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where we love is home

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“Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?” 
― Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss

 

Oliver crawls through her window at midnight on a Friday.


He's dressed in dark wash jeans and a sweatshirt, sleeves  pushed up to his elbows. The sound of his feet on the floor send Felicity into alert mode and she quietly picks up the bat leaning against her bedroom wall. Felicity has never had a break-in before, or directly dealt with any type of crime near her apartment. It was a fairly safe neighborhood, consisting mostly of families and the elderly and the security was good - a key card was needed to get in after midnight and Cecil the doorman worked nights (John worked days and Maggie and Je Yeun held down the fort on weekends). Regardless, Diggle had hammered in the fact that she was to call someone the moment she suspected an intruder in her home so, she silently rifles through the pocket of her robes, finding her phone and Oliver’s number first on her most recently called before hitting the dial button. A resounding rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody (Felicity's idea of a joke) leaks in from the other room, kicking Felicity into action. When she rounds the corner, bat raised over head, to find Oliver balancing precariously half in, half out of her apartment window, she drops the weapon to the floor, aluminum clattering loudly against the linoleum.


"Oliver?"


He stumbles inside and stands - not really looking like his legs can hold him up as his body sways carefully before Oliver reaches out a hand to her couch, steadying himself.


"What happened?" She knows it isn't Arrow related, he's not in the suit, there’s no visible injuries, and they had all mutually bowed out early tonight from skulking the streets for gangbangers.


He looks at her, eyes a little broken, head bowed and shoulder slumped like the weight of the world rests there and opens his mouth, once, twice, before closing it and returning his gaze to the floor.


"I told Thea." Oliver's voice cracks a little bit with emotion and Felicity swallows heavily, assuming it had not gone well between him and his younger sister.


"What - What did you tell her? How much?"


It’s a profound question because it drives home the fact that Oliver had been keeping multiple, big secrets from Thea - secrets that directly concerned her. He shakes his head as if he can't believe himself, before whispering. "Everything."


It's the first thing Oliver's said all night that leaves his heart a little lighter. Honesty has never come easy to him, it's part of the reason he has the friends that he does - they call him on his shit when it's necessary. Telling Thea - about Merlyn, about him - felt right and, ultimately, no matter how angry she was at him now, Oliver's glad she didn't find out from someone else.



 

"You should talk to Roy." Thea looks at him strangely, a little numb from all the revelations he's dumped on her.


"Why? You didn't even like our relationship," She laughs bitterly, chin tucked and muttering under breath, "when we had one."


Oliver winces because this is all his fault as well. "I made him break up with you."


His sister's mouth twists angrily and he wonder if this last part was too much, if she’ll ever forgive him, but then her face stills and she calms. "No one can make Roy do anything he doesn't want to."


Thea's throat bobs up and down like she's swallowing her sobs, or maybe just these bitter truths and her hands curl into tiny, wretched fists.


"But I hold a lot of influence over him." Oliver licks his lips, and watches his sister come to terms with who he is - because Roy couldn't give two fucks about Oliver Queen, but the Hood is his personal hero. Now, they’re the same person. "There's more to the story. A lot more, but I think Roy should tell you."


Oliver observes his sister break and begin to put the pieces back together as he stands in front of her and knows Thea will be okay. She is so much stronger than him.



 


But he couldn't stay in that house. Thea left immediately to find Roy because even though she could handle it all alone she didn't want to - further proof to Oliver that his sister is a much better person than he. Oliver who pushes those he loves away, who lies to them and runs when thing get too hard.


Felicity comes over and wraps her arms around him. She's warm and smells like fresh shampoo and he hates himself a little because Oliver can never give her what she deserves, can't even give her what she wants. Her touch is strange and it’s a further reminder that they haven't really been this close in a long while - not since Sara. (Nyssa came back a little more willing to compromise and things just kind of petered out between Sara and Oliver. It's one more thing they have in common - in love with people they shouldn't be with.)


Their hands link and Felicity draws him to the couch, leading him as he tiredly follows. He sits and she pushes his chest, encouraging him to lay down. His legs stick off the couch a little, but it’s big, a soft, tan sectional. Felicity leaves and Oliver's almost reaches for her, resisting the urge to cry out for her to stay, but she returns anyway, several minutes later, with a big furry green blanket tucked under her right arm and a pillow under the left. Tucking the pillow under his head, she whips out the blanket to full length before draping it over him, letting the satin hit him like a second skin. Oliver is fading fast, the smell and atmosphere of Felicity's apartment lulling him to sleep - the entire place just emanates her.


His eyes flutter and he mumbles out a quick apology for staying, for taking her couch. He doesn't see her shake her head and he certainly doesn't feel the quiet kiss Felicity lays on his forehead after Oliver drifts off.


But Felicity knows. And her lips burn with the feel of Oliver's skin until sleep claims her as well.

 

 

Chapter Text

“And I was even beginning to think home might be with you.” 
― Ben Sherwood

 

Three weeks later Felicity wakes to a second toothbrush in her bathroom. It stares at her - bright green and white hooked up to the plug on the right of her sink. (Because of course Oliver has a fancy electric toothbrush for his shiny, white, perfect teeth)

 

"Oliver?!" Felicity pokes her head out of the bathroom, the hallway giving her a clear shot of the living room.

 

"Yeah?" His voice drifts in from the kitchen where she can’t see him and Felicity finally notices the neatly folded blanket on top of the pristine pillow. Oliver always does this - he’s been in her apartment about every other night and whether he’s still here in the morning or not her favorite green blanket is nearly tucked into a square and drape across the pillow he uses.

 

The smell of eggs and bacon drifts in and she knows he’s making breakfast. He’ll do that on the mornings he’s here - typically weekdays because they can just go to work together - like cooking will make up for the debt he feels is building up between them.

 

"Nevermind!" Felicity can’t see him nod, but the silence is enough of an answer as she goes to wash her face. Oliver’s a shit cook, but bacon and eggs he can do - nothing special about them, but it’s lightyears better than the breakfast of coffee and energy bars she typically eats and Felicity appreciates the effort. It’s not everyday a billionaire makes you breakfast.

 

Five minutes later, she slides into one of the barstools at the island that separates the kitchen from the dining and living room, a plate of warm food and Oliver’s perfect, electric toothbrush white smile greeting her.

 

"Order’s up." He comes around with a second plate, piled way higher than hers with food,  and sits down, grabbing a jug of orange juice from the refrigerator on his way. That’s another things he’s started doing - grocery shopping.


 

 

Felicity woke one morning about a week ago, padding into the kitchen and nodding sleepily at his still form on the couch before reaching up into the cabinets to grab the instant coffee only for her hand to hit another box instead. Pulling it down, she finds it’s a box of crackers. Felicity takes a step back, standing on her tiptoes to look and find packages of dried fruit, cans of vegetables, cereal, and other assorted food items stocking her shelves. Abandoning her search for the instant coffee for a moment, she goes to open the door to her fridge - slowly, cautiously, like there might be a bomb inside of it’s cold doors. No bomb. Just food. Lunch meat, various condiments, fresh fruit and vegetables, hummus, milk, juice - basically every food item she’s been eating from a plastic container for the past year is now sitting nicely in her fridge.

 

A surprised breath of air passes Felicity’s lips and she laughs soft and low, looking over her shoulder at the sleeping giant of a man on her couch, imagining him pushing a grocery cart through a twenty-four Wal-Mart or some high class equivalent (god knows Oliver probably wouldn’t be caught dead in a Wal-Mart - he probably paid Whole Foods to stay open for him. Wal-Mart irks Felicity’s moral code, but tight budgets and many a month of a dwindling bank account had caused her to be familiar with the store - like that one family member no one wants to acknowledge exists, but shows up every year for reunions.) She walks over to the couch, leaning over the back so her face is looking down on Oliver’s. Felicity’s whispers his name softly, repeatedly.

 

“Oliver. Oliver.” He groans and twitches, not really waking, but not quite asleep now either. She hums in amusement, overcome by a sudden surge of adoration for the slumbering hero who folds her blankets, and cooks her breakfast, and buys her groceries.

