Title: Dark Stranger
Chapter Title: Thirteen
Characters/Pairings: Felicity Smoak, Slade Wilson, Oliver Queen; Felicity/Slade, Oliver/Felicity, and Oliver/Sara
Warnings/Spoilers: adult content, spoilers for "Heir to the Demon"
Summary: Felicity must make peace with Oliver's choice, even if it means turning her attention to a charming and mysterious stranger. Her attentions to someone else, however, do not go unnoticed.
Other Links: AO3 | FFnet | Dreamwidth
Slade’s thoughts wandered with anticipation. How long before Oliver found Felicity? Would he find her and would she still be whole, pretty and innocent? Would he find her dead?
As much as he liked the last option, he would make bets that Oliver would find Felicity, and when they returned, Starling City could be in shambles, under Slade’s control.
The Arrow couldn’t be everywhere at once; and he couldn’t save everyone, and it was clear what -- or whom Oliver chose over the safety of his city.
Slade dialed a number and spoke into his phone. “Destroy everything,” he told his contact on the other line. Soon, he would delight in the sounds of sirens. Soon, there would be nothing but terror in this city without their savior to save them.
Felicity was staring at the ceiling as she sat next to Oliver and Diggle on the plane back to Starling City. She’d been through with sleeping, though she couldn’t bring herself to formulate sentences and stayed quiet the entire flight back.
She felt monumentally stupid. She felt like an idiot for being duped by Slade, for putting herself in such danger when she’d had suspicions about the guy, and she felt even more terrible that Oliver had to come save her.
At least he did, she thought. Even Diggle had told her how clever it was to plant one of Oliver’s trackers into her purse.
It would have been cleverer, she thought, if she’d never gone on the date in the first place, ultimately avoiding this whole mess. She sighed inwardly. She just had to prove herself, didn’t she? When Sara was strong and capable and falling into bed with Oliver, she had to go ahead and do something stupid. For what? Oliver’s attention?
That made her feel even more stupid. The hacking, the computer expertise, and her quick thinking should be enough to garner attention and solidify her as an asset on the team. Why did she feel like she needed to even gain attention at all? It wasn’t like she cared for attention in the past.
It was Oliver she wanted. She hated admitting that to herself every time she looking into the mirror, but the whole world was right, with its judgy looks and wagging finger. “Just admit!” she felt like Diggle was screaming that to her every time he gave her one of those exasperated, pitying looks.
Even if she admitted her feelings, rejection was surely to follow. Oliver had made that clear in very explicit words when they came back from that Russian mission. So did he not care about Sara or was he just feeding her a line? Is Sara better because they have a past and she can protect herself?
Those thoughts always plagued her since Sara came back and wedged herself into their close-knit secret team. Now it had five members. Felicity wondered if it would add more.
She groaned a little and yawned. She felt Oliver rouse and look over at her. She met his eyes and gave him a weak smile before turning her attention to the window of the plane.
Terror struck the three of them when they’d heard from the comm system of the plane that Starling City was in chaos. The plane apologized for making a detour to the next airport in Central City, because they didn’t want to risk anyone’s safety. Airports, banks, and government buildings were being sieged by menacing forces. Every thug and criminal for hire was on the streets attacking everything and everyone. Oliver got up from the seat and disappeared into the cockpit, and after he’d been gone for awhile, he met their worried expressions with a dire glare.
“Fires and explosions are going off all around the city. I could see smoke and fire just from the cockpit,” he said.
“Is it Slade?” Felicity asked, knowing the answer already.
“It seems that way. Look, you’re going to Central City. I couldn’t convince the plane to turn around,” he said.
“What do you mean we are going to Central City? Don’t you mean all of us?” Felicity asked, and she saw Diggle glaring at him.
“I’m going to take a different way,” Oliver said, and Felicity and Diggle both looked at each other, knowing exactly what he was up to.
Oliver meant to jump from the plane, after locating a parachute and an exit of course, and he’d go back to the city he swore to protect. Felicity nodded and Diggle sighed.
She put a soft hand on his arm, meeting his eyes, seeing storms already raging inside them. “Do what you have to do.”
He nodded, and he took off to the back of the plane.
Felicity didn’t see Oliver until three hours later after she and Diggle acquired a rental car and jetted back to Starling City. She held back her frightened screams as Diggle maneuvered the car around gangs, burning debris and screaming crowds.
“I hope Sara and Roy are alright,” she murmured and suddenly her phone rang. “Oliver?”
“I made it to Verdant. Sara and Roy are out in the field trying to help the police keep things under control. I’m here with Barbara, whom is making herself comfortable with your computers,” Oliver said, and Felicity bit her lip, not liking the idea of that at all.
“We’re on our way,” she said. “Twenty minutes.”
“I’ll be gone. I have to go out there and stop Slade,” Oliver said.
“Hold on, you can’t go after him now,” Felicity said, and Diggle chimed in while he still drove.
