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The Mark

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Oliver Queen did his best to never touch people. Really, it was best that way. Before the island he'd touched lots of people, men, women, it didn't matter. He wondered if his hand print might show up on their skin, a sign of soulmates. Sure, not everyone found their soulmate and happiness could be found outside of them, but why not try? Mr. Merlyn had baby blue fingermarks on his chin where his wife had first touched him and Oliver had grown up thinking they were the sweetest couple in the world.

After the island, Oliver didn't want to inflict his life on anyone else. He didn't want to be the darkness in someone else's life. He didn't want to bring them danger and misfortune. He'd also learned through the island and after, that not all soulmates had happy stories. People were flawed, and no matter how perfect they could be for each other, they still fucked up and got each other hurt. The last thing Oliver wanted was to inflict his fingerprints, his mark on someone else's life, because he'd break them, stain them so badly they could never get the mark off.

-

Barry Allen wasn't afraid to touch people, per se. He was bummed that his mark wasn't on Iris' skin. He'd loved her as long as he could remember, but he still held out hope. His parents had been soulmates, perfect together and loving. The news had gone crazy about it, the headlines had read: Doctor Kills his own Soulmate! Nora Allen Killed by Soulmate! Barry had cried and screamed and fought, but they still blamed his dad for something he'd never done.

Barry didn't touch people a lot though, not unless he knew they were alright with it. He usually let people reach out to him before he touched them. He knew how personal it could be, how some people didn't want to be touched. He was careful with how he handed things to people. He did his best to not touch their bare flesh without some sort of permission, spoken or through body language. If someone held out their hand, he'd shake it. If a girl squeezed his shoulder, he didn't flinch back. He just tried to make sure he never made anyone uncomfortable.

-

Barry felt a bit dazed, the lights were bright, too bright. Wasn't he supposed to be at the train station? Was he going to be late again? He was so fired this time. Barry turned his head and his eyes widened. Was that a bow and arrows? They were green, why were they green? He turned and saw an empty rack where a suit might go, then he saw Dig and Felicity.

This had to be his weirdest dream ever.

Then, he saw Oliver Queen, dressed as the Arrow, lying on a table. He looked unconscious and hurt.

"Please save my friend."

Barry sat up. This was actually real life. Arrow was dying. Oliver fucking Queen was dying. 'Snap out of it, wake up, time to work.'

He ran around the man, trying to narrow down what was happening to Oliver. As the machines beeped like crazy he snagged a flashlight and walked forward. He really wasn't used to working on the living. He gently wrapped his fingers around Oliver's wrist, to reassure himself that there was still life there, and to give himself motivation to keep that life preserved. Oliver's wrist was warm, his heart was beating, though sluggish. Barry pulled his tingling hand away and lifted Oliver's eyelids to check his pupils.

Quickly, hopefully, in time, he found the problem and the solution. He injected the warfarin and prayed it worked, because if it didn't he was pretty sure that Dig would kill him. He busied himself with tending to Oliver's other wounds. Then he started doing what he was best at, finding evidence. He wanted to find out who'd done this to the archer.

"He's stabilizing." Dig stated. "That was quick thinking."

"Have to think quick, sometimes. I'm CSI, evidence goes fast, it gets contaminated, you have to think ahead." Barry shrugged. "I'm just glad he's alright." Barry shook his right hand, for some reason it was still tingling and warm. He looked down at it and there was a light red hue to his fingertips. He frowned at it and began to work on Oliver's neck to get the finger print up. As he pressed down on the tap, making sure the gel covered the print, he saw something that made him pause.

Red fingerprints glowed around Oliver's wrist. They looked like someone was looking for a pulse. Barry looked at his own fingertips and saw as the color faded from his hand. The Mark, stayed on Oliver's skin. "Freak out later, figure this out now." Barry told himself. His hand was still tingly and numb, and now Oliver Queen had his Mark.

"What're you talking about?" Felicity asked.

"Nothing, it's nothing." Barry lied. He gently pried the tape up and folded it over, preserving the possible fingerprint he'd found. Suddenly, there was a hand around his throat. Barry couldn't breathe and his throat felt like it was on fire, but numb and tingly at the same time. He couldn't breathe. He tried to pull Oliver's hand of his throat, but the grip was too firm, too strong. "H-help."

Diggle and Felicity were there in an instant, pulling Oliver back and trying to talk him down at the same time.

Barry gasped and rubbed at his neck. Even as sweet, sweet air filled his lungs, his throat still burned, but not in the bad way, even though his neck was still in pain. There was a pleasant warmth in the pain.

"What the hell is going on?" Oliver demanded.

Barry coughed and took in a deep breath. "You would have stroked out, but fortunately you had a very effective blood thinner handy. Warfarin, better known as rat poison."

"Kid saved your life, Oliver." Dig added.

Felicity glowered at Oliver. "This is the point in a lifesaving emergency where you THANK the person that did the lifesaving."

"You told him who I am." Oliver turned to her, betrayal in his eyes.

"Yeah, I did."

"That's not your secret to tell, Felicity. I decide who finds out my identity."

