Felicity had to admit that as far as kidnappings went hers really wasn’t so bad. For instance, the coffee she was enjoying was simply the single greatest cup of coffee she had ever had, and while she was trapped she was free to move about the surprisingly tidy and clean room. Her kidnapper had left her a book to read – a current best-seller that she’d actually been meaning to read – to pass the time as she waited for rescue. So all in all, it wasn’t too bad, sort like an enforced vacation, and with a soft sigh, Felicity refilled her coffee cup and sat back to find out who-dun-it.
That didn’t mean she didn’t smile widely as a familiar body came slamming through the locked door like a knight in shining armour.
Ianto smiled as he watched the Hood come flying into the room and head straight for the young woman. It was gratifying to know he’d been right all along; the man was young and he wore his emotions on his sleeve when it came to those he cared for and it was now clear as a bell that Felicity Smoak was on the top of that list.
"Felicity! Are you alright?" Grabbing Felicity's arms in a tight grip Oliver scanned every inch of the female looking for signs of injury and thankfully finding none.
"I'm fine, Oliver, but it's you who should be worried; this guy is unlike anyone you've ever faced before. He can control time." Even as she said it, Felicity realised how bizarre that statement sounded and she almost wished that Oliver hadn't come for her because it only placed him in great danger.
Ianto shook his head as he watched them try not let their true emotions shine through; they were as bad as Tosh and Owen. 'Seriously they need to wise up and get their act together because the next person to target Felicity won't be as nice as I am.’ From the moment he’d met the blond woman he had been so painfully reminded of Tosh; they carried the same gentle soul and the thirst for knowledge and they could make any technology dance for them. No, Ianto knew he could never harm Felicity nor would he let anyone else harm her and if the Hood knew what was good for him he would never hurt Felicity or it would be the last thing he ever did. Her kidnapping had been nothing more than a test to see if the Hood cared enough for her to come to her rescue and boy had he come for her. Now it was time to wrap up this little game.
"She has been perfectly safe here with me."
Ianto stepped out of the shadows and fought the urge to smirk as the Hood pushed Felicity behind him in a distinctly defensive gesture. Ianto was pleased to see that the man’s first instinct was to protect Felicity and he idly wondered what it would take to make him act on his feelings. 'It's a shame we’re enemies for I wish that I could see how their love story unfolds in real life. Oh well, that's the way life goes sometimes.'
"Why did you take Felicity?" Oliver growled out his body filled with rage as it had been since he learned Felicity had been kidnapped.
Ianto's smile was not a nice one; it was cunning and there was a definite hint of wickedness to it. "She's your weakness, Oliver Queen, even if you don't know it or perhaps you do know it and just don't wish to accept it. You do have quite the tendency to cling to the past instead of embracing what is clearly your future.”
Ianto could see traits of both Jack and Owen in Oliver; like them he clung to a woman who had a reputation for life before it all went to hell, hoping that through her he would be able to forget briefly the horror story of his life. Ianto knew all too well that it never worked and you only ended up missing what was right in front of you. Oliver needed to have his eyes opened before he lost Felicity by foolishly chasing after a hopeless dream and hurting those he truly cared about.
Felicity felt herself blushing at Ianto’s words; she had hoped that Oliver would never notice her crush on him. ‘Well it would seem that’s a hopeless cause if my kidnapper, a complete stranger, can see my feelings.’
Oliver was thankful that his hood hid his blushing face. “If you’re such a fan then why did you kidnap Felicity?” he demanded to know.
“As a warning to you, Oliver Queen, of how just how easily I can get to those you hold dearest,” Ianto calmly revealed. This wasn’t about being a bastard; it was about teaching Oliver – and to a lesser degree, Felicity – a lesson before it was too late.
“I didn’t tell him!” Felicity quickly piped up her innocence before Oliver could ask her; there was no way she would reveal something as important as that no matter how nice he was.
“Indeed she didn’t.” Ianto readily agreed. “I control time and space and while it took some doing I managed to track the Hood’s movements backwards until they led me to the fact that Oliver Queen is in fact the mysterious Hood. Oh and just a thought, you might want to come up with a new name, nobody wants to be called the Hood forever.”
