The low hum of the plane’s engines woke her and she blinked open heavy eyes to see the blurry image of Oliver’s shirt. Turning her head slowly she looked up to see him asleep, the dark circles under his eyes even more prominent in the low lighting that she was just then recognizing belonged to the Queen’s private jet.
He still held her in his arms and for the first time since she’d been taken she felt calm. It was over. They were going home.
Carefully she turned to her left, moving only as much as she needed to. She didn’t want to wake Oliver, but her right shoulder was numb from how she’d been laying against him and there was a dull ache in her injured arm.
His grip loosed for a second and then became tighter. Her eyes flashed to his but his face remained unchanged, and she was glad he was getting rest.
“He hasn’t slept more than a few hours since he knew you were missing,” Digg’s quiet voice broke through the silence and she fully turned her head to see him sitting across from them.
He looked worn too. His normally bright eyes were dulled and bloodshot, as he sat leaning forward, elbows propped on his knees.
“How about you?” it came out almost as a whisper, her voice croaky and hoarse.
He waved a dismissive hand, “I’m fine,”
For a second he dropped the mask and she saw the strain and the stress he’d been under, not only to find her but to keep Oliver functioning as well.
“Hasn’t been a good week.” he finally said, “But it’s getting better.”
She gave him a watery smile and was about to speak when he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a black case she recognized. “Here, I’ve got something for you,”
The next thing she knew the familiar weight of her glasses was being slipped onto her face and as everything became just a bit more clear she gave a small sigh. “Thanks,”
“Found them in the car. Not a scratch on them,” he said almost roughly and the way he turned the case over in his hands before he caught what he was doing and shoved it back in his pocket let her know something was eating at him.
“Monroe’s dead, isn’t he?”
Digg’s head shot up, unable to hide his shock at her question.
“Nate he…he told me what he did. I sort of remember being in the car after the explosion. I was half conscious and there was shouting and then…a gun going off. I didn’t know who it was for awhile…”
He scrubbed both his hands over his face before he answered, “Yeah, Monroe’s dead,”
“I’m sorry. I liked him.” she knew it was too simple a phrase, but Digg seemed to understand.
“I liked him too,”
Guilt came out of nowhere and filled her, making her throat tight and her head spin. She had more than one life on her conscious now.
“Hey, stop it.” Digg said forcefully and she lifted damp eyes to see him leaning even closer. “He was a soldier. He knew the risks. He did his job.”
“But if it wasn’t for me…”
“He did his job. Don’t take that from him, Felicity.” he looked away quickly and then back, “Some men, they can go to war and come back and do something normal. And others…we’ve seen too much, done too much. There’s no going back. This is what we know. It’s what we’re good at. And he was one of the best, which is why I hired him.”
“Then how am I supposed to be okay with this? You hired him to protect me and now he’s gone.” she didn’t understand how he said these things so simply, like they were facts that just were.
“You don’t have to be okay with it, but you do have to accept it. He did his job. He died trying to protect you. And you’ll just have to trust me when I say he wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
“Did he have a family?” she asked too quickly, “It just seems wrong that he…he put his life up for mine and I didn’t know a single thing about him. God, Digg I didn’t even know his first name.” she admitted almost breathlessly, angry at herself for being so ignorant about a man who had made such a sacrifice because of her.
“His name was Christopher. He had a sister and a four year old niece. He was twenty-nine years old.”
Her eyes fell shut, tears burning behind them. She appreciated the fact that Digg never handled her with kid gloves. He gave her facts and what she needed to hear, even if she didn’t really want to know. But it didn’t make it hurt less.
“We have to do…”
He held up a hand to stop her, “Oliver took care of it already. He paid for the funeral expenses and set up a college fund for the niece. You’re not the only one who feels responsible.”
“Yeah,” she knew Oliver had been taking on everything as his own personal burden, and she knew it was eating him up inside.
There was a silence that passed between them, and she waited for him to speak, expecting him to say something about how Oliver had been while she was missing. Which is why she was so shocked by what he did say.
