Title: And Then a Butterfly Flapped Its Wings
Category: Arrow
Genre: Angst, Drama, Romance (eventually)
Ship: Olicity
Rating: R
Disclaimer: I own neither the characters presented in this story nor the show from which they originate. Unfortunately.
Summary: Sometimes the destruction of the individual can be more powerful than the decimation of the collective.
A/N: If you continue on and read this, there will be another, more explanatory author's note at the end of the prologue. However, before that, a warning: this is not a light story. It's dark, and it's heavy, and it deals with some very serious issues – one in particular, rape. And it does so in very graphic detail – not for the sake of gratuitous violence but because I felt it was necessary to really get into the headspaces of these characters. While you could skip the middle portion of this prologue, the rape will continue to be a driving factor of this story and will be referenced in chapters that follow. Secondly, if you are a Tommy fan, this might not be the story for you either. While I won't say any more now, just now that I did not write or post this without serious deliberation and that I feel there is justification and a basis for the direction in which I took these characters. I hope that you will come on this journey with me. So far, I have this prologue and four additional chapters of this story written, and, while difficult and emotional, it has also been an extremely gratifying challenge. If you do not read this, I will understand.

Thanks,
Charlynn

And Then a Butterfly Flapped Its Wings

Prologue

Tommy Merlyn was a lot of things, but he wasn't an idiot... no matter what other people thought.

The problem was that he was never considered on his own merit. Instead, he was always measured against everyone else in his life and, ultimately, found lacking. He didn't have a head for business like his father; he didn't have a head of hair like Oliver's. He wasn't a do-gooder like Laurel or her father; he, unlike Thea, had lost all his innocence too many years back to even pretend like he might find it again; and he wasn't poised and self-possessed like Moira. Oh, he had his skills, but they either weren't valued, or, worse, they weren't even noticed.

For one, he could mix a mean martini, and, no, that wasn't because he had spent the last few months of his life managing a club. It also had nothing to do with the fact that he had spent a good portion of his youth living inside of one liquor bottle after another. And, besides, Tommy wasn't a gin or vodka kind of guy; he preferred scotch... just like his dad. He just couldn't hold his scotch as well as Malcolm Merlyn. Rather, Tommy could mix martinis and any other drink imagined or otherwise, because he was good at following directions, at reading recipes. In fact, he could cook – and well, too. But most people didn't stick around long enough in his life for him to feel comfortable sharing that part of himself with them, and, for those who did, they didn't want to see him as anything more than a pale imitation of everyone else.

Tommy was also adept at puzzles. Be they word or made up of images, he just had a knack for seeing what wasn't there and fitting those missing pieces in. But besides making him an excellent contestant for Wheel of Fortune or preparing him for his golden years in the nursing home, puzzle solving was not a brag-able... or bankable... skill. Neither was gin-rummy, darts, or knowing what size of shoe a woman wore just by looking at her feet. So, Tommy kept these talents, just like his interest and ability in cooking, to himself.

Finally, Tommy Merlyn was extremely observant. Perhaps the foot thing could be lumped in with this aspect of his personality, but he liked to think of them as separate. Maybe he even had a foot fetish. However, whether his knowledge of shoe sizes was connected or not, that did not detract from the fact that he watched people – that he studied them, learned them, understood them. This is how he knew that there was more than just years of friendship and co-chairing charity boards between his father and Moira; how he knew that, despite dating him, Laurel was still in love with his once/still/former best friend; and how he knew that Oliver was not in love with Laurel... no matter what he might think.

The only problem with his little parlor trick – the stellar observation technique, not the darts – was that, oftentimes, he learned things about people that he really didn't want to know and that, sometimes, he learned things about people that they didn't even know about themselves. But Oliver's lack of self-awareness was a much bigger problem – not only because it was preventing Laurel from moving on but also because it was something Tommy couldn't control.

Ever since they were children, there were two things that Tommy could depend upon: one, as previously mentioned, was never measuring up to anyone – especially Oliver, and, two, was his ability to manage Oliver. While he was often the one egging Oliver on, he was also the only person who could reel him back in when necessary. In this way, he was a steadying presence in Oliver's life. Before the island and everything that came with it, he was Oliver Queen's better behaved – not good but better – best friend. During the five years Oliver was gone, he was Moira, and Thea, and Laurel's reminder of Ollie. He knew of and told all the best Oliver stories, and, while he wasn't the real thing, he often made a pretty good, close enough, as good as they could get facsimile. While he had missed his friend, with him gone, Tommy had shone better and brighter in the eyes of those people Oliver had left behind. But then Oliver returned.