Momentarily flustered that the man who seemed to be on quite friendly terms with his Felicity, Oliver blustered, “I’m working on it. But who sent you?” all the while masking his fear that someone so unusually powerful knew who he was.
Both Oliver and Felicity were amazed when Ianto’s eyes suddenly softened and a tender smile lifted the corners of his mouth. “The one person I would be willing to risk everything for, my lover, the Dark Archer.”
Felicity sucked in a shocked breath before muttering, “Oh this is bad, very, very bad.” Felicity had been raised to believe that there was a bit of goodness in every one and so she didn’t normally hate people and wish them ill, but on the other hand, the Dark Archer had come close one too many times in nearly killing Oliver. Upon hear the Dark Archer’s name she couldn’t help but wish he would fall into the deepest darkest pit and stay there.
She cast a reproachful look at Ianto, one which he pretended not to see, she was sure of it. ‘And he seemed like such a nice guy. This proves it; I really am a bad judge of character.’ Felicity couldn’t believe how wrong she had been about her nicely dressed and oh-so-courteous kidnapper.
Oliver’s entire body tensed and he knew that per their plan, Diggle was getting ready to come in and aid him against the lover of the Dark Archer; there was no doubt that this man was as dangerous as they come.
With a slightly condescending the Welshman quietly said, “I wouldn’t bother waiting for your friend to arrive; he’s currently safely locked away in a time bubble.” Ianto destroyed Oliver’s hopes of back-up.
“What!?” Oliver was incensed.
Ianto casually waved his concerns away. “It’s harmless and will disappear when I’m safe and sound and long gone from this place.”
“So you just expect me to sit back and do nothing? To allow the Dark Archer to kill as many innocent lives as he feels is expendable for his plans?” Oliver demanded.
A distant look entered Ianto’s eyes dulling their light to a muddy blue-grey. “Sometimes that is the heavy price one must pay to do what they think is right.” It was indeed a heavy price, one he’d paid dearly many times during his time as a Torchwood Agent. While the Ianto of old would baulk and fight to find another way to save lives, the new one had gained an entirely new outlook on life. Sometimes the only way to win the war was to leave a few sacrificial lambs on the battlefield.
Despite that, he couldn’t help but wonder how his life would have turned out if someone had stopped Yvonne before the ghost shifts began, Lisa and all the others might not have died the day. If Jack had just said no to the 456 the first time they’d showed up, he just might have lived long enough to hear Jack say ‘I love you, Jones, Ianto Jones.’ With a mental shrug, he returned to the present saying ,“Sometimes in the long run it’s better to stop evil before it can grow and consume everything, and yes, there will be loss of life but it is a small price to pay to spare a great many more.”
“You speak like you have experience,” Felicity spoke up softly from her hiding spot behind Oliver.
The twisted smile Ianto favoured them with was one of pure anguish. “I watched my world burn to ashes around me and nearly eight hundred people die because no one stopped one woman whose choices nearly led to the destruction of the entire human race on one fateful day. You can’t see it now, but what the Dark Archer is planning is truly for the better of this city.”
Oliver took a step forward his fists clenched at his sides. “I refuse to believe that, there has to be another way!”
Felicity stepped out from behind him and nodded her head in support. “I won’t let you use me as a bargaining chip against Oliver; my life is not worth so much death. If it comes to it,” she grabbed Oliver’s arm and looked him straight in the eye. “I expect you to do the right thing and stop the Dark Archer instead of saving me.”
“No, Felicity!” Oliver turned to her with a look of pure horror appeared on his face. “You can’t ask me to choose between you and the Dark Archer.”
“You will when it’s my choice. Can’t you see my life is not as important as saving a city!” Felicity shot back vehemently.
“It is to me!” Oliver shouted and by the surprise on her face Felicity hadn’t expected to hear that and from the tension in Oliver’s body language he certainly hadn’t meant to say it.
