As far as hidden evil lairs went, this, Felicity concluded, was her least favorite by far. And she wasn't even inside. She was hovering in the helicopter outside.
"Digg!" she shouted over the noise of the chopper. "Can you turn the heater up? My fingers are going numb which doesn't make working this tablet any easier!"
Diggle, at the controls, nodded and adjusted the heater for her, adding in a shout that she'd better move a little closer to the vent because that was about as good as it was going to get.
She hated cold. It was official. When this was over, she was demanding a team road trip to the beach. Well…Oliver would probably decline. Digg might go. If he could convince Lyla to come and take the baby for a day out. She could probably convince Roy—
"INCOMING!" a voice shouted in her headset, and she yelped as Diggle yanked on the controls, causing the helicopter to swerve drastically. Felicity clutched at a handle on the wall, narrowly avoiding skidding across the floor of the elevator and out the open hatch.
"Sorry, Felicity!" Diggle apologized as the elevator lurched and Roy began climbing the rope ladder to join them.
"Damn it!" his voice swore in Felicity's ear and she dared to look out and down, seeing that a man in black had grabbed onto Roy, attempting to prevent his escape.
They grappled momentarily before Roy managed to shake them off and finish the climb.
Felicity breathed warm air on her fingers before pulling up a different screen on her tablet. She opened her mouth to speak, but Diggle beat her to it, voicing her concerns.
"Oliver, where are you? This snowstorm is turning into a full-fledged blizzard. Pretty soon I won't be able to see to get us all out of here."
"I'm coming!" Oliver's growl joined them, and Felicity winced at the sound of scuffling and arrows being fired in the background.
Diggle circled back around and Roy pointed. "There! He's coming out there! And he's got friends!" They looked to see Oliver running along the edge of the roof of the small fortress, followed by several henchman in hot pursuit.
"Everybody hold tight!" Diggle instructed as they dipped low, coming in to pick up Oliver. They were successful, but unfortunately some of his company joined them. As Oliver launched himself forward and just managed to grab the middle rung of the ladder, two of the lackeys grabbed the bottom, trailing behind him. Oliver tried to knock them off, but was unsuccessful, the battle continuing its way up the ladder and into the helicopter as one of the henchman managed to climb over Oliver in his attempt to get to Diggle.
"Roy!" Diggle yelled for help unnecessarily—Roy had already engaged in combat with the masked man, trying to keep him away from Diggle and the controls.
Pressing herself against the wall of the cabin, Felicity did her best to keep out of the way while still continuing her attempt to transfer the needed data on her tablet to the United Nations.
Someone's elbow knocked into her and the tablet flew from her numb fingers, skidding across the floor of the helicopter. Ripping off her headset, she scrambled for it, just as Oliver's fight reached the helicopter as well. She grabbed it and suddenly found herself face to face with Armed Brute Number Two, who had already raised a knife to get her out of the way, but Oliver's bow suddenly closed over his throat, wrenching them both backwards as he attempted to strangle the man in black.
"Oliver, the storm!" Diggle hollered. "It's getting worse. We've got to get out of here."
"Not until we drop the baggage!" Roy gritted out, struggling with his opponent on the floor.
Several things happened at once. The tablet lit up with the successful transaction. The man Oliver was engaged with managed to break free. A strong blast of icy wind momentarily threw the chopper out of Digg's control. And Felicity felt everything go silent as, in one horrifying moment, the henchman grabbed her ankle and gave an almighty pull, sending her tumbling out of the helicopter.
Her stomach leapt into her throat and time briefly stood still as she struggled to register that she was falling to her death, without so much as a scream, she was so shocked, only the muffled sound of the wind and snow swirling around her.
And then, through the silence, her name pierced the air. "FE-LI-CI-TY!"
And she saw Oliver come hurling toward her, diving out of the helicopter, and Felicity's only brief conscious thought before his body made contact with hers was how incredibly stupid it was to be jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft after her.
She felt the wind get knocked out of her as his arms went around her and an instant later, they came to a shocking slowness as a parachute unfolded. Moments later, they landed in feet of snow.
And they were alone.
"Oliver, the helicopter!" Felicity exclaimed, but it was no use, even as they scoured the skies in every direction, the snow became thicker. It was impossible to see where Roy and Diggle were now, and whether they had thwarted the attackers.
