Chapter 12 – Team Arrow

AN: Sorry for the delay in updating yet again, life just doesn't seem to allow for writing as much as I'd like currently. I want to give all of you who have supported me throughout this fic the hugest, biggest thank you ever! This chapter is for you all!

Disclaimer: Really – do I still have to say it? I don't own Arrow, the CW does.

"Sara?" Oliver said looking to her in hopes of getting at least her support on this one.

"Hey leave me out of it!" Sara said with a small laugh which was immediately made worse by Oliver's glare. "Besides, if you think I'm going up against Felicity you are sorely mistaken." Sara finished with a grin to Lance after giving Felicity a nod of respect.

Lance's POV

Oliver pouted at Sara's response much to Lance's surprise, but it became clear within half a second that he was only playing. Lance's realized that Oliver was simply trying to lighten the mood and ease Felicity's worry by showing her he was okay in and of himself, even if physically that still wasn't true.

"Coward!" Oliver glared playfully at Sara as he spoke.

"Wise move." Diggle said under his breath but clearly intending for everyone to hear him still.

"I thought so." Sara responded grinning at Diggle before looking back at Oliver. "I might be hard to kill, but that's because I have such a strong sense of self-preservation and it's far too strong to go up against Felicity for you Oliver!"

Sara grinned at Lance as she finished, letting him know without the need to speak that this was their version of normal. Lance had seen the way SWAT teams and the like had messed around after missions to let off steam and he realized that this was what they were doing too. He might not have expected it, in fact it had completely surprised him to start with as he had never seen this other side of them, but he was relieved to see it as he knew how much damage the stress of missions could do to people and to teams as well – especially when people had come back injured, or worse. So to see them blowing off steam in this way made Lance relax too, even if he was still amazed that Oliver, in particular,could act like this when he was injured so badly. His back must be hurting something fierce too now that the adrenaline's worn off.

"Okay, playtime's over." Felicity announced in a stern voice that was completely belied by the grin on her face too. "Yes they do always mess around like this Detective, it's their way of letting off steam." Felicity had answered the question he hadn't even asked – yet again.

"So, your back has some burns…" Felicity said sarcastically "…you have two cracked ribs plus bruised ribs, I can see some cuts too, what else Oliver?" Felicity asked making it clear that playtime genuinely was over, even if they were all still a lot more relaxed than they had been when they'd first made it back to the lair.

"I have knife cuts and burns on my torso and my arms too, as well as bruising, of course, some of which you can see already. Apart from that and the ribs I have no other injuries, so not too bad this time. I haven't noticed any after effects from whatever the drug was that they used but we should still run a blood panel to check. Detective, have you noticed anything?" Oliver finished by asking.

"No." Lance answered shaking his head at the same time. Truth be told it hadn't even occurred to him to think about side effects or after effects from the drugged knives, he'd been too distracted and caught up in everything else that had been happening to even consider it. But now that he did Lance couldn't think of anything that could be due to them. He agreed with the wisdom of running the blood panels regardless however. Better to be safe, especially as we don't actually know what the drug was that they used on us.

"Sara, you want to do the x-rays?" Felicity asked.

Lance remembered Sara saying that she'd learnt a lot about medical science whilst she was 'away'. Although looking at Felicity's face he suspected that that wasn't the main reason she'd asked Sara, it was pretty clear that she was offering them a way to be together whilst still dealing with the medical care that was needed. Lance was grateful to her for her thoughtfulness and the unspoken gesture.

He continued to be amazed by the way that, despite the work they did, Felicity retained her gentle heart. Instead of becoming hardened and disenchanted by the things that Team Arrow dealt with, it seemed that she was the actually the one keeping the rest of them from being cold and distant. Lance had noticed how Sara was gradually becoming more open with the additional time that she spent around Felicity. Thinking about it Lance realized that Oliver had become more open since he was shot by Moira – which was when Felicity had become a part of the Team properly he now knew. Felicity was the one who had turned them into a real Team.

