07: The Climb Redux

spoilerwarning

Oliver went home with lead in his shoes that night. It was around 4 a.m. when he finally entered the house, feeling absolutely shattered. He had to keep his spirits up for the team but now that he was finally home, safe, he couldn’t help but feeling old and creaky. Instead of going upstairs like he used to for a shower and then join Bella in bed, he walked into the kitchen, didn’t put any lights on and grabbed a beer from the fridge.

He had 48 hours to find Sara’s killer and it just wasn’t enough. They’d been looking for months now, there wasn’t going to be a magical solution to this, no one would pop up and say ‘hey! I’ve killed Sara Lance!’, and all they were banking on were the DNA results. Granted, once they’d have the results he could quickly bring that person to justice, but the DNA had been degraded and handed over to Caitlin. If they’d get the results soon, it’d be a miracle.

He sat down on one of the kitchen chairs and started to drink his beer. Sometimes it just really sucked to be him.

Bella quietly made her way downstairs, wrapping her robe around her as she found him staring at nothing. Whatever had happened, she knew deep inside that it wasn’t good. Glancing back up at the ceiling, towards their son’s room, she was never more glad that he was a sound sleeper. Even in the dark, she could make out way he held himself, the stress in which was filling every fiber of his being. Making her way over, she ran her hands over his shoulders and rested her cheek against his, hugging him from behind as she waited for him to be able to find the words he needed to tell her what was bothering him.

For some reason, feeling her around him made him feel more at ease, somewhat, but he really didn’t know where to start. First he was ambushed, he thought it had been Malcolm Merlyn at first, but it ended up being a League ambush. And then, there was Nyssa, telling him that they had been patient enough and that time was now running out. “It’s starting,” he eventually said and took a swig of his beer. “I can’t stop it.”

Knowing what he was referring to, she was unable to stop herself from jerking at the thought. Moving around so that she could sit in his lap, she set his beer back away from her as she focused on him. “So what is the next step? What do they want? Besides the obvious that we don’t have.”

“I don’t know,” Oliver sighed tiredly. “They want Sara’s killer or they’ll go on a rampage through Starling City, so there’s no other choice than to find Sara’s killer,” he replied. “So I’ll be mostly doing that tomorrow. Making some leads and connect them or something.”

“Didn’t you have some DNA? How long does that take? Wasn’t that weeks ago?” she questioned confused. “I thought it only takes a few days at most.”

“Usually, yes,” Oliver nodded. “But the DNA was degraded and it takes time to piece it back together. Felicity is certain that one of these days we’ll have the results. I’ve told her we don’t have the time anymore so hopefully we’ll know something tomorrow.”

Bella swallowed as she nodded. “Okay. Come on to bed then. There isn’t anything else that we can do tonight. We’ll start fresh tomorrow and beginning planning on what to do. Just keep your head clear because I need you to not get wrapped up in it like you do. I need you to come back from all of this Oliver. We need you.”

“You don’t have to worry about me,” he said as he allowed himself to be pulled along with her. “You should worry about those innocent civilians they are threatening to kill.”

“I do care and we will do what we can,” she said, hesitating as she looked away once they reached their room. She went over to her side of the bed to crawl back in, but still avoided looking at him. “But it doesn’t change how I feel about you.”

He got out of his clothes and crawled into bed with her, shuffling up against her and sighed. “I’ll be fine, I promise. It’s not like I’m going to take them on by myself. If they do start killing innocent people, I’ll call in the Suicide Squad.” He softly nuzzled her neck. “Let me do the worrying.”

Bella nodded as she stared up at the ceiling. Telling him her suspicions now would only cause added distraction and she didn’t wish that. She did need to confide in someone though, and sighed as she turned into him as she settled in for the night to sleep.

~o.O.o~

The next day, Bella was watching through the kitchen window as Oliver spent the day out in the yard with Connor. They had declared the time as being boys only but she could see in his eyes that he was trying to spend as much time with him as he could and for reasons that filled her with fear.

Hearing the front door open, she was startled out of her thoughts as she returned to finishing the dishes from lunch. “Good afternoon Felicity,” she greeted as strongly as she could muster out.

“I brought lots of cake and ice cream,” Felicity replied as she closed the door and walked straight into the kitchen. “I figured you’d need it.”

“That’s an understatement,” she muttered as she turned to eye her. “What I could really use is alcohol too but I – need to wait for confirmations first.”

Felicity put the bag onto the counter and looked at Bella in shock. “You’re not sick, are you? Like… really sick? Because that would be so unfair!”

“Not that I’m aware. At least nothing that wouldn’t go away in say – nine months or so,” she said softly as she looked back out the window, biting her lip. “That night you came back early and found us. It hadn’t gone as planned, I did take precautions after…”

Felicity’s jaw dropped wide open. “You think you’re pregnant? Oh my God, Bella, that’s awe-” she started excited but then remembered what was going on. “- awesomely complicated right now.”

Bella spun around in her frustration and looked at her. “I know that. I wanted to tell him that I realized yesterday that I was late but couldn’t. It would only distract him from what he needs to deal with already. If he does have to go up against these people he’d already be leaving behind one child. I can’t tell him he’d have another on the way,” she whispered. “I – I don’t know what to do. I don’t have anyone else to talk to about it. You cannot tell him.”

“Oh, of course I won’t,” Felicity said as she moved in to hug her. “It’s going to be alright, Bella, I promise. There are a lot of reasons why you could be late and if it happens to be the one that ends up in you turning into a nine month baking oven, then that’s okay because Oliver will be fine and you’re going to have him by your side as you go through this.”

She nodded as she hugged her back, trying not to get emotional with the boys outside in case they came in unannounced and began to question her. “Okay. So, please tell me you know something about this murder and DNA so that we can get this thing over with so that we can get these people out of the city and they don’t learn about his son.”

“I’m sorry,” Felicity sighed. “I called Caitlin at work this morning and she said she needed a few more hours so I’m waiting for her phone call.”

“Great. So until then, he’s staying here where I have him surrounded. I hope it won’t be much longer because I can’t keep it up indefinitely. I don’t know who I’m keeping out.”