"Diggle! Roy!" Oliver shouted, tapping his earpiece and trying to make sure it was still working. But it was no use, they were much too far gone and the storm was causing too much interference. "They'll come back for us when the storm blows over," Oliver assured her, taking in their surroundings. "We need to take shelter."
Felicity didn't need to be told twice. She was already desperately wishing she hadn't taken her gloves off in the helicopter, and she was quickly losing any feeling in her feet, forget about her toes. Curling her fingers into the lapels of her coat, she tucked her chin down into her scarf and followed after Oliver, who was carefully stepping along the rocky terrain of the mountainside. "Be careful," he warned over his shoulder, and Felicity could only nod breathlessly, trying to ignore the way her ears were stinging and burning in the wind.
Oliver's eyes darted behind him worriedly, seeing the way Felicity was hunched over and ducking her head into the wind. This wasn't good. Did he believe that Diggle and Roy would come back for them? Absolutely beyond the shadow of a doubt. The question was whether there would be anything but a pair frozen corpses for them to come back for.
"There!" he said, stopping and pointing. Felicity squinted up and saw just above them a small, rocky recess in the cliff-face. She didn't want to be negative, so she kept to herself her opinions about how much shelter it would actually provide them. Oliver was the wilderness survival expert. Not her. She was going to nod and agree on this one. "Can you get up there?" Oliver asked.
"I'll t-try, but I'll need a b-boost," she said through chattering teeth.
Oliver scanned her. The fall into the snow had left her parka damp. Great. He started to unzip his hood, but she grabbed his hand, stopping him.
"W-what are you doing? Don't be st-st-stupid."
"Felicity, you're already freezing."
That was pretty rich, Felicity thought, seeing as Oliver's lips were turning blue. The only reason he wasn't shivering as hard as her was that he was still running on the adrenaline from the fight, and he had more bodily insulation than her.
"Oliver, this is n-n-no time to be ch-chivalrous. You d-die out here, then I d-d-definitely die," she forced out.
Lips pressing into a thin line, Oliver chose not to argue with her. It wasn't worth wasting time. Besides, she was right. If their lives depended on computer expertise, then he'd die without her. It just so happened that this time it was about wilderness survival, his expertise. He clasped his hands together to give her a foothold and helped her climb up to the overhanging.
Felicity, scrambling numbly, heaved herself onto the flatter ground and crawled up against the wall of rock where the snow was thinnest, immediately pulling her knees into her chest in her effort to get warm. She looked over the tops of her knees, expecting to see Oliver any second. But he didn't come. She tried to will herself to crawl out and look for him, even tried to shout his name, but as she felt all warmth being siphoned from her body, she couldn't summon the energy.
She had never known such relief as when his hand appeared at the edge of the rocks, and another second later, he threw an olive green tarp over as well before lithely hauling himself up. Her eyes closed in silent gratitude.
"The parachute," Oliver explained, already using darts from his quiver to forcefully peg the parachute to the cliff-face over Felicity's head. "It won't insulate us much, but it will block some of the wind and keep the snow off of us.
Felicity didn't need the explanation. As he pulled it down away from them and pegged it to the ground as well, she felt herself breathe a shuddering sigh at the minute relief it was already providing them. She wanted to ask whether they couldn't try starting a fire, but already knew the answer. Even if they could manage to find any dry kindling in this natural disaster, they couldn't risk the possibility of drawing attention from the wrong source. Her mind flickered to the men on the helicopter and she sent up a silent prayer that Roy and Digg had bested them.
She was torn from her reverie when Oliver sat down beside her and started rubbing his hands over her arms. "Hey," he said. "Are y-you okay?" Even his teeth were starting to chatter now.
She nodded. "A-m-mazing," she stuttered out, rolling her eyes at herself.
"Hey, it's gonna be f-fine. We're gonna b-be fine," he insisted. "We n-eed to g-get you out of this coat."
Felicity looked at him like he must be joking, but he shook his head, already beginning to help pull her out of it.
"Both our jackets will do us more good as blankets right now."
Nodding, she clumsily shrugged out of the jacket before Oliver unzipped his own. He pulled her down in front of him so she was facing into his chest with her back to the wall, then spread their coats over them as best as he could, pressing as close to her as he was able. His arms banded around her and felt how tense her muscles were. Panic began to clench his chest. If they didn't start to warm up soon, they were in real trouble.
