Her head hurt. It was becoming a problem, just how often that was happening these days. She’d had some pretty good knocks to the head, and even though she knew that all of the myths about killing brain cells and stuff were just that, head injury was something she’d done a lot of research on ever since joining Team Arrow—if Oliver didn’t like the nickname, he could very well come up with his own—since her position on the team vacillated between excising dead tissue and excising troublesome code. So she’d done her reading, okay? And waking up with her head pounding like this, not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.
What she said instead of pointing this out was, “Bwuh.”
Huh. “Bwuh” sounded nothing like “My head hurts.”
It also sounded nothing like, “Why is there something cold and metallic on my wrist?” She tried for that next and instead said something with a lot of vowels and consonants she didn’t understand.
A second later, a warm hand tipped her chin up. Her hand moved on its own accord. “Felicity? Can you hear me?”
“Ugh,” Felicity said. That much came out right, at least.
She opened her eyes and wasn’t at all surprised to see that she wasn’t in her bed. Waking up in strange places just seemed to go hand in hand with the constant throbbing headaches.
The shackle was new, however.
Instead of asking the logical “Where are we?” (the answer was obviously a dungeon, which was cold in a way that chafed against her bare legs because of course they’d been taken on the way to one of their work fundraising events), Felicity looked around once, long enough to ascertain that they weren’t surrounded by evil henchmen of Brother Blood or whatever, and then asked the prevalent question: “Did, um, the bad guys rob Medieval Times or something?”
It even came out in English. Sure, her head was actively writhing around in pain, but she’d take what she could get.
Oliver blinked at her several times. He was crouched over her. He couldn’t go far because said manacle was attached to his wrist, looking kind of rusty and scary and like it might give them both gangrene. “What?”
“The manacle. They couldn’t find a good pair of modern-day handcuffs to use?”
“I can get out of handcuffs pretty easily,” Oliver said.
Felicity put her free hand against her forehead. “Well, you’d be no fun in the sack, then.”
Oliver coughed several times. “Uh.”
“Yeah, I mean—that is—you know what? Moving on. Where are we again? Beyond creepy dungeon?”
“I haven’t been able to explore much, since…” Oliver tugged his wrist a little and her own hand jerked in response.
“And you weren’t going to, what, sling me over your shoulder?”
“I was a little worried about brain damage.”
“Just another day on Team Arrow.” It was a little depressing how quickly she assessed the state of the rest of her, really. They couldn’t ever have anything go smoothly, could they? Her dress was a little torn, which sucked because she liked the fit, and there was a cut on her knee that burned. Her ribs felt a little tender. But really, it was her head.
Oliver pulled her to her feet. “You know your brain’s one of my favorite things about you.”
“Not every CEO gets an EA that graduated from MIT, true,” Felicity said. “My brain would appreciate, like, an Advil or something.”
“First chance we get, I’ll get you some. Even if I have to beat it out of some faceless thug.”
“Until we find the guard with the key and I put the fear of god into him, we can’t go anywhere without each other.” Oliver held up his wrist. The manacle chain between them really wasn’t that long. Also it was awkward because they had chained his right wrist to her right wrist, which meant she either had to walk beside him with her arm across her body or right behind him.
“Um, how long do you think we’ll be chained together?” Felicity asked as they started to explore the dungeon.
“Hopefully not long. Why do you ask?”
“Uh, because, um, well.”
“Nature’s gonna come calling sooner or later,” Felicity said, blurting it out. “And a girl likes to maintain an air of mystery about some things, okay? Don’t judge me.”
“Felicity.” Oliver turned so that they were face to face, and grabbed her hand. It was a lot easier, Felicity realized, to just hold hands rather than to let the manacles do all of the work. And his hand was really warm. She almost leaned in on that principle alone. “We’re not going to be in these long. I’m going to get us out of here.”
“Okay. I trust you. But you’re making that face again.”
“What face?” Oliver’s eyebrows went up, his chin lifting a little in his ‘I’m just Oliver Queen, playboy’ patented look. Felicity tilted her head in response, and of course it worked because he sighed a little. “Just have a question for you.”
“How much has Diggle been working with you on tandem fighting?”
Both he and Felicity glanced over when the obvious scratch of a key in the lock sounded. “Guess we’re going to find out,” Felicity said, swallowing hard.
Twenty minutes later, bruised, bloody, and feeling victorious, she sighed a little as she worked the purloined key into the manacles, freeing both her and Oliver. They both massaged their wrists in relief.
“You clear?” Diggle asked over the radio they’d stolen.
“Things are good to go here. We’ll steal some transport and meet you back at base,” Oliver said. He clicked off the radio. “You’re pretty good at fighting with one hand.”
“You’re not so bad yourself, which is to say, um, I mean, you’re pretty great at—you’re good at it, too, thanks.” Inwardly, Felicity’s head throbbed a little harder. Why did she always say things in the stupidest way possible? Why, why, why?
Oliver placed a hand on her shoulder. “Let’s get back to the Foundry.”
She paused by the door. “Yeah?”
“Silk ropes work so much better in bed than handcuffs.”
And he walked away whistling.