title: light a match, burn the world to ash (I will watch it die, and hold your hand as I fly)
prompt: olicity + revenge + happy ending optional - anonymous (Tumblr)
warning(s): major character death, coarse language, sexual content, explicit violence
word count: 6,278
overall status: complete
summary: When Slade comes for Team Arrow, he's unforgiving in his relentless pursuit for revenge. In the end, however, he shouldn't have underestimated Felicity Smoak.
light a match, burn the world to ash (I will watch it die, and hold your hand as I fly)
re·venge [ri-venj] v. to exact punishment or expiation for a wrong on behalf of, especially in a resentful or vindictive spirit.
Felicity never liked those movies that began with the death of the wife or girlfriend only to lead in to some hugely defining plot where the male character's motivations were all about revenge. Mostly because it felt like kind of a rip-off that the only significant female character was reduced to over-bright flashbacks where they barely spoke and an invisible halo hung over their head. What bugged Felicity more was that she never saw the opposite, of a woman avenging a lost husband or boyfriend. Or, if she did, it was rare and never as hyped up as the testosterone driven action-fest. Manpain. Apparently it sold well in theaters? In any case, she wasn't buying it.
She understood vengeance from an objective point of view. Kind of like when she was a little girl and a kid on the playground in preschool stole a toy from her, deciding he was superior and therefore entitled to that toy more. She later smacked him in the face, stole back her toy, and he never came near her again. Just desserts, to her four-year-old thinking.
Even if she didn't like the movies, she understood why others might. That all-consuming love of someone that drove their partner to reduce the world to ash in the wake of their loss. That was powerful stuff, moving even. But those movies usually lacked any basis for the 'why.' Why did this person matter so much? What made their love special? What made them worth the death and decay of everyone else? Why should she root for murder and destruction just because this man was grieving?
The thing was, she'd never really felt loss to any primal, deafening, terrible degree before. When her father left, there was a hole carved into her childhood, a fear that she wasn't enough, a question of whether it was her fault. As she grew up, these thoughts ebbed and flowed, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker, occasionally depending on her teenage angst level. But then she became an adult and she started building a life of her own, and she decided 'screw that guy' because he chose to leave and, while she didn't choose to be left behind, she could choose to get past it.
It helped that she had a good circle of people around her, a family of her own design. And maybe then she started to get that idea a little more, of loving someone so much that she could burn the whole world down to keep them safe. Maybe she understood it in that distant way people do when they see something and they can find some piece of logic in it, but have never been faced with enough tragedy to put it to the test.
But then tragedy came knocking, and she answered.
Roy was the first to die.
Felicity watched from her safe haven, hidden away in the foundry like it was her own personal bunker. She was glued to the screens around her, having tapped into every street camera available, to see the show down between Slade and her team.
Roy wasn't supposed to be there. She could still hear Oliver's voice shouting, echoing off the walls, telling him that he wasn't ready, super-infused with mirakuru or not. He was young and untrained and too quick to react without thinking. The others had agreed and Roy had stalked off, muttering under his breath that they didn't trust him, that he was tired of learning and never doing.
He'd shown up on the scene ten minutes earlier, getting in the middle of a fight Oliver was losing and that Sara and Digg had already been dispatched from, lying in a barely conscious heap nearby. Roy took a blow to the shoulder that would have likely shattered Oliver's jaw had it actually landed. Roy was stronger, he healed faster, and he took over the fight, deciding he was a better match for the crazed and vengeful Slade Wilson.
He was wrong.
Felicity watched in horror as Slade's victory roar echoed in her ears, sending a chill down her spine, and Roy's young, battered face cleared of its former rage and triumph, coiled in fear, his eyes wide with knowing. And then his head was twisted from his body like the cap from a bottle.
Slade laughed as he defeated him, his head thrown back in amusement, an unnatural, malicious glint to his remaining eye. The mirakuru circulating through Roy's veins could offer no cure for this, his head bouncing off the pavement as it rolled toward the remaining soldiers of Team Arrow.
Felicity's hands pressed to her trembling lips to keep the cry from leaving them, but they couldn't hide it entirely.
He was so young.
He was just a boy.
He was never meant for any of this.
Blood staining his front, Slade took a step toward the remaining three, all of whom were in a state of shock, bloody and broken, barely keeping up on their feet as it was.