"Well, we didn't have time to get your vote, what with you unconscious and DYING."

Barry had a newfound respect for the tech genius/nerd. She was standing toe to toe with someone who could break her neck easy as snapping a toothpick. She was a fierce woman, indeed.

"What happens if he leaves here and goes right to the police?" Oliver demanded.

Felicity didn't flinch, she stepped forward. "He wouldn't do that!"

"I wouldn't do that." Barry agreed, and instantly realized it was a lie. He would, literally, go right to the police after this because...well, he was the police.

"I trust him."

"Well, I don't!" Oliver turned and glared at him.

Barry took a step back.

Felicity stepped between them. "What are you going to do, put an arrow in him?

"I'm considering it."

Barry believed him, through and through. Should he run? No, he probably wouldn't make the stairs. He'd trip over his own two feet first.

"Don't worry, he's kidding!"

Barry did not believe that. He watched them argue and well...Oliver had a point. If Barry had a secret like that, he wouldn't want people to find out willy-nilly. "I'm not going to tell anyone." He hissed, taking a few steps forward. "And you don't have to thank me, but you should thank her instead of being kind of a jerk."

Oliver took a few threatening steps forward.

Barry stood his ground. "Mr. Queen."

Oliver stared at him for a moment then his eyes darted down. Oliver took a step back and looked down at his hand. He pulled his right glove off and there was green glowing on his palm, but that light was fading. On his wrist, there were red fingerprints. He hadn't had those before... Oliver's eyes widened and he yanked his glove back on.

"I... I'm..." Barry stuttered.

Oliver opened his mouth, then closed it. "I don't know what..."

"Barry, are you bruised? Oh!" Felicity covered her mouth with her hand. "Oh, wow, um... You and...Ollie and...wow. Cool."

Oliver's phone went off and he looked down at it. He sighed heavily. "I have to go home."

Barry nodded and hid his disappointment, there were bigger things going on today. "Right. We gotta work the case."

Oliver looked at him and nodded in what seemed like approval. "That man I fought in the bunker, he has what he needs to mass produce the serum from the island, and we have to stop him."

"He touched your skin when he grabbed your neck." Barry said, holding out his possible print. "I was able to absorb the residual oils from his skin, which, when added to a gel-based polymer, might be able to recreate the fingerprint."

Oliver nodded and stormed out of the arrow cave.

-

Barry proved himself an asset, Oliver had to admit. He came back to the foundry and found that Barry wasn't there. "Where's Barry?"

"Well, he was going to lose his job if he didn't get home, so he stayed as long as he could, but he had a train to catch." Felicity said, biting her lip.

"Probably for the best... I'm not...really cut out for that...whole thing." Oliver said, rubbing the place where Barry's fingerprints were forever imbedded in his skin. His right wrist still felt a little...tingly. Oliver looked down at the Mark. Barry had thinner, longer fingers than him, judging by the Mark. They left a beautiful impression. And Oliver...Oliver had left a strangling Mark on Barry. Oliver shivered.

"You're going to have to talk to him about it someday, man." Dig said.

"I strangled him, the first time I touched my soulmate, I strangled him. Not the best start."

"Well, in your defense you were being attacked before you woke up so..." Felicity shrugged, then picked up her phone when it went off. "Speak of the devil." She grinned. "Hey, Barry, we were just talking about you. Did you make it in time?... Sorry... Yeah, he doesn't give that out to just anyone, trust me. One sec." Felicity held out her phone. "It's for you, Ollie."

"I'm not here." Oliver whispered and shook his head.

Felicity smirked and put her phone to her ear. "One second, Barry, I need to shove my heel up Ollie's ass."

"Okay, okay." Oliver held out his hand.

"Just talk to him, he doesn't bite...I don't think...he for sure can't dance great. Two left feet." Felicity handed him the phone.

Oliver held it up to his ear and took a breath. "Um, hi."

"That was my opening line, though I probably would have stuttered more." Barry laughed. "Look, I know we had a rough go of it. I mean, I lied to you, I found out about your super secret cave and well, you have some damn good reflexes, guess I'll always be wearing collars or I'll have to explain that one a million times, huh?"

"That's not funny." Oliver said.

"It was a lame joke, but I tried. Look, I'm not good at this stuff. I just thought, judging by what I saw, I'm probably better at this than you-talking, that is." Barry rambled.

Oliver found it endearing, and his Mark felt warm at the sound of Barry's voice. "My...team would agree with you. They say something similar to that. They say I'm bad with words and...stuff."

"CAN CONFIRM!" Felicity shouted.

"I really do like her." Barry laughed. "Look, all I'm saying is, we both...decompress, take a few breaths then maybe meet up for coffee and try to start this off on a better foot."

Oliver nodded. He couldn't ignore the warmth in his hand, no matter how much he wanted to. Barry knew about his life, his secret and Central City was far, far away. The odds of someone connecting the two of them were slim. Oliver just had to be smart and not get caught with him. The last thing he needed was pictures in the news. He'd have to hide his Mark, because the world would want to know who Oliver Queen's soulmate was if they saw it. He realized after a long silence that Barry couldn't see his nod. He cleared his throat. "Yeah, that...that sounds good."

