About two weeks into her new career as a vigilante freelancer, Felicity tells her roommate that she’s sleeping with an investment banker.
“Really?” Gyu Won says skeptically, which is fair, because Felicity had been the one to develop the five-question system that they’d used for most of college to identify the finance bros that were hitting on them at parties.
“Yes,” Felicity says, hiding her face in her purse, pretending to paw through its contents in search of her thermos. “His name is Hudson.”
“Really?” Gyu Won says again.
Faking exasperation with moderate success, Felicity says, “Yes, oh my god, Gyu Won.” Hudson is a pretty terrible name, but it’d also been the only one she’d been able to think of on her drive home that could be remotely salvaged from accidentally using ‘Hood’ in casual conversation.
“Well, I hope he’s a great fuck,” Gyu Won says as she turns back to the copy of The Goldfinch that she’s annotating with a scary-looking red pen. “If you bring him to Farscape night, I’m going to cut you.”
“God no,” Felicity says, not having to feign horror at the idea of Oliver—in any capacity—marathoning sci-fi mainstays with her friends. “Hudson’s not—I mean. It’s just sex.” Somebody more sophisticated than Felicity might be able to handle saying that without blushing, but Felicity can feel the wave of heat start at her collarbones and shoot upwards.
Without looking away from The Goldfinch, Gyu Won says, “Try not to trip over his dick and fall into feelings, okay? All finance bros are the same.”
“Right, right,” Felicity says, deciding that now is a good time to emerge from her bag with her thermos. “Of course not. Feelings. Pfft.”
“You are so fucked,” Gyu Won says to Felicity’s back as she goes to put her thermos in the dishwasher. “Be careful, or else you’re going to end up married to this guy, Fel.”
That is literally the last thing Felicity can imagine happening in this scenario. She’s probably going to be dead in six months, or Oliver is going to be dead and Felicity will go back to having lots of time free at night for plunging to the depths of Reddit. Felicity wants to get married to somebody like Oliver—he’s basically got “really fucking bad idea” stamped across his forehead, along with “commitment issues” and “could give you that triple orgasm you faked during The Vagina Monologues”—like she wants to stab herself in the eye with a tablet stylus.
“Ha,” Felicity says, and it comes across as mostly bitter. “That’s not going to be an issue, Gyu Won.”
“No, Aunt Ruth,” Felicity is saying when the keypad at the door to the foundry beeps twice and Oliver comes down the steps at literally the least convenient moment possible, “I’m actually—not coming home for Passover.”
“Is it a boy?” Aunt Ruth asks suspiciously. Felicity’s cousin Naomi had married a Presbyterian and is in the process of raising her kids as nondenominational; Aunt Ruth still has lingering trauma related to that.
“Not everything is about men, Aunt Ruth,” Felicity mutters. “I’m swamped at work—”
From about two feet away, Oliver yells, “Felicity!”
Aunt Ruth says, “Work, eh?” in a surprisingly lecherous way for a 63-year-old woman.
“That’s my boss,” Felicity says. She swivels around in her chair and points at the phone. SHUT UP, she mouths at him.
“What are you doing still at work at nine?” Aunt Ruth asks suspiciously. “They better be paying you overtime.”
“Of course they’re paying me overtime,” Felicity says, widening her eyes at Oliver and putting heavy emphasis on the last word. Oliver rolls his eyes and gestures to his billionaire superhero lair, with a few seconds’ worth of pointing at the thousands of dollars in computer equipment on and around Felicity’s desk.
Felicity can almost hear the light-bulb go off over her aunt’s head as she says, after a few seconds of pointed silence, “Wait—is it that Raymond character?”
“No,” Felicity says, barely managing to keep herself from vomiting all over the floor. Ugh, Raymond. “I mean, you’re right, he’s my boss, but this is my other boss. My—bigger boss.” She says bigger because she’s looking at Oliver’s biceps, which are almost as large as Digg’s because he has his arms crossed over his chest in a judgmental way. She winces a bare second later and turns back to her monitor, which does not have enormous biceps or toned forearms or intimidating eyebrow game.
“Bigger,” Auth Ruth repeats, in the same tone she’d used to ask if Felicity was being a bad Jew because of a boy. “If you’re seeing somebody, you can just bring them with you, you know. A nice, small seder will be the perfect time to introduce him—”
“Whoops,” Felicity says, clicking open iTunes and pulling up an alarm .mp3. Over the subsequent loud beeping she half-shouts, “I better go check on the servers! I’ll be back for Mom’s birthday!”
“That’s four months away!” Aunt Ruth squawks and Felicity hangs up on her.
“Sorry about that,” she tells Oliver. “I learned pretty early in life that ignoring her phone calls is a bad idea.”
For a guy who spends such a significant amount of his time brooding over his own family, Oliver looks constipated at this reminder that Felicity has one, too. In his defense, Felicity goes out of her way to never talk about them, ever. “Of course,” he says, like that makes sense. “Are you good?”
He probably means are you emotionally distant enough from that phone call to play sidekick, and the answer to that is no, because Felicity always needs at least 24 hours and a full bottle of Merlot to recover from a phone call from one of her three remaining family members.
“Yep!” Felicity says brightly. Say what you will about murdering criminals (“Necessary,” Oliver always says, like that makes sense at all; murder should not be used as an all-purpose stain-remover equivalent), at least it’s not a seder with Aunt Ruth and Felicity’s mom squabbling over the latest homeowners association scandal.
