Actions

Work Header

There are no Extra Puzzle Pieces in the Universe, Every Piece has a Home

Chapter Text

Hello loyal and any new readers that may stumble upon this old and regrettably abandoned fic. I have been writing this story on and off from 2013-2016 which seems crazy to me, 5 years and I have yet to finish this monster of a story.

But unlike when I started this, I have finally discovered why I struggled with this story and what was holding me back. I have shed all pretense and have pretty much rewrote the whole story, the premise and everything that was key is still there but I think it finally reads like I always wanted. I am editing and cleaning up as I am my very own beta, so I will be posting on a schedule. For those of you that were loyal readers after the posting mess of the past, the least I can do this time is have weekly updates.

I will be posting every Sunday, granted nothing major happens. Most chapters are written they just need final editing and cleaning before I post. I hope you all enjoy the changes.

I opted to simply delete the chapters and start anew rather than delete the whole post, nothing was harder than deleting all your lovely past comments.

Thank you to any of you that continue to support this story you are deeply loved and appreciated and to any new readers that might wander into this story, HI! Hope you like it!

So with that, here we go!

Chapter Text

Ever look back at your life and wonder how in the world did you get here? When in your journey did you come upon that Frostian fork in the road picking the path that would determine everything, unbeknownst to you?  Felicity Kutler had no such dilemmas. She knew the exact moment that her life changed, for the…well frankly the jury was still out on whether it had been for better or worse. But she knew very well when it happened, what was said and more importantly she knew she was exactly where, her very well thought out, choices had taken her. She knew the importance of every exact point of her life. She had assured she had the advantage and she had yet to regret her path.

Precocious failed to properly describe a young Felicity, although it had been her mother’s favorite adjective. Donna might have never quite understood her daughter but she was proud of her intelligence. Yet, no one was as proud as her father, they spent hours pulling appliances apart, much to Donna’s annoyance, and “improving” the design, albeit not always successfully.

Her curiosity got her in some tight spots but never anything serious, her father understood her need to explore and release all her excess boredom, technology was their chosen medium and had mostly worked. Until the day her “dad” never returned. They had spent her spring break building a supercomputer, her excitement at building her very first faraday cage could not be contained and had even caused Donna to sit with them and watch them for hours. She had 2 days left before she returned to school and the supercomputer was almost done, so why would he leave now. Two days she waited, insisting that he would come back and finish what they started. Her mom knew better, the heavy sadness she physically carried should have told Felicity everything she needed to know, but her dad, her hero, he wouldn’t hurt her like this, he couldn’t.

For one week the unfinished computer sat in their living room, for one week Donna cried herself to sleep every night her unmeasured anger towards her husband and utter heartbreak for her daughter fueling an endless stream of tears.. Her sweet Felicity, she could see her light dimming and she was incapable of doing anything about it.

On day 11 she was pulled out of her favorite class, she might not have always been happy at her school, as might be expected from a 9 year old in the 8th grade, but she did love her chemistry class. She walked towards the main office and before she made it into the room she saw her mother’s tear stricken face just sitting there, shoulders hunched and the counselor trying and failing to console her. She didn’t need to get hear what they were whispering, she knew, she felt it in her gut and her heart. She knew if she walked into that office it would all be real, so she ran as fast as her little legs could take her, tears already soaking the collar of her shirt.

Donna waited, her grief blinding her to the panic on the faces of the school administration. Minutes must have gone by before she heard her name being called, “Ms. Kutler”, her eyes met the worried brown of the school director and she knew something was wrong, where was Felicity? Gone.

She didn’t think her heart could break any further, she had been wrong. The nice detective at the precinct had told her to go home wait for her little girl there, he assured her that in his 15 years on the force kids always came home in these situations. After screaming at the well intentioned detective Donna had stormed out of the station, immediately heading to her neighborhood and knocking on every door asking them to please look out for her little girl. Mrs. Walters her longtime neighbor finally convinced her to go home while her and her son kept knocking on doors. Donna sat and stared at the stupid computer on the floor, waiting. A quick rapt on her door bringing her out of her stupor. She was pulling the door open before she knew it.

That might have been the first time Felicity would be escorted home by the police but it most definitely would not be the last. As the years passed Donna became well acquainted with the Vegas PD and later in an effort to not lose her daughter completely and leave their ghosts behind along with the last name Kutler,  she came to be well acquainted with the Starling PD in their new home just on the edge of the Glades.

By the time Felicity, was 14 yrs old she already had a sealed juvenile record and within the "Hacker", a word she hated, community she was infamous, notorious, and respected. For those that knew her personally she was infamously notorious for babbling, going off on long winded completely off-topic tangents full of freudian slips and sexual innuendos that left her covered in the flush red of her own embarrassment. Being a walking cliche and contradiction all at once only propelled her insecurities. Physically, she definitely did fit the role of “hacker” with an undisclosed number of piercings, a couple of strategically placed tattoos, hair that rivaled the rainbow and a bit of an antisocial personality, in that CPUs were her bffs, she was the total cliche package. With all that also came an uncomfortable awkwardness and shyness, that as many discovered over the years should never be mistaken for weakness. Her tendency to inappropriately babble, well, that was the icing on the contradictions cake.

Throughout her teens life hadn't been easy and that was putting it lightly, but she always figured that the teen years were never easy, a rite of passage of sorts, but she had stopped striving for happiness a long time ago and had settled for closure. Fifteen, yes, at 15 years old was when Felicity realized closure would never be enough and that her mother had never raised her to settle, for anything.

Midway through her senior year of high school an opportunity to earn enough money to pay her way through any university and work out of love rather than need presented itself, with a delightful addendum, a mysterious puzzle. In that moment Felicity realized she might still have a shot at happiness or something akin to it.

At 15 yrs old she met a handsome older man, full of poise, obvious money, charm and a debonair smile that still held a twinkle despite his age. This man stepped into her life and turned it upside down.


"Hello Miss Felicity Smoak, it is a real pleasure to meet you. I must say your reputation precedes you, Robert Queen" he said extending his smooth hand with a wrist wrapped in elegant gold.

"Excuse me, Reputation? Wait, Queen? As in Queen Consolidated? As in that monstrosity of a building that blocks all views of the sunset from the glades?” she flinched immediately regretting her words. “Dammit! Sorry… Queen you said, right uhmm Hello Mr. Queen." Foiled once again by her notorious foot in mouth disease she avoided looking at Mr. Queen directly, much to her surprise, once she did she found what seemed like amusement, at least she hoped that’s what it was.

"Relax Miss Smoak, and please call me Robert. Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of time and must be rather blunt in my proposition and for that I apologize. I was told you possess a certain set of computer skills which I would love to utilize, How would you like to come and work for me Miss Smoak?"

"Ohhh, Thank God, for a second I thought you meant…absolutely nothing" she blushed with embarrassment at almost voicing where her mind had gone, against her best efforts to simply pay attention. "Computer skills, yes, of course… proposition, what sort of proposition? Wait you said job, What sort of job?" It wasn’t everyday that someone ran into the richest man in the city, or if she remembered correctly the Western seaboard. Let one when said billionaire approached you and offered you a job, to say her interest was piqued was putting it lightly, that infamous Smoak curiosity winning over logic once again.

That introduction had been her life altering moment, one year later she was a full time student at MIT, while simultaneously working as Mr. Qu…Robert's personal researcher. At first she was fully aware that he was only feeding her bits and pieces of information just enough so she could do her job but never enough to determine what it all connected to and meant. She felt like she was building a puzzle but the pieces were being held hostage.  

To Robert’s misfortune she fully lived up to her label of genius sprinkled with cat killing curiosity and slowly began to piece together said puzzle. It didn't take much longer before he trusted her fully and decided to make her part, as much as he could without endangering her, of his crusade to right his wrongs and save their city. Of course being a key component of the destruction of said city required that in order to do the right thing, you did a lot of what was considered the wrong things.

As time passed they developed a father-daughter relationship, one fueled by illegal activity and mysterious puzzles, but close nonetheless. Like in any relationship they developed a routine, every time he wanted to let her in a bit further into his crusade it would begin with files being delivered, packets for her to tediously examine and research until she had her EUREKA! moment and knew exactly what they all meant, or at least had a plausible theory. She would then send him her findings, which 99% of the time were spot on. With a proud satisfaction he would put her out of her insomnia filled, caffeine fueled misery. It wasn’t until years later that Felicity came to a realization that would only make her heart swell with more admiration and love for Robert.

She always had the lingering feeling that Robert didn’t fully trust her with his secret to let her completely in, or at the very least that he was waiting for something, whether it was for her to prove herself or for him to be ready to say out loud what he held so dearly inside. It wasn’t until it was too late that she realized that this was their game, Robert knew very well that despite her skills and maturity she was still very much a child and maintaining her interest piqued was a hard driving force and the best way to keep her curiosity at bay, therefore, keeping her safe. She would fluster when he would deem some of her ideas or behaviors as child innocence, it took years to realize that he was complementing, admiring her innocence. He had played a hand in robbing so many of their childhood innocence that maintaining Felicity’s, as much as possible, was a point of pride. Many times she found herself regretting not ever thanking him for that, thanking him for many things.

Her second life altering moment came after the biggest delivery she had received to date, a large box filled with files, pictures, layouts, blueprints, audio files and even a hard drive. More importantly there was a note attached. There had never been a note before in any of his deliveries.

 

My dearest Felicity,

 

I know you must be thinking that I've finally lost it, well with this delivery and all, but I promise it will all make sense in due time. When I was at school I was forced to memorize a poem, at the time I hated it but in time I learned just how meaningful and true those stanzas read. You might be asking yourself where am I going with this random factoid, maybe I have finally been infected with your amusing ramblings, foot in mouth disease as you call it. Rest assured you are still the sole carrier of said disease. I have a point, I promise.

 

The Charge of the Live Brigade, Tennyson's masterpiece. A poem of balance, sacrifice, and loyalty but above all, the brutality of nobility. I admit, I might read a far darker side than Tennyson intended but it is there, you need only look closer.

 

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!

"Charge for the guns!" he said:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"

Was there a man dismay'd?

Not tho' the soldier knew

Someone had blunder'd:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred…

 

Now, my smart sweet girl I know I need not say more but, I will. I have faith that you will solve this puzzle much like you have all the others. I will not be in contact for a while, I will be taking a trip with my son not sure yet, when I will return. Just know that once I do everything will change. All I ask is no matter how difficult it gets or how much time passes, do not return to Starling City. For it is from this city that the six hundred never rode out of. I will see you soon and then this crusade will become a war. Best of luck, take care and remember Miss Smoak every puzzle must be solved for without a solution it is only chaos.

 

Fondly,

RQ

 

Her enthusiasm was short lived.

The night the Gambit went down she was, as always, tediously working over their puzzle. When she heard the almost deafening news she felt her heart sink, and then completely stop. When it started again she realized one very cold hard truth, it would never ever beat the same again she had lost a father, again, but this time around she was determined to not lose her hope.

The crusade had seized, cold turkey. It took every last bit of her control to not go to Starling City, she couldn't betray him. She knew that just her luck, which she greatly lacked, the minute she got there he would appear and find her there exactly where he had told her not to be, cheeks red as can be and foot in mouth disease at full blast.

But their puzzle haunted her, day and night. She couldn't leave unfinished business just be, well, unfinished. It wasn't in her nature. She hated mysteries especially of the unsolved variety. His last words haunted her every waking moment. A puzzle’s sole purpose was to be solved, to be put together and made whole. If it was never finished then it could no longer be called a puzzle, it was simply chaos. How could she allow their puzzle to descend into chaos when she had the tools and the right to make it whole. With newfound determination and a silent apology to Robert she started down a road she was still trying to find an end too.

Chapter Text

 

For five long relentless years she had planned, researched, fought and of course hacked. Every action and choice she took was with one final purpose in mind, find Robert. She reminded herself of this purpose almost like a prayer, everyday, everynight.

She refused to give up even when life literally beat her to the ground. The ends of the earth weren’t enough in her search. The constant reminder that Robert would turn over every grain of earth were their roles reversed. Every time the weight became too heavy she reminded herself that her puzzle was still missing pieces and no one else was looking for them. It wasn’t a question of whether she could do it but how she would do it.

Yes, there had been sacrifices, lies, betrayal, and pain both physical and emotional, but, getting confirmation just a little less than an hour ago that a survivor, a Queen survivor, had been found made all the hard work worth it.

Five years ago she had set a plan into motion, a plan that nearly cost her her life on more than one occasion. It had begun the day she got the news of the Gambit, she had sat down and meticulously went through everything Robert had sent her, looking for a hint, a clue, something to help her understand and keep the grief at bay.

For three long months she combed through every file, photograph and even the boxes they were delivered in. There had to be something, Robert was a man that always had a plan B, C and M. So why did she feel so alone, so lost. On the fourth month she received a letter, no return address, no post mark just a simple letter, a blank letter.

She sat at her kitchen table for what felt like hours simply staring at the paper. Turning it in her hands contemplating if it was even real. What was she supposed to do with it, was it a clue? She asked out loud to one in particular. Nowadays no one usually meant Robert. Her hopeful heart fluttered with the possibilities, was he reaching out? From where? What did it all mean, dammit!

She laid in bed trying to clear her mind and keep the memories where they belonged, the past. As her lids grew heavy one errant memory pushed forward and had her bolting out of bed. Grabbing her blow-dryer she headed towards the discarded letter atop her coffee table.

Slowly the words that would break her heart appeared before her with the heat of the dryer and somehow she wished that this had been one puzzle she never solved.

 

 

 

My dearest Felicity,

As the old cliché goes, if you are reading this letter something has happened to me, I don't know what, but it is obviously final, I wish I could say this letter will make it better or hold all the answers I am sure you have been desperately seeking, as always I apologize but this is not that letter.

Over the time that we have known each other I have learned three things about you; you are beyond trustworthy, you are determined, and your moral compass is uncompromising, which is probably my favorite thing about you. It is because of those truths that we are here today. Everyday I wished that I had never dragged you into this horrible reality, put you in danger and deterred you from what I am sure was going to be a fulfilling and peaceful future, once again I apologize. With that said I know there is no use in me asking you to leave all this be and just walk away, but I shall try anyways.

Included you will find a bank card it has been set up under your name in an overseas account that is completely untraceable, I know that because you created it. In it you will find enough money to live a comfortable and fulfilling life, plus I have included a steady stream of incoming money through safe stocks and bonds as to ensure you and your mother never want for anything. I have also assured that once you graduate you accomplish your goal of working for Google, I made calls and the day you graduate they will be there with your dream offer. When you are ready to start your company like I always hoped you would I have set up some contacts and investors that will eagerly be keeping an eye out for you. I do all this in an attempt to set you back on your path, the one I so selfishly ripped you from.

Now, if that is not enough I have taken some further desperate measures, I have ensured that you will not be hired at Queen Consolidated, I know you must be furious but believe me when I say you have no idea what you are up against. We just touched the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more and this runs so incredibly deep. Yes, you are good but believe me when I say you'd have to be perfect to go unnoticed by those that will not be deterred.

I wish we would've had more time and that eventually I would have been able to reveal the whole truth to you but time was not on our side and to do it now would just add fuel to the fire I am sure is already burning within you. Please, I beg you don't let this consume your soul, my sweet, sweet Felicity. Live the life you were meant to, enjoy the freedom this letter grants you.

I know at this point my words might have not been enough, if that is the case and God I hope it is not, please Felicity be careful, trust no one, and bide your time, for the task that you are choosing to take on, against my wishes, will require everything of you, it will make you question who you are and if you let it, it will make you hate yourself. You need to be the best, there is no room for error, you have to be invisible and that will tear at your soul, destroy your relationships, and soon you will realize that the collateral damage and cost is too high, take my word for it.

Be careful, stay alive, fight to survive, you need to survive, nothing else matters. Be that smart girl I know you are and recognize that your best option for survival is to walk away. SURVIVE FELICITY, for the both of us!

With everything,

Robert

 

Tears cascaded down her face as she read the letter over and over. How could she walk away now, how could he ask that of her? He was afraid for her life, well so was she, but if she let fear guide her how could she live with herself then. The way she saw it if she walked away she would hate herself, that she was certain of, if she stayed and fought, he said she would hate herself but he couldn't be sure of that, she could be stronger and better than he or any of them could imagine, she could succeed. She would succeed, fear was her enemy and she refused to yield.

Wiping her face clean, she carefully folded the letter and tucked it away with everything she held dear in her closet inside a box mainly filled with an old unfinished computer.

She knew she needed a plan a well laid out plan. A plan that could only work if she returned to Starling City and found a way to work for Queen Consolidated.


 

In a matter of months she changed everything about her life, she made sure to live within her means and never beyond, preventing people from questioning where the money came from. She minimized the relationships in her life in order to not worry about the people she cared for. That meant the one relationship in her life which had been on the mend, her mother. She knew it would be made easier by the fact that Donna Smoak had returned to Las Vegas the year after she had left for Boston. She had slowly forgiven herself for what she had put her mother through and had began to mend that relationship, now she just hoped she had done enough so that it would survive this new journey she was embarking on.

She changed her look, from what was uniquely Felicity to professional attire, bright blonde hair a silent ode to her mother, the final touch glasses she hadn’t worn in a long time. With all that she became unassuming, invisible Felicity, minus the bright nails and lipstick.

Most importantly she had managed to graduate early with an accelerated double masters program and due to some expert hacking and money in the right hands she was actively recruited by QC to work in IT and development, a job she gladly took, the youngest one there at 19 years old.

 

 

 

Step one to infiltrate Queen Consolidated and go against Robert’s wishes had gone off without a hitch.

Yes, she knew she had defied Robert, she felt the guilt when she allowed herself to look out her window to the view of the gleaming QC tower in the distance. But would he complain when she brought him home? When she found him? When she delivered the justice that had been denied to 9 year old Felicity. Nope.

Two years at QC, a plethora of dead ends and countless travels and punishment to her body, brought her to a truth she had feared since the beginning. Sabotage! The Gambit’s downfall had been no accident. Robert's fears had been true. It definitely wasn't the news she wanted but it was a spark of truth in a life encompassed by lies.

Now she knew where to go, what to do next. She just needed to hold on to the hope that Robert would be there, waiting, relieved to see her and very much alive. She begged to that non-existent entity that she directed all her desperation towards.

“I'll do all the work, but please I beg you be alive don't leave me alone to finish this; I don't know if I can continue to do this alone. I've never been so afraid, I can't even begin to fathom that you might actually be gone. I don't know what to do, please.”

Every time she lost hope and wondered if Robert was truly gone an all too familiar rage would fill her and push her towards revenge. She had the means to carry it out but she didn’t have a target and every time she realized that one detail she would remember Robert’s words. Her enemy was far superior and maybe, just maybe she should walk away. Leave Starling City as he had once asked of her and never look back. Like it was scripted every time those thoughts invaded every corner of her mind she would yell at herself to Stop it! She would reprimand herself for giving in to the fear and allowing it to consume her. Then as if by magic her focus would sharpen and her drive would solidify just a little more and she would concentrate on her breath, in and out, in and out.

This time was different, she had the truth. One truth closer to finding him.

 

 

 

Step two, finding out what happened to the Gambit had set her on the path of no return.

Five painstaking years later, some hard earned strategy, and dumb luck had her standing on the proverbial X that marked the spot. She had hoped with every fiber of her being that Robert would be alive, that they would resume and finally bring full circle the life of their little chaotic puzzle. She had never been that lucky in her life, no reason to start now, when it mattered.

She found Robert, in a fucken shallow grave, but there he was, had that been all she found her soul and heart might have been allowed some much needed reprieve, given time. Instead she also found a history of injustice and violence so long that she was sure she had found hell on earth, and its name was the island of Lian Yu.

The stomach churning spiral of possibilities as to how Robert's life had ended had her ready to empty her stomach. She feared what else she would find on the island, but nothing could have prepared her for whom she would find on the island.

In all her searching and effort not once did Felicity ever think of Oliver Queen as more than a means to finding his father. Even now being almost positive that the grave Robert laid in was most likely dug by his own son, killing any last remaining innocence in him that Robert might have safeguarded up to that point. Her grief blinded her from seeing the cruelty of a son burying his father and made her mind go where she instantly regretted. Where roles may be selfishly reversed.

Robert loved his son more than she had ever seen a father love a son. Oliver surviving while he perished would have been exactly what Robert would have ensured.  He would be grateful that she never gave up, that she found whom he loved most, his son Oliver Queen. That was a win anyway you put it. But what was she to do now?

She couldn't help think, what about her? What about justice.? Dammit! Never had happiness turned to anger and then to resignation so quickly, but if the last 5 years had taught her anything it was that wallowing in emotions was a sure fire way to get yourself killed. She wished Robert was there so she could reprimand him for not doing the one thing he so strongly asked of her, survive!

Robert had been so fucken wrong. He placed all this effort in trying to protect her, sending her across the country when he clearly was the one that needed the protection. Okay, so maybe she still had a bit of that anger but focused anger was good, she reminded herself as she cursed Robert once more.

In her darkest moments she would play over and over the words Robert had left for her in writing. She would twist and turn them until they meant nothing and everything all at once.  In her anger she would internally yell at him, throw his words back at him. “Sometimes a puzzle is meant to be chaos. Because it never really ever was a puzzle, we just called it that, in an attempt to fool everyone but most of all ourselves. Chaos that only pretended to be a puzzle, a traitorous puzzle! Impostor, Dammit!”

Then her mind would clear, the tears threatening to drop would dry and her focus would sharpen once again. She allowed herself one minute to feel that desperation, one minute to grieve and then count her blessings because Oliver surviving was what Robert intended, she was sure of it, and if he survived there would be a reason, Robert always had a plan, she just had to keep reminding herself of that.

 

 

 

Step three, find Robert. As bitter as this accomplishment felt as much as it caused a shift in her plans it also started her on a new path, a path to honor Robert.

New Plan 2.0

Bring Oliver home and put Robert to rest here in Starling where he belonged.


None of this made sense to him. He had returned to Lian Yu with the full intention of finally returning to Starling by his own choice. It had been a little under two years since he had last seen the island as he drifted away in the heavy salted water. His return had all been planned,had that plan actually succeeded he should have been home five months ago all thanks to the fishing boat he had planned to rescue him. What he hadn’t accounted for was getting deathly ill within the first week back on the island, missing the boat entirely as fevers wrecked his body and kept him unconscious. At this point he had no idea exactly how long he had been on the island, he knew he had been here more than anyone should have been able to survive under his conditions. You would think the second time around this would of all been much easier.

What he knew for certain was that it had been about 5 years since he last saw his family, since he last set foot in Starling City, but beyond that he didn't know, nor did he care to know about dates. If he knew the month, the day then he would be forced to acknowledge that such things exist, if it was Monday him from 5 years ago would normally be nursing a hangover and scooting someone out of his bed, him from one year ago, well those were memories he’d rather soon forget. Those thoughts were dangerous, he had enough danger in his life, so the date, he didn't care for such things anymore. Now he was just trying to not think about how much longer he would have to wait until the fishing boat ran this route again, 6 months which is why his initial timeline had been essential, the problem was his ghosts kept him company and his mind was starting to turn on him. Lian Yu held more than it seemed Oliver was capable of coping with, he needed off this island, now.

Few things surprised Oliver, especially while on a deserted island. Today would prove to be the exception, had it been month six and that small fishing boat came over the horizon rescuing him as he set fire to carefully placed wood on the shore, he would have been relieved but not surprised. Yet, sitting on a plane surrounded by exactly 23 highly trained men, all heavily armed, stoic, and definitely lacking any resemblance of a rescue team, well, that was a heart attack inducing surprise. He would remember today, the exact date, because today everything started again, his biggest desire and his biggest fear all came crashing down on him in one fair swoop and before he knew, he would be home.

Rescued, yes, that was right he had been rescued, he had no idea how, if everyone that knew Lian Yu existed was dead. Anyone that knew he was linked to the island was dead or presumed him dead. So how did they find him?

At first he thought his mind was playing tricks on him. Remnants of the fevers bringing back to life the enemy troops he fought so hard to escape once before, they moved, coordinated and looked like the enemy but something in his gut told him this was a whole other species. So he stalked them trying to convince himself that they were real. When he realized they were here for him, it sent a shrill of fear running down his spine, he wasn’t fully recovered weak from illness and hunger, his mind was sloppy and his nightmares were plenty. He took out a few men before he realized this was a rescue mission, they, whomever they were had found him and they were taking him home.

Home, a word that had almost lost all meaning.

Now as he sat in this plane, heading home in complete silence, no one had any questions for him, no one had even addressed him beyond confirming his identity. One of the men had stepped into the cockpit, satellite phone in hand. As the minutes ticked away his mind cleared and his instincts took over. He cataloged every detail every movement. Making notes so he could later visit this memory and get answers. For a second he thought he had been muttering out loud but the fact that no one even glanced a curious look in his direction calmed him while still something inside him remained unsettled. He recognized this level of professionalism and his gut told him to stay alert. Yet, the minute he touched ground in China and headed to the American Consulate all the questions came at once, he found he now missed the silence.

“Mr. Queen what happened? Mr. Queen how did you survive? Mr. Queen you need to see a doctor?”

God he hated being called that. He repeated his rehearsed story from five months ago, the one he hadn’t had the chance to use, to anyone that asked, he was the sole survivor, landed on the island alone, managed to survive alone, and most importantly he was ready to go home. It took only hours for his mom, Moira Queen, with friends in high places and always a force to be reckoned with, to show up, biting everyone's head off to get him on his way home, finally. He had so many questions of his own but they could wait, what mattered now was his return to Starling City and his inherited crusade to right his father’s wrongs. He didn't know what to expect or how he would be received, all he knew was that nothing would be the same and he was ready for that.

All that planning and maneuvering. Twisting and manipulating lives like chess pieces and he hadn’t accounted for one thing. He never considered his own reactions and impulses; he had anticipated everyone else and neglected himself. He knew he was strong and capable, the island and time had assured that, but never had he felt more fear than when he stepped foot into Queen Manor for the first time after five years. He was a stranger to this world. He didn't belong. That feeling of maybe never fitting in again and always being an outcast in his world hit him like a freight train.

As his eyes scanned the room as if taking it in for the first time he wondered whether it had always been this large, had the city always been this overwhelming and encroaching creating a stagnant unforgiving air. How was this the home he dreamt about? The home whose aroma he tried and failed to recreate on more than one occasion. It was so over the top, demanding and lacking. Everything seemed so unnecessary. Clarity he never possessed overcame him in that moment, making him realize how blind he truly had been before, disgustingly blind. He had refused to accept it but every second brought the unyielding truth forward, that island had been his home, his only true home in a long time. It was the only place he was ever truly himself, the real Oliver had been born on Lian Yu. Lian Yu had been his miserable haunted home. This was just a house, now a necessity in saving his city.

Would he ever feel safe anywhere again? With acerbic clarity he realized he probably never would.

He almost wanted to reprimand the spoiled, entitled, asshole, he had been but how could he when he was still envious of the freedom and innocence that asshole held and didn’t even know it. 

His mind was overwhelmed and he wanted to run right back out, every instinct in his body had been honed to survive and now they were shouting at him, run you fool, run! The minute you stay here, the minute you bring them all back into your life is the exact moment you have lost them all forever. 

He felt like the lost boy on the island shouting at his father's grave for answers, he would never get.

He had survived like his father had asked, but what now? Where was he supposed to start? His father had told him he would not be alone but the overwhelming sense of solitude that weighed on his shoulders spoke otherwise. His father spoke of allies laying in wait where he least expected them, but if he was meant to trust no one how would he recognize them. Time had taught him that the distinction between enemy and ally was so faint they were practically interchangeable. He needed to stop his mind and bite down on his emotions, he’d had 5 years, 7 months, and 19 days to plan this out to the last detail, he was stronger than ever and he would save his city from those that had failed it.

Thea's voice ripped him out of his thoughts, instantly all the years of waiting came rushing in, god he'd missed her so much. The question was who had she missed, who had she grieved, she had waited all this time for Ollie her carefree brother with the easy smiles. The one who left this house 5 years ago, never to return. He sympathized with her because he had grieved him long ago too, and he no longer existed. This new Oliver was a stranger, could she love him just as much, could she be his speedy too, could any of them accept him. Once again he realized that was probably not possible.

Well, it seemed that he would have to find that inspiration somewhere inside him and quick, because his not so little anymore sister was running down the stairs aiming for his arms with her eyes filled with tears and her heart full of hope.

What ever shadows of the old Oliver remained he needed to compel them to the forefront. The love he reserved for Thea would come easy and honest but it wouldn't be enough, as the way his mother kept looking at him demonstrated.

Now, how did this go again, arrogant chin up, boyish smile wide, and carefree attitude on display, just like riding a bike, now he just needed to breathe.

Chapter Text

 

Bringing back billionaires from the dead was not only expensive, it was tedious and required too many outside forces, these were all things that made Felicity extremely nervous. Ideally she would have preferred to have done it all herself, a quick recon mission, nothing new in her life. Yet, in order for this to work she needed to be as far removed from the process as possible. Falling back on contacts she had acquired in some of her more unsavory moments, she now had 23 mercenaries to deal with.  

"This is everything we have Ms. Tyler . All the audio from our comms, the video, statements and debriefing of every single man. All paperwork, well what little existed, has been destroyed as per your request and all the men were left where they were hired, paid and never knew where they went in the first place."

"Thank you General, my employer is extremely pleased with your men and all payment has been made to the designated accounts. We hope there wasn't too much trouble with the men or any questions and of course there is no need to remind you of your agreement"

" Nah, no worries these men are used to this type of work, they never ask questions. Tell your employer thank you and that anytime he needs, well, no tell him thank you because I was never here,  never even planning on visiting, as a matter of fact South America looks warm, and cozy this time of year."

"Thank you, as always a pleasure General."

"The pleasure was all mine, Rose" he winked and with his index finger and thumb pinched her chin as he walked away murmuring about how he loved redheads.

The minute he was gone she quickly made her exit, got in the car that was idly waiting in the back alley and told the driver to take her to Hub City. She gave him precise directions to the cafe she would be dropped off at.

One mocha latte and 30 minutes later a dark haired, all dressed in black and metal woman walked out of the crowded cafe, making her way down the main boulevard stopping at a few stores before reaching an apartment 12 blocks away.

Pulling a single fob from the hidden inside pocket of her jacket she opened the coded number lock hidden in the wall paneling and in less than 10 seconds found herself in the safety of an apartment. Pulling an elaborate computer setup from what was once a murphy bed, she uploaded all the data she needed onto her private little nook in the dark web. Once done she destroyed the hard drive disposed of everything and exited once again still nursing her latte.

She flagged down the third cab she saw and headed to the train station hub where she boarded a train among thousands of people heading to Starling City. Heading straight to her private room and with the door locked and her breathing back to normal she finally got comfortable and changed for the final time as she disposed of her clothes and wig out the train window at random moments.

She had never taken Robert’s words lightly, she meticulously strived for caution. With all that, she still never imagined this level of elaborate planning, she was sure as hell neither did Robert. Well technically she had imagined it because she was the one that came up with the elaborate plan but, 5 years ago Felicity would of needed a benzo or three to stomach this ordeal.

As she rambled in her own head she couldn’t help but release a frustrated huff, she really needed to talk to actual people more often, her internal thought rambling was getting worse. And now she was chastising herself for the way she talked to herself, she really was hopeless.

Taking a deep breath she settled down to comb through all the audio and video, trying to understand just a little of what Oliver Queen experienced. To know whether she could trust him, she was sure that when Robert said to not trust anyone he was not intending for that wide net to capture his own son, but if 5 years taught her anything it was that trusting no one meant even your own shadow.

As she settled and pulled out her tablet to start sorting the data by time stamps and location while coordinating it with the video she stared at the play button building the courage to tap the screen.


 

It had been a very long day for Oliver, the only positive being his reunion with Tommy. No one could breath lightness and carefree smiles into a room like Tommy Merlyn, he was glad to see that was still the case. Seeing as so much had changed this one fact was refreshing and welcomed. Especially when facing dinner with his family including one Walter Steele. He didn't like it, at all, there was something about the abrupt change to his much cherished memories, someone usurping his father that brought out some bitterness.

Even as he tried his best to play his part he could sense that Tommy’s hesitance stemmed from more than just his sudden return. There was something underlying in Tommy’s caution that almost made Oliver’s skin itch, but his mind was still trying to catch up with everything that rather than dwell, his mind speed through to what had been weighing him down.

He needed more details about his rescue, to dig a little deeper because not knowing was going to kill him. The assurance with which the rescue team arrived and methodically searched for him had him questioning everything. Who had know he was alive? How long had they known? Not knowing whether the people he held closest could be trusted was not what he expected when he was told by his father not to trust anybody. Even more frightening was the idea that there was this outside force that had the upper hand and was a possible danger to those he loved and just recovered.

Allowing these type of thoughts was what Slade had tried to teach him to reign in when he was at his weakest, images of Thea’s innocent face running through his mind, his mother’s hugs, Laurel’s picture. He had learned long ago that if he allowed it, his mind would be his greatest weakness. Yet, after 5 years he thought he had beat that weakness out of himself.

A foolish notion within him made him almost believe that his demons, at least some of them would be left on the island because he believed them to be a product of the island, he was wrong.

His hands wrapped around his mother's neck as his panicked eyes saw beyond her, saw only what haunted him in his nightmare filled nights, clearly proved otherwise.

Now, as he sat there still sweat soaked, his mother reluctantly back in the safety of her room he allowed for memories to resurface, mainly about his rescue.

→ → → → →

As the men gathered in the concealment of the shrubbery off the coast they regrouped and whom he assumed was the leader began shouting orders

"This is an intel and asset recovery mission we are here looking for our targets. The landscape is treacherous and vastly unknown all we have is the intel Red provided. Remember men anyone we encounter we neutralize and we DO NOT harm them, unless absolutely dire, as a last resort. You are all equipped with your darts use them avoid the live ammo. We DO NOT kill, understood!"

"Yes, we get it now where is the intel little Red gave..."

At the familiarity of his tone the leader directs a deadly look towards the man that felt silent agreement was not enough and decided to open his mouth. The soldier whom may not be as stupid as he looks swallowed hard knowing he had made a mistake by calling her little Red and revealing more than he should, snapping his mouth shut, quickly was his best decision.

"Here is the intel, keep your comms and cameras on at all times, talk to no one, hurt no one and we will be off this place in no time"

→ → → → →

He'd assumed at the time that his mother had hired the rescue team, who else would be looking for them. He, now, knew better. Had it been his mother she would have already told him and used the good PR for QC. He wouldn’t have faulted her either it was part of the Queen heritage.

That left one very large question unanswered. Who was this Red they spoke of, and why did the other guy call him little Red? As he tried to recall the nuances of the tone he couldn’t help but linger on the memory of playfulness, maybe Red was a woman after all. So who was this mystery person? What was their motivation? He figured no better place to start than with the men that rescued him.

The quickest of researches told him that finding them would be an impossible task, searching about his rescue kept bring up the same manufactured story that he had been rescued by a pair of fisherman who found him on the island because of a fire they saw on the shore. As a matter of fact, now that he focused on those memories he realized he was never asked at the embassy about who rescued him. They landed at a private airfield and then he was taken by car with only two of the men dressed in civilian clothes and an embassy official, once they reached the American Embassy they were taken separately and he never saw them again.

He wanted to curse the sky, he had been so preoccupied with everything else he hadn't paid attention to this, now, very important fact. These men had vanished, there was no record of them ever even being in China or his rescue. All there was, was the story of the two fishermen who by chance found him. Who ever this Red was he or she was very good, too good, and he didn't like it. That kind of skill and secrecy was dangerous, he should know.

He knew there was nothing more to do until Red resurfaced, without a lead he couldn’t waste his time any further, he had his own path to follow. When Tommy had offered a day out, he was relieved to leave the haunting manor and experience first hand the damage that had been done to his city.

More importantly it gave him a chance to do the one thing he had wanted more than anything in the past five years, apologize to the one person he had hurt beyond what an apology could offer, but he had to try.

As they drove through the surprisingly bustling streets of the Glades he was a bit taken aback. He could see the poverty, empty storefronts and how most of the side streets were not as busy, yet, it wasn’t the desolate abandoned wasteland he had expected. As if Tommy could sense his thoughts he offered some insight.

“It used to be worse. A couple of years ago I started looking into reopening my mom’s clinic, the Glades was doing really bad Ollie. I saw a news report of an 8 year old that was involved in a hit and run while on his bike, 9 calls came into the SCPD and yet, not one ambulance came into the neighborhood. After waiting over 30 minutes, someone picked up the boy and drove him to starling general, a 30 minute drive, the kid died in the car, 8 years old man” the connection wasn't lost on Oliver, he had been in Tommy's life forever and he knew exactly why that hit so hard.

“You were 8 when your…”

“Yeah.”

“That’s why you reopened the clinic, that’s great Tommy, am sure…”

“I said I tried, buddy. Couldn’t find a contractor that would build here and when I tried a temporary mobile clinic as a trial run to show the Glades we meant well they were robbed at gunpoint four times before the med staff refused to go back. So that was the end of that plan.” he shrugged as the light turned green and his eyes moved to the road missing the darkness that veiled Oliver’s eyes.

“But in the last year or two there’s been some noticeable changes, some would even say improvements. I’ve been considering reopening the clinic again, especially after talking to Laurel” he saw Oliver’s eyes snap towards him as he swallowed the rest of his sentence. He internally cursed himself for bringing her up especially in such a familiar way.

At hearing her name Oliver remembered the other reason he was here.

“Speaking of Laurel…”


He should have listened to Tommy, going to speak to Laurel had been a mistake, Laurel's words still rang in his head and stung in his heart "five years wasn’t enough...it should have been you".

She wasn't wrong, it seemed he also had some sins to atone for. He had failed the people he loved. Unfortunately, he would have to continue failing them in order to protect them, it didn't sit well in his gut but it didn't have to. He never realized how hard it would all be, the thought of sacrificing the family he had just gained back really hurt.

As he approached the car Tommy brought him out of his internal thoughts with his usual charm and wit.

"Well that went well, now if you aren't tired of fish I say we get some sushi and eat it off some models” he was about to reject his offer when he heard the screech of tires as Tommy reacted “ What the hell?"

Before he could decide the best way to react the 3 guys that had exited the van shot and killed some poor guy and shot them both with tranquilizers.

He and Tommy were out for the count.

When he began to feel the vestigial of wakefulness he felt the sharp pain of a slap across his face "Hey wake up, princess" unbidden everything faded again sending him back to the nightmares

→ → → → →

"So sorry my boy, I thought I had more time, am not the man you think I am, I didn't build our city, I failed it and I wasn't the only one"

"Dad? What?"