"You really do need to work on socialization, but that's fine. It's cool. Just ask Felicity for my number, text me whenever you're ready, okay?"

"Yeah, sounds like a deal." Oliver didn't know if he could ever be ready. Everything he touched burned. But he didn't want to miss out on this, on the warmth that Barry's voice alone could make him feel. Oliver hadn't felt anything this warm and soothing...ever. "Why are you being so calm about this?"

"I got to be, plus, I've always understood the Marks and soulmate stuff to be a sensitive topic with people. You can't just force people into stuff like this. It takes time." Barry said, then lowered his voice. "My parents were soulmates...dated for years, took things slow. I think I learned it from them. Some Mark just doesn't make everything easy, it's not a fairytale." Barry chuckled. "Hey, I should go. I have a stack of work to get done or my captain is either going to kill me or fire me...or fire me then kill me, either way I lose. Looks like it's going to be an all-nighter for me."

"Don't work too hard." Oliver said.

"No promises." Barry responded. "So, yeah, just call or text whenever. Oh! And I left you something. It should help with your alter-ego problem, at least I hope it will."

"You didn't have to." Oliver walked forward and saw a box on his desk.

"Sorta did. Grease paint is horrible."

Oliver laughed. "Goodbye, Barry."

"Talk to you later, Oliver."

Oliver hung up and handed the phone to Felicity. "Could you-"

"Already forwarding his number to you." Felicity cheered. "Well, open the present."

The mask fit like a glove and Oliver smiled. Barry really was something else.

-

Oliver stood at the edge of the bed and clenched his fists. Felicity was crying quietly. She gripped Barry's hand and leaned down, pressing a gentle kiss to his forehead.

Barry looked so small. He was wearing a hospital gown and there was a scarf wrapped around his neck loosely, probably out of courtesy to him as a patient. Oliver had come as soon as he could. The whole way to Central City he felt like he was going to throw up. His chest hurt, and then he'd come to find out that they'd moved Barry because he kept flatlining at his last hospital. At least at Star Labs, they seemed to have stabilized him. Oliver didn't like that Wells fellow though, he looked at Barry very strangely.

Oliver looked down at Barry and reached out to touch him. He paused for a moment, then held Barry's hand in his. "You're going to be alright...and when you get up, we'll have that coffee, alright?" Oliver smiled gently, then frowned. His fingers found Barry's pulse point. For someone in a coma, Barry's heart sure was moving fast. "You're gonna be alright."

-

Barry checked his messages after he woke up and rushed out of Star Labs.

Unknown:

I think I'm ready for coffee, whenever you're up to it. This is Oliver, by the way.

Maybe Oliver:

I came to see you today...not sure I can do that again. You don't look right when you aren't akwardly fumbling over everything. I hope you get well soon.

Maybe Oliver:

Your present is amazing... Hope we can have coffee soon.

Maybe Oliver:

Felicity went to visit you this time... Sorry I couldn't go. Still don't want to see you like that. Everything I touch ends up... Never mind. Get better, Barry.

Maybe Oliver:

Six months is an awful long time to nap, just saying.

Maybe Oliver:

That last one sounded harsher than intended. I hope you're well soon.

Maybe Oliver:

I came to visit again, you still don't look right when you're so still. Have I told you that my Mark itches non-stop when you're like this...ever since you were struck by lightning it just itches.

Maybe Oliver:

I don't like the looks of that Wells guy. I don't know what it is. He's helped you a lot though so...it's fine. I'm just paranoid.

Maybe Oliver:

Eight months is a long time. I'm starting to think you have worse commitment issues than I do.

Maybe Oliver:

That was a joke. Not a funny one.

Maybe Oliver:

Okay, it was sort of funny, but in that grim sort of way. I have dark humor, sorry.

Maybe Oliver:

You're right though, coffee with me would probably be horrible.

Maybe Oliver:

Please wake up soon.

Maybe Oliver:

I hope you're alright.

Maybe Oliver:

Felicity says I'm moping. I am not.

Maybe Oliver:

She might be a little right. Never tell her that.

Maybe Oliver:

Please wake up.

Barry scrolled through so many texts, too many to think about. He chuckled and touched his neck. He still had a loose scarf on, even though his shirt collar hid most of his Mark. He edited the contact info and thought for a minute about what he'd send back.

Me:

Hey, just woke up. Feel great. Could use some coffee, if you're up for it?

Oliver:

You're awake? I'll be at Star Labs as soon as possible.

Me:

Not at Star Labs.

Oliver:

What?! You should still be in bed.

Me:

Been in bed too long, besides, I feel amazing. Haven't had coffee in like nine months though, so I think I'm going to want some coffee.

Oliver:

We're going to talk about your idiocy when I get there.

Me:

Suure... Glad you liked my present.

Oliver:

Works like a charm.

I'm on my way.

Barry:

Jesus, I wasn't being serious. You live so far away.

Oliver:

I also own a jet. Be there soon. Know any good spot for coffee?

Barry:

Jitters.

Oliver:

See you soon.