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The Old-Fashioned Way

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Life's A Bitch

Everybody's tellin' all
Baring their souls
Just go on the Ricky Lake Show
Why?
Last night I turned the T.V. on
You were booed off stage
Singing your famous love song
Why?
Should'a been born on the Milky Way
Don't wanna belong to the world today
Oh, life's a bitch and then you die
Should'a been born on the Milky Way
I can't believe what I heard today
Oh yeah, life's a bitch and then you die
Meanwhile, I got the magazines
Telling me, selling me lies
On how I could be the perfect 10
Why?
And my boyfriend left
Just the other day
He's all messed up
Is he straight or is he gay
Why?
Now tell me, who makes the rules?
Should'a been born on the Milky Way
Don't wanna belong to the world today
Oh, life's a bitch and then you die
Should'a been born on the Milky Way
I can't believe what I heard today
Oh yeah, life's a bitch and then you die
And if I fall
Should'a been born on the Milky Way
Don't wanna belong to the world today
Oh, life's a bitch and then you die
Should'a been born on the Milky Way
I can't believe what I heard today
Oh yeah, life's a bitch and then you die

 

 

 

 

Oliver was sitting on a bench in the small park just outside of his office. It was, by far, his favorite spot for a little lunch al fresco, the one place where he could enjoy a little bit of calm in a usually crazy day.

He took a long pull of his water, putting the bottle back down on the bench before biting into his turkey sandwich, slowly chewing as he let his eyes wander around him.

It was early spring, and one of the first sunny days of the year. Most of the benches around him were occupied, some people even having a picnic in the grass, obviously uncaring that they might get their clothes dirty. Or maybe their job didn’t call for an impeccable appearance, as opposed to his.

He had been working for Cain, Spector and Jones ever since he had graduated from Columbia with a masters degree in marketing and advertising six years ago. If he had started as an apprentice first, he had then quickly climbed the ladder and was now their youngest associate, in charge of some of their biggest contracts. A job full of challenges, experiences and opportunities, it also allowed him to live comfortably while paying for his little sister’s education. 

Their parents had passed away just before his last year of college and after much consideration, he had moved Thea to the east coast with him, selling their family home and getting a house in both their names in Brooklyn, knowing he would make much more money there than in their hometown of Starling City. Unfortunately, whatever was left of their parents’ wealth had been used to pay for his own education and the very high hospital bills that had followed the car accident, and then the funeral costs. Thea was now in her third year at Georgetown, well on her way to getting her bachelors degree in biological sciences and moving on to vet school - a childhood dream of hers that he wanted to help her make come true. Even if that meant that a large chunk of his salary disappeared every month. 

He was interrupted in his reverie by the buzzing of his phone in his front pocket and he picked it up, smiling when he saw who was texting him.

Felicity - 12:56 PM: I forgot my glasses and lost a contact - are you the hot guy sitting on the bench underneath the willow tree?

Oliver snorted, looking up and trying to spot her.

“Seeing that you just picked up your phone and looked everywhere, I assume the answer is yes,” he heard behind him.

With a smile, he turned around, then scooted over to give her enough room to sit by his side. She was wearing her usual pair of slacks and a cute purple blouse with a scoop neck, her curly hair hanging freely around her face. He didn’t even have the time to say hello before she dropped on the bench with a sigh.

“My boss is such a pain in the ass.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” he chuckled. “What are you doing around here by the way?”

“I had a meeting in the building next to yours, believe it or not. I remember we used to come here for lunch when I was working nearby and wondered if you’d be here by any chance.”

“You should have texted me. I’d have waited for you.”

“Nah, don’t mind me, I already ate anyway.” She waved distractedly, encouraging him to go back to his lunch as they both fell into a comfortable silence.

Felicity was one of his calmest friends. She had an introverted personality, which meant silence didn’t bother her. And, truth be told, he liked the silence with her. It wasn’t awkward. It was warm and comfortable. She would only get chatty when she was inebriated or nervous - and in both cases, it was fucking adorable. He looked at her when she put her feet on the bench, crossing them at the ankle and shifting until she was more comfortable. She might have the look of a neat, professional employee through and through but Felicity Smoak would always have that little edge, that little sunshine surrounding her that wasn’t only explained by the fact that she was usually the youngest person in any group of people. She had that naturally sunny personality and-

“I think I want a baby.”