"Listen to me Ollie, you need to open your eyes. It is time to grow up. I know it isn't fair but time is not on our side son."

"Dad you're scaring me, just stop. Save your energy"

"Ollie, my past is shrouded in sin, sin I desperately tried to right too late, but I was trying son, you must know that. In my efforts I made allies, good people, when you survive and get back seek them out. They might seem unassuming but don't trust that, trust your instincts. I wish I could tell you more but doing so could have unforeseen consequences not only for you but for others, innocents. Just know I wasn't alone. We all failed the city, and reaped in its destruction. We built our empires on the backs of these people.” Robert’s voice begins to slur as his body lulls from side to side. He tries to push the words out, struggles to keep going “You are not alone, I wasn't alone, she was there and she will be there for you,” he’s speaking so low that Oliver struggles to hear what he says moving closer to check on his father he’s able to hear his murmurs, “find her she will be your anchor, find her." he passes out as he keeps murmuring to find her.

"Dad, dad what are you talking about? Where dad? Who?" he tries to wake him knowing that after 2 days at sea this can’t be good, he tries to move but his body has started to fail him and any effort seems monumental.

"It's the heat, it's making him delusional, causing him to ramble. I wouldn't put too much stake in his words" the sailor tells him dismissively. Oliver turns wide eyed at the voice, almost forgetting anyone else was there with them. As his heart settles and reality comes into focus he slumps back leaning into his father.

"Too late" he whispers to himself

→ → → → →


 

The second Felicity had decided that Oliver would be her new mission she had put all her skill set to good use, facial recognition and GPA tracking were the first steps. She had made full use of the satellites she borrowed from time to time and wasn’t surprised when she saw him leaving with one Thomas Merlyn in his brand new car with the completely hack-able computer system and GPS.

As Felicity sat in her apartment in her PJs keeping tabs on Oliver she wondered why out of all the places in Starling he could have made his first stop the Glades. That was of course until she saw the car turn on to the street leading to CNRI, where one very familiar face was employed.

She’d like to say that the reunion of these two playboy billionaires starting off with visiting a beautiful woman, was surprising, but she would be lying to herself. No surprise there, when said woman was one Miss Laurel Lance. She hoped, for the sake of the young Mr.Queen as she had taken to calling him, at the very least was there to offer an apology and not trying misguidedly to rekindle something.

As she watched from the CCTV cameras what appeared to be a very heated, one sided conversation she internally cringed, she kind of felt bad for the guy. His dejected stance painted a very obvious picture of where that conversation was going, as she was deciding whether to stop watching feeling very much the intruder in what was meant to be a private moment, the argument was over and Oliver was walking back to Tommy.

Losing him as he turned into the alley in a blind spot she had decided she was okay with in this particular stake out she caught the tail end of a van blocking the exit. Feeling a familiar itch in the back of her neck that she had honed into trusting over time she quickly positioned the satellite she sometimes borrowed only to watch as Oliver and Tommy were dragged into the van unconscious.

Felicity typed away hacking traffic cams as fast as the car drove past them trying desperately to keep up. She needed to know where they went it was daytime and she was on the other side of the Glades there was little she could do, so she would have to resign herself to relying on the SCPD. Once the car stopped and she saw them pull the bodies she called in the tip to the SCPD making a strong argument as to why they needed to get there, now.

She tried to get eyes on the inside but it was impossible, that warehouse had been condemned for awhile and only the occasional homeless person at night protecting themselves from the elements would venture in. She waited for the SCPD to show up almost regretting not having tagged that location months ago. She didn’t do well not knowing.


 

As his mind startled out of the nightmare, Oliver’s body flinched into awareness. Immediately feeling the restrain of his hands being bound. Playing the part he looked around scared and marked off where Tommy was and where each of the men were standing as a plan formulated.

When they asked him about his father his surprise was genuine. The first shot of electricity from the taser running through his body let the realization that this was connected to everything he had learned about his father and his secrets sink in.

Knowing he had very little time to waste before they truly hurt him or Tommy he made the choice that he was going to kill them making sure to verbalize it for their benefit.

In the blink of an eye the 3 men went from mockingly laughing to fighting for their lives. The First going down with a chair to the throat, the second by the gun of the third as Oliver used him as a shield. The third and final one deciding to make a run for it gave him time to check that Tommy was okay as he followed in pursuit. Quickly catching and subduing him he asked a question he was pretty sure he already knew the answer to.

“Who hired you?”

“Please, don’t do this”

“Tell me who hired you” he asked as he applied added pressure to the man’s throat.

The man coughed out a response as best he could “I don’t know, never met anyone...money drop” before he could finish Oliver broke his neck, he knew the hired gun would know nothing and now he would never share what little he knew, like Oliver's secret.

As he searched the man he heard the sirens fast approaching and made a run back to Tommy.


 

By the time the police arrived the men had been killed and Tommy and Oliver were fine.

Felicity didn’t understand what exactly had happened but that sensation on the back of her neck hadn’t gone away and she knew she had to figure this all out.

Knowing there was little she could do now she waited for the detectives to be sent to collect statements, hoping it was one of the ones she had a tag on. When she pinged Detective Lance at the Queen manor she knew she was in luck as she activated the bug she had on the cell phone of one of the few good cops left in SCPD, in her opinion.

As she listened to the young Mr.Queen retell the accounts of what had happened inside the warehouse the crease between her brows grew deeper and deeper.

She had a pretty clear view of the front and sides of the building and she hadn't seen anyone come in to the building, she had caught some movement towards the back of the building but it was spotty at best since that was the exact moment ARGUS had realized someone had “borrowed” their satellite. She couldn't get a clear look just some movement and silhouettes but a green hood? She’s positive she would've seen that.

She wasn’t sure what was going on, something felt off or maybe five years of suspicion were affecting her. What she was sure of was that she would get to the bottom of this and that she needed to mute the conversation, there was something about the Lance family pain that she deeply sympathized with, especially that of one grieving father that hit too close to home. Deciding she had what she needed she turned the bug off.


 

Things were unraveling faster than they could have ever imagined.

Oliver needed to jump into the process and start crossing names off his list, and setting up his base of operations.

On the other hand Felicity was realizing that she needed to figure out who had returned from that island, because from what she had witnessed so far it definitely was not the shallow, selfish, playboy troublemaker that Robert had talked about years ago during one of their first late night meetings. She had asked about a photograph he had on his desk and he had gone into a long story about a kind hearted boy that had grown into a careless young man. His frustrations evident but his love far more overwhelming.

Robert loved his son and now here she was trying to find a reason not to trust him.

Actually she didn't need a reason, her mind didn't trust him and the fact that she didn't know why was killing her. She needed to change her game plan, she needed to get closer yet, remain unseen.

She needed Oliver to give her a reason to trust him. Show her that Robert had been right, and that he still held a piece of that kind hearted boy. She desperately wanted to trust him simply because he was Robert’s son, and he had his father’s eyes. But the fact that he was surrounded by so much mystery prevented her from being able to move past the logical part of her brain that was adamant in unraveling his secrets. She hated herself for that. Every instinct told her that she should trust him, but her mind kept pulling at that thread like a dog with a bone.

They were both in over their heads and seconds away from discovering it.

Chapter Text

 

Oliver had thought that his fast thinking had worked out in his favor, he introduced the concept of this hooded man while simultaneously giving himself a future alibi. That is until the next day he was met with one very formidable bodyguard courtesy of his mother.

John Diggle, on the surface seemed like a good enough guy. Ex-military, experienced and professional. He was sure the practiced line “My ability to keep you from harm will outweigh your comfort, sir” had been reassuring to his other charges. Yet, to Oliver it just meant that he would need to put actual effort into making him look incapable of doing his job. He would also need to get better at playing the playboy because even through the rearview mirror he could sense John Diggle’s calculating eyes assessing and reading all his cues. Which meant he would need to minimize their interactions, hence him jumping out of the car and ditching him at the first opportunity.

John Diggle knew entitlement, 4 years as a bodyguard had crossed his path with people in all walks of life, this was the first occasion of someone jumping out of a moving car. It seems he had underestimated Mr. Queen, a mistake he would not repeat.

Oliver didn't have time to waste he needed a base of operations and the Queen Steel factory would do just fine. He already had everything he needed it was simply time to remodel and start crossing names of the list. Conveniently, one of the names at the top of his list was one Laurel seemed so intent on taking to court, ridding the world of a scumbag like Adam Hunt while keeping Laurel safe, well that was two birds one stone.

Deciding on a forceful demand that he return the money he stole and threat of death, was nothing new for Oliver.

Following him into a parking structure he makes quick work of neutralizing his companions to focus solely on Hunt. Pinning him down he demands that he deposit the $40 million he stole into account #1141 by 10pm.

Expecting some push back from a man like Hunt who gets what he wants, the last thing he expected to come out of his mouth was that he didn't have the money.

“I already returned that money, there is no $40 million, what more do you bastards want from me”

“This is not a game Adam Hunt you will deposit the money by 10pm or you will not like what happens next” as he lets go of him to make his exit Hunt pleas in one last effort

“I have nothing left, do you hear me nothing"

Oliver shoots one final warning arrow and disappears. Not believing a word Hunt said he makes his way back home, he has a party to get to, unfortunately.

Adam Hunt, knows that his words fell  on deaf ears and turns to the SCPD. Just his luck they send the only straight cop on the force. As  Det. Lance takes his report the exasperation is evident as he hears Hunt recount what happened. Confirming the existence of the Hooded man was not something Lance was keen on happening. As they leave his partner, Hilton, confirms what he wasn't willing to admit just yet, Queen had been telling the truth about the green hood.

Once the Detectives are gone Hunt confirms with his new head of security Constantine Drakon that his office is a certifiable fortress and that when that crazy hooded guy shows up tonight he will regret ever doing so.


As Felicity prepares for just another day in her week, one that frankly doesn’t start until she has her 2nd cup of coffee she hears her computer ding in the living room just as she was about to serve herself the aforementioned glorious 2nd cup.

Normally she would have prioritized her fuel if it wasn’t for the fact that the particular ding her laptop had emitted had frozen her in place. One name occupying all the space in her mind, Constantine Drakon. As she made her way back to her computer, coffee all but forgotten, she pulled up the alerts and confirmed that this particular piece of unwanted trash was in Starling City.

Although she had decided on justice over revenge some time ago, she couldn’t help but feel that this might be fate knocking at her door serving him up on a silver platter.  She was far more skilled now than she had been 3 years ago, maybe she could confront the man that had taken everything from her.

→ → → → →

Everyone likes to travel. Seeing new places was all about circumstances, her current flight was Panama bound under less than ideal circumstances. Flying to panama to follow a lead on Constantine Drakon, the man responsible for her first heartbreak was the definition of shitty circumstances. Five months ago she had inadvertently discovered that Drakon had killed her father and now she wanted answers. Her mentor at the time had taken the information she had provided one emotional night and used it as a teaching moment on self control. Yeah she was quite pissed at the moment, but it was a long flight and she hoped that by the time the plane landed she would be able to focus that anger. This was a moment for her to learn that strength came from justice and not revenge.

Her mission was to find Drakon gather intel but not confront or harm him, even if she had the capabilities, in her mind, to do so.

Felicity had always been an overachiever, but not this time, she failed said test as she did exactly what she wasn’t supposed to. Drakon had a ruthless reputation as one of the best for a reason, he made her and taunted her without knowing who she was or why she was there. He was actually quite amused that she had the guts to even try and one up him.

When she leaped from the shadows ready to attack she was met with a countermove that sent her skidding across the patio of the compound he had entered.

Immediately taking a defensive stance he beckoned her forward and she ignored the voice in her ear and attacked with every skill she had acquired in the past months.

In confronting him, Drakon proved to be a far more skilled adversary, yet her anger made her an unpredictable opponent.

Her anger also made her show her hand as she sent one brutal hit after another making sure he knew “this was for Noah”. As he sent her skidding back with a blow to her shoulder, she sprinted towards him only to stop dead in her tracks at the mention of her father.

“Noah Kuttler, Las Vegas” he chuckled. “Now by sheer fact that it's been 10 years since I killed him I am assuming you are his daughter, Meghan, was it?”

She tried in her shock not to react to the name, at least her father had the foresight to not use her actual name when dealing with seedier endeavors.

“Meghan, if your daddy could see you now, what would he say? I don't know what heroic image you have of your father, but he was not a good man and if he is dead it is because he deserved it. It was nothing personal, simply business. I was hired and I did my job. Believe it or not there is honor in that so this is your one opportunity, walk away now and this ends here. My job was to kill Noah, I did that 10 years ago and I have no need or want to hurt his daughter.”

She knew what she should do but it was so hard, it was tearing her apart on the inside. So she did nothing, hoping that he would take her silence as affirmation without her having to agree or utter one word to her Father’s murderer. The voice of her mentor in her ear telling her to stand down.

Luckily that is exactly what Drakon did, leaving her feeling empty and hating herself even more.

As she made plans to leave Panama that same night, she couldn't seem to let her encounter go, deciding that although she couldn’t serve justice for her father she could still prevent Drakon from hurting anyone else’s family again.

Tipping off the various consulates and interpool of his presence in Panama she boarded the plane heading back to Starling City, her mentor having decided she needed a reprieve and sending her home.

The gratification at one up-ing Drakon was short lived, specifically the exact time it took for her to get from Panama to her front door.

She arrived home to find a package outside her door with no postage. Immediately on high alert she carefully inspected and determined she could open it. Inside the first thing she saw was a picture of her mother in the Bellagio standing under the TV in the bar which was playing that day’s 5pm news. On the back of the picture there was a note.

 Your father might have ensured that your identity was almost all but non-existent but, I actually met your mother, once. You never forget meeting a woman like Donna Kuttler, even in a town like Vegas.

I tried to do the honorable thing and you betrayed me, you could argue that I killed your father first so we are even but, I have a feeling this is not the last I will hear from you. So here is a little incentive, you cross my pathe ever again and I will make sure to leave your mother’s body where they found your father.

I won’t warn you again.

Throwing the package across the room she cursed and screamed out loud. In her need for revenge she had put a target on the only family she had left, her mother. In that moment she decided she needed to do better, be better. Not for her sake but because her mother had experienced enough heartbreak and deserved only good things for the rest of her hopefully long life.

She hoped, her distancing herself once again wouldn’t add another crack to her mother’s heart. She couldn’t risk Drakon discovering who she was. Reaching out to contacts she had in Las Vegas she asked them to keep an eye on her mother having settled that for her peace of mind she decided she needed a workout and a hot shower.

Never anticipating how much this choice would crumble her relationship with her mother.

→ → → → →

Following the trail she isn’t surprised to see that Drakon has been hired by one Adam Hunt, a sorry excuse for a human being that she had already scrapped from her shoe once before.

Although she had taken all of his money over a year ago, his influence and backers still carried a lot of weight in this town.

She had hoped that the evidence she presented to Laurel Lance, in the case she had been pursuing against Hunt,  would help her close said case quickly and effectively. But it seemed that he was putting up a fight.

No matter how hard she tried to clean up her city she couldn’t help but seethe at the continuous return of parasites like these.

As she is contemplating her game plan she gets a ping from the SCPD that Hunt was attacked by a green hooded man.

Red flags and alarms start ringing in her head, this cannot be good, she has enough to worry about without adding a wannabe Batman to her repertoire.

She had her own run ins with Adam Hunt and his bird of the same feather Martin Sommers back when Robert had blackmailed them to stop their illegal activities but ever since Robert’s disappearance they had resumed their old ways, she had tried to deter them as best she could but the whole remaining invisible made that difficult. So she had hit them where it hurt, in their bank accounts. Some had toppled others like Hunt refused to take their exit.

→ → → → →

Robert refilled his tumbler while taking in the NY skyline from his office in the QC Manhattan subsidiary. He needed to let Adam Hunt sweat it out a little longer. In order for their plan to work they needed Hunt afraid enough without ever uttering a single threat.

“Look Adam you say everything is secured and your accounts are untraceable but Hannibal said the exact same thing and you see where he is now. This is just a friendly warning, you want to secure your assets, doing it through QC is your safest option. We are not talking untraceable accounts only, we are talking an entire network and server room dedicated to making every last thing untraceable. “

“You are also talking putting my entire fortune into your company. Robert, I didn't get to where I am by trusting any one person entirely or by putting all my money in one place. So I am going to have to pass.”

“Understandable, just thought I would offer like I have done with everyone else. Just make sure to keep a close eye. Martin called me before you arrived, it seems his untraceable account misplaced 10 million just this morning.”

Hunt fidgets slightly with his phone in his hand and Robert knows he almost has him he just needs to let him squirm a little longer so he walks over to his desk to get some paperwork and in the process takes Hunt’s glass to refill. He taps his chest twice indicating to his partner to be ready as he sees Hunt bring his phone to life.

Around the corner from the office in a perfectly hidden nook sat Felicity with her teal hair, her body completely engulfed by her red and white sweater and laptop in hand. She furiously typed away well the temp secretary they had assigned to Robert for his week long business trip kept shooting looks her way, making sure to lock her purse away in her drawer. Causing Felicity to audibly scoff.

She kept perfecting and updating the code she had written in order to trace Adam Hunt’s accounts. Hunt had been playing hard to get for awhile and Felicity was really starting to hate the guy. Robert’s plan was to take what Hunt had stolen but if he kept trying her patience she just may take all $378 million, roughly estimated.

Just as she got up to get some water using the comm in her ear to stay on top of things she heard the ding of the elevator. Standing behind a particularly tall plant she spied one Oliver Queen making his way to the flustered secretary with a devilish smile on his face.

Blatantly flirting with her they talked, she giggled while she explained that his father was in a meeting and had asked not to be disturbed. As she sipped her water trying not to roll her eyes out of her head she heard the distinct double tap in her ear.

She made her way over to the seating area as discreetly as she could, now very grateful for their flirting as it was the perfect distraction.

Quickly accessing her program she silently fist bumped the air as she picked up the trace on Hunt’s phone. Robert’s ploy had worked and Adam had accessed his accounts from his phone giving Felicity the opportunity to slip in through a backdoor and following the rainbow to the pot of gold.

Once she had secured her access she double tapped her comm. No more than 3 minutes later the door opened and Robert bid goodbye to Adam Hunt, she was happy to see him leave a little flustered.

Robert sought out Felicity for physical confirmation and noticed that she had maneuvered herself so that she was giving her back to his door.

Soft giggles pierced his thoughts and he quickly caught on as to the reason behind her behavior.

“Hey dad, just stopped by to see if you wanted to get lunch rather than dinner, I have stumbled upon some plans for tonight that could not be postponed.” he said suggestive smirk perfectly in place.

Trying not to call any attention to Felicity, Robert quickly agreed “Sure thing son, how about you go ahead to the car and let the driver know while I take care of some last things here” at Oliver’s nod both Robert and Felicity felt relief that she had gone unnoticed. That was until the poor unknowing temp spoke up.

“Mr Queen what about your lunch appointment, she has been waiting” she emphasized as she extended her arm in Felicity’s direction. Oliver’s eyes immediately snapped to before unseen person on the couch, his eyebrows raising as he is met with bright teal hair and a beanie staring back at him telling him to ‘GiveAshit’.

Robert seeing the curiosity in Oliver’s eyes made a snap decision.

“Lunch appointment? I wasn’t aware I had anyone waiting" he whispered.

“She was sent as a candidate for the QC R&D scholarship fund, sir, the meeting was in your calendar” the temp whispered back a bit confused.

“Right, of course this will only take a minute. Go ahead Oliver I should be down in 10 min”

“What’s the hurry, if we are giving scholarships to the leaders of the future I’d love to be involved, you are always saying that I need to be more..” with one look Robert stopped Oliver. Taking it in stride Oliver simply chuckled, winked at the secretary and made his way out, waiting at the elevator he sent one final look towards the waiting area only to see the scholarship candidate walk towards his father's office noticing her particular choice in clothes and the tattoo on the back of her shoulder where her heavy sweater hung.

→ → → → →

She was ready to put him out of commission and this green hood fool was not going to interfere.


As Oliver set his phone for his 10pm timeline, he contemplated how he would be ditching one John Diggle. Opening the door to the waiting car he was surprised to see Mr.Diggle sitting there a no nonsense look on his face waiting for him. His surprise quickly turned to amusement as he took his seat.

“Mr. Queen in the interest of full disclosure I want to clarify that your comfort has gone from being a minimal priority to not one at all. I am here to keep you safe even from yourself, do we have an understanding.”

Although John knew that beneath the smile there was a calculating look he couldn’t help be annoyed by the laugh Oliver offered as a response. Promptly, ignoring him for his phone.

As they arrive to the venue John exits the car walking to open Oliver’s door, noting the tension in his shoulders he is trying to pass off for excitement.

Making his way down the stairs the instant suffocation he feels at the quantity of people in the room almost has him climbing back up the steps. He tries to reign in the panic that is creeping up his spine, while everyone in the room begins to cheer his descend, John and an observant blonde at the bar make note of the panic that crosses his eyes for a split second.

The fact that he is expected to play every part the playboy at his welcome fit for a king is not lost on him as he throws back a shot of tequila.

Making his way to the bar with Tommy, because apparently staying completely sober tonight will not be an option if he wants his alibi to be believable.

“So buddy does your life size GI Joe come with an off button, I think he is making the guest nervous, hell his biceps are the size of my head, he’s making me nervous.”

“Unfortunately the only setting on Diggle is high alert.”

“Well, we can work with that because if my math is correct you have gone sexless for about 1839 days. That is unacceptable, may I make some suggestions”

Oliver plays along in good nature as Tommy points out his top choices, the women waving back as if they are fully agreeing with their conversation. Noticing his lack of reaction he takes a new tactic.

“If you wanna play the field, your wing-man is here to help buddy, there’s a red head over there by the DJ, if I recall she meets all your criteria unless your taste has changed, in which case then how about” he looks around quickly spotting the perfect candidate, “pixie blonde in the velvet dress walking down the stairs. God Damn she makes me nervous but in really good way” he suggest with a raised eyebrow.

As he turns his head towards where Tommy is pointing he is distracted by spotting Thea in the crowd seemingly looking to party a little harder, he only catches the red velvet dress in his peripheral as his full attention is on Thea. He walks towards her as the red velvet dress jumps right into his eye line. The blonde bumping into Thea and apologizing profusely as she heads the opposite direction.

Reaching Thea he realizes that she may have already been partying before she arrived. Compelled to look after his sister he can't help but let the disappointed tone slip into his words.

“Ollie stop you don't get to judge me for acting like you. For finding my own way to survive when I was alone. Five years brother dearest, five years where my dad and my brother were dead. Where I thought I would never see them again, I knew I would never see them. I figured out my own way and you don’t get to come back and play savior, got it”

He tries to stop her as she walks away, grabbing her bag and arm as a distraction while he tries to lift the drugs from her bag only to come up empty handed. As Thea pulls away he lets her go turning to find Diggle standing right next to him fully aware of what he was doing.

At Oliver’s confused look Diggle raises an eyebrow, his vantage point allowing him to see what Oliver missed when he focused in on his sister. Surprised that he understands Diggle’s non verbal communication he looks around for the red velvet dress and platinum hair. Turning back to ask Diggle, all he is greeted with is a smirk and a shake of his head.

Tugging on her red velvet dress, Felicity exits through a side door disposing of the drugs she pick-pocketed, not for the first time, from Thea Queen. Over the years keeping Thea Queen safe had probably been her hardest task, she had succeeded more times than failed to keep her sober but on some level she sympathized with her pain and understood her rebellion, if anybody knew what rebelling after a losing a father looked like, it was Felicity.

Pushing everything Queen related out of her mind she looked at her phone, 9:38pm, she made her way to her bag as she infiltrated Adam Hunt’s building, the SCPD patrol proving useless, once again.

As Oliver checked the time, 9:38pm, he knew it was time to leave, looking up and finding himself looking into Laurel Lance’s eyes threw a not entirely unwelcome wrench into his plans.

The fact that Laurel is here and he has Tommy to thank warms something in him, the fact that he is not sure if his friend did it for his benefit or Laurel’s is something he’s not ready to address with him.

Making their way upstairs Oliver makes up his mind that although he selfishly sought out Laurel, he doesn’t have the luxury to risk any more lives than he already has and that means pushing Laurel Lance away, definitively. Leaving her in tears and seeing the disappointment in her eyes gutted him but he couldn’t think about that now.

Making his way down the back corridors, Diggle is waiting for him. He should really be surprised but he is quickly learning that John Diggle is too talented for his career choice and any other time could come to be a useful ally, but not today, he decides as he leaves him unconscious in a closet.

The clock in the security room reads 9:56, one minute ahead she notes as she blocks and interferes with their feed and makes her way up the building through the elevator shaft. She easily makes it to the 2nd to the last floor, reaching the top floor through the ducts without being noticed. Easily spotting Drakon as she drops down silently from the vent she has to contain the burst of anger that crawls up her throat.

As Drakon makes his way down the hallway she knows it is now or never. She quickly tranqs the six men in the hallway by the time Drakon is in Hunt’s office hearing the electronic look click. She cleans up after herself just like her mom always taught her and then makes her way over to hack the keypad. Prepared to face off with the man she has waited to see again, the lights go off and she knows that can only mean the man in the green hood is here. She can’t risk exposing herself so instead she takes cover in the shadows.

Oliver reaches the top floor and as he prepares his exit out of the elevator into the hall leading to Hunt’s office he is ready to fight his way through, arrow nocked and all. Yet, he is met with silence. At first glance it seems there are no men and he figures they might have created a stronghold in the office. He carefully walks over far more on high alert than before.

As he nears the door another elevator opens to his right, turning he finds two armed men standing there in shock as six other men lay unconscious at their feet.

The bullets fly and he quickly neutralizes one while he sends the second man flying through the glass door where he is met with more gunfire. Using the distraction of bullets and glass he accurately takes out the armed men in the room one by one. Not forgetting that there is some other threat here as well.

He shoots an arrow into the wall behind Hunt only to be promptly attacked by Drakon, they exchange blows equally paired as they seem to dance through the room with no reprieve. The odds quickly turning against Oliver as Drakon raises a gun. Felicity sees the green hooded man throw a fletching aimed straight for Drakons chest as he jumps for cover landing hard and hitting his head. Instinctively she deflects it while simultaneously tranquilizing Drakon, she’d like to say it was an action for the purpose of sparring life but she knew that selfishly she refused to let someone else take the justice she was due.

As the green hooded man and Drakon lay unconscious she battles with what to do but all choices are out of her hands when the SCPD arrives on the top floor. She makes her exit as she hears more gunfire ring out, knowing that the green hooded man managed to get away as she heard in the distance the SCPD calling for backup to the venue downstairs, where he apparently zip-lined. Show off was all that came to mind.

Felicity makes her way back to the party knowing she more than likely won't find anything. This green hooded man was using the cover of hundreds of people and alcohol, much like her. Making sure she walks by a couple of people dropping comments here and there and making sure her back is visible to the cameras she reaches the main floor just in time to see Oliver mid speech.

“Two million dollars to anyone who can find a nut-bar with a green hood”

God he really was making it hard to root for him, Felicity thought as she walked out of the venue once again in her red velvet dress. Pretending to be on her phone she listened through the bug on his cell as Detective Lance multiplied whatever remorse still lay in the young Queen, his words causing even her to cringe at the brutality and pain they held as he accused him of not even trying to save his daughter, Sara.


The notoriety that the green hooded man could gain, especially in places like the Glades, was unsettling to say the least. Not only were these type of hushed rumors already common place in the Glades but with his preference for the dramatics, he could become poised for imitation.

She had gathered all the footage of that night yet, he was very aware of cameras and mostly stayed out of view and never looked up. In her mind the jury was still out on whether this was a good thing or not. She could relate to his motivation but the ease with which he played judge, jury and more importantly executioner did not sit well with her.

At the same time this could not be her priority. She had to remind herself that this ridiculous vigilante wannabe was better left to the authorities. She still had work to do.

Her current priority was going through the rescue footage she had collected from the mercenaries. Her focus was currently on trying to wrap her mind around the fact that in 30 seconds of video it really looked like some jungle man had effortlessly taken out 4 of the General's men before the others could even register it, now the question was, if that was Oliver, where did he pick up those skills? What was Lian Yu hiding.

She was almost certain that it had to be Oliver, logic and evidence all pointed to that one conclusion. What sort of trauma had he encountered and what did that mean for Robert?

Her life had truly become B.R and A.O, Before Robert and After Oliver, set moments in time that will forever determine the memories in her life. Oh she would always remember, fondly, when she could walk down the street and not check every 30 seconds if she was being followed, the gool ol’ B.R days.

Now her A.O days were plagued by a damn playboy, her, Felicity, spending endless nights researching a playboy, going to bed thinking about a playboy, the young Queen hadn’t even registered on her radar 6 years ago and now here she was determined to no longer remain completely invisible, ready to take a more hands on approach.

“I need to get my hands on Oliver…” she audibly groaned before she clarified to the empty room “no, not my actual hands, metaphorical hands, dammit I need to stop calling him a playboy, it’s messing with my filter. Young Queen, or Mr. Queen from now on let's keep it professional, I mean he is kinda my boss.”

Another notification from her laptop caught her attention and she quickly opened up the browser, it seemed the wannabe vigilante was forcing himself to the forefront once again. The $40 million dollars she had put in Adam Hunt’s account on a whim, not sure at the time if she wanted it to remain there or if she wanted the green hooded man to get his hands on it so she could follow the money trail.  

She got to doing what she did best. Tracking the money to account #1141 at Starling Trust. Only to watch it sit for all of 5 seconds before it started to move around pinging off of various accounts. Deciding to funnel it back to the originating account, as it had served its purpose, before she actually lost it. Once she had set a cyber trap ready to triangulate and pinpoint any location, she quickly glanced at the data and realized that he wasn’t stashing the money away he was making deposits, to names that she clearly recognized because she had once done the same.

She decided that in the spirit of what the green hooded man was trying to accomplish she would make some sizable donations, including one to CNRI for their continued efforts in getting not just retribution but justice against men like Adam Hunt, she hoped this would help with putting him away to join his buddies Mr. Redman and Mr. Sommers.

Felicity quickly realized that the originating account, #1141, was a dead end so she opted to simply trace any further activity and began to compile data on the green hooded man. His sudden appearance was more troubling now than before and it couldn’t be coincidence, Felicity didn't believe in coincidence. It seems she had one more thing to worry about, again, great.

Oliver’s satisfaction at his hacking arrow working and siphoning $40 million dollars from Hunt’s accounts was short lived. As soon as he tried to move the money everything went out of whack and the money vanished into thin air. As anger arose inside him, thinking Hunt had gotten the upper hand on him, a news report on the Adam Hunt attack came onto the screen constantly streaming the news.

 

 

“As residents of the Glades may recall it was only about 2 years ago that Adam Hunt’s fortune was rumored to have been wiped clean and the rumors escalated when people started affirming that the victims whom had accused him of theft and fraud had their money returned, speculations arose that someone had stolen Hunt’s money only to return it to his victims in some kind of Robin Hood-esque aspirations, but nothing was ever proven and it was deemed another Urban Legend of the Glades garnering little to no attention from both police and the media.

Although Hunt never confirmed the rumors about his fortune he still had his influence and backers within his business and as a prominent figure in Starling City that carried a lot of weight. Some would argue widespread corruption and intimidation being the leading cause. Lawyers at CNRI had been trying without result to bring him to justice and it wasn’t until this year that a formidable case had been made against him, lead by Miss Laurel Lance. Further rumors of an anonymous tip and a cache of evidence being the catalyst for the trial.

With this new attack on Hunt who knows what it will mean for the trial and justice in the glades…”

As the news report continued Oliver wondered if Hunt had no money where had those $40 million come from and where had they gone. Obviously his limited computer skills wouldn’t help him in this matter.

A new question entered his mind, had  anyone else from his father’s book had similar rumors roaming about. A quick search of his next target led him to Iron Heights, Mr. Redman was already serving 20 years in prison and he had returned all stolen pensions one year ago out of his own accordance therefore, reducing his sentence. At least that is what the public records stated.

As he realized Redman was being kept company in jail by Martin Sommers he started to believe these rumors might be true and if so who had gotten to Hunt, Redman and Sommers, and other minor players in the book before him? There was no possible way this was a coincidence, Oliver didn’t believe in coincidences.

Chapter Text

 

Days had gone by since the incident with Adam Hunt and Oliver had spent most of his free time training, finishing his base of operations and researching the names in the book hitting one dead end after the other.

The names had begun to be ticked off a little over 2 years ago, small players had ended up in Iron Heights or disappeared from Starling City all together. Some of the bigger players, like Hunt had seen their illegal activity greatly dissipate or struggle to stay above water.

He had found some blogs that boasted of a guardian angel of the Glades but nothing was ever proven and everything was just left at rumors. For now with his limited reach he would have to settle for moving on with his list, especially seeing as one James Holder had just won and gotten away with not paying the over 40 families who lost all their possessions and more importantly the families of the nine deaths in his apartments in the Glades due to faulty fire alarms. He may have been sentenced to 5 years at Iron Heights but he had managed to move his money before the courts could make him pay.

Paying a man like James Holder a visit before he was behind bars had moved up to poritrity number one.


Seeing the Verdict on the news only proved to Felicity why it was getting harder and harder to let due process render justice to the victims of Starling whom time and time again were crushed by the elite. This one hit home and although the courts were not able to find Holder’s money and make him pay, she could. She would take it all, including his companies, she would decimate his entire board that backed him in court for 2 years, knowing very well that he was guilty, she would show no mercy, just like he had shown none when he was interviewed leaving the court boasting how he would appeal and never serve a day in jail. She would make sure he served a life in his own personal hell, penniless.

→ → → → →

She had taken to patrolling  the streets of the Glades as the petty crime rates had significantly increased since the presence of the Triad had grown battling for territory with the Bratva. She would roam the more vulnerable areas and try her best to stop any petty thieves and criminals she would run into.

It seemed to have been making some impact all the while keeping her identity or even existence hidden from the residents of the Glades. The occasional online forum mention was easily taken care of.

It had been just another patrol, stopping a hold up at the local mini mart, interrupting some low level drug deals and pickpockets had gone without a problem. She was almost ready to call it a night as she gathered some final intel on the Triad, something she had recently taken to doing most nights, when she heard the commotion and then saw the smoke in the distance.

As she climbed the nearest fire escape she rushed from roof to roof, quickly making her way to the building and the flames, already devising a plan to get the people out. As she marked off all possibilities she saw the roof as the only option, having the residents jump to the neighboring building, on the east side of the apartments, which was close enough to make the jump and slightly lower making it the easiest option. Taking one final leap she made quick work of the roof door.

Using the fire hydrant she found in the stairwell she made her way down immediately running into people already making their way up, she quickly guided them and told them to gather on the east side of the building and wait for her. As she passed them people offered help informing her where some people were trapped.

She kept working her way down clearing apartments and guiding people up the stairs. On the third to the last floor she ran into a young man whom had been helping people evacuate, she immediately noticed the dog tags around his neck.

“Hey soldier” the young man quickly turned her way.

“I will get the rest of the people, guide all those heading out to the east side of the roof, I sent the top floors there already. The building on the east has a max 2 foot gap and is about 3 feet lower than the roof, everyone should be able to make the jump”

“What? Who are you?”

“I am trying to help, now go” the shock from her tone wore off quickly as he gave her a quick nod and made his way up to the roof.

She continued to work her way down the halls only to hit a wall of fire on the 5th floor, seemingly where the fire had started. She could hear people screaming and knew she had no time to waste. She screamed at them to try and get wet blankets and stay away from the flames. She made quick work into the first apartment and did the same for herself in order to be able to get through the flames with minimum injury.

With effort and determination she had cleared half the people on the floor when half the roof caved in trapping the west wing of the building. She got word to the fire department that they needed to concentrate their hoses on that section.

As she worked her way through the debris, the flames licked at her side and it was getting harder and harder to breath. She was trying to get closer as the desperate cries from the trapped people mixed with the shrill scream like sounds of the fire. She knew it was burning too fast and too hot and her time was running out.

She made a last stitch effort to suppress the fire in order to get the people across when she heard the floor begin to give out. She saw it in their eyes, they knew there was nothing she could do, as the tears streamed down her face she saw a father holding his young daughter plea with her and she knew before he moved what his intentions were. She ran towards them as the flames tore through her top she saw the father use all his strength to toss his crying daughter across the collapsed walkway.

The minute her cries hit her ears and she felt the weight in her arms the remainder of the floor gave out and she knew they were all gone. Without turning back she ran as fast as she could to the east starwell she had come down through and didn't stop until she hit the open air of the roof. She saw the red hoodie before the young soldier’s face was visible through the smoke, making eye contact as she sprinted over and with a hard shake of her head she told him everything he needed to know as he leapt across the roof and she followed behind him. Struggling to take a breath she handed him the tear stained baby girl, squeezing his shoulder as she walked away in the opposite direction. The wind carrying a “thank you” in her direction.

→ → → → →

Nine lives were lost that day including the parents and teenage brother of Milagro, the little girl whose parents sacrificed everything for. Milagro, was truly a miracle, not only in namesake, and as such she was embraced by her new family, a loving family, which Felicity made sure of. That was one of the biggest regrets of her life, not getting to Holder on time, not looking out for the people in the Glades, the real victims. She had attended all 9 funerals, she still sent a birthday gift to Milagro every year. She had made sure everyone of the victims had a proper place to rest, somewhere their families, and someday Milagro could find solace from their loss. The memory lived with her everyday, and not only in the puckered and marred skin of her right side above her hip.

Yeah, she was ready to rid the Glades from the vermin that was James Holder. She immediately started hacking through his company finding every shell company and international account. One by one she started to shift money setting trojans in place so that as soon as Holder and his people started to panic and tried to move their money it would all disappear, every last cent.

The ding from her chat window brought her back from her unpleasant memories, she hoped this brought better news and a much needed distraction from the guilt that was starting to crawl up her throat, she knew better but it took effort to remind herself sometimes.

AcidBurn: I got wat u need now whos the best? Come on!

GFG: Me, still me, but second isn’t bad. So what you got?

AcidBurn: hell w/ that kind of <3, NOTHING!

GFG: Sensitive and second best your case is diminishing by the minute, come on seriously what you got am kinda on a schedule here

AcidBurn: Well damn all business 2nite k party pooper, I got everything u asked 4 I cleaned up the video feed u sent me well as much as I could considering the initial shitty quality. Can I say DAMN that boy got mad skills I mean 4 a second I thought it was an old school asian movie. He laid a mean ass whooping to those dudes. I must admit u always bring me the best stuff. Now the audio clip, lets just say creeeeeeeeppppppyyyyy, I think I will have nightmares 4 a wk lol

GFG: Less commentary more facts

AcidBurn: Mmmmkay

AcidBurn: I cleaned up the audio removed the background noise & then had my resident terracotta warrior translate it & cryptic definitely but hey maybe to u it has meaning. I am sending u all the info

GFG: Thanks as always, talk later. I’ll send you my thank you note tomorrow morning.

