She shouldn't be surprised.
What was there even to be surprised about? Digg had warned her, pulling her aside to tell her that it would only lead to pain, for her. Even Thea told her to get out when her heart was still intact. And don't get her started on the countless strangers who tried to warn her with his reputation. But had she listened? No. Not once.
The thing was, she thought she was different.
Oh God, cue the unnecessary rain pour and the world's tiniest violin.
But yes, she actually fell into that backwards headscape that somehow, against all hope, she was different from every other woman that crossed his path.
Every woman except one.
Even her name was elegant.
Laurel was the kind of woman that men like Oliver were made for. The kind of woman that a man survived five years of purgatory for. Who he saved, time and time again, regardless of who else might be in danger. Who he tried desperately to be enough for. Never mind the IT geek who accepted him at his worst; who knew his every persona, good and bad; who put up with late nights and missed calls and constantly being overlooked and underappreciated. Never mind the woman who stood by him from the beginning and picked him up when he was down. Who risked her life and gave up her career and was fairly sure completely dismissed any chance of finding her self-respect anywhere.
No, she was dispensable, just another face in a long line of people that lived on the outskirts of Laurel and Oliver, hoping for a chance, hoping they'd be the exception, hoping, hoping, hoping.
And Felicity had, momentarily, been that one person that he looked at and the whole world seemed to fall away. It felt good. It felt… amazing to be to him what he'd been to her from the beginning. She and Oliver had taken their time. Or, well, he'd taken his time realizing she was there for more than playing Girl Friday. But when they finally got together, it was… fireworks. She only knew passion like that in tacky Harlequin novels and all-too detailed fantasies that she'd had of the very man in question. Part of her even thought it was worth it.
'The brightest stars burn out too quick,' her bubbie used to tell her, warning her that passion was fleeting where love needed to build and last. Her bubbie and zayde were together sixty-three years and Felicity had always wanted that same kind of love for herself.
For a minute, she thought she found it.
Being with Oliver was just like she knew it would be. There were lazy mornings spent in his bed, sleepily watching him as he let his fingers dance over the slopes and valleys of her body, his brow furrowed like she was an enigma he was set on figuring out. There were a mix of nights, from chasing down the latest villain to putting on a show at an event he was forced to host, enigmatic mask in place. Both of which usually ended with him stripping her down to nothing and bending her over a desk, be it at the office or in the lair, it didn't really matter.
Her favorite though were the days where he wasn't Arrow or the CEO, he was just Oliver. Some days he took her out for target practice, others they lazed around in her apartment watching movies and eating take-out. He kept a few sets of clothes in her dresser and a toothbrush in her bathroom. She left her favorite sweater at his house because, despite how insanely massive and expensive it was, it was still drafty. When she couldn't find a pair of shoes, she knew they'd be in his closet. When he didn't know where the tie he wanted was, it was in her apartment. And she was happy with that.
She thought he was too.
She'd seen him laugh and smile, genuinely, more than she ever had before. She couldn't count on both hands and feet, how many times he let the trauma of before lift off his shoulders and just enjoyed the moment, sinking into it and letting himself be happy with her. Her heart swelled and swooped every time, feeling like she was making a difference, like she was giving him something nobody else ever could.
He told her he loved her. In the dead of night, as he stroked her hair and held her while they drifted to sleep. In the early morning, when she had bad breath and bedhead. Time after time, as he stripped off pencil skirts and silky gowns, his lips slanting over hers between each word. And those words, the way he said them, how he kissed them into her skin; she'd never believed anything more.
She had her insecurities. Didn't everybody? She babbled too much, she was the least capable person in a fight of the three of them, she hated her job as his assistant, and she often said inappropriate things before her brain could catch up to her brain. But her biggest insecurity was a pretty easy one.