 

Her hand reaches down to run manicured fingers through soft bristles of brown hair and it’s only once her hands drift towards his jawline that he wakes, grabbing and pulling her hard so Felicity topples over the back of the couch and onto him. Oliver’s eyes are alert with fear and it’s not until her body lays heavy on top of his that he relaxes, mouth moving to frown apologetically.

 

“I’m so sorry. Felicity - I “ She manages to untangle her free hand from underneath her stomach, the one he’s not currently holding, to bring a finger up to his lips so he quiets.

 

“It’s fine, It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything’s okay.” The guilt is still there, but he turns, gaze flicking between the finger on his mouth, to their hands still wrapped together tightly. Attempting to clear the air, Felicity crawls off him and, even as his body vibrates in protest at her absence, Oliver is thankful because there’s an embarrassing physiological response to being male and it being morning with an extremely attractive female on top of him. Morning wood is not how he wants to say hello.

 

“I just wanted to thank you for the food.” Kneeling at his side, legs crossed with pajama pants covered in little grumpy kittens and coffee Felicity feels a little uncomfortable, “but I couldn’t find the coffee.”

 

He sits up, blanket falling to his waist, no longer covering his bare chest, before standing, sweatpants slung low. “Oh, I threw it away.”

 

Felicity stands, making an indignant noise, wanting to take back every kind thought she had because no one no one destroys her coffee, no matter how good they look without a shirt. Oliver’s walking away into the kitchen and she’s forced to chase after him in order to give the verbal lashing he deserves.

 

His hand comes up to scratch the back of his head nervously, before pointing to the corner of the kitchen counter, nearest the sink. “I bought us a coffee maker.”

 

A brand new machine sits there, silver and innocuous in size, but obviously expensive. There’s a grinder attached, several different drip settings, as well as what looks like parts to make steamed milk for espresso and Felicity falls a little bit more in love. She doesn’t forget how he uses the word ‘us’.

 

“Oliver!” Her tone is more surprised than angry, and it’s soft as he looks at her, hesitantly waiting for her reaction. “It’s wonderful.”

 

He smiles and begins to happily explain how it works. She wonders what it would be like waking up to this every morning, waking up to Oliver’s small smiles and warm hands.


 

 

“Felicity. Felicity?” She jerks back to the present, leaving the memory to a view of Oliver’s inquiring face.

 

“What?”

 

“I was asking about what you were going to say earlier?” He talks through a mouth full of eggs, apparently table manners were not a high priority to him despite his upbringing.

 

Felicity blinks slowly, thinking of that moment, the way his hand gripped hers like a lifeline, the wrinkles of their palms rubbing against each other and how his frightened eyes had eased when he saw her. She looks to the side at the well-used coffee machine and Felicity decides to let charging toothbrushes lie - Oliver can stay.

 

“Nothing. I couldn’t find the soap, but… then I did.” His eyebrows raise and his lips quirk upwards again - she’s not a very good liar.

 

Oliver knows what Felicity saw and a sigh of relief escapes him when she doesn’t bring it up - what he hopes is a silent acceptance that it’s okay. He won’t tell her that he sleeps better here even thoughThea is talking to him again or that when he wakes up here it’s calm and slow instead of the violent panic that startles him from sleep most mornings, but Oliver does his best to let Felicity know how thankful he is for her generosity. He does his best to let her know how he cares by doing the little things. His best is all Felicity has ever asked for.

 

Chapter Text

“A home filled with nothing but yourself. It's heavy, that lightness. It's crushing, that emptiness.”

Margaret Atwood, The Tent

 

It’s been two months since Oliver showed up in the middle of the night, stumbling off her fire escape. He’s basically her roommate at this point, toothbrush still plugged in neatly to the bathroom wall and a duffle bag of extra clothes stuffed under the coffee table in the living room.

 

Felicity had decided - since they'd fallen into the pattern of being in the apartment at the same time every Tuesday - that they should do something together. This new transformation, of them being more 'us' than 'him and her', was strange to say the least and Oliver still wasn't comfortable with the arrangement. He returned every night now out of habit and need, always aware of how much he was invading her space.

 

Movies had become a peace offering for them. She insists they switch off every other week on who get to decide, citing unwritten rules of living together, and Oliver had finally relented last week - under severe protest as he still didn't feel like it was his place to make any decisions in her home. They'd ended up watching Blade Runner - a dystopian science fiction movie from the 80's starring Han Solo that Oliver had grown up watching. It was a tiny peek into his childhood and for the first time in a while Oliver had relaxed and sunk into the feeling of being home. 

 

"So what are we watching?" Oliver lounges calmly in her bed, a sight she's not sure she'll ever get used to, and Felicity's eyes trace the way his shirt creeps up, displaying the dip of his hip bone and the tiny trail of hair that disappears below the waistband of his sweatpants.

 

"Warm Bodies." Felicity answered, holding up the DVD cover - red with a picture of a very pale boy on it. She watches him move and feels her body becoming very warm indeed as Oliver stretches his arms overhead, further displaying his toned abdominals. It’s not like he doesn’t parade around shirtless in front of her at the foundry all the time, but there’s something completely primal about him showing skin while in her bed. Felicity fans herself with the movie case, trying to steer her thoughts in another direction. "Romeo and Juliet meets Zombie Apocalypse, well done sets, and fairly witty writing."

 

He hums in acknowledgement - Oliver never recognizes any of the movies she chooses, but they've all been fairly good. Her judgement is spot on for basically everything to Oliver and "Zombies are cool."

 

There's no television in the living room, just a small flat screen on top of the dresser in her bedroom so, most of the time they lay out in her bed to watch the movie. (The first night Oliver refused and sat on the floor, Felicity griping at him, exasperated with his defiance)

 

She'd fallen asleep a few times, overcome with exhaustion and comforted by the proximity of Oliver's warm body. When Felicity awoke he'd be gone - most times from her apartment completely although some mornings he would be making breakfast or sleeping like normal.

 

Oliver won't say why he disappears some mornings and Felicity doesn't ask - he’s always needed time to reveal his secrets, but she never doubts his trust in her. The truth is, for Oliver, when she curls up close to him on those nights, asleep with the television buzzing in the background, he loses himself a little bit - forgets what his life is actually like and begins to imagine and hope and want for more than he'll ever deserve. So, he goes out and puts on the suit for a couple hours, gains a few more aches and bruises, and lets his body remind his heart why he shouldn't go back to Felicity's apartment.

 

But then she’ll smile at him the next day and casually tell Oliver what they're having for dinner, or what's on tv tonight, or that the microwaves is on the fritz again and he's right back where he started. Wanting and dreaming.

 

Popping the DVD into the player, Felicity manually turns on the television, nearly knocking over a framed microchip - one of the many knick knacks Oliver had begun to bring into their apartment. The microchip is from an original 1980’s Apple computer and there’s a clock on the wall with math equations instead of numbers, a glowing tetris desk lamp in the living room, a tiny ceramic kangaroo at her bedside he’d picked up as a joke. She fingers the side of the frame carefully, like it’s worth it’s weight in gold simply because Oliver gave it to her, before placing it back on the dresser and crawling into bed next to him, wrapping herself in the comforter. Oliver takes the remote and presses the play button, gently at first, then repeatedly and, finally, far more violently.

 

"What's wrong?" She peers over his shoulder, chin coming to rest over the curve of his neck, as he flips the remote around, trying to hold it at a different angle to start the movie.

 

"Remote's not working." He grunts, distracted by the malfunction.

 

Felicity gets up and goes back to the dresser where the tv is waits, screen frozen. Her bare feet pad against the carpet and she drops her blanket on the floor before reaching to open the top drawer. "I've got spare batteries here. Let's try that."

 

Her t-shirts are folded neatly on the right side like normal, but to the left several male dress shirts and a few pairs of socks sit nicely. Oliver's clothes. She blinks several times, waiting for the image to dissapear. When it doesn’t, a ton of bricks comes to rest heavily in her gut, clogging up her lungs so, she can't breathe for a minute while she processes this new information.

