It was fate that caused Oliver to loiter around the Christmas tree farm. Things had been hectic at Queen Consolidated, he was inundated with work and had almost bailed out on their annual Christmas tree purchasing trip. Fortunately neither his mother nor Thea would have a bar of it and Moira Queen, in her cool, unruffled way had insisted that they drive out to pick a tree. It was tradition after all. Oliver and Thea may have been raised by nannies but Moira was hands on when it came to their Christmas festivities.
Despite Oliver’s protests that there were probably no decent trees left by this time, his mother insisted on the long drive out regardless. It was as if she knew that even Christmas trees feared Moira Queen, enough so that one perfect tree did remain untouched, waiting for them no sooner had they set foot on the Christmas tree farm.
Oliver had dutifully lugged the huge and impressive tree to the car. Despite being a beautiful tree with perfectly laid out branches it was still much larger than what they were used to as all the medium sized trees had been snapped up. Moira and Thea went off to pay for the tree, browsing the local produce stand set up within the farm while they were at it. Oliver having no use for artisanal goods himself went off for a wander while he waiting for them to finish their browsing.
And boy was Oliver glad he had gone for a wander as he found himself gazing enthusiastically at the adorable Pink Lemonade Snow Bunny hovering on a ladder above him. Of course rationally Oliver knew the adorable creature he was staring at was not a snow bunny, let alone a pink lemonade one. He was merely feeling a tad dramatic and waxing lyrical about her which now that he had a chance to think about it, he didn’t do about anyone, ever. He had met his fair share (well if he were to be completely honest, more than his fair share) of attractive women but no one, in his entire thirty years of life had ever made him smile like this. In fact he was currently staring at her and smiling into empty space since she was still wrestling with the tree on top of the ladder, completely unaware that he was staring and smiling at her.
The object of his fascination was wearing skintight white jeans with a baby pink snow jacket. A mass of frizzy light blonde hair (this was what made him think of lemonade) was peeking out of a knitted pink hat which was decorated with two pompoms on each side to represent ears. She was a Pink Lemonade Snow Bunny if there ever was one.
Oliver snapped out of his trance when he realized that the Pink Lemonade Snow Bunny was wobbling precariously on what, upon closer inspection, looked like a wobbly aluminum ladder.
“Miss,” he called out, running up closer to the ladder. “Miss do you need help? You look like you’re struggling up there.”
“I’m fine,” her voice called back cheerfully. “Thanks for your concern. I look like I’m about to fall to my death but I’ve got it covered I really have.”
She turned her head in his direction, flashing him a warm smile, giving him full view of her face. And what a face it was. Her bright blue eyes twinkled warmly at him from behind a pair of dark rimmed glasses. Her skin was soft and creamy with a hint of rosy pink on her cheeks. For a moment Oliver lost himself in that smile only to be brought back to reality when he heard a sliding sound followed by a yell. Acting on pure instinct Oliver held out his arms and was equal parts shocked and delighted when she landed neatly in them.
“Wow, well that was straight out of the romance novels,” she beamed at him before blushing profusely in the most charming manner when she realized what she had said. “I don’t mean you have any romantic interest in me, no romantic interest whatsoever. I just meant that it was pretty impressive you caught me so neatly just like that. You know this kind of stuff only happens in romance novels. If this were real life I’d land splat on my face, most likely grazing my nose and that will be the end of that.”
“Well we can’t have you grazing that cute nose of yours,” Oliver grinned at her as she went beet red again at his comment. She was still securely (and dare he say it happily) perched in his arms. Not wanting to let go of her, Oliver continued the conversation, ignoring that fact that he was carrying her bridal style. If she wasn’t going to do anything about it, he wasn’t going to kick her out of his arms.
“So what brings you out here all alone to the Christmas tree farm and why haven’t you brought anyone to help you with that giant tree?”
Oliver carefully avoided any references to boyfriends or husbands. On one hand she was far too comfortable and felt too at home in his arms to have a boyfriend. On the flip side it was hard to believe that a girl like her was not already attached to someone and would literally fall right into his arms. Oliver had led a charmed life but surely it couldn’t be this charmed.
“Iris,” she responded with a sigh.
