards where Felicity was still working on something on the computers—and Diggle was watching Tommy approvingly—before blinking at the other man. "There's nothing to—"

 

"This is your first fight, right?" Tommy cut him off, shaking his head. "And right now it's only on pause, Ollie. You really wanta let her keep stewing while you go meet the bondage bitch?"

 

That made Oliver blink again, but he knew better than to blame his friend for any dislike he held towards the woman that'd used him as leverage. Just like he knew that Digg and Felicity were both right. Not that he wasn't right, too, in some ways—but it did make the situation more complicated.

 

He was surprised that Tommy was actually speaking up about this, but doubted it was really for him. It was more likely that the other man liked Felicity. That maybe he thought she was the only good thing, the only truth Oliver had voluntarily shared with him since his return. It seemed much more likely than the possibility of his former wingman forgiving him already, or anytime soon. It was Felicity.

 

Oliver sighed, "I'll talk to her later tonight," he said, even though it was starting to feel like he'd never leave so being anywhere 'later tonight' could never come.

 

"Pretty sure she won't still be here," Tommy opined.

 

The vigilante frowned, knowing he was likely right. He looked back at the blonde again and winced when he realized she was frowning.

 

It was hard to see with her looking away from him, but she didn't quite have her back to him. The back of her chair was, but she wasn't leaning against it: she was sitting straight up, spine stiff and shoulders back. And she was typing at less than half her normal speed: the click of the keys almost accusing in their slowness. How had he missed all that before?

 

Click. Click. Click... Click.

 

Oliver swallowed, "Thanks," he nodded to the other man as he tucked the envelope for Helena in his inner coat pocket. Then he walked back over to her, stopping a little farther away from the computers than he normally might, and slowly raising one hand to rest on her shoulder.

 

She didn't jump or stiffen. He hadn't surprised her, which would've been bad.

 

Click... Click. Click. Click... Click.

 

She did stop typing entirely as Tommy headed out upstairs to the new club he should probably be managing right now, while Digg just gave them some room. But she didn't look at him then, either.

 

Oliver swallowed again, then made himself say, "I'm sorry." The words were spoken softly, but she heard them. He could tell in the way her shoulder relaxed just a little under his palm.

 

"For what?" Felicity asked him just as softly, still looking at her monitors instead of turning to him again.

 

That seemed like another trick question, but he tried not to think about it too much. "For worrying you." Oliver shook his head, giving her a gentle squeeze. "I didn't realize... that aspect of all this bothered you so much."

 

Felicity looked up at him, her brow furrowing a little. "Of course it bothers me, Oliver. If they catch you..."

 

"I'll go to prison, I know." He nodded when she trailed off. "You and Digg might, too."

 

He didn't tell her that someone who had the power to get him out had all but said she would if that happened, because he was too useful to be left rotting behind bars. That wouldn't help her or Diggle if they went down with him. And it wasn't like he ever wanted work for ARGUS again—officially or not. It was one thing to trade favors with Amanda Waller just like he did with the Bratva, another thing entirely to let her cage and collar him again. No matter how nice the cage ever was.

 

The genius sighed and sagged in her seat a little as her eyes dropped closed. "Do you really think I'm that selfish?"

 

"What?" Oliver blinked at her, then quickly shook his head. "No. I—"

 

Felicity talked right over him. "If someone from the S.C.P.D tries to break into our network, Oliver, it'll commit suicide. All the data will delete and overwrite itself—twice—and then every device here will incinerate its own hardware. Remember, I told you that was why you had to know the passwords?"

 

"You didn't tell me all of them," he frowned, shaking his head. "And I thought you were kidding when you said the computers would blow up."

 

"Why would I ever joke about destroying my babies?" She sounded completely serious as she said that, so it didn't feel like the safest subject to pursue either.

 

Instead he reminded her, "They could still find your fingerprints down here. D.N.A."

 

The semi-serious—or maybe entirely serious—frown melted off her face as she rolled her eyes and leaned backwards to rest her head on the chair as she looked up at him. "You wanted everything as secure as possible for the club, 'cause you do know you built this place in the Glades. Someone you'd already met, with a background in cyber security—like me—would be an obvious, smart choice.  So you borrowed me from Q.C to do some I.T setup for Verdant. Your name's on the building, remember? I would've been stupid not to take the job."

 

"We're dating now, so they'd be looking at you anyway," Oliver pointed out, then winced. "If you still—"

 

"I'm not breaking up with you because we had an argument," Felicity cut him off, turning her chair towards him, not seeming to notice his hand moving along her shoulder without causing her any pain. "Are you dumping me for caring about you?" she asked, slowly tilting her head with the question.

 

"No." Oliver swallowed, "Of course not."

 

"Good." Felicity gave him a small smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. "I'm glad."

 

"Me too."

 

Some more of the blonde's regular warmth entered the blues of her eyes at that, but she also looked... tired, he realized. Which only reminded him of how much she'd apparently been working—and therefore not sleeping—for far too long. Especially if it really went all the back to when Walter went missing. Months ago.