 

A toothbrush. A duffle bag. A drawer. She's joked about him being her roommate, but this - this is real. This is him moving in, permanency of the most abstract variety. Felicity has a decision to make here, whether to let him keep the drawer because she could subtlety ask him to move it or simply transfer it back to his duffle when he's not looking and the message would be clear. Oliver wouldn’t judge her either - he’d understand why this was too much. But she likes falling asleep next to him on roommate nights, likes having roommate nights, and living in a home where she doesn't always wake up alone, where she'll occasionally find an abandoned sock mixed in with her laundry or a dirty coffee cup that isn't hers in the sink. And so maybe she can't walk around her apartment naked anymore or leave underwear on the floor, but being alone is hard and it seems worth changing her life around a little bit if it means accommodating Oliver into it. Felicity's had years to get used to loneliness, but accepting something and enjoying it are two different things.

 

She gives the drawer another inquiring look and turns to him. Oliver is seated on the edge of her bed, fiddling with the remote, trying to get it to work, before deciding to try smacking it against his hand. He could stay there forever and she'd be okay with it, live with her and cook for her and bring in random toys to brighten up her day. It's strange how easy she pictures him as a fixture in her life.

 

Felicity clears her throat, "Don't you think some of these shirts should be hung up?" His eyes widen, alarmed that she noticed his clothing, and slightly confused at her suggestion. She just gestures to the closet awkwardly. "They'll get wrinkled."

 

Oliver nodes his head slowly, getting up and reaching around her to grab some of the nicer dress shirts. He’s so close that she can feel the heat radiating off his body and when she rotates, his face is inches from hers. Felicity draws in a quick breath, swallowing the bolt of fire that runs its way down her spine and Oliver can feel how she shivers, suppressing the desire to shake himself as his adam’s apple bobs up and down in indecision. This is her house though, and he’s a guest so they bounce off each other, walking to opposite ends of the room so their breath doesn’t mingle, so their heartbeats don’t synch up in time with each other, and their bodies don’t feel like they are close to combustion. She hears him shuffle around in the closet, the sound of hangars moving and her clothes being pushed aside filling the silence, before grabbing her blanket on the ground and huddling back into bed. They try and forget that moment, but it’s hard when Oliver crawls into bed to watch the movie and Felicity reaches to entwine her hand with his, soft and open.

 

 

Chapter Text

“I am the bathtub of desire, and I see you are filthy for me. You’d better get naked and let me surround you.
” 
― Jarod Kintz

“Oh no, is it naked time?” 
― Ilona AndrewsMagic Bleeds

 



"Felicity, where's my jacket?"


Oliver stands shuffling through his clothes on the left of the walk in closet, dinner jacket nowhere to be found, while Felicity is perusing through her dress selection opposite him.



"It's on this side, next to all the formal clothes. On that note, have you seem my necklace - the one with the gold arrow you got me?"



Oliver hums in affirmation, pointing to the door knob where it hangs waiting for her.



"Thanks."



There's approximately one hour until they are expected at Henry Kaling's annual Fight for the Firefighters charity ball benefitting, of course, Starling City's own. Between a serial rapist Sara had been tracking down and a dirty SCPD cop leaking drugs back out onto the street the night had been... eventful, to say the least, and Oliver Queen's social event had taken a backseat in priorities until Felicity had pointedly reminded him that several key investors would be there tonight and signing a check just wasn't cutting it lately. Suffice it to say, the two platonic roommates were rushed for time - and space as well considering the single bathroom and closet they were currently sharing. No one had the courage yet to bring up the similarities between they're living situation and marriage - all members of Team Arrow would rather have their heads and back accounts intact.



Oliver slips out the bedroom and into the bathroom to shower quickly. Felicity had taken first wash considering the length of his hair versus hers and how much time each would take to be presentable. It's nothing but a quick jet stream of water and a scrub down of his body with a loofah and some soap, scraping over the layers of sweat and dirt and gently sweeping over new scabs and old scars.



He wraps a towel around his waist, holding it by his hand before opening the door to Felicity's bedroom to grab the suit he'd laid out on the bed. Tonight, will be difficult - a bone deep tiredness takes over Oiver for a moment and he considers asking Felicity if they can just stay home tonight - she probably woundn't refuse him. There's a knocking on the closet door and he can hear Felicity pulling clothes off the hangers. She likes to throw clothes everywhere while getting ready and he'd awoken to many a whirlwind of blouses and skirts before they'd left to work. He creeps closer to hear her make frustrated little noises, only to have the door fly open in his face, a red lingerie clad Felicity springing forward into him.



They collide and the towel slips from around Oliver's waist as Felicity drops her evening gown, before falling herself and landing with a pop onto his chest as his back hits the floor.



It knocks the wind out of him for a moment, awakening the aches from earlier that night, while Felicity flails uncoordinatedly above him. He feels her against him and is reminded of several fantasies he's had while sleeping on her couch.



"Naked - oh god!  So, so naked." Felicity tries to get up, but she can't decide where her hands could go that isn't inappropriate. She settles for covering her eyes and moaning in embarrassment, "Why are you so naked?




This is horrible. I mean Felicity's imagination has gotten the better of her some nights, what with him sleeping fifteen feet away, but she had never thought this would be how she'd see Oliver naked - not that Felicity had thought she'd ever see him naked.  Oh, god. Her thoughts had generally been platonic - very, very platonic with rainbows of friendship and roommate-type feelings. (This is a complete lie, but felicity has never been very self- aware when it comes to Oliver.)



"As opposed to only a little naked?" With Felicity's breasts pressing softly into his chest, Oliver can literally feel his face turn red and he's torn between laughing at her own wide blush and helping them untangle themselves.


"Oliver!" Felicity shrieks at the smile she can hear in his voice. "This isn't funny. Maybe slightly arousing, but there is no haha moment here!"



Well, that stops Oliver in his tracks, his now highly aroused tracks. Felicity's still wiggling unaware on top of him, face flushed and lips parted uncomfortably, with her hair, wavy and fresh, spreading around him. It smells like flowers (it smells like home). Their eyes lock for a moment, before Felicity looks away, hands clapping over her eyes again. They think about the options that lie ahead of them, the repercussions of the decisions they could make here.



He could reach up and peel her fingers away from her eyes, one by one, until they meet each others stare. Oliver could push himself up onto his elbows, pressing his lips to hers hard and hot until one of them finally needed air. His hands could reach around and deftly undo the clasps to her bra, letting it fall to the side so he can suck and fondle, while his calloused fingers go down to push aside her underwear and bury themselves somewhere deep inside. Oliver could give Felicity a real reason to writhe around in embarrassment.



But he doesn't.



He grabs the blue towel, abandoned on the hard wood floor and hands it to Felicity, letting her wrap it loosely around her eyes, while he helps them both off the ground.



She winds the cloth around her own half-exposed body before running back into the closet and it's only once Oliver hears the click of the door that he turns around. The red dress lays wrinkled on the floor and he sighs, bending down to pick it up before folding it and placing it neatly on the bed.



"Your dress is on the bed. I'll wait outside." Oliver clears his throat, awkwardly standing in his birthday suit not five feet from Felicity's bed. "Come get me when you're done?"


There's some shuffling in the closet, clothes beings move around. "Okay." It's low and unsure and Oliver's halfway out the room with his clothes in hand before he hears her again. "Thank you."



He smiles at her sheepish tone, eyes soft with fondness.




She's beautiful. He's always known this, been around it for years, but it's never something Oliver's gotten over. His breath gets caught in his throat when Felicity looks over at him. Her dress barely rises above her ankles, black peep toe heels coming out, and hair curled and loose so that Oliver could run his fingers through it if he wanted - if it was his place (platonic partners do not have the right to run their fingers through each other's hair).



"Well? Ready to go?" Felicity looks at him eagerly, with trust, and he wonders how the hell he ever managed to deserve to see her like this, dressed up and blushing with only his eyes to watch. There's no way Oliver's karma says he should get to be here for this, for her, but that doesn't stop a wave of happiness from crashing into him.



"Yeah." Oliver mutters, the word coming out a little more low and heated than he intended. It strikes a chord in them both and they simultaneoulsy remember doing the horizontal tango on her bedroom floor. Felicity walks closer and wishes the red on her face was only from makeup - she now knows exactly what's under that tuxedo. Every little (and not-so-little) part and that is going to haunt her vision every time she sees him for the next few days.