They had been quiet for a long time, watching their breath fog in the bitterly cold air, Felicity staring into his chest, guiltily thinking that if only she hadn't fallen, they wouldn't be here, violently shaking in the middle of a blizzard.
"Your lips are blue," he said matter-of-factly, determined to keep the worry out of his voice as he gently brushed his thumb over them. She licked them in automatic response, to no avail. "And you're quiet," Oliver pointed out, smirking slightly. He wanted to get her talking, thinking maybe that would help. Felicity, seeing only the quirk of his lips, didn't see what was so damned funny. "S-sorry," he said quickly, obviously reading her facial expression. "I just…you're never quiet. And we're huddled together for warmth. Which is probably the g-greatest cliché ever," a slight chattering of his teeth escaped him, "I feel like there has to be a whole avalanche of Freudian slips piling up in that brain of yours."
Felicity couldn't help it. She gave a trembling smile. "Well…I was g-gonna point out that the last time we were th-this c-c-close, you were shirtless. And r-really sweaty," she said, recalling the time he had rescued her from the land mine on Lian Yu.
Oliver's chest rumbled with laughter and Felicity laughed at herself, too. "That's my girl," Oliver smiled at her, planting a kiss on her forehead, and then, for some reason that he would never thereafter be able to explain except to say that it wasn't pre-meditated, he kissed her lips, too, immediately pulling back when he felt her gasp in surprise.
Their eyes met. Maybe it was because they were both secretly thinking they were going to die, Felicity reasoned as Oliver's gaze flickered to her lips again, then back to her eyes. People tended to do stupid things when they thought they were going to die, least of all make out with the nearest warm body. So she shouldn't really have been as surprised as she was when he leaned back in and kissed her again, more insistently this time. His lips felt cold and rough at first, and hers were so frozen they were almost numb, but slowly, they started to warm. Oh, glorious warmth, wonderful body heat. He sucked on her bottom lip and she groaned, shifting into him and cradling her hands between their chests.
Oliver didn't have a plan. Quite frankly, he had no idea what he was thinking, but she was squirming closer to him and that felt good. And then something else amazing happened: she kissed him back, returning the pressure against his lips. He slid his hands up and down her back, trying to rub out the tension in her seized up muscles.
Their limbs started to intertwine gradually as her leg slid between his and his hand tangled in her hair, cradling the back of her head to keep her from any thoughts of pulling away. His tongue slid inside her mouth and Felicity moaned again, her hands moving up to his shoulder, starting to tingle as the feeling returned to them.
This was fine, she thought. No big deal. A little face sucking in the face of death. Not an issue. And something they would both acknowledge later as a basic instinct to generate heat. Whoops! Okay, and a little boob grab-age, she thought in surprise, Nothing the friendship can't handle—"Fuck," she murmured softly, head tilting back as Oliver massaged her breast, his hand having slipped beneath her sweater when she wasn't paying attention.
Oliver smirked at her reaction. He could feel himself growing hard as she responded to him, and it was a relief to see her fair skin beginning to flush pink. He sucked a selfish path down her throat, absorbing heat from her neck as he went. He tugged at her scarf to expose more of it, feeling a strange surge of guilt, knowing that he was crossing about a thousand lines without her permission. He wasn't even sure whether he'd made a conscious decision about what he was doing. But as he unwrapped the scarf and pulled the sweater up over her head, he knew it felt good. Really good. Like…his hands were starting to feel warm beneath his leather gloves good. He pushed up her thin cotton undershirt and shoved aside her bra, dipping his head down to suck on her nipple, laving it with his tongue, his hand splaying across her lower back as she arched into him, her breath shaky as her fingers dug into his shoulders. "Oliver!" she murmured and this time he moaned, eyes falling shut as he debated with himself internally.
The part of him that won was the part of him that didn't give a damn anymore, that had wanted this for ages, and that knew it was their only chance to generate any real heat. He rolled her onto her back, shifting over her. Her jeans, he frowned as he noticed, were damp from the snow; they were probably only making her colder. His leathers had been, fortunately, slightly more resistant to their brief trudge along the mountain. He leaned down and captured her lips again, savoring her gasp when, without warning, he shoved a hand between her legs, caressing her core through her jeans. Her thighs pressed together around his hand and she arched off the ground, and now Oliver was the one struggling to breathe correctly, massaging her and restraining himself at the same time.