“Bella, Oliver isn’t in danger. The League made the threat to the city and yes, Oliver protects the city but as it is now, he’s not in any more danger than he usually is.” Felicity took her tablet out of her bag and started to swipe manically on the thing. “I just sent you an email with the two people you must keep out. One’s Malcolm Merlyn; Oliver really worries about him now that there’s this thing going on with Thea and the other one is Nyssa al Ghul. She’s the daughter of the leader of the League. I don’t have more information to go on, sadly.”

“I know,” Bella sighed. “I’m talking about Connor. They can use him against him if they knew. I would tell him to kill me if it meant to him living,” she pointed out. “I don’t doubt that these people would pull some shit like that either. Perhaps it’s a good thing that we haven’t had the chance to get the paperwork in to update his birth certificate yet. The shit with my father kept us from going forward with that in case he tracked us through those records.”

“Well,” Felicity smiled at her. “Christmas is just round the corner, you can go and change it all once this is all over and give Connor the biggest Christmas present ever.”

“Felicity. I’m beginning to think that boy has Santa in his back pocket considering his biggest wishes were, one, for his father to come back, which he has. Two, for us to live together, which we are. Three, for a baby sister as you learned at dinner that night, which may be a damn possibility now. The last thing he wants is for a freaking ring on my finger so that we’re all Queens! Christmas presents my ass!”

She started to laugh as she put on the kettle for tea. “It’s tradition that the Queens celebrate Christmas in a huge way, I think you’ve got that covered.”

Oliver and Connor walked in, both their cheeks rosy from the cold outside and playing outside. “Christmas. Yes,” Oliver said with a nod. “I should have them bring over a Christmas tree so we can decorate it.”

“Can’t we just go and get one, Daddy?”

“I think your mom’s car would squash if we’d try to move a Christmas tree with it.”

“Fair,” Connor said with a nod. “Hi Felicity.”

Bella grimaced as she tried not to think about the nightmare coming from the holiday. While Christmas was Oliver’s favorite, she didn’t care one way or another. She went through the routines of the necessities for Connor over the years but if it had been just her, she’d be fine with just a single string of lights and a table top tree that didn’t require much effort. She just didn’t like the fuss or attention. “We don’t have the space for a tree the size you’re talking about Dad.”

“Sure we do,” Oliver said with a nod. “The ceiling is at least 7 feet. We can easily fit a 6 foot tree in here.”

“Mom has a tree in the basement I think,” Connor said, looking confused. “She used last year. I don’t know how many foots it is.”

She wasn’t paying attention as she was trying to think of ways to minimize Oliver’s overindulgence in the holiday considering the events going on. “Maybe we can worry about everything later. We’ll look at trees and finding delivery services next week.”

Connor pouted and Oliver mirrored that pout before shrugging. “Alright, sorry buddy, let’s get something to drink and go back outside.”

“Okay,” he said as he ran to the fridge to get himself a juice box and a bottle of water for his father before running out and leaving the adults in the kitchen. “I’m going to go hide this time!”

“Oliver…” Bella started, not sure what to say as she looked at him. “I -”

“I know, you don’t like Christmas,” he said and softly kissed her. “I’m sorry for bringing it up, I just thought that maybe we could make new memories, good ones for the first Christmas we’re together as a family.”

“I’d like that too. I do. But I want to make sure that everything is fine first so before we go and make plans for something so large and extravagant, let’s get the monster taken care of first. I can’t let go of that worry until I know it won’t come back to haunt us,” she explained as she wrapped her arms around him. “Go spend the rest of the day with your son. I know that’s what you wanted until more information came in anyway.”

“Yeah, but you have to come outside too,” Oliver said and kissed her again. “I wanted to spend the day with you two, if you don’t want to go outside, we can come in.”

She smiled at him and nodded. “I’ll be out in a minute. Let me get my coat,” she replied.

“Awesome, now, if you’d excuse me, I have to find our son who’s hiding behind that rock over there.” He kissed her again and went outside.

Bella looked over at Felicity, who had been watching quietly with a small smile. “I don’t care what you have to do but get some information. Please. I want this mess done so that he can move on from this. So that you all can. I’ll send him there later because I know he’ll try avoiding to milk the time with Connor, so I hope you will have something by then for all our sakes.”

Felicity wished that Bella would understand that she and the rest of the team had run down every lead so far and that there was nothing else to go on right now. That they lived in as much uncertainty as Bella did, and that waiting simply sucked. Instead of telling Bella so, she shot off a text message to Caitlin to hurry up. Because if she’d tell Bella, chances were that she’d walk out of the house with a headache or pieces of sheetrock in her hair from being thrown into a wall. Or glass… or maybe a broken limb… “I texted Caitlin again and I shall be on my tablet, going to use a toothpick to try to dig up information.” Because it’s not there, she added in silence to herself.

Nodding, Bella accepted her response as she went to pull her coat on and joined the rest of her new and growing family outside to play. As somber as the events going on, the parents managed to put on a good show so Connor had a memorable day with his father.

~o.O.o~

When the darkness fell, Oliver made his way over to the basement and Felicity just got off the phone with Caitlin. The results were in of the DNA testing and he was glad that it was just him, Diggle and Felicity in the basement because the result was a complete mindfuck. But not really, it was just a confirmation that Malcolm Merlyn was behind all of this; Malcolm hated Oliver so much that he’d pit him against the League of Assassins, to get rid of him once and for all. Oliver thought he was a complete idiot for not having thought about Merlyn before; the guy was alive and had somehow wrapped Thea all around his fingers. This was such a Merlyn thing to do. Merlyn was smart and good at covering his tracks but Felicity was better and gave him and Roy a lead to track down, which only confirmed that Malcolm was behind Sara’s murder. Malcolm and Thea.

Oliver couldn’t believe what he saw on the security footage though; his sister was adamant about not having been to Starling City ever since she left it during the street riots. He couldn’t believe that his own sister lied to him, although if he had to be honest with himself, it wasn’t completely fair that he lied to his sister on a regular basis, but that was to protect her. There was also no way that Thea could ever kill anyone, she was a sweet, innocent woman who had a penchant for making some wrong decisions but murder? She wasn’t capable of that.