For now though, she focuses in on his crooked tie, slightly untucked and veered to the side, and lets her hands wander lightly up his chest, feeling him inhale quickly at her touch, before fixing it.



"There."  Her lips purse and she sniffs in approval. "Now we're ready."



They step outside her apartment and Felicity turns to lock the door, her back to Oliver. He admires the view for a second and is overcome with that same nostalgic felling - the feeling that he could do this everyday for the rest of his life (go to galas with her, come home with her, be with her).



"Oliver?"

He  wakes from his desires to find her waiting for him (he's always playing catch up, she's always light years ahead of him in every way that matters). Felicity looks at him eyebrow quirked and questioning.



"You here with me?"



Oliver intertwines their fingers and bows playfully at the waist, kissing the back of her hand.



"I'm here."



She won't wait forever and he won't make her.

Chapter Text

 

Oliver and Felicity act differently now, more connected - not that they weren’t close before, but now it’s handing each other things before  the other asks and completing each other's sentences - and the rest of the team notices. They don't say anything due to their extreme desire to keep both bank accounts and limbs intact, but it's palpable - the new intimacy that's there, the one slowly replacing the level of professionalism Felicity and Oliver used to hold themselves to. It shows in how his hand lingers on hers in the morning when he hands her coffee, how she leans in so close while explaining a new design concept. It's there on display for the world to see, for everyone except the two people most involved to understand.

 

Tonight, the two sit in the kitchen, dinner plates soaking in the sink (chicken cacciatore via Detective Lance's recipe - it's delicious. Quentin says the secret ingredient is love, but Felicity doesn't really look deeper into that particular statement.)

 

She has her iPod hooked up to a speaker in the wall, quiet music settling over the apartment and they stand side by side. Oliver bumps her hip, watching as she whips some cookie batter together, mixing in more chocolate chips than really necessary and four times the recommended consumption of butter. It's cookie time and there's a pint of mint chocolate chip in the freezer which means one thing - Felicity is eating her feelings away. She pauses to lift an eyebrow at him, as he continues to subtly nudge her "Anything, I can help you with Mr. Queen? These cookies won't make themselves."

 

He hops on the counter, watching her spray down the tray and begin to drop dollops of  brown batter onto the pan. "Yes, that's why I have you - to bake my cookies." It been late nights and not enough time for longer than they count. The slow pace of tonight is awkward on their bodies, when they're so used to the frenetic attempts to organize their nights, while keeping up the facade at Queen Incorporated.

 

Felicity snorts, glancing up at him (way, way up - he did not need the further height advantage of the kitchen counter) "Yeah, I'll bake your cookies alright." It sounds ridiculous before she's even finished the sentence, but Oliver doesn't miss a beat, staring her down intensely despite the silly innuendo. Felicity bites her lip apologetically and turns back to the dough. She's been saying stupid things like that more lately, forgetting that her and Oliver are not something more - although its hard to define exactly what they are. You don't exactly spend this much time with someone and not feel more. More of what is the question they still haven’t answered. They're on the precipice of this cliff in their relationship and neither is really sure whether they want to fall. Oliver looks at her and takes a deep breath. The apartment smells like garlic and meat, and soon the scent of fresh-baked cookies will replace it. It smells wonderful, a little like comfort and a lot like home.

 

Felicity decides to fill the silence with idle chatter and office gossip - she's good at both causing and dispelling awkward moments. "Roger in IT keeps me linked up to the bigger servers - I get more bandwith - but I think he only does that for the assistants because he has a tiny little crush on Petra who works on the floor below.” “Whitney, who works in accounting, swears there's a ghost in the fifth floor bathroom - the really nice executive one. Apparently. " with Oliver chiming in when he recognized a name

 

"She's Pritchard's EA, right?"

 

He phrases it like a question and she honestly wonders how Oliver manages to balance any part of his life - she likes to think he just has insane focus on the important things. (Oliver remembers when they first met, the day, what she was wearing, and the Shakespeare reference. He'd looked Hamlet up afterward and thought it was strangely appropriate.)

 

"Yeah, you used to wink at her every time she dropped something off."

 

There's an icy chill to Felicity's voice and Oliver winces - the playboy antics hadn't lasted long, but they had been an integral part of his cover before the team had fully formed. Now, he didn't really need to pretend. (Oliver ignores the fact that most of QC thinks he's sleeping with Felicity - it's not exactly a rumor he wants to quell, for several selfish reasons. It's an ugly part of her promotion that he regrets and hates and apologizes for every time he hands her coffee in the morning, but a small brutish part of him enjoys the fact that everyone thinks she’s his. Felicity has given up so much for him, and, their loyalty to each other is impossibly strong - Oliver will defend her to the death should anyone ever speak out of turn in front of him.)

 

Oliver dips his finger in the cookie batter and a spatula slides easily over to rap him across the knuckles. It doesn't hurt, rather the opposite since he's reminded of Saturday mornings spent in the kitchen with Raisa making pancakes. His nursemaid used to slap his hands away while babbling fervently  in Russian - Tommy always got the bigger pancakes because Oliver ate so much of the gooey dough.

 

"You'll get sick if you eat that raw." Felicity reprimands, but Oliver chooses to slide the batter-covered finger into his mouth anyway, raising an eyebrow challengingly.

 

“Well if you like it that much…” Felicity reaches up playfully and slaps a piece of batter on his cheek. Oliver ducks his head, the back of his hand coming to wipe it away while he laughs, before reaching out to clean his hand off on her face.

 

She looks at him, a line of sweet brown paste drawn up her flushed face, grinning widely at his rare playfulness.

 

He's leaning forward before the thought has really formed and his tongue darts out, gently licking up the line of smeared batter from chin to cheek. Felicity inhales quickly at the motion, frozen, while Oliver retreats, looking like he doesn't know what he just did, or why. Definitely not why.

 

Swallowing nervously her eyes dart to the nearly invisible spot of batter that still lies to the right of his lips. He jumps off the counter, about to run away, but Felicity stops him, a hand grabbing the front of his apron (it jokingly reads Kiss the Cook, she never imagined it would actually end that way). She lets her fingers dance across his cheeks lightly, brushing over his brow and cheekbones, still chewing on the bottom of her lip indecisively. Oliver leans into her touch, gravitating towards her like always, and that makes the choice all too easy. Her lips graze his cheek in reciprocation, licking the dough away, before backing up to catch his eye. He looks at her sadly, a part of him doubting the moment, but there's also a spark there that tells Felicity to keep going, that one of them has to stand their ground here or this relationship (friendship, roommates, partners - whatever) will never come full circle. So, she surges upward capturing his lips in hers and Oliver's hand come up to the back of her head tugging her hair out of the ponytail and then, gripping it tightly so that he can draw her closer. It's funny - with all the life and death situations, the moments that could've been their last, it was a normal night in the kitchen that drove them into each others arms. He stands between her legs, arms wandering and lips moving hard and fast against hers like he could devour if only their was enough time.. His hands move under her bottom and Felicity uses the leverage to jump and wraps her legs around his waist so that their hips grind and she can feel his hardness rub against her. The flour gets knocked backward and a fine covering of white powder showers down on them like snow. Oliver's lips are chapped, and he tastes faintly of garlic (she probably does too). Felicity lets out an embarrassing squeak when he drops those lips to her neck, the rough, dryness causing a delicious friction on her sensitive skin.

 

When they finally separate it's with heavy panting and hot, needy breaths. Like they can’t breathe when they're near each other but separation isn't an option. The cookie batter lies abandoned on the counter and, there's flour and utensils scattered everywhere, but judging by Oliver's colored cheeks and swollen lips, Felicity thinks it can all just stay there.

 

Her head bobs up and down nervously, hands still gripping his shirt as she leans so their foreheads meet.  It's too soon, or maybe just too sudden, but Felicity starts considering the implications - Oliver sleeps over, he brings his toothbrush, takes a drawer, part of her closet, buys her things, and over time the apartment has become more theirs italicize than hers. It's too much. "Maybe..." Felicity takes a calming breath, taking a step back"Maybe, we call it an early night?"

 

Oliver looks at her, startled, and she can feel her face heat up in embarrassment - strange because she had felt none at all when his lips were up against her skin.