He sucked on her top lip, biting down on it gently before dipping his tongue into her mouth and deepening their kiss, distracting and calming her while he attempted to undo her jeans with no success. Giving up, he separated their lips and gave the button his full attention, tugging down the zipper before yanking her jeans and the leggings she had on underneath them down her body. He forced off her shoes and then the pants, and she sucked in a sharp breath as cold air hit her legs. He ran his hands over them, massaging and warming them before pulling off one of his gloves and, meeting her anxious eyes, waited for permission. Biting her lip, she nodded and he slipped one, then two fingers inside of her. Her head dropped back, but he pulled her body against his, keeping them as close as possible as his fingers thrust into her, sharing warmth and making sure she was going to be ready for everything after this. She clung to him, arms wrapped around him, clawing into his back as she buried her face in his neck, muffling her moans of pleasure. "Oh, God! Oliver! OLIVER!" she cried into him, and he flicked his thumb over her clit, hand sliding up her back and into her hair as she got close. Somewhere internally, he felt himself cringing. If this had ever been going to happen between him and Felicity—and he'd been doing his best not to let it happen for some time—this was not the way he would have chosen, not by a long-shot. He would have romanced her, would have taken his time worshipping her. As it was, he pulled his hand away to her whimpered disappointment and parted her legs, settling between them, one arm still wrapped around her to keep her pressed against him, the other bracing them both.
He paused for an instant, nudging her head upward to meet his eyes. He bumped his nose against hers. "Hey," he muttered.
She gave a small, high pitched laugh, aware that both of their breathing was ragged, "Hey," she squeaked back.
"It's okay," he said softly. "It's okay." He cupped her face, rubbing his thumb over her cheek.
"Oliver," she whispered, "for the love of God," she started undoing his pants. "I understand," she freed his erection. "Just do it."
Not needing to be told twice when she positioned him at her entrance, he plunged into her, growling in pleasure while she cried out. Her legs curled around his, the tips of her ice cold toes finding respite beneath his shins, successfully bringing her as close as possible. "God," he breathed hoarsely. "Felicity." Her name contained a paragraph as it spilled from his lips. She felt so hot. It was an impossible sensation in the midst of their surroundings, and he couldn't remember anything ever feeling so perfect. Forehead resting against hers, he slowly slid back out and thrust into her again, their breath mingling in the air, rising like steam. He felt her hand, small and soft and delicate, rise up to his neck, warming it from the cold air, her round doe-eyes meeting his beneath dark lashes.
No, this was not how he would have chosen to let this happen. But for a brief moment, it was absolute perfection regardless.
Given the circumstances, it wasn't surprising that he felt himself starting to climax early, and he began rubbing at her clit between them, trying to build her back up, until finally her cry of ecstasy ripped through the air and she shook, trembling around him while he, in turn, let go, gasping into her neck.
As they both came down, he gently kissed her ear, which felt warmer to the touch, too. Then he brushed a kiss along the side of her jaw, before she turned and met his lips to kiss him. "Thank you," she whispered against his mouth, and guilt once more surged through him. But now wasn't the time for explanations or excuses or deciding how much of this was about primal instincts to survive and how much of it was about being in love with her, so he nodded mutely, running soothing hands along her thighs.
Finally, detangling themselves, he pulled his pants back up and started sorting out which of her clothes were any good at all to her. Her shoes were soaked, but her socks hadn't come out so bad, the same with her leggings. The very bottom hems were damp, but they were still worth tugging back on. He watched her slide her sweater back over her head, chest still flushed before that bit of exposed skin vanished as well. Grabbing her scarf, he pulled her to him and wrapped it around her, before brushing her hair back, briefly cradling the side of her face and smiling gently when she tilted her head into his hand like she had always done before. This time, though, she planted a kiss to his calloused palm before pressing his other glove into it.
He dragged their coats back and draped them over them both just like before, with Felicity's back to the wall and her face buried in his chest while he wrapped his arms around her. Only this time they weren't shivering violently, just catching their breath a little.