She watched Oliver fall to his knees, his horrified eyes centered on Roy's departed head, his hands hanging limply at his sides.
Swallowing back her grief, Felicity suddenly spoke, closing her eye against the tremor of her voice. "Get up," she ordered.
He didn't listen.
"Oliver, listen to me. He will kill you. Get. Up. You need to leave, now."
"Roy," he rasped.
She inhaled sharply through her nose and dashed away the tears on her cheeks. "We'll come back for him… and we'll make Slade pay. But not now." Her head shook as she folded her lips to keep a cry from escaping. Swallowing thickly, she told him, "I'm sorry, but you need to get up… Come home, Oliver."
He raised his chin, his eyes finally settling on Slade, looking oh so triumphant.
When Sara and Digg reached for Oliver's arms to haul him to his feet, he yelled. He screamed his defiance and his rage and his hatred for the man in front of him.
And, like a tidal wave in answer to an earthquake, Slade roared right back.
But Oliver lived that day.
Sara and Digg lived, too.
For a while.
Roy Harper was found decapitated in the Glades. He was buried on a Tuesday. Thea was so deeply entrenched in her anguish that she didn't notice her brother swiping away tears of his own as he held her up, feet from the casket that held his friend and protégé. Guilt ate at the already frayed edges of him, chewing away at the hope he'd once had that he could save Roy, he could give him a better life, a focus and goal to aim for. That dream was in tatters at his feet and it was clear that he wouldn't be recovering any time soon. But still he stood solid, keeping his sister from falling apart entirely, a pillar for her to hold onto.
Felicity stood with Digg, separate but still a part of it all.
She stared at the blown up photo of a grinning boy just to the right of the coffin. A picture Thea took of him, she was sure. He only really smiled like that around her, the hard lines of a tough life smoothing out until they were nearly gone.
Felicity swiped away her own tears, but refused to look at the shiny, black casket, keeping her eyes on his smiling face, willing herself to remember only that, and not the gruesome, distorted face of fear that was left behind when Slade had plucked his head so casually from his shoulders.
Digg's hand landed on her shoulder, squeezing in support.
She wondered if he was successful in scrubbing the image from his brain, but she never asked. None of them wanted to talk about it, a heavy silence pervading the foundry as the loss of a team member, a friend, rung all too loud in the space he used to occupy.
She never looked at the casket, not once. Only the picture, the smile, the boy who could have had a much better, brighter future than this, but now, never would.
Sara was next.
A long-coming 'choice' that Felicity was sure Slade had been planning for some time.
She hadn't expected to be the other one kneeling in the dirt, but there she was, with her arms tied at her back. Her hair was plastered to her face from the cold sweat collecting on her skin. Her glasses sat askew on her nose, knocked off balance when she was shoved to unceremoniously to her knees. She looked around, scared but desperate not to show it. Sara was beside her, far more secured with manacles holding her feet together and multiple ties to keep her arms from getting loose. Felicity might have felt a little insulted that she barely registered for a zip-tie on her wrists if she wasn't well aware that Sara was far more capable of getting herself out of these situations. But the Sara she knew was not the one kneeling beside her.
Sara had been beaten, her face mottled with bruises, dried blood beneath her nose and crusted around various cuts to her face, neck and arms. She was leaning to one side and she kept giving her head a shake as if to clear it. Her clothes and hair were stained with blood, some of it still wet while others looked much older. She'd been with Slade longer, though, so maybe that made sense. Felicity had been picked up yesterday night, but they'd been searching for Sara for almost a week. It looked like Slade had been exacting his own form of revenge. For Shado, Felicity assumed, but couldn't help but think it was a hollow victory for a woman who probably wouldn't want to see anyone beaten and blamed for her death.
When Oliver stood before them, his bow gripped tight in his hand, Slade's mocking laugh filled the space behind her and Felicity's shoulders tightened automatically. This man was deranged, yes, but also extremely devoted to his mission, which made him that much more dangerous. He was highly trained and seemed to have planned for any event. That, to her, was terrifying. Felicity was the brains of the outfit, but Digg was the strategist, and she wondered where, exactly, Slade fell. Was he both? Did he have her intelligence, coupled with Digg's brain for knowing his foes, for planning ahead and understanding the motivations and tactics of others? A maniac was dangerous, but she was beginning to think sociopath might fit Slade better.
