Forging Ahead

Title: Forging Ahead

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

Summary: Follows Big Brother's Return. Slade and Oliver reconnect. Diggle forms his own connection.

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

Authors: BlackFox12 and Hope1iz

Thea didn't really know what to think about the fact Oliver was going to be returning with Slade. Both her brother and Diggle had insisted the Slade from the island wasn't the same Slade who had killed her mother... that all she had to do was look at him now to see that he was different; and that Oliver was feeling better and calmer, now that he had the man who'd become his big brother back.

But that didn't stop her from worrying. It didn't stop her from pacing. And it didn't stop her from glancing periodically at the door, waiting for her brother to be late... or not come at all. She was too used to both.

Diggle noticed the way Thea was pacing. "He'll be here," he promised.

Thea snorted. "Yeah... if we're lucky, all he'll be is late."

Oliver had acquiesced to Slade driving them to meet the others. While Diggle had retrieved his motorcycle from the warehouse where it had been left behind when Slade had rescued him- and had dropped it off at Slade's apartment- his brother hadn't wanted them to go separately. Oliver wasn't certain if it was because Slade could see how nervous he was and knew, if given the chance, he'd find a reason not to go... or if he was worried he'd have an accident due to distraction... but all it had taken was a stern look and a firmly worded 'No' and Oliver had quickly given up his argument that he should ride his bike over to meet the others so that, if he needed to go somewhere afterwards, he wasn't dependent on Slade for a ride. As a result, they were right on time.

Slade parked outside the bar and got out of the car, pausing to wait for Oliver. While he was normally confident enough to just go striding straight inside... he'd already decided that it might go marginally better if he allowed Oliver to take the lead on this; not least because, if Slade showed even a bit of his control over his little brother, he suspected the others would take it the wrong way... at least until they were more used to him.

Oliver gave Slade a crooked grin as his brother let him take the lead. He knew why Slade wasn't going first and as odd as it felt to be leading his brother anywhere...he was grateful that Slade was taking everyone else's feelings into consideration. It was going to be hard enough to convince Thea that he hadn't been coerced or brainwashed into giving Slade another chance, let alone that she should give Slade a chance. If Slade and he walked in with their usual method of relating to each other, it would set his little sister off. He knew it. It was time for him to take on the mantle of responsible big brother/leader again. It was easier knowing Slade was behind him, ready to support him if needed, though. Taking a deep breath, he pushed open the door and went inside, heading for the hidden door to the stairs.

Slade kept back and to one side of Oliver... almost like a bodyguard. He couldn't look less intimidating... but he did keep his hands free and at his sides. Just in case anyone was looking to check if he was armed.

It hadn't taken long- and a quick check to make certain no one was looking who shouldn't be- for Oliver to open the hidden door and let Slade enter, following him and closing the door behind them before slipping past his brother and leading him the rest of the way down the stairs into the secret headquarters. Diggle was there, as were Felicity and Thea. He swallowed hard as he looked at the girls. "Thea...Felicity...I guess you have some questions..." he began, in what he hoped was a firm voice that didn't show the hesitancy or nervousness that he was feeling.

Thea's body was stiff with tension as she looked between her brother and the man who had killed their mother. "How can we trust him?" She glanced at Oliver, but gave the impression of a wild animal prepared to bolt or attack at a moment's notice. "This could be a trick... some kind of game. Wait for you to relax your guard and then kill you."

Slade seemed calm... but he was close enough to his brother to know Oliver would be able to feel the tension running through his body; and the wince that accompanied Thea's words.

"I know because I lived with him for two years of my life, relying on him to stay alive. He's not being influenced by Mirakuru any longer. And I know because he rescued me and spent the last several days nursing me back to health after I acted a fool and took on over ten hoods by myself." Oliver grimaced at the memory of his own behavior and continued on in a sheepish tone. "He treated me exactly like he would have on the island if I'd have pulled that stunt there."

Thea looked torn, not sure whether to be relieved Oliver seemed to be making an attempt to curb his behavior... or worried about the possibility of Slade betraying her brother after Oliver chose to believe in him again. "You were hurt... I saw it." She glanced at Slade, but couldn't quite bring herself to thank him for saving her brother when she wasn't sure the older man was safe.

"I was..." Oliver calmly admitted, not wanting anyone to worry over something that was past and had been handled. "I had broken ribs and was stabbed. Slade got me antibiotics and made sure I stayed still so my body could begin to mend. He's still making sure I don't overdo anything while my ribs are still mending."

Thea blinked and focused more fully on her brother. "You don't listen to anyone else when they try to tell you you're overdoing it..." There was worry in her tone, as she knew how many chances Oliver had been taking... not only since Laurel died, even though it was more obvious after that.

"I was wrong to do that..." Oliver admitted. "From now on, I will at least give everyone's concerns consideration before dismissing them out of hand. But I listened to him because we've experienced so much together that he understands me."

"I know you don't have a reason to trust me." Slade's voice was quiet and calm. "None of you know me the way Oliver did and does now. But I took on a responsibility when we met on the island. It's a responsibility I neglected for a long time, but I have now picked up once more."

"He's my big brother, Thea. He watches out for me the way I watch out for you," Oliver added.

"I saw the way you took care of him," Diggle said to Slade. "And I'm inclined to trust you." He glanced at Thea and Felicity, adding, "And you both know that, if Oliver thought there was even the slightest amount of danger... he wouldn't expose either of you to it."

"No," Thea replied... but it wasn't really surrender, as her tone still contained an angry, hurt note. She just didn't know what to do about those feelings.

"Speedy...I know you don't want to trust him because of feels like betraying her," Oliver said quietly. "I'm just asking you to give him a chance to prove himself. That's all. We've all done things we regret because of outside forces..."

Thea looked away. "I'm sure this is all going to blow up in our faces..." she muttered, arms folded. Beneath the defiance, though, was still the hurt, scared girl who missed her mother... despite all the conflicts and tension that had been between them.

Oliver didn't remark on her comment. It was enough that she was agreeing to give Slade a chance, however reluctantly. "Thank you..." he said quietly, moving over and wrapping his arm around her shoulders to tug her in for a one armed hug and to kiss the top of her head.

Thea sighed and wrapped her arms around her brother to hug him. "Only because I love you, Ollie..."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Felicity finally interjected a flabbergasted look on her face. "...Just like that you're ok with it? I thought we were against it until he proved know...from a distance! Where he can't hurt Oliver or the rest of us..." she protested.

Thea glanced at Felicity. "From the sounds of it, I don't think he's going to be staying at a distance from Ollie... not if he's already been taking care of him," she added. She didn't add that, just because she trusted her brother, didn't mean she was planning to let her guard down around Slade any time soon.

"I'm not asking to be trusted... not immediately; not for a long time," Slade said to Felicity. "But even when I had the Mirakuru in my system... I never attempted to be deceiving. I never pretended to be Oliver's friend... his brother."

Felicity frowned, glancing at Oliver as if to confirm the words.

"He never has lied to me. When the Mirakuru had control over him, he hated me and didn't try and pretend otherwise. And he was very clear with me even if he hid it from everyone else that he planned to take me down and make me pay for what I'd done to him and to Shado..." Oliver gave an unhappy, guilt-filled smile as he thought about the past and everything that he'd done wrong that had contributed to Slade's mental state.

Felicity huffed at seeing the guilty look. "You're doing it again. Blaming yourself for other people's actions and decisions..." She sighed in frustration. "...But ok. As long as he keeps being honest, I guess I can keep an open mind and give him a chance." She eyed Slade sideways. "I'm watching you, mister! you know." She nodded her head slightly, huffing again.

Slade could see the guilty look on Oliver's face... and even though he didn't want to spook any of the others, he couldn't do anything but comfort his little brother... though when he stepped over to Oliver, it was to place his hand on his brother's shoulder and squeeze gently... even if he positioned his hand in such a way that his thumb was resting lightly on the back of Oliver's neck, to indicate the comfort was still there if his brother needed it. "None of what happened was your fault. If everything hadn't been so twisted, I wouldn't have hesitated in making sure you knew that and didn't need to feel guilty for things so out of your control."

Oliver took a deep breath, the light touch against his neck enough to ground him and help him refocus. "Maybe it wasn't my fault...but I certainly could have handled things better...differently. And it wasn't your fault either. So..." He gave everyone a crooked grin. "...I know you don't like it, but thank you for giving him a chance to prove himself. I know you'll come to view Slade like I do and realize he's not the enemy..."

"Maybe..." Felicity sighed, having noted how Slade was able to draw Oliver out of the guilt-induced funk he was heading toward. Something she, Diggle and Thea generally had a more difficult time doing. "...If he's able to keep you from going all guilty, emo-reaction guy, then maybe it will be good to have him around..." she muttered.

Slade kept his hand on Oliver's shoulder, hoping to keep his little brother from slipping back into his guilty haze. He didn't say that he would be right there to pull Oliver back to himself... each and every time. They didn't need to know the particulars.

"Now that we've settled that... Felicity, you mentioned you'd found something," Diggle said... although she hadn't got much further than that before Oliver and Slade had arrived.

"" Felicity quickly spun around and sat down at the computer terminal, assuming that everyone would move close enough to look over her shoulder. "I've found some interesting chatter regarding our favorite group of booby-trapped criminals..."

Thea eyed Slade and her brother, before moving over to look at the computer screen. Diggle was quick to join her, leaving enough room for Slade and Oliver to crowd round, too.

Slade wasn't actually sure what Felicity was talking about, but he stepped over to join them, sticking close to Oliver but not wanting to embarrass his brother by physically leading him.

Oliver was grateful that Slade was sticking close but letting Oliver maneuver on his own. Even though he didn't mind Diggle knowing exactly how he depended on his older brother, he didn't want Thea knowing just yet. Not until she'd been able to decide for herself that Slade was trustworthy. Same with Felicity. Once they'd both decided they could trust his older brother? If they found out exactly how he related to him, he'd be fine with it. By that point, they'd realize that it didn't affect him or his ability to lead in a negative way.

Felicity wiggled her shoulders slightly, the extra person in the group making her feel a bit more hemmed in than usual. "So yeah...I got a memo from Waller to some guy named Flagg. He's complaining that the mission she's assigned can't be accomplished without heavy casualty; as in the entire team dying, including possibly himself, if he joins the team on the ground instead of directing them from afar like she's ordering him to do..." Felicity's voice fairly dripped with disapproval.

