Finley Smoak is born to Jacob and Esther Smoak on September 23rd, 1988 in Vegas, Nevada. He's a happy child, the second of two. His older sister, Emma Smoak, is headstrong and happy and just a twinge rebellious. Jacob Smoak leaves when Finley is six. Esther Smoak cries for weeks. Finley never forgives him for leaving, and he never forgives him for making his mother cry.
Perhaps that is the reason why Finley is more comfortable with his computers and gadgets than he is with his peers. Perhaps it is just an interest, a place where passion meets natural talent. All Finley knows at the time is that it makes him feel safe. Computers are always fixable; broken families are not.
Even as she grows older and prettier and more frequently noticed by boys, Emma still takes the time to hang out with him. She teaches him to count cards and plays Legend of Zelda with him and patiently listens to him go on about terabytes and RAM. (She doesn't completely understand the ins and outs of the technology, but she makes the attempt, and that's something he can appreciate.)
Finley builds his first computer when he is seven and starts to take college classes at fifteen. He makes a pretty nice income selling computers he's custom built and providing tech support for a few of the local mom-and-pop businesses. He designs and maintains websites for some of the local restaurants for a monthly fee.
When he's sixteen, Emma helps him bleach his hair. She teases him the entire time, laughing about how he has too much brain to pull off being a blonde. Finn likes it though.
Somewhere in between papers and projects, Finn starts doing a bit of recreational hacking - a favor for an online buddy here, a small trifle for a friend there. He likes figuring out how he can work around the system. He's always felt himself to be a tiny bit of a rebel, with his love of bow ties and frequently bleached hair. He makes connections in the hacker community, nicknames and pseudonyms, but no real names or faces. Even when he goes legit - and he never really goes legit; he always keeps up on his skills, thinking they might come in handy - he stays in touch.
Emma dies in a car accident when Finley is eighteen. Devastating isn't a sufficient word to cover the impact of the death. The loss rips his heart into two. He aches for one last conversation with her, one last episode of Doctor Who, but it isn't to be.
It's around this time that he starts looking for his father. He's not sure why, he's not sure he even really wants to find him. He just wants to know that he can.
He flounders through his last year of High School, but still manages to get himself into MIT.
By the time he's twenty-two, Finn has his bachelor's degree in computer science. The document is only in his hands for a few weeks before he's offered a paid internship at Queen Consolidated.
The opportunity to escape a place that does nothing but remind him of Emma is enticing. So Finn packs up his desktop computer, his MIT sweatshirt, and his life-size cardboard cutout of Princess Leia and makes the transition from the suburbs to the city.
His boss at QC is barely competent, and Finley barely has the internship for a few months before he's offered a full-time job.
Robert Queen and his daughter go missing and are presumed dead barely twelve months after Finn takes the job.
The next eight months or so are tough for the company. Stock falls, the board freaks out. Jobs are cut, resignation letters are written. Finn steadfastly ignores a slew of job offers from other companies. They know there's blood in the water, but he feels oddly loyal.
At the end of the year, like a sun breaking through the clouds, in steps Moira Queen, fierce and uncompromising. In Finley's mind, she saves Queen Consolidated by sheer willpower alone. People who credit Moira's rise to Walter Steele are ignorant and uniformed, Finn thinks. Sure, the man helps, but it's Moira who does most of the legwork that patches up the sinking ship.
Things steadily get better as the years pass. Moira Queen and Walter Steele's wedding is small, but a company-wide party designed to pull together the 'QC family' is thrown once they return from their honeymoon.
The atmosphere of being part of something bigger, part of a company that cares is one of the reasons Finn loves his job. He likes the people he works with, he likes the work that he's doing, and he loves Starling City. As a result, he rises through the ranks at QC quickly.
Finley is neck deep in some seriously screwed up computer code when one of his coworkers, Lisa, bounces into his office. "Have you heard yet?"
Finn doesn't take his eyes from the abomination of symbols on his screen. Whoever coded this lacked all sense of finesse. He hates constantly having to fix his inept coworkers' screw-ups. "Have I heard what yet?"
"Olivia Queen. They found her."
"They found her body?"
Lisa shakes her heard, loose curls bouncing around her shoulders. "No, they found her. She's alive."
Finn opens up goggle on his second monitor and types in 'Olivia Queen found'.
A video pops up immediately. A newscaster's voice is heard over footage from five years ago of Olivia dancing topless on a fountain, her chest obscured by a black rectangle.
Scooting around his desk, Lisa leans over his shoulder. "Can you believe it? This has to be why Tasha said Mark told her that Jerry saw Mr. Steele rush out of his office early this morning and now he's missed three meetings today."
Tracing that rabbit trail of information is too much for Finn, so instead he shifts his attention back to the screen, where the reporter is saying something about the place Olivia was found, a few witty remarks about her pervious appearances in the tabloids, the Queen family has yet to release a statement...blah, blah, blah.
It's...intriguing, at the very least.
Lisa gets called away a second later, but even after she leaves, Finn keeps reading about Olivia Queen. He remembers the turmoil in the company after she disappeared, but that was less to do with her and more to do with her father. He'd never given much thought to Olivia Queen.
