Big Brother's Return

Title: Big Brother's Return

Disclaimer: We own nothing from DC Comics or the television series Arrow and are not making money from this fic.

Summary: Oliver had been without his big brother for too long. It was time he came back and reminded the kid what was and wasn't acceptable risk.

Warning(s): Mild D/s with temporary regression to childlike state; usage of non-common thermometer; spanking using hand and implement. Also mentions of torture and violence. AU

Authors: BlackFox12 and Hope1iz

There was no sign of the kid.

Slade had returned to the plane wreckage with two small birds he'd trapped and killed. It was just as well he'd had plenty of experience foraging, as feeding two of them was more trouble than it was worth.

But Oliver wasn't at the wreckage... and Slade quickly set the birds down and drew his sword. He couldn't see any signs of a struggle; but he'd told Oliver to stay in the plane... and it was impossible to tell whether the kid had left of his own accord or been taken.

Oliver hadn't liked being told to stay in the plane; how was he supposed to learn how to survive on the island...learn how to help provide food and whatever else was needed...if Slade made him stay behind every time he went hunting? But Slade had insisted and Oliver hadn't felt like getting into another argument. So he'd stayed least long enough that Slade was well out of range when Oliver decided to go hunt on his own in the opposite direction. Which, in hindsight, might not have been such a good idea. Oliver swallowed hard and slunk further back into the foliage, using the thick leaves as a hiding spot and hoping beyond hope that there weren't any poisonous snakes or spiders living where he was attempting to hide. Slade had warned him about being seen and he was damn lucky he hadn't been seen, considering the men were almost on top of him before he'd heard them. He carefully scooted further back into the bush, holding his breath so that it couldn't be heard.

Slade left the plane, heading through the area where the foliage had been trampled down. Whether Oliver had been taken or chosen to leave of his own accord... the kid wasn't all that good at making his way unseen. But as Slade walked, he could hear the sound of voices... and he quickly moved out of sight as he crept towards the soldiers, who were patrolling dangerously near to the plane wreckage.

Oliver was feeling nervous; no sooner had the first pair of soldiers moved past than another pair of soldiers had come dangerously close to his hiding spot. And since he'd been watching both pairs of soldiers closely so that he'd know when it was safe to crawl out of the bushes, he'd noted that they were going in the direction he'd come from...because they were following what was an obvious trail that he'd been unaware he'd been making when he'd left the plane. If they kept following all the trampled foliage, they'd reach the plane in record time and Slade would be walking into a possible trap when he returned. He had to warn the other man, but how?

Slade also noticed the two pairs of soldiers from where he was creeping through the foliage. He knew he had to take out the soldiers... but finding Oliver was his priority. Had they taken the kid already? As he moved, he listened intently... but there was nothing from any of the soldiers to indicate where he needed to go.

Deciding that he had to take out the two pairs of soldiers, before they reached the plane and radioed back to their headquarters that they'd located where Slade and he were hiding, Oliver waited until they were just beyond sight of his hiding spot but still close enough he could hear them, then he'd crawled out from where he was hiding and prepared to run at them and attack. Hopefully, he'd be able to take at least two of them out before they realized what was going on and then he'd only have to worry about two more, instead of three (or four, if he wasn't able to eliminate one before the others noticed).

Slade cursed quietly as he saw a familiar figure creeping out of the undergrowth. Sword in hand, he was quickly at Oliver's side, taking out one soldier and then a second one on the backwards swing of his sword.

Oliver's eyes widened as suddenly, his plan to take out the two soldiers in the back of the group was made pointless, since Slade had them taken care of before Oliver could fully register the other man's presence. Luckily, Oliver hadn't screamed or made any other noise to alert the two soldiers at the front of the pack. Giving Slade a hesitant look- and a wide berth- Oliver asked with his eyes and exaggerated pantomime what he should do.

Slade gestured for him to stay back, even as he swung without hesitation at the two remaining soldiers, cutting them down. He swiped his sword clean, but didn't put it away immediately as he looked around making sure the sounds hadn't drawn anyone else's attention.

Oliver swallowed hard, bile suddenly forcing its way up his throat as he realized that Slade had needed to kill four men because Oliver had left a trail for them to follow. He knew there wasn't a choice; if the plane was found, Slade and he were as good as dead (or would wish they were), but the fact that it wouldn't have been necessary if Oliver hadn't left such a huge trail for them to follow cut deep.

Satisfied they were alone, Slade quickly set about trampling parts of the foliage in different directions... just to make it less obvious where the trail to the plane was. That done, he grabbed Oliver by the shoulder with his free hand. "We're going back. Before any more show up."

"Yessir..." Oliver mumbled, not realizing he'd fallen into a term of respect that he'd normally only used for his father (rarely) and for law enforcement when he was trying to get out of trouble (much more frequently). He carefully followed Slade back to the plane, being much more aware and careful of not leaving a trail behind.

Slade was silent as he walked Oliver back to the plane, trying not to verbally tear the kid a new one. Still, as soon as they were safely inside, he used his grip on Oliver's shoulder to tug him round to face him. "Care to explain what that was all about?"

"I was going to try and find us some food...I don't like having to stay behind while you go out and take care of everything! I'm not a baby!" Oliver defended himself hotly, even if he kept his voice down, but then he slumped and looked at the ground. "I can't even go find berries without screwing everything up!" he said, dejected, and a strong hint of guilt in his voice. He knew he'd almost caused their hiding place to be found.

Slade took a deep breath. "You're not a fighter, kid," he said, not unkindly. "The best we can hope for is to keep you alive until we can get off the island. Taking off like you did was foolish and dangerous. You were lucky they didn't see you, considering they've likely been scouring the island for both of us."

Oliver slumped even further, knowing Slade was right. Then he straightened up and gave the older man an earnest look. "Then teach me! Teach me to fight and...and do whatever I need to do to survive until we get off this island! Teach me how to help you instead of just...just being a burden..." At the end, his words faltered into an uncertain whisper. He swallowed hard and waited for a response.

Slade's grip on Oliver's shoulder loosened and he sighed. "We can step up on the training... I can show you how to move and leave less evidence behind. But you shouldn't have left here when I told you to stay. Your survival is going to depend on following my orders... doing what I say, even if you don't agree."

Oliver was going to argue some more, but he couldn't in good conscience say Slade was wrong. Slumping again, he mumbled reluctantly, "I know...I should have listened. I almost led them back to us..."

Slade nodded. "You should have listened. I've survived a long time here, but because I've learned to be patient and wait. You're severely lacking in discipline... and although I've seen a lot of potential in you, it'll be wasted if you get yourself captured again." He paused and then seemed to come to a decision. "I'm not going to take the chance of a repeat."

Oliver gave Slade an uncertain look, not entirely sure what he meant by the last part of his comments. Was Slade deciding not to train him after all? "There won't be a repeat! And if you train me, I'll pay really close attention so I won't make that mistake again!" he promised in nervous eagerness.

"I'm going to make sure of that," Slade said. "You left here when I told you not to. It was only through sheer luck that you weren't spotted. I'm going to give you consequences for that. I'm going to punish you."

Oliver blinked. "Punish me? offense, but how exactly? I mean, I don't have my own room, so you can't send me to bed without supper...the only way you could even come close to putting me into a 'jail' to cool my heels would be to tie me up and that'd be a bit of overkill, wouldn't it? Are you going to ground me? Take away my television and phone privileges? Oh...don't have those! Oh well!" Oliver snorted. He really didn't mean to sound like such a smart ass; didn't even realize he sounded that way. Other than withholding his allowance and threatening to disinherit him if he didn't straighten up, though, his parents hadn't really even attempted to put any controls on him since he hit his teens. And even before then, he'd been allowed to get away with quite a lot. It was one of the reasons Sara and Laurel's dad had disliked him dating Laurel. Oliver couldn't imagine what Slade hoped to do to curb his behavior.

"No, kid. I'm going to spank you," Slade stated. "The other punishments you named would not be doable, as you've already stated. And I'm not going to do anything that would do permanent or even lasting harm."

Oliver's eyes widened. "Like hell you are!" He blushed at the high pitched squeak in his voice; he'd meant to sound forceful and assured. It was what it was, unfortunately, and Slade had heard the shocked surprise and nervousness in his voice. No sense in pretending he wasn't affected by the older man's words. He quickly jumped over the nearest box that they were using as a makeshift table to try and keep it between him and Slade.

Slade wasn't surprised at Oliver pulling away and he quickly followed the younger man over the table, reaching to grab hold of him once more.

"No! No...this isn't happening! No way!" Oliver's voice was even higher pitched and nervous than before, which was highly embarrassing to him, but he couldn't seem to control his vocal reactions anymore than he could hold still and allow Slade to spank him. He zigged to the left and over one of the cots, glancing around frantically to either find something big enough that he could run around it and keep it between him and Slade, or somehow get to the door of the plane.

Slade simply circled round the other way, keeping himself between Oliver and the door... as he wasn't sure running outside wouldn't cause the younger man to keep running until he was captured. He was well aware of all the obstacles in the plane and was able to take them with ease.

Oliver swallowed hard as he saw his exit blocked. "I'm not a kid, Slade..." he protested weakly, his voice more scared than he'd have liked, since it let Slade know exactly how the idea was affecting him. He furtively looked to the side and saw one of the 'beverage carts' that had been on the plane when it crashed. They'd repurposed it into a set of 'drawers' to keep smaller necessities that they'd gathered. But the main point was that it was too large to jump over, but it had wheels and could easily be moved around. If he could get behind it, all he had to do was run around it in circles until Slade tired of chasing him. He quickly bolted in that direction.

Slade noticed the look Oliver directed towards the makeshift set of drawers and he was moving amost before the younger man was, grabbing at Oliver's shoulder once more.

Oliver attempted to twist away from Slade, but somehow between moving at a fairly fast rate of speed for 'indoors' and the fact that he was too busy watching Slade and where he wanted to be and not what was directly under his feet, he tripped over one of the other boxes and managed to fall into Slade. At realizing he was exactly where he didn't want to be, Oliver squealed unhappily and began trying to extricate himself before Slade could get a good grip on him.

Slade grabbed Oliver when he fell into him and quickly took a seat on one of the makeshift chairs, tugging the younger man across his lap and bringing Oliver's arm up against his back. While the grip wouldn't be painful, it did serve to keep the younger man still.

"Oh no!" Oliver closed his eyes tightly and barely refrained from whimpering. Slade effectively had his arm in a position that, if Oliver fought him in this position, he'd hurt himself. Not only would that be foolish on his own part, but it would mean he wouldn't be able to train or go out to help until he was healed again and Slade would be furious with him for doing something that he knew would bring harm to himself. Oh...Oliver could still fight and there was a high possibility that Slade would release him, rather than harm him, but Oliver didn't think that would make Slade any happier. So instead of fighting, he tensed up and held himself very still. "Please..." He couldn't keep from whimpering any longer. He figured he'd already embarrassed himself enough already; may as well add begging not to be punished onto his list of questionable actions.

Slade didn't waste any time in baring Oliver's backside, ignoring (or, in reality, hardening his heart to) Oliver's plea. "You could have easily been captured when you chose to go against my orders. If you cannot care about your own safety yourself, I will have to convince you of how important it is." He lifted his hand, bringing it down in a firm swat against the backside across his lap.

Oliver gasped, unable to stop the instinctual kicking out of his legs as he attempted to somehow move his backside out of the line of fire. When he'd originally started trying to get away, it was because he thought a spanking would be embarrassing because he was an he realized that it actually hurt! "Noooo..." he whined pathetically, closing his eyes tightly, as if that would somehow hold the mortification and the pain at arm's length.

Slade merely tightened his grip on Oliver, repeating the swat and then landing others, going down to Oliver's thighs before he started over from the top again. "I know what was done to you at the camp, kid. I'm not going to let them get hold of you again. I'll fight to protect you. But if you put yourself in danger and disobey my orders, you're going to make it harder for me to keep you alive."

Oliver shook his head mutely, not wanting to respond because he didn't want to lie and if he responded truthfully, he'd have to admit Slade was right to be concerned about his actions. He also didn't want to respond because Slade had just promised to keep him safe and Oliver didn't want to admit how relieved that made him. Shouldn't he be more worried about relying on someone else? Instead of wanting to rely on someone else? On top of that...he felt guilty. He'd deliberately disobeyed an order and nearly got their hiding place exposed and to be honest, he'd expected to be kicked out to fend for himself... beaten a bit as a 'lesson' if he was lucky and Slade kept him around. Slade wasn't doing either of those things, though. He was planning to keep him- to protect him- and he wasn't beating him up. Because as humiliating and painful as his spanking Oliver was, it wasn't going to leave any lasting bruises or wounds. He wasn't sure what to do with that, so he tensed up and clenched his teeth in an effort not to respond.

Slade completed the second circuit and began a third, beginning to swat a bit harder and faster. "I'm going to save you from yourself, kid. If I have to do this again, it won't stop being true. Even if I have to do this a hundred times, it's not going to change anything." He didn't say that Oliver had wormed his way through his defenses and become a priority, because that was what his actions meant. As he began to focus more swats to Oliver's sit spots, tipping him forward for better access, he continued, "I'm not going to throw you out to fend for yourself. I'm going to protect you."

Oliver somehow had managed to hold still through the second circuit. When Slade began to target his sit spots and speak, however, he lost the tenuous hold he had on himself; beginning to squirm uncontrollably, whimpering and letting out tiny huffs of pained discomfort. He was surprised at Slade's words...they could only be taken as a promise and he found that the idea of Slade being his protector was not abhorrent to him. It was anything but. In fact, the idea that Slade would choose to protect him, even from his own actions, caused his stomach to flip unexpectedly and he found himself responding in a way he hadn't thought he would. He allowed himself to relax and just feel and listen. Shortly after that, he went limp over Slade's knee and began to cry; not loudly, but vocally all the same. "I'm sorry...I'll obey you from now on. I will!" he said in a choked voice.

Slade brought the spanking to a close, resting his hand on Oliver's back and gently rubbing before he tugged the kid's underwear and pants back into place. Helping Oliver up, he wrapped his arms around the younger man and hugged him.

Oliver quickly responded to the hug, holding onto Slade tightly and hiding his face against the older man's shoulder. He swallowed hard, not certain what to say. It couldn't be denied that he felt safer than he had in a while and he actually liked that Slade was insisting on his obedience. The fact that he liked it worried him. Even if it reinforced the fact that Slade would protect him, he thought he shouldn't like it.

Slade might have been away from his son for a lot longer than he would have liked, but he was still a father. And Oliver, although too old to realistically be his son, had woken all of those protective instincts Slade had always tried to keep switched off. He held Oliver close, trying not to think about what had nearly happened. For now, he was safe.

Oliver pressed closer, instinctively seeking comfort. He'd watched his father kill himself in front of him to give him a slightly bigger chance at life. He hadn't dealt with that... not really...pushing the emotions down deep. Now Slade was protecting him, giving him a slightly bigger chance at life, and Oliver suddenly was faced with the reminder of his father and it hurt. He began crying again, hard.

Slade's concern spiked as he heard the harder crying... though truthfully, it didn't surprise him. He knew the kid had gone through a lot... and so he pulled Oliver closer, tightening his embrace, and letting one hand rub over the younger man's back. This was a side to him very few people saw... but it didn't feel as awkward as he'd initially thought it would.

Oliver didn't know how long he cried, but Slade held him the entire time. Eventually, the hurt eased somewhat and he began to take slow, deep breaths to calm down. "Sorry," he finally said with a blush. "...It caring about me and wanting to protect me; just reminded me..." He shrugged uncertainly, positive that Slade had to think him a waste of space and effort now; he couldn't even control his own emotions.

Slade didn't loosen his hold on Oliver, content to keep the kid in his embrace for as long as he needed. "You've been through a lot since you found yourself here. It's no surprise that your emotions are starting to come out."

"I can't let them out...have to be strong..." Oliver protested...but he didn't pull away. Somehow, being 'strong' wasn't so important at the moment. Being held and letting Slade keep his promise was.

"Kid... there's no one here right now but us," Slade said. "You don't have to worry about staying strong. I'm not going to think any less of you."

Oliver blushed faintly as he realized that Slade was right. The only one around to see if he lost control of his emotions was Slade; and the idea that Slade would see him so vulnerable and needy didn't bother him the way he thought it should. It felt right somehow. "Ok..." he finally responded in a tiny voice, snuggling closer. If he was going to be weak and needy and childish, he may as well embrace it whole-heartedly.

Slade simply gathered Oliver in closer and tighter, trying to give the younger man a safe space to release the emotions he needed to... or at least as safe a place as he could, given the circumstances.

Oliver was tense at first; he still felt like he should control himself...control his emotions...not be so needy, or crave the physical affection so much. It had been years since he'd accepted anything more than very brief hugs from his mother and sister and a shoulder pat from his father or best friend. More involved physical contact had been limited to his sexual conquests; and he was careful to divorce emotion from those situations. He hadn't realized how starved for emotional physical affection he'd been... all he wanted was to sink into Slade's arms and be held and he was positive he shouldn't want that. "I'm the 'little spoon'," he realized plaintively, then sighed in resignation. "I like being the 'little spoon'..." His voice sounded a mixture of chagrined embarrassment and surprise.

Slade gave a soft snort... though he wasn't actually laughing at Oliver. "There's nothing wrong with that," he stated firmly. "No matter how strong you might think you've been... how strong you think you should be... you're not going to feel good on your own."

"I...I'm not used feeling like this..." Oliver admitted quietly, but noticeably didn't pull away.

"Not being used to it doesn't mean it's a bad thing," Slade stated. "I suspect it's not the only new thing you've been experiencing here."

Oliver snorted softly. "You aren't wrong about that..." he muttered in dark amusement.

Slade placed a hand on the back of Oliver's neck... a gesture that was protective, but also one that felt, to him, like a lion carrying its cub by the scruff. "There is nothing wrong with how you are feeling or acting," he reiterated.

Oliver froze at the protective yet almost possessive gesture and then just melted against Slade. Something in him didn't want to protest, even though he thought he should.

Slade could hardly have missed Oliver's response to the touch and he gently squeezed the back of the younger man's neck, every protective instinct fired up. He spoke in a low voice in Oliver's ear. "I'm going to train you, kid. I'll fight with you and I will protect you... but a repeat of today is going to earn a repeat of you going over my knee," he warned, wanting to be sure Oliver understood there would be consequences for doing something that could put himself in even more danger.

Oliver swallowed hard then nodded against Slade's chest. "Yessir..." he answered quietly, subdued.

Slade kept hold of him, though it was starting to occur to him it had been a while since either of them had eaten. "When you're ready... we can prepare what I caught to eat," he said. "And afterwards, we can forage for berries."

Oliver held on for a few seconds longer, but when his stomach growled, he pulled back with a sheepish, boyish smile. "I guess I'm ready now..."

Slade stood, gently patting Oliver's shoulder, and headed over to start preparing the food.

It was hard... cold... but still dry. Slade's vision was distorted as he stared up at a ceiling completely different to the place he'd thought he was in... or maybe he hadn't been. He was shivering, but he felt hot... like he had a fever. He wasn't even sure of where he was.

Banging could be heard on the cell doors and then a guard was staring through the bars. "Mystery meat for dinner..." he grumbled, before shoving it through the slat in the door, barely looking at Slade.

Slade heard the man... he was fairly certain of where he was... but he felt too dizzy and sick to get up and retrieve the food. His mouth was dry and he was thirsty... but the thought of consuming anything just made him feel even more sick. He couldn't move... or wouldn't, but the distinction didn't really matter. Temporarily lucid, he was fairly certain he deserved this... that it wasn't even a fraction of what he deserved.

"You dead in there, man?" The guard banged on the door again.

Slade grit his teeth against a wave of sickness, forcing it down. When he moved, it was on autopilot... stumbling off the cot and nearly falling as he staggered towards the food.

"Don't forget to return the tray when you're done!" the guard grumbled, then went to feed the rest of the prisoners.

Slade didn't actually manage all that much food... but he drained the water before he stumbled back to the cot. He didn't really lie down, though, instead falling on the cot as he lost all sense of where he was again.

Oliver winced as he finally came to a stop at the bottom of the cliff he'd been attempting to scale. He'd hoped to be able to get a good vantage for seeing what the 'camp' was doing. As usual, Slade ended up being right. The cliff wasn't easily climbed and he'd been lucky not to break his neck as he'd fallen down. It was frustrating, especially since he'd have to admit what he'd done to his older friend and he didn't have anything positive to show for it. Sighing, he began a slow limp back to the plane. At least he was better at hiding his trail and keeping hidden.

Slade was returning to the plane when he glimpsed his young charge returning at the same time. Giving a quiet sigh, he slung their meal over his shoulder and quickly stepped over to Oliver, noticing the way he was limping. "Do I need to ask where you've been?"

Oliver debated lying about where he was returning from, but he'd learned fairly early on that he was a lousy least when he was trying to lie to his mentor, teacher, protector...friend. "I don't know...I guess it depends on where you think I've been," was the smart-arse answer he gave.

Slade frowned, looking almost as if he might be tempted to swat Oliver for that smart response. "I think you've been somewhere I told you not to. Where are you hurt?" he asked outright.

Oliver frowned back; and looked like a guilty child who knew he'd done something wrong and didn't want to admit it. "I'm not hurt too bad; I was gonna wash it off..." He not so stealthily turned his backside away from Slade so the man wouldn't see the blood from where he'd scraped rock coming down. He was lucky he hadn't torn his pants, considering the location.

"Don't try to be sneaky with me, kid. It won't work." Slade grasped Oliver's shoulder. "And if you won't tell me where you're hurt, I'll have to find out myself."

"I'm not being sneaky! It's just a tiny scrape and I can take care of it!" Oliver protested crankily and tried to pull away from Slade's grip.

Slade transferred his grip to the back of Oliver's neck, unable to shake the image of the lion carrying its cub by the scruff. "Even a small scratch can get infected if it's not properly treated. I saw the blood on your back. It's not in a place that's easy for you to treat yourself." Even while he was speaking, he was leading Oliver back into the plane.

Oliver immediately settled at the hand on his neck, not even realizing that he'd stopped fighting the minute Slade's grip had shifted location. At least, he didn't at first. Halfway to the cot, he suddenly realized he wasn't protesting or trying to get away and he became flustered and uncertain; not sure why he'd suddenly felt the need to capitulate, only that he had felt the need and that the need to obey was still there. Swallowing and blushing darkly, he half-heartedly began to try and pull free again, seemingly unsure if he really wanted to break free or not...most likely because he wasn't sure he really wanted to break free, but felt like he should at least attempt to. "I could reach it..." he muttered, not wanting to just give in completely; not because he wanted to argue, really, but because he was feeling unsettled at the realization that all it took was Slade's hand on his neck to get him to back down.

Slade gently squeezed the back of Oliver's neck; not to hurt, but because he could tell that Oliver was submitting... was responding to him... and he figured it was another need the kid had. Just like he needed to be protected and trained. "Maybe you could, but it wouldn't be easy," he stated, retrieving the first aid kit with his free hand. "Are you going to tell me where you can feel the wound? Or do I need to search you myself?"

Wrinkling his nose and pouting, feeling even more unsettled the closer they got to the cot, Oliver clenched his teeth together and didn't answer, choosing instead to cross his arms over his chest belligerently and glare at his own feet. He wasn't fighting Slade exactly- not like he had when Slade had decided to spank him- but he wasn't cooperating either.

Slade nodded, not surprised by Oliver's lack of cooperation, and began checking the kid over for any wounds. While he didn't force Oliver to strip, he did check thoroughly... and carefully... relieved when he found only the one wound, but aware it was going to need to be cleaned out. With a grim look on his face, Slade started guiding Oliver towards the makeshift chair he'd used for spanking the kid before.

Oliver glanced up, his pout turning somewhat worried when he noted the grim set to Slade's own mouth. Biting his lip, he attempted to move away from Slade- and the makeshift chair where he'd been humbled so thoroughly a few scant weeks before; the older man had let go of his neck while checking for the wound and Oliver thought that was likely going to be the best and possibly only time he'd be able to get away and take care of things himself, like an adult, instead of Slade taking over and treating him like a helpless baby.

Slade tightened his hand on Oliver's shoulder. "If I have to chase you, you'll open your wound further," he warned, the worry clear in his voice.

