Chapter One – An old aquaintance
Felicity noticed him the second he stepped out of the elevator. She was sat at her desk at QC, attempting to look like she was filing reports for Isabel Rochev, while subtly running a few searches for anymore of the former inmates that escaped from Iron Heights during the undertaking, when she saw him out of the corner of her eye. Ordinarily she would have thought nothing of it, people come in and out of QC all the time, and given his perfectly tailored suit, he certainly looked like he belonged on the penthouse floor of a billion dollar company. Felicity, however, had spent enough time with Oliver to notice when something was out of the ordinary. The man now slowly approaching her desk was tall, almost as tall as her CEO boss and crime fighting partner, and slim, with jet black hair swept back in a strangely retro style, like the kind of hairstyle that was popular in the 1950s. He couldn't have been over 25, she decided, and as he got closer she couldn't help but think more and more how weirdly attractive he was. She couldn't put her finger on why she thought so, but there was something about him that made her stare. On top of that, his eyes were grey, the colour of hard iron, and in them she could see a stronger, more penetrating gaze than that of anyone she had ever met, including Oliver (even when he was in 'Arrow mode', as she called it).
Those grey eyes landed on her as he reached her desk, and he suddenly smiled. Not the polite fake smile most rich businessmen give to their associate's executive assistant, but a genuine smile that lit up his face, softening his eyes to look more like liquid mercury.
"Good afternoon," he began, and she noticed he was British, and very well spoken. His voice was soft, and Felicity couldn't help but think that he somehow managed to make those two simple words sound flirtatious, "I'm here to speak with Mr Queen, is he around?"
"Mr Queen is indisposed at the moment," Felicity answered nervously, picturing Oliver climbing the salmon ladder, or beating the stuffing out of a training dummy, with no shirt on, sweating...she felt herself blush and tried to bring her mind back to the man in front of her, "May I pass on a message Mr..."
"Apologies, how rude of me, My name is Grey, Cas Grey," he reached out a hand to Felicity, and when she reached to take it, he held her hand very gently for just a second. It was the kind of handshake Felicity had seen in old 40s Hollywood movies, not really common anymore, but strangely charming, and she found herself blushing slightly, "And you are...?" He raised an eyebrow inquisitively.
"Felicity," she replied, a little too quickly, "Smoak...it's Felicity Smoak. I'm Oliver's...I mean, Mr Queen's executive assistant, so basically I do most of his work for him...not that he doesn't work extremely hard, I just meant I look after his schedule, day and night...not that I know what he does at night, or who...I mean who he spends time with, not just who, 'cause duh that would be awkward...oh wow I'm babbling, people usually interrupt me when this happens, but you're just kind of waiting politely, which is very nice, handsome and polite, that's a good combo you got going on there...not that I noticed that you're handsome, although I bet everyone does...oh my god I'm still going, okay stopping in 3, 2, 1."
Before Felicity could apologise for her usual verbal diarrhea, or disappear into the floor, which she was hoping would happen any minute, Cas chuckled slightly.
"That was quite a ramble, I was worried you might forget to breathe for a moment." he began, a smile still touching the corners of his lips, the lips she still couldn't stop staring at...she struggled not to let out a sigh and mentally shook herself as she felt the blush in her cheeks spread.
He laughed again, even though she hadn't said anything.
"Well Felicity, I do hope I can call you Felicity, if you could let Mr Queen know I was here, and that I would quite like to take him out for lunch soon, I would very much appreciate it," before turning to leave, she noticed he bowed ever so slightly, which was a bit weird, but she dismissed it as he finished, "perhaps I will have the pleasure of seeing you again."
And with that, he walked back towards the elevators and disappeared from view.
Oliver was pounding the practice dummy with a rattan stick when he heard footsteps echoing off the stairs down to the lair. He liked the nickname Felicity had given to their base beneath Verdant, even if he would never admit it to her.
He recognised the click of her heels, and stopped what he was doing, turning to her.
"Hey Felicity, what are you doing down here, aren't you filing reports for Ms Rochev?" he asked her quietly, with the same measured tone she had come to recognise as his 'non Arrow' way of speaking.
"Don't worry Oliver, I finished those and they're sitting on her desk right now. I came by because someone came to the office to see you, someone I didn't recognise," she replied, sitting down at her desk and opening a number of windows on her screens that Oliver knew nothing about. "I don't know why, but there was something about him that made me want to come straight by and tell you..." she was interrupted by a voice coming from the stairs, a soft British voice that she had heard only an hour before.
"I tend to have that effect on people." Cas began, again with a smile starting at the corners of his mouth, "I'm sorry for not being completely honest with you, but given how Oliver spends his nights, I thought it would be simpler to find this place sooner rather than later." He looked up expectantly. Oliver was facing away from him, unmoving, and when Felicity looked up at Oliver's face, she jumped slightly. He looked like he had seen a ghost (or in this case, heard a ghost, Felicity thought wryly, since he hadn't actually turned around.)
Cas took a few steps forward, his suit as immaculate as it was at QC, but minus the tie, which Felicity noticed made him look more casual, but no less attractive. Just as she was reprimanding herself for her wayward thoughts while a strange man was calmly walking into their super secret lair, he spoke again.