Words and phrases jump out at him, twenty percent of her body is covered in scar tissue, likely diagnosis of PTSD, the island she was stranded on was called Lian Yu, no news has been released on the fates of Sean Lance and Robert Queen, who were also presumed dead...
It's a good thing the entire company is in a bit of turmoil due to this bit of news, because Finn doesn't get much work done that afternoon.
Spinning around in his chair Finn slowly pulls the pen he was nibbling on from between his lips and stares in surprise at the most beautiful woman he's ever seen. Then that beautiful woman smiles at him, and it's a good thing she knows his name, because he instantly forgets every letter of Finley Morgan Smoak.
"Hi," she says, "I'm Olivia Queen."
Oh, hell. Do not think of her dancing naked on top of a fountain. Do not think about her dancing naked on top of a fountain. Do not- "Of course. I know who you are, Mrs. Queen. I've seen your photo. On the news. Congratulations on the whole not...drowning...thing." He clears his throat. "I'm sorry. You didn't come all the way down to the IT department to listen to me babble - which will end, in three, two, one..."
She takes mercy on him. "Call me Olivia."
"Olivia." He swallows. "Right. What can I do for you, Olivia?"
"I'm having some trouble with my computer and they told me that you were the person to come and see." Olivia holds up a laptop for a second, and then sets it gingerly on his desk. A little uneasily, she takes a step back. "I was at my coffee shop surfing the internet and I spilled a latte on it."
"Really?" Finley raises his eyebrows and touches the very obvious bullet holes with his index finger.
"'Cause these look like bullet holes." He pulls his lip between his teeth and waits for her to offer up an explanation for her obviously not killed-by-coffee computer.
Olivia doesn't miss a beat. "My coffee shop is in a bad neighborhood."
It's the most absurd lie she could have possibly told, and the look on her face only confirms it. Finn doesn't have a knack for reading people's faces in poker - he's generally too busy counting cards - but even he can see that she's lying. Through her very nice teeth.
Olivia smiles again. "If there is anything that you can salvage from it, I would really appreciate it."
Reaching over, Finn grabs a chair, "Sit down."
Finn doesn't know what to think of Olivia Queen.
Truthfully, he finds her to be this weird mix of endearing and confusing. She's obviously smarter than she wants to let on, and she's obviously mixed up in something weird if she's bringing him bullet-ridden laptops.
It's probably very foolish of him, but Finn's never liked leaving puzzles unsolved, so he does a bit of digging,
The name "Floyd Lawton" - the person Olivia seemed to think the laptop-that-wasn't-really-hers belonged to - doesn't give him any hits.
He does a few searches on Unidac Industries, and the most recent news articles are all about the fact that the Starling City Vigilante - otherwise known as "The Hood Guy" made an appearance at their charity auction, not even a week after Olivia brought him the laptop.
Finley wonders if that's who she got it from. Could Olivia Queen really be mixed up in something like that? The girl the tabloids remember certainly wouldn't have been, but now...
Now Finley isn't quite so sure. She seems different from the woman in the video. Deeper, somehow, like she was hiding secrets behind her smile.
Finn wonders what Emma would think of Olivia, what her opinion of the woman would be?
He thinks Emma would spin a crazy theory about the laptop that would actually somehow make just enough sense for it to be plausible. Emma was fun like that. She would have laughed so hard at the idea of Olivia bringing him a laptop full of bullet holes and telling him she spilled coffee on it.
So the second time Olivia shows up at Queen Consolidated wanting assistance, Finley is aching to know what she wants him to do next.
"I was hoping you could look up an old friend for me," is not quite the exciting and puzzling quest he'd anticipated. So it's with more than a little annoyance that he quips, "I should add 'Personal Internet researcher for Olivia Queen to my job title."
Olivia raises her eyebrows incredulously, and Finley quickly amends, "Happily, I mean."
That seems to settle her down. She leans back in her chair. "His name is Derek Reston, we were close before I...went away, and I want to get back in touch."
He can't help but notice the way she twists a lock of her hair around her finger as she speaks. Thanks to all the photos the media used of her after her disappearance, Finn know that her soft brown hair used to drape halfway down her back; now it barely reaches her shoulders.
"Guess you didn't have facebook on that island."
Olivia's bodyguard, a tall, broad shouldered man Olivia hadn't bothered to introduce, quips, "Nope, not even a myspace account. It was a very dark time."
Right. Mentioning the whole stranded-on-an-island-for-five-years thing might be a little insensitive. Uncomfortable with that thought, Finley quickly turns his attention back to his tablet. "Well there's not much here that's recent. No credit activity, no utility bills." A Queen Industries ID card pops up during the search and a puzzle piece clicks into place. "Ah. I guess you guys must have met at the factory."
Leaning forward, Olivia carefully says, "What factory?"
Damn. So there's one more mystery of Olivia Queen. "The Queen Steel Factory," he answers. "Derek Reston worked there for fifteen years before it shut down in '07."
"Derek Reston worked for my father?"