Oliver’s mouth paused as he was about to take a bite of his sandwich. He blinked, once, then twice, wondering if by any chance he had misheard her before lowering his sandwich. Her eyes were calmly fixed ahead, and there was no hint of a teasing smile on her lips.

She was… serious. He tried to speak, but he couldn’t think of one thing to say. Was he supposed to ask her if she had met someone? If she was already pregnant? Had some douchebag knocked her up and did he need to beat his ass?

Wait. He knew she was on the pill. He had seen her pop it too many times to count. Apparently, she had to take it at the same time every day - something he had never bothered to find out about his past girlfriends if he was honest - and for her, it was 8PM sharp. She even had set an alarm on her phone.

So, she obviously wasn’t pregnant. He also knew she was single and had been for a while. The knot in his stomach loosened significantly, but he still had no idea how to react to the unexpected announcement.

He had found out the hard way that women, when they were PMSing, could be weirdly emotional... and often had cravings for sweets.

So maybe that was it. She was PMSing and had a craving.

OK, good, that he could handle.

“You sure you don’t want a cookie instead?” he offered, handing her the opened pack of Oreos that was next to him. There were still four of them left, hopefully that would be enough to calm her baby fever.

Felicity huffed out a small laugh, glancing at him with a little amused smile before reaching out to take one of her favorite cookies and biting half of it.

He quickly finished his sandwich, barely having the time to grab one Oreo as Felicity wolfed them down and drank half of his water. “May I know what brought this up?”

“Ugh. I’m twenty-seven, Oliver. Even if I got knocked up like right now, I wouldn’t have a kid until I’m twenty-eight.”

“Which is still… extremely reasonable.” More than reasonable, actually. He was almost thirty years-old and kids were far, far, faaaaar away from his mind.

“I know. I mean I’m not… I still have time, biologically speaking. But I have been thinking about motherhood for more than a year now, and I don’t see it happening in the near future, especially not with my shitty luck when it comes to dating.”

“I take it your date last night didn’t go well?”

“You could say that.”

Oliver tilted his head, observing her quietly. “The charming doctor wasn’t that great?”

“I don’t know. We never even made it to the appetizers.”

Oliver’s eyes widened. “What the hell happened? Did he get called for an emergency or something?”

Felicity sighed, biting her lips nervously. “OK, you have to promise not to laugh.”

“I… won’t, I promise.”

“You know Sara set me up, created that Tinder profile and so on… right?”

“Yup,” he nodded slowly, wondering where she was heading.

“So I didn’t know much about the guy, only that he was a doctor and his name was Alejandro.”

“Yes… and…?”

“Well… Picture this. I’m sitting at the restaurant, partly cursing Sara’s ass to hell and back for setting me up because you know how I feel about online dating and a part of me thinking hey wouldn’t that be a fun story to tell the grandkids if he ends up being the man of my dreams? OK I’ll be forced to have Sara as godmother of our first child as a thank you and she’d never let me live it down but it would be cute, right?”

“I guess so,” Oliver shrugged. “I never really understood this whole thing about telling a story to your grandkids. Like I doubt they’ll care, but…”

“Oliver, it’s just a figure of speech, humor me here.”

Battling a smile, he nodded diligently. “My bad. So you’re at the restaurant, partly pissed, partly hopeful.”

“Yes. And this guy arrives, not unattractive, more like… home-y? Nice guy. Slightly familiar.”

“You know him?”

Felicity licked her lips, a small blush creeping up on her cheeks. “It took me a little while to place him. You know I’m not that great with faces. Turns out he isn’t either. He’s better with other body parts."

“Huh?”

“He is an intern.”

“Intern?”

“For my gynecologist. He did my pap smear two days ago.”

“Pap… hum…”

“Pap smear,” Felicity repeated, her mouth set in a firm line. “On my cervix.”

Oliver’s jaw dropped. “Wha… you mean he… you… down there?!”

“Yup,” Felicity nodded, locking her jaw and avoiding his eyes. “It took him a while to recognize me. In his defense, he saw my vagina more than my face, so I’m not judging.”

Oliver passed a hand over his mouth, forcing himself to keep his laughter at bay. “Felicity Smoak, I can’t believe you let a dude get to third base even before getting the appetizers,” he eventually said in a fake-shocked voice.

“Believe me, it’s a record for me.”

