A/N: Hi Everyone! Marina here. If any of you are following my other fics, be aware that 'Dad' is still my top priority right now. It's as far as I've ever gotten in a novel-length fic and I'm determined to finish it! That being said, I've been really into the Arrow fandom lately and wanted to show off the firstfruits of my musings. If you're into Arrow, enjoy! And PM me if you're curious about this fic and what it might contain in the future. Writing 'Dad' has showed me how key readers' suggestions are to keeping a story going, so fire away!

Thanks y'all, and happy reading!

Lifetimes

"You Lived to Save Others"

Chapter 1

"Tommy?" Oliver's voice broke, as his friend's head lolled to the side. His voice dropped to a hoarse whisper, trying not to choke on the dust and smoke rolling in as the ground continued to tremble under their feet and more of the building crumbled around them. "Open your eyes! Tommy!"

He bent down, cradling Tommy's head under one arm while sliding the other under his knees, grunting and panting as he got to his feet and turned, determined as he faced the wreckage before him, to get Tommy OUT of here. He was NOT leaving him—not again.

Screams and sirens were muffled as they barraged the building from all different directions, and more bodies lay scattered around.

They would probably need help, too. Some of them might even be alive, and Oliver was all but sure Tommy was not.

Seeing nobody move, however, and one limb entirely severed from a crushed body Oliver almost slipped and allowed himself to recognize as one of the senior lawyers he'd passed during visits with Laurel, he made the decision to forge on instead.

The path to the only visible exit was almost completely blocked with fallen boards and steel beams. Oliver tested each and every step before taking it, ignoring the strain in his arms as he inched little by little toward it.

Then a sudden aftershock twisted his leg out from under him. Oliver screamed, as blinding pain shot up through both his knee and ankle, sending him tumbling over Tommy's damaged body, facefirst into a wooden plank.

The smoke made it nearly impossible to get his breath. Oliver coughed, attempting to breathe through the pain and assess his situation, but he was seeing stars from the fall and he wasn't sure he could carry Tommy all the way to the exit anymore.

Then he heard Laurel screaming Tommy's name outside.

He'd liked to tell himself that everything he'd done was for her, but last night? That wasn't for Laurel, he finally admitted.

It was for himself.

Which was why he had to save Tommy, if there was any chance left. He owed it not just to his closest friend, but also to the girl he'd sworn to make things right with.

Laurel caught her breath when the dark-hooded figure appeared from the smoke, like a ghost from the ashes, barely visible but there.

"Daddy!" She hoarsely tugged at her father's sleeve as she ran toward them, ignoring the continual outpouring of smoke from the building. "Tommy!"

"Get a car," the disguised voice of the vigilante ordered, holding Tommy's motionless body in his arms. "We have to get him to a hospital. Now!"

Laurel's dad ran off to do just that, but she stayed, tears still streaming down her face as she stared at the hooded figure, dumbstruck. "Is—" she barely managed, trying not to sob, "is he still alive?"

Her eyes widened as he stepped forward, revealing Tommy very much unconscious in his arms, and with a huge splinter of metal impaled through his chest. There was blood—so much blood—

For a second, the rush of noise around her seemed to blur, the sidewalk sparkling in a strangely dizzying way.

"Laurel?" the vigilante's voice called, concerned. "Laurel, don't faint! He's counting on you!"

Right. Don't faint. You can do this, she mentally scolded herself, forcing in a huge breath and planting her feet a little wider to steady herself.

The squeal of tires brought her all the way around to the present. "Get in!" her dad was shouting at her, blaring the horn as other drivers attempted to cut him off. "Now, Laurel! Both of you! Get IN!"

She dashed for the passenger door, throwing it open as the vigilante staggered, limping so heavily she was amazed he didn't drop himself, let alone Tommy's dead weight, but made it all the way into the backseat still supporting her boyfriend's head.

Yes, Laurel thought to herself, even as she jumped in beside him and slammed the door just after her dad floored the gas pedal, he was still her man. Maybe not the one who made her adrenaline rush and her head crazy, but the man she needed, which was somebody who would love her and adore her no matter what.

Eyes filling with tears, she moved to help ease some of Tommy's weight from the vigilante's arms into her own, but it was far from an easy task.

Being impaled as he was, they had to hold him up away from the seat, rather than lying him on top of it.

The vigilante grunted with pain and effort as he let her take Tommy's head and shoulders in her arms. "You got him?" he asked in his distorted voice.

"I think so…" Laurel wasn't even sure if she spoke aloud or not. All she could see was a shadow of Tommy's face in the darkness—not even the full outline, yet she could still feel that he was cold and clammy, clearly signs of heavy blood loss.

She was thrown from her musings when the car braked abruptly, sending her head crashing into the seat in front of her. She gasped and barely managed to keep her grip on Tommy and prevent him from falling.

"Everyone got your seatbelts on?" her dad barked from the front.

"We're not even IN our seats!" she shouted back, as they veered around a tight corner, headed straight for the hospital.

That car ride, for Oliver, took the whole idea of a nightmare and turned it on its head.