AcidBurn: Anytime I <3 ur thank you notes they are the best EVER ;)

As Felicity quickly opened up the downloaded files she went through the video first which only finished confirming all the statements from the “rescuers”, the ape man was definitely Oliver, and the degree of skill and training he had was beyond anything anyone with his ‘history’ should have. As one of the men pointed out so uniquely in their statement “That island done fucked him up good, that boy went from kitten to lion, some fucked up shit.” Felicity couldn’t agree more.

Moving past the video she opened up the audio file and listened to it again, it definitely was far creepier once it was all cleaned up. It was all breathy, growly and intense with splatters of white noise between, she was sure she could play this during Halloween and scare some kids straight. Then she opened up the translation written out in Chinese first, each word time stamped on the audio, AcidBurn, for all the annoying traits was definitely thorough. She took a breath and moved on to the translation:

I am a survivor, I am a redeemer, I am an equalizer, I am my father’s son, I am my father’s salvation, My sacrifice is my destiny, I will find her, I am no longer lost, I am not Oliver Queen. I have lost, it will not be in vain. My father, my mentor, my partner, my second chance, my brother over and over and over and over .

She knew what he meant by his father, that was Robert but who were all these other people he spoke of? Was the her he spoke of, Felicity? What the actual fuck had happened to Oliver? She had more questions than answers, which was a ratio that Felicity was never happy with. Her need to find a way to get closer to Oliver had grown exponentially and jumped to priority number one. She felt like he was a ticking time bomb and there were too many possible victims.


Oliver had managed to slip by John Diggle once more although he was sure that after this latest stunt his bodyguard would be watching him pee for the foreseeable future.

Weaving through the streets to the high rise James Holder called home he used the night as cover as he made his way to the penthouse. The minute he reached the railing he could hear Holder yelling over the phone, using his shouts as the cover he needed, he got closer only stopping as he began to tune into the conversation.

“What do you mean it’s fucken gone? That’s impossible. Everything can’t be gone, that’s over $750 million, you said they were untraceable. I don’t care what you have to fucken do, you find that money or else you better fucken run you worthless piece of shit because I will hunt you down. Priority is securing the Unidac Shares, do you hear me” as Holder yelled and hung up he dialed another number.

Oliver had no idea how to react, it seemed one more name from the list had been wiped clean of all his assets. There was someone electronically taking down criminals in Starling for the past 2 years and no one even knew. Holder’s voice immediately reminding him he couldn’t afford to lose his focus.

“Call a board meeting within 1 hour, I don't care what time it is wake everyone up and tell them if they aren’t there to not bother ever coming back.” as Holder threw his phone on to the lounge chair and took one large gulp of his drink he never saw the arrow fly across the roof into the bottle he was about to grab.

“What the hell? Don’t come one step closer or I will have you killed” Oliver pulled the hood deeper over his eyes as he tossed the guns from his security detail onto the floor.

“What more do you want from me you son of a bitch? Here to finish me off, taking everything wasn’t enough, I will find out who you are and I will kill you I sw…” two shots point blank took the words from Holder. Oliver immediately took cover noticing belatedly that one had grazed his arm. Knowing a sniper shot any day of the week he made his stealthy exit from the roof, he had no more business here, Holder was dead probably at the hands of one of his many enemies.


As Felicity looked at her handy work she couldn’t help but pat herself on the back. She had managed to move large sums of money, but Holder’s assets and fortune was close to the billions and that would take days to move undetected.

Being the genius that she was she had created a ghost protocol program, the name deriving from the fact that it made money invisible. The money was still very much in the same place but all records and access showed $0. Allowing her the time she needed to move billions, if she wished, undetected out of the US and into truly untraceable accounts. Shifting ownership on companies was a little more difficult and that's where her ghost protocol really came in handy. Erasing the companies from existence allowed for others to pick up the shares legally, in this case one of her shell companies and some trustworthy investors a process which if done right took even longer.

As the police scanner notification came onto her screen she let out an audible groan. This dude was truly relentless, the vigilante had struck again, this time killing James Holder, things were escalating quickly and she didn't like it. Using a gun was new but he may have realized just how ridiculous a bow and arrow really was. James Holder being his victim kept raising red flags, he had specific targets and they kept aligning with her own. This was her city to protect in Robert's name and this vigilante was getting out of hand. Knowing she was in for an all nighter she put a pot of coffee and got to work, visiting the crime scene would have to wait until the police cleared the building.

Across the city Oliver laid in the basement of the old steel factory, unconscious, struggling to move with remnants of island herbs in his mouth still fighting the effects of a poison laced bullet that had grazed his arm over 5 hours ago. So much so that it was morning and once again he had not made it home. He had come close to death many times and this wouldn’t be any different. Well, his mother's disapproving look when he made it home would be a little different than the norm.

Having spent half the night going through the police reports and sneaking into the crime scene to do her own investigation, unsurprisingly the SCPD had put very little effort into their investigation, she had come home to run some test on her mass spectrometer. Felicity dug further once the updated reports had been entered into the SCPD network, reaching the conclusion faster than the detectives that this had not been the vigilante it was not his M.O. It had clearly been a professional sniper.

As the spectrometer beeped she read the results and knew immediately who had killed James Holder, Oliver had identified the poison and its owner as well, although a couple of hours after Felicity.

"Floyd Lawton, Deadshot? What are you doing in my city?" questioned Felicity

Both Oliver and Felicity knew exactly what they had to do next, they just had very different ways of going about it. He had a clear goal, find him, and kill him. She on the other hand was in the business of outsmarting and setting people up, never physically harming, well almost never.

As Felicity began typing away digging deeper and deeper into all that was Floyd Lawton she came across two very important and useful facts; the first and most immediate one was that there was a link between  those that hired him and the Bratva.

Although she hated the Bratva, she really had no choice. They could never be trusted and she always ended up in a load of trouble when she dealt with them. Realizing that for this type of recon a softer touch might be required she wondered if she should call Maksim, get him to help her for old times’ sake. She knew it might be time for Irina Vlacic to resurface, hopefully her good standing with the Russian community was still intact.

As for the Vigilante if the information she had analyzed and her math was right, the first bullet that hit Holder had been with less impact than the second. Gauging that he had been standing still for the first shot that should not be the case. Having noted that the bullets hit nothing else but center mass, she had to guess that it had nicked something else slowing its trajectory and dollars to donuts that something else had been the green hooded man. If her theory was right he was more than likely dead unless he still had some luck left, then maybe he was at a bar somewhere nursing his ego and thanking the gods, all of them.


“A bar? You want to open a bar in the Glades?

Tommy stated more than a little confused yet curious enough to still look around the steel factory and see potential.

“Not just a bar, a nightclub” Oliver pitched, this would be the perfect cover for his late night basement activities, but nobody needed to know that.

Slowing smiling and nodding, Oliver  knew Tommy was in.

“Man, this is going to need a lot of work but just imagine the hordes of women that are going to walk through that door, all at our disposable.” Tommy said with a giant grin on his face and a glint in his eyes.

“Is there any other reason to open a club in the Glades” they both laughed.

“The kings are back and on home territory these women don’t stand a chance. I will definitely need an office with a secret room if you know what I mean” Tommy winked at Diggle who just stood there stoic and unimpressed.

“Already ahead of you, our own private playground”.

“That’s what we should call it, The Playground” Tommy said with a wide grin while Diggle proved he wasn’t made of stone letting out a scoff.

“Oh, now you say something big man, don’t worry you will reap these rewards too, Oliver takes care of his friends, don’t I know it” at the comment Oliver simply grins at Diggle as he and Tommy continue discussing ideas. Their fun only interrupted as Tommy gets a phone call and steps outside. Oliver takes the opportunity to keep gauging  John Diggl, he ask him what he thinks although he can already guess based on the loos he was giving both of them.

“I doubt your rich friends would come to the Glades” Diggle states trying to sound unbothered.

“If we open a club they will make line all night just to get in”

“I bet nobody in the Glades will see a cent of that, much like the inside of this club, with the exception of the staff, of course” Diggle added sarcastically.

“Well, it will create jobs which even you can admit are needed right now, and we can gentrify the community” Oliver stated somewhat defensively

Slightly laughing he stated what he thought was obvious, “I was wondering when we were going to get to the white knight swooping in to save the disenfranchised and all by his lonesome with no help from anybody”

Oliver slightly taken aback simply says “Wow! You don’t think very much of me do you?”

“No, actually sir I have a very high regard for how perceptive you are, sir” he smirked as he walked away, adding “I also care about my ability to remain employed, sir”

Tommy was completely unaware of what they were setting in motion and Oliver hoped he wouldn't regret bringing him in as partner.


As Felicity got off the phone, she realized she liked talking to Maksim, he was nice, he liked her, a lot, and her time with him had been fun while it lasted much like her stay in Blüdhaven.

She was ready to go, or rather she should say Irina was ready to go into the lion’s den. She had straightened her hair and added long blonde extensions put on her contacts and drove to the auto shop hoping her Russian persona wasn’t too rusty.

“Hello I need car help please…” before she could finish her statement in her trademark soft Russian accent, a rough and very unpleasant voice dripping in a thick Russian accent interrupted her.

“How you get in, we are closed”

“Oh no, please I need help. My name is Irina Vlacic, my friend Maksim recommended this place said it was the best in Starling City. Back home I used to go to Demetri’s Shop on 1st Street” she was actually doing pretty well and her mention of Maksim and Demetri seemed to be putting her in the shop owners good graces.

“Yes, of course Maksim called said you might be coming, he never said you were so beautiful, true Russian beauty”

Oh thank goodness Maksim had come through, she would have to visit him the next time she was in Blüdhaven and thank him.

“Come in, and let’s see what is wrong with your car, and we fix it for you quick and cheap. So, how is old Demitri”

“Haven’t seen him since I left the city 3 years ago”

“Now you have new shop, in your new home” he smiled at her as they filled out the paperwork with her fake information, including the number to a burner cell and he brought in her car. She took that opportunity to put 2 bugs in the garage not to mention the one she put in the car.

“Will be ready tomorrow, we call you”

“Spasibo” she said as she left the shop getting into a cab just as a motorcycle pulled up.

As she settled into the cab taking out her tablet to access the live feed she gets it working just in time to hear 2 men having a discussion in Russian, one voice she recognized as the old man, the other she didn’t know but she was going to find out.

As Oliver passed the interrogation into him being an actual Bratva Captain, chest tattoo proving to be insufficient evidence, Felicity’s agile fingers began hacking any cameras she could access to back trace the man in the motorcycle, her Russian was out of practice but she understood enough to confirm this was business and not friendly, plus she knew the sound of a gun being taken apart anywhere.

He needed information on who hired Deadshot and as much as he had hoped to distance himself from the Bratva, they were a valuable resource.

Felicity also knew  how to track a bike jumping from street cams, to ATMs and online security feeds she managed to trace him to the west side of the Glades where she promptly lost him, no surprise the city cameras didn't work in that part of town. Opting for the cameras around the shop she got images from different angles but it seemed he never took that damn helmet off. She quickly decided that tracking him when he left was her best bet.

As she accessed the live feed she waited for him to leave and sure enough he had the helmet on and apparently knew where the blind spots were in the city. She tossed her tablet exasperated onto the seat just as the cab pulled up at an apartment complex in the glades, certainly not her apartment but to prying eyes this building was as good as any.


The next day as news broke of the second murder both Oliver and Felicity were becoming anxious, they needed to stop him now. Just as Felicity did more digging she quickly realized exactly what was going on. Unidac Industries bidders were being killed off one, by one. Which meant that any of the other bidders were both potential suspects and victims, including her boss Mr. Steele. She knew the SCPD would need help so she did what she had done so many times before, she tipped them off in order to help them put two and two together. Hope the police worked that angle she would go out tonight looking to beat a sniper at his own game.

Just then she saw the time and realized it was time to head out and pick up her car.

“Dobryj vyechyer”

“Irina, good evening to you too, your car is ready as promised”

As he brought out the car she gathered the bugs not wanting to risk suspicion falling on her if they were found. Last minute she opts to leave just one, just in case. She thanks them and hands them a business card. She knows staying in the good graces of the Bratva is important.

She leaves in her car and quickly returns it to the long term lot where she keeps it, changes the plates again, then changes her hair, clothes and puts on her glasses leaving on foot as she checks her tablet. The facial recognition tracking system she designed for once working, 3 out of 10 times wasn’t bad, lets her know that Oliver is within a mile of her at a club. She decides to walk by and maybe do some recon on the young Queen whom lately had fallen by the wayside. As she gets closer she recognizes the angry man standing outside and quickly stops to write something down before continuing directly towards him.

Mr. Queen’s bodyguard, John Diggle, former Special Forces, highly trained and highly deadly. This was a perfect opportunity to clone his phone and put a bug on him, her lucky day she guessed.

She waits for him to be distracted, well as distracted as John Diggle ex special forces could get, and crashes into him “accidentally” with a loud hard ‘TWACK’ brick wall hard, so much so that she ends up on the ground. Said brick wall immediately goes to help her, repeatedly apologizing and asking her if she is okay. She meekly smiles and tells him it is okay. As she stands up she bumps into him pretending to lose her balance and in a swift move bugs him and drops a note in his inside breast pocket. She thanks him while holding onto his arm in order to put her shoe back on and then walks away. Immediately turning a corner and tapping a few keys on her tablet to get a live feed. She hears the sounds of the city outside of the club and then abruptly there are other voices,

“Well that’s one more club I never get to go back too, now we really have to open our own because at this rate and with your past track record that might be the only place we ever get into” said Tommy laughter very evident in his tone.

“Well, looks like I jumped the shark when I questioned my job safety” an amused John Diggle commented

“Please Diggle let’s just get out of here before they come back out. I’m starving so maybe get something to eat. Oh, and bringy the way Diggle  you didn’t happen to see Thea come out, did you?”

“No sir, but how would she have gotten in, in the first place?”

“Oh Diggle you have so much to learn” quipped Oliver

At the mention of Thea, Tommy begins to wonder just how to address the bomb she had dropped on all of them by telling Oliver that he had been sleeping with Laurel.

As they pulled up to Big Belly Burger he decides the best way address it is just to be upfront about it. As he slowly guides th conversation to the topic, Oliver gets a phone call from a Russian model, he realizes he was a fool for worrying. Oliver like with everything never stopped too long to dwell on just one thing or one person. As Diggle sends them home for the night hoping, that is where Oliver will stay, he heads home.

Oliver on the other hand had just received a friendly Bratva confirmation about the location of Deadshot and was gearing up to put an end to him. As he gets a glimpse of his reflection on the metal table in the foundry, he can’t help but wonder and question why he was deviating from the book, from the mission but somehow this seemed right, necessary. Yet, he couldn’t shake the feeling that even though he told himself this deviation was a singular event it was more of a gateway. Was this what his father intended?

→ → → → →

As Oliver rested, Robert stroked his hair and contemplated an exhausted young boy, he looked so small and broken in his arms. Yet, Robert knew he was stronger than he gave himself credit for and it broke his heart to think that his final choice may definitively break his heart, but someday he would understand. He had to, for all their sake.

“My sweet boy, I had hoped to redeem my life without ever bringing you into it, letting you continue your life careless and happy. To see you grow into a man full of devotion and drive filled me with pride. I had hoped to someday meet the woman that would change you forever, that would make you leave your young delusions of love and lust for the explainable illusion of being truly in love, loyal and devoted. To one day see your life come full circle as you became a father, to hold my grand-kids in my arms, free spirited and full of energy as you were once. I had so many hopes and dreams for you and your sister, so much left to do and see. I am not the man I was 10 years ago, I am but a shell of that man, so I do not know what naivete allowed me to believe I deserved such a future, but you, you did son, you still do. You will make it through this you will find your way back home” he leaned in and whispered in his ear “you will find Felicity, and you will save us all.” He leaned back to see a stirring Oliver begin to wake. “I know it is too much to ask, but life has stripped me of my choices and left me with a last resort and too many have suffered because I have taken the happiness of a few, of my family, over the happiness of many, I won’t make that mistake anymore. Someday you will understand it wasn’t my choice, it was my last resort the only one life cruelly and ironically left me.”

“Dad? What’s going on?” a hazy voice questioned.

“Nothing son, just rest, rest my sweet boy, this will all be over soon I promise.” He soothes as he kisses the top of his head, exhaustion taking over again as they both fall asleep.

→ → → → →

“How wrong you were dad, it has all just began” he pulls the hood tight over his head and heads up the stairs.

At the same time that Oliver received the phone call Felicity had listened in on the Russian part of that phone conversation and was now looking into the address they had provided. She grabbed her gear, hesitating on the high power sniper rifle before she decided on better safe than sorry. Grabbing her tech she made her way out through the her private exit to meet up with a super scary contract killer, great.

Deciding to try for the tech before resorting to her really big gun she settled on the roof of the building right next to the motel with a clear view of his room. Sending her bijou bug™ to get a closer look she quickly confirmed it was him, and had eyes and ears in the room and the laptop on the desk. She got to work on trying to hack said laptop. The first wall of information told her it wasn't his laptop, as she moved on to the encryption the loud impact of a door being kicked in had her grabbing her gun and focusing on the window the sound of rapid gunfire and the distinct sounds of arrows had her scrambling for a clear shot.

Using the scope she 'picked up’ on her last visit to Gotham she made quick work of stopping the arrows before they made contact with their target. Recognizing the weapon on Deadshot’s wrist she took a shot in disabling it. Although successful she also noticed the blood flowing out of his wrist. Seeing himself outnumbered and outgunned he jumped out of the window, the glass shattering as green hooded man’s bow hit the ground from one solid shot from Felicity's gun.

Hesitating only for a second in shock Oliver realized he was a sitting duck for this sniper who would not miss again, that is if he missed at all the first time, grabbing his how and the laptop on the desk he made his speedy exit.

Knowing she couldn't leave all these supplies on the roof to chase after either of them, the sirens already getting closer, she gathered her things cursing at the interrupted hack and was out of there and on her bike before the first officer got out of his car.

Making it home with some answers, her hack revealing that the laptop belonged to Warren Patel, she set up her searches and went to bed. She could try to salvage her night and get at least 3 glorious hours of sleep.

While Oliver would have to wait until the morning to get any answers from the battered laptop he ‘recovered’.


Oliver got into Queen Consolidated just as all the employees were clocking in, realizing as he stood at the back of a crowded elevator that maybe he was a bit anxious and might have shown up a bit too early for a party all night playboy.

“Hold the elevator please” an out of breath voice called as one of the men held the door, a frazzled petite blonde carrying a laptop, a tablet, 2 bags and more papers than any one person should, made her way into the elevator. Oliver slightly smiled, amused at the rambling and cursing the young woman did as she tried to hold together everything she was carrying, had he been closer he would have helped her since it seemed they were going to the same floor. As the doors opened she was a blur of pink and black and white stripes as she ran out.

Making his way out of the elevator at a much slower pace, he walked over to the receptionist asking to see the head of the IT department, while sneaking a look into the main corridor trying to see if the frazzled blonde made it intact. An all smiles redhead slinked from behind the desk and offered him every beverage they had before letting him know that the IT Director was on his way up.

Felicity made it to her desk, she was going to miss this desk, hmm maybe she could get them to transfer it to her new office as Head Tech and head of Security Software , probably not. Yesterday's little adventure with one international assassin and Starling's own poor man's version of Robinhood had left her so on edge and with a million questions that she completely forgot about her promotion. She had planned to arrive early while the halls were still empty so she could make her move to the big office without the whispers and bitchy rumors of one redhead Caroline. She knew she had earned her position but her budding friendship/partnership with one CEO, Walter Steele, opened the door to ridiculous rumors about a man that could be her father.

Setting aside everything for now, she walked into her cubicle almost losing her footing in her haste only to be welcomed  by a mess in her cubicle. Remembering how she never finished packing yesterday she let out an audible groan. She never realized changing floors and offices would be so much trouble. She had planned to finish packing her things but she was more concerned with other matters, for one setting up her live feed of Mr. Diggles bug along with the alerts on the clone phone directly linked to her tablet. She also had to create a new system to be able to track all their movements and her alerts while at work, and more importantly it had to be completely undetectable. Now that she thought about it she really did need her own office because with as many laws as she was breaking the last thing she needed was coworkers getting wind of anything. Yes, her own office was ideal and just in time.


“Hello Mr. Queen, Sorry for making you wait, how can I help you?” said a slightly embarrassed IT director knowing very well that he had made one of the owners wait while he was late to his office.

“No worries, I actually just wanted a reference. Walter said that I would be able to get good help from anyone here.” Walter had also mentioned that the best help available would probably not be available as that person was in the middle of a promotion and move from the IT floor to the applied Sciences floor.

“I need help to recover my things from my laptop and was hoping one of your employees cou…”

“That is out of the question, I will help you myself, top priority” the director interrupted.

“That’s not really necessary”

“It is my duty and my pleasure Mr. Queen”

Just as he handed him the laptop his assistant came in to remind him he had a meeting with the heads in about 15 min. Jumping out of his seat having completely forgotten he apologizes to Oliver while walking him out of his office. Oliver lets him know he is kind of in a hurry and really needs this done now, so the director calls over one of the IT guys by the name of Josiah and ask him to take Oliver to the Head Tech and make this priority number one.

“Mr. Rhys, Felicity is kind of busy what with the mo…”

Josiah, now. Mr. Queen is in a hurry”

Nodding Josiah usher's Oliver down the hall. As they walk Josiah can’t help but comment “You know you are probably better off with Felicity than you would have been with him, she could practically run this department all by herself” with a fondness that Oliver easily detects.

“This is the office her name is Felicity Smoak, can’t miss her, cute blonde with glasses” he says as he walks away, Oliver noticing a bit of a wince as he retreats.

Oliver walks into the cubicle that looks like it was just hit by a tornado. Catching a flash of pink to his right he turns and immediately spots her and internally smiles.

Chapter Text

“This is the office, her name is Felicity Smoak can’t miss her, cute blonde with glasses.” he says as he walks away, Oliver noticing a bit of a wince as he retreats.

Oliver walks into the cubicle that looks like it was just hit by a tornado. Catching a flash of pink to his right he turns and immediately spots her and internally smiles.

The frazzled blonde from the elevator, was not who he expected when he walked into the office. His first thought was that she was cute, not that he should be noticing that right now, which he quickly reminded himself of.

Far more surprising was how much younger she was than he expected, he contemplates her freely, as she is seemingly immersed in the binders she is packing and wonders if maybe that’s not her, maybe Josiah misunderstood. The more he looks at her the more he is convinced that she could not be the Head Tech. She looks fresh out of college for goodness sake.

As he looks around he spots someone in the cubicle directly across looking at him a bit bewildered, he quickly decides that before he disturbs the frazzled blonde he should maybe confirm that she is, Felicity Smoak.

“Hi, I am looking for the Head Tech, I was told that was Felicity Smoak” he asks as he points towards the blonde’s cubicle.

“Yes, that’s right you’re at the right cubicle, can’t miss her only girl in the room” the tech confirms with a bit of a snort. Oliver nods both in acknowledgement and also feeling impressed by her accomplishments at such a young age. He takes a quick deep breath and walks over.

As he stands right in front of her desk he waits for her to notice him but she seems pretty pensive with a small crinkle between her eyebrows, so he decides to take the initiative.

“Felicity Smoak? Hi I’m Oliver Queen” the deep delighted tone of his voice is unexpected and surprising to even him.

Her body immediately jerks with a slight jump out of her seat that has him fighting to suppress a smile at her reaction to the sound of her own name. Her wide eyed shock at the sound of his name, makes the amusement in his eyes harder to suppress. The red pen that drops from between her lips which she manages catch before it hits the desk adds a bit of surprise to his current mood. Nice reflexes, he thinks to himself.

It takes a second for her brain to restart, “Of course, I know who you are, you’re Mr. Queen” she tries to say calmly, failing miserably while internally all she keeps repeating is ‘oh shit oh shit oh shit’

“Nooo. Mr. Queen was my father” he always hated being called Mr. Queen now he hates it more.

“Right! But he’s dead, I mean he drowned, but you didn’t which means you could come down to the IT department and listen to me babble,” she continues tapping the pen on the desk and looking everywhere but at him “which will end in 3,” she raises three fingers as if visuals are necessary for the effectiveness of her countdown, and breathes out heavily  “2,” lowering one finger as she semi turns in her chair looking down and seemingly regaining some control “1” she whispers out as she bites on her lips almost like she is trying to keep them from further betraying her, finally she looks at him, expectantly as if her behavior was completely normal.

She hopes she looks under control or at least professional in some capacity because her head is a whirlwind of chaos.

In the couple of seconds it takes him to process her word vomit and respond, internally she manages to chastise herself ‘What the hell was that Smoak?! Great first impression. ’ She has been waiting all this time to arrange some form of meeting the young Queen and when he falls right into her lap, the image her brain conjures has her internally cringing and the internal babble it triggers is of epic proportions ‘okay not my lap, like my literal lap because that would be highly inappropriate, interesting, but he would probably crush me in the process, I mean seriously he is much bigger in person, like car side mirrors, objects may appear ...FOCUS SMOAK!’

She imperceptibly shakes her head trying to get her synapses to function, remind herself what normal person behavior is.

Oliver finds himself genuinely smiling, probably for the first time since his return, and it’s not because she is cute, or because he obviously makes her nervous but because as flustered as she is, she is honest, obviously capable and now that the nerves seem to have subsided she seems secure, confident like she holds a secret, an ace she isn’t revealing. He likes that. Realizing he has let the pause go on for too long he offers an excuse for his intrusion.

“I’m having some trouble with my computer and they told me that you were the person to come and see. I was at my coffee shop surfing the web and I spilt a latte on it” he says as he hands her the laptop, for a second he thinks he reads recognition in her eyes but at second glance he thinks it might be surprise at the condition of the laptop, he doesn’t blame her.

The second Felicity holds the laptop she knows it is the same laptop from Deadshot’s room, Warren Patel’s laptop to be exact. The bullet holes littering the cover are the same ones she found all over that motel room. The first thought is obvious, how the hell did Oliver Queen get his hands on this laptop? The answers and possibilities are scary but not as scary as the connections her brain is trying to make. She knows she has to say something, in her experience the Queen men value honesty and she hopes that proves true once again.

“Really?” she states sprinkling her words with just a bit of disbelief.

“Yeah!” he answers knowing there is no going back, he has to stick to the ridiculous story he already started.

“Cause these look like bullet holes” she counters, her voice now dripping in disbelief, sprinkled with sarcasm.

“My coffee shop is in a bad neighborhood” the chuckle almost escapes through her lips. For a second she sees the “Ollie Queen” she heard so much about. She imagines this sort of charm and humor once worked on any female he crossed paths with, maybe even a few males.

As Felicity sits there with a tilt to her head looking at him expectant of the truth and impatient of his lies, as if she wasn’t the one reminding him of his dead father just a minute ago, he realizes that in her 5ft 5in, 120 lb frame, give or take, she manages to slightly make him fall off kilter. Makes him doubt himself, though he will never show it, or admit it.

“If there is anything you can salvage from it I would really appreciate it”

Giving up she simply hums in agreement and gestures for him to take a seat motioning to the chair in the adjoining cubicle. She knows she will have to open it up and connect the motherboard onto a surrogate and boot the system that way, she knew that when she saw the poor baby get shot yesterday. Knowing exactly what she needs she goes in search of her tools, thankfully she also knows exactly where they are, benefits of slight OCD.

She needs to take this one step at a time, she will get the information off the laptop and then figure out how the young Queen and the green hood are linked. As she spins her chair back around she jumps when Oliver is standing right next to her. He smirks at her, knowing very well that she is surprised he didn’t sit.

She continues to work only every so often watching him from her peripherals. Opening up the computer as he hovers over her, she lets out a small huff, she hates it when her boss does that and she hates it twice as much when Oliver Queen and his cologne do it. She sighs and probably harsher than she intended she tells him to sit down, he responds with an offhand “I’m okay” as if he didn’t register her tone.

She continues to work hooking up and booting the computer to hers. As the system begins to react she turns to tell him it might take a minute and he simply nods eliciting another huff from her. Knowing he won’t sit willingly and because frankly his looming figure is disconcerting and attracting attention from her co-workers she simply gets up as he follows her with his eyes, gets the chair from the cubicle next to her rolls it over and places it slightly behind her chair. She pointedly looks at him and when he doesn't move she huffs again,  keeps eye contact with him as she pulls the lever on the side of the chair sending the seat sinking all the way down, if anyone was going to loom it would be her. She tells him sternly “Sit” and he does before he realizes that he is doing it, she smiles internally and continues her work a bit smugly which she does nothing to hide.

The data comes fast and she is sure that he is tech impaired because she is backing up the data to her home hard drive and so far he seems none the wiser.

“Looks like blueprints” she points out

“Do you know what of”

“It’s the exchange building”

“Never heard of it”

“It’s where the Unidac Industries auction is scheduled to take place” she responds, her mind already working double time deciding what information to tell him, and what to use against him. He looks at her with utter confusion and she decides to keep the young Queen on his toes. She feels triumphant and actually allows herself to smirk as she remarks,

“I thought you said this was your laptop”

“Yes” he says suddenly realizing that the owner of the laptop would not be surprised by its contents.

“Look I don’t want to get in the middle of some Shakespearean family drama thing” she couldn’t voice her actual suspicions but this worked, this was believable. She was glad that her actual thoughts were kept to herself because where her head was going, the green hood, bidders’ deaths, deadshot, it wasn’t good.

“What” he says confused much like a child would be at the mention of Shakespeare.

“Mr. Steele marrying your mom, Claudius, Gertrude, Hamlet,” she says the last pointing to him like this should be an obvious comparison.

He simply deadpans “I didn’t study Shakespeare in any of the four schools I dropped out of”

She sighs and continues, “ Mr. Steele is trying to buy Unidac Industries, and you’ve got a laptop of one of the guys he is competing with” not to mention he might be the next possible victim. What are you doing Oliver Queen? Why are you involved in this? Of course she didn't say the last part out loud.

Oliver, still processing the whole thing lets out the one name he knows is a definite, “Floyd Lawton”.

Felicity takes a quick imperceptible breath, in which a million thoughts at once rush her head. No denying now that the young Queen is far more involved than she wanted to admit. She needs to end this interaction and take this new information to find answers.

“No. Warren Patel” she says pointing to the name on the screen taking the opportunity to gauge one more response from him.

“Who’s Floyd Lawton?” he seems taken aback as if he hadn’t been the one who let the name slip, but quickly composes himself and offers her an answer, well more like he thinks aloud but she’ll take a win where she can get it.

“He is an employee of Mr. Patel, evidently.” he says as if coming to a sudden realization, she knows the dots that he has connected and can’t help but feel that the young Queen is over his head and is bound to get himself killed. What ever he is doing with the green hooded man needs to stop and she will make sure of it.

As she watches him, she has her own realization, Patel may not be the boss but the next target. The realization makes her jump out of her seat startling Oliver as she disconnects everything, piles it up in a jumbled mess and drops it on his lap as she urges him to get up pushing the office chair towards the door with him still sitting in it. She is rambling about being late, when she realizes what she is doing and stops pushing the chair and pushes him out of the chair. She continues her ramble about a very important meeting and moving offices and checking the server security and before he knows it he is standing in the hallway and once again the frazzled blonde is a blur flying down the hallway. He can’t help the confusion chuckle that slightly escapes him.

The laptop in his hands reminds him of why he was there and just as quickly the reminder of the looming danger takes over and he knows he must prepare for his next move, a move he can’t do alone and although he hates admitting that he needs help, he knows just where to get it.


By the time Felicity exits the QC building she has sent an anonymous tip to the authorities about the next attack at the Exchange Building, she managed to hack into Mr. Patel’s finances and realizes as the floors tick on the elevator that he is looking more like a victim and not the bad guy, well he kind of was a bad guy, shady dealings and white collar crime but, not murdering the competition bad. Regardless, not being able to resist she sends a quick email attachment to the FBI, about Mr.Patel.

By the time she exits the garage her tablet dings letting her know that she had access to the security mainframe at the Exchange Building.

By the time she gets to her apartment she realizes that she is going to have to make an appearance at the auction not only to attempt to stop Deadshot, without being seen by Deadshot but also to do some recon on the Queens, and make sure no else dies tonight. The coincidences are becoming astronomical and as is well established by now, Felicity Smoak doesn’t believe in coincidences, only in cold hard facts.


Where years of doing this kind of work has made Felicity efficient in dealing with all the players and getting them to do exactly what she needs, the Hood’s inexperience has him resorting to stalking and slightly attacking people before requesting their assistance. The whole using honey over vinegar concept completely lost on him. Detective Lance as expected does not respond well to the use of vinegar.

Not that anyone would respond well to being slammed against a car and being told how to do their job, “You need extra men, extra everything he will attack tonight and any of the bidders could be the target” growled out the Hood.

“Why should I trust you, you’re lucky I am not putting a bullet through your head, you lunatic” spat out Lance

“Listen to me we have no time for this we need…”

“I know what we need we already have it all set, we know about the attack at the Exchange Building tonight”

“What? How?” the shock in his tone almost giving way to his actual voice.

“Unlike you, it seems like others still understand how things work, you, the citizen gives us an anonymous tip, we, the cops do OUR JOB, GET IT!”

“Who? Who called it in” demanded the hood

“ANONYMOUS” before he could even finish Lance felt the pressure lessen and the Hood was gone.


Felicity’s world had tilted on its axis, every assumption she had made needed to be reevaluated. As she got ready for the auction she knew the stakes were high, there were too many faces that could recognize her and she had to find a way to be in two places at once. Tonight was going to suck.

Apparently, it wasn’t going to be anyone’s night.

“Dig got your eyes open?” Oliver had been beyond tense from the moment he left QC that morning and John Diggle seemed to be getting the brunt of that tension.

He would have preferred for the auction to have been cancelled or moved but there was no deterring Starling City’s elite.

“That’s what I am here for, that and answering patronizing questions” Diggle’s patience long gone for the day.

Oliver too far in his own head simply nods paying no attention to his comment. As he moves away towards his family a very curious pair of eyes holding a tray with drinks follows him.

Felicity had managed to get in by posing as one of the waitresses, knowing nobody would take a second glance at a small brunette with thick glasses and a tray hovering around her face. She was making use of her disguise tech and was hoping that the glitches she encountered before would take a break, just for tonight.

She had managed to run some recon on the surrounding buildings and although there were 3 possible options for a sniper to take post if it was her she would use the southeast building, better view, empty as it was under construction and an unlimited number of exits.

Regardless of her best guess, she comandered surrounding video surveillance and any camera with even the most minimal angle on any of the buildings was currently sending direct feed to her computers. Having hacked the SCPD and local first responders she made sure that they carried anti-cholinesterase to counteract the curare from the bullets.

Taking a shot in the dark she had installed some motion sensors on the southeast building and placed some laser disruptors on the windows in hopes of counteracting Deadshot as much as possible, given that simply hunting him down was off the table.

Just as she moved to the next room to get closer to the young Queen she overhears him ask John Diggle to take his family out of there, immediately her watch beeps as one of her motion sensors is triggered promptly followed the first shot ringing throughout the floor, barely only grazing its target. Panic overtakes everyone as three more shots pierce the windows and miss their targets.

Diggle rushes Thea and Moira out while Oliver runs in the opposite direction. Felicity rushes past the man on the floor using the knife in the toe of her boot to get the anti-cholinesterase into his bloodstream. The shout he lets out letting her know she pierced the skin, and he will live.

She rushes to the kitchen where she left her equipment hidden and she pulls up the video camera feed. Immediately she notices that he definitely is in the southeast building as it has gone dark. She tries to spot where the shots are coming from, the flash from the rifle confirm her second guess, he is o the 15th floor, she send the information to the SCPD and starts to make her way to the roof.

Oliver having seen where the first shot came through is already climbing the floors of the southeast building. He spots Deadshot and before he can sneak up on him an all out battle breaks out between the two.

Tracking the cameras as she rushes up the steps she sees that a couple of minutes before her mad ascend of the stairs, Oliver had rushed up the same steps and the fear that he may do something foolish has her pushing faster. She hears more shots as she reaches the second to the last staircase. Having made up her mind that she will have to confront Deadshot, because letting Oliver Queen die was not an option, she maps her options to getting to the weapons she left in the southeast building, she may have not wanted to face-off with deadshot but that doesn't mean she hadn’t planned for it.

Starting to shed her vest as she climbed closer to the top floor she stops dead in her tracks as the top floor door burst open, automatically she has to revert back to the role of innocent scared waitress. She curses under her breath as she hears footsteps approach her. She puts her things away and pretends to be crouched down in fear, the approaching officer thinking nothing of it instructs her to head down towards the exits. More than likely not thinking twice as to why she was going up to the roof, blaming it on the panic and tears streaming down her face.

Knowing that with the amount of officers on the scene she wont have a chance to sneak back she opts to use the police force in her favor. She puts in a distress call for the southeast building hearing as the swat team rushes the building and send one John Diggle an SOS from one Oliver Queen, secretly wishing that they are already together and well on their way home and not playing cops and robbers with the green hooded man and Deadshot.

As she rushes to her car which she left parked a block away under a dark underpass she swears she sees a shadow in the alley between the two buildings leading to the underpass, on high alert with her eyes on her tablet she rushes over and although she hears him before she sees him the alley is slippery and her head is in a million places and she can’t stop her momentum before she smacks right into the wannabe vigilante carrying who is clearly an injured John Diggle.

She falls to the ground with a hard thump and all she hears is a grunt of pain from Mr. Diggle, before she can catch her breath she is on her feet, back pressed to what she can only assume is the green hooded man’s chest being held quite forcibly by her arms. It takes every last bit of control not to defend herself and pin him down.

When she yelps, playing the role of the innocent, he realizes she is not a threat and loosens his grip on her and simply puts a finger to his lips with a faint “shh” as he picks up John Diggle. She opens her mouth to say something and he simply glares at her, well she assumes he is glaring, his face is cast in shadows and the little overhead light that gives any sense of shape to him allows her enough to know he is standing as if he is glaring. She doesn’t often enough to recognize the stance.

She closes her mouth and for whatever reason compels her she raises her hand to the side of her mouth and pretends to lock it shut and then puts the imaginary key in her pocket, his tance minutely relaxing he slightly tilts his head and looks at her for a beat before he is off cutting around the building. By the time she reacts and follows, he is gone. She looks around for any cameras that she can access but there is none. Dammit!


