AN: so I posted a preview of this on my tumblr a little while ago, and it's taken me a bit but here's the first chapter (finally!). This is just something that has been kicking around in my head and demanded to be written, so ... yeah. Any mistakes are mine and I apologize. Let me know what you think?
Disclaimer: not mine. No suing.
Spoilers: uses 2x09 as a kicking off point, but no real spoilers.
Six days Felicity has been here, locked in the gray room that has become her prison and denied anything more than some water and a few slices of bread; just the bare minimum to keep her alive. She only knows how much time has passed because he tells her - because every day when he comes to visit, he kneels in front of her and watches her with that one cold eye as he tells her what truth he's going to teach her.
She was taken from the street outside her apartment six days ago, and as far as she knows there's been no rescue attempt. Digg and Oliver have never taken this long before; that knowledge and the lack of nourishment have steadily eroded what little hope she started out with.
Felicity is coming to terms with the very real possibility that she won't be getting out of this one.
She doesn't even bother to raise her head when the familiar sound of footsteps moving over carpet reaches her ears. She doesn't want to see his face and that stupid eye-patch; she doesn't want to acknowledge the ugly truths and bitter words he's here to throw at her. The handcuffs chafe and rattle on her wrists as she tries to shift away from him, to tuck herself even farther against the wall; it's no use, she knows, but she does it anyway.
"Hello, Felicity," he greets, just as he always does. "The Six Truth on the Sixth Day."
Felicity can hear the rustle of his expensive slacks as he crouches down in front of her and tucks her chin into her chest, but the thick fingers reach out anyway and press into the underside, forcing her to look at him.
"The Sixth Truth is that you are nothing, and he will save another." He waits for the information to sink in, for her to commit the words to memory like he's commanded her to, and then speaks again. "What is the First Truth?"
She licks dry, cracked lips and tries to think about anything but what she's saying. "The First Truth is that she saved his life, and he betrayed her."
"The Second Truth."
"The Second Truth is that they were friends, and he failed her."
"The Third Truth."
"The Third Truth is that they were lovers, and he chose to save another."
Her throat feels dry and scratchy even as she can feel a hot tear slip down her cheek. She hates that she's crying, that she can't make herself impervious the way Oliver always seems to. Felicity had tried, at first, she'd tried so hard not to believe the things he told her and reassure herself that Digg and Oliver would rescue her - but now, now she has nothing left. In just six days, Slade Wilson has told her more about Oliver's time on the island than Oliver has told her in the last two years; the first time Slade had used her name, Felicity had recoiled. Shado. Her heart had immediately understood something that her mind is only now realizing: two men had loved the same woman, and somehow Felicity is going to pay the price for a loss she had nothing to do with.
"The Fourth Truth is that she …" her tongue trips over the words, throat thick with the tears that are trying to choke her. Felicity swallows and makes herself continue before he can. "… She died knowing that he didn't save her."
What must she have felt in those last moments, Felicity wondered. Had Shado cried, knowing that someone she had called lover had forfeited her life?
Slade doesn't need to prompt her to continue; he's made her memorize these statements, and she knows that refusing to say them will only make what's left of her life miserable.
She continues. "The Fifth Truth is that I will die knowing he didn't save me."
Slade nods and stands. "Good."
Felicity isn't expecting him to haul her up onto her feet and lets out a hoarse cry as she forces wobbly legs to function for the first time since her capture. He latches one wide hand around her wrists, the cuffs biting into skin that's coated in dry blood from her first failed attempts to get them off. Their pace is too quick for her to get a feel for her surroundings, although she's certain they are in an office building somewhere.
She's thrown to her knees and automatically tries to stop herself with her hands; Felicity smashes her chin into the carpet, her mouth filling with the metallic tang of blood as she bites down on her tongue. She doesn't bother trying to get up.
She closes her eyes. Oliver has never spoken of what he went through on that island, and she knew enough not to ask him about it because whatever it was, it was undeniably horrible. Now, though … now, she doesn't know how to reconcile the Oliver she knows with the Oliver that Slade has presented her with. No one could make the choice that he was asked to make: choose one life over another. And yet … he had loved Shado; she knows he did. And Sara had been just a fling, his girlfriend's little sister and someone he had already thought dead once … but Sarah is the one still alive.
