A/N: This is dedicated to black-nerd-girl-rants on Tumblr. There was a terrific prompt provided by this brilliant person about a colorblind AU.

I hope you all enjoy it!

He remembered asking his mother, when he was five, "Do you see in color?"

Color was a rare thing. Everything was a shade of one monotone dull. Everyone's senses struggled with understanding the lack of it, something natural withdrawn. His mother's reply was not very considerate.

"I do, but it came after I met my soulmate," she stated. "People rarely do."

"We were lucky," his father's voice boomed from the doorway. Oliver saw his mother rise, kiss him softly, and his father touched her very pregnant stomach. There eyes met. "There's nothing like seeing the hue of your lover's eyes, Ollie."

Oliver, not truly understanding, nodded. His father chuckled and kissed his mother softly.

He was ten when it happened. The conversation was long forgotten, and with the knowledge of their lackluster. They said it was an evolutionary thing, an aftereffect "of the gods" as one of his professors stated. People were lucky if they saw color, and it meant they found their soulmates.

He found it absolute… a word his mother would say he owed her twenty five dollars.

His life changed when he met the new girl, some policeman's daughter. He saw her scowl first, and his world paused when she met his.

Colors he had read about popped at him. He blinked multiple times. He saw her do the same thing.

He didn't know what he was missing until he met her eyes.

They were a light green and gray, a mixture that he could not identify. His body froze, not understanding what was going on. Her hair was mussed, from her father's pat on her head. .

Her eyes widened. He winked. She grinned.

Gray became his favorite color. Especially when it had tints of green.

They hid their secret very well. They talked about everything, from the clouds in the sky to their deep, hidden secrets. Ambitions, fears, and other random topics.

They were sixteen when he said he loved her. She told him when they were eighteen.

His father had figured it out when they were fifteen, strolling through the garden. His father had chuckled, and said, "Your secret is safe with me."

When the news report came out, revealed that the ship had sunk, grief was abundant. Laurel, not knowing what had happened since she was in class all day, came home to her father weeping on the couch.

Her mother was shut in her parents' bedroom. Laurel hesitantly approached her father, "What is it?"

"Sara," he gasped out. He pointed to the television. Laurel put her bags down, and turned the television on. She felt her knees give out. Her father didn't catch her.

But I can still see. She looked around, felt it flicker and started to panic. You don't get to die, you bastard. Come back to me. I'll rage at you… but come back to me.

It was heartbreaking to see the funeral. Moira wept and Thea leaned on Laurel the entire service. She looked around, seeing grief in color for the second time in her life. She felt flicker again, flashes of gray, and she cursed him.

It stopped.

Moira was quiet at the Queen house. Laurel stood by her, and Moira smiled at her. "I know he wasn't your color partner, but I thank you for being here… even if…"

"I'm here for you and Thea," Laurel muttered. She saw Tommy from across the room, with very red eyes. Her heart hurt at the sight of him. He was the other person in their group, and he didn't know her and Oliver's secret.

She felt her heart scream out a secret, and made a promise then and there…. I won't tell your secret until you come home. I promise.


Five years. She waited every day, with an anticipation that fried her nerves. Color was the most important thing she had. She wouldn't let it go.

If it wavered, a prayer would start. She didn't want him to diminish, not before she got ahold of him. It was the only thing in her life she felt she had control over. Her parents divorced, her father sat at the same bar stool every night, and she… everyone left her to deal with their own grief.

She couldn't blame him, although the deeper anger in her wanted to. She loved him too much, not even wanting to understand the full implications of her feelings. While her personal life was falling apart, she made sure that Thea's didn't.

It's what she did… She needed to look out for the only younger sister she had left.

Laurel walked into the Queen mansion, and saw less color on the walls. She gazed around the bleak atmosphere. She saw Moira in the formal living room. Moira rose, set a book on the table and hugged Laurel. Laurel looked quizzically at the book. Adjusting to the Grayscale Again: How To Grieve Your Color Partner's Passing.

Moira saw her glancing at the title. "At least I know Robert isn't experiencing anymore pain."

"How is the transition for you?" Laurel asked, half afraid of the answer and half intrigued. Studies were done all the time with color partners being the center.

The system had been made equal for those who could see color and those who couldn't. Color wheels were everywhere, and color seeing people had installed color onto every piece of technology they could find just so that they would be able to translate anything for people if the need arose.