Oliver doesn’t look like he believes her, but he does her the courtesy of treating her like an adult and ignoring the issue as he comes to loom over her desk chair. “Do we have access to Barrera’s phone yet?” he asks. Felicity gets that he was on an island for five years and lost all of his social programming in his fight for survival over the native population of kangaroos or whatever other lie is in circulation this month, but—is the looming necessary? Does he really need to curl over her and emphasize that he has shoulders the size of Felicity’s entire closet? Felicity has eyes. She can see them.
“Not yet,” Felicity says. A few seconds later she adds, “Right, okay, clearly personal space is for people who are not vigilantes,” and Oliver, of course, just stands there, looking like he’s fighting down a smirk. He’s such a fucking dork.
Felicity is in the middle of hacking into the FBI for Helena Bertinelli when her phone vibrates at her elbow. As a good little employee of Queen Consolidated, Felicity should have a Q-phone, but: come on. Everybody knows that shit is more broken than the latest Palm disaster. Felicity has an iPhone like every other normal human being.
“Who’s this?” Helena purrs, leaning over Felicity’s shoulder to read the notification on her lock screen. Felicity doesn’t spare it a glance, which means Helena adds, “Gyu Won Park wants you to know that your neighbors having started leaving their cigarette butts in your rosemary again.”
“Motherfuckers,” Felicity hisses. She’s still terrified of being murdered, obviously, but—how hard is it to dispose of your cigarettes somewhere other than Felicity’s potted herb collection? This is not rocket science. Gyu Won can barely make a cup of coffee without turning it into some kind of lecture on metonymy but she still understands the fundamental concept of not poisoning Felicity’s plants. “If they kill any of my sage because of this, I’m going to tank their credit scores. Forget a strongly-worded letter to our landlord, I’m going to burn them alive.”
Helena laughs. It’s the kind of dark, delicate noise that is designed by biology to dance across the back of somebody’s neck. Felicity’s experience with other ladies is really just one experience with one lady—Felicity had drunk an entire fishbowl by herself at Qdobar after her Modern Optics final and hit on an Alpha Epsilon Phi sister with a surprising amount of success—but the muscles in the back of her neck tighten. No wonder Oliver had banged Helena like a screen door. If they’d met under circumstances less likely to result in Felicity’s demise, Felicity would bang her. She has great taste in shoes.
“Where’s my father, Felicity?” Helena prods, still hovering over Felicity’s shoulder.
They may not be, say, the NSA—not that Felicity has experience hacking into the NSA, or so she’s going to insist until her deathbed—but the FBI’s security measures are not a total joke. “I’m trying,” Felicity says tightly, attempting and failing to ignore the crossbow jabbed pointedly into the small of her back. She’s sort of weirdly hunched over her computer to facilitate its presence, which means she’s lost the soothing ergonomics of her usual position and it’s having an adverse affect on her concentration.
“You offered,” Helena reminds her. “You shouldn’t make offers you can’t fulfill, Felicity.”
“Stop saying my name like that,” Felicity huffs.
Her phone vibrates, again. “Like what?” Helena says, but she sounds like a big cat. “Gyu Won Park says she’s writing an email to your landlord.”
“Damon the opposite of cares about our stupid neighbors,” Felicity says. If she talks about how much she and Gyu Won are going to murder the chain-smoking occupants of 4C—they share a fire escape and a mutual sense of loathing, since Felicity called the cops the last time one of their raves made the whole floor smell like weed—then she’s not thinking about how angry Oliver is going to be about this entire clusterfuck. “I think they might actually be friends with him. Sometimes he disappears into their apartment at weird hours.”
Helena can’t possibly care about Felicity’s neighbors, but she still hums that back of the throat noise that Oliver makes when he’s encouraging Felicity to continue speaking but doesn’t have the breath to verbally encourage her. This is usually while he’s hitting something with a stick, or throwing a stick at something, or doing some death-defying acrobatics with the aid of—you guessed it!—a big stick.
“I mean, I don’t think I’d care so much about the cigarettes,” Felicity continues, typing industriously. “My roommate is getting her MFA; like, smoking is a thing that happens adjacent to me. It’s really that they must be trying for some kind of corner on the pot industry, because our hallway smells like poop and weed. My roommate says that that’s the smell you get when you’re distilling the oil that you put in pot brownies, but at least pot brownies don’t smell like shit. They smell like chocolate, because they’re brownies.”
Helena says, “I’m not very familiar with them,” sounding way too amused with this entire situation considering that she’s probably going to kill Felicity in twenty minutes.
“Me neither,” Felicity admits. She shifts to typing one-handedly so she can take a sip of her mostly-flat bottle of Diet Coke. Back at MIT, Felicity had hacked exclusively with the aid of Diet Dr. Pepper, but now that their advertising team is a group of shitty sexist assholes she’s boycotting their products on principle. “I mean, pot happens, but I went to MIT, not Brown. Remind me of your dad’s full name?”
She pauses, looking back over her shoulder at Helena, and Helena says, “Franco Dominico Bertinelli.”
“Date of birth?” Felicity prompts.