"She's sending the suicide squad?" Diggle's own tone showed his disapproval. "Can you get the details of the mission?"

Slade, well aware that his proximity would make the others uncomfortable, kept his distance from everyone but Oliver. But he couldn't help but ask, "The suicide squad?"

"Didn't your guards talk?" Thea asked. "They were Waller's too..."

"Undoubtedly, they did. But I was out of it most of the time they talked. There were only certain things that penetrated the haze of the withdrawal," Slade said.

Oliver frowned, explaining for Slade's benefit. "They're a group of criminals that have had a high explosive implanted into their neck. If they try and run or do anything they aren't supposed to while on a mission, their handler has orders to set the explosive off, pretty much beheading them. Normally, they go on high risk missions where the chance of survival is very slim... but they've never been sent on a mission where the chance of survival is zero. She is literally asking them to commit suicide..."

"But they won't know that's what she's requesting because she's ordered Flagg not to tell them their odds of surviving the mission are zero. He's not happy about it." She glanced at Diggle. "Didn't you know one of the members of that squad?"

Diggle nodded. "Deadshot." He glanced at Oliver. "I can't let him get killed, man. I know there's a lot of history between us... but he doesn't deserve that."

"You want to pull them out?" Slade was thinking. "Extracting them might not be an issue... at least not a big one. But we need a way to safely remove the explosives. Blocking the signal would be best."

Diggle nodded and then looked at Felicity. "Can you do that? Get a space where the signal won't be able to reach?"

Felicity nodded with a semi-reluctant look on her face. "I can...but..." She bit her lip and gave everyone a hesitantly apologetic look. "...I agree that none of them deserve to be set up to die like that. This is an execution, plain and simple. But...they were chosen for this team because of what they'd done before...are we sure removing the explosives and pretty much setting them free is the best option? I mean...have you seen what this group has done?"

Oliver winced. "...There but the grace of God, go I..." he muttered, a guilty look crossing his face again.

Felicity winced this time. "Okay...I realize that pretty much everyone in this room has killed before...some more than others and some in more...creative...ways than others..." She included herself in the statement, even though she hadn't killed anyone. "...But the difference is you either didn't have a choice; or once you realized you had a choice, you stopped. Everyone on this team? Knew they had a choice and did it anyway...and enjoyed it. I mean, they've got Joker's girlfriend with them! She's certifiable! And I don't see how we can remove the explosive so that Waller can't just execute them without letting them go, because if she gets hold of them, she'll just put it back in and probably in a more difficult to remove area..." This time, she sounded frustrated. "...How can we save them and make sure she can't do it to them again without letting them out on the streets; which would be bad for society as a whole? At least in most of their cases..."

Slade gently squeezed Oliver's shoulder, again unable to do anything but respond to his baby brother's guilt and hurt. "I hesitate to say that any of them are beyond redemption... knowing that my own actions probably deserve execution several times over. But if you want to take on the rehabilitation of one of them..."

"You mean be responsible for him?" Diggle didn't say 'like you and Oliver?' Neither of them needed him to point out that parallel, even if it was Slade who was the former criminal.

"Yes... but only if you're sure," Slade said. "It's a big thing, to be that responsible for another person."

Oliver glanced at Diggle, a questioning glance on his face. "Deadshot has a kid..." he remarked softly. Diggle might already know that, but if it was mentioned to the two women, whatever decision Diggle made would likely be met with a better attitude than if they thought there was no real good reason for Diggle to put himself at risk.

Diggle nodded. "I know he's been trying to make a good life for her. I know he's done bad things, but all of us have done those. And I've spoken to him." He sighed. "He's not a bad person. I think saving him is the right thing to do."

"Then what about the rest of them?" Thea asked. "If they're as dangerous as you say... not a good idea to have them running around Starling City. Or any of the rest of the world."

"Give them a chance," Slade suggested. "Be the extraction team... return them to Waller after we have Deadshot safely squared away. Then she has no reason to kill any of them."

"Giving them a chance is the right thing to do. No one should be going in to die without realizing that's what they are doing. If they knew, they might choose to force Waller to pull the trigger. If we go in and help; give them a chance of survival...well, they're already operating under the assumption that their chance of living is slim, but they still have that chance," Oliver agreed.

"Well...alright then. I'll get hold of Barry and see if he can help me figure out a way to neutralize if not outright remove the explosive. You all come up with a plan for extraction." Felicity sighed and began waving them all away from her. "Go. I need space to think and communicate!"

"Can you send all of the information on the mission to me?" Diggle requested.

Slade stepped away, but paused, waiting to see where his brother would suggest they'd go. He was also figuring out if he was going to need to veto Oliver going on the mission... considering Oliver still had broken ribs. And there was a big part of him that wanted to reassure his brother again that the Mirakuru had twisted his love into hate... but that love had still existed below the surface. But that could wait until they were alone.

"Yes...and done..." Felicity reported, before making her call to Barry.

Oliver moved away as his team began to work on plans, shifting closer to Slade. "I have a feeling this Flagg guy won't be doing things from afar; his words in the email indicated he was the type of commander that wouldn't ask his troops to do something he wasn't willing to do himself. So...he's going to be our biggest help and hindrance. We'll need to make certain Deadshot is removed from the group without him noticing right away...but once we have Deadshot, he'll be the biggest ally we have in making certain that the other members of the squad aren't executed because Deadshot escaped." He spoke loudly and clearly to everyone. He didn't want to bring up his broken ribs...not yet. He was pretty sure Thea and Felicity would object to him going if he reminded them of his injuries. Diggle probably would, although he'd be more hesitant and likely to leave it to Slade to decide. If his older brother decided Oliver shouldn't go on this particular mission, Oliver didn't want it to be announced in front of his sister and ex-fiancé. He'd rather it be decided in private, so he could at least pretend that it was his idea and his own attempt at being responsible and reasonable.

Slade wanted to wrap his arm around Oliver and draw his brother in close. He didn't, but shifted close enough so that he was still in physical contact with him. "If we could cut Deadshot off from the rest of the group somehow... that would be better if we have some kind of map of the terrain." He glanced at Diggle.

"I can probably get access to a map," Diggle replied, looking through the mission particulars even as he responded.

"I'll be right back..." Oliver said quietly to the room at large, faintly smirking when he only got a glance from Thea; Felicity too involved in her discussion with Barry and Cisco and Diggle looking at the particulars. He went to a corner of the room, seemingly to look at his equipment, but in actuality wanting to ask Slade's permission to go on the mission.

Slade, guessing what Oliver needed, walked over to the corner with his little brother. But before Oliver said anything, he had to voice what was on his mind. "I know I already told you this, kid, but even though the Mirakuru twisted everything good and positive... I never truly hated you. I always loved you." His voice was low enough not to carry, but still intense with emotion.

Oliver blinked and found himself having to swallow hard at the words. "I...I know. You just spent three days taking care of me, despite my horrible attitude at being a patient. People don't do that for someone they don't love, unless they're being paid..." He gave a teasing grin, but his eyes were grateful and filled with unspoken emotion. He may not have realized it, but he'd needed to hear Slade tell him that.

Glancing at the others, to make sure he wouldn't draw attention and embarrass his brother, Slade gave Oliver a quick but tight hug, though he was very careful of the damaged ribs. "I don't think you should go on the mission," he added.

"Is that a recommendation, or a specific direction you expect me to obey?" Oliver whispered, returning the hug for a longer length of time and not caring if anyone saw. He'd already told the two women he viewed Slade like a brother. He may hide the exact way he related to his brother, but he had no problem letting them see him be affectionate.

Seeing that Oliver didn't seem to have a problem with showing affection, Slade held his brother close, whispering back, "Your ribs aren't healed yet. I don't want to risk you making them worse. So while they're healing, I'm expecting you to obey me and sit this one out." Even though his voice was firm, the undercurrent of care and concern was obvious.

"Yessir..." Oliver mumbled into Slade's ear, giving the older man's ear a nudge with his nose; not quite a kiss, but affectionate all the same. Stepping back, he took a slow, deep breath and straightened his shoulders, before turning to face the rest of the group. They were now watching the two men curiously.

Oliver cleared his throat. "I've just been reminded that I have several broken ribs that haven't finished mending and it was suggested that I sit this mission out; or at least stay out of the fighting and help from a distance..." Oliver glanced at Slade, fairly confident that his brother wouldn't object to that small caveat. Oliver could man the coms with Felicity and watch cameras easily enough, or drive the getaway vehicle.

Slade moved just enough so that it didn't look like he was letting Oliver lean on him, even though he was there to provide support for his little brother. When Oliver looked at him, he nodded, seeing no problem with his baby brother doing something to help on the sidelines... just so long as he didn't try to wade in. "I'm willing to be an active part of this mission," he said, quietly but clearly.

"You'll have to be in disguise." Diggle had no problem with trusting Slade in the group. The fact that Oliver's older brother had clearly put his foot down in regards to Oliver sitting the mission out only convinced Diggle further of that fact. But if Slade was a visible presence... or even took on the mask he wore before... and was caught on video... anyone searching for him would immediately know exactly where to look.

"He can wear my outfit..." Oliver offered. "People are used to seeing the Green Arrow with you both..." He glanced between Diggle and Thea. "Until I'm better and we come up with a different disguise for Slade..." He glanced between them all, trying to include them in the decision making process; trying to prove he could be a team player after so many months of going solo and refusing to listen to anyone else.

Felicity narrowed her eyes. "Yeah...that will probably work..." she finally answered, even as she looked back and forth between Oliver and Slade almost suspiciously. It was hard not to begin to like the older man when he so clearly had convinced Oliver to be reasonable. "Oliver might be more useful driving the get-away car than sitting here with me. Since he's hopeless with computers and all..." Her face was serious, but her tone was completely teasing.

"Only problem is if we run into any problems with the getaway car being blocked." Diggle was still looking at the map, even as he continued, "But I can't see that would be easy..."

"Aren't swords your weapon of choice?" Thea's question was almost a dig at Slade. "Can you shoot a bow?"