“Felicity’s right,” Diggle interjected. “Sara and the others need your help to save Starling City. You can’t focus on personal vendettas now.”
“But the city! I can’t let him get away with it!” Oliver growled, his rising temper obvious through the phone.
“Oliver, I know you think you know what to do, but I really want you to focus on helping Sara. She needs you. Everyone in the city needs you,” Felicity said.
She heard a sigh though the phone, and then the line went dead. She turned to Diggle, who shot her a concerned look before keeping his eyes back on the road.
“I hope he listened to us,” she mumbled.
“With Oliver, I always bet against that,” Diggle said, and Felicity couldn’t help but agree. She hoped Oliver did the right thing.
Five hours later…
With the help of the National Guard, the FBI and all the entire Starling City police force, they managed to stop the biggest offenders in the siege, and scared off most of the others away. The city residents began sighing with relief, trying to repair their broken homes and burnt spirits.
Oliver found Sara and Roy, exhausted but safe. Roy was better off thanks the the Mirakuru, but was struggling with the violent effects. Sara was sure that he’d taken some lives that night, though she didn’t mention it to Oliver. It was likely they were only criminals, but she felt sympathy for the boy who would have the demons of those men he killed haunting him for the rest of his life.
“You guys need stitching up?” Oliver asked, and he put a comforting hand on Sara who was resting against a brick alley.
“As usual,” she said, and he helped her lean against him for support. She had many bruises and cuts, a few stab wounds, and she was limping on her right leg. He saw the gash in her thigh, which she hadn’t had time to patch up and treat yet.
“Let’s get you back,” he said, motioning to Roy. “Come on, Speedy. You can help.”
Roy glared at him, and Oliver knew the nickname would get his attention.
When they arrived in the lair below Verdant, Felicity and Diggle had the medical supplies ready. Felicity had reluctantly given up her computers to Barbara so she could treat Roy, and she admitted that the more she got to know the woman, the less she cared if she tinkered around. Felicity even found Barbara augmenting some of her systems with some so-called black market tech suggestions. Felicity couldn’t complain, but she hoped that the woman wouldn’t be there long, releasing the care of Felicity’s machines back into her own hands.
After patching up Sara and Roy, as well as Oliver, Oliver briefed them on what Detective Lance had told the Arrow, and how the chaos erupted suddenly and without warning. He didn’t know where all these criminals had come from, but with further investigation, many of them had been sprung out of nearby facilities or paid to come to Starling City just for the havoc.
Oliver felt somewhat relieved that none of these criminals were superpowered from the Mirakuru, which he supposed was still in Slade’s final plans. It unnerved them all that this exercise seemed to be just a warning flare to the bigger scope of Slade’s intentions.
At the end of the evening, Sara limped with Roy as they headed to their respective homes to retire for the night, and Sara said a few words to Barbara about where she could crash in the lair for the night before leaving. She promised to talk to Oliver later, and the two gave each other an awkward hug before separating.
Diggle offered to take Felicity home, and she turned back to Oliver to say goodnight, only to see his gaze on wall and his thoughts somewhere else. She barely got a goodbye from him, and she was surprised when he said he’d see her at work at Queen’s Consolidated the next day.
Neither Oliver nor Felicity were surprised to see Slade Wilson, waiting for them in the conference room at Queen’s Consolidated. He sat patiently with his fingers entwined as they rested on the long table, and he acted as if he owned Queen’s Consolidated himself, and could see himself getting very cozy there.
Oliver decided to approach Slade cautiously, rounding the large conference room and chairs and waving Felicity to stay behind the glass.
“Oh, she can come too,” Slade said cheerily, though it still sounded like a threat - almost like every word he’d ever uttered. Felicity watched him in horror, and Oliver still obviously feared for her safety as his arm outstretched to shield her and keep her back. “I won’t harm her here, in daylight, in front of all your people. Of course.” Which sounded to Oliver like Slade would have no qualms about hurting Felicity elsewhere.
Oliver’s stone expression unwavered from Slade’s words. He pursed his lips. “What are you doing here then?”
“To commend you on your excellent retrieval skills. I was sure Felicity was as good as dead on that island. Even worse, she could have befallen terrible things. But you saved her, kid. Unfortunately for you, I had planned that you would,” he said. “I did not plan for you to be so clever. Or her. Your Felicity is quite lovely.” He paused and stared a hole into Felicity. She visibly shuddered before Slade turned his gloating smile to Oliver. “I wonder if you’d had to taste her yet. Why so slow, kid? The Canary woman ruin your game? Or maybe you’re trying to protect her. Your little Felicity girl...safe from the dangerous monster that you are.”
“Slade, I don’t know what you planned on proving on what you did to her, but whatever you’re thinking, you’re wrong,” Oliver seethed at him.
“Am I? I made you a promise, Oliver. You and I both know what that promise is. Felicity is part of that. I’ve heard many stories, and I’ve watched the way you look at her and the way she would just die for you. Whatever you deny, everyone else sees it.” He leaned close and if his smile could stretch any wider, it would. “If you do see it - your feelings for her, it’ll be too late, and I will take her from you and present her body to your feet.”