Tommy had been thrilled when he learned that his pseudo-brother was alive and kicking after all. Sure, five years had passed, but nothing could change them. They were Ollie and Tommy; Tommy and Ollie. His best friend would return, and they'd go back to how things were before their world got spun on its ear. Oliver would drink too much, sleep around too much, fuck up too much, and he'd be right there to both make it better and to look like the better man in comparison. Only, it was Oliver who was better. After five years of being dead, Oliver came back stronger. Better looking. More sensitive. More interested in being a functioning member of society... or so he had everyone fooled. More dedicated to his family and friends. And in comparison – just like always – Tommy had looked like second best all over again.

Even this, he could have handled. He would have adapted. Plus, after a while, that back from a deserted island shine would have worn off his once-upon-a-time best friend. He would have found a way to take care of Oliver and, in turn, take care of everyone they both loved; he would have become his unflappable sidekick once again... only, that role was now more literal than Tommy could ever have imagined, and he certainly wasn't the friend filling it. No, instead, that was Oliver's trusty ex-special forces driver/bodyguard, and, while Laurel might be a damsel, and while she oftentimes found herself in distress, she wasn't Oliver's lady fair anymore either. No, that role now belonged to one Felicity Smoak.

Oh, Oliver had been careful. He had tried to have his cake and eat it, too, and he had almost succeeded in doing so. Tommy pushed Laurel away before she could run away, and Oliver had his little blonde piece on the side. Sure, he knew that Oliver wasn't sleeping with Felicity. Rather, she was the secret brains (and beauty) behind his brawn. Tommy wasn't sure for how long Oliver had been sneaking the woman into Verdant every night, but he had no doubt that Felicity was the only woman in Oliver's life that he had shared all of his vigilante-self with. In fact, their connection would still have been on the down-low if it wasn't for Oliver's behavior that day at Tommy's office. Something had just seemed... off about his former best friend, and, while Tommy wasn't Felicity Smoak, he could tickle QWERTY. His father was also paranoid (after what happened to his mother, of course), so he had cameras inside of Merlyn Global that even his security guards didn't know about. Additionally, Tommy knew how to place a phone call. So, after a little digging and even more authorizing of others to do some digging, he had learned of one very fetching IT girl's presence in Oliver's life... and of the trojan she had placed in his father's system.

His dad was dealing with the trojan; Tommy was dealing with the techie.

Or, well, at least he was dealing with how the techie influenced his life.

Felicity had no idea, and Oliver himself was clueless – no great shocker there, but Tommy saw. Observant, remember? He saw the way his former best friend looked at the computer nerd. He saw the trust, and friendship, and attraction, and need. He saw the connection. He saw the faith and faithfulness that Oliver had no idea how to handle, let alone recognize, the faith and faithfulness that Oliver had never directed towards anyone else in his life. Not even Laurel. He saw the love. And, what Oliver didn't know, Tommy was going to use to his advantage. Maybe Laurel still thought that she was in love with Oliver, but she didn't even know him. All Tommy had to do was put a blonde, Felicity sized bug in Laurel's ear, and she wouldn't rest until she uncovered the truth, and, once she did, everything would right itself once again. Oliver would be the cad, and Tommy would be the better man by comparison. For the first time since his once best friend washed back up in Starling City, Tommy's life would be recognizable again.

Tommy was just about to cross the street in order to finish his trip to Laurel's apartment building when he looked up and saw his control slip even further away.

"You?"

Tommy Merlyn was the last person Felicity expected to find when she opened her door. It was late for guests, but that wasn't the reason for her surprise. After all, neither she nor Tommy ran in circles known for their prompt bedtimes. But friend or foe, acquaintance or stranger – those labels would have made more sense. A friend stopped by for obvious reasons – a foe, too. An acquaintance had a reason to darken her doorstep, and a stranger could have been excused as random. But Tommy? Tommy didn't fit into any of those categories. If Felicity had an address book, and if she divided it by those categories (obviously, skipping the strangers), Tommy would hover somewhere in a limbo all his own.

