By her estimation, it took her half of a pink martini (her first, since math seemed important whenever alcohol was involved) to notice Broody Guy. How she missed him before that was a little bit of a mystery because he was only two stools away and he was kind of a big guy. Big in an “I work out” way, not in a “I eat nachos for every meal not-that-there’s-anything-wrong-with-that” way. He leaned forward with his elbows on the bar, hands clasped together in front of a whiskey, and she entertained the thought that his face would look so much more handsome without the frown.
She didn’t say that aloud because while it was annoying, at least her habit of splashing everything in the vicinity with far too many words had some sense of self-preservation. Instead, she finished the pink martini and wondered what he was brooding about.
He didn’t touch the whiskey, not once. He didn’t look up or check his watch or play with his phone, so he either wasn’t waiting for somebody to arrive or he was just one of those incredibly rare patient people. Felicity was not one of those people. She also hated mysteries and by the middle of her second pink martini, Broody Guy was becoming a little bit too big of an enigma.
So she turned to him and said the first thing that came to mind: “I’m sorry, sir, you’re going to have to leave.”
Broody Guy turned. “What?”
Felicity gestured at the bar with the hand that wasn’t holding her martini. It wasn’t really her type of place, but the nice waiter had suggested it and she’d needed a drink more than she’d needed familiarity. “City ordinance—I’m up to code on them, I work in the mayor’s office—says this is a one broody person only zone, and I was here first and you can’t possibly have had a worse night than me, so I’m sorry, it’s just the rules, but you’ll have to leave.”
“One broody person only?” Broody Guy swiveled to fully face her.
Felicity took a sip of her martini. “I don’t make the rules, bud. I just enforce them. Though I am short of stature and slim of build, I assure you, I can do that.”
“Uh-huh. You’ve been granted special mayoral privileges over this…one broody person only zone?” Broody Guy propped his chin up on his fist. She kind of got the feeling he was amused, but she didn’t care because she’d been right: his face did look so much better without the frown. He had stubble and she wasn’t sure if she was into that with guys, but this guy was making it work. It would probably make kissing him interesting, too.
“Dem’s the breaks,” Felicity said. “So what’s it going to be?”
“You said the rules were based on who is having the worse night. What makes you so sure you’re winning that competition?”
Felicity snorted. “Because my very, very good friend—okay, she’s not a very good friend. No, she’s good like she’s a good person? But we’ve only been friends for a couple of months, really, acquaintances if you want to get technical—well, either way, my friend set me up on a blind date at a really nice restaurant and she swore I was gonna meet my soul-mate and long story short, I did not meet my soul-mate.”
Broody Guy tilted his head. “He was a jerk?”
“I have to assume yes, or that he was hit by a car or had to go save some orphans or something because the jerk never showed.”
“Have you been stood up by a blind date tonight, Mr…”
“Queen,” Broody Guy said. He raised his glass for the first time and toasted her with it. “Oliver Queen. And no, I can’t say I have. I just…had a long day at work. Which is not in any way comparable to being stood up for a blind date.”
“At a really fancy restaurant,” Felicity said, waving her martini a little. “The waiter took pity on me and he brought me a new bread basket, but it was really bad.”
“Guess I have to leave, then.” Oliver finished off the whiskey and set the glass on the bar. And she was right dammit, for his smile flashed and it was kind of breathtaking because it changed his whole face. He rose to his feet. “Your pain trumps mine.”
“Oh, you smiled. Rules changed. Only one broody person left in this zone. That means you can stay—if you want. I mean, if you have somewhere to be or something…”
Oliver tilted his head again and then sat, this time on the stool right next to Felicity. “The mayor’s office sure has a lot of rules.”
“So many,” Felicity said, drawing the first word out to impossible lengths. Mayor Payne—which was actually his name, the jokes really wrote themselves on her blog—kept insisting she know almost every single city ordinance law that applied to the Glades and it was such a pain because she’d been hired to keep the city’s digital infrastructure up to snuff, not to memorize stupid laws.