"You don't have to do this," Oliver yelled, his voice thick with worry and anger.
"Oh, but I do, brother… We were always leading back here, weren't we?" Slade held his hands out. "Consider it a blessing you get a choice at all. I could just as easily take her from you without giving you a chance to save her. What then, huh? Your bird lives to fly again, but your heart gets buried. Maybe then you'll know, won't you? You'll understand why all of this matters. Why I've gone to such great lengths to put what happened right."
"This isn't right! Shado wouldn't want this!"
Slade lunged forward a step, his voice hoarse, "Shado didn't get a choice! If she had been the one to choose who lived and who died, this one would be dead, as she should be!" He shoved his gun at Sara's head, pressing so hard that she fell a few inches to the right. "So you get one chance, brother. One chance to put this right. Let her die. Put her down like you should have the second she stepped on that island."
Felicity cringed as Slade's knuckles dragged down her cheek, his fingers sliding under her chin and tipping it up. He turned to look down at her searchingly. "What do you think, hm? Do you think he'll save you, dear one?" He rubbed his thumb under the curve of her mouth. "Hope hard, because his track record isn't encouraging, is it?"
Felicity blew out a heavy, shaking breath through her nose and then she glared up at him. "Screw you," she bit out.
He grinned savagely, cupping her cheek and tipping his head as he took her in. "You do have good taste, Oliver, I'll give you that. Do you know what your mistake is, though?" He shoved the gun hard against Sara's head once more. "The good ones always choose you, and you never choose them back."
There was a noise behind them and Felicity went still. Digg? Had Digg come as back-up? Hope bloomed in her chest.
"Don't get too trigger-happy, Mr. Diggle. In the time it takes for you to shoot, Miss Lance will have a bullet in her brain and Felicity here won't come back from a broken neck."
In answer, Digg stepped from the shadows, his expression dark with intensity, his gun held steadily.
"Your choice, Oliver," Slade yelled, swinging his gaze back to Oliver, in his leathers, his chest heaving, his free hand curled in a fist, finger picking at his thumb. "Or must I make it for you?"
Oliver's eyes bounced between the two women, his brow furrowed. "I didn't choose Sara over Shado. He was going to shoot her. I just got in the way. I offered myself but Ivo thought… He thought I picked Sara. Please, Slade… Don't do this." His voice was hoarse, like gravel. "There's been enough death."
"There will never be enough," Slade argued, his eyes slitted and his mouth set in a firm line. "Today I offer you a reprieve. One life for one death. But I won't always be so generous. So pick, Oliver; show them who you really are."
His hand wound itself around Felicity's throat and squeezed.
She choked, her eyes widening, and lurched forward, struggling to get her arms free, to pull herself from Slade's grip.
"Oliver!" Digg exclaimed, raising his gun another notch.
Slade shook his head. "Ah, ah," he tsked, his gun settling on Sara's temple.
Diggle's eyes fell to Felicity; she could barely see him as her eyes began to swim with tears. She could feel it as her face began to warm, to change color, taking on a deep red shade as she desperately tried to pull in air but couldn't.
Swearing under his breath, Digg shouted, "Oliver!"
Felicity closed her eyes, tears tripping down her cheeks. She couldn't hear anything over the rush in her ears now. Her heart speeding up and her mind screaming at her to breathe! Fight! Live!
She heard the gun go off, however.
Her eyes shot open in shock.
And then the hand was leaving her throat and she was falling forward, coughing and choking.
Oliver skidded in front of her on his knees, his bow falling from his hand as he caught her. She felt the leather of his gloves on her cheeks, cupping her face, holding her up as her chest met his.
"I've got you, hey, you're okay," he said, but she could hear the hitch in his breath as he cried. He cradled her head on his shoulder, turned so she couldn't look to her right. He wrapped an arm around her, wound so tight it almost hurt, and rocked them a little, side to side. "I got you, you're okay, you're okay, you're alive," he told her, over and over, his mouth brushing her hair.
She cried, shaking as she let the whole of her weight rest against him.
She could hear the scuffling of feet as Digg checked on Sara, but they knew, they all knew, she was gone. She was dead.
Felicity wasn't sure what happened to Slade. Did they choose not to attack him because he still had her? Were there others? She wasn't sure. All she knew was that Sara was dead and Slade had won, again. He'd killed and walked away unscathed, leaving them to pick up the pieces of a further fractured team.