"It isn't that bad of a wound!" Oliver protested. It was easier to ignore Slade's warnings and demands when he just held onto his shoulder...and Oliver was more worried about being put into a position where he couldn't get away, than he was about his wound. Perhaps foolishly so, a small inner voice nagged him, but didn't change his attempt to get away. He twisted away from Slade's grip and began to move away from where Slade was attempting to lead him.

Slade was quick to notice the shift in Oliver's attitude and he transferred his hand back to the kid's neck as he stepped closer to the chair. "My decision to protect you hasn't changed, kid. Even if what I'm protecting you from is yourself."

And again, Oliver found himself stilling; the hand at his neck calming him and focusing him and making him want to obey...and he couldn't understand it. At all. It scared him, truthfully, but along with the fear was a tiny warmth deep in his chest that spread to his belly and, as scared as he was at the need to obey, the need to obey was stronger. He swallowed hard, his voice cracking like a young teenager. "I...I can take care of myself..." He closed his eyes tightly and blushed. If only he had managed to put a little more conviction into the words; it sounded more like he was questioning his ability to do so than affirming his ability.

"You've come a long way, kid, but you haven't had to fight until you came here," Slade said. "I'm used to treating wounds... my own and others. Comrades. The people I care about." He sat down on the chair. "In case I haven't made it clear already... you are counted with that number."

Oliver really had nothing to say to that, that wouldn't sound churlish...and his desire to run and hide his actions from Slade and to keep the older man from doing what he would had pretty much been muted by the strange desire to obey that he couldn't shake. The warmth in his middle was still there; so was the confusion and fear, though and he couldn't help but squeak out, "You'll be mad at me..." He had no doubt Slade would question him on what he'd been doing to get injured and he had no doubt if he didn't get a reign on this unfathomable need to obey, he'd tell every last disobedient detail.

"I already know you disobeyed me," Slade stated. "Which you will be punished for... but once I've made sure your wound is treated." He took a seat and gently pulled Oliver across his lap, mindful of his wound, before divesting the younger man of his pants and underwear.

"Oooh..." Oliver whimpered at Slade's words, but was incapable of even squirming as he was bared. He closed his eyes tightly, his confusion at his own reactions to Slade causing him to tear up, though he didn't say anything else and the crying was silent.

Slade gently pushed Oliver's shirt up and out of the way, so he could see the whole wound and just how bad it was. While he could see it wasn't very deep, there was some grit and dirt in it. Placing his hand on Oliver's lower back, clear of where the wound was, Slade spoke in a quiet voice. "I'm going to need to clean the wound out. It's not deep, but you managed to get some dirt lodged in there." He rubbed the younger man's back and then proceeded to clean the wound out... very careful to cause as little pain as he could.

Oliver forced himself to hold still and not voice any pain he felt; he already felt enough like a child in this position. He didn't want to sound like one. Plus, he couldn't help but feel he'd brought any pain on himself; he didn't want Slade to feel bad when the older man was trying to help. Still, he couldn't help a tiny hiss of pain every so often.

Slade didn't take long to clean out the wound. Deciding it wasn't deep enough to require stitches, he bandaged it and then rested his hand on Oliver's backside. "I think we need to discuss exactly what happened," he said seriously.

Oliver couldn't stop the whimper at those words. He didn't squirm or attempt to get away, however. Slade's hand on his backside was enough to hold him in place and he found himself feeling increasingly childish...and more sorry and guilty than he'd expected. The need to obey had translated into a worry that Slade would be disappointed in him when Oliver confessed. It just increased the younger man's confusion.

"Oliver." Slade's voice was low, but still very intense. "No matter how mad you think I will be... if you lie to me, or withhold information I need to know for your safety, it's going to fracture the trust between us. It will always be better to tell me the truth."

Oliver choked out a tiny sob at those words. "Yessir...I'll tell truth..." He shivered slightly before continuing in a shaky voice, obviously upset about what he feared Slade's response would be, but more upset at breaking trust. "I went to the cliffs...I planned to climb up so I could look over the valley and gather information...I slipped..."

"You were lucky you didn't get hurt worse," Slade said. "I told you to stay here and wait for me. Did you think I was talking just to hear myself speak? I'm trying to protect you, kid. You don't need to gather information. You need to stay alive."

"I...I meant to listen...until you left. And then I thought if I helped get information...I don't doesn't seem like such a good idea now..." he finished sullenly.

"If you helped to get information... what?" Slade prompted. He lifted his hand, bringing it down in a swat that was more stinging than truly hard... more to gain Oliver's attention and focus.

Oliver yelped and threw his hand back to cover his bottom without thinking, then stiffened as he realized what he'd done. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to be bad! I just wanted to prove I was an adult and didn't need to be kept safe!" he blurted helplessly.

Slade took hold of Oliver's hand and moved it out of the way, against his back. "The fact you are an adult is not in question. The fact we are both outnumbered here and could easily be captured or killed is a problem." He brought his hand down in a full circuit of the stinging swats and then paused, resting his hand on Oliver's backside once more. "If you had fallen worse, you could have broken your neck. I might be digging you a grave, instead of holding you accountable."

Somehow, Oliver managed not to squirm uncontrollably as Slade covered his bottom with the swats, but he couldn't prevent himself from whimpering and whining. And then Slade's hand was resting on his bottom and the same need to obey that he'd felt when the older man held his nape pooled in his belly. He sniffled. "I didn't think anything bad would happen..." he finally whispered, in guilt and confusion.

"I believe I have warned you enough about the dangers in exploring the island on your own," Slade said. "Not only did you directly disobey me... you then attempted to hide what had happened. If I'd returned to find you gone..." He paused, strong emotions underlying his voice. "You cannot disobey me and put yourself in harm's way, Oliver." He delivered a second full circuit of swats, this time with a bit more force behind them, and then paused to lightly rub the heated skin. "Not thinking about the danger is a huge problem, kid."

The second circuit was much more difficult to hold still for and despite his efforts, Oliver had still ended up kicking his legs ineffectively. The spanking hurt. What really hurt, however, were Slade's words and the emotion Oliver could hear behind them. He'd upset his guardian (and he had to admit that's exactly what Slade was); he'd upset him greatly and that knowledge made his stomach hurt. The slight comfort of Slade rubbing the sting out made the guilt worse. At the same time, he found himself relaxing at the gentle touch; and the need to obey that he was still so confused about and trying to ignore overwhelmed him. "I...I want to obey you, but I don't know how to obey..." he finally whispered in a tight voice; not having meant to voice what had been troubling him since the first moment Slade put a hand on his neck. He blushed darkly, tears streaming from his eyes. He didn't try to hide them, though. He felt like he was on the edge of something big and one move in the wrong direction would be the end of him.

"I can see that," Slade said. "But your safety depends on being able to follow my directions. No matter how scary you find it... and I'm not talking about the island here, kid," he said. "I'm talking about the need you have. I know you're scared and confused, but you're not going to get hurt if you stop fighting your instincts."

"But...I...I don't understand it..." Oliver let out a tiny sob, then another. Soon, he was crying vocally, his body tense from his fear at his own need.

Slade paused then gently guided Oliver from his lap and into his arms, not able to do anything other than respond to that need. "It isn't something you should be scared of," he said softly in the younger man's ear. "Even if you don't understand it... there's nothing wrong with it. There's nothing wrong with feeling a need to submit, especially when you're with someone who has taken it upon himself to become your protector... teacher... whatever word fits best."

Oliver curled up tightly, snug against Slade, and put his head on the older man's shoulder. "It's ok? There's nothing wrong with me wanting...wanting to?" His voice caught. "I want to so badly..." he admitted brokenly. "I disobeyed you cuz I was fighting myself..." he whispered.

Slade wrapped his arms tightly around Oliver, though stayed mindful of the younger man's wound. "There's nothing wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with what you want," he said firmly. "You don't need to keep fighting yourself, kid."

At Slade's words, something in Oliver eased...most (not all; he'd never felt like this with any other person ever and still didn't understand why he'd feel this way with Slade) of his confusion cleared and he felt so safe in Slade's arms, the fear was manageable. The tension drained from him, leaving him drowsy, pliant and...guilty. Nuzzling against Slade's shoulder, Oliver whispered again, this time in a guilt filled and shamed tone, "I really was very b..." He paused, knowing instinctively that Slade would take issue with him calling himself 'bad'. "...Naughty... " he finished weakly and blushed darkly, feeling so much younger because of the word, but unable to come up with a term that fit that Slade wouldn't object to. He swallowed hard and added, in a hurt tone, "Disobedient."

He needed so badly to obey and have Slade to be happy with him; but he hadn't obeyed and Slade was un-happy. It made him feel small and ungrateful and bad. So bad. "I was bad..." he sniffled, finally voicing how he felt about himself and his actions. Slade had said be truthful, after all. That meant with feelings too, right? "I feel small, and guilty, and I'm so sorry..."

Slade tightened his embrace around Oliver. If he was expecting the kid to be honest with him... he knew he was going to have to be honest in return. "When I saw you limping back, I thought Fyers had got hold of you again," he said. "The only thing I was concerned with was making sure you were safe." He ran a hand over the back of Oliver's head, gently squeezing his nape, as he added, "Disobeying me wasn't a good thing to do, but that doesn't mean you're bad. I care about you, kid. The only other person I've cared about this much is my son. This island is dangerous. You could so easily be taken away from me." And there it was. Anything Slade had been holding back had gone as those words, hoarse with emotion, escaped his lips.

Oliver, finally realizing how much Slade cared and what he'd done to the other man through his actions, let out a tiny sob and gripped onto Slade more tightly. And then Slade's hand was on his neck again and the warm feeling was back and spreading to his belly; only this time, it didn't stop. He'd finally acknowledged what he needed and wasn't fighting it and the warmth continued through all his limbs until he lay in Slade's arms relaxed, pliant, ready to do whatever Slade bid. "I'm not bad?" he asked hesitantly. "But I was disobedient..." He nuzzled closer, Slade's hand helping calm him, but also focusing him on the fact that he'd deliberately disobeyed. "...I deserve whatever you do to me."

"No. You are not bad," Slade stated firmly. "And once you're ready, we will continue with the punishment for disobeying me. But after that's over, we won't need to deal with it again." He gently rubbed the nape of the kid's neck, unable to help but keep responding to the kid's need.

Oliver couldn't understand how the mere act of Slade holding his neck could calm him so quickly and make him feel so safe and...content. He knew if anyone else had touched him in such a dominant, possessive way, he would have felt threatened and fought tooth and nail to keep them away; he knew because a rare few had tried it. Slade was different, though. Slade wanted to protect him and keep him safe. He held Oliver's neck to help focus him and keep him safe and...and Oliver wanted him to be in control. Snuggling some more, he let out a tiny sigh of relief and comfort, pressing into Slade's hand in a curious combination of eager uncertainty.

Slade held Oliver for a few more seconds, continuing the touch that was at once possessive and gentle. He then slid his hand round towards Oliver's chin, encouraging the kid to look at him. "I'm going to finish dealing with this now." He waited a beat, having warned the younger man, and then moved Oliver across his knee once more.

Oliver had already been crying and making himself look into Slade's eyes when the older man encouraged it had been hard; he knew Slade would be able to see the tears as well as everything else Oliver was feeling. He couldn't deny the request, though, so when Slade told him he was going to finish dealing with him, Oliver knew he could see the regret and reluctance. He may have been needing to be obedient to Slade, but he hadn't been feeling any particular need for punishment and his bottom was a bit tender from the first two circuits he'd already received. He didn't fight, though. Instead, he allowed Slade to position him, taking a quivery breath and doing his best not to whine or moan about the fact he was about to be punished for his poor choice.

Slade settled Oliver over his lap, taking care to position the younger man so there would be little strain on his wound. Lifting his hand, he brought it down firmly... a fraction harder than he had the second circuit. "Each time you disobey me, kid, it will land you right back here. I won't tolerate you endangering yourself. For any reason." He swatted as he spoke, his hand falling every other word, covering Oliver's entire backside and thighs once more.

It had only taken two swats for the fire to reignite on his backside and Oliver was squirming and kicking again. At Slade's words, the tears fell from his eyes rapidly, blinding him. He didn't say anything, though. He felt he deserved what was happening. He wouldn't try and get out of it, no matter how much it hurt.

Slade completed another circuit of swats and then paused to tip Oliver forward, swatting his sit spots. "I never expected there to be someone I'd care about here. Not until you found me and wormed your way inside the defences I built up. You are important... and I will do everything in my power to keep you out of the clutches of Fyers and his men."

Oliver couldn't keep it in any longer, the words impossible to ignore and the pain not allowing him to pretend. The first sob escaping was a tiny choked sound...but then he was crying and sobbing in earnest...the sound audible and heartbroken. "I...I care bout you too!" he wailed. "" He slumped over Slade's knee, just feeling as the older man took care of him. Slade was in control and Oliver felt safe because of that; safe to let go and be honest about everything, even if it made him seem childish. "It hurts!" He continued to cry as he slumped the remaining way, going boneless.

Slade brought the spanking to a stop and once more brought the younger man up and into his arms. Every part of him was focused on Oliver... on his little brother... and he had Oliver so close, he might as well have been sitting on his lap.

Oliver pressed as close as he could, sobbing. "I sorry..." he choked out. He'd been feeling the need to submit and obey Slade...but instead, he'd disobeyed. He was, "A childish, horrible brat..."

Slade tightened his arms around Oliver, his hand finding its way to the nape of his neck once more. "No." His voice was firm. "You've been acting what you are... my little brother." His voice was calm and filled with reassurance as he gently squeezed Oliver's neck.

Oliver took quivery breaths, calming slowly, Slade's words and the hand on his neck easing his anxiety. Slade didn't think he was horrible or a brat. Or, at least, he didn't think it was bad that he acted that way. He wasn't sure which, but it didn't seem to matter; Slade wanted him and that was enough. "I be good for you..." he said softly, his voice roughened by tears. He snuggled closer.

Slade gently stroked the nape of his neck. "You are good," he replied. "You made a mistake and have been punished for it. It doesn't make you bad." His arms were tight around Oliver, holding his brother close... protectively... against his chest.

"I sorry..." Oliver's voice was soft and hesitant. The red rimmed eyes, pouty lips and obvious weariness made him seem a lot younger than he was. Given that he was only about 22 years old, he came across as vulnerable and needy. Not an entirely inaccurate view.

"I forgive you." Slade's voice was gentle. He brushed a strand of hair out of Oliver's eyes, adding, "It's been a long day... we should eat and then get some rest."

"Yessir..." Oliver's voice was meek and eager to please. He reluctantly pulled out of the hug and looked at his feet with a blush.

Standing, Slade gently touched the back of Oliver's neck to guide him towards the animals he'd hunted. "I want you to stay close to me while we rest," he said frankly, a large part of him needing to keep his brother close.

"Yessir," Oliver agreed, tugging his pants back up with a wince. If it wouldn't have been embarrassing, he would have just kicked them off. He leaned into Slade, needing the closeness himself.

Slade stayed close to Oliver, even as he retrieved their dinner and took his brother to cook it. After, he settled down, able to relax with Oliver close to him, where he knew it was safe.

It probably wasn't all that cold, but Slade would never have known it. His whole body had taken up a fine trembling as he stared at the ceiling of his cell... without even seeing anything. A dim part of him was aware of people around, but after the first attempt at eating, his body had shut down while the symptoms of withdrawal forced it to lose control... spasming... sending him into the darkest parts of his mind, or showing him painful images he didn't need even one eye to see.

The guards didn't care much about the prisoners. They barely glanced into the cell at Slade...only long enough to make certain Slade wasn't dead.

" hear bout what's happened in Starling City? Some whackadoo sent a nuclear warhead at it..." The voices faded as the guards walked away.

The voices pierced through the haze... at least enough for Slade to hear them, even if he wasn't aware of who they belonged to. Starling City... he was there, wasn't he? Or was he still on the island, protecting his little brother...? Except... no. He remembered other images. His hand around Oliver's throat. Trying to hurt him... to kill him.

In his more lucid moments... Slade was viciously aware of the monstrous things he'd done. And in the darkest moments, he wished Shado and Oliver had left him and not tried to save him. The voices in his head tormented him to the point of screaming... but the screams were only in his mind; not in his head.


Slade could only hope the kid was safe...

Oliver slunk back into the plane, relieved that Slade hadn't returned from his hunt yet. He'd been told to stay put, as usual, but it was chafing, being regulated to guarding the plane. He'd learned a lot in the last several months. He was sure he could be more helpful if he could go with Slade. The older man didn't agree, however. So after Slade had left in the morning, Oliver had waited just long enough for him to be out of earshot and snuck off in the opposite direction, planning to prove his usefulness.

Of course, that hadn't happened. Everything that might have gone wrong, did. Not only did Oliver not get any food for the evening meal, he'd ended up having to crawl into an old animal den to avoid being seen by a patrol of soldiers. Luckily, he'd improved a lot in his ability to remain undetected...they hadn't seen him or suspected anything. He'd had to stay hidden for a lot longer than he would have liked, though; just to be certain they had left and wouldn't follow him back to the plane. He was filthy and desperately needed to go clean up and wash his clothing...preferably before his brother returned.

Slade had ended up being delayed in his return, due to a close call with a patrol of soldiers and not wanting to risk leading them back to the plane. By the time he returned with food, he was tired and worried... as it seemed like Fyers was planning something big. The man had been suspiciously quiet as of late.

Oliver had at first been glad that Slade had delayed returning. It had allowed him to thoroughly clean himself and wash his clothing; he'd almost hung everything up by the fire and wrapped in a blanket as usual when he did laundry, but since he hadn't been certain when Slade would return, he'd dressed again and stood next to the fire himself...his clothing still wet. The fact it had been hours and Slade still hadn't returned worried him. The combination of wet chill and worry served to make him very irritable.

Ducking inside the plane, Slade's relief at seeing Oliver was still there and safe very quickly turned to worry and concern when he saw the kid standing in front of the fire, dripping. He quickly stepped over to his brother. "Did you go outside?" He tried to keep his voice calm, but he had the feeling his worry was still obvious.

For the life of him, Oliver didn't know what possessed him to lie. He'd already determined that he couldn't hide the fact that he'd gone outside due to his clothes not drying quickly enough; the plan had been to admit going outside, but not admit exactly how far he'd gone. Let it seem that he'd gone to relieve himself and gone to the lake to wash his hands and fell in. Except his own irritability and worry worked against him. "No. Why?" he answered in a surly tone, like a pouting five-year-old.

Slade's question had been more rhetorical. He'd expected Oliver to have gone outside... but only to where he could safely be. Even the wet clothing could be explained away by a fall into mud or the lake... except Oliver was lying outright to him. And he knew the kid was lying, because there was no chance he could have got that wet inside.

Setting the food he'd managed to keep hold of down, Slade spoke in an even tone. "I told you before, lying will just get you into more trouble with me."

Oliver swallowed hard, but something inside wouldn't let him back down and apologize, no matter how much his instinct was begging him to give in. "I didn't do anything wrong, so don't see why I should be in trouble at all..." he muttered childishly.

"If you'd tipped over the water bucket in here, you wouldn't be this wet and there'd be more evidence on the floor," Slade said... unnecessarily, because they could both see the bucket was still upright. "The only reason you could be that wet is if you went outside. And if you're lying about it that means you went somewhere you knew you weren't supposed to."

Oliver visibly rolled his eyes and loudly huffed, before saying, in a sarcastic tone, "You caught me...I went down to the lake for a bath and washed my clothes. I've been such a naughty, bad boy..." He snorted and rolled his eyes again, but he was already feeling very guilty about what he'd done; and the way he was treating Slade was making him feel worse about himself. He just couldn't seem to stop.

Slade stepped closer to Oliver, reaching one hand out to grasp the nape of his brother's neck. "I'll believe you washed your clothes, but not that you did so simply because you felt like it," he said. "I've explained to you why lying is unacceptable. It breaks trust and damages relationships." His voice was low, but there was the suggestion of being deeply hurt by Oliver lying. Slade needed to trust him... needed to trust his brother... because Oliver was all he had.

Oliver heard the hurt in Slade's tone and felt even worse, but despite wanting to give in, confess, apologize and ask for forgiveness...he dug his heels in. It was like he was above his own body watching a car wreck...telling himself to stop, but he wasn't listening to himself. Ducking away from Slade's grasp, he moved closer to the fire and tugged off his shirt, hanging it up so it could dry. "I misjudged how long it would take for my things to dry, or you wouldn't have even known anything," he muttered, kicking his shoes off so he could put his socks in front of the fire to dry as well, before removing his shorts and hanging them with the shirt. His underwear was wet as well, but he left it on; not quite willing to walk around naked. The whole time, he was carefully keeping an eye on Slade and keeping the fire between the two of them.

Slade frowned and moved closer to Oliver. "That's the problem," he said. "You were planning to hide this from me." He kept watching his brother. There was a part of him that wanted to walk out... let himself calm down, so it didn't hurt so much. He didn't, because he suspected withdrawing from the kid would hurt Oliver badly... and he wasn't prepared to do that. Not for anything. "You shouldn't be lying. Not to me. Not when..." He paused, but Oliver needed to hear it. "Not when you're all I have," he finished.

Oliver froze, giving Slade a stricken look. He wanted so badly to give in and didn't understand why he was fighting it. "Help me..." he finally whispered, his body tense and his eyes guilt filled and tormented.

Slade moved to his brother's side in a few quick strides. Reaching out, he braced his hand on the back of Oliver's neck once more... using that grasp to gently pull the younger man into him.

As soon as Slade held his neck, Oliver felt able to move to him instead of away from him...letting the tenseness seep out of his body and leaning into Slade, putting his head on his brother's shoulder.

Slade quickly wrapped his other arm around Oliver, hugging him tightly. He gently stroked the nape of Oliver's neck, not sure exactly what was wrong with his brother... but knowing it wasn't simple.

Oliver shivered, slightly chilled and still damp from wearing the wet clothes and still wearing wet underwear. He wanted to apologize, but didn't feel like he had the right to say anything after all his lying and disobedience.

Slade held Oliver tight to himself... but realizing his brother was shivering, he spoke in a soft voice. "Your underwear's still wet. It's going to have to come down anyway... might as well take it off and let it dry along with the rest of your clothes."

Oliver whimpered slightly at the words, but obediently stepped away from Slade and slid the wet garment off to hang up with the rest of his clothes. Standing naked in front of his brother, Oliver felt vulnerable and uncertain. He looked at his feet and blushed darkly.

Slade let his hand settle in its usual position against Oliver's neck, holding his brother for a second or two, before he used that grasp to gently guide his brother over to the chair.

Oliver felt so guilty, the gentle touch didn't settle him as usual. He couldn't help but tense up. He knew how wrong he'd been to leave the plane like he had. Lying, though? That was so much worse. He didn't know what to do to make everything better.

Slade could feel how tense Oliver was and he gently stroked the nape of his brother's neck. "This isn't the end of the world. You'll be punished and then it'll be put behind us." He sat down and guided Oliver over his knees.

Oliver wanted to believe that...but he knew how important truth was to Slade; and Oliver had lied. He didn't think it could ever be put behind him. He wasn't sure it should be. He trembled as he tensed up in preparation for what he knew was coming.

Slade settled Oliver over his lap, placing a hand on his brother's lower back. He rubbed gently for a moment or two and then lifted his hand, bringing it down in a firm smack that he then repeated, settling into a pattern as he worked his way down to Oliver's thighs.

Oliver couldn't relax, no matter how gently his brother rubbed his back before starting. The firm smacks hurt- of course they did- but Oliver welcomed the pain because the guilt was so strong. He tensed up even more.

After the second circuit, Slade paused, gently rubbing Oliver's warmed backside. "What were you thinking about before I came back, kid?" he probed gently.

Oliver took a quivery breath as Slade began to rub his bottom. It made him feel childish and vulnerable and his stomach clenched with the need to do whatever Slade told him. It had been very difficult holding still and not crying, especially toward the end of the second circuit. The rubbing eased some of the sting, but it made the guilt worse. He swallowed and tried to answer best as he could. " first, I w...was trying to fi...figure out how to you from f...finding out I snuck out..." He shivered slightly.