 

Once she gets home, she is exhausted and ready to go through all the footage and put a timeline to the events of the night.

It bears repeating that tonight, was not her night. She didn't manage to stop Deadshot, She has no idea what the young Queen was doing or where he went. To top it off she finally meets the green hooded man and all of a sudden she’s mute, she didn’t follow him or bug him or anything,  well at least she didn’t fight him either, cause that would of opened up a whole other can of worms.

Her biggest regret she has been  reprimanding herself about the whole drive home. What was she thinking? Was she in middle school with the mouth locking the mouth, she might as well have pinky promised, he must think her an idiot. She rubs her temples and drops her head in embarrassment and frustration.

There she was, pressed against his rock hard body, groaning, she audibly reprimands herself for that slip up, “stop it Felicity his body is not relevant.”

Flopping on her couch her arm over her eyes she grunts as her mind pays no attention to her reprimand. But how was she supposed to respond or react when she was being overwhelmed by the overpowering smell of musk, sweat and leather mixed with cologne and gunpowder. Also, why would a vigilante wear such a nice smelling cologne? Ugh, she really needed to focus. With a sudden burst of adrenaline she pops up off the couch, eyes wide and mouth open.

“ MR.DIGGLE!”

How had it taken her this long to remember that John Diggle was being carried away by the green good. Was it her fault that he had been taken, had she sent him rushing into a building to his death. Had he been there already when she texted him, had Oliver? She needed more answers and she needed to focus on her best path to getting those answers.

John Diggle was injured, she could track his movements through the party and set up an alert at the hospitals maybe, even talk to him, unless, he was with the green hood. She wants to dismiss the thought right away, years of reading people has John Diggle pegged as the type of man who would scoff at the idea of joining a misguided vigilante, but could she have been wrong. Seems like she had one more name to add to her ‘must have conversations with immediately’ list.

She continued to search through the camera footage and after an hour or so she realizes that Mr.Diggle hasn’t appeared at any hospitals, and she begins to worry. Maybe, she just let the green hood take him lost in her confusion and worry about one Oliver Queen, she let a goodman be killed. She begins to slightly panic and then remembers the cloned phone from a couple of days ago. She would bang her head against the wall but it seems that her brain is already damaged enough and she can’t understand why she is so off her game. Praying to the gods that his phone is turned on so she could trace him, she hits a few key buttons and finds there is no signal, cursing out loud not really helping the situation, but slightly helping in her distress. She immediately goes for the bug she placed on his jacket and it’s just white noise, louder cursing ensues.

She realizes that the conversation she has been avoiding with one Oliver Queen is becoming far more urgent and undeniable. She sighs loudly as she changes and gets comfortable on her couch for a long night of trying to shake the buzzing in her ears away, she hates being shot at, well not really her being shot at but she was in the room so that counts, she’s pretty sure it counts. Tonight was definitely not her night. she would go as far as to say that since the return of a certain young Queen, most days have not been kind to her. She breathes out heavily voicing her thoughts,

“Whatever connection there is between the green hood and Queen, if it cost the life of a good man they will regret it” slumping back into her couch her lids suddenly becoming overwhelmingly heavy, she decides that she needs to recharge and there is nothing more she can do that her computers aren’t already working on.


As Oliver carries Diggle down into the foundry steps, laying him on the med bay in the center of the room he knows he has a limited amount of time before the curare has gone too far into his bloodstream. He preps the island herbs and forces them down his throat. Knowing all he can do now is wait he takes care of his injuries and then just sits hoping Diggle regains consciousness and isn’t too pissed to hear him out.

As Diggle slowly comes around he has an awful taste in his mouth and a sharp pain in his, well, everywhere. He tries to focus his sight on one object while he becomes aware of his surroundings, as he turns to look around he spots a figure approaching him, part of him automatically goes into fight mode but his body is too weary to respond. The figure comes into focus and his brain may be foggy but he doesn’t miss the meaning of Oliver, dressed in green, with grease paint across his eyes, ‘son of a bitch’ is the first words that come to mind.

“Oliver, you're that vigilante” he spits out managing to use his rage as strength to speak and lunge at him.

“Son of a bitch” he shouts as Oliver avoids his attack, not that it was hard he was still pretty weak from his injuries. When he turns and makes eye contact with him he knows there is no time for formalities he has a small window to make Diggle see his side and that that window is getting smaller and smaller.

“I could have taken you anywhere, could have taken you home. I brought you here” he looks pointedly at Diggle.

“You really did lose your mind on that island, what are the voices telling you now?” Diggle responds not really expecting an answer but more to gauge Oliver’s response.

“Clarity” he gives Diggle a few seconds to process what he means and then adds, “I want you to join me” he is so sure of himself that Diggle’s response throws him for a loop.

“You are a criminal” Oliver knew that some saw him that way but expected more from a man like John, Diggle continues “and murderer” he knows that too but no one has ever said it to him and he realizes it stings more than he would have expected.

Diggle saunters off towards the stairs and Oliver simply lets him leave, he doesn’t think he can take more of his truths, not tonight. He hears the door shut and drops on the chair uninvited his mind replays the events of today knowing there are some loose ends and unanswered questions.

Tonight was not his night. Scratch that, stopping Floyd Lawton was his mission and he accomplished that, and that is what matters. Everything else is irrelevant. Except, the damn girl in the alley, he was so preoccupied with Diggle that he let his guard down and a little odd girl got the drop on him. He’s not sure what he was thinking letting her go, He is certain that she didn’t recognize him but he should have at least assured himself that he would be able to recognize her.

He tries to recall anything, brunette, about 5ft 4in, 110 lbs thick glasses and a distinct smell of cherry blossoms and perfume. He tilts his head down while lifting his jacket and inhaling, it is a very distinct smell, belatedly he realizes he is still taking slow deep inhales of the lingering perfume and he lets go of the jacket. No real way of finding her unless he goes around smelling every brunette he see.

Remembering his family is probably worried sick about him, that come tomorrow the SCPD may be knocking down his door thanks to one ex-bodyguard, he realizes the girl is unimportant and will more than likely not say anything, if her interesting gesture of silence is anything to go by.

He sighs, he is exhausted and knows it is time to go home he quickly changes and heads out answering the 10 missed calls he had purposely ignored. If he is sure of anything it’s that the night is definitely not over.

Yet, the last thing he expected when he walked in was to find an angry yet, concerned Laurel standing  in the foyer. He understands why she is in his home but he really wishes that after his party she would of turned around and never looked back. Tonight solidified the fact that he is good for no one and he makes sure she knows it.

“ I am not the same person I used to be. What you need to believe once and for all Laurel is that I will never be that person again, ever.”

Laurel leaves not quite knowing what to say for once no last words, which for some reason is far more hurtful. I that moment Oliver realizes she might never understand or accept the new him, quickly shaking that thought too tired to go down that path and start analyzing all his relationships, tonight has not been his night he doesn’t need to add to that.

One last thought runs through his head, the girl in the alley. She didn’t look at him afraid or disgusted, she seemed more curious and surprised than anything. She was quick to accept his request for silence, she didn’t question him, her childish gesture being one of the most reassuring non-verbal conversations he has had since he has been back. He shakes his head and decides he’s better off trying to get some rest, if possible.

As he walks up the stairs he runs his hand over his face and inhales stopping at the top of the staircase, his hands smell of cherry blossoms and perfume, walking to his room he every so often runs his hands over his face an inhales he won’t admit it but that smell offers him some comfort and with nights like this he’ll take it where he can get it consciously or not.

Chapter Text

 

Felicity’s entire game plan had changed over the last three days. Finding the connection between the young Queen and the green hooded man had become her priority.In the back of her mind her subconscious was telling her that the connection was evident but there were so many inconsistencies and she knew that in order to make that kind of accusation she would need cold hard facts.

Until she saw the two stand side by side she would not dismiss the possibility but she also wouldn’t dedicate herself to proving it. Time had shown her that seeking truth and not ‘a’ truth always rendered better results because you never limited the possibilities.

New approach meant, Oliver Queen all the time, every time. She might not like it but her life would have to revolve around billionaire playboy return from the dead and if it turned out that he was the green hooded man, well she would cross that bridge when she got there.


Three days with a truth he didn't quite know what to do with had Diggle beyond conflicted and that was putting it lightly. As he sat at Big Belly, Carly knew instantly something was wrong.

“Are you going to tell me what happened to you” Carly said nodding towards his arm in a sling

“It’s just my shoulder, am fine”

“I knew this Queen guy  was trouble” anger evidently lacing her words

“I never said this happened protecting Queen” Dig said trying to get off the subject of Oliver Queen.

“Oh, Yeah! Then what is he doing here?” she asked nodding towards the door as more anger boiled up inside her.

As Diggle turned he saw Oliver making his way into the restaurant with whom he could only assume was his new bodyguard, poor bastard had no idea what he was in for, let alone that Oliver Queen needed no ones protection. Oliver made his way to them directly approaching Carly who was standing arms crossed glaring at him blocking the empty side of Diggle’s booth, he figured this was a time for the old Queen charm.

“Hello Diggle’s sister-in-law, Carly. Olive...” he said with his best smile extending his hand

“I know who you are” she spat out without taking his hand, okay he was wrong, this was not the time evidently.

“No, you really don’t” Diggle commented on the side

“You’re right John, and maybe that’s a good thing because it might cost me a visit to the hospital” she glared at him once more for good measure and made her way to the kitchen. As Oliver sat he noticed Diggle stare at her half amused and half proud.

As he saw Oliver settle into the seat he was sure he was not ready to have any conversation about his recent discovery, but it seemed like he was about to have no choice. What he did have was the choice to make this as difficult as possible and the opportunity to be 100% honest, because he was no longer a Queen employee.

As Oliver watches Dig sit up and his face go stern, he realizes that this conversation may be a bit more difficult than he anticipated. He was sure Diggle would accept his proposition but if he didn’t, what then? Threaten him, he was sure that a man like Diggle didn’t scare easy, if at all. So that only left killing him, and he really didn’t want to do that to a good man. He figured he had sat there in silence for too long and Diggle was sure as hell not going to start the conversation so he went for light and slightly humorous.

“I couldn’t help but notice the distinct lack of police cars when I got home, after we last met”

“The news is still young” responded an unamused Diggle, he should have known humor wouldn’t work, but Oliver was a slow learner.

“I knew you wouldn’t drop a dime on me. I knew you liked me more than you let on. Have you considered my offer?”

With an audible scoff and a sardonic smile Diggle said it all but just to be safe he added, “ Offer? That’s another way to put it. I, personally, would define it as ‘threat to be an accomplice to felony murder’, but that’s just me”

Oliver decided to ignore his dark remark and press on, “It is an offer, it’s a chance to do the kind of  good that compelled you to join the military.”

“Good, by whose standards? Yours? Because I would really question your definition, hell I question your sanity.” Oliver was about to answer when Dig cut him off.

“Besides what do you know? You were born with a platinum spoon, Queen, and now what, you spend 5 years on an island without room service and suddenly you found a crusade to redemption?”

“Look Diggle, there are things about me you don’t know or understand. I have my reasons for becoming what I am today”

“You’re a psychopath, who murders people, never knew psychosis needed reasoning” Diggle snapped back sarcastically.

“That night you said the island changed me, you weren’t wrong. Much of the change was inevitable. When your father gives his last confession to you while stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean and in doing so he cast his sins onto you and begs you to right his wrongs and absolve him of those sins, you might be inclined to question and even deny him his request. Yet, when he follows his plea with shooting himself in the head to increase your chances of survival and with the hope of his last request being granted, sure you hate him and curse him... “

“Oliver...” Diggle tries to stop him knowing that what he is sharing is effectively tearing down his defense against him but Oliver simply raises his hand to quiet him and continues.

“ Five years on an island is a lot of reflection time, time to forgive and come to the realization that the son inherits the sins of the father. Not out of duty to the father but out of sheer humanity to those he wronged. When that truth becomes your will to survive, you realize that you might have found a crusade but redemption wont necessarily be granted.” he finishes as he hands Diggle the small worn out notebook.

“What is this?” he asks as he thumbs through the book slowly, clarity and understanding begins to dawn on him. He looks up at Oliver who simply nods,

“When no name remains, my debt is paid.” There is a bit of silence while Oliver considers his next move knowing that he might be pushing too far but he has to lay all his cards on the table, he can’t afford to play this one safe, safe is no longer an option.

“You know about debt, don’t you Dig?” seeing his confusion Oliver continues,

“Your brother, Andy, the police never did find his shooter.”

“Careful Queen, you know nothing.”

“Floyd Lawton” at the mention of the assassin Oliver sees Diggle’s entire body tighten.

“He laces his bullets with curare, just like your brother’s killer. I stopped him, the sniper. This is your chance to help other families. I am going to keep doing this and I hope you will join me.” before Diggle could even answer Oliver gets up to leave, knowing that he will need time and if he is right Diggle will come looking for him when he is ready. He takes three steps before Diggle’s whispered words stop him dead in his tracks.

“So, it was you!”

“What?”

“The note, in my pocket. The bug on my jacket. Why leave me a note and bug me if you were going to tell me anyway?”

“What note? What bug? Diggle I never...” Diggle takes out his wallet and pulls out a note neatly written in all caps it looks like its been open and folded many times over,

JOHN, WE HAVE A MUTUAL ENEMY. FLOYD LAWTON. HE KILLED YOUR BROTHER.

I CAN HELP YOU AND HOPEFULLY YOU CAN HELP ME.

WE NEED TO TALK.

I WILL CONTACT YOU, SOON. :)

“This wasn’t me John” Oliver’s demeanor completely changes, Diggle can only assume this is what he sounds like as the vigilante.

“Then who? Because in order to know this information you have to have some pretty high security clearance or have the inside track” Oliver immediately sits back down, he knew this wasn't good,he assumed the sniper from the night at the motel was after Lawton but why would he get close to Diggle, why seek out him out of all people? Could the sniper possibly have been there for him too, could he have been tracking the hood too?

“When did you get this note, how did you get it? Where is the bug?”

“ I found it a week ago in my jacket inside pocket. I don’t know how it got there. I’ve been asking myself the same questions you are probably asking yourself right now, for a week. I have read it so many times that it’s engraved into my mind, yet, I still have no answers. As for the bug I only found it after the note. I checked that jacket inside and out. It was damaged so there was no signal. I am assuming it got damaged that night, the night” Diggle sounded frustrated

“We'll go over your day, every last detail. I will find where that bug was purchased, who bought it and when. Now did you take off your jacket leave it alone somewhere, did anyone at any point have a chance or access to your jacket.”

“Dammit Oliver, you don’t think I’ve done that. The bug is a dead end. It is custom made no serial, no anything. As for the note only three ways this happened, someone did it while it was in the car, your house, or my apartment. Believe me all three are pretty bad, I am aware of that.”

“How good of a custom job?”

“Let’s just say my buddy asked me that if I found who made it to give them his card, and he is the best in business.”

“Fine! Then let’s focus on the note. Are you sure there wasn’t another incident, maybe you left it unattended in a booth or someone slipped it into your jacket, or...”

“SHIT!”

“What?”

The blonde” still not following Oliver waits for him to elaborate, “outside the club, when you got in a fight, there was a clumsy blonde, she crashed into me, twice.” They stare at each other for a bit then Oliver opens his mouth but Diggle raises his hand and stops him,

“I can’t tell you. All I remember is wild strawberry blonde hair, glasses, a black peacoat past the knees, red shoes, and the slight smell of oil, like engine oil or something and perfume, son of a bitch” Oliver is about to say something and Diggle once again interrupts him with a look of annoyance, “ She kept her head down and her hair in her face, it was late, it was dark and I was more preoccupied with trying to get into the club where I had been left outside of, than paying attention to this blonde. That’s all I remember besides the fact that she was white, which in that neighborhood is, well everyone.”

Oliver simply nods at him knowing that is truly all Diggle can help him with, the rest is up to him, “I will look into this, there has to be cameras or something, don’t worry I will find her or hopefully she will contact you and we can set a trap for her. Meanwhile, if she is this good I would also suggest you dump your phone and get a new one”

“Already did that, not an amateur. And don’t think this means we are a team now, I am still not working for you. So, thank you but, no thank you I will handle this myself.” Oliver simply nods and gets up as his bodyguard approaches, he excuses himself to the restroom as he disappears Diggle lets out a long breath. He is about to get up and leave, when he sees the poor guard waiting, that having been him not too long ago he takes pity on him and simply says

“Oh, that boy is long gone” he makes a swoosh noise and just smiles and nods.


Felicity was all settled into her new office and for once since she started working at QC she felt like she actually fit in, the conversations with her co-workers had gone from mundane to challenging. Even with all the positive changes some things never changed. Like the elevator ride from the 17th floor felt the same from the 25th floor when the destination was the CEO’s office.

Walter Steele had called her up and even as he did it he was afraid that his instinct wasn’t justified. Moira had told him she used the money for an investment, but he didn’t believe her. He hoped Ms. Smoak would bring some clarity and prove herself in other matters.

As the floors counted up towards the top floor Felicity’s mind was going crazy. Were they going to fire her, her gut told her she was about to be fired, at least she thought it was her gut. If she was being honest she had been out of sorts the last couple of days. Although she had reason to fear being fired, there had been that breach in the firewall at the Chicago headquarters, but they have to know that she just created the software she didn’t moderate it and she had told them there were bugs in the install, if they ignored her warnings that wasn’t her fault.

Shit! Mr. Steele was going to fire her, well not without getting a piece of her mind, She had worked too hard to get into this company and she was not leaving without a fight.

As she stepped out of the elevator on the top floor and looked up at the cameras she couldn’t help but remember the last time she had walked this same path.

→ → → → →

“Is this at Disneyland? I went as a kid, best day ever, as you can see” she says pointing at her sweater, “haven’t been again. Is this the whole family? You look very happy, all of you look very happy, almost can’t help but smile as you look at the photo. That’s probably why you have it here, duh.” she definitely was on a roll and as he had a tendency of doing he just let her keep talking. “Do you guys go to Disneyland often, it’s pretty expensive, not that you would care you’re rich, I mean it’s not an issue, not that you don’t” Felicity looks up to see Robert trying to suppress a smile, looking amused rather than ominous sitting behind his giant desk.

Smiling back she simply hands him the picture and says “It’s a nice picture” as she sits down, well flops down slightly defeated. He lets out a chuckle and as usual moves along, for which she is grateful.

“So, I hear MIT is going wonderfully, top of your class, setting records and keeping your computer professors on their toes.” Felicity looks at him slightly confused, so he clarifies.

“That’s what the President says.”

Felicity’s eyes go wide and he simply adds “I told you I would be keeping tabs on you, and I am impressed, few people still surprise me, you definitely rank high on that list”

Felicity blushes a bit and Robert can’t help but think that he wishes he had this type of relationship with his son, Oliver. The last time he talked to a University President was to beg and pledge a new wing to their Law Library, not because Oliver was planning on studying law but because it was the only way to keep the president from pressing charges after Oliver snuck into the President’s office with a girl and proceeded to have sex on his desk while breaking his computer and his antique 18th century oak desk. It was also the first time he was glad that all Oliver got was expulsion, unfortunately, that was the 3rd university and it looked like it might not be the last.

“Thank you, I am really just trying to absorb as much information as possible. I never thought I would be able to afford MIT.”

“Well, I am glad you are enjoying it and I think the university is also enjoying paying your tuition.”

“We’ll see in three years” she added with a bit of a laugh, “Although I do miss Starling City.”

“We miss you too. Now, we could talk about this for hours but I am sure you have better things to do on your spring break so I’ll cut to the point. Did you get my last delivery?” she nods, with a smirk.

“So?” her grin only grows a bit smug and Robert responds back with a proud grin “I knew it! When I saw all those businesses in the Glades about to close, pleading with the banks for loans and then this morning Geoffrey at Starling National tells me that all of a sudden they all withdrew their loan applications, I knew it was you.”

“Oh, it wasn’t me it was Mr. John Nickel, he kindly forgave all their payments and personally paid the banks and changed the deeds to all the businesses back to their rightful owners, who knew that slumlords could be so compassionate and generous.” Robert simply nodded and winked at her then they both laughed.

“So, does Mr. Nickel know of his generosity?”

“He will at 6am when the banks open, and his weekly account summary shows that it is lacking 15 properties and 5.5 million dollars. Yet, I am sure he will not bother to say anything because at 6am, the summary will be accompanied by a video of him talking about how he robbed those families of their businesses and how now he robs them of their profit and livelihood. If he’s a smart man he will just let it go”

“Nice.” she hands him back the files he mailed her and he proceeds to put them in the safe while bringing out new ones and handing them to her.

“This should keep you busy for the next week or so” he pulls back the file as she goes to grab it, “but after spring break, okay?” he gives her a poignant look and she nods with a smile.

“What are you and your family doing for spring break, I thought people like you went to beach houses or Europe in the spring, isn’t your son home too?”

“I wouldn’t know, unfortunately, he talks to me about his life probably as much as he studies, which believe me is almost never.”

Felicity gives him a sympathetic look and tries to make light of the sudden turn her attempt at small talk had taken.

“He’s young, handsome, rich and in demand. I mean even the girls at MIT, when they know I’m from Starling City, ask me if I ever met him, if he is as handsome in real life as in the magazines, and all kinds of other nonsense. I can’t imagine a reputation like that, or fame for that matter comes easily. I think he’s just doing his best to deal. Not to mention that it can’t be easy being a Queen and especially being your son” Robert physically reacts to that comment and Felicity quickly realizes how it could be interpreted and rushes to clarify.

“No! No, not that you're a bad dad or anything, on the contrary, it can’t be easy living up to the expectations. I mean, I am not your daughter but you make me nervous, your approval is important to me and I worry more about what you will say about my life than I do of my mom if she... Anyways what I am saying is that it isn’t easy being seen not as an individual but as the son of the successful, powerful, demanding Robert Queen. It must be hard to disappoint you and I think that maybe he just doesn’t know how to live up to that so he just decides to not even try. I can understand why he would make that choice. I mean you come from a long line of successful businessmen. I am sure your father was a strong imposing man, it couldn’t have been easy being his son, either.” Robert stares at Felicity for what seems like forever. She couldn’t help but fidget feeling like maybe she had crossed a line. They had never really talked about his family before and when they finally do she offers her opinion as if she knew better than him. Finally with a soft smile Robert speaks.

“Felicity, you’ve never even met my son, yet, I have the growing suspicion that you just managed to understand and explain my son better in the last five min than I have in the last 10 years.” he pauses briefly then smiles wider at her while adding, “my father Jonas Robert Queen was a hard ass and ruthless, it wasn’t easy being anything to Jonas Queen.”

She smiles wide and adds “maybe all your son wants is to know that he isn’t a failure and that he hasn’t disappointed you, at least not forever. He needs to know he will always be able to right his wrongs” she says the last bit with a knowing look, “I know that’s all I would want to hear from my father when I made a mistake.”

“Thank you, I will definitely do that, impressive as always Miss Smoak”

“Thanks, now uhmmmm about this file”

“After. Spring. Break. Young. Lady” she slightly slumps and pouts and Robert can’t help but laugh. As they make their way out of the now empty halls of QC and into the elevator Robert simply looks up at the cameras and then at Felicity. She cocks her head and then smiles, catching on.

“No, worries I’ll take care of it tonight, I was never here” she says the last part in an eerie long winded voice as they both laugh.

→ → → → →

Reaching the secretary’s desk she's surprised when she simply motions for her to go right in, she takes a deep breath holding herself back from storming into Mr. Steele’s office ready to fight.

Felicity isn’t always so blatantly wrong, she is usually within the field but today she wasn’t even in the game. Turns out, she didn’t need to fight at all, although if her ramblings were considered maybe she had just done more harm than good and Mr. Steele might actually question her employment. Although she must admit that was an incredibly secretive meeting, she had never thought to thoroughly investigate Moira Queen, never had a reason to find her suspect, Robert had definitely never mentioned her in their many conversations.

Seeing how he never mentioned Oliver and he was turning into a plethora of surprised she figured now was as good a time as any to cover the full family.

She stops to wait in front of the elevator, as she watches the number count up she allows her thoughts to bounce off the empty halls.

“Thanks Robert,” she whispers to herself before letting her words come out more clear, “seriously you couldn’t have warned me, you know a simple ‘hey Felicity by the way my family is a little on the sketchy side, watch out’ too much to ask?” She sighs

“Not too much if you ask me”, Felicity spins with a yelp as she uses her body to shove the figure standing behind her on his ribs. As he lets out a grunt and stumbles back he looks up to see her taking a swing, she doesn’t register anything just a figure and her flight or fight instinct kicks in, five years ago she would of ran, now she fights.

She swings in the direction of the voice coming from behind her. Luckily for both of them she slightly stumbles on her heels giving his overly alert self a chance to redirect her punch. He manages to grab her wrist and that’s when she sees his, Oliver Queen’s, surprised face and a flash of something that genuinely puts fear in her body. She knows she’s just made a mistake as he turns her around into him. She allows it to happen only letting out a grunt when her back hits his chest. Frozen for an instant she quickly pulls away from him and only turns to look at him when he finally speaks.

“Woooaahh” he looks at her wide eyed, she almost got him, she managed to make him stumble reacting faster than he could and on top of that her punch almost landed, immediately he went from surprised to intrigued.

“Shit” she doesn’t know what to do, what to say, she almost punched her boss, dammit.

“Those are some impressive moves for an IT specialist” he quirked an eyebrow at her with an amused smile as he honestly rubs his slightly achy ribs and ego.

Thinking quick on her feet she plays the part of startled and nervous while she tries to suppress the adrenaline and hypervigilance, not that she has to try so hard it is kind of her default, especially around, well him. She doesn’t want to think why, not the time.

“When you live in The Glades, uhmm, you have to know how to defend yourself. You know cause it’s not so safe, crime is kinda high and the SCPD is underfunded and there is rampant corruption. Plus, I tend to stay late all the time, you’d think at least the overtime would be worth it, but we don’t usually get any and...” she realizes what she is saying and she quickly tries to mend her word vomit.

“It doesn’t matter cause I LOVE working here, love my job, The Queens are the best YAY” she says the last part with a bit of a fist pump and cheerleader bounce, she really hates herself right now, and she hates him, yes she hates Oliver Queen and his smug smile.

“You love your job, got it” he says trying not to laugh, still unsure about her explanation. Maybe he was distracted or maybe he let his guard down thinking it was only Felicity Smoak, IT genius, last time he makes that assumption.

“This elevator takes forever, I am going to take the stairs, cardio is always good. Nice seeing you again Mr. Queen, once again sorry, bye” she scurries off to the stairwell before he can say anything else.

He contemplates following her or asking Walter what she was doing there but his relationship is already tenuous at best with his stepfather and inquiring about Felicity, might give him the wrong idea.

Besides, he has more important things to focus on, like getting the footage from Poison. As he walked in to Walter’s office per his mother’s request, he realizes that Felicity might have been the perfect person to get him that footage.


As Oliver makes his way back home he can’t help but feel the disappointment at not finding Felicity in her office, he had hoped for her help while taking the opportunity to try and figure her out a bit more. Parking the car and walking into the foyer he can't help but smile as he rubs his ribs once again, not noticing his sister’s devilish smirk as she approaches him.

“What is wrong with your face”

“What do you mean?”

“You have something on your mouth, kinda looks like a smile, but that’s impossible” says Thea sarcastically

“Ha ha cute”

“So I am assuming whatever it was that had you grumps has been resolved, girl problems was my guess? And by girl I mean Laurel, of course” she says gauging for a reaction.

“Yeah, well you would be wrong, there is no girl therefore no problems. Maybe I'm just happy to see you, speedy” he says with a sincere smile, first one she’s seen in a while and probably the reason why she decides to push a little further than she would have normally done.

“Come on Ollie, you can confide in me, I got mad relationship skills, bro. Let me know if you need places to propose, to whomever” they both laugh,

“I think you are getting a little bit ahead of yourself, just a little bit as there is no girl”

“You know, I also have mad detective skills and I couldn’t help but notice that the other night you smelled a bit like flowers and Fucking Fabulous, and I know for a fact that Laurel wears Chanel, she’s always worn Chanel” Oliver looks completely confused and Thea thinks she might of actually gotten it wrong this time.

“Fucking Fabulous? What are you talking about, Speedy?” he really is confused but Thea knows something is up she can feel it, so she simply presses on.

“You know, Tom Ford” at his complete lack of recognition she huffs “Nothing Ollie, nothing.” she walks away as she shouts over her shoulder.

“But I hope I get to meet your new girlfriend, soon. I already like her choice in perfume, and perfume says a lot about a woman. Soon please, bring her soon.” she’s halfway up the steps when she finishes by waving a hand in the air to dismiss him.

He has no idea what she is talking about. So he shakes it off and concentrates on his actual problems and possibly getting some sleep.


Felicity was having another night for the record books, Mr. Steele’s suspicions were right, there was no investment for a friend, Tempest was just a shell company, and now there was a mystery warehouse. Felicity had her own suspicions but she couldn’t share them, she needed more time and outside help.

She headed out from QC determined to search the warehouse first, before Walter decided to do whatever the hell he would do. Things were not going as planned, things were spiraling and the unexpected was replacing the perfectly planned.

Managing to hack the keypad to the warehouse, she sneaks disabling the cameras and the lights. She should feel nostalgia that the password was ROBERT, but really it makes it all the more ominous.

She manages to get down the stairs in the dark when she hears the lock disengage and quickly hides in the shadows when the overhead lights flicker to life.

Seems she was right about Walter having plans of his own, his face carring all the betrayal of a man who discovered that the woman he loves hides things that are far more frightening than he could imagine and that she hides them so well, that he never even saw a hint of a lie from her.

With every step Walter takes more lights turn on, until the whole warehouse is flooded with light revealing her worst nightmare, The Gambit sitting in the middle of the room in shambles. It took true effort for her to not let out the whimper that caught in her throat.

All this time Moira Queen had the Gambit here in Starling, while she searched land and sea for answers. She had no idea how she had missed it, how she had never seen Moira Queen as more than a widow and business woman.

Then Walter’s request opened up a whole other can of worms. All her recent searches on Moira Queen gave away absolutely nothing. A few dead ends some questionable purchases and business dealings but for the most part everything had been cleaned up, professionally, if she had never been suspicious of the Queen matriarch in the past five years, now she was on alert level red.

She can see the same shock on Walter’s face as he takes in the massive yacht. She knows she has to wait until Walter leaves before she can get what she needs from the Gambit, as he makes his way towards the door she hears him on the phone arranging to have everything moved, always the businessman she knows he is trying to cover up Moira’s tracks. While she admires Mr. Steele, she knows part of that admiration comes from his efficiency and that means she must act quickly, get everything done tonight.

She was quickly realizing that doing all this alone was becoming extremely difficult, the Queens were becoming more trouble than she could have imagined. Her A.O. (after Oliver) time was really testing her and she was starting to consider the straightforward approach. Now on top of that she had Moira and Mr. Diggle to worry about. Days like these she missed being at MIT clueless and ignorantly happy, days like these ignorance was truly her bliss.

The silence in the room, rivaled how silent her mind had gone all of a sudden. As she approached the gambit she felt the tears stream down her face. Now that the answers seemed so close she was afraid of the cost. She wished she had time to stand here and wallow in the pain this brought, she felt like teenage Felicity, in that moment it didn't feel like 5 years had passed.

She made quick work of contacting someone she hadn’t needed in quite some time. But she needed this to be done professionally. She needed samples and a thorough cataloguing of everything. Sometimes it paid to have contacts from the wrong places with the right skills.

Having made a definite decision and arrangements for the Gambit she heads home before she has time to second guess her instincts. Walking in to her apartment she has sends one final message that she knows has been a long time coming. This was the determining step she needed to take she was done waiting and watching. Making quick work of sending her message, she is ready to take solace in her bed. As soon as her head hits the pillow her alerts goes off, of course, because it simply is never that easy in her life.

She begrudgingly gets off the bed, the alert big and glaring, a warrant for Oliver’s arrest had been issued, SCPD was claiming he was the vigilante and he would be arrested in  the morning.

“FUCK” tonight was not the night for censorship “SHIT”.


The morning comes too quickly, Felicity hasn’t slept a wink. Planning how to infiltrate a police station is hard work, Walter barely slept, he discovered that laying in a bed next to a spouse who was hiding so many secrets brought forth insomnia. Oliver, well he rarely slept and Diggle having actually slept and contemplated the past days was now at the Queen Mansion because although his night had been just fine, this morning was starting to look hellish. With a print out and determination to accept an offer he never thought he would he stood in the Queen’s living room.

“I got the meet place, time and day” he says handing Oliver the printout. Oliver grabs it and breathes out his anxiety with the prospect of what this could mean.

“This is in two weeks, why send it now?”

“Because of this” he hands him another printout.

“She has a list of things she wants me to do before we meet, that’s why she is giving me two weeks. Now I don’t think she knows you are the vigilante but, she definitely knows that I have met him.”

“So, with this new development, the only way to catch her is to join the vigilante. So does that mean you are in?”

“Just to be clear I’m, not signing on to be a sidekick or an assistant let alone a babysitter. We mutually benefit from this partnership. I just want you to know that I had made this choice before I got the email. You were right, fighting for this city needs to be done and I have a feeling you are going to continue to do this with or without me”

“Yeah” he confirms.

“But with me there will be fewer casualties, including you.”

“Diggle, I am not looking for anybody to save me, that time has passed. We are both here to gain something from each other”

“Maybe, maybe not” the meaning evident in his statement, he continues

“but you need someone just the same. You are fighting a war Queen. You have no idea what that does to you, how it scrapes off little pieces of your soul until it consumes you, and those around you like a cancer. You need someone to remind you who you are, who you once were and who you are capable and deserving of being and not this thing you’re becoming. We both need this, so now that I am here we are doing this right.” Diggle extends his hand, shaking hands as a show of trust and loyalty and for the first time he truly feels he can trust Oliver Queen.

The moment is immediately broken as the SCPD invades the Queen mansion.

“Oliver Queen you are under arrest on suspicion of obstruction of justice, aggravated assault, trespassing, acting as a vigilante.” Lance list his crimes with a smug smile on his lips.

“Are you out of your mind” argues an outraged Oliver Queen as his family protest attempting to get some answers.

“and MURDER” spits out Lance like the cherry on the ‘I told you so’ cake.

As they escort him out while continuing to read him his rights he can’t help but think that sometimes plans do fall into place.

He is taken into the precinct and is processed he knows the hard part is going to be facing off with Detective Lance. He can’t say he wasn’t relieved to see his mother when the guilt over Sara started to roll over him, what he needed now was focus and for his plan to work, Laurel Lance, his lawyer, hopefully.

Waiting has never been his virtue but he needs it now more than ever as he presents his plea, sans a lawyer.

Fashionably late has never been Laurel’s style but making the decision to represent Oliver Queen merited the extra minutes. Barging in and getting him out with a simple ankle bracelet was what made her a great professional lawyer, the harsh blow to his character well that was personal.

The ankle monitor was not planned, and an obvious setback, but he could be flexible.

So much so that by the time he gets home he already has a new plan that will rely on the skills he perfected in his twenties, a party.

“Oliver I don’t think a prison themed party is the best idea.”

“Come on Tommy, when is an opportunity like this going to come around again.”

“With your luck, in a couple of months.” Oliver glares at him and he raises his hands in surrender, “Okay, okay you win so do you want cells with scantily clad  dancers, guards, prison uniforms, the whole nine”

Sending his best friend a gleaming smile he heads to his room.

A very concerned Diggle is there to meet him, yet it seems that concern is one sided, Oliver’s seemingly total lack of concern makes him worry until Oliver confesses that he meant to get arrested and that what matters now is stopping an arms dealer whom he has been tracking. Diggle can’t help but feel there is more to this plan but as an official member of the team and with Oliver’s new accessory he agrees to shadow the dealer.


With Oliver being due back at the precinct for the polygraph he so stupidly agreed to, Laurel’s words not hers, Felicity knows she can’t stay on the sidelines and if she is honest she agrees with Laurel, Oliver is an idiot.

Watching him arrive seemingly unphased by everything puts her on alert in a way that is becoming customary with the young Queen. Getting in the right position with eyes and ears in the room she watches as Lance begins the questioning, while she settles into the roof of the adjacent building.

She can’t help the smile that rolls over her face, even under these circumstances, dire by anyone’s standards, he seems smug and confident and she can’t help but slightly laugh at his predicament.

Personally, Oliver doesn’t remember polygraphs being this difficult before, this particular polygraph brought more truths out than he had ever expected, the torture on the island, which confirmed he wasn’t alone to people he was not sure he was ready to reveal that to, his guilt over Sara's death, that had really been the tipping point, admitting out loud that he had murdered her. Now as he stood outside attempting to take a deep breath he hated how close he came to faltering.

As Felicity watched him from the roof she couldn’t help but sympathize with him. She didn’t pity him, she sympathized with the fact that everyone around him seemed to, arrogantly, think they had him figured out. That they knew exactly who he was. But even from where she stood she could see a change in him. He was not the boy Robert used to talk to her about. He was not the playboy from the tabloids. He was a damaged man who went to hell and came back. She still had no idea who came back from that island but she could be sure it was not the man who left, oddly she finds solace in that and it makes her rethink her strategy. Maybe he could be an asset, even as the green hooded man if that is who he was, just maybe.


With the party planning on its way Felicity was determined to kill two birds with one stone, infiltrating the Queen Mansion gave her access to both Oliver and Moira and that was an opportunity she could not pass. Relying on her default waitress go lucky outfit, she hoped to get closer to the answers she needed. She had to admit she liked playing Donna, she imagined she had a warm full life surrounded by a lovely family and friends.

Unlike her, who rarely talks to her mother who visits her maybe once a year, and only has friends whom are far and few between, she couldn’t help and live a little in the imaginary life of Donna. She would love to deny it but the proof was in the call she had made 30 min ago, canceling her plans with Josiah for the second time in the last week, and both times because of a Queen Family issue.

She knew there was a reason why she had opted for something casual with him rather than the relationship he keept hinting at. Thankfully she had been able to keep that at bay by reminding him of the company’s non-fraternization rule.

Now, was not the time to feel bad about Josiah she needed to make sure her plan went off without a hitch. As soon as she arrives in her uniform to the Queen mansion, she sees Mr. Diggle leaving and reminds herself she needs to bug him, again. She begins to set up and picks her moment to sneak off and recon the house. She needs to be thorough and pick the perfect place for the bugs and above all else avoid Oliver Queen, this setting was too close for comfort even in disguise.