The wind was dying outside and moonlight had been streaming through the parachute for some time without them realizing it. They could worry about rescue in the morning, Oliver decided. For now, they were going to be fine.
Chapter 2: Thawing Out
Felicity and Oliver must deal with the aftermath of their night in the elements.
"Digg! I think I found them!"
"It's not another deer, is it?" Digg's voice was eager but full of worry.
"I don't think so! It's bigger! Yeah, look! Up there! That's gotta be Oliver's parachute!"
Something was gnawing at the back of Oliver's brain, trying to wake him up, like a mosquito bite that wouldn't stop itching. He wished Roy and Diggle would shut up.
His eyes flew open. Roy and Diggle. "Felicity," he murmured, finding speech difficult. His whole body was aching and stiff, and although it was nothing to last night, the morning air beneath their haphazard shelter was cold against his back. "Felicity," he repeated and he heard her groan, burrowing deeper into him, obviously not eager to lift her face from the warmth of his chest.
"How did they get up there?" Diggle was saying. The snow must have drifted in the night, making the climb appear more difficult.
"FELICITY! OLIVER!" Roy cupped his hands around his mouth, praying for a response.
"Felicity," Oliver shook her gently. "Can you get up?"
"I…think so…" Felicity said numbly, her voice raw.
Slowly, muscles creaking in protest, she started to push away from Oliver, who felt a sudden pang in his chest, feeling the gap between them acutely. Their eyes met for a brief instant before hers flickered away and he saw her skin flush pink with embarrassment.
"FELICITY!" Digg was the one shouting up to them this time. "OLIVER?" He looked to Roy. "They might be hurt. If I give you a boost do you think you can make it up there?"
Oliver cupped Felicity's cheek in his hand, but she didn't lean into it the way he expected. Instead she looked flighty and nervous. "Hey," he said. "It's okay."
She nodded, biting her lip before managing to stand. He draped her coat around her shoulders and pulled on his own before tugging at one of the arrows in the rock wall to loosen the parachute. Following his lead, Felicity grabbed the other, cringing when the parachute slackened and she felt the snow it had been supporting hit her back through the material. She dropped it like she'd been bitten, wrapping her coat around her.
"It's them!" Roy shouted from below, nearly toppling off of Diggle's shoulders.
Felicity waved timidly down to them. "Hi," she squeaked out roughly. God, it felt like she would need about a year's worth of tea to bring her voice back.
"Can you guys get down from there?" Diggle grunted. "Or do you need Roy to come get you?"
Oliver waved him off, signaling that they could make it down. He coughed and cleared his throat before attempting speech. "I'm—" he coughed again, "I'm gonna come down. Then Felicity," he added looking to her to make sure she was okay with this plan. She nodded mutely.
He pressed a swift kiss to her forehead but didn't wait to see her reaction before slowly lowering himself down, groaning with the effort from his frozen, protesting muscles.
Felicity watched him vanish, the spot on her forehead tingling where his lips had touched it. This…this was going to be all kinds of complicated. Or was it going to be a relatively simple matter of pretending it had never happened? And which one of those made her more upset, she wondered warily.
"Okay, Felicity!" Roy called up to her, and she leaned over the edge to see that Oliver had landed and was waiting to help—pointlessly, given that both Roy and Diggle were in far better condition to assist her.
She slipped her arms into the sleeves of her coat, testing her jeans briefly, but, seeing that the bottom six inches were frozen stiff, she gave them up. Clumsily, she tugged her boots on—which felt equally frozen—and began lowering herself down, cringing as she felt cold rock and ice cutting into her hands.
As she neared the bottom, she felt familiar hands grasp her hips, and an instant later, she was altogether too close to Oliver, pressed against his chest when she dropped to the ground and lost her balance slightly, and she forgot how to breathe.
"Thank God," Diggle muttered beside them, everyone pretending not to notice the way Oliver was looking at her. "Let's get you two home. There's blankets in the chopper."
Felicity groaned longingly and dropped her head against Oliver's shoulder, who, without asking, swept her up into his arms and looked to Diggle and Roy expectantly, waiting to follow their lead.
"Uh…right," Roy said, "this way," he jerked his thumb behind his back.
Oliver nodded and they all followed Roy, who, Oliver noticed, was wearing a pair of goggles with red lenses pushed onto his forehead. Diggle had them, too.