"And what about after that?" Slade pushed. "You had to have known I was going to realize you'd left, so I think this was about more than you trying to keep the fact you'd sneaked out from me."

Oliver shook his head, before remembering he was expected to answer with his voice. "I...I d..don't kn..know...!" His voice took on a nervous, whiny tone.

"Was it because I came back later than you were expecting me to?" Slade knew he'd had to double back on himself several times, which had accumulated in him being far later than he'd expected.

Oliver closed his eyes tightly, remembering how the worry continued to grow until it had turned into fear the longer Slade remained gone. Slade was always careful not to be gone for more than four or five hours at the most; it had already been close to that when Oliver had returned from his own illicit 'hunt'; it was one of the reasons he'd decided to remain in wet clothing, instead of drying everything the way he normally did. When the hours continued on past the time Oliver had expected his return, he couldn't help imagining the worst, especially knowing that, "There was a unit of soldiers... I had to hide in an abandoned animal burrow in the ground, so they wouldn't see me..." he choked out.

Inside, he was remembering how scared he'd been that Slade hadn't had anywhere to hide; that Slade had been caught by those soldiers - or worse killed - and there was no way Oliver would ever know what happened, because he was back at the plane waiting like a little cosseted baby, because he was so useless, Slade was afraid to take him with him to hunt and spy. There was no way Oliver would ever be able to help his big brother, because he wouldn't know what he needed to do. The fact that he'd actually become pretty good at several of the things Slade was teaching him and would have been able to figure out what happened and actually might have been able to help Slade didn't occur to him. His own confidence in his abilities wasn't that high. So he'd become more and more scared.

Oliver groaned as he rethought everything. Only Slade's hand still gently rubbing his throbbing backside enabled him to hold still and not try and run again. He felt so ashamed and guilty and like a failure and all he wanted was to slump at Slade's feet and put his head on his brother's lap and beg for forgiveness and beg to be punished so everything could go back to the way it was before Oliver messed up so badly by lying! And he was afraid to do that, because it was one step further in admitting and accepting the need he had for Slade to be in charge, but he'd just been faced by the possibility of life without Slade and it terrified him. He had to pull back and learn not to need so much.

Slade moved one of his hands to the nape of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. He could hear what Oliver wasn't saying... he could read his brother well. "You know I don't leave you here because I think you're helpless or a baby, kid. Wanting to keep you safe because you're my brother and I care about you is a big part of that... but you've also come along better than I could have anticipated while training. I leave you here because I trust you to protect the plane... to protect what we have... while I'm gone. And I trust you to know what to do if something were to happen."

Oliver found himself relaxing, despite himself, the minute Slade's hand went to his neck. Between his neck being held in such a gentle, possessive way- leaving him feeling protected and cared about- along with the equally gentle and possessive rubbing, Oliver felt his tension beginning to ebb, his ability to fight Slade's urging failing him. "I was afraid..." was all he could force out, in a tiny, lost voice.

"I know. And I'm sorry you were afraid," Slade said honestly. "I came close to being spotted by a patrol. Losing them was what took me so long to get back here. I don't take chances, kid. I will always do everything in my power to get back to you."

"Same patrol that almost saw me?" Oliver asked hesitantly, slumping a little further over Slade's knee. He wriggled a tiny bit to see how secure Slade's grip on him was. "I shouldn't have disobeyed...was wrong..." he whispered. He wanted to say he was very bad for doing so, but he was afraid of upsetting Slade by saying that and he couldn't think of another word that fit.

"It more than likely was," Slade agreed. "And you shouldn't have disobeyed... but it doesn't change anything between us." His hold on his brother was very secure.

Oliver wriggled a little bit more, not really wanting to get away, but not sure what it was he did want. "Lying could have changed everything..." he whispered again, his voice filled with guilt and uncertainty.

"You definitely shouldn't have lied," Slade said. "But nothing could even put a dent in what I feel about you, kid."

The utter sense of relief at Slade's words left Oliver shaky and weak. The tenseness seeped out of him, despite his attempts to keep it. All he wanted was for things to be right, but he knew he wasn't the one that would help it be that way. Slade was in charge. "Please..." His whisper this time was begging, hoping that Slade would know what he needed, because he couldn't voice it.

Slade gently squeezed the nape of Oliver's neck. "Nothing's going to change between us, kid. Not while I have anything to say about it." He stroked over the kid's back, needing to just feel his brother safely with him, and then lifted his hand, bringing it down in a firm swat at the crest of Oliver's backside.

The relief that he hadn't ruined his relationship with his big brother was immense and his inability to hide what he was feeling from Slade any longer meant that the moment Slade began spanking again, Oliver let himself react. If anyone had told him that he'd begin writhing and crying and carrying on like a child who didn't know real pain yet, he would have denied it. But that's exactly what he did. It wasn't that the spanking was excruciatingly painful, though it did hurt (especially since Slade was on the third circuit by this point). He'd been through much worse pain. It was because he felt out of control... He was fighting with himself... He was testing Slade... It could have been any one or all of those things. Oliver wasn't sure; all he knew was that he couldn't react in any other way.

Slade kept a tight, firm grip on his brother, settling quickly into a rhythm of swats as he worked his way down to Oliver's thighs, covering every inch of Oliver's backside yet again. "You don't lie to me, kid. Any time you do, it will land you right back here. Every time you lie to me, I will punish you. My brother."

", sir...lying not allowed..." Oliver whimpered, still writhing uncontrollably. His bottom felt like it had to be on fire. He was sure it was bright red and he imagined it was bright enough to see in the dark.

"And neither is risking your life," Slade reminded him. "Leaving without letting me know where you're going does exactly that. I can't lose you, Oliver. Because I meant what I said. You're all I have left, kid. You are what's important to me."

"You...important too!" Oliver gasped out, before beginning to sob and wildly buck, out of control. "Hurts!" he sobbed; and he wasn't talking about his bottom. He reached to his chest and began rubbing, as if his heart literally hurt. He'd been so scared he'd lost Slade...that he was alone...but he hadn't allowed himself to think about it and instead focused on anger and the feeling that he was useless. Only Slade wasn't lost and Slade had said he wasn't useless and the anger was all gone and all at was left was the uncontrollable fear. He kicked and clawed in an attempt to get away and hide, so Slade couldn't see how scared he was.

Slade paused, but wrapped an arm around Oliver, embracing him even while he still held his brother across his knee. "I know," he murmured. "But you're not alone, kid. I'm still here. I don't take chances... not knowing you need me to stick around." He held fast to Oliver, not letting him pull away and hide.

Slowly, Slade's words broke through Oliver's panic and he calmed, stilling. He took several deep breaths before whispering, in a shamed tone, "I'm sorry...sorry I lied...sorry I disobeyed and took an unnecessary chance...sorry, so sorry I got mad and hurt you..." He settled so that he lay still over his brother's knee, in his embrace.

Slade had both arms wrapped around his brother, holding Oliver as tight as he could without hurting him. "I love you, kid." He'd skirted around saying it before, even though he felt it. Now, he thought not saying it would cause more harm. Oliver needed to know how important he was... that it didn't matter what he did, Slade's feelings wouldn't change.

At those words, Oliver began to cry again, the guilt he felt for hurting his brother tormenting him further. "Love you so much..." he choked out, his own arms snaking around his brother's leg tightly.

Slade needed to have his brother in his arms. He needed to hold onto Oliver and feel him safe... and he needed to show his brother he was safe. He moved to shift his brother onto his lap and into his arms, so he could hold onto Oliver and protect him... keep him safe.

Oliver whimpered as he was moved, but settled again when he realized Slade wasn't letting go of him. He wrapped his arms around Slade and hid his face against the older man's chest, unable to stop crying. " so sorry..." he kept repeating, unable to forgive himself for the look he'd seen in Slade's eyes when he'd lied. Unable to let go of the guilt.

Slade wrapped his arms tight around Oliver. "I know, kid. I forgive you. You made a mistake. It changes nothing between us, I promise. It changes nothing about how I feel about you. Nothing will change that."

"Don't des..deserve you..." Oliver cried. His eyes, throat and head were beginning to hurt from so much crying, his bottom still hurt from the well deserved spanking, but he felt like he hadn't been punished enough. He didn't know what to to just let go of the guilt and let Slade comfort him.

Slade tightened his embrace, pulling the kid closer to himself. "You have me, kid. And no matter what you think you do or don't deserve... it's not going to change." He placed his hand at the nape of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. "I know you're still fighting, no matter how unconsciously it might be. Fighting your urges to submit is just going to tear you apart." He stroked his brother's hair and back gently. "I am the one in control here, kid. And I am the one who decides the punishment you deserve."

Slade's hand on his neck, as always, calmed him and eased him down to a mind-set where he wanted and needed to obey. It was his brother's words that set him over the edge, however. Before, Slade had always assured him that what he needed didn't mean there was anything wrong with him, that Slade cared and would protect him no matter what. This was the first time Slade had made a declarative assertion that he was in charge and made all decisions in regard to Oliver and what would or would not occur. Those words, right on the heels of Slade admitting he loved Oliver, was all that was needed for the tension to drain from the young boy (he didn't feel anywhere close to adult by this point) and Oliver slumped in his brother's arms, sobbing and weakly holding onto Slade, just letting himself feel.

He felt his brother's grip on his neck, the possessive and protectiveness of it, promising guidance. He felt the sharp pain in his bottom reminding him who was in charge and what he'd brought on himself by blatant disobedience. He felt the arms around him providing comfort and warmth. He felt his nakedness...and it didn't bother him, because he was his brother's and Slade deserved for him to be vulnerable to him, unable to hide anything. He felt so much. Almost too much. He felt himself sinking under all the needy, comforting, reminding, admonishing feelings and didn't know what to do except turn to his protector. "Slade..." He whimpered softly, his voice accepting of Slade's words. "...You control..." He nodded in acceptance and pressed as close as he was able, shivering.

Slade held Oliver close to himself, pressing him close... because while he held his brother, he could reassure himself that Oliver was safe. There was so much danger they were facing on the island... and Slade had seen so much bad already... it made him need to hold onto what was good. Or, in this case, who. "That's right, kid," he murmured in Oliver's ear. "You can hold onto me. I promise I'm not going to let you go."

Oliver shivered again and sniffled, still crying, but not as hard, and snuggled close. "I was really, really dirty..." he said out of nowhere, reminding his brother that he'd hidden in an animal burrow to escape the soldiers. The last time he'd done something foolish, he'd hurt himself and Slade had thoroughly examined him to be certain he'd be ok. Oliver didn't think he'd hurt himself this time; but he wouldn't necessarily be able to tell if a bug had bit him, or if an innocent scratch was worse than he thought. He wasn't sure if Slade would want to examine him or not, but if he was accepting Slade being in charge of him, then he was going to accept everything that went along with it, including Slade monitoring his health.

Slade nodded in understanding. "I haven't seen any scratches or bites on your body." And since his brother had stood naked in front of him, and over his lap, Slade had had the opportunity to see every inch of Oliver's body... and knew he was observant enough that he would have noticed a scratch or bite if it had been there. At the same time... "I want you to tell me if you start feeling sick or dizzy... or anything else that you shouldn't be feeling."

"Yessir," Oliver mumbled against his brother's chest. He sounded sleepy, the high tension and emotion he'd been dealing with the last several hours starting to catch up with him. His stomach grumbled at him as well. It was a toss up if he was more hungry or more tired, but he didn't want to let go of his brother in either case. "I was really, really scared..." he reiterated in a childish tone. "I thought they caught you and hurt you..."

Slade gently squeezed the nape of Oliver's neck, keeping his arms around his brother so he could feel safe and comforted. "No matter what happens... you need me. So I will always come back to you," he promised. "I'm not going to leave you alone. I'm not going to take risks. I will keep myself safe... because I will never abandon you."

"Love you..." Oliver mumbled, again sounding exceedingly young. The day's events and his finally letting go and submitting made it impossible for him to react in a more adult manner. Snuggling a bit more, he couldn't kept his eyes open and was soon asleep in his brother's arms.

He had no idea what time it was when he finally came back to himself... but Slade gradually became aware of laying on a cot in a prison cell, staring up at the ceiling with his one good eye. Well... he would be staring at the ceiling, if his vision wasn't so blurred by tears. The fact that he'd rarely cried before didn't seem to matter. His senses were no longer enhanced, leaving him to believe the Mirakuru had finally released its hold... but at what cost? Intermingled with the memories of caring for his brother were the memories of how much he'd hurt Oliver. The guilt was crippling... and if he didn't think it was taking the easy way out, he would have been figuring out a way of taking his own life.

He was a monster...

The guards were making their rounds again, caring just as little about those they were charged to guard as they ever had been. They only gave Slade a cursory glance, noting the tears but assuming it was because of whatever he'd been withdrawing from and they had no sympathy. Instead, they began laughing and talking amongst themselves.

"You know how that one there was put here by that green hood character in Starling?" Guard One motioned toward Slade.

"Yeah?" Guard Two answered curiously.

"Chatter is that 'Hoodie' killed some mystic magical whozits that was apparently responsible for that nuke heading toward his city. Remember I told you of it?" One continued.

"Yeah?" Two asked interestedly. "Wasn't that mystical whozit responsible for Waller dying?"

"Yeah. Not sure what's going on in that town, but I get the feeling all hell's about to rain down on ole 'Hoodie'. He's made and is still making a lot of powerful enemies..."

Two snorted. "Better him than me..."

The two wandered off to complete their rounds.

Slade had made no outward sign that he'd heard anything the guards were saying... but every word burned into his conscious mind... and particularly when it came to what they were saying about Oliver. It sounded like the kid had got himself into trouble... more trouble. And Slade's guilt was crippling him. He deserved to die.

But Oliver didn't. Oliver on the island had needed Slade... needed his brother... and Slade had let him down in a massive way. Blaming the Mirakuru was easy. He should have been strong enough to fight off the effects. Failing that, he should have died... he should have died as Oliver's brother and not lived as the monster who had tortured him.

Where were Oliver's friends? His allies? The guards made it sound like he was alone... and it pierced Slade's heart to think that the kid... his baby brother... was alone and friendless, in a city that wasn't even grateful for what he did.

Slade was moving before he thought about it. He wasn't hungry, but he forced himself to eat and drink what he could stomach of the food he'd ignored for so long. His entire world had shrunk to one thing... one person. Oliver. He forced away the guilt. Guilt wasn't going to stand between Oliver and what was coming for him. That was Slade's job. Maybe he hadn't done a very good job of it... but he was ready to put himself there again. He was ready to take on that role once more... even though there was no reason for Oliver to trust or believe in him again.

In the end, breaking out had been fairly easy. Slade had played dead before. All he had to do was look it... not hard, considering how he felt... and one of the guards had come to check on him.

Killing turned Slade's stomach now... and he couldn't really fault the prison guards for just doing their jobs. He'd knocked both men out and escaped with little trouble... and then he'd broken into the precinct and stolen a police scanner, knowing he had to hole up and wait until he could find Oliver.

It hadn't taken long before reports of the vigilante... the Hood... had come in over the radio. Even before it was indicated Oliver was outnumbered, Slade was moving... his whole world still focused on the one point that was his brother.

Oliver grunted as another thug landed a hard blow to his ribs. Coming here alone hadn't been his best idea; and he knew John and Thea and even Felicity would have been very upset at his choice to do so. But he couldn't risk any more people he cared about being hurt or, worse, dying. Laurel's death had hurt deeply. The fact that he knew she wouldn't have died if not for him...he couldn't let anyone else be at risk because of or for him. He had to return to doing his work alone. It was better for everyone involved.

He'd got too used to having backup, though. He'd misjudged the amount of goons that would be protecting this warehouse. He'd misjudged his ability to take them on. And now? He was being beaten and would be lucky to escape with broken bones and bruising. These men were out for blood.

Even with the Mirakuru no longer in his system, Slade was fast. He'd changed out of the prison uniform before swiping the police radio, so he wasn't stopped as he took the streets hard... reaching there in time to see Oliver, severely outnumbered and already looking in bad shape.

Slade didn't hesitate. Only stopping long enough to grab a couple of heavy stones from the ground, he was throwing himself into the fray. Again, his reluctance to kill sparked... and he knocked out two of the thugs... the two main ones beating on his brother... before the others could react.

Oliver staggered as the two holding him still for the beating suddenly let go. It didn't take long for him to begin fighting in earnest, though; his savior (who he couldn't quite get a good visual on, due to the swelling of his eyes and the darkness of the warehouse) was taking out two thugs for every one of Oliver's knock-outs. It was irritating, but Oliver was in no shape to complain. Soon, the remaining thugs were running, leaving their fallen behind. Oliver staggered, tensing up as he turned toward Slade and attempted to see who his helper was.

Slade hadn't really thought past protecting Oliver... hadn't thought past his brother being in bad shape. Now that he was given a chance to catch his breath, reality intruded... along with the thought that Oliver wasn't going to trust him. Why should he? Every memory... everything Slade had done... battered him, proving over and over again what a monster he was.

Letting the stones fall from his hands, Slade spread his hands... showing he was unarmed. "Kid..." The word came out hoarse and pained, filled with emotion even though Slade had tried to hold back.

Oliver jerked back in surprise, recognizing the voice even if he couldn't see clearly, and preparing himself for what he was sure would be a killing blow. Slade's tone of voice only registered slightly in his adrenaline and fear fueled reaction. Sadly, he was in no shape to keep fighting and he let out a tiny groan of frustration as he felt himself losing focus. At some point in the fight, he'd been stabbed. Between that and difficulty breathing from broken ribs, he couldn't stay awake. He staggered forward one step and then he was falling.

Slade realized immediately when Oliver began to fall. He quickly moved forward to catch the younger man, letting out a slight grunt as he caught the entirety of the kid's dead weight. He could feel something warm and wet soaking into his shirt and he wasted no time in gathering Oliver into his arms... carrying him as best he could from the warehouse, in the opposite direction from where the sirens were coming from.

Slade's reluctance to kill didn't extend to committing other crimes and the first car he found, he broke the glass and settled Oliver on the backseat, tearing strips of material from his own shirt to bind around the kid's stab wound, before hotwiring the car and driving towards the run-down apartment building he'd already taken the time to set up in... where he had supplies (not much, but hopefully enough).

It didn't take long for Slade to be parked outside and then he was carrying Oliver out of the car and inside, ignoring his own discomfort as his entire being was, once again, only focused on his brother... and on not allowing Oliver to be hurt anymore.

The knife wound thankfully wasn't as life threatening as originally thought. Slade had been able to staunch the blood flow and stitch the wound. Even the broken ribs weren't as dangerous as they could have been. Slade had been able to bind them easily. So it was concerning that Oliver had passed out and not stirred during the ministrations. It was a good twenty minutes after Slade had taken care of his injuries that Oliver finally woke, shivering slightly and achey and fatigued. "Shoulda known three days with no sleep would catch up to me," he muttered under his breath, forgetting for a moment that he'd just seen (or at least heard) Slade; a man who should be locked up and who wanted him dead. It took longer than he would want to admit to realize he wasn't in the warehouse and he wasn't in a hospital (something to be thankful for), but that he was in a bed.

Slade hadn't left Oliver's side even for a second... but his worry and concern for his brother had only grown the longer Oliver stayed unconscious. Oliver's words sparked even more worry... but Slade moved into view, so Oliver could see him and not get spooked (although he was prepared for anything), rather than just trying to figure out what was wrong with his brother immediately. "What were you doing that made it necessary to stay up for three days?" His own words took him by surprise. He'd intended to apologize... to show Oliver he was free of hate... but instead, he'd fallen all too easily into the same role as before.

"I was trying to make sure Damien Darhk was actually gone and Malcolm Merlyn hadn't screwed me over more than I already knew..." he huffed out, falling back into the old habit of answering obediently and truthfully when Slade used that tone of voice. And then he realized that Slade was in the room with him and he'd just obeyed the man and given him information; information that could easily be used against him.

Eyes widening, he jumped off the bed and faced Slade in a defensive posture, unable to keep a wince of pain from his face when he moved too quickly for his injuries. "Slade..." His voice was suspicious and nervous, with a hint of pain.

Once again, Slade held up his hands, indicating he was unarmed. He didn't move, although his one eye darkened with concern at the sight of the wince. "I'm not here to hurt you, kid. I promise you're safe from me." And he couldn't hide his own wince at those words, remembering the myriad of broken promises after the Mirakuru had taken hold and he'd become a monster. Forcing away the stabbing guilt, he spoke in a quiet voice. "But I need you to settle down again. You were stabbed and you've got broken ribs. You could have just made your injuries worse."

Oliver was chagrined at how much he wanted to believe that and had to look away from Slade to keep his wanting from his face. He shivered again, wrapping his arms around himself and wincing at the aches he was feeling that had nothing to do with his injuries.

Slade took a step closer to his brother, desperately wanting to hold onto Oliver... to protect him. "You have no reason to believe me, I know," he said quietly. "Save that, even with the Mirakuru in my system, I never pretended to be something I wasn't. I never tried to deceive you... to let you think I was on your side when we both knew I wasn't."

"You killed my mother..." Oliver swallowed hard, ashamed that, despite that fact, he still wanted to believe Slade. Still wanted to give in to the older man; let him protect him, obey him. But he couldn't give in to that need. That desire. He'd not had that need with anyone else- just Slade- so it wasn't like he couldn't live without it. The thought made him sad.

Oliver closed his eyes as fatigue made him suddenly need to sit and a chill tore through him. The aches grew worse. This definitely wasn't from the cracked ribs or knife wound. Oliver didn't think to hide what was happening from Slade; it had become too ingrained not to hide his health from the older man. He thought of it belatedly and attempted to school his wince from the other man.

Slade couldn't hold back... not seeing the pain Oliver was in. He moved towards the kid, making enough noise so that he would be heard coming, and placed a hand gently on his shoulder. "You need to at least sit down..." Guiding the younger man towards the bed, he added, in a much quieter voice, "I've become a monster. And as soon as I'm assured of your safety, I'll go back to where I belong. But the talk is you've made a lot of enemies, kid. I let you down too many times already. Whether you want me or not... I'm going to be between you and the danger you're in."

"No! You can't!" Oliver protested. He couldn't let himself believe Slade. Couldn't allow him even a small place into his life, because it would be all too easy to go back to what they'd had before if Slade showed even a small bit that he truly was off the Mirakuru and was back to his big brother. He also tried to keep from being touched. As chilled as he was, he had a feeling he had a fever and didn't need Slade growing more insistent on him taking care of himself.

Slade hadn't intended to do anything more than guide Oliver by his shoulder... but when Oliver protested, his hand seemed to take on a mind of its own, shifting to the kid's neck before Slade could stop himself. "I need to do right by you, kid. I need to protect you. I can't make up for any of it... but I'm not going to let anything happen to you."

Oliver felt the instinctive need to give in the minute Slade's hand was on his neck. And then he became frightened and upset that he reacted in that way. Just because Slade talked like his older brother, didn't mean he was his older brother. Yanking away from Slade like a frightened wild animal, wincing from the pain of moving too quick as well as the aches that had been plaguing him, he attempted to pull away from Slade.

Pain flashed through Slade... pain he pushed aside, because Oliver had to be his priority, no matter how much it hurt that his brother couldn't trust him... no matter how much Slade knew he deserved it. "I'm not going to hurt you, kid," he whispered, his voice hoarse with the pain he tried to keep off his face. "But you're sick and you're hurt. You have your phone... you can call anyone you like. I just need you to sit down, so I can check your wounds. That's all."

"No! You can't check me! I don't need to call anyone. I'm fine!" Oliver argued, this time worried that any of the rest of his team would find out what he'd been doing and he'd get another earful about not going solo and taking chances. On top of that, he wanted to listen to Slade. His instinct was saying to believe him and his instincts weren't often wrong. The want and need to believe and obey was so strong, he knew it had to be in his voice.

Slade took a breath and pushed away all his guilt... forcing himself to listen to his instincts, instead of assuming Oliver wouldn't cope with him coming into his life and taking on the role he'd discarded like trash. "You have two choices, kid." He brought his hand to the back of Oliver's neck once more. "You let me check you over. Or you call one of your friends and have them come here. Either way, you're getting checked." His hand gently stroked the nape of Oliver's neck. "Do you need proof the Mirakuru is no longer in my system?" His gaze slanted towards the quiver of arrows. One of them was sharp enough that he could cut himself with it... show that his body wasn't healing unnaturally fast.