"Hello old friend," he said, clearly talking to Oliver. His tone was one of fondness, and a slight amount of reverence, which was strange, because Oliver had definitely never mentioned him before.
What happened next was even stranger. After a long moment, Oliver finally turned to look at Cas, with a single tear in his eye, Felicity couldn't help but notice, and then without warning he quickly closed the gape between himself and the other man, and threw his arms round him. Cas returned the hug just as fervently, and they held each other like that for what felt like hours.
Felicity cleared her throat, but they didn't seem to notice, so she said "Oliver!" quite loudly, hoping to catch their attention.
They pulled apart then, and Oliver looked over at her, with a slightly glazed look in his eye. Felicity could almost see the moment when the full situation dropped back into place and Oliver remembered where (and maybe when) he was. He looked at Cas, and opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it again, looking confused. A second later he tried again.
"Cas, what the hell...how did you...why are you here?" Oliver fished around in his head for what to say, how to communicate the numbing shock that he felt at seeing the man who saved him from himself on Lian Yu. He turned away, noticing Felicity's confused expression, so decided to explain the small part he know. "Felicity, Cas was with me on the island. If I hadn't met him when I did, there's a very real chance I wouldn't have made it home, and even if I had, I wouldn't have been the man I am. I was in a very dark place my fourth year marooned there, for a lot of reasons, and he pulled me back. I owe him everything."
"Oh Oliver, you know you saved me as much as I saved you" Cas countered, throwing an arm over Oliver's shoulder casually, "I'm just sorry I didn't find a way to get us both off of that island. Truly, that has haunted my every day since."
"As to your initial, slightly confused, questions, I was taken from Lian Yu, and ended up in China, with no idea where I was or how I got back. I resolved to make a few changes in my life, to honour you."
Oliver looked at him again, eyes still showing confusion, and asked "What are you doing here, why now? After the island I had no idea what happened to you, and when I got back I looked for you at first, but there were no records or signs of you anywhere."
"Ah yes, that, I erased anything and everything recorded digitally relating to me that I could find. It's a long story as to why, but suffice to say I thought it was safer that way. There are a lot of things about me you still don't know, things that you likely wouldn't believe. Even stranger than what you saw on the island." Cas looked away as he said this, and Felicity noticed he had a distracted, for off look in his eyes. He seemed to shake himself back to the present and looked at Oliver again. "I'm here now though, to help you. It took me some time to catch word of the Starling City vigilante, but when I did I knew it had to be you, especially with the hood. I remember the first time I saw you wearing it, when you told me why it means so much to you." He gave Oliver a squeeze on the shoulder and a sad smile, then cocked his head towards the door.
"Someone's coming; how many people know your secret exactly?" he asked, with his eyebrow raised the same inquisitive way it had been at QC. He didn't look concerned, just curious in a detached sort of way, it was unnerving.
"I don't hear anyone, Oliver did you?" Felicity asked, just as the door to the lair opened and a pair of black boots appeared at the top of the stairs.
"Hey Ollie, can I talk to you? Its about my family, I'm..." Sara came down the stairs without looking to see who was in the lair, presumably Oliver had told her he was going to be here. She looked up as she stepped off the last step, and froze in her tracks. Her eyes widened with the same shock Oliver's did minutes before, but also with a glimmer of joy hidden just beneath.
"That's impossible...," Sara began, stopping dead in her tracks.
"Nihao mei mei," Cas spoke in perfect Mandarin, a phrase Oliver recognised. It was a very personal and familiar way to address someone, which confused Oliver, because he barely told Cas about Sara, and this felt more like he knew her personally.
Almost as if to answer his unspoken question, Sara closed the gap between them, threw her arms around Cas's neck and kissed him. He didn't seem shocked in the least, and Felicity noticed he placed his hands at her hips and responded to her kiss.
Felicity whistled under her breath. She wasn't quite sure how to process what had happened in the last few minutes, and when she looked at him, she could see Oliver was having as much trouble as she was.
Sara pulled away from Cas and turned to Oliver and Felicity.
"Judging by the look on Oliver's face, I'm torn between asking what's going on down here and explaining myself..." Sara broke the tense silence following the kiss, and apparently decided Oliver's explanation should come first. She said as much and looked at him expectantly. He repeated what he had said already, that they met on the island in his third year, and saved one another in some way, although he did not say how. He then asked Sara, not entirely kindly, how she knew him.
"We met in the middle east less than a year ago. I was fulfilling a contact for the League of Assassins. I told you I did things I'm not proud of to survive, and that the League changed me, trained me. Cas came to their home, their temple, to meet with Ra's al Ghul about something. We grew close, he saw what that life was doing to me, and he understood. He promised to free me..." a look of confusion and anger crossed her face. "You promised to free me!" she repeated, louder and directed at Cas.
"I did free you little one," he replied, looking concerned, and using the english translation of what Oliver could only assume was his nickname for her. "I gave Ra's a life for a life. I performed a contract for him, in exchange for your freedom."