“Iris?” he queried, furrowing his brows. “As in a girlfriend?”
“Yes Iris,” she sighed again, looking troubled. “She’s a good friend.”
A look of recognition dawned on her face as she peered at him and her troubled face broke into a smile once again. “Oh you must have thought Iris and I were…nono nothing like that. Iris is a friend. A friend that I am currently in trouble with. Long story. I’m sure you don’t want to hear about all my dramas with Iris and the Christmas tree.”
“I would love to hear about your drama with Iris and the Christmas tree,” Oliver interjected at once, securing his grip on her. In her excitement she had flailed about and slipped a little. They stared at each other briefly before grinning sheepishly at one another.
“I think you better put me…”
“Oh yes I should. I wasn’t sure if you were injured…”
“No not injured at all, very comfortable in fact but I’m probably too heavy for you…”
“Nothing to worry about I hardly feel it at all…” Oliver trailed off and once again they found themselves staring at one another.
Wordlessly and reluctantly Oliver set her down on the ground, his hand lingering on her back a little to make sure she was steady on her feet.
“So…tell me more about this drama with Iris?” Oliver asked, hoping to prolong the conversation and his time with her for as long as possible. He would have to get her name and actually ask her out at some stage but right now he was too enamored with her and revelling in her existence to worry about practical matters such as asking her out.
“I accidentally scorched a few branches of Iris’s Christmas tree so I went out today in the hopes of replacing it. I was just inspecting this tree, make sure all the branches are perfect, Iris is very particular about her Christmas trees, when I fell into your arms.” She smiled at him sheepishly and Oliver felt a surge of overprotectiveness and resentment towards this Iris whoever she was. How dare she send the Pink Lemonade Snow Bunny out by herself to get her a new tree.
“So this Iris just sent you out here all by yourself to buy her a replacement tree?” Oliver demanded. “That’s not very nice of her. I’m sure you didn’t mean to scorch her tree.”
“Oh no, Iris said to forget about it, that she would just cover up the scorched branches. But Iris does tend to grizzle and hold a grudge even when she tells you things are ok. Plus I did scorch her tree whether it was an accident or not, so I took it upon myself to go and buy a new one.”
She paused for a moment before beaming at him proudly, “I even managed to drive out my own ladder to inspect the branches. I’m satisfied with this one. I think I’ll buy it and drive it over to Iris’s and hopefully that will be the end of my tree saga.”
“How about I help you with the tree?” Oliver offered. “Make sure you get home safely?”
“Oh no you’ve done more than enough. Mr. Pine, isn’t that a marvelous name for a Christmas tree farmer, says that he’ll help me secure the tree to my mini. I live in Starling so it’s not too long of a drive from here.” She gave his arm a pat as if to reassure him that she was going to be perfectly fine.
“How are you going to fit that tree and your ladder in a mini?” Oliver asked casually as he resisted the urge to fist pump with joy. So she lived in Starling. The Pink Lemonade Snow Bunny lived in Starling. There was a God after all and he was looking down very kindly on Oliver right now.
“Roof racks,” came her cheerful response. “Attached them myself this morning.”
“You attached roof racks to your own car?” Oliver was mighty impressed. He had thought she was adorable at first, then one look at her face and she quickly graduated to gorgeous but this was something else altogether.
“Oh yes, not to brag but I am pretty handy. I develop software for a crust but dabble in building gadgets on the side so if you ever need any machinery fixed; I’m your girl. I have magic fingers. They can do wonders for you.” She held up her hands and wiggled her fingers at him, causing Oliver to let out a chuckle.
As if on cue her cheeks flushed bright pink again. “That wasn’t a proposition. I mean I can work on your machinery with my magic fingers if you have anything that needs to be worked on, I didn’t mean…You know what, I’m going to shut up now.” She clamped her lips shut and unwittingly pouted at him.
Oliver was now a hopeless puddle of goo and it was only through sheer willpower that he was able to scrape himself off the floor and pull himself together. “May I have your name and number then in case I take you up on your offer?” He extended out a hand, “I’m Oliver Queen.”
“Felicity Smoak,” she smiled at him shyly, taking his hand. It was small and warm but her handshake was firm. There was nothing delicate about that handshake.