 

"I meant - I mean, there's work tomorrow and this is super weird now and I really need to go cool off because wow," Felicity blows out a breath air, a piece of hair flying up, and she fans herself with a hand, "is it hot in here to you?"

 

Oliver looks at her, unconvinced and frowning when Felicity ducks under  his elbow to go mess with the thermostat.

 

His eyes follow her and he's kicking himself - Oliver swore he wouldn't do this, take one step forward and two steps back with Felicity. She was going to be his endgame, his last play and he has botched this opportunity like so many others. Let her slip right through his fingers.

 

Felicity is absentmindedly playing with the a/c functions, wondering how cold it is in hell, or how low the temperature will have to go before the heat leaves her face. There's a wet spray on her back and she shrieks before turning around, frozen, the back of her tank top soaked with sink water. Oliver stands there, looking innocently at her, twiddling with the faucet sprayer, before giving her a closed lip smile that is so endearing Felicity feels her stomach drop and the need to kiss him again wash over her. So, she does.

 

He doesn't resist.

 

Between kisses he laughs at her, peeling the wet shirt off and saying, "I thought," Felicity lays a kiss below his clavicle, "there was still," another one on his chin, "some cookie dough left."

 

Withdrawing her head from where it was buried in his neck, Felicity grins up at Oliver. He lays a small kiss on her nose and there's a bubbling in the pit of his stomach that feels suspiciously like happiness. Felicity feels it too.

 

The kitchen gets cleaned up, cookie dough in Saran Wrap before going in the fridge, and dishes left to soak overnight.

 

They stand in the bathroom, drying off and getting ready for bed, the air heavy with unspoken questions. The buzz of Oliver's electronic toothbrush (still nestled to the right of the sink, months later) cuts the silence and Felicity bounces on the balls of her feet nervously. It's here. The deciding moment. They've kissed and, yeah, there's a little wiggle room in that, a little bit of space to admit that it may have been a mistake. Except it didn't feel like a mistake. It felt good and perfect, like winning the make-out lottery.

 

Oliver glances at Felicity and his heart just about jumps out of his chest. She doesn't look any different, her hair is a little mussed, and lips slightly swollen, but it's still Felicity. And that's when it hits him - that a part of him has probably always been in love with her, that it was just waiting for the rest of him to catch up.

 

In synch with each other, they exit the bathroom at the same time and Oliver heads over to the couch, picking up the pillow he's used every night living here for the past five months. Felicity watches him go and tries desperately to find the same courage that drove her to kiss him earlier, but it escapes her grasp until he looks at her. She sees longing, his head dipped and eyes shadowed, she sees desire and, most of all, Felicity sees how desperately he wants permission to belong with her. It's not that hard, in the end, to walk over and grab his hand, leading him to their bedroom.

 

So maybe it's too much, too soon, too suddenly, but Oliver and Felicity have been dealing with situations way over their heads for years now - they can probably handle this one if they go at it together.

 

Oliver stands awkwardly in the doorway, too large shoulders hunched over, while Felicity slides into bed, taking his pillow with her and curling into it, before beckoning him with a welcoming glance. It smells like him, the pillow, and she takes a deep breath before his chest blocks her vision.

 

He faces her, laying down on that bed, and this seems more intimate than the entire kitchen make out. She smiles encouragingly at him, a soft laugh escaping her lips and Oliver returns the gesture. Felicity turns over so it's his chest to her back and reaches around to grab his calloused hand. Oliver lets her manipulate his body so his arm is coiled around her stomach and his breath warms the back of her neck. A soft kiss is placed into the palm of his hand and Oliver holds onto it like it will give him a reason to wake up every morning.

 

They lay there happily, quietly listening to the sound of each other before falling asleep together, drifting calmly into the night.



Chapter Text

 

"Home that our feet may leave"

 

"It's a whiskey sour lemonade."

 

Felicity blinks blearily, sitting at the bar in Verdant, still in her wrinkled work dress, and looks down at the tumbler Oliver had slid over to her. Red eye flights to get home ASAP from their respective out-of-city meetings had left both of them a little drained - not the most pleasant feeling in the world.

 

"Oh." She hums in approval, "Thanks."

 

Tipping the glass towards him in a mock salute, Felicity takes a sip, making a sour face as the bitter alcohol slips down her throat. Oliver watches her, amused.

 

"Blegh." Her nose wrinkles up, "Can I have a bendy straw? They make everything better. They're in the -"

 

"Top shelf on the right. I know." Oliver finishes her sentence and Felicity laughs as he goes to grab her a straw. It's his bar, but she knows where everything is - just like he knows where she hides the Oreos back at their apartment. He returns with the box of straws, but simply places them on the counter before turning her chair and engulfing her in a hug.

 

"Oliver?"

 

Oliver's hands rest on her hips drawing her close so that his head can fall into the curve of her neck and he steps into the space between her legs.

 

"I missed you." He murmurs, lips grazing her skin. Felicity shivers at the motion, but her hands come up to tangle in his hair, nails scraping against the sensitive skin of his scalp.

 

The atmosphere is warm and intimate and they are exactly where they've wanted to be for the last week - in each other's arms. Seven days is too long for separate business trips they've concluded.

 

Oliver hitches his arms low on Felicity's waist lifting her easily so she can wrap her legs around his hips, before slanting his mouth over hers in a long, drawn-out  kiss. He tastes like nothing, but everything she needs. His sweat is sticky on her skin as he peels off her shirt, hands reaching overhead and she lets out a low laugh when his stubble scratches her neck. This quickly turns into a frustrated moan as Oliver begins to lay hot, open mouthed kisses on her skin tracing a path from pulse point to clavicle before leaving a final one just above the center of her breast line, ending his exploration with a satisfied smack of his lips.

 

Has he mentioned he missed her?

 

Felicity doesn't let him settle into a calm pace, preferring to rip at his shirt, buttons flying, so he can then shrug off the ruined pieces. Oliver hurries to pull off his tie, but she stops him.

 

"Leave it on." Her hand grabs the dangling cloth, drawing him close so they're only a hairsbreadth apart. "It's pragmatic."

 

"Pragmatic? Sexy vocabulary there." He's teasing, and she smiles against the skin of his chest.

 

Before Oliver can begin to enjoy her pressed so close, Felicity is sliding down his body, hands undoing his belt, dragging the zipper down and pulling at his pants until his cock comes free. She leaves him breathless sometimes. This is most definitely one of those times. Giving him a playful smirk and lifting her eyebrows suggestively, Felicity licks his head, pausing to listen to Oliver groan before going all in. She likes to think of sex in gambling metaphors. It's not long before he's gasping her name and begging in a way wholly unbecoming for a masked vigilante. He takes a deep breath when she pauses, and Oliver's totally losing control after a week without her.

 

She looks up at him, hair messy and falling out of her ponytail, and asks him, "Should I stop?"

 

A lone finger makes its way down his shaft and Oliver's breath catches in his throat. On one hand, he would love to stand there forever with her lips around him, but on the other he'll be gone if she starts again and there's so much more for them to do tonight. He hauls her up, and carries her over to some of Verdant's newer couches, before laying her down. Felicity keeps her legs entwined around his hips, letting her heels dig into his back so he's forced to grind against her and he just shakes his head before smothering her with tiny butterfly kisses."Don't. Ever. Stop." Oliver punctuates each word with a kiss to her lips, tasting himself with each meeting, and listening to her laugh. His hands reach down beneath her skirt, fingers pushing aside her panties to reach the soaking wet folds beneath and, good god, Oliver is literally trembling with anticipation - looking forward to returning the oral sex. She sighs happily at him and leans up, hands cupping his face and thumbs dragging along his cheeks, chafed by his stubble. Felicity kisses Oliver once, then twice, slowly, stalling over the feeling of him and her as if they have all the time in the world to be together.

 

He smiles at her before descending slowly between her legs, their hands never leaving each other.

 


 

Oliver's head lays on her stomach, arms wrapped around Felicity's waist as she massages her fingers into his hair. It's their comfort position.