What was worse was that his three friends were all agreeing that it could have been Thea and that hurt. He decided to go to Thea again and ask her, again, if she really hadn’t been to Starling City all this time. There was evidence that she was, so maybe she’d talk. He hadn’t expected the big Christmas tree in her penthouse flat though. Especially not with the tree toppings that he and Thea made for Christmas when they were kids. The tree was enormous and for a moment there, he felt happy. Christmas had always been the best holiday at the Queen Mansion with parties, good food and people. And the happiness lasted for a short while, until she lied to him again and after getting more decorations off her attic, he went back to the club where he sulked.

How could Thea lie? Even if she came back to Starling City for a couple of days, she didn’t have to talk to him, there was no shame in that. Diggle and Felicity were once again telling him that he had a blind spot, a gigantic blind spot, and that it was his family. It happened with his mother, his father and now Thea. It was simply unbelievable that his kid sister could kill someone and get away with it. Felicity had a point though, when she suggested that he shouldn’t be the one asking the questions.

And the event of the Arrow visiting Oliver’s sister was indescribable. Thea surprised him by attacking him and jumping out of the window, escaping the Arrow while telling him to leave her and her father alone. He realized he needed to get moving but he couldn’t help but to watch and stare. On his way back to the club, he started fuming. Merlyn had been teaching Thea self defense, obviously. But what more did he teach her? It looked more plausible that she was capable of killing Sara and that really fucked with his mind.

He was so glad that there was a nightclub on top of his basement where he could get all the alcohol he wanted, he needed something smooth to wash down the bitter taste in his mouth. Oliver was going to kill Merlyn. One way or the other. He didn’t quite mind him fucking with Oliver, but to fuck with Thea? That was just one step too far, even if she was Merlyn’s daughter.

Merlyn found him, of course, and made it impossible for Oliver to kill him. He had finally done it, he had cornered Oliver to do his bidding; to go up against Ra’s al Ghul and kill him or be killed. For Thea. To absolve Merlyn’s blood debt to the League so that he could start living out in the open again. Merlyn would probably have done it himself, but the League hated him so much that he’d probably get shot on sight.

Even if Oliver wouldn’t succeed in killing Ra’s al Ghul; the man had means to prolong life and resurrect from the dead and was, in Malcolm’s estimate, at least 100 years old and a skilled fighter that even the Dark Archer was afraid of – Oliver would be dead and no longer in Malcolm Merlyn’s way. And should Oliver tell on Malcolm against Ra’s, Thea’d still die because she fired the arrows. Should he kill Merlyn, Thea would be dead too. There wasn’t any choice. Oliver was trapped and there was no way of escaping it if he wanted to protect the city from the League’s onslaught.

After his meeting with Ra’s al Ghul – Oliver had to admit, the man looked like someone to be reckoned with, he was an impressive man but Oliver was going to win this. For Thea. For Bella and Connor, for Starling City and then… he was going to go after Merlyn – Maseo told him where to be in thirteenth hour, that he had twelve hours to settle his affairs and then climb the mountain.

His first stop was Thea, who blatantly lied about some bird having broken the window earlier and he felt so sorry for her. Malcolm had confessed to drugging Thea and from his time in Hong Kong, it was possible. He couldn’t hate her for not remembering something she did while she was under the influence, it only proved that Thea was still his Thea.

He promised he’d call as soon as everything was over to Felicity, Diggle and Roy as he packed his bag, making sure that he put a satchel of the medicinal herbs in the bag as well as things he’d need should he get into trouble on the mountain. But he had to do this all by himself, they weren’t allowed to help him even though they wanted to. There was no way that Oliver was going to have them come with him anyway. Chances were that he wasn’t going to survive the ordeal.

Oliver knew he had to get going once he said his goodbyes to his friends, but he couldn’t leave until seeing Bella one last time until this was all over. Connor was asleep by now seeing as it was nearing midnight and that was a good thing. When he walked in the door of the house, all the lights were still on and Bella was waiting for him in the kitchen where she was making herself a cup of tea. “Hey,” he smiled at her, taking in every inch of her form, how she moved, he wanted to imprint that on his brain because he wasn’t sure if he’d ever see her again.

She turned at his voice slowly after setting the kettle down and looked up at him. Felicity had called to give her the warning that he was likely on his way but said nothing else. All she knew was that she was upset and she had a good idea why. “Hey back,” she said quietly.

He walked to her and took her in his arms. “Are you okay?” he asked as he caressed her back. “Did something happen with Connor? With you?”

She shook her head as she buried her face in his chest and rested her arms over his shoulders. “I’m fine. Connor is fine. Felicity…called that you were on your way home,” she answered. Lifting her head, she looked up at him with tears filling her eyes that she fought against shedding. “You’re leaving, aren’t you?”

“I wasn’t given any choice,” he said hoarsely. “I need to do this, for Thea.”

“I know. You would do the same for Connor as well, as I would. That’s why I’m not begging you to stay as much as I want to.”

He smiled at her and softly kissed her. “I love you, Bella. And I will be back to tell you that again.”

“You’d better Oliver Queen. Otherwise I’ll find another like me that can bring you back so that I can kill you myself,” she smiled weakly.

“That’s a deal then,” he kissed her again. “If you need anything while I’m away, don’t hesitate to call Felicity or Diggle, okay?”

Bella nodded as she held onto him tightly. “I won’t. Just make sure that you take care of things out there. Just – get the job done. Any means necessary and come home.”

“I will come home to you and Connor, I promise,” he whispered and kissed her again before lifting her up and taking her upstairs to Connor’s room where his son lay peacefully asleep, unaware of the world around him. He let go of Bella after putting her down on the floor and kneeled beside Connor’s bed, gently caressing his hair. “See you later, buddy,” he said softly. “Take care of mommy while I’m gone.”

Bella looked down as he spoke to his son, her hand falling to her belly where she feared that he was leaving more than just them and moved to grasp her hands behind her back as he started to look up at her. “When do you leave?” she whispered.

“Now,” he sighed as he got to his feet again and kissed her tenderly. “I’ll come back, I promise but I have to go now or I won’t leave and… I need to go.”

“I love you Oliver.”

He smiled at her before kissing the top of her head and headed down the stairs quickly, before he’d lose the nerve to do this. Before feeling safe in a bubble would make him stay. He grabbed his bag that he left at the door and disappeared.