“And if I wanted to get a look at those rules?”
“Well, you’d have to go the records office.”
“And who would I ask to see?”
“Uh, probably Pamela. I think she’s still there, actually.”
Oliver started laughing, and Felicity felt a stab of concern. Had she said something funny? She did that occasionally without being aware of it, and it was always a little disconcerting. “Okay, sorry, I was trying to subtly ask you what your name was,” Oliver said. “We haven’t been formally introduced.”
“Oh! It’s Felicity.” She switched her drink to her left hand so she could off the right one to shake. “Felicity Smoak, digital archivist. I’d say at your service, but I clocked out hours ago.”
They both looked over as one when the bartender approached. “Another?” he asked Oliver, nodding at the empty glass.
“No, I think I’ll have—what’s that you’ve got?” Oliver asked her.
Felicity shrugged. “Pink martini,” she said, as she hadn’t been too specific when she’d ordered. The bartender had been really game when she had told him, “I have had a really bad night so I need something with a lot of alcohol in it. Bonus points if it’s brightly colored because it’s been that kind of a night.”
“What’s in it?” Oliver asked.
“All right, I’ll consider it an adventure,” Oliver said. “I’ll have one of what she’s having. You want another?”
“Nope, that’s my limit.” She was good at math and two martinis seemed like a nice number. Two was usually a nice number, actually. It wasn’t a one, which was usually her life, or a zero, which sometimes defined her. She’d stick with two. She gave first Oliver and then the bartender a big smile. “I’ll have a tonic water.”
The bartender left to mix their drinks and Oliver, for some reason she couldn’t determine, looked down and grinned, shaking his head like he was in on some private joke.
“I thought it destroyed your manhood or something when you guys drink pink things,” Felicity said.
“Society’s rule, not mine. I say if you want to drink a pink drink, let your pink drink flag fly.”
“Thank you for being supportive in my drink choices.”
“And hey, in your sexual choices, too. I don’t judge, if you are…”
“Are what?” Oliver asked, tilting his head. “Fond of pink drinks?”
“I was going to say gay, but that works, too, and they’re not mutually exclusive. But that suit cut is super-fashionable so either you’re rich or you’re gay or both.” Felicity blew out a breath. “Did I mention I hate mysteries? I always want to solve them, and you’re kind of a mystery.”
“You want to solve me?”
“In a good way. I like solving things. Math’s always kind of been my thing.”
“The answer is rich, not gay. I’ve always been into women. And for the suits—well, when your mother’s the CEO of a giant company and you work for her, you can’t exactly show up to work in sweatpants. But it’s a little warm in here, so.” Oliver stood up to remove his suit jacket and Felicity pretended to be interested in the dregs of her second martini to check him out. Serious time in the gym was right, she decided. Oliver dropped his jacket over the other stool and sat back down. “There, better.”
“You know, if you’re really looking to pick up women—not saying you are, but just a tip—you should roll up your sleeves to the elbows. Drives women nuts.”
Both of Oliver’s eyebrows went up. “That’s a thing?”
“Totally a thing.”
“Huh. Thanks for the tip.”
“Anytime,” Felicity said, and their drinks arrived.
Oliver held his aloft before she could gulp hers down. “We should toast to the jerk who stood you up to go save some orphans because it means you’re here giving me tips on how to pick up women,” he said.
“That’s an oddly specific thing to toast to, but sure.”
“What’s his name?”
“My friend never said. She just told me to show up at the restaurant and they would seat me. I’ve been calling him Jake because it kind of sounds like ‘Jerk.’”
“To Jake the Jerk, then,” Oliver said.
They clinked glasses and Felicity downed half of hers in one gulp. One of them had shifted toward the other—she couldn’t be sure which one it had been—and she was really close to Oliver and he was incredibly hot in more ways than one. “So what’s it like to work for your mom?”