As the guests arrive she quickly realizes that there is no need to worry, nobody is going to take a second glance at her. As she picks up a drink tray to pass around she catches the tail end of the young Queen’s speech, noting that his eye line is focused on the patio doors she follows it and catches Mr. Diggle making his way into the party, his face does not look good. She quickly puts down her tray and rushes over trying to bug him here and now but Oliver is at his side before she can get to him.


Things had taken a turn for the unexpected, at least that is what Diggle thought as the arms dealer he was shadowing decided to make the sale tonight.

“The man in the Hood, he is going to stop him”

“Oliver, you can’t leave the house”

“It doesn't have to be me in the Hood” at his statement, realization spreads across Diggle’s face and it quickly turns to annoyance.

“That’s why you threw this ridiculous party. So you have a hundred witnesses placing you here at the house while I am suppose to be across town dressed as the vigilante. You set me up as your guaranteed alibi?” his annoyance quickly turning into anger

“I thought that it was going to be good enough just for you to be seen in the Hood. I didn’t count on Muller showing up and I didn't count on the possibility that the Glades could be flooded with machine guns. Look, I promise it was never my intention to put you in harms way or set you up.”

“Oliver, I didn't think joining your crusade was ever going to be risk free. I just don't like being played. You asked me to join you, remember? That means you share the plan with me, you don't conspire behind my back and then throw me for a loop with a last minute change of plans. Now you might have gotten used to lying to everyone else in your life but, I am the one guy you don't lie to, the one guy you should never lie to”

“You're right, I am sorry” Diggle simply nods not fully believing  that Oliver understands what he is telling him and knowing very damn well that he will lie to him again, repeatedly. Oliver sees the contemplation in his eyes and has to ask him as he makes to leave the room.

“So am I going to jail?”

“No, man. I've got to stop an arms deal”


Felicity having anticipated that Mr. Diggle would be down eventually, in preparation she had shed the glasses, borrowed some red lipstick from one of the other waitresses and along the way lost some buttons on her blouse. Intently watching from the bar she sees Mr. Diggle make his way to leave through the back exit, looking very serious. She knows this is her chance so she steps in front of him with a drink tray and offers him one, which he kindly refuses

“Are you sure the champagne is quite delectable”

“No thank you”

“You don’t seem to really fit in around here, definitely not like the other boys around here” she is flirting with him, she is standing there with her hand on her hip talking to the tall, handsome, deadly man from under her lashes and he looks a bit flattered yet, not all there. She knew she was losing him.

“Sorry miss but I really have to go” she reaches up to him and runs her fingers down his lapel and plants the bug as she leans in whispering,

“That’s a damn shame, bye handsome”

“Excuse me” he says curtly before exiting the mansion. She smiles at him and quickly puts her glasses back on and wipes at her mouth, even she has to admire her quick hands.

She takes one last look around deciding her work is done and goes to gather her things. As she heads for the door she does a double take at the figure she sees heading to the side stairs.

Her mind can't process what her eyes are seeing. No, that couldn’t be him, there was no way he was back in the states she had made that impossible for him. Maybe it wasn't him, whomever it was they had no business sneaking into the side stairs and the second floor. She follows after him and as he rounds the steps she gets a clear view of his face and she can't help the curse that leaves with her next breath “dammit” it was him. She didn't know what that scumbag hitman was doing there but she was definitely gonna ruin any plans he had. He obviously had not learned his lesson the first time.

As she follows him to the second floor and to the west wing of the mansion she realizes he is heading for Oliver’s room. “Dammit”.

→ → → → →

She is grappling with him trying by all means to avoid the barrel end of his gun. As she manages to lock his left arm with her legs she makes a play for his gun and successfully disarms him. Taking the gun into her left hand she pistol whips him and before his head hits the floor she is out from under him and running out the door.

She is sprinting as fast as she can, she has no idea how her legs haven’t given out after 30 minutes of constant running but all she knows is that she just has to keep running.

She is starting to have a hard time breathing the freezing cold air being of no help, her vision is beginning to get a little blurry so she focuses on just putting one foot in front of the other. She can hear the sirens in the distance and that's motivation enough to keep moving. The safe house is only two miles ahead and she just has to make it there.

As she enters there is no time to catch her breath she leaps towards the computers and starts to type, solely on adrenaline she keeps functioning. She wipes video and sends reports and evidence to interpol. Everything they need to arrest him and keep him overseas. As soon as she is done making sure he never steps foot in the states again she allows herself to finally relax only to feel a pulse of pain radiate from her shoulder.

She looks over to see she is bleeding. She curses out loud and realizes that one of the bullets grazed her, she’ll survive, again. She patches herself up and makes all arrangements to head back home. Amsterdam is beautiful but she is ready to go home and get off the radar of the Ethnic Albanian Mafia. Seeing as she made quite a dent into their sex trafficking she may need to stay out of their territory for some time.

→ → → → →

She subconsciously rubs at the scar on her left shoulder and knows she must act now. She doesn’t stop to think any further before springing into action. Picking up the pace she catches up to him  and realizes he is dressed like a bartender. Attempting small talk about how tedious these rich kid parties are she keeps pace with him. He simply nods while trying to get rid of her. When he realizes she isn’t budging she clearly sees the shift in his eyes from considering her someone who is annoying him to someone who is a hindrance and must be taken care of, he can give it his best shot because she is ready.

She sees him grab for his weapon and she is quickly on him and in one swift move she pulls it out of his grasp and sends it flying across the hall. She punches him in the gut and as he doubles over, she knees him in the face. She turns to go for the gun when he grabs her heel and pulls her down, she really hates fighting in heels, he gets up and tosses her against the wall but not before she delivers a blow to his ribs clearly hearing one of them break under the impact. She hits the wall hard groaning when she sees the bastard refuses to go down. He makes a play for his gun and as he bends to get it, Oliver opens the door having heard the commotion outside. Felicity sees the door open and immediately hides.

Oliver instantly sees the gun and goes into fighting mode, well active fighting mode because he was always in fighting mode. He struggles with the assassin realizing in his movements that he is already injured. Felicity takes advantage and decides to run down and get the police, when she gets up Detective Lance is already coming and she simply points to the room as he rushes past her and enters the room, she hears gunshots and knows that is her cue to leave, it really should be everyone's cue to leave she thinks as she runs down the stairs.

The party is ends instantly, gunshots have a tendency of doing that, and the police everywhere. She knows there will be no way she will make it out without giving a statement.

She spots what is clearly a rookie officer and manipulates him into taking her statement by the time she is finishing up Oliver and the detective are making their way back down. She hears the officer ask her if there is anything else and she simply shakes her head, no.

“Can I go?”

“Yes, thank you Mrs. Noble

She risks one last glance in Oliver’s direction and realizes he is staring at her, intently. She holds his gaze for a bit but then she sees Lance follow his line of sight and now his eyes are on her too. She immediately bows her head and heads for the front door in seconds she is in the driveway and inside a cab. She turns one last time to see both men standing on the front porch glaring at the cab.

Lance approaches the officer she was just talking to, he recognized her as the waitress from the stairs,

“Who was that?” he points to the cab “the girl that just left?”

“Sir? The waitress?”

“Yes” responds Oliver and then shrugs at Lance, like there is nothing out of the ordinary about his interest.

“Uhmm, that was Mrs. Donna Noble, 30 years old lives in Coast City simply here covering for a friend. She said she was upstairs looking for empty glasses when she heard commotion coming from a bedroom, then she saw a tall slender man with a gun run up the stairs when she realized it was an officer she pointed to the room where the noise was coming from and then heard the gunshots and ran downstairs.”

Detective Lance is satisfied with the statement but Oliver only has more questions. He recognized her, the girl from the alley, if  he wasn’t sure before the lingering smell of cherry blossoms and perfume in the foyer confirmed it. He needed to get this over with soon, so he could find out where cab 17584 went.


Shit! That was a close call, she was really hoping to head home after tonight, but apparently that was too much to ask for. Now she had a whole night of clean up and figuring out how in the world to make this cab disappear. Prompting herself to take deep cleansing breaths, she began to formulate a plan. Pretty soon she would need index cards and diagrams to keep all this in order.

Felicity makes quick work of clearing her tracks and can’t help but let the sadness sink in at the loss of another one of her undercover identities. Now, she would need to create an ending, hopefully a happy one to Donna’s story.

Finally making it home she makes quick work of checking all her bugs, one in the Queen living room another in the foyer and a last one in the west wing hallway. Everything else being locked would have to remain bug-free , she knew she could have picked the locks but she really didn’t want to push her luck. Mr. Diggle’s bug was up and working and she couldn’t help the relief that came over her at having that one particular bug back up. Unfortunately, finding how the hitman got back into the states was not as successful it just gave way to another dead end.

Yet, the biggest concern of her night had been the saw recognition she was sure she saw in Oliver’s eyes, her greatest fear is that he might of recognized her as the blonde IT girl, but the only way to know for sure would be to wait. She had always been a woman of patience but in the last month she hds been tested and at this point she needed to beat the living daylights out of something. It looked like she was going to need to visit the gym more this week. Well, maybe after the pain in her shoulder went down, those damn mansion walls were harder than usual, “the rich and their quality” she mused to herself as she shifted the ice pack.

Finding herself in the gym at 3am was all a result of the reports of the green hooded man thwarting an arms deal in the glades all while the young Queen was being attacked at the Queen mansion. Something was rotten and it all reeked of Queens.


On the other side of town an infuriated Moira Queen barges into Merlyn senior’s office, he knows what is coming and frankly he is getting tired of the Queen’s and all the problems they bring him. He knows pretty soon it will be better to disable them completely, but for now he would play the apologetic part and move forward from this ‘mishap’.  

“I offer my sincerest apologies” Malcolm says half heartedly.

“I know you found out I had the yacht salvaged, just as I know you had Mr. Hudson head of security killed.”

“Well accidents tend to befall people who are too curious.”

“I’ve been the good soldier, I've done everything you've asked but, if any member of my family gets so much as a paper cut I will burn your entire world to ashes.” with that Moira leaves, she knows her threat was sincere but that doesn’t dissipate the immense fear she still carries for her family. Malcom on the other hand is amused by the momma bear routine but his patience is approaching its limits as well.


The next day brought much needed clarity to Diggle and Oliver. He was no longer a wanted man all suspicion having been removed, they decide to meet at the steel factory.

Having made a rule to not discuss any business outside of the factory giving their past bug issues they make their way to the back entrance of the steel factory. As they cross the threshold an alarm goes off, Diggle is about to say something when Oliver simply puts a finger to his own lips to let him know it is not safe.

“What the hell why is the fire alarm going off, shit the sprinklers”

That’s the last thing Felicity hears before Mr. Diggle’s bug goes silent, she curses and simply grabs her gym bag again and leaves slamming the door to her apartment.

Oliver takes the bug off the jacket and Diggle gives him a knowing look.

“We can talk now, it’s dead”

“What was that?”

“A cover for the alarm.”

“I can’t believe this, this woman is making me look like an amateur. How? How the hell did she get another bug on me?”

Oliver chuckles beyond his better judgement, earning him a hard look from Diggle.

“Look Diggle, I am also starting to worry. This isn’t good. Whoever this woman is we need to find her and I think I have a lead.”

“What are you talking about man?”

“Last night at the party, I saw the woman from the alley. She was a waitress.”

“Didn’t you say the woman from the alley was also dressed as a waitress. She might of just been working”

“No, no you see...”

“Wait! You said brunette, about 5’5, petite, right?”

“Glasses smelled like cherry blossoms and perfume” adds Oliver

“Okay, I ran into that woman, minus the glasses. She was hitting on me at the party, she grabbed my jacket lapel. Shit! That tiny criminal did it again” Oliver looks at him as if asking him to elaborate and he simply raises a hand and nods.

“You know this means we have to check the manor for any bugs?”

“Well, it would seem so. I have the cab number that she left in and we have to go through the party footage. Then we will sweep the manor”

As they get to work on trying to track this mysterious tiny criminal they are soon faced with the same frustration that Felicity had been dealing with. They have nothing. They can’t find the cab because it never came back from Coast City. All the footage in the house shows her back, her side but never her face, almost like she knew where all the cameras were at. The footage from upstairs is completely gone, erased. They don’t know if that was her or the person that sent the hitman, but then again they don’t know if they are one in the same.

“You have to give her credit for something, she is good, damn good”

“I’d rather like to tell her that in person, Dig”

“As would I but it seems that if that ever happens it will be on her terms and when she seeks us out. Looks to me like that is the only time we get near her, when we don’t know it is her.”

“Well, let’s hope that lack of knowledge is mutual and that she was there for you and not because she knows that the vigilante and Oliver Queen are one in the same”

“Hell, if she already figured that one out I say we recruit her rather than interrogate her. Wouldn’t mind having that kind of skill set on our side”

Oliver is getting tired of this woman and Diggle, although impressed doesn’t like having one pulled over him, let alone two. As they decide to focus on other worries, for now,  Oliver tells him about everything else that happened including the problems his arrest brought forth with his mother and sister.

“What can you expect Oliver you lie to them or maybe you just give them a version of the truth and they can sense it”

“I tell them what they need to hear, Diggle. I can’t let them get too close”

“Sad thing is I think you actually believe that. I think things didn’t go down exactly as you planned. You didn’t count on so many people having questions, doubting you. You didn’t think about what happens when you lie, especially when you lie to the ones you love the most. When you were stuck in that island, plotting your grand plan to save the city, I don’t think you stopped to consider the effect it would have on the people in your life, or how it might hurt them.”

“You are wrong. I think about it all the time” Oliver pauses then adds,

“and just to be clear, not being able to tell my family the truth, it doesn’t hurt anyone, more than it hurts me.” he says the last bit as he grabs his bow and arrows.

“Where are you going?”

“Mueller still has to sell those guns and I have to stop him. You head to the manor and sweep it top to bottom.”

“Oliver?!”

“Just do it did. Mueller had his chance!”


Oliver arrives at the warehouse in the Glades and notes that things are a bit too silent. He makes his approach and notices the warehouse is empty with the exception of a very frightened Mueller standing alone under one of the overhead lights with all the guns all around him. Immediately, this felt like a trap.

He manages to stay in the shadows as he approaches, eventually realizing there is no one else there. With his arrow pointed directly at Mueller he comes out from the shadows. Mueller quickly makes eye contact and raises his hands in surrender. Clearing his throat he slowly points at the cell phone on top of one of the crates as it starts to ring. Oliver doesn’t answer it, experience has taught him that cell phones can be deceiving pains in the ass.

As he keeps rounding Mueller the phone rings again. Once again he doesn’t answer it. The third time it makes a high pitched sound rather than a ring, followed by a computerized voice.

“You know green hooded man it is courtesy here as in any part of the world to always answer a ringing phone. Especially when the call is for you.” Oliver remains silent not ready say anything, simply looking around trying to see if the person on the other line was anywhere near them.

“Well I guess a man who shoots arrows into others isn’t bothered with courtesy. Okay, then I’ll get to the point. Mr. Mueller here is no longer an issue. His business is done, his money is gone and straight from here he will be turning himself in to the authorities. Now, I know you had plans to riddle him full of arrows but take this as a sign of good will, from you to me. There are many ways to stop men like Mr. Mueller, death is not the first and only. Now, as much as you are hoping that I am there, somewhere near watching, I am not. So, if you decide to put an arrow through Mr. Mueller I cannot stop you from doing so. But, I can stop you from doing it again. It is your choice. Kill him and I am sorry to say I will put my full efforts behind disarming you next. Let him live and I will owe you one. We have a mutual friend, as I am sure you are aware of already. I will contact you through him. ‘Fac recte, Et nil time” and just like that the line goes dead.

Walking away from Mueller was tough but he had bigger fish to worry about.

As Oliver enters the foundry he tosses a cell phone to Diggle, who has been sitting there waiting to talk to him, three cameras neatly tucked in his pocket. He simply looks at the phone and then at Oliver, the cameras pushed to back with what was sure to be an interesting new development.

“We need to find anything we can about that phone. You need to keep it with you. Always with the battery out, put it somewhere safe and only turn it on once a day to check it. You are apparently our mutual friend through which She will communicate”

“Oliver? What is...”

She called me on that phone, well more like talked to me through the phone. She had already stopped Mueller and left it up to me to kill him or let him turn himself in willingly.” Dig gives him a look and Oliver knows what he is asking.

“I let him go.”

He tells Dig everything that happened and notes the impressed look on his face. He would also be impressed if he wasn’t so angry about being threatened. Whoever this woman was she was starting to become a giant hindrance. He was going to have to step up his game.

“Not to add salt to the wound but found these” he says, tossing the three cameras directly at him.

“You’re fucken kidding me” he growls

“Wish I was, so what now?”

“We wait.”

Chapter Text

 

It had been almost two, silent and uneventful, weeks for the vigilante. Felicity was honestly grateful seeing as she had so much to do at QC plus everything she was working on for Mr. Steele while he was in Australia. She knew exactly why he had left--the Gambit-- and she was still waiting for the last of the results on the particulates she had taken from the warehouse. She was glad she had managed that much because three days after she and Mr. Steele found it, it had been moved and she was still trying to track the people that took it. Another reason why she cursed the vigilante, she had been so distracted with him she had waited too long to return to the warehouse.

Although, if she was being honest she kind of missed trying to track his moves and messing with him. Yet, she figured her last little stunt had made him retreat into his 'metaphoric' cave. She worried that he might be planning and conspiring against her but, not enough to seek him out when he was staying out of trouble. Oliver Queen on the other hand, that boy seemed to be getting harder and harder to figure out and she was really considering infiltrating his inner circle. She had her run-ins in the past with one Tommy Merlyn, well one of her more flirtatious personas had a bit of history there, she figured she could always play that card again.

→ → → → →

Two years to the date, after the disappearance of the Queen men Felicity was deep into her search for answers. She was determined to exhaust all possible leads and interrogate everyone and anyone who ever came in contact with Robert and Oliver Queen.

That is how on a Friday night she found herself in a high end bar in downtown Starling City. The bar was full of suits and pristine, model like women, Felicity would never fit in here, Cordelia on the other hand could be a regular. With her long wavy highlighted chocolate brown hair, designer pencil skirt, sheer blouse and sky high Jimmy Choo's, she turned heads the minute she walked in, including that of one Tommy Merlyn.

She walked towards the bar pretending to be oblivious to all the attention she was getting then made sure to sit a couple of seats down from Tommy while making eye contact with nobody.

"Blue Label on the rocks, please" she said without missing a beat as she laid her jacket and bag on the seat next to her.

As the bartender brought her drink and took her card she heard the seat next to her shift as the pleasant smell of expensive cologne hit her.

"I'll have what the lady with such remarkable taste is having" as she turned to the voice the disappointment was hard to hide as she realized it was not Tommy Merlyn at her side, but a random businessman, good looking but she was here with a purpose.

She turned to the bartender and with an unimpressed and slightly annoyed tone she said "put it on my card and the gentleman will have his drink to go" she looked at him pointedly, handed him his drink and then turned to give him her back as she sipped her drink.

She heard a chuckle come from across the bar and it took everything to not turn around. After her little dismissal she couldn't come off too eager.

Suddenly she felt another shift next to her and a voice oozing with amusement and charm chimed in "If I give you an overused cheesy line will it earn me a free drink as well" she couldn't help the smirk that took over her face, luckily she reeled it in before turning to look at him.

"No, but your overused clichéd attempt at sympathizing with me through the use of humor and pointing out the stupidity of your gender might earn you a roll of the eyes and an empty chair at the bar" the sudden look of surprise, followed by the wide grin that took over his face told her that she had him right where she wanted him

Hook, line and sinker.

"I personally prefer charm over humor, and to point out the obvious about my gender would only be counterproductive to my end goal of impressing you. I would have gone more with the typical but never old 'we aren't all the same' line followed by flattery, lots and lots of flattery"

She couldn't help the smile that tugged at her lips, he was really good at this. She raised her hand getting the bartender's attention and softly pointed to Tommy's drink, within seconds he had a new drink in front of him and an even wider smile on his face

"I assume that would have been your next move, right?"

"Oh, so you have played this game before?" he chuckled

"Probably not as long as you have." she said with a sidelong glance

"Touché, Tommy Merlyn" he said raising his glass towards her

"Cordelia" she answered raising her own glass

"Cordelia, what?" he asked with a tilt of his head

"Cordelia for now, but the night is young." she smirked at him.

"Indeed. Cheers Cordelia."

→ → → → →

She would have to really think whether bringing Cordelia back to Starling City was a smart choice, if anything she could tutor Thea Queen, again. Although, that would be a bit too close for comfort, too many people in the Queen family already knew her as Felicity.

She let out a long winded sigh and willed herself to open her eyes and get ready for work, she couldn't help come back to that nagging sensation in the pit of her stomach that kept telling her that something was off. That something or someone was not at all what they seemed and she hated that she couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from. She once again resigned herself with a groan and opened her eyes.

Trying to focus on starting her morning, the arm that suddenly draped over her reminded her that those two weeks had also helped in moving along her "relationship" with Josiah, her cute as a button co-worker, whiz kid? Boy? Man? She really did hate mornings. Last night this had been a fantastic idea and treat for all her hard work in the past months, now, not so much.

She chastised herself for breaking rule #5, no sleepovers. The repercussions could be endless including putting his life in danger, hence why early on she determined the need for rules. Yet, at the moment she had immediate repercussion to deal with like having to tell him that they should go to work separately and pretend nothing happened. That was bound to be awkward enough to last her the rest of the day. As she pondered her options she thought that is maybe she was very quiet she could get ready and only wake him once she was out the door. Considering her skill set that could definitely...

"Morning beautiful" a groggy voice called her attention from across the bed interrupting her train of thought and her plans.


Oliver and Dig had spent those same two weeks trying to run down leads on the mystery woman. Diggle would religiously turn on the phone once a day looking for messages. He had only received one, 2 days ago, and he hadn't shared it with Oliver because he knew it would only piss him off more.

He had arrived home and after settling on the couch had placed the battery in the phone and checked it, within seconds he received a text,

F-Would you stop turning it on once a day, please the notice is getting annoying. When I said I would communicate with you I didn't mean through this phone. I have other ways, as you already know. So toss it or forget it in a drawer because I am throwing out the number.

D- Should I expect another note in my pocket?

F- Even I know you only do that once, well maybe twice ;)

D- We need to meet

F- I know, soon.

D- When?

F- On my time, goodbye Mr. Diggle.

D- I NEED A DATE!

F- Try ok cupid

D- His patience is running out

F- That sounds like a him problem, bye bye.

D- WHEN?

When he didn't receive an answer, Diggle couldn't help but laugh. He didn't think he would ever get tired of saying it, she was damn good. He had done as she said and left the phone forgotten it his junk drawer. Every time Oliver asked he simply said "nothing". Eventually he would have to tell him. But not this morning.

As Oliver hit Diggle in the face while sparring he was reminded as to why he hadn't told him.

"Where did you learn that move?"

"His name was Yao Fei" even as the words left his mouth Oliver knew that he was opening the door to something he wasn't ready to share, must of been all the adrenaline that had him blurting out before he could stop himself.

"Did he give you those scars?" Diggle couldn't help but ask, Oliver had casually given him an opening and he was taking it.

"One of them" he said a little more tense

"And the others? You know, one of these days you are going to be straight with me about what happened on that island." Diggle continued to pry as they started sparring again.

"Absolutely," the tension having slightly ebbed from his voice as he smirked seeing an opening to catch Diggle by surprise again, as he takes a swing at his legs, Diggle stumbles and nearly falls as Oliver finishes his statement, "but not today.”.

Before Diggle could ask anything else he brings up the next name on the list, Scott Morgan.

“He has control of the power in the Glades and a nasty tendency to hike up prices in the summer and winter. Then he cuts off the power to buildings in the Glades when tenants can't afford the raised prices.”

“Seeing as winter is a couple of months away, we have time to build our case. Meanwhile, there’s been a recent spree of bank robberies which until now have not had any victims but in the last one The Royal Flush Gang, as they have been labeled by the media, shot an off duty cop who is now in critical condition in the hospital.”

"I think you have the wrong impression about what it is I do" annoyance clear in his tone

"You take out bad guys with a bow and arrow" he answers very matter of fact.

"I don't fight street crime. That's a symptom of what is wrong with this city, I'm trying to cure the disease"

"Maybe you can make a difference, if you think beyond the scope of those pages. I'm sure your father wouldn't mind"

"No, you don't get it. My father died so that I could live. Live and make a difference by fixing the city that he and the people in this book ruined. Every name that I cross off this list honors that sacrifice." his annoyance turning to anger, quickly.

"Oliver, there is more than one way to save the city." a frustrated and angry Diggle shot back.

"Not for me! Crime happens in this city every day. What do you want me to do? Stop all of it." he doesn't know why Diggle can't just understand that this is not what he is doing.

"Sounds like you have a narrow definition of being a hero." Diggle says more disappointed than angry at this point.

"I'm not a hero" Oliver spits out not sure anymore if his anger is directed at Diggle or himself.

→ → → → →

His side hurts, he knows he has been laying without moving for far too long, yet he can't bring himself to even turn on his back. When he first found the cold, damp, dark cave, he thanked god for the blessing of being out of the elements, fearing he wouldn't have survived one more day in the unforgiving wind.  

Now this cave represented his living tomb. All hope lost, he can barely feel the hunger and he knows that is not good but is thankful for the reprieve. The sharp pain in his hip bone forces him to turn on his back, he feels a hand land on his shoulder as he turns and the breath is punched out of him in disbelief.

"You died" he says wide eyed, staring at his father, looking like the last time he saw him.

"I asked you, I begged you to survive, but if you don't think you can" he pulls out the gun he shot himself with, Oliver hesitates at first but reaches for it, solace clear in his eyes.

As he wraps his hand around the barrel Robert tugs it back pulling Oliver closer so that they are eye to eye, "but Oliver my death is made meaningless by yours. The lives of so many will be cast aside by your choice." He lets go of the gun. Nothing has ever weighed this heavy in his hands. Yet, the pain has been so grand that the release that one solitary bullet could bring seems like hope.

"I'm starving. I'm going to die anyways and I just want it to be quick. I want it to be quick like yours was, I don’t want to be here anymore dad." he responds his voice devoid of any strength or desire to continue living.

"You can survive this. You can get back to everything. I promised you that you wouldn't be alone son, and you won't I swear, she will be there!"

"No I can't. I am not as strong as you think I am, I'm sorry" Oliver begins to raise the gun to his temple, seeing his dad’s face fade like a dream he pulls the trigger, hears the click and then the weight is gone and his hands feel lifeless. In shock he looks around into his tomb and decides today was not the day. Today he lived.

→ → → → →


 

In the past two weeks Oliver had been home more often since his return. Hi relationship with Thea had seemed to settle into this mutual understanding where neither was truly happy, he wished she would allow herself to be kid just a bit longer and appreciate all she had and she wished her brother would be carefree and boisterous like he once was, but the took what they could. Moira had also noticed the shift and had even attempted to rope them into a family brunch with the Bowens.

That suggestion had obviously not gone over well, but it had been set much to their dismay. Oliver knew he had to make an effort with his family but it was difficult when he had to continuously lie to them.

He is taken out of his thoughts when he receives a call from Diggle about how Scot Morgan tried to commit suicide. His mood quickly changes as he gathers the keys to his bike.

Opening the door he is greeted by Tommy’s grin, the uncertainty he sees in his eyes has his steps faltering but he knows he has a somewhere to be.

"Hey, just the man I wanted to see. I got these killer tickets from a contact to a party, super exclusive and one of them has your name on it." said Tommy as he walked in the door.

"That sounds great but, something came up. I gotta jet"

"Oh, well it’s not until Saturday at 10pm so maybe you can pencil me in" he says more to himself as Oliver has already left. Well there went the one person he just wanted to spend some time with and talk to.

"Moves fast doesn't he?" says Thea as she enters the foyer

"It's ironic since you are the one we call speedy"

"Called, please for the love of god, but if you need someone to talk too or another Queen to take that ticket off your hands" she smirks

“Nice try speedy” he responds as he ruffled her hair. “So how’s school treating you?” he ask as he drops onto the long couch followed by an amused Thea.


When Oliver arrives at the hospital, he immediately sees Dig waiting outside for him. He’s here for answers and has his gear in case interrogating Morgan here would be necessary. Seeing his determined stare and eagerness for answers Dig has no choice but to confess that it was all a ruse to get him to the hospital.

He introduces him to Stan Washington's wife and tells her that Oliver is taking care of her expenses and they will be moving her husband to a better hospital. She thanks him and he realizes exactly what Dig is doing and he is definitely pissed yet, somewhat contrite when he shakes the poor woman's hand. As she goes inside with her husband Oliver turns around slowly and Dig knows what is coming.

"You lied to me" Oliver reprimands.

"And you asked me to work with you not for you and when you did, you said it was because you understood the kind of man that I am. Well, Oliver I'm the kind of man that doesn't walk away when there is a chance to make a difference, and neither does Stan Washington. If you are worried about Scott Morgan, don't be. He has been taken care of and is no longer a problem."

"What are you talking about?"

"The water and power company was bought out by Green Angel Initiative, they specialize in low cost solar and environmentally conscience energy and water. Morgan stepped down and left Starling City this morning and was kind enough to pay two months worth of water and power for every resident of the Glades at his old rates."

"What? How?"

"That is all I know. I got a message this morning with the information, from her."

"Dammit, and you tell me now Diggle" Oliver yells.

"I tried everything, there was no way of knowing where it came from. Plus, I realized this would leave an opening for dealing with these robberies, unless you are still adamant?" Oliver walks past him and heads to his motorcycle

"Oliver I'm not finished talking, where are you going?" he yells at him immediately regretting telling him the truth. It seems she was right when she told him not to tell the vigilante it was her who helped him because that was simply asking for trouble.

"To go make a difference. Seeing as my schedule just opened up, let's catch some bank robbers." he says as he jumps on his bike "but we, are not done John."

Arriving at the foundry he is not surprised to find Diggle has made some progress and begun to research the footage and identities of the RF gang. He shows Oliver the video of  one of the robbers punching the bank manager in the face he points out the ring the robber was wearing and he catches on quickly.

Oliver figures a ring that size would definitely leave an imprint behind. He decides they need that image if they are going to track the ring to its owner which he knows will be in evidence lockup.

"Please tell me you are not going where I think you're going?" Diggle asks already knowing his argument against will be useless.

"Diggle why do you even ask" Oliver responds.

As he starts to walk away Diggle calls out to him, noting something different in his voice he stops and turns. He can see the hesitance in his eyes and clearly recognizes when it switches to resignation.

Diggle turns the computer screen over so he can see the white letters slowly appearing before their eyes until the message is clear.

HELLO STARLING CITY'S OWN GREEN HOODED MAN, SNOOPING AGAIN I SEE

He rushes to the computer to try and figure out where the message is coming from or at least stop it before the person knows exactly where they are, but before he can do anything the message changes

HERE IS ANOTHER SIGN OF GOOD FAITH FROM ME TO YOU

an image slowly appears, it's the imprint on the manager's face from the robbery. Underneath the words LARCHMONT HIGH appear.

Followed by another message..

IF THIS FEELS LIKE A TEST, THAT IS BECAUSE IT IS. TREAD CAREFULLY VIGILANTE. I WILL BE WATCHING YOU. HAVE A GOOD DAY, YOU TOO MR. DIGGLE :)

The screen goes back to normal as Oliver gets up and tosses his computer chair across the room. Waiting was not working they needed to find her NOW!


The Royal Flush gang had also caught Felicity's attention. As has become habit over the last couple of years she decides to aid the SCPD in finding and stopping them, she has a couple of programs running trying to find as much information as possible while hacking the video cameras and analyzing the footage.

Having become accustomed to this routine she has found ways to do this kind of work from her office while on her tablet. Taking full advantage of the secure server network, she developed herself, along with the backdoor she left for her own needs.

As she opens up her programs to check on the progress of the identities of the RF gang, she sees that someone else is hacking the video feed. She back traces the feed and quickly realizes that is is being pinged off various locations. If she had more time she could get to the source but setting up the trace from her office would take too long if she wants a clean hack.

She can send a message through the connection as long as they don't log off with little to no effort then she can follow the message later to its final destination. Her gut tells her that it must be the green hooded man and she can’t help but seizes the opportunity. She will bait him with information and when he follows it she will have the answers she seeks. She just hopes he doesn’t log off before she’s done.

She quickly begins to type away and sends him some of the information she has already forwarded to the SCPD.


Oliver and Diggle come out empty handed not that Diggle expected it to be that easy, if he has learned one thing it is that this woman should not be underestimated and that she is way better than them put together. They settle on solving what they can right now, after much convincing from Dig, and Oliver decides working on this case might lure her out. They look into the information she sent by hacking the Larchmont High records and cross referencing the description of the robber.

Just then Felicity receives another two alerts she triumphantly pumps her fist knowing she has her man.

She quickly starts the trace of her message using the self designed military grade tracking programs she has at home and puts them to work in finding the exact location of the connection. As she settles her laptop down, content to wait for the results she sees the image of Kyle Reston pop on her screen. She must admit he is pretty good at what he does, he found him almost as quickly as Kelton, the SCPD computer tech, yes they were on a first name basis, well she called him by his first name, he didn't know she existed.

With the programs running on both sides, each are hoping that the trap they set would work.

Just then Oliver realizes he is late for brunch with his mother and the Bowen's and quickly changes and heads out leaving his computers logged on, just like Felicity expected.

The brunch quickly proves to him once again that five years on an island changes many things and that his pop culture knowledge is so lackluster it is embarrassing but it also proves that some things never change as Carter Bowen is still the walking image of perfection. Just as he begins to regret having agreed to this brunch Diggle steps in with an update.

There has been another robbery and as he excuses himself his mother discreetly pulls him aside before he can head out

“At least have the decency to put effort into your excuses and don't think me a fool. Your sorry attempt at spending time with us your family is an insult. In the future either be here or don't bother to show, Oliver.”

He feels guilty over her statements but knows that it is part of the choices he made many years ago.

Leaving the thoughts of his family behind, Oliver enters the subterranean room that he and Diggle discovered and knew would be the exit point for the gang. Diggle waits as back up two blocks down near an alley passageway. Knowing Oliver is ready to move, he focuses on keeping his eyes on a swivel, when he feels his cell phone vibrate.

Felicity had also been alerted to the new robbery and quickly got a live stream of the bank and surrounding areas in hopes of helping the SCPD catch them this time and hopefully getting a glance of the green hood. What she finds is one Mr. John Diggle two  blocks away which could only mean one thing, the green hooded man was on site, armed and deadly. Making a choice she sends a message to John Diggle.

F- I hope your partner isn't feeling trigger happy, one man in the hospital is already one too many.

D- He's trying to help.

A soft smile pulling at his lips as he realizes that whoever this woman is she has a genuine concern and what seems to be an unyielding moral compass, he likes that.

F- Warn him that I am watching, closely.

D- He won't like that.

F- Too bad.

F- I could do it myself, Mr. Diggle.

D- Point taken.

F- Thanks.

To top it off she is polite, everyday he realized he really wants to meet her. He quickly relays the message to Oliver over the comms getting only a low guttural growl as a response. He knows not to ask anything else, they fall into complete radio silence until the sound of footsteps echoing on hard pavement fills the room Oliver is in, followed by yells and panting.

The Hood draws his bow and sends a warning arrow straight into one of the money bags, instantly the gang stops dead in their tracks. Looking around to try and figure out where the arrow came from, they panic and begin to run. The Hood shots another warning arrow and tells them to lay down their weapons and surrender the money, the youngest in the gang laughs incredulously while he lets out a couple of rounds into the shadows.

The rest of teh gang pulls him away just as the police enters the room and shouting the same warnings that the Hood had already said and had been ignored. He decides he needs to hide deeper in the shadows before they know he is there. He tries to get closer and stall them in order to give the police a chance but they are gone before he can interfere any further and now he is the one making a run for it as he is spotted by an officer.

He makes his way out towards Diggle, spurting curses over his steady and slightly labored breathing. Diggle curses knowing they got away and while he contemplates texting Nia, that's what he has decided to call her as she reminds him of an old Swahili folk tale his grandmother used to tell him about a young warrior woman named Nia, which means 'purpose', he gets in the car ready to drive off, he smiles to himself for picking such an appropriate name. As he starts the car his phone dings,

F- I said don't hurt them, not let them get away.

F- Until next time boys.

D- I had a feeling I didn't need to let you know the mission was a bust. Probably knew before me.

F- You learn fast Mr. Diggle ;)

Just then Oliver gets in the car and Diggle takes off straight for foundry, only tossing his phone so that Oliver can see the messages. He lets out another grunt as his irritation grows.

"We need help finding the Reston's, they are off the grid and now that they know the Hood is after them they might not surface again."

"What did you have in mind?" asked Diggle a bit confused

"Tomorrow morning we go to QC."

Diggle eyes him through the rearview mirror and Oliver simply shrugs while he continues,

"You're going to meet the 3rd unofficial member of the team."


As Felicity gathers the last bit of information and footage and adds it to her ever increasing file on the green hooded man, she can’t help but smile at the progress she is making. She was sure she had Mr. Diggle on her side, if the day where she had to reveal herself to the green hooded man came, at least she had one ally.

Yet, she couldn’t get too comfortable just because Mr. Diggle seemed friendly enough. She needed to be 100% sure before risking being completely exposed. There was something that just didn't add up. How did Mr. Diggle spend so much time with the Hood and still manage to guard Oliver Queen.

More and more this trio was making her suspicious. What if Oliver Queen was in on it all? Maybe he was the unofficial donor to the Hood. That could be how he has all those gadgets and it would explain Mr. Diggle's involvement and why Mr. Queen seems a bit off kilter, not to mention how he got his hands on Patel’s laptop.

The sheer force of that train of thought had her standing from her couch, it was a trio, Oliver Queen was the money, Diggle was the backup and the green hooded man was the muscle. That had to be it.

Maybe Robert did tell him about the mission and the young Queen did what his family has always done, hired some muscle and threw money at the problem. Damn she needed more intel and she needed to stop getting distracted and focus on uncovering all their truths

Felicity realized that she might not need to track the Hood which carried a certain degree of risk, she could concentrate on Oliver Queen him she could handle, no problem. She was going to focus her full effort into infiltrating his world and he would lead her to the Hood and all the answers she needed. All she needed was to determine if Robert had set him on this path and if he had then she would gladly offer her services. They had the money, the backup, the muscle and now they would have the tech.

Proud of her deduction skills she gives herself the night to sleep, the next morning she begins to set her plan in motion by sending one Tommy Merlyn a message. It seemed it was time to bring the british powerhouse, Cordelia, back to Starling.