~o.O.o~

The following morning, after Bella had spent much of the night crying as she worried for Oliver, she ended up giving up on a full sleep and found herself calling Felicity early so that she could come over to watch Connor, who’d decided to plant himself in front of the television with his video games. She was overdue for grocery shopping and had mostly cereal left in the house and used the last of the milk for his breakfast so there was no more stalling.

When the girl arrived, she welcomed her with a grateful smile. “Thanks so much. I really don’t want to take him out after – last night. I just need a little time to myself while I get some things done,” she said as she let her in as she had waited at the door.

“Oh, no problem,” Felicity managed smile at Bella. “Go and get some retail therapy in, Connor and I will have some fun together.”

She looked back towards the living room sadly. “He doesn’t know. Not really. I told him that Oliver had to go out of town for work, like when he found us in Central City. Stick with that. I just need to get groceries so I shouldn’t be too long. An hour, two tops. If you need anything, or want me to stop somewhere, just give me a call.”

Felicity nodded. “We’ll be fine, even if it takes you a bit longer to come back. Take all the time you need.”

Bella smiled as she headed out. Her thoughts as she shopped and slowly filled the grocery cart were chaotic. She couldn’t stop wondering what Oliver was doing at that moment as she looked absently at the items on the shelves before grabbing a random box and tossing it in. Running her hand through her hair, she turned the corner and crashed her cart into another shopper.

“Oh! My apologies. I wasn’t paying attention…” she said as she winced from the impact and looked up to who she struck.

“You’re Isabella Swan, Oliver Queen’s beloved, are you not?”

Bella eyed the woman for a moment, hesitating as she looked around. “I suppose you could say that,” she said slowly. “What is it to you?”

“I do not wish you harm, Isabella Swan,” the woman replied as she kept a friendly tone of voice. “Your beloved killed mine and I was not there to witness it, I find it only fitting if Oliver Queen’s beloved watches him die.”

Her mouth fell open in surprise at her accusation and was about to call out to cause a scene so that someone would come as she knew it would not be a good idea to use her ability in such a public place.

“Would you please come with me, quietly? I give you my word that I shall return you safely to Starling City once this ordeal is complete,” she continued. “If I have to take you by force, I will not be able to hold to my wishes of not hurting you.”

“What guarantee do I have that you’ll not kill me? I don’t know who you are,” she lied as she glared at her.

“You have my word as the daughter of the Demon’s Head. My name is Nyssa al Ghul and I do not give my word lightly.”

Bella stared at her for a long time, debating about leaving with her as she had thought about Connor back home and who would care for him as she disappeared. Both his parents would be gone and if she did go back on her word then he would be without anyone other than the rest of the team. “What of my son?”

“Your son will not be harmed,” Nyssa said almost offended. “My people may see the world differently but their children are important and even we don’t use children as a threat, it is not honorable.”

Nodding swiftly, Bella gave in, looking around and wondering just what it was she was getting involved in now. Whoever this woman was, she had to have been watching her to know that she’d get her alone in the store that morning after she left the house, but also didn’t seem aware that Connor was Oliver’s son because honor cut in multiple ways and it wasn’t always black and white.

She was a little afraid as she walked with her wide eyed as she tried to look around everywhere she was taken but it didn’t last long for when her head was covered and soon removed to find herself in a dark warehouse. Blinking as her eyes adjusted, she tried to focus on those around her, listening to the conversation as everyone appeared to prepare to leave for somewhere.

“Do not fear,” a man said as he held out a bottle of water for her to drink. “You shall be reunited with your son once you witnessed.”

“Witness? That woman said she wanted me to watch my boyfriend die,” she said as she eyed the water skeptically.

“It is a possibility that Oliver Queen dies,” the man said mournfully. “However, in the past, he has shown to be a quick study and an adversary to be reckoned with. The water is safe to drink, I have inspected the bottle myself.”

“I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you,” Bella said, her eye twitching as she knew the truth was that she could shove him through the wall if she wanted.

He sighed as he opened the bottle and took a swig from it, swallowing the water to prove it was safe. “We do not intend to harm you. The water is safe.”

“That’s great to hear,” she replied as she finally accepted the bottle and drank greedily.

“Nice,” he muttered under his breath. “You seem to be as stubborn and paranoid as he is.”

She narrowed her eyes on him as she tried to figure this person out. He seemed to be a different class than the woman who had taken her, and while both appeared to have some concern for others, it was on different wavelengths. “What are you to Oliver?”

“A former friend who, despite our differences, does not wish to see any hurt become to him. He did not kill Ta-er al-Sahfer, he is taking the fall for someone else.”

Bella remained silent as she did not know how far this man’s trust went but she could see the concern for Oliver in his eyes. She knew much of the story but the events of the last two days – he hadn’t told her everything and she couldn’t speak on it. She knew that he was covering for Thea and she too would refuse to give out that information but what was going on here and now, she was in the dark on. “What am I to expect?”

“Blood.”

“Great,” she muttered. “Fair warning. I don’t do too well around blood. In fact I usually faint or get really sick. You may not have your witness for long in that case. You picked a bad candidate for this.”

“You were not supposed to be here, Nyssa decided to take you with us. Ta-er al-Sahfer was a mighty warrior and her beloved.”

“Yeah well, all it’s going to do is piss him off my being there,” she sighed as she tossed the empty water bottle across the room towards the group of people.

“One must hope that on his climb of the mountain that he forgoes on his emotions as that makes him weak,” he replied simply before walking off to fetch the empty bottle and put it in his bag before returning by Bella’s side. “Make no mistake, the Oliver Queen you said goodbye to last night might not be the same Oliver Queen coming off that mountain.”

She looked into his eyes with little emotion, refusing to back down. As far as she was concerned, he would always be hers. “Do not worry yourself about him. He’ll win. I would worry about yourselves when he’s done,” she smiled with confidence.

He looked back at her for a moment before averting his eyes. “I can see why you two are together.”

~o.O.o~

He felt tired and worn down as he forced himself to climb the last few feet of the mountain. He had been climbing for god knows how long and it had been cathartic in a way. Knowing that Ra’s al Ghul was a skilled fighter, Oliver needed to stop thinking about what he was fighting for, be the man he was before he decided not to kill anymore. He kept thinking about what Slade had taught him on the Island, how merciless he had become during his time in Hong Kong. He knew that if he held on to that, he was going to be okay.