“October 8th, 1962,” Helena recites. She’s checking the toes of her pumps, not Felicity, but Felicity has no illusions about Helena being distracted. She lacks Oliver’s totally obvious aura of Constant Vigilance, but she’s got a Bellatrix Lestrange thing going on that really works for her. “Do you have a location yet? I’m getting a little impatient, Felicity.”
“I’m sorry,” Felicity says, applying name and date of birth as search terms. “Do you want to do this? I thought the whole point of you having me at the mercy of your crossbow was because you don’t know how to access the FBI’s records.”
“Felicity,” Helena says, and wow does she sound like Oliver. “You don’t have to be alive for the rest of this.” The scary part isn’t even that she nudges the tip of her crossbow into the small of Felicity’s back, right where Felicity imagines a bolt could do some severe damage to her spinal cord. No, the really terrifying part is the smile on Helena’s face that Felicity can see reflected in her monitor. At least Oliver has the occasional burst of pathos about having to kill people.
“Right,” Felicity says faintly. “Um—do you want me to—print off this address?”
The first thing Gyu Won says when she sees Digg on their couch is, “What the shit?”
Felicity, digging through the contents of their bathroom cabinets in search of a first aid kit, shouts, “Gyu Won, this is John! John, that’s my roommate, Gyu Won!”
“Is she two-timing Hudson with you?” Gyu Won asks Digg.
“Who?” Digg says, his voice still a little slurred because he’d bled all over the inside of Felicity’s car for the twenty-minute drive to her apartment and the fifteen minutes it’d taken them after that to find street parking. In Felicity’s defense, their lair of choice is currently mostly a pile of rubble; with their boss / sugar daddy off brooding god knows where, the options had really only been Felicity’s apartment or SC Gen’s ER.
“You know, that finance bro she’s been dicking since February,” Gyu Won says. There’s a series of loud noises, probably Gyu Won flinging her keys into the bowl by the door and kicking off her boots. “It is Hudson, right? How many other pretentious prep school names could I have feasibly confused it with?”
“Yes,” Felicity shouts, opening the cabinet under the sink and crawling halfway into it. “Actually, John and I work together. Gyu Won, what’d you do with the first aid kit?”
“It’s in the kitchen,” Gyu Won throws out as she breezes by the open bathroom door. In what passes as a low voice for her, she adds, “If you’re not hitting that like the fist of an angry god, I honestly don’t know what’s happened to you, Smoak.”
“I am not,” Felicity says with as much dignity as she can muster whilst crawling out from halfway inside a cabinet. “He has a girlfriend, Gyu Won.”
“Shame,” is all Gyu Won has to say.
Felicity shrieks so loudly when she opens her bank statement that she actually manages to wake Gyu Won out of her usual sound-impervious coma. “Oh my god, Fel,” Gyu Won says sleepily from the doorway to Felicity’s bedroom. “Can you please shut up? I have to meet with my advisor at like nine tomorrow morning.”
“I am having a heart attack!” Felicity hisses back. She’s sitting cross-legged on her bed, theoretically checking her bank statement for irregularities but in reality actually dying because—where did all of those zeroes come from?!
“So do it more quietly!” Gyu Won says. “Oh my god. I’m so tired.” She slumps against the doorframe and blinks at nothing for a while, her eyes gone owlish behind her glasses. After a few seconds spent visibly gathering her threads of consciousness, she finally says, “What, you got your shit together and watched the Red Wedding episode?”
“Yes,” Felicity lies in a high pitch. “Yes, I did, oh my god.” She is going to fucking reenact the Red Wedding on Oliver’s ass when he gets back. She’s going to play the fucking Rains of Castamere over the speakers in the foundry that Oliver uses to play his bad early-2000s white frat boy hip-hop and she’s going to stab him in the throat, that douche.
“Great,” Gyu Won says sleepily. She yawns so widely that her jaw creaks. “Can we talk about it tomorrow, then? Because I’m going to fall asleep during my meeting and get kicked out of the program and then you’re not going to have a roommate and you’ll have to pay the rent on this place by yourself.”
Felicity can’t really hear her over the angry buzzing in her ears, but she nods and makes a shooing gesture with her hand. “Go back to bed.”
Rolling her head against the doorframe, Gyu Won blinks at Felicity for a few long seconds, and then she sighs and says, “You should call Hudson to fuck that aggression out.”
Grateful for the excuse, Felicity says tightly, “I am so fucking angry at Hudson right now, Gyu Won. If I saw him, I’d probably push him off of the top of a fucking building.”
“Hate sex,” Gyu Won says, lethargic and approving, as she goes back to bed. “I like it. Air out that mean streak, Smoak.”
I know you said that the last mats I picked out were subpar or whatever but I don't know why you think I’m qualified to search for exercise equipment when I literally collapse after like ONE MILE of running.
Better, not great. Stop using asthma as an excuse not to work on your cardiovascular health.
STOP BEING SO DIFFICULT, oh my god, John, just buy the stupid mats that you want. I’m pretty sure Oliver also left you that fucking insulting “severance package.” Unless you’re saving to buy another Big Belly with Carly, I guess. I can’t judge. I used part of mine to buy a pair of Louboutin boots.
Please don’t buy another Big Belly with Carly and leave me to handle Oliver on my own, I so cannot deal with him by myself. He’s like a toddler, but a toddler that has biceps the size of my head and can incapacitate me with a paperclip.
I’m not planning on helping Carly expand her franchise. I’m not going anywhere.
