“So what’re you doing Saturday night?” Laurel watches Felicity absently chewing on a piece of carrot across the table as she frowns at her tablet before putting down her fork to swipe irritably at the screen.
“Helping Oliver track…” She breaks off and stares at Laurel, seemingly puzzled. “Why?”
Laurel supposes that she understands the confusion as in the five weeks they’ve been sleeping together – pretty much the same length of time they’ve been ‘together’ – they’ve never set any concrete plans. In fact their relationship has continued on exactly as it had when they were friends: lunches, shopping expeditions and movie nights all snatched whenever a small window of time crops up – which is almost never. Just now they also try to fit in sex on the nights they’re not answering to work or hunting down criminals.
Fitting a relationship into an otherwise busy life is something that Laurel is not unfamiliar with but that was without adding in the dangerous hobby of hunting criminals that the law couldn’t or wouldn’t stop. Yet operating at what is basically ‘friends with benefits’ is not an acceptable compromise for the kind of relationship she and Felicity supposedly have. So she’s going to change it. “There’s this new Korean restaurant that I want to try. I thought we could go.”
“I’ve never tried Korean food before.” That Felicity doesn’t seem to hate the idea is something of a relief. “But…”
Laurel has to admit to feeling a small flash of hurt. “But what? I thought it’d be nice to do something together that’s actually something a couple would do.”
Eyes wide, Felicity set her tablet down and reaches across the table for Laurel’s hand, curling her fingers around it. “No. No. That’s good. We’re a couple we should do the things couples do. But… if we start ‘dating’ people are going to notice we’re together. Eventually. Are we sure we’re ready to do that?” Laurel narrows her eyes at the statement and she watches Felicity’s widen. “I’m not ashamed of you! I just want to have more time with you before people start to nose into our relationship.”
Laurel suspects she knows what Felicity’s saying and if she’s right then the other woman is in for a shock. “By people do you mean the press?” The press – or at least Starling City tabloids – have recently latched on to the idea that Laurel and Felicity are bitter rivals over Oliver and run with it. Laurel, who has been targeted by ‘journalists’ before, is mostly amused at how wrong they are; Felicity, who has never really had to deal with them for anything other than refusing to pass on requests for interviews to Oliver, finds the attention perturbing.
“No, I mean friends. I’m hoping the press never finds out about us. My mother is already torn between the idea that I’m either the world’s biggest slut or her new son-in-law is going to be a billionaire thanks to the tabloids. If she finds out about us via the newspaper she might just kill me. Why?”
Laurel swallows and tries to find the words to tell Felicity that their relationship is nowhere near the secret she seems to think it is.
“I’ve been threatened twice about what would happen if I ever hurt you.” The second had been Oliver and she’d just laughed in his face and then demanded that he give Felicity more free time. “I thought it was a little unfair as I’m supposed to be the ‘emotionally fragile’ one.”
“It’s probably that bodyguard you took out a couple of weeks back. He was like twice Dig’s size. I guess emotional fragility means nothing when you’d that strong. Oh, god. Who knows?” Felicity goes from panicked to thoughtful and back to panicked so quickly Laurel thinks her head is spinning.
“I’m trying to think who doesn’t know.” Aside from those they spend their evenings with, there’s also most of Laurel’s colleagues as well as her parents. “Most people are happy for us.”
“Oliver knows? Oliver knows and he hasn’t said… oh he has, hasn’t he? Everything makes so much more sense now. Including that conversation I had with your dad last week. He must think you’re sleeping with the weirdest person on the planet. Or not ‘sleeping with’ because your dad won’t think about it like that.” She drops her head into her arms, upsetting both her salad and her tablet.
“My dad doesn’t think you’re weird – in fact he likes you better than anyone I’ve ever dated. He hasn’t threatened to shoot you, yet, has he?” Laurel stands up and comes to stand behind Felicity, reaching out to comfort her. She’s right, everything does make so much more sense now but from Laurel’s point of view it’s Felicity’s behaviour that makes so much sense not everyone else’s.
