Technical Assistance

Chapter: 1 - Data Retrieval
Word Count: 3241

Disclaimer: If I owned Arrow, I would be writing screenplays, not AU fanfiction.

Notes: I honestly have no idea what happened. I had a conversation with PhantomPhoenix, and ended up giving myself a prompt with this. I liked the idea so much that I couldn't get to sleep last night for thinking about it, and now I've been working on it all day. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to continue this-or, if I do, when I'm going to continue it. Little Talks and Talkative are still my priorities, but I had to get this out of my head. I'll let you draw your own conclusions about it. Any reviews are appreciated, but thanks for reading, too! :)

This is very raw, as I just finished it, so please let me know of any typos you see. Thanks in advance.

And also, two references in this one. Like always, virtual hugs and/or cookies to anyone who can find them. :)

Felicity Smoak sighs as she waits for the coffee pot to fill with glorious, delicious nectar of the gods, her previous caffeine high already starting to wane and the fatigue setting in. Despite that, she still has a ton of work to do—those diagnostic reports aren't going to file themselves, after all—and she knows this is going to be an all-nighter of a job. It just serves to remind her what happens when none of your colleagues—or your boss, for that matter—is worth the paper their paychecks are printed on.

Despite the inter-office politics, Felicity finds that she likes her job at Queen Consolidated. The IT department has only the best technology and equipment, and the work is challenging enough to really test her abilities. But, like all good careers, there are some downfalls to the position. For now, she considers that to be the paperwork and the long hours. After all, a programmer's job is never done, and Felicity has never liked leaving loose ends. She checks her watch and her worst fears are confirmed: it's half-past eleven, and she's not making as much progress as she'd like. She sighs again as she realizes it will probably be another two-hours-of-sleep night. They might as well plug her up to a coffee IV by the time this week is over.

She fills up her favorite mug to the rim with coffee, the one that shows her problematic addiction to television shows. It's red, but the text on it is blue and reads, "Drink at once if convenient. If inconvenient, drink anyway. (Could be dangerous.)" It's the mug she always has to explain, but it's still her favorite. She starts to leave, but then realizes no one else is in the building. In a rare act of defiance, she grabs the coffee pot and takes it with her back to her office. She doesn't have time to go back to the kitchen for coffee every time her cup runs empty.

It's a decent walk from the kitchen to the Satan Pit (as she lovingly calls the IT department), and she's more grateful than ever that she decided to wear sensible shoes to work today. The panda flats aren't just cute—they're comfortable. She has to hold back a high-pitched, dignity-shredding scream as she turns the corner to her cubicle and sees someone that most certainly doesn't work at QC sitting at her station, using her computer. At least, she's pretty sure he doesn't work there, but it's impossible to tell with that emerald green hood hanging over his head, masking his features. The first thing she thinks is that he wears the tight green leather surprisingly well, but then she shakes her head as she realizes that the Starling City Vigilante is sitting at her computer. It is the closest station to the now-open window, but still, what are the odds?

Finally, she finds her voice—at about the same time that her anger overrides her common sense. "Hey," she snaps, a little too loud, and his head turns toward her, "did you ever stop to think that maybe that computer belongs to someone—and that it isn't just there for your own personal use? Seriously, if you're going to hijack a computer, at least have the common sense to go to the CEO's office, where you'll have more access. And, by the way, I happened to be working on something before I left—and you better not have closed out of my programs. And—fair warning, mister—if you've messed with the height adjustments on my chair, I swear I won't be held responsible for my actions."

He vacates the chair immediately in alarm, pulling his bow in one swift, fluid motion to aim it. Felicity ignores it, setting the coffee pot and mug down on her desk. "You're really going to shoot me?" she asks after turning toward him. "Seriously? I'm not armed and, well, even if I was, I wouldn't be a match for you." She motions to his very clearly defined muscles and over six feet in height, and then to her own sixty-five inches. "But, hey, if you're going to kill me, do it now, before I have to watch you destroy my computer systems."

He releases the bow instantly. "You're not on the list," he says flatly, in a synthetically deep, robotic tone. He's clearly using a voice modulator, which shows a little more competence with technology than Felicity has dared hope for. Best case scenario: her computers might actually be intact after an encounter with him, which is definitely a plus.

She waves him away from her computers as she tries to assess the state of her computers, still flustered by the encounter. "What list?" she asks, crossing her arms. "Like, for Christmas? I'm Jewish, so I never really got the whole Santa Claus thing. I mean, I get the Santa Claus thing, but I never really thought there was any balance to the whole situation. If Santa brings present to the good boys and girls, what happens to the bad ones? Is that who you are—like, some sort of anti-Claus who doles out punishments to the bad kids?" It takes her a minute to realize what she said, and then she groans. "Okay, I'm going to stop talking now."