We’re going shopping for mats on Saturday, so please wear normal clothes. (Sneakers, no Louboutins.)
P.S. Maybe you’d have a better chance of withstanding assault by paperclip if you worked on your cardio more often.
Like, normal clothes as in jeans, or normal clothes as in yoga pants so I don’t split a seam when you want to test-drive some wrestling equipment?
You should also know that my new Louboutin boots have spikes on them, so they’ll probably HELP me when I inevitably get mugged trying to Better Homes & Garden-up Oliver’s stupid rubble lair.
Yoga pants don’t count as real pants, Felicity.
JUST FOR THAT, I’m going to wear yoga pants + my new boots and when I kick you in the face with them, you’re gonna be really sorry.
P.S. Can you please please please stop at Chipotle on your way in tonight and get me a carnitas burrito with everything except pinto beans and corn salsa? I promise we’ll get weird quinoa bowls at Protein Bar every night for the rest of the week. I just seriously need something without kale, for one day.
Don’t you think it’s weird that it’s basically lettuce but it tastes like fish?
No, Felicity, I don’t, because kale doesn’t taste like fish. You’re the only person who thinks that.
NO I’M NOT
“Are you going to tell him?” Digg asks. He clearly means to be—sympathetic, or whatever, but it comes across like one of Aunt Ruth’s guilt-trips.
“Um,” Felicity says. “No. I know some of us were born as Greek gods and have never had to deal with, like, rejection and terrible sex and whatever, but—no. Never.”
Digg leans a hip against her desk and spoons up a mouthful of his gross white bean quinoa soup. After chewing for a few seconds, he says, “I would normally drop this, but you haven’t been great, Felicity.”
Felicity stares at her computer instead of him, effectively ignoring both his judgment and his dinner. “Right,” she finally says. “And telling Oliver, who has appropriated ‘emotionally constipated’ for his own personal use, that’s definitely a great way to ensure my mental health. You’re so right. Thanks for the advice, Digg, I’ll get right on that as soon as I figure out where he actually is.”
“Felicity,” Digg says, in the steady way that never fails to make Felicity want to smack him across the face with her keyboard. “If you don’t want to tell him and you don’t think he’ll ever feel the same way, you need to talk to somebody. This is not the kind of thing you can work through on your own.”
She knows that Digg is speaking from experience—she knows because he and Carly have been slowly and visibly imploding the longer that Oliver is gone, like now that Digg doesn’t have the excuse for the time-drain he can’t escape the guilt of dating his brother’s widow—but Felicity is also 100% sure that she and Oliver do not have the kind of relationship that includes talking about feelings.
“I’m talking to you,” she says to her computer monitor.
“Right,” Digg says, exasperated. “Getting drunk and yelling about how stupid his face is, that’s definitely productive—”
“His face is stupid,” Felicity interrupts. “How does he maintain that perfect layer of stubble? It doesn’t even make sense. It must require constant maintenance but that’s a lot of vanity for a guy who lived on an island without any mirrors for five years and claims that he’s, like, above mortal concerns or whatever.”
She’s just clicking randomly on lines of code now and not even editing them, so she shoves away from her desk and crosses her arms over her chest.
After a long pause, Digg says, “He’s messed up, Felicity. It’s not pretty, or safe. He’s always going to be messed up because of the island. He might never be okay enough to deal with a relationship.”
“Oh my god,” Felicity says, glaring at him over the top of her glasses, “do I look delusional? I know, okay? I know. It’s dumb. His face is dumb, being in love with him is dumb, this stupid lair is dumb, it’s a stupid, dumb situation.”
Digg doesn’t break eye contact with her as he eats another mouthful of his healthy person soup.
“I just want him back,” Felicity says, and since pretending that her voice doesn’t break is fruitless in the face of Digg’s relentless emotional honesty, she gets up and kicks off her shoes. “Come on, show me that judo throw again. Maybe I’ll get it this time.”
Digg’s text comes during the last few minutes of Ne’ila. After Felicity’s phone had rung twice during Ma’ariv—the first call from Raymond, who’d basically begun floundering the second that Felicity had left the office, and the second from the automatic alert system she’d set up to ping her if any global facial recognition software pulled up Oliver’s parameters—her mom had given her the predictable “you’re a terrible Jew and embarrassing me” look and Felicity had winced, mouthed, Sorry, and switched it to vibrate.
Her phone’s been going off all day in the pocket of her pants, like it knows that today is a High Holy Day and Felicity’s entire worth as a human being is up for judgment on a cosmic scale. The worst part is that she should probably be very invested in Yom Kippur this year; in terms of sins, Felicity’s got a lot on her plate. The problem is, of course, the follow-through, since Felicity can’t in good conscience promise never to be complicit in death again. That would be a lie, and while Felicity has gotten pretty fucking good at lying to the majority of the people in her life, it feels useless to lie in her brain to God.
As Ben Gelfand goes up to blow the shofar—what total bogus; Felicity had gone to Hebrew school with his kids and she would not call the head of that family the best man for the job, but whatever, she barely even goes to this synagogue anymore—Felicity surreptitiously slips her phone out of her pocket and uses her thumb to unlock it.
The most recent text is from Digg: Lian Yu, charter leaves 0600 tomorrow.
“Shit,” Felicity whispers, coincidentally just in time for Ben Gelfand to finish blowing the shofar and half of the people nearby to hear her.