“No. Well he did tell me he’s the one who taught you to shoot… He was threatening me, wasn’t he? I’m just so used to Oliver’s brand of ‘grrr, don’t do that or I’ll use my sharp pointy projectiles’ I didn’t see it.” Her voice is muffled by her arms and the tablet.
Laurel can’t help it, she starts giggling, even as she brushes Felicity’s hair out of the way to rub her back. She knows she should be more sympathetic to Felicity’s concern – they do have to deal with a bunch of overprotective vigilantes – but she can’t help but find the situation amusing. Felicity is so smart that it seems almost impossible she’d miss the response to the change in their relationship.
“And everyone’s been telling me how happy I look. They’ve been telling me how happy you look. I can’t believe I didn’t see it. I thought I was perceptive.”
Laurel’s nearly doubled over with laughter. She’s no longer touching Felicity because she’s too focussed on making sure she can breathe.
“Please stop laughing. This is very embarrassing.”
Laurel does her best to calm down but it takes a few minutes of Felicity looking at her forlornly for her to be successful. Finally she drops into the chair next to Felicity and gently takes her hand in both of her own, bringing it up to kiss her knuckles.
“So, Saturday night? I’ve told Oliver he’s not allowed to make you work every evening.”
She squeezes Laurel’s fingers. “And that’s another conversation that makes sense now, just like roughly half the things he’s said to me this week. But yes, Saturday night. I can pick you up at seven if you’re willing to make the reservations.”
Saturday finds Laurel nervously trying on a selection of outfits she’d bought with the specific purpose of the date. Thea who’d been roped into helping Laurel shop all day is now giving her opinions on the already pre-approved purchases. Roy who’d been nominated as packhorse is sitting in the main room with a beer looking like he might need to lie down.
“I can’t believe Felicity thought we didn’t know,” the girl says as she hunts for shoes while Laurel curls her hair. “What, did she think we’d miss the way you two forget the rest of us exist whenever you’re together?”
Laurel tries three different shades of lipstick before she’s happy. And it’s hardly important because Felicity has seen her in all states of dress but she needs everything to be perfect for tonight. Felicity deserves nothing less than phenomenal and Laurel is a long way from even closing in on the ideal, but she’s going to aim for the best she can. She just wishes she wasn’t so nervous.
“Why’re you so nervous anyway?” Thea echoes her thoughts, batting Laurel’s suddenly shaking hands out the way to applying her eyeliner for her. “She thinks the sun shines only for you.”
Laurel can formulate no rational reason why. Before she can answer Roy calls down the corridor to her that Felicity’s arrived, causing a spike of real panic to blossom. She’s not ready…!
Thea smiles and heads for the door. “I’ll keep her busy. You finish up here.”
Laurel checks her hair and make-up, puts her jewellery on and spritzes her favourite perfume before heading out into the main room. Felicity looks up as she enters from where she’s been explaining something about her purse to Thea and her smile becomes blinding. Somehow – and Laurel suspects she’s learned to fly as well – she’s across the room without being conscious of moving.
She presses a kiss to Felicity’s cheek. “Hey. You look good.”
“And you look amazing. Shall we?” She offers Laurel her hand and Laurel twines their fingers.
They say good bye to Thea and Roy and head out into the evening. The restaurant is in walking distance so they don’t bother with cars or cabs, simply enjoying the walk and the closeness. Laurel finds herself squeezing Felicity’s fingers periodically and that Felicity’s arm brushes hers just as often and when they have to wait at a crossing they lean into each lightly. One of the best parts of being with – physical intimacy, emotional intimacy – Felicity is that Laurel is now allowed to touch and be touched in all the ways she wasn’t before.
“So if I knew you were hiring a stylist I would have got my own.” Felicity says as they step out into the street and turn left.