When he hoisted himself up, relieved that he had reached the top without too many injuries but with a lot of fatigue in his arms, he thought he was delusional because he thought he saw Bella stand on top of the mountain, right next to Maseo. He tried to shake the image out of his head as he got to his feet, but she was there alright and his heart sank.

As Oliver approached the stones, Maseo walked towards him with no hint of surprise on his face. “Remove your shirt, this is custom.”

Bella could only watch on from her place as she had been silenced with a scarf as a gag and another tied tightly around her wrists so that it would make it impossible for her to climb down the mountain on her own if she attempted escape. Oliver had met her eyes again as she watched him strip his shirt off in the cold and she couldn’t help her breath catching at seeing how his skin, already inflamed by the cold, only accentuated the scars he had from his life away. Hot tears escaped her eyes as she watched on, waiting for everyone to give their cues for what was to happen, that she had only learned what he had kept from her about this battle.

“Why is she here?” Oliver asked Maseo.

“Because I asked her to,” Nyssa replied with a wicked grin on her face.

“Ra’s al Ghul is not known to be merciful,” Maseo said to Oliver. “But if there was a chance, this would be your final moment for it.”

Oliver could have sworn he heard concern in Maseo’s voice. Almost as if he was begging Oliver to beg Ra’s al Ghul for mercy and just stared at him in return without showing any further emotion on his face after the surprise of Bella being there. Maseo then pointed to the weapons rack for Oliver to pick his weapons to fight Ra’s with. He didn’t like it that the rack was filled with all kinds of swords; Oliver knew how to fight with them as Slade had taught him, but they weren’t his weapons of choice. Did he even need weapons? He hesitated for a moment before picking two short bladed swords, twirling them around in his hands to get the feel of them, and to get his muscles to stop from spasming after climbing the mountain.

Bella looked back and forth from Oliver to the man he was due to fight that stood across the short area near the cliff. She used her shield to gently nudge Oliver’s side as she stared at him, checking to assure that he was indeed alright for this as she feared that Nyssa brought her not only to witness but to distract as well.

He tried not to respond to Bella’s nudging as he kept staring at Ra’s al Ghul beating his own chest like a gorilla would do – he looked like one, if Oliver had to be honest – and rolled his shoulders in response. The cold was making his muscles seize up and he really needed to be moving to make sure he’d survive the fight. He then shook his head lightly. He really didn’t want her to help him. By law, he had to do this by himself and he really didn’t want them to figure out just how special she was.

The man was twice the size he was and he boasted that he didn’t need weapons as he’d just take one of Oliver’s. He couldn’t dodge the first blow that Ra’s dealt, it was a cheap shot, they hadn’t officially begun fighting and he just hit him out of nowhere and if Oliver’s look could kill, Ra’s would have been dead on the floor already. Steadying himself, Oliver decided to let Ra’s come to him. There was no way that he was going to attack Ra’s so blindly with unfamiliar weapons. If Oliver really wanted to die, he could have done that but he had a lot to live for.

Ra’s had called him a boy when they first met, and maybe he was, in comparison, but Oliver was not going to act like one. He was going to do this smart and calculated. When he deflected one of Ra’s blows, the man gripped one of the swords with his bare hands and kicked Oliver behind the leg before breaking Oliver’s arm so he’d let go of the sword. Rolling away from him, Oliver quickly scrambled to his feet and tuned out the pain.

Bella watched on, her body inching forward out of need to want to help Oliver, but both Oliver’s old friend and Nyssa had to hold her back. She saw the tactics used and the cheating. They spoke of honor but she saw little of it here on the mountain by their leader. Deciding against whatever Oliver wished, she was going to help him, though as minimally as possible, but she was determined for him to come out of this alive because if the current path continued, she’d be taking his body home for a funeral.

Deflecting another sword was better than having to fight a bare handed person as that meant that there was one less hand to worry about. As Ra’s began to come at him, Oliver’s concentration didn’t break as they sparred, both deflecting each other’s blows until Oliver slipped on the ice, lost his footing just temporarily and Ra’s cutting his arm. He started to circle out of Ra’s way as he used the pain for strength. He was fortunate that the cold and his freezing body were slowing down the bleeding and that it wasn’t that bad, but he had to be careful. Ra’s played dirty and Oliver wasn’t having any of that. When Ra’s charged at him, Oliver dodge rolled away and took a swipe at Ra’s legs as he got to his feet again.

He was trying to tire the old man out but he could feel how the fatigue was really setting into his own body right now, no matter how much his brain willed his body to go on, Oliver noticed he was getting slower to dodge Ra’s advances and Ra’s managed to get him on the floor – again – by kicking him in the knee – again – and stomping on his lower leg. Oliver cried out in pain but knew that if he stayed down, he had less chance of survival and bit through the pain to get back on his feet, surprising Ra’s al Ghul and sliced open his arm as retributtal. Oliver had wanted to do more but the man moved away from him again.

Bella growled through her gag as she narrowed her eyes and struggled against Nyssa’s hold, wanting to tell the man off. She looked back over at Oliver, seeing his tired state and knowing that he wasn’t going to fare as well much longer. She pushed her shield along him, almost like a thin blanket to remind him that she was there, that she would help. That this honor fight was a lie in so many ways.

He froze for a moment as he could feel Bella around him, giving Ra’s the opportunity to kick him in the back, forcing him back on the ground, but Oliver had the upper hand as he could slice a tendon in Ra’s leg. The man immediately retaliated with a few kicks to his torso and face, but he was bleeding significantly and it could help Oliver win this. Oliver rolled away before getting back on his feet and started circling the man again, making sure to go round him the right way so that Ra’s had to favor his injured leg.

Oliver didn’t quite know what happened but after a few knocks, he nearly ran into Ra’s blade, making him almost stumble to a full stop. Oliver tried to walk away from the blade but Ra’s kept following him around. “You should take pride,” Ra’s said impressed. “You’ve survived longer than most,” he said as he kept the blade in Oliver’s face as he backed him to the edge of the mountain.