“Felicity,” her mom hisses.
“Sorry, sorry,” Felicity says. She’s halfway through turning to leave before she whirls back around and leans over to kiss her mom on the cheek. Technically, Yom Kippur is over, so she’s not—the worst person ever. “I have to go, I’m so sorry, it’s an emergency.”
“An emergency?” Aunt Ruth squawks from the other side of Felicity’s mom. “What kind of emergency? Aren’t you going to break your fast at Mimi Ginsberg’s?”
In no universe is Felicity upset about having to miss Mimi Ginsberg’s guilt-fest, since yes, Felicity does know that Sam Ginsberg is in his last year of medical school now and yes, Felicity also knows that Sam is engaged to a nice lawyer and they’re planning on getting married in the spring; she’s lying, again, when she says, “I’m so sorry, but I have to go. I’ll call, okay?”
Her mother is so furious that her mouth has gone white in the corners. If Felicity were still fifteen and living at home, she’d know to lock herself in her room and wait for the storm to wear itself out, but Felicity is twenty-four now and she lives three hours away. She comes home when she wants to, which is basically twice a year. Her mother’s bursts of anger are no longer Felicity’s problem, and maybe feeling grateful for that is another sin Felicity should have confessed during Teshuva.
“Sorry,” Felicity says one last time, and then she bolts.
The worst part is that Oliver clearly doesn’t understand the problem, which means he has no idea what executive assistants actually do. This is one of those rich people things, where Oliver is used to a task being accomplished and unfamiliar with all the shit behind the scenes that goes into whatever he needs done.
Felicity has the opposite of the skillset required to be an effective EA, so she wakes up on Friday, having spent the last four days metaphorically and literally drowning (in message slips) at her new desk, and hits Kiva Han on her way to work.
“Hi,” she says as she steps off of the elevator at the fifteenth floor.
“Good morning,” says Ron Thierry, 38, lover of classic cars and model airplanes according to his Facebook profile, which has deplorable privacy settings. He’s been at QC for sixteen years as executive assistant to the VP of Construction & Design. “Can I help you?”
“Hi,” Felicity repeats, clacking her way over to his desk. She hands him the coffee in her left hand, which—if Sharon in Accounting, who’d gone on two dates with Ron before she decided that the model airplane thing was too weird a hobby for the future Mr. Sharon in Accounting, can be trusted—he takes with four sugars. “I’m Felicity Smoak.”
Ron takes the coffee and glances skeptically at the lipstick mark on it.
“They mislabeled the cups,” Felicity explains. “Sorry. I’m not—germs. Or anything.”
Proving himself more adventurous than most of Felicity’s former colleagues on the sixth floor, Ron gamely takes a sip. “Congratulations on getting my coffee order right,” he says a few seconds later. “You’re already 80% qualified for this job.”
“That’s a lie,” Felicity points out. “That’s—such a lie. And I need help.”
Ron looks down at his keyboard for a second, his mouth twitching, and then he looks up. “Yeah,” he agrees. “Miranda said that you double-booked Mr. Queen on Wednesday because you didn’t factor Pendergast Circle into his commute from Finlay Tech.”
“Google Maps said—” Felicity points out.
“—yeah, no,” Ron interrupts. “First off, Google Maps is pretty good but Pendergast Circle is always a mess.”
Felicity puts her own coffee down on the edge of Ron’s desk and whips out her phone for note-taking. “Pendergast Circle, always unreliable and terrible. See, oh my god, you’re a great mentor already. Think about all that you’d be able to teach me, molding me in your image.”
“You haven’t asked,” Ron says, leaning back in his chair and wrapping both of his hands around the cup. He doesn’t look like he’s going to laugh her out of the room, though, which is a nice change from the rest of Felicity’s week thus far. “You’ve just brought me my usual coffee order and gotten lipstick all over my cup.”
“Please,” Felicity says immediately. “Please teach me how to do this job. I have a binder of financials that I’m supposed to condense into a summary report for Oliver by the end of the day and they’re literally written in Abyssal.”
Ron’s got the kind of face that’s so inscrutable it could’ve been carved out of stone into the side of a mountain. “Can you tell me why I should do that?” he asks. This conversation is now only slightly less traumatizing than Felicity’s interview for the internship at QC that had sent her down this road in the first place.
Just like that interview, though, Felicity has prepared her answers. “Mr. Bankole is basically retired,” she says. “Which means your responsibilities must be limited. I don’t know if you’re playing Candy Crush all day or on Buzzfeed—which, no judgment, I’ve definitely wasted company hours on Cracked videos—but. I think you’re proud of your job, because you’re great at it, everybody says so, and it must really suck, to see me be terrible at it. I know that when IT hired Peter Wilson last year despite his total lack of experience it was like little needles stabbing my eyes every time I saw him.”
Ron says nothing and takes a sip of coffee.
“Also,” Felicity adds, not even trying to hide the sheer desperation leaking out of her, “I will bring you coffee every morning. Except for the ones where I have to work remotely.”
“If I don’t see improvement within a month,” Ron says, “I am going to leave you to drown.”
Nearly dumping her coffee all over him in her joy, Felicity shrieks and says, “Oh my god, thank you so, so much—you won’t regret it, I promise, I won’t drown and I’ll—bring you muffins, muffins and coffee. Do you have any parking tickets? I’m great at those too.”
