A/N: A few things you should know:
1. This is, for all intents and purposes, a Nikita!AU, but really, the only thing I've lifted from that show is Division, so long as you get the idea that Division is a secret black ops organization that has gone rogue, you shouldn't need to have watched Nikita to understand this fic. That said, I highly recommend it. It's an amazing show, and it's on Netflix Instant.
2. I'm totally playing it fast and loose with the Arrow timeline for this fic.
3. The rating might go up depending on how this story develops in future chapters.
In the summer of 1992, Rebecca Merlyn is shot and left for dead in an alleyway in the section of Starling City known as "the Glades." One month after her death, Malcolm Merlyn disappears completely, leaving his seven year old son, Tommy, in the care of nannies, housekeepers, and the teachers of the expensive private school he attends.
Essentially, Tommy Merlyn's father abandons him when he's only seven years old. The Queen family takes him in as best friend and older brother. Robert Queen teaches him how to fish; Moira Queen teaches him how to dress. Oliver teaches him how to move on while Thea teaches him how to laugh again. It's almost eight years before Malcolm comes back to Starling City, and by that time Tommy wants nothing to do with him.
And then Oliver Queen drowns, and Tommy's world breaks apart all over again.
He finds his peace in Laurel Lance, in comforting her. In many ways, she becomes the only good thing in his life. His father cuts him off from his trust fund, he feels helpless to stop Thea's downward spiral, and the absence of Oliver in his life only seems to get sharper by the day.
The idea for the club strikes him three years after Oliver's death. It's possible he's just a little bit wasted at the time. His first idea is to name it after his friend, but he doesn't think that Queens is really the best name to attract the clientele he's hoping for.
Thea's there at the opening, grinning from ear to ear even as he takes a flask of champagne from her hand and clicks his tongue at her. After passing the flute off to a waiter, he bends to kiss her on the cheek.
Laurel shows up a second later, threading her arms around his middle and pressing a kiss to the back of his neck. "You did it," she whispers in his ear. "I'm so proud of you."
"I wish Oliver could see it," he says.
Laurel's hold gets just a little tighter. She's not great at dealing with the idea that the boyfriend that cheated on her with her sister and then died was also Tommy's best friend. She doesn't know how to miss Oliver, not yet, but she has learned how to allow Tommy to miss him even though she can't. Somehow, Tommy thinks it actually helps her to know he still longs for his best friend.
"I know," she tells him. "I wish he could see it too."
It's Laurel he's trying to find when the Glades' fall, desperately racing through a city that's collapsing in on itself in order to get to CNRI.
The building is falling to pieces when he gets there, but he doesn't care because Laurel's inside and he has to get her out of there. If she gets out, if she's safe, it doesn't matter what happens to him.
"I love you," he says, "Go."
After the building collapses on him, Tommy doesn't wake up in a hospital. Instead he wakes in a grey room, blinking against the brightness of the fluorescent lights and letting his fingers trace across a jagged white scar dashed across his ribcage.
"Good," a woman's voice says, "You're awake."
Tommy sits up in bed and turns in the direction of the voice just as the woman in question steps into the light. She's wearing a pair of black yoga pants and a grey tank top. Her dark hair is piled in a bun on the top of her head, a few stray strands falling around her face.
"Who are you?" he asks.
"My name is Shado Fei." She has a calming, steady voice. "Welcome to Division."
"What happened? What did you do to me?"
"You died. We brought you back."
He died? That's impossible. The last thing he remembers is running after Laurel, getting her out of the building and -
- the weight of concrete on top of him, sharp pain piercing his ribcage, wetness spreading over his shirt, breathing getting harder and harder.
"What are you going to do to me?" he asks, scrambling back on the bed, looking for anything that could be used as a weapon. Anything that could help him get out of here.
"Relax. I'm not going to hurt you." She says it like she could, and he believes her. This woman doesn't scream dangerous, but the way she stands screams deadly.
"Where am I?" His throat feels raw, like he's been swallowing gravel. "Why am I here?"
"Because," she answers. "We need you to help us find someone."
"Who?" Tommy asks,
And Tommy laughs. "Good luck with that. Oliver Queen drowned in the North China Sea six years ago."
"Actually," an all-too-familiar-voice says, "That's not exactly true."
Another figure steps out of the shadows, and Tommy's blood runs cold.
"Hello, Tommy," Malcolm Merlyn says, "I think it's time for you to join the real family business."