“I want you to go to the hospital when we land.”
Her eyes flew open, wide and fearful as his words resonated within her.
“No!” she said louder than she intended and Oliver shifted underneath her, one hand unconsciously running along her arm, while the other gripped her hip tighter. She dropped her hand over his, her fingers tracing the bones as she pushed herself back into him slightly hearing a low grunt from his chest before he settled back down.
Digg’s gaze was still locked on her, “Felicity…you were kept sedated for days. You have little memory. I don’t want to make this harder than it needs to be, but you have no idea what happened to you.” she could see the strain around his eyes and how pinched his mouth was as he spoke.
Her head shook back and forth twice, “No…” she more mouthed than spoke out loud, “I can’t…I don’t want people…” she didn’t know how to explain it to him. The thought of having to go somewhere else. To be asked questions and touched…it was more than she could handle.
Digg shifted in his seat and leaned closer, “I know. I know it’s the last thing you want right now. But for your safety you need to do it.”
“Oliver’s not thinking straight.” Digg cut her off, “If he was he’d have driven the ambulance himself. When he does come to his senses it would be better if you knew without a doubt what happened while you were unconscious.” everything he was so carefully trying to not say was coming at her so loud he may as well have been screaming.
She knew he was right. Logically she knew. If she were talking to someone else she’d be telling them the same thing Digg was telling her. But despite all of that she didn’t want to. She almost didn’t want to know.
Mutely she shook her head again, wishing he could stop being so damned practical and sane when she just wanted to ignore it all and hide.
“Felicity…you’re too smart to…”
“I don’t care!” she only just caught herself in time to keep her voice at a whispered shout, “I don’t even think I want to know. And it doesn’t matter. He’s dead. It’s not like they can charge him for anything else.” the words were bitter and made her swallow hard when she was finished saying them.
“I understand that,” he said as evenly as possible and her eyes flashed angrily at him, “But I know you. You’re going to need the answers, and if you wait it will be too late and it will drive you crazy not knowing.”
It was too much. She knew he was right and it killed her, but she also knew if they took her to a hospital the little bit of control she’d managed to scrape together would be gone.
Digg let out a long sigh, “How about a compromise. I can see if the Queen’s personal physician can come to the house. One person. No hospital. Just to make sure you’re okay and to draw blood.”
She froze as she considered his offer. One person. No hospital.
The tiny nod she gave made him let out a long, slow exhale. “Okay,” he said quietly and rose to his feet, one hand coming out to brush over her head, “I’ll go make the calls. Shouldn’t be too much longer until we’re on the ground.”
Oliver slept until the pilot announced they’d be landing then he came to with a start, hands clenching at her waist and hip as he looked around with wild eyes that didn’t seem to be present.
“It’s okay,” she whispered softly and he dipped his head almost like he hadn’t expected to see her. Then his eyes cleared and he shut them tight as he let out a long breath and she felt him relax underneath her.
The almost painful grip he had on her loosened and when he met her gaze again he still looked haunted and worn but tried to give her a smile.
“Did you sleep?” he asked throatily and she nodded,
“A little, then I talked to Digg some,”
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have…”
“Stop, of course you should have. I know you haven’t slept, Oliver.” her good hand stretched up until her fingertips could just brush his jaw. He let out a small huff but didn’t deny what she’d said.
Then they were landing. He planted his feet and secured her in his arms but made no move to let her go. The pilot put them on the ground smoothly and she caught just a glimpse of the Starling City skyline as they taxied, the thought that it had been over a week since she’d been there last almost too surreal to believe.
Digg came back to join them, “Car’s ready to go in the hangar,” he supplied and Oliver nodded once.
She made to get up but his arms were like bands of iron and all she could do was half sit awkwardly, straining muscles that were already sore.
“What are you doing?” he asked, genuinely confused,
“Walking off this plane,”
“You’re fine, I’ve got you,” he answered quietly, lips brushing tenderly over her forehead.
Felicity felt her heart swell at his action but she also knew she needed to walk off the plane for her own reasons, reasons she wasn’t even sure she could express just then.