It might be her imagination, but she thinks she might see the corners of his mouth tilt upward. "What's your name?" he asks, his tone indecipherable behind that voice modulator. Combined with the masked facial features underneath the hood, he really makes himself out to be quite an enigma. She doesn't like being unable to read people—especially not people with murderous intent.

She frowns, looking toward her desk to avoid the question. She doesn't really want to tell a murderer her name, but she also doesn't want to find herself impaled on an arrow in the next few minutes. She lets out a cry of horror as her eyes land on a battered laptop plugged into her computer, and she can feel her blood boil.

Without any thought toward self-preservation, she walks up to him and pokes him in the shoulder. "I know you didn't plug an unidentified laptop into one of my computers and potentially risk infecting my babies with horrible, crippling viruses." She realizes how foolish she's being and steps away from him, practically running back to her desk. She's relieved when she finds that the seat adjustments have not been moved, and she examines the computer for a moment, with its massive bullet holes and damage that can't be undone. "What did you do, use it for target practice?"

"There was an altercation," is the only response the Vigilante offers, studying her carefully, as if he's afraid she's suddenly going to take the laptop and run.

She sets it down on the desk, flipping the laptop over and studying the different compartments. She doesn't know what compels her to be so charitable to a man who runs around shooting arrows into targets and sitting in other people's computer chairs, but she finally says, "I'll have to take a better look at this hard drive, but I should be able to tell you exactly what's on it. The compartment seems to be bullet-free, but the other bullets could have jarred it. Computer parts are sensitive, you know, so if anything is loose in there, it could mean the whole thing is shot."

She focuses on tearing the hard drive disk out of the laptop with her trusty screwdriver, so she can't see his face as he asks, "What?"

She turns to glance at him for a minute, rolling her eyes. "Oh, come on. You wouldn't be in the IT department if you didn't need some sort of information off of this hard drive. Tell me what you're looking for, and I'll retrieve it for you before you blow up the entire network with your incompetency—which I would have to replace, by the way. So, really, I'm doing myself a favor." She waves a hand toward another wheeled chair on the other side of the area. "Have a seat. This could take a while."

He does as she asks, watching her work with the careful observance of one who has depended on his eyes for his survival. He's at least a little less intimidating when he's sitting in a chair at her station, and she's thankful for the distraction of the computer. After a very long moment of silence, he decides to randomly ask her, "Do you think you have enough coffee?"

Her cup is almost empty by this point, so she makes a point by filling it before answering, "Probably not. I'm running on two hours of sleep, and coffee is solely responsible for my waking state right now." She tilts her head to the side. "Do you really want to talk about coffee right now?" She doesn't wait for the answer before completely removing the hard drive.

"No, not really," he admits. She waits for him to clarify, but he doesn't. Instead, he offers a change in topic: "Are you going to tell me your name?"

She rolls her eyes. "Well, now that I know you're not going to kill me, I'm Felicity Smoak, IT nerd extraordinaire, at your service." She pauses in speech, her brain too focused on plugging the new slave drive into her computer. "Since we're doing introductions, do you have a name or a... handle, or something? I know you have a real name, too, obviously, but I know better than to ask you for it."

He seems to think about that for a moment. "Arrow," he says finally as she starts a virus scan on the disk. "That's what the papers have been calling me recently."

Felicity groans at him. "Really? That's the best you can come up with? Well, that's really original and meaningful." She rolls her eyes at his sudden turn of lameness. "I bet you're the kind of guy who calls his dog Woof."

He makes a sound akin to a snort, and Felicity thinks it might actually be some semblance of a laugh. Before she can ask, the laptop's data appears in a window on her own computer, and she sorts through it. "So, do you want to tell me what you're looking for, specifically? There's over five hundred gigs of data here, and chances are whatever you're trying to stop will have already happened by the time we sort through all of it."

The Arrow stays silent for a minute, but finally says, "This laptop was retrieved from Floyd Lawton, an assassin known to Interpol as Deadshot. He's after a target here in Starling City, and I want to know when and where."

"Well, that's really helpful," she mutters sarcastically as she sifts through the most recent file data. She absently clicks the JPEG file, thinking it might give her a target. Instead, it seems to be building blueprints. She studies them before giving him what little she can. "It looks like blueprints for the Exchange Building, where the Unidac Industries auction is set to take place. Mr. Steele is actually going to be bidding on it, too—that's why I know anything at all about this."

"Can you tell who offered Lawton the contract?" he asks now, rising from his seat to lean over her shoulder.

Felicity sighs, trying to sift through bank account information on the drive. She finally finds a very recent payment into a bank account in the Caymans, and she clicks the information button. "Looks like Mr. Lawton just received a very..." She trails off as she sees the sum. "Oh, holy cheese fries, that is a lot of zeroes." The Vigilante shifts next to her and she finally remembers the point of the conversation. "Well, the point is, the money was transferred from a Starling City Bank account registered to the Halstead Corporation. And what's more impressive is that there's still money in the account after that." A few illegal hacks later, she's able to tell him, "The transfer of funds was authorized by their CEO, Warren Patel. Looks like that's the man you need to see about a dog."

