TITLE: Tall, Dark, and Handsome
SUMMARY: While in the guise of the hooded vigilante, Oliver runs unexpectedly into Thea. Oneshot. Queencest. (Oliver/Thea)
His shipping company smuggled hundreds of illegal immigrants from China each year and sold them to underground Starling City sweatshops like slaves.
Oliver thought it was time the hooded vigilante paid him a visit.
Friday night – Drayson's mansion outside of town was dark and quiet. Mrs. Drayson had been spotted at an art center gala in midtown, and their son's beloved Porsche was still parked at the offices of Drayson Cargo.
Oliver reconnoitered from a tree in front, pinpointing Drayson's location to the back of the house. Dodging the outside security was no challenge. From the roof, Oliver quickly scanned the rear exterior amenities – veranda, gazebo, hot tub, pool – all vacant – then picked the lock on the door of a third-floor balcony and slipped inside. He followed a murmur to a corner room. The single guard outside the door went down easy after a blow to the head, and Oliver discovered Drayson alone inside a study, reclined on a couch in front of a window that overlooked the pool area, watching ESPN.
He jumped to his feet, eyes wide in terror. "You!"
"Me," Oliver growled.
Drayson made a dash for his desk – he most likely kept a gun there, and possibly a panic button – but Oliver shot off a warning arrow that lightly grazed his shoulder and then passed through the window behind him, shattering the glass.
Instantly there was a grunt of surprise and a feminine cry of alarm.
A familiar cry.
Oliver frowned, and peered past Drayson through the frame of the broken window at the pool, where he saw Thea pop to the surface of the water with his spent arrow in hand. She raised it at someone on the deck, then turned her head towards the source and drove her eyes hard into Oliver's. His face was shadowed by the hood, he knew she couldn't recognize him, but her penetrating look made him wish the lighting was dimmer.
Thea and her companion must have been under water or in the adjacent changing rooms when Oliver had surveyed the decks; it was the only way he could have missed them. He had been looking for guards at their posts, not recreational visitors.
Oliver sprinted to the television and slammed the off-button; the room descended into near-darkness. He dropped his other hand into his pocket and quickly turned on his voice changer, grateful he had decided to bring it. When he resumed his position, Thea was gliding hastily to the edge of the pool. She tossed the arrow onto the deck and then hoisted herself out in a graceful, fluid movement as he had seen her do hundreds of times at their pool at home.
Of course, at their pool at home, she usually left her bikini top on.
Oliver felt his face flush, the heat pounding into his cheeks and then sending shocks throughout the rest of his body. It was a trespass against his sister to have seen her like this. He thought briefly with chagrin of how embarrassed she would be if she knew, but what troubled him was the relentlessness of the image in his mind.
He could not avert his eyes in this situation, but he let Thea fade out of focus and turned his attention to Drayson, who appeared tensely indecisive about whether to speak or not.
Oliver recognized David Drayson's son, Neal, right away as he gallantly rushed from his unseen shelter to Thea's side, throwing an arm around her to cover her bare chest. Oliver recoiled at the intimacy of the gesture.
He raised his bow threateningly. As much as he wanted Neal and Thea out of there, he couldn't have Neal calling the police.
Neal was furious; Oliver could see him playing out different attack scenarios in his mind. Oliver's best guess was that he had gone out after work and been drinking – that's why he hadn't driven home. Even sober, Neal would hardly be a match for Oliver. Still, he hoped Neal would try something; he had an itch to shoot him. It only got worse when he remembered that Neal was two years older than him. What was his 17 year-old sister doing skinnydipping with a 29 year-old financier?
He lowered his gaze to Thea. Her expression did not betray any fear, but her body was taut and alert. Overall, she seemed more interested in the situation than afraid for her life. She studied him thoughtfully, unabashed by her semi-nakedness, though she contoured her body to fit Neal's encasing embrace. Her bikini bottoms were ironically modest, but the attractiveness of her legs seemed to render that irrelevant. With her skipping around all day in tight, scanty dresses and sheer blouses, Oliver hadn't been able to help noticing that she wasn't a little girl anymore; this further education to that fact was far from necessary.
He tore his eyes away.
It wasn't exactly the vigilante's M.O. to lecture on high-school dating do's and don't's, but Oliver was almost prepared to throw away his secret identity and his mission just to yell at her for a minute and command Neal to stay away. It took everything in him not to shove Neal into the pool, throw Thea over his shoulder, march her right on out of there and lock her up for the rest of her life.
Oliver began contriving plans to catch Thea with her secret boyfriend while he was himself. He had to steer his mind back to the task at hand: he began interrogating Drayson about his next shipment, but Drayson was playing dumb. He felt Thea watching as he considered sending an arrow right through Drayson's calf - her clear, smart blue eyes observing closely. He thought of the way she looked at her brother: so adoring, so full of love. Someday she would find out that he was the vigilante, perhaps even sooner rather than later. He didn't want her to have the memory of this moment. He didn't want her to have seen him torturing this man.
But he didn't have time to come back.
