Title: Hanging on to parts of me, hanging on at all (I was used to seeing no future in my sight line)
Timeframe: Set directly after 1x23 – Sacrifice
Word Count: 2,777
Summary: After the Glades have been destroyed, Felicity jumps into action to takes Oliver away to avoid the bad press and angry mobs so he can regroup and come to terms with his guilt.
Hanging on to parts of me, hanging on at all (I was used to seeing no future in my sight line)
Sometimes it feels like the side that I'm on
Plays the toughest hand, holds the longest stand
Sometimes it feels like I'm all that they've got
It's so hard to know I'm not what they want
"Oliver… Oliver, I need you to get up."
He blinked, staring at the floor of his bedroom, the carpet creating a pattern he'd never noticed before… He squinted, trying to follow it, but it kept growing, spreading, like gnarled, reaching fingers that twisted and dipped, reaching for some unseen destination.
Or, wait, no… No, that wasn't the carpet… That was the blood that stained the carpet. His blood.
He blinked again and all he could see was Tommy. Tommy and sparking livewires and the dust and debris hanging in the air. Tommy with rebar stuck straight through his chest, blood blooming, soaking through his shirt, tears falling silently down his face. His calm face. The face of a man who knew he was dying and only wanted to know that those he loved would be okay.
"Open your eyes, Tommy…"
"Oliver, please, I can't—I can't carry you, okay?"
The carpet was rapidly getting more and more red; the pattern had become a puddle. His chest hurt. His heart ached. His lungs burned. Was there soot in his eyes? Smoke? Was he still inside the building, crying over his dead best friend? Was that Laurel screaming Tommy's name in the distance?
Failure. He had failed his city, his friends, his family… His self.
"I will not let you die on me, Oliver Queen. I will drag your heavy butt down those stairs and into my car if I have to, but you are not dying here, not like this. Do you hear me?"
He could feel a tugging… He could see hands, white hands. Or they were white. Before they cut away his shirt, balling it up to soak up the blood and staunch the wound. Now those hands were red, stained. Like his. A bloodied white hand took his and pressed it to the wet, sticky fabric to keep it on his chest and then those hands fell to unlace his pants.
It dawned on his dazed mind slowly… His suit. He had to get out of his Hood get-up.
But what was the point? What did he care anyway? He'd failed. He'd failed everyone.
"You are the most stubborn man I've ever known in my life, you know that? One minute you're unstoppable and the next unmoveable. And that used to be really attractive. In fact, I'm sure it still is, to some people. People that aren't cutting you out of your vigilante outfit and trying to keep you from dying. People who aren't trying to save your life before the mob reaches your front door to go medieval on your leather butt and lynch you. People that aren't really, really scared right now and need you to be the calm, take-charge person they've come to rely on entirely too much!"
The white hands left him, blood quickly drying on them, and he frowned. Something wasn't right. Something about those hands and blood being on them was wrong. They were not supposed to be stained. His were too far gone. But not those hands. Those hands were clean. They were pristine in comparison. He wanted to wash away his blood, to make them white again, to stop their trembling and hold them close, press the backs to his face. Would they be cool on his warm skin? Would they comfort him in these last moments?
He watched legs disappear; long, lean legs under a skirt that was torn and covered in dust. Skirt. Legs. White hands. Skirt. Legs. White hands. Skirt. Legs. White hands. Blood. Dust. Tears.
When she returned, she was kneeling between his spread legs, a First Aid kit at the ready. "I'm going to patch you up and then we're going to get you dressed, okay?"
He could feel her staring at him but his gaze was down, it was on her knees, which he could see through her ripped skirt; knees that were torn up, dried blood and shredded bits of skin all he could focus on. Her skirt had blood on it, little patches where her legs had been scraped. He followed them with his eyes, up up up, until he met her waist, her blouse was wet and pressed to her side, blood soaked through it. She was injured. His chest lurched but he didn't move. He just stared. Stared at that spot where something had hurt her. Something he hadn't been able to stop.
He'd failed her too.
"No, you didn't. Read my lips, all right? You didn't fail me. You did your best, Oliver. You tried. You did everything you could."