Laurel looks at her slightly jealous lover not really seeing the problem. The pale blue dress and updo look stunning on her. “I didn’t hire a stylist. I asked Thea for some shopping advice. And you look incredible so I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Please. Thea is like an entire Capitol Style Team all on her own.” But Felicity does sound mostly admiring and she certainly hasn’t let go of Laurel’s hand.
“An entire what?” Laurel doesn’t follow the fashion world very closely so it’s entirely possible there is some kind of designer that she hasn’t heard of yet. But then Felicity doesn’t follow the fashion world particularly closely either.
“Capitol Style Team? The Hunger Games?” Felicity sighs softly, the same way she does whenever she finds Laurel has missed some finer point of pop culture that she thinks she should know about.
“Is that the movie where teenagers kill each other in a reality game? The girl has a bow?” She thinks that’s what Felicity is talking about. The girl has a long braid and Thea keeps asking when Oliver’s going to grow his hair long enough for a similar style – much to his annoyance.
“Well, I know what our next movie night is going to be about.” Felicity smiles in what is likely to be anticipation of showing Laurel something else she loves.
“I’m not sure I want to see a movie where children kill each other.” Which is Laurel thinks is the reason she didn’t see it in the first place – not that she sees many movies with how busy she is all the time. But if she remembers correctly, this might have been one that Jo tried to coax her to go and see.
Felicity sighs again. “It’s social commentary.”
“I see.” Laurel’s not sure she does, but if Felicity wants to watch the movie with her she’s not objecting – on the grounds that Felicity has no love of gratuitous violence and so probably has a good reason for showing it to her. And she did end up enjoying Doctor Who, pepper pot aliens notwithstanding, and she now knows the difference between Matt Smith, David Tennant and that Christopher guy. “We’re here.”
The restaurant is small and dimly lit – clean and cosy – but the maître d’ welcomes them warmly and seats them at a quiet table by the window. The food is divine but Laurel is so charmed by Felicity’s delight and the few words she’s learned to order her food that she forgets to eat until reminded.
Nerves long forgotten, Laurel just enjoys her evening as the conversation wanders through small, every day topics, from Felicity’s annoyance at Isabel to Laurel’s recent high-profile win in court. The hours pass without being noted, food long since been finished, the bill paid, and they’re simply sitting talking, enjoying each other’s presence.
As a first date it is perfect, but it’s not really a first date. And yet it is. They’ve eaten meals together many times in the past but this is the first time there has been any romantic intention to the experience, and there is an unexpected energy that sits alongside familiarity. Despite all the hype, which was nice Laurel admits, any evening out with Felicity was always going to leave her humming with rightness.
They walk the long way home, holding hands. Laurel’s skin itches for more than the warm press of palms but the urgency is at bay and she can enjoy the company for what it is rather than what it might become. Felicity makes her happy, happier than she can remember being in so long. She wants to capture that happiness and hold it close, sharing it with only her lover but allowing the whole world to see.
At Laurel’s apartment door they pause and Felicity takes both Laurel’s hands in her own. They lean both lean in at the same time for a soft kiss – an unbelievably cheesy gesture and Laurel smiles at Felicity’s giggle. The noise bubbles up more warmth, turning to heat, turning to fire. No longer do they need to be patient, they’re home now and alone.
“This is a bit forward for a first date,” Felicity teases as Laurel leads her inside closing the door behind her. The gesture contains no hidden meanings only an intention that Laurel hopes – believes – is shared. “Will you still love me in the morning?” She is still happy, smiling, causing Laurel’s own joy to leak through the cracks of her personality.
“I think I’ll love for you forever.” Laurel stands in the door to her room waiting for Felicity to stop pretend to drag her feet and come to bed. But at her words the other woman freezes and she has a quickly review what she’s just said, disorientated. She is not the one known for speaking without thinking but maybe Felicity is rubbing off on her.
She means it, though.
But Felicity stares at her for seconds longer before swallowing and then moving forward again. “Oh good.” Her voice is thick with supressed emotion. “I thought I was the only who felt that way.”