"I've been trained in the use of a variety of different weapons," Slade replied. "Just because I have a preference for one doesn't mean I can't use the bow with enough skill to make it seem like the Arrow is with you."

"At one time, Slade was better than me with a bow..." Oliver admitted, with a hint of pride in his brother's abilities. "I doubt I'm much more skilled than he is now..."

Felicity hummed. "So was that an agreement to Oliver driving getaway? Because if not, I might be able to convince Barry to come help..."

Oliver frowned. "Don't drag Barry into this...he still stays above the law mostly. I don't want him to become too associated with us and have law enforcement start hounding him..."

"I don't see any problem with Oliver driving the getaway car." If they'd been alone, Slade would have added, 'So long as that's all he does,' but he trusted his brother to read between the lines and not get involved in any fighting that happened to be going on.

Diggle passed his tablet to Thea and then to Slade, so both could familiarize themselves with the terrain.

"Great!" Oliver's voice was droll. He'd heard the unspoken words loud and clear and he was pretty sure Diggle had 'heard' them as well, if the look his other brother was giving him was any indication.

"Shame you weren't here a few months ago when Oliver began his solo excursions..." Felicity muttered under her breath, not intending anyone else to hear. She was grateful that someone had finally managed to break through Oliver's resistance in letting other people help him, but it was a bit irritating that it ended up being the man who'd attempted to kill Oliver a few years before. She knew the reasons behind all that and believed Slade when he said he was on Oliver's side now...but it still hurt that he hadn't been willing to listen to her own concerns when she'd made them, but had somehow decided that he needed to listen when Slade was here and making them.

Slade heard the muttered comment, but didn't respond or make any outward sign that he'd heard... even though he wished he'd been at his brother's side a lot sooner.

Diggle cleared his throat, glancing at Felicity and then at Oliver. "We'll stay in contact as much as possible... check in every hour when we can."

It didn't take long before the group was piling into the getaway car, Slade wearing Oliver's hood, and on their way to the location.

Felicity wrung her hands as everyone trooped back downstairs into the secret headquarters, including one new individual that she hadn't met yet but recognized from the photographs. "Flagg has all the other squad members safely in hand; Waller isn't going to punish any of them for the escape of their team member...Flagg made sure of it." She eyed Oliver from the side of her eye then glanced at Diggle, Thea and finally Slade, curious as to what they thought of everything that had happened.

Oliver nodded. "Thanks for the update. You get instructions from Barry on how to render the explosive useless? Or how to get it out?" He waved a hand toward Deadshot, deliberately avoiding looking at his brother. His brothers...and sister. He could tell all three of them were very irritated with him.

Diggle was almost... but not quite... irritated enough to make a comment to Oliver that he hoped Slade planned to make his displeasure known very thoroughly. Of course, part of that restraint came from the almost protective way he was hovering around Deadshot. It wasn't like he'd be able to prevent the explosive from going off if Waller chose to activate it and they weren't in a safe zone... but that didn't stop him from not wanting to just stand around, helpless to do anything.

Thea had no such restraint... though a lack of knowledge about Slade's particular relationship with her brother meant she couldn't embarrass Oliver in the same way. "Instead of trying to tell Felicity how to do her job, Ollie, maybe you should get those ribs seen to. In case you made them worse."

"I'll be taking care of those." Slade's voice was mild... very mild... but the look on his face was equal parts disappointment and frustration.

"They're alright..." Oliver threw out nonchalantly, as if he'd just scraped his knee or something else negligible. "I'll sit still. Do we need to worry about Waller breaking through our block?" he asked Felicity, too focused on the worry about Deadshot possibly exploding all over them, or exploding and taking all of them along with him, to really care about his own health like he should have. It also caused him to miss the tone his brother was using; which would have clued him in to the fact he was very, very close to being in trouble in front of his entire team.

Felicity huffed. "There's nothing you can do, Oliver. Go get taped up. I've got it covered. Barry is bringing Caitlin, so we have an actual person who is able to remove the bomb without causing worse injury. She may not be a medical doctor, but she at least knows her way around human anatomy enough to be able to do things without accidently cutting an artery..." she said sarcastically, before remembering that Deadshot was there and listening. " that, that is at all a possibility..." she added, with a hint of embarrassment. "...Shutting up now..."

Deadshot eyed the group that had not only helped his team out, but had managed to kidnap him from said team without anyone noticing until it was too late. He looked at Diggle. "Why?" he asked with a hint of suspicion, though he managed to keep his nervousness out of his voice.

Slade had told Oliver the truth when he said he would try to keep his brother being in trouble private... at least as far as Oliver would allow him to. But his brother was very close to the line that Slade wouldn't allow him to cross without responding and when Slade placed his hand on Oliver's shoulder, it was with his fingers putting a light pressure on the back of his neck. "No, kid. I'm going to check your ribs. And then we are going to talk."

Diggle heard the note of warning in Slade's voice as he addressed Oliver; and knowing full well what Slade planned to do to his brother, he addressed Deadshot... in the hopes it would draw some of the others' attention from the situation between Slade and Oliver. "Because you're not a bad person. Because I think you deserve a second chance." He didn't mention becoming responsible for Deadshot. Even though Oliver was dangerously close to making his own discipline public, Diggle would prefer to have a discussion with the other man in private.

It was the slight pressure of gentle fingers against his neck that refocused Oliver enough that he realized what he had been doing and what he was about to force Slade to do. He was thankful for Diggle's quick thinking to draw everyone's attention off of him, as much as it was able to be drawn from him, and shot John a grateful look, before nodding at Slade. "Yessir..." he said, without thinking, then blushed faintly. "...I don't think we need to be distracting anyone from the procedure..." He glanced up as Barry zoomed in, a breathless Caitlin in tow. "...If it's acceptable, we can go to the office upstairs; no one will be coming in to work for at least another two hours and the club doesn't open for another three..."

Felicity gave Oliver a suspicious look, but didn't say anything about his sudden about face or the blush on his face. She attributed it to the fact he'd promised to not take chances anymore and let them help him. Helping him with his injuries was part of the package, as far as she was concerned.

Deadshot blinked at the sudden appearance of Barry and Caitlin; although he didn't know who Barry was, since Barry kept his mask on when he realized that there were more people in the room than just Oliver, Felicity, Diggle and Thea. "You're not gonna let me blow up, are you?" he asked in a joking tone, but there was hidden worry beneath it.

Diggle shifted closer to Deadshot, placing a hand on the man's shoulder before he thought about it. When he did, though, he kept it there. After all, he'd decided to take on the responsibility for Deadshot. That included trying to ease his worry where possible. "No one's gonna do anything they're not certain is absolutely safe," he promised.

Deadshot found himself believing the other man and relaxed.

Slade gently pressed on the back of Oliver's neck... the closest to a squeeze he would come when there were other people around who didn't need to see. "It's crowded in here, so yes. We'll head upstairs..." He waited long enough to be sure his brother didn't need to speak with the newcomers and was then guiding Oliver from the hideout and to the office upstairs.

Waiting just long enough to figure Felicity and Diggle could explain to Caitlyn and Barry, Oliver then turned and led Slade to the office. He was quiet the whole way.

When they reached the office, Slade gently squeezed the back of Oliver's neck and then closed the door, before turning fully to face his brother. "Take your shirt off, please," he directed. Despite the phrasing, it was still obviously an order.

Oliver winced slightly, but quickly obeyed, removing the shirt gingerly in an attempt not to strain his ribs too much. "There's wrapping in the first aid kit behind you..." he said softly.

Slade immediately retrieved the first aid kit, removing the wrapping and then stepping over to his brother. He carefully examined his brother's wounds, checking to make sure they weren't worse, and then began to carefully wrap them up. Once he was done, he straightened, transferring his hand to the nape of Oliver's neck. "Why don't you explain to me exactly what you were thinking, little brother?"

Oliver held still while Slade took care of him, not saying anything. He knew everyone was upset with his actions, but especially his brother. And he couldn't really blame them. He'd done exactly what he'd agreed not to do. Still... "I wasn't thinking," he blurted out, then closed his eyes tightly, like a five-year-old who believed, if you couldn't see something, maybe it wasn't happening. He hadn't meant to say that. It was entirely too honest. He'd at least wanted to come up with an acceptable excuse. "I'm so used to just doing something the minute I see it needs doing, I didn't even think to warn you all and see if there were alternatives that didn't involve me leaving the car..." This time, his face dropped to face the ground, eyes still tightly closed. There was no way he wanted to face his brother and see disappointed frustration in his eyes.

Oliver knew he'd been wrong the minute he'd done it, but he'd been too proud and stubborn to turn around once he'd begun, or listen to his team when they began to demand he go back. Not thinking was bad enough. Deliberate disobedience was another...and that's exactly what he'd done. Slade had ordered him back to the car (so what if Diggle, Thea and Felicity were also; he could hear the order in Slade's tone). He'd ignored the order. "Was a disobedient brat..." he finally whispered, his shoulders slumping. With no one else in the room, he wasn't even going to try and pretend Slade wasn't in control.

"You were very disobedient. Very naughty," Slade replied, wanting to head off any attempt Oliver might make to call himself bad before it actually happened. "I don't believe I was unclear in any way that I expected you to wait in the car... that I was concerned straining yourself too much would make your wounds worse. I made a concession to allow you to drive the getaway car, but if I can't trust you to listen to me, then the next time you need to sit a mission out, it's going to have to be away from where the action is."

Oliver might have argued further, but he was already feeling guilty because he'd disappointed his brother...his whole team really...because he hadn't done what he'd said he'd do. What he'd nonverbally promised he'd do. Being called naughty caused him to feel young and childish on top of the guilt. But when Slade made the comment about not being able to trust him, he felt scared. "No! You can trust me! You can. I just...I need remember I'm not in charge anymore...that's all. It's a really bad can trust me...!" His voice started out frantic, but ended up on a high pitched, scared and obviously hurt note, despite his attempt to sound adult. He sounded like a frightened kid. Not frightened of his brother, but frightened he'd lost his brother's trust.

Slade still had his hand on the back of Oliver's neck and he used that hold to tug his brother closer, into a tight embrace... though he was, as always, careful of Oliver's ribs. He couldn't do anything else but respond to the hurt and fear in his brother's voice. "You need to remember that there are people who would hurt if you were lost. I have... lost so much time with you. The thought of losing you is one that hurts. More painful than anything I've experienced before."