Many police investigations rose on the need of those color wheels. The hardest kinds of murders, though, were the ones where someone lost their color partner. The world becomes duller when the color partner dies, color slowly fading out of existence rather than immediately. Laurel thought it was nature's way of letting someone grieve the loss of their loved one.

"The colors are still here, but I know he's gone." Moira stated. "Everything is duller now… this book says it may take up to six months before I lose total color."

"I am so sorry, Moira," Laurel murmured. Moira shrugged and tears welled up in her eyes. Laurel hugged Moira tightly. Moira patted Laurel on the shoulder when the hug was done.

"You… are definitely the best daughter in-law I could have hoped for," Moira stated. Laurel smiled. "Thea is upstairs. I think she's ready for your visit."

Those five years, Laurel made it a habit at least twice a week to visit the Queen mansion. Her father didn't understand it, her desire to keep in contact with the family he felt responsible for his daughter's death. Thea relied on Laurel as much as Laurel did Thea, and they both became each other's most trusted confidants.

Laurel stayed in Starling City, much to Tommy's dismay, and Moira assisted her with making sure that the firm she was at kept afloat financially.

Laurel and Thea stood near Oliver's room one night. Color flickered. Laurel grabbed the door knob. Thea gazed at her surprisedly. "You're really going to do it this time?"

Laurel shrugged. "Maybe."

She didn't.

Her meetings were running long. There were ten unanswered text messages from Thea. She started to look at her phone when her colors heightened. She looked up. Vivid green eyes stared back at her.

She caught her breath. He smiled. She fought the urge to return the gesture.

Every ounce of the personal grief she'd held in came back to her. She put her things down on her desk, and with tears in her eyes, she slapped him. He didn't react. She hugged him tightly. His arms went around her. She felt him breathe her in. Much like she'd done the same to him.

"I'm sorry," he whispered to her. She nodded and kept her arms around him. She cried into his chest, much like a whimpering baby, and couldn't help but feel safe after five years of separation. "I…"

"We need to talk," she whispered back. She felt his nod. "Right now, just let me enjoy the moment."

"Do you hate me?" his voice was barely audible. She shook her head. He looked bereft. She touched his beard softly. He closed his eyes. She heard his breathing pause.

"Maybe." His eyes opened. She smiled at him sadly. "You have a sad tale to tell me, I know. I want to hear it… especially the moments when I saw gray."

Laurel moved away from him. "Go see your mother. And Thea."

"How do you know I haven't seen them yet?" he asked her. She shrugged. His eyes narrowed. "It happens to you too, doesn't it?"

She nodded. "We can look it up later."

The vigilante attacks started happening soon after his return. He knew it would be a matter of time before she figured it out.

His team was assembled by the time she came into his club, demanding to speak with him. Tommy had watched them both warily, afraid that something would explode between them. Oliver brought Laurel to the office, and she crossed her arms as she stared at him.

"You told the IT girl before you told me?" she accused. Oliver blinked. "Don't lie. Don't even think of trying."

He frowned. "Guess the green gave it away."

"And the fact you mentioned something only you would know," she told him. He looked at her surprised. "You liked my eyes."

He blinked. He laughed. "Do you want to see the lair?"

She shook her head. "No. When I need to see it, I'll know where you are."

He nodded. "Don't want to be an accomplice."

She shook her head. She walked out the door. He grinned as he watched her walk away.

The night of Tommy's death, she let everyone think she lost her color sight. She knew he wasn't going to stick around for this grief, so she delivered the performance of the year. She kept their secret.

Doll-maker. He felt it flicker. His heart didn't beat for four seconds. He looked at Diggle and then Felicity. "Where is it?"

Felicity gave him the location and he charged. He threw himself into the room, not worrying about what was around him. His singular goal was to save. Protect. Unleash all the fury he felt.

He ripped the cord from her mouth. Her sobs wrote themselves on his heart. He picked her up. Carried her out.

He sat her down near her unconscious father. She gazed at him. He wiped the tears away. Diggle came out with the Doll-maker in cuffs. She reached out to him. He shook his head and made his way into the darkness as the cops came. She felt her tears dry.