“Let’s stick with coffee,” Ron says. Felicity thinks he might even be fighting a grin.
When Oliver had first started napping on the cot in the foundry between CEO / vigilante shift-changes, he’d warned Felicity, “Don’t wake me up.” This had later been clarified, in a hollowing kind of way, to mean don’t wake me up from a nightmare because I might try to kill you in my sleep.
Felicity spares three seconds to be grateful that Gyu Won is at a conference this week in Gotham and therefore not available to witness this shameful display of indecision before she takes another minuscule step from the doorway of her bedroom towards her living room. Oliver is supposedly sleeping on her couch to be the last line of defense in case that super sketch guy who’d followed Felicity home from Verdant last Thursday decides to break into her apartment, but right now she’s more worried about the bodily harm he might deal himself with all that thrashing around.
“Oliver,” she says loudly. He’s still shaking, making this horrible noise that’s pitched lower than a keen, and Felicity is so not at all prepared to deal with something like this. Oliver’s misplaced guilt about the Count trying to kill her? That she gets. Oliver overreacting to a drunk creep following Felicity home? That she also gets, especially in light of her recent brush with near-death. Nightmares that might result in accidental homicide are, however, legions above her pay grade.
Saying his name with increasing sharpness doesn’t work any better. Still half-asleep and at a loss for literally any other options, Felicity shuffles back into her bedroom and pulls the Strongarm Blaster out of the box it lives in under her bed. She hasn’t used it since her last Humans vs Zombies campaign; finding the bag of darts takes forever because it’s three in the goddamn morning and she’s so tired.
“Coffee tomorrow is on you, Oliver Jonas Queen,” Felicity mumbles to herself as she loads the darts. “Coffee for all of next week is on you.” She's still irritated enough about Oliver's ham-fisted maneuvering with respect to her "promotion" that she's getting a little bit of mean pleasure from the idea of this. The doorway to her bedroom puts her at about ten feet from the couch, which is comfortably within Felicity’s shooting range.
The first two darts miss, because it’s three in the goddamn morning, but the next three hit Oliver in the forehead. The third one wakes him up; he jerks upright and does something lethal-looking with the side of his hand to Gyu Won’s House Targaryen pillow as he does so.
“You were having a nightmare,” Felicity explains, when Oliver pulls the Nerf darts off of his forehead and squints at them suspiciously.
He blinks at her, his breathing still heavy, and then he says, “What?”
“You were having a nightmare,” Felicity repeats. “I’m not supposed to wake you up. I’m going to bed now, okay?”
“Did you—shoot me with a Nerf gun?” Oliver says accusingly, like Felicity didn’t just fucking MacGyver a work-around to his trust issues at 3:05 AM.
Felicity says, “You’re welcome,” and she makes sure to slam the door to her bedroom shut behind her.
Basically this entire clusterfuck is a terrible idea, but if Felicity had any control over her own emotions she probably would’ve married Casey Neuenheimer when he’d proposed to her at Boston College Hillel’s Rosh Hashanah party in 2009. He’s playing for the Starling City Blades now and making bank, which had been more impressive to Felicity before she’d started spending time with a billionaire who thinks breaking up with your friends necessitates dropping a million bucks in their bank account. Felicity’s taxes this year are going to be horrifying.
“Sorry,” Barry says, “but—a million dollars? Like, six zeroes?”
“Right?” Felicity says. “Who does that?!” She sinks her fingers into Barry’s shoulder and forces him to bodily adjust before he crashes them into Roy and Thea, who are actually dancing and don’t deserve to be mowed down. They look romantic and twinkling under the lights, which is probably driving Oliver up the wall.
“I guess billionaires,” Barry says in a slightly strangled voice.
Felicity winces and extracts her fingernails from his shoulder. “Sorry,” she says. “I just—don’t get it? But I think it’s a rich people thing. When you’re that rich, you can just replace emotions with money and you don’t even realize it’s insulting.”
“It’d be nice to be that rich,” Barry says, a little wistfully. Felicity gets the feeling. Money is so wasted on rich people. “I could buy my own mass spec.”
“So many shoes,” Felicity says. “And WoW extensions.”
Barry pulls her into an only slightly inept turn and neither of them trip over her dress; she beams at him and he grins back. “Dance lessons,” he suggests. “That’s probably a requirement for some income brackets.”
“I could buy my groceries exclusively from Whole Foods,” Felicity says dreamily. “And the wine.”
“Oh man,” Barry says. “No more shitty gin.” The grin is more a soft smile now; they’re sort of swaying instead of actually dancing, and somewhere in this room Moira Queen is probably judging them really hard, but she’s a murderer and nobody cares what she thinks.
Which reminds Felicity: “Gin is gross,” she feels compelled to point out. “It’s like drinking alcoholic Pine Sol.”
“Well, yeah,” Barry says. “Cheap gin. But rich people gin is like—a soft summer breeze of booze.”
Felicity begrudgingly allows that this sounds delicious. Barry slows on the swaying when they’re near the open bar and solicits the bartender for a gin and tonic featuring his best gin. The bartender looks really bored, probably because only like five people in this room are legally allowed to drink, so he gets into the spirit of the thing. “Try this one,” he says and he keeps saying it until Felicity and Barry have sampled every brand of gin in his little cart and they’ve moved on to tequila.
