Chapter 1

Astrid looked across the large table at the employees who were present at today's monthly board meeting and then down at her list of topics. They were almost finished and she was excited to adjourn the meeting up quickly. She heard the door open from behind her, but ignored the intrusion. 

"Before we close, does anyone else have any further matters to discuss?" She asked the employees, hoping that there were none. 

"I do!" the intruder, standing at the door way, spoke up and she recognized the voice immediately. "As a silent investor in Sutherland Labs, I would like to discuss with you, your involvement with Luthor Corp." 

Astrid looked up, "Mr Queen, I am surprised to see you here. We were just about to finish our meeting and then I'll speak with you and give you a full rundown on the matter." Astrid tried her hardest to sound professional in the presence of her employees. She was most probably the youngest in the room at only 25 years of age and spent the other half of her time working at CCPD. Which did not go down well with her employees, as she seemed to not be as committed to her role.

"That concludes today's meeting, I'll see you all next month." Astrid spoke to the board members and then looked to her new assistant, Jane Anders, as the rest of the staff left the room. "Can you please make those phone calls for me, Jane? I'll be out of my office until this afternoon. If you need me, I am heading out to Jitters. I'll have my phone on me." 

Jane nodded and left. Astrid shuffled the papers into a neat pile on the table. 

 "So word has it that you are no longer working on the 97th floor." Oliver said to her.

 "You heard? I needed my own private office and assistant so I took over this floor." Astrid told him, picking up her handbag and heading out the door. 

"That isn't it. You told Cisco and Caitlin your secret and they didn't take it too well, did they?" Oliver asked as he closed the door behind him. They bypassed Jane's office and three other offices with staff, that Astrid barely knew and headed towards the elevator. 

"Cisco didn't take it too well, no. But I help them whenever they need me. But right now I'm trying to run my father's business and working over at CCPD." Astrid pressed the button to call the elevator, and they waited. 

Once it had arrived, they stepped into the elevator and waited for the doors to close. Oliver pressed the buttons to take them to the 97th floor before Astrid could determine where they were headed.

"Why are you really here, Ollie? And why are we going there?" Astrid asked him. He would not answer her.
 Once the doors had finally opened, they were standing at the entrance to the 97th floor and walked into the open plan floor. 

Caitlin was fussing over Barry in his red suit. He had injured himself and she was bandaging him up. John Diggle was on the phone, while Cisco and Felicity were chatting 'nerd tech.' 

Felicity looked up to see Astrid enter the room. She ran up and hugged her excitedly. "Yay! You're here! I love this place! Your friends took me on a tour earlier and the things you guys research here... it is just... It's no wonder you accepted Luthor Corp's deal!" Felicity gushed. 

 "It's great to see you too Felicity!" Astrid told her, "But I assure you, the research was not the only reason, that I accepted Lionel's deal."
 Cisco was still sitting at his computer, "Lionel blackmailed her." He told them. Astrid bit her lip. He was right.

Caitlin and Barry headed towards Astrid, Felicity and Oliver. "I really wish you would reconsider working here again." Caitlin told her, "we all miss you! It has been three boring weeks with just the guys and it was such a relief when the handsome Mr Oliver Queen came with his very lovely assistant and... his bodyguard." She whispered the last two words.

Caitlin was clearly in awe of Oliver's handsome features and boyish charm, though she seemed somewhat stand offish over his bodyguard. Astrid realized that she did not know Oliver's true heroic identity. 

"So Oliver, why did you bring me here? What's going on?" Astrid probed. 
 "I meant what I said, I need to discuss with you a few matters relating to Luthor corp. When you left Sterling City, I had Felicity preform an overall search on them... as well as your father..."

Felicity picked up a pile of papers from the desk beside them. There were approximately ten pages in the stack. "It seems that people are continuously going missing and all the cases are in some way related to Smallville. This has been happening both before and after the meteor shower up until now. That group that you encountered, that... ahem... the arrow saved you from, they were all considered missing at some point." Felicity told her. 

Astrid looked over at the pages. In one of the articles, her father's name was listed. Oliver saw the one that she was reading. "There was another sighting of your father, just last week." he told her.

Astrid's heart sank. The picture was an old one, though there were recently claims that he had been seen around the town of Smallville. She didn't know what to say. She looked up at Barry, who didn't need her abilities to know what she was thinking. 

"If it were me, I would want to know." Barry told her, "It sounds like your father is actually alive." Astrid knew in her gut that her father was dead. 

 "Could we go, Astrid?" Caitlin pleaded. "If there is any chance that your father... or even Ronnie is alive... we need to know!" Astrid wasn't going to do it for her own sake, but for the sake of Caitlin. If the love of Caitlin's life was indeed alive, they needed to know.

Cisco and John Diggle had now joined the group. "I'll call Lionel now. But Ollie, I will need you to play along. He won't reveal anything to us if he's under the assumption that Queen Industries or Sutherland Labs are working against him."
Oliver nodded, "You make the call, I'll prepare the plane." he said. 

Astrid made the call to Lionel Luthor, who, as she expected, sounded very hesitant for Oliver Queen and Astrid Sutherland to make a surprise visit to Smallville. 

"Lionel, I assure you, that with both the support of Sutherland Labs and Queen industries, Luthor Corp will be greatly benefitted..." Astrid attempted to charm him. 

"I understand that, Miss Sutherland, but in all due respect..." Lionel started.
 "In all due respect, Mr Luthor your threats on my father's name no longer bare any weight. Mr Queen and I will be there this afternoon with some of our associates." Astrid ended the call and smiled at herself, she was starting to get the hang of playing ball in the corporate world.

Astrid was about to head back down to the 96th floor to speak with her assistant, Jane, when Cisco stopped her at the elevator doors, just as she had pressed the call button. 
 "Cisco, is everything ok?" she asked him. 

"Look, I know that I shouldn't have acted the way I did when I found out that you could read minds." He began, "I mean that power is kinda cool. It would be awesome to have, but... it's the power of reading minds... You can tell what we're all thinking at any given moment... can't you?"

"I can, Cisco. But I promise you, that I have been trying to control it. Sometimes I just hear people's thoughts without trying. I can even see images... But I promise you, that I do not intentionally try and read your thoughts, or any of those closest to me... and I am still trying to learn to use my abilities. It comes in handy at CCPD that's for sure." Astrid thought back to her last case, the criminal was a compulsive liar. 

"I need to know, Astrid. Have you read any of my thoughts, at all?" he was asking her, sternly. She couldn't lie to him. Her pause had answered his question enough... he didn't let her finish. 

"Look, I made you something. It's up to you if you want to wear it or not. But it is just like the handcuffs that we have been making for CCPD's criminals. The ones with the powers."

He handed her a silver bracelet with multiple colored stones. The stones were clearly kryptonite. "This bracelet will stop you from using your powers, when you wear it."

Astrid took the bracelet, "You're more or less telling me that you want me to wear it when I am around you. Don't you trust me?" she scoffed, thumbing the bracelet in her hand.

"I do trust you, Astrid. But you said that sometimes you hear them without even trying. You couldn't even answer me when I asked you if you had read my thoughts." He had her there.

"Fine! I'll wear it when I am around you. Otherwise, that's it!" Astrid put the bracelet in her bag and stepped into the elevator. "and for your information, this power is a burden. It's not cool!" she told him. 


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