In her message she informs him that she would be visiting Starling City over the weekend and would love to meet up. Her Cordelia persona was the easiest and least obvious way of infiltrating the billionaire inner circle, she was tired of waiting and playing it safe she was ready to push through it all. Having set the pieces into motion she gets ready for work.

Stepping off the elevator two hours after her shift began, all thanks to her boss sending her to a meeting he was supposed to attend, before she could even reach her office she is informed that Mr. Queen has been waiting for her for two hours. She quickly composes herself and runs into her office to leave her things and get her laptop which she suspects she will need, she hears the receptionist tell her again how The Oliver Queen was waiting for her, and how bad of an idea it was to keep him waiting. She runs past the receptionist shocking the already frazzled older woman "if he waited two hours it is safe to assume he'll wait five more minutes".

She finds the young Queen and Mr. Diggle sitting, stoic and silent, in one of the executive conference rooms on the top floor. She internally smirks thinking that she could have easily bugged him for a third time, not really for info, but for fun. She makes eye contact with Mr. Diggle first, as she is about to smile, widely, she remembers that technically she doesn't know him so she offers him a small smile as she approaches the young Queen.

The minute he sees her he stands being reminded again of their first meeting, he categorizes all the things that he already associates with her, she is still all smiles, cute, and with a glint of 'I have a secret you are not privy to' in her eyes. At least some things remain consistent.

"Good Morning Felicity that must have been some meeting to keep you away from the office so long. Josiah said you would be back an hour ago. I think that might have been wishful thinking on the part of the IT department. I don't think they could survive without you for much longer." she practically cuts him off with a sweet smile and a greeting.

"Good Morning Mr. Queen," she turns to Diggle and smiles "Good morning sir" she greets him as Dig slightly chuckles at her formal greeting.

"Call me Oliver, please, and this is John Diggle, no need for such formalities Felicity." he interrupts her, she slightly tilts her head not sure if to respond or simply move on, so Diggle decides to respond.

"Speak for yourself, I like this whole sir business." he chuckles.

Felicity smiles wider and nods at him appreciatively. She turns to Oliver and simply continues the conversation,

"In reality, it pretty much runs itself we just check the computers."

"Well, your colleagues would beg to differ. Including your…friend? Josiah." he smiles, noting how her brows slightly furrow only to quickly be replaced by what he thinks is a bit of defiance and amusement.

"Now, I know you didn't come here and wait two hours to discuss how indispensable I may or may not be to the IT Department, so what can I help you with Mr. Queen and Mr. Diggle?"

"Felicity, call me Oliver, please."

"I’m okay, I like Mr. Diggle."

"Me too" she said a little too loud and for everyone to hear, her eyes going wide as Diggle smiled and Oliver looked amused. There was a bit of pause as Felicity squirmed and Oliver finally decided to take her out of her misery.

"I have a friend that I am trying to reconnect with. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate him and I was hoping you would be able to work a bit of your magic and help me."

"I guess I should add personal internet researcher for Oliver Queen to my job title," Oliver looks at her slightly shocked and amused while Diggle was all amusement, knowing she might have, maybe, taken it a bit too far she added "happily, I mean." as if it would make a difference.

Oliver exhales as a smile tries to pull on his mouth and ponders a witty remark before deciding against it.

"His name is Derek Reston, we were close, before I went away and I want to get back in touch."

"Guess you didn't have Facebook on that island," she says before she can stop herself.

"Nope, not even a Myspace account. It was a very dark time." she gives Mr. Diggle another appreciative smile a thank you for making light of her slip up. She begins to type away as windows pop up rapidly on her laptop.

"There is not much here that is recent. No credit activity, no utility bills," as his QC employee ID appears for her eyes only she makes an assumption and voices it, "So you guys must of met at the factory?"

"What? What factory?"

The instant she sees that confused look on his face she knows that once again he has made her a part of one of his poorly constructed lies, and once again she is not going to let him get away with it.

"The Queen Steel Factory!" she answers very matter of fact and with a bit of sarcasm, she decides to go full force, because if Mr. Queen wants to play with the big boys she'll gladly give him a crash course.

"Derek Reston worked there for 15 years before it was shut down in 07." gauging for his reaction.

"Derek Reston worked for my father?" he said full of disbelief and more as an affirmation to himself, not fully intending to voice and completely destroy his own lie. There it was again that 'you are full of shit' tilt of the head, he had a feeling he would be seeing a lot of that.

"You were really close friends, huh?" she smiles as her voice oozes sarcasm and annoyance. She pauses making sure he notes her disappointment and continues.

"Looks like Derek was a factory foreman until your dad outsourced production to China, 1,500 employees got laid off and the finance guys even found a loophole in the union contract"

She knew this well, she had helped Robert as he attempted to fix as much of this as possible. He couldn't re-open the factory, that would have raised too many questions but he did have her set scholarships and funds for the families, some of them even managed to get their houses back. She had also made sure those finance guys, that brought the idea to Robert about screwing all his employees, got what was coming to them. She felt herself being overwhelmed with the memories to the point that she wasn't even reading the information off the monitor she was recalling from memory, her voice carrying all the disdain and contempt she held for the actions, not the people, but Oliver didn't know that. It was hitting him hard and she was pulling no punches as she continued.

"So they didn't have to pay severance packages and pensions to their employees. They all pretty much lost their homes, including your friend." She said the last word emphasizing the ‘d’ at the end to make a point, she knew by his downcast and slumped shoulders he understood.

He quickly stood and started walking towards the conference door. Realizing he had said nothing he turned and walked half way up to apologize and thank her, but before he could she got up and started walking towards the door, she stopped in front of him and handed him a business card.

"If you need anything else that's my contact information." She turned with a genuine smile towards John, "It was a pleasure meeting you Mr. Diggle." As she walked towards the door she heard him sigh deeply and she's not sure what compels her to start speaking but like many other times with this particular Queen she finds herself speaking before she can stop herself.

"Mr. Queen" she notices his eyes remain unfocused and contemplative. "Oliver" at that his eyes quickly connect with hers. "You might be a Queen, but you are not Robert Queen. You are Oliver, so simply be Oliver." she smiles and makes her exit not once turning back although she could feel both men staring, burning holes into her back.

→ → → → →

"Dad I need the keys to the Ferrari, mom said you had them and I have..."

"Oliver Jonas, don't you knock? This is my office you can't just barge in making demands. I know I have raised you better than that. Now excuse yourself and wait outside."

"But Dad I just need the keys"

"Now Oliver!"

As Oliver makes his way to the large double doors of his father's QC office he catches a glimpse of multi-colored hair peeking over the wingback chair. He immediately stops anger rising up knowing just how to push his father's buttons.

"Where are the manners my father so proudly boast about, hello Oliver Queen." he says as he walks back towards rainbow brite on the seat. Before he can reach her and see her face his father is standing in front of him with a stern look he knows not to question. He raises his arms in surrender and simply walks out of the office.

"I am so sorry about my son, Felicity, he can be quite exasperating at times but he's a good kid, he means well. It's not his fault, I've made him into what he is by spoiling him and now I want to make him into a better man. It's not easy."

"It's okay Robert. I'm young, I get it. Plus you don't need to tell me he's a good person, he's your son, he was bound to be good"

"I do want you two to meet eventually, under the right circumstances. I think you would be good for him, I hope you can be friends. Maybe when all this is over I can share everything we have done with him."

"I would like that."

"Felicity, can I ask you something?"

"Of course"

"Keep an eye out for my son. How only you can. I would worry less if I knew you were watching after him."

"I will keep an eye on him."

"Promise me, Felicity."

"I promise." she answers not quite sure why he had gotten so melancholic all of a sudden and asked her something so personal. As she watches him stare at the office doors as if he could still see Oliver on the other side, she feels a knot in her stomach.

→ → → → →

It would be one of the most important promises of her life. Feeling it come full circle the day Oliver Queen returned to Starling City. A promise she was still intending to keep.

Oliver knew exactly what she meant, she was telling him that he was not his father that it was not his fault and he wanted to believe it but the guilt was too strong. Diggle squeezed his shoulder and gave him a knowing nod as they made their way out of the building. As they exit the tension is palpable, Oliver wants to give Reston a chance to redeem himself, his guilt making him feel like he owes him that much, Dig believes they had plenty of chances to do the right thing, including a new start in a new city they squandered. He feels they now need to be stopped. He follows Felicity's example and reassures him it is not his fault but, Oliver is already on his bike and out of sight in seconds.


On his way back home he receives another message from Tommy reminding him about the CNRI Gala, he already knows he is going to be horrible company but he has a persona to uphold.

Yet, he can't help but be distracted he, as Oliver Queen, had given Derek an opportunity, a way out that he seemed unwilling to take. Instead Reston lashed out against what he represented, his father, and he couldn’t blame him for his anger and resentment. Once all is said and done it seems he hadn't been persuasive enough as the communication he and Diggle listened to through the bug he placed on Reston, clearly showed that they were doing one more job before ending it once and for all. Derek seemed hesitant and Oliver could only hope he would change his mind and not be pushed by his son Kyle. If not he would have no other choice but to take them down.

He reluctantly gets dressed and heads to the Gala, although he is still on edge he knows that he has disappointed his mother one too many times already so he has to make an appearance.

Felicity was on edge she knew that the dynamic trio, as she called them now, would be trying to stop the Reston family. Yet, she stayed on task and decided to keep a close eye on Oliver Queen, in hopes that if the Reston's acted they could lead her to the green hooded man. She had planned to sneak into the event either as an employee of sorts or through the good old back door. Yet, she didn't have to do either. She had ran into an old friend at her local coffee shop and he had invited her to accompany him to the gala which she gladly accepted. No easier cover than being herself.

Exited the car in front of the gala with the help of Carter Bowen's arm she smoothed out her floor length lavender gown and smiled at him. He told her again how beautiful she looked and ever the courteous guest she thanked him, again. Just as they made it through the door, Carter is almost side swept by a rushed Oliver Queen making his exit, she tries to turn her head quickly, but right before her curtain of hair can give her some cover she registers recognition in Mr. Diggle’s eyes yet, he doesn't stop or react and she knows very well why.

She doesn't wait even a minute, before feigning an emergency and leaving a very confused and worried date at the door calling after her as she ran around the building towards the back, not before noting the direction of the Queen car. She makes quick effort of her change of clothes as she hops on her bike, which she had left hidden earlier that day, and takes off after them. Immediately, sinking with the police transmitter. As the chatter comes through she knows exactly where they are going.

When she arrives, there is a full on battle going on. The Hood is fighting who she assumes is Kyle Reston, she is so focused and has her gun aimed at the both of them that she doesn't register the guard that has woken up and is now heading back with a shotgun.

When the guard orders them to drop their weapons Oliver tries to get him to drop his weapon, but just then Derek comes out gun drawn and everything happens so fast she barely has time to react, shooting a rubber bullet and disarming Derek but not being able to do the same to the guard before he lets out a shot at Kyle. As any father would, Derek leaps in front of the bullet at the same time that Felicity releases a blade.

As Derek drops to the floor in a heap, the green hooded man knocks out Kyle and orders the guard to call an ambulance. Yet, his eyes are scanning the whole room looking for where that shot and blade came from. He thinks he sees a shadow, but is drawn back by Derek calling out for Kyle, his son. As he calls for him again the green hooded man hovers over him and pulls his hood further down to conceal his identity.

"He's okay, he's just knocked out" he says noticing that the bullet went through him just missing his heart.

"It…It wasn't his fault. I turned my son into this" he says with labored breaths. Pleading one last time for mercy, for his son.

“Don’t worry you will live and you will tell him yourself.”

→ → → → →

"You can do this son, you will survive this, you will be a better man than me. Promise me Oliver, promise me."

"I promise, dad. I promise." he kept repeating over and over as sleep and exhaustion began to take over his body and his lids closed letting the dark in, a darkness that continued to haunt him every time he closed his eyes.

Many times he would wake up whispering those same words "I promise dad, I promise"

Many times he would wake screaming "I can't dad, I can't."

Most times he was just grateful he was awake, alive and surviving. He had a promise to keep.

→ → → → →

"Get out, you need to go. The police are coming." he heard a voice yell across the room. The minute she sees him get on his feet and turn in her direction she bolts.

He hesitates for a second before hearing the footsteps of the SCPD when his body reacts he is sprinting out of the bank  to meet up with Diggle.

His mind is still processing the warning he heard, but there is no time to stop and think. He quickly gets in the car without saying a word and Diggle knows very well something has gone very wrong but, doesn't say anything.

As they reach the foundry they are both unaware that they have been followed.


Felicity stood in the bank lobby watching the green hooded man hover over an injured Derek Reston, yet the last thing she expected when she saw him reach for his hood was to see Oliver Queen’s face. She froze in place, she was speechless, she was angry, with herself.

In that instant it all came forward, hindsight was really 20/20. She couldn't believe she missed all the coincidences, the set-up, his build, the video of him taking out the military team she sent to rescue him, and his cologne, his damn cologne. Now she could piece it all together and she was fucken pissed. It had all been there and she was blind to the most important part of it all. She had fallen victim to the same presumptions she always hated in others.

She wondered how everyone could be so blind. How could those that knew him before the island not see how broken he was? How far down the rabbit hole he had traveled? Then she heard the police and SWAT giving orders to rush the lobby and she had to get out, she focused on his looming figure and realized he wasn't moving. Before she could worry about her own safety she yelled at him to “get out”.

The instant his eyes made contact with her, she swore he could see her, but she knew that was impossible. She waited until he got up and then she was gone. By the time she reached Mr. Diggle she was three rooftops over watching and waiting to follow.

She approached the old Queen Steel Factory and couldn't help but laugh, he really had made it so obvious. She waited until they entered before preparing for her next move.

As soon as Diggle and Oliver enter, Oliver runs down the steps and paces around before he throws his bow across the floor shouting in frustration,

"She was there, DAMMIT!"

"What?" Diggle couldn't believe it.

"She was at the bank, she shot at Derek." Oliver ground out.

"WHAT? Is he…?" Now Diggle was really shocked he never thought she would shoot someone.

"Rubber bullets."

"Oh" he shouldn't of sounded so relieved but he did and he knew Oliver noticed.

"But Reston was still hit" he added as he stiffly walked over to the training area

"How?"

"The guard" he said in the distance, once he stopped. Diggle could see his entire body tense as he added,

"She saw me."

A long silence passed before Diggle knew what to say, she had been there, helped him and now she knew his identity. To say he was worried was putting it lightly. They no longer held any cards, this was her game now and they were just spectators, he knew Oliver didn't like that at all, he didn't like it either.

He decided to give Oliver some space moving towards the computers he checked for updates from the Police on Reston’s condition. When nothing came up he decided he would text her, ask her what her next move was now that all their cards were on the table.

Felicity feels the vibration in her chest but ignores her phone after all she is working to break the code for the door, and she knows it’s probably Mr. John Diggle worried out of his mind. She had no answers for him because she herself still doesn’t know what she is going to do.

She was sure Robert had either revealed part of his secret or Oliver had somehow figured it out, but what else did he know? Did he know about her? And if he did why didn't he seek her out? In that moment she makes a choice that is only reaffirmed by Diggle's next text.

D- If you don't talk to him he will never trust you.

Trust, that was the keyword. As much as she wanted help, wanted someone to talk about the last 7 years of her life, her journey that began at 15 when Robert Queen walked into her life, she had to be honest. She didn't fully trust him, either. Her entire survival was dependent on not trusting.

She couldn't tell him who she was until she knew who he was, truly. Until she knew he trusted her, she was going to play her cards close to her chest and she wouldn't make him privy to anything he didn’t need to know.

Whatever information she did share would be with a purpose. 1) To gauge his reaction 2) learn his motives 3) be able to decipher the true Oliver 4) earn his trust as Felicity.

For once it would pay off to simply be herself, no secret identities.

Once she manages to rewire and get the doors open. She can hear voices echo off the large concrete walls. She gets closer and is able to tune into the voices i the room and hear everything.

"What went down wasn't your fault." he hadn't said anything but Dig knew very well that Oliver was adding something else to his guilt list.

"I didn't say it was." he sounded confident but, his eyes gave away to the guilt that was coursing through him.

"Oliver, it wasn't your fault, man. You gave Reston a chance, that was more than he deserved."

"I'm not so sure about that?" He said not daring to look directly at Diggle.

As Felicity slinked her way closer she was beginning to see all the cracks in Oliver's armor. He was nothing but a battered, broken boy unprepared and so full of guilt, anger and pride. She knew he wouldn't last much longer. She had been there and she had almost lost herself in that same dark hole.

"Well, listen I'll tell you this much. You say going after the guys on that list is a way to honor your dad," Oliver slightly looks up and simply nods at him.

"well, if your dad could have seen you this week, the way you cared about the people he had hurt. The way you stepped up to try and help them, I'd say he'd be pretty damn honored. So maybe there is more than one way of saving the city."

He pauses for a bit considering the words that oddly enough did give him some respite, "Maybe" he says with a tinge of hope.

Diggle notices his face turn dark and once again he knows he needs good news and thankfully he has some.

"By the way Stan Washington woke up, he's going to be fine" Oliver looks up, finally some good news. As he stands up to finish putting away his equipment they are both suddenly startled by an unexpected, yet, highly anticipated voice.

"Robert would have been proud." her voice carried through the room with a softness and truth that if it wasn’t for the fact that she was an intruder whichhad put him on high alert he would have found comfort in her voice.

"I might have misjudged you Mr. Queen, you might be more like your father than I thought."

Oliver reacts quickly almost inhuman, halfway through turning to face the intruder at the door his bow is already armed and ready to release. Yet, it is not quick enough, he never really stood a chance.

When Felicity entered she might have been taken by the conversation she encountered but she was no fool. Before she made her presence known she already had her gun aimed and ready, directly at Oliver. Not to belittle Mr. Diggle's training but she knew Oliver was a shoot and ask questions later kind of guy and Mr. Diggle was far more logical. Before Oliver even registered the boom of the gun his bow hits the floor with a loud clank that echoes all throughout the cavernous basement.

"Tsk tsk Mr. Queen" She says as she points her gun at Dig who is now aiming his gun directly at her.

"Manners, boys! Is that any way to welcome a guest?" Dig begins to create some space between himself and Oliver to have a better advantage. She immediately turns to him and slowly nods her head and with her gun motions for him to move back, he obliges begrudgingly.

Oliver has remained motionless the tension in his body invading every inch of him, the anger boiling within, she can see it and knows she has very little time left before she is truly in danger.

"Now, can we talk or are you going to try and kill me again?" she smirks at them, not that they could see her face, and not that they didn’t try but  she never moved from the shadows as she continued to talk.

"I figured I should come and talk to you seeing as the cat is out of the bag."

"What do you want?" Oliver's voice was so rough and unyielding that it almost caused a shiver to run down her back.

"A little more good faith, from me to you. Most importantly the phrase you want to hear I believe is, your secret is safe, and it is."

"More importantly, how do YOU know my father?"

"That is a story for another day, in the future when we have more trust." A look passes through his face and she knows it is confusion.

"Would you believe anything I said, otherwise?" she says in a knowing tone.

Oliver instinctively takes a step forward as Diggle puts his hand on his shoulder and holds him back. Felicity shifts where she stands knowing very well she has to get out, she was pushing him too much.

"Look I think it is evident that we are on the same side and we have been set on our paths by the same goals and probably the same person. I am here if you need my help, I will send you contact information where I can be reached at all times. You need to trust me and I need to start trusting you. I know there are lots of questions and I promise in due time I will answer them all."

As she slowly walked back towards the door, Oliver spoke almost inaudibly

"Find her, you can trust her, she will help you, you are not alone" Diggle turned and confused asked "What is it Oliver?"

At the sound of one of her footsteps his eyes cut to her as he says loud enough for everyone to hear him this time "You are not alone" something unleashed inside of him, he wanted all the answers now, he wanted to see her face he needed to know.

He sprinted towards the stairs as she let out a warning shot only grazing him, but it did nothing to deter him.

She quickly reached the door and opened it as she sprinted across the factory towards the front door. She could hear his footsteps behind her and with a quick glance she looks back, drops and slides across the floor as she shost at his feet with the rubber bullets. Almost instantly Oliver's feet give out from under him and he hits the ground hard and fast barely avoiding hitting his face as his hands sprawl out in front of him.

He hears the door open and he immediately jumps to his feet and runs only a breath away from her, he can almost reach her. When he reaches the door she has just gone through the doorway, he looks outside and she is gone. The entrance is empty, not even a shadow. He curses loudly and punches the door as Diggle gets there and realizes she has done it again.

She has vanished.

Chapter Text

 

It had been 2 days since her little impromptu appearance in the Hood’s lair and if she learned one thing it was that she wasn’t planning on doing that again, well at least not anytime soon. It had been too close for comfort and to be honest she was still kind of reeling from the experience. In all her years delving into the mystery that was everything Queen related she had never let her guard down to the point that she was almost discovered. She had broken her number one rule and she hated herself for it. She wouldn’t be making that mistake again, ever. Her survival depended on it and a recently resurrected playboy with a boyish grin was not going to jeopardize all she built in the last 7 years of her life.

She had kept radio silence no matter how much Dig sought her out and how far and deep Oliver dug to get more information on her. She was thankful for one thing, their computer skills were lackluster at best, it seemed island living doesn’t come with technological upgrades. She made sure they hit every roadblock possible and sent them on one wild goose chase after another.

She had almost caved the last time Dig had called her. She even answered the phone deciding to let him talk and then hang up.

“Finally, why haven’t you picked up?” she heard the anxiousness in his voice yet, didn’t answer. He quickly realized she could hang up at any moment and decided to say everything he needed to say whether she answered or not.

“Look, I know our last encounter got a bit out of hand, but you have to understand it was a lot to take in, especially for him. He was… we were not expecting everything you revealed about Mr. Queen and your involvement with, well, everything. It seems as…That isn’t important, what we need now is to talk, clear everything up and begin to work together. He might take some convincing but in time… we just need to meet again, with less hostility”

A long silence passed and Diggle was ready to give up when he heard a long sigh come from the other end, so he waited. She tried, she really did but regardless of all her promises to herself she was finding it increasingly hard to ignore one John Diggle. There was something about him that she identified with, so she caved and answered him.

“Time, I can give him time, what I can’t give him is answers, not right now. Soon, I promise. Until then Mr. Diggle.”

“Okay” was all he could say, in reality what more could he say he was powerless in this battle. He had put his cards on the table and now it was up to them to move forward and he hoped they knew that but, more importantly he hoped that she had Oliver pegged and figured better than him, because he was at a loss from this point on.

“I guess until next time then, oh just one more thing” he took the silence as assurance to ask away “What should I call you?”

“Does it matter?”

“I’d like to think it does”

“What do you call me now?”

“Her? And well I…nothing”

“Mr. Diggle, spit it out”

“Nia” he hears her lightly laugh and he is sure that is the first time he has heard her actual voice, it was airy, lightweight, and different. With obvious amusement she answers him

“Like the warrior in the Swahili folktale your grandmother would tell you?”

“HOW THE HELL DID YOU…THERE IS NO WAY…HOW?”

“I like it, let’s keep it.” she knows his heavier breathing is him racking his brain to figure out how she knew but, she is enjoying this way too much to give away her secret, which is just an email he once sent where he wrote about the story and his grandmother to his brother.

“So, it’s settled. Until next time, oh and Thank you Mr. Diggle, for everything” the click of her hanging up was what made him react, but he was too late. He tried to call back and it went straight to an automated message about the number being out of service. He used to think she was pretty impressive, now, he would be lying if he didn’t admit he was seriously creeped out.

To say that his conversation with Oliver went, horrible, would be putting it lightly, the proof was in the new supply table that was being delivered seeing as he had broken the last one out of anger and frustration. He didn’t understand how Diggle could be so calm. There was a complete stranger out there who knew all their secrets and possibly more than even he knew and yet, he was at her mercy. She had all the balls in her court and he hated it, a lot.

Felicity knew very well that she was like a moth to a flame when it came to the Queens, and if she was being completely honest she was especially partial to one Oliver Queen, but she wasn’t in the business of honesty, she was a puzzle solver.

Knowing that now more than ever she needed to tread lightly and play her cards just right she began to set her plan into motion. Contacting old friends and not so friendlies in order to completely and fully infiltrate the Queen’s lives, she was not taking any more chances. As she settled her last plans and booked her flight to a city she had hoped not to return to this soon she sighed and let it settle. The next couple of weeks were going to be anything but, enjoyable.

As she sunk into her couch with a glass of her favorite wine to run over her plans one last time her computer dinged that distinct tone she had set. She took one last long swig of wine knowing very well that ding could set everything off kilter.

AcidBurn: Hey there love

GFG: What you got for me, been waiting long enough

AcidBurn: Hey, hey you requested a lot of information, a man can only do so much

GFG: Well I thought I was dealing with a top level analyst, not just a man. My mistake!

Acid Burn: Ha! Ha! Alright I get it, well I don’t know what you were expecting but if that was a shit storm coming your way, wish granted

GFG: I’ve never been the wishing type.

AcidBurn: I totally see that. Well hold on because here I come. I analyzed everything you sent for particulates, chemical composition, and origin just like you asked. Origin was simple enough most of it was an alloy composition mainly used on boats, top quality. Now some of the bits sent my spectrometer off the wall. Whatever boat those pieces came from it is now resting somewhere in the Indian sea, because those other bits were from a bomb.

GFG: Indian Sea?

AcidBurn: Sea minerals and deposits from the Indian sea were found, I am sending you the coordinates of the approximate area.

GFG: What about the bomb?

AcidBurn: Remnants of high level explosives, white phosphorus to be exact, was the main cause of the explosion. Nasty stuff and highly unstable. Now the interesting part is that when I searched into the use of white phosphorus along with my other findings one name kept coming up, they seem to be very much the trademark of one Ulysses H. Armstrong, also known as

GFG: The General, I know him well. What else?

AcidBurn: that’s it, with the limited information that is as far as I got. Besides that, all I can tell you is that the boat was under water at least 2-3 years based on the corrosion of the material.

GFG: Great, send me all the results, you know where to send it

AcidBurn: You know if you give me more details maybe I can look into the finances of The General and backtrace who hired him

GFG: Or I can do that

AcidBurn: Right! Hacker, my bad

GFG: ;)

AcidBurn: Well, I just sent it, happy findings

GFG: Thanks and like always payment is in the metaphorical mail

AcidBurn: Much appreciated

Dammit, she didn't know what the hell The General had to do in all of this but it seemed that she was taking this trip not a minute too soon. Robert, knew something had gone wrong but she had no idea the extent. Just when she thought she had gained an advantage she ended up three steps back. She had to admit the young Queen came into her life probably just in time. She made a silent promise to Robert, she would keep his son safe.

For now her only immediate concern was how many vacation days she had available at QC.


As Oliver finished taking out his frustration on Diggle, he couldn’t help but shake the idea that there was someone out there who knew the whole story. He had a confession from his father, a book he later found, and his hallucinations to guide him. While it was evident that she, whoever she was, knew everything and had all the answers to his past five years of questions, he knew nothing about her, didn’t even have the simplest form of communication.

He knew it was his fault, he had been rash and aggressive and scared her away. Well, maybe not scared, he had a feeling she didn’t scare easily. But he had sent her running and cutting off all communication, he had been an idiot.

As Diggle approached him with a bottle of water he was so entrenched in his thoughts he didn't quite hear what he said, only catching the last part which was enough to catch his attention.

“What? What are you talking about my IT Girl? What about Felicity?” He asked genuinely concerned, he could feel the tension growing in him, he had feared seeking any type of outside help knowing that he could be putting them in danger as he wasn’t even sure what he was dealing with.

Registering his concerned face, Diggle, moved quickly to clarify.

“Relax, I was just saying that I saw her, your IT girl, at the Gala last week”

“Felicity Smoak.”

“Yeah, Felicity. Unless you have some other IT girl I don’t know about?” he said trying to make light of the conversation seeing as his small talk had just got turned on its head.

Oliver’s glare and growing frustration for him to explain where this was going made him sigh in resignation as he continued.

“She was there, at the gala, with that dude you had lunch with at your house with your mom.”

“BOWEN? Carter Bowen??”

“I guess, you think that’s her boyfriend? She was obviously his date.” Seeing Oliver’s expression he has to ask the next question and he would be lying if he didn’t feel a bit of worry begin to creep up on him as well.

“Is that going to be a problem, is he a problem? Oliver if she is in some kind of danger we have...” seeing Dig’s concerned and confused face he reigns in his features and simply adds,

“Not at all. I was just surprised. She didn’t strike me as the, nevermind. It is not a problem. So what do we have on the next name?”

A long silence passed between them and as he watched Oliver walk towards the salmon ladder to continue training. He knew that was a conversation he had to bookmark for later.

As Oliver began training he wondered why he hadn’t noticed Felicity at the gala. Feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing he decided to check in on their unofficial member the next time he was at QC.


Felicity knew her time was scarce and that if she wanted to make a move on the whole Tommy/Cordelia situation she needed to do that now, precisely when his father had cut him off, financially. Seeing as he had been so receptive to the contact she had already made with him, it was now or never. She had a meeting set for drinks in a couple of hours at a hotel near Starling City National Airport, using the excuse that she was only in the city for a couple of hours before she had to head back home. As she finished getting ready and summoning Cordelia she found herself a little rusty when it came to the very breathy posh british accent she used. She couldn’t help but admonish herself for falling out of practice and becoming too comfortable as just Felicity. She had been warned of the dangers of complacency.  

→ → → → →

“Look, you say you want this that you know exactly why you are doing this, but all I see is insecurity, doubt and fear. Sorry, sweetie but that shit is just not going to cut it. You need to toughen up or get the hell out and stop wasting my time.”

“I am not going anywhere and you can’t kick me out, you OWE me, or did you forget?”

“How could I? You remind me every step of the way, my gratitude will run out, soon.”

“You’ve been saying that for the past three months.”

“And you haven’t improved in the last four.”

As she stared at him mouth agape and with slowly narrowing eyes she couldn’t help but agree with him.

 

One year prior she had found herself in the middle of a fight that wasn’t hers, she had no idea until it was over, who she was fighting and just who she had just made her enemies.

The minute she heard the words ‘Suicide Squad’ she knew, for lack of a better word, she had fucked up, royally. She was already in her own war and here she was now jumping into a fight, fresh out of training, disobeying her mentor and friend. Halfway through she realized she was standing there face on display for all to see, man she truly was a newbie.

Just as she decided to resort to defensive maneuvers and get out of there ASAP she was hit with a powdered substance right in her face. She lost sight for a bit and immediately dropped low, all her senses going into overdrive. As she walked back she stumbled on something and clearly heard a groan.

Regaining her balance she looked down and saw a blonde man in black tactical gear wounded and weak. She immediately grabbed him from his shoulder holster and began to drag him away. Stumbling more than once and unable to properly coordinate, she was beginning to worry for both their safety.

She quickly made it to one of the jeep convoys and managed to throw him in and drive away, vision blurring and minor spasms began to tell her something was seriously wrong. As she began to swerve she felt a limp hand lay on her arm, she turned and made eye contact with half hooded blue eyes and was surprised to see the man had propped himself up in the seat.

“Pull over.”

“I can’t. I need to get to the safe house.”

“Pull. Over.”

“No, now concentrate on not dying.”

“If you don’t pull over we are both going to die, 100 meters turn right cabin down the road stop there.”

She didn’t question him she didn’t have the luxury to do that her tongue was going numb and she could feel the spasms spreading to her hands and her feet which was evident by her suddenly hitting the brakes. She drove faster, the fear was taking over.

As soon as they reached the cabin she went to get him out, she helped him up and felt a prick on her neck. How the hell did he inject her? How did she not see it? Out of surprise she dropped him on the ground. He landed with a loud thump and an even louder groan. Before she could turn on him he said one word that stopped her dead in her tracks.

“Antidote”

In a flash she understood, the powder had been poisoning her. She was starting to feel better so she quickly picked him up and took him inside to tend to his wounds. She was still reeling and her senses were still all wonky but the spasms had stopped. As she tried to help him he simply nodded and told her that all they both needed was rest.

She couldn’t agree more, she had been struggling to keep her eyes open for the last 10 min. As she began to give in she saw him get up and grab the first aid kit, last image she registered was of him cutting his shirt open and gathering supplies.

When she woke up 2 hours later she felt like, well, like she had just been run over by a freight train, twice. Her head felt like it would explode and the low burning light of the candles felt like halogens in her eyes. She tried to get up and quickly laid back down.

When she opened her eyes again she saw those blue eyes scanning over her and with a glass of water in hand, he was her new favorite person. She gladly took it and drank it all. When she looked up he had a smirk on his face and was reaching his hand out.

“Welcome back, that’s some nasty stuff, huh? No worries the headache will pass, eventually.”

“What was that? Who were they? Who are you?”

He slightly chuckled before he took the glass from her still weak hands. She couldn't help but notice the wince when he reached and she knew his injuries had been worse than he had said earlier. She could also tell he was favoring his left side, she made note of that in case she had to get out of this cabin, in a hurry.

“My name is Nemesis, nice to meet you?”

With a tilt of her head and a look of disbelief she questioned him “Seriously, Nemesis? That’s what you’re going with? Sounds like a comic book villain.”

“Then you are going to love this, those guys were the Suicide Squad…”

“Suicide Squad? That is just as ridiculous. They’re not real, that's just ridiculous”

“Maybe, but we are effective”

“We?” it hit her like ice cold water, he was one of them a member of this secret government squad composed of criminals and convicts that up until a couple of hours ago she thought were just a conspiracy theorist's wet dream. She had been wrong, obviously.

She didn’t even know when she had picked up the large fire iron and taken a defensive position but his raised eyebrows and surprised look told her he wasn’t expecting that. Had he wanted to kill her he would have done it while she slept, she realized belatedly.

As he raised his hands in surrender he opted to sit down,

“Seeing as you did save my life, the name is Thomas Tresser, pleasure to meet you?”

“Felicity, just Felicity”

“Well, just Felicity, now that we are acquainted I guess it’s only appropriate that I thank you for saving my life, Thanks, I owe you.”

“I’ll hold you to that. Now what the hell was all that.”

He laughed at her complete change in mood, she looked more relaxed and almost feisty, he would be lying if he didn’t say he kind of liked this girl, she had spunk.

“That is a long story, the point is some people are not happy that we are working for the government and some hate it even more when we come to their ‘territory’ and well sometimes fighting ensues. As to what that was in regards to you, that’s a little nasty substance created by one of my less than friendly squad members, a lunatic by the name of Count Vertigo”.. .

A quick and hard smack to her head took her out of her memory. She was about to respond but realized she had gotten distracted, again. She gave him an apologetic smile and took the ready stance.

“You ready to do the exercise again and again until you are flawless?”

“Yes!”

“Great, this is a skill Felicity, the minute you become overly confident or stop practicing it, is the minute you get caught in your own lies, get tangled up and you lose, everything. Got it?”

She simply nodded and continued to practice. She was thankful that an expert of disguise of Tom’s caliber had taken her under his wing even if that meant the occasional scuffle with the ‘good guys’ she had a mission and Tom was a necessary asset.

“Now sing, and make me believe you are Cordelia from London, Cambridge graduate and yada yada yada”

She still didn’t quite understand how this would train her to disguise her voice but she trusted him having seen him on the field. She knew damn well that if he asked her to sing row row row your boat while jumping on one leg and spinning down a busy interstate, she would probably do it, but he didn't need to know that.

As for how to disguise her face she had a good friend with some great tech that was going to help her in that department.

→ → → → →  

She entered the Ritz feeling fully confident that she was Cordelia from her overly primped hair to her Louboutins. As she sat at the bar to wait for Tommy she knew she had to play this just right, she could not burn through this identity like some of the others, Cordelia was a valuable asset.

Tommy wasn’t quite sure why he had agreed to this meeting. He had always been attracted to Cordelia but it had become clear from the beginning that she was all business and that had made him like her even more, over time. Now here he was 40 minutes outside of the city having drinks with her at a hotel bar.

When she contacted him he didn’t know what to think when she said she had a business proposition, he couldn’t help but notice she had appeared at exactly the right time.

He easily spotted her in the small crowd and walked eagerly towards her. As he approached her she instinctively turned, eyebrow raised and lip slightly turned up.

“Cordelia, wow you are quite a sight for sore eyes”

“Oh Thomas, always the charmer, thank you.” She waves over the waiter with a barely noticeable gesture and they are quickly being seated in a quiet private table. His favorite drink being placed in front of him before he could even order it. With a devilish grin he thanks her.

“Now, let us get to business.”

“Always the same with you Cordelia all work and no play. How have you been? How’s life?”

“Busy. Now, I contacted you because I am looking for a partner I can trust in Starling City whom can protect my interest, and naturally my favorite Starling resident came to mind.”

“Well, I hope I rank higher in your favorites list than just within Starling City” he said with a smirk. She allowed herself a subtle chuckle before she continued.

“I am expanding my marketing and public relations business to the west coast and I need a field manager for the whole west coast. Let us be honest Thomas, nobody handles the media and public quite like you and I would love to tap into that particular skill set.”

“Years of being a tabloid darling finally paying off, and here my father said that all that bad publicity would never amount to anything.”

“So you are interested?”

“Very”

“Great! I am heading to the US home office to settle last minute details. Meet me there next week from and we shall go over the details, your contract and negotiate. If all goes well in two weeks time we will be partners.” She said the last bit with a wink and a raise of her glass. He gladly toasted with her. With a promise to see her in four days time they said their goodbyes.

Felicity was surprised by how well that meeting had gone, she honestly thought she would have a little convincing to do but it seemed like Tommy was more than eager.

Everything was set for her plan, now she had to finish prepping. QC had given her the time off she needed and her flight was set to takeoff in three days time. Meanwhile she would have to prepare herself to reunite with people that might not be too happy to see her.


 

The three days passed in record time, as the seat belt light lit up and the captain announced that they would be landing soon, she took a deep reassuring breath. She was ready for this, it had been three years but she was coming back to one of her dearest friends and that outweighed the fact that some other acquaintances might be waiting too.

As she walks through Gotham City International Airport she looks for her hired driver but can’t seem to find him, she is already running 10 minutes late for her meet with Cassandra and there is nothing Cass hates more than tardiness. She hurriedly makes her way towards the exit resigned to take a taxi when she hears an unmistakable voice.

“Well, to what does Gotham owe the pleasure of your visit Ms. Todd?

“Business, Mr. Todd” she says turning slowly, chin up, an unaffected stare into deep blue unyielding, cold eyes.

“Well then, shall we?” the unwelcome ‘acquaintance’ says with a smirk.

“I have a driver” she says quickly turning around and continuing on her way.