Oliver pressed close, gripping the front of Slade's shirt tightly before shifting his arms around his brother's chest and just holding on, letting his head fall to Slade's shoulder. "I'm sorry...didn't mean to worry or hurt you..." he said remorsefully. His brother's hold had begun to slowly calm him down so that he didn't sound scared any longer. He did, however, sound guilty and just a little hurt- the thought of his brother not being able to trust him still prodding at him. "I was naughty...I didn't do what I said I'd do. Was very wrong and I'm sorry..." He closed his eyes and tried not to begin crying. It was difficult. Whenever he'd done something he knew Slade would disapprove of, he almost always began to feel young, childish and out of control. He hated disappointing his big brother. It was the knowledge of that disappointment and his own disappointment in himself that made it difficult to keep rein on his emotions and it was impossible to keep tears from pooling in his eyes and slipping down his cheeks. There was only one way to address what he'd done so that things could be right again; and so that he didn't feel so guilty and like such a disappointment and failure. He really didn't want it, though. Sniffling, he tried to pull himself enough together enough to react like the adult he was, instead of a little boy.

Slade gently stroked the nape of Oliver's neck, holding his brother tight to himself. "I can't lose you," he whispered in his baby brother's ear. "I've survived... everything else. Even becoming a monster and making your life as hellish as I could. But losing you would break me. I'm not strong enough for that." His grip on his baby brother was tight enough that his fear and worry probably came through clearly.

Oliver swallowed hard at the words and tone in his brother's voice, his guilt sky-rocketing at the knowledge he'd caused the turmoil. "I...I'm so sorry...I didn't want to worry you...hurt you...I didn't mean to..." His voice caught, his stomach twisting up. "I'm a horrible, thoughtless, selfish..." He stopped short of calling himself bad, but only because he knew Slade disliked when he called himself bad and he didn't want to make the other man hurt worse. Deep inside, he knew he was bad.

Slade's arms tightened around his baby brother and he took a deep breath before pressing a kiss to the top of Oliver's head, unable to help but respond to his little brother's pain and try to heal him. "I love you," he whispered. "I love you so much, little brother. I'm going to punish you. Not because you're bad, but because you need to care about your own safety in the same way I do... the same way the rest of your family does."

Oliver just nodded wordlessly, accepting Slade's decision without argument. By this point, his guilt was so great; he welcomed the news that he'd be punished. "Yessir..." he finally whispered and then took a deep breath."...I'm trying to remember that, Slade...I's just so hard to remember..." He snuggled closer again, feeling like a failure. "...Are...are you going to use one of my arrows again?" His voice caught in his throat. Implements hurt in a totally different and scary way than his big brother's hand did. But he knew he'd messed up badly and it hadn't been the first time he'd messed up in such a way. If given a choice, he thought he'd rather receive a longer, harder spanking from his brother's hand than to have a switch used, though. Just the skin on skin contact helped ease his fears; implements gave him a feeling of disconnection that could become very frightening if he was unable to keep control of his emotions.

Truthfully, Slade was torn about what to do. He had promised that the next time Oliver endangered himself, he would get more with the arrow. At the same time, he heard the note in his little brother's voice and knew the use of an implement distressed Oliver even more. Stroking the back of his brother's neck, he tried to think of what was best for his baby brother. "I need you to remember being spanked, kid. I need you to think of the consequences of doing something dangerous enough to take yourself away from me. And I did promise you..."

Oliver whimpered slightly, but didn't argue. "...You promised and I was still naughty and disobedient..." he agreed in a whisper."...Can't...can't you spank me longer and harder with your hand instead?" he couldn't help but ask, his voice rushed, high pitched and not really all that hopeful. Slade always did his best to keep his promises and Oliver knew that. Still, he felt the need to try, the idea of the arrow causing unease he didn't like feeling.

Slade continued the gentle touch. "I broke a lot of promises I made to you, kid. And I made a lot of promises that would have hurt you badly had I kept them. But now that I'm in my right mind, I can't justify breaking a promise I've made to you since I came back into your life. I know being spanked with an implement is a more scary feeling, but it's not going to change anything between us. I love you, but you know what you did was wrong. And you know why it was wrong."

"Yessir..." Oliver whimpered again, unable to stop himself from pressing closer to his brother as if seeking reassurance. "...I know what I did was wrong and's my own fault and I deserve what you give me..." He sniffled slightly, closing his eyes and trying to brace himself for the fact his brother was going to punish him. "...It's only scary cuz it feels like there's something between us when you use something else than your hand...makes me feel like I've been cut off from you somehow..." he admitted in a whisper. "Think I'd rather be spanked every night for a week till I can't sit than to feel cut off from you..."

"Kid..." Slade gently squeezed the back of Oliver's neck. "You could never be cut off or separated from me. You're my little brother and I'm not going to let you go. Ever again. But being inconsistent isn't good for either of us." He brought his hand round to Oliver's chin, encouraging his little brother to look at him. "Using one of your arrows makes it more personal, because that means every time you take on the mantle of the Arrow... every time you pick up your bow... you'll remember that I took you in hand. You'll remember my love. And you'll know how devastated I would be if something were to happen to you."

Oliver bit his lip as he thought about Slade's words, then he blushed. "Great...I'm never gonna be able to shoot an arrow again without thinking about being over your knee..." he mumbled, obviously trying to lighten his own mood at least. "I...I am sorry I worried you...and everyone else...and I know you love me and...I love you and I didn't...I don't..." He sighed. "...I'll try to not be too much of a baby when you punish me. I know I deserve it." He somehow managed to keep his eyes up and on his brother, even though he wanted to look down and hide his face.

Slade gently stroked his cheek. "Don't worry about trying to force yourself to react in any way other than how you need to. I'm not going to think any less of you. You've placed a lot of trust in me to do this and I would never do anything to damage that trust." Pausing, he added, "If you don't want to wait until we get home, we can take care of the punishment here. Otherwise, we can either go and join the others or stay here together for a while longer."

Oliver's eyes widened at Slade's words, not having expected to be given a choice in the matter. "...You control, though..." he said, hesitantly and with a bit of nervousness. "I don't know what I want..." Beyond the obvious of not wanting a spanking, that was.

Stroking Oliver's hair, Slade thought about the options. He wasn't sure he felt right waiting longer to punish Oliver and letting his little brother work himself into a worse state. At the same time, he'd prefer to take care of him back at the apartment... where they'd be comfortable and in private. "I'll drive us back to the apartment. On the way, I'd like you to text the others and just tell them we're leaving; or you can text John and therefore go into a little more detail," he suggested.

"Okay," Oliver agreed quietly, pulling out his phone to send the text to the group. He knew John would read between the lines. He wrote, 'Slade's taking me home to make sure I rest my ribs and don't reopen my stitches. I'll see you tomorrow. I'm sorry...' He held his phone to Slade, so the older man could see what he'd sent.

Slade nodded. "Good boy." He gently squeezed the back of his brother's neck and then wrapped his arm around Oliver's shoulders so he could guide his brother from the office and out of the club, heading to his car.

Oliver found himself feeling very happy at the affection and praise and started slipping back into the mindset of letting Slade be in control and protect him. "...Your good boy?" he couldn't stop himself from asking, as he got into the car.

"My good boy," Slade agreed, getting in the driver's side. He gently squeezed his little brother's knee and then began driving back to the apartment.

Oliver watched the scenery go by quietly, calming himself as best he could. When Slade parked the car, he waited for his brother to lead him out of the car and into the apartment.

Slade got out of the car and stepped round to open his little brother's door, helping Oliver out and drawing him in close so he could guide his baby brother into the building and into the apartment. He was quiet, but kept Oliver close the whole time.

Once in the building, it was only Slade's firm but comforting grip that enabled Oliver to stay in place and not run. He felt so guilty. At the same time, the knowledge of what he'd earned himself had him close to hyperventilating just thinking of it. "I'm sorry," he whimpered softly.

"I know, kid. And I'm going to spank you, but it's a punishment you've been through before and you know it's not going to cause you any permanent or even lasting harm." Slade transferred his grip to the back of Oliver's neck, squeezing gently, as he led his little brother inside the apartment and closed the door.

"I know..." Oliver's voice caught and he blushed. He had no idea why he'd be so nervous. He could handle pain; and Slade had promised he wasn't withdrawing from him. There was no reason to be so skittish. As soon as Slade had locked the door, he'd been led into the bedroom. He stood there, by the bed, wondering if he should take initiative and strip down, but Slade was in charge. He always was. He didn't want to do something unless Slade told him to, so he fidgeted by the bed instead.

Slade kept in physical contact with his little brother, wanting to be sure Oliver knew he was still loved and not 'cut off' from him. Taking a seat on the bed, Slade gently guided his baby brother across his lap, after retrieving a pillow so Oliver had some support.

Oliver let Slade guide him over his lap, adjusting so that his ribs weren't receiving any undue stress and clutching the pillow. He hid his face against his arms, ashamed to find himself in this position again so soon. "...Why can't I just learn?" he muttered, in self-pity and remorse.

Slade tugged his brother's pants and underwear down, settling a hand at the nape of Oliver's neck and squeezing gently. "You've spent too long without me in your life. It isn't surprising there are setbacks."

Oliver tensed up as he felt air ghosting over his bare backside, but then relaxed as Slade once again held his neck and gently squeezed. "Do you ever feel like a mamma cat? The way you can so easily control me by just squeezing the scruff of my neck?" Oliver asked, a strange tone to his voice. It felt so good to have Slade confirm his place in his life with just that one touch; but he couldn't help but wonder if he should be offended by it, or worried about the effect it had on him; or if he should be ashamed by his quick capitulation to the possessiveness of it or...well, he didn't know what he should feel or think. The fact he liked it and it comforted him wasn't able to be denied, however.

"Actually..." Slade spoke with a faint trace of amusement in his voice. "The very first time I held your neck, I felt like a lion protecting its cub. But the way you've always responded to my touch... it's a part of the need you have, kid. I know it still scares you at times, especially considering how long I was absent... physically and emotionally. But I'm not going to abuse it. I'll respond to your need... but I won't ever hurt you."