Digg cut the ties from her wrists and she whimpered as his warm hands rubbed at the raw skin.
Minutes passed before eventually Oliver gathered her up in his arms and placed her in Digg's, telling him to bring her back to the foundry. Exhausted, she laid her head on John's shoulder and watched through bleary eyes as Oliver turned to Sara, a limp mess of blonde curls soaking in her own blood. He dropped his face to Sara's head and cried for a moment, his shoulders shaking, until eventually he slid his hands under her and lifted her from the ground.
Would he bury her? Felicity wondered. Would he take her to her father? Would she have a proper burial with her family? Would the headstone that rested in the cemetery with her name finally have a body to fill the empty space beneath it?
Felicity's heart burned and ached and she cried for the woman who had taught her to fight, to defend herself, to believe in herself beyond the title of IT Specialist or Executive Assistant. She cried for the woman who encouraged her to have a life outside the team. Who took her out for karaoke nights and shots and pointed out cute boys she could take home for some stress relief. She cried for her friend.
Sara was second, but she wasn't last.
Felicity stood atop a grassy hill in the Starling City cemetery, watching as the Lance family fell apart, leaning on each other, clutching to one another, as they buried Sara for a second time. Oliver stood nearby, but not too close, as if he didn't believe he deserved to be there, to grieve with them.
Felicity's arm, wrapped around Digg's, squeezed.
"Do you think it's too much to ask for a second resurrection?" she wondered quietly. "Or is it a third…?"
He looked down at her, a sad smile playing at his lips. "I don't think we're gonna get one this time around."
Her mouth turned down as she shook her head. "I know it's silly and I know it makes no sense, but sometimes I watch for shooting stars and I wish, you know, like you would when you're a kid and you still kind of believe in magic and hope and all of those things that kids don't really need proof for… And sometimes I wish things were different, that maybe Oliver never got on the boat or maybe Rebecca Merlyn never died or that Slade had died. But then I wonder if it's selfish, only to wish for things that directly affect me and the people I care about." She frowned. "Do you think that's selfish?"
"No." He gave her arm a little shake. "I think it's human."
Nodding faintly, she leaned over to rest her head on his arm. "Do you ever wish for anything, John?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I wish for a lot of things."
He didn't tell her what, but she could imagine. That his brother was still alive, that the men he served with were too, that this city-wide war wasn't necessary, that Slade Wilson wasn't someone that existed, that Roy and Sara weren't casualties of his, etcetera, etcetera.
Closing her eyes, she sent up one more wish.
For thirteen months, she convinced herself her wish had been fulfilled.
Felicity knew she would never be the same when she lost Digg.
It was naïve, of course, to believe that somehow, despite everything, her and her boys would survive whatever came for them. Of course, their track record, despite being pretty beat up, did say wonders for their resilience. But nine lives ran out quick, and so did their luck.
Felicity would run herself into the ground wondering if there was something she could have done to save him. Something she could have said or some option she could have given him that would have saved his life. Maybe if she'd said 'go right' instead of 'go left' or maybe if she'd talked him out of going out at all that night, they wouldn't be here.
It'd been a year since Sara's death and they'd neither seen nor heard a whisper of where Slade might be. For the first month, Oliver had been inconsolable. He'd been running himself and their team ragged trying to track down where Slade might have gone to. There were no records of him leaving Starling, but no sign that he was anywhere to be found within city limits either. He was like a ghost. Which was a terrible analogy considering the circumstances; Oliver was haunted enough by far too many.
Balancing his vendetta with Slade against Queen Consolidated and then his terrible relationship with his mother and his complicated relationship with his sister, who was still grieving Roy and desperate to find out what had happened and how, it was just a race against time and people that none of them were winning. Thea was searching for Arrow, certain that he had some hand in Roy's death. Moira was a double agent of degrees Felicity had trouble following. Where did she fall these days? Good or bad or ambiguous? Nobody really knew. Some days, Felicity wasn't sure the Queen matriarch even knew.
And then one of her alerts popped up, informing her that Slade had been spotted and she had a location on the outskirts of Starling. Digg and Oliver had suited up, wasting no time, ignoring her protests.
"You don't think this is suspicious? We don't get anything on him for over a year and now, suddenly, he's just caught by one of the cameras?" she yelled after them, ringing her hands.
