Tuesday, December 16th dawned bright, clear and cold.
The alarm blared to her left, and Felicity Smoak ran through the motions to begin her day. She stumbled out of bed, bleary-eyed and bushy-haired, following the scent of freshly brewed coffee coming from her automatic machine to the kitchen.
Three cups in and she was able to nominally stave off the exhaustion of a very late night spent in (successful) mutual vigilantism with her two closest friends. At least for long enough to get into a hot shower.
An hour later, the random passers-by on the street below would never believe that the beautiful, put-together blonde women rushing to her red mini-cooper was anything other than well-rested and ready to face another day.
Felicity was one of the first people at Queen Consolidated every morning. Today was no different.
At 7:30, the elevator pinged and she exited on the ground floor with a steaming cup of coffee, which she deposited at the front desk in front of a grizzled security guard. He smiled gratefully, taking the cup and a sip.
“Hey Joe,” she said, smiling.
“Good morning, Ms. Smoak.”
“I’ve told you to call me Felicity.”
“Of course, Ms. Smoak.
Felicity rolled her eyes and smiled. “Everything quiet during the night?”
“Same as usual, ma’am.”
She nodded. The exchange was more or less the same every day, but it had become a sort of tradition at this point.
“Well, you get home and get some sleep, alright?”
“Just as soon as Matt gets here, Ms. Smoak.”
With a smile, she walked back the way she’d come, using her key to call the executive elevator.
Once in the office, she got the lights, set the thermostat, and headed to the kitchenette to make more coffee. She needed another two cups at least before Oliver got in to the office.
Computers up and running, plants watered, blinds opened, she finally settled down at her desk, turned some music on low and got to work.
In addition to organizing Oliver’s schedule for the day, reviewing his incoming emails, and moving a business lunch to the following day, she also needed to review the encrypted data they’d retrieved from last night’s recon mission.
By the time Oliver came in at nine, Felicity had been up for hours and was getting ready to take her first break.
“Good morning, Ms. Smoak.”
Felicity grabbed her tablet, stood up and followed him into his office. “Good morning, Mr. Queen.”
She gave him a run-down of his day as he removed his jacket, following him into the kitchenette as he set the coffee machine for his own coffee.
At this point, over a year into their new working relationship, they functioned like a well-oiled machine. Anyone watching (and they’d learned, to their dismay, and subsequent kidnapping, about half a year ago, that sometimes people were watching), would see exactly what they expected to see from a CEO and his EA (sans the coffee making…) Despite extensive additions made to the security systems and surveillance for the office, both Oliver and Felicity had agreed to keep all mentions of their nights to a minimum, as well as coded for secrecy.
So really, more often than not, being Oliver Queen’s Executive Assistant felt like just that. A job and nothing else. And surprisingly enough, she was good at it, and so was he.
The day passed without event. She felt herself beginning to nod off about an hour after lunch, and excused herself to take a quick fifteen minute break with another strong cup of coffee, down in the QC plaza.
The brisk air woke her up, whipping sharply across her cheekbones. She used her coffee cup to keep her hands warm as she sat on a bench in the corner, looking around at the trees, already glinting with early Christmas decorations. She could hear the sounds of traffic coming from the street, and shut her eyes for a second, just taking in the turbulent calm around her.
Felicity wrinkled her nose as a waft of cigarette smoke drifted past her. A couple of employees were taking their smoking break in the plaza. She glanced at her watch, and sighed. She needed to head back up anyway.
It was work as usual for the rest of the day. It had already been dark for a couple of hours when Oliver headed out, and she followed not twenty minutes after, shutting everything down, and leaving everything she needed out for the next morning.
Just another day at the office.
And then her second life began.
As much as she had come to enjoy her job at QC (to her eternal disbelief), and as closely as she worked with Oliver during the day, she found she missed him. He had become her best friend, along with Digg, and she waited for their nights in the foundry, when they could all just unwind and be themselves. While kicking some criminal ass, of course.
She made her way through the back entrance of Verdant, swiping her key-card and entering the pass-code for the door, before heading down the stairs to the foundry. She was already planning out what she needed to do when she stopped dead, looking around in shock.
Blue and silver streamers lined the walls, and sparkly, cardboard dreidels had been hung from the ceiling. On the table in the center of the room, someone had set up a menorah, with a candle already in place on the right side.
“What?” she said softly to herself, before she pulled out her phone to verify… She hadn’t even realized – it was the first night of Hanukkah.
“Happy Holidays.” Felicity jumped in surprise as Oliver’s voice sounded behind her, and she spun to find him and Digg smiling.
It took her a moment to get her bearings, but then she looked at them in wonder and said, “Did you two do this?”
Oliver nodded, stepping forward and grasping her shoulder, turning and guiding her towards the menorah.
“We’ve been planning it for a while. You’ve been so busy working for the team and at the office, we sort of figured you might have forgotten.”
Felicity just stood there, looking at the little menorah, the pack of Hanukkah candles sitting on the table next to it, and a small box of matches, and felt a lump forming in her throat. She couldn’t help the little sniffle, as she smiled wistfully at the setup.
“Hey, you okay?” Oliver asked, coming around to stand in front of her, looking concerned. Diggle joined him, frowning.
“Did we get it wrong?” he asked.
Felicity laughed and shook her head. “No,” she said, brushing a finger beneath her eyes. “No it’s perfect, I just-“ she paused, picking up the box of matches and turning it over in her hands. “Honestly, I just can’t even remember the last time I lit Hanukkah candles. We, uh- we used to go to my Bubbe every year up in Coast City for a couple of nights, when my grandfather was still alive, and he would light the menorah, and everyone would sing, and my Bubbe would make latkes, ugh, she makes the best latkes…” Felicity smiled, and Oliver and Diggle responded with smiles of their own. “Anyway… that was a long time ago… I guess it seems even longer considering everything that’s happened in the last few years.” Felicity laughed again, tearing up slightly.
“You two…” she shook her head, sniffling again. “This- this is perfect. Thanks.” She stepped around the table, hugging Digg tightly, before moving to Oliver.
She hesitated a second, but then leaned in to hug him as well, breathing in the scent of leather and light cologne, reveling in the feeling of his arms wrapping tightly around her. She pulled away, smiling up at him.
“Well, at the risk of making you cry even more… We, uh – got you a present too,” Digg said, drawing her attention away.
“Oh my god, seriously? You guys! You didn’t have to do this!”
Oliver smirked, eyebrow arching in that way that made Felicity just want to smack him sometimes, and reached under the table, pulling out a box wrapped in silver paper with a blue ribbon.
Never one to turn down a gift, Felicity tore open the paper and almost squealed in delight when she found the newest tablet on the market – one that wasn’t due to be released for a week.
“How did you get this?!” she asked, eyes wide. She looked between the two of them and frowning suspiciously when Oliver shrugged.
“I know a few people…” he said, evasively.
“Oliver Queen, I swear, you are a hazard… but I’m not complaining! Thank you so much, you two. Really, this is incredible.”
Diggle smiled. “Why don’t you go ahead and light, and then we’ll get back to business as usual…”
Felicity grinned and turned to face the menorah. She did a quick search on her phone to find the right blessings (it had been a while and she didn’t remember them), and then lit the shamash, the pilot candle used to light the other ones. A sense of serenity settled over her as she made the blessings, and lit that one single candle for the first night, with Oliver behind her on her left and Diggle on her right.
She might not be with her mom, dad and Bubbe for the holidays, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t with her family.
Felicity swore the foundry felt just a little bit brighter as she went back to work with the two candles burning behind her.
She thought that was the end of it.
December 17th went much the same as the day before it had.
Going through the motions – get up, shower, get dressed, coffee, coffee, coffee…
Only at work, Felicity found herself looking towards Oliver from time to time and grinning when he caught her eye. He always returned the smile, and it almost felt like they were sharing a secret. Well, besides for the big, green secret that they kept all the time… It had just been such a sweet gesture, and she was really enjoying getting to know her new tablet.
She did work hard, and knowing that Oliver and Diggle cared enough to notice and do something for her made all the difference and put new pep in her step.
Felicity called her bubbe during her break to wish her a Happy Hanukkah. Honestly, it had been too long since she’d spoken to her, and hearing her bubbe’s voice, cracking dirty jokes, and asking her how her job was going, and just being the general ball-buster she always was, made something ache inside of her. Just a little bit, and it was a good ache, but she decided she’d need to take some time off at some point to go and visit. Soon.