Half an hour later, Oliver Queen was less of a mystery, but somehow that didn’t make him any less fascinating. She’d prodded him until he’d talked in more detail about his job (“Oh! Queen Consolidated, I interviewed there when I moved here, but by the time they got back to me, but I’d already accepted another job, dude, we could’ve been coworkers!”), which led into a surprisingly in-depth discussion about his best friend, which was, as far as Felicity could tell, the reason Oliver Queen had been brooding in the first place, though he kept insisting it was the job.
“But shouldn’t you be happy for them?” Felicity asked. Oliver had talked her into a third martini and she could feel the buzz floating through her. It made the world spin a little whenever he looked at her intensely, and she definitely didn’t mind that. “I mean, it sounds like you love both of them. You were with this woman for, what, seven years?”
“It’s hard to count with all of the break-ups. There should be a code, though. Bros before—”
“Are you really about to call a woman you were with for like seven years a ho?” Felicity asked, and it was her turn to tilt her head (she overbalanced a little and Oliver put a hand on her elbow to keep her on the stool and she decided she was rather okay if he left that hand there).
“I…huh,” Oliver said, forehead crinkling.
“Bros before hos is such a stupid principle. He’s still your best friend. He’s not betraying you by ‘swooping in’ on ‘your territory.’” Felicity made quote marks with her fingers. “Kind of sounds to me like he’s probably had a crush on her for a long time.”
“And now it’s just okay for him to…”
“You’re trying to think of another term for ‘swoop in’ right now, aren’t you?” Felicity pointed. “Ha!”
Oliver’s face scrunched up. “I was…totally doing that, yes.”
“You don’t have to look so depressed that I’m right. I called it about the sleeves. That chick in the green dress came up and hit on you after you rolled up your sleeves.” She’d helped him, which had made Oliver laugh, and his sleeves were kind of lopsided. But it just made him look so much more approachable.
“Hey, do you want to get out of here?” Oliver asked suddenly. “I haven’t had dinner.”
“What?” Felicity reached for her coat. “You got stood up by Jake the Jerk and ended up eating an endless supply of bread, too?”
“It’s so weird, but yes. That guy really gets around.”
Though she tried to close out her tab, Oliver insisted on paying for the drinks and, promising her that he knew the best burgers in Starling City and possibly the world—which she told him was a lofty claim and also that disappointing her taste buds would lead to the inevitable collapse of their brand new friendship—he hailed a cab and gave the driver an address in the Glades. “So you’re saying I have to get over Laurel and Tommy just...being together,” he said.
“Well, look at it this way. This dude’s your best friend, right?”
“Since we were kids.”
“And you spent years with this woman, so there must be something you enjoyed about her. They’re together. It just means you’ve got two-for-the-price-of-one friends that are going to be in the same place a lot of the time. Convenient, honestly. You should thank them for all of the time you save.”
“Math really is your thing,” Oliver said, and she did the entirely mature thing: she stuck her tongue out at him. It made him throw his head back and laugh, and it sounded both musical and a little strange to Felicity’s ears, like he wasn’t a man accustomed to laughing much. She had no idea why he was still talking to her at all, as most people tended to either grow disinterested or perturbed by her particular brand of wordiness at this point, but she wasn’t going to complain, not when he had a smile like the one he aimed at her now. “Enough about my overly dramatic life, though. I want to know about you.”
“Well, so far I know you work for the mayor’s office, you hate mysteries but love math, my main competition for the evening is a guy named Jake the Jerk—”
“—and you look downright fantastic in purple.”
“That’s what I’m wearing right n—wait, you’re flirting with me.” Felicity blinked as a heat started at her collarbones and spread up through her cheeks. “Whoa, I am really not used to that. But wait, if you’re feeding me lines, isn’t it supposed to be ‘you look downright fantastic in purple, but you’d look even better out of it?’ And oh good lord, I can’t believe my mind just went there. Actually, no, I can believe my mind went there. It goes there a lot. A depressing amount sometimes.”
She trailed off because Oliver was silent, head curled forward helplessly as he shook with laughter. “I wasn’t going for that,” he said.