"He slipped up," Digg told her, sliding his gun into his holster; one of far too many for her to count. "They always do."
"Not him. Not this time." She reached for his hand and pulled him back. "Please, John, listen to me… I have a bad feeling about this."
He took both of her hands and squeezed, sighing as he looked down at her. "Slade Wilson is dangerous. If we let this chance pass and he continues to hurt people, we're always going to regret it." He shook his head. "We're not going in blind, all right? We'll have you."
Shaking her head, she blew out a heavy breath. "I can't protect you from here. I can guide you through the building, I can point out heat signatures, but I can't get into his head."
"No, but I can," Oliver piped up, walking toward them, looking lethal and ready. He'd already put on his Arrow mask, and she didn't meant the one Barry had given him. His face was all hard edges, shadows and hollows, a glint in his eyes that demanded blood. She desperately wished for the times when his guard was low, when he let them in, when he'd sit down with her on the mats and tell her about how guilty he felt, and how terrified he was of losing her and Digg and Thea. And his mom, of course, but most nights her name went unsaid, his confusion over how to feel about her and her involvement still too fresh.
"Oliver, I know you think this is necessary. I know you think this is your fight or your fault, but there is a point where you need to accept that maybe this fight isn't just yours." She stared up at him searchingly before adding Digg into the mix. "Both of you are fighting this, fighting him, and you think you'll win, eventually, but you don't know. All I've seen is him win and win and every time he does, he chips away at who you are, who we are, and I'm just scared that one day there will be nothing left."
Her mouth trembled and tears filled her eyes.
Digg reached for her first, pulling her into a warm, brotherly hug. "We agreed, when we started his, that we would do what needed to be done. We save people. We fight against injustice. Slade Wilson has done nothing but destroy… It's time we do the same to him." He kissed the top of her head and squeezed her.
"Promise me you'll come back…" She wrapped her arms tightly around his waist. "Promise me."
He sighed. "You know, you get more and more demanding, Smoak. I ever tell you that you nag worse than a wife some days?"
Raising her head, she pursed her lips at him, determined to get what she wanted. "You're not going to distract me, John Diggle."
A muscle ticked in his jaw before he gave her a short nod. "All right." He looked her in the eye and told her, "I'll do everything I can to come back."
It wasn't exactly what she wanted to hear, but it was as close as she would get. "Okay."
He squeezed her shoulder then and took a step back. Casting one last look at Oliver, he moved away to finish getting his supplies ready. "We leave in five."
Oliver nodded shortly before turning back to Felicity.
She looked up at him and let out a faint smile. "That goes for you too, you know." She reached for him, smoothing a hand down the front of his leathers and focusing her gaze on the zipper, her brow furrowed tightly. "I want both of you to come back. I don't… I don't want to bury any more friends, Oliver."
Slowly, she raised her eyes to meet his.
"I'll always come home to you," he told her.
She shook her head. "You don't know that… I know I made John promise, but it's stupid, it—it's desperate, because I know that both of you will try to win. You'll try to live. But that doesn't always mean you will." She shrugged a shoulder as a tear dribbled down her cheek. "Roy tried, Sara too, but they lost. They…. Just, don't underestimate him, okay? If you think you're losing— if you think there's even a chance you won't win, then you get John and you get out… Do you understand me? No heroics. No last ditch efforts to be the hero. You get out!"
Oliver covered one of her hands over his chest and squeezed it before his other hand reached for her, her cheek fitting into his palm like it always did. She leaned into his touch, resting there a moment. When she looked up at him, his expression was fierce, not with rage or fear like it had been for so long. But with a shadow of who he used to be, of the man who had pulled himself up out of purgatory and survived. Before the ghosts of his past crept out of every corner and converged on him with a vengeance. This was her Oliver. The man she'd missed for so long, only getting peeks at him here or there.
He leaned forward then and pressed a kiss to her forehead, lingering for a breath, and then he touched his head to hers and stepped back, his mask back in place.
Felicity took a deep breath and reached for the Bluetooth in her ear, turning it on. "Ready?" she asked.
Oliver picked up the Arrow mask on the table beside him and slid it on. "Ready."
As he and Digg left, she watched them climb the stairs, a shard of ice in her heart that feared she wouldn't see them return.
She should have listened to it.