 

Oliver reached one hand up to cup her jaw. Now more than a little relieved that she hadn't thought of staying to monitor the comms or anything like that: like she had when they were working to save Tommy's father from the Triad.

 

She had been undeniably useful that night. If not for her hacking security to keep a watchful eye over the place while everything went down, they'd have no idea now that Malcolm Merlyn was more than he seemed. Tommy hadn't said anything about the two men his father had so easily killed in front of him.

 

So Oliver still wasn't sure how to look into that. Not because he didn't know there was a need: that was about as obvious as a fist in the face. With the potential to do a lot more damage and linger a lot longer than a black eye, broken nose or busted jaw if the C.E.O of Merlyn Global Group being more than he seemed traced back to The List. As it probably did. After all, Oliver's mother had a copy of the List, and his father had said he wasn't the only one who failed their city. He'd been relieved to not see the Merlyn name in that book: both the copy he carried and the one he let his mother burn. Because had had looked through the whole mint condition book, copying down all the names he hadn't know. Queen, Merlyn and a number of other family friends weren't in there... but that didn't necessarily mean they didn't have their own copies just like Robert Queen had had his. The Dark Archer had one, and so might Malcolm Merlyn...

 

But after urging his childhood friend to try and make up with the dad that'd never been there for him—just because he had the opportunity that Oliver could never have—and then fighting to safeguard the man's life... Telling Tommy the truth felt like a punch he couldn't throw. Not when he knew the other man would prefer all the damage a real punch would do to the emotional blow this one could inflict. Whoever made up the saying about sticks, stones and words had obviously led a very boring, un-dramatic and maybe emotionless life.

 

It was already a huge surprise that Tommy had been down here tonight. Not saying much, but listening in—trying to learn—and here. Because, like Felicity and Digg, he cared. Maybe enough to still want their friendship to survive...

 

So how could Oliver say anything to him about his father? How could he say a single thing against Malcolm Merlyn to the son that'd almost lost him on that night Tommy was undoubtedly trying to forget? Let alone ever consider using him to investigate the older Merlyn?

 

But Malcolm Merlyn wasn't the problem right now, and Oliver didn't need Felicity here monitoring what he and Digg were saying to each other when she could be headed home to bed. So she could go home and get some much needed sleep. It was also a relief that—somehow—there still weren't bags under her eyes. So that sleeplessness hadn't done any clear damage... yet. A benefit of youthful regeneration that wouldn't last too many more years.

 

Oliver just cupped her jaw for a moment, smiling as she leaned into his hand a little, unbothered by the bowman's glove. Then he made himself say, "You should head home. Get some sleep."

 

Felicity pulled away at that. "I will..." she answered, stepping away to grab her coat off her chair.

 

He took it from her without even thinking about it, holding the garment up to help her put it on. It seemed too small to really be a coat: more of a sweater, really, but then she was pretty small herself, so she fit into the sleeves and could tuck the whole thing tightly around herself.

 

"Thanks," Felicity said softly as she tied the coat off instead of buttoning it up. She'd looked down as she'd tied the bow, and studied it a moment longer after she'd finished, but then she made herself look up at him again. "Be careful with her tonight?" she pleaded softly, shaking her head as she hurried on before he could answer. "I know you want to believe she's not as bad as Digg thinks she is, but anger and hate can make a person do things they normally wouldn't. So just, be careful, okay? Please?"

 

Oliver sighed, knowing she was right and not able to be angry with her for caring. "Okay," he agreed softly, then stepped forward to wrap his arms around her, leaning down to press a kiss to her forehead.

 

Not her lips. Though it was tempting. It wouldn't help, neither one of them was in the mood right now, and he really didn't have the time. He should've left a long time ago already. So pressing his lips to her forehead for a moment, holding her at least that long as she relaxed into his arms, had to be enough.

 

"I'll stop by after, all right?" Oliver asked her, still holding her but leaning back a bit so he could meet her eyes as she looked up at him.

 

"You don't have to..."

 

The vigilante shook his head, frowning a little. "I want to," he told her, hesitated just a second, then admitted. "Helena already knows where you live."

 

The blonde tensed in his arms, all the calmness of a second ago gone right away. But she wasn't afraid, she was scowling. "Of course she does," she sighed, shaking her head. "I'm a big girl, I don't need—"

 

"You want me to be careful with her," the vigilante cut in to remind her. "And I hope she takes the plane ticket, but if she doesn't..." he sighed. "There's plenty of security at the mansion. Digg's had them on high-alert since she first showed up there. If you want to move in while—"

 

"Oliver, I just met your family last night," Felicity reminded him, pulling away, but not trying all that hard when he didn't let her go. "I can't move into the mansion the next day. And you don't need to babysit—"

 

"Please, Felicity," he interrupted again, holding her eyes when she blinked at him. "We don't know what she'll do. We don't know what the other archer is doing. It's just safer, okay?"

 

Their gazes locked for several more moments he shouldn't be spending arguing, instead of just showing up later. After all, he had slept in worse places than her rooftop.

 

But finally she sighed. "Okay... I guess I'll see you at my place later tonight."

 

This time when she pulled away he made himself let her, watching as she reached for her purse and threw the strap over her shoulder.