“How did he eventually… did you tell him?”

She glared at him. “Oh yeah. He sat down, introduced himself and I told him “hey, no need for introductions you and my vajayjay are already on speaking terms, shall we order some wine?” No, Oliver, I sat there, my face going from white as a sheet to deep red and I blurted out that I had no idea he was a gynecologist. He just frowned and… cocked his head like he was trying to see me from another angle and… hum, whatever.”

Oliver laughed, resting his arm on the back of the bench. “Now come on, I’m on the edge of my seat.”

Felicity closed her eyes, then let out a long breath through her nose. “He said “oh yes, the birth mark on the thigh!” and you are now talking to my ghost because I died of embarrassment in that restaurant.”

“You have a birth mark on your thigh? How come I never saw it?”

“It’s… Jesus Christ, Oliver it’s like high on the inside,” she mumbled, her face turning an even deeper shade of red. “And I can’t believe this is your first question after I told you about the most embarrassing first date in the history of first dates.”

“You have to be honest… that would be a fun story to tell your grandkids for sure, though. But you’re right, I’m sorry, my question was insensitive.”

“You’re forgiven. You’re just a dude, I guess.”

“Yes. So, since you’re dead, do I get your collection of vinyls?”

“Shut up.”

Oliver smiled, pulling on a strand of her hair. “So… I assume you left afterwards?”

“He kinda realized what he had said out loud and just… he just said “I guess we’re not having dinner?” and I shook my head and stood up.”

“Poor dude.”

“Poor dude?! Oliver, he had to tilt his head up to look at me, because he couldn’t recognize me from a normal point of view. He saw me lying on my back with my feet up in the air and… everything in the open!”

“Yeah but for him… he sees vaginas all day every day, Felicity. To him it’s probably like… I don’t know, a nose or something.”

“Would you date a woman who had done a colonoscopy on you?”

Oliver winced. “Yikes. No.”

“Ha!”

“Although, she would sure know where my prostate is and I’ve been told that-”

“Oh my God, shut up,” Felicity cried out, covering her ears.

Laughing, he gently grabbed her hands and lowered them, keeping his arm around her shoulders. “I’m sorry.”

“Thank you,” she huffed and he smiled, reaching out to stroke her cheek, feeling the heat of her skin underneath the tip of his finger. “I haven’t seen you this red in the face since your allergy attack two years ago.”

“We promised to never ever mention that incident.”

“Sorry.” With one last squeeze of her shoulders, he pulled back. “So… this sucky date made you realize you wanted to procreate?”

“It’s more like it made me realize that the traditional plan might not be for me. In the past year, I had a boyfriend who cheated on me, I dated a man who kept a dildo in the glove box of his car, one who wanted us to have a threesome with the waitress, and last but not least… my gynecologist. The only reason I’m still open to relationships is because I’d like to have a family in the not so far future. But… I’m not sure it’s worth it. Like maybe I was made to be a single mom and I’ll be happier that way? I have a good, steady job, a good support system and let’s face it, men still barely pull their weight in general. It’s not like I’d see a big difference.”

Oliver frowned. “Are you… are you really serious about this?”

He knew Felicity wanted a family one day - but it had always been a long-term goal, one that almost everyone around him shared. It was like the normal, usual plan for everyone, right? Study, find a good job, have fun, date and fool around, eventually settle down and have kids. But Felicity wasn’t even thirty yet, and even though she had a good, steady job, he hadn’t expected her to be there yet.

She remained silent for a few seconds, before a small grin stretched her lips. “Nah, I don’t think so. I mean… I think I’m getting desperate. I always figured I’d have to date a lot of frogs to find one worthy, but reality is pretty damn different. I can’t even get past first dates, for goodness’ sake, how the hell am I supposed to get on the “dating” step?”

“You seem to have the worst luck when it comes to men. May I suggest stop trusting Sara?”

“I’m trying. It’s not like she’s giving me much of a choice,” Felicity laughed. “What about you? Any closer than I am?”

Groaning, Oliver dropped his head back. “Not you too.”

“I’m just wondering!”

“I had to take care of a teenage girl ever since my last year of college. So, no, I don’t feel that same… urge when it comes to having a family. As you know, I’m all for casual dating or hook-ups.”

“Yeah well… to be fair I probably wouldn’t mind either if I could get to that stage,” Felicity said in a small, almost desperate voice.