"Is that how you found us?" he asked Digg as they trudged along, his bones growing more weary with each step. "Heat vision?"
Diggle eyed him, part of him inclined to take Felicity from Oliver's arms to prevent him from collapsing, but he refrained. Something told him that Oliver would refuse to let go of her. She appeared to have fallen asleep in his arms from exhaustion. "Yeah," he said, "Got 'em from Lyla. They worked like a charm…minus the part where we confused you for a couple of dear and a small, hibernating bear before we finally found your parachute. Smart move using that for shelter, by the way."
"I'm just glad neither of you were injured," Roy pointed out as the helicopter came into sight. "And…y'know…not dead. That was some fall blondie took." He shook his head.
Oliver's eyes widened as the memory of Felicity's body tumbling out of the helicopter—the look of stunned horror in her expression—flooded back to him, and he briefly lost all the oxygen in his lungs, face pale. He'd been so close, so close to losing her, and this was the first moment he'd actually thought about it. At the time, he had reacted on instinct, knowing that whatever happened, she was never going to die because she'd gotten involved with him. That was something he thought on a regular basis. He would never forget telling Diggle the day they brought Felicity on board, "We can protect her." He'd taken an oath that day, he realized, that when Felicity died, it would be comfortably of old age, years and years from now. It would not be because of him. So last night, it had been as natural as breathing to grab that parachute and fling himself out of the helicopter after her.
Whatever else happened, whatever battles they won and lost, he knew one thing: Felicity lived.
"Oliver…man, let me take her, okay?" Diggle said finally as they reached the helicopter.
Oliver blinked, taking a moment to understand that Diggle was trying to help pass Felicity's sleeping form to Roy in the helicopter. "Right," Oliver muttered, feeling the instant relief in his muscles as Diggle shifted her weight away from him and they dropped to his sides. His muscles might be relieved, but he didn't like having her away from him at the moment. He watched with hawklike eyes as Diggle passed her body to Roy, who situated her in the copilot's seat, throwing blankets over her. She stirred, the commotion waking her, and Oliver saw Roy smile at her, muttering something. The faint sound of her weak laughter reached his ears, and Roy's grin broadened, and he bumped his forehead against hers affectionately. He felt a swift stab of jealousy that the two of them had such a comfortable relationship.
Again Oliver blinked, realizing that Diggle had already climbed aboard, and was reaching a hand out for him. Grasping it, he accepted his friend's help, hauling himself into the helicopter and gladly accepting more of the wool blankets as he wearily settled himself into a corner, his eyes trained on Felicity the entire time.
And so the four of them returned to Starling City, Diggle updating them on the success of the mission, how Felicity's information had gone through right before her fall, and the appropriate authorities were already taking action, all thanks to the four of them.
Oliver listened with one ear, his mind still replaying the events of the previous night over and over again. Felicity falling. His jump. Snatching her body from the maws of death in midair. Reaching the ground. Tramping through the snow. Covering them with the parachute. Kissing her. Touching her…
Oliver swallowed tightly, wondering where they should go from here.
The trouble was, he wasn't sure what to do. His feelings about being with her—that it wasn't safe for her—hadn't changed, but now that they'd crossed that line, whatever the circumstances, he was having a lot more trouble convincing himself to stay away.
Felicity took a very deep breath, settling into her chair at the office. It was their first day back at work, and she had carefully avoided Oliver ever since they arrived back in Starling and she insisted Roy take her home because he was heading that direction anyway.
She was exhausted from the whole experience, both physically and emotionally, and worse still, she couldn't stop reliving the night before with Oliver, his lips against hers, his tongue on her breasts, his hands…
"Shit," she cursed quietly, licking her lips. This was going to be a very long day.
And it was. It was full of accidentally bumping into him, of embarrassment at being caught watching each other, of unnecessary apologies, and of uncontrollable thoughts of all the places they'd recently held one another.