It was dark out, and Felicity was just beginning to shut everything down and organize her desk, when she heard Oliver clear his throat above her.
She looked up to find him holding a box wrapped like her gift from the previous night. He was smiling, head tilted to the side as he placed it on the desk in front of her.
“Oliver, what-?” Felicity couldn’t help but sound confused.
“It’s the second night of Hanukkah. Happy holidays.”
Felicity looked from the gift and back up to him.
“You’re crazy,” she said, frowning.
“Not really the response I was hoping for, but okay.”
Felicity shook her head. “No, I mean. Hanukkah is eight days long. You know that right?”
Oliver narrowed his eyes, as though thinking about it for a second before he said, “Yeah. Yes, I do.”
“You can’t possibly be planning on giving me a gift on each night,” Felicity said, gesturing at the present.
Felicity sat there, completely bemused. “Well, because, um-“
Oliver pulled out the chair across from her and sat down. “Come on Felicity. Just open it. Like I said last night, you deserve it.” He gave her that look. The one she hated because she really loved it. The one where his eyes got even bigger and bluer, impossibly bluer, and just so earnest. Ugh.
She sighed. “Fine. But you and Diggle really shouldn’t have-“
“Oh, this one’s not from Diggle,” he cut her off. “But Sara was in on it.”
“Sara?” Felicity asked, curiosity piqued as she finally reached for the parcel, beginning to rip open the paper. “Isn’t she somewhere in Asia right now?”
Oliver looked all too pleased with himself. “Yup,” he said. “This gift needed to be special ordered…”
Now she was really curious. When the paper was peeled away, it revealed a non-descript brown wooden box. She unlatched the top and pulled it up to reveal-
Oliver grinned. “Not exactly…”
There was a note in the box along with a tube of lipstick, mascara, blush, and small bottle of dark green nail polish. She pulled out the piece of paper, unfolded it and read:
Handle these with care. They’re a special order from a company in India called Femme Fatale. Ollie got in touch with me about the idea a couple months ago, and just like our boy, there’s more to these than meets the eye.
The lipstick has a small button underneath it. Aim and press to activate the taser. There are extra cartridges in the box.
The mascara has a concealed dagger you can pull out.
If you slide the bottom of the blush compact out, there are a few miniature tools you’ll probably find useful for disabling electronics and disassembling computers.
The top of the nail polish cap has another piece you can unscrew. Inside is a small needle, dosed with a strong sedative. It should drop a guy up to 300 lbs. in about two seconds.
Use them well. I made sure the lipstick is in your favorite shade.
PS. Tell Oliver to pull his head out of his ass and kiss you already.
Felicity’s eyes widened as she read through the note, and she blushed, clearing her throat at the last line.
“Um, did you read the-?”
Oliver shook his head. “Sara asked me not to. Why, anything interesting?” Oliver’s head was tilted to the side and he was watching her with interest.
“No, just, um instructions.” She folded the note back up and put it in the box, pulling out the lipstick. It was indeed her favorite shade of bright fuchsia, and she continued to pull out each item, looking at them in wonder.
“Oliver, this is… this is so cool!” she said, voice a rush of excitement and she pulled the little dagger out of the mascara.
Oliver shrugged. “I figured you go out in the field often enough, you need some of your own gadgets. You’ve improved a lot in your training, but a strong sedative never hurts…”
“I don’t know what to say…” She looked up at him, smiling widely. He matched her expression.
“Like I said, I’m happy to do it.”
His eyes held hers, just watching her with a smile, and she chewed on her lip nervously, feeling her cheeks heat up. She looked away first, putting everything back in the box and standing up, collecting the rest of her things.
“We’d better head out. Diggle will be waiting.” When she looked back up, Oliver was standing, holding her coat out for her. She stepped up, and turned, slipping her arms into the sleeves. She stopped breathing for a second when she felt Oliver’s fingers trail along the back of her neck, pulling her hair out from beneath the coat collar. She moved away quickly, flashing him a bright smile.
Oliver motioned towards the elevator. “After you,” he said, voice soft, following her out, with his hand low on her back.
She could still feel the warmth long after she’d gotten into her car, heading for Verdant.
On Thursday, she was ready for it. Or at least, she thought she was. She’d known Oliver for over two years, so she figured she had him more or less pegged. Once the sun went down on the 18th of December, she waited. She watched him through the glass partition of their offices, waiting to catch his eye. He never looked up – he actually seemed busier than usual, signing papers, typing furiously away on his computer, spending twenty minutes on a phone call.
When she got up to go to the bathroom, she expected there to be a gift-wrapped box waiting for her on her desk when she came back. Oliver liked to be stealthy… But nothing.
At 6:30 pm, when Oliver finally stood up and made his way towards her, she thought that was it, he was going the personal route again, like yesterday, but he pushed open the door of his office and just said, “Felicity, can you come into the conference room? I have a meeting with Walter I need you to take notes for.”
Really? A meeting this late?
Felicity sighed, grabbing her new tablet and following him inside.
They waited for about two minutes, Oliver going over some notes, Felicity on her tablet, before Walter arrived.
“Hello Ms. Smoak, how are you this evening?”
“Mr. Steele.” Felicity nodded and grinned. She was always happy to see Walter. Aside from his long-standing kindness to her, she associated him with getting to know Oliver and finding out his secret, something she would be forever grateful for.
Oliver cleared his throat, putting the papers he’d been looking over down in front of Felicity.
“Right, let’s get started,” he said, and Felicity noticed the smile in his eyes. He had a look, one she knew generally meant trouble for her.
“Felicity, Walter didn’t really need to be here for this, but he wanted to come by since he played a pretty big part in organizing it.”
She was sure her confusion was visible. “Organizing? Oliver, what-?”
Walter spoke up. “Oliver came to me a couple of weeks ago for some help. He needed some additional financing for the Applied Sciences division for a private project. I was skeptical until he told me who would be in charge of the resources.”
Felicity still didn’t understand. Until she looked down at the papers Oliver had been looking over.
It was a contract. A contract putting her in charge of a defined allocation of funds to a private subsidiary of the Applied Sciences division of Queen Consolidated.
“Oh, my God.”
This wasn’t happening. There was no way this was happening.
“Felicity, I know you never wanted to be my EA, but you followed me anyway, and you’ve been a life-saver. I could never do this job without you.”
“Oh, my God.”
Walter was smiling. How had Felicity never noticed how much of a smug bastard he was?
“You’ll have a team, one you will hire, to help develop any and all projects you feel would further Queen Consolidated in the field of technology.”
“Oh, my God.”
This was… This was everything she had ever wanted to do at a job. This was amazing. This was too much.
Oliver was still talking. “I know you’re more than qualified to head this up, and I know for a fact that you already have several ideas you’ve wanted to patent and work on. It’ll run on your schedule, no pressure, no deadlines, so you can work at your own speed, when you have the time.”
She looked up from the papers at last to gape at Oliver. He was holding out a pen.
“Happy Hanukkah,” he said.
Felicity was not happy on Friday morning.
She’d signed. Of course she’d signed! How could she have passed up on that opportunity?
And then she’d gone home in a daze, Oliver telling her to take the night off, and that he was sending Digg home as well.
It was only after she’d parked, gone upstairs, undressed and climbed into the shower, at some point between shampooing her hair and rinsing, that she finally caught up with herself.
Gifts were one thing. But this was too much. Even for the billionaire CEO of an international company.
She spent a restless night second guessing herself, thinking she should have said something, put her foot down. She really couldn’t accept it, which really, really pissed her off because she wanted it so badly. But it was just too much.
By the time morning came around, she knew she needed to talk to Oliver and find out what the hell he’d been thinking. She was tired, and she was cranky, and when Oliver finally walked in at 9:30, Felicity was ready for him.
“You’re out of your mind,” she told him, as soon as the door to his office had closed behind him.
“Shut up and listen to me.”
Oliver’s mouth snapped shut with an audible click.