"You can't call anyone else!" Oliver protested, wincing when his voice sounded childishly worried instead of confident. Biting his lip, his eyes dropped. He couldn't face the older man, but at the same time, he couldn't let him go on thinking Oliver didn't believe him. "I don't need proof," he said wearily. He shivered again and rubbed his forehead, his head beginning to ache.

"Then you need to let me check you over," Slade said. "You're barely keeping on your feet, kid. You're going to re-open your wounds... but you wouldn't be this sick from wounds you just got today." His hand, still on the back of Oliver's neck, continued to gently rub. "I'm not going to keep fighting you on this, kid. I'm not backing down. So you let me check you out now... or after I spank you for refusing to take your health seriously," he warned.

Oliver jerked at that, turning wide eyes onto Slade. " way. You can't! I'm an adult and...and I make my own decisions now! I take care of myself!" He pulled away from Slade again; the hand on his neck was causing him to lose his edge...was causing him to feel like maybe Slade was right. He couldn't give in.

"You're still my little brother." The words were softly spoken, but carried so much emotion behind them. And Slade didn't want to spank Oliver... but then again, he'd never wanted to do that. Remembering physically hurting the kid made him feel sick... but this wasn't about him and his guilt. This was about doing right by his little brother.

Slade reached for Oliver once more, one hand on his neck and the other taking a firm hold of his wrist. Stepping towards the bed, he sat, dragging a pillow over to place next to him before he drew Oliver across his knees, making sure the kid's body was supported by the pillow.

Oliver could have fought...thought he probably should fight...but Slade's words had cut him, the emotion making it clear that Slade believed it. Oliver wanted to believe it, too and his confusion kept him still long enough for Slade to get him into position. His illness did the rest; he just didn't have energy to fight as hard as he would need to fight in order to get away.

Slade had removed the hood while Oliver had been unconscious, so he didn't have to worry about that. He quickly and carefully divested his brother of his pants and underwear, then lifted his hand and brought it down in a swat that was stinging, but holding back on his full strength. Right now, he just wanted to get the kid's attention.

Oliver whimpered, then blushed darkly at the fact he'd whimpered. He'd been trying to convince Slade he was able to take care of himself, but he couldn't even avoid going over the older man's knee for a spanking. It was such a familiar position that Oliver had to fight himself not to immediately submit and agree to obey Slade.

Slade landed one complete circuit of the stinging swats and then paused, resting his hand on Oliver's backside. Hoping that he was going to avoid fighting with the kid on his health, Slade kept Oliver in position as he reached for the first aid kit, removing the thermometer... and then frowned, holding back a curse, as he realized it wasn't an oral one. "Sorry, kid, but it looks like you're in the best position for me to take your temperature. I can't leave you alone to find a different thermometer." While he was speaking, he gently rubbed Oliver's bottom.

Oliver was light and fuzzy headed; the position, his confusion at being in the position again after so long...pretty much the whole evening...making him slower to understand than normal. He didn't fully understand until Slade was rubbing his bottom and he was beginning to relax from where he'd tensed up at the stinging swats. "Wh..." he began, in a drowsy voice, before his eyes shot open wide and he began to squirm ineffectively. " can't..." he protested, in a weak whine.

"I need to take your temperature." Slade's voice was gentle and calm. "I need to know what we're dealing with here. I swiped the only first aid kit I could get my hands on. I wouldn't have chosen to use this thermometer, but it is what it is." He took a few more moments to rub and try to calm his brother... and then he set about taking Oliver's temperature.

It was too much. He hurt...the ribs and knife wound may not have been bad enough to force a hospital visit, but they were still painful. He knew he was ill...had been for at least a day and had planned to take care of himself... he had to admit, the way he felt, he likely wouldn't have done a good job. Slade was back and saying all the right things and he wanted to believe so badly. Being spanked again after so long...feeling Slade grip the back of his neck...rub his all made him want to believe and give in even more. Slade taking his temperature in a way that was the most invasive and intimate way possible was too much to withstand, though.

Oliver felt the thermometer and held himself still. He felt his stomach twist and drop and he couldn't help himself. He slumped over Slade's lap, limp and accepting. Tears streamed from his eyes, but he didn't argue or fight any longer. Slade had to be telling the truth. He wouldn't be taking care of him this way if he wasn't. And if he was telling the truth, then Oliver's big brother was back. And if he was back, Oliver couldn't fight any longer. He'd submit.

Slade held Oliver close against his stomach... close and protectively... as he waited for the time to be up, still gently rubbing his brother's back and bottom. Once the time was up, he carefully removed the thermometer. "You definitely have a fever, kid," he said softly. "I'm going to need to check you over for any older wounds."

The longer he laid there, Slade rubbing gently and waiting on the thermometer to do its job, the more small, young, out of control and needy Oliver felt. When he finally felt Slade withdrawing the instrument, Oliver took a shaky breath and sniffled, before swallowing and answering, in a voice that betrayed he was crying. " big brother decides...not me..." he whispered, the words his way of letting Slade know he believed him and was giving him control.

Slade closed his one eye, the words at once a sharp pain to his heart and a soothing balm to his soul. "I love you, kid." The words could barely be heard, but Slade needed to say them... needed to let that truth soothe the pain his earlier words of hate had caused. He very carefully moved Oliver enough so he could examine the rest of his brother's body... looking for anything that could be the cause for his illness.

"Love you too..." Oliver sniffled again, letting himself be moved every which way as his brother carefully examined him. On the back of his left knee, there was a tiny inflamed bump; he'd been bitten by something, though the creature that bit was long gone.

Slade found the bite, but he checked for any other wounds before he was satisfied. "I think you may have Lyme disease, kid. Something bit you... probably a tick. I don't think it's bad enough that you need to go to the hospital, though."

Oliver was so exhausted and felt so bad that he just nodded to his brother's words before remembering he needed to verbally answer. "Yessir..." His voice was lost and still a bit confused. He thought there was something he should probably ask, but for the life of him, he couldn't think of what (which was why he didn't ask what he needed to do if he didn't need to go to the hospital). And part of him couldn't help but feel guilty, because he had known he was ill for several days and done nothing but overwork. Slade had to be so disappointed in him...he'd done everything his brother would never approve of and would punish if he found out. "I was bad..." Oliver sniffled again, before starting to cry in soft sobs, still lying limp and pliant over Slade's lap. He felt needy, vulnerable, childish...unable to do anything if Slade didn't tell him to do it first; which scared him badly. He hadn't been in that headspace since before Mirakuru.

Slade made a soft sound in his throat and gathered Oliver into his arms, deciding comfort needed to take precedent over everything else right now. "You weren't bad," he said quietly. "You've been through a lot... too much." He settled his hand at the nape of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. He still felt so guilty... but it was easy to become what Oliver needed, considering how important his brother was to him. He desperately wanted to apologize... looking at the scars covering Oliver's body had only reminded him just how much he'd failed as a big brother. He couldn't help but voice the thought going through his mind. "I won't fail you again..."

Oliver snuggled as close as possible. "...Missed you..." he whispered. "Missed you so much..." He let out a little choked sob and nuzzled against his brother's chest. He finally felt like he could face everything; and so much of that was because he had his brother back.

Slade tightened his arms around Oliver. "I'm here now," he whispered in his brother's ear. "And I'll be here... as long as you need me. As long as you want me." Despite knowing he deserved to be locked up, he couldn't abandon Oliver. He couldn't leave his brother alone.

Oliver's own grip tightened at those words. "I want you forever..." he said, in a tiny voice. Realistically, he knew Slade was supposed to be locked up. Diggle, Thea, Felicity...anyone who knew what Slade had done the last time he was in Starling City would have huge issues with Oliver not turning the older man over to the authorities immediately. But Oliver didn't want that. He wanted to be selfish and keep his big brother near for as long as possible. The fact it had been the Mirakuru that had caused so much of Slade's abhorrent behavior only made him positive he didn't want Slade locked up.

Slade gently squeezed the back of Oliver's neck, his arms as tight around his brother as if he could shield him from all the pain he hadn't been able to before. "Then I will do everything within my power to stay with you," he promised.

At that moment, Oliver's phone began to vibrate.

Oliver huffed slightly, not wanting to answer the phone. Considering it was sitting in his pants pocket several feet from where Oliver currently sat on his big brother's lap, he didn't want to get up. But... "I probably should answer that. If I don't, they'll have Felicity trace my phone and then you'll end up with a group of vigilantes tearing down the door..." He sighed, his voice husky from all his crying. Reluctantly, he stood and wobbled over to retrieve his phone, not bothering with redressing. By this point in time, Slade had seen every inch of him and knew his body better than his doctor did. Better than he himself did, he reckoned. Hitting the button to answer, he held the phone to his ear. "John..."

"Hey, where are you?" Diggle's voice was concerned. "There were police reports about the vigilante getting beaten at a warehouse... I've been trying to get hold of you. Felicity found out Slade broke out of prison." His voice dropped a bit lower. "The guards were just knocked out... but he's gonna be gunning for you, man. I think you'd better get back here."

"I...I'm fine, John. Been feeling a bit under the weather...I'm going to be laying low for a bit until I feel better..." He glanced at Slade. He hated lying to Diggle; the man had become as much of a brother (albeit more of an equal) as Slade was and the last time he'd lied, their relationship had suffered a lot. But he didn't know how he could tell the other man the complete truth and not have things spiral completely out of his control. Maybe when he felt better and could think more clearly, he'd be able to explain in a way that would get John on his side and then he could convince the girls.

"Where are you holed up?" Diggle asked. "I'll come by and stand guard."

Catching Oliver's eye, Slade signed to him, 'You're going to need to tell him eventually.' He didn't scold Oliver for lying, though. While honesty was important... Oliver was sick and didn't need the added stress of trying to mediate when Slade himself knew his brother's friends would be right to fear his return.

Oliver sighed, looking torn between being honest with his friend (Slade was right; he'd have to be told eventually) and wanting to protect his older brother for a bit longer. Finally, he settled on what he thought was a good compromise. "You don't need to stand guard, John. I appreciate it, but your little girl needs you and I'm safe. I'm with someone who knows what medicine I need and who is able to keep watch and I'm somewhere that no one would think to look for me. I'll introduce you to them when I'm feeling better..." He gave Slade a crooked grin.

"Okay." Diggle sounded like he wasn't sure whether to believe Oliver or not, but he was clearly deciding to trust his friend. "But if you run into any trouble that you can't handle... day or night... I want you to call. Felicity's going to keep checking security feeds for Slade... if he comes to Starling City, if anyone sees him... I don't care where you are. I'm getting Felicity to trace your cell and then I'm coming."

Oliver sighed softly, not feeling up to the discussion he knew he needed to have with his other brother. "Ok, John. Just. If you get security footage of Slade and need to trace my cell...just call me again and let me know and I'll tell you where to come find me. I don't want to attack first, ask questions later and discover it's you I went after if you show up at a bad time..."

"Just... make sure you answer." The worried note in Diggle's voice carried through clearly. He didn't point out Oliver had been taking so many chances lately, he was scared to let him be completely on his own... but he was definitely thinking it.

Oliver winced at the worried tone. "I will...I'll answer if you call. I promise..." In his tone was a hint of apology. He knew how badly he'd been worrying his friends...his family. "Just take care of my little niece, ok?" He forced himself to sound happier, not wanting John to worry worse.

"And you take care of yourself." It was close to an admonishment. "Just call... at any time... and soon as we know anything about Slade, I'll let you know."

"I will. Thanks, John." There was a wealth of gratitude and caring in his voice. He'd missed his older brother, but John had filled a need he didn't realize he'd had too; the need for a brother who was his equal and who wouldn't let him boss him around, but who wouldn't boss him around either. The relationship was different, but no less important. He hoped John would realize that when the truth finally came out.

"I'll let Felicity and Thea know you're safe. They were worried, too. I'll speak to you when you're feeling better," Diggle said, hope that they wouldn't need to deal with something bad before then in his voice, before he disconnected the call.

Oliver stared at the phone in his hand for a few moments, before looking up at Slade and giving him a crooked smile. "Hopefully, he won't be too upset at me when he finds out who was helping me with medicine and guarding..." He snorted softly.

"He's right to be worried." Slade hadn't been able to hear Diggle's side of the conversation, but he could imagine why the man had called. "He wants to protect you from me... I can't really blame him."

"I don't blame him..." Oliver gave Slade a speculative look. "While I told him that we were brothers on the island and that Mirakuru changed you...he doesn't know protective you were of me then. How you took care of me. And he doesn't know that the Mirakuru is out of your system now. So I can't blame him for being wary. Doesn't mean he's right, though." Oliver's gaze was strong and certain about that fact. As strong and certain as the fever and pain from his injuries allowed, anyway. Quietly, he picked up his pants and slid them on. It had been a long time since he'd been alone with Slade when Slade was in his right mind and even though he fully trusted him now (his instincts wouldn't allow for less), it was embarrassing to be walking around naked.

"It's easy to lay the blame on the Mirakuru," Slade said quietly. "But it was a drug, not a conscious substance. I should have been strong enough to fight those effects. Failing that... I should have been strong enough to take my own life. Before I hurt you. I'd rather have died as your brother than live as the monster who tortured you." Although this was the first time he'd said those words out loud... they'd been in his head throughout the withdrawal process. His voice carried all the self-loathing that had tormented him since the Mirakuru had loosened its grip.

Oliver's glance at his brother was quick and sharp. The words had sent a spike of sudden worry through his heart and the worry was clear on his face. "The drug affected your ability to think; and you didn't choose to take it. You were given it when you couldn't protest. If anyone is to blame for what happened, it is me. Shado and Sara both warned me. I'd rather you torture me more than take yourself out of my life completely..." His voice was firm. He truly meant that. He would rather his brother hurt him than his brother be dead. "I'm glad you were strong enough NOT to take your own life." He smiled crookedly. "Besides. If you'd done that, then I'd likely be dead tonight, so..." He tried to keep his voice soft and tease a smile from his brother, but he was watching Slade closely. Was his older brother in danger of hurting himself now? Oliver would do anything to help Slade and he'd step in and stop him from hurting himself.

Slade closed his eye. "That's not acceptable to me, kid," he said quietly. "I broke every single promise I made to you. I didn't protect you... and it turned out the person you needed protection from the most was me. I hurt you. And that's not something I can ever forgive myself for." His voice was low and tortured. Now that Oliver was out of immediate danger, the guilt crashing down on him was a heavy, painful weight.

"That wasn't you, though. That was a stranger being controlled by a dangerous substance. A stranger wearing your body and using your hands, but a stranger none-the-less. You aren't him. I forgave you even when I didn't know if you'd ever return to me..." Oliver admitted softly, his eyes watching Slade's face closely. A fleeting thought crossed his mind that, at first, he set aside as impossible and foolish. But the longer he looked at Slade, seeing the guilt weighing his brother down, the less impossible and foolish it seemed, until he came to a decision that it was necessary. "You've helped me with my own guilt so many times. I don't see how I can do any less for you," he said, quietly but firmly.

Surprise had Slade looking at his brother. He didn't need to ask what Oliver was referring to... and it wouldn't have crossed his mind to argue, knowing how much more he deserved for everything he'd done, except for... "You're still sick, kid."

Oliver blinked, then slanted his head curiously. "You planning on fighting me?" he asked, with a teasing lilt and a tiny smile.

The corners of Slade's mouth twitched... just a little... not quite a smile, but almost. For the third time that day, he spread his hands out. "No, kid. Not ever." His voice was deadly serious.

"That's good, cuz you've always been stronger and more wiley than me..." Oliver grinned now, not entirely teasing and making it clear, through self-effacing humor, that if Oliver did what he planned, it would only be with Slade's agreement and cooperation.

Slade held eye contact with his brother. "I can't focus through the guilt, kid. Tell me what you want me to do." His voice was calm... but also carried a hint of relief; relief that he hadn't destroyed his relationship with his brother... that, for just a few short moments, he didn't need to be the strong one.

Oliver nodded, glancing around and thinking quickly. "It will be easier for me to hold onto you if you have some other support as well..." he said quietly, heading to sit on the bed and scooting back far enough that Slade would be lying on the bed, across his lap, instead of draped over his lap over the floor. He patted his knee. "I'd like you to lie over my lap, please..."

Taking a deep breath, Slade moved so he could lay across his brother's lap. He shifted, unused to giving up control like this, but then settled in position.

Oliver carefully adjusted his grip so he was holding onto his brother securely. This felt unusual for him as well...not because he was being in charge (he'd had to correct Thea a few times since returning), but because it was his older brother he was taking charge of. He wasn't sure he liked it; but it was necessary and he'd do whatever it took to help his brother and give him reason to want to live and stay with Oliver, no matter how uncomfortable it made either of them. Once Slade was secure over his lap, the bed supporting his torso and at least part of his legs, Oliver quickly but carefully divested him of pants and underwear. Rubbing Slade's back a few moments, Oliver said quietly, "I know you feel guilty about what you did under Mirakuru, especially what you did to me, but I don't blame you. I forgave you long ago. I won't let you take yourself away from me because of that guilt..." Raising his hand up, he let it fall in the first stinging, hard swat. While he was careful to temper the swats so they wouldn't cause harm or damage, Oliver didn't attempt to hold back. The way his brother had been talking scared him and he wanted to be sure that when they were done, they'd never have to revisit this particular problem or guilt again.

Slade let out a quiet grunt. Without the Mirakuru in his system, he didn't have a barrier to 'protect' him against pain... to protect him against feeling. And he couldn't really remember the last time he'd been in this kind of position... the last time he'd submitted to anyone. But the feelings of guilt were familiar and he couldn't do anything other than let his little brother take control. Still, Slade was mindful of Oliver's hurt and sickness. His not fighting extended to holding himself still, so as not to risk harming his brother further... but his emotions were so close to the surface, it wasn't long before his eye started watering.

Oliver had completed one full circuit from the top of Slade's backside down to mid-thigh and every inch of skin in between, leaving his brother's skin a light pink color. Steeling himself- all he really wanted to do was hold onto Slade tightly and take time to realize that his brother was actually back and with him- he started a second circuit, smacking just a bit faster and just a very slight bit harder. And he began to talk. "I never blamed you for what you did under Mirakuru..." he admitted, his voice strained. "How could I, when I was the one who gave you the Mirakuru in the first place? I'd been warned of the side-effects. Of the possibility that it would cause you to lose your mind...lose yourself. But I was selfish. I couldn't fathom my life without you in it...and I decided that the risk was worth it. And everything I'd been warned about became true. You changed and became a stranger. You became someone that you never would have become if you'd been in your right mind. Everything that happened after that point...that happened because of Mirakuru's influence, was because I was selfish and couldn't let go; not because you were too weak to fight. If you hadn't of fought, you would have killed me; I know you would have, because I was never as strong or as skilled as you when we were on the island together. You controlled yourself enough not to kill me. And I..." Oliver's voice faltered slightly, but he swallowed hard and forced himself to continue on in a firm voice, even if there was a slight shakiness underneath his tone. "...I repaid you by shooting you in the eye with an arrow and leaving you for dead." He had to swallow again, fighting his own tears and guilt; this wasn't about him. It was about helping his brother heal. "I didn't even I can't blame you for the fact that you became even more unhinged. That would cause anyone to lose control. It wasn't your fault!" He'd been emphasizing his words with firm smacks throughout, but with the last three words, he targeted Slade's sit spots.

Slade could hear how close to tears his brother was... and that made him feel worse. His breath hitched with the swats to his sit spots and he choked on a sob. No matter how he tried to hold himself still... he couldn't help shifting in response, even though he'd experienced worse pain, even with the Mirakuru healing him and his own adrenaline driving him forward. When he spoke, his voice was strained... heavy with tears. "I was hurting you... I threatened your family. You didn't have a choice. And when I came back... I just let that darkness grow and take a stronger hold..."

"The Mirakuru let the darkness grow. Not you. You don't want to hurt me now, do you? You don't want to hurt my family now, do you? Or my friends?" Oliver started a third circuit, continuing at the same pace and strength as before, though it was beginning to take a little more effort to do so, his illness draining him of his energy. He forced himself to keep going. He had to get through to his brother if he was ever going to be able to help him.

Slade blinked, his eye blurring as the tears obscured his vision. "No..." It came out strained. "I... never want to hurt you... I'm sorry..." The last two words were almost inaudible through the sob that tore through his chest.

"If you don't want to hurt me now...when you are fully in control of yourself...and only wanted to hurt me when the Mirakuru had control of you, then it wasn't your fault. You didn't choose to take the Mirakuru and there was no way you could have stood up to the effects of it; you were dying when I gave it to you. You were barely able to keep yourself alive, let alone fight off the effects of the drug itself..." Oliver reiterated, continuing to smack Slade's backside, though he did lessen the force behind the smacks and slow down the speed so his brother could focus more on his words. Slade was crying. Oliver hoped that meant they were close to Slade understanding and reaching the point needed, so he could offer comfort.

To that end, he went in for the emotional kill. "When I got off the island, I didn't make it back home right away. I...I was taken by a secret organization and...was given a choice. I can't say I wouldn't make the same choice again, because my family was threatened, but I hurt a lot of innocent people because I decided my family was more important than them. I hurt a lot of non-innocent people, too; but I did it in a way that was unnecessarily brutal and cruel. I tortured..." His voice caught in his throat, but he continued his confession. "I killed mercilessly. And I chose to do it. It wasn't because I was under the influence of any drug. When I finally got away from that group and returned home, I'd taken on a task that my father left to me: to clean up this city. But the first year I was back, I chose to clean the city up with more death, torture and mayhem. There's a reason that Detective Lance doesn't fully trust me... If you are a monster because you were unable to stand up to the influence of the Mirakuru in you and tortured and killed..." Oliver choked and had to swallow twice. His hand had stopped smacking by that point, as he was unable to focus on his words enough to get them out and continue swatting. "...If being unable to stand up to the influence of Mirakuru and doing what you did makes you a monster, then I'm a demon. I wasn't influenced by anything other than my own emotion and choice..." he finally forced out, his voice strained. "If you deserve to die...what do I deserve?"

It was Oliver's pain... it was always his little brother's suffering... that hit hard the most. Regret sparked at what the kid had gone through and Slade threw his hand back without words... not to protect himself, but reaching for and clasping his brother's hand and holding on tight, unable to help but respond to the pain in the kid's voice. "Not to die... you don't deserve that. You've never deserved that," he whispered, his voice choked.

"Then neither do you..." Oliver couldn't help the lost little boy tone in his voice; he'd always reacted to Slade more childishly and needy than he'd ever reacted to anyone else. But his voice was still firm and his grip, when he took his brother's hand, was tight. "I love you, big brother; I don't want to lose you to anything...not even the guilt you've been carrying around. I forgive you...please...forgive yourself..."

Slade clung to his brother's hand, Oliver's words battering down his defences until he couldn't fight... couldn't resist... any longer. Oliver's forgiveness was what he needed to forgive himself... or at least make a start... and if nothing else, the knowledge that Oliver was willing to do this helped Slade to realise he didn't need to continue hating himself... because his brother understood. His brother forgave him. And Oliver was who was important. Slumping over his brother's lap, Slade began to cry... not loudly, but still audibly... no longer resisting.

Oliver let out a tiny sigh of relief, rubbing his brother's back gently, before carefully pulling Slade's clothing back into place. He then slowly helped his brother up off his lap, standing so that he could wrap his arms around him in a secure hug. Hiding his face against Slade's neck, just under his brother's ear, Oliver took a deep breath, just breathing in his brother's scent, before whispering against his neck, "I love you, big brother..."

Slade wrapped his arms tight around Oliver and breathed deep, letting the closeness and feel of his brother calm his tears; faster than anything else could have done. His hand settled at the nape of Oliver's neck, gently squeezing. "I love you. The Mirakuru twisted that love, but it never really went away." He had to voice that; had to tell his brother that, no matter what he'd said while under its influence, he had never hated Oliver... could never hate him.

Oliver relaxed into Slade's arms at the neck squeeze. His words caused him to relax further. "I...I think I must have known that. Or, at least, I wanted to believe it, even when you were saying otherwise..." His voice caught and he had to take another deep breath, pressing his face into the crook of Slade's neck and shoulder.