He was racking his brain for times on the island that had been quite this scary—quite this sickening, and somehow, he came up short.

"Don't die on me," he thought, unwilling to speak to Tommy out loud while in the car with Laurel and Detective Lance. "You just can't. Tommy, you've got so much left to live for—you just can't!"

Pretending for just a moment that the costumes didn't exist, he pressed one of Tommy's freezing hands against his face, holding it there for a moment. Then they hit another bump and all three of them went flying, barely staying upright.

Oliver made himself scarce as soon as they arrived at the hospital, sipping around back away from the crowds of people and cars and sirens all headed from the Glades while Laurel and the paramedics rushed inside with Tommy supported on a stretcher.

Hiding in the shadows of several square stone pillars that surrounded the terrace, he leaned against the wall with a groan to take the weight off his leg and lifted a hand to his ear. "Dig? You still there, buddy?"

He heard a weak chuckle on the other end. "Thank God you're alive," his friend replied with relief. "How's Laurel?"

"She's okay," Oliver forced his tone to remain as even as possible, determined to wait until later to explain about Tommy.

"Oliver?" Diggle's voice grew serious. "I'm so sorry, man. Merlyn must've survived because he got away. I don't have a clue how, or where he went. Either he attacked me and I can't remember what happened, or I must've passed out after you left."

"I won't be much use in tracking him down," Oliver stifled a groan, reluctantly pulling himself into a sitting position against the wall. Keeping his leg elevated was taking top priority now, even if getting to his feet if someone came along would be extra-difficult this way. "Unless Felicity magically happens to know exactly where he is. I've got a bum leg. Are you still on that rooftop or did you get help?"

"Actually, Felicity and I were just headed to the Glades to look for you," there was slight amusement in Diggle's tone.

"She's with you?" Oliver was relieved.

"Present," Felicity's voice called in as well. Her tone sounded flat. Oliver supposed that all of them were feeling defeated right now. They were functioning—not in the way most would after a catastrophic event like this, but in the way they best knew how—by keeping on going. "Do you need picked up, too?"

"There's not much we can do in the Glades right now without getting in the way, especially with Diggle bleeding everywhere," Oliver admitted. "Get to the hospital and we'll talk face-to-face."

"See you then."

As he ended the call, Oliver stiffened and struggled to his feet when a shadow approached to his left.

When he saw it was Detective Lance, he relaxed, if only slightly. Trust Lance to make any human encounter more complicated than it needed to be.

If he'd been planning to hide, it was quickly too late for that. Lance spotted him almost immediately, nodding before turning away, toward the darkened sky. "You're not going back out there, are you?" Lance huffed, sounding almost conversational. Small miracles did happen.

"Probably not."

Lance was quiet for a long time, but finally, he blew out a long, defeated-sounding breath. "I had it shut down," the older man confessed, his tone nearly breaking on the last word. "The machine, that is. And look at this. My own daughter nearly went up in smoke, along with all those others..."

His defeat mirrored Oliver's own. "I should've known Merlyn would cover all his bases." He spoke with regret.

"No, you shouldn't," Lance's tone hardened. "You're not the one whose career it is to stop things like this. You don't get paid to do this. Trained to do this."

"You decided to be a cop. I decided to be a vigilante." Oliver hesitated. "Same goal, different methods."

Surprisingly, Lance didn't look at him in anger this time. Instead, he only raised an eyebrow toward the hooded figure, looking almost compassionate. Almost—fatherly, even. "Killing the bad guys, though—" he started, then shifted his weight, folding his arms across his chest. "Don't ask me how I know this, but—it's a dangerous path, the killing. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Pretty soon, you know far too well how the bad guys do what they do."

Oliver grimaced. What did a cop know about the kind of killing he had done? Lance had maybe had to kill, what, two or three gangbusters in his entire career? Brutal, yes, but nothing like what Oliver dealt with…

"One of these days, you're gonna start killing the wrong guys," Lance continued, seriously and Oliver realized it wasn't as much of a miracle as he'd thought. The detective was giving him yet another warning. "Nothing's changed between us, much as I respect what you did tonight. You've still got to know when the time comes to hang up that hood. Or I'm gonna hang it up for you."

In the end, Oliver did go back into the Glades one more time that night—as Oliver Queen, to find his insane hazard-friendly sister and her boyfriend. After getting Diggle into the hospital, he checked his phone to find thirty-six new voicemails from his mother.

The thought of Thea being in the Glades at the time of the attack was making Moira hysterical, and the thought of listening to the equally numerous voicemails from Laurel was doing the same to him, so he figured he'd better answer his mom's first.

"Um," Felicity started, as she watched him wrap his ankle in leftover bandages he'd snatched from Diggle's nurse, "won't the limp give you away as, you know, being the same guy who just limped out of the Glades earlier?"

"Nobody's paying attention to one guy, Felicity; it's kind of a huge public disaster and everyone's much more worried about themselves than the Hood."

"Give him a ride, will you, Lis?" Diggle raised his eyebrows at her.

"Giving the orders now, are we?" Oliver grumbled, but he appreciated the gesture as Felicity immediately grabbed his car keys and prepared to follow him out the door.