They drove out to the warehouse separately, Digg in the car and Oliver on his bike. They entered the building from opposite vantage points and, from there, it was chaos. The building, which once had only one heat signature besides Oliver and Digg's, suddenly exploded with color. They were everywhere. And it was all a trick. When she told them there were signatures coming up on them, they'd turn a corner to find no one. Somehow, Slade had set it up so they were going in blind. She could tell them where to turn to get to where the original heat signature was, but there was no telling if it was still there, or if it'd all been a set up.
She was useless.
All she could do was direct Digg and Oliver from the signs they gave her of where they were, but it was difficult. She brought up a separate set of schematics for the warehouse and guided them through the halls.
When Oliver ran into trouble, a pit formed in her stomach. People were there, but how many and how prepared?
Digg didn't have the same problem. He was moving through the warehouse with suspicious ease, which is when something began to gnaw at the back of her mind.
"Digg, turn left. You need to get out. Circle back. Get out. It's too easy."
There was a pause and then, "Copy."
Did she lead him to his death? She would always wonder that.
"Pleasure to meet you again, Mister Diggle," Slade Wilson greeted. "I'm only too sorry about the circumstances. But, I suppose, this was always inevitable."
Felicity's heart lodged itself in his throat.
"John," she whispered.
"Diggle," Oliver yelled. "Felicity, where is he? How far am I?"
She squeezed her eyes shut for just a split second. Because he was too far. Still, she opened her eyes and guided him anyway. Oliver was fast. Unnaturally fast some days. If he needed to get there, he would. He would, he would, he would.
"Suppose it was," John answered. "Can't say I'm too sorry about it. If there's one tick in my ledger I'll be happy to have, it's gonna be you."
Slade's dark laughter filled her ears. "Do you know why I like you…?"
"My dry wit?" Digg returned.
"Your loyalty… You see, Oliver has always been so good at finding loyal people to stand at his back. It's unfortunate that he doesn't return the same when needed."
John hummed. "I'll have to disagree with you on that point."
"Oh, I'm sure you do. But there's a whisper in the back of your head, isn't there? The one that goes through each time he failed you. Each time he said he'd be there and wasn't. It was Deadshot, wasn't it? That killed your brother. And Oliver, he had a chance to help you with that, didn't he? But there's always a Lance around to spoil things… If you want to talk to me about Oliver Queen and loyalty, let's not overlook how quick he is to throw his friends under the bus when one of the Lance girls is on the line."
"Pretty sure Sara's death proves different," John huffed. "Undeserved, by the way."
"A special case, I'm afraid. Maybe Oliver's grown up a little. Or maybe I should have made the choice a little more difficult, hm? Which Lance sister might've carried more punch. I should've known he'd pick Miss Smoak. After all, what represents salvation better than literal happiness?" He chuckled crudely. "But it did provide a little insight… If I want to hurt him, I know just who to go to."
Felicity frowned, briefly distracted from the directions she was giving Oliver, but she was quick to tell him which way to turn, adding, "Hurry!" as if it might somehow propel him down the halls faster.
"He'll never let you get close enough. Not again," John returned, an edge to his voice. "If I know one thing, it's that Oliver will never let you hurt her."
"Is that how deep your trust goes, Mister Diggle? You'll leave her life in his hands?"
"If I die today, I do it knowing she'll be safe. That's all that matters."
"There is no 'if' in death. Only 'when.'"
John scoffed. "Said the guy who was resurrected from a miracle drug."
"Felicity, which way? Left or right?" Oliver interrupted.
"Left. Go left." She smacked a hand down on the table, leaning forward to stare at the dots on the screen. Despite seeing far too many, she knew which ones were theirs.
It all happened so quickly after that.
There was grunting and fighting and a mix of voices that she couldn't differentiate at first. She could hear Oliver's harsh breathing as he ran and ran and then, "Nooo!"
The snap-bang of a gun made her jump in her skin. She wrapped her arms around herself and waited. One heartbeat, two.
"John?" she whispered. She stared at the screen in front of her. "John Diggle, answer me."
Nothing but static.
"Oliver?" she choked out.
And then, suddenly, the screen cleared of the unnecessary heat signatures. There was one, leaving the scene quickly. And four others far away from where John and Oliver were, unmoving, unconscious.
She stared at the two most important ones, reaching out until her fingers touched the screen.
"John? Oliver?" she tried again, this time a little more frantic.