Later that night, unbeknownst to his team, and her father, Oliver slipped into Laurel's apartment. He curled up on her bed and held her as she cried into his arms. He kissed the top of her head repeatedly throughout the long night.

He felt her anger when she figured out Sara was alive. The colors grew vibrant, and he cringed. Felicity asked him what was wrong. He didn't reply, but kept his eye on his cell. It began to ring. He answered it. "What's up?"

"You owe me an explanation," she seethed. He gulped. She took in a breath. "Fine. Be like that."

She hung up the phone on him. He tossed it and glanced at Felicity. Felicity gazed at him with eyebrows burrowed. Before he could answer, Sara walked in. He gazed at Sara. Sara walked in, forlorn, and frowned at Felicity. "Laurel knows."

"I know," he stated. Sara gazed at him confusedly. "She called me."

Sara nodded. She looked around, slightly dazed. "We should… go talk with her. About us."

He gave a small nod in response.

The dinner was awkward. The color flared in their hallway conversation. He knew she knew he was lying.

But they both had their parts to play. And he wasn't willing to risk her.

He couldn't live in a world without her.

"Nyssa is going to be so pissed," Sara joked one night with the team. Diggle gazed at her. She grinned. "She's got this obsession about color partners."

"People say that they're your soulmate," Diggle stated. Sara nodded. She looked at Oliver, whom Felicity was also looking at. Diggle coughed. "What do you think about that?"

"I guess it can be true," Oliver confessed. He looked at Sara. "But I'm also not unwilling to settle with someone I can't see color with."

"First time it happened, I thought I was on drugs," Sara recalled with a fond smile. "Nyssa flipped. We… it was unexpected."

Diggle chuckled. "The moment Lyla and my eyes met, I knew. Most beautiful color in the world."

"It still hasn't happened for me," Felicity confessed. Roy chuckled. Oliver glared at him.

"We all know my story," Roy pointed out. "I'm not willing to repeat it."

"Thea must be so proud," Sara stated. "To find someone her brother can't stand as a future husband."

"We never talked about marriage," Oliver clarified. "He knows he better not break her heart."

"I heard the colors grow duller when you're separated from your color-mate," Felicity stated. Everyone looked at her. "It's like the distance impairs it… And when your life is at risk, your partner sees the color flicker. Also, when people have big bursts of emotional responses, the color becomes more saturated."

Sara nodded. "Completely true. Especially during orgasm with them."

Roy blushed. Oliver thought back to his first time with Laurel, how uncomfortable they'd both been, and how bright the colors saturated. They'd laughed their way through it, but it was definitely part of the color high.

"Never experienced it," Oliver muttered. He drank more of his water and Felicity regarded him with avid interest.

He felt her despair when Sara died. He couldn't describe it, but he knew what'd happened before she had called him. They'd mourned together, publicly in front of the team, and privately in her apartment.

He only let his guard down with her, after all. They'd cried most of the night together. They mourned the only way they knew how. Together.

When they found out who Sara's killer was, and why it had happened, Oliver went after the League.

He didn't tell Laurel.

She felt the flicker, and her rage that followed was unspeakable. She donned on her mask quicker. She knew it would get a reaction out of him.

It had been a normal start to her morning, getting her coffee and sitting in on the staff meeting. The color around her became dull, and quick flashes of gray entered her vision. She closed her eyes, quickly praying. When she opened them, the flashing continued.

She started to worry.

He couldn't die. She didn't know where he was. She knew that he didn't want her to reveal their connection, but there was something… She needed to know.

So she called Felicity. Felicity lied to her. Laurel's desperation grew to distress, and the distress to fury. He couldn't do this to her.

She got to her desk and started to panic. Everything kept fading, in and out quickly, and she didn't know what to do. She looked at her coworker and said, "I need to see the color psychologist. Now."

Her coworker wrote down a number. "I'll call ahead and set you up the appointment immediately. Are congratulations in order?"

Laurel nodded as she grabbed her bags. She walked out of the office. She dialed the number, and set up an emergency visit.

She walked in, saw the flickering again, and sat down on the couch. She explained everything, from her ability to see color from the moment she met his green eyes, to now. "I'm scared. This has never happened. I don't know what to do."

"His life is in danger" the psychologist soothed. "Flickering color is indicated that he's teetering on the edge, so to speak. If your color starts dulling out, then I would approach law enforcement."

