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it’s gotta be flesh and bone

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5.
The ringing of Laurel’s phone disturbs Felicity from where she’s drowsing against her girlfriend on the couch in the living room of the Queen’s beach house. The last couple of months have been difficult ones for both women with a trip each to the hospital, a stint on crutches for Laurel and a long hunt trying to stop the latest villain has left everyone stressed and tired. Oliver had graciously offered Felicity and Laurel the use of one of his family’s holiday homes.

At least Felicity assumes that there was a gracious offer. It may have been prompted. Actually the conversation almost certainly went something like: ‘Ollie, I want the keys to your family’s beach house for the long weekend. And Felicity’s undivided attention.’

“Let it go to voice mail.” But Laurel’s already grabbing her phone off the coffee table.

“It’s Oliver.” Of course it is and Laurel would never consciously turn away a call from Oliver just like he’d never consciously turn away one from her. So much for ‘undivided attention’.

Felicity’s not jealous of their friendship.

“Hey, Ollie. What’s wrong?” Laurel runs a hand through her hair and turns away from Felicity to stare out the window at the ocean.

Or not very jealous.

“No, she hasn’t been near her tablet or phone all day. That was the whole point of this weekend no intrusions from the outside world.”

Any jealousy that Felicity may or may not have been feeling quickly evaporates at what Laurel’s saying and the sudden stiffening of her shoulders. Her girlfriend spins and indicates that Felicity should find one of her devices straight away, still listening to whatever Oliver was saying.

Felicity has four missed calls, one from her mother and three from reporters – a combination that does not bode well for Felicity’s future peace of mind. She does a quick google search for Oliver’s name and draws a blank. Everything on him is a week old, so she searches for Laurel’s name and immediately two hits from the last three hours come back. Felicity opens the first – to one of Starling City’s most seedy tabloids – only to find the page opens with a picture of her and Laurel holding hands as they walk along the beach. The image manages to sand away the pleasant memory a little leaving something sour in its place.

Distantly she’s aware of Laurel thanking Oliver and ending the call. She comes over and kneels beside Felicity. “How bad is it?” She reaches for Felicity’s phone.

It rings and Felicity hits ignore knowing that she’s going to have to face her mom sooner or later. Wordlessly, she passes the phone with the articles on it over to Laurel and wonders how many computers she’s going to have to hack to make them all disappear and her mom forget that it ever happened.

“These aren’t so bad.” Aside from the first, there’s one of them kissing on the beach – just a peck – and another of them at the café they ate dinner at yesterday.

But Laurel wouldn’t consider them bad – she’d been the victim of much worse at the hands of the press. Quite aside from her years as Oliver’s – and later Tommy’s – girlfriend, there’s her high profile cases and the recent fixation on their ‘catfight’ over Oliver. And then there’s the pictures of her from the weeks after the Queen’s Gambit went down including one of her entering the church for her sister’s funeral. There’s also a picture floating around of her, taken about two years after Oliver was lost, outside a nightclub, half-naked and making out with Tommy.

By Laurel’s standard, these are pretty tame. But until the whole ‘catfight over Oliver’ debacle Felicity’s never had any kind of media attention. She’s never had to field intrusive questions about her sex life from reporters who believe they have a duty to share every aspect of it with the world (or rather Starling City). She’s never had people lie in wait for her at her favourite coffee shop and hound her with minor details of her childhood that she’s forgotten about.

"So are you cheating on Oliver or am I?" she asks, not sure if she's going to cry or scream.

“They seem to be implying that we both are. Apparently we’re sleeping together out of revenge for him sleeping with both of us behind each other’s backs.” Laurel sounds impressed more than anything, a note of amusement peeping through.

“Great. They’ve reduced our year long relationship to ‘revenge sex’.” Felicity clasps her hands together so Laurel can’t see the shaking. She knows this will blow over quickly and that it’s not like she going to lose her job, girlfriend or friends over this. But it’s horrible seeing someone print such horrible things.

Her phone rings again, a jarring sound that seems to impatiently fill the room. Felicity has the ringer set to a low volume but hearing it now she wonders how she missed it before – it’s so very loud.

Laurel looks up and holds out the phone. “It’s your mom. Are you going to keep ignoring her or do you want me to take the call?” Laurel asks.

Felicity considers letting Laurel take the call as she’d undoubtedly handle it better than Felicity but that’s not going to help in the long run. “No.” She takes the phone back. “What am I supposed to tell her?”

“You could start with telling her that she doesn’t really want a billionaire playboy for a son-in-law. If that doesn’t work you could always pass on my dad’s phone number – he’ll convince her. And probably give her a few sleepless nights while he’s at it. Then you could tell her you’re happy.” Her tone is light but her eyes are serious. She squeezes Felicity’s arm.

Felicity appreciates the attempt at humour and comfort but that’s not going to help her with her mother who has about as much of a sense of humour as Isabel – less maybe. “Hi Mom.” She heads upstairs to their bedroom, she’s not sure she wants Laurel to witness the conversation itself.

As her mother immediately launches into a tirade about finding out her daughter is having an affair – behind her potential future husband’s back – Felicity reflects that she really should have told her parents about Laurel months ago. It’s not like every other person in her life – barring her siblings – doesn’t know how much she loves Laurel. It’s not like the two of them don’t eat dinner with Quentin at least once a week. Felicity’s even had a lunch date and a shopping trip with Laurel’s mother in which Dinah spent the entire time talking about how happy Felicity was making her daughter and Laurel spent the entire time blushing and whining like a teenager.

Thea’s been planning their so far non-existent wedding for months.