Felicity Smoak stumbles onto Division's radar when she hacks the CIA searching for information about Jacob Smoak. She doesn't know that Jacob Smoak became the target of Division after he uncovered information about one of their operations - code named "Verdant" - when she was very little. She doesn't know that four months later, one of Division's assets neutralized the threat.
All she knows is that he's her father, he's been gone since she was seven, and she wants to know why.
At first, Division sets its sights on taking Felicity out, but shortly after she peeks into Pandora's box, she goes completely off grid. There's no sign of her for over eight months, and when she does pop back up on their radar, it's when the CIA hauls her in for questioning.
She ends up in prison, but Division has always been good at getting people out of there. A few weeks later, and there's a tombstone with the name "Felicity Megan Smoak" etched on it and a nameless, unconscious blonde is dropped off on a twin bed in a Division holding cell.
She comes to slowly, vision blurry and head aching as the room spins around her. When her eyes focus, she sees a dark-haired man in a nice suit leaning against the far wall, his arms crossed in front of his chest. "Felicity Megan Smoak? My name is Tommy. Welcome to Division."
Slowly, Felicity sits up, taking in the room around her, the concrete walls, the secured door, the complete absence of furniture apart from the bed she's on. Nervously, her eyes flick from the gun strapped to Tommy's hip up to his face.
"Your old life is over," he says, stepping toward her. "I'm here to offer you a new one."
"This," Tommy says, gesturing to a open room with screens mounted to every wall and workstations placed in a pattern across the floor, "is Operations. Every Op Division runs is powered through this room, through the analysts and technical support. You'll be working here soon. We want to get you up to speed as soon as possible."
"You're going to let me near computers?" she says, incredulous. They might as well give her the keys to this place, as well as hand over every dirty secret they've ever wanted to keep hidden. Computers are her best friends and in her hands, the world's worst enemies.
"Certain systems, yes." Tommy seems to catch on to what she's saying. "Felicity, the way Division's relationship started with you might be a little bit rocky, but I need you to believe me that we do good. We make the tough calls that no one else can, stop the bad guys when the government's hands are tied. We do what the system can't do. We save people like you, give you the tools to use your talents to help people. Wouldn't you like to help people?"
She stays silent.
Tommy sighs. "Let's try this another way: You hacked the CIA because you want to know about your father, right?"
"Division can give you the answers you're looking for. Division can help you find him or help you find justice for him. That's what you want more than anything, right?"
"I want to make the people who hurt him pay," she says. "I don't care what it takes."
He grins at her. "Then let us help you. Do we have a deal?"
Holding out his hand, Tommy stands before her, patiently waiting.
"One question," she says.
He shrugs. "Go ahead."
"Who is that?" Felicity asks, gesturing to the mugshot splashed across all of the screens.
"That," Tommy replies, "Is Oliver Queen. He was one of us. He went rogue just over a year ago, but he popped back up on our radar yesterday."
Frowning, Felicity studies the photo. "Is he dangerous?"
"Very," Tommy answers. "One of the first things we'd like you do to is to help us find him. That's assuming we have a deal?"
His hand is still held out to her, offering all the things she's wanted for so long. Justice. Vengeance. Answers.
Felicity takes it. "We have a deal."
Division grabs Oliver when he inadvertently stumbles upon one of their projects on the island of Lian Yu.
Since one of Division's mottos is "waste not, want not," the unit on sight decides that Oliver Queen is worth more alive than dead, and since he's already dead to the world, they might as well use him.
Oliver Queen wakes up in Division and the first person he sees is Malcolm Merlyn glowering down at him.
"So," he says, smugly, "How are you enjoying the afterlife?"
Oliver lunges at him, locking his hands around Merlyn's throat and squeezing. It takes three men to drag him off of Merlyn and a fast acting sedative to knock him out.
When he wakes up, he's hanging suspended from the ceiling, his arms chained above his head and his toes just barely brushing the floor.
The door opens. Merlyn enters with a satisfied smile on his face.
"Let's try this again," he says. "You're dead, this is hell, and the only way you're going to live through what happens next is to do exactly what I say or everyone you love will pay the price for your defiance. Do you understand, Oliver?"
Oliver grits his teeth, but nods his head.
"Good," Merlyn says. "Let's get you with the program then."
He presses a button on a small remote in his hand, and a series of videos begin to play, projected on the wall in front of Oliver.
Thea. Moira. Laurel. Tommy. Over and over again. The only four people who matter anymore.
Malcolm takes delight in pointing out the assets following them during their daily lives, describing the way each one of them will be harmed or killed if Oliver doesn't agree to work for him.