They’re having such a good time that Felicity gives Barry her phone number when he has to leave to catch his train, along with a cute little wave and a, “Call me when your boss doesn’t hate you and you can travel again!” Naturally, because Felicity has never had a less awkward good-bye she then has to ruin it by tracking Barry down like a rabid dog not even two hours later, after Oliver is poisoned by their centrifuge thief. Who does this guy even think he is, Doctor Von Doom? Who steals a freaking centrifuge?
“So you remember how I said Oliver went on a mental health vacation and left me a million dollars as a ‘sorry for bailing on you, friend’ deal?” Felicity says to Barry after he’s finished freaking out about Oliver being the Hood and finally asked her why she’s in a superhero lair. Her chest aches because she ran to and from the south entrance to the train station, in heels, to collect Barry’s unconscious body and she wants to die. This is probably what Digg means when he tells her that she needs to work on her cardiovascular endurance. “So, I wasn’t—totally honest, about that?”
“You guys were together, weren’t you,” Barry says groggily. He’s still not totally recovered from the dart-to-the-neck thing, but Digg had claimed it was a logistical necessity.
“No,” Felicity rushes to reassure him, “no, me and Oliver? Absolutely not.” Some part of her face must convey how much she doesn’t want to at all talk about this, because Barry straightens up and looks less tragic.
“Oh!” he says. “I’m—sorry?”
“Water under the bridge,” Felicity lies. “But actually, I was not being totally truthful about why Oliver felt the need to leave me a million dollars. It was less ‘sorry, friend,’ more ‘hazard pay.’ You know?”
Barry says, “No?” but he’s apologetic about it.
“Look, I guess I’ll explain in a second,” Felicity says, “but you really, really need to save his life first and we’ll deal with my freelancing afterwards.” Thank god for college, or else Felicity would not be able to pretend to be sober right now. Of course Oliver gets accidentally poisoned by a scientist-thug the one night that Felicity has sampled every type of gin offered by Celestial Events Planning & Catering.
Not that Oliver—doesn’t get poisoned on nights that Felicity is sober. Oliver kind of gets poisoned a lot.
“I can’t believe our lives,” Felicity says under her breath, and then she grabs Barry’s hand and drags him over to the sample of Oliver’s blood that she’s already collected, ready for Barry to work his forensic magic on it. Her heels are still sending little pinpricks of pain up to her calves because of the sprinting thing. Crime-fighting sucks.
In Felicity’s defense, she brings Digg and Oliver as an accident.
“Is that fucking Hudson?” Gyu Won demands from the couch when Oliver follows Felicity through her front door. They both freeze, which means they look doubly guilty. “Did you seriously bring your finance bro hook-up to Farscape night? I am going to fucking kill you.” She makes little claws out of her fingers and rakes them through the air near Felicity’s head.
“Oh my god, Gyu Won,” Felicity squawks, leaning back and out of the way of Gyu Won’s drunken clawing. Oliver puts a steading hand on Felicity’s hip, but she can still feel him radiating judgment behind her. “No, put those away. This is Oliver, we work together. And you met John, remember?”
“Right, John,” Gyu Won says, stuffing her hands into her lap. There’s a mostly-empty bottle of Golden Monkey on the coffee table in front of her, which explains the claws; Gyu Won had once drunk a bottle and a half of Golden Monkey and threatened to castrate a member of the MIT lacrosse team with a can opener. “The one you’re not cheating on Hudson with.”
Oliver asks, “Who’s Hudson?” in what he probably thinks is an undertone, but Gyu Won has ears like a fucking bat.
“Fel’s mid-life crisis,” Gyu Won explains. Expansive loquacity and violence go hand-in-hand with a drunk Gyu Won. “If the sisters of Alpha Epsilon Phi could see you now, they would be so ashamed. You were the last bastion of defense against the blue button-down menace, Smoak.”
Before Felicity has a chance to defend her honor, Ginger and Priyanka come out of the kitchen carrying two bags of Ruffles and jar of French onion dip, respectively. “Is this Hudson?” Priyanka says with an affected leer. “I thought he was banned from Farscape night.”
Ginger, who had had the cubicle three rows down from Felicity back in her halcyon days of IT work and could occasionally be convinced to share her mother’s killer pierogies when appropriately bribed with Groupon vouchers, fumbles and nearly drops one of the bags of Ruffles. “Mr. Queen!” she screeches.
“Wait, are you boning your boss?” Priyanka asks. “Shiiiit.” She lifts a hand as she passes for a drive-by high-five.
Felicity tries not to die of embarrassment as she says, “Put that down, I’m not sleeping with Oliver.”
Somewhere behind her, Digg makes a strangled noise. It’s probably not helping that Oliver’s hand is still on her hip; his fingers have dug in, like he needs a life raft. Felicity would have more sympathy for him if she didn’t know for a fact that there are a bunch of friends-locked Facebook photo albums of him doing questionable stuff at Carnegie-Mellon frat parties. There’s no way that somebody who’s done that many keg-stands covered in whipped cream can be afraid of Felicity’s friends.
“Well,” Gyu Won says with palpable reluctance, “if you’re not sleeping with them, they can stay. Farscape night is a strictly no-boning activity.” She makes a V with her fingers and gestures to her eyes and then at Oliver and Digg. “Watching you. No funny business. Hands out of pants.”
Oliver hastily retracts the hand from Felicity’s hip. “We couldn’t—” he tries.