“I can walk,” she replied, trying to sit up again, this time his arms letting her up far enough to be sitting in his lap,
She could hear the tension in his voice, and the way his brows drew together, he didn’t understand why she was doing this.
“Please, Oliver, let me do this,” her hand cupped his cheek, fingers tracing over the lines that were deeper than the last time she’d seen them, following the dark shadows that hollowed out his face.
Before he could reply she scooted forward and cautiously put her feet on the ground. Bare feet she realized immediately. The cheap ballet flats she’d been wearing must have come off in the struggle with Nate. She was already standing when the memory struck her.
She blanched, feeling her knees go weak and she wondered if she actually could walk on her own. Oliver hands found her hips and he was suddenly standing behind her, letting her lean against him as she took deep breaths and tried to push the thoughts away.
“You don’t have to do this,” he said almost desperately, and a part of her ached for him, but the other part of her was still stuck in that motel room.
“I do,” she choked out, “I do,” the breath she blew from pursed lips was shaky and she let her fingers twine with his where they rested on her hips.
She felt his head dip down to rest against hers and he let out a shuddering breath of his own.
Before she could reconsider she took one hesitant step and then another, one of her hands still clasped in his.
Digg waited at the steps, supportive look on his face and when she reached him he didn’t say a word, just began to descend slowly. She paused at the top, Oliver so close behind her she could feel the heat of him. As she looked out she could see the plane had been taxied straight into the hangar and the car had been brought in as well. She knew Digg was the one who had arranged for everything and she mouthed a ‘thank you’ when he turned back and offered her his hand in case she needed it.
She took the steps one at a time, purposely not looking around, her grip on Oliver so tight her fingers were starting to go numb. When she got to the bottom she saw there was a small carpet runner that stretched from the stairs to the car where the door was already open. Digg’s lifted eyebrows let her know he wasn’t responsible for that but she was grateful all the same to not feel cold concrete under her feet.
He paused by the open door as Oliver helped her in, the familiar scent of expensive leather and a lingering trace of Oliver’s cologne helped calm her some as she had to let go of him to slide across the seat.
She expected him to follow her immediately, he had one foot inside, hand braced on the roof but he had paused and she heard a low murmur she recognized as Digg’s voice but she couldn’t make out what he was saying.
It hit her so fast she sat bolt upright, eyes coming to stare straight ahead of her, fixating on the stitching in the drivers seat headrest. Digg was telling Oliver about the doctor.
Her stomach began to churn and that now all too familiar fluttery feeling of panic began in her chest once again. She didn’t want to. She wanted to sleep forever with Oliver wrapped around her and when she woke up it would all be over.
When Oliver finally climbed in the tension was radiating off him in waves and she found she was closing in on herself. She felt confused, and frightened, and like her brain still wasn’t processing at its normal speed.
His head fell back with a sigh and she added a fresh dose of guilt to her competing emotions. A flare of pain shot down her arm making her wince and she caught herself trying to wrap her arms around her middle to make herself as small as possible.
Then Oliver’s hand slid across her back and he was drawing her to his side, muttering apologies for what she didn’t know. It took her longer than it should of to relax into him. When she finally pressed her face into his shoulder he turned and kissed her forehead, letting his lips stay there as he spoke, “We’ll get through this,”
She didn’t reply. She couldn’t. She just moved as close as she could and let her eyes fall shut and tried not to think about what she’d have to do when she got to the mansion, as he stroked a hand through her hair. His heart beat strong under her ear and she focused on that, counting each thud until she drifted off.
When she came to he was once again carrying her up the stairs of the mansion, the act so familiar now it should have become some sort of running joke. Much like seeing the city for the first time, being in the house felt strange as well. It didn’t seem like it had been over a week since she’d walked down those very steps.
They were almost to the top when she lifted her head and looked around but there was no one to witness this time. Moira and Thea were conspicuously absent.
She didn’t try to get down and even though she knew he was aware she was awake he stared stoically ahead, the tight set of his jaw telling her how on edge he was.