She knew of him because he was a Merlyn; she knew him because of her connection to Oliver, and she could only assume that the very same connection was what made her a blip on Tommy's radar... only, Tommy was denying Oliver's place in his life, so why would he care about Oliver's place in hers? Why would he come to see her? Perhaps she should have been more concerned about how Tommy knew where to come in order to see her, but Felicity was a realist. While she took as many precautions as she could to keep her personal life private, Tommy Merlyn had more than enough resources at his disposal to track down a lowly IT girl... even one who helped The Hood.

"Miss Smoak," he greeted her. He was leaning against her doorjamb as though every bone in his body had turned to jello and his muscles had liquified. It was a lazy pose which belied the obvious tension rolling off of him in smothering waves. His empty grin did nothing to help the contradiction. "Felicity. Can I call you Felicity?" Before she could answer – a decided no, Tommy was already talking once again. "Oliver's Joy."

She sighed, already exasperated with and tired of the conversation. While she had no qualms about losing sleep and falling behind on... well, her life... because of her duties as Oliver's Marshall Flinkman, those duties did not extend to babysitting a petulant and moody Tommy Merlyn. "What do you want, Mr. Merlyn?"

"I want a lot of things – and, please, Mr. Merlyn is my father, but I've long since accepted the fact that the things I want, Oliver gets."

"Well, he's not here, so..."

"Oh, I know exactly where our boy wonder is, Oliver's-Delight. The question is: do you?"

"Look, it's late, and I..."

"It's not that late," Tommy interrupted her.

"... and I'm not in the mood to play your games. So, if you would just..."

"Oliver's fucking my girlfriend. Well, actually," Tommy amended, faking a casual glance down to his watch before looking back up only to glare at her. Felicity inhaled sharply. "By now, he's probably either moved on to round two, or he left. Ollie's not known for his cuddling skills. Laurel told me."

That stung. Not the lack of cuddling, because, actually, Felicity found that interesting, and, if she wasn't getting such weird vibes from Tommy in that moment, she probably would have analyzed why Oliver refused to cuddle with the woman he was supposedly in love with, the woman he had survived hell on earth for, but it hurt that Oliver was with Laurel. That he had slept with her. Because they were in the middle of a fight for not only their own lives but the survival of their entire city. Because Laurel had already managed to come between Oliver and Digg once, and Felicity feared what would happen if she came between them a second time. Because Laurel obviously wasn't ready to be starting anything with Oliver if Tommy's presence on Felicity's doorstep was any indication, so her friend was going to get hurt before everything was said and done. Because she didn't want Oliver to be with anyone but her.

That last reason was both unwanted and unwelcome – a messy complication no one needed, so Felicity pushed it away. And then she got angry, and, when Felicity got angry, she tended to hit below the belt. "Actually, I thought I heard that you broke up with her, so, yeah, open season. All's fair in love and lust."

She expected Tommy to get mad as well, but he just quipped, "don't forget guilt and obsession as well."

"Excuse me?"

"Well, Laurel thinks that she's in love with Oliver, but she's really just in love with this imaginary version of him that she made up in her head years ago and with the idea of being that pretend Ollie's Mrs. Queen. As for Oliver... Well, my former best friend really doesn't know what being in love means. Sure, he feels guilty towards Laurel because of Sara, and because of all the other women he cheated on her with, and because of, you know, dying on her, and because he's keeping his nefarious, nighttime shenanigans from her. And we can't forget the fact that Oliver is obsessed with his own guilt, but he's not in love with her, Oliver's-Bliss, and I think we both know why." He paused dramatically, but she didn't cooperate by hazarding a guess. Not that she had any clue as to what Tommy was driving at. "Because he's in love with you."

"And you're obviously drunk," Felicity responded immediately. Really, there was just no other explanation for anything that had happened since the moment she heard the knock on her door.

"Actually, I'm stone-cold sober, but, if that's your way of inviting me in a for a little night-cap..." Tommy's sentence fell off as he pushed himself upwards and forwards, making as though he was going to come into her apartment.

Felicity reacted instinctively, slamming the door shut only to have it catch on a shoe – a very male shoe, a shoe she did not want to come any closer. As she struggled to force him to leave – pushing as hard as she could against the painted wood beneath her hands, she said, "you need to go."