Ianto was inordinately pleased that the couple had taken a significant step forward in their relationship; still, he wasn’t up to standing around watching them discover how they felt for one another. His job was done… expect for one last thing. His gaze washed over the two of them bathing them with golden light and both Oliver and Felicity abruptly discovered that while they were still fully conscious and aware of everything around them, they had lost all control of their limbs. As Ianto passed Oliver’s frozen form he whispered, “Stay away from Laurel, sleeping with her will cause Tommy’s death and I don’t think that’s something you want on your conscious.”
Time would only tell which path Oliver would choose, until then Ianto would keep a close eye on them both.
Once Ianto had disappeared in a swirl of brilliant golden energy Oliver and Felicity found that they were in complete control and could move once again.
Oliver whirled around and pinned Felicity with a glare. “What were you thinking telling me not to rescue you? He could have killed you! I wasn’t going to stand for that! Your life is precious to me! I can’t lose you, Felicity!”
Hearing Oliver’s words made Felicity’s heart skip a beat even as her eyes narrowed in determination. “How dare you think that my life is more important than saving the entire city? The Dark Archer has the kind of backing and power to destroy Starling City and you were just going to give in to their demands! I am not Laurel, she’s the love of your life and she’s the one that you should be willing to sacrifice everything to save, not your IT girl!”
“Maybe Laurel isn’t the love of my life, maybe she has someone one else just like I might have someone else! I care about you, Felicity, more then I should but I didn’t want to hurt you and that’s all I seem to do, is hurt those I care about. I can’t lose you, Felicity, so please don’t ask me to!” Oliver pleaded softly as all the anger drained out of him.
The anger quickly faded from Felicity as she reached out a trembling hand to touch Oliver’s cheek. “You’re not going to lose me I promise, but we can’t let the Dark Archer win. He and his new friend need to be stopped. It really worries me that that guy can control time and the fact that he’s backing Merlyn of all people just screams trouble,” Felicity pointed out.
Oliver knew that Felicity had a point but as far as he was concerned, there had already been too many close calls when it came to her and he didn’t want to risk her again. “Just promise me that you’ll do your best to keep safe, please?”
A soft smile graced Felicity’s face. “I’ll do my best as long as you promise me to do the same thing.”
Oliver found himself pulling Felicity into a hug so that she couldn’t see his face as he promised, “I’ll do my best,” because he knew that was a promise that he might not be able to keep.
Felicity clung to Oliver; she knew what he wasn’t saying and it fueled a fear that lived deep in her heart that she might lose Oliver before this was done.
Malcolm smiled as his skin tingled marking Ianto’s appearance in their bedroom. “How did it go with the archer?” he asked.
“I warned him as we agreed and hopefully that changed Tommy’s fate but whether or not that Oliver chooses to accept the warning is up to him. I believe that he’ll take at least part of my advice, or at least I hope he will.” Ianto had grown quite fond of Tommy and didn’t want to see the young man’s life cut short if he could avoid it.
A frown furrowed Malcolm’s brow as he thought of his son; he knew that Tommy was happy with Laurel but he didn’t trust the woman. He’d seen how Laurel still looked at Oliver when she thought no one was watching, and while Oliver still looked at her with fondness and love it was clearly more the brotherly love type of look. Besides, even a blind man could see that the pretty little blond who was always hanging around him was gaining more and more of Oliver’s undivided attention.
“Do you really think that will be enough to keep Tommy safe?” When Ianto had first told him about Tommy’s fate, Malcolm had been enraged and it was all Ianto could do to stop his lover from hunting down and permanently removing Laurel from his son's life. Fortunately, between Ianto’s cooler head and erotic distractions, Malcolm shelved his murderous plans… for the moment.
Having stripped out of his suit and carefully hanging it in the closet Ianto crawled into bed and wrapped his arms around Malcolm's back, resting his head on his lover's shoulder. "I know what you’re thinking and trust me Malcolm, I will do everything in my power to make sure that Tommy's future is safe and secure.” He laid a series of kisses along the man’s jawline, finishing with a passionate kiss on his lips. “You just focus on what you need to do." What Ianto didn't tell his lover was that there was now a dark shadow within Tommy's future; it was something that hadn't been there before and all Ianto could conclude was that time was creating a new path for Tommy and it would be an interesting one.