"You weren't really close friends, huh?" He tries not to sound smug, but this woman just keeps lying to him, and he keeps going along with it because...he's not even sure why. There's only so much bullshit he'll take, even from a woman who looks like Olivia Queen.
So he tells her what she wants to know. "Looks like Derek was the factory foreman until your dad outsourced production to China. About fifteen hundred employees got laid off. looks like the finance guys even found a loophole in the union contract so they didn't have to pay severance packages and pensions to their employees. They all pretty much lost their homes...including your friend."
After Olivia leaves, Finn writes down the name Derek Reston on a post-it note and makes plans to find out more about him later. Thanks to a suddenly intense coding project, later ends up being almost a week. He hacks the SCPD and finds out that Derek Reston had been identified as part of a group of bank robbers preying on at least two of Starling's banks.
And he'd been killed during an ensuing fight - possibly with the vigilante.
When Finn reads that, he leans back in his desk chair, mind racing.
Olivia Queen had a computer belonging to Unidac Industries. A few days later, the Hood crashed their charity auction.
Olivia Queen knew - or claimed to know - Derek Reston, and wanted to find him right before he was killed.
And then the Hood was at the scene of that crime as well.
None of it sits well in Finley's stomach.
And then, in what at first appears to be a completely unrelated event, Walter Steele calls Finn up to his office one night while both of them are working late.
Walter slides a small, leather-bound book across his desk and says, "I want you to find out all you can about that notebook: where it was made, how it was purchased, and what it could mean."
Finn takes the book and turns it over in his hands, the leather is soft and the pages are unwrinkled. "Yes, sir."
"Finley." Walter's tone is serious, "I asked Josiah Hudson, my head of security, to look into the same subject matter. He died the next day, under questionable circumstances. What I may be asking of you - this mystery - are you sure you want to do this?"
He thinks of Olivia and her eyes and her smile and the way she flirts to distract him from the fact that she's lying through her teeth. How she nonchalantly brought him a laptop that had obviously been in the middle of a shoot-out and then offered no real explanation. He thinks about Unidac Industries, Floyd Lawton, the vigilante and Derek Reston, and how nothing about Olivia Queen makes any kind of sense.
He thinks about how soft and smooth her hair looks, how she dresses to hide an impressive amount of muscle, how there's always something sad and broken behind her eyes.
"I hate mysteries," Finn says, "They bug me. They need to be solved."
Finding the list of names written in invisible ink makes Finley's life so much more complicated. Seven of the names on the list are men the vigilante has gone after, which means there's yet another tie between the Queen family and the Hood.
He keeps the book itself at his apartment and transfers the list of names onto his tablet. He's been able to find dirt on just about every person he's checked out, but the list is long. He doesn't want to use his personal computer for something like this, so he starts staying a few extra hours late at work to check out the names.
One of these nights, Finley scouring the list of names for other, non-criminal connections, when he hears a soft, "Hey."
He swears he jumps three feet into the air. Standing in front of him is Olivia Queen, smiling sweetly at him, which is just all kinds of not fair.
A hand goes to straighten his bow-tie as Finley asks, "Don't you knock?"
She chuckles. "Finley, this is the IT department. It's not the men's room."
Nervously, he swallows. "Right." He carefully closes the incriminating window on his tablet. "What can I do for you?"
"My boyfriend, Steve, is really into archery. Apparently it's all the rage now."
Someone like her would have one of those. And he'd be pretentious enough to like archery of all things. "I don't know why. Looks utterly ridiculous to me."
He doesn't mention that the rage is probably due to this hooded vigilante person putting arrows in the chests of Starling City's elite.
"Mmhmm." Olivia is displaying that quiet impatience he knows her so well for. She's not here to listen to his opinions of archery; she's here to get what she wants.
"Anyway," Olivia says, "it's Steve's birthday next weekend, and I wanted to by him some arrows. Thing is, he gets these special custom-made arrows, and I have no idea where he gets them."
She holds out a black arrow. "I was hoping you could find out where this came from."
Finn reaches for it, but Olivia pulls it back just a touch. "Careful."
"Yeah," he says softly, and this time she lets him take it.
After a quick examination of the arrow, Finley starts typing and talking. Olivia listens intently. "Shaft's composite is patented...and that patent is registered to a company called Sagittarius. It's Latin, for the archer."
He passes back the arrow. Olivia slides it back into its cardboard tube. "Could you find out where and when this was purchased?"
Finley doesn't point out that she's asking for information that wouldn't remotely be helpful to order more for her "boyfriend" Steve. She's not looking to buy more; she's looking to find whoever bought this one. "According to Sagittarius company records that arrow was part of a bundle shipment... 200 units...sent to this address."
He scribbles down the address on a post-it note, mind racing. Was he just handed the last clue in the Mystery of Olivia Queen? Scars. Bullets. Laptops. The Hood.
But not a green arrow, not like the kind the Starling City Police Department says the vigilante uses. He's going to have to do some more digging into that later.
For now, he passes her the address she wants.
"Finn," Olivia says, taking the square of paper. "You're remarkable."
There's a note of sincerity in her voice that makes his heart beat just a touch faster. Finn can't help himself; he smiles at her.
"Thank you for remarking on it."