 

"We should go home." She murmurs gently, counting the rhythm of him breathing on her skin. The bench is hard and cold, meant to encourage people to go to the bar or dance, and, despite the warmth of each other and the bone-deep sated feeling, they're so unbelievably tired. They should go back to the warm bed that waits for them at her apartment with the fuzzy green blanket and the sheets that smell like them.

 

Oliver nuzzles his nose into her navel,  and tightens his grip on her. "I'm already home." He whispers.

 

Felicity smiles and murmurs in agreement - they can stay here a little longer.



"But not our heart."

Chapter Text

"You realize moving here means lawn care?" Felicity waves her hand, indicated the yard of overgrown weeds. "As in mowing and fertilizing and watering. Getting down and dirty with the birds and the bees."

 



Oliver goes to unload a few more boxes from Felicity's small, red MINI, shrugging his shoulders before grinning at her words,"I like the birds and the bees." 



She watches him wipe his hoes off oh so proper on the door mat before staring blankly at the simple entryway. Well, it's a start, Felicity thinks, watching Oliver jiggle the broken door handle in confusion. Lifting a duffle bag, one of the few possessions they have left, Felicity walks towards their new house, shaking her head. "Oh Oliver, you have so much to learn about living with the peasantry."


Losing the company to Isabel hadn't meant just losing their jobs, it meant loss of income, loss of insurance - liquidation of certain assets. Thea and Laurel were currently in litigation over the ownership of Queen Mansion and until that had settled a judge had ruled no one could inhabit the premises. Although, Isabel was legally dead Stellmoor had made a grab for the Queen family, attempting to suck them dry like the little business leeches they were and eliminate the competition. On one hand, Oliver was no longer responsible for paying the wages of the many employees in the household which saved him some of his nonexistent money - on the other hand, he was homeless. Which wasn't that big of a deal considering Felicity's apartment had been invaded by him for the past eight months. Queen mansion, although his childhood house, had ceased to be his home for quite some time. Thea had vacated the premises even earlier than he - unable to stay in the house after her true parentage had been revealed (he pretends he doesn't know where she stays most nights, twelve streets over from Verdant in Roy's hovel). Oliver doesn't blame her, as privileged as their childhood had been and as much as their mother and father had loved them, they had not grown up particularly happy.


"Welcome to your humble abode, which is actually an upgrade for me." Felicity waits for him inside the doorway, hair pulled back in her normal ponytail, wearing a white v-neck and straight jeans rolled up to her ankles. Her casual clothes tend to dazzle him (all of her tends to dazzle him, but the heart always responds greater to things it experiences rarely).


"Upgrade? I loved your apartment."


"You loved having another place to crash for the night."


"I loved having you." Oliver leans down and gives her a peck on the lips before hauling two boxes of dishes up and walking around the corner to the kitchens. Felicity stands in the entryway for a moment, quietly touching her lips before following him.

 




The mattress sits on the floor and they look tiredly at the bed frame, currently in pieces, leaning on the four walls of the bedroom. Oliver shares a look with her and they come to a mutual agreement. It's been a long day of unpacking and reorganizing, painting and repairing - with Oliver no longer driven by an insane need to cross names off a list he found his energy draining away easier, he found himself looking forward to crawling into bed at the end of the day - letting the beat of Felicity's heart lull him to sleep.



"It's fine like this." Felicity points to the ground, "I can sleep like this."



Oliver watches her flop onto the mattress and tiredly responds. "I can sleep anywhere."



He pulls off his shirt and unbuttons his pants, letting them fall to the ground, before sliding into bed next to her. They lay together, staring at the ceiling of their new home. Felicity can feel the nervous buzz rolling off of him.



"It's ours, you know. Even if they took your family's money, this was bought with private funds. No one can take it." Oliver curls around her silently, sliding an arm around her belly.


"I know." He kisses her bare shoulder, pushing aside the spaghetti strap of her pajama top.
"I have everything I need right now."


Felicity knows what he means. The Team's safe. Thea's happy. Oliver has lived without his fortune before, and he can do it again - happily, this time around, voluntarily even, if it meant things would be better.



"Good night." Oliver turns off the bedside lamp resting on the ground and Felicity turns to lay her head on his chest.


"Good night."



She feels his lips graze the side of her neck, barely below her hairline, and the three words he says after still make her ears burn and heart beat a little faster.

"Love you too." Felicity mumbles back sleepily.

 




Felicity flops over the next morning to find Oliver's side of the bed empty and cold, hand hitting plain white sheets instead of hardened shoulders.



"Oliver?"



The sun shining through the curtains is blinding - she'd argued for white, but might give in to Oliver's more opaque tastes if only for use in the morning. There's a buzz coming from the kitchen and Felicity sits up at the sound, swinging her feet low and standing up awkwardly from the mattress. Following the sound, she finds Oliver making their traditional breakfast and running the coffee grinder in the background.


"Morning. You're awake early for a Sunday." She wraps her arms around his waist, hugging him from behind while he runs a spatula through the runny yolk of some eggs. Sunday was their day off. Crime statistics showed the majority of violent crimes occurred on Fridays and Saturdays and, with work the rest of the week, this had become the default day of rest. Since QC's hostile takeover, they had decidedly less work, but it had become a habit and routines were comforting when everyday could be the last. Felicity gives him a quick kiss on the cheek, before releasing him and going to retrieve plates from the cabinets above.



"Things to do. Boxes to unpack. Eggs to scramble. Thought I'd get an early start on things." Oliver says, spooning the eggs onto their plates and switching off the burners.



"Mmm. You could've woken me up."



Oliver smiles and turns to her, "I like you better in bed."



Felicity bumps her hip playfully against his, "Well, I like to feel useful."



"Go look outside. I - " He looks unsure, voice softening. "I wanted to surprise you."



The curtains are drawn, light seeping through the sheer cream, and Felicity's bare feet pad softly against the carpet over to the bay windows in the dining room.



The grass is clipped neatly, weeds pulled, and fertilizer laid down. There are some flower beds lining the entry walk leading up to the front door, small bricks encasing various colors of peonies. They are beautiful, and make their house look more idyllic than ever. When she turns back around, Oliver is inches from her, looking on expectantly and waiting for a reaction.



"They're beautiful - Oliver, it's," Felicity pauses to collect her thoughts, taking his hand in hers. "I love it." She places a small kiss on his knuckles, "I love you."



He gives her a pleased look, "I love you, too." His throat clears in embarrassment, and then he's smug. "Lawn care. Lesson number one of living with the peasantry, right?"



Laughing, she responds, "I should've never doubted you. I bow to your amazing genius, oh worker of the lawn mower and buyer of shrubbery."



Nodding his head in solemn agreement,  Oliver cups her face with both hands and leans in, until their noses rub. "I can handle anything when you're with me. If you hadn't - " His voice catches, and there's a well of honesty in his eyes, "If I'd never met you, if you weren't in my life - I don't know what I'd do with myself."



Felicity moves closer so their foreheads touch and she can brush her lips against his, smiling at his confession "That brings us to rule number two. We do all this together."



She means it. Felicity has always agreed with Digg - friends, family, the people you love - they make you stronger and if Oliver and her want to make this work they'll have to do it together.


He wraps her in a hug and his hands are warm on her back, slipping underneath her shirt. Felicity sighs into Oliver's shoulder, sagging against him, strong and solid. They withdraw from each other and, hand in hand, walk out the front door and onto their lawn to get the morning paper.

Chapter Text

Some might think that because Oliver had grown up being attended to, hand and foot, that he might slack on household chores. And, yes, Oliver had a tendency to be less perceptive on some fronts due to his upbringing, (like respecting her DVR or what constituted an acceptable tater tot casserole - hint: Kobe beef is not and should not be considered as an ingrediet), but helping around the house was not one of them. As jaded as Oliver was, his childhood had left him with a strong desire to please those he loved. It was an interesting dichotomy - the surly, defensive man attempting to shrug off any disappointment he caused, as well as the one who struggled to be good. Felicity considered herself lucky, she felt as if they brought out the best in each other, the light in the dark, conquering the world, and all that jazz.

 

Right now though, Oliver's incessant need to prove he could pitch in and run a perfect household (on top of being a vigilante and not-quite billionaire fighting for his fortune in court) was grating on her last nerve.