Felicity doesn't want to think these thoughts anymore. Slade has done more than just starve her, more than bind her and render her powerless: he has made her doubt Oliver, and she's starting to think that might be worse than everything else.
There's a rush of air and a thud to her right, so she opens her eyes and is met with a mess of brown hair. She can't make sense of what she's seeing until the hair gets blown away from a face that she knows.
Felicity knows. Right then, staring into the angry face of Laurel Lance, she knows exactly what Slade has done and what's going to happen; a raspy, bitter laugh works its way out of her throat as fat tears gather in the corners of her mouth, mixing with the blood.
She closes her eyes again, as if that will somehow make it all go away.
The last six days make sense now. Slade calls them truths, but they were really lessons: if Shado, Oliver's lover and someone that he loved, hadn't stood a chance against the Lance sister who wasn't "the love of his life", then what hope does little Felicity Smoak have against the almighty Laurel? None.
He's disturbingly gentle when he drags Felicity off the floor and onto her knees. When she opens her eyes, Oliver isn't more than five feet from her and Laurel, who has also been pulled to her knees. Oliver doesn't have his hood up, and a detached part of Felicity realizes that Laurel has just found out his secret.
She can't find it in herself to care.
Laurel might say something – it's probably a horrified version of Oliver's name – but Felicity doesn't care about that either. She keeps her eyes trained on the floor in front of her, determined not to look at Oliver or Laurel or anything else that will make this any more real than it already is. She doesn't want to see the expression on Oliver's face when he decides that her life isn't worth more than Laurel's.
In that moment, Felicity isn't sure whom she hates more: Slade, for putting them in this situation, or herself, for being angry with Oliver.
Mostly, she thinks that she might hate Oliver for not caring about her enough to save her life.
Oliver's voice resonates from a deep corner of her memory, a ghostly reminder of a night that now seems like a lifetime ago: he had you and he was going to hurt you, he said. There was no choice to make. And she had believed him; she'd seen his face when he'd put those arrows in the Count, and he'd done that for her. But now … now, there is a choice. This time he has to make a choice, and she hates it.
These might be some of the last moments of Felicity's life, and she's just realizing that she's really, truly angry. She's spent the last six days living in fear, but even that fear is being eclipsed by her anger: anger that this is happening; anger that Oliver is going to blame himself for whatever happens; anger that even now, despite her anger, she still cares about Oliver more than she wants to.
Mostly, Felicity is angry because she feels like she's accepted her fate – like she's given up. She's been kidnapped, held against her will, denied food and water and now … now, she's just tired and angry.
A harsh jerk of the handcuffs around her wrists brings Felicity crashing back to the present. Slade is speaking, but as soon as she hears him say Laurel's name she does her best to tune him out again. I don't care, she tells herself. She repeats it, over and over again like it's become her mantra and can protect her from what's about to happen. Idon'tcareIdon'tcareIdon'tcare.
Slade kicks Laurel in the back to drive her to the ground as he simultaneously pulls Felicity to her feet, and she doesn't miss the angry growl that leaves Oliver's throat. She doesn't have time to ruminate on it though; Slade reaches around her shoulders with his now free hand and grasps her chin, forcing her to raise her head. Please, she begs silently of no one in particular, please don't make me look at him. She has to hold on to her anger, to the illusion that she doesn't care, and if she looks at Oliver … if she looks at him, she'll lose all of that.
Felicity can do this – she doesn't have a choice – but only if she can pretend that he's not there.
"Don't do this, Slade." Oliver's voice breaks over her like a wave, the first time she's really heard him speak since his arrival. She knows him well enough to recognize the anger in his tone, and beneath that, the fear. "This is between you and I; just let them go."
Knowing that Oliver is frightened – truly frightened – only makes this worse.
"You know that's not how this works," Slade answers over her shoulder. "You've been here before, Oliver. You know how this ends."
"Please. Please, Slade."
Before she can stop them, tears prick the back of Felicity's eyes; Oliver said please. Such a tiny, innocuous word that she's heard countless times in her life, and yet - hearing it now, the sound of it is like an anvil crushing her heart, because she recognizes it for what it is: Oliver is begging. Slade might not know it, Laurel might not know it, but she does.
Felicity knows it, and it's the worst thing she's ever heard.