“You don’t just give a person millions of dollars to do whatever they want and call it a holiday gift Oliver. That’s not normal people behavior, and while I know we’re far out of the realm of normal, it’s still completely insane! I don’t even know what I was thinking! But you totally waylaid me, and Walter was there, and I was just so shocked, and millions of dollars Oliver! What the hell were you thinking?!” Her voice had risen to a shout, and she was pacing back and forth, not looking at him. “It’s one thing to get me a tablet with Digg. The make-up with Sara was cute, but this is crazy and I don’t feel comfortable-“
A hand sliding gently down her arm startled her out of her rant and she spun in place to find Oliver inches away from her. Already unsteady, she almost fell over, reaching up and balancing herself with a hand on his chest, and then froze when she realized how precarious her position was.
But Oliver didn’t back away.
“Felicity,” he said, voice soft, and she could feel the vibration of it underneath her hand. “If it makes you uncomfortable to accept it, that’s fine. We’ll work something out.”
Felicity nodded, swallowing convulsively. Oliver continued.
“But you should know that this wasn’t a rash decision. I’ve been considering it for a while. “
Felicity frowned. “Why?”
Oliver sighed, his hand cupping her elbow. He was still so close she could feel warmth radiating off of him. It was distracting, to say the least.
“Honestly? I hate that you still need to work a job that’s beneath you. You deserve so much more than just being my assistant, and while I know you fulfill a lot of that potential in the foundry every night, I wanted to give you the resources to do something you love. I also believe it would be in the company’s best interest to let you develop some of the ideas you keep in that folder you think I don’t know about.”
She didn’t ask him how he knew about it. He was just stealthy that way. Instead she took a deep breath and squared her shoulders, looking up at him.
“Okay. Fine, I’ll accept that reasoning. But that doesn’t excuse you springing it on me that way. This should have been a discussion between the two of us. You should have brought it up when you first thought of it, so we could sit down and figure it out together.”
Oliver breathed heavily out through his nose, looking at a point somewhere above her head. His hand was still on her elbow.
“You’re right,” he said, nodding. “It won’t happen again. From now on, every decision regarding the funding for the subsidiary will be made by the both of us. I’ll make sure to include you.”
Oliver began to pull away, but Felicity stopped him, grabbing his hand. “Also, please tell me none of the other gifts are anything like this? You’re not, I don’t know, going to give me the company jet next, or something, are you?”
Oliver laughed, shaking his head.
“No, don’t worry. Nothing this big. Although maybe a little bit more personal…” he trailed off, still smiling, and Felicity felt a thrill run through her. More personal? What was that supposed to mean?
“Maybe,” Oliver said, lifting a finger and walking towards his desk, “I should give you tonight’s present now, considering the stress I already put you through.” He pulled open a desk drawer and came back with an envelope in his hand.
“Here. Happy 4th night, even though it’s not, yet…”
Felicity took the envelope, opening it and pulling out –
“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” she yelled, jumping up and down, waving a day pass to the city’s most exclusive spa in her hand. She practically launched herself at Oliver, hugging him tightly, and he laughed, bringing his arms around her middle.
Oliver spoke, voice muffled in her shoulder. “You’re all set for a full day tomorrow. There’s a whole series of treatments you’re signed up for, and it includes breakfast and lunch.”
Felicity pulled away, smiling widely. “How did you get this? You need to book this place months in advance!”
Oliver shrugged. “My mother knows the owner. They went to college together.”
Felicity’s eyes widened. “Moira helped you with his one?” Oliver nodded.
Felicity looked down at the paper in her hand. “Well, tell her thank you from me. I really appreciate it.”
“You deserve it.”
It suddenly struck Felicity how close she was still standing to Oliver and she took a quick step away.
“Well, I guess I’m going to go start putting a team together for this project. Call me if you need me?”
Oliver smiled. “Always.”
This was the life.
Felicity sighed as she lowered herself into the private jacuzzi in the massage room, champagne flute perched on her right.
She had just finished her second treatment of the day, a full body honey-lavender scrub, and had been left to relax for ten minutes before moving on to lunch.
She’d arrived at Starling City Day Spa in time for a light breakfast of fluffy pancakes and fresh berries and really good yogurt cups with granola and date syrup and little pieces of fruit in them. The coffee alone would have been worth the visit, but then she got her locker in a really fancy locker room, and the fluffiest bathrobe she’d ever worn in her life, and had spent an hour and a half getting a four-handed massage from two very good looking men.
Oliver had let her know that Moira had selected her treatments for the day, claiming a complete ignorance to what she would find enjoyable, or what she might need. She was grateful. The thought of Oliver giving the go ahead to two guys to put their hands all over her seemed too strange to fathom.
The woman who’d done her body scrub had been very friendly, and as opposed to the previous treatment, where the only sounds out of her had been moans which she hadn’t been able to hold back, Felicity had chatted happily, telling her about her wonderful boss and his gifts so far, though she had avoided certain details.
“Sorry, you said this is your boss?” Alicia, the masseuse, had asked.
“Yeah, although he’s also a very good friend.”
Alicia had shrugged and continued scrubbing the lavender scented salts down her arm. “I don’t know. If I had a guy giving me expensive gifts and spa days, no matter the reason, I’d assume he was trying to be more than just my friend.”
Felicity had laughed. “You really don’t know Oliver. That’s just how he is. And the guy has more money than he knows what to do with, so he gets a little extravagant.”
“It’s not about the money. Guys don’t give gifts like this because they have the money. From what you told me, everything he’s given you had a lot of thought put into it. Each thing spoke to your interests, which means he actually sat down and thought about what you would like most. Friends and bosses don’t do that. Boyfriends do that. Lovers do that.”
Felicity had been adamant and Alicia had let the subject drop, moving on to discuss Felicity’s schedule for the rest of her day.
But now, as she sat sipping her champagne, the jets of the jacuzzi relaxing her even more, she did wonder about what Alicia had said. The first night, she hadn’t thought anything of it. The tablet had been a sweet gift from Oliver and Diggle, her boys.
But it was true. The make-up from Oliver and Sara had to have been planned out and ordered a long time in advance. The project funding was so excessive, she’d actually been angry at Oliver, and the spa day…
There was something almost intimate about giving a woman a spa day, she supposed. But she couldn’t bring herself to consider that Oliver might be trying to tell her something, or that Oliver might possibly feel for her the way she had come to accept she felt for him.
Then again, the gifts had been getting more and more extravagant, and Felicity was beginning to wonder if Alicia might have a point.
Did Alicia have a point?
An alarm beeped softly on her left and Felicity sighed, putting her glass down and pulling herself out of the hot water. She shook her head as she slipped into her robe, tying it at the waist. She wasn’t going to think about it. She was going to enjoy the rest of her day and relax. She was in Starling City’s most prestigious spa, about to eat a five-star lunch, and was then scheduled to enjoy a mani-pedi, facial, and hair appointment.
Besides, she probably wouldn’t even be seeing Oliver tonight, so he wouldn’t be able to give her a gift anyway.
Her keys clanged as she dropped them into the dish on the stand next to her front door, shutting it behind her. She switched on the lights. At 5:30 pm in December, the world was already dark, but tonight the dark was comforting, soothing. Felicity supposed that was due to the fact that her skin felt soft and smooth, she smelled amazing, and she hadn’t felt so well-rested in years.
Maybe she’d watch some of the shows that had piled up on her DVR, catch up on her favorites. She’d order some take-out, light her menorah, and just veg on her sofa.
She was headed towards her kitchen to grab the phone when she spotted it.
An enormous white box on her coffee table with a note.
Her apartment clearly hadn’t been broken into and only Digg and Oliver had spare keys, so she knew who had left it.
Shaking her head, she walked around her sofa and picked up the note.
Get ready. I’ll pick you up at 7. Happy Hanukkah! –OQ
She lifted the lid off of the box and her eyes widened in shock. She reached inside with shaking hands and pulled out a stunning emerald green gown. The fabric was sleek and sheer, embroidered with tiny beads. The neck was a deep v, with a back to match, and a belt at the waist. Felicity had never held such a stunning dress in her life.
There was a card in the box with the name Elie Saab and the store location on it. Felicity bit her lip and glanced at her tablet, at rest on her kitchen counter. She needed to know…
A quick search had her jaw dropping. She looked over at the dress, now draped over the back of her sofa. A dress that cost more than her entire wardrobe put together. More than her sofa. More than her sofa and her wardrobe.
And Oliver wanted her to wear it? Was he crazy? Girls like her didn’t wear dresses like that.