"Well clearly he didn't think it was a deal, because just yesterday Oliver and I were attacked by Al-Owal. He swore to bring me back to the League, and punish me for running."
At that, Cas's face switched almost instantly from confusion and a look of care, to controlled rage. He looked furious, so much so that Felicity recoiled momentarily.
"Where is he now?" Cas asked, looking like he was barely controlling his tone.
"We don't know," Oliver replied, "but Felicity is searching as we speak, if we find him, you'll know" He turned to Cas as he said that and continued. "Do you mind explaining what you meant when you said you 'performed a contract' for the League of Assassins, and while you're at it maybe explain what you said to me that you assumed I wouldn't believe?"
Cas visibly calmed in front of their eyes. He moved to sit next to Felicity in the spare computer chair and started to speak.
"Ok, well your first question is easy to answer," Cas started slowly, like he was debating how to phrase what he was going to say. With him sat this close, Felicity was overwhelmed by his strange, slightly alien beauty. He reminded her of what she imagined elves would look like when she first read Lord of the Rings (minus the pointy ears of course)...he was handsome, no doubt about it, but in a strange way she couldn't pin down. 'Lets not forget he' has a history with like everyone in the room...well, everyone except me, of course.'
Cas paused and glanced at her, and she heard him laugh quietly to himself. 'Oh god, what if he can read minds, that's not good, my verbal diarrhea is bad enough out loud, its a hundred times worse in my head. Ok Felicity. Calm. Down. There's no such thing as mind readers, maybe he just thinks you're cute, like Sara does.'
Oliver clearing his throat and looking expectantly seemed to make Cas focus again, the smile left his face.
"Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the League. I met Ra's a number of years ago, and I saved his life. He owed me a favour, so when I requested Sara's freedom, he didn't have much choice. He requested I 'remove' a very corrupt warlord in Sudan in return." Cas said, but Oliver interrupted.
"So you killed him?" Oliver asked, shock in his voice.
"No, of course not." Cas replied calmly. "I just removed him from his position of power, and left him with nothing. It's much more effective. Do you not remember, on the island, I showed you that if you are capable, you can achieve your goals without killing, even without violence."
Team Arrow quietly digested this information when Felicity spoke up.
"Wait, you said you met Ra's al Ghul a number of years ago. How many? Coz not to be rude, but you don't look old enough to have done much besides go to school 'a number of years ago'"
"Actually that's one element of Oliver's second question. I am...slightly older than I look. A lot older, actually." Cas replied evenly, looking warily at the other three.
"When you say a lot, I'm guessing you're not talking 45?" Felicity spoke again, as was her habit in awkward situations. "I'm not sure how unbelievable this is going to be, but I personally am now very curious."
"Well Felicity, since you ask so nicely..." Cas responded with a sly half smile and a wink that made Felicity's blood heat under her skin. She took a deep breath and was about to try again when Cas continued.
"If I was to tell you that I was born Castiel Augustus Gray, would that perhaps give you a clue?" he still looked wary as he said this, leading Felicity to think he hadn't told many people this secret about himself, and that possibly when he had they hadn't taken it very well.
"It's ok, I think I speak for everyone present when I say we can handle it." Felicity said, looking at Oliver and Sara for support. Seeing her look into his eyes seemed to snap Oliver out of whatever trance he was in.
"Yeah, I trust you Cas, whatever you have to say, it won't change anything." Oliver spoke up, hoping to reassure his old friend.
"You saved my life, and I didn't even know it, whatever it is, how could I not accept it" Sara added sincerely. Clearly she cared about him a great deal, although judging by their reactions to seeing him, maybe Oliver did as well, he just wasn't as good at showing his emotions, as Felicity well knew.
"102AD annum natus, Romae. Vixi ad MM fere annos." Cas spoke slowly and deliberately, all humour gone from his face.
Felicity was the only one who reacted with anything other than confusion. Her face was as shocked as Oliver and Sara's had been when they saw him. When they looked at her confused, she rolled her eyes dramatically.
"Seriously, did neither of you study Latin? Oh wait, sorry Sara, I forgot you were 18 when you got on the Gambit." Felicity swallowed, embarassed. "And Oliver I suppose its hard to learn Latin when you're being kicked out of 4 colleges...I mean, nevermind. Translation, he was born in 102AD. He's nearly 2000 years old...which if we suspend disbelief and go with, means he's either a god, or a vampire or something..." She trailed off, looking at him now with fear in her eyes.
"Worry not Felicity," Cas replied, the easy smile back on his face, the smile that she now saw as a mask he used to hide the iron underneath, the look she had seen in her office at QC, she realised, was the real face, the charming smiles and flirting were his mask. "I'm not a vampire, I eat food like anybody else. I just don't get old, I've never known why. After 18 or 19 centuries I kind of lost interest in why, I just accepted it. I'm sure this is a bit startling, but that's not the strangest part. It has to do with..."
He stopped mid sentence as Felicity's monitors beeped. She turned, realising she had a location for where the assassin who attacked Sara and Oliver was. Cas looked over her shoulder and without a word, headed for the stairs.
Oliver grabbed the hood and changed quickly, as did Sara, and they followed.