Oliver had been all about Laurel since before she had met him. When he finally seemed to tear his eyes off of her and see Felicity, Laurel was trying to move on too, settling into a relationship with a fellow lawyer who believed in the same things she did. It looked they were finally realizing they were better off apart. And for eight months now, that worked for everyone involved. They saw Laurel sometimes, it was hard not to given her connections and Oliver's necessity for being in the public eye. Felicity wasn't going to braid them friendship bracelets anytime soon, but they were civil with each other. Laurel didn't seem to hold anything against her for being Oliver's new girlfriend and Felicity tried not to be jealous of everything she encompassed.
She thought she was accomplishing it too.
She should've listened to Digg.
She should've heard Thea's not so subtle warnings.
But she didn't.
She found Oliver kissing the love of his life in his office. The office he'd slipped away to from a party he was hosting. He needed a breather; it wasn't uncommon. She gave him his space and mingled with the staff that lingered by the table of micro hors d'oeuvres, picking at a number of things and filling a small plate with them. She smiled when she noticed the little note cards on everything that were specifically made to order to avoid her peanut allergy. She'd plucked one up from the table, her heart swooping with appreciation, and went to talk to him. He'd already been upstairs and out of sight for nearly an hour, people were starting to wonder and she could only make excuses for so long.
The door to his office was open. She took her shoes off when she reached her desk, using it for balance. It was a game of theirs. Oliver always heard her coming. It was a ninja talent of his, she was sure. He liked to let her think she got the drop on him but as soon as she was within reach, he'd chuckle, letting her know he saw her. She was pretty sure she'd never actually manage to sneak up on him, but she liked trying.
Her feet padded silently across the floor, but as she stepped through the door, the smile fled her face. He wasn't leaning against the window like he usually did, staring out on the bright lights of the cityscape with that far-away look on his face, lost in his thoughts. She didn't get the chance to sneak up behind him, her hands twining around his waist, face pressed to his shoulder, enjoying the way his body relaxed, inch by inch, as he leaned back into her. She didn't get to reach up on her tip toes and kiss his neck, nestling her face there for a moment to breathe him in, before tucking her chin on his shoulder as she asked him if he was okay, if he was ready to come back.
'A few more minutes,' he would always tell her, covering her hands on his stomach with his own, stroking her fingers lightly, his temple resting against hers. And those minutes would pass with slow, easy comfort, the world falling into the background.
That didn't happen this time. And she didn't think it ever would again.
She imagined what other women would do in her place as she witnessed her world fall apart. They would scream and throw things, namely a pair of very sharp, high-heeled shoes. They would demand an explanation, get between the two of them, crying all the while as they watched him struggle to explain what happened. There would be drama. Oh, so much drama. And it would make it into the tabloids somehow, because there were spies everywhere, vultures waiting for a carcass to pick at.
But she didn't do those things.
Don't get her wrong, because some part of her really wanted to. Some part of her wanted to scream about the injustice of it all. It wanted that moment in the movie where the girl got to say her peace and tear apart the person who hurt her, make them feel as small and insignificant as she did in that moment. And he would deserve it.
But as she stood there, watching three and a half years of partnership and trust drain away, she did nothing. She felt her heart swell up, ballooning in her chest, only to crack and splinter. And the card, the little peanut allergy card that said how much he cared, slipped from her fingers, fell silently from her fingers. It lingered in the air, dancing mockingly as it swayed side to side in the seconds it took to reach the floor.
And then she turned on her heel and she walked away, a tear tipping over to slip down her cheek. She swiped it away quickly, hurrying her steps. She only stopped when she reached her desk, putting her shoes on the floor to slip her foot in one, reaching down to tug the strap around her heel. She took her time, despite how every breath hurt, her heart seeming to pang with every inhale. She slipped her second shoe on and stood upright, smoothing out her dress. An attractive shade of green she thought he'd appreciate.
When she walked away, the click-clack of her shoes seemed so loud, echoing in the hollows of the office, and she hoped he heard her. She hoped that familiar noise let him know she wasn't walking to him, not anymore. She was walking away, and she wouldn't be turning back.