“That would be me, and I prefer to think of it as an old friend doing you a favor” he smirks at her as he catches up and stands in front of her impeding her from continuing any further.

“I’ll take a cab” she says with aggravation as she walks around him.

Before she can go too far, not that she could get very far in those stupid Louboutins, he grabs her arm and turns her into him

“Seriously, Cordelia I love our cat and mouse play but Cassandra is waiting. You know how she feels about waiting” she sighs deeply and simply nods, he winks at her and she can’t help but roll her eyes as she walks ahead of him.

If she knows him and she does, he is parked directly in front, illegally and not really caring. That used to be charming and alluring now it’s exasperating and immature, especially when she is supposed to be the one in her early twenties and reckless.

He opens the door and helps her in letting his hand linger a bit too long on her elbow, With a poignant look he lets go and they are on their way. Of all the people she expected to see, he, was the last she ever expected to make an appearance. To say that his unexpected presence worried her was putting it lightly, it set her on edge, yet again he always had a way of setting her on edge, setting all her emotions to their max and not in a good way.

→ → → → →

“Jesus, Cass did you have to move to the sketchiest neighborhood in Bludhaven? It took me two weeks to find you and believe…”

Before he could finish his sentence the butt of a sword was hitting him upside the head the room going instantly black. When he came to, he had a pack of ice on his head and a pair of apologetic eyes scanning him over, apologetic beautiful eyes he noticed once his sight focused a bit more.

Sitting up he saw Cass come into sight with a smirk and a couple of aspirin. “Here you fool, you know you’re lucky she was here.”

“HA! Lucky? Getting knocked out isn’t necessarily lucky”

“Well, had I been here I would've killed you”

“I guess I am lucky” he answered sarcastically.

“What are you doing here?” she asked

“Our friend sent me to find you”

“Well, you did, now you can go back to Gotham.”

“and bring you back”

“Oh, I am afraid that part of your mission will be a bust.”

“Come on Cass. We need you back home. You can’t tell me you would rather be here in this shit hole with baby blue eyes there.”

“Careful, Todd or I’ll let her show you how much more effective she is with the other end of that sword.”

He snorts loudly before getting up and walking directly into her personal space and extending his hand, “Jason Todd, and you are? Besides gorgeous”

Felicity makes quick eye contact with Cass and she gives her an approving nod, “Felicity, just Felicity”

Three weeks later Jason had made himself at home with them and had even partaken in her training. He definitely was impressed with her martial arts skills even more when he learned that she had previously trained with Richard Dragon.

“Wait, wait you trained with Dragon and now you are here training with Cass, what can she possibly teach you that a master like Dragon didn't already?”

“Many things, more importantly modern weaponry. Also let us not diminish the value of training with a woman who understands your limitations and knows how to turn them into an advantage.”

“Modern weaponry? You call the sword modern, cause sweetheart let me tell you your definition of modern…”

“Dragon showed me the sword” she interrupted him. He raised his eyebrows in surprise before he continued,

“Well, aren’t I glad you never showed me your skill set that first night we met.”

“Lucky, you were lucky” she smiled at him.

“So, I’ve been told” he winked back at her.

Six months later her training was coming to an end but she had one last job to do as payment to Cass. She had to assume a new identity and infiltrate a company in order to gather intel.

“Everything is set, all you have to do is enter your name and you will be cleared to enter the company under your new identity as an overseas consultant.”

“Name, damn I need a new name. How about Cordelia?”

“I like that, it suits you, fucken sexy” emphasized Jason as he came to sit next to her leaving no room in between them. “Cordelia what?” he asked as he brushed some hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear.

“Uhmm I have no idea, Cass?”

“It needs to be something easy to remember that you won’t get tripped up by, maybe something common.”

“How about Todd? Cordelia Todd! Damn, I always wondered what my last name would look like on a beautiful lady, I like it. How about you Ms. Todd?” he says as he stands and extends his hand to take hers.

“Has a nice ring to it, Mr. Todd” she answers with a smile as she takes his hand and stands up.

“So it is settled, the birth of Mrs. Cordelia Todd” he says as he raises her hand and places a kiss on it.

“Uhmm not quite. It’s actually Miss Cordelia Todd, single” she says with a smirk and a wink as he raises his eyebrows and a sneer overcomes his lips which are still lingering on the back of her hand.

→ → → → →

His hand on her arm and the sudden stop of the car brought her out of her memory. She would have never imagined back then that only a year later she would find herself showing him those precise sword skills she had once mentioned in friendly conversation. Life definitely had a way of turning friends into strangers and lovers into enemies. His voice finally brought her completely out of her reverie.

“Anytime, sweetheart.”

She simply nods at him as she makes her way out of the car and towards the cafe.

She sees the woman she has called a friend for many years sitting and looking as lethal as always. Normally she would attempt to sneak up on her and spark that glint of surprise and pride every time she got one up on her but with Jason she knows that is impossible he is as inconspicuous as an elephant in a china shop. The minute they park, tires screeching, she knows Cass is waiting for them.

“Hello Cordy” she says with a warm smile and a look that lets her know she really means “Hello ‘City”. She smiles back and can’t help the rush in her step as she hugs her, something about Cass always felt like home. They sit and quickly move past emotions and catching up and dive right into business.

As Jason comes and takes a seat putting a cup of Moroccan mint tea in front of her she sighs, her irritation evident she  is about to say something when Cass, ever perceptive, beats her to it.

“You had many request, some required pulling some strings that are not mine.”

“That’s where I come in Gorgeous, oh and by the way you’re supposed to say thank you when someone brings you your favorite tea.” he says leaning forward and into her personal space.

“I prefer coffee” she says without even looking at him keeping her eyes on Cass.

“Since when?” He is genuinely surprised seeing as when they were better acquainted he had a cupboard full of different exoctic teas just for her. Her favorite being a moroccan mint mix he had brought back from Morocco.

“Always.” She looks pointedly at him out of the corner of her eye and then purposely turns her whole body to look at Cass ignoring Jason she continues, “If he has to be here then he has to be quiet.”

“Fine by me” smirks Cass.

“HEY!” but that is as much protest as Jason gets in before they both turn to look at him so intensely he almost squirms, almost. He smirks then snorts before sitting back and sipping on his coffee.

They continue to talk business for the next two hours until Cass gets a call, the building she rented to be the face of Cordelia’s business is ready and the crew is there for any last minute changes. They head out and continue to discuss their plan on the way, Jason only chiming in every now and then.

Everything was set and so far no one had caught wind of her return to Gotham City. Tommy was set to arrive in a couple of hours. She had arranged to fly him over privately. The business aspect was running flawlessly and Jason had even agreed to make an appearance as himself in the waiting room, in order to chat up Tommy and legitimize her business even more.

As Tommy makes his way into the Lobby he makes no effort to look around or take in any of his surroundings. Having grown up in big fancy buildings they didn’t impress him. As he approaches the receptionist she immediately greets him without him uttering a word.

“Mr. Thomas Merlyn, pleasure to have you in Gotham City. I hope your flight was pleasant. Ms. Todd is waiting for you on the top floor one of our security will accompany you. Now if you would please check in your cell phone and any other electronic devices we would greatly appreciate it.” At his confused look she further explains,

“It is company protocol. We have many high profile clients and privacy is our number one priority.” she states with a smile.

“Of course” he responds placing his cell phone and laptop in the secured drawer.

“Now go ahead and pick your own password and I will lock this in front of you so that you are assured that no one will have access, but you sir.”

At that he smiles as he enters his code and shuts the drawer. He is escorted to the top floor and asked to please wait while they inform Ms. Todd that he has arrived.

As he sits and waits he hears a loud laugh carry into the room before he sees the man it belongs to, immediately recognizing him.

“Tommy Merlyn as I live and breath, what the hell are you doing in Gotham City? And more importantly why aren’t we getting drunk with a pair of beauties on our arms” he says as he embraces him.

“Jason Todd, it’s been ages. I see the Wayne lifestyle is treating you pretty great.”

“Can’t complain. So what are you doing here at nine|muses”

“I have a meeting with Cordelia Todd”

“Oh, please tell me that is a business meeting and not a pleasure one. Because I have been trying to change that woman’s name to Cordelia Todd- Todd, if you know what I mean, for ages and if a green billionaire playboy like yourself beat me to it, I am going to be devastated.” They both laugh loudly before Tommy finally clarifies.

“No, not at all. All business on this end. But I see you are still same old Jason on that end.”

“Until the day I die. Honestly though no one does the talent, marketing and public image thing like Cordelia, she is the best. Only person Wayne Industries uses.”

“Glad to hear it.” with that Jason excuses himself feigning a phone call. A minute later Cordelia comes out and welcomes Tommy. They jump right into business and a couple of hours and a lunch meeting later everything is settled and his contract is signed as the new Lead of the West Coast headquarters.

As she walks him down to the lobby they are about to say goodbye when Jason intercepts them again calling both their names from across the lobby floor. Knowing very well that she will have to put on her business face he goes full force and takes advantage of her predicament.

“Tommy boy leaving so early? No way I cannot let you leave Gotham without having dinner with me tonight. Cordy and I have dinner reservations at Rioja Crianza, best red wine in Gotham and you have to join us.”

He shots a knowing smile to Cordelia as she cringes at his use of her nickname. She then turns to face Tommy and puts on her best business smile.

“Of course Thomas you should join us, enough business for one day.”

Tommy concedes and they make plans to pick him up at 7:30pm.

“Cass did we get all the info from his cellphone and laptop?”

“Yes we did and the tracker has been set on both. We have full access to his devices, I already tested everything and it is up and running. FYI he got an email from his father, let’s just say he is making it awfully easy to keep him working with us. He just asked him to pick up his things and move out of Merlyn Manor.”

“Hardly a father, I’d say. Poor guy no wonder he got in so much trouble growing up. I always thought he was exaggerating when he said his dad was a monster”

“Guess not” adds Felicity.

As she sat down to add some ghost programs onto his computer she couldn’t help but smile at how well her plan was evolving. Quickly finishing up she starts to get ready for her unplanned dinner, hoping Jason didn’t have anything up his sleeve, but he rarely did anything without an agenda.

As she finishes getting ready and slipping into an elegant lace black dress she expertly ties her knife holster to her thigh

“I see old habits die hard” Cass’ satin voice carries through the room with a melancholic smile.

“I could say the same thing to you. What ever you are trying to read, stop. I am not hiding anything.”

“That’s not what your body is saying”

“Yeah, well you aren’t an open book either. I saw your reaction, subtle as it may be, to the information on the laptop. Whatever you suspect you know you have to share with me.” Cass slightly huffs in amusement before she sends a defiant look towards Felicity.

“Hey, I was taught by the best.”

Trying to change the subject she focuses back on the knives

“You still favor the Cold Steel throwers”

“Only after I have them modified” she winks at her.

“I remember” she says subconsciously ghosting her hand over her left thigh, where a 5 inch scar lay.

→ → → → →

As Cassandra Cain leaped gracefully from rooftop to rooftop keeping in her line of sight the dark haired woman dressed all in black she couldn’t help but hope this was the woman from the picture she had been searching for high and low. Her last link to the man that could save her life.

As the woman turned the corner into an alley Cassandra rushed to try and keep an eye on her but she was gone. As she came to a halt and started to look around she saw a shadow on the fire escape of the adjacent building yet, heard nothing. Shifting to get a better look she lost sight of her again, only to see her take a swinging backwards leap onto the roof from inside a window on the top floor.

Immediately taking off running behind the woman trying and half the time failing to keep her in sight. This had to be her. The way she moved and glided through the high skyline of Bludhaven only confirmed this was the young brunette from the picture she found, her only link to Richard Dragon.

Reading her movements she realized she was getting ready to lead down the building, judging by the way she shifted her center of gravity and tightened her body, anticipating her next move she leaped down and immediately took off to intercept her descent.

Her plan paid off as she came around the corner just as the woman hit the ground with a grunt. Immediately picking up some heavy debri tossing it and taking her legs out from under her. Before the woman could fall she twisted her body and before her body even touched the ground Cassandra felt a sharp pain in her left thigh, as she looked down she saw a jagged throwing knife embedded deep in her leg.

With surprised eyes she turned to look at the woman who was already up and running again. After what seemed like hours of chasing she had lost her in the twist and turns of a city that the woman obviously knew better than her. As she slowed down to take in her surroundings and try to track her, she felt another knife push up against her throat and a strong arm band around her.

“Who are you? What do you want? Why are you following me?”

“I am not your enemy, I just need some information”

“Nice try, crazy leather lady. You don’t hunt down someone that you want information from.”

“Look, I mean you no harm I am just looking for Richard Dragon and I know you…” Cassandra didn't even get a chance to finish her statement before she was being punched in the ribs repeatedly and tossed to the ground. The mention of Dragon obviously setting her off.

Cassandra had no choice but to fight back, immediately taking a defensive stance and dodging a knife that flew straight at her chest. They both knew they were in for quite a fight. What the woman hadn’t expected was for the crazy leather lady to counteract every move she threw her way and predict every next move she planned.

Exhaustion was quickly taking over as she realized her predator was blocking her every move never really hitting her unless absolutely necessary. As she began to recognize her strategy she drew back her attack,thankful, seeing as she was on verge of collapse after running more than 5 miles, jumping off a building and fighting for the better part of an hour.

With heavy breaths she asked again, still with a knife in her hand, she was no fool after all, “Who are you?”\

“Cassandra Cain, and please don’t hold it against me.”

With evident shock  she stated “Daughter of Lady Shiva” Cassandra only nodded while raising her hands in surrender.

“What do you want with Master Dragon?”

“I am hoping he can save my life” she said sincerely.

“How?”

“Well that is a long story, and it is quite cold and I am aching. Can we talk somewhere else?”

Hesitantly she reached down for her phone made a few precise strokes then nodded for her to follow.

“You know my name, but I know nothing about you.”

The woman stopped abruptly contemplating her next move, Cassandra saw her shoulders relax in resignation before she turned to face her and extended her hand “Felicity, just Felicity”.

→ → → → →

As a very cocky Jason, a slightly sad Tommy and an irritated Cordelia made their way into the restaurant they were quickly seated and the best bottle of red wine was presented to them. Cordelia gave an approving nod, noting Jason’s knowing smirk at her approval of his choice. They talked and ordered dinner as the night passed without a hitch. Cordelia couldn’t help but notice the sadness that laid behind Tommy’s smile.

She had no doubt he had read his father’s email and she couldn’t help but sympathize with him. She really hoped that this new venture although in many ways fake would provide him with some pride and much needed distraction from his family problems.

As the night ended and they said their goodbyes Cordelia couldn’t help let a little Felicity out as she took a minute to talk to him alone

“Thomas, I know this is none of my business and I have no place in this but, as you know within our circles news, especially gratuitous gossip, spreads quickly. I don’t pretend to understand your relationship with your father, but if he fails to see what I saw the first time I met you then there is no more you can do than live your life for yourself and hope that time will show him otherwise. You’re a great man, and a great businessman Thomas and I hope, in time, I will be proven correct in assuming you are also a great friend.” She squeezed his hand which she still held and gave him a soft smile, unbecoming of Cordelia Todd but very much that of Felicity Smoak.

He could do nothing more than nod from the surprise of her sudden speech and couldn’t help but return her smile with gratitude and a new sense of admiration for more than just the businesswoman.


 

With the days quickly passing she finished up her business in Gotham City, and was thankful that everything on the home-front had been quiet.

Enjoying finally being done with her little ruse she enjoyed laying on the couch drinking a great red with one of her closest friends. She couldn’t help but admit that she missed this, the familiarity and ease of having someone on her side.

Taking her first deep breath in weeks, six to be precise, she hoped that everything she had set in motion would be well worth it and that her many lives wouldn’t collide and drag her down with them. As she contemplated her next move in Starling City she heard Cassandra shift and sigh for the 3rd time.

That was enough to remind her of their pending conversation.

“Spit it out Cass.”

“City...”

“Don’t Cass. You saw something in that laptop that set you off now spill.”

Taking a deep breath she slumped into the couch and Felicity knew she had won. “ Merlyn’s dad?”

“Malcolm Merlyn. CEO of Merlyn Global, what about him?”

“I ran into some of his pictures on Tommy’s computer, he looked familiar, something about him set me on edge and I can’t quite place it. How much do you know about Merlyn Senior?”

“Not much, but I am starting to think I should maybe look into him?”

“Yes, you should. I might be confusing him but my instincts are telling me that…”

“Say no more. If I have learned one thing it is to never doubt your instincts. You know my hands are pretty full right now and well maybe you…”

“No worries, I will look into him maybe get in contact with some people and scratch this itch.”

“Thanks Cass.”

“Now that that is settled I can almost see the bottom of your glass and that is” she says pointing at Felicity for her to finish her sentence,

“Unacceptable and atrocious” they both laugh only being interrupted by a ding from her tablet which is immediately followed by a couple more dings.

She reaches for her tablet and quickly opens her programs only to see the flurry of news of a shooting at Queen Consolidated in which one Moira Queen was almost injured and one very well known and notorious mobster, Paul Copani, part of the Bertenelli Family was killed.

She grunts in frustration as she quickly access the street cameras and is not surprised to see a very quick and agile Oliver Queen almost run down the mysterious motorcycle shooter. She grunts once again as she calls the hanger and requests they prepare the plane, she needs to be in Starling City before sunset.

Cass gives her a knowing look to which Felicity just shakes her head raising her hand in pause telling her to not even ask. Cass smirks and gets up to help her pack. She figures it was nice while it lasted but they both had complicated lives and they needed to get back to them.

They say their goodbyes and reassure each other that they need to do this again, soon. When Felicity arrives at the runway she isn’t surprised to see Jason waiting for her, that man really did have his finger on the pulse of Gotham City.

“Whatever it is Jason, I promise you I have no time and even less patience,”

“This is all business Felicity just some info that I think you should be aware of.”

“Okay, what is it.”

“Wayne and I recently encountered two old friends of ours while overseas on business. Normally, I wouldn’t share any of this with you but seeing as one of them went out of his way to mention you, I figured it was courtesy to inform you.”

“Okay now you piqued my interest Jason. Spit it out already.”

“Constantine Drakon and Deathstroke.” He couldn't have missed the slight gasp that left her lips as she heard the name of the man that killed her father and held his mother’s life in his hands.

“When?” she asked through gritted teeth. She had been looking for him ever since he got away from the SCPD at the Hunt building.

“Two weeks ago when I left the country.”

“And you tell me NOW?!”

“Look Felicity, Drakon made no mention of you I don’t think he realized that the you that Deathstroke spoke off was the same you that Drakon knows.”

“How does Deathstroke know who I am, he’s never met me as me. Tell me everything.”

→ → → → →

“How much spinach has this asshole been eating? Would of been nice if you had mentioned super strength in the file you sent” he gritted out still feeling the impact of Deathstroke’s punch to his ribs. He heard the click in the comm as the frustrated voice came through.

“That’s because he didn’t. Dammit we need a new tactic. Get out of there , we will finish this fight another night”

“Are you two kidding me, right now. There is no need to regroup we just need to avoid close range combat. We can still get what we came for. I didn’t get dragged all the way out here to run.” she perches on top of the trash bins getting a better view and empties out a full clip. She knows she managed to catch the small portion of skin exposed where his collar ends and his mask begins, the slow trickle of blood a good indication.

She sees him raise his hand and touch the blood and release a boisterous laugh. “Seems like you aren’t so useless after all, Red.” his tone dripping in arrogance.

Red that is an order, both of you get out of there now, we don’t know what we are dealing with and we need him alive. We can’t risk either of you being exposed or worse” he knew ordering her around wasn’t a good idea but he was frustrated with himself as his injuries had him uselessly sitting in a damn cave.

“Red, he’s right. I can barely stand and we have no idea what this dude is on. You always say that it’s better to fight smart than hard, so let’s be smart about it.”

“Fine. I hate it when you use my genius against me, on our way back” she mutes the comm as she starts to retreat, she can hear the cackle and taunts behind the creepy black and orange mask.

“Runaway now children, run and hide and tell the bat I’ll be waiting for him when he's ready to show his coward of a face. Next time you two cross my path I won't let you walk away.”

“You know I had already decided to leave when he didn't even flinch when I emptied the whole clip into him, I just didn't want to give Batboy the satisfaction”

“I know Lizzie, but when he's right he's right. Plus he knows Deathstroke, very well, if he felt something was off we need to trust his instincts. Also he called you by your codename.”

“I know I heard him. It doesn't matter it’s a throwaway name anyway.”

Bruce had no choice but to let him go and lose him again after years of searching. He couldn’t take the risk his super strength had been a surprise and he wondered who made the already deadliest man in the world even more dangerous.

Luckily for him before the trail went cold Felicity managed to track what he was doing in his city and make a sizable dent in his funding and more than likely managed to piss him off even more and draw a bigger target on herself. Her pride was going to end up getting her hurt, or worse.

“Felicity the video message was reckless, now he knows it was you.”

“That was the point Brucy boy.”

“You girl takes too many risk and it will cost her.” he barks at Jason as he exits the room.

“I am not his girl”, “That's what I like about her” they both say at the same time. His comment earning him a shoe to the head her’s pulling an honest laugh from him, the kind shed grown to like more and more everyday.”

→ → → → →

“Deathstroke mentioned Red, it seems he hasn’t forgotten you. He sent a warning, he said you might of tried and hid but he’s kept his ear to the ground and knows you’ve been meddling. He’s out for blood Lizzie, he threatened to find you and kill you for your interference on the island.” She said nothing as he contemplated whether to continue “Felicity, this mission of yours seems to come at a price…”

“Don’t Jason, just don’t. We’ve had this conversation before and we agreed to disagree.” she interrupted clearly upset.

“Not sure a sword to my neck and a broken nose and rib is an agreement but fine. Just promise me you will be extra careful and I will let you know if I hear anything else. Please Felicity, take care of yourself. Deathstroke, he...something was off like deadly off, just be careful.”

As she walked away she said over her shoulder “Aren’t I always.” She boarded the plane and just as the doors closed Jason whispered to himself,

“No, and that’s what worries me Lizzie.”

Chapter Text

 

 

As her plane landed in Starling City she took a deep breath and prepared for the inevitable, she would have to re-initiate contact with Oliver and she wasn’t quite sure how that would all go, especially since she now had, in Cass’ opinion, one too many identities roaming around Starling, and one too many potential people whom could figure it all out.

She had scoffed at the, as she saw it, criticism of her abilities. Cass should know better, hadn’t she fooled her once before to prove this point. She would never admit it but Cass’ worries did affect her. She had felt herself getting tired and some nights everything seemed to overwhelm her and threaten to drown her just as sleep would creep in. If the panic attack she had after her last encounter was an indicator she wasn’t as put together as she told people. Hell after her conversation with Jason, the almost panic attack she had on the plane spoke volumes to where her head really was at.

Yet, she didn’t have time to dwell, especially not as she was leaping across buildings following this mysterious leather clad woman on a motorcycle. Well, she suspected it was a woman her figure and mannerism were a dead giveaway. She was going to put an end to these hits, the right way.

She saw the bike come to a stop in the distance near a dark warehouse, she hurried across the last three rooftops to catch up and get a better look. Propelling down the side and landing silently in the alleyway she sneaked into the warehouse before the door closed, sticking close to the shadows. Her eyes adjust just as the helmet comes off revealing long brown hair, she had a bet going with herself that it was a woman, guess she had just won.

She considers confronting her just then but thinks better when the woman turns and she realizes that she looks awfully familiar. She snaps some pictures and stays to gather some intel before heading off to better plan her next move.

As she is about to leave she feels her phone vibrate and silently curses herself for forgetting to turn it off. Luckily the woman is gone but had it gone off just two minutes prior she might be in the middle of a fight she didn’t want to have, not yet at least. Looking down she is not surprised to see the 10th message from one exasperating Oliver Queen. She is beginning to regret ever giving him her number. Wow, she never thought she’d say that about the playboy billionaire, how quickly time changes everything.

Oliver: Where are you? What was the point of this number if you don’t answer? We have a problem in Starling City.

She smiles down at her phone at his use of “we” , at least it seems he is warming up to the idea of teamwork. She puts the phone away and finishes taking pictures before heading home. On her way back she receives three more messages the last one from Dig, stating an emergency. She simply rolls her eyes, boys can be so dramatic.


Tommy is man enough to admit that what he is about to do is scary, really fucken scary. Yet, he knows that with the way his luck is going lately he better ride this high before it turns on him. As he knocks a young man comes to stand next to him, he sighs deeply, and damn he spoke too soon.

“Hi Laurel, to be fair I was here 10 seconds before this guy” Tommy says as charming as he can possibly be standing outside of Laurel’s apartment carrying take out next to the pizza delivery guy. As she pays and lets him in, he decides he needs to jump straight in, before his luck further declines.

“Look Laurel, I know we went about this the wrong way from being friends for a very long time, to friend's with benefits, very good benefits, and now I would like to take you out, to dinner”

“So you brought dinner, to invite me to dinner?” she smiles at him

“Yes, I feel like recent events in my life are finally taking me in the right direction and I’d like for everything else to also fall into place, and that involves you going out with me, on a date.”

She can’t help but beam at him, damn he is charming she must give him that and he is also right, the benefits were great.

“Fine, dinner sounds great then, maybe you can tell me all about this new direction in your life.”

“Well, dinner is right now so sit down and let me tell you about my new job.”

“You have a job?” she teases with amusement

“Yes, woman of little faith. I am an executive.”

“At Merlyn? I thought your dad…”

“No, at nine|muses, Cordelia Todd’s PR Agency.”

“Cordelia Todd’s agency?” she ask a little suspicious.

“Yes!”

“Huh?”

“Huh, what?” he ask curiously

“Nothing, you were saying?” she responds a bit weary of this woman’s reappearance into their lives.

“Oooookay, well…” Tommy excitedly tells her all about his trip to Gotham and the great job that Cordelia recruited him for. He seems genuinely happy and quite proud of himself and Laurel can do nothing else but smile at his happiness. Maybe she needs to reconsider her first impression of Ms. Todd.

→ → → → →

“Laurel Lance this is Cordelia Todd, she’s visiting from Gotham City” said Tommy as he introduced the two women.

“Pleasure, are you enjoying your stay in Starling City?”

“Absolutely, Tommy has been quite the tour guide and so accommodating, I might never want to leave Starling” she responds, holding Laurel’s gaze.

She knows exactly what Laurel is doing and if it was her, Felicity, she would rush to clarify that she had no romantic intentions towards Tommy and she would blush profusely at the implication. Yet, right now she is Cordelia and she doesn’t bow her head to anything or anyone.

Women like Laurel are her equals and if anything are intimidated by her. This will not be the exception. She squares her shoulders and with a glint in her eye she aims to complement and kill with kindness without ever losing the upper hand. She quickly succeeds as Laurel can’t find one, damn thing wrong with her.

Laurel contemplates this woman with all her poise and confidence as she talks politics, science, art, philanthropy, fashion and really any topic anyone brings up with command and certitude. Yet, there is something about her that doesn’t sit well with her. She tells herself it has nothing to do with the way Tommy looks at her like the new toy in the store or how everyone hangs at her every word but she has to admit it is partially due to that.

“You know Laurel, if you give me a chance you’d be surprised by how much we have in common.” Laurel is startled by her sudden appearance right next to her, how did she get there that fast and without her noticing? She focuses on answering when she sees Cordelia give her a curious glance.

“What do you mean ‘give you a chance’?”

“You are far more transparent than you think. You’ve been looking at me like I am one of your case files all night.”

“Sorry I didn’t…”

“It is quite alright. I get it, newcomer on your grounds, I would expect nothing less from a strong, smart woman like yourself. Yet, like I said we could get on famously, if I pass the test, of course” she said with a genuine smile.

Laurel couldn’t help but smile coyly at being caught, gauging her teasing tone she gives in “I like you more already, Cordelia.”

“I can be quite the charmer!” she says with a wink.

Both women laugh heartily. She hates to admit it but she does like her, she just can’t figure her out and that she definitely doesn’t like. For a few seconds they do get along quite well that is until she asks too many questions about the Queen family sending all of Laurel’s red flags up and with them her wall of doubt. Immediately putting distance and causing Cordelia to lose the hard to gain ground she had accomplished.

Years later as she maintained contact with Tommy and occasionally that meant run-ins with Laurel she realized that the Queen family subject was as delicate a subject for Laurel as it was for her. Of all her youthful, eager mistakes losing Laurel as a possible asset was one she regretted the most.

→ → → → →

As they settle to eat Tommy’s phone rings, he looks at the caller ID and excuses himself.

“Cordelia, what can I do for you?”

“Thomas, hope you are back and ready in Starling City?”

“Absolutely, thank you for flying me back.”

“My pleasure, just one of the perks. Now I presume that you have settled in and are ready to get to work?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Perfect. Being the new kid in the west coast game we need new clients if we hope to keep this expansion going. Seeing as our reputation precedes us we already have some clients, yet we are hoping to have a full portfolio come the end of the year. That is where you come in.”

“You need me to make the rounds at the parties and get you new clients?”

“Not necessarily, I need you to get our publicist and agents into the parties and introduce them to the right people, so we can get exclusives on the hottest places in Starling City, for example the Verdant Night Club and Per Se Restaurant grand opening, they will do the rest. Remember Thomas, you are there to run the office, not work the grime, they have that handled. I just need you to close the deals after the work has been done. Is that okay?”

“Absolutely.”

“Perfect, we will be in contact. Keep me posted on those two events. Best of Luck!”

“Yes, The Verdant and Per Se grand openings will be a great start and luckily I already have my invitations. Thanks.” As he hangs up and heads back to the table, he can already see the stealth in Laurel’s look. He knows Cordelia is a sore subject especially when Cordelia and the name Queen is in the same sentence.

“So, I take it that was your new boss” she says with what he can only describe as disgust.

“Yes, looks like I have my first assignments.”

“I heard, so Verdant, huh?”

“Yeah, and Per Se, so?” he ask already knowing exactly where this is going.

“Convenient that you happen to be best friend of the owner who also happens to be the heir to Queen Consolidated and more importantly back from the dead Oliver Queen.”

“Laurel” he says in a warning tone.

“Do you want the pizza or noodles first?” she ask with an apologetic smile

“Both” he says smiling back.

He’d be lying if at first he wasn’t hesitant by the sudden contact Cordelia had made especially after the topic of Oliver Queen came up, although mainly brought up by Jason Todd, his return had been big news and many were trying to get a piece of that cake. Yet, his worries lasted up until she gave him his little pep talk, as he called it. The sincerity with which she approached him and expressed herself could not be faked. He didn’t know why but he trusted Cordelia Todd even if no one else did.


As Oliver continues to take out his frustrations on the dummy he is reminded by Diggle that he needs to go home and that Thea is waiting for him to relieve her of babysitting duties to which he simply scoffs knowing very well that he needs to follow up on Bertenelli on his own.

“Bertenelli has a lot of enemies. The best way to figure out who is targeting his organization is to get inside of it”

“Let me get this right Oliver? Your mother is shot at nearly killed and the way that you process this emotionally is by going undercover with the mob.”

“I am not trying to process it emotionally.”

“Yeah well I think that’s your problem, man. Ever thought about just being there for your family.”

“I tried that today with Thea. She told me I wasn't being honest with her, and she is right. I can't very well explain to her that I left our mother alone and bleeding on the pavement because I am fast enough to almost run down the attacker. But what I can do is protect my family. Diggle when I find out who this guy is, he is a dead man.”

“That very well may be the case Oliver, but you still should go home, spend some time with them while we wait and figure out a plan.”

“I have a plan.”

“Yes, undercover, got it. Now let’s wait for your back up and maybe some more intel from her.”

“I don’t need backup. In any case you sent her the message, right? And? Nothing!”

“Yes, for the 5th time. I told her it was an emergency and NO, she hasn’t responded. Probably because she knows it’s a lie” Diggle mumbled under his breath. Oliver having heard him grunts in frustration and acknowledgement because he is probably right.

As he walks away he tosses his escrima sticks across the room and curses out loud. He would be the first to admit that he was adamant , to say the least, in letting the mysterious woman join their efforts, but he can’t deny that she always seems to be one step ahead. Therefore she must know what is happening with Frank Bertenelli’s people and more importantly who is taking them out.

“Will you relax, she comes around on her terms. If she felt there was something we needed to know she would have contacted us already.”

“How can you be so sure? She has been silent for over a month.”

“I don’t know man, but she seems like the type that doesn’t go away that easily”

“I hope you are right, She… I just hope you’re right.”

“We all have questions and she seems to have the answers, I get it, but we have to play this right, okay?”

Oliver simply nods. Knowing Dig is right doesn’t make the waiting any easier.

His cell phone dings. They both turn immediately and rush over to the desk. Diggle answers the phone, but before he can say anything she answers.

Felicity: Frank Bertenelli’s people, on it. Talk soon.

And just like that without waiting for a response, much to Oliver's dismay, she hangs up.

“Told you, man” Dig says with a smile as Oliver simply grunts and mumbles angrily under his breath as he begins to punch the mannequin, poor defenseless mannequin thinks Felicity as she watches him from the remote access camera she hid in the basement.

“DAMN, I am so good, it’s scary” she praises herself, out loud which she said she would stop doing even sarcastically.

She laughs at her own ego, before checking her running searches on the entire Bertenelli mob family and begins her training, mimicking Oliver and learning his moves. You could never be too prepared to fight Oliver Queen, another thing Cass had reminded her of.


Just as Oliver heads home Felicity’s searches end and she begins to review the data while checking the face recognition software she has running on the pictures of the woman she took. Settling and skimming over FBI surveillance photos she suddenly pauses, there she is on Frank Bertenelli’s arm at dinner and coming out of his house. She goes over the surveillance photos as dread falls over her.

His daughter is the one carrying out these hits, the question is why? A little more digging gives her the answers she wants and she knows this is truly trouble, a woman scorned and heartbroken is no easy feat, especially when she is determined and trained.

She decides to investigate a little further and much more in depth and there is no better way than to appeal to Mr. Bertenelli through his business and offer him a deal he cannot resist. She preps everything and using contacts in the mob that are on her payroll she gets a meeting with him for that afternoon, in his home per her request. She figures if she can beat Oliver to the punch then maybe he would be more willing to spend time with his family. Family was always so important to Robert and she hates to see Oliver so distant from his.

→ → → → →

“Felicity, Felicity, guess what?” a squealing and flustered Iris yells as she enters the coffee shop where Felicity is sitting and trying to finish up some research.

“Jesus, Iris. Calm down you spooked half the patrons to death. What’s going on?” Felicity had met Iris while at a Harvard frat party where she had an unfortunate incident with a pot brownie, not because of the pot but because of the nuts, which she happened to be allergic too. Iris was a Harvard 3rd year student and had noticed Felicity’s adverse reaction and had helped her out and gave her a ride back to MIT. After that they had been fast friends, I guess anaphylaxis has that effect sometimes.

“Don’t you tell me to calm down when I have incredible news that is going to make this trip to your hometown totally worth it!”

“Oh gee thanks, here I thought spending the holidays with my mom and I was enough, not to mention the all expenses paid trip to a thriving west coast metropolis. Sorry, my mistake”

“Oh come on Lis, you know what I mean and you know there is only one reason that would make this trip so much better  than it already is which is difficult because this has been bar none the best most amazing...”

“Okay, okay I get it, nice save. Now what’s the big news that has you so flustered? The last time you were this flustered it… OHHHH NOOO no, absolutely not! This has to do with Oliver Queen and my answer is no!”

“Come on Lis, don’t do this to me. I got us an in to the Queen annual Christmas party, the biggest party of the year and you have to go with me. You just have to.”

Felicity didn’t know how it happened but she found herself in a dress riding a taxi and approaching the front entrance valet at the Queen mansion. She had sent Robert and encrypted email warning him on the way there but she highly doubted he was in front of his computer checking his emails. As they exited the car and Iris gleefully extended the invite to the security at the front door Felicity prepared herself. Robert and Moira Queen were there greeting their guest, as they approached them she clearly saw the look of surprise and fear that crossed Robert’s face as she shot him an apologetic smile. They said hello and welcomed the girls.

Iris immediately made quick task of searching out Oliver while Felicity stayed as much out of sight as possible and tried at some point to talk to Robert, alone. Finally being able to make his way from talking to the mayor towards the bar she hurried to intercept him catching him right before.

“Mr. Queen I would just like to commend you on such an amazing party and express my deepest apologies for the unannounced visit.” Robert simply smiled at her pulling her by the elbow towards the bar he placed his order and ordered her a soda. While they waited he slightly leaned in to respond.

“Felicity, you are always welcomed in my home and your visit is never something to apologize for. I hope you know that under different circumstances I would have invited you personally” he warmly smiled at her.

“Thank you Mr. Queen, my friend somehow got an invite and forced me to come with her.”

“I am glad she did. Meet me in my study in 20 min I have something for you.” Felicity simply nodded and smiled at him as he handed her the soda.

Felicity made her way back to the crowd looking for Iris as she spots her, she makes a beeline towards her only to stop 10 feet short as she notices that she is talking to none other than Oliver Queen. Knowing it best to avoid that introduction she immediately turns around, not so subtly and walks away, she figures she will deal with that problem later after her meet with Robert and possibly with his help.

She waits by the bar and then heads for the study as inconspicuous as possible. She makes her way into the room where Robert is already sitting with a drink in one hand and completely lost in thought. She makes sure to clear her throat and make her presence known. Robert immediately looks up at her and smiles. As she takes a seat he leans over and takes out two envelopes and a small box with a bow from his office safe and hands them to her. Only slightly laughing at her genuine look of surprise.

She reaches over and takes the gift as he holds her hand and begins to speak.

“This is just a little token of my appreciation but, please open it until you get back to school, as a favor to me.” He adds letting go of her hand.

“Of course, although I will admit I am not the best at being patient and surprises. Actually, I am quite horrible and the likelihood of me waiting is slim, but I will do my best” she adds shyly as she realizes that once again Robert Queen was staring at her extremely amused.

She thanks him once again as she opens her bag and pulls out a small gift, with a coy smile she hands it to him along with a letter.

“Not until I leave” she says.

“Deal” he smiles warmly.

“You know Felicity, I am really pleased that this worked out this way and that you got to be a part of one of my favorite events of the year. You know that the Queen family has been throwing these parties for over 25 years, ever since Moira and I married. We actually began the tradition our first Christmas as Mr. and Mrs. Queen. Now this is the one party I actually look forward to every year.”

“I know. I’ve read and heard about the exclusive Queen Christmas party ever since I moved to Starling City. Never really thought I would actually attend one, let alone be sitting here with THE Robert Queen”

“As a guest of honor, as a matter of fact.”