Felicity winced. “I’m sorry. I’m not very good at being flirted with, apparently.”
To her absolute shock, he reached out and touched her cheek with just the very tips of his fingers. “So now would be a bad time to tell you that you have beautiful eyes?”
Felicity gurgled. “I think I need to get out of the cab now.”
“It’s a good thing we’re here, then,” Oliver said.
Outside the cab, she took a full twenty seconds to mentally kick herself, wondering exactly how she’d missed the signs. “This is why you have a two martini limit,” she told herself as Oliver handed the cab driver a few bills. “So you don’t completely miss out on the fact that the super cute rich guy with the great smile you thought was just being friendly is actually flirting. God, Felicity.”
But on the other hand, she did have a super-cute rich guy with a great smile hitting on her. So.
“The...Big Belly Burger? You take every girl you pick up at a bar to this place?” she asked as they headed for the front door.
“Just the ones that are good at math. I’m really bad at figuring out the tip.”
“Oh, I see,” Felicity said as she followed him in and he headed for what seemed like it might be regular table. “You didn’t pick me up because you needed somebody to fill you in that girls secretly go nuts over the rolled-up sleeves and tie thing, you just needed a calculator.”
“One with really great shoes,” Oliver said over his shoulder.
“I know you’re probably teasing me about the shoes, but I picked these up on sale, so I’m just going to say thank you.”
He pulled her chair out for her, which flustered her a bit, but she was spared any inadvertent babble by the arrival of the waitress. “Carly, hey,” Oliver said. “I thought you and Dig had plans tonight.”
“George called in sick so John’s watching AJ for me. Wasn’t expecting to see you at the Belly tonight, either. I thought you had that big merger in the works.”
Oliver’s smile tightened. “My mother struck again. Carly, this is Felicity. She’s having a worse night than I am, so I thought a couple of your shakes might help. Felicity, Carly makes those awesome burgers I was telling you about.”
“The best ones in the world?” Felicity asked.
“I see Mr. Queen’s been talking a big game again. Don’t believe anything this man tells you. Oh, I’d better get that. Gabe will be by in a second to get your order.” Carly hurried off toward the ringing phone in the kitchen.
Felicity folded her hands together and pinned Oliver with an expectant look. “I have so many questions now,” she said after they’d placed their orders with Gabe the Waiter.
“I thought we were supposed to be focusing on you.”
“No, no, of the two of us, I’m not the business executive with a buddy who owns a burger joint in the Glades. There’s totally a story here, not even getting into that bit about your mother.” Felicity leaned forward. “I want to hear all about it.”
Oliver mimicked her pose, which put their faces kind of close and made Felicity’s pulse speed up considerably. “Well, I want to hear about you. But I’m willing to trade story for story.”
“As long as you accept wholesale that my stories are incredibly boring because I work in small government,” Felicity said.
“Deal,” Oliver said. “You go first.”
“And that’s the story of why trying to steal live animals from a petting zoo and pitchers of beer don’t really mix. I mean, nobody was hurt and my friend Eric gave the goat back the next morning, but—” Felicity shook her head, more at the grin on Oliver’s face than the actual memory of that particular prank. “If I ever call you at two in the morning and say, ‘Let’s steal a goat,’ take away the bottle of red, okay?”
“People never suspect you of being the mastermind, do they?” Oliver asked, an admiring note in his voice.
Felicity affected the best innocent look she could manage. “Moi?”
“Excuse me, guys.”
They both turned toward the counter. Over the hours, the Big Belly Burger had slowly drained of all of its customers; Carly had turned off the “Open” light and had sent Gabe home, but she hadn’t said anything about kicking Felicity and Oliver out. But now she stood by the register with her coat folded over her arm. “I’d normally be all for letting you stay here and continue this date of yours, but I’m afraid I can’t leave you in the restaurant when it’s locked. They have safety laws about that kind of thing.”