A beat passed, and then another, until finally Oliver replied, "I'm here."
She let out a heavy breath and swallowed tightly. "Where's John? Is he okay?"
When there was no reply, she shook her head sharply. "Oliver! Where is John?"
A shaky breath answered her. "He's gone."
"Slade shot him."
"We can get him help!" she cried, already grabbing her cell phone. "I'll call Lance. He can send somebody."
"We'll have to be discreet. I—I know John keeps a change of clothes in the trunk for you, in case of emergencies. You'll have to change. Maybe you can say it was a mugging or something. That he got in the way, saved your life."
"You'll have to move him. It'll look weird if he's in the middle of some random warehouse. Or maybe Lance will help cover it up. I—I don't know. I—"
"Felicity," he interrupted, this time louder, demanding. "John is dead. I… I'm sorry. He… He was shot point-blank in the head. He's not… We can't save him."
Falling to her knees there in the foundry, she pressed her hands to her face. "No," she whispered. "No, no, no. He pro—promised me. He said he'd some back. Bring him back. Oliver, bring him back!" Folding forward, she buried her face in her arms and sobbed, her body shaking with the force of it. She shook her head, denial chewing its way into her bones.
"I'm bringing him home," Oliver answered.
Felicity didn't reply.
She laid on the foundry flood, curled up in a ball, crying until she was numb. And there she stayed, for a long while, with no noise but the sound of her breathing, tears silently spilling down her cheeks.
When Oliver brought Diggle back to the foundry, she pulled herself from the floor to meet him.
He laid Diggle down on the metal med table set up and took a step back as Felicity moved toward him. A sob worked its way up from her chest as she shook her head. She cradled her friend's face in her shaking hands and fell apart. "Wake up," she told him. Letting her head fall to his chest, she clutched him, her shoulders shaking as she wept. "John, please… please…"
Eventually, Oliver would pull her away from him. He wrapped her in the blanket she always kept folded on the cushions for when either John or Oliver couldn't take it anymore and needed to sleep. He placed her on the couch, tucked in the corner, where she numbly stared out at the foundry, unseeing.
Oliver changed out of his leathers and back into his CEO suit before kneeling in front of her, his hand finding hers.
"I have to take him away."
Her eyes finally met his, her brow furrowed. "No. He belongs here. With us."
"Felicity…" He ran his thumb over hers, his chin shaking, and he shook his head. Dragging a hand down his face, he let out a quavering breath and raised her hand up to his mouth. He kissed her knuckles and unfurled her fingers, pressing her palm up to his face. "I'm sorry," he rasped.
She hadn't realized she had any tears left until that moment. Oliver's head fell to her lap as he cried and she scrubbed her fingers through his hair, closing her eyes as her grief swamped her. He was her friend, their friend, and the ache was raw, the emptiness was too real. Oliver fell apart in front of her, his hands wrapped around her forearms as she circled his head with her arms and held him close, bending forward until they were just a knot of misery and loss.
It could've been minutes or hours before they let go of each other. Time seemed insignificant at that point. But eventually, he gathered up the pieces of himself and shoved them back into some semblance of 'together.' He laid her down on the couch and stroked her hair back from her damp cheek before he left.
The following morning, the news would tell of how John Diggle risked his life to save Oliver Queen in a mugging in the Glades and was killed for his efforts.
When the funeral came a week later, they didn't bother with cover identities. Felicity Smoak held Oliver Queen's hand as they stood at the front, watching their friend, their partner, their brother laid to rest. As the casket was lowered into the ground, Oliver's fingers tied around hers and promised to never let go.
[Next: Part II.]
author's note: So, I'm finished this story, but it ended up being like 20,000 words and I find I always have fewer readers/reviewers when I post the really super long oneshots. Which is why I chopped it up into three main arcs and here ya go. Because it's all finished, I'm excited to post the next part, which is a lot more Olicity-focused. I usually wait four to seven days to get up a new chapter, but I have been posting a lot less in the last week or so due to being at practicum and a heavy load at school, so I'm not opposed to posting earlier than usual if you guys are up for it?
Please leave a review. They're my lifeblood, and I worked my ass off on this story, so feedback would be really nice. I'm going to assume that Digg's was the most heartbreaking, but I'd love to hear if you feel different or the same and whatever! :)
Thank you so much for reading!
- Lee | Fina