Oliver let out a tiny huff of air, relaxing a little more. "I know that..." he said, in a tone of voice reminiscent of a teenager going 'duh!' to an adult. "I trust you..." he continued on, in a more respectfully earnest tone. "You're right that it scares me, though...I feel like maybe there's something wrong with me...needing you to handle me..." he admitted in a tiny voice.

"There's nothing wrong with you, kid," Slade promised. "You were dependent on me for survival for a long time. I stepped in and took responsibility for you." Rubbing his brother's neck gently, he continued, "When I came back to Starling City... I didn't plan to show I'd come back. I thought you could handle me not being in your life... only helping from a distance and being an invisible protector. It would have been a fitting punishment... not being allowed to show myself to you. But the moment I saw you... I knew how much you needed me. I knew you needed me to take control and take care of you. You are my priority, kid. And I need to take care of you the same way you need me to take care of you."

Oliver closed his eyes and relaxed the rest of the way, focusing on the gentle affection. He knew he wouldn't be able to be so relaxed when the punishment began, but hearing that his brother needed to take care of him helped ease some of the fear he had that he shouldn't want to be taken care of. "I'm happy you saw me and saw what I did...even if I'm still ashamed I did it... It brought you back to me," he admitted in a whisper.

Slade gently stroked over his baby brother's back with his other hand, just taking a few moments to touch Oliver and assure himself his brother was safe. "I love you, little brother. That was what I focused on... what brought me out of the darkness and made me able to find my way back to you."

"I love you too..." Oliver said softly, before hiding his face against his arm again and trying not to tense up at what he knew would soon be happening.

Slade kept his hand at Oliver's neck, even while he moved his other hand back down towards his brother's backside. Lifting that hand, he brought it down in the first firm, hard swat... careful not to use his full strength, but ensuring that swat and then the next one were felt.

Oliver clenched his teeth and the muscles of his bottom, preparing to brave it out. He felt so guilty over worrying everyone- worrying his brother- that he didn't want to begin sobbing and carrying on and making Slade feel worse. He couldn't stop the first initial grunt as his brother began to punish him, however, and it was an effort not to whimper.

Slade completed one full circuit of swats, down to Oliver's thighs, before starting over from the top and beginning to speak. "I told you to stay out of the fighting, little brother. I gave you a clear order that you accepted... that you agreed with. I know you've been hurt before, but that doesn't give you a right to willfully endanger yourself. Not when the people who love you expect you to stay out of it." He punctuated the last four words with swats a fraction harder to his little brother's sit spots.

Oliver winced at the words. He had nothing to say in defense of himself. He knew he was wrong. And it was becoming more and more difficult to hold the tense posture and not make noise, especially when Slade began a second circuit, and then targeted his sit spots. He almost whimpered, but caught himself before the sound was little more than a high pitched gasp.

Slade completed a third circuit of swats at the same harder force, going a bit faster, and then reached over to pick up the arrow he'd already retrieved. "You cannot put yourself in danger, little brother. You can't risk your life. You can't risk taking yourself away from me. When I tell you to do something... I expect you to follow my orders. Especially when you've already agreed with me." He brought the shaft of the arrow down, though no harder than the previous time... and kept his hand firmly on the back of Oliver's neck, keeping the physical contact.

By the time Slade had completed the third circuit, Oliver had tears streaming down his face, the words and the pain combining together to make him very repentant. He'd managed to hold still, his body aching from the tense way he held himself. When the arrow shaft landed, he couldn't hold back any longer. Back arching and legs kicking out behind him, Oliver let out a garbled, gasping sob and then he was holding his breath...not because he was trying to hide his emotion, but because the shock had rendered him unable to do anything...even breathe.

Slade could tell immediately how his little brother was affected and he squeezed the nape of Oliver's neck. "Breathe, kid." He let his other hand stroke over Oliver's back and bottom... trying to calm his little brother through his touch.

The habit of automatically obeying Slade was what kept him from passing out due to lack of oxygen. As soon as he felt the gentle pressure on his neck and Slade's hand rubbing over him, he focused on his brother. At his brother's one word of 'breathe', he was dragging air into his lungs with a moaned gasp. And then he was sobbing...not tense anymore, not quite limp and accepting of the punishment, but not fighting his body's reaction any longer. "I'm sorry..." he cried, ashamed that he'd started sobbing and it would make his brother feel bad.

Slade closed his eye for a second, still gently stroking over his brother's body with one hand, while the other stayed in place at Oliver's neck. "Don't force yourself, little brother," he said softly. "Don't try to fight. You're just going to end up hurting yourself. There are times and places that you need to fight... that you need to resist. Not with me. Never with me."

Oliver hid his face in the pillow, slowly relaxing as his brother continued the gentle affection. At Slade's soft yet insistent directions, he let himself go limp over his brother's knee and just sobbed. " sorry...didn't even finish and I'm being a baby!" He continued to cry, not hiding anything from Slade.

As he had in the past, Slade reached down and wrapped his arms tight around his baby brother in a hug. "You're in a lot of emotional turmoil," he said, his voice still soft. "You aren't a baby. You're just reacting like you are... like my baby brother, who knows he was naughty."

"...Was so very naughty..." Oliver agreed, continuing to cry even as he lay boneless over his brother's lap.

Deciding he needed to feel his little brother properly in his arms... and that Oliver needed the comfort and safety of being held... Slade brought Oliver up onto his lap, cradling him close in his arms and stroking the nape of his neck. "Don't be scared of how you need to react," he whispered in his little brother's ear.

"Didn't want you to feel bad..." Oliver admitted quietly, still crying, but not as hard, so he was able to speak more clearly.

Slade pressed a kiss to the top of Oliver's head, unable to do anything other than respond to his brother's needs. "I need to feel bad when I punish you, kid. I don't like causing you pain... even pain that's tempered with love. But I know what it's like to not feel that... and that was when I hurt you. And that's something I cannot contemplate doing again."

Oliver thought about the words, understanding causing him to hum slightly before he shivered and sniffled, snuggling close. " hiding my reactions from you anymore..."

"No more hiding," Slade agreed. "You'll just make yourself feel even worse... and you're safe with me. I love you." The last three words were spoken with intense emotion.

"Love you much!" Oliver whispered, before snuggling as close as he could get.

Slade held his little brother tight, stroking the nape of his neck, his entire world focused on Oliver. "You saved me." He'd said it before, but he had to say it again... had to let Oliver know how important he was.

Slowly, Oliver calmed down, the feeling of his brother holding him and the words soothing him. Finally, taking a quivering breath, he asked, "Do you need to finish punishing me? I...I think I can handle it now; I won't try and be brave..." he said, in a tiny voice.

Slade stroked his hair and the nape of his neck gently. "I will finish the spanking... but only with my hand." He'd already been concerned over using the implement... Oliver's reactions made him feel his little brother needed the closeness the contact would bring.

Oliver couldn't help but whimper in relief. "I dunno why it scared me so bad," he whispered. "Deep down, I know you had me...have me...and you would never harm me now..."

Slade's thumb stroked the back of his little brother's neck. "You were scared of me for a long time... I was a monster. I couldn't see past what the Mirakuru did to me." He sighed. "I won't use an implement again, little brother. Not seeing how badly it frightens you."

"I'm sorry..." Oliver whispered, feeling like he'd let his brother down because of his fear. On top of that, he'd been "...Very, very naughty..." and felt like maybe he deserved the implement, even if it did scare him.

"Kid..." Slade tightened his embrace. "Being scared of an implement because it makes you feel cut off from me isn't something you need to apologize for. This isn't about pushing you, little brother, or making you scared and upset. This is about keeping you safe... keeping you alive. With me."

"Wanna always be with you..." Oliver said quietly, just snuggling as long as he could before Slade finished addressing his behavior.

"You will be." Slade's promise was certain. "Like on the island... I won't ever leave you. I won't let myself be taken from you. And I won't let you be taken from me."

"Gotta be good so I don't take myself away from you..." Oliver sighed.

Slade gently squeezed the nape of his little brother's neck. "Are you ready to finish this, little brother?"

"Yessir..." Oliver said in a tiny voice. "Wanna be right with you..."

Slade took a moment or two longer to hold his brother and then gently moved Oliver back over his lap, making sure the pillow was providing as much support as possible.

Oliver took a deep breath then slowly let it out again, allowing himself to relax over his brother's lap.

Slade placed his free hand on the nape of Oliver's neck again, figuring there was no harm in providing the reassurance once more through touch, and then brought his hand down in a firm swat on his brother's bottom once more that he then repeated, careful to avoid the slightly darker mark left by the arrow shaft.

Oliver winced and whimpered at the first smack, but his brother's hand calmed him considerably. Still, it didn't take long for his bottom to feel very sore. This time, he squirmed, whimpered and cried immediately. It's what his brother said was needed.

Slade didn't speak as he completed a full circuit of swats, careful to hold back on his full strength, and then paused to rub Oliver's backside. "Until you're fully healed, you need to sit out any missions that might crop up. Trust your friends... your family... to handle what's necessary."

Oliver squirmed and whimpered until Slade finished the circuit, only relaxing and letting out smaller whimpers when his brother rubbed his backside. "Yessir..." he whispered. "I will...I won't be naughty anymore...I'll be your good boy..."

"You are my good boy," Slade promised, continuing the gentle rubbing. "You made a mistake... you were naughty... but you aren't now. My good boy," he reiterated.

Oliver couldn't say when the weariness overcame him. He felt weightless...boneless...his attention solely on Slade and the feel of his brother's hand holding his neck, his brother's hand rubbing the sting away from his bottom, his brother's knees under him, holding him in place. "Yours!" He agreed with the possessive comment wholeheartedly, lying limp and pliant and slowly falling asleep.

Slade could tell his brother was close to passing out and he carefully eased Oliver's underwear and trousers back into place. He gently gathered his little brother into his arms, drawing him close so he would be comforted... and hopefully feel safe and loved.

Oliver snuggled close, hiding his face against his brother's chest. He was soon asleep, hands tangled in Slade's shirt.

Diggle couldn't really relax until the explosive had been safely removed from Deadshot. No one suggested that Barry remove his mask... while Diggle was certain Deadshot was a good person and could be trusted, he was well aware that the other man had basically been a merc.

