Times Like These

Chapter 23

The drive from the diner to the motel seemed to take forever, while also being over much too quickly. As soon as Nate was seated, the gun was once again pushed into her ribs, but he didn’t seem to be paying her much attention.

A hot rush of tears burned her eyes as she remembered words almost slipping out to Oliver that she’d caught just in time. She refused to let the first time she said ‘I love you’ to be like that. She’d say it to his face, like they both deserved.

She should have never doubted him, doubted them. Of course Digg had figured it out. She didn’t know how, but right then she didn’t care. All she knew was she only had to hang on a little bit longer and this would all be over.

She risked a quick look in Nate’s direction before directing her eyes forward again. His head was tipped back, eyes shut, and all she could see out of her peripheral vision were his shallow breaths as she drove.

There was a peace that seemed to settle over him and it made her nervous. The calm, relaxed man next to her was not who she’d been dealing with.

Nate’s silence filled the space and she licked her lips and swallowed heavily as she debated on whether to say anything or not.

Now that he’d fulfilled his goal of 'fixing’ that day, she didn’t know where that left him. The past seven years his entire purpose had been wrapped around this one moment, as his broken mind had fixated on Jenny’s death and his guilt for causing it. She knew he’d never be able to go back, he’d done too much damage and she was afraid he’d gone too far for too long.

A dark, horrible thought struck her and she almost drove off the road. Nate jumped as she overcorrected and brought the car back to center. She shook, not wanting to consider how close he’d come to pulling the trigger.

“Sorry,” she more mouthed than spoke, tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth and she could feel his eyes on her now.

The thought that had affected her so badly played over and over. Nate’s goal had been met. He had no chance for any sort of life now. The chances of him just letting her go were non-existent. She was a loose end, but more than that, she had been a symbol and now he needed to put her -to put Jenny- to rest for good.

As she pulled back in front of the motel, for a second she thought about pushing the accelerator all the way to the floor and driving through the building. The only thing that stopped her was the image of Oliver having to find her like that, especially if Nate got a shot off first. She couldn’t do that to him. She’d stall, she’d find a way to keep Nate from doing something horrible until Oliver and Digg got there. She didn’t have another choice.

Instead of driving the car through cinder block she slowly came to a stop and turned off the ignition. A wave of fear and need rolled over her, so fast and quick it took her breath with it and left her looking through hazy eyes.

She needed Oliver. Every cell in her body called for him. Her hands gripped the steering wheel tight as her head came to rest on her knuckles. She knew what she had to do. And she’d do it, but it didn’t keep her from wanting him to somehow appear and save her. He always came for her. He always would. To be able to feel his solid strength right then…to have him wrapped around her protecting her from the world was something she ached for.

Hearing his voice had been both a blessing and a curse. More than anything she wanted to hear him again. Knowing that right that second Digg was driving as fast as he could helped center her some, because she knew they were doing everything they could to get to her.

The driver’s door being jerked open and Nate’s rough hand clamping around her upper arm made her gasp as he hauled her from the car.

“Move it 'Lissy, dragging your feet isn’t going to change anything.” he bit out,

She stumbled next to him as he pushed the door open and directed her into the dark room. The blade of the hidden knife scratched the tender skin of her arm and she kept it bent towards her middle hoping he wouldn’t notice.

Felicity backed up as far as she could get from him, her eyes tracking his every movement.

“I did it,” He said quiet and somewhat shakily, almost like he didn’t believe it himself. “I finally did it.” he let out a small laugh and shook his head, “Thank you, 'Lissy, I couldn’t have done this without you.”

She looked at him in shocked horror, “I didn't help you, Nate!” she breathed out in disbelief, “You kidnapped me, kept me drugged, and forced me at gunpoint. None of this was me helping you!”

His head jerked up, pinning her with a glare that made her blood run cold, “Doesn’t matter, I got to put the final piece in, the final bit of the puzzle that’s been hanging over my head all this time. I got to finish it, and you served your purpose.”

“Will you think for two seconds about someone other than yourself! Think about your parents! How do you think they feel right now, knowing what you’ve done?”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth she knew she’d said the wrong thing. He gave a sharp, bitter laugh, “Right, my parents. The only thing my parents are concerned about is their image. Why do you think it was so easy to manipulate my mother into arranging for the closed hearing. Or how she had no problem giving me money. She wanted me out of that facility, that’s true, but not because she cared about me. She wanted to be able to tell people I was out because it reflected poorly on her. So if anything this…this is like my last big 'fuck you’ to the people that never let me forget what a complete disappointment I was.”

She was terrified now, trying to use his parents to get him to see reason had been the wrong tactic, and seemed to be one of the driving forces behind whatever he was planning. With a throat that felt like it was attempting to collapse she held out pleading hands and tried again.

