John Diggle's P.O.V.
John frowned as he looked through his sniper rifle down the alley that the vigilante was just about to turn in. “Arrow, you sure this is the place?”
“Yeah, why?” the archer's reply wasn't quite drowned out by the roar of his motorcycle in the background. “I'm almost there.”
It was left unsaid that he wasn't planning on stopping no matter what his bodyguard had to say. Short of this actually being an impossibly elaborate S.C.P.D trap or the ambush they were half expecting being way over the top... maybe.
John couldn't stop his eyes from rolling. "'Cause she's not there.”
“What?” the other man snapped. “Say again, Freelancer.”
“She's not there," the former soldier repeated, frowning as he stopped himself again from saying the other man's name. “The Huntress is not in the alley. It's empty.”
Barely a second later the deliberately nondescript motorcycle turned into that alley with its more describable rider. His black, fully face-shielded helmet effectively hid both his face and his hood, but the rest of his all-green outfit along with the bow and arrows on his back still stood out even if the lack of light made everyone a little color blind.
“She didn't wait," Oliver growled a moment later.
“Or maybe she wasn’t here in the first place.” John shook his head. “You're not really surprised, are you?”
“Not helping, Freelancer," the vigilante growled back. “Where would she go now?”
He'd hope that she'd head out of town before the cops could find her without bothering them again, since her father was obviously too well hidden by the U.S Marshalls for her to ever have a chance at finding him on her own.
“It's not like she can find her father on her own,” The vigilante's words were more for himself, but they set off alarms inside the bodyguard's head.
“No," John swallowed, already starting to take his rifle apart and put it back in its box as quickly as he could while he went on. “But she knows who can.”
“What?” Oliver clearly hadn't made the same connection. “Who?”
“Fel—Oracle," John remembered to make himself use her codename, not because it was likely that anyone would be listening in on them now, but because it wasn't impossible. A distinction their tech genius had made a point of clarifying, and after all the other good points she'd thrown at them not too long ago tonight he couldn't ignore the earlier ones that'd made a lot of sense, too.
“Yes," John insisted as he slammed the rifle case closed and started running for the stairs with it in hand. “Remember last night, she said she could.”
“I’m sure she can," Oliver agreed, his motorcycle roaring to life again in the background even as he tried to reassure himself. “But Helena doesn't know that.”
“She was standing right there, Arrow!” John snapped back at him, taking the stairs by two and three at a time and flipping himself around the corners as fast as he could with the rifle case in one hand. “Unless she's deaf and really good at reading lips, she had to have heard her.”
Unfortunately, that couldn’t be the case though, because the bodyguard had seen her react to peripheral noises before.
The only response for several long moments was the sound of the motorcycle in the background. “She wouldn't...,” the other man tried to deny it, but he couldn't even make himself finish saying something he knew was completely untrue. The sound of his tires peeling on the pavement in the background gave that away.
“She would," John said it anyway. “How far are we from Oracle's place here? Twenty minutes? Twenty five?”
“I'll be there in fifteen," the other man sounded sure of himself even with more than one car honking at him as he undoubtedly wove through traffic at highly unsafe speeds.
“Try not to end up a statistic while you're at it,” the former soldier advised as he finally reached the bottom floor and headed out through the same door he'd come in through earlier, all but throwing himself back into the nearby car. “Won't do her any good then, and we already used the motorcycle accident excuse. I'll be there soon, too.”
For several long moments—while he dropped the rifle case on the passenger's seat and slammed his door shut, snapping on his seat belt, too, all in a flurry of motion as fast he could make himself move—all he heard was the motorcycle's engine occasionally interrupted by more car horns. He was just pulling out of the nearby alley he'd parked in when the other man started talking.
“I should've realized she'd do this," the self-reproach—self-hatred, even—couldn't be clearer in the billionaire's voice. “And now she might be leading the other archer right to Fel—"
“Oracle," John cut him off firmly, because it was the sort of thing they should get used to as soon as they could. “Another reason to play it safe. You can't fight off both of them on your own. Especially trying to protect Oracle at the same time,” He finished firmly, biting his tongue to keep back any comment that might want to come out about how he also couldn't afford to keep trying to save Helena Bertinelli in this scenario. It was nearly impossible before, but now it definitely was. The likely outcome of trying was one of their own—or maybe all of them—ending up dead instead.
“I know her neighborhood," the vigilante stated the obvious. He'd undoubtedly been patrolling there even more than he'd admitted to the bodyguard himself. “I'll circle around, not come at her house from the front. There's no clear line of sight to her back door.”
The image of the archer kicking the door down as soon as he got there made John cringe. “You're gonna make sure she's actually in trouble before you bust in, right? 'Cause that's not a wakeup call you want to give her if she's already getting her beauty sleep.”
“She won't be," Oliver sighed. “She never goes to sleep right away. Says she has to unwind.”
“Uh-huh, thus the movies?” John asked him, continuing to drag the topic out of him because he was hearing less car horns in the background and he thought even the motorcycle sounded a little less angry.