Everyone is happy for them except, it would seem, Felicity’s overbearing mother and downtrodden father. Likely all her siblings will follow suit after hearing an earful from mom. But three of them were married within two years of finishing college and the fourth when she was nineteen (baby born six months later). Felicity, eternally the black sheep, has been defying expectations from the first time she ever touched a computer to the time she graduated MIT and made a beeline for Starling City and Queen Consolidated, no prospective husband in sight.

The phone call lasts forty minutes and Felicity manages to appease her mother with the knowledge that she and Oliver were never something that was going to happen and that she and Laurel really are happy together. The potential for a wedding – winter, maybe spring – helped soothe a few ruffled feathers but Felicity hates having to promise that much. She and Laurel have only just started talking about that possibility and it feels intrusive to tell her mother when no one else knew.

She sits in the dim quiet of the bedroom for long minutes until a knocking on the door disturbs her. Laurel sticks her around it. “Safe to come in?”

Felicity doesn’t move from her place on the unmade bed, nodding glumly, wondering how she’s going to break the news of their apparently impending nuptials to her girlfriend. Laurel sits beside her, tugging her hand into her, squeezing her fingers.

Felicity drops her head to Laurel’s shoulder. “So do you prefer a winter wedding or a spring one? Because my mother is very attached to January but she also thinks May would be nice – for the flowers.” Felicity doesn’t bother to hide her bitterness.

“She doesn’t have to decide our wedding for us. We can get married whenever we want.” Laurel says, gently.

“Yeah. Try telling her that. Actually we should let Thea tell her that.” Felicity pulls up her contacts list and thinks about calling the younger woman and letting her do the damage. If anyone can stand up to her mother it’d be Thea Queen.

“Well that would be an interesting argument.”

Felicity pictures the resulting fireworks and can’t help but snicker in agreement. “She’s flying up to meet you next weekend. So if you have any plans let me know so I can cancel or if you don’t have plans please make some.”

Laurel doesn’t respond for long minutes, instead playing idly with Felicity’s fingers, twisting them in her own, drumming with them lightly, massaging her knuckles. “Is it the thought of actually getting married that bothers you or the thought of getting married when your mother tells you to?”

“Well the last person who got married when my mother told her to is now a single mother, pretending her ex isn’t in prison, so I’m sorry for being apprehensive.” And Felicity feels for Meredith, she really does, but it doesn’t make her sister any more likeable – especially as Felicity was the one who told her not to go through with it in the first place. She stands and starts to pace unable to sit still.

“We could always get married in the summer just to spite her,” Laurel muses still sitting on the edge of the bed.

Felicity nearly snaps back a reply without thinking but she only gets as far as opening her mouth before the importance of Laurel’s words sinks in through the haze of frustration. With a sudden burst of luminance Felicity realises that Laurel has been talking around this for a while and she hasn’t noticed.

“Is this you proposing?” Laurel’s eyes widen and Felicity can almost see her revising what she’s just said. “Because if you are you’re not doing a very good job of it.”

Laurel stands and Felicity is suddenly reminded that her girlfriend is several inches taller than her. “And you’ve been dodging the topic for weeks, refusing to commit either way.”

“Well it’s not like you’ve actually asked.” Felicity folds her arms and narrows her eyes.

“Why should I be the one asking?” Laurel rocks back on her heels but gives nothing in her expression.

“Why shouldn’t you be?”

“Fine.” And Felicity, like for most milestones in their relationship, has half a second to realise what’s coming. “Felicity Smoak will you marry me?”

Felicity spends most of her time around a bunch of snarky superheroes so it’s not surprising that she’s picked up a few bad habits along the way. On the other hand, you aren’t supposed to ask someone to marry you during a fight. “Oh. Wow. That’s gracious.”

If she ever slapped Laurel, she supposes that her girlfriend would look just as confused, angry and hurt as she does now. Laurel throws up her hands and spins on her heel to storm out of the room and Felicity realises just how badly this is about to end. “Laurel wait.” She rushes after her, catching her in the door by the wrist, pulling her around. “Hey, stop.”

Laurel yanks herself free, taking half a step backwards but thankfully not going anywhere.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have… I mean. I want to marry you. I just…”

Laurel pinches the bridge of her nose and turns to the side.

“I don’t want to do this because of my mother. I… do you have any idea how amazing you are? You’re strong and fast and you hunt bad guys and you’re compassionate and hot and gorgeous and everyone knows you’re perfect for me – but that I’m not your type—”

“What does ‘a type’ and your mother have to do with anything?” Laurel asks, turning back, hands falling to her sides. “Because neither of them has anything to do with how I feel about you.” Her voices cracks on the word ‘feel’ and Felicity’s heart breaks a little. “I love you, Felicity. I want to marry you – spend the rest of my life with you – but you don’t seem to want to marry me. Why not?”

“No. No.” Felicity reaches out and grabs Laurel’s hand, trapping it between her own, pulling it against her chest. “I want to marry you. I said that. Didn’t you hear me say that? I said it. I want to spend my life with you and I want to wake up next to you every day – even though we do that anyway, but I want to do that as your wife – and I want to wear a ring that tells everyone that I’m yours. I want to want those things when we’re old and grumpy. And I want to have kids with you—” Laurel’s shoulders have rolled back a little and there’s something like a smile on her lips but she jerks at the last sentence. “And we haven’t talked about that and it’s a topic for another day and let’s just pretend I didn’t say anything.” She sucks in a deep breath.

“But I do want to marry you so will you please marry me?” And actually waiting for an answer is more painful that she would have expected – especially as Laurel proposed to her first. She has a little more empathy for her girlfriend, maybe fiancée, now.

"Of course I'm going to marry you,” says Laurel somewhere between a heartbeat and an eternity later.

And then they're kissing which quickly becomes removing each other's clothes as they trip over to the bed and rumple the covers even more than they already were.

-x-x-x-