A/N: It's that time again. First trailer for season 3 has been released along with the plot bunnies. 3x01 spoilers ahead, read at your own risk!

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He'd had easy for twenty-two years. Every moment of his life until the Gambit had gone down had been literally handed to him on a silver platter. And then the storm had come and he'd drowned in it. And nothing was easy after that.

After five years of blood and death and unspeakable things he knew he didn't deserve easy, he didn't deserve good. He was a tool, a weapon. He'd been honed by an Australian mercenary and a team of Chinese martial arts experts, and an American agent to become a machine. When he'd returned to Starling he knew it was time and he thought he could tow the line. He thought he'd be able to keep his head down, focused on his mission.

A notebook and the names it contained. Simple.

Then there was a busted laptop, and a bodyguard turned brother, another archer and a sister too far down the rabbit hole.

And then there was Felicity Smoak.

She blew his mission right out of the water. Turned his world upside down and challenged him right from the start, leaving him reeling and rethinking and wondering if he could ever be something else.

She was the first one that called him hero, that believed in something beyond a battered book full of names. She put on his mask and saw behind it. She slipped her way in, quiet and loud all at once until he couldn't blink without seeing her.

Then he used her as bait to take down the last man he thought could be alive. And he loved. The machine he'd been turned into fell apart like scrap metal in a junkyard, nothing more than detritus covered in rust. In it's wake was Oliver Queen, the man he'd never knew he could be again.

She found him. She'd honed this version. But with dimples, and gentle touches, and head tilts that said 'do you really expect me to believe that', instead of pain and torture. She made him smile, and want, and believe.

And now she lay before him bleeding and silent because he thought for a few moments that he could have easy again.

He was wrong.