“Get out,” Oliver said, barely above a hissed whisper. “Whatever you planned for her, you failed. And whatever you have planned in the future, I will stop you.”
“I wonder if you can.” He stood up from the chair he’d made a home in, and his grin disappeared, and in its place, Oliver and Felicity only saw unrestrained madness. “Just remember kid, I know what you love, and I know how to hurt you. Your precious Felicity only proved that to me.”
“Is that your only game?” Oliver shot back at him.
“It’s only the beginning, kid,” Slade said, and Oliver said nothing, his anger seething visibly he could barely restrain it. Felicity stayed in the background, her fear rolling off her in waves.
Slade played her. He played all of them to prove a point. He manipulated her and exposed Oliver’s weakness: her. She was a chess piece to him, and with all of Oliver’s denial - and hers, Slade exposed the one thing she had a hard time admitting. She was afraid, afraid that a monster like Slade could read her so well, and afraid that Oliver would feel powerless against him, thinking he could give up the progress he’d made to not kill again to protect her because he had no choice.
She couldn’t be responsible for that sort of burden on him. Oliver turned to her, eyes inquiring on the feelings in the expression her face. She couldn’t help it.
One tear escaped and she had to turn away. She froze when he came over to her, and when she sure he was going to leave her alone in the conference room with her conflicted thoughts, she felt his hand on her shoulder.
“Hey, are you okay?”
“Um, do you want the happy answer or the right answer?” she choked out from a shaky voice.
“Felicity,” he said her name, and her body was sieged with light trembles. Damn him for how he made her feel.
“I’m okay,” she said with renewed resolve. She met his eyes with determination. “We just have to be ready for him now. We have to work two steps ahead.”
“I don’t know if we can,” Oliver said with little confidence.
She held his gaze. “I do. I believe it. I believe in us.”
Oliver left Barbara in the basement of the Verdant with Roy, who was here to watch over the sprung Slade ex-associate more than anything. Even if Sara could vouch for her, Oliver didn’t think they could trust her, especially when Slade was still lurking around with bigger plans.
He headed toward Sara’s hideout, knowing she’d be there. He didn’t know what to say to her. There’d been all this confusion with Felicity, and some of the Slade’s words had struck a chord within him.
Oliver cared deeply for Felicity, and he depended on her for a lot of things. He was protective of her, and he’d felt a sense of joy and comfort in her presence. Sometimes those were the only times when he felt that way -- only when Felicity was around, babbling something off color and awkward, making tense situations seem miniscule and putting him in his place when he was moping.
Not that he could admit that to her in words. He just knew all those things like solid truths.
Sara was staring out the high window of the tower, and he wondered if she’d been waiting for him.
“We need to talk,” she said.
“If this is about Felicity…” Oliver began.
Sara turned around and shot him a small smile. She tilted her head. “Ollie, please...let’s not talk about things that have already been said. I don’t need to know anything about Felicity. Slade made everything very clear. It’s you that has to talk about Felicity, and it’s not to me,” Sara said, stopping his rebuttal cold with a pointed stare. “This talk is about me.”
Oliver opened his mouth, but stayed silent as she watched him. “I think I was fooling myself, thinking I could join your team and be a hero. But seeing Barbara again, I was reminded of who I was...who I am.”
Oliver walked toward her slowly, locking with Sara’s eyes. “Don’t you see? The two of us...we tried it, we tried it all over again - thinking we could do it right, but our demons still haunt us. We lie next to each other at night but the nightmares still keep us apart. They still win.”
“Ollie, I’m not over what happened in the League. I feel like I’ve been lying to you, but I know I’ve just been lying to myself.”
“Nyssa…It’s Nyssa,” he said. Sara didn’t shake her head, and she didn’t deny his words. She just held his gaze and bit her lip, looking at him desperately to understand.
“Barbara’s asked me to take her back to the League tomorrow. I accepted. I know your business with Slade isn’t done, and I know he still is a threat, but I need to take care of this. I need to see for myself if seeing Nyssa and returning to the League will put an end to my demons.”
“If you’re sure…”
“I have to be sure, Ollie, because when I’m with you, I feel like I should be happy but I never quite reach that point. I never feel like I can escape my own darkness. And you, you don’t need that. You need something that brings light into your life, and that something isn’t me,” Sara said.
Oliver closed his eyes, feeling the pain of someone else giving up on him, someone else leaving him behind with the ache of losing one small thing that he could care about - a happiness that maybe he, too, was trying to grasp in an empty darkness.
“This city...your sister, you dad, they may need you someday with Slade still around,” Oliver said.
Sara smiled widely. “And if they do, I will always come back to them. This is still my home,” Sara said.
She tumbled forward into his arms, and he held her close. He could feel the warmth of her - of the harrowing memories and sins clinging to him like the cool empty air.
Then, as if he were caught in a waking dream, Sara Lance was gone.