As the two took their leave, Diggle thanking them sincerely, he couldn't help but shift closer to Deadshot. He was fully aware of how Slade was going to respond to Oliver's actions... and he was trying to figure out how to get Deadshot alone so they could talk without drawing any undue attention to how things were actually going to go down.

Floyd watched as the masked meta human and pretty scientist left after having taken the explosive out of him. For once, he'd kept his sarcastic nature under control, wanting to show proper gratitude. Soon, though, it was just him, Diggle and the two females he didn't remember ever meeting. "So where's Lilah?" he asked curiously.

"She's at home, with our daughter," Diggle replied... though he wouldn't have been surprised to find out she was called in by Waller, after Floyd had disappeared. He was going to have to figure out what to tell her about his deciding to kidnap his former enemy from under the nose of her boss.

Floyd nodded. "Your little girl doing well?" He was genuinely interested in the answer and his voice was wistful.

"Yeah." Diggle smiled. "She's beautiful." He noticed the wistful note in Floyd's voice and placed a hand on the other man's shoulder. "It's not too late to be there for your daughter." His voice was low.

"I'm not good enough for her..." he said, with a shake of the head. "They put her in a foster home when I went to jail...she's better off without me." His tone betrayed how much those words hurt to speak.

Diggle squeezed his shoulder gently. "I'm sure she wouldn't feel better off without you. You're her father. And... well, I won't say you haven't made mistakes. But you're still a good person underneath it all."

Floyd snorted sarcastically. "You tell a judge that for me? They'd laugh you outta court. I know what I am...good isn't on the list."

"It can be..." Diggle glanced at Thea and Felicity. "Mind giving us a few minutes?"

Thea snorted softly. "Why not? It seems like the week for trusting criminals."

"Least his was just a job and not cuz he hated us..." Felicity muttered, even as she gathered her stuff together to leave. "I'm going to head out and try and salvage what's left of this day. If you want to join me, Thea?"

Thea nodded. "Sure." She collected her own things... not like she had much... and waited for Felicity to join her before exiting, leaving Diggle and Floyd alone.

"Wanna talk to me alone, huh?" Floyd huffed. "That can't be good. I didn't think I'd had enough time to piss you off already."

"I didn't really think we'd want to have this conversation in front of others," Diggle said honestly. "But I made it clear, if we were going to get you out from under Waller's thumb, I was going to take responsibility for you."

"Fair enough. I guess this means you have rules and obligations I have to follow if I want to stay free of Waller." Deadshot's voice was calm and knowing.

Diggle held a hand up. "Just to make one thing clear... no matter what happens, returning you to Waller is not on the table."

Floyd eyed the other man and, seeing something he was looking for, visibly relaxed. "I believe that. So what's gonna keep me in line, then...other than my loyal personality and innate desire to please?" There was only a hint of the normal sarcasm...although the look on his face more than made up for it.

Diggle hadn't been completely certain of the decision he'd made... not until seeing for himself how Oliver had related to Slade when he was so clearly in trouble. "If you step out of line... or do something that might be dangerous or illegal without there being a very good reason... I'm gonna spank you."

Floyd just stared at Diggle, his face devoid of emotion. Finally, he responded. "You're serious...I think I should be offended..." He paused and slanted his head thoughtfully. "...It's better than having my head blown off, though. And since I don't do things without a good reason... yeah. Sure. No arguments here." His voice was accepting and he didn't appear worried. He obviously didn't think he and Diggle would ever disagree on what a good reason was.

"I think I also need to specify that money by itself would not be a good enough reason," Diggle added... assuming that Floyd was intelligent enough to work that one out, but wanting to make it clear.

Floyd wrinkled his nose. "How am I supposed to earn money, then? Not like I can go get a regular job." He sounded frustrated, but willing to at least try to compromise.

"I'm willing to look through the available options with you," Diggle replied. "And I'm not vetoing everything... but I do want you to check in with me before you agree to do anything."

" really are taking charge of me..." Floyd sounded surprised.

"Yeah. I am." Diggle sounded nothing but sure... and that note carried through in what he said next. "And speaking of which... I think it would be a good idea to clear the air between us. Start over."

Floyd glanced at Diggle, the tone of his voice warning him that something serious was about to occur. Swallowing, he asked, "How?"

"I think a spanking will not only clear the air between us, but it will also give you an idea of what to expect... and will also let you know I'm serious about this," Diggle stated firmly.

"Do I have a choice?" Floyd asked in resignation. He knew if Diggle insisted, he wouldn't argue. The man had helped deliver him from a certain death sentence and gave him a chance for a new life. He owed him. was hard to swallow his pride and just accept without any question.

"Have you really done as well as you could have on your own?" Diggle asked.

"Considering where I ended up, you and I both know I haven't." Deadshot sighed.

Diggle nodded. "You always have a choice... but by now, I think you know you've backed yourself into a corner. And I want to help you out of it. So looking at it that way... you don't have much of a choice right now."

"'re right...I'm in a tough spot I can't get out of. Not without help. If the help involves a bit of pain...I still need help. So not really much choice at the moment..." Floyd paused, shifting uncomfortably. "How's it gonna happen, then?"

Diggle didn't say that spanking was about more than just causing pain... he figured the other man would work that out and drawing it out wasn't going to help either of them. "There's no reason not to do it here, since everyone's left by now." Placing a hand on Floyd's shoulder, he started to lead the other man towards one of the chairs. "I'm going to put you over my knee..." Probably, having Floyd bend over something would be less personal. Diggle didn't have to see Slade punish Oliver to know that the older man likely spanked his brother the same way. But while he couldn't see Floyd falling into the same mindset Oliver seemed to take on when his big brother took charge... their relationship had an ease to it Diggle had noticed; one they seemed to fall back into all too easily. And he wanted that same ease with Floyd...

"Gonna make sure I can't pretend it's anything less than personal, huh?" Floyd commented, having picked up on Diggle thinking things through. "Can't say I'm not a bit relieved at that, to be honest..." While Deadshot wasn't particularly close to people-his chosen profession making it difficult, or at least unwise, to be close to people- he didn't think he could allow Diggle to do what he had planned if it was impersonal. He'd as soon just let the other man beat him than to make himself so vulnerable and potentially looked on as childish if the man didn't care enough to make it personal.

A little surprised at the response... though pleased that he wasn't going to have a fight on his hands and that Floyd understood where he was coming from... Diggle nodded. "I'm choosing to be responsible for you. You're choosing to let me be responsible for you. No chance I'd let it be anything but personal." He reached the chair and sat, guiding Floyd down and across his knees, making sure the other man's weight was supported and that he was in no danger of falling.

"That...makes this easier to take..." Floyd admitted, squirming slightly to get comfortable; or at least as comfortable as the position allowed.

Diggle rested his hand gently on Floyd's back, though it was more for emotional support than holding him in place then proceeded to bare him. Lifting his hand, he brought it down in a firm swat that he then repeated.

Floyd swallowed uncomfortably as he was bared, but didn't say anything. After everything his body had been put through, up to and including the explosive, having the other man see his bared ass didn't really cause a blip on the radar. The actual swat did... he couldn't help but yelp when it landed. It was a little surprising how much it hurt, considering the type of pain he'd experienced in the past.

Diggle settled quickly into a rhythm of swats, working his way over Floyd's entire backside, down to his thighs, before he started over from the top. All the while, he kept his grip on the other man firm and sure. Midway through the second circuit, he began speaking. "You said you aren't a good man, but I've seen it come through. I want to help you reach the same belief I have in you."

Floyd kept still and quiet for most of the swatting, only minutely squirming or whimpering when Diggle smacked an area he'd already got before. When Diggle talked, he attempted to sound disbelieving and amused. "I guess someone has to believe in me..." His voice sounded more hopeful and grateful than he would have liked.

"I do," Diggle replied, without hesitation. "If I didn't, I wouldn't have chosen to save you... bring you out from Waller's control and keep you safe. I wouldn't be doing this." He completed the second circuit and began a third, swatting a little harder and faster.

" one's ever believed in me like that except my daughter..." Floyd's voice caught. When Diggle started swatting harder and faster, he didn't try to hide his reaction. He whimpered and squirmed readily... willingly... and eventually, tears ran down his face.

Diggle shifted Floyd forward slightly, enough to begin to target swats to the other man's sit spots. "You have more than just your daughter now." His voice was low and filled with sincerity.

"Yeah...o...okay...I'll try to remember." Floyd's voice came out rough and strained before he finally let himself go limp over Diggle's lap. He wasn't crying loud or even vocally, but he was obviously crying. It was a revelation to him that someone could care what happened to him.

Diggle stopped the spanking, carefully easing Floyd's clothing back into place before he helped the other man up, then wrapped his arms around him in a tight, comforting hug.

It had been a while since Floyd had received any affection from anyone outside of his daughter. It took him several seconds to adjust to the fact that he was in fact being hugged, before he tentatively put his arms around Diggle and returned the gesture. His uncertainty and confusion about the gesture were clear, though. Clearing his throat and sniffing once and blinking his eyes to stop what few tears were still falling, he asked, almost shyly, though no one would normally accuse Deadshot of being shy, "What now?"

Diggle didn't loosen his hold on Floyd, deciding to make sure the other man knew he was cared about. "When you're ready, we'll sit down and talk about where to go from here... maybe over some food?" he suggested, knowing it had been a while since he had eaten and guessing feeding the squad enough wasn't high on Waller's list of priorities.

"Yeah...that sounds good..." Floyd answered agreeably, noticeably not pulling away. As long as Diggle was offering comfort, he wasn't going to turn it down. It'd been too long since he'd felt like he actually mattered to someone who could and would take care of him. Still... "Is there a way you can check on my daughter? Make sure that Waller isn't able to hurt her to get back at me?" he asked worriedly, biting his lip.

"We've made her a priority," Diggle promised. "You don't have to worry... protecting both of you is important... and I already called in a few favors to make sure she would be safe before we grabbed you." Actually, those had been Slade's contacts, considering he had eyes on his own son.

Floyd closed his eye tightly and slumped in Diggle's arms. "Thank you..." His voice sounded hoarse and choked again, as if he was close to crying once more. "Even if I never see her again; if she's safe and happy, I can live with it..."