“Guess that’s our cue to dine and dash,” Oliver said, making a reluctant noise as he released Felicity’s hand. She didn’t exactly remember when he’d started holding it, except that it had been at some point after the milkshakes had arrived. Her mind felt overstuffed and somehow breathless at the same time. Somehow they’d started talking about work responsibilities, which had led to a contest of sorts. Felicity would never have guessed that she might be able to keep up with what seemed like a legitimately reformed party boy, but apparently what was normal to a group of overstressed and bored engineers made for some good stories.
“My turn,” she said before Oliver could reach for his wallet. “You got the drinks and the cab.”
Oliver folded his arms over his chest, the corners of his lips tilting upward. “We’re going Dutch?”
“Yes we are, though I’ve never understood that phrase.”
“You two are cute,” Carly told Felicity as she handed the receipt back to be signed and Felicity did a brief mental calculation for the tip. “But alas, you’re going to have to go be cute somewhere else.”
“I understand. Sorry for sticking around as long as we did.”
“It was nice to have company.” But Carly still shooed them firmly toward the door, promising Oliver that she was going to tell Digg all about the really cute girl he brought over to the Belly so that Digg could proceed to tease him for at least a couple of years. She then locked the door behind them and they moved toward the cab stand down the street.
“And who is this all powerful Digg that I keep hearing about?” Felicity asked as she pulled up CabFinder on her phone.
“Technically, he’s a security consultant hired by Queen Consolidated, but really…” Oliver shrugged and she’d already spent enough time with him to recognize self-consciousness when it flashed over his face. “He’s my bodyguard.”
“I hope his job isn’t to protect you from getting randomly approached in bars by over-talkative blondes because if it is, he is seriously failing. Wait, why do you need a bodyguard at all?”
Oliver cleared his throat. “I may have gotten abducted last year.” When she gasped, he shook his head. “It wasn’t serious. They weren’t after ransom money—in fact, police still aren’t sure what they were after at all. But after what happened to my father on our family’s yacht—” He’d told her about that at dinner, and she’d babbled something inappropriate that she thankfully couldn’t remember at the moment but would surely play during her ‘Greatest Hits of Embarrassing Things I Said Today’ playlist in the shower. “—my mother is…overprotective. So my sister and I both got bodyguards and Digg and I have come to an understanding.”
“You go out to bars and pick up loose women and he lets you?” Felicity asked, raising an eyebrow.
“How do you know I pick up loose women? Unless you’ve got something you want to share with the class, Miss Smoak.”
Felicity moaned. “Why do I always come up with the worst ways to say things? It’s like I was cursed in the cradle by the socially awkwardest of fairy godmothers. Though I do have to point out that even if I am a loose woman—and I am not, for the record—you haven’t successfully picked me up.”
For a second, she saw the light of challenge in his eyes. He moved so that he was no longer beside her but in front of her, crowding her space a little. Felicity had a fleeting thought that she should probably tell him exactly where he could stuff that smirk on his face, but it was also so damned smooth and sexy that really, all brain functionality died a quick death and she felt nothing but flushed and stammer-y. “Uh,” she said.
“I think this is the part where I’m supposed to invite you to come home with me, right? I’ve got an Italian Barolo back at my place that a client gave me a while back. It’s just gathering dust.”
All of the moisture in Felicity’s mouth vanished. For a second, she wished for the comfortable padding of a good liquor buzz, but the food and the company had sobered her up hours ago, so all she had was her own wits against the absolutely devastating look Oliver was aiming at her now. She attempted to say something, but all that came out was a weird string of syllables that she would never be able to reproduce on command. “No, usually,” she finally managed to say, “this is the part where I say something really stupid and embarrassing and you realize that what you think is a cute quirk is just a core part of my existence and you wander off and pick up an actual—wait, did you say Barolo?”
Oliver’s grin lit up his entire face. “Knew that would get you.”
“What year and label? I take my Barolos very seriously.”
“Come back to my place with me and find out.”