 

She went up on her tiptoes to place a kiss to his cheek. "Be careful."

 

Oliver shook his head as he followed her, and pretended not to notice the smirk on their third team member's face when they finally reached the side door a few seconds later. "Take her home," he told the other man instead.

 

"What?" Felicity stopped just between Digg and the door to look back at him, blinking once again. "No." She shook her head, then pointed between the bodyguard and the archer. "No, he's going with you. Digg, you're going with him, aren't you?"

 

Oliver frowned at her, "No, he's—"

 

"She's right, man," Diggle cut him off this time, still leaning against the wall with his huge arms crossed once more. "You're the one that's going off to meet up with your insane ex and maybe the guy that put you in the hospital a few months ago."

 

The vigilante's frown turned into a full scowl. "Helena wouldn't—"

 

"Wouldn't what?" Digg asked. "Work with a guy that'd probably put an arrow in her dad without a second's hesitation after she helps him kill you?"

 

"Whether the other archer's there or not, the—Helena will be," Felicity reminded him. "So there's no reason for Digg to go anywhere with me. And you said you'd be careful with her."

 

Oliver started to shake his head, but she went on before he could respond.

 

"My car's right outside. Both of you can watch me get in it and drive away if you want." The blonde met his eyes again. "But you need backup a lot more than I do, Oliver. You realize that, right?"

 

The vigilante sighed.

 

His bodyguard spoke up again then, "If that guy's there, man, you could need the backup. Might even want it."

 

That was true... and it was possible that the Dark Archer—as the S.C.P.D had started calling him in their files after the fact—had just rescued Helena and let her go as bait for him. So it made sense.

 

He'd still rather send the former soldier with Felicity to make sure she got home all right and stayed that way, but he knew better than to keep arguing about it when he wasn't going to win them over. It'd be a waste of time that might end with Helena getting impatient instead of waiting for him to come to her. It was lucky that she hadn't come straight here, as she could've already led the other archer to them, instead of waiting somewhere for him. To ambush. Or just watch, so he could try and follow and learn more about him, since there had to be a reason that he hadn't made another appearance after beating him half to death back in December...

 

"Fine." Oliver made himself nod, holding her gaze as he assured her, "See you soon."

 

"Right," the blonde nodded again, but didn't open the door to head out yet. Instead she worried her lower lip for a moment, then met his eyes again. "Call me, okay? Once you're—when you're on your way, I guess? After she heads to the airport?"

 

The archer blinked at her, not sure why she'd requested that, but then nodded slowly. "Sure."

 

"Thanks," Felicity flashed him a smile that made her look a little less tired from the brightness of it alone. Then she did hit in the code that'd open the door, which was different now and more than twice as long as it'd been before last night.

 

Digg had told him she'd changed it remotely, which had irritated him a little at the time, but he hadn't had any trouble remembering the new sequence so far and he had more than enough things to worry about already as it was.

 

So Oliver didn't say anything as he followed her out into the alley, and further down it towards the rear parking lot for employees. He preferred when she parked in the alley itself, but her minuscule car hadn't been here when he'd arrived, so of course it wasn't here now.

 

Felicity glanced at his bike as they walked by it, but the soft words she started saying weren't about that. "I tied that ticket and passport into our surveillance system," she told him softly enough to ensure only he and Diggle would hear her. "So we'll know when she boards and when it takes off. She'll have to hurry to make it in time, but there's another one if she misses it. They'll tell her at check-in if it's transferred automatically. You might not wanna tell her that, though."

 

"Better to make her leave sooner if we can," Digg commented as he followed them down the alley. Both men shortening their strides so the blonde didn't have to hurry, though the sounds of her heels clicking lightly on the pavement still seemed to echo quickly in the alley.

 

At this point even the vigilante couldn't even try to disagree at all. They'd all prefer if Helena left town in a hurry. Well, he'd prefer if she hadn't come back at all, but what was done couldn't be undone.

 

"That's me," Felicity said unnecessarily as they reached the end of the alley, pointing to her the vehicle that was the closest one in the lot to the alley. "And you can't follow me to it," she told him with a small smile as she looked at him again. "You really don't want someone wandering out here for a cigarette break or something and seeing the vigilante walking me to my car in the employees only parking lot."

 

"Probably not," Digg chuckled.

 

Oliver grimaced, but agreed. "We'll watch from here."

 

Felicity actually rolled her eyes. "Stay safe," she told him again, before she went up on her tiptoes another time to press her lips ever-so-lightly to his cheek once more. Then she was walking quickly away, and Oliver was trying not to smile as he watched her until she'd climbed in, started the engine, put her seatbelt on and finally backed out and drove away.

 

"Better get going," Digg said a moment later, after her taillights had finally turned out of sight.

 

Oliver only nodded, turning back around to head for his bike while the bodyguard went for the most inconspicuous of all the cars in the Queen garage... which, looking at it now, he should probably by his partner some cheaper looking vehicles for everything related to being the Vigilante.

 

But that was for another night. Right now he had to climb on his bike and head for the meeting place Helena had selected... and hope she was the only one waiting there for him when he got there.