“Well Felicity you did offer to be my girl, which I’m going to hold you to but for the time being may I drive you home and help you drop that tree off?” His mother and Thea were more than capable of handling themselves he thought. Actually he was sure that Felicity was more than capable of handling her tree by herself but it was a good excuse to ride in the car back with her.
“Oh no, there is no need honestly. I’m a very good driver. Tell you what why don’t I give you my number and you can call me for whatever reason. I should let you get back to your tree hunting.” Felicity held out her hand expectantly waiting for him to hand over his phone. Oliver obeyed instantly, anything to get her number.
“Can I give you my number as well? In case I drop my phone in a puddle, or it gets lost or stolen. Please call me if you don’t hear from me in like an hour.” Oliver was vaguely aware that he had no game and sounded desperate but he was not leaving anything up to chance. Luck had been smiling on him thus far and he was not going to risk anything for pride’s sake. He was getting a date with Felicity Smoak.
Felicity beamed at him and handed him her phone, which he took eagerly from her to type in his number.
“Well Oliver it was lovely falling into your arms. Thank you for the well timed catch.”
“It was my pleasure.”
They stood there grinning at each other like idiots until Oliver gathered up the nerve to swoop in for a hug. Felicity smelled like citrus and snow. He wasn’t too far off on the pink lemonade analogy.
“I better go pay for the tree and get Mr. Pine,” Felicity pulled away reluctantly.
“See you soon Felicity.”
“Thea how does your brother know Felicity Smoak?” Moira Queen asked quietly as she and Thea tried to conceal themselves behind a large Christmas tree, a few feet away from where her son was carrying Felicity Smoak, THE Felicity Smoak, bridal style with hearts in his eyes.
“Who’s Felicity Smoak?” Thea asked frowning. “Is that the girl he’s carrying? This is the first time I’ve seen her. Why is he carrying her anyway? And why is he looking at her like that? What the hell has Ollie been up to in the last thirty minutes? We have to go find out.” Thea was about to charge forward, when Moira in a rare display of emotion yanked her daughter back.
“Don’t you dare!” she hissed at Thea. “Felicity Smoak is Ray Palmer’s secret weapon and the reason why we’ve lost quite a few contracts to Palmer Technologies in recent years. She’s one of those colourful geniuses, doesn’t like to be in limelight but your father would kill to poach her from Palmer Tech. Why your brother is holding her in his arms is a mystery but he’s managed to achieve more in thirty minutes than we have in 3 years of trying to contact and lure her away from Palmer Tech.”
“Oh Mom you should be well acquainted with the Ollie charm by now. Why didn’t you send him to call her if you and dad have failed for so long?” Thea craned her neck to get a closer look at their expressions. Maybe she had been wrong. Whilst Felicity Smoak seemed to be speaking very animatedly about something, Ollie looked absolutely thunderstruck and smitten. Fat lot of good it would do to send him to woo her for business purposes with those hearts in his eyes.
“Because she was reputed to be colourful and unique in temperament. We didn’t think Oliver’s charms would be any use on someone like that. If anything we were worried it would offend her.” Moira continued to peer at Felicity and her son. Felicity had now hopped out of his arms and was explaining something to him, looking rather earnest. They really did underestimate Oliver sometimes. Felicity Smoak certainly looked like she had no objections to Moira’s son whatsoever.
“I think they’re exchanging numbers,” Thea cried gleefully, earning herself a reproachful look from Moira before adding, “Why does Ollie look like an eager puppy?”
“Do try to be quiet Thea!”
“Oh look Mom, he hugged her! Oh my God look at his face! Ollie’s a goner on this girl Mom. He’s got no game whatsoever! What’s with the hug! Ollie doesn’t hug anyone but us.” Thea was dancing around behind the tree ignoring her mother’s glares.
“This will not do Thea,” Moira clucked her tongue disapprovingly.
“I thought you wanted to poach this girl? She looks smart. Why are you objecting to Ollie wanting to date her?” Thea rolled her eyes at her mother in frustration. Really her mom could be so difficult at times. They (Ollie and herself) could never quite live up to mom’s expectations and yet almost anyone they dated was deemed to be beneath them.