"What if it keeps flickering?" Laurel ventured. The psychologist looked at her sadly.

"His life will continue to be in danger. But, you know he's alive if it keeps that way. If it stabilizes, he is recovering." The psychologist handed Laurel a book. The title said, Dealing with the Flickering, and she glared at the title. "It will help. Come back, if you need to, especially if you are going through the dulling phase. No one should face that alone."

Laurel nodded. She put the book in her bag. She got to her car. She cried and banged the wheel. Damn you, Oliver.

He was coming in and out of consciousness. Damn you, Oliver.

He felt the urge to smile. Of course she would curse him out. Weird that he could hear her thoughts. I'll come back to you…. We're not done yet.

He felt someone apply medicine to his wound. He heard a familiar humming. He looked. She sat next to him, with her face contorted with worry.

"Rest," Tatsu muttered. He closed his eyes.

He saw her crying in her apartment, on the couch, with no one else in the room. He walked over over to her and sat down. He put an arm over her shoulder.

"I'm here," he whispered. "I'm coming back. I told you… I won't ever leave you."

He put his lips to her forehead softly. He whispered, "I love you…"

He woke with a gigantic headache. He heard humming again and groaned. "Please stop."

"It's good you plead for your life," Tatsu joked. She smiled at him. He grinned back. She ruffled his hair. "You were having strange dreams… Finally acknowledging the fact you see color?"

"You were the first one to find out," he whispered. Tatsu nodded. He grinned at the ceiling. "I dreamed I was in her apartment… she was crying. I told her I loved her."

"It is common when the bond has grown," Tatsu stated. "Some reported telepathy with their color partners. It is extremely rare. They say the gods chose the color partners. It makes sense."

Tatsu shrugged and Oliver watched her make soup. "How do you…?"

"We've had this conversation many times, Oliver," Tatsu warned. "I don't want to repeat it."

Oliver nodded. "I have to get back to them."

"Her," Tatsu corrected. "Please don't try to fool me. We know each other better than that."

"Never would I ever," he retorted. He laughed and then grimaced in pain. Tatsu cackled at him. "Help me protect them."

Tatsu nodded. Oliver closed his eyes. He slept.

"He's dead, we have to move on," Felicity said with tears flowing down her face. Laurel looked at the team around her, and saw the grief on their faces. Laurel tried to mirror their expressions. She looked at Diggle.

"We can't let his dream die," Laurel stated. She looked around. "I've been training. Please let me help you."

Diggle started to rebuttal, but Roy spoke up. "I need all the help I can get. We need to keep the order. It'll be our legacy to him."

Laurel nodded. She and Diggle started talking about tactics she and Roy could do, and Felicity started outfitting Laurel's gear for the field.

There was an uprising in the city, one which Laurel saw completely in color. She fought her grin throughout the fight. Roy asked her what had her in a lighthearted mood, but she didn't want to tell him.

Laurel was wrestling with someone on the ground when an arrow shot over her head, into a person's arm. She looked at the arrow, took in the markings, and swiveled toward the origin point. He stood on top of the truck, looking grimly down at everyone.

Laurel took that moment to sneak away into a safer place. She made it back to the headquarters, waiting for him to yell at her.

Felicity stared at everyone in shock. Laurel almost chuckled at her disbelief. She was still stunned at how bright the colors were. Vivid reds and greens flashed in her sight. She looked up when she saw him. He put his bow down, walked over to her and hugged her tightly. She returned the hug.

Felicity coughed. Oliver brought his lips to Laurel's ear. "I'll bring ice cream later."

Laurel nodded. Oliver looked at Felicity. He hugged her, not as tightly, and then hugged Diggle as tightly as he did Laurel. He hugged Roy tightly. Felicity asked him, "How?"

Oliver looked at her with a dazzling smile. "Someone kept cursing me back to life."

Laurel blushed. Felicity looked at him in confusion. Diggle came over to Laurel, and whispered, "Man, you two thought you were sneaky."

Laurel looked at him with wide eyes. He winked at her and she turned to Felicity. She stared at Felicity as she said, "I'm going to leave you two to it."

Laurel disrobed and changed into her street clothes. She walked to her car, drove to her apartment and collapsed on the couch.

He let himself in, like he always did, and sat on the couch next to her. She opened his shirt, wordlessly, and looked at the bandages. She touched his chest gently, tears slipping down her cheeks.