Oliver shot an arrow through David Drayson's foot. "Let's try this again."
Thea screamed, and broke free of Neal, who hopped in the window and ran to his father. She bent over and picked up a towel from a deck chair, tucking it concealingly under her arms.
"Stay back," Oliver warned. Neal hovered a few feet away, shouting expletives.
Drayson broke this time, spilling all the details of his next shipment. His son, silent, listened in disbelief.
Thea entered the study through the sliding glass door, having regained her composure. Oliver didn't know if she felt privileged because she was a woman or because she wasn't a member of the family, or if he had somehow revealed to her through his body language that he would never hurt her, but she moved without qualm. "Is this true?" she demanded.
"Human trafficking? In Starling City?" She was remarkably unconcerned about Drayson's bleeding foot, even for having heard his confession.
Moaning in pain, Drayson ignored her.
"Did you know about this?" she asked Neal accusingly.
Neal shook his head, still in shock.
"He doesn't know anything about it," Drayson shouted vehemently at Oliver. "Leave my son alone."
Thea began to approach Oliver after furnishing Neal with a sympathetic look. "That's why you're here? To stop him? You're not a thief?"
Neal urged her to come stand by him, but she shook her head at him kindly.
Oliver retreated from her as casually as he could. "I'm trying to clean up this city," he declared firmly.
"My brother almost took the fall for you!" she retorted indignantly.
Oliver was touched, but he couldn't let her see him smile. "You must be Thea Queen." He mispronounced her name so that she would think he had only ever read it in the newspaper. "I was never going to let that happen. Why would I want your privileged drunken idiot of a brother to be the face of my mission?"
"You don't know what he's been through. He might even be more fucked up than you are."
Oliver looked at her sharply.
"Thea!" Neal hissed.
Half of Oliver wanted her to obey - to exercise some fucking caution and stop antagonizing a dangerous stranger, but instead he gestured for Neal to tend to his father and he turned back to Thea. "Fair enough," Oliver replied to her. She was right, after all. Apparently she could identify a damaged man from a mile away.
He had the crate numbers, all of the information about the arrival of the barge. He could have left minutes ago. But still he found himself standing there right in front of her, and perilously close.
She smiled slightly, and then took another step towards him. "Are you coming after my family next? I'll try and wear something more appropriate." She shrugged. "Or not."
Neal was distracted behind them, and she spoke softly; Neal didn't hear.
Oh my God, she's flirting with me, Oliver thought to himself, panicking. He caught on later than he should have, but the difference in her manner now from her usual manner was subtle. Subtle, that is, until he noticed her surreptitiously ease the towel down a couple of inches to highlight her cleavage.
She must have picked up on his unease: she smiled again, and then winked at him.
He swallowed nervously.
He knew he could just leave at any second, and yet he found that difficult do to. If she came any closer she would certainly be able to see his face, and he couldn't back up or turn his face away without raising her suspicion. Oliver lifted his bow and poked her in the sternum with the tip to keep her at a distance. "I'm a killer. You should be more careful."
Her smile faded, but not because she was frightened. "No…I think you're a soldier," she said quietly. "And I don't think you'd hurt me."
Her support sent a warmth spreading through him, but he could not just stand there and smile at her as Oliver would do. He already felt kinesics would suggest he was being overly familiar. The lies had been a challenge from the start, but he did not realize how problematic it was to interact with her in the guise of being someone else. The fact that he could not speak to her as Oliver would, look at her as Oliver would, put a hand on her shoulder as Oliver would – it was more frustrating than he ever could have imagined. It was almost as infuriating as watching Neal be protective of Thea when Oliver knew that no one would ever want to protect her as much as he did.
"You need to let me call an ambulance!" Neal clamored. "It's still bleeding!"
Oliver struggled to keep an eye on the Draysons with Thea waving herself in front of him.
"Not yet," Oliver ordered. Though he knew he should have been gone five minutes ago.
Thea put her hands on the bow and forced it down, lowering the barrier between them. "I wish you would tell me who you are." She advanced on him slowly. "Not because I want to know your secret." Her eyes were piercing. "But because I want to know you."
Oliver's breath caught.
He had no idea she was so aggressive.
Was she simply drawn to the mystery and adventure surrounding him? A fantasy?
Or did she somehow see through the theatrics – the archery, the hood, the voice – to a human underneath that fascinated her?
"What about your boyfriend back there?" he deflected, his tone shaky.
Thea shrugged. "We're not exclusive." She leaned in and whispered, playfully conspiratorial: "And, honestly, I'm not that in to him."
Oliver groaned inwardly. Now he had to worry not just about her dating a 29 year-old, but about how many of them she was dating! "Doesn't seem like I'm your type."
"Doesn't seem like you know me well enough to say that."
"No…" he replied thoughtfully. He really didn't.
Drayson moaned loudly.
Thea looked back at Neal and his father in concern.
"Go home, Miss Queen," Oliver said. He took off running across the room, leapt out the window, and made his escape out the back of the house.