“She hasn't been getting enough sleep," the younger man went on after a long moment.
Completely ignoring the reference to the thus far—somehow—still innocent sleepovers that were really very amusing to think about as long as they stayed that way. Once the pair finally moved to more intimate nights, John Diggle didn't want to hear anything about it. He never had understood why other guys would want to talk about their 'conquests,' but then again the women they were disrespecting were, in their mind, clearly worth even less respect than they themselves were.
“Did you know how much she was working?”
The bodyguard winced at the question, because it wasn't something he'd known for sure but it hadn't been at all hard to guess. “Normal day job with all of this on top of that's a lot of work.” He left unsaid that it was the sort of dilemma you’d expect any normal person—without beyond comprehensible wealth—to have with this sort of ‘work.’
“It’s more than that,” the billionaire grumbled. “Wal—She was promoted back before her boss was taken, but she hadn’t started the new job yet. So she's stuck trying to figure it out on her own while still doing her old job, too.”
John frowned, “Doesn't sound like a good idea,”
“She didn’t tell me about it,” Oliver went on after another pause, speaking just barely loud enough to be heard over all the background noises. (Though at least there weren't any sirens yet. Just the violent hum of the bike's engine occasionally interrupted by screeching brakes and honking horns.) “She told…” he audibly struggled with the not saying specifics for names rule for a moment before he tried to talk around it. It meant the conversation took a lot longer than it might’ve, but it’d be a habit they’d all be glad of it anyone ever did tap their comms. Even if it went against the radio standard for keeping chatter short—but then their comms weren’t really radios either. “Last night, when they met. Barely half an hour after I introduced them. She just…”
John waited a few seconds after his friend trailed off, but when he didn't add anymore, the former soldier shook his head again. “She told someone who could actually do something about it.”
“I could have—”
“What?” John cut the younger man off, quickly pressing his point, “Asked her new boss—” ‘your mother,’ he didn’t say, “—for help sooner? ‘Cause you made it pretty clear to everyone that you wanted nothing to do with the… with all of that not that long ago.”
He was wincing himself even as he mostly managed to avoid anything too specific. It was still something that could lead back to Oliver Queen’s supposedly drunken ramble about not being his father, etc. etc. a few months back, but only if the person listening already had the idea that the vigilante and the formerly castaway billionaire were one and the same. Saying anything more specific than that—even over their hopefully secure comm channel—would render their use of call-signs useless if anyone managed to break the encryptions and listen in. But he’d learned months ago that letting Oliver Queen stew on something was generally a bad idea. Better to get out ahead of anything that might come out of too much brooding on his part. Every additional moment he had spent around Felicity Smoak had to all appearances corresponded to a steady decrease in that brooding overall. But even their genius couldn't work miracles over night: non-tech ones, anyway.
There was the sound of squealing tires and a particularly close car horn before the vigilante’s response to that came. “…I could’ve introduced them sooner,” he argued, his usually 'growly tone'—as Felicity had referred to it more than once, and now John Diggle couldn't get it out of his head—broken up by a sigh. “Or at least said something.”
“Maybe you could have,” John agreed, adding just as quickly. “But maybe she didn't want to be rescued. She wanted to save herself. So she did.”
“But she asked—”
“Her boss. Not her boyfriend,” He drove that home firmly, wincing as he said it but knowing that specific couldn’t be avoided here: it had to be driven home. Because yes, Oliver could obviously afford to ‘hire’ Felicity on at the club and pay here whatever she wanted—he’d probably pay her more than she made at Q.C without any discussion at all, without even thinking about it—but that was exactly the sort of solution their I.T genius had undoubtedly been trying to avoid. Not unwisely since it’d tie her even more directly to The Vigilante if he was ever caught, perhaps inescapably, and if their still young relationship soured for any reason it’d leave her in an even more awkward place than working with them at night and at the Queen family’s company by day did. John shook his head, signaling for the next turn even as he glanced at the clock to be sure, then asked, “You almost there?”
The archer’s response was more of a grunt then a word, but somehow it still sounded like an affirmative all the same. Barely a breath later he killed the engine, and the comm was blissfully quiet: the faint sounds of the other man's breaths barely discernible for a little while as bodyguard’s eardrum got over hiding from assault by that beyond aggravating, vibrating sound once it was gone. Only a few seconds later, however, the comm was too quiet: telling him the vigilante had not only stopped moving, but stopped breathing for a second, too.
“Arrow, sit-rep?” John pressed immediately, speaking more quietly only because stealth might be important on the other end and yelling into the other man’s ear might lead to him making the unlikely mistake of yelling back.
Oliver took a breath then, “She's not here,” he said.
That should be good news, but something about his voice was wrong, and that kept the bodyguard from relaxing just yet, or slowing down at all. It was also why he hesitated just another second—long enough to wince through the CRACK he heard through the comm, which almost had to be the door being busted in.
“You mean the Hunt—”
“No!” the vigilante snapped, sounding growly again, but still more breathless than usual, like he was making himself breathe instead of doing it subconsciously. “Oracle. She's not here.”