Felicity sat, biting her thumb nail, eyeing the dress and having a minor existential crisis. She glanced at the clock in the kitchen. It was about 6 pm. She didn’t really need to worry about being ready on time, considering she’d just spent the day getting beautified. But she would need to match some shoes and put on make-up and put her hair up. She couldn’t afford to be having an existential crisis right then. But then, she also couldn’t really afford to have a nervous break-down while she was out and panicking about wearing an item of clothing that cost as much as her fridge, dishwasher and oven.
Oliver was going to be there in an hour.
That was another thing.
Oliver was picking her up. To go where? To do what? She assumed it wouldn’t be bowling, because, yeah, dress, but the whole scenario felt suspiciously like a date. Not to mention… Would the dress even fit? She assumed so, but how would he have known her size, or what would look good on her? He’d bought her an evening gown. That was-
Her conversation with Alicia from earlier echoed in her mind.
One crisis at a time. She was going to put on the dress. And she was not going to think about it. And she could freak out about everything else later. Right now, she had to get ready.
Felicity had just finished lighting her menorah when her doorbell rang. Five candles plus the shamash twinkled brightly from her windowsill, flames reflected in the glass. She looked up, catching her own reflection in the window. She’d never felt this beautiful in her life. The dress was perfect, and it hung off of her as though it had been made for her. It was definitely more revealing than she was used to, the neckline and the back allowing no option for a bra, but when she had zipped it up and finally gotten that first look at herself, she’d fallen completely in love.
Her hair was up in a mess of curls, a few falling to frame her face, and she’d decided to keep the make-up muted.
Taking a deep breath, she walked to the door, steeling herself before opening it.
Oliver was dressed in a tuxedo. She’d seen him in one several times, but never specifically for her, and she felt her mouth go dry. God, the man knew how to wear a tux…
It looked like she wasn’t the only one having a reaction, though. Oliver’s eyes widened as he took her in, raking over her figure, and she found herself blushing.
“Wow, Felicity, you look – wow.”
She smiled, feeling suddenly shy. “Thanks. You don’t look too bad yourself.” She stood away from the door, inviting him in. Oliver didn’t take his eyes off her as he stepped over the threshold.
“No, really,” he swallowed visibly, shaking his head, and Felicity tucked one of the curls back behind her ear. “You look beautiful. That dress is perfect. I’m going to have to thank Thea.”
Oliver raised an eyebrow. “You honestly think I know the first thing about buying dresses?” he asked her.
Felicity was suddenly struck with an image of Oliver going from store to store, browsing gowns with the intensity he allotted to Starling City’s criminals. She laughed softly. “No, I guess not.”
Oliver grinned sheepishly, rubbing a hand along the back of his neck. “No, I –uh, I told Thea I was taking you out and that you’d need a dress, and she was very excited to do all of the work, believe me. She has a real knack for it, too. All I told her was what color I wanted, and she told me to leave the rest up to her.”
Felicity smoothed her hands over the front of the skirt, smiling softly. “You picked the color, huh?”
Oliver nodded, holding her gaze. “Yes,” he said. “Green.”
Felicity didn’t know what to say to that, and she was still under strict orders from herself not to freak out until later, so she just shook her head and asked, “So, where are we going?”
“Ah,” Oliver reached into his jacket pocket pulling out two tickets. “The Bolshoi Ballet company is in Starling for the holidays, performing “The Nutcracker”. I know it’s not exactly Hanukkah material, but I got box tickets, and thought you might enjoy it.”
“Wow, Oliver, I- I don’t know what to say.”
“Have you ever been to the ballet before?”
Felicity shook her head. It was something she’d always wanted to do. There was something magical about the idea of going to the ballet, something glamorous and exciting and – and romantic. She couldn’t help the thought. Oliver had bought her a gown and shown up in a tux and was taking her to see a ballet company from Russia, and she couldn’t continue pretending that a part of her didn’t hope he was trying to tell her something.
Oliver was smiling. “Well, I know it’s not the way we typically spend our evenings, but I grew up getting dragged to the ballet by my parents, and while I pretended to be sullen about it, truth is, I secretly enjoyed it.” Oliver stepped forward, hand falling gently on her bare shoulder. “When I heard the Bolshoi company would be in town, I booked the seats right away. And there is honestly no one else I would rather go see them with.”
Felicity looked up at him, feeling the warmth of his hand all the way down to her fingers. She grinned, standing up on her toes to press a light kiss to his cheek. She felt him tense for a moment, but then his hand slid down her arm to cup her elbow, and she pulled away, lips tingling.
It was one of the most magical nights of her life.
The theater was magnificent. Everything was red velvet and heavy drapes and gold brocade, with winding staircases leading up to their private box. Oliver got her a program, and they were served champagne at their seats, which made it twice in one day she’d gotten to drink expensive champagne.
The ballet was everything she’d imagined. She was completely enthralled by it, watching in wonder as the dancers moved gracefully across the stage, the music captivating. She glanced at Oliver a couple of times, to find him just as engrossed as she was, although she could have sworn she felt his eyes on her a few times during the performance as well.
When it was over, she applauded enthusiastically, standing up to give the dancers an ovation.
She rambled happily at Oliver on their way out, completely at ease and open with him. He was chattier than usual too, telling her his favorite parts and how impressed he’d been. She retrieved her coat from the checking station and Oliver was helping her put it on when her stomach rumbled loudly.
“Sorry,” she said, grimacing. “I just realized I haven’t eaten since lunch…”
Oliver smiled. “We should probably get dinner then. How’s Big Belly sound?”
“Are you crazy? You want me to eat a burger in this dress?”
Oliver raised an eyebrow. “Why not? Are the burgers at Big Belly not good enough for your new evening gown, Ms. Smoak?”
Felicity laughed. “No, I guess you’re right. And honestly, a burger sounds perfect right about now.”
Diggle was on Arrow duty that night, so Oliver’s replacement driver took them to their familiar hangout.
They must have looked like quite the pair to the other guests, eating burgers in formal evening wear, Oliver’s tuxedo jacket slung over the back of his chair, suspenders down around his waist, Felicity’s gown sparkling in the warm orange light as they scarfed down two Big Belly Busters and fries.
Felicity wasn’t sure she’d ever seen Oliver so laid back, laughing easily and openly at her jokes, talking with her about which project she was going to be working on first with her new team, telling her about Thea’s acceptance to SCU and how much he was going to miss having her around. They grabbed milkshakes to go, finishing them in the car on the way back to her apartment.
When she stepped out of the car, Felicity was completely surprised to see little white flakes falling from the sky.
“Oh wow, it’s snowing!” she said, smiling at the little flurries. It rarely snowed in Starling City, and she hadn’t heard anything about snow in the weather reports.
Oliver stood next to her, looking up, expression relaxed. Felicity took his hand and he glanced down at her.
“Thank you for tonight. It was – it was amazing. This has all been amazing.”
Oliver blinked, a slow smile spreading across his face. “There are still three more nights left,” he said, voice soft.
Felicity laughed. “I know, believe me. And I can’t imagine how you could possibly outdo yourself any more than you already have, Oliver Queen.”
His only response was to step closer and lift is hand, brushing a few flakes of snow from her face. Felicity felt a shiver run all the way down her spine when he didn’t drop his hand like she’d expected, instead cupping her cheek and smoothing his thumb across her cheekbone.
“I still have a few surprises up my sleeve,” he said, voice low. Felicity practically stopped breathing, and when Oliver leaned forward, she closed her eyes, certain he was going to kiss her.
“Happy Hanukkah, Felicity,” he said, lips brushing softly against her forehead instead. She opened her eyes as he pulled away, and smiled, her entire body relaxing. She couldn’t bring herself to feel disappointed after one of the best nights of her life. Felicity knew she’d probably analyze this moment to death later on, in the comfort of her baggy sweats with a glass of her favorite red wine, but for now, in the falling snow and the soft glow of the street lamps, everything was perfect.
“Good night,” she said softly, turning to go.
Oliver stayed on the sidewalk, watching her until she was through the front doors of her building.
December 21st. Sunday. No work, at least no official work, and Felicity slept in. When she finally woke up on her own, she stayed cocooned in her down blankets for a while longer, reveling in the soft warmth and the knowledge that she could take her time heading out to Verdant.
She had a few searches running, a couple of encryptions to work on, but nothing pressing. She took a long shower, and sipped her coffee slowly, the radio playing softly in the background.