 

1. Two days ago, she'd caught him pushing aside the couches and swiffering the living room floors at one in the morning.

2. Yesterday, it was the small garage - he'd been putting up shelves, organizing and painting the walls. The space had been unfinished when they bought the house and that was just intolerable for Oliver Queen, suburban expert.

 

Today, it's the kitchen.

 

"Oliver, you don't have to clean the inside of the oven. No one does that."

 

He frowns at her, head popping out from the stove. "It's dirty."

 

"It's self-cleaning. It said so on the box, just leave it alone."

 

"Well, the box is lying because I just scraped off some of last night's casserole."

 

Felicity hums in frustration, but leaves him to his chore choosing to go into the living room and flop down onto the sectional they'd managed to snag off craigslist. The television's on, droning in the background as Felicity opens her laptop up and starts to browse through some feeds, checking email, and looking for any updates on - well - anything. After a bit, her legs curl out from under her to stretch out on the couch hitting a pillow lying where Oliver's lap would normally be. She curls her toes experimentally, shuffling her feet against the curve of the cushion and decides it's not right. Oliver's moved on to the bathroom at this point. She can hear the tell-tale sound of cleaner spray, and the harsh squeak of brush on floor and so, when Felicity quietly opens the door, she's not surprised at all to find Oliver behind the toilet with rubber yellow gloves encasing his hands, scrubbing away. Her head tilts to the side and she shakes it silently because what the tabloids wouldn't give for this - forget possible cheating rumors, Oliver Queen on his hands and knees cleaning is front page news.

 

"What are you doing now?" She questions, startling him.

 

Oliver's head jerks up, banging on one of the pipes and he let's loose a string of unintelligible curses in Russian. Standing up, his hand rubs the sore skin and Felicity winces before moving closer to check on him, concerned and a little guilty.

 

"What are you doing?" She asks again, huffing out an amused puff of air, while bending his head down. She runs her fingers through the short bristles of his hair, feeling for a bump, not missing the way Oliver shivers a little and goosebumps rise to the surface of his skin at her cold touch.

 

"I was - ow!" Felicity finds the bump, " - cleaning. I fixed the pipe yesterday, but there was water and I didn't want mildew." He eyes her hesitantly for a moment, "That will form on tile, right?"

 

Felicity puts her hands on his cheeks and draws him forcefully down to eye-level. "Do I look like I know anything about bathroom bacteria?" He blinks for a second and she scowls, "Never mind. Oliver, come here. We need to talk."

 

She drags him by his rubbery yellow hand out of the bathroom and into their bedroom to sit on the bed. Pushing gently on his shoulders, she makes sure they are both sitting and facing each other before beginning to speak. Oliver distracts himself by peeling the yellow gloves off his hands, scowling in pain and frustration when his fingers manage to find the swelling on his head.

 

"Oliver." He turns to look at her. "You are a homeowner, not a housekeeper. Part of the fun of being upper middle class is letting your house get a little rundown; let it smell like someone actually lives here." She leans in close and rests her forehead against his, "It means you can leave your dirty socks on the floor, let the casserole cake in the stove, and, yeah, maybe there's a little mildew in the bathroom, but the world won't end."

 

The tension begins to slip out of him, and her body thrums in response to his muscles relaxing.

 

"I just want it to be perfect." He says quietly and Felicity smiles at him - she loves Oliver all the time, but it's especially easy to remember why in these simple moments where he tries so hard.

 

"I know, but it doesn't have to be - it never will be perfect. You'll have to learn to live with the imperfections if you're going to live with me." 

 

Oliver stares her down and with the utmost sincerity says, "I don't know what you're talking about. When I'm with you, everything's perfect." He shifts his head a little to brush their lips together, and she's reminded once again how handsome he is - but it's always his eyes that leave her breathless, clear and open for her.

 

"You're a cheeseball." He lets loose a small laugh before going silent again, and Felicity lets him think for a moment, collecting his thoughts.

 

"I've just never had anything like this and it just seems so important." Oliver frowns and purses his lips in frustration, "I just want you to know, everyone to know, that I'm in this all the way. I don't want to screw it up."

 

There it is. Oliver's struggle for approval was the worst kept secret in all of Starling, (with his secret identity coming in a close second considering how big their 'little' team is getting). Felicity was his first, the first time he'd looked towards a future instead of wallowing around in his past trying to find answers and people weren't sure what to make of it. Diggle was supportive, but unsure and Roy didn't really care. Sara was halfway around the world, Thea thought they'd been dating for far longer than they had been and Laurel just got this far off look in her eye when she caught them holding hands. Felicity had spoken with her once, sitting upstairs on the cushions of Verdant, her waiting on Oliver and Laurel on Thea, asking if it bothered her, "Because I can - we can stop, any and all PDA. I don't really like PDA anyway, not really my thing. I'm kind of an awkward person in public, I guess in private too, but - I'm bad at subtle, and -"

 

She's caught up by a short, little laugh from her side and Felicity's face is so red and hot that she can barely see through the embarrassment. Laurel reaches over and gives her a comforting pat on the arm.

 

"You two are fine." Felicity can see the older woman curl into herself, defensively crossing her arms, "I could say that you and Oliver, remind me of myself and Oliver, but that would be a lie. We had our moments - we wouldn't have kept doing the on-off thing if it hadn't been a good relationship at times, but... I think I was too caught up with what we could be and Ollie was too busy being a literal dick." Felicity snorts - she didn't know pre-island Oliver, but that sounded about right. Laurel gets the distant look again, like she's a thousand miles away from where they're currently sitting, "It's Tommy."

 

"Oh."

 

Laurel glances over, amused at the younger woman's slip, before continuing.

 

"I miss him. I know it's been two years, but I spiraled so badly after he died that there are times now, where I don't know what to do without my grief. It was this all encompassing anger and sadness, everything I knew for months after the Glades fell. I've managed to come to peace with his death, but, then I wonder if by letting him go, I'm forgetting him. I don't want to forget him."

 

Involuntarily, the two women reach for each other, holding hands in solidarity. Felicity has not known loss like Laurel - but she has lost and understands far too well the rage that came with someone important leaving your life. She also knows that having someone pat you on the back and say everything is going to be all right doesn't always do any good.

 

"Why are you telling me this? I-I mean, we're not," Felicity juggles a finger back and forth between them, nervously, "I just don't seem like the right person to talk to about this. Not that I mind, I just don't want to - "

 

"One of the things we do in AA is make sure that we're honest," Laurel cuts her off, " That we don't let our feeling get bottled up inside. Sometimes, it's nice to talk to someone who just listens." She shrugs her shoulders absently, "To everyone who knew me before, I was a type A successful attorney and, now, they look at me like I'm broken." Her hands come up towards Felicity placatingly, smiling weakly at the look of alarm that crosses the blonde's face. "I am. A little bit. I don't think anyone can just lose people like that and be okay, but it doesn't mean I've suddenly become stupid or weak - I'm still - still - me. This isn't making much sense, is it?"

 

Felicity remembers being seventeen and playing the cards in Vegas to earn her college tuition, thinks of how long it took her to tell Oliver where she came from, how afraid she was he would suddenly look at her differently, knowing she was the daughter of an absent father with a very, very sealed juvenile record and an open adult one as well. The fear of people's judgement is a powerful thing.

 

"No. I think... I think I understand -  a little."

 

Laurel beams at her and Felicity understands how Oliver loved her for half his life - she is brilliant.

 

"Thank you."

 

Thea comes up the stairs as the conversation winds down and walks up to them, giving Felicity a quick greeting before dragging Laurel off for dinner. Oliver comes five minutes later and they leave to enjoy their own meal.

 


 

It was easier after that, knowing that Laurel wasn't necessarily uncomfortable with them - just the reminder they served to her of her own lost love and really, the sad glances from Laurel were nothing compared to the calculating ones Detective Lance used.

