Title: Three, Two, One
Author: Cat Chester
Cross posted: Tumbler & Wattpad
Disclaimer: Not mine; If I owned these character's, they'd be together already. No copyright infringement intended.
Spoilers: Anything up to 2x09 is fair game
Summary: When Diggle old Special Forced buddy goes missing, he asks for Oliver's help to find him, the only problem is, the last place they were seen together, was at a marriage counselling resort. Who will Oliver convince to go undercover with him? (like you don't know)
"Hey, Dig, did you find what you were after?" Oliver asked as he entered his lair, beneath Verdant. His friend had taken the weekend off, claiming he had to look into something a friend.
Oliver headed straight for the coffee machine; it had been a late night and he still wasn't quite awake.
"Not exactly," Diggle sighed. The defeatist tone made Oliver turn to his friend.
"What's up?" Diggle hadn't been exactly clear on why he needed time off and knowing that he had more than enough secrets of his own, Oliver hadn't pushed.
"An old army buddy of mine, Tom, is missing."
Oliver perched on the edge of a desk, his arms crossed, as he listened to Diggle explain.
"His sister called me before and said that Tom and his wife had gone missing from a resort near Central City, and there was no trace of them."
"Did she call the police?"
Both men turned to see Felicity as she entered, her blond ponytail bobbing with each step. She stashed her purse under her desk and turned, ready to hear the rest of Diggle's story.
"Unless I'm interrupting something private?" she continued, and Oliver realised that he hadn't even said hello.
"No, not private, I'll need your help too."
"Cool." She turned her chair around to face them and sat down.
"To answer your question, yes she did call the police, and that's where things get strange." Diggle ran a hand over his face and Oliver realised how tired he looked. "The police say that Tom and Alice never reached the retreat, and their car was found at Starling City airport."
"Okay." Oliver couldn't see where this was going.
"Tom's sister, Casey, swears he called her from the retreat."
"So where's the problem?" Oliver asked.
"The retreat doesn't allow phones and they say that a phone call couldn't have been made, given that the car was found here, the police think that for whatever reason, Tom lied about his whereabouts when he called his sister. They think he and Alice ran off, or took a vacation without telling Casey."
"But you disagree?" Oliver asked.
"I do. Casey is eight and a half months pregnant and a widow. Her husband was a marine who died in action four months ago, and Tom and Alice were doing everything that could for Casey. Even although he wasn't supposed to take a phone to the resort, he did anyway in case she needed him, and he called her every day. Casey swears that he called her when he arrived and the following morning, then nothing. When he didn't call the next day, she phoned the retreat and they said neither Tom nor Alice checked in. That's when she called the police and when It became clear that they wouldn't help, she called me."
It was a testament to the respect they had for one another, that Oliver didn't question his trust of Casey's truthfulness.
"Do you have his cell phone number?" Felicity asked. "I'll see what towers the calls were routed through."
"Well that's another thing," Diggle's shoulders hunched, almost like a schoolboy caught in a lie. "The police couldn't find any trace of him making any calls."
"It can't hurt to double check," Felicity argued, and Diggle wrote the number down on a pad, which he handed to her. She turned to her bank of screens and began typing.
Diggle turned to face Oliver, looking hesitant.
"How well do you know this Cassie?" Oliver asked. It was as close as he would come to questioning his faith in Diggle's opinions.
"Not that well. We've met on a dozen or more occasions but Tom was my friend, not Casey. He wouldn't do this though, run out on family when they needed him most."
"Then why the holiday so close to his sister's due date?"
"Well that's the thing, he and Alice were having-"
They turned to Felicity
"You found something?" Oliver asked, coming up behind her and resting a hand on the back of her chair. Diggle stood on the opposite side.
"The phone call? No, no trace at all."
"Felicity." He respected her talents and her intelligence was fearsome, he just wished she'd get to the point faster sometimes.
She had to lean her head right back to look up at him, and he had a strange urge to rub her neck before she developed a crick.
"There is no trace of a phone call having been made from this number," she repeated. "What there is, is a trace of a hacker."
"So someone hacked in and erased the data?" he asked.
"Yeah. Whoever this hacker is, he's good, so I can only think that he was working in haste to leave any trace of the hack at all."
"How do you know he's good?" Oliver asked.
"Because he didn't just delete the data from the bill, which is all most people would think to do, he erased everything, including the cell tower and GPS location data. If he hadn't left a stray line of code, even I wouldn't have believed those calls had been made."
"That's not enough to go back to the police with," Diggle said, and Oliver agreed.