He remained impassive as he allowed Ra’s to do so, knowing that the edge was on a slight angle so that he could take advantage of the height difference as Ra’s had done on even ground. Oliver didn’t even look at how far away he was from the ledge, or how close for that matter and turned his body at an angle before slamming his elbow into the other man’s face, making him stumble backwards. Oliver quickly followed up by a spinning kick to the head and managed just about not to slip on the snow when he landed back on his feet – although he had a feeling that Bella was to thank for his incredible balance – Ra’s, however, managed to get a good stab in, slicing the side of Oliver’s torso as Oliver stumbled away from the edge and back towards the middle of their ‘fighting ring’.

He forced himself not to look at his injury, to check and see how badly he was damaged, because if he did that, he’d not see what Ra’s was going to do and he was already unpredictable as it was. When he felt a pressure on his right shoulder, Oliver swung the sword around to counter the blow that Ra’s had planned on dishing out. Didn’t honor mean that you wouldn’t stab someone who had their backs turned against you if only for a second? Oliver kicked against the wound he had previously inflicted on Ra’s and made him hit the deck.

Not sparing a moment, Oliver kicked against Ra’s face and tried to kick the sword out of his hand but didn’t manage to do so before Ra’s cut Oliver’s leg in retribution, desperate to get a stab into Oliver as he was on the ground and Oliver was keeping him there. Oliver fell down on one knee, on top of Ra’s, and used his body weight to keep him there as he hit him in the head with the hilt of the sword, dazing the man for a brief moment as he used the surprise to use pressure points in Ra’s neck to immobilize him

“Any last words?” Oliver asked emotionless as he looked the man in the eye. It had been the first thing he had said since asking what Bella was doing there and the words cut through the chill of the wind.

“All blood debts during my reign have been rendered absolved,” Ra’s managed to splutter. “You have bested me, Oliver Queen, may you go down in history as the slayer of the Demon’s Head and have an honorable place in the League of Assassins,” the man spoke slowly as the flow of air to his head had been cut off by the immobilisation.

Oliver nodded as he lifted the sword and started to push it through Ra’s heart with both hands, feeling the resistance of the ribs first before it cut through the softer flesh. After making sure that he truly passed away, Oliver leaned on the sword to get back on his feet and turned to Nyssa. “I am sorry for your loss, Nyssa. Both your losses.”

Nyssa stormed to her father as rage filled her eyes and Oliver tuned out her wails and crying as he stumbled towards his shirt and coat while he saw from the corner of his eye that Maseo was freeing Bella from her restraints.

Once free, she turned and ran towards Oliver where she was more careful as she approached, unsure of where to touch him without causing him more pain. Her face was covered in her tears for having watched the pain inflicted on him and unable to help him more than she did without it becoming more obvious. “I – Oh – Oliver…What do you need me to do for you?” she asked as she reached out carefully to help him get his clothes on before he froze.

Once his jacket was on, he started to feel a little bit warmer and put an arm around Bella, gently squeezing it to make her feel better. “Let’s just go,” he said softly. “Let these people grieve in peace.”

“Let’s throw them over the cliff for all I care,” she growled but followed his lead anyway. “That was not honorable that fight. No matter what they claim.”

“It’s over,” he said. “Let it be done, okay?”

Bella nodded as she ducked under him so that he could lean on her as they made their way from the remaining members of the group. Looking over their shoulders, she could see his friend watching them as they slowly walked away but she still wasn’t sure what his deal was. “Let’s get home. We have to find a way of calling everyone. They don’t know where I am.”

Groaning, Oliver rummaged through his bag to get the satellite phone out that he had brought from the basement and handed it to her. He then got a bottle of water out of his bag as he stopped walking for a moment. He opened the bottle and poured the little bag of medicinal herbs in it before starting to greedily drink the mixture.

Bella quickly dialed Felicity’s number as he worked on his water bottle. “We need to come up with a contingency plan if anything were to happen to the both of us,” she pointed out as she waited for their friend to answer.

Oliver just replied with a grunt and a slight shrug as he put the bottle back in his bag and continued to walk. “There’s a car underneath the mountain, you can drive it and I’ll sew myself up. I am sorry that they took you, Bella. You should have done something to prevent that.”

“Okay,” she said as she looked at him. “Everything else we can deal with when we get you back to the club and Diggle can look at you.” She paused for a moment as she hung up as Felicity wasn’t answering and decided to try the man in question and dialed his number.

“Please tell me it’s at least one of you calling,” Diggle’s voice sounded rushed on the other end of the line.

“It’s me. I’m with Oliver,” Bella said with a tired sigh and her eyes closing in relief. “Nyssa ambushed me in the market and left me little choice but to go with her,” she explained as she looked at Oliver as she explained to both of them. “She wanted me to watch her father kill Oliver because he killed Sara.”

“Are you alright, Bella?”

Bella frowned at the question, unsure of how to answer. “Ask me again later. Right now – I don’t know. We’re both still making our way down the mountain but it’s going slow with his injuries.”

“Roy and I are making our way up the mountain in a van, we’ll catch you in a bit. I’m glad to hear we don’t have to scrape him off the side of the mountain. Call Lyla in the meantime, Felicity and Connor are there, I moved them there for safety and had Felicity shut off her mobile.”

“Not right now. It would be best to keep him away from us for a little while,” she answered softly as she kneeled beside Oliver to help him as he started to stumble. “Oliver isn’t in the best shape and I don’t think I’ll be in the best control of my emotions for awhile.”

“We’ll be with you shortly, I promise. Keep moving though, it’s cold out, don’t want the two of you to freeze.”

Swallowing, Bella was well aware as she had already attempted to use her shield to block the winds but her chaotic emotions were causing a hindrance. “I am well aware. We’re doing the best we can. Just – we’ll see you soon. Bye.”

Oliver looked at Bella as if he was remembering something and started to try and get out of his coat. “You need this,” he said with a whine as the movement hurt him.

“No. You need it more right now. I’m okay. If I get too cold, I will say something, but for now you stay as warm as you can. If we have to, we’ll stop and make a fire but we need to keep moving. Diggle is on his way up with the van and we need to meet them. Who knows if that bitch is going to try following us,” she whispered as she ran her hand over his face.

“She won’t.”