Felicity dropped her chin to give him an unimpressed look, which only made him laugh and run his hand along her arm. “Just for a glass of wine. I’ll even be on my best behavior. Well, quasi-best behavior. I promise.”
“You should know that I’m not the type to do this—not that there’s a type—but, um, I don’t usually just go over to a relative stranger’s apartment after meeting him in a bar,” Felicity said half an hour later, as she followed Oliver through an incredibly nice front lobby and into the elevator of his apartment building. “So what I’m saying is you may have some kind of super power, Oliver Queen, and I hope you only use it for good.”
He looked delighted as he pushed the button for the penthouse. “My super power is being charming? I thought it was the rolled up sleeves.”
“Those are just a perk. But yeah. This is new for me. I’m not usually that girl.”
Oliver leaned close. “Out of pure scientific curiosity, if I were to present a list of reasons, would you be the type of girl that let me kiss you?”
“Only if it doesn’t include ‘to shut you up’ because it sounds cute in romance novels, but I had this ex that always—” Felicity’s brain helpfully decided to catch up with the rest of her. She stuttered to a halt and stared at Oliver. “Wait, you’re serious. You have a list?”
Oliver moved his shoulders a little, which made her blink because she had no idea what he was doing. What was that move? “Numbered and everything because you like math, so reason number one—”
Holy crap, he was preening. That was the cutest thing she had ever seen and she couldn’t quite believe she was standing on this elevator with possibly the dorkiest and cutest guy she had ever seen. Without knowing quite what she was doing, she grabbed the same tie she’d teased him about earlier and cut him off mid-sentence by kissing him.
Movies made that kind of thing look easy, but in reality, it was more of a catastrophe: she cut him off mid-word and moved too fast, so their noses bumped and he ended up biting her lip, which made her hiss out a breath between her teeth. Felicity almost hopped back to apologize, but Oliver’s hand came up to cup the back of her neck and just like that, they were past the awkwardness and good god was Oliver Queen a fantastic kisser and she had been right about the stubble.
Oliver pulled back. “I really did have a list.”
“Yeah, uh-huh, you didn’t need one, though I can’t say the same thing about the wine. I really like a good Barolo,” Felicity said, and Oliver laughed, grabbing her hand and tugging her down the hallway. She had all of two or three seconds to get a look around at the place Oliver Queen called home before he picked her up as though she were actually weightless. She squeaked and braced her hands on his shoulders—and holy crap, he spent crazy hours in the gym, apparently because she could feel serious muscle there. “Wait, what are you doing?”
“You said earlier that I hadn’t successfully picked you up yet. I wanted to fix that.”
She snickered and moved her hands from his shoulders, lacing her fingers around the back of his neck. “You’re kind of giving me the impression that you’re a giant dork, no offense.”
“None taken.” He kissed her again, more slowly and insistently this time, and started walking. They made it as far as the couch, but it would take her several hours to realize they never made it to the promised bottle of wine.
At the sound of buzzing, Felicity immediately rolled over to grope for her cell phone, hoping it wasn’t her boss. Wasn’t it Saturday? There had better not be an emergency in the Starling City archives on a Saturday. She had rules about this sort of thing.
Her hand didn’t meet her bedside table, though. Instead, her knuckles brushed against something solid and warm and suspiciously textured like flesh. She instinctively slithered away, her eyes opening. This was not her bedroom, this was not her bed, and that was definitely not Eurydice, her faithful stuffed monkey. Not unless Eurydice had grown to over six feet tall and turned to a naked and sleeping Oliver Queen.
And before she could fully process that, her stomach pitched in a very specific warning: she was about to fall off the bed. She entertained the split-second thought that it was probably going to be incredibly humiliating, as she wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing, before Oliver’s hand closed around her waist. He pulled her against him, both arms wrapping around her so that he was basically hugging her to him.
“Five more minutes,” he said into her hair.
“Um,” Felicity said.