Accepting his lover’s kisses and returning them with interest, Malcolm leaned back and looked at Ianto; he believed every world the man said because he trusted his Welshman implicitly. Hell, at this point he was the only person that knew he could truly and completely depend upon. Malcolm had learned long ago not to trust anyone because they could smile at you one minute and then turn around and just as easily stab you in the back. "You talked to him, do you think Oliver and his little gang will stay out of our way or will they continue to be a thorn in my side?" Malcolm asked.
Ianto could feel the tension running through his lover's body and he longed to ease with a lie but that simply was not possible. "From what I can see, yes, they’re still going to be an issue.” He felt Malcolm’s muscles tighten until they were as hard as rocks. “Oliver Queen is destined to be a hero and what kind of hero would he be if he backed down when his city was in danger?"
With a deep sigh Malcolm forced himself to relax. He knew that Ianto had a point; it didn’t mean that he had to like it but his lover did have a valid point. Everything he had learned about Oliver Queen suggested strongly that he would not give up easily on what he saw as his city. “Oliver has been warned so if he gets in my way I will destroy him and all those he holds dear,” Malcolm vowed.
Ianto shivered as a dark cloud floated through his awareness; Malcolm’s timeline was edging closer and closer to death and that truly scared the Welshman. He couldn’t lose Malcolm, not now that they had found so much happiness with one another, and he would do everything in his power to make sure that Malcolm Merlyn survived what was to come.
Arriving back at the Arrow Cave Felicity all but threw herself into Diggle’s arms, sinking into the man’s warm embrace as she felt his strong arms tighten around her and a grateful kiss was pressed onto the top of her head.
“I’m so glad you’re okay.” Diggle didn’t know what he would have done if anything had happen to Felicity, in the short time that he has gotten to know the blond he had grown fond of her and couldn’t picture their little team without her.
“Me too, Diggle.” Felicity couldn’t deny that she felt safe and sound in Diggle’s arms, like nothing could harm her while she was wrapped up in his arms.
Oliver couldn’t deny that he felt a strong tinge of jealousy as he watched Diggle and Felicity hug. He wanted to be the one to offer that kind of comfort to Felicity; she should be finding comfort in his arms. Then he realised the dangerous direction his thoughts were taking him in; ‘No, it is better this way, I need to keep my head in the game and not on Felicity. Besides Laurel is the one who holds my heart but I need to do what’s right for her and Tommy and that means stepping aside and letting them be happy.’
It hadn’t been easy for Oliver to come to grips with the idea of Tommy and Laurel being in a relationship, being happy and planning a future together, but he knew that if he wanted to change Tommy’s fate he was going to have to let it go. ‘First I need to focus on keeping Starling City and all I care about safe and then I’ll figure out how to deal with my love life.’
Keeping Felicity in his arms Diggle turned to face Oliver. “So was it Merlyn behind Felicity’s kidnapping?”
Oliver shook his head. “No, it’s a new player, someone far more powerful, someone completely and totally loyal to Merlyn. He warned us to stay away and not to interfere with Merlyn’s plan.” He refused to look at his IT specialist as he finished, “That’s why he took Felicity, to force us to agree.”
“I already told Oliver my safety is not more important than the rest of Starling City.” Felicity spoke up moving away from Diggle’s comforting embrace for the first time since she arrived to pin the man with a look.
Usually Diggle loved Felicity’s fire but not when she had been kidnapped and placed in danger as a way to keep them from interfering with Merlyn’s plans. “You are important to us, Felicity, and there is no way that I’m letting you out of my sight until this is all over,” Diggle warned with a tone of steely determination in his voice.Something loosened in Oliver’s chest at Diggle’s vow because he knew that the other man meant it and knowing that Diggle would do everything in his power to protect Felicity and keep her safe lifted a great weight from his shoulders. Oliver knew that Felicity would be okay and that would allow him to keep his focus on Malcolm Merlyn and his mysterious partner because something told him that Ianto Jones was far more dangerous of the two.