The snow hadn’t fallen for very long the previous night, and none of it had stuck, so Felicity reached the foundry at 2 pm without incident. The lair was warm, and still decorated in Hanukkah decorations, making her smile as she put down her coat and bag on the sofa and sat down to work.
She quickly became completely engrossed, losing track of time and everything else.
An incoming message alert on her phone finally drew her attention, and she picked it up, shocked to see that it was almost six in the evening. She opened a text from Oliver.
Come upstairs. Gift number 6 just got here.
Felicity smiled, and quickly saved her work, leaving a few new searches running for later. She grabbed her things and headed up the stairs, locking the foundry door behind her.
“Oliver?” she called.
“Over here,” came the reply from the end of the bar.
She turned the corner to see Oliver standing behind the bar, handing a cup of coffee to –
The eighty year old woman turned, all smiles, to greet her granddaughter.
“Hello my shayna!”
Felicity felt tears pricking her eyes at the familiar endearment, and she dropped her things, running up to give her a hug. Her bubbe’s arms came up around her, hugging her back just as tightly, and Felicity breathed in the familiar scent of her grandmother’s perfume, closing her eyes and just sinking in to the embrace.
“How are you here?” She asked, voice muffled in the woman’s shoulder.
Her grandmother took her by the shoulders, holding her at arm’s length, smiling gently. “Well, this nice young man,” she gestured to Oliver, “called me about a week ago asking if I’d like him to fly me in to Starling City to see my granddaughter. Well, you know me. I told him he sounded like a stalker and should leave little old ladies alone and then hung up the phone.”
Oliver chuckled, leaning on the counter and Felicity looked over at him eyes wide.
“She did,” he said, nodding.
Bubbe Smoak just waved a hand. “Well, he called again, and apologized, and then explained himself a little bit better. Shayna, I didn’t know you were working as the executive assistant to a CEO!”
Felicity bit her lip, looking away. She hadn’t told anyone at home about her “promotion”. She’d been afraid her parents would be disappointed. They were both in hi-tech, and knew how much she loved computers and would have recognized it as a step down.
Her grandmother took her by the chin, lifting her face up to meet her eyes.
“Felicity. Are you happy?”
Oliver had been tinkering with something at the bar, but she saw him freeze out of the corner of her eye, listening.
She smiled, nodding her head. “Yes, I am actually.”
“Well, then, I think it’s wonderful.”
Felicity shook her head, hugging her grandmother again. “Bubbe, I missed you! How long are you here for? Where are you staying?”
“Well, I’m only here until tomorrow night. I have my Yiddish class you know, and Beverly would have another stroke if I missed bridge on Tuesday. She’s so over-dramatic. This lovely boy,” she gestured to Oliver, “got me a suite at the Four Seasons. Which is ridiculous, but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I already cracked the mini-bar when Mr. Diggle took me to drop off my things earlier.”
“Oh, you met Digg already?”
Her bubbe leaned in, lowering her voice to a stage whisper. “Felicity, are all of the men you know good looking? Because I’m considering thanking The Almighty for Mr. Diggle’s arms in services this weekend.”
Felicity laughed, and she caught Oliver snorting from behind the bar.
“It’s just the two, Bubbe.” And then, because she hadn’t been this happy in a long time, and she was feeling loose and playful, she lowered her voice conspiratorially and added, “And if you’re already going to be thanking Him, please send a thank you from me for Oliver’s abs as well…”
She looked up, grinning past her bubbe at Oliver, who was gaping at her. He shook his head, laughing softly before coming around the counter to stand next to them.
“Mrs. Smoak,” he said, addressing her grandmother with that easy air he had, born of years as a social figure, “I know you only have a limited time with your granddaughter, but I would very much like to take the two of you out to dinner. Mr. Diggle would be joining us as well, if that’s okay?”
“I wouldn’t dream of arguing, especially not if that delightful man sits next to me.”
Felicity went back to pick up her things while Oliver helped her grandmother out of her chair.
She watched as Oliver offered the woman his arm, smiling broadly, and a real smile at that. She was struck by how right it all felt, how at ease with her he was, and how never, in a million years, she could have imagined anyone doing something like this for her.
“You coming, shayna?” her bubbe called back to her, and Felicity followed them out of the club, where Digg was waiting with the car.
Table Salt was always a great place to eat. Felicity understood why Oliver kept going back. Aside from the excellent food, the ambiance was quiet, personal, and the wine selection was one of the best in the city.
Oliver ordered a bottle of Felicity’s favorite to start off the evening, and by the end of the night they’d gone through another, with Digg abstaining.
Conversation flowed as easily as the wine, and Bubbe Smoak had them all in stitches several times throughout the night.
It was mainly due to her propensity for telling dirty jokes, her love of which she’d developed during her years as a young woman in the navy.
“You know, we used to have a saying back when I was in the service,” her bubbe said, halfway through the entrée, “She offered her honor, he honored her offer, and for the rest of the night, he was on her and off her.”
Oliver snorted into his glass of water and Felicity choked on her wine. Diggle just laughed. “You know, I’ve heard that one. Looks like the old jokes stick around.”
“Ah, John, I should probably be more upset that the army stole a navy joke, but I’ll let it go…” She winked at him.
“Excuse me? I didn’t know the navy had the monopoly on jokes.”
“It does when one of my office girlfriends was the one who came up with it.”
“You know the person who came up with that?”
Bubbe Smoak looked very pleased with herself. “Yes. Her name was Sandra, and she was on and off a few guys herself back in the day…”
“What, shayna? You’ve known me long enough to know I’m not an innocent little grandma.”
Felicity just shook her head, taking another sip of wine.
Oliver spoke up. “What does shayna mean?”
“It’s Yiddish,” Felicity answered.
“Yes,” her bubbe added. “It means beautiful.”
“Does it?” Oliver asked, looking over at Felicity and smiling softly. Felicity just shook her head.
Bubbe Smoak smiled slowly. “Yes,” she said, a gleam in her eye. “Appropriate for my granddaughter, wouldn’t you say, Oliver?”
Felicity narrowed her eyes, ready to put an end to whatever the woman was trying to pull. She glanced towards Oliver apologetically, but stopped short when she caught how he was looking at her.
“Absolutely,” he said, completely serious, and Felicity felt her cheeks flush, and looked away, biting her lip.
Diggle cleared his throat a moment later and brought the conversation back to the long standing sports rivalry between the army and the navy teams, but it was a while before Felicity felt like she could join the conversation again, focusing instead on her filet mignon.
Bubbe Smoak regaled them all with tales of growing up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where her father had been the kosher butcher for the town. How her father used to put milk out for the cats, even though they didn’t have very much to spare. How she used to beg her mother to let her go dancing with the other girls in town, despite being the Rabbi’s granddaughter. How she worked in a button factory from the age of sixteen until she joined the service at twenty, working for an engineering office. How she met Felicity’s grandfather, a young Jew who had escaped Poland before the war, and who’d owned a paint factory, and had been so taken with her right away, he’d gone out and bought her a diamond watch not a week later at Tiffany’s, asking her to marry him.
Felicity had heard the stories before, but she listened as raptly as she always did, the tales dotted with Yiddish phrases, some of which, when translated, made Oliver and Diggle laugh and shake their heads. She caught herself watching Oliver more often than not while her bubbe was talking, amazed at how much younger he looked in the soft restaurant light, how untroubled and relaxed; amazed and so, so grateful to her grandmother for being able to put him at ease.
As the meal came to a close, Oliver took care of the check and stood, grabbing his jacket off the back of his chair.
“I’m sorry to go, but I’m going to catch a cab home. I have a lot of preparation to do for the office tomorrow, since my assistant won’t be in.”
Felicity frowned. “What? What are you talking about?”
Oliver put his hand on her shoulder, smiling down at her. “You’re taking the day off to show your grandmother Starling City. She’s here for one day, Felicity. Do you honestly think I’d make you come in to the office?”
She reached up, grasping Oliver’s fingers. “Thank you,” she said softly, smiling. “Really.”
Oliver nodded. “Good night, Mrs. Smoak. It’s been a pleasure. Mr. Diggle will drive you to your hotel.”
“Well, don’t say goodbye just yet, Oliver. I’m not leaving until tomorrow night, and I’d very much like to pay you back somehow for all of this.”