Taking a seat on the bed, Slade gently tugged Oliver onto his lap. "You've been one of the only good things in my life, kid. But everything good and pure became twisted... and the anger and grief stopped me from seeing what was happening to me. I blamed you for things out of your control, but it wasn't your fault." It was another thing Slade had to voice. He knew how much guilt Oliver had carried around... even before Slade had begun his vendetta. He needed Oliver to know that what had happened to Shado... what had happened on the island... none of it was his doing.

"It was my idea..." Oliver said in self-recrimination. "My idea that got you wounded so badly you were going to die. My idea to give you Mirakuru... My inability to think quickly enough that...that led to Shado being killed..." He slumped against his brother, feeling drained from all the emotion, the injuries and the illness. "I don't know how you can believe it wasn't my fault..." he mumbled.

Slade tightened his embrace, pressing his brother as close as he possibly could. "You were put in several awful positions. I know you were not responsible. You were forced into an impossible situation... and I wasn't there to help you. I had a lot of time to think and remember our history together, kid. I know you were desperate to save my life. That wasn't wrong. And then you were desperate to save Sara. That wasn't wrong, either."

"If I'd been quicker...stronger...smarter..." Oliver sighed softly. "I know I couldn't really do anything and I shouldn't blame myself. It's just hard not to..." He put his head on Slade's shoulder and somehow managed to keep from yawning.

Slade gently stroked Oliver's hair. "You need to rest, kid. I'm going to need to pick up some antibiotics... probably some extra food, too. But I can take care of that while you sleep."

Oliver nuzzled closer and didn't say anything, just making a noncommittal humming sound before falling asleep against his brother's shoulder.

Slade held his brother tight a few more moments, needing to feel Oliver close and let his brother calm him the rest of the way down. Certain Oliver wouldn't wake, he then carefully drew the blankets back and settled Oliver in, taking a few moments to stroke the kid's hair and reiterate his promise, to himself, that he wouldn't allow any more harm to come to his baby brother. "You saved me," he whispered to his sleeping brother, lingering a few moments more before he left to retrieve the supplies they needed.

Oliver didn't know how long he'd been asleep when he woke up again...but it was obviously long enough for Slade to have left and returned with medicine; his older brother was sat up in the bed next to him. "How long?" he asked, in a bit of confusion.

"A few hours," Slade answered. "You needed the rest." He shifted closer to his brother. "You need to take some of the medicine... after, we can have something to eat. I wasn't sure exactly what you like now, so I got a variety of food."

Oliver sat up. "Not really picky...the island cured me of that..." He smiled crookedly. "I hate taking medicine..."

"I don't know many people who like it... but it's going to help you feel better." Slade's hand slipped unconsciously to the back of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. He had to keep touching his brother... to remind himself he had Oliver back; and that his little brother had forgiven him.

Oliver leaned into the touch, blushing at the fact that he'd fallen so quickly into obedience just from a simple touch. "Yessir..." he responded, wanting Slade to know, as far as he was concerned, they were the same as when they'd been on the island.

Slade smiled. "Thank you." He prepared the medicine for Oliver to take, staying close enough to keep in physical contact with his brother, even as he gave it to Oliver.

Oliver obediently took the medicine, briefly making a face at the taste, but not balking at taking it. He knew he needed it. After, he took a deep breath and looked at Slade. "I'm still sleepy." He frowned.

"You're sick. And you stayed up three days straight," Slade pointed out. "And I suspect you were overworking yourself even before that. If you're still sleepy, it's because your body needs the rest."

Oliver bit his lip and couldn't meet Slade's eyes with his own. "I was doing a lot of very physical activity..." he reluctantly admitted, knowing that not sleeping while expending a lot of energy would not be something his brother would approve of.

Slade sighed. "Then it's no wonder you're so tired now. How hungry are you?" he probed gently, needing to know if Oliver needed to eat before he went back to sleep.

"I'm a little hungry...but a little queasy, too," Oliver admitted. His head was a bit achey and he was pretty sure he still had a fever, though he didn't say anything, because he didn't want Slade to worry more.

"Do you think you could eat something light, like soup or toast?" Slade asked gently, his worry for his brother obvious.

Oliver nodded. "Yeah...light is good." He rubbed his head as unobtrusively as possible.

Slade noticed. He was so focused on his brother... every iota of his being... that he couldn't do anything else. "Do you have a headache? Or is a migraine coming on?"

"Just a slight headache; goes along with the body aches and fatigue..." Oliver shrugged it off as if it weren't important. It had been years since he'd allowed his pain to be more than a background annoyance; since Slade had been there to care, if he was honest. He didn't say anything about the chills he currently had.

Slade frowned. "Kid... I need to know all of the symptoms you have, in case we're dealing with something else as well. Even if you don't think it's important."

"Just a little cold..." Oliver reluctantly admitted, shrugging it off as unimportant. He was pretty sure that was because of the fever he knew he still had. Once the antibiotics kicked in, that should disappear...right? He didn't want to take anymore medicine than he absolutely had to, though; so if he could keep the fever hidden until the antibiotics began to work, Slade wouldn't worry and he wouldn't have to take anything else and everything would be fine. It wasn't like this hadn't happened to him numerous times since he'd begun his vigilante side-job. It was just the first time since he'd started his side-job that there was someone able to enforce their caring.

"Kid..." Slade spoke with a serious edge to his voice. "When you're recovered, you're due a spanking anyway for putting yourself in so much danger and acting as if your life is worthless. But I have no problem putting you over my knee for lying or hiding anything to do with your health from me."

"What? But..." Oliver nearly squawked in protest. "...You weren't back in my life when I took those chances! I didn't know I still had to be careful! That's not fair!" He looked offended for only as long as it took for his words to catch up in his brain and then he looked sheepishly ashamed and embarrassed. "I'm fine..." he added, in a voice that was as far from confrontational as he could get, but he was still unwilling to just admit he needed something to deal with the fever. He didn't want to take any other medicine, so didn't even mention the fever.

Slade didn't bother trying to argue with his little brother. He reached out and gently grasped Oliver, moving him back over his lap and baring him in one movement. "I will not compromise on your health. It doesn't matter if I'm here or not, because you know that, in my right mind, I would never condone that kind of dismissive behaviour towards your own wellbeing."

"But...I took the antibiotics..." Oliver said in a hesitant whine, not certain exactly what was about to happen. Was his brother going to spank him now?

"You did," Slade agreed. "But you're also not telling me something. I can still read you, kid. I know when you're hiding something from me." He brought his hand down in a fairly mild swat... more trying to prove how serious he was than punishing his brother.

Oliver tensed up at the first swat. "I just...I don't like taking's just a headache..." He again tried to ignore what was likely causing said headache.

It wasn't that he didn't trust Slade to take care of him. It wasn't even that he didn't want to obey Slade and be completely open and honest. It was that he was scared to go back to what he and his brother had been to each other before the Mirakuru. Oliver had been forced to grow up completely and rely only on himself when Slade had 'died'. He'd been handling himself for over five years. It was scary to go back to giving that control to another person; even if that person was his big brother and he wanted to give that control to Slade more than anything.

Slade continued to bring his hand down in firm swats, keeping them at the same force and slow enough to be more of an emphasis to what he was saying. "If you aren't honest with me... if you won't let me help you... I'll need to take you to the hospital, because without the treatment you need, you'll get worse. You need to be honest with me, kid."

Oliver began to squirm, as much from the words as from the swats. " hospital!" His voice was more whine than he would have liked. He swallowed hard and tried to figure out what to say. " really is just a headache..." He faltered. "I think it's from fever, but I don't know for sure. The antibiotics should eventually work..." His voice was hesitant.

Pausing, Slade rested his hand on Oliver's bottom, gently rubbing. "It's not ever going to be 'just anything' as far as I'm concerned, little brother. I need to know what's wrong with you. I need to know, because I'm going to be with you from now on and your safety and wellbeing will always be my priority." One hand moved to the nape of his brother's neck, squeezing gently, as he continued, in a lower voice, "While I was... withdrawing... I experienced several flashbacks to what we meant to each other on the island. It's the other reason I broke out of prison, along with wanting to be a shield for the danger you were in. I remembered..." He paused and took a deep breath. "You held back when we fought. And I know it was because you remembered, too. And maybe you didn't think you needed your big brother then... because I wasn't there... but I know you need me now."

Oliver immediately stopped squirming when Slade went from smacking his bottom to holding his nape and gently rubbing. Sniffling, he found himself relaxing and giving in, despite the fears that caused him to try and retain a small bit of control. "I...I always needed you..." he admitted, in a broken voice. "I did everything you wouldn't like to prove I didn't...but I was lying to myself...I always needed you. You're my big brother..." Tears began to run down his face. "You're my big brother and I just want to go back to being your good boy...your baby brother. I can't, though...there's too much I need to do..." He began squirming again, but it was half-hearted at best. He didn't truly want to argue anymore. He was just scared to give in and didn't know how to admit it without hurting his brother.

"But you don't have to do it alone, kid," Slade said, his voice gentle. "I know it's scary. I know you're not used to giving that control up anymore. And I'm not angry or upset about it. But I'm not going to let you go again," he promised. "I'm going to be here... by your side... no matter what. Through everything. Even if you're the only one who trusts and believes in me... because you're the only one that matters. And no matter how much you push me... no matter how 'naughty' you are... I'm not going to bend or break. I'm not going to give up on you. And I will never break another promise to you," he reiterated.

At those words, Oliver stopped squirming completely, just going limp over his brother's knee. "No matter how very 'naughty' I am?" he asked, in a very small voice, a tiny shiver causing him to quiver, but he didn't attempt to get away.

"No matter what," Slade promised. "Even if you do something that's very naughty... it took me a long time to find my way back to you, but there isn't anything you could do that would drive me away." He deliberately kept using the more juvenile word... knowing the mindset his baby brother needed to be in.

"I'm sorry..." Oliver whispered, though he wasn't sure why; just that he felt guilty. "I'm cold..." he admitted again, with a small shiver. He was positive now the fever was worse, but was too proud to ask for pain reliever or fever reducer after the fuss he'd made about not wanting to take other medicine.

Slade replaced Oliver's clothing and then gathered his brother into his arms and onto his lap, wrapping one of the extra blankets he'd brought around his baby brother. "I got some medication to help with fever," he said, settling his hand at the nape of Oliver's neck. "After you take some... I'll heat up some soup."

"Ok..." Oliver snuggled close, relieved that he wasn't going to have to eat his words about not needing any other medicine...and that his brother was able to know what to do without him having to take Oliver's temperature again. The experience had left him feeling extremely young and helpless, far as he could see, he was already acting very childish. Any more childish and Slade would be needing to tuck him in and give him a stuffed animal to cuddle.

Slade kept one arm around his brother, reaching for the bag with the medication with his other hand. "There's nothing wrong with needing to be taken care of, kid. As far as I can tell, you've had to be the strong one for a long time. You don't need to be with me. I won't think any less of you for needing me in this way. Just like I didn't when we were on the island and it was just the two of us then as well."

"It's hard to let myself let you take care of me...but at the same time, it feels right..." Oliver said, with a sigh.

"That's because it's been so long. But it's still a need." Slade's voice was gentle as he poured out the medicine.

Oliver sat on his brother's lap, obediently waiting for the medicine. "I only have this need with you...I...I missed you so much..."

Slade touched his brother's chin, gently encouraging him to open his mouth so he could feed him the medicine. "I know." His voice was quiet, as he settled his hand at the nape of Oliver's neck once more. "When I came back to myself between the flashbacks... I missed you like a physical pain. Like a part of myself was missing... more than just my eye."

Oliver opened his mouth obediently, letting Slade feed the medicine to him like he was a toddler, swallowing as soon as Slade had fed it to him. At the mention of his brother's eye, tears formed in his own. He couldn't help but apologize again. "I'm sorry..."

Slade set the spoon down and gently squeezed the back of his brother's neck. "Losing an eye is a small price to pay to be with you again," he said softly.

"I hate that I'm the one that...that..." He shivered again and swallowed hard. "I'll never forgive myself for hurting you..."

Slade quickly drew his brother in closer and tighter, his hand still at the nape of Oliver's neck. "What you did... didn't even touch on what I did. And you saved me, kid. It was the memory of you that brought me here again, instead of taking my own life... or allowing myself to rot in there without ever being able to see you again." Which perhaps would have been a worse punishment.

Oliver put his head on Slade's shoulder, cuddling as close as he could. "You came for me because I was doing things I knew you wouldn't like..." he said. "...I'm so happy to have you back, I think it is worth the spanking I have coming for being bad..."

"Not bad," Slade corrected, gently stroking his brother's hair. "You aren't bad. But you were naughty." Even though it was a more childish word to describe Oliver's behaviour, he felt it was an appropriate one to use. "I came for you because I love you." His arms were tight and protective around Oliver.

"...Not a 'lil boy...naughty means I'm like a 'lil boy...!" Oliver whined childishly, snuggling some more. "...Love you too..." he said, in a softer, more serious tone.

Slade had to fight to keep a smile from his face at his brother's response. "You're my baby brother," he replied, not pointing out that the kid's response made him even more certain he was using the correct word.

"...Yeah...I'm your baby brother..." Oliver agreed thoughtfully. "...Maybe I'm a little bit like a 'lil boy for you..." He sighed and let his head lean on Slade's shoulder a bit more heavily, his eyelids drooping in weariness.

Slade gently rubbed Oliver's neck, deciding food could wait until Oliver was a little more awake. "Sleep, kid. I've got you."

That was all it took...Slade's possessive yet protective grip on his neck and the command in his words, giving Oliver something he could obey. Within minutes, he was asleep, drooling slightly on his brother's chest.

Slade held his brother tight to himself, unwilling to let go... even though he knew Oliver was safe. There was a small part of him that worried closing his own eyes would bring the monster roaring back to the surface... but the feel of his brother's warm, solid weight helped to calm him.

Again, Oliver had no clue how long he'd slept. What woke him was his phone. Bleary eyed, he got up to answer, remembering his promise to answer Digg's calls. "Yeah..." he answered with a yawn.

Slade had only been dozing lightly and he woke when Oliver extricated himself, but didn't try to stop him from answering the phone.

"Where are you?" Diggle's voice was strained... worried, but not quite fearful; as if he wasn't sure what to think.

"I'm where I was friend got me medicine and is taking care of me till I'm fit to move around again..." Oliver said, quickly picking up on the worry and uncertainty. "Why? Did something happen? Are you and Felicity okay? Thea?" Oliver's own voice took on a worried tone and it was obvious he was about to start pulling clothes and shoes on to go after his friends and family, despite his illness and wounds, if John didn't give him a good reason not to.

"Yeah... everyone's fine," Diggle said. "But I need to know exactly where you are and exactly who's with you. Because Felicity found the security feed of what happened at the warehouse. And later picked up Slade at a drugstore. Which means he's either got some hold over you and is telling you what to say... or you're with him voluntarily because you don't believe he's a threat." He paused, but didn't mention tracking Oliver's phone... just in case Slade was listening in.

Oliver took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He'd known they'd figure it out sooner than later, but he'd hoped to have at least one more day to rest before it became an issue. "John...don't tell me Felicity hasn't already run a trace and doesn't know exactly where I am," he said calmly, with a hint of amusement in his voice. "Even if she hasn't told you yet, she knows." He took another deep breath and looked at his older brother. "You are right that I'm with Slade. He's taking care of me and making sure I don't have to go to the hospital where questions I can't answer would get asked. He's not a threat. Not anymore. The Mirakuru is completely out of his system and he's...I got my big brother back, John..." He knew John would understand what he meant; he'd explained to the man what Slade had been to him on the island when Slade had first turned up alive. He'd also explained how the Mirakuru twisted everything and he'd lost his brother. John would know how important this was and would hopefully be able to convince Felicity and Thea to give them more time and not call the authorities.

"Yeah..." Diggle's sigh was audible. "I saw the feed and I saw what he got from the drugstore. That was the only way I could convince the girls to let me call you first, rather than breaking down the door to the apartment. You should have told me the truth, though. I could have done damage control a lot faster. As it is now... if we know he's back, it's likely other people are going to know too. He wasn't exactly subtle the last time he was here."

Oliver winced, feeling the familiar guilt spear through him at his tendency to keep secrets when he shouldn't. "You're right, Digg...I should have told you the truth..." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair wearily. "No excuses...just a really very bad habit and I'm sorry it caused problems for you. I appreciate you helping..."

"I'll need to meet you," Diggle said. "I'm sure you understand I have to tell Felicity and Thea I've seen you're safe with my own eyes. Besides, we're going to want to talk about how to handle the heat as soon as the wrong people get wind of Slade's return," he added.

"I..." Oliver got a confused look on his face as he glanced at Slade. "Yeah...I get that...I'll have to go home first...change...all I've got is my suit and it's a bit worse for wear..." He tried to sound assured and confident; he didn't want his brother to worry...but he also wasn't sure he could manage to sneak back home, shower, change and everything else without help. He was also pretty sure Slade wouldn't allow it.

Slade moved a bit nearer to Oliver, placing a hand gently on his brother's shoulder to get his attention. "Maybe he could bring what you need here?" he suggested, phrasing it in a way that it sounded like a suggestion... but his brother would know he really meant it as direct guidance.

"Uh...yeah...ok..." Oliver blinked, taking the words exactly as Slade had meant them. "Digg? Can you bring me a change of clothes? To where I am now?"

"Yeah. Do you need anything else?" Diggle didn't bother asking for the address... didn't bother trying to pretend he didn't know already.

"Bring a few changes...I'll be here at least a couple of days. Maybe, if you don't mind...bring my tablet. Maybe I can get some research done, at least..." Oliver sighed softly, giving Slade a crooked smile. "How long till you get here? I might want to take a shower and get my bandages changed if you'll be a while..."

"About an hour, maybe," Diggle replied. "But hey, if you need to get showered and have your bandages changed, I can wait outside the apartment until you're done."

"You can come in...less suspicious. I'll shower first. Not like you haven't helped me change bandages before..." Oliver replied, standing up and beginning to undress, even while he was on the phone.

"I'll see you soon." Diggle hung up.

"Need a hand there?" Slade's voice was laced with concern, fully aware that his brother had been stabbed and had broken ribs. And even if Oliver was used to pain... Slade had no intention of standing by and letting him hurt worse.

Oliver was about to turn down the help when he twisted wrong and caused the stitching to pull. Wincing, he stopped moving to catch his breath. "Yeah...I think I do..." he admitted reluctantly, not liking that he couldn't take care of himself.

Slade gently took the phone from his brother's hand, setting it down out of the way, and helped him to undress. "I think you'd be better off taking a bath," he said. "Standing in the shower will probably put too much strain on your injuries."

"'re probably right," Oliver said with a sigh. He hated that he couldn't stand well enough to bathe himself in the shower. He was lucky he could bathe at all, though and he wouldn't be helping himself if he slipped and fell in the shower. By this time, he was naked and making his way to the bath. As often as Slade had seen him unclothed, he had no embarrassment at all.

"I'll go and heat up some of that soup, so at least you have something to eat," Slade said. "But if you run into any trouble... I'll hear you if you call."

"Okay..." Oliver quickly agreed, though he had no intention of calling for help. He'd wash himself, thank you very much. Or try. He ran water into the tub and gingerly got in, quickly and thoroughly washing everywhere, including his hair. When it was time to get out, he had more difficulty...a wave of dizziness hitting him. He was alternately feeling chilled and hot. He was pretty sure the fever was back full force, if it had ever left, but at least he didn't have a headache. He could deal with the chills and being hot. Breathing deeply, he finally got out of the tub and dried off slowly. According to his watch, he had another thirty minutes before Diggle arrived.

By that time, Slade had finished heating up the soup, leaving it on the dining table as he headed to the bathroom and knocked lightly on the door. "How are you doing, kid?"

Oliver opened the door and stepped out, a towel wrapped around his waist. "I'm doing great." He smiled faintly. His face was flushed and his eyes had a feverish gleam in them, but he ignored it. "Just need to re-bandage my ribs and knife wound."

Slade's eye narrowed with concern. "I don't think you are, kid. I'm fairly certain the fever's back. I've got some soup heated up... you can take the medication and then I'll redo the bandages before eating."

"I don't have a headache...I'm okay, really..." Oliver shook his head, but not moving otherwise. "Where do you want to redo the bandages?" he asked.

"Kid..." Slade placed his hand on the back of Oliver's neck to guide him over to sit on the edge of the bed, so he could begin redoing the bandages. "You still need to take some more of the medicine. Your face is flushed... your eyes are bright with fever."

"I'm fine..." Oliver whined. "If I had a fever, I'd have a headache. I just took a bath. That's why I'm flushed..." He sat down and held still while Slade fixed his injuries. "I'm sure I don't have a fever." He was glad Slade was looking at his injuries so he could bandage him correctly. He doubted he would have been able to lie if he was looking him in the eye when he said it.

Most of Slade's attention was on bandaging the wounds... careful not to cause his brother any more harm. "I'd rather make sure the fever isn't back." He hadn't planned to take Oliver's temperature again so soon... but if his brother wasn't being honest with him, he couldn't see another way around it.

"It's not back...really. My head doesn't hurt in the least..." Oliver felt a twinge of guilt for giving his brother a hard time when Slade was doing everything possible to help him, but he couldn't seem to help himself. He'd made all decisions on his health and medicines and literally everything since he and Slade had been separated (well, when he wasn't under Waller's thumb) and it was hard to just step back and give that control up, even if he knew he should.

"I know what a fever looks like, kid." Slade finished bandaging, as carefully as possible, and then stood up. "And if you can't be honest with me... I'm going to have to find out another way." He settled his hand at the nape of his brother's neck, even as he reached for the thermometer once more and sat on the bed next to his brother, moving Oliver across his lap.

Oliver closed his eyes tightly, letting out a distressed sound before cursing himself for pushing. Slade's grip on his neck ensured he wouldn't fight, though. He never was able to fight when Slade gripped his neck. He felt very small and childish and guilty for his lies. He went over his brother's knee without protest. "I can be honest..." he protested faintly, realizing that he hadn't been proving such.

"I still know when you're lying to me. I warned you about lying before... early on in our relationship. I've never lied to you, kid. I need that same honesty from you." While he was speaking, Slade used the thermometer.

Oliver slumped at Slade's words, this time whimpering in shame. Feeling the thermometer being used was enough to break whatever defiance or need he had to be independent. "I'm sorry...I don't know why I was stupid..." He sniffled. He held very still, knowing he needed to not move till the thermometer was removed.

Slade gently rubbed his brother's lower back. "You're fighting yourself again, kid. You think you shouldn't have this need... and so you're tearing yourself apart trying to reconcile the two sides of yourself."

"I c...can't seem to stop myself. All I want is for us to be right again...but I can't stop myself from making it wrong!" Tears quietly slid from his eyes and down his face. He took small, shallow breaths and focused on what Slade's hands were doing: rubbing his lower back and holding his nape possessively. He focused on the thermometer, impossible to forget, and how it made him feel small and helpless, because only the most small or helpless weren't even able to help with their own temperature being taken. The only reason to take it this way was when the thermometer couldn't be held in the mouth. While he knew that really wasn't the reason in his case, he still felt small and helpless and it scared him and made him want his big brother more; need him more. He also felt more guilty for forcing his brother to do this. He could have trusted his brother's decision; he'd been right, after all. He slumped a bit more over Slade's knee.

Slade's hand rubbed gently over Oliver's back, only pausing a moment at the brand he'd been responsible for placing there. It was a visual reminder of how much he'd failed his brother... and how determined he was not to fail Oliver again. "It doesn't matter what you do, little brother. I'm not going to let you go. I'm not going to stop taking care of you or looking after you. Even when I punish you... even when I spank you... for being naughty, it doesn't change anything about how I feel about you. I love you. You're mine."

Oliver slumped a little further at Slade's reminder of how naughty he'd been...was being. "...Yours..." he agreed, in a shaky voice. "...Yours. Can't be naughty...can't ignore what you say...'sposed to listen 'n obey 'cuz I'm yours...'n you love me..." Oliver whimpered, his emotions so tangled up and confused, he was afraid he'd start sobbing; which would be highly embarrassing, since Slade was doing nothing but touch him gently and lovingly. Even the thermometer wasn't painful and served to remind him of his brother's love and how far he'd go to take care of Oliver. He was feeling more helpless each second, though and so young that he needed his brother's grip on him to keep him from...he wasn't sure really. He just knew it would be a really really bad idea to leave his brother's side now. He needed Slade. That's all there was to it.