Diggle held the other man close, deciding not to mention Floyd seeing his daughter... it was something they'd have to work on, but keeping him from his daughter wasn't an option.

After he'd been certain Oliver wouldn't wake, Slade had settled them both on the bed, stretching out next to his little brother even though he hadn't planned to fall asleep. But he had... and was catapulted straight into a dream-memory.

On the outside, Slade's cries were silent... but he was quickly shifting in his sleep, his body tense and rigid.

Oliver had been sleeping soundly, his brother's presence providing comfort and allowing him to remain free of nightmares. Even so, Slade's shifting and tense posture had become bad enough that he'd woke. Glancing toward his older brother, he hesitantly got up out of bed, then went to stand at the foot of the bed and gently gripped Slade's foot, preparing to throw himself backwards and out of the way, should the touch cause his brother to go into fight mode. "Slade...? Wake up...You're dreaming..."

The touch and the words penetrated, but it took a few moments for Slade to fully become aware of where he was. By now, his body was conditioned to recognize Oliver, meaning his little brother was in no danger... at least not now. He focused his one good eye on Oliver, pushing himself into a sitting position. "Sorry, kid." His voice came out hoarse... partially from the cries he hadn't voiced; partially because his emotions were raw and close to the surface. "I didn't mean to wake you. Go back to sleep. I'll stay awake..."

"You can't do that!" Oliver protested in concern. "You need sleep as much as I do..." He'd already moved back up into the bed and as close to Slade as possible when he'd seen Slade was aware. He automatically shifted so that he could crawl up against his brother, pushing his way under Slade's arm in a bid to be snuggled.

Slade responded immediately, wrapping his arms around Oliver and pulling his brother into his lap. He was still tense... but the way he held onto Oliver was as if he was trying to protect him, although there was a big part of Slade that felt the person Oliver really needed protection from was himself. "I let myself fall into too deep a sleep... they're not so bad when I doze lightly."

"You must have needed to sleep that deeply..." Oliver said quietly, pressing his ear to Slade's chest and listening to his heart. After so long believing his brother dead, it comforted him to hear the steady beating.

Slade gently stroked Oliver's hair and the nape of his neck, closing his eye at the sharp pain that came from the evidence of his little brother's trust in him. "It's been difficult to sleep... impossible without nightmares," he admitted, adding, "When I had bad dreams before... at least I knew they were of things that hadn't happened."

"Now your nightmares are memories..." Oliver stated more than asked, his voice sad. He snuggled closer still, until he was touching his brother shoulder to shoulder...all the way down to their feet. He couldn't help be a little afraid that he might lose Slade again if he wasn't touching him.

Slade's arms tightened around his baby brother. He couldn't help but hold onto Oliver... wishing he could soothe away the hurts he'd caused him; wishing he could go back in time and undo it all. "I know the island carried more danger than here... but at least there, you didn't need to be protected from me." Even before the nightmare, he carried the memory inside his head in excruciatingly vivid detail.

"I don't need protection from you now." Oliver's voice was confident if hesitant. "I just need you..." he whispered in a tiny voice, letting himself sound as childishly needy as he felt, not hiding anything from his brother.

"I don't deserve to be with you... not after what I did to you." Slade squeezed the nape of his neck. "But I am never going to leave you. No matter what. I love you. That was never clearer to me than when I woke up in prison."

Oliver wasn't sure if he needed to be scared at Slade's words of not deserving him, or relieved that he was promising to never leave him. "I love you too..." His voice was even tinier and more childish, if possible, his confused feelings obvious. "You do deserve one else would stand up to me when I'm naughty and make me behave...I need you..."

Slade rubbed his hand gently over his little brother's back, able to hear the confusion along with the childish note to his voice. "I know you do little brother. And I belong with you... just like you belong with me." He took a deep breath. "The dreams are horrible to deal with... but being close to you helps those feelings to go away." His voice was honest and sincere. Without his brother, he'd fall too deep into his own darkness.

"So if you hold me, you might be able to sleep better?" Oliver asked softly. "If so...well...I like being held..." He tried not to sound so needy, but he still sounded like he was very needy. He put his head back on Slade's chest, listening to his heart.

Unable to stop touching his brother... not able to stop reassuring himself that he had Oliver safe in his arms... Slade gently stroked his hair and the nape of his neck. "Yeah, little brother. Holding you makes me feel better." Even that wasn't much different to their time on the island. Slade had often slept next to his little brother... particularly after a punishment, but there had been that need at other times as well.

Oliver hummed happily, relieved that maybe his presence was a help to his brother. He knew it was a help to him.

Slade continued the comforting touch. "I love you, kid. I missed being able to hold onto you... I missed you." At least when he'd returned back to himself.

"Missed you much..." Oliver nuzzled against Slade. "Part of me was missing without you..."

Slade tightened his embrace, his brother a comforting weight in his arms against him. "Before I found you again... when the Mirakuru released its hold... I was missing a huge part of my soul. It was you, kid. Over and above everything else... I can't take back the way I hurt you. I can't remove the scars I left. But I would never hurt you again. I'd die first."

"I know," Oliver told his brother softly. "I believe in you, big brother..."

"That's the only thing that keeps me going," Slade admitted. "That you believe in me. If I didn't have you, little brother... you're saving me in more than one way."

"I have to save you, or at least try to save you. I'm the one that nearly destroyed you..." Oliver couldn't keep the guilt out of his voice and he tightened his arms around his brother, hiding his face against Slade's chest. He tried really hard not to make what was going on about himself; but he couldn't stop the guilt he felt and he'd promised himself- that he wouldn't hide anything from his brother anymore, no matter how uncomfortable it might make him feel to admit it and no matter what might happen because he admitted it. He only hoped it didn't make Slade feel worse.

Slade tightened his own arms around Oliver, unable to do anything other than respond to his little brother. "You didn't nearly destroy me, kid. The Mirakuru did. The only thing that nearly destroyed me was how I hurt you. You saved me on the island... and you saved me here. I owe you everything."

Oliver sighed quietly. He didn't think he'd ever not feel guilty about what had happened, no matter how many times Slade insisted it wasn't his fault. If he'd given Slade the cure to Mirakuru immediately... If he hadn't left him for dead... If... If... If... He didn't know what to say or do, though, that wouldn't upset his older brother. He was trying to help him. So he kept quiet.

"Do you think you can sleep if I stay like this?" he finally asked. He was perfectly fine sleeping cocooned in his brother's arms and unable to move unless Slade allowed. It felt safe and right. But if it didn't help Slade to sleep peacefully...

"I think holding you is the only thing that gives me comfort," Slade answered. "Holding you... knowing I can protect you... it's the only thing that helps me feel like I'm not a complete monster. At least not anymore."

"It helps me too..." Oliver admitted, a tiny smile on his face. "I don't have to be constantly watching my back, looking for an outside attack, because I know you'll protect me..."

"Always," Slade promised. "I will always protect you, little brother."

"I really am know..." Oliver winced as, despite his intentions not to say anything and make his brother upset, he started what he knew would be the beginning of blathering on about how guilty he felt.

"Kid... you don't need to be sorry," Slade replied. "You didn't have a lot of choice. I didn't leave you with much in the way of an out."

"I had a lot of choices...and the only one that feels right is saving your life with Mirakuru. Everything after that point got all messed up and I know I could have made better choices if I'd not given in to my fear..." Oliver protested. "I coulda given you the might have let you get your mind back and not be controlled by Mirakuru hallucinations. I coulda not shot you in the eye and left you for dead...I only needed to slow you down enough to get away, but I panicked. Later, I could have tried harder to talk with you and work something out." He paused, his voice catching and trembling slightly as he fought tears. "Even if none of the other stuff could be done differently and I did the only thing possible, I shouldn't have left you in that cell on Lian Yu without ever visiting. I should have at least made sure you were recovering and did something to let you know I didn't hate you..." He bit his lip and the only reason he didn't pull away from Slade in shame was because he knew Slade needed to hold onto him.

"I probably wouldn't have been aware of you," Slade admitted softly. "And the sight of the withdrawal might have scared you..." He gently stroked the nape of his little brother's neck. "I don't blame you, little brother." But despite the certainty in his voice, he was watching Oliver closely. The way his brother was talking... Slade could hear the guilt in his little brother's voice. If Oliver needed help... Slade would step in. Like he always would.

"It still would have been better than thinking I'd killed you..." Oliver muttered, his arms tightening fractionally and hiding his face against Slade's chest. Whenever he thought about his brother's 'death', he was hit by a sense of such loss that it was difficult to think beyond it. He shuddered. "Maybe if I'd done things differently, you wouldn't have done some of the things you did in response and wouldn't be having nightmares now. So much of what happened to you was because of what I did first..." Oliver swallowed hard and blinked back tears.

"You didn't kill me... and in my right mind, I have never blamed you for what you had to do," Slade promised. "I love you, little brother." He touched Oliver's chin, encouraging his brother to look at him. "But if it's hurting you this much... I would rather punish you and have you heal that way than that you continue to torment yourself."

Oliver's lower lip quivered and he bit it, hard, to try and hold it still. "You had every right to blame me and I don't understand how you don' was all my fault!" he blurted out, before glancing down in shame, not able to continue looking in his brother's eyes without being told to.

Slade gently squeezed the back of his little brother's neck. "No, kid. You were hurting a lot. I was already gone... you were right when you told me I was a stranger. It doesn't make you wrong to try and protect yourself... protect your family. You didn't even know if the cure would work." His thumb stroked over the back of Oliver's neck for a few more moments and then he gently moved his brother, settling Oliver across his knees.

Oliver closed his eyes, focusing on his brother's hand on the back of his neck, thumb gently stroking. When Slade moved him over his knees, he couldn't help but let out a tiny sigh of relief. Thinking on everything had reignited the guilt he always felt when he thought of what had occurred to his brother, because of him. That Slade was addressing that guilt gave him a sense of safety and belonging. "Shoulda at least tried," he mumbled to himself.