"Hmm...," Tommy pretended to think, absently tapping an index finger against his chin. Smirking at her, he countered, "but, no, Oliver's-Contentment. I think I'll stay." And then he pushed back, forcing his way into her apartment and making her stumble backwards, tripping over her own feet and the quick reversal of her momentum against the door. When she heard her lock click into place, the fear she had been struggling to ignore tumbled heavily into place alongside her heart. Quickly, she scrambled as far away from him as she could, only stopping when her back met a wall, and, even then, Felicity tried to make herself smaller, tried to melt her body into the buttercup yellow she had spent weeks debating over when she had first moved into her apartment; Tommy just took a seat upon her couch – perfectly at ease, perfectly ignorant of her alarm.

He crossed one leg over the other's knee, lifting his hips momentarily in order to sink further into her sofa's cushions. "I must say, Oliver's-Merriment, that I'm a bit taken aback by your lack of reaction towards my news. I thought, if anyone was going to be as hurt and angry as I am, it'd be you, Oliver's-Exhilaration."

When he had asked her if he could call her Felicity, the idea had been distasteful, but now she just wished he would use her name – anything to show that Tommy was still capable of seeing her as an individual, separate from Oliver. The more he kept referring to her as belonging to Oliver, the more she realized that, in Tommy's eyes, she was no longer a person; she was a thing, a toy – something to be taken off the shelf, played with, used, and then tucked neatly back away, already forgotten. She also knew that there would be no reasoning with such a mindset. So, as she continued to talk with Tommy, Felicity sought to get help, to get away. Both her cell phone and keys, however, were on the opposite side of her living room, casually tossed onto her desk.

Inching around the perimeter of the space, keeping her back plastered to the walls, Felicity said, "I don't... I don't know what you mean." If she wouldn't have known without a shadow of a doubt that she had said the words, Felicity wouldn't have recognized her own voice. It was so... meek and hesitant.

"What," Tommy asked rhetorically. "You're just friends?" His tone mocked her. "Friends who spend their nights together. Friends who know each other's deepest and darkest secrets. Friends who break the law and break into billion dollar companies together." He snorted derisively. "Yeah, try selling that to someone who didn't spend the entire afternoon looking at security footage of the two of you."

She was almost there – mere feet away from the promise of hope and help – and so focused on just getting away that, instead of saying anything, Felicity only hummed a non-committal response. Fingers outstretched, lengthened and spread wide, she felt her touch just barely graze against the metal of her keys before a hand that was decided not hers swooped them up. She watched in mute horror as Tommy shoved both her keys and her cell into the pockets of his slacks, any last traces of put upon good will disappearing.

"That wasn't very smart."

Not thinking about where she was going, just that she needed to move, Felicity backpedaled away from him, but he stalked after her. It wasn't until she was cornered – Tommy's body blocking her path to her door, only leaving her with the option of going deeper into her apartment and further away from escape – that Felicity realized her mistake. In her desperation, she found herself asking, shrieking, "get away; stay away! I don't want you to come any closer to me."

But he didn't listen, and she kept yelling, her eyes ping-ponging back and forth as she searched for something, anything to make him stay away. "You need to leave; I want you to leave." She lunged, reaching for the biggest, thickest, heaviest coding book she could she find and coming up swinging, the arch of the text colliding solidly with the side of Tommy's face. And then Felicity didn't think, she didn't stop to see if her actions were enough to make him backdown. She just ran.

Bare feet slipping on her clean, smooth wood floors, she sprinted towards her hallway. If she could just reach her bedroom, maybe she'd have enough time to barricade the door. Even if she only bought herself a few minutes, her tablet was in her bedroom. She'd be able to email Digg. She could throw her window open wide and scream until somebody heard and called for help. It wasn't much, but those small hopes were the only lines of defense Felicity had left, so she clung to them. Arms outstretched towards her bedroom door, she was just a few steps away when she was snapped backwards, a fist clenched agonizingly in her hair pulling her away. Tears sprang to her eyes. Before she could even adjust to the sudden shift in her momentum, Felicity was being flung forward, the side of her head first connecting with the wall before the rest of her body followed.

"You stupid bitch," Tommy roared.

But she was already screaming over top of him. "No, no, no! Don't do this! You can't do this!"