Oliver grunted. “Sleeping,” he said, and she supposed she couldn’t argue with that, even if it took her a full two minutes to relax (and to stop blushing because she was fully awake, which meant the memories were beginning to flood in). In the cold, sober light of day, she couldn’t help but be amazed at herself. She hadn’t even been hitting on him in the bar originally, but apparently some happily buzzed part of her had stepped in and insisted on taking care of the rest of her, and even though she was blushing fiercely at being used like a teddy bear by a grown man, she couldn’t help but be grateful.
Except that she kind of needed to go to the bathroom and Oliver’s arms were like iron bands around her.
She waited until his breathing had slowed and steadied back into a sleeping rhythm and began to ease herself free, careful not to wake him. He was one of those disgusting people that looked attractive even in sleep (an ex had told Felicity that she just looked angry), so if she lingered before rolling completely out of bed, she didn’t think anybody would blame her.
The minute her feet hit the floor, there was the sound of rustling. She stilled, thinking she’d woken Oliver, but the noises were coming from a completely different direction.
She forgot all about her pledge not to wake Oliver. “Oliver!”
“Mm?” He rolled toward her, twisting the sheets around him.
“Do you have a roommate?”
His eyes closed again. “No. Probably just...”
Felicity waited, but Oliver didn’t continue. Frustrated, she leaned over and poked his shoulder. “It’s probably just who?”
“Just one of my friends, probably. It’s fine. They’ve got keys. They’ll let themselves out.”
Felicity squeaked. “It’s not fine,” she said, and she scrambled over the bed and for Oliver’s dresser. She grabbed the first shirt she could find and yanked it over her head. “It is definitely not fine.”
“What’re you doing?”
“My bra is out there.”
Oliver finally lifted his head a little, though his eyes were only opened to slits. “And you’re worried about...what? That they’ll know we slept together? Hate to tell you, but it’s a little obvious that’s not your shirt.”
“Augh,” Felicity said, sinking down onto the edge of the bed.
Oliver grabbed her by the waist, pulling her against him again. He nuzzled at her neck. “I say we stay in bed until whoever it is leaves.”
A voice drifted through the door. “Ollie? Are you actually home? Either way, I’m making coffee and you can’t stop me.”
“I know that voice,” Felicity said, escaping Oliver’s grip and pulling the shirt back down. She heard Oliver’s wordless grumble as he finally climbed free of the sheets, but she ignored him and pushed open the bedroom door.
The blonde in the kitchen had her back to Felicity, as she was mostly buried in Oliver’s giant refrigerator. “Oh, huh, you are here,” she said without turning around. “I thought you may have gone to the gym without me again, you loser. I’m making coffee.”
“Sara?” Felicity asked.
Sara Lance turned and backed away from the refrigerator. The surprise on her face turned into the most expert leer Felicity had ever seen. “Felicity Smoak, you filthy slut,” she said, grinning. “I knew it.”
“Knew what? How on earth did you get here?”
“I’m in charge of driving to the gym on Saturdays.” Sara bounced forward on the toes of her black sneakers, and Felicity belatedly realized that her friend—whom she’d met because she’d taken Sara’s self defense class at the Y—was indeed dressed in a sports bra, sneakers, and cropped workout pants, all of it black. There wasn’t much color in Sara’s wardrobe. “Had I known the date was going to go that well, though, I probably would’ve just gone straight to the gym instead of being an awkward fifth wheel. Go you.”
“The date fell through,” Felicity said, shaking her head as she nonetheless returned her friend’s fist-bump. “He never showed. And—holy crap! Are you dating Oliver? Oh my god, did I just sleep with my friend’s boyfriend?”
Sara rocked back on her heels, utter confusion painted on her face. “Wait, no, I’m not Oliver’s girlfriend and what—”
“Sara, good morning.” Oliver still looked sleepy as he strolled in. He hadn’t bothered with a shirt. “I heard something about cof—holy shit. You’re here to yell at me. I’m sorry. I completely forgot.”
“But,” Sara started to say.