Bella wasn’t so sure and she shared her opinion. “You didn’t see her eyes. She’s still seeking blood,” she said. “But maybe you are right. Regardless, I will feel safer for you and I when we are off this rock.”

“I’m glad she took you. I wouldn’t have made it without you.” He said as he stopped again and pulled her into his arms.

Blinking, she let the tears fall and nodded. “I know. I know you wanted to do it on your own, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let you die like that. He wasn’t fighting fair so why should you. I had to do something.”

“It’s okay,” he said as he caressed her back. “It’s okay.” Oliver felt her nudge him after a while and they continued to slowly make their way down the mountain before a van pulled up.

“Christ,” Diggle cursed under his breath as he jumped out of the van and helped Oliver into the warm van while Roy helped Bella inside. After making sure that they were okay in the back, Diggle sat back down behind the wheel and turned the van around and started the drive home, already thinking of which doctor to call to fix Oliver up.

“What happened up there?” Roy asked after several minutes, unable to hold back his curiosity.

“I killed him.” Oliver replied simply as he shifted a little so he could relax his legs better. “And now we’re going home.”

Bella met his eyes in response, saying nothing as she stared at him, not willing to elaborate on his statement either as she held onto his hand tightly. Yes, they were going home but the healing that was ahead of them was going to be a long road.

~o.O.o~

It was late at night when they arrived at Bella’s house where the doctor who wouldn’t ask questions was already waiting for them as they pulled up. Despite Oliver telling him that he didn’t need a doctor, Diggle insisted as this hadn’t been a normal beating and he was losing blood. He had been glad to hear that Oliver had been lucid enough to mix the herbs and drink them as it would certainly help the healing process and reduce the risk of infection but that wasn’t the medicine he needed.

“You’re a lucky man, Mr. Queen,” the doctor said after examining him in the kitchen. “Luckily no major arteries or internal organs were hit but there are a lot of contusions, bruises and I’ll need to sew you up. You have broken ribs that I can tie up for you, and I’ll try to set your broken arm and leg, but you’re going to have to need a cast.”

“No.” Oliver shook his head. “I’ll be fine, no casts.”

“Baby,” Bella spoke up finally as she looked at him. “You need something for your arm to heal correctly. I saw that break. Please?”

“You have a family now, Oliver, at least allow your new breaks to heal properly.” Diggle said encouragingly before receiving the glare of death from his friend which was followed by an eyeroll.

“Fine,” he muttered, not really fancying casts as they’d slow him down and he’d be unable to work.

“I’ll go and order some food, you two must be hungry,” Diggle said as he left the kitchen for the living room and called Alfredo’s before calling Lyla to tell Felicity that both Oliver and Bella were home but not up for having Connor back just yet.

Oliver watched with fascination as the Doctor was sewing up his cuts after irrigating them with an antibacterial solution. Sharp swords made clean cuts and that was simply awesome. Maybe he’d have to start training with swords himself, but then again, despite them making pretty cuts, they were too bulky to walk around with.

Bella nodded as she moved to sit in the chair on the other side of him from where the doctor was working. Kissing his bare shoulder, she sighed. “I know you hate this. I do too, but I wouldn’t agree if I didn’t think it would be better for you later,” she murmured.

“It’s fine,” Oliver said as he looked at her and took her hand before gently squeezing it. “We are going to be fine. When we’re done in here, we’re going to bed and we’re going to stay in there until we’re bored of it.”

“That could be a very long time,” she smiled. “We do have a seven year old that is staying with friends,” she said with a odd tone.

Oliver turned a new shade of pale. “He’ll never allow me to leave the house after this.”

“Probably not which is why we need the superficial injuries healed as much as possible before we bring him back. I don’t know what they told him about my disappearance but I’ll have to go there to check on him time to time. Maybe we have a gas leak in the house and he gets to stay with Diggle for awhile?”

“Termites are harder to fix.”

“True,” she nodded. “As for you, I don’t know what to tell him why I don’t stay with him, that I’m in the hotel instead.”

“Both Lyla and the hotel don’t have the room? That the hotel is fully booked?”

“Why can’t he share a bed with me?” she smirked. “It’s Connor and he knew you were his father from the start.”

“Because I’m in your bed. We’re in a one person room.” Oliver tried and then shrugged. “I don’t know… maybe you have to go out of town for a book meeting and I’m working.”

Her eyes lit up at the idea and nodded. “That works. I had already told him you left because of work but ugh, either way, he’s going to be pissed at me. You’ll be the good parent for awhile. We’ll figure it out. This is giving me a headache.”

The food arrived when the doctor finished sewing him up, but he wouldn’t allow Oliver to eat just yet. “I’m going to have to set your arm and leg and it’s going to hurt.”

“Sorry doc, I’m already hurting, can’t be worse,” Oliver replied, he knew exactly what kind of pain to expect and he had learned to deal with it.

Bella worked with Diggle as they opened the containers and set them on the counter, grimacing as the odor of Petti di Pollo in Salsa Rosa that she normally liked made her stomach turn. Whether it be from the mountain’s cold or what was happening behind her, she turned and went straight for the trashcan and vomited.

Oliver closed his eyes as the doctor started to pull on his arm and felt his bones being set, the sound of his bones cracking made him feel sick and it hurt like hell. “Aw fuck!” He cried out.

Diggle looked between his friends and decided to go for the less threatening one who was currently vomiting in the trashcan. “Are you alright, Bella?” He asked concerned.

Pushing herself up and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she wasn’t sure. “Does that chicken smell bad to you?” she asked, eyeing it warily.

“It’s Alfredo’s, they have the good stuff,” Diggle replied but went to check anyway. “No, it smells good.”

“What’s going on?” Oliver winced as the doctor was still pulling his arm to set his stubborn broken bones.

“Nothing is wrong,” Bella replied as she shot Diggle a glare. Making her way over, she quickly closed the container as she gagged against the smell again and practically tossed it across the counter.

Diggle pretended to ignore the moment as Bella seemed to do but he couldn’t help but wonder if there was more to this, if she knew what was going on.

Oliver pulled the container towards him with his free hand and managed to get hold of a fork and started to eat. He was starving and he didn’t care that it was this weird chicken dish that Bella loved so much.

She watched on, looking a little green before leaving the room to get some air. In the living room, she ran her hand through her hair as she quickly started to panic.