She jumps about a foot in the air when the Arrow's hand falls on her shoulder. "Thank you, Felicity," he says with something that sounds very much like sincerity. "But I need to ask you another favor."

She crosses her arms before swiveling in her chair to look at him. "Just for the record? I am not jumping out of windows or crippling security systems for you. The hacks were clean, and I don't mind doing that to help catch a creepy assassin wanted by Interpol, but I'm not going to jail for you." She looks him over again. "No matter what you look like in green leather—or how well the mysterious persona and bad-boy vibe work for you." Once her mind catches up to her words, she silently prays for the floor to give way and the building to swallow her up.

She swears there's a laugh in his voice as he replies, "Good to know, but that wasn't what I was going to ask." He motions to the computer. "Could you possibly put that computer back together and give it to Detective Lance at SCPD? I'm going to need help on this one."

She raises an eyebrow at him. "Detective Lance?" she questions. "The one whose face is splattered all over the news because he's—oh, that's right—charged with arresting you?" Her voice is two octaves too high by the end, and she wonders why she cares what happens to the green-hooded psychopath.

"He's the only one who would believe me," comes the reply. "He knows that I'm trying to defend this city, too. Will you do it?"

Felicity swallows. "I guess, but I'm not going down as an accessory to whatever it is you're doing. I'm just going to say I found it on my desk after I went to make a pot of coffee." She pokes a finger into his chest again, but he really doesn't seem to mind her use of gestures for emphasis. "And you better back me up, if it comes to that."

"If it comes to that," he assures her, "I'll personally bail you out myself." Even though she doesn't want to believe him, he seems sincere. Briefly, she wonders how she gets herself into situations like these.

Before she can ask anything else, he's through the window, leaving a very bewildered Felicity Smoak to stare after him.

Quentin Lance is in the parking lot, just about to leave the job for what's left of the night, when he hears a very hesitant, "Detective Lance?"

Lance turns on his heel immediately, but he doesn't expect to see a blonde girl younger than either of his daughters carrying a very large tote over one arm. She looks kind of like one of those kids he arrested at the nerd convention thing last year for defacing some superhero movie poster—but nicer, of course. The plastic, square-framed glasses make her look intelligent, and she's dressed professionally, as though she's spent the day at an office. Except for the shoes, that is, which have pandas on them and are dressed up with sequins and bright colors, and, frankly, are just really weird.

He knows as soon as he replies, "Yeah?" that it's going to be a very interesting conversation.

She steps forward a little more before finally saying, "Detective Lance, I'm Felicity Smoak." She does a little awkward wave. "You probably don't know me or anything—because I'm an upstanding citizen, I assure you."

He decides to cut the rambling short because he's sleep-deprived and not in the mood to have a conversation with a girl who's so high-energy. "What can I do for you, Miss Smoak?" he tries this time, hoping pointed questions will get her out of his hair sooner.

Her smile is full of irritation aimed at herself. "I'm sorry to bother you, but..." She shakes her head before trying again, not satisfied with that start to the conversation. "Well, you see, I work at Queen Consolidated. I was there late tonight trying to file some paperwork, and, well, I found this"—she pulls out a very battered laptop from her bag—"lying on my desk. It was plugged up to one of the computers at my station, like someone was trying to figure out what was on the hard drive."

He takes it from her, and he realizes those pockmarks on its surface are bullet holes. "Do you know who left this?" he demands quickly.

She shakes her head, and he feels a little sorry for her; she seems completely frazzled by the turn of events. From a firsthand assessment, he figures she's never held a gun in her life and would be terrified if she saw a firefight. "I didn't until I notified security about the breach," she assures him, sounding more professional than he expects. He's pretty impressed that she can manage to keep her head on through this. "I have the video for you"—she pulls out a DVD—"but I thought you might like the still for when you catch him."

Dread immediately seizes him, but all is confirmed when she hands him the picture of the Vigilante at what must be her desk at QC. "I don't know what's on this laptop," she tells him, "but I think it might help you find him."

Lance takes all three items from her, eyeing the girl a little closer. She seems scared, and that's to be expected, but she also seems resolute, as if she truly wants to do this. "Thank you, Miss Smoak," he says before shaking her hand. "I can't tell you how invaluable this information is."

She offers him a small smile and a half-wave before saying, "Just doing all I can to help, Detective." With that, she walks away, leaving him to stare after her. The girl is a little blonde mystery, but he does appreciate that she's trying to help the police. Many have started to see the Vigilante as some sort of hero, so the subtle reminder that some citizens haven't lost their minds gives him a good feeling. But, despite that, there is something about the girl that bothers him. She's too calm, too put together for the type of scare she had tonight. Either she likes to keep her emotions in check or she's hiding something.

But, either way, Detective Lance intends to find out more about this Felicity Smoak.