Slade kept his hand at the nape of Oliver's neck, using his free hand to bare his brother's bottom and then push his shirt up out of the way... gently rubbing over every inch of bared skin. No matter how intimate this was between them anyway... Slade wanted to refocus his brother completely; to take control... to be who his little brother could lean on. "I pushed you into not using the cure, kid. I knew what to say to trigger the killer inside you." He could see the pink marks left on his brother's bottom from the earlier spanking and he rubbed gently, taking his time, as he wanted to make this about healing and regaining control as much as helping his little brother feel punished. "I think I would have preferred to die... faced with how I'd hurt you."

Oliver gripped the comforter, the position slightly different than usual because he wasn't draped over his brother's knees and having to brace himself against falling on the floor; he was laying over his brother's thighs, the bed supporting all of his weight. The fact he was in no danger of falling at all meant that all his attention was on what his brother was doing and saying. He couldn't help but keen softly, voice quivering with unexpressed emotion. "I deserved to be hurt! Thought I had killed was all my fault. You pushed, but...but wouldn't have needed to...if I hadn't...hadn't caused everything to happen..." he gasped out, his voice tormented with guilt. The gentleness of the rubbing... the intimacy of it... caused his stomach to flip and he felt the need to just give in and obey whatever Slade told him, but he couldn't let go of the guilt. Not yet.

Lifting his hand, Slade brought it down in a firm smack that wasn't using his full strength... but was still enough to be felt. He repeated the swat and continued down to Oliver's thighs, then paused to resume the gentle rubbing. "It was never your fault, little brother. You didn't cause any of it. You healed me. I was stuck on the island for so long... betrayed by my partner... I assumed I was on my own. When you went back to rescue Yao Fei... I had the chance to leave on the supply plane. I couldn't take it. Not without you. You pushed your way into my heart, kid."

Oliver let out a tiny whimper as Slade began smacking, shivering and wriggling whenever a smack landed on a particularly sensitive spot. He'd already been very emotional before the spanking began. Slade's words sent him over the edge nearly immediately. "I only live cuz you protected me...taught me..." Oliver cried softly. "I should have listened to you...not insisted on doing things my wouldn't have been hurt..." Oliver clenched his fingers into the comforter again, the gentle rubbing comforting him, even as it caused the sting to be felt more thoroughly. His stomach flipped again and he sighed out a small groan.

Slade rubbed a moment or two longer and then started a second circuit of the smacks, the same force as the first, before he resumed the gentle rubbing once more. "It's impossible to predict what might have happened. I might have been hurt anyway... you might have been hurt worse than you were. I can deal with my own pain, kid... but not yours. The scars on your body that I left... they're a sign of how I failed you. Not your failure."

"Bu...but I failed you!" Oliver gasped out, close to needing to sob. "I di..din't listen... I din't obey. You charge. I din't listen...t..tried to control m..myself... an..and you were hurt!" Oliver did start to sob after admitting that.

Slade stroked gently over Oliver's back along with his backside. "You're right, kid." His voice was gentle, not scolding, though still serious. "Not about failing me... but about me being in control. But you made a mistake that you then tried to put right... because you were scared that you would lose me. It wasn't your fault that I was lost anyway... but the next time you don't follow my orders... the next time you don't trust me to make the right decision... you will go back over my knee. You will get a spanking. But you will be forgiven. I won't blame you. I won't stop loving you."

Oliver's sobbing quieted slightly at the words, though he was still crying. "P...promise? P...promise you'll s..spank me if I'm naughty again? P..promise won't l...let me t..try and t...take c..control b...back fr..from you? P...promise'll fo...forgive me and want me and love" His voice caught in his throat and he closed his eyes tightly, waiting for Slade's answer, listening for tone and not just words... the continued rubbing reminding him that Slade was in charge; and his brother loved him. He was Slade's baby brother. He was Slade's... "I'm sorry..." he whimpered.

"I promise." Slade's voice was soft, but firm. "I will stay in control, no matter what you try and do. I will always forgive you, little brother. I will always love you. No matter what. Being naughty will get you spanked. Being disobedient will get you spanked. But nothing will stop me loving you. Nothing will force me to let go of you... no matter what."

Oliver found himself relaxing at the words of promise, letting himself go limp over his brother's lap and just experience what was occurring. He didn't know if Slade would continue spanking or stop...but he found it didn't worry him either way. His brother was in control and loved him and that was what mattered most. "Okay..." he said, in a very small, contrite voice. "...Love you, Slade..."

"I love you too, little brother." Slade stroked over Oliver's lower back, squeezing his nape gently. "And I won't ever stop... no matter what happens."

Oliver took a quivery breath and sunk a little more over his brother's lap, the gentle affection calming him. He was reluctant to move and give it up, despite the position he was in.

Slade could feel his little brother's submission and he decided against moving Oliver, as he thought his brother needed the affection. He continued the touch, rubbing gently over his brother's back and backside.

Oliver sniffled, finally calm again and feeling so much better now that his brother had reaffirmed his place in his life...had taken charge. He still didn't move, content to let Slade make all decisions on where he would go and how much and what type of affection he'd be given. Even so, he couldn't stop and didn't try to hide the tiny sighs of contentment.

In actual fact, although he didn't enjoy punishing his brother, holding Oliver like this was something Slade felt comfortable and at ease with. His little brother was close to him and safe... and seeing and feeling how much he was trusted was a powerful sensation; one that helped to drive home how much their relationship had been repaired and how much Slade had got back from what he'd lost. His touch was gentle... but still carried the sense of possessiveness that seemed to permeate his time with his brother. "I'm so glad to have you back in my life, little brother." His voice was quiet.

"Me too..." Oliver said softly. "Everything always felt so wrong without you...needed you so much...being in charge of everything all the time felt not natural..." he admitted in a whisper. It didn't need to be said that Slade being in charge of Oliver made Oliver feel more confident in his own ability to lead. He knew Slade wouldn't let him make any irreparable mistakes if he was able to stop him. He let out another slightly drowsy sounding sigh. "...This feels right..." he admitted in an even tinier whisper, not sure what it said about him that he didn't just want his brother in charge, but wanted and needed him to take care of him like he was currently doing.

Slade could hear the drowsiness in his baby brother's voice, but rather than shifting Oliver back into his arms... even though embracing him felt just as right and natural... Slade kept him in position, stroking over his bare skin. "Yeah, kid." His voice was reassuring, as he guessed Oliver was feeling torn. "I know you need to give up control... let me be in charge of you and take care of you. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it. Or you."

Oliver smiled at the nickname, everything clicking into place in his head and heart. "Thanks, Slade..." he said, the smile carrying through in his voice. The sting from the spanking had ebbed under the gentle stroking, until it was barely noticeable. "...Doesn't sting anymore..." he let his brother know, uncertain if Slade had meant to have the results of his punishment wear off so soon.

"Does it need to?" Slade was asking more to judge based on Oliver's reactions. His little brother had given up full control to Slade... but although he could still read Oliver well, there'd been one or two occasions he'd had to adjust to fully make sure his baby brother got what he needed.

Oliver thought about it, wanting to be as honest as possible with his brother. While he currently felt content and safe and short, happy... there was still a slight bit of guilt that he was able to ignore for the most part, but it felt somehow like he'd be getting off easy if the punishment wasn't felt for at least the rest of the evening. "Maybe a little..." he finally said, a tiny hint of shame in his tone. He knew Slade didn't like punishing him. He also knew his brother would do whatever it took to help him thrive.

Slade gently rubbed Oliver's lower back, squeezing the nape of his neck gently. "You don't have to feel ashamed, little brother. I'd rather you tell me if you feel guilty... and it needs to be dealt with... than suffer through it alone." He rubbed for a second or two longer and then lifted his hand once more, bringing it down in a firm smack at the crest of Oliver's right cheek before delivering a matching one to his left.

Even though he'd asked for it and was expecting it, the smacks still caught Oliver enough by surprise that he let out a tiny yelp after each one. The sting didn't take long to reignite at all and Oliver clenched his fingers and closed his eyes so that he could just focus on it- and remember why he was where he was. "Yessir..." he finally answered Slade's comment. "...I'll tell you from now on..." he asserted, in between deep breaths.

Although Slade didn't spank as hard as he would do for a true punishment spanking, he was still thorough as he covered every inch of his little brother's bottom, down to his thighs, once more. As he began again from the top, he began to speak. "I love you, little brother. Don't ever feel ashamed of how much you need me or the ways you need me. I don't want you hurting yourself, even emotionally."

Oliver sniffled then began to cry; more from the fact he felt so accepted by his brother than because of pain. "Yessir...I'll remember... I love you too, Slade! So much!" He went limp again, accepting everything his brother was giving, the tiny bit of residual guilt he'd had finally being addressed enough that it wasn't bothering him and he didn't feel the urge to act on it. "I...I think I can be good for you now..." he said in a tiny voice."...I don't have the urge to be naughty anymore." He wasn't trying to get Slade to stop- only Slade could determine and decide when he should stop- but he wanted his brother to know that he'd stopped Oliver from doing something he shouldn't do and Slade wouldn't like.

Slade's hand came to a stop and he gave a gentle rub to the heated bottom across his lap before gently gathering his little brother into his arms, drawing Oliver in as close as he could possibly get and stroking the back of his neck.

Oliver held on as tightly to his brother as he could, snuggling and hiding his face against Slade's chest. "Thank you," he whispered and hugged just a little tighter. He bit his lip before glancing up, almost bashfully. "I meant to help you be able to sleep, but instead you helped me..."

Slade gently stroked the nape of his little brother's neck. "Helping you helps me, kid... knowing you trust me enough to be what you need... to give you what you need. The amount of trust you've placed in me is humbling," he admitted.

Oliver looked surprised but then smiled. "I'm glad..." Hugging tightly again, he removed himself long enough to pull his clothing back up before snuggling close again. "I think I'm gonna fall asleep soon." He yawned.

"That isn't a problem." Slade stroked his hair gently. "You can stay like this... it'll be an even greater comfort to know I can easily protect you."

Oliver didn't say anything else, just snuggling close and putting his head on Slade's chest. It wasn't long before he fell asleep, a tiny smile on his face.

His brother's warm weight was more comforting than Slade thought he had a right to feel... but it was what he needed. He needed Oliver. And he couldn't let him go. With his baby brother cuddled close to him... where he could protect him... Slade could finally allow himself to sleep... and know he wasn't going to have nightmares.

The End