"Ms. Smoak and I have been getting to know each other these last few days, haven't we, Ms. Smoak?" He jerks her chin painfully, perhaps to encourage her to nod, but she does nothing. "Of course, Ms. Lance and I have become good friends as well."
One richly attired foot snaps out to kick at Laurel, who grunts and tries to scoot out of his reach. The other woman rolls onto her side and Felicity doesn't look away fast enough; she makes eye contact with Laurel, notes the fire that's raging in her brown eyes despite the tears that are falling unchecked down her pale cheeks. Of course Laurel is still fighting; the terrified little girl inside of Felicity wonders if, now that she knows that Oliver is the vigilante, she considers her safety a foregone conclusion.
Does she feel pity when she looks at Felicity, in her bare feet and week old dress?
Does Laurel look at her and see a dead woman?
"Imagine my surprise," Slade is saying, "when I discovered that the illustrious Laurel didn't know about your alter ego. The woman you claimed to love over everyone – over Shado – and she knows nothing about you. Now, Felicity here, well … she knows more than you want her to, thanks to me. In fact, you have something to say to our dear Oliver, don't you, Felicity?"
She knows what he wants her to say.
Felicity doesn't answer. The hand holding her chin disappears and then latches itself around her exposed throat, a wordless warning. She has to concentrate on swallowing, on forcing her throat not to close up in response to the pressure.
"The First Truth, Felicity," he goads.
"No." Her voice sounds broken and dry, but deceptively steady. The anger is taking hold again, accelerating her heartbeat until it's like a dull thunderstorm in her breast; Slade has stripped her of any power, save this one, and she's going to exert it.
No more games; if Felicity is going to die, she's going to do so on her own terms.
Slade is crazy, but he also seems to have figured her out. Instead of taking his anger out on Felicity, he directs it at Laurel with a swift kick to her gut. She wasn't expecting that, and before she can protest, he kicks Laurel again, and again.
"Stop," Felicity cries as loudly as she can, the word mimicked by Oliver. "Stop hurting her."
"The First Truth, Ms. Smoak," Slade hisses.
Felicity takes a deep breath that ends up sounding more like a sob. She can't even fight this one small thing, because if she tries he'll hurt Laurel; Felicity doesn't really know or care about the other woman, except that she's a human being, and Felicity can't stand to be the cause of someone else's pain. She can't let Slade hurt Laurel because of something she does – or does not – do. That's just not the kind of person Felicity is, even now, with her life on the line.
"The First Truth," she starts quietly, "is that she saved his life, and he betrayed her." She thinks the sharp inhalation of air she hears comes from Oliver, but she doesn't lift her gaze from the carpet. "The Second Truth is that they were friends, and he failed her. The Third Truth is that they were lovers, and he chose to save another. The Fourth Truth is that she died knowing that he didn't save her. The Fifth Truth …"
Felicity can't go on. The first tear feels like it's carving a path down her cheek and then her eyes are stinging as the flood gate of tears she's been holding back suddenly springs open; every doubt, every fear that's been slowly eating her from the inside out has come back to plague her. Her anger is gone, forgotten and swept aside in the face of her overwhelming desire not to be caught in this moment - to live.
More than anything, Felicity doesn't want to die. She wants to beg for her life, but she's terrified to think that she's not sure if she would be begging Slade, or Oliver.
Slade jerks on her cuffed hands and she stumbles back a few steps, crying out when her left shoulder dislocates with a pop under the pressure. She doesn't mean to, but her gaze automatically flies up and locks onto Oliver's face, her proverbial anchor in the storm. He looks terrible, drawn and angry and hundreds of other things, but now that she's made eye contact she can't look away.
The hard press of something metal and foreign against her spine makes her sob, the first real one that can't be mistaken for anything else, and the way that Oliver immediately takes a step forward lets her know that he's heard it.
"The Fifth Truth." Slade shoves at her spine with the muzzle of what can only be a gun.
"The Fifth Truth," Felicity stutters thickly, closing her eyes, "is that I will die knowing he didn't save me. The Sixth Truth is that I am nothing, and he will save another."
"Good girl. Now be quiet, it'll all be over soon, all Oliver has to do is …"
"Don't." She's not sure if it's a plea, or a command, or something else entirely. She opens her eyes and finds that Oliver hasn't looked away from her; those might be tears standing in his eyes, and that's too much for her to handle. "Please don't," she says, and now she's surely begging, "don't say it."