“—resist that kind of invitation,” Digg finishes. He sounds like he’s valiantly struggling not to laugh, that jerk. Felicity is never inviting him and Oliver up for leftover Chinese ever again. The next time she gets too many orders of orange beef she’s going to foist it off on Ron.
Felicity garbles something about needing real food before they start and flees to the kitchen; she realizes three seconds later that Oliver has followed her, a wild look in his eyes that says get me the fuck out of here, Smoak. “What the hell is Farscape?” he asks.
Felicity opens the fridge and grabs the nearest carton of orange beef. “It’s a television classic,” she hisses, shoving it into his chest. His hands come up to grab it. “I completely forgot that tonight was a Farscape night. Normally they’re on Tuesdays, but Priyanka has a committee meeting next Wednesday so we had to move it up.” As Oliver continues to stand there like some kind of statue of a village idiot, she pulls a plastic container of vegetable chow fun out for herself. “Listen, there is one fundamental rule of Farscape night.”
“No boning?” Oliver says drily.
Pausing in the process of digging up some chopsticks, Felicity glares at him. “Cute,” she says. “No, the fundamental rule is that you and Digg are going to shut up and say nothing. I mean it. Zip. I don’t want to know how realistic the fight scenes are. I don’t want to hear it if you think the sci-fi effects are lame. And if you even think about saying anything disparaging about Aeryn Sun, I will personally ensure that you have forty-five minutes of quality one-on-one time with Isabel Rochev every morning.”
Oliver’s eyebrows go up. “Okay,” he says slowly, like he’s humoring her. He better be taking her seriously, because Felicity means every word. “I just have one question?”
“Ha!” Felicity caws triumphantly, pulling a fistful of chopsticks from the cutlery drawer by the sink. “What?”
“Who’s Hudson?” Oliver asks.
Felicity slaps a pair of chopsticks against his chest and says breezily, “You’re Hudson,” and she derives so much pleasure from Oliver’s expression that it should be illegal to be this amused. “I needed an excuse to be out at night all the time, so I told Gyu Won that I was sleeping with an investment banker.”
“I’m an investment banker?” Oliver demands, sounding incredibly insulted.
“Who else would be named Hudson?” Felicity points out. She stabs a chopstick into the middle of the gelatinous mess of chow fun and stirs it a bit to encourage disassembly. “Besides, Gyu Won hates finance bros. She’s never going to want to meet him. It’s the perfect set-up.”
“So now I’m a investment banker named Hudson?” Oliver says. He’s still just standing there, holding the orange beef and a pair of chopsticks against his shirtfront. “Wow, thanks, Felicity.”
“What, was I supposed to tell her I’m sleeping with you?” Felicity says. She’s in the process of sticking her chow fun into the microwave over the stove, so she misses whatever hilarious expression Oliver’s face must make at that. “Don’t worry about it. I’m going to break up with Hudson in like a month.”
She punches in 2:00 and hits START before Oliver says, “What, why?”
When Felicity turns back around, Oliver has his eyebrows lowered and his mouth is making a frustrated little moue. That’s probably what little baby Oliver had looked like, when somebody took his silver spoon full of expensive organic baby food away.
“I chose Hudson because it sounds—you know, like the Hood. You’re going by the Arrow now, so I’m going to break up with Hudson and start sleeping with Arnold. Probably also an investment banker.” Felicity immediately gives herself a pat on the back for sounding sophisticated and nonchalant while discussing her (fake) sex life with Oliver, because she never in a million years would’ve predicted that she'd be capable of doing that.
The moue evolves from frustrated to distasteful. “Please,” Oliver says. “At least make me a hedge fund manager.”
Felicity rolls her eyes and says, “Right, because there’s a big difference between those things.”
“It’s a matter of class,” Oliver insists. His mouth is twitching a little bit, in the corner, like it had when Felicity had dug up an Instagram video of Thea at Six Flags with a bunch of her classmates during Senior Skip Day last year and presented it to him. She couldn’t help feeling at the time like a cat bringing its owner a dead bird.
Generally, Felicity is fucked because she’s in love with her boss and he takes Emotional Issues to a whole new level previously unexplored by even the most egregious of Matthew McConaughey romantic comedies, but she feels especially fucked right now. Oliver basically never smiles. It’s good for everybody concerned that Oliver never smiles, because then Felicity can pretend that she’s not a sham of a human being given flesh.
“Okay,” Felicity says, helpless in the face of that little mouth-twitch. What a mess. She’s an embarrassment to MIT graduates everywhere. “I’ll dump Hudson for Arnold the hedge fund manager. Whatever—that means.”
“He manages hedge funds, Felicity, keep up,” Oliver says.
“Right, obviously I should be deferring to the person in the room with an MBA—oh, wait,” Felicity says, but she’s speaking mostly on autopilot because Oliver’s mouth-twitch has become a full smile, just wide enough to curl up his lip and show a flash of teeth, and Felicity is gone, she is done. Stick a fork in her, she’s officially useless.
“We’ll have you work your way up to a CEO by the end of next year,” Oliver says, apparently deathly serious what the hell, and he opens the carton of orange beef as he exits into the living room. “Hey,” Felicity hears him say. “Sorry, I missed your names before. I’m Oliver, I work with Felicity.”
The microwave beeps twice, and Felicity just stands there, waiting for her brain to turn back on. It—takes a while.