She moved his hand and dropped the wet, ruined shirt to the floor, focusing on the hole where he'd shoved an arrow through his own chest, killing Malcolm Merlyn and seriously injuring himself.
"Holy Moses," she mumbled. She pulled him forward to check the back and let out a shaky breath that he could feel skitter over his bare shoulder. "You never do anything easy, do you?"
He didn't notice much after that. He stared at her side, at her blouse red with blood, while she cleaned him up as best she could, patching him up until somebody with more experience could do something to close up the holes in him. And then she was gone again and back with a bowl of water, carefully washing his chest of dust and blood and whatever else was stuck to him. She slid a shirt on him carefully, moving it up his injured arm without lifting it before ducking his head through the slot and lifting his other arm into the last sleeve.
"This is where it gets tricky…" she told him. "Of course, it'd be less tricky if you could do a poor girl a favor and come out of this little catatonic state you're in…" She paused. "No? Fine. But don't say I didn't ask."
With a lot of grunting and mumbling of complaints, she managed to get his pants off of him, peeling them down his legs and leaving them next to the crumpled shirt. She took a moment to make sure his legs weren't cut up, her head ducked down, blonde hair falling into his vision. It should be up, he found himself thinking absently. It should be tied in a ponytail at the nape of her neck, like usual. But it wasn't. Instead it was frizzy with bits of plaster stuck to it, and a few strands were tinted red. His hands twitched and he worried about what that could mean. Did she have a head injury? Was she taking care of him and not herself?
She lifted her head and smiled at him then, her glasses sitting crooked on her nose. "No injuries, so we're safe to put new pants on…" Her eyes darted away. "You'd think I'd say that with less enthusiasm, considering you without your pants is probably the objective for most women, but with the situation, these are the breaks…"
She managed to get the sweat pants up his legs, but found it difficult when she couldn't lift his considerable weight without help, not to mention the difficulty of pulling the pants up the rest of the way at the same time. She walked away for a moment, pacing in front of him, and he just watched, staring at her feet. At the panda heads on her feet.
And he remembered her shoes, peeking out from behind her desk. He remembered the fear that clenched his heart when he ran into her office and thought she was gone, thought Helena had killed her. He remembered her voice, calling his name, raspy but hopeful, filled with relief that he'd come. He circled the desk and cut her loose, pulling her up from the floor as he looked her over, panic still welled up inside him that she'd been hurt somehow. But she was okay, she smiled up at him shakily, her eyes wet with shed tears, but her expression full of appreciation and… something he'd never taken the time to decipher.
And now here she was, in those same panda flats, pacing in front of him, worrying about him.
Her hands were still stained. Her skirt was torn. She had scraped knees, a cut on her side, and possibly a head injury. She was bleeding, hurt, scared, and she was looking out for him. There was a mob coming. She'd said something to that effect, hadn't she? It was becoming clearer now. The things she said, that she'd done, her pleas for him to wake up and help her help him.
She was biting the edge of her thumb like she did when she was nervous, when something was weighing on her.
"I'm a genius. A literal genius. And I can't figure out how to get a pair of sweatpants on a person…" She sighed. "In my defense, you are not a normal person... You—You're built like- like a Greek God… Don't let that inflate your ego, either, I'm not saying that in a flattering way. It's just fact that you are all muscle, which would usually be a good thing, especially considering your extracurricular activities, but not now, not when I need to lift you up…"
She rolled her eyes. "And please, don't even start with that 'you should train more' spiel, because trust me, training every day with Diggle still wouldn't put me at a physical peak where I could actually lift your body and pull those pants on. So let's just save that for a less exhausting day. Now… If I had time, and rope, I might be able to set up a pulley system, but I don't, of either. And Diggle's in the hospital."
She waved a dismissive hand. "Don't worry, I told them he went looking for Thea in the Glades and he was caught in the crossfire while the looting was at its most insane. You, on the other hand, I can't explain right now. Not to mention you'd probably be killed on the way to the hospital, by, might I remind you, the mob of angry people out for your head, since they can't get your mother."