"Thank you." Lance said quietly to Felicity even though he now knew that Sara and Oliver would have heard him regardless. He'd learnt that they both kept quiet about the things they heard that weren't meant for them unless they had no choice in the matter – something for which he was very grateful.

"Sure, do you want me to do Oliver's blood work first?" Sara queried even as she left Oliver's side to walk towards Lance.

"I've got it Sara, you sort your Dad out." Oliver answered first.

Lance realized that he must have learnt a fair bit along about that kind of stuff along the way too, even if it appeared that a lot of what Oliver and Sara knew was different. Sara had said they hadn't been together for a lot of the time, but hadn't elaborated on it and Lance hadn't wanted to risk pushing her. He noticed that as Sara and Felicity walked past each other they touched each other's arms squeezing briefly for less than a second and he understood that this was another part of the unspoken communication that the Team used.

Oliver sat down on a stool leaning forward onto the medical table as Diggle got to work on his back. Lance watched for a few minutes, wincing alongside Oliver as Diggle worked to clean up Oliver's back.

Mixed POV

"Dad, you okay?" Sara asked gently, gradually bringing Lance back out of the mini trance he hadn't even realized he'd gone into.

"Huh? Yeah, sure. I'm fine honey." Lance said distractedly.

"Hmm, you've been hanging around Oliver too much Dad. His definition of fine is starting to rub off on you." Sara spoke, knowing that comment would bring her Dad back to her more completely. She smiled when she was rewarded with a glare in response proving that he had finally heard her properly.

"Sorry, I was just … never mind." Lance had been back there in the warehouse again in his mind. He was struggling to clear his head of the sights and sounds of Oliver being tortured, being shocked, as he watched Diggle dealing with the damage it had caused, but he didn't want Sara to have to know everything that had happened. She'd been through so much more than enough as it was, there was no need for her to know all the details from this as well. He allowed her to position him for the x-rays as he spoke, following her gentle guidance willingly.

"It was a car battery wasn't it." Sara stated, making it clear she wasn't actually asking a question as she indicated Oliver's back with a nod. "You were there?"

"Yeah. How d'you know?" Lance wasn't completely sure he wanted the answer but needing to ask it anyway.

"Because I recognise the burns." Sara spoke sadly. "You'll know now then that this wasn't the first time that Oliver has been shocked." She waited for her Dad to answer.

The last thing Sara wanted to do was talk about this, to have to remember the Amazo, but she could see the haunted look already in her Dad's eyes and she knew that he needed to talk about it - whether he wanted to or not. Sara hoped that by letting him know that she'd heard Oliver's screams from that too, then he would feel able to talk to her about it and not feel he had to hide it. She knew first-hand how much damage burying that kind of thing could do to you and Sara wanted to protect her Dad from that as much as she could. If I have to talk about my memories, my past, in order to protect him then that's what I'll do.

Lance nodded. He wasn't sure why he was surprised that Sara had recognized the burns. When he thought about it, it was hardly surprising that she had been there with Oliver before. It was still painful for him to accept all of the things his little girl had been through even if she's not so little anymore,all the things that he hadn't been able to protect her from.

"That first time … I wasn't there with him. But I was on the other end of an open radio signal. He was being punished for something that wasn't even his fault – and at the same time it was being done to force me into sacrificing another life to save his. Just like the Lee brothers were trying to force you to do." Sara said knowing instinctively how important it was for her to make that comparison between the two situations. Her Dad needed to know that she understood, that she knew what it felt like to be in that position.

Sara looked sympathetically at her Dad as she talked, keeping her voice low and quiet while moderating her tone so that just a small hint of emotion was allowed into it - enough to let him know that those events had affected her, but without letting him know just how much they had affected her. He doesn't need to know that damage that has been done, or the choice that I had to make in the end, the life I had to sacrifice.

She glanced once briefly at Oliver as she spoke and could see the tension in his shoulders at what she was saying. Sara knew that he could hear her, even if she wasn't sure that the others would. Sara hated that she was revealing all of this without his prior agreement, but knew that he would understand, even if he didn't like it either he would agree with its necessity. She saw Oliver give the slightest hint of a nod, too small for anyone else to notice, and knew that he was giving her his blessing, signalling his understanding so that she didn't need to worry about it.