Slade kept up the gentle touching, until the time was up and then he carefully removed the thermometer. "Okay, little brother. I'm going to have to lift you up to take the medicine... but you can stay sitting on my lap while you take it. And then I need you to eat something... but you can stay close to me then, too. I'm not going to let you go..." he promised.

Oliver whimpered when he felt the thermometer being retrieved; not because it hurt, but because of everything he was trying to process. "Okay..." Oliver winced at how childishly needy and nervously relieved he sounded. Especially when he knew the nervousness had been because he didn't want Slade to let go of him. He loosened the grip he hadn't even realized he'd taken on Slade's leg and did his best to help Slade rearrange him... which basically meant going where Slade directed and not fighting at all. Once sat on his brother's lap, he let his head fall to lie on Slade's shoulder.

Slade wrapped his arm around Oliver, holding him tight, gently grasping the nape of his brother's neck. One-handed, he retrieved the fever medication and poured it onto the spoon, touching Oliver's chin to encourage him to open his mouth so he could feed it to him.

Oliver obediently opened his mouth and took the medicine, swallowing before he ducked his head and hid his face against Slade's shoulder. "Just like a baby bird or a toddler," he muttered in an embarrassed tone. He found himself snuggling closer to his brother.

"Just like my baby brother," Slade corrected. "Are you ready to eat something now?" He still held onto Oliver, but reached out for the blanket he'd wrapped around his brother before... knowing that Oliver likely wouldn't want to be naked when Diggle arrived, even if there was no modesty between him and Slade.

Oliver snuggled a few seconds more, his brother's words soothing and calming what unease he felt about submitting so much. "Yessir...'m ready..." he finally answered, shifting so the blanket would cover him enough not to embarrass Diggle or anyone else when they arrived.

If they didn't have company coming, he'd have been content to walk around naked the rest of the day. You didn't go through what he'd gone through in life and still retain a bashful, virginal modesty. There were too many other important things to worry about. Although the blanket's warmth was welcome. And it would at least slow his brother down fractionally when it came time to have the 'naughtiness' spanked out of him...give Oliver time to prepare, as unlikely as that was to happen.

He blushed at his own thoughts and moved to sit where Slade directed. His stomach rumbled softly.

Slade settled them both at the dining table, keeping his promise and drawing Oliver's chair close enough that he could wrap his arm around his brother and keep him close, before he took the lid off the containers of soup. Not sure if Oliver needed to be fed the same way he had with the medicine, Slade paused to see what his brother would prefer.

Oliver felt Slade watching him and knew he was waiting to see how far Oliver needed to much he needed his care. The younger man blushed. He felt like he was fully capable of feeding himself and therefore should. There was just that tiny part of him that liked being Slade's baby brother and liked being handled and cared for. That small part of him wanted to continue relying on Slade for everything; at least for the moment, when they were locked away safe from the world and Oliver didn't have to be strong.

Biting his lip and glancing at the soup, Oliver leaned into Slade and made a funny little humming noise as he tried to decide if he'd let Slade continue to take care of him in everything, or if he'd make himself be the grownup he purported to be and feed himself.

Slade gently squeezed his brother's shoulders and then picked up the spoon, dipping it into the soup and holding it to Oliver's lips. "Don't feel you need to be strong and grown up," he said softly. "Whatever you need, my brother."

Oliver relaxed at the words, opening his mouth and letting his brother feed him. He'd taken several spoonfuls when he said, out of nowhere, "First time Shado saw us, you were feeding me..." His voice was a soft whisper, but for the first time in days, his internal conflict wasn't noticeable in his voice.

Slade continued to feed his brother, even as a faint smile touched at his lips at Oliver's words. "I remember..." His voice was soft, but held a hint of nostalgia.

Slade had continued training his brother, but Oliver had more or less stayed in his submissive mindset. He was now cooking stew for them. There wasn't much variety on the island, but Slade had managed to catch a couple of fish, so his brother could have some variety when it came to food.

Oliver, as submissive as he was, still insisted on going into the forest (only a few feet, but far enough to hide him) to take care of bodily needs. He'd just returned from one such 'trip', slowly stepping into the plane; a carefulness to him that had been absent in the last few days since submitting. He cleared his throat gently. "Slade? We have company..."

Surprised, Slade looked towards his brother, moving the makeshift cooking pot from the fire and grabbing his swords. "Soldiers?" He watched Oliver carefully, trying to see if his brother was hurt in any way.

Oliver felt really foolish...he'd got caught just as he was about to go back into the plane and part of him felt like he really should have led the person with the sword to his back away from his brother, but all his instincts said it was just one person who found them and that he should let Slade handle he had gone and got his brother's attention instead. At Slade's question, he moved the rest of the way into the plane, whoever held the sword against his back following closely behind.

Slade narrowed his eyes, but didn't attack the person... not while his brother had the sword held against him. "Where are your friends?"

The person behind Oliver pushed their hood back, revealing that it was a woman. "You must be Slade Wilson... my father told me where to find you."

"If you want to talk... put your sword away," Slade said, unwilling to let his guard down... even though this was the first woman he'd seen on the island.

Oliver blinked at the very feminine voice of his captor...spinning around as soon as the sword had been lowered and glowering with a pout. Then her words caught up with him. "Your father?" He didn't notice that he'd quickly skittered to Slade's side, just behind the older man, as if seeking protection.

Almost as if it was a subconscious move, Slade stepped forward so he was completely between Oliver and the stranger. "Who is your father?"

"Yao Fei... but you must have figured that out already," the woman replied. "I'm Shado." She glanced at Oliver, taking note of his closeness to the other man.

"This is Oliver. My brother." The introduction was spoken without hesitation, as Slade stated his relationship with his brother without any attempt to hide it.

"Nice to meet you. Would have been nicer without the sword to my back, but whatever..." Oliver sounded cranky. He obviously did not move away from his brother.

"I didn't know who you were," Shado replied. "My father indicated Slade was a man well-trained who would not allow himself to be sneaked up on. I haven't seen the faces of all of the soldiers, so for all I knew... you could be one."

Slade dropped back, just enough to place a hand on Oliver's shoulder... though he didn't look away from Shado and didn't relax his guard. "Fyers is going to know you're missing."

"He's been scouring the island for you." Shado's gaze slanted towards Oliver. "Both of you... my escape isn't going to change anything. And don't worry about being slowed down," she added. "My father trained me well."

Oliver blushed at the almost casual way Shado indicated he wasn't well trained. Granted, he wasn't as well trained as Slade...or Fyers' men...or Yao Fei and probably Shado too...but still. Slade's hand on his shoulder calmed him somewhat, but he was still obviously agitated.

If they'd been alone, Slade would have had no hesitation in shifting his hand to the back of Oliver's neck. As it was, he didn't want to embarrass his brother... so he stepped nearer to Oliver, letting his arm rest against his brother's. He could feel the tension in Oliver's body. "He is training well," he said simply. "You weren't brought on the island with Yao Fei. Were you brought here as leverage?"

"To make my father do as they said, yes." Shado nodded. "I think he hoped you would have been able to find a way off the island... before what Fyers is planning."

"Do you have any idea what that could be?" Slade asked. "It's something big... but I haven't been able to get close enough to any patrols to find out the exact details."

"I knew there had to be a reason he'd join Fyers!" Oliver said, his voice justified and relieved all at once. "I knew my instincts couldn't have been that horrible..." Standing next to his brother was helping considerably. "We need to go get him! Rescue him! Now that Shado is here, they have nothing to threaten him with!"

"Kid..." Slade immediately turned to face Oliver, a serious look coming over his face. "Even with three of us, we're still outnumbered. We can't just go rushing in without a plan."

"Your brother's right," Shado said. "To rush back in at this point would be suicide."

"I didn't mean go without a plan...I'm not stupid..." Oliver muttered, irritated that he had been shot down so quickly.

"No, you're not," Slade agreed, his hand shifting automatically to the nape of Oliver's neck and squeezing gently. "You're passionate about wanting to help people and there's nothing wrong with that. But it's not easy to stay hidden as it is... We need a way off this island before we can concentrate on rescue." His eyes slanted towards Shado in apology.

Shado nodded her understanding, taking in Slade's actions with Oliver, but not voicing any comments about them.

Oliver calmed noticeably at Slade's hand on his neck, though it was difficult not to argue further. "Yessir..." he said, quietly but still loudly enough for Shado to hear the words.

Slade glanced at Shado. "There's probably enough stew to stretch to the three of us. I caught a few small fish."

Shado nodded. "I can help to hunt." She still didn't comment on what she'd seen with Slade and Oliver, but did say, "And if you need extra training... I've had a good teacher."

Oliver slanted his head. "Your father?" he asked quietly. "He was teaching me the bow...before..." He moved closer to Slade again, not seeming to realize how he was reacting to the other man in front of Shado.

Slade kept his hand at the nape of Oliver's neck, his arm resting against his brother's.

Shado nodded. "I can help you with the strength you need to draw the bow. To draw my father's bow," she promised.

Slade stepped over to the bowl of stew, keeping his brother close to him because he guessed Oliver needed the contact. "We'll eat first... and then set up a training program after," he said firmly.

"I'd like to learn that..." he said with a bit more enthusiasm, his earlier irritation gone at the thought he could learn the bow. He let Slade move him wherever he wanted, though, still in an obedient mindset, even if he was becoming a bit more independent due to Shado's presence.

Slade found a third makeshift bowl and began to share out the stew. "You'll do good, kid," he said, his voice firm and sincere.

Oliver gave Slade a smile that was entirely too innocent, but showed the older man how much his praise meant to the younger. It was obvious to Shado as well.

Slade gave his brother a gentle, one-armed squeeze and then gestured that the three of them should take their seats so they could begin eating. He stayed close to his brother, drawing him into light, general conversation.

Oliver sat in his spot, quiet and listening to the other two talk. He took maybe a bite of food, but he couldn't calm himself enough to actually eat.

Slade quickly noticed that his brother wasn't eating and placed a hand on Oliver's shoulder. "Kid, you're going to need to eat and keep your strength up... especially since you're going to be doing more training." He watched Oliver carefully, trying to see if his brother needed him to take an active part in feeding him. While Shado was there as well, he had no problems making sure his brother got what he needed.

"I will," Oliver answered softly. "Just gotta let myself calm down first..." he whispered, with a tiny smile.

"I understand how you feel, kid, but you need to eat." Slade's voice was gentle and low, but still firm. He wasn't going to budge... but at the same time, he was reluctant to embarrass Oliver in front of Shado, which was the only reason he wasn't picking up the spoon and feeding his brother.

Oliver swallowed and nodded. "Yessir..." He knew Slade wouldn't allow him to skip eating. Part of him felt a need to push the older man, but the rest of him retained enough pride to not want Shado to witness Slade handling him. He slowly ate his food.

Slade gently squeezed his brother's shoulder. "Thank you." His voice was soft... but the tone still said, 'Good boy.'

Oliver heard the tone loud and clear, giving his brother a happy smile at the unsaid praise, his face blushing faintly. The rest of the evening was uneventful.

Shado had begun training him the very next day and Oliver was surprised and proud at how quickly he seemed to learn from her. When he impressed Slade, he was even happier. Slade didn't praise unless it was deserved.

Slade trained with Shado along with training with his brother, proud of his brother and happy that he knew the kid was getting better the more time went on. But he still couldn't save them from being captured... and he still couldn't stop Yao Fei from being killed. It was small comfort that Fyers was dead as well. The three of them still couldn't get off the island.

Now, though, there was a new threat... but the new enemy didn't concern Slade nearly as much as the blood on his little brother's hands. Oliver was in shock and he wanted to heal his brother. He wanted to take Oliver away from all this... and to keep him safe. But he couldn't. So he did the next best thing. He moved to the kid's side and wrapped his arm around Oliver... not wanting to embarrass him by pulling him into an embrace, but wanting him to feel his presence.

Oliver was lost in his own head...reliving not only Yao Fei's death, but the death of the man he had killed replayed over and over in his head. He'd killed...but not only killed. He'd brutally killed. He couldn't let it go. The only thing helping him hold together at this moment was his brother and Shado...but mostly his brother. He slumped against Slade briefly, before pulling back into himself and trying to be brave.

"Kid..." Slade let his hand move to the nape of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. "Let's get away from here," he said softly, wanting to remove his little brother from the body of the man he'd killed.

Shado came up on the other side of Oliver. "We can go to the lake." Her voice was soft and she slipped her hand into Oliver's, careful not to push Slade out of the way... but letting him know she was there as well.

Oliver didn't fight, or argue...or say anything, silently following his brother and Shado down to the lake and then just standing there, looking at his hands. "Last time wasn't...wasn't..." He didn't finish his words. Last time, there hadn't been so much blood and he hadn't lost complete control of himself.

Slade used his hand on the back of Oliver's neck to guide him to the lake, gently encouraging him to crouch and wash his hands in the water. "It is not unusual to lose control when your emotions run high and you're faced with losing someone you care about."

"You saved me," Shado added, pressing close to Oliver on his other side.

Oliver obediently washed his hands, but didn't respond otherwise, remaining quiet and sober. He did glance at Shado, looking her over as if to make certain she'd gotten through unscathed, and then looked at his brother for the same.

Slade helped Oliver up. Deciding he didn't care about anything other than comforting his brother, he quickly pulled him into a tight embrace. "I've got you, little brother," he murmured in his ear.

Oliver wrapped his arms around Slade and held on tightly, but he was still silent. It was as if a switch had been flipped in the normally gregarious younger man's head and he just couldn't talk. He couldn't cry, either; his eyes dry, with a haunted torment in them that he couldn't shake.

Shado cast a worried glance at Oliver and then made eye contact with Slade. "We should go back to the plane... in case there are any others," she said softly... not adding her suspicion that Oliver needed to be kept close to them and, in particular, to Slade.

Nodding in acknowledgement, Slade didn't release his brother as they made their way back to the plane... though he was very careful to stay on guard, even though his priority was Oliver.

Oliver just followed, his own eyes darting around suspiciously as he attempted to listen and look for any possible danger to his remaining family. He wasn't going to let another of them die. He couldn't...

Slade and Shado were quiet as they walked on either side of Oliver. Slade hadn't released his brother, but Shado had hold of Oliver's hand... holding it tight... even while the two of them watched their surroundings.

They reached the plane without incident and Slade quickly ducked inside, immediately sitting and pulling Oliver down onto his lap. Any thoughts or worries he had about embarrassing Oliver were completely out of his head, as his entire being was focused only on his brother and taking care of him.

Oliver didn't fight Slade at all. He did dart a look toward Shado, but any embarrassment he might have felt at being 'babied' in front of the woman was quickly pushed down by his need to be certain she was alright. He looked over her carefully, looking as if he'd be up and running his hands over her and checking, if it weren't for the tight hold Slade had on him. He was running his hands over every part of Slade he could reach; face, hair, neck and shoulders. He still hadn't spoken, though.

Shado moved over towards Oliver, knowing he was worried and wanting to reassure him. "None of us are hurt." Her voice was soft and soothing.

Slade didn't try to stop Oliver checking him, all too aware of what fear could do to someone. "It's okay, kid. Take all the time you need." His voice was calm, but still contained more than a hint of worry.

Oliver blinked, finally relaxing, only fractionally, when he could see that Shado and Slade weren't hurt. "I'm sorry...I couldn't do anything to help him..." he finally said softly to Shado, obviously talking of Yao Fei. He kept glancing toward the entrance to the plane, as if worried someone would come storming in at any moment.

Shado stepped over and placed a hand on Oliver's shoulder. "No one could have saved him," she said softly.

Slade let his hand settle on the nape of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. "The only one to blame is Fyers." His voice was strong and firm. "Not you, kid. You don't need to carry around that guilt."

"Maybe..." Oliver looked down, obviously having a hard time believing it wasn't his fault. He was the weak link in the group, after all. Even Slade holding his neck didn't calm him like it normally did, even if it did help a little. He didn't say anything else, though and he did stop staring at the entrance to the plane.

Slade kept his arms tight around his brother, continuing to gently rub his neck. "I love you, kid." His voice was soft... not because he was ashamed of letting Shado know how he felt about his brother (Slade didn't hide his feelings and showed that he loved Oliver through his actions), but because he was trying to make the declaration as personal as possible.

Shado squeezed Oliver's arm gently. "There isn't any 'maybe' about it. None of us could have stopped him. If you'd tried... you would have been killed."

Slade made no visible sign of how much that affected him... but his arms tightened around Oliver, as he tried not to think about how much it would hurt to lose his brother.

Oliver gave both of them a weak smile and slumped against Slade for a little while, but soon, he began to fidget. "I'm a little tired...may I lie down before dinner?" he asked quietly, figuring it would be best to just ask permission than to try and get loose from his brother's firm grasp without giving a reason.

"Sure, kid." Slade gave him one last squeeze and then gently released his hold on his brother. He was still worried and concerned... but maybe Oliver would feel better after he'd had some rest. Even so, Slade was determined to keep a close eye on him... just in case his baby brother had a nightmare and woke up.

Oliver gave Slade a tight hug back, then stood and slowly made his way to his bedroll. Lying down, he forced himself to close his eyes and breathe slowly and deeply, so that Slade and Shado would think he was resting and would start focusing on something else. He didn't want them worrying about him. Especially not when he was making plans to go back and make the remaining soldiers pay for what they'd done to Yao Fei.

Shado stood and walked over to their supplies... considering it was her turn to cook. "Perhaps we would all benefit from another training session later?" she suggested, her voice low, not wanting to risk waking Oliver up.

"Perhaps." Slade's gaze lingered on Oliver... but he felt Shado's eyes on him and glanced at her. "What?"

Shado's smile was very faint... but still there. "You're like a lion protecting its cub. There were far worse people he could have ended up with here."

"I know." Slade's eyes returned to his brother. "And he did... which makes me all the more determined to make sure he's never hurt again."

Oliver somehow managed to keep from reacting to the conversation that he could barely hear, forcing himself to keep his breathing even and quiet and deep. He just needed a few seconds. A moment's time when both Slade and Shado stepped out of the plane for a moment and he could go take care of the rest of the threat. He could protect his family. Like they'd been protecting him.

"We need some more herbs." Shado glanced at Slade. "There's a few not far outside... Oliver's sleeping, but he'll be able to see us from the entrance..."

"Only for a moment." Slade was reluctant to leave Oliver's side, but he stood and followed Shado from the plane anyway... though not before leaving a message for his brother, so Oliver wasn't scared when he woke up.

Oliver would have felt a small twinge of guilt at the fact he was about to sneak off without word when his brother and Shado were so careful to make certain he know they hadn't just abandoned him. But he also knew, if he let them know where he was going and what he was doing, they'd quickly stop him. So, as soon as he was certain they were no longer in the plane, he'd quietly got up and snuck to the entrance, glancing around to be sure they wouldn't see, and then snuck out into the forest. He'd learned a lot from Slade, Shado and Yao Fei... he was silent in his movements. The soldiers would never know what hit them.

Slade might have left with Shado... but he'd been standing on guard, rather than collecting the herbs. He'd taken his eyes from the entrance to the plane for a second... when he looked back, it was to see a familiar shape sneaking into the forest.

Quickly informing Shado, Slade took off after his brother, moving quickly and quietly through the forest. No matter how quiet Oliver was being... Slade was still faster and as soon as he was close enough, he reached out and snagged his brother, tugging Oliver into him.

It said something to the training he'd been given- and how much he had learned- that Oliver didn't immediately yell when he found himself held captive in someone else's arms. He quickly surmised that it was his brother who had him; anyone else would have killed him, or begun beating him the moment they had him, instead of pulling him back into their grip. As a result, Oliver didn't struggle nearly as hard as he would have if it had been an enemy. "Lemme go!" he finally forced out, in a tight whisper.

"No, kid. Not ever." Slade's whisper was forceful as he began to lead Oliver back to the camp. He didn't warn Oliver to stop struggling and he didn't swat him, either, even though he was prepared to do both if necessary. Even though Oliver was demanding to be let go, he wasn't struggling nearly enough to be in any danger of freeing himself.

Oliver felt like he should struggle harder to get free, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. After everything that had happened, he didn't want to risk making too much noise and drawing more soldiers to their home. So instead, he struggled weakly and his feet followed where Slade pulled. He glanced up at Slade's face, nervous at what he might see there. "Lemme go..." he repeated himself; this time, his whisper was hesitant and uncertain.

Slade transferred his grip to Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. "No, kid. I know you're hurting right now. I know what happened affected you deeply. Pretending to be asleep and sneaking away is not the way to deal with those feelings. Nor is trying to put yourself right back into a dangerous situation. I can't lose you, kid." His voice dropped at the last sentence. Seeing Oliver sneaking away had badly frightened him.

Oliver closed his eyes tightly at the words and at the familiar feel of Slade's hand on his nape. "I need to take care of them...I can't let them hurt anyone else I care about..." he muttered. His first inclination was to back down immediately; his brother's possessive grip normally would have ensured that. He couldn't back down, though. He was too afraid of losing both Slade and Shado and was positive if they were hurt, it was his fault. Because he wasn't strong enough to help fight. Just like he hadn't been strong enough or skilled enough to help Yao Fei. He'd had to use a rock to... He gulped and forced his mind off of the memory.

Slade held his brother tight as they reached the outside of the plane. He then paused, took a deep breath, and reached for the nearest overhanging branch. He snapped off a length and tested it to make sure it wouldn't break, slashing it through the air.

Shado took a step closer, noticing Slade's actions. "Slade? Oliver?" She looked between the two of them.

Slade tightened his grip on Oliver and turned to face Shado. While his first instincts might have been to keep what he was about to do from her... Oliver had sneaked away from both of them. And it wasn't going to be a secret. "I'm about to spank my little brother for being naughty and sneaking off after pretending to be asleep. You might want to stay out here." The use of the more juvenile word was deliberate.

Oliver's eyes had widened fractionally when Slade had stopped to break off the branch, but it was nothing to how wide his eyes went when Slade told Shado what he was about to do. He couldn't stop the whimper that escaped and shot an imploring look toward Shado. He doubted she'd step between the two of them and stop what Slade was planning, but it was worth a shot. His brother had never used anything but his hand before. The fact he was planning to use a switch; had told Shado what he was doing (he'd always kept what happened between them, between just them before); and used the term that let Oliver know he'd stepped out of bounds, calling him naughty... made it obvious there was little hope that Oliver would be able to sit comfortably by the time they actually did go to bed. And he couldn't help but think it was a bit unfair. He was going to get rid of the threat and protect his family! Why couldn't Slade understand that? Oliver began to squirm more earnestly; still not fighting at full strength, as he didn't want to actually hurt Slade, just get away; wriggling like his life depended on it.

Shado saw the imploring look on Oliver's face... and she saw the switch in Slade's hand. But she also knew how much Slade loved and cared about Oliver. She knew that he'd never hurt his brother... and could see that, no matter how scared Slade had obviously been, his grip on Oliver was firm... not tight enough to hurt, but enough to make sure he couldn't get free, no matter how much he squirmed. Her eyes were soft with sympathy, but it was clear she had no intention of stepping between them. "You were going to face off against the soldiers... on your own. I think your brother's being lenient."

It wouldn't really have made a difference if Shado had objected. Slade knew his brother's needs and knew what he needed to do to bring Oliver back on track. But it was a relief to know Shado wasn't going to try and stop him out of a misguided fear for Oliver's safety. Nodding to her, he gently squeezed the nape of Oliver's neck. "Come on, kid." He didn't want to keep fighting his brother and he swatted Oliver's backside... not very hard, but enough to prove he meant business.

Oliver let out a tiny yelp at the smack, moving in the direction Slade indicated almost without thinking. He'd gone several feet before he realized he wasn't even attempting to get away and plead his case- and started squirming again. It was difficult, Slade's grip on his neck not only making it uncomfortable to try and get away, but making his emotions teeter toward not fighting at all and just giving in. It was his natural inclination whenever Slade gripped his neck, after all. By the time he started squirming again, they were already inside the plane. " .noooooo..." He couldn't help repeating the word over and over again worriedly, his tone taking on a frantic, scared tone as he yet again attempted to squirm free.