"Don't cry," he whispered. She shook her head. He brought her chin up and her eyes met his. "I'm sorry…. It was a close one this time."

"The worst time yet," Laurel stated. She collapsed back onto the couch and touched his arm. "You've had so many close calls…. I saw flashes of gray for too many weeks."

He nodded. He brought her hand to his and flexed his fingers against hers. "I dreamt of you, here, and you were crying. And cursing me out."

"Not the first time," Laurel stated quietly. Oliver chuckled and kissed her open palm. Laurel sobered up. "Why are you leading Felicity on?"

"Because you're not ready for a relationship," Oliver stated. He looked at her seriously. "I want all or nothing, and I refuse to settle for anything less. Next time, when we're in a relationship, you and I are going the long haul."

Laurel blinked. Oliver winked and handed her a plastic spoon. He brought out a pint of ice cream and they ate it while Oliver told her his story.

Laurel looked and grinned wickedly at him. "I'm still going to fight alongside you."

He glared. "No, you're not."

She smiled. "We'll see."

She felt the drug slow her down, making her groan as she fought her sister. "I'm trying not to be you!"

She coughed up the blood. She felt weary. Her eyes closed. She looked at her sister, breathing heavily over her. "I'll see you dead."

She blacked out.

"I'm sorry, Sara…. I couldn't save you…. but I'm not trying to be you," Laurel muttered.

The next image she had, was her sister smiling down at her. She wasn't in the Canary uniform, and she was smiling. The smile was a happy one. Laurel blinked.

Oliver knelt next to her. He brought her to him. She heard his heart pounding before she blacked out.

Oliver strode into the hideout with hell on his heels. He put Laurel gently on the table and started barking out orders of what he needed. Thea stood nearby, looking on in horror. Oliver looked at Roy. "Get her out of here. Now."

Laurel seized up and grabbed his hand. "I saw Sara."

She groaned. Her eyes fluttered and they closed.

The color was receding from his sight. He flinched and sat by her bedside. He closed his eyes and prayed, something he had not done since his father died. They were waiting to see how she would fare, but he knew.

If she didn't survive, he wouldn't. He was done with faking.

She better be ready. Because he wasn't taking her death. He wouldn't let her go down without fighting.

She woke up six hours later, very groggy. She blinked the fuzziness out of her eyes. She felt something tugging her hand. She looked in the direction.

Oliver Queen was sleeping in the chair next to her. He was slumped over toward the bed. She tugged his hand.

Oliver snapped his head up. He looked at her. She smiled sadly. "I'm sorry."

He took a moment and paused in his gazing. He looked down at their hands. "I understand now."

She looked away, and he wiped a tear running down her cheek. "How could you?"

"The soul terror," he stated. She turned back to him. "When it started flickering… I lost my shit, Laurel. I didn't know what to do. Nothing could stop me from saving you.

"I thought of all those times… Those times terror must have been a constant companion. You didn't deserve that. I… it was completely gray for a minute. Dig can tell you. I screamed."

Laurel let out a soft chuckle. "Must have been funny."

"Laurel!" Nyssa's voice echoed into the lair. Laurel tried to sit up, but Oliver put a hand to her shoulder.

"She's resting!" Felicity yelled back. Oliver looked at Laurel questioningly. She nodded her head.

"We're over here," Oliver called out. He kept his hand in hers. She was eased into a sitting position, and when he was satisfied, he sat down in the chair next to her bed. He kept her hand in his, pressing lightly against her skin. She squeezed back.

Felicity escorted Nyssa into the room. Nyssa looked at the pair with a raised eyebrow. She turned to Oliver. "Explain."

"Please," Felicity included. She was looking at their hands. Laurel looked at Oliver. He shrugged. She raised an eyebrow and her lips pursed. He sighed and nodded.

"She got drugged. Almost died. She's resting," he stated. She looked at him with a disapproving frown. He shrugged. He leaned back against the chair. He absently brought his other hand to play with one of her hair strands. She swatted it away. He chuckled and put his arm down.

Laurel looked at Nyssa. "You know how I told you I know what it's like to see the color flicker?"

"You stated you had a friend…" Nyssa looked from her to Oliver. Understanding dawned on her face. She smiled silly at them both.