However, when Oliver entered his room she realized they weren’t alone. Digg stood a few feet inside with an older woman at his side. She had ash blonde hair and a dark purple pant suit and wore a kindly expression.
Regardless, Felicity found herself shrinking into Oliver. His steps slowed and she knew without looking he was fighting this as well.
It was Digg who had to step forward, “Felicity, this is Dr. Anderson,”
The doctor stayed where she was as Oliver drew to a halt in front of them, “It’s nice to meet you, Felicity. I’ve been Moira and Thea’s doctor for over twenty years, in fact I delivered Thea,” her smile was genuine and reached her eyes and Digg must have told her some of what happened because she was making no move to approach them.
Felicity knew she was trying to make her more comfortable by giving her a connection to the Queen family, letting Felicity know she wasn’t a stranger to be scared of, and it did help to know this wasn’t some nameless, faceless person at a hospital but she still didn’t want any part of it.
Felicity must have made some sort of conditioned, polite acknowledgement but she wasn’t sure if she’d nodded or made a noise. Then Oliver was moving again, hesitating with her hovering over the bed.
His eyes were a war of emotion, and not for the first time she wondered how bad it had gotten for him. He looked like he was about to crack and suddenly, like clouds parting on a stormy day she had a goal, a purpose. She knew she needed to be checked out, there were too many unknowns, too much she couldn’t remember, too much at risk, but thinking about all of that was enough to drown her in thoughts she couldn’t begin to process. But she could get through it for him. If it would help ease some of the stress and strain he was experiencing she could focus on that outcome instead.
“Sit me down,” she whispered gently, “It’ll be okay,”
Mechanically he lowered her to the bed, steadying her as she sat with her legs hanging off the side. His eyes darted everywhere but at her, as he tried to pull his hands away from her and failed.
He looked tortured and it made her heart clench to see him struggling so hard. With one strong tug she caught his attention and then he was kneeling in front of her, hands gripping her hips as he looked up at her with pleading eyes, “You don’t have to do this,”
“Yes I do,” she said with a watery broken smile, “We need for me to do this,”
His head bowed in defeat, and she couldn’t help running a hand over his hair and down to the nape of his neck.
“If this is too hard for you…” he began, voice muffled, and her vision grew even more blurry because she knew he was so upset for her. He didn’t want her to be scared or uncomfortable and that made her even more sure that she had to do this.
“I can handle it. I have to. You know that, Oliver,”
“I know,” he half growled, hands tightening at her waist and for a long moment they didn’t move or say a word, she just dragged her nails through his hair.
When he could he picked his head up and fixed seeking eyes on hers, searching for any reason to call it all off.
“Okay….okay, ” he said, stronger the second time as his hand slid to cup her cheek, “I lo…” he stopped, head tilted to the side as his eyes slammed shut. But she knew. She knew he was about to say what she had almost said on the phone and she knew he had stopped for the same reason.
Her heart rose in her chest and the smile she gave him then was real as she pulled him forward their lips meeting in their first real kiss since it had ended. Warmth flooded her at the contact and he kissed her twice more before he finally pulled back and stood up, hand still caressing her face.
“I’ll be right outside,” he promised,
Her hands twisted in her lap as he walked away, trying to clamp down on the surge of panic that raced through her as she watched his retreating form. He paused at the door where Digg had been talking to the doctor in low tones.
The sound of the door closing and a soft voice calling her name made her jump, heart beating frantically as her head whipped up to see Digg and Oliver were gone.
Dr. Anderson still stood by the door and stayed there until Felicity released the death grip she had on the side of the bed.
She still held her breath as the doctor came closer, but instead of going straight for Felicity she walked to the desk and pushed the wheeled computer chair over, stopping when she was still several feet away.
“Is it okay if we talk for a few minutes first?” she asked and Felicity nodded, trying to control her exhale as her spine released vertebrae by vertebrae.
“Mr. Diggle explained some of what you’ve been through. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or frighten you and if you want to stop at any time we can. You’re in control here.”