"I know who you love, Oliver, and I know how to hurt them so much they will wish for death. In fact, they'll beg for it."
The words for how badly he wants to kill Malcolm are right there, but Oliver can't say them. He can't say anything. Merlyn is right. One wrong move from him, and everyone and everything he loves - everything he's been fighting to get back to - will be gone in a blink.
"Believe me, Oliver," Malcolm says, "It is better for everyone if you stay dead. Do we have an understanding?"
Oliver hangs his head in defeat.
Oliver works for Division as a loyal asset for six years. That's not to say he completely gives up on the hope of one day going back to his old life. But he's learning how to be smart. Every assignment given to him is completed with as much excellence as he can muster. Every opportunity to display his loyalty to Division is not wasted.
Turns out, Oliver Queen of before was a four-time college drop-out, but Oliver Queen the survivor woke up in Division and discovered something he was good at. The pressure of surviving the crucible that is Division turns him into an excellent marksman, Malcolm's favorite go-to sniper, someone skilled the mechanics of parkour, and a force to be reckoned with in hand-to-hand combat.
Division teaches Oliver things he never would have learned otherwise.
Once he's earned Malcolm's trust, he starts to slip off to Starling City during his downtime. He keeps his eyes on Thea and Moira, Laurel and Tommy. He watches Verdant open from across the street and smiles when he sees that the line to get inside stretches down the block.
And he waits. Because one day, he's getting out. He's getting out and he's getting back to his life, the one where he's not responsible for pulling the trigger on a gun someone else has aimed and loaded. Someday, he's going home.
And then he finds out Malcolm was responsible for the Queen's Gambit going down. Robert Queen didn't like what Merlyn was doing with Division, so Merlyn had him taken out. One of his men rigged the Gambit. Oliver was just supposed to be an unfortunate casualty - until he washed up alive on the shores of Lian Yu.
Slowly, Oliver begins to pull together what he needs to make a break from Division: cash, an untraceable car, a place to go, weapons, ammo, fake identification, and a battle plan.
He so desperately needs a battle plan. Parasites as well fed and ingrained into the government as Division aren't rooted out easily, and he'd be foolish to think he could just go after them as a one-man army.
He needs help. Thankfully, he knows where to find it.
She's in the corner booth, her back to the wall so she can see the entire restaurant. Open in front of her is a grey laptop, and beside that is a cup of coffee. There's a pen between her bright pink lips.
"Felicity Smoak," he says. "Hi. I'm Oliver Queen."
She looks up at him, slowly dragging the pen from her mouth in a way that he should not find as enticing as he does. "What do you want, Oliver Queen?"
Grinning, he slides into the chair across from her. Normally, he'd like to be in her position, with all of the entrances and exits in his eye-line, but he'll make an exception this once. "What do you know about a black ops group of the government called Division?"
"I know they're an urban myth." Unamused, she takes a sip of her coffee. "That what you wanted to talk to me about?"
"They're not a myth. They exist."
"How do you know?"
"Because I was one of them."
Defiantly, she tips her head back. "Prove it."
He motions to her laptop casually. "Google me."
Her fingers fly across the keyboard. For a moment, she studies the results on her screen. Then she looks up at Oliver. "You're supposed to be dead."
"Division faked my death."
"You expect me to believe that Division sank a yacht to kidnap a spoiled playboy nobody but TMZ cares about in order to turn him into an assassin?"
Oliver doesn't say anything.
"Even if I believed all this, Oliver - which I don't - what is it you want from me?"
"Help. You were on Division's radar. They wanted to recruit you."
"And you're here to try to do that?"
"No," Oliver says, lips curving in almost a half smile, "I came to see if you wanted to help me stop them."
Closing her laptop, Felicity leans forward . Lowering her voice. "And why - if I even believed you - would I want to do that?"
Oliver pulls a file folder from his jacket, tosses it onto the table in front of her, and says, "Because Division is the reason your father is gone."
Being in Division has taught Oliver a lot about reading people. The moment he mentions her father is the moment he hooks her. Jacob Smoak is his ace in the hole.
Cautiously, Felicity reaches for the file. She opens it. Five seconds later, Felicity's face goes ashen, and Oliver understands. She's been searching for answers for the past fifteen years. Coming this close has to feel like heaven and hell at the same time.
Her eyes stay on the file as she asks, "Division killed my father?" It's more of a statement than a question at this point. The file Oliver stole was incredibly detailed.
Reaching over the table, Oliver offers her his hand. "Does this mean you're in?"
She doesn't hesitate. "I'm in."