76 days had passed.
And for 76 days Oliver had felt as if he was back on the Gambit's small lifeboat, drifting aimlessly, letting the unforgiveable winds rock him back and forth as he waited - waited to die, or to live, or for just some change in the breeze to bring him finally, ultimately, to a destination. Land, heaven, or hell, it ceased to matter. After days spent at sea, he had decided then that any end was better than the agonizing wait.
It was the wait that tortured him above all else.
For 76 days Oliver waited for the news that would bring him safely to shore, or drown him in merciless waters. As much as he knew the odds, the glowering numbers coupled with the complete and utter lack of any evidence, he still prayed for the day the waiting would end.
He had perched himself onto the cold metal table in the lair beneath Verdant, feet dangling lifelessly under him as he absentmindedly fiddled with the object in his hands. He knew a decent amount of time must have passed as he remained in his fixed position, watching the computer in front of him run the same facial recognition scans it had been running for 76 days straight.
And still there was no trace.
The bright green fern, growing wildly out of control to his left, seemed to mock him as he rubbed his thumbs across the lenses of the small glasses in his hands, his own mind conjuring up the face the computer failed to find. He let his head drop away from the screen for a moment to study the dark-framed glasses, the image of their owner so clear in his memory that he almost felt as if he could reach out and touch her.
In his mind, she looked at him in the same way she did all those months ago as they stood in the hallway of the hospital, when she had practically begged him to quit dangling maybes; to just let her go.
He couldn't then.
Just like he couldn't now.
He'd live the rest of his life in this torturous limbo of dreading the worst and hoping for the best if he had to. He'd wait as long as it took. Finding her was the only way the torture would end for Oliver, but there were two very different ways in which she could be found.
When the wait was over, when he did finally find her, Oliver Queen's fate would be sealed. It would either mean death or life for him.