“Well, look at that moving on up in this world.” She laughed thoroughly amused by their current situation. Any outsider would be puzzled as to the link between the two. She guessed that was exactly what made them the best of allies.

“You know years back the best part of these parties came after when everyone had gone and we would gather around the tree and open up the first Christmas gift before sending Oliver and Thea up to bed. Now we are lucky if Oliver even makes it to the house by Christmas day let alone if he stays long enough to open a gift with us.”

“He’s young, I know how that feels, priorities get all screwy, we are kind of dumb, even us geniuses” she said with a smirk in an attempt to lift his spirits.

“Are you trying to reassure me Ms. Smoak that it will get better given time and maturity?”

“Nope. Just saying that we kids sometimes disappoint our parents because, we don’t always realize that the things we find small and mundane are important and many times precious to others. Like a simple family tradition by a Christmas tree or coloring Easter eggs for Passover rather than going to spring break by the beach.” At his raised eyebrow and questioning look she simply said “don’t ask.”

He smiled as she continued, “All I am saying is that yeah he’s a jerk now but he’ll grow out of it and someday he might even start this tradition with his own family.”

As she saw his smile grow at the possibility along with the silence between them she began to get up and make her way out only stopping when he called her name.

“Felicity” as she slowly turned to face him he walked around the desk with the most relaxed and sincere smile she had seen on him. She realized that that must have been the smile that at one point came naturally to Robert Queen. The Robert of Christmas past, before his burdens and guilt had grown to overwhelm every part of his life. He must have been so easy going carrying a sweet and fatherly smile. She could see in that smile, that he probably thought he had lost, that given time the Robert of the past could return. She guessed Oliver Queen wasn’t the only Queen whom had changed over the years.

“Thank you, once again for everything but, more than anything that keen sense of wisdom that is beyond your years and continues to amaze me. Now, I know without a doubt that I made the right choice in your gift. I really hope you like it.”

“Well that is just not fair because now I really won’t be able to resist” she said with a mischievous smile.

They both laughed as she headed for the door only slightly hesitating as she turned back around and without warning hugged Robert tightly, like a daughter hugs a father. He hesitated for an instant and then hugged her back extremely moved by her gesture. Before she pulled away he quietly told her,

“I hope one day you get to see the Queen Family tradition in person. I really hope you are a part of it because to me you are like my daughter. Thank you, again Felicity.” He gently kissed her on the cheek as she simply responded,

“I’d like that”.


As Felicity drove up to the Bertenelli’s house she took one last long breath. If there was one persona she hated ever having to create it was this one but after years of trying different methods she was resigned to having at least one opposite end of the spectrum, someone with her hand in the criminal world, it was old and it was a cliché but it was true some evils were necessary.

→ → → → →

“Look I am tired of your shit, this is the first and last time I say this, YOU sought me out not the other way around. You know my rules, no exceptions. Now, my cut is 10% and my work is guaranteed, don’t come in here and disrespect me by trying to haggle. You don’t like it, there is the door. Are we clear?”

“You know little girl I am not the Falcone or Odessa family, so your empty threats are worthle…”

Before he can finish his sentence she pulls out her waist knife and throws it across the room, directly into the hand of his lead man who was pointing a gun at her at the moment, making him drop the gun and everyone turn giving her time to pull out her gun and place it under the chin of the nephew of the head of the Triad.

“I really would have thought that Zhishan would have taught you manners. You come into my place of business seeking my help and my services then you try to not only skimp on my percentage but threaten me, you are lucky I respect your uncle or else the insides of your head would be all over my ceiling right now and if you want to keep your grey matter inside your thick skull don't ever call me little girl again.”

She sees one of his men move and quickly throws another knife straight into his knee and watches him drop. She further pushes the barrel of the gun into his chin as she glares at him while simply saying,

“I think it is time you and your men leave, and I think it goes without saying but seeing as you’ve proven to lack common sense I’ll say it, for your benefit, NEVER come back.”

With that she moves the gun and starts to walk away before looking over her shoulder and adding “and take the trash out when you leave” and just like that she leaves behind bullet proof glass and three men with guns come out to make sure they leave.

Not more than 20 minutes after they leave she receives a call from one very apologetic head of the Triad promising that his inept nephew would be taken care of and will never bother her again. She smirks and thanks Mr. Zhishan as she sets up a meeting with him and another of her associates to finish laundering his money.

Man, did she hate being this woman but never had she been more effective with the organized crime in Starling City. She had managed to rid the city of the Falcone’s and the Odessa family before they tried to expand from Gotham and Chicago. Now she was infiltrating the bigger families in order to track their money and make one big power move at some point. Plus this way she knew faces and could set up lower level players and throw the occasional wrench into their organizations.

→ → → → →

She talks business with Frank, as she calls him, having come highly recommended by associates of his and offering a better business deal than his current associate he quickly takes a liking to her.

Like any good mob family he introduces her to the rest of the family mainly, Nick Salvati and his daughter Helena. She manages to place a couple of bugs on the property along with a tracker on all three of them. With Frank all it took was a handshake, Nick a bit of flirting and a missed step yet, Helena proved the most difficult and she settled with placing one on her purse which was in the foyer on her way out of the house.

She manages to pique his interest and before she leaves they are in full business and they have scheduled a test run of $100,000 by the end of the week. As they finish their last drink Oliver arrives at the Bertenelli house. Her phone dings letting her know he is close by and she curses under her breath. Man he really is an impatient fool.

Unbeknownst to her, which was rare, Oliver had made plans to visit Bertenelli that same evening. He was relying more on his charm and Bertenelli’s already expressed interest in doing business with QC than any mob connections to garnish a meet or rather an unannounced meet.

As Oliver arrives at Bertenelli’s the first thing he notices is a black and tan sports car sitting in the roundabout. He is immediately taken by it, it is an exact match to his father’s favorite car. He remembers every detail of that car perfectly, it was not only his father’s favorite but his as well. He remembers how angry he was when his father seemingly got rid of it from one day to another. He had argued and fought with him about the car eventually storming out of the house and not returning until six days later, hung-over and with some model like girl on his arm to celebrate the New Year.

Running his hand across the body of the car he can't help the nostalgic feeling that overwhelms him, if he didn’t know better he would swear this was his father’s car. Just as he comes around the car still admiring it he notices the front door open and Frank Bertenelli accompanied by an unknown woman appears.

The woman is about to leave as Frank helps her down the steps meeting up with Oliver’s current position. He apologizes and introduces himself and she seems to take very little interest in introductions. Saying goodbye to Frank with a kiss and walking around the car she comes to stand in front of Oliver with a courteous nod and an amused smile, he is standing in front of her door and doesn’t seem to move or realize it.

Frank tells her that his offer still stands, anytime she wants he’ll take that beauty off her hands, gesturing towards her car. Then noting Oliver’s obvious admiration of the car and now the woman it belongs to he turns to him before saying “I saw her first Mr. Queen” an impish smirk on his face at the double meaning of his statement.

Oliver realizes that the car belongs to the unknown woman who by the way did not introduce herself, now that he thinks about it. As he moves and turns to ask her she makes her way into the car winks at him and without saying anything the car purrs to life and takes off.

Before even thinking she immediately parks outside and watches as they go inside. Once she is sure the coast is clear she contemplates her next move. She knows she is taking a risk and frankly doesn’t know why. Cass would say that she wants to be discovered, that she wants to drop the facade and tell Oliver Queen everything. Cass would also say that she wants to prove her wrong and show that she can interact directly with Oliver Queen in all her different personas and have him be none the wiser.

Shen then realizes that if Oliver was going to continue his path in taking down all the scum in Starling, her money laundering persona was one he would need to be aware of and not interfere with years of work. Quickly making up her mind she decided that exposing this one identity didn't mean she couldn’t still keep him on his toes. In a matter of minutes she finds herself breaking into Oliver’s car and leaving a note in his jacket that simply reads

 

What did I say, Queen? We are really going to have to work on Patience and Trust!

She heads back outside and hops back into her 56’ Porsche Roadster, her favorite Christmas gift from one Robert Queen.


 

Inside the Bertenelli house, none the wiser to everything outside Oliver quickly pulls his playboy persona and gets straight into business.

“Mr. Bertenelli”

“Call me Frank”

“Call me Oliver”

“Thank you for agreeing to meet me in my home. As you can see I had a very important meeting with a very beautiful woman and in any world that is always priority.”

“Of course, who could blame you. Well, my father used to say that living rooms make the best conference rooms.”

“Oh, I am going to steal that” he points to the  man standing behind him and introduces him. “Nick Salvati, my associate.”

“How do you do.” he greets him as Frank pulls him into the main living room.

“Let’s have a drink.”

He follows him and sees Helena on the second floor and is immediately taken by her beauty yet, there is something in the way she is looking at him that tells him that she knows exactly who he is and she doesn’t like him very much.

“So Oliver I will be honest with you I was surprised to hear from you, it was my impression from the local news that you were not going to be involved with your family’s business.”

“Apparently, there were a few catch phrases that I missed while I was away for five years. One of them being lame stream media.”

They all laugh at his comment before he continues.

“The press never gets anything right.”

“Oh, I know a thing or two about that.”

Nicks excuses himself as his cell phone rings. A call that Felicity is immediately tapped into and listening in from her phone as she drives home. Meanwhile, Oliver and Frank continue their business meeting.

Frank quickly informs him that he wants the contract to the new applied sciences division at QC, which Moira had denied them. Oliver assures him that he wants to do business with him. They exchange condolences for the recent events involving Paul Copani and his mother.

“You know sometimes I wonder why I stay” adds a thoughtful Frank.

“I have the same thought.”

“So why did you come back after that island? You could have settled anywhere in the world.”

“Because Starling City is my home” he says pointedly and with deeper meaning than Frank can understand at the moment.

Just at that moment Helena walks in speaking Italian “chi si volta e chi si gira sempre a casa va finire… no matter which way you go or turn you always end up at home.” Oliver looks at her with deep regard and it is still there that disapproving look directed at him.

“Oliver this is my daughter Helena.”

“Hello.”

“Nice to meet you. I am heading out” she directs to her father.

“Alright, just take one of the guys with you.”

“I can take care of myself” she says with childlike irritation.

“I wasn’t asking sweetie.” Frank adds trying to maintain composure in front of a possible future business associate.

Just in that moment Nick interrupts letting him know that the meeting they had asked for is set for right now. Oliver excuses himself but, Frank won't have any of it and ask for a minute while he talks to Helena.

As they walk into the next room Helena finally says what Oliver has been reading in her eyes.

“Oliver Queen the rich man’s Lindsay Lohan.”

“Look, I’ve got to go to this other meeting but I need someone to take him to dinner.”

“So you pimp out your daughter?”

“No, I ask her to help me close a business deal. I remind her that the family business is dying and that we need this contract and Oliver Queen can give it to us. Please sweet pea for us, for me.”

She nods reluctantly agreeing. Oliver is hesitant but Frank insist and he agrees to go to dinner with Helena as they all leave.

Frank heads to his meeting unaware that right on his tail is Felicity. Knowing very well that a meeting between Bertenelli and the Triad can turn deadly quick she decides this is one meeting she needs to attend in person. To say that she was worried about an unaware Oliver having dinner with the very person he was looking for was putting it lightly which was why she decides to text Diggle and tell him to keep an eye out for their boy simply saying, he might be a little above his head on this one.

The Triad meeting goes as expected a lot of denying and a lot of threats. But nothing more. Now she really had to stop Helena before this escalated into a gang war. She quickly patches the audio over to the SCPD where Lance and Hilton are on the case.

“Sounds like Bertenelli is ready to put pressure to whoever pays him protection money” observes Hilton.

“Yeah well three of his best men have been murdered. He’s got to make up the cash somewhere. Whoever is pruning the family tree is looking to make Bertenelli suffer.”

“So you do think it is one of the other families.”

“No.”

“Then who?”

“Well according to the crime reports none of the vics took a clean shot about half the bullets missed. Our killer is not a pro.”

“That’s not stopping him from pulling that trigger, innocent bystanders and all.”

“Then it’s up to us. Or this is going to blow up into an all-out mob war.”

Felicity contemplates simply letting the police know that Helena is the bike riding assassin and getting it over with. Then she remembers that Oliver is with her and that might turn out very bad. She also can’t help but feel there is more to the story of a daughter turning on her father, even if her father is a mob boss. She decides to simply keep tabs on her and not allow her to kill again until she can figure everything out and give Bertenelli an answer he will believe that will not cause a mob war.


Oliver knows having dinner with the mob boss daughter is not the best game plan but he is the carefree playboy and right now that is the best advantage he has going.

Oliver and Helena arrive at the restaurant and are welcomed by the owners, Oliver can sense that they are bending over backwards to please Helena. Something tells him they have some involvement with her father if the fear he sees in the owner’s wife is anything to go by.

“I heard about your mother’s accident. Is she going to be okay?”

“She is going to be fine, thanks.”

“I am glad. So, why would you want to go into business with my father? You know who he is and how he made his money.”

“You don’t approve of your family’s enterprises.”

“We share a name, that name defines us whether we want it to or not. You already made judgments about me just like I've already made judgments about you.”

“Right, I am the rich man’s Lindsay Lohan.”

She scoffs a bit embarrassed before saying “sorry.”

“That’s okay”

“Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Yeah.”

“I know it must have been hell for you alone on that island for 5 years but…”

“But what?”

“But was there ever a day when you were just happy to be away from everything no pressure from your family no need to be the person that everyone else expects you to be. Was there ever a day when…”

“When I didn't feel lost and felt free? More than one and uhm, those are the days that I miss,” Oliver didn’t know why he was being so honest with her. But something about the way her eyes desperately searched to make a connection. The way she spoke about her family made him feel like she would understand. She would accept without question his reasoning.

“People are always asking me what I missed the most… Air conditioning. Satellite radio. Tag ell- te-”

“Tagliatelle?”

“Right. But those are the answers that I give people because those are the answers they are expecting.”

“Why can’t you just be truthful?”

“I don’t know how truthful I can be.”

“You’ve been through a crucible and it changed you how can it not.”

“That’s beautiful” he said changing the subject and nodding towards her necklace. “Your cross?”

“It’s a gift from my fiancé.”

“Fiancé”. He breathes out slightly embarrassed “I didn't know you were engaged” he says apologetically.

“I’m not” at his confused look she elaborates, “anymore, he died.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too. That was my crucible.”

“Well it’s nice to... It’s really nice to be with someone that I could be myself with.”

“It’s nice to be with someone who knows how hard it could be.”

Meanwhile Dig is in the foundry keeping tabs on everything when he realizes that the Bertenelli family has been going around hurting people and strong arming the local businesses. He goes to call Oliver and warn him, when his phone rings.

“So how is our boy doing on his date?” Diggle immediately knows it is her, or Nia as he likes to call her.

“I was about to call him.”

“About Salvati and his little visits. Looks like at least two of us are keeping our minds on the job.”

“Why am I not surprised that you already knew?”

“Been there done that. Well looks like they will be hitting Russo’s next and our boy happens to be right there having dinner so call him, have him get out and suit up, I am on my way.”

“How do you… never mind, I’ll call him, by the way why do you call him ‘our boy’?”

“Do you think he would like it?”

“Hell no!”

“That’s why” the phone clicks and Dig can’t help but laugh. She was really going to make Oliver work for this, he kind of liked her more for it.

Oliver’s phone vibrates interrupting their conversation, he sees that it’s Dig and excuses himself to answer. Dig tells him that something important came up and to call him back immediately, of course he leaves out the part about their mutual friend.

“Helena, I have to go there’s something that I have to do. It’s about my mother or otherwise I would uhmm I would stay.”

“Yeah, I would like that.”

He puts money down she reaches over and grasps his hand as she says,

“My father would kill me if I let you pay.”

He takes it back and smiles “I have a confession” he says as he stands. “I didn't want to go out with you tonight.”

“That makes two of us.”

“I am really glad that I did” he adds.

“That makes two of us” she says with a coy smile.

He smirks and hums his approval then turns to leave only turning back when she calls his name.

“Oliver, be careful with my father.”

He simply nods and steps outside and around the building to make his call.

“What happened?” he ask a bit irritated at Dig.

“It’s what is about to happen. Bertenelli’s enforcer Nick Salvati.”

“Yeah, drank a scotch together, he seems like a real stand up mobster.”

“Yeah, well he has been paying visits to everyone that owes the mob protection money.”

“Diggle, I am trying to figure out who took a shot at my mother not take on all of organized crime.”

“Well, listen Oliver, Salvati and his goons have already put 4 people in the hospital tonight and if somebody doesn’t stop him. The poor bastard who owns Russo’s will be next”

“Wait, wait Russo’s?”

“Yes, where you were just at having dinner. So suit up and…”

“How did you?”

“What? Know that you were having dinner with Beretnelli’s daughter? Which by the way Oliver, you are supposed to be going undercover not speed dating.”

“I didn’t have a choice.”

“Yeah, well I've seen her on the web, you made quite the sacrifice.”

“Salvati is here. We will talk later.”

“Duty calls” with that Diggle hangs up as Oliver runs to his car to change and intercept Salvati.

Salvati and his men enter the restaurant making threats and asking for payment. Mr.Russo tries to argue and they begin to wreck the place, when they are about to hurt Russo and his wife an arrow pierces through the room and takes out the lights.

The Hood takes out the first man and avoids getting shot by Salvati, as he is about to take the other man out, Helena in her leather and wearing her motorcycle helmet dashes in opening fire on the entire place and hitting Salvati on the leg. Oliver recognizing the helmeted person from the attack at QC immediately responds by disarming the attacker. They fight back and forth and his bow strikes the face mask of the helmet breaking it and jerking the helmet off to reveal his recent dinner companion.

As she runs out he is stuck in place shocked by the discovery and extremely confused. Just as he turns towards the door he sees a figure jump down from the fire escape across the street and run in the same direction disappearing around the building. He is about to run out after them when his phone vibrates with an  incoming text

Felicity: you could have stopped her, put an end it to it all. I will take care of this now, just stay out of my way.

Knowing he won't be able to track them and needing answers he heads back to the foundry.

“I don’t understand why she is targeting her own family?”

“I don’t know. Here I thought you had parental issues.”

“It is not a joke Diggle, and how was she there? You knew. That is how you knew I was at Russo’s. Did she know about Helena? Did she tell you what she was going to do to Helena?”

“Oliver, you are not falling for this girl, are you? Because I know you can't be that crazy. Helena Bertenelli shot at your mother and she also murdered four men in cold blood.”

“She has to have reasons for what she is doing. I need to find her.”

“Reasons? Since when do you care about the bad guy’s reasons? Oh, because she is the bad guy, Oliver. She is the killer and whatever is going on in your head you better get it straight, man. Any attempt on his right hand is going to send your new friend’s father on the warpath. She had the right idea, you should have stopped her. You’ve been compromised. Let her take care of it now and let’s just stay out of the way.”

“I know what I am doing.”

Diggle stares at him almost not believing what he is hearing before he sighs, resigned, and says all he has to say before he leaves. “Now, I know how your family feels when you lie to them.”

Oliver heads home knowing that going out tonight to look for Helena would not be a good idea. He needs to clear his head and more importantly he needs to make sure he doesn’t have a run in with her, the new unexpected part of his life. Although, he can’t help but wonder if she caught up to Helena and if so, what exactly did she mean when she said she would take care of it now?

As if he had spoken out loud she shows up on his terrace. Staring at him as he paces the room waiting for the right moment to interrupt his contemplative state.

“I didn’t kill her if that is what you are worried about” she says as he turns around quickly flinging with great accuracy a throwing arrow across the room. She grunts and doubles over as his eyes go wide realizing who he just stabbed. As he goes to move she raises one hand up to stop him and chuckles.

“Just kidding” she says showing him that she had actually caught the arrow as she rotated it in her hand.

His eyes go wide and then he glares at her. He is about to step forward, when she smirks and clicks her tongue at him.

“Now, now calm down just wanted to teach you a lesson, if you are going to be so pensive don’t lose sight of your surroundings even in your own home. Isn’t that like survival 101?.”

His response is to simply growl, she wouldn’t believe it if she hadn’t clearly heard him growl, she might be wearing him out far more than she thought, that kind of makes her feel a little proud of herself.

“A growl, that’s what you are going with? Great choice! Alright before you lose your cool completely I’ll just tell you what I came to say and be on my merry way. Like I said I didn’t kill her, not that that was even an option, not my M.O. She and I had a very calorie burning conversation. Your girlfriend has some moves, some, as in limited.” At his exasperated look she simply raised her hands in surrender and continued. “I made her an offer, stop this crazy killing spree and I would help her bring her father and his whole organization down, the right way. I would also give her a new identity and a chance at a new start, unless you want to offer her the role of future Mrs. Queen, well, then that is fine as well. But just make sure that she never does it again or else I will, and you won't like it when your little love match turns into a threesome, and not the good kind.”

“Do you find this amusing? Is her crucible entertaining to you?”

“Oh, I see we reached the pissing contest part of the evening. My crucible was worse than yours, no mine was. Spare me, I frankly don’t care who suffered more or the reasons behind it, or how little you were hugged as a child. We all have plights, we all have regrets but we don’t all turn to murder to satiate those pains. For that matter we don’t impose pain or fear on others, either. A lot can be accomplished with truths. Whether you tell them or make others face their own. So spare me your righteous rant, you want to show me how deep her crucible runs then get her to see reason and move forward with her life. Make her see that murder was never the answer to any of her pains.”

As she turned around to leave she stopped while precariously standing on the terrace rail and looked over her shoulder, “Oliver, you should talk to her, the real you, maybe if it comes from a place of honesty she will see reason.” She took one foot off the rail and suddenly pivoted back around to face him balancing simply on one foot the entire time, as she said,

“And Oliver, you should never have to worry about how truthful you are to the people that truly love and care for you. Robert wouldn’t want you to live life the way he did, shrouded in secrets.” As he was going to respond, wanting to know how she could possibly know his exact words from his conversation with Helena, she simply leapt off the terrace into an elegant backflip keeping her legs completely straight until right before she made contact with the floor. Peering over the terrace he saw her crouching in a feline like stance before she got up and just like that she was gone into the shadows.

Deciding that he had way too much to think about he opted to work off some of his energy and then for the umpteenth time he would attempt to sleep.


The morning came too soon and with it a plethora of unanswered questions but far more suspicious was an unexpected visit from one Detective Quentin Lance. Having seen Oliver at dinner with a mobster’s daughter the detective did something that he never thought he would.

“Detective is everything okay?”

“Your uhmm… your buddy with the arrows was at Russo’s last night” he just couldn’t seem to address Oliver Queen without taking some sort of jab at him, baby steps he told himself.

“And I was there earlier with a date, so what?” he responded already sensing where this was going, once again. “You think I’m the hood guy again?”

Lance can’t help but scoff before answering “no, your date Helena Bertenelli, if I were you I’d stay away from her. Her family is bad news on a good day.”

“Why the sudden concern for my well-being?”

“A few weeks ago I made a mistake. I almost got you killed.”

“And you felt like you owed me one?”

“If, I did as far as I am concerned this clears the books.” Without another word he leaves as Oliver stands there slightly perplexed and the tiniest hint of a smile playing on his lips.


Felicity begins her day going over everything that happened while also catching up with everything she missed. Making herself comfortable on her couch the first thing that manages to catch her eye was Tommy’s predicament at the local Indian restaurant where his card was declined and confiscated, sighing she realizes that must have been during his date with Laurel Lance. She makes a point to contact him later that day and maybe make up something about an executive expense account or something to help him out until she can make a paycheck acceptable.

Continuing her review she sees that she had also missed the visit of one Malcolm Merlyn to one Moira Queen, that shouldn’t be suspicious seeing as they were lifelong friends but at this point in her life she knew that nothing could mean everything so she also put a pin on further looking into that visit.

Just then she sees that Tommy has had quite a busy morning, his car was reposed all his accounts frozen and as she checks into him he is currently at his father’s home, which cannot be good. She taps into his phone and listens in on their conversation.

“Do you think it is a joke?” She slightly smiles, he and Oliver had a lot of things alike.

“No you are. Although, I must say your chronic irresponsibility and terminal laziness has lost its humor.” Ouch she knew that had to hurt, Malcolm really was far more ruthless than she had ever thought. “Hmm you are wondering, why now? The better question is why not sooner.”

“It is my trust fund!”

“Which is comprised of my money. Oh excuse me, was comprised.” Felicity can almost hear the disdain and smirk on his lips. Salt into his own son’s wounds, she’d seen animals with more parental instincts.

Tommy goes to walk away but before doing so he adds. “You know a lesser man would let this end him but I was recently told that I cannot do anything about the assumptions you have made about me, the only thing I can do is continue to live my life knowing that in time all will be exposed for what it is. That is what I intend to do, keep your money and along with it keep your need to be a father because I don’t need anything from you I don’t think I ever really have.”

Felicity can’t help but let her lips tug into a sad smile at Tommy’s use of her words. Now she knows for a fact she really likes one Tommy Merlyn and even if the last thing she needs is one more enemy and mission in life she will help him prove his father wrong and turn him into the most successful PR guy, or whatever his passion is, so that he can confidently walk with his head held high in his father’s presence..

She waits a beat before calling Tommy, crossing her fingers that he would answer, he does trying his best to sound as normal and pleasant as always.

“Hello Cordelia, great to hear from you but I am starting to worry that you don’t trust that I can do this job.”

“On the contrary Thomas, I am constantly told by my legal team that I might be trusting you a little too much, pishposh. I actually wanted to let you know that I have set up a ridiculously high expense account for you, along with a company car at your disposal. We also have a couple of executive apartments in the city which we offer although I don’t know if they will be of any use to you, as well as the car but it is something we give all our executives. I have it all set up I just need an address to deliver everything to, hence my call.”

“Cordelia you are a godsend.”

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing, at the moment I am staying, well that is irrelevant but you can send it all to a friend of mine’s home, I bet you remember her, Laurel Lance. I’ll email your assistant the address.”

“Nonsense, it is Saturday my assistant has the day off just text me the address I already sent it to Starling I just have to make a call and you will have it by this evening.”

“Great, it really does pay to work for Cordelia Todd, thank you Cordelia, really thank you”

“My pleasure Thomas. Also if you need anything and I do mean anything please do not hesitate to ask. I know that over the years we have become no more than acquaintances but I really feel we can be great friends and a token of that is extending my hand for anything you might need, simply ask.”

“I would really like us to be friends as well. Thanks again Cordelia.”

“You are welcome, Thomas.”

“If we are going to be friends, then please feel free to call me Tommy”

“I much rather prefer Thomas.”

They both slightly laughed and said goodbye before hanging up. Tommy didn’t know how she could have such great timing but he was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. With new conviction he texted her the address adding a final thank you, to which she sent back a smiling face saying “at some point you will have to stop thanking me, I highly encourage it as a matter of fact.”

He then headed to Laurel’s to share the good news as Felicity simply sank back into her couch with a new found smile, that was until she remembered her unfinished business with Helena and Oliver. Sighing deeply she sends a text before heading to the shower.

Felicity: I gave her a 5pm deadline, make sure and speak with her before that.

At that Oliver almost tosses his phone across the room but simply takes a deep breath and decides to head over to her house and follow Helena in order to find an opening to talk to her.


Oliver finds her at the graveside of her fiancé deep in thought. He knew she was contemplating the ultimatum that she had proposed. If Helena was anything like him she was probably not taking kindly to being given an ultimatum, god knows he wasn’t dealing with it all that well.

“You said that losing him was your own crucible that it changed you, you didn’t say how?”

“When you love someone as much as I loved him with all of your heart, you can’t just turn that emotion off when they are taken from you. You still feel things as deeply. And if it can’t be love that you feel then it becomes hate.”

“Hate for who?”

“Oliver, you should stay away from me.”

“Helena…” just as he is about to plea with her to abandon this path they are interrupted by Nick Salvati and some of his men. They are taken at gunpoint and forced into a van driving for about 20 min, he was counting, before they are loaded off at a warehouse in the Glades. One glance let’s Oliver know where they are and the fact that he wasn’t blindfolded tells him that they intend to kill them both.

Once they are tied up and Nick is standing defiantly in front of Helena she speaks. “My father is going to kill you for this.”

Nick simply smirks as he slaps her across the face and knocks her down, chair and all. As Oliver tries to escape from his zip ties his patience is wearing down, and knowing that it is nearly 5 pm he is not sure if he should be relieved or more worried.

“I’ve wanted to do that for years. Spoiled bitch.  I knew it was someone from the inside waging war against your father and me. I just never thought it would be this inside the organization.” Nick said with deep hate towards Helena as he pulled something out of his pocket and showed it to her as he continued. “You dropped this at Russo’s.” He had her cross necklace.

“You’re smarter than I gave you credit for Nicky.”

“You’re not.”

Oliver can’t help but interrupt their little back and forth in hopes of still getting out of this unharmed or at the very least buying some time.

“Hey! You’re a businessman right, so let’s talk business.  I can offer you a lot of money if you let us go.”

“This isn’t about money Richie rich, this is about loyalty.”

“He’s got nothing to do with any of this.”

“Then what the hell is it about.”

“My father had Michael murdered.”

He laughs “of course he did he didn’t want you to know the truth about your rat of a fiancé. He was gathering evidence, he was talking to the fucking FBI. The love of your life was going to destroy your father.”

“You’re wrong.”

“I found a laptop in Michael’s bag, Helena. Everything that could send your father and me to prison for the rest of our lives was on it.”

“That computer WAS MINE.” She screams at him tears already clouding her eyes. “Michael wasn’t the one talking to the FBI, I was.”

“You?” Nick says in disbelief.

“My father is a monster he doesn’t care who he hurts to keep his money and power and I wanted it to stop.”

“Well, then it is your fault Michael is dead, not your father for ordering the hit or me for carrying it out. Yours.”

“You shot Michael?”

“In the chest so he knew it was me just like you will” he says pointing the gun at Helena’s chest.

Oliver knows he can’t wait any longer and he would be lying if he wasn’t disappointed that the mystery woman did not show up. He rips through his zip ties and tackles Nick. Helena follows his lead and rips hers as well and goes for Nick while Oliver stops the other two men in the room. As Helena is choking Nick he tells her,

“You are going to burn in hell for what you have done.”

“It will be worth it.” She responds almost breaking his neck. Just before she does his body goes limp in her hands and she sees the dart in his shoulder. Oliver is about to kill the last goon when he turns to see Nick on the floor and feels the body in his hands go limp as he turns he sees that the man has a dart in his neck. He turns to Helena and she is also passed out on the floor and he can’t help the pang that hits him as he says her name and sees a flicker of pain in her eyes before she completely passes out.

Before he can react he feels a dart hit him, he drops to his knees and hears footsteps walking towards him. He tries to react but can’t. His vision is blurry but he can clearly hear Her voice tell him what a fool he has been. He hits the floor with a loud thud, the last thing he sees is a pair of black boots and then he hears that voice, again, that all too familiar voice now “why can’t you just listen, for once, Oliver?”

She calls in the three men in the warehouse to the SCPD along with a slew of evidence as to everything they have done. She doses them with a special chemical blend she acquired on the black market in Marrakesh, a little something they call نسى (nasiya) which means to forget. Then she calls Diggle and has him meet her with a new set of clothing for Oliver in a nearby warehouse. Diggle would never admit it but the tone in her voice told him everything he needed to know. They were in trouble, big trouble and she was beyond peeved.

The SCPD picks up the one dead body and the two unconscious ones along with all the evidence and Lance can’t help the cold chill that runs through him at what the consequences of this might end up being. When they can’t explain what happened or how they even got the drop on the warehouse he knows that trouble is just around the corner if Bertenelli decides that he needs to exact revenge. Whoever left all this for them better have a plan for all the aftermath.

As he picks up the evidence a note drops, all it says is,

 

I know how to stop the mob war, I will contact you soon.

Once she is sure that the SCPD has left she turns to face a tied up Helena and an unconscious Oliver with now two darts in his neck.

As Helena wakes up, Felicity assures her that she is safe, for the time being.

“Look Ms. Bertenelli, I get it. You wanted revenge, you needed it, but there were other ways, there were better ways. Now, because you decided that murder was the only way we are here at this crossroads. I don’t do this often but I sympathize with your plight and Mr. Queen”

“You mean the vigilante.”

“Well, I guess that cat is out of the bag. He seems to have taken a liking to you and sees something in you that might or might not be there. I promised him I would try and trust him so I am trusting his instinct just this once and giving you a second opportunity.”

“I didn’t know you had given me a first” at Felicity’s nod she continued “because all I remember is an ultimatum and I don’t do well…”

“Yeah I know, prideful people never do. You two really are kindred, aren’t you? Look, I frankly don’t care what you saw it as before. What it is now is your final chance. Take my original deal and then disappear, staying in Starling is no longer an option for you, I never want to see you in my city again. Start all over somewhere else and all will be forgotten. I will make sure that your father pays for his crimes, all of them” she added pointedly.

Helena simply sits there not sure if she has the strength to truly let go of all that hate she has so deeply harbored. Knowing that she needs to respond she hastily agrees under the condition that she gives her an opportunity to settle her affairs and say goodbye, the last bit she says pointedly looking at Oliver. Felicity simply nods and darts her in the neck, again. Just then Diggle walks in to an unconscious Helena and Oliver.

“Do I even want to know?”

At her low chuckle he shoots her a half smile and ask what they should do next. She tells him that she has to drop off Helena at her apartment in the city and that Oliver is his to carry.

“Once you drop off Oliver at his house meet me at your arrow cave in 2 hours.”

At Diggle’s questioning look towards Oliver she simply says,

“This is between you and I Mr. Diggle, and yes I call it an arrow cave” she winks. He nods and they both head on their way.


As Felicity arrives at the foundry her phone pings letting her know that Oliver is at Helena’s place she takes a second and a deep breath. She should have known that after Thea’s heartfelt conversation with her brother, telling him all that stuff about needing to open up, be honest with someone, and needing to connect with someone in order to be happy, that he would run to none other than Helena. She just hoped that Helena stuck to their plan and said her final goodbye. She hoped for all their sake that this was the end of the Bertenelli/Queen affair, at least for now.

She decides to trust Oliver and let him handle this last bit. She places her phone on silent and hacks the code to get into the arrow cave.

As she walks down the steps the light go out and only the dim emergency lights turn on.

“Always with the dramatic entrances I see” echoes the voice of an amused Diggle.

“We secret identity types live for the drama, to be enigmas wrapped in mystery.”

“I get it now.”

“So, our boy?”

“I left him at home.”

“Well, he is at Helena’s now.”

“What? That boy is gonna be the end of me, I swear.”

“Us, Mr.Diggle, us!”

“You know you can call me Diggle or Dig”

She smiles at him before saying “You can keep calling me Nia, for now.”

At his understanding smirk she continues.

“We need to talk about Robert Queen.”

“I think I should sit down for this.”


Oliver makes his way into Helena’s apartment, he’s not surprised when she senses him and before he can say anything she speaks.

“I’d ask how you got in here but the Starling City vigilante goes and comes as he pleases, doesn’t he?”

“How did you know?”

“I saw you fight, then I saw your eyes and then, your friend? Confirmed it.”

“She’s not my friend” he says through gritted teeth.

“That island changed you in ways that only someone like me could understand, Oliver.”

“If you truly understood you would see that what you are doing right now, although it may feel like justice, trust me it is not. It’s revenge.”

“Sometimes revenge is justice. Or are you under the same belief as your non-friend?” Helena knew she should have been saying goodbye and not trying to rattle Oliver and put him against this mystery woman in hopes that he would side with her rather than that woman, but she couldn’t help it she had to play all her cards. If anyone was going to take down her father, it would be her, no matter who she had to run over to do it.

“Your father killed your fiancé.”

“And what did your father do to you? Isn’t the man in the hood fighting to set things right? Why is your vendetta more valid than mine? We’re the same, you and I!” Her anger was rising and getting the worst of her she could see it in Oliver’s sympathetic eyes. At least they showed sympathy and not contempt, she could work with sympathy, she could manipulate sympathy.

“No, we’re not.”

“Hiding in plain sight. Concealing our anger with smiles and lies, don’t try and lie to me Oliver, you feel the way I do, I know it and deep down in your bones you know it too.” She couldn’t hold it together anymore she needed him on her side she needed someone on her side. Her emotions were overwhelming her and she couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. In all reality behind all her anger she was still very much a scared little girl whom was betrayed by the one man in her life that should have always protected her, her father.

“Why are you crying?” Oliver asked, something inside of him dying to come out, soothe her and hold her. He stepped closer to her and wiped the tears from her face cradling her face in his hands.

“I don’t know maybe it’s because I have been alone in my hate for so long, it feel…” her voice breaks but Oliver doesn’t need her to finish, he knows exactly what she feels, because it is embedded deep in him as well.

“It feels so good to tell the truth.” He says in a deep voice closing the space between them he kisses her. She gives in completely yet, in the back of her mind she can’t help but feel that maybe just maybe he can still be on her side. That if she stayed he would fight for her and stand up to that mystery woman. She could hope, she could give in to him.

Oliver knows that she is still uncertain yet, he can’t help but get lost in the idea of being with someone that truly understands him, that knows his secrets and accepts them. Accepts the murderer and doesn’t run away. Someone that he could help and guide to control her hate and cause some good.

He couldn’t help the tiny voice that plays in the back of his head telling him that only fools trust so easily, that only fools let a pretty face manipulate them, that voice sounds a lot like Slade. Yet, he also hears a voice tell him that he needs to let her go. She is not ready for this she is not disciplined like him, not forged out of survival and need. She made a choice to follow this path, to ease her pains with the death of others, to let her crucible run so deep that it stained her soul and hands with blood. Something physically shakes in him as he realizes that it is the voice of Her in his subconscious, he has no idea when that happened but he tries to shake it off as Helena leads him to the bed. The instant he hits the mattress all his doubts leave him and he decides if just for tonight to give in, tomorrow he could make a choice.


When Felicity finally arrives home after an exhausting day, she showers and gets ready for the few hours of sleep she hopes to get, feeling thoroughly pleased with the conversation she had with Diggle and the fact that he is now completely on Team Felicity and Team let’s save Oliver, from Oliver. She settles into bed, checks her tech one last time and sees that Oliver is still at Helena’s, not surprised. Cuddling into her down comforter she feels sleep begin to seep in when her tablet dings.

She lets out an audible groan and just as she is ready to ignore it, to hell with the world, her tablet dings 3 more times. She reaches over and picks it up only to see her recent pain in the ass, Queen love interest has decided to venture out. She makes a bet with herself that Helena is probably up to no good and our local vigilante is none the wiser that he has just been given the slip.

She scrubs her hands over her face jumps out of bed and decides it is finally time that Helena gets sent away rather than told to leave.