“Fine then, your parents…they were no good okay, I get that. I honestly never liked your mother, but what about me? What have I done to deserve this? You can let me go. I can walk out of here and…you can give yourself up. I can talk to them about reducing your sentence. I can…”

“You can’t do shit, 'Lissy.” he barked, “You’re part of this now and…you’re going to have to see it through. I’m sorry, I guess.” the distracted shrug he gave making her stomach drop. “I liked you when we were kids. I did. But I can’t keep you separate from Jenny anymore, it’s too hard, and she’s…she’s gone so…I’ve got to end it. You and me. Gone too. And then all this will be over.”

Panic induced static filled her head and for a moment all her senses left her, she couldn’t see or hear, all she knew was the terrible theory she’d had earlier seemed to be coming true. Nate had no intention of letting her go or turning himself in. He was going to kill her and then kill himself.

When she came back to the present on legs that were numb she saw him standing by the table preparing a syringe with the drug he’d been using on her.

Every other time she’d been in a life threatening situation she’d been terrified, which any normal, rational person would have been. And she was terrified just then. Her heart was beating so fast she could feel the way her blood raced through her veins, and her breaths were short and tight. But mostly, she was angry.

She took the anger and let it fall over her like a blanket, wrapping it around her, transforming it into armor. Because Felicity Smoak wasn’t going out like that. She wasn’t going to let him slip that needle into her arm one more time to gently disappear into the darkness. She had too much to lose.

The numbness vanished from her legs and she felt strong as she stalked the few steps that separated them until she was almost toe to toe with him.

“What are you going to do, Nate? You coward! You’re going to drug me senseless, put a pillow over my face and pull the trigger so you don’t have to actually see it happen!” she practically growled, her mouth twisting viciously as she looked at him with contempt.

The thought of Oliver and Digg showing up too late, but soon enough to find her body still warm pushed her forward even more, the red haze that clouded her vision made her forget about the gun and the syringe he held.

The heel of the hand holding the gun shoved her back forcefully, “You don’t understand!” he raged, “It was MY FAULT! And this is the only way to make it right! I killed her! My stupid attitude and reckless behavior killed the only good thing I had in my life. She didn’t care if I was perfect. She didn’t care if I fucked up. And I would have gladly done my time, because I deserved it…but my parents…my MOTHER…she couldn’t let that happen. So now…there’s no way out. This was all set into motion so long ago…I couldn’t stop it if I wanted to!” tiny specks of spittle flew from his lips as he yelled, but she wasn’t deterred.

Felicity set her feet and narrowed her eyes, “This is not the only way! You can stop it! You’re the one in control right now. Do you think Jenny would want this? Would she want you to kill someone else and yourself because of her? I never met her but I know she wouldn’t want this.”

He gave her a scoffing, half disgusted laugh, “Oh, I know you never met her. You couldn’t even be bothered to come to the funeral. Thanks so much for that, 'cuz. Glad to know you cared.”

A hard fist clamped over her heart and twisted, she’d never known he’d been so resentful over her not going to the funeral.

She opened her mouth to protest but he waved her off, “No, I don’t want to hear excuses because it doesn’t matter.” he spread his hands wide, “Nothing matters anymore. It’s…freeing really.”

He wasn’t going to let her out of there, and there was still over an hour before Oliver arrived. Her plan to keep him stalled until then was unravelling before her eyes.

Making a decision, she hoped what she was doing ended up being the right choice. She’d have to rely on the element of surprise, every bit of training Digg had given her, and her assumption that Nate wasn’t a good shot.

“Fine Nate, if that’s how you want it then you’re just going to have to stop me, because I refuse to let you just put me down.” and before he could respond she spun and made a mad dash for the door.

The first shot went wide, burying itself in the concrete to the left of her head. Sharp bits of mortar and dust flew towards her and she instinctively raised her arm to block her face. The second shot was closer, leaving a trail of fire across her upper arm but she paid it no attention because her hand was on the door knob.

With a desperate pull she managed to wrench the door open a few inches before she felt him at her back.

“NO!”

His hand slammed into the wood above her head and shut the door. His body pressed into hers tight, leaving her no room to move and then she felt the familiar prick of the needle in her shoulder.

Terror overtook her and she knew this was her last chance, if he injected her it would all be over. A primal need for survival reared up inside and she twisted hard, throwing her left elbow up and backwards, feeling it connect with his face.

Her shoulder came in contact with the door as she turned, knocking the syringe to the floor, but she couldn’t risk looking down to see how much was left.

With his now free hand he slapped her hard, leaving her head ringing. He crooked his arm around her neck and held her in a choke hold as he dragged her towards the bed.