Felicity frowned. She glared at Oliver. "No. You said you didn't see it."

"It's their well kept secret," Diggle called out. "Just like Roy and Thea. And me and Lyla."

He popped his head in, nodded to Oliver, and gave Laurel a small smile. "Get some rest, kid. I'll see you all tomorrow."

He walked out and Oliver gazed at Laurel. She took a deep breath in. She shrugged. He grinned. He kept her gaze, staring into his favorite color, as he said, "I started seeing color on a rainy fall day. I had gotten in trouble, and was sent to the office. There was this little girl… with two long braids. She had on the school uniform, nothing suspicious. We looked at each other. The world exploded."

"I was so nervous," Laurel recalled. "And we decided not to tell anyone. We kept it a secret from everyone, including Tommy. Though, I think he knew."

"He knew," Oliver admitted. He smiled sadly. "He said that if I opened up to you who I truly was, mask and all, that you'd choose me over him. 'Color partners are bonded,' he said. 'And nothing can beat that. She loves you inside and out.'"

Laurel cried at that. He got up and hugged her. He looked at Nyssa, who was grinning like a fool at them. His gaze went to Felicity. She looked stunned, and somewhat heartbroken. He almost felt the need to go to her, but he felt the woman beneath him shift. His heart skipped a beat.

The overprotective urge was gone. Don't lie. It's because you want to rescue one, when the one you need is right in front of you. Let the hero complex rest, an internal voice, surprisingly sounding like Tommy, stated from his soul.

"I'm sorry it's taken me so long," he whispered into her hair. She clutched his back as all the grief finally came to the front. He let her cry, didn't even hear the Heir to the Demon and spunky IT girl leave.

He was aware of one presence. The woman in his arms. His color in a bleak world.

"I love you," she rasped when she was done crying. He settled her down into the bed, noting her red eyes. He grinned goofily at her.

"I love you too," he whispered. "To infinity and back."

She grinned. She closed her eyes.

She slept.

He heard Nyssa walk in, pull up the spare chair, and stare at Laurel. "Sara was mine."

"She told me," Oliver replied. Nyssa looked at him surprised. He grinned. "She figured us out at the family dinner. She said we were glaring red beams at each other. I told her Laurel couldn't do red, she was more of a green spitfire type."

Nyssa chuckled. "It was very comforting to have Laurel while I mourned."

Oliver nodded. "She cares with her whole being."

"You were paired well," Nyssa stated. "A warrior with a heart for justice is a fare commodity. Treasure her."

"I almost lost her tonight," Oliver confided. Nyssa looked at him alarmed. "Worst thing I've ever experienced… seeing the color almost cut out. It was glitchy. Splotches came frequently and I couldn't sleep, after we'd found her, and not know. I don't know how she's done it. It didn't take me long to know I can't live without her."

"Faith," Nyssa stated. She stood up, looked down at the sleeping woman, and smiled at Oliver. "I would be honored… to call you my brother in-law."

Oliver's eyes widened in surprise. Nyssa looked around the lair. She nodded to herself as if to answer a question. Oliver watched her walk out of the room.

He curled up in the chair, with his legs resting on the bed, and closed his eyes.

They slept with each other's hands intertwined.

When he woke up, she was reading a novel with one hand. The other was absentmindedly rubbing his. He groaned as his legs eased from her bed. He stretched and his aching muscles agonized. He shook the sleep from his head.

She put her book down and tugged his hand toward her. He came, sitting slightly on the side of the bed. She motioned for him to come closer. He leaned in.

She smiled mischievously. He grinned back. Her hand snaked around his neck. She brought his lips to hers. She slanted her mouth across his. She grinned when she finished, and laid back against the pillow.

He stared at her. She grinned. "You need to learn to whisper."

He laughed. He climbed into the bed with her. He kissed her softly. He smiled down at her. "I missed you."

"Long haul," she stated softly. He nodded. She grinned at him and settled against his shoulder. "No more flirting with random women. I'm not dealing with it this time."

"Then you can't do it, either," he mocked. She shook her head. He chuckled. "And no more accepting random gifts."

"Says the person who gave me all those gifts," she stated. He chuckled. "I want ice cream."

A/N: This is dedicated to black-nerd-girl-rants. Thank you so much! I loved writing this… which is why it took me so long to write it.