He shook her, roared at her to, "shut up; shut up!," over and over again. Both of his hands falling to her shoulders, biting into her shoulders, Felicity lost count of how many times she was slammed into the wall. Somehow, though, she found the strength... or, at that point, maybe it was just instinct... to fight back. She twisted, and thrashed, and wrenched her body in any and every direction, trying to break free. She flailed her arms, but they found no purchase – Tommy's grip too tight, and her legs were useless, for they were barely managing to hold her up. It wasn't until she threw her head back and made connection with his chin that she was finally able to break away, stumbling towards her bedroom door once more before she even fully grasped the fact that she was free. She made it one step, then two, and even a third before a vice-like hold latched onto her right arm, the force of the grip sending shooting dangers and then numbness rushing down all the way to her fingers. Using her own impetus against her, Tommy spun her around and back into the wall, her breath knocked out of her in one terrifying collision. She started to panic.

It was a struggle just to breathe. Chest tight, Felicity gulped for air, but no matter what she did – between her ever more desperate cries for mercy and the abuse her body had already sustained, she couldn't get enough oxygen. Dizziness set in. And then he smacked her, backhanded her.

Her head ricocheted, her temple landing, cracking against the edge of the molding around her bedroom doorway. She whimpered. A thin trickle of blood slithered down the side of her face. He was yelling still, ranting, but Felicity couldn't place his words. She just stood there, exhausted and too afraid to move as Tommy started shaking her once more. It wasn't until one of his hands dropped to grab the waistband of her sleep shorts that she reacted again.

Felicity had long since stopped being aware of how she was still fighting back; she just was. Her fingers fell to push his away, and, when that didn't work, she scratched and clawed. "No, Tommy, no!" She was crying out, but he didn't seem to hear her. Hysterically, she wracked her mind for something she could say, something she could do to get through to him. "If you do this... If you do this, there's no coming back, Tommy. It'll always be there between you. Every time he sees you, he'll see... this. He'll never be able to forgive you, Tommy. If you do this, Oliver will hate you."

He went deadly still, his hands falling away from her. For a moment, Felicity believe that maybe, just maybe, she had found the one thing that could make Tommy stop. But then he smirked, and bile rose in her throat to choke her. "No, he'll hate himself."

She didn't think; she just reacted. Lifting a knee and thrusting it up as hard as she could into Tommy's midsection, at the same time, she used both hands to push him away and, once more, was running from him. This time, she made it into her room. Eyes darting in distress, she searched for a weapon; she looked for something she could use to defend herself. But it was too late. In her fear, her bedroom was foreign to her. Nothing looked familiar. And then Tommy was back – tackling her, landing on top of, pushing her forwards and down. As she fell, she collided with her dresser – her chest hitting the furniture's lip, while her fingers scrambled for purchase. All she managed to do was drag down some jewelry and bottles of perfume with them.

She landed on her side momentarily before Tommy's weight pushed her down onto her back. They struggled. For reasons she did not understand, he ripped her glasses from her face, tossing them aside. Then, as he groped and tugged at her shorts once again, she twisted her body in an effort to break free, to deter his seeking, destroying hands. At first, she used her own hands in an attempt to push him away. She scratched, and pulled, and pinched, and pushed to little effect. "You can't do this! Don't do this! I can't... why are you doing this to me?" He just seemed to paw at her even harsher the more she fought him... not that Felicity was going to stop trying to reason with him, stop trying to get away. When her fingers accidentally found a broken shard of glass, she felt a flicker of hope.

Felicity would never be sure what gave her away. Perhaps she tensed in anticipation, or maybe she simply sobbed in momentary relief, but no sooner had her digits of her left hand wrapped themselves around the shard of glass but Tommy was surging against her – his knees holding down her legs while his hands encircled her wrists, leaving instant bruises, and tugging her arms over her head at an awkward, excruciating angle. Repeatedly, he slammed her hands down, her knuckles being torn open on the broken debris from her dresser, until she was forced to drop the only weapon she had managed to find. With no other options remaining, she did the only thing she could still think of: she rammed her head out and up, bashing it into his.

The pain was intense and immediate, but Tommy faltered long enough that Felicity was able to scramble away, crawling on her hands and knees. She wasn't sure what to do next or where to go. She just... tried. And she roared, "no, no; you can't do this; you can't do this," in a broken, endless lope. She was within an arms length of her bed when his full weight came crashing down on top of her once more. She instantly collapsed, crying out in agony.