The words struck her hard because she hadn’t been in control for over a week. Blinking furiously she just nodded.
“I’d like to take some blood, you were kept sedated I understand and there could still be traces in your system.”
“Can you run tests?” Felicity asked suddenly,
“Tests for what?”
The implications hung between them but Dr. Anderson knew what she meant, “I can run any test you’d like. Anything that will put your mind at ease.”
“You have an in-house lab? Private?” she asked unnecessarily, she knew Digg wouldn’t have had this any other way.
“Yes. Private and discreet,”
“Then I’d like to fill the lab requisition form out myself,” her chin lifted some and she sat a little straighter. Telling the doctor exactly which tests she wanted run wasn’t something she could do, but she knew she could check them off on a form.
“Of course, that won’t be a problem. We’ll have the results to you by tomorrow morning,”
Felicity swallowed hard and looked around the room. The room she’d dreamt about being back in while she was gone. “The drug I was given…there are days I have no memory of. Is that normal?”
“Mr. Diggle told me the name of the sedative. It’s highly potent and if the dosage was too high…then yes, it’s very possible you could have either been unconscious for that time or have no memory.”
Felicity didn’t reply. She didn’t know how she’d ever come to terms with that unknown.
The doctor made quick work of drawing the blood, not saying any unnecessary words while she focused on the task.
Dr. Anderson was quiet and calm and professional and that was exactly what Felicity needed. As she packaged the blood samples she handed Felicity the form without comment.
Her hand shook as she held the pen and began to check boxes where the results could be life altering. She couldn’t allow herself to think on it though because once she started she wouldn’t be able to stop.
She didn’t recall much from the actual exam. Her mind had gone someplace else in order for her to get through it. She remembered studying the dark wood work on the ceiling. She remembered a cool hand on her knee that made her jump. She remembered silent tears leaking into her hair. She remembered pulling her clothes back on as quickly as she could, clothes that were bloody and not hers but better than nothing.
Dr. Anderson had packed her things and was waiting patiently as Felicity sat silently on the side of the bed once again.
“I’ll have the tests results sent over as soon as they’re available.” she said and then made to reach across to take Felicity’s hand but she jerked back, starting to shake from the effort it had taken to keep herself together. “Felicity…everything looks fine. I don’t think you need to worry, there’s no sign of any sexual assault. The stitches in your leg can come out soon and your arm should heal nicely.” She’d said it all together like they were all equal and Felicity didn’t know if that was good or bad. Her head was starting to swim with the thousands of thoughts suddenly swirling through all at once.
“Fluids, a few good meals, and a lot of rest. If you need anything please don’t hesitate to call. I’ve been with the Queen family for a long time and I hope to see you again under better circumstances.”
Mutely Felicity dipped her head and moved on leaden legs to walk the doctor to the door. Each step took her closer to Oliver, closer to what she needed. The panic was working its way up her throat again, trying to choke her and she could barely hear anything over the high pitched buzzing sound in her head.
When the door opened she saw him, one hand paused halfway across his head as he paced and then he was pushing past the doctor without sparing her a glance.
She didn’t hear Digg offer to walk the doctor out or the soft click as the door shut, all she knew was Oliver standing before her pleading with his eyes to tell her everything was okay. She managed one weak nod with a trembling chin and then he was wrapped around her, one hand splayed wide across her back and the other cupping her head.
Other than her breakdown in the shower she hadn’t allowed herself to crack. Even in the motel room everything had been too real, too present for her to understand what had happened. But it was starting to settle within her, what had been done to her and what she’d had to do.
“You’re alright, I’m right here,” he said softly into her hair, and it was those words that made her break.
Allowing all her weight to be caught by Oliver she let go. Hot tears streamed down her face as silent sobs shook her so hard she felt her knees buckle. His hold on her tightened and some part of her registered that his chest was shaking too.
She didn’t look up as she felt him stutter and then lower them to the floor, not even trying to make it to the couch or bed. She curled into his lap and felt his wet face press into her neck as they both let go of some of the pain and fear they’d been forced to live through.