"What did you find out?" Oliver asked him.
Both men stepped back from Felicity and she again turned her chair to face them.
"I went to the resort, looked around, spoke with some of the guests, got kicked out, that kind of thing."
"Did any of the guests say that they knew Tom and Alice?"
Diggle hesitated. "Not exactly. I didn't think to bring a photograph and as it turns out, they give the guests nicknames. A few said that there had been a couple matching the description I gave them, but they had left after a day."
"Nicknames?" Felicity asked.
"Yeah, it's one of those new age-y type places." Diggle looked a little uncomfortable. "Alice found the place, Tom just went along to please her."
"You got a name for this resort?" Felicity asked. "If I hack into their website server, I should be able to find out what IP address is associated with the site, which I can then use to hack their personal computers. It's a long shot, but they might have something suspicious on there."
"You can do that?" Oliver sounded a little disconcerted.
"Sure. Everything you do online leaves a trace, unless you're smart like me and use a VPN, which not many people do." She looked to Diggle. "Name?"
"That's fitting, given the time of year." Felicity turned around and resumed typing, humming the 12 Days of Christmas under her breath.
"So what do you think out next move should be?" Oliver asked. "Do you want me to go back with you?"
"For a retreat, they have some damn good security, Oliver."
"In case you hadn't noticed, I'm pretty good at bypassing security," Oliver said with his usual swagger.
"I know, but what we really need here is information, and I'm afraid they'll catch us before we find anything else."
"So what do you suggest? We could book in as guests, I suppose."
"That's not exactly going to be easy either."
"Because they saw your face when you were asking questions," Oliver realised. "Then I'll go alone."
"Yeah, they don't… exactly… allow that."
"It's a couples counselling facility!" Felicity cut in, getting tired of the hesitation. She turned away from her screens. "What he's trying to say, is that you need to take someone with you. If you don't want to waste more time, I'd call Laurel now and beg; who knows how long it'll take Dig to suggest it." She turned back to her screens.
Oliver only needed a beat to absorb that information and adapt.
"Laurel can't know about the Arrow."
"You can't be the arrow there," Diggle warned. "They search luggage for contraband when you go, and your arrow costume is too big to smuggle in."
"Like the phones. They have strict rules for what you can and can't bring with you."
"Okay, but still, isn't Laurel going to wonder why I'm investigating a missing person?" Oliver really didn't like the idea of spending an extended period of time with Laurel at the moment. As much as he cared for her, he couldn't imagine pretending to be a couple with her; given their history, it was too much to ask of either of them.
"Well your options are rather limited, Oliver," Felicity snapped. "Sarah's gone, McKenna's gone, Helena's nuts and Isabel's evil; that leaves Laurel."
"I'm thinking it might be best to take someone that I haven't slept with."
"Ha!" she gave a humourless laugh. "Is there anyone in Starling City that you haven't slept with, Oliver?"
"You," he hit back.
He wanted his words to wound but instead, she turned and offered him a mirthless smile.
"Then more power to me." She turned back to her screen.
Oliver and Diggle had a silent conversation, Diggle pleading, Oliver knowing where this was heading but wanting to avoid it anyway.
"There's nothing useful on their computer," Felicity announced. "Just your typical office stuff, emails plus a little porn. It's a dead end. The computer that is, not the porn, porn seems to be an endless commodity these days."
"Felicity," Diggle said softly.
She swivelled her chair to look at him.
"I swore I wasn't going to be bait again." Her eyes pleaded with him to understand that this wasn't about not wanting to help him, it was about protecting her heart.
"I know, and I'm sorry." She knew he didn't mean for putting her in danger or at least, not physical danger. "Tom saved my life once, and I owe him."
"I'm sure he's a lovely guy, but I don't owe him anything. Besides, Oliver must have a black book filled with women who would be eager to accompany him."
"But he's going to need the freedom to operate there, and you're the only woman who knows who he really is. Please Felicity, you're my best shot."
She wanted to say no, really she did, unfortunately she couldn't refuse him. Besides, she wasn't bait this time, she was Oliver's cover, so her reasons for not agreeing didn't hold water.
"All right, fine; I'll reserve us a place online now."
"Thank you, Felicity."
"My pleasure," she answered, although she sounded as though there was zero pleasure in it.
"It's a lovely place, you know, you might even enjoy it."
"Oh yeah, I'm just dying to pretend I'm one of Oliver Queen's bimbos." She muttered, loudly enough for both men to hear her.
Oliver sighed. This was going to be a long few days and if he didn't care about Diggle so much, he would probably have begged off.