He knew it was wrong but he couldn’t help but chuckle at the way her shoulders fell.

Truth be told, he would never be able to understand why Felicity had such a hard time dating. She was gorgeous, incredibly smart, kind, and funny. Men should be fighting to take her out on a date, not the other way around.

“Chin up, buttercup,” he said teasingly. “One day, you’ll find the right man for you and that lucky bastard won’t know what hit him.”

The little nickname was enough to bring a smile to her lips and he was dragged back to the day where he had been paired up with her in their history class, during their last year of high school. He had never paid much attention to her, the smart blonde girl who was two years younger than everybody else and mostly kept to herself. When he had been told she’d be his partner for the year, he had groaned, knowing she’d be all over his ass for an entire school year. So, when she had looked up at him with a small smile, he had been caught off guard.

Well, to be fair it wasn’t the small smile that had done it. It was how she had then tilted her head, observing him for a few seconds before sighing and muttering “well… if I must”, which wasn’t exactly a reaction he was used to - especially when it came to girls.

She had been wearing a shirt with a few buttercups on the front, and the nickname had spilled from his lips even before he was aware of it.

It was also the first word he had said when he had stumbled upon her in a bar in Manhattan, five years after they had gone their separate ways for college.

“I don’t really like the idea of depending on a man to fulfill my hopes,” Felicity said with a little purse of her lips.

“I’m sorry to break this to you but if your hope is having a kid, you’re kinda gonna need someone from my species to help you a tiny bit. If I remember my biology class, we do have a necessary role to fulfill.”

“Don’t remind me,” she snickered before checking her watch. “I still have about five minutes, so quick, tell me the news.”

“The news?”

“Yeah, gossip, your plans, what you did last weekend… just something to get my mind off the fact that I sat down in a restaurant with a dude who… you know.”

Smiling, Oliver shook his head before finishing his bottle of water. “Sorry, nothing exciting going on in my life at the moment.”

“What about Laurel?”

Oliver winced, rubbing the back of his neck. “Ah… we… hum we broke up.”

“You guys break up every month.”

“It’s a little more definitive this time,” he said quietly, unwilling to elaborate. He and Laurel Lance, an attorney that worked for his company, had been in an on and off relationship for years now. Oliver was either with her, or single and doing what most of single guys in New York did: random one night stands with no strings attached. He had also dated a few other girls, but nothing really serious.

“I… I’m sorry. I think. Do you want to talk about it?” Felicity asked in a soft voice and it made him feel a little shitty to see her worried about him and his - nonexistent - heartbreak.

“I’m good, Felicity. This thing with Laurel had been dragging on for years, it was just time to really… come clear. It wasn’t working for us any longer. No big drama.”

He didn’t feel the need to share the reason why things had been called off for good this time - it was nothing dramatic, or big, just two people realizing they wanted something different from life and finally acting upon it. Truth be told, he didn’t really feel a difference in his life, which only confirmed him he had made the right choice.


***


Felicity sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose and squeezing her eyes shut in a futile effort to fight off the migraine that seemed hell bent on putting her down.

It was late Friday afternoon, and her plans at first had involved the usual after work drink with some of her friends - Sara, Oliver, Tommy and probably a few more. But having forgotten her glasses and losing a contact, a headache had started to grow during the afternoon and was now literally pounding like a hammer, making her cancel her plans in favor of a relaxing evening at home.

Her clueless colleagues weren’t helping since she had spent the last two hours fixing a stupid breach in a firewall they had been too blind to spot by themselves.

She loved her job, she really did, and working as cyber security senior advisor for one of the biggest financial companies of the country was an achievement in itself, especially seeing her young age. But sometimes, she couldn’t help but think that she was surrounded by a bunch of idiots who thought their job was like in the movie Hackers - which meant they were seeking the thrill, and lacked some serious thoroughness when it came to analyzing boring data or protecting customers’ identities.

She was just shutting off her computer, breathing in relief that the weekend was finally there, when her cell phone buzzed in her purse. She frowned when she saw that the number was unknown and hesitated for a few seconds before picking it up.

“Hello?”

“Felicity Smoak?”

“Yes, herself.”

“This is Doctor Braintree.”