Oliver shook his head. “You really don’t need t-“
“Shush. I’m not asking you. Felicity, shayna, how do you feel about a little Hanukkah party at your apartment tomorrow evening? I was thinking I’d like to make some latkes.”
Felicity grinned. “That sounds amazing!”
“Wonderful, it’s settled.” Bubbe Smoak nodded her head. “John, I expect to see you there as well.”
Felicity looked up at Oliver, raising an eyebrow. He sighed, but it was good-humored. “Okay, I’ll see you all tomorrow. Should I bring anything?”
“No, dear. You and your abs should be more than enough.”
“Oh my God, Bubbe!”
Oliver just laughed and made his exit.
Shopping with her bubbe was always fun. Bubbe Smoak enjoyed the finer things, but wasn’t hung up on brands, and was level-headed when it came to price tags. If she liked something, but it was over-priced, she’d walk away without a second glance. On the other hand, she didn’t hold back on a spree.
By the time they got lunch at a small café, they were both laden with shopping bags, and ready for a break. Felicity chatted away happily with her, about work, how things were back home, and whether her bubbe had seen any good plays lately. She had managed to carefully steer the conversation clear of her love life, until her bubbe ambushed her as they were finishing their coffees.
“So, how do you know what Oliver’s abs look like?”
Felicity’s elbow slipped on the table and her spoon clattered to the floor.
Her bubbe looked at her shrewdly over the rim of her glass as she took a sip of her latte. “You mentioned his abs yesterday. I was just wondering when you would have had a chance to see him without his shirt on.”
Felicity’s eyes widened. Of course, she saw Oliver shirtless all the time, training in the foundry, but she couldn’t tell her grandmother that. She shook her head, clearing her throat and leaning over to pick up her spoon.
“Please, I’m his personal assistant, of course I’ve seen him without his shirt on.”
Her bubbe just raised an eyebrow. Felicity played the sentence back in her head and realized what it sounded like. She rolled her eyes.
“Not like, that. Bubbe, head out of the gutter, please!” She huffed out a small laugh. “I mean that there have been plenty of occasions where he’s had to change his shirt for a meeting, or after he’s spilled something, and obviously I’m the one there taking his clothes to send off for dry-cleaning, just things like that.”
“And that’s it.”
“Yes, that’s it. What else?”
Her bubbe shrugged and called for the check.
They stopped at Felicity’s apartment to drop off their shopping before heading out to the supermarket to grab supplies.
They spent the next three hours listening to Sinatra while they baked sugar cookies in the shape of dreidels, made home-made cinnamon applesauce and grated potatoes for latkes.
By the time Oliver and Diggle arrived at 5:30, the latkes were frying in the pan, her menorah was set up in the windowsill, and her apartment smelled like Hanukkah.
Diggle had checked out of the hotel for her bubbe earlier, and had brought her luggage up. Bubbe Smoak moved into the living room to pack away her shopping from that morning, Diggle helping her, while Oliver shed his jacket and climbed up on to one of stools next to the island that separated her kitchen from the living room, grabbing a cookie from one of the plates they’d set out.
“Felicity, everything looks great,” he said, taking a bite. He made noise of appreciation and grabbed another one. “Wow, tastes even better. You made these?”
Felicity grinned. “Yup. Old Smoak recipe.” She took a cookie for herself, and turned back to the frying pan to flip the latkes. They’d already finished a couple of batches and they were cooling on some paper towels, soaking up the excess oil. “Wait, ‘till you taste the latkes. Even better.”
“What exactly are latkes, by the way? Not to sound completely ignorant, but… actually, yeah. I’m pretty much clueless about everything Hanukkah related…”
Felicity laughed, moving the latkes from the pan to another plate with paper towels. She turned to face Oliver, wiping her hands on a dishtowel.
“Latkes are potato pancakes. Everyone makes them differently, I guess, and it’s not really about the potatoes as much as the oil…”
Oliver looked confused.
“We celebrate Hanukkah because way back when, when the Greeks invaded Jerusalem and the temple and tried to stop Jews from performing their religion, a small group of warriors called the Maccabees defeated the Greek armies and took the city back, driving the Greeks away.” Felicity grabbed another cookie, leaning against the counter.
“When they tried to restore the temple, though, all of the olive oil that they could use to light the menorah, which needed to be lit every day, had been desecrated. They sent for more, but it would take eight days until it would reach them. The priests found one small canister of oil that was still pure, so they used that to light it for as long as it would last. The miracle is that it lasted for the entire eight days until the new shipment of oil arrived.”
Oliver nodded. “So that’s why there’s eight days.”
“Yes. And that’s why modern menorahs have nine branches, including the shamash, even though the traditional one in the temple only had seven.”
“You know a lot about this,” Oliver said, smiling.
“Yeah, well, I guess Hebrew school paid off. Not to mention, Hanukkah has always been my favorite holiday. It has the best stories.”
“And the eight nights of presents have nothing to do with that?”
Felicity scoffed, throwing the dishtowel at him. Oliver just laughed, ducking as the cloth flew over his head.
“Well, Mr. ‘Nothing is too expensive for me’, I’m not really used to getting presents like you’ve been giving. Usually it was a new book one night and a mechanical pencil another night, and maybe ten dollars from my grandparents.” Felicity shook her head, remembering. “Anyway,” she continued, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, “Like I said, it’s all about the oil. We eat a lot of fried foods on Hanukkah. The oil and the light that wouldn’t stop shining.”
Oliver looked thoughtful. “I can understand why it’s your holiday, then.”
Felicity snorted. “Why because of my deep love of anything fried?”
“No, because you’re that light.”
She froze, positive she’d misheard him, but Oliver was looking at her with an intensity that made something clench deep in her stomach. She took a breath to respond and then realized she didn’t know what to say. She stood there, looking back at Oliver across the counter, feeling the tension build until-
“Shayna, why don’t you get the sour cream out of the fridge and we’ll start?”
“Hm?” Felicity turned sharply, taking a breath.
“The sour cream, sweetheart. I’ll set the plates.”
“Right, uh- yeah, on it.” She shook her head and looked back at Oliver, but he’d gotten up and was helping her bubbe put out the applesauce they’d made.
The four of them sat around the kitchen island, dipping latkes in sour cream or applesauce, not bothering with forks, and licking sticky, oily fingers in-between bites.
Bubbe Smoak told them all her favorite Hanukkah story, about Yehudit of Bethulia, who saved her besieged city by visiting the Greek commander in charge of the siege, as a supposed offer to appease him. She fed him cheese and wine until he fell into a drunken stupor and then used his own sword to behead him. When the townspeople attacked the following morning, the battalion was in such disarray after discovering their leader that they fled.
“Told you,” Felicity said to Oliver, grinning as she licked some applesauce off of her thumb, “the best stories.”
Oliver laughed, nodding.
Bubbe Smoak lit the Hanukkah candles, the words of the blessings taking on a Yiddish lilt, and sang them a couple of Hanukkah songs afterwards, Felicity joining in for the few parts she remembered. The candles burned brightly on the windowsill as they all sat around the coffee table in the living room, drinking cocoa and sharing their favorite family holiday stories, from both Hanukkah and Christmas.
Diggle finally looked at his watch and stood. “It’s 8:20, Mrs. Smoak. We’re going to have to leave if you want to make your flight.”
Bubbe Smoak sighed and looked around. Oliver offered her his hand, to help her to stand, but she just waved him away.
“I’m not that old yet, ziskeit,” she said, getting up on her own.
“What does that mean?” he asked Felicity in a low voice.
Felicity tried to keep a straight face as she answered him, just as quietly, “It means ‘little cutie’.”
Oliver raised an eyebrow at her, and Felicity snorted.
“Are you sure you don’t mind driving me, John? I could take a cab just as easily.”
Digg shook his head, grabbing her luggage. “I wouldn’t dream of it, ma’am.”
Bubbe Smoak smiled. “You’re a good boy, John.”
Diggle smiled and headed out the door, nodding his good bye to Felicity.
“Oliver, would you mind taking my purse out to John. I’d like to say goodbye to my granddaughter.”
“Of course.” Oliver took the bag and followed Diggle out the front door.
Felicity could feel a lump beginning to form in her throat, and blinked furiously, trying to keep herself from tearing up.
“Oy, come here, shayna,” her bubbe said, holding her arms out.
Felicity stepped up, letting herself be enveloped, and hugging back tightly, sniffling as she pulled away.