Felicity gave Oliver a curious look. “Forgot what? Please don’t let that thing be ‘I already have a girlfriend’ because I really, really don’t want last night to be a fluke, okay? With the way my luck goes, it might have been and I really don’t want it to be. Truly.”
Oliver grabbed her hand. “No girlfriend, I swear. I just promised Sara—also not my girlfriend, just somebody I’ve known for years—I’d meet one of her friends at a restaurant, but my mother dropped a surprise board meeting on me. She’s not mad, is she, Sara? I genuinely forgot. I can send flowers or something.”
“Wait,” Sara said. “You two aren’t speaking English anymore.”
Felicity, about to put her hand over her heart to calm it down, finally, really looked from Sara to Oliver. She hadn’t realized they’d had a mutual friend. A mutual friend who had set Oliver up at a restaurant the night before and what were the odds? “Oh my god! Oliver! You’re Jake the Jerk!”
“What? No.” Oliver recoiled, looking like he might argue, but she could see the moment it dawned on him as well. “You’re the one I accidentally stood up?”
A piercing whistle made both of them jump and face Sara, who took her fingers out of her mouth. “Hey, kiddos, feel like filling in the rest of the class here?”
Felicity took a deep breath. “Sara, did you try to set Oliver and me on a blind date last night?”
“Duh, you two are—hold up.” Sara held her hands up in a T-shape. “Oliver stood you up?” This was directed to Felicity, who nodded. “And yet you’re here anyway, which means…oh my god, did you two somehow meet up somewhere else and hook up?”
Felicity bit her lip. “Um.”
“Yes,” Oliver said. “Twice, actually. And I was working on a third time when you showed up—”
“Oliver!” Felicity put her hand over her face.
He affected an innocent look. “Can I help it if you’re a closeted sex fiend?”
“I am not going to dignify that with—”
Felicity broke off because Sara made a noise that kind of sounded like a pterodactyl screech. And then both Oliver and Felicity watched as Sara bent over at the waist and began to laugh, her ribs and back shaking with the force of her giggles. When she popped back up, there were tears streaming from her eyes. She hiccuped while Felicity and Oliver stared. “What the hell, you two! What the hell! This is just so the both of you, you have no idea. No wonder you’re perfect for each other. Okay, it’s official. I am making us all breakfast because there is a story here and I don’t want to miss it.”
“Or,” Oliver said, stepping up behind Felicity. He spread his palms across her hips and pulled her back against him. “You could go away and get the story later.”
“Then you’ll miss out on breakfast and I know for a fact neither of you can cook.”
“She has a point,” Felicity said, squirming a little because Oliver’s nose against her neck tickled. “Stop that.”
“Fine.” Oliver made a weary, put-upon sigh as he tugged Felicity toward the little kitchen island and the stools there. “But after breakfast, I’m kicking you out, Lance.”
“Deal, but you have to tell me everything.”
“Everything?” Felicity asked, blushing again as at least twenty x-rated images from the night before rose to the forefront of her mind.
Sara lost it again, laughing so hard that she had to clutch the edge of the counter to stay upright. Felicity wrinkled her nose at her friend and absolutely did not think about the way Oliver’s bare thigh was brushing hers as they sat on the stools. “What I meant is there’s really not too much of a story,” she said.
“Yeah,” Oliver said, nodding. He picked up one of her hands and starting playing with it, plucking at her fingers. “She told me to go away and I thought I’d rather follow her around instead. And all of my A-game pick-up lines went right over her head. It was great.”
“Excuse you,” Felicity said, though she really kind of wanted to hide her face in her arms because morning after sobriety painted a much clearer picture than three-pink-margarita buzz did, and she knew Oliver was exactly right. She wrinkled her nose at him, though. “I told you that you could stick around as long as you weren’t brooding. I didn’t make you go away.”
“And I stopped brooding, didn’t I?” Oliver grinned and kissed her and she melted a little, morning breath and all. “Because of you.”
“I am so telling this story at your wedding,” Sara said as she opened the refrigerator. “You just watch me. Now, how do you like your eggs?”