Slade ignored the protest (because even though he didn't want to punish Oliver, he knew the kid was going to keep pushing until he did) and guided his brother over to the chair, keeping a firm grip on both Oliver's neck and around his shoulders. He sat down and tugged his brother over his knees, securing him tight against his stomach. "Trying to leave was very naughty, little brother. If you'd run into more soldiers than you could handle, you might have been captured... or worse. I could have lost you." His voice grew more hoarse. He didn't normally cry... but he was close. He quickly bared his brother's backside.

Oliver shut his eyes tightly, automatically gripping his brother's ankle as soon as he was over his brother's knee; and then proceeded to squirm and wriggle uncontrollably. He was already feeling off-balance and needy because of Slade's hand on his neck. Hearing his actions described as very naughty caused his stomach to sink and he had to take several gulps of air to be certain he kept breathing. Hearing his brother's voice and realizing that he was the reason Slade sounded that way? His stomach and chest began to ache and he took several more gulps of air, but it didn't help. He squirmed even more. "Nonononono...sorry...sorry...please, Slade...I'll be good...won't be naughty your good boy..." He let out a whimpering whine when he felt the cool night air ghost over his backside.

Slade placed his hand on Oliver's lower back, rubbing gently. "I love you. I know what happened is tearing you up inside, but that's why you should have let me help you and not taken off." He lifted his hand and brought it down in a sharp swat at the crest of Oliver's backside and then continued to swat, his hand falling on every word as he spoke. "You shouldn't have lied. You shouldn't have pretended you were asleep and then waited to sneak out. I didn't want to risk you waking alone, which was why I kept watch to make sure I'd see if you came out looking for us. If I hadn't..." He had to stop, as his voice was close to breaking. "I wish I could make you safe, kid. If I could get you off this island... I'd do anything. Anything to keep you safe."

Oliver listened to his brother, feeling more guilty as his brother spoke. He squirmed harder, trying to move his bottom away from the smacks, and quickly began to cry, the combination of guilt and the sting of the spanking affecting him nearly immediately. "I want you safe too!" he choked out.

"Did you think I wouldn't come after you?" Slade asked, forcing himself to harden his heart against the sound of his brother crying. He'd completed one full circuit of swats, covering every inch of Oliver's backside from the crest down to his thighs, and now started a second circuit. "I will always come after you, little brother. I won't let anything take you from me... or hurt you... even when you're naughty and disobedient."

Oliver was doing least he thought he was handling the punishment...until Slade called him naughty and disobedient. That, in addition to his sore bottom, caused his ability to fight what was happening to disappear. He slumped further and began to cry harder. "Noooo!" He sobbed. "Didn't think that...didn't...didn't think at all..."

"You would have left me... alone with no way of knowing where you were... because you chose to be stubborn and hide from me." Slade landed a few swats to Oliver's sit spots and then paused. Hating what he was about to do, but determined not to allow his little brother to think this kind of behaviour was acceptable, he moved one leg so he could pin both of his brother's and picked up the makeshift switch. "It's not acceptable. Risking your life is not acceptable." He brought the switch down, carefully controlling his strength so the implement stung, but wouldn't be unbearable.

The guilt Slade's words caused left Oliver struggling to say try and make things better. He realized he couldn't. Nothing he said would make his actions alright. And then his legs were pinned and his ability to squirm was limited to tiny spasms of movement. He was helpless to his brother's correction. Whatever Slade determined was necessary, he would receive. And what he was receiving hurt. It stung horribly. And while the pain might not be the worst he'd ever was his brother causing it. His brother was causing pain because Oliver had been so naughty to leave and hide and take dangerous chances he should not have even thought of taking. Stiffening, Oliver couldn't help but throw his hands back in an effort to shield his bottom, even as he sobbed, "Sorry! Sorry, Slade! Was so naughty and disobedient. Was wrong. Don't wanna leave you! Don't!" He shook his head in an effort to emphasize his words.

Slade moved Oliver's hands out of the way, holding them against his back with one hand, and brought the switch down a second and third time, careful not to cross over any of the stripes. "You were wrong, little brother. You were naughty and disobedient. You knew I wouldn't allow you to leave and so you sneaked out. You scared me badly," he whispered, his voice growing hoarse with the pain of that. "You are important. You are my brother. And I love you. And the thought of losing you... the thought of you getting hurt... tears me apart."

" sorry..." Oliver sobbed out again, letting out a choked moan, before lying limp and accepting the switching. He continued to whimper out sorry's for how naughty and disobedient he'd been, not fighting or struggling any longer, just quivering slightly when the switch connected to his sore bottom.

Slade only brought the switch down a half dozen times, not able to continue past that point. He quickly dropped the implement and gathered his brother into his arms, hugging him as tight as he possibly could, with his hand at the nape of Oliver's neck.

"I'm sorry, sorry..." Oliver continued to sob against his brother's chest, the feeling of Slade's hand on his neck giving him a sense of security and making it possible for him to focus. He wriggled on his brother's lap, whimpering every time a more sensitive spot on his bottom chafed against Slade's pants. "Sorry I was a disobedient, naughty boy..." he whispered in a broken voice.

Slade tightened his arms around Oliver, gently stroking the back of his neck. "You aren't naughty and disobedient now," he said, his voice low and gentle. "You're my good boy. I love you, little brother," he reiterated.

At that, Oliver slumped in his brother's arms and just cried, nuzzling against Slade's chest and snuggling as close as possible. "Want to be your good boy..." he whispered. "I love you, big brother. So so much, I love you."

Slade didn't so much as loosen his hold on his brother, stroking his hair and the back of his neck gently. "No more sneaking out. You're going to be staying close to me, kid." Not as punishment... but so that Slade could step in if his brother had nightmares; so he could protect him even against his own mind. As if his brother was much younger than he actually was, Slade rocked Oliver gently in his arms, speaking soft words of love and comfort in his ear.

"Yessir..." Oliver whispered, feeling too wrung out and needing his brother too much to argue. Whatever big brother said was what would happen, no question or argument. Whimpering slightly again, he shifted in his brother's arms, trying to find a position where he was as close to Slade as possible and not be sitting on his bottom. It was impossible, but he deserved it. He'd run and hid from his brother. That was the most naughty thing he could do. "No hiding..." His whisper had a tiny hitch in it as he tried to calm his crying.

Slade continued to stroke his hair and neck, unable to stop touching his brother... unable to stop assuring himself that Oliver was safe in his arms. "If you start to feel bad again... I'm here for you, little brother. I will always be here for you," he whispered.

"Love you, Slade..." Oliver nuzzled against his brother again, content to just be held for as long as Slade would allow it. At this point, he didn't even care if Shado came in and saw. His need to have his brother comfort and protect him was too great.

Slade didn't let go of his brother, needing to hold onto Oliver and comfort him... protect him from the demons inside his own head. At the same time, he didn't want to embarrass his little brother even more in front of Shado. "I'm not going to let you go," he whispered reassuringly, before using the hand that wasn't stroking Oliver's hair and neck to carefully pull his clothing back into place.

Oliver barely whimpered as the clothing rubbed on his sore backside, feeling too wrung out from everything that had occurred. He'd emotionally retreated, so that the only thing he was focused on was being held by his brother and how safe it made him feel. As long as Slade had him, he didn't have to think about everything that had occurred and what he himself had done. Maybe he'd think about it later, but right now, he was content to let Slade take care of him. He only barely acknowledged Shado returning into the plane, giving her a small, weary smile...not even lifting his head off of Slade's shoulder.

Shado had cooked the food outside and she brought it in, giving Oliver a warm smile in return as she handed Slade both his and Oliver's food.

Taking the bowls, Slade set his own to one side, dipping the spoon in his brother's and raising it to his brother's lips to encourage Oliver to eat.

Oliver opened his mouth and let his brother feed him, his mind not really on the food or the fact he was being handled like a very young child or invalid. All he knew was his brother wanted him to eat and what Slade wanted, Oliver was going to do. He was through with disobeying and sneaking and lying and everything wrong...he was through and would do whatever Slade asked. Chewing quietly, he swallowed the food and let out a tiny sigh, snuggling a little more. He did become aware enough to realize Shado was there, though and that she'd been the one to bring the food. "Thank you..." he whispered to her, his voice hoarse from his crying. "...Sorry if I scared you..." he added, realizing that she might have been just as worried, or at least a little bit worried, like Slade had been.

Shado placed a hand gently on Oliver's shoulder. "I'm glad you're safe," she said softly. "I wouldn't want anything to happen to you either." She didn't add anything to the thorough scolding she was sure Slade had already given him, though.

Slade continued to feed his brother, gently brushing hair out of Oliver's eyes.

Oliver blushed, his smile growing slightly at her words. He was starting to come to just enough to feel embarrassed at having shown himself to be so childishly needy in front of her...but he wasn't enough himself to want to get up and feed himself, so he just continued to open his mouth obediently and let Slade spoon the food into his mouth. As young and childish as it made him feel, it also felt nice to have someone care about him so much that they'd step in and set limits. He'd gone so long making up his own limits and boundaries (which meant he didn't have many, if any at all), that having someone older, more experienced and able to step in willing to do so- it felt good and right. The fact that Slade's limits had kept him alive since he'd been stranded on this island only made it obvious how much he'd been missing. "...Need self-discipline..." he said, in a moment of self-awareness that he didn't often allow himself to have. He blushed even more and let Slade feed him another bite of food.

Slade gently placed his hand against Oliver's cheek. "You need someone willing to step in... to set limits when you can't set them yourself. You need a big brother. This isn't an ideal situation... but you are my little brother. I have you. And I'm not going to let you go. I promise, kid. You won't lose me."

Sniffling slightly and nodding, pressing his face into Slade's hand for a moment, Oliver finally felt in enough control of himself and his own actions to stand and sit next to his brother instead of on his lap. He carefully took the bowl of food Slade had been feeding him with, noting that it was over half eaten, then gave Slade a tiny, grateful smile. "I think I can feed myself the rest of should eat yours before it gets too cold..." he said softly. He scooted just a fraction closer to Slade, so that their legs were touching from knee to hip, enabling them to keep contact, while giving Slade free use of his hands. "Thanks, big brother..." He spoke softly again, darting a bashful glance up at the older man before shoveling a spoonful of food into his own mouth.

Slade pressed close to his brother, giving him a tight squeeze before he picked up his own bowl of food. "Any time, little brother." His voice was filled with nothing but sincerity. He didn't tell his brother they would be sharing the sleeping mat, in case Oliver had nightmares... but that thought was definitely in his head.

"I'd thought the most embarrassing thing would be for Shado to know how you handled me...but it wasn't really that bad. Ended up being a good thing in the end..." Oliver said quietly, still perched on his brother's lap. "Now that you're back and...and have me again...I think maybe I need to explain to Diggle. As much as I want to be responsible and not do things I know you wouldn't approve of, I know me. I'll be earning myself another spanking soon enough..." He didn't mention the one he already knew he had coming. "Would be better if he understood ahead of time what was going on, so that any confusion and distrust can be avoided. Especially if I get needy when he and the others are around." Oliver sighed softly.

Slade had his arm comfortably around Oliver's shoulders. "If you think it's better that he knows, I won't tell you not to tell him. And you know I won't draw attention in front of others unless you push me to. Telling Shado was as much because she would have known anyway... considering I couldn't have hidden the sounds from her."

Oliver nodded. "I know. There was no way she could avoid hearing you punish me or hear my was better she knew before it occurred. I hope I never make it necessary for you to take me in hand while the others are around. But again...I know me. Chances are high I'm going to push at some point and it likely will be at a point that will make things most embarrassing for me." Oliver's chuckle was self-mocking. "Digg knowing...I don't know. He's kinda of like my brother too, you know? Except we're more...equals?" Oliver frowned at that, realizing that he'd just told Slade that he and Slade weren't equals (and probably indicated that Slade was the boss); which, while true, was a hard thing to admit. Shaking his head slightly, he continued, "Him knowing might make him feel more at ease, though. Maybe. And he would be able to help calm the others down if needed."

"It's your decision, but I agree with you that it might make things easier if he does know," Slade said. "If I can handle things in private, I will. And if you're in danger of pushing to the point of it being more public... I'll warn you away." He didn't promise to move it privately, though. He didn't need his brother getting the idea that it was okay to act out if there were other people around.

"Yessir..." Oliver agreed quietly, knowing that his brother would do what he could to avoid embarrassing him; but if Oliver pushed, he would do what he needed, embarrassment or no. He readjusted the blanket he was wearing. "I'll be happy to get some clothes to wear that aren't torn up and bloody..." he mumbled.

Slade nodded. "Is there anyone else you need to contact?" Since being in prison, he'd been unaware if Oliver had regained his company... or about anything much, really. If his fellow prisoners had talked, it hadn't been within his hearing... not that he'd been aware of, anyway.

"I don't think so?" Oliver frowned slightly. "If Diggle has told Felicity and Thea even a little about my being sick, then they'll likely have taken care of telling anyone else that might need to know...hopefully."

"Good." Slade glanced up as he heard a knock on the apartment door. While he assumed it was Diggle... he was still on his guard. He patted Oliver's hip gently. "Why don't you finish off the rest of your soup while I get that?"

"Yessir..." Oliver stood up so Slade could go get the door and then sat back down at the table to continue eating quietly.

Slade stepped over to the door and opened it, relieved to see that it was indeed Diggle... and not one of his (or Oliver's) many enemies.

The two men sized each other up for a moment and then Diggle put his hand out. "John Diggle. Nice to meet you properly."

"Slade Wilson." Slade clasped hands with the other man and then motioned with his head. "Oliver's through here." He closed the door once Diggle was inside and then led him through to the dining area.

Oliver had just finished eating the soup and set the bowl and spoon aside to stand and meet his friend. "John...thanks for coming..." he said with a crooked grin, reaching out and grasping his brother's shoulder, while holding the blanket that was precariously draped around his waist up with one fist. "I hope you brought some clothes?" His sheepish question was matched by an equally sheepish smile and blush.

"Yeah." Diggle held up the bag, glancing curiously between Slade and Oliver. "You seem different," he said to Oliver, noticing the sheepish look and the blush. More than that, though, his brother looked... younger. Like he wasn't carrying around the heavy weight of guilt that had been his constant companion since his return from the island.

Oliver blinked at that, not realizing that his appearance had changed in any way. "What do you mean?" he asked curiously, reaching for the bag and pulling out clean clothing. Dropping the blanket, he began to get dressed, not caring in the least that he wasn't alone. On the island, he'd stopped worrying about things like modesty in favor of sticking close to his 'family' for safety reasons. His mindset was very close to what it had been on the island, so he thought nothing of dressing in front of both his brothers now.

Although a little taken aback by Oliver's sudden ease in changing in front of him, Diggle wasn't embarrassed or felt awkward. His own sense of modesty was long gone... and he suspected Slade was as unaffected as he himself was. Still, he took a moment or two to answer. "Almost from the first moment I met you, even when you were playing the role of the spoiled rich kid returned, you've been carrying a weight. It aged you... gave you an edge that maybe you needed. But now?" He shook his head. "I wouldn't say it's gone... not completely. But it's definitely lessened."

Slade leaned against the wall, but made no comment on Diggle's observation... even though he knew the probable cause of that weight.

Oliver blinked again, as he tugged down the t-shirt he'd pulled on. "Huh...Are you saying I looked old before?" His face was guileless and serious, but the look in his eye was pure mischief. He slanted his head like a playful puppy. "Should I be offended?" He glanced at Slade. "What do you think, Old Man? Should I be offended?"

Slade's snort was soft... barely audible. "I think you should take it as a compliment, kid," he replied, amusement tracing his voice, as he stepped over to his baby brother and lightly squeezed his shoulder.

Diggle saw the easy affection. If he'd had any lingering doubts, seeing the look on Oliver's face and how Slade related to the younger man chased those away. "I think I see where your reputation came from." His own voice was amused.

Oliver looked honestly confused at that. "Which reputation? I have so many...and not many all that good..." He laughed, though, leaning toward Slade automatically, even as he was looking at Diggle and smiling. He was trying to figure out the best way to bring up his and Slade's relationship without it being forced into the conversation; because as far as he was concerned, Slade was a permanent fixture in his life now and he needed the other permanent fixtures in his life (he hoped anyway) to understand and accept his older brother.

"I was thinking more of your reputation before... but this is a good look for you." Glancing at Slade, Diggle added, "If I'd known you being back in his life would have caused this... I wouldn't have worried so much on my way here."

"You were right to worry," Slade said. "I would have done exactly the same. You only ever knew me as the monster created through the Mirakuru... not as Oliver's big brother."

Oliver scratched at his head and blushed. "I didn't realize my behavior before was so concerning." He winced. "It makes the fact you've stuck with me that much more remarkable..." Sighing, Oliver reached over and squeezed Diggle's shoulder. "Thank you. And...I'm sorry...for making things so difficult for you the last few weeks by hiding things and lying. That was wrong of me and you deserved better. Forgive me?" Oliver bit his lip and gave Diggle a hopeful look.

"Of course, man." Diggle's smile was faint, but still there. "I've stuck with you for a long time... if I wasn't prepared to forgive you, I wouldn't still be here."

"You're a good man, John. I'm lucky to have you on my side..." Oliver said somberly. "I'm lucky to have both of you..." He glanced between his two brothers and took a deep breath.

Slade rested his hand gently on Oliver's shoulder, but didn't say anything. He knew his brother needed to be the one to voice anything about their relationship to Diggle.

Diggle could see the change in Oliver's expression. "Has something happened?" he asked, concerned.

Oliver took a deep breath. "You could say that," he said quietly. "Slade is planning to stay in Starling City, where he'll be close by to me. Where he can be my big brother again..." Oliver paused. "Part of being my big brother was stepping in when I took unnecessary chances with my life...he plans to do that again..." Oliver swallowed and tried to think of how to word the rest of what he was saying.

Diggle glanced at Slade, but the other man's face didn't reveal anything. He looked back at Oliver. "Step in how? I'm going to guess grounding or confining you wasn't an option..."

"It is highly likely that, if I take unnecessary chances with my life, that Slade will spank me..." Oliver ran a hand through his hair nervously, hoping that his admission didn't cause Diggle to look at him differently...the fact that he was accepting of such a possible event clear.

For a moment, Diggle wasn't sure he'd heard his brother correctly. He shot a startled look at Slade. "Really? You'd really spank him for risking his life?"

"Yes." Slade spoke without any hesitation. "There were times it was necessary on the island... and now that I'm in my right mind, I can see there are times it might be necessary now."

"Yeah, well..." Diggle took a deep breath, glancing at Oliver once more. "I'm inclined to agree with you," he admitted, before addressing Oliver directly. "You have to know how much we've worried about you... me, Felicity, Thea. If Slade can stop you taking so many chances... I think that can only be a good thing."

Oliver looked back up, forcing himself to meet Diggle's eyes. "I know you all have been worried. I...I was wrong to ignore your concerns for so long, doing things I shouldn't have been doing. Going solo with no plan or backup isn't going to fly anymore; and I will do my best not to do that to you any longer."

"Good," Diggle said. "I'm not going to lie to you, man. What happened at the warehouse was brutal. If Slade hadn't been there..." He paused. "I doubt we'd be able to even have this conversation."

Oliver winced and nodded. "I know. I was lucky..." he admitted softly. "I'll do my best not to do things like that anymore, though; and if I forget and fall back into bad habits...well..." He glanced at his older brother with a crooked smile. "I'll be pulled back into line..." he finished, looking at Diggle and shrugging slightly.

Diggle nodded. "At least there's someone who can do that now." His voice was low, but he wasn't really trying to hide what he said.

Slade wrapped his arm around Oliver's shoulders and squeezed gently. "You're still good, kid. We just have to make sure you care as much about your safety as the rest of us do."

Oliver nodded, blushing slightly, but leaning into his older brother easily, wanting the affection more than he wanted to avoid looking too young in his other brother's eyes. He cleared his throat. " can let Felicity and Thea know that I'm safe and doing well?"

"Yeah. But they'll probably want to hear your voice, too, as soon as you think you might be up to calling," Diggle said. "I'm sure I don't have to tell you how upset Thea was by all this." There was a note of sympathy in his voice, as he could understand Oliver's sister's sense of betrayal... no matter how much Diggle had tried to convince her that the Slade they'd all met wasn't the same Slade who had taken care of her brother.

"If you think it might benefit them to see for themselves..." Slade didn't sound very sure, though. Not because he was reluctant to set the others' minds at ease... but because he knew Oliver was still in a vulnerable mindset and likely wouldn't feel comfortable exposing that vulnerability in front of those he was responsible for.

"I'll call them as soon as my fever clears and I'm able to think more clearly..." Oliver responded to Diggle's comment seriously. "I know that it will take a lot of explanation and convincing, especially with Thea. I can't really do anything about that but be honest with her and hope she can see the truth underneath all the hurt she'll feel." Oliver swallowed. He glanced up at Slade before looking back at Diggle.

"I know the biggest help would be for them to see how Slade is now with me. I'm going to need to prepare myself for the fallout of that, though. You and I are equals...somehow, you knowing that Slade handles me isn't as daunting as the thought of Thea knowing, since I've pretty much had to step up and parent her since returning. Walter...he was trying, but between mom deciding it was better to let her do whatever she wanted and stopping him from doing anything...and the fact that he ended up leaving mom when he found out what she'd been up to and wouldn't stop despite his moral objections..." Oliver shook his head. "He was a big help with Thea. Without him here, I've had to step in even more to keep her safe from herself..." He huffed, giving Slade a sheepish look. "She reminds me of me..."

Slade's smile in response was faint, but still there. "She's your little sister. Probably looked up to you as a role model for most of her life." There was a slightly teasing note in his voice... but underneath that was sadness that came from the knowledge that he'd taken on that role for Oliver and managed to fail his little brother so completely. And even if he was on the way to forgiving himself... the memories of what he'd become still haunted him.

"I agree they'll need to see how you and Slade are together, but that doesn't mean they need to know how things are between the two of you," Diggle said. "I told you that you looked different... the same can be said of Slade." He nodded to the other man. "The moment I saw you, the differences were clear. And Thea knew Roy before the Mirakuru," he continued to Oliver. "She saw how it changed him."

Oliver perked up at that reminder. "You're right...she saw how it changed Roy; and she forgave him. She should be able to understand my forgiving Slade; wanting him back in my life..." His voice was hopeful. He really didn't want to be on the outs with his little sister. He reached over and squeezed Slade's arm, noting the sadness underlying his tone and not wanting his brother to fall back into regrets and self-recrimination. What happened to Slade wasn't Slade's fault; and what he did while under the influence of Mirakuru wasn't how he'd behave now. Oliver knew that.

Nodding at Diggle, he smiled. "Thanks, John...maybe they'll attribute my 'differentness' to the fact I have my older brother back."

When Oliver touched him, Slade relaxed under his brother's hand, his eye closing for just a second before he covered Oliver's hand with his own. He didn't grip hard... but it was obvious that his brother's closeness went a long way towards helping him.

Diggle noticed... seeing the easy way Oliver and Slade comforted each other. He didn't comment on it, though, instead saying to his brother, "They'll probably be too happy you're not closing yourself off to be worried about why that is."

Oliver bit his lip, chagrined. "Have I really been that bad?" he asked remorsefully. He hated that he seemed to have been pushing his friends and family further away than he'd intended. He'd wanted them safe, not out of his life completely.

"Since Laurel died... we all know you've been grieving, but your already reckless actions got a whole lot worse. And you didn't even tell any of us you were going to that warehouse," Diggle pointed out. "I'll say again that you were really lucky yesterday happened to be when Slade broke out of prison, considering you were injured when he was there."

Oliver looked down guiltily. "I'm sorry, man...I...I really have no excuse. I'll do better, though." He looked back up, giving both the other men an earnest look.

Diggle nodded. "I believe you... but gotta say, it makes me feel a whole lot better that you've got your big brother to step in and take you in hand."

Slade moved close enough to Oliver that his side was pressed against his brother's. "Slipping back isn't the end of the world, even when there are consequences," he said, affection clear in his voice.