A high, animalistic scream came from her throat as her legs flailed. One foot caught on the edge of the bed and she shoved backwards in an attempt to throw him off balance. But Nate just tightened his grip making her fingers scrabble at his forearm as white spots began to dance in front of her eyes.

Air was something she needed desperately, and when he released her so that he could shove her face down on the bed, all she could do at first was take in great gulping gasps, helpless to do anything while he torqued her arm behind her back and began to affix the handcuff.

A biting pain in her arm made her breath catch and her eyes popped open as she remembered the knife, the buttoned shirt cuff had kept it from falling out. Calling on all the mat work Digg had made her do, she flipped her hips and drew her knees to her chest before she struck out, catching Nate just off center in his chest.

He was pushed back into the other bed, giving her just enough time to reach over and slide the knife from her sleeve. For a second the blade caught on the metal of the cuff and another wave of panic washed over her.

Then Nate was next to the bed again and he had raised the gun.

She made a wide swipe, catching him across the top of his chest first before she felt the knife sink through the resistance of his shirt and into the arm that held the gun.

He howled in pain, still coming towards her as the gun fell to the mattress next to her hip.

His hands went for the knife as she rolled sideways some trying to use her body to keep him away from the gun. His fingers clamped over hers, but her grip was slick and he was stronger.

For a second all she could hear was heavy breaths and the small frantic noises she made as she fought to keep hold of the handle. And then he had it in his hand.

He took a step back and loomed over her, once again looking like the monster from her dreams.

Chest heaving, hair in her face blocking half her view there was no time to think when he raised both hands above his head, knife held between them.

His eyes were gone…black and filled with manic rage she’d never seen before. Lips contorted into a frightening snarl, a scream composed of seven years of pain was torn from his throat as he began to bring his hands down, knife aimed directly for her heart.

Time appeared to slow and her mind went blank as she reached under her right hip and pulled out the gun.

She didn’t think, she just aimed and fired. The bullet struck home, center mass just like she’d been taught, the force knocking him back enough that when the knife fell from his hands it missed her.

In the small room the gunshot made her ears ring and her entire body jolted at the recoil. Her aim wavered and she didn’t know if she could pull the trigger again.

As long as she lived she’d never forget the look of complete surprise that crossed Nate’s face. He stumbled into the other bed and slid to the floor, trying to catch himself on the edge but failing as dark blood ran from between his fingers.

He looked down at the wound and then back at her in confusion before he went still.

The gun fell heavy and cold on her abdomen as her vision greyed at the edges. She’d killed him. Nate was dead.

Her face was wet with tears that had been falling since she’d tried to get out the door, but she couldn’t get her hand to move to wipe them away. Her body and mind felt like they were two separate things, and the real her floated somewhere in between.

The sight before her was almost too surreal to believe. In death, everything that seemed to have plagued Nate had vanished. All she could see now was the kid she’d grown up with. The one she’d snuck off to steal treats with during the holidays, and played with over the summer. He’d always let her try his new games and never got mad when she beat his score.

And she’d killed him.

She was numb. Unable to take her eyes off of him she barely blinked as she let her mind shut down. She couldn’t think about Oliver or Digg or the fact that she’d survived. Right then none of that mattered.

She was unaware of the wound in her arm from where the bullet had hit it as it passed by, unaware of the myriad of cuts along her forearm from the hidden knife, unaware of the split lip that had dripped blood along her chin.

Her entire existence had narrowed down to the dead man who lay only a few feet away, thick dark blood still seeping a trail down his chest to the threadbare carpet beneath him.

A bone deep cold was spreading throughout her body. She felt it begin in her arms and legs and gradually work it’s way in. Every now and then a shiver would wrack her, making her teeth clank together, and flares of pain to shoot down her arm. Some part of her knew the pain should register more than it was.

She tried to lift her gaze from Nate but she couldn’t. Her eyes were locked on his, as she laid there unable to move she grew progressively heavier and colder.

The sedative that had been injected into her shoulder hadn’t been enough to knock her out immediately, but she could feel it pulling at her, making her want to shut her eyes and slip away, but some last reserve she didn’t even know she had allowed her to resist.

Time didn’t seem to exist. There was nothing outside of that room and Nate’s body. Which is why when there was a sudden, muffled noise and a flash of movement as the door to the room was kicked in she didn’t even flinch.

Voices shouted her name, but they seemed too far away and she couldn’t turn her head.

It was a familiar scent and warm hands on her face as her view of Nate was suddenly blocked that finally made her rear back with a gasp and blink furiously.

The face that hovered only inches from hers was worn and drawn, eyes wide in terror, and it took far more effort than it should of for her to whisper his name.


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