Everything hurt. There was no temporary reprieve. As soon as Felicity could take a hampered, hindered breath, Tommy was ripping at her clothes once more, and she was straining to stop him. It wasn't until her fists, flailing blindly backwards, made contact with his sides that he spoke again. "That's it. If you want it rough..."

The threat was left hanging. "No, no, I don't want... this. I want you to stop. I want you to leave me alone, to leave. Tommy, no! Don't! Don't do this! No!" As one of his hands held her face down against the floor, she heard the other pull something from her nightstand beside them. From the sounds of the breaking bulb, it was her lamp. A grunt later, her head was released, only for her arms to be dragged forward – out and above her head, Tommy making quick work of lashing her wrists to the metal of her bed frame.

"Didn't know I was a boyscout, did you? Well, not for long. I joined, because I thought it would make my mom proud, but Ollie thought it was lame, and he made fun of my uniform, so I quit... but not before I learned how to tie one hell of a knot."

His mother. She latched onto the thought. So, as one of Tommy's hands went back to holding her face down while the other ripped, and snatched, and removed her shorts, she pleaded, "your mother, Tommy, she wouldn't want you to do this – not to me, not to yourself. A mother... any mother... would be devastated if her son..." She choked on the words; she choked on her inability to take in just one deep breath; she choked on what now felt like the inevitable. "And Laurel. You love Laurel. You're here, and you're hurt, and you're angry because of Laurel, but, Tommy, she'll never look at you the same way again, not if you..."

"And how will she ever find out," he interrupted her. "You and me? This is going to be our little secret. Because you can't tell Oliver. He'll blame himself, and he'll never be able to look at you the same way again, and he'll come after me, and he'll kill me, and you don't want my blood on your hands or his. And, if you can't tell your precious Oliver, then you sure as hell can't tell the cops. No one will ever know."

She heard him release the closure on his pants, his descending zipper a machine gun's tattoo throughout her room. And, if she had screamed before, then she shrieked now, bellowed now, wailed now – her voice feral. She bucked as hard as she could, but his left hand still held her face down, and his knees moved to push her legs open wide and, once more, hold her thighs down. But it wasn't until she felt the fabric of her underwear being ripped away that Felicity resorted to begging. "Oh god, no. Please, Tommy. Please, Tommy. Please, Tommy. Don't do this; don't do this; don't do this; don't do this; don't do this." Then a fist came down to crush against the small of her back, the knuckles stabbing into her vertebrae, and he was inside of her.

After all the pain, after all the fear, it was over quickly. She bit through her lip after yelling herself hoarse. The blood ran down her chin. Despite the fact that the light was still on overhead, Tommy didn't notice. He didn't see. Because he couldn't. She had long since failed to register with him – her face, her voice. While he was attacking her, while he was talking to her, before he had even arrived on her doorstep, Felicity had become nothing more to him than a tool, a pawn, a weapon. He had stripped her of her identity.

The night and everything else around her disappeared and became just sounds. A zipper being quickly raised. A pocketknife being opened. A cord being severed. Footsteps crunching over broken glass. Keys and a cell phone landing on a wooden surface. Distantly, Felicity noticed that the palms of her hands were cut from where she had curled them into the frame of her bed... the same bed that she had managed to move several inches away from the wall as she, tied up and pinned down, still had continued to fight. Detached, she felt the cuts and scrapes, the bruises.

An indifferent, dismissive boot turned her over. "Here," Tommy said, bending down to put her scratched and bent glasses back upon her face. "You can have these back now. We couldn't have you wearing them before, though, because Tommy Merlyn doesn't fuck nerds."

"No," Felicity met his hard gaze unflinchingly – her belittled and used body bare from the waist down. "You just rape them."

And then he... he just left.

Felicity struggled to her feet, her legs nearly giving out on her several times before she eventually managed to stand. She was weak and practically too weary to support her own weight. But then she was screaming her rage, and her horror, and her disgust, and she lashed out. She destroyed. What wasn't already broken soon was. Because her fury was safe.

Eventually, in sheer exhaustion, she collapsed, her body finding a wall and sliding down it until she was sitting on the floor. Still, though, Felicity refused to cry. Her tears of apprehension and discomfort from before had long since been consumed by the madness. And she knew, if she gave into her aching need to sob, she might not ever stop again.

He was too late.