Well then the Huntress probably wasn't either, so John almost wanted to ask why he'd just broken down the door. Instead he clarified to be sure, “And the Hunt—”
“Not here either,” Oliver snapped again, going on this time. “No signs of struggle... her car's not in the driveway.”
“Think she never got home?” John's frown deepened even more with worry. “She left same time we did,” he glanced at the clock again. “Over half an hour ago now.”
“She's not here,” the other man said again: like saying it three times could make it not be true. “I don't see her coat, her purse—nothing she had with her tonight. She hasn't come back yet.”
John took that in for a second, checking the road sign he was passing just to confirm he was where he thought he was before he asked again, “So the Huntress got her along the way?”
This time Oliver didn’t ignore the possibility. “Or she was waiting for her outside,” he pointed out grimly. “Got her before she could get inside. Made her drive… somewhere,” He sighed. “Would’ve been more exposed, but Helena’s never been very subtle.”
‘Not very subtle’ seemed like a hell of a way to say ‘crazy psycho’ to him, but John didn’t say that. “Where would she take her?” he wondered aloud instead.
Hoping the man that'd slept with the woman at least a few times and actually talked to her some, too, might have at least some idea.
That man sighed in response. “I don’t know. She had a warehouse before—but the cops closed it up with all the other Bertinelli properties. I’ll drive by just in case. You go back to the Foun—the base. Oracle has tracking programs for all of our devices already set up there. Find out where hers are. Even if Helena made her dump her cell, she’d have to let her keep her laptop or tablet.”
“Can’t hack anything without a computer to do it with,” John agreed, but his relief at having some course of action quickly faded as he remembered one specific from the couple's first fight earlier that night. “This is on the computer that'll self-destruct if I use the wrong password?” he checked, hoping he didn’t sound too worried. But their tech genius's computer system was more than a bit intimidating even before he heard about that little tidbit while they were headed out here.
“You were using the computers this afternoon, the password hasn’t changed,” Oliver replied with a weak chuckle, then he ordered: “See if she has anything else on Helena’s phone, too. I think she started something on it when the text came in, but she didn’t tell me what. I’m gonna try to call her now.”
“Don't cut comms,” John ordered back before the other man could do just that.
Throwing himself off rooftops on a regular basis must make the man feel at least a little immortal, because simple precautions like checking in and even calling for backup when he obviously needed it seemed to require force-feeding: and he all but choked on it all the way down. Leaving the comms open—whether they were totally secure or not (and they probably were, considering who'd designed their system, no matter where the parts to it’d come from)—just made more sense than expecting him to make contact anytime soon again.
“I need to call—”
“So make the call,” John retorted just as sharply. “You don't need to cut comms to do that. That’s why we’re not using personal phones for regular comms.”
“Are you headed back yet?” the vigilante bit back, but didn't say anything else against the reasonable demand.
“Turning now,” the former soldier answered evenly as he signaled to do just that. “Taking the highway part way back'll be faster.”
Oliver didn't argue, which someone who didn't know him very well might mistake for agreement. His bodyguard knew that while the vigilante might've mentally made a rough estimate of how close he was to their tech genius's house already, what decided him was that focusing on his phone right now was more important. “Dammit,” he spat a few moments later. “She's not answering.”
John almost didn't say anything, but the highway was clear as he sped up the ramp onto it and he didn't have anything else to focus on anyway. “Who's 'she'?” he asked, because it did kind of have to be clarified when the friend they were worried about and the one that was making them worry were both female.
“Helena,” he growled back. “It's not like she'd let Oracle answer her phone.”
“Maybe not, but maybe she threw her phone away already. If she thought you might track it.”
“I don't think even Oracle can trace burners, not if they don't have any G.P.S at all,” the vigilante sighed, but then said, “Trying her phone now.”
John was checking the rearview mirror when the vigilante's barely audible intake of breath make him tense.
“Felicity?” Oliver saying their third team member's name with so much disbelief in his voice a moment later didn't go a long way toward making him feel better, even if he was breaking their very practical rules for comms.
Author's End Notes: Again, I have to much to say for AO3. Sorry.
S4 comments in actual A/n, don’t read if you haven’t seen it yet.
Ok, so first the excuses:
(1) I really did want to update my other Arrow crossover first. It’s been even longer for readers there, and I finally made it to the editing phase, but even that’s taking a while. *sigh* So I came back here. Eventually. Though I am still working on the other fic, too.
(2) My uncle died, which while not completely unexpected (he’d been in the hospital a while) meant some unplanned travel. And sadness, too, but that was actually useful when it came to writing more. Not for writing more current scenes, unfortunately, but I’ve added a few more to my ever-growing stash of scenes still to come. (It’s getting scary. Like the Room of Requirement as the Hogwarts lost and found…)
(3) I did have another scene planned for here. But it’s more of an interlude, and it got to be very long, so we won’t see what Methos is doing in Seacouver till after Bloody Secrets. I think.
That’s it for excuses, so onto my comments:
IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN SEASON 4 YET
(WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?)