Business itself, however, was business as usual, and they both worked late into the evening, Felicity helping Oliver catch up on the details that had piled up in their absence. Long after everyone else had left for the day, she and Oliver were sorting through papers and e-mails and graphs, trying to figure out how things always got so out of control. Felicity was leaning over a spreadsheet at Oliver's side while he sat at his desk, her hand resting on the desktop for support, keeping a careful distance from him when something happened. His hand came to rest beside hers, pinky finger just barely resting on top of hers, enough to tell her it was deliberate. But then, as far as Felicity knew, Oliver never touched her in a way that wasn't deliberate. She froze, pausing mid-sentence.
"Felicity…can we talk?"
Pulling her hand away, Felicity started stacking the papers in front of them, obviously deciding they weren't going to get any more work done. "There's nothing to talk about, Oliver," she said, collecting them and heading for the door.
"I think we both know that's not true. You can't even look me in the eye."
Defiantly, Felicity, stopped, turning to fix a look on him. He was right, though. She couldn't hold it, and immediately looked up at the ceiling. "Look, I'm sorry. I'm acting all weird," she closed her eyes. "It's just…weird. I know you've noticed even if you are really, really good at pretending you haven't, but there's always kind of been this…thing…between us, and it really didn't help that time last year that you had to tell me you loved me to trick Slade. Not because I don't know that you were pretending, but because it's hard to un-hear something, y'know? Well this is like that. I couldn't look you in the eyes for a week then, either. It's gonna take a while for things to go back to normal. I mean, I get it, don't worry. It wasn't emotional. It was just…what it was."
But Oliver was shaking his head, crossing the room to her. He didn't know what he planned to say, but he gently reached out for her arm. He himself had assumed that he was going to say something to her, not lay one on her, so he was as surprised as she was when he pulled her into him, leaned in, and kissed her. It was the second time now that he'd kissed her without thinking about it. He wondered vaguely whether it was going to be a habit.
Felicity made a noise of surprise as her hands flew to his chest, but she didn't pull away, so he cupped her face in his hand and deepened the kiss, part of him thinking vehemently, How's this for 'It wasn't emotional?'
He slowly drew back, sucking on her bottom lip lingeringly as he went, then kissing her again, once, twice, finally resting his forehead against hers. "Felicity," he said, now that he had her full attention and had successfully stopped her distressed speech. "It was emotional. There were lots of emotions. Most of them being that I love you—" she exhaled in shock, "—and I felt like I was crossing a line with you, which is why I felt guilty and we didn't talk about it." He searched her eyes, hoping for a response, but she just looked stunned. "Felicity, I just didn't want to hurt you. But I don't think I can keep doing this."
"Staying away from you."
Felicity wasn't sure how to react. There was an embittered voice in her head that couldn't help wanting to ask whether there were cameras in the room or a syringe in his hand that she should be aware of.
Seeing her hesitation, Oliver stroked her cheek with his thumb. "What do you need to hear? What do I have to say to you?"
"I don't know, Oliver," she said tiredly, looking away. "Try wanting to be with me sometime when our lives aren't on the line."
She didn't see it, the tiny twitch at the corner of his mouth that always happened when she made him want to smile. He leaned in to whisper in her ear. "I thought that's what I was doing." The brush of his lips against her ear sent a shiver down her spine and her mouth parted in surprise. Her hands, still resting on his chest, tensed, gripping his shirt. "Look outside," he said softly, his lips trailing down her throat. "The city isn't crumbling. The sun is setting just like any other day. We're not in danger, not freezing to death…or anything else that could only happen to us," he chuckled, brushing a soft kiss against her collar bone, so nicely exposed by the neckline of her dress. "And I still want a million things with you, starting with kissing you again, followed by taking you against the wall of this office and any other suitable surface we can find in here." She gasped at his words and involuntarily pressed closer to him. "And ending with taking you home every night and making love to you. Because I do. Love you," he added, pausing his path to her shoulder and looking up to make sure she'd understood.
She was looking at him with an unreadable expression, her lips pressed together firmly.
"What?" he prompted, but she shook her head. He kissed her lips pliantly, trying to will it out of her, needing some sort of answer. "What?" he repeated, the corners of his mouth tugging upward slightly when she moaned a little.
"If I start talking," she said breathlessly, "I'll start babbling, and you were doing so well, I don't want to ruin it."
Oliver smiled. That was his girl. In a moment, he had her pressed against the glass wall behind her, hands traveling over her body, prepared to make good on all the things he'd just finally admitted he wanted. "Felicity," he commented, "I love it when you babble."