- May 2013 -
Oliver had met his future wife on a Wednesday barely four months ago.
One week ago, he had married her.
A match made in business heaven. At least according to various newspapers and magazines.
Sighing loudly, he sank down to sit on his bed. Yes, his bed. Not theirs. Just one more piece of evidence to prove what kind of a ridiculous charade his life had become.
He had married that woman alright, not out of love – hell, definitely no out of love – he downright despised the woman. No, he'd married her to honor one of his mother's business deals. Even though he suspected that this was more personal than business for her.
So why had he agreed to this farce in the first place? Different reasons, really. His mother had been trying to set him up with a woman ever since he'd returned from his involuntary exile on Lian Yu. And he had actually played along for a good three months, partly to appease his mother after his rocky return to his home town, but more importantly, to establish a certain reputation for his public appearances. Plus, it was also a nice side effect that all these dates provided an alibi for his… other nightly activities.
⁂ ⁂ ⁂
- 4 months earlier (January 2013) -
Jab, jab, right uppercut.
It had been an awful night. Truly horrible.
Of all the things he had to do to keep his life as Oliver Queen as far away as possible from his life as The Hood, this was probably the worst. After the announcement at the dedication ceremony for the new Applied Sciences building in honor of his late father that he'd be starting to be part of Queen Consolidated, he'd been busy with letting actions follow his words.
It's been three months of following around important QC department heads to get a sense of the company, its interests and fields. Three months of playing the dutiful son. The media was absolutely eating up his "transformation" from careless playboy to responsible heir to the QC throne.
Even though he hated every second of his day job, it certainly served its purpose: nobody was suspecting goody-two-shoes Oliver Queen of being the brutal and relentless hooded vigilante that was "terrorizing Starling City's elite" (according to the Starling City Gazette reporter Jennifer Curtis).
Seeing her son being so enthusiastic and serious about his duties at QC, Moira Queen had decided that the next step for him would be to find a woman that would stand at his side once he was ready to take over the business. After not so subtle hints about moving on from his big love Laurel for the three months following his return from the island, she had finally taken matters into her own hands and had set him up for a number of dates with different women. Which brought him to the foundry on a Sunday night.
Jab, right cross, left uppercut, jab.
"If you keep pummeling the poor bag like that I'm gonna have to order a new one… again," came the voice of his trusted bodyguard and partner in crime (pun intended) from the entrance of the foundry.
Jab, right cross, left hook.
He delivered the last blow with more force than necessary and immediately regretted it. He looked down at his hands, his chest heaving from the exertion. He hadn't taken time to wrap his hands earlier, too frustrated to care. Now his knuckles were burning and throbbing from his relentless pounding.
"Happy now?" Diggle asked, smirking smugly at him.
"Shut up," Oliver grumbled and went over to the salmon ladder, slowly rolling his protesting wrists.
Diggle chuckled. "I take it the date didn't end well?"
"Yeah, nope," Oliver replied, while climbing the salmon ladder rung by rung. "I barely got two sentences in. She was just blabbering non-stop about her favorite spa treatments." He dropped back down to the floor. "I left when she asked me if she should keep waxing or finally get "that laser treatment"."
"Seriously, where does your mother find these women?"
Oliver looked grimly at him. "I have no idea, but I've got another date on Friday."
Diggle handed him a bottle of water and shook his head. "This is one of those times when I don't envy the rich and famous."
The younger man just sighed and drank the water, closing his eyes for a moment to relish the feeling of the cool liquid against his throat.
"Do we have anything on Jerry Martins?" he asked and pointed towards the computers.
Diggle accepted the not so subtle topic change and sat down in the chair in front of the computers and began pulling up different files on their next target.
"Jerry Martins, an investment banker who has swindled hundreds of people out of their life savings over the past twenty years. I found emails and phone calls to and from a lot of other people from the list. Is The Hood going to visit him tonight?" He swiveled the chair around to face Oliver who was leaning against a table.
"Unless you wanna don the hood tonight, Martins will have another peaceful night. I have to get home, my mother expects the usual post-date sit down."
"I'll pass. I promised Carly to come to Big Belly Burger to be there when she closes up. The last couple of nights a few shady guys came by and she's a bit scared." He sighed. "The city really isn't that safe anymore these days. Wait, did you say "post-date sit down"?" he asked and stared disbelievingly at Oliver.
Oliver grimaced and shook his head. "Don't even get me started. She's a mother on a mission. There's absolutely no stopping her until I'm married to the perfect woman."