Diggle had followed Bella out as Oliver seemed preoccupied by food and the doctor manhandling his broken bones and had to duck when a pillow flew through the room. “Calm down,” Diggle said calmly. “It’s not the end of the world.”

“What?” she asked as she faced him. “You saw him in there. After everything that happened in the last three days, you think that something like this is what we need?”

Diggle remained silent for a moment and then shrugged. “That’s something between you and Oliver. Did you tell him yet?”

Bella stared at him wide eyed and shook her head. “I only suspected as much just before he got the 48 hour notice. I thought he didn’t need the added distraction for a simple possibility. Now…I – I told Felicity about this and, and we were joking about it but we both agreed it was a long shot. I mean – I did take the pill after!” she hissed.

“You should ask the doctor to look you over,” Diggle said calmly. “I am sure he has tests on him, at least you’ll know for certain then.”

She wrung her wrists and hands nervously as she bit her lip while she thought about it. “Oliver would suspect something if I ask,” she muttered. “He knows I hate the doctor as much as him.”

“You can ask him while I log Oliver’s ass up the stairs, there’s no way you’ll be able to do that.”

Bella shrugged. On a normal day, she could have but again she was shorting out and nearby objects weren’t safe around her. Nodding, she agreed but refused to go back into the kitchen until the offending food was gone and waited in the living room, curled up in her blanket on the couch.

“Oh fuck that hurt!” Oliver cried out as the man pulled his leg. He hated this, he should be used to the pain of things being set in his body, but maybe his body had a huge ‘fuck you’ moment and decided to ignore the rules he had set. Whatever it was, he was ready to smack the man on his head with his newly casted arm.

Diggle walked into the kitchen after having made sure that Bella was alright, calming her nerves before checking on Oliver who had a murderous look in his face. “Don’t even think about it,” he warned Oliver. “He’s helping you and the more you cooperate, the faster he’ll go away.”

Oliver grimaced as he pushed the now empty container away from him. “I’m so tired, Dig.”

The doctor sighed as he secured Oliver’s leg in a sturdy brace simply to shut his patient up. “It’s not a walking boot or a cast but this will work just as fine for your leg. Won’t work for the arm though. You still need to use crutches and absolutely zero pressure on it otherwise you may need surgery. I’ll need you to come into the office in three weeks for x-rays, after hours of course. Any questions?” he asked annoyed.

“Yeah, when will I be able to go back to work?”

“When I say you can and not before,” he answered. “I’m sure Mr. Diggle can help you out in the meanwhile. If there isn’t anything else gentlemen, I think I’ll take my leave.”

“Bella was on a cold mountain with him, could you please check her over to see if she suffered any permanent damage while I haul his ass upstairs,” Diggle said as he moved to get Oliver off the chair.

“No, no, no,” Oliver said as he shook his head. “No, I’m not moving. I’m fine. What’s wrong with Bella?”

“I’m sure your friend is just being precautious but it is a good idea if she was caught up there with you that she be looked over. I’m sure there is nothing to worry about as she seemed fine in here earlier,” the doctor assured him as he picked up his medical bag. “Where is Miss Bella?”

“She’s in the living room, thank you doctor.” Diggle said as he pointed in the general direction of the living room before making his move again on Oliver.

“No, Dig.” Oliver said with a look on his face that said he really wasn’t going to move, almost the same look Connor had on his face a day or so ago when he insisted that he was coming with Diggle and Roy in the van because it was ‘cool’.

The doctor had disappeared while they argued and quickly found the young woman on the couch as she was seemingly dazed. “Ma’am? Are you feeling unwell?” he questioned as he knelt in front of her and started to look her over visually.

She smiled slightly before glancing over her shoulder where the two men could be heard arguing over leaving her and sighed. “In general, I am fine. I am not harmed like he was, but – I am afraid that I may be, uh, pregnant,” she admitted reluctantly. “He doesn’t know yet. I wasn’t sure before this but just before…Anyway, Diggle told me to talk to you.”

The man smiled at her and rummaged into his bag, producing a cannister. “Why don’t you go to the bathroom and give me a urine sample? I’ll test it right away and whatever the outcome is, it’ll stay between you and me.”

She eyed the cup and slowly reached out for it and nodded. Standing, she straightened out her shirt as she quietly made her way around the staircase to avoid the kitchen to the small bathroom where she could try to do what she needed to. “Come on….” she coaxed herself as it took a little while before she was finally able to finish.

Washing her hands and the cup, she carried it back reluctantly, still hearing the arguing from her very stubborn boyfriend and couldn’t help but to smile as she handed it over. “It’s not exactly the best timing but – I have no intentions of backing out either if it is positive.”

“That’s good to hear,” he said as he took the cup and set it down on the table before sticking the test in it. “Have you two known each other for long?”

Bella wrapped her arms around herself and nodded slightly. “We met eight years ago. We have a seven year old together but – it didn’t work out then. We are finding it’s our time now but so much is going on.”

He nodded as a response. “Relationships are hard work. Hard times really shows the strength of a relationship and from what I’ve seen tonight, I think you two will make it through, you both love each other very much.”

She couldn’t say anything else and continued to stand there as she waited. After a couple minutes of pacing and staring at the test, she broke. “How long does it take?”

“Just a few more minutes. Are you experiencing any coldness or numbness at all?”

Looking down at her hands, she fisted them and shrugged. “Nothing unexpected from being outside like that. My hands have been slightly numb since we got back,” she murmured.

“If that lasts, I want you to come and visit me at my office so we can see what’s wrong,” the doctor said with a nod. “I advise you to take a nice, hot shower. Your boyfriend, however, has to wait at least a day so the cast and stitches can completely dry, but I tried cleaning him up as best as I could.”

“If there isn’t a better excuse for sponge baths,” she smiled as she looked towards the kitchen. “Damn stubborn bastard.”

“How about I leave you some sleeping pills for you to feed him when he’s being impossible for you?”

“That would be great,” Bella sighed in relief. “He’ll likely pass out tonight but it’ll be later that I worry about.”

“He doesn’t look like someone who can sit still for very long,” the doctor chuckled as he removed the test and looked at it. “Okay then…” he said as he looked at her. “The results show that…”

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