"Oh but he has to, Ms. Smoak, that's how this works."
Felicity truly, whole-heartedly doesn't care. She doesn't care about the pain in her shoulder, or the tears that are blinding her, or anything outside of this simple truth: any choice that Oliver makes will destroy her, as certainly as it will destroy him. If he chooses Laurel, it will kill her to know that he chose not to save her even before Slade has the chance to shoot her; if he chooses her, it will destroy her to know that her life has come at the cost of another's.
No matter what happens, they are about to lose … everything; that will be Slade's true victory.
"Don't choose," Felicity pleads. "Oliver …"
It's the first time she's said his name in days, and it's all she can manage.
"Look at me." Oliver's voice is strained, but she knows that he's talking to her, so she does as he's asked.
When he speaks again his words are careful, measured; they shoot straight to her heart swifter than any arrow. "There's no choice to make."
Later, she'll wonder if the words were some sort of cue. As soon as they're out there, hanging in the still air that separates them, the ceiling seems to cave in; a huge crash sends her flinching backward as shards of glass rain down on them, glittering in the half-light of the room.
Everything seems to happen at once after that: another figure appears in front of Oliver – Felicity thinks it might be Sarah – and then Slade is dragging her backward, away from everyone else. Felicity screams Oliver's name, terrified, and hears her name yelled in response. The gun that had been against her back goes off next to her ear, and then she hears nothing but ringing.
It's strange, Felicity thinks, to be without one of your senses, especially one as crucial as hearing. There are flashes of light that she thinks might be muzzle flashes, but she can't hear any shooting; neither Sarah nor Oliver use a gun, so she thinks Diggle must have finally arrived even though she can't see him.
Slade grinds to a sudden halt and Felicity slams into him, unable to stop herself or move aside because he's still gripping her dislocated arm. She doesn't have time to recover before he's spinning her around and away from him, pinning her to his chest with one wide arm. Felicity blinks, confused, and feels his breath ghost against the side of her neck and one ear.
She has just become a human shield.
The sight she's met with should be reassuring, but it isn't. Oliver, Digg and Sarah are standing in a loose half circle a few feet away, their weapons trained on her and Slade. Oliver still has his hood down, but she can't see his face; she can't see any of their faces.
"Let her go," Oliver commands angrily. Her ears aren't ringing anymore, but it sounds like he's speaking through a pillow.
"I don't think so. One of them is going to die, Oliver, just like Shado."
"I tried to save her!"
"Yet, somehow, she's dead," her captor snaps. "You failed her, just like you'll fail Felicity. It's who you are, Oliver, and now everyone knows it."
"Shado's death wasn't Oliver's fault," Sarah counters, taking a step forward.
"Hold still!" Slade swings the gun in Sarah's direction and she stops moving. "The next person to move gets a bullet between the eyes. Now Ms. Smoak and I are going to leave, and if any of you so much as think of following, I'll kill her."
"How do we know you won't kill her anyway?" Diggle challenges.
The end, when it comes, is sudden and wholly unexpected. The tiniest hint of movement draws Felicity's eyes to the right, just over Sarah's shoulder, but she never gets to find out what it is; there's a split second where a look of horror crosses Oliver's face and then Sarah is leaping forward, somehow both toward and away from Felicity.
Slade's pistol arcs through the air, aiming for Sarah, and Felicity sees what's going to happen a spare second before it does. There's no time to consider what she's doing or even take a breath – she jumps up and backward, throwing her shoulder into the man's jaw and the brunt of her weight against the solid wall of his body. His arm and weapon jerk wildly as he pulls the trigger, sending the bullet speeding straight up and away from Sarah.
Felicity doesn't get to feel victorious; her heart drops into her stomach and then straight to her feet as her momentum carries her backward, on the same trajectory as the man who kidnapped her. Glass shatters behind her, her vision fills with a row of windows, and then she's falling through cold night air.
Her ears are full of screams, hers or everyone else's, or maybe it's just the wind rushing past her ears; Felicity has never envisioned how she would die, but if she had falling to her death from an office window would not have been it.
At least she was able to save Sarah.
Felicity Smoak doesn't get the luxury of any last words, but if she did, they would be that here, at the end, she's not afraid anymore.
Secondary AN: am I the evilest evil to ever evil?