“It will not do for your brother to simply exchange phone numbers with Felicity. There are too many variables that could go wrong. Oliver needs to drive her home. We simply must find a way to ensure your brother drives her home.” Moira’s tone was one of steely determination. Ollie was not leaving this farm without the girl if their mother had anything to do with it Thea surmised.
“Felicity Smoak?” Felicity turned from where she stood reading the labels on the little bottles of home made jelly and local honey to find a very determined looking, well dressed lady making a beeline towards her. She was followed by a petite and very pretty brunette who had an amused expression on her face and a somewhat bewildered looking Oliver.
“Yes how may I help you?” Felicity mustered a bright smile at the woman, whilst sneaking a glance at Oliver who looked like he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him.
“Moira Queen,” Moira shoved a hand at her (which Felicity shook obligingly) and didn’t wait for a response before continuing. “I heard that you ran into Oliver by pure chance and I came to insist that he accompany you home. We have a large car you see and I have my daughter Thea with me. It’s simply too unsafe to be driving around in this weather by yourself with a large tree in tow. You should really have someone accompany you. I insist on it dear.”
“Thank you Mrs. Queen. Oliver did offer but I assured him that I’m perfectly fine driving back to Starling on my own.” Recognition dawned on Felicity’s face and suddenly everything became so clear. This was Moira Queen, of Queens Consolidated; the woman who kept ringing and trying to lure her away from Palmer Tech. Which made Oliver, THE Oliver Queen. That explained why the man whose arms she literally fell into was so ridiculously good looking. Her brain hadn’t made the connection earlier.
Felicity had buried herself in her beloved projects in recent years and had only heard vaguely of Oliver Queen, heir to the Queen Empire, multi billionaire playboy. She couldn’t even remember what he looked like and to be honest he had been so lovely and so obviously smitten with her, it never occurred to Felicity that she was interacting with the Oliver Queen.
“Mom, I keep telling you, if Felicity says she can drive herself home, she can drive herself home. I’ve offered already. I don’t think we need to keep hassling her about it.” Oliver shot her an apologetic and somewhat dejected look.
His response tugged at Felicity’s heartstrings a little. She knew Oliver had been very eager to take her home but he respected her enough not to push and here he was standing up to the intimidating Moira Queen for her sake.
“Mrs. Queen I didn’t want to inconvenience Oliver earlier but if you insist that Thea can accompany you home, I would love to take Oliver up on his offer to ride in the car with me back to Starling.”
Felicity took a step towards Oliver and smiled at him warmly, “Only if you’re still up for it of course.”
“I am soooo up for it,” Oliver blurted out, earning a snort from Thea and a head shake from Moira.
“Sorry about my mom earlier,” Oliver apologized as Felicity pulled up outside her friend’s apartment building. He was still somewhat mortified by his mother’s heavy-handed tactics regarding Felicity.
“Seriously just relax Oliver. Stop apologizing. Once I worked out she was Moira Queen of Queens Consolidated it all became crystal clear.” Seeing his puzzled and slightly worried look Felicity decided to elaborate. “Your parents have spent the better part of the last three years trying to ring my office to recruit me for QC. So when I found out who your mother was, nothing she said fazed me anymore.”
“You serious? They harassed you for three years?” Oliver covered his face with his hands.
“Harass is a very strong word. They were…persistent.”
“I am so sorry. I just want you to know I had nothing to do with it.”
He bolted up from his seat and grabbed both of Felicity’s hands, “You know I didn’t plan for any of this today right? I didn’t know you were at the farm; hell I wasn’t sure I was going to the farm today and I certainly didn’t expect someone like you to drop into my arms. I had no idea who you were. I was calling you the Pink Lemonade Snow Bunny in my head when I first saw you.” He was still holding onto her hands and looking rather fretful, clearly terrified that Felicity was going to think their accidental meeting was a ploy on his part.
“Oliver, you don’t know me well yet but I’m usually the one who rambles.” Felicity cupped his cheeks with both of her hands and smiled at him. “Just relax. Okay? I trust you. Now the important question you need to answer is what should we do after we hand this tree over to Iris?”
His face broke into an eager smile, making him look like an overjoyed puppy as her words sunk in. “Felicity Smoak, will you go to dinner with me? Tonight?”
“I would love to.”