Taking a deep breath, she clapped her hands, twisting her fingers together. "But I've got a plan. I just need to get past this liiittle hiccup and then we can get to the part where my plan actually holds up..."
While she was babbling, completely unaware of him, Oliver had managed to drag the sweatpants on and pull himself up with the aid of his bedside table. It hurt, but he was used to pain. He could feel the muscles of his arm protesting, shaking, but he pushed himself past that, past the pressure on his chest and the weight in his stomach. He stood, one hand pressing on the bandage over his chest, and watched Felicity continue to fret. She was a mess, from head to toe, but there was only one thing he needed fixed immediately.
He stepped in front of her mid-stride. Startled, she nearly fell over, but he caught her by one of her hands and just held it for a moment, staring down at it, so small compared to his.
"Ol—Oliver," she breathed in surprise. Swallowing, she licked her lips, glanced at their hands, and then tipped her head back to look at him. "I… Are… Stupid question, but… Are you okay?"
He didn't reply. Instead, he slowly rubbed his thumb over her knuckles, one by one. Knuckles that were still faintly stained in his blood. And then he tugged her along as he stepped into the bathroom connected to his bedroom. He led her right up to the sink and, without saying a word, he turned on the tap and squeezed some liquid soap into his palm. Carefully and slowly, he washed away every sign of blood, cleaning every nook and crevice of her hand, washing each individual finger and sliding his thumbs along the lines of her palm. And then, when her hand was as clean as it could be, he took her other one and repeated the process.
When he was finished, he held both her hands, staring at them, and he felt relief warm him. Because it was right now, this was how it was supposed to be. Of the three of them, the only one who hadn't killed, who didn't have blood on her hands, who was good and right and the voice of reason much of the time, it was Felicity. He could rely on her to tell him to pull back, to think for a minute, to reconsider what he was planning. He could count on her to level him out. Dig was like that too, but Dig could relate to the killer in him. He knew what it was like to end a life. To feel justice and vengeance so deeply ingrained in his person that it felt like its own limb. Felicity wasn't like that. She was untainted.
He raised his head, finally, and looked at her.
And she stared, her eyes meeting his, and seemed to see everything he wasn't saying, everything that he was carrying. Her brow furrowed and her lips pinched. She shook her head and he could feel it, that urge of hers to make it better, to soothe him, to tell him it wasn't as bad, he wasn't as bad, as he thought it was.
But she didn't speak, she didn't hug him, she didn't fill his ear with false assurances.
She squeezed his hands.
"We have to go," she told him. "We don't have much time."
He didn't question it, didn't hesitate, he let her lead.
She drew him back into the room, never letting go of at least one of his hands, not even when she filled a duffel bag with clothes and necessities for him. She just drug him around with her, as if worried that if she let go, he would shut down. It wasn't without merit. He probably would. Already he could feel it creeping back up on him. Could feel the memory of Tommy clouding his mind.
But Felicity didn't pause, didn't stop. She put his ruined Hood outfit in a bag and tucked it inside his duffel bag so it wouldn't be left behind, found by someone. And then she brought him downstairs, the duffel over her shoulder, looking almost comically large in comparison to her small frame. She walked them right out the front door and to her waiting car. She put his bag in the trunk where one of her own, in a bright shade of pink, was already sitting. She grabbed out a folded blanket and closed the trunk before she led him to the front passenger door and tucked him inside, draping the blanket around him and putting on his seatbelt. Closing the door, she circled around to her side and climbed in before starting her car. She took a deep breath, her hands tightly gripping the wheel, nodded to herself as if coming to a decision, and then pulled out.
The news must've been focusing on the Glades for the time being because there were only a few people lingering around the gates. Felicity didn't pause; she drove through as quickly as she could, following the road down toward the city until she came to a fork and followed the path set for the highway. He didn't question where they were going or what her plan was. He laid his head back, his eyes set out the window, and he trusted that she knew what she was doing. He trusted her implicitly. His brow furrowed, as the concept had once seemed completely impossible. It was with that thought that he drifted to sleep, leaving what little life he had left in Felicity's capable hands.