 

He did not approve. Oliver was not a murderer to him anymore, but he was the man who had global assassins chasing him, rag tabloids that were even worse, and a life that often left those closest in tattered shreds. At best, he eyed them with suspicion and discontent, at worst, there's a visible chill to the air whenever Oliver brushes a kiss along her forehead or cheek. Felicity hadn't spoken to the gruff officer yet, knowing the hostility was sparked by his wealth of kindness and protective nature. It was something a small part of Felicity enjoyed - having someone staring over Oliver's shoulder like he's the senior quarterback who asked her to prom, but forgot to bring a corsage. Oliver felt the need to prove to everyone that it was real, what they had, and it mattered so much to him. She just didn't want to lose him among the questions - he needed to enjoy the tiny victories like that they were together at all, alive and safe, that they were happy.

 

"It'll all be fine. I believe in us."

 

He gives her an open mouthed smile then, "Have I mentioned how remarkable you are?" Oliver wraps his arms around her, dragging Felicity close to bury his head in her hair, "Have I mentioned that I love you?"

 

She grins into his shoulder, biting down on her bottom lip, "You might have said it once or twice."

 

He snorts and holds her for a moment longer before releasing her and slowly standing. Felicity eyes him, "Where are you going?"

 

He stops and turns, weakly saying, "To clean up the cleaning supplies?"

 

Her face goes blank with disbelief and Oliver decides to climb back into their bed, clambering over the comforter to kiss her. "Never mind." He mumbles against her lips, letting his weight fall further on her.

 

She hums in response, leaning back and dragging him down with her into the bed.

 

Chapter Text

Felicity's reaching to get the mail, coming home for the evening after a day in court, when Mrs. Rusk walks by with her dog. It's a scrappy thing, not overtly friendly and more easily distracted by the grass and squirrels than people, but Felicity waves hello and is struck by a bolt of desire watching the middle-aged woman climb the steps of her house.

 

"We should get a dog."

 

Oliver peers at her above the edge of his tablet from where he sits at the kitchen table, "Why?"

 

"Why not?" She fires back. "We have the time now since we're currently unemployed and it'd be nice." Felicity circles the table and gets closer to him, sucking her lip between her teeth and looking at him pleadingly.

 

He watches her mouth move and realizes this is going to be a problem - another woman with him wrapped around her finger. Thea will be thrilled.

 


 

The shelter's full. Starling City being as big as it is and as overcrowded, it's not that surprising, but it's something neither of them had really given much thought. The amount of overall human suffering they were confronted with on a daily basis desensitized them to other injustices on some levels. It was overwhelming, the barking and the dogs rushing to the front of the cages - although a few remained cowering in the back. Some kennels were reserved for puppies and the smaller dogs climbed over each other to reach the wandering fingers of potential families. It was heartbreaking. Felicity wondered whether the Hood could do anything for this - but it was like asking an individual to solve homelessness or poverty. The problem was much bigger than saving a single living thing, it involved changing people's mind and attitudes on the whole, changing policy.

 

They walk along the cages for a while and Felicity finds herself turning to Oliver and grabbing his hand.

 

"I think I need to sit down." Oliver looks concerned and leads her to a bench in the middle of the courtyard, kennels surrounding it in a horseshoe shape. "How do we choose? How do we even begin? This was a bad idea."

 

She chews on her lip, and doesn't say anything else. He knows about zero things when it comes to raising an animal - but choosing doesn't seem that hard.

 

"You pick the one that's yours." Oliver raises his hand to the dogs, "There's not a bad dog here, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're a good dog for us. Like dating. Barry wasn't a bad guy, but he wasn't the guy for you - that's me."

 

"Is that so?" She smiles at him, leaning in so their noses barely touch.

 

Oliver inches closer to her, intertwining their hands on top of the bench seat, "Yes."

 

Felicity cups his cheek with her free hand, running her thumb against the curve of his skin, and kisses him on the cheek. "Good advice, Mr. Queen." She withdraws and looks around uncertainly, "Maybe we ask for some help?"

 

A volunteer comes walking by, the hulking figure of a dog dragging her forward, and they look up to watch the struggle angle towards them. Felicity makes a cooing noise at the animal which amps up his attempts to get closer and when Oliver nods at the woman holding the leash she allows the dog to pull them over. It’s first action is to sit down on top of Felicity's flats, rump warm against her toes and lay his head down on her knee, drooling all over the skirt she’s wearing (Felicity thinks there are some things worth ruining clothes for and this is one of them). His snout is short, with a wide mouth, tongue lolling out and panting. His black fur is short and smooth as she pets him along the trunk of his body, fingers dragging through the silky bristles. The woman who'd taken him out stops short and looks apologetically at the couple before speaking, "Sorry about him. He’s very strong and full of energy. When Jet wants something nothing really holds him back. Definitely not me"

 

Oliver looks at Felicity, her hands knuckle deep in the dog’s hair, delving into babytalk causing a long black tail to thump harder against the ground."Sounds like a few people we know. What's his story?"

 

"Well, this is Jet. He's about a year and a half old Pit Bull mix who loves to fetch balls and play tug of war. " Jet seems content, head turning to look at other dogs passing by in interest, but remaining where he is on top of Felicity's feet. "He came in with his sister about six months ago off the streets - they were both sick, but he's all better now just big and young."

 

Felicity scoots off the bench to get on eye level with the animal, crowding around him and rubbing both hands down his back.

 

She lays a playful kiss on the edge of  him asking, "Why would no one want a face like this?" before pushing the dogs cheeks together to make a smushy face, receiving a wet lick in return.

 

"Jet's high energy, black, and a pit bull - three strikes too many for a lot of people. "

 

Felicity looks absolutely stricken at the idea of no one wanting this animal so, Oliver comes to join her on the floor, patting Jet's head and drawing soothing circles on her tailbone. He already knows where this is going.

 

"A dog with some marks against him?" Felicity looks at him and Oliver recognizes where her head's at; the feeling - of not belonging, not being good enough and the need for second chances is something they are intimately familiar with.

 

"Any bad habits?" Oliver asks.

 

"As you saw, he's not that good on a leash and exercise will be important otherwise he might become destructive, but he's a good dog. Food and attention are excellent motivators for him - he'd be awesome in a training class. He's good with other dogs,but hasn't ever seen a cat and you'll have to watch him with smaller kids. He's a big guy and his excitement might get the best of him."

 

Felicity turns to look at him, thoughtfully, waiting to see what he thinks. Oliver looks up at the worker, nodding his head, "I think we'd like to get to know him a little more."

 


 

It's a provisional adoption, two weeks to see how well Jet - now Knight - fits into their home and it's not going too well. Oliver’s daily workouts leave the poor dog exhausted for hours, but he still quietly manages to chew his way through the trash and their baseboards, their closets and their couch legs, and to Felicity's unhappiness - her high heel collection. The bed they’d bought for him already sits out on the curb, fluff spilling out of it like it’d lost a trial by combat. He has good days, though, when Knight would settle for lounging about the house and following Felicity around the study and living room, content with being near one of them. On the fifth day, they find out he has a thing for storms that leave him curled up under the bed or under the comforter, jammed between their legs. Oliver had complained, grumbling into her ear, but Felicity had felt his hand moving underneath the blanket, patting the trembling dog ever so gently on his head.

 

They’re ten days in when Felicity knows the dog isn’t going anywhere.

She walks into the living room one morning to find Oliver lying on the couch watching T.V., sweating from his morning run with a black lump lying on his feet at the end of the couch despite their no furniture rule and knows they're both goners for the mutt.

She's intimately aware of what abandonment feels like - after that first betrayal the fear that everyone would leave was a ghost following her everywhere and so, a part of her knew it was going to be next to impossible to give this dog back no matter what, but she also knew it wasn’t a unilateral decision, that Oliver’s opinion mattered. Watching the dog curl up next to Oliver on the couch though, made her smile knowingly - she was fairly sure Knight would only be returned over Oliver’s sweaty, rule-breaking, in-need-of-a-workout-buddy body.  This is a home and they are a family - no matter how much one of them decides to chew on shoes, and baseboards, and cushions, and furniture. At the end of the day, family is about taking the good with the bad, loving each other despite everything. Before Oliver, before the team and saving the city, Felicity had felt a little disconnected, a little unsure about where her ambitions would take her. Now, there is a contentment to her, a feeling that she would always have a place to come back to and she's not talking about the house. Or the yard. Or even the bed or the couch. Oliver and this dog - a family, someone waiting for you at the end of the day at the place you love the most - home.  Oliver had become hers.