“I will see you again soon, Felicity, okay? Maybe next time you’ll visit me? If you can drag yourself away from the looker out there for any amount of time, that is,” she said, nodding her head towards the open door.
Felicity laughed, wiping her eyes.
Her bubbe continued. “I do need to go, but before I leave… Felicity, you realize that boy is in love with you?”
It took Felicity a moment before her bubbe’s words sank in. “What?” she asked, eyes going wide.
“Oliver. He is completely in love you, shayna. I haven’t seen a man look at a woman like that since your grandfather passed away.”
Felicity gawked at her. “You’re crazy,” she said.
“Oh, I don’t doubt it. You have to be a little crazy after 80 years on this earth. I’m just telling you that he is too, for you.” She leaned forward and kissed Felicity’s cheek, rubbing at the lipstick smudge she left. “You’re a smart girl, Felicity. Look at the facts, and take charge. Because I can see you feel the same way.”
Bubbe Smoak headed towards the door, and stopped in the doorway. “Happy Hanukka, shayna,” she said, and then left, leaving Felicity speechless in her living room.
She heard the sound of the elevator doors opening and then closing in the hallway, and then silence.
Oliver stepped back inside a moment later, shutting the door behind him.
“Hey, you okay?” he asked, his voice soft.
Felicity cleared her throat and took a deep breath. “Yeah, I’ll be fine,” she said, trying to get past her bubbe’s parting words. “I’m just- I miss her.”
“She’s a remarkable woman. I can see where you get it from.”
Felicity smiled and headed into the kitchen to start cleaning up. Oliver joined her, clearing the plates from the counter. She washed the dishes while he put away the leftovers in the fridge. They were quiet, but the silence was comfortable, and gave Felicity time to think about what her bubbe had said. She kept sneaking glances at Oliver, but he didn’t seem to notice.
When the dishes were done, she made coffee, pouring mugs for the both of them, and they sat down across from each other at the counter, the plate of sugar cookies in between them.
Oliver reached down into his pocket and pulled out a small box, wrapped in blue paper and tied with a silver ribbon. He put it on the counter and slid it across to Felicity.
“Happy seventh night,” he said, taking a sip from his mug.
Felicity shook her head, smiling as she tore open the wrapping paper, but the smile disappeared as she uncovered a jewelry box and then opened it to reveal a diamond pendant on a delicate chain.
Oliver had gotten out of his chair and moved around the counter so he was standing next to her. “May I?” he asked.
Felicity nodded mutely, and Oliver took the necklace from the box, fastening it around her neck. She shivered as his fingers brushed along her nape.
Oliver cleared his throat. “The pendant belonged to my great-grandmother. It was one of the first things my great-grandfather bought for her when his business became successful.”
Felicity turned abruptly on her stool, looking up at him. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Oliver, what are you doing?” she asked softly, touching the necklace. “This is too much – this is a family heirloom. Why on earth are you giving me this?”
Oliver didn’t say anything, just stepped forward, reaching up to tuck her hair behind her ear. Felicity swallowed convulsively. She could feel the heat radiating off of him, and he was so close, standing in between her legs. If she just reached up, and slid her hand around the back of his neck, she could pull him down and-
But she needed to know.
“My bubbe said something before she left,” she told him.
“Okay,” Oliver replied, waiting for her to continue.
Felicity shut her eyes for a moment, steeling her nerve, before looking back up. “She said that you’re in love with me.” Oliver’s eyes went wide and Felicity rushed to continue. “Which I would have totally ignored, except everyone else seems to be telling me the same thing. I mean, even the masseuse at the spa thought something had to be going on if… and just, eight nights of presents? My own parents barely ever managed to keep up with that and they weren’t buying me designer dresses and giving me million dollar projects to head up and taking me to the ballet on what really felt more like a date than anything else I ever-“ Oliver’s thumb brushing across her lip cut her rant short and she blinked up at him, feeling her breath coming short and fast.
“Felicity,” he murmured, and she felt goosebumps break out on her arms at his tone, “Wait, please? Just…” His eyes were pleading, asking her for, what exactly?
“What am I waiting for, Oliver?”
Oliver swallowed, she could see the movement in his throat, she was so close, before he slowly dropped his hand and stepped away, taking his warmth with him.
“One more night,” he said. “Just wait one more night, one more gift. Please.”
Felicity took a deep breath and nodded. “Okay,” she said. “One more night.”
Oliver headed towards the front door, grabbing his coat. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” he asked.
Felicity smiled, letting out a sigh. “You’d better.”
Tuesday, December 23rd dawned bright, clear and cold.
The alarm blared to her left, and Felicity leaned over to shut it off, laying back and looking up at her ceiling with a smile. She got out of bed, and followed the scent of freshly brewed coffee coming from her automatic machine to the kitchen.
She enjoyed a cup with some leftover sugar cookies, smiling at the menorah in her windowsill. She set the eight candles for the final night so it would be ready to light when she got home later and headed for her shower.
She felt well-rested and put together an hour later when she stepped into the street below, heading for her mini-cooper and smiling at the random passers-by, ready and excited to face another day, another gift, and hopefully, some answers.
As usual, Felicity was one of the first people at Queen Consolidated, and at 7:30, the elevator pinged and she exited on the ground floor with a steaming cup of coffee, which she deposited at the front security desk in front of Joe.
“Good morning,” she said, cheerfully.
“Hello, Ms. Smoak.”
“Everything quiet during the night, Joe?”
“Same as usual, ma’am.”
“When is Matt getting here to take over?”
“A couple of minutes, Ms. Smoak, he just called.”
“Well, you head home and get some rest. And enjoy the holidays!”
She walked back towards the executive elevator and headed upstairs.
She ran through her usual morning routine, singing along to the radio and dancing around the office as she got everything up and running.
By the time nine o’clock rolled around, the radio had been turned low, playing holiday music, and she was ready to greet Oliver. She was nervous, but it was the good kind of nerves – anticipation more than anything else. Honestly, her bubbe had been right. She’d been in love with Oliver since before the Glades fell. She’d realized it some point during his ensuing absence, but had never acted on it. They had more important things to do, and after his speech about not getting close to anyone the previous year, she had pushed those emotions completely aside, throwing herself into the mission.
But this week had been incredible, and then last night…
Felicity touched the diamond pendant around her neck, rubbing her thumb along the grooves of the setting. One more gift, he’d said. What could he possibly give her tonight, though? And how was she going to get through the day with him right across the glass wall until night fell?
But as the minutes rolled by, and nine o’clock became ten, without any sign of Oliver, Felicity wondered whether she had anything to worry about.
She pulled up Oliver’s schedule to find he had tampered with it since she’d last checked it for his appointments. He’d blocked off the entire day as “Out of Office” and Felicity sighed. Well, at least if she didn’t need to spend the day chasing him around and making sure he did his job, she could get some work done.
She went through resumes for the R&D team she was putting together, started organizing project plans, checked on the searches she had going at the foundry, and compiled the data for Oliver to look over later.
At six she shut everything down and closed up the office for the night. The elevator stopped at several floors on her way down, and each time she could hear the sounds of Christmas parties in full swing. Queen Consolidated would be mostly closed until after the holidays, and everyone was celebrating their last day of work before their well-deserved vacations.
She felt the smallest twinge of sadness, because while their holidays were just beginning, hers was coming to an end, and it had been the greatest Hanukkah she’d ever experienced. Felicity didn’t want it to end.
The kitchen light was on when she walked in to her apartment, the orange glow spreading into her living room as she closed the door behind her. She could already see a tiny gift on her kitchen counter and she smiled, hanging up her coat before walking over and picking it up. It was much smaller than the jewelry case from yesterday, and she undid the wrapping paper very carefully, opening the small box inside to reveal a flash drive.
She frowned, turning it over in her hand. The sound of a throat clearing made her turn to find Oliver standing against the wall, next to the window her menorah was perched by.
She tilted her head, curious, and was about to ask what this last gift was when he spoke up instead.
“You know, the thing about light,” he began, “is that it finds its way into every corner of a dark space. It doesn’t matter how dark it was before, the light just… displaces it.”
She saw Oliver swallow, and she barely dared to breathe, listening with rapt attention.
“Somehow, Felicity, you’ve managed to find your way into every corner of my life and you just- you fit. The foundry, the company, my family… You’re everywhere, and it feels right. It feels like you stepped in and just took hold of the darkness and chased it away. And you never burn out, you just keep going.”