But it wasn't Laurel who Oliver found dying at CNRI; it was Tommy. He was buried beneath rubble, weak and giving up. Maybe it was because he always saw his friend as invincible, or perhaps it was because Tommy's own father was behind The Undertaking, but Tommy's was the one death Oliver had never feared. And now it was happening.

Tommy was oddly silent as Oliver worked to free him. While he talked, his friend just... watched him – as if disbelieving that Oliver was really there, that he was helping him, that he would help him. So much was broken between them, but Oliver never thought Tommy would ever look at him in that way. It made him work and fight that much harder. And one of them had to, because it was obvious that Tommy had given up, that he had accepted his fate. It was only when Oliver removed the last block of concrete and he saw the rebar piercing his friend's torso that he, too, knew Tommy's death was imminent. Not that he said that, though.

He was in the middle of offering up some empty reassurances when Tommy's words stopped him cold. It wasn't what he said but how he said it – like it was the words bubbling up inside of him that were killing him and not the fact that a building had collapsed on top of him. Despite the flames licking around them, Oliver shivered.

"Tell her."

"Laurel," Oliver questioned. But confirmation was unnecessary. There was no other woman in Tommy's life more important than Laurel, no one else he would be thinking about while he was dying.

"No," his best friend choked out. Oliver wasn't sure if it was blood, pain, or smoke choking him. Perhaps a little of all three. "Felicity."

A gasp in his ear, and his shiver became a chill. It started with his face and then descended through the rest of his body. He suddenly felt so cold that it burned.

As Tommy struggled to talk, as Tommy struggled to breathe, to live, flashes of Felicity from that past day bombarded him. She had been quieter than normal, quieter than he'd ever seen her. She'd also seemed smaller, softer, like a shadow.

"Tell her..."

Those flashes became images, became memories.

Felicity walking into the foundry wearing leggings and the largest, thickest sweater Oliver had ever seen. 'What,' she defended, refusing to meet his gaze. 'This basement's draftier than an abandoned, haunted house.'

The excuse was believable enough. After all, Felicity was a girl. Girls tended to get cold easier than guys. It was a fact that he had taken advantage of many times before the island.

Felicity shying away from Dig when he stepped up behind her, peering over her shoulder. 'More cowbell! One for both of you.'

He had dismissed her jumpiness as exhaustion and worry. After all, they were all suffering under a similar weight.

Felicity shrugging, a decided lack of a blush accompanying the gesture that was meant to be self-deprecating when asked about her obvious stiffness, the bruises on her face, her lack of glasses. Her words, which should have been humorous, rang just as hollow. 'I fought the rug, and the rug won.'

She was clumsy. Or maybe Oliver had believed her, because, in that moment, he had to. Because it was easier. If he had questioned the validity of her excuses, then there was a risk he'd learn something he really didn't want to know, something that he couldn't handle – not when the rest of the world was falling down around him, not when he needed to know that just one thing, just one person he cared about, was going to be alright.

"... I'm sorry."

But, just like that, Oliver knew.

Roaring in pain, and anger, and distress, and so much goddamn guilt it was Oliver who was now choking, he wrapped his hands around the rusty with blood, rusty with age rebar and pulled it from Tommy's abdomen. It wasn't until he had plunged the bar back into Tommy, this time piercing his heart, that Oliver realized he was crying.

His world hadn't just fallen apart that night; it had been shattered.

Broken, he stood and walked away. The only sound Oliver heard was the destruction around him. His comms were silent.

A/N2: Alright, so that justification I was talking about... First, let me say that this story was born from two thoughts: one, that Tommy was a wasted character and his death, though not a wasted opportunity, was less than it could have been, and, two, that he had an unbelievable propensity to go dark, and I regret the fact that the show didn't utilize this. Secondly, he had a temper. Sure, he oftentimes disguised it with flippancy and flirtation, with jokes and jocularity, but it was there nonetheless. Then, there was also the offhand reference Lance made of Tommy 'roofying anyone lately' or something along those lines in 1x05. Add this all together, and I feel that the situation presented in this story was a possibility for the character of Tommy. Like I said, this wasn't something plotted on a whim, and I sincerely hope that no one is offended by it. If you've made it this far with me, I'd love to hear what you have to say/what you think.

Thanks,
Charlynn

P.S. I will be breaking up the heaviness of this story with some lighter posts. I already have the next one shot in the Devil Series penned, and I have a ficlet planned, too. Look for these soon.