Oliver blushed again, still far enough under Slade's influence that he couldn't seem to control his body's physical reactions like he normally would. "Yeah...would rather not slip too much, though..." His tone was sheepish, but he was smiling.

"We'll work on it." The promise was soft, but still there. Slade gently grasped his brother's shoulder.

"I put your tablet in the bag, but you might want to hold off doing any research until you feel better," Diggle said. "I don't think it would be a good idea to continue over-working yourself." Just in case Slade hadn't figured it out already...

"Yeah. I won't. Thanks, John," Oliver didn't comment on the accusation of him over-working. He knew it was true. Had pretty much admitted it to Slade and wasn't going to argue with Diggle about it when he knew he'd be fooling no one to disagree with it. Oliver leaned toward Slade, as if seeking reassurance that the older man wasn't going to be upset at having Oliver's actions confirmed by John's words.

Slade immediately responded by tightening his arm around Oliver's shoulders. "We can discuss researching... or any type of work... when your health is no longer an issue," he promised his baby brother.

"Do you need anything else?" Diggle's question was addressed primarily to Oliver... but he also included Slade in that.

"You brought clothes, my tablet...your forgiveness... I don't think I need anything else," Oliver said with a smile.

Diggle nodded. "You might like to know that the warehouse was closed down... the police found the drugs." He didn't say that Detective Lance hadn't been there. It wasn't much of a surprise, knowing what had happened to Laurel.

Oliver nodded. "Thanks for letting me know..." He looked somberly at Diggle. "Ha...have you heard from Lance?" he asked hesitantly, the guilt he felt about Laurel clear in his voice.

Diggle shook his head. "I went to the precinct... he's taken a temporary leave of absence. I'm not sure if temporary really means permanent, but I've been swinging by his usual haunts. In case he lapses and needs help either getting home or fending off the wrong kinds of people."

Oliver nodded. "I'll keep an eye out might want to...keep an eye on the bars. Just in case." Oliver sighed and ran a hand over his face, the guilt over what had happened to Quentin Lance's family eating at him. Even if he hadn't been responsible for killing Laurel or for Sara going off to who knew where, he couldn't help but think, if it weren't for him, they never would have been in the situations where they were faced with such things.

"Yeah... those were among the places I was checking," Diggle said. "You know it wasn't your fault, right? Laurel wanted to be a part of this. You couldn't have stopped her..."

Slade could see the guilt eating away at his little brother and he only hesitated a moment before wrapping both his arms around Oliver in a tight hug. He didn't say anything, though. He wasn't aware of what had happened and Diggle was probably best placed to voice what Oliver needed to hear right now.

"Yeah...I...I know. I just don't feel it, ya know?" Oliver sighed, leaning back into Slade's hug. "Anyway, I appreciate everything you've done. I probably should let you get back to your little girl... Give little Sara a hug and kiss for me, yeah?" He smiled crookedly at Diggle.

Diggle smiled. "Will do. When you're recovered, I'm sure she'd like to see you." He looked at Slade. "Look after him?"

"I always do," Slade answered, making a move to loosen his grip on his little brother.

"No need. I can see myself out. Just call. If either of you need anything." Diggle headed to the door and, moments later, left the apartment.

Oliver stayed in his brother's arms for a few moments more before sighing. "That went better than I expected..." he admitted quietly.

"It probably helps to see us now... or how we used to be," Slade added. He looked Oliver over carefully, trying to figure out if his little brother needed to rest... or needed to eat something a bit more substantial.

Oliver nodded, glancing down. "I'm glad he could see that..." he said softly, grateful that he had his older brother back and could share the fact with his other brother.

"Do you feel up to trying to eat a little more?" Slade gently rested his hand at the back of his brother's neck, knowing he was grieving his friend's death and pressing closer so Oliver could feel him there.

Oliver felt himself relaxing again, his brother's sure grip and the fact they were alone allowing him to let go. "I don't know," he said honestly. "If you think I should, I'll try to..." He gave Slade a crooked smile.

"I think you should try," Slade said, his voice gentle. "If you've been overworking and not sleeping, it wouldn't be too far a stretch to say you probably haven't been eating properly, either." He kept in close contact with Oliver, guiding him into the kitchen to find something that wouldn't be too heavy on his brother's stomach... but would be filling enough.

Oliver nodded and moved to sit at the table. When Slade put the food in front of him, he carefully and slowly ate, wanting to make sure he kept it down and didn't get sick. He kept darting glances toward Slade, however, remembering the man's comment- a promise really- that he'd take care of Oliver's actions in regard to taking chances with his life and health. He didn't want to remind him...he really didn't want a spanking...but he couldn't stop thinking of it either.

Slade took a seat next to Oliver with his own food, close enough that he could touch his brother, but not get in his way. "Something the matter, kid?" he asked finally, noticing Oliver's continual glances.

"Nothing's wrong, exactly..." Oliver sighed. "...I just can't stop thinking about the fact I did something I wasn't supposed to and I know you said we'd...discuss it later."

"And we will," Slade replied calmly. "Once you're no longer sick. Your health is my priority, little brother."

Oliver nodded and visibly relaxed. If Slade said they were waiting, then he wouldn't say anything else about it. The fact was, Oliver was perfectly happy putting it off for as long as possible; at least right now. He was still adjusting to the fact his brother was back and expecting him to return to better behavior. He gave a tiny yawn. "Sleepy..." he mumbled childishly. He might have found it easier to behave his age had he not been sick; he didn't always regress around Slade. He was able to act his normal adult self. But being sick, plus all the emotion since his brother had rescued him...he couldn't not react in the way most likely to get him his brother's care and affection. Especially when it had been so long since he'd been able to have Slade's care. "Do I need more medicine?" he asked hesitantly, forgetting he'd already taken everything needed.

"You don't need to take anything else right now." Slade collected his baby brother's plate and utensils and put them out of the way, then returned to help Oliver to his feet. "Come on, kid. Let's get you back to bed." He wrapped his arms around Oliver, unable not to respond to his brother's needs.

Oliver snuggled into his brother, letting himself be led back to the bed. Looking down at the jeans and t-shirt he'd just put on, he sighed and shucked the jeans. He could sleep in his boxers and t-shirt. Unless Diggle had packed sleep clothes for him. He yawned again and crawled into the bed, snuggling down.

Slade settled on the edge of the bed. "I'm here, kid." His voice was soft and reassuring as he reached out to stroke Oliver's hair, letting his brother feel his presence.

Oliver didn't know how long he'd slept. He was still tired, but a little hungry. And he wanted his brother. "Slade?" he called out, in a slightly nervous tone, and shivered.

Slade hadn't gone far... only sitting next to the bed while he checked in with a few of the contacts he needed to inform of his whereabouts, so as not to cause any trouble for his brother or Oliver's friends. The moment Oliver woke, he put his tablet away and shifted so his brother could see him. "I'm right here, kid." His voice was filled with reassurance.

"Hungry..." he mumbled, then groaned. "...And cold and hot and 'lil bit hurts..." He swallowed. "Why won't m'fever go way?" he asked plaintively, not sure he actually still had a fever, but assuming he did.

"You probably need to take a bit more medication to help." Slade placed his hand against Oliver's forehead, wondering if he could tell without needing to take his brother's temperature. "Where does it hurt?"

Oliver shivered slightly. "All over." He couldn't help but slightly whine in the sad old way of 'children' everywhere who wanted to be comforted when feeling ill.

Slade couldn't help but respond to his brother, wrapping an arm around Oliver even as he reached out and picked up the fever medication, pouring some out and gently feeding it to his brother.

Oliver obediently took the medicine and swallowed; a marked contrast from the evening, and even morning, before, when he was as difficult as possible and required proof of his fever before he'd cooperate. Now, he seemingly didn't care at all...if Slade said it, he'd do it. "Hungry..." he whimpered against Slade's chest, as he snuggled close.

"Do you feel up to walking through to the kitchen, or would you rather eat in here?" Slade asked gently, stroking his brother's hair and back. There was no hesitation or sense of holding back. Oliver was his priority. As he always was.

Oliver grinned against his brother and snuggled more. "I can's for eatin'..."

Slade carefully helped Oliver off the bed, supporting his brother's weight, and guided him out of the bedroom and into the kitchen.

Oliver was surprised that his legs held him as well as they did, attributing it to Slade's firm grip. Soon, he was at the table, attempting to eat the toast Slade had made him.

Settling on the chair next to Oliver, Slade wrapped his arm around his brother's shoulders. "Take small bites... don't force yourself to continue eating if you start feeling fully," he advised, moving the cup of cold water he'd poured a bit nearer.

Oliver was able to finish most of the food before he'd had enough and pushed the plate away. "Thank you," he said softly. "I'm done now..."

"Good boy," Slade praised softly, gently squeezing Oliver's shoulders. "Do you want to go back to bed? Or if you feel up to it, you can stretch out on the sofa..."

Oliver ducked his head in pleased bashfulness at the words of praise. Looking up at Slade hesitantly, he answered, "I want to be where you are..."

"I'm not going to leave your side," Slade promised. "Wherever you feel most comfortable... that's where I'll be." He couldn't imagine leaving his baby brother alone... not when they were finally back in each other's lives; not when Oliver was ill and needed him.

"Will you tuck me in?" Oliver finally asked in a whisper, his face bright red. He wasn't so far gone into his regression that he didn't realize how childish he sounded. He was far enough gone to not care, though.

In answer, Slade wrapped his arms around his little brother and hugged tight. "Whatever you need, little brother." His voice was firm and sincere. He would never deny Oliver anything that wasn't detrimental to his health and wellbeing.

Oliver held onto his brother tightly before letting Slade take him back into the bedroom and tucking him in. With his brother nearby, it didn't take long at all for him to fall asleep.

As promised, Slade stayed in the room even after Oliver had fallen asleep. While his brother slept, he allowed himself to fall into light dozes... waking up periodically to check on his little brother.

When Oliver woke the next morning, he felt much better than he had, the medicine finally having done its job.

Slade hadn't strayed from his brother's bedside, conditioning his body to wake up every twenty minutes so he could make sure Oliver didn't need anything. He woke as soon as his brother stirred, immediately turning to him. "How are you feeling, kid?"

"Physically, a lot better..." Oliver said with a wince.

Slade reached out to stroke his brother's hair. "And the rest?" he probed gently.

"I'm really sorry, Slade," Oliver quickly said in a regretful voice. "I didn't mean to upset and hurt everyone..."

"I know." Slade's voice was gentle and understanding. "You've become too used to relying on only yourself. I think you forget sometimes that there are people who care a great deal about you... even without me being here as well."

"I stopped thinking their opinions mattered," Oliver admitted. "They wanted to help and I didn't want them to because I didn't want to lose them. But they didn't want to lose me either and I wouldn't let myself care about that. It was selfish."

"That's why we're going to work on you caring about your safety as much as your friends and family do," Slade said seriously. "You already know it's not acceptable." He couldn't help thinking that, if he hadn't broken out when he did, his brother might have got himself killed.

"I do know that...if you hadn't come when you did..." Oliver looked down, ashamed of himself.

"I did." Slade's hand shifted to the nape of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. "And I'm more relieved than I can say that I was there in time."

Biting his lip, Oliver looked up again, careful not to dislodge Slade's hand. He found himself relaxing at the familiar touch. "I'm just glad you're here..." he said softly.

Slade leaned forward to wrap his arms around his baby brother. "Thank you for letting me back into your life," he murmured in Oliver's ear... all too aware that his brother could have fought him a lot more than he actually did.

"I couldn't not let you back," Oliver observed. "I need you too much to push you away." The longer Slade held him, the more at ease he became.

Slade held him close for a few more moments. "I'd like you to try and eat something before we deal with this," he said, his voice firm and not allowing much room for argument.

"Yessir..." Oliver answered in a whisper. He didn't even think to argue with his brother. As much as he didn't want to 'deal' with his actions, he knew he deserved whatever Slade decided to do...and he was well beyond the point where telling his brother he didn't have the right to step in would be a lie. His brother not only had the right- he'd given the right to him long ago- but Oliver knew, deep inside, he needed Slade to have that be in control. Arguing was a waste of everyone's time and would only result in Oliver feeling more guilty...because he'd give in and accept Slade's decision anyway. He always would when it came to his big brother.

Slade helped Oliver off the bed, but although he wrapped an arm around his shoulders to guide him from the bedroom, he didn't support any more of his brother's weight than Oliver needed him to. "I'm glad you're feeling better," he said, as they entered the kitchen. "At least here, I could get you what you needed."

"You did your best on the island," Oliver said, in a partial protest at the idea Slade hadn't got him what he needed there. "You kept me alive...wouldn't still be here if not for you..." His voice went soft and quiet again.

Slade squeezed his brother's shoulders. He didn't say that there was suffering Oliver wouldn't have gone through if it wasn't for him. He did say, "You did as much as I did. You grew in strength while we were on the island. And you helped me," he added. "You gave me someone to fight for... then and now."

Oliver smiled bashfully as he sat at the table. "Well, you taught me letting someone else being in charge and obeying them wasn't the end of the world as I knew it..." he teased lightly. Biting his lip, he gave Slade a hesitant look. "Something that I know you'll be reminding me of very soon...can I just eat something light? I don't think I'll be able to keep a lot down, knowing what I did and what's coming..."

Slade rested his hand on the back of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. "I'll do something light for you now... later, I want you to try and eat something a bit more substantial, though." He let his hand linger for a second or two longer... not able to get quite enough of being able to touch his brother... and then moved to prepare the food.

"Okay." Oliver watched Slade quietly, just so very thankful he had his brother back.

Slade finished preparing the food and placed the plate in front of his brother, taking his own and sitting next to Oliver, close enough to be touching.

Oliver ate quietly, finishing everything his brother gave him before he got up to clean his plate. He tried to carry on a normal conversation, but the closer his time of reckoning came, the more he began to fidget and go silent.

Slade stood and cleaned the plates and utensils, then placed his hand on the back of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently. "There's no point in dragging this out any longer, kid," he said, his voice gentle but firm.

Oliver swallowed hard, suddenly unable to meet Slade's eye. "I want to say I'm sorry and I didn't realize what I was doing was wrong...but that's only partly true. I am sorry...but I knew I was wrong before I even did it. I just didn't think there would be anyone to be accountable to and figured I'd get away with it." His voice was small, contrite and filled with remorse.

Slade hugged his little brother tightly to himself for a few moments. "I know you understand what you did wrong," he said. "I wish, more than anything, that I'd been here for you... to take care of you the way I used to and so you would know there was someone able to step in and stop your behaviour from becoming destructive. But I'm here now. I'm here to be your big brother and to stop you from getting yourself hurt or worse." His arms tightened around Oliver. "I love you. And I'm going to make sure nothing ever takes me from you again." Not releasing his hold, he began to guide his baby brother back through to the bedroom.

Oliver whimpered, but it was a toss up to if he was whimpering at the knowledge he didn't have to be responsible for everything alone anymore, or the fact he was about to relearn his brother's number one rule. He didn't fight, though, willingly letting himself be led.

Inside the bedroom, Slade paused to pick up one of the arrows from Oliver's quiver. He took a seat on the bed and gently guided his brother across his lap, securing him so he was tucked against his stomach and in no danger of falling... no matter how much he squirmed. He then tugged his brother's boxers down.

Oliver was still looking at the ground, unable to face his brother, so he didn't notice what Slade had picked up. He couldn't help but whimper as he was positioned and bared; at the same time, he never felt safer than when his brother had him and was in control.

Slade gently rubbed his brother's lower back and then lifted his hand, bringing it down in a firm, hard swat at the crest of Oliver's backside that he then repeated.

Oliver hadn't been able to hide his reactions from his older brother in a very long time. Because of this, he was quickly reduced to whimpers, whines and squirming.

Slade continued to land the hard smacks down to Oliver's thighs, careful not to use too much of his strength and risk causing damage, but covering every inch of his little brother's bottom and down to mid-thigh. When he started a second circuit, he began to speak. "You don't need me to remind you why endangering yourself was naughty. You know that, had I been here to see, I would never have found it acceptable."

As usual, the combination of position and the fact his brother was punishing him made him feel vulnerable and was his brother calling him naughty that sent his emotions plummeting, though. "I know...I know I was naughty...I know I wasn't allowed to take chances with my life; not when there were other options- not when I knew you'd never allow...just cuz you weren't there...was very naughty to do it..." Oliver's whimpers and whines increased.

"It was. Very naughty," Slade said. "The very first time I spanked you, I told you that if you couldn't care about your own safety, I would have to do it for you. That's a role I'm willing to take on. It's a role I will always take from now on, kid." He began a third circuit, swatting just a bit harder and faster.

"I'm sorry..." Oliver's whines became tiny sobs as the sting became too painful to ignore. "Sorry I was so naughty..." he choked out. "Sorry I'm disappointment..." That time, his voice sounded hopeless and wounded. Being a disappointment to his brother was something that hurt him deeply and he didn't know how to make it right.

"You aren't a disappointment, kid. I'm proud of you... proud of what you've become. And I love you. But I can't lose you, kid." Slade tipped his brother forward, enough to deliver sharper swats to his sit spots. "I can't let anything happen to you... because you are important. You mean so much to me, kid. If I lost you... I can't face that, little brother. I've done terrible, awful things... but I need you. And you are what's important to me."

Oliver slumped at those words, feeling small and helpless...every inch Slade's little brother. He began to vocally cry, even as he focused on the swats unerringly landing on his bottom. "I'm sorry I was naughty, sorry. You're my big brother...never wanted to worry you...never wanted to scare you...missed you so much..."

Slade paused, gently rubbing his brother's heated backside. "The Mirakuru broke me, kid. It twisted everything... every positive emotion I ever had. If I could take everything back... I would. I would do anything to change how much I hurt you." Slade fought to keep his voice strong as he reiterated his promise to his little brother. "But it's gone now... and nothing could take me away from you again. Nothing could make me hurt you... or allow you to be hurt." He picked up the arrow. "And if you risk yourself again, kid... this is right back where you'll end up, little brother. Only next time, you'll get more with this." He paused and then brought the shaft of the arrow down on Oliver's backside, carefully moderating his strength.

Oliver's eyes and mouth opened wide in soundless shock as the sharp pain from the stroke of the arrow shaft penetrated his awareness. And then he was kicking his legs out behind him in a fruitless bid to ease the pain, sobbing pathetically. He noticeably did not attempt to get away, though.

Slade forced himself to bring the shaft down again and again, very careful not to cross over the stripes. "Risking your life is not acceptable. Acting like your life is worthless will no longer fly with me. I will have no hesitation in taking you back over my knee and taking you to task if you are not treating your life as important." He brought the shaft down a total of eight times and then stopped, unable to force himself to continue. With no hesitation, he brought his baby brother up and into a tight embrace, one hand at the back of Oliver's neck while his other arm gathered his brother in close.

Oliver couldn't say anything to his brother's words, only able to let out guttural sobs. By the fourth strike of the arrow, he had gone limp, not even kicking. When Slade finally held him in his arms, he gripped his brother like a lifeline. The hand at the back of his neck grounded him and enabled him to hold still. It didn't enable him to stop crying, though. The pain and emotion were too raw. "Sorry..." he whispered in between sobs.

Slade's arms were tight around his brother, his hand gentle as it stroked the back of Oliver's neck. He rocked his brother, his own heart aching as he listened to Oliver's sobs... which was probably for the best. It had to hurt him to punish his brother... that pain was his punishment for his own failures. "I love you, kid." His voice was a murmur in Oliver's ear. "And I broke out of prison so I could be with you... by your side. Where I belong. I belong with you, little brother. And I'm never going to stop caring. I'm never going to let you feel that pain again. I promise you... and that is a promise I will never break."

Oliver just kept crying. He felt inordinately lucky and grateful to have his brother back...that the cure had worked and allowed his brother to withdraw from the Mirakuru and regain himself. He was lucky and unworthy. If he'd not run and left his brother for dead, alone and wounded and fighting invisible demons, he could have had his brother the whole time. It was his own fault he hadn't. The fact Slade had hurt him paled with the ways he'd hurt his brother; to his own mind, at least. He'd never be able to make up for that, though. All he could do was promise, "...Obey you and be good from now on...not be very horrible n naughty..." he whispered. "Love you..."

Slade held his brother as tight as he possibly could, needing to feel him close... needing to comfort Oliver and know his brother was safe in his arms. "You're my good boy," he whispered. "I love you, little brother. I won't let you go."

Oliver shifted slightly, still holding tightly and not letting go. He couldn't help but whimper- he'd be feeling the effects of his brother's discipline for the rest of the day at least- and nuzzled against Slade's shoulder, still seeking comfort and reassurance that Slade wouldn't let go or give up on him. The words helped soothe him, but they weren't quite enough to help him calm; and as tight as Slade was holding him, he was still a little bit afraid of being let go.

Slade gently squeezed the nape of his brother's neck. "I'm here," he reiterated. "I will never let you go. I will never let you be taken away from me." He stroked Oliver's hair as he held on tight.

Oliver took a shaky breath, but Slade's hand on his neck finally did what tight holding and comforting words couldn't...grounded him enough that he was able to calm down and view things rationally again. It allowed him to accept his brother's words as truth and allowed him to let up on the almost franticly tight hold he had on Slade. He slowly relaxed until he was just snuggling because he enjoyed snuggling and affection; not because he was afraid of losing his brother again. "You've got me..." he said quietly, relaxing just that small fraction more.

"I have," Slade agreed. "Back where you belong... with me." He continued to stroke the nape of Oliver's neck as he continued, "Without the Mirakuru twisting everything... I can finally see who's important to me."

Oliver relaxed even more, making tiny sounds of contentment as he let his head drop onto Slade's shoulder more heavily, exposing the back of his neck more fully, his trust in his brother complete. "...Hurts..." he said in a tiny voice, not really trying to complain, but unable to keep from voicing how he was feeling, the headspace he was in preventing him from keeping anything to himself. If there was anything Slade wanted or needed to know, he would be unable to keep from telling him at this point.

Slade didn't stop the touch, fully aware of how much trust his brother had placed in him. He didn't feel like he deserved it... but at the same time, it was humbling to have that kind of trust. It always had been... and Slade knew he would never abuse it again. "I know, little brother." His words were whispered against Oliver's head. "But I've forgiven you. And I don't love you any less."

Oliver whimpered at the words, snuggling closer and then quieting.

He didn't know how long he sat in Slade's arms, the older man holding him tightly, stroking his neck, calming him and making sure he felt safe and loved...but eventually, he'd calmed enough to be able to pull himself back up emotionally. He swallowed hard and pulled back slightly, wincing when the shifting of his bottom caused the pain to reignite, but not whimpering or whining. He'd deserved every smack and stripe he'd been given. Forcing himself to look up into his brother's eyes, he gave a tiny, teary smile. "Thank you..." he whispered in a hoarse voice. He waited for Slade's permission to get up, though. Just because he was feeling more in control of himself and closer to his own age didn't mean he was going to just take back control and do whatever. Slade was still in control.

Slade loosened his hold enough for Oliver to move around. Able to tell his brother was in the more 'adult' headspace, he released his little brother after one last tight squeeze. "This has been quite an emotional time. I think we should go and get something more substantial to eat... and then relax for the rest of the day. I know you need to contact Felicity and Thea, but I think that can wait until tomorrow." His voice was gentle but still firm. Oliver might be back in the more adult mindset and might no longer be ill... but Slade felt it was important for him to have at least one more day without responsibility before things went back to normal.

"Yessir..." Oliver quickly agreed, giving his brother a shy smile. Carefully standing, he slowly pulled his pants back into place, attempting not to wince or hiss, although it was obviously painful. He didn't want Slade to feel badly about having to correct him. He'd known what he was doing was wrong and he got what he deserved. He didn't want to be a baby and whine about it.

Standing, Slade wrapped his arm around Oliver's shoulders, giving him a tight squeeze. "Come on, kid." He guided him from the bedroom as soon as his brother was ready, just so relieved to be back in his brother's life... to know that Oliver trusted him and believed in him. No one else mattered... just as long as Oliver knew he was safe and loved.

It didn't take much for Oliver to lean into his brother, continuing to snuggle as they returned to the kitchen, the knowledge that his older brother was back and firmly had him in hand enabling him to let go of the tight control he'd maintained over himself for the last many years. He was safe. He was loved. He was home. Another day before taking on the world again? That was perfect.

The End