Oliver stepped forward, until he was right in front of her, and reached down, taking the flash drive from her hand.
“I asked you to wait one more night because I needed to give this to you. The last pieces of darkness I have are on this drive. I, uh-“ he cleared his throat,. “I sat down and wrote everything that happened to me while I was on the island. And it’s all here.”
Felicity’s eyes widened as she looked from Oliver to the flash drive and back again.
Oliver took her hand, putting the little piece of tech back and wrapping her fingers around it, his hand curled over hers.
“You can read it all,” he said, voice low, sending shivers down her back, “but I’d rather tell you everything myself. If you’d let me.”
Felicity stared down at their hands, his such a contrast to hers, so much bigger, rougher, and somehow always gentle, always soft on her shoulder, her arm, her back. The little drive dug in to the palm of her hand as she tightened her grip on it, feeling the weight of it, even though it didn’t actually weigh anything at all. This was – this was everything. He was giving her everything.
She brought their joined hands up to her lips, and took a deep breath, before pressing a kiss lightly to his knuckles. She heard his intake of breath, and then he let go, sliding his hand into her hair, tilting her head up, and leaning down to kiss her. His lips brushed softly along hers, barely touching, and Felicity couldn’t help the little sigh that escaped her, needing so much more. She pushed herself up on her toes, grabbing the back of his neck, and opened her mouth underneath his.
With a groan, Oliver finally let go, and Felicity just held on tight at the sudden onslaught. Oliver’s hands pulled her closer, running up under the hem of her shirt, gripping her waist. He trailed kisses down her neck, licking and nipping and Felicity gasped, letting her head fall back as he sucked lightly on her collarbone.
Everything went clear and blurry at once. She didn’t even notice they’d made their way into her bedroom until her legs hit her bed, and she was leaning backwards, Oliver following as he pulled her shirt off, and his own immediately after. But she could recall in sharp detail how his stubble felt as he slid her skirt down her legs, his mouth trailing kisses down her thighs, biting lightly at the insides of her knees. She didn’t remember taking off her bra, but the stripe he licked beneath her left breast felt like a brand on her skin, one she would feel for days. Her glasses disappeared at some point without her realizing, but the way Oliver watched her carefully put the flash drive on her bedside table, or how dark his eyes looked when he asked her not to take off the diamond necklace he’d given her made her stomach clench in anticipation.
Oliver’s mouth was everywhere – kissing her breasts, sucking at her hipbones, nipping at her ankles. When he kissed his way up the inside of her thighs, parting her folds before running his tongue up her slit, she cried out, arching up into him as his fingers circled her clit. He was merciless in his ministrations, pushing her higher and higher until she came with a scream, his fingers continuing to circle and his tongue stroking her gently until she came down off her high.
When she could breathe again, she tried to give as good as she got, running her hands down his back, scraping her nails softly across his scalp, earning her a moan of appreciation. She lavished attention on his chest, rolling them over and sucking a nipple into her mouth. Oliver arched his back in response and she continued her path downward, her thighs still shaky from her orgasm as she gripped his hips, pushing her thumbs into the grooves of muscle there as she took him into her mouth.
Oliver’s hips bucked beneath her, hands reaching down to grip her hair as she moved over him, swirling her tongue around his length, sucking lightly, fingernails digging in to his flesh. She tasted him, humming in approval, and then once again when he groaned in response to the vibrations. She loved the sounds he was making, how desperate he seemed for her, and when he finally pulled her back up, her name fell from his lips like a prayer. He kissed her again, tongue brushing along hers as he rolled them over, and she reached over to grab a condom from her bedside table. Oliver sat up to let her roll it on him, and then he was lifting one of her legs over his shoulder and sliding into her slowly. They both groaned, and Oliver gave her a moment to adjust, his forehead touching hers, eyes shut in concentration as they both just breathed.
When he finally began to move his thrusts were slow and deep, rhythmic in a way that made the tension coil hot in her belly, building steadily. She gripped his shoulders, head falling back as he leaned down and mouthed at her neck. She gasped his name, and he pulled her leg up higher, allowing him to go even deeper, each thrust making the edges of her vision go white. His hand tightened on her ankle and he turned his head, biting lightly at the skin.
Felicity could feel the sweat beading between her breasts, moving one hand above her head to push back against the headboard, giving her leverage as she met Oliver, thrust for thrust. Her eyes met his as he reached between them, rubbing at her clit, and she had to force herself to stay focused on him, refusing to look away, even as the sensations became too much. She began to tense around him, and she saw him grit his teeth, his jaw clenching as he continued to move.
She needed him to know – she needed to tell him.
“Oliver,” she gasped, “Oliver, I-“ her eyes slammed shut as her orgasm rocked through her, toes curling, and she cried out his name, ending in a high keen she couldn’t control, every nerve on fire. Oliver continued to thrust three, four, five more times before he tensed above her, and she could feel him pulsing inside of her before he collapsed, letting her leg fall from his shoulder.
It took a while for their breathing to return to normal, Felicity stroking her fingers through Oliver’s hair as she felt her heart beat slow down. Oliver hummed in response, turning his head to give her more access and Felicity was suddenly struck by a comparison to a large cat. She smiled to herself, not wanting to disturb the moment, but ultimately forced to nudge him in the shoulder when he began to get too heavy. With a groan he pulled out, Felicity gasping as she was left feeling empty without him there, and Oliver got rid of the condom, tossing it into the little trashcan next to her bed before lying down next to her and pulling her into him. She laid down on his chest, chin propped up under hand, as he tucked an arm behind his head, looking down at her with a smile.
“Hi,” he murmured, sounding more relaxed than she’d ever heard. She grinned, ducking her face into his chest for a second before looking back up, biting her lip.
“That was good,” she said.
Felicity swatted him and she could feel the rumble of his laugh beneath her chin. “Shut up.”
She watched him, watching her, his eyes raking over her face, her hairline, fingers trailing up and down her arm. She took a deep breath.
“I think I’m going to put that flash drive away, somewhere safe, if you don’t mind.”
Oliver lifted his eyebrows in question.
“If you’re willing to tell me about it, I’d much rather hear about the island from you, when you’re ready to share. If that’s okay, I mean?”
Felicity fell silent, focusing on the feeling of Oliver’s fingers on her arm, turning her head to rest her cheek on his chest and just listening to the beat of his heart. She could feel herself drifting off, but when his fingers fell away and his breathing slowed, she opened her eyes and looked up to see he had fallen asleep.
Carefully, she pulled away, getting out of bed and throwing her robe on. She pulled the blanket up and over him so he wouldn’t get cold and then padded out silently into her living room.
Her menorah sat waiting for her on her windowsill, eight candles set and ready to be lit. Felicity took the matches and lit her shamash, before quietly saying the blessings and lighting the other candles from left to right. When all eight were lit, the glow made her living room feel brighter than when the lights were on, and she stood back, watching the flames dance.
Right then, there was so much she was grateful for. Her existence before Oliver had crashed his way into it, had been dark, dull. Oliver said she lit up his life, but she wasn’t sure he realized he had done the same for her. Their lives were dangerous, and crazy, and sometimes they had to endure pain and loss, but he was always there, a beacon she could follow, stay focused on. She’d loved him for a long time, had almost told him tonight. She had no doubt she’d be telling him soon. Felicity had often wondered whether he would ever feel the same way. He did, she was certain. With Oliver, she often found she needed to listen to his actions more than his words, and know that eventually the words would follow.
Hanukkah… Felicity watched the candles burning. Eight nights - each night brighter than the last, until the darkness was completely banished on the eighth one. She never could have imagined, that first night in the foundry, that her holiday would end like this.
Oliver had said she was a light. She’d make sure she continued to shine for him for as long as she could.
“Hey,” Oliver’s voice sounded muffled, and she looked to her right to find him leaning outside her bedroom door, sheet wrapped around his waist, hair sticking out in every direction. He sounded half-asleep. “You coming back to bed?”
Felicity glanced at the candles one last time and smiled. “Yeah,” she replied, and headed over, standing up on her toes to kiss him.
“Happy Hanukka, Oliver,” she said, voice soft, watching the glow from the candles playing over his face.
Oliver smiled sleepily. “Happy Hanukkah, Felicity.”