"Did he scream this time Dad? He did that first time. Oliver hadn't learnt how to clamp down on pain in the same way he has now back then. I will never forget the sound of those screams." Sara looked down as she spoke, not willing to risk eye contact with her Dad in case he saw more than she wanted him to.

"Not to start with. Not for ages actually. Just at the end he let go, before pretending to pass out so they'd leave. I thought he was out cold for real, but it was all an act." Lance spoke in stilted sentences, still back there in his mind in many ways.

"The screams were real though. It was just that he stopped clamping down on them." Sara said understanding what Oliver had done. "He knew we were coming so he needed the brothers out of the way to get free."

"Yeah." Lance replied, the query clear in his voice even though he didn't ask any question. How'd she know that?

"It's what I would have done." Sara responded, not needing her Dad to actually phrase the question to know what he was thinking. "And now you're wondering how to get it out of your mind, to get those sounds out of your head. But as much as I want to tell you there's an easy answer to that, you already know that there isn't." Sara paused for a few seconds, waiting for her Dad to nod to show he understood and accepted what she was saying. Once he did she continued speaking.

"I still hear his screams now in some of my nightmares, see the way he looked afterwards. I can't tell you how to get that out of your head – but I can tell you what not to do. You can't try to run from this Dad. You can't block it away. You need to deal with it, to accept what happened – and you already know the only way to do that is to talk about things." Sara paused, taking a steadying breath before continuing.

"I know this isn't the kind of thing you can bring up in your AA meeting, but you can talk to me, to Diggle and Felicity, you can talk to Oliver. We will all listen, we all have demons of our own too. The best way to move on is to not bury things. They never stay buried anyway." Pot kettle!Sara couldn't help thinking as she spoke, she was an expert at burying things only for them to keep coming back to haunt her again and again. But maybe I can help stop him from making the same mistakes.

Lance's POV

Lance nodded understanding what she was saying and he knew that she was right. He'd tried burying things in the past before only for them to come back and bite him. That's what he'd done when the boat had gone down – when he'd believed Sara was dead – and it had resulted in the break-up of his marriage and him becoming an alcoholic. Much as he knew that talking was going to be hard for all concerned, he understood its necessity. One of the hardest lessons he'd had to learn in AA was that it was only through accepting the things that have happened that you can move on from them.

Looking at Sara and Oliver Lance realized that that was a lesson they still had to learn themselves in many ways. It was clear that they both still had a lot of things trapping them in their respective pasts. Maybe by talking I can help them to truly learn that lesson too.Lance hoped, knowing that it would be hard but that he was prepared to do it anyway. There was nothing he wouldn't do to help his daughter – or to help Oliver either he now knew.

Two years ago he had hated Oliver Queen and believed him to still be the spoilt trust fund brat who he thought was responsible for his daughter's death. Now he knew better. Oliver still didn't always make the best decisions and was prone to blaming himself for everything that went wrong. He held himself up to impossibly high standards and was completely willing to sacrifice his life for others. No matter what happened, what was done to him or how badly he was hurt Oliver never gave up, never quit. He had given up his right to a real life in the effort to right his family's wrongs and save the city, and it was only down to the efforts of Diggle and Felicity that Oliver actually had a life, had friends of his of own now. Oliver truly is a hero.

Lance knew that there were still many questions to answer, some new like all the ones they still had about the case, others were old ones that Oliver had never answered, and probably never will. But Lance finally understood that those questions, his questions didn't matter anymore for now he wasn't asking those questions alone. Now Lance was part of something bigger, something more than any of them alone – Team Arrow!

AN2: Yes that was the end of this fic. I may write a sequel in the future if I feel it's appropriate but honestly don't know yet. Please be kind enough to give me your final thoughts on this chapter & the fic as a whole, your comments help me to improve & write better so they really are valuable to me!

Shameless plug – if you want to read more of my work then please do check out my other fics 'Questions' and the main one I'm currently working on 'The Island'. Thank you!