Felicity blinked, pausing as she was about to close the door of her office, wondering why the hell her gynecologist was calling her on a Friday night. Unless it had to do with Alejandro? But what could he have said or done, they had talked for about five minutes before she had all but run out of the restaurant as if the devil himself was chasing her with a speculum.

“Hum, yes?” she asked, clearing her throat, wondering if there was something wrong with the tests he had done on her.

“We have the results of the tests we did. Since you asked for a full check up, they were very thorough.”

Felicity nodded, her heart now picking up with worry. What she had told Oliver, in an almost out of character moment, had been true. She had been thinking about having a baby more and more lately, realizing that the usual plan of waiting to find Mister Perfect might be doomed from the start. That didn’t mean she was in a rush either, but when she had had to make her yearly appointment, she had voiced a few questions and had agreed to have more tests in order to check if everything was “in order down there”, as well as a blood test for STDs and other fun things. “Is there something wrong?”

“I usually don’t do this by phone but as I told you I’m leaving for two months on Monday and…”

“Just… whatever it is, just tell me because this is freaking me out. Do I have… am I sick or…”

“No. No, don’t worry, you are healthy as can be. There is just a slight… potential issue in terms of fertility.”

“Hum… what?”

That, she hadn’t been expecting. She wasn’t even 28 years old, for God’s sake.

“Your number of oocytes is uncharacteristically low for your age, Miss Smoak. Now, I do not mean you are unable to conceive at all, I don’t want you to think that. Just that you might not want to wait too long before starting to try for a family if that is still what you want to do.”

Felicity blinked, staring at the elevator in front of her. “I’m sorry… what?”

“The oocytes are… in simple words, your eggs. At your age, you should still have a certain amount left, but it’s not the case. It does happen, and it’s not something that impacts your health or is caused by a disease. It’s just…”

“It’s just bad luck.”

“Hum… yes. I think it would be best if you could stop at my office, my intern will talk you through this and answer any question you might have. As for the rest, you are in perfect health and I want to assure you that a pregnancy isn’t impossible at the moment.”

“Your… your intern?” Felicity huffed out a bitter laugh, knowing there was no way in hell she’d face Alejandro, Mister-I-remember-my-patient-has-a-birthmark-in-a-place-very-few-people-know.

“Yes, he is more than qualified to answer your questions, rest assured.”

Felicity had her pride and didn’t feel like sharing with her long-time doctor why she didn’t feel really comfortable talking about her ovaries with a guy who had to tilt his head to recognize her at the restaurant. “You know… I’ll do that. I’m sorry I’m running a little late, but I’ll get in touch with your secretary and set up an appointment. Thank you.”

She quickly hung up, still feeling a little shocked. She hadn’t expected any bad news. She had been confident everything would come back clean, telling her she was good to go. Now, of course, things weren’t desperate - yet. But she was still feeling a little pinch in her heart, her stomach twisting in knots and her anxiety peaking. Her biological clock had already been teasing her lately - now it was clearly ticking.

She had slowly started to consider children about a year ago. It wasn’t an urge, per se, more like a hope, a desire. Also a worry, because her dating history was nothing but chaotic and she couldn’t help but wonder if she’d ever get there. She had a good job, a financially stable position, good friends around her. She was mature, responsible - apart from one night of fun every now and then obviously and she knew she could shoulder the responsibility of another human being on her own. Having witnessed her own mother do it, she wasn’t sugar coating things: she knew the struggles of parenthood, especially when you were a single mother.

After her last boyfriend had been caught cheating on her - with his own cousin nonetheless, which had made her see his passion for Game of Thrones in a whole different way - and the ones before him having proved to be mostly immature jerks with a few exceptions, she had started to realize that maybe waiting for Mister Perfect wouldn’t cut it for her.

First of all, she hated the fact that she needed to depend on a man’s abilities to not be a complete douche in order to fulfill her dream.

Second of all, it was the twenty-first century. As long as she was capable of having a kid on her own, why should she wait for someone who might never show up?

She knew most of her friends were still firmly on the fun side of life and to be fair, she liked it too and hadn’t been really considering a baby short-term.

But now… now things had changed. What had been, fifteen minutes ago, a desire in the not so far future, had turned into something much deeper thanks to that phone call.

Could she take the risk to wait even longer? Could she just jump in and make that decision, a decision that would change her life forever? Because once it was done, there was no going back.

It was one thing to say she wanted a baby. It was a whole other one realizing that it was mostly now or never.