He went back to his base at the warehouse and changed back into his regular clothes. When he returned home, he found that his mother had gone over to the Draysons while Thea was being questioned by the police.
She could have been hurt. If things had been different, one of his arrows might have hit her. And now she was talking to the police. He thought he could keep his family and his mission separate, but perhaps that was arrogance. Fate seemed to have deemed otherwise.
And she might not have minded a human trafficker taking an arrow to the foot, but if he had had to kill someone, she would have been running away rather than to him.
He didn't enjoy seeing himself through her eyes. It was not a perspective that pleased him.
It was several hours later before Moira and Thea trudged exhaustedly back inside.
"Was Detective Lance there?" Oliver asked, putting down the newspaper he was reading while he sat at the dining room table, waiting for them. "Raisa filled me in."
Moira nodded. "He was. And pleasant, as ever."
"You OK?" Oliver asked his sister.
She was clothed now, a flimsy purple dress thrown over the bathing suit he could still see, and a light jacket on top.
She nodded, and yawned.
Her hair was dry, it cascaded chaotically. She reminded him of a mermaid, and the image of her swimming to the edge of the pool and vaulting herself out of it replayed endlessly and involuntarily in the front of his mind.
"Are you hungry, sweetheart?" Moira asked.
Thea sighed. "Yeah."
"I'll get it," Oliver answered, unnaturally quickly. "Uh, food, that is."
He rushed into the kitchen, dallied there, and then finally brought her back a sandwich left over from lunch once he had recovered his self-possession.
Moira had gone upstairs, and Thea had taken a seat at the table. He set down the sandwich, then sat down opposite her. "So, are you going to tell me what you did?"
"I didn't do anything."
"So, what happened, then?"
Thea smiled slowly, then she pulled something out of her jacket and held it up, twirling it admiringly in her fingers.
His arrow. The one she had salvaged from the pool.
"That hood guy?" Oliver asked. "This was about him?"
She nodded. "He went after David Drayson."
"What were you doing at the Draysons'?"
Thea took a deep breath. "Neal and I - we're…friends."
"Friends?" Oliver raised his eyebrows skeptically. "You're friends?"
"Friends," Thea answered dismissively.
"Thea, he's older than I am!"
"So? He's fun."
Oliver took a calming breath. "He's too old for you."
"I'm almost 18, Ollie."
"Yeah. Almost. Even if you were 18, he's still 12 years older than you. He's almost 30!"
"If we enjoy doing the same things, what does it really matter how old he is? Do you want to hear what happened, or not?"
She recounted the story, leaving out some details, like her nudity. She seemed largely amused, with moments of horror for Drayson's human cargo and her friend Neal's new family trouble.
"So what we he like?" Oliver asked. "The vigilante? The guy I almost went to prison for?"
"Tall, dark, and handsome," Thea replied simply, still fingering the shaft of the arrow.
Oliver bit his lip. Handsome? "You didn't recognize him?"
"It was hard to see his face. But…I don't know…there was something familiar about him."
Worried about where her thoughts were headed, Oliver quickly pulled the arrow out of her hands and directed her towards her sandwich. "This is evidence. You shouldn't have kept it."
"I should think the police have collected plenty of them by now. I wanted it."
"Thea, this guy is dangerous. He's killed people."
"He's trying to do something good, Ollie," she protested. "He doesn't want to hurt anyone who doesn't deserve it."
"Innocents always get hurt. There's always collateral damage. Stay away from him. And Neal, too."
Thea rolled her eyes at him. "So, he's back. Mr. Judgment. Great. I missed him so much."
"I'm trying to keep you safe. All I want to do is keep you safe."
Her expression remained hard. "Now you know how I feel. Except I actually know what it's like to lose you. And I don't quite know what it's like to get you back, yet."
"He's not coming back, Thea. I'm not him anymore."
She stood, and picked up her sandwich. "I know that. But I also know that you're keeping a part of yourself back. You think that I can sit here at this table across from you and not notice that you're only half of a person? I notice, Oliver."
She didn't wait for him to answer; she headed for the stairs and he heard her door close a minute later.
So, I realize that Thea doesn't come across too well in the first half. Flirting with Green Arrow (whom she just met, and has reason to think is not a good man) right in front of her boyfriend whose life has just come crashing down around him. So, ideally, she would have met the Green Arrow in the above situation, and then met him again and been more flirty with him that time. But…this was a oneshot. And I really couldn't make up my mind as to which was worse: Thea being instantly attracted to the hooded vigilante and moving on him right away, or contriving a situation in which they somehow met again.
I didn't want to draw any explicit parallels with Green Arrow and Laurel's interactions in episode 4, because I didn't want it to seem like Oliver was thinking about Laurel at all. But I did want to mention some of the contrasts I wrote in, like how difficult Oliver finds it to treat Thea like she's a stranger, and how difficult he finds it to extricate himself from Thea flirting with him. With Laurel, I didn't see him having those challenges.
Also, I'm going to pimp my blog. I've written some Oliver/Thea-themed recaps that fans of the pairing might enjoy reading. It's linked on my profile page.