"Ha, good luck with that." Diggle got up and patted his shoulder good naturedly. "Haven't you already dated like 90% of the women in Starling City?"
"Haha, aren't you a funny guy tonight," Oliver grumbled in return, letting out a humorless laugh.
"One of us has to be and that's clearly not you."
Oliver shook his head again. "I'll take the motorcycle to get home so you can go straight to Carly."
"Yeah, I'll just shower quickly and then I'm gone, too."
"Thanks, man," Diggle said and headed for the door. "I'll be at the mansion at 7.30 tomorrow."
"See you then. Say hi to Carly for me."
An hour later, he finally stood in front of his mother who looked at him disapprovingly.
"You just got up and left?" There was a hint of anger in her voice, but also incredulity. "Again? Honestly, I don't know what to do with you anymore. It can't be so hard to sit through a few hours of pleasant conversation with a beautiful woman and delicious food, can it?"
"Pleasant being the operative word here, mom. She talked about her body hair while we were eating," he shuddered dramatically at the memory and headed to the bar in the living room to pour himself a drink.
"Unpleasant topic aside, she's a nice girl," Moira countered, following him to the bar and accepting a glass of red wine from her son.
"She was superficial and self-centric. And she had absolutely no humor." He took a sip of his whiskey and exhaled, relaxing for what felt like the first time that night.
They sat down on the nearby sofa and Oliver leaned back and rested his head on the backrest, staring at the ceiling.
"But, Oliver, can you honestly say that you tried?"
He lifted his head and turned to look at her, trying to keep his tone casual without letting too much exasperation slip into it.
"Honestly? Tonight? No, I didn't try because I could tell from the second I saw that woman that it wouldn't end well. I could just feel it and I was right." He sighed and took another sip.
"Look, I know that me improving my public image is important for the company. I've not exactly brought a lot of positive attention to the Queen name, but this is just…" he trailed off and clenched his teeth, "Not the right way to do it."
"But Oliver, finding a woman for you isn't just so we get some good press," Moira started and took his hand. "I started introducing you to these women because I was hoping you might find the one."
Oliver suppressed the sudden urge to groan. The one. Right, because there actually was a woman out there that would love him for who he was and not for his name and bank accounts. Someone able and willing to look past his scarred body and soul.
"You know, when I was your age I had already been married to your father for seven years."
Oliver scoffed, "Yeah, well, in the last few years I wasn't exactly able to meet a lot of women…" He couldn't keep the unbidden flashes of Shado and Sara from swiveling through his head, and ran his fingers over his chin, scratching the stubble lightly in an attempt to hide his, for once, entirely too visible reaction.
Moira closed her eyes for a second and let out a shaky breath.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be insensitive…"
"It's fine, mom. But maybe it's still too early for me to put myself out there… after the island and everything with Laurel," he interjected quickly.
"I thought you said you were okay with her dating Tommy?"
He sighed once again and took another sip of his whiskey before answering, "I am. We're… friends, I guess. But for so long she was all that I could think about. It's hard to move on from that."
He looked up to meet his mother's eyes and saw a glint of something in them.
"What?" he questioned with a curious half-smile curling up his lips.
His mother smiled fondly back at him. "I just really missed talking to you; we don't do this very often these days."
Oliver nodded but inwardly groaned at the prospect. "You're right, we should do this more often," he said, feigning enthusiasm.
God knew he loved his mother but talking to her about this stuff wasn't exactly on the list of things he enjoyed to do. There were just too many things that he couldn't and wouldn't ever tell her.
He emptied his glass and set it down on the table before getting up. "I'll call it a night, gotta be at the office tomorrow morning." He bent down to kiss his mother's cheek. "Good night, mom."
"Good night, Oliver."
- End of flashback -
⁂ ⁂ ⁂
He hated doing it, but he knew that bringing up the island made everybody uncomfortable, so sometimes he may or may not have used that to his advantage to get out of unpleasant conversations.
A knock on his door pulled him out of his thoughts. His gaze moved up and his eyes immediately clouded over, his body tensing, when he saw Felicity Smoak, scratch that, Felicity Queen standing at his door.
"What the hell do you want?" he all but snapped in her direction.
For a millisecond he thought that she might have flinched at his harsh tone but as soon as it was there it was gone again, her body visibly straightened up and she narrowed her eyes at him.
When she spoke, the tone of her voice matched the coolness of his own. "Your mother wishes to see us both at dinner tonight." She shot him and icy look and turned on her heels.
He couldn't help but shoot her retreating form an appreciative look. He might not be in love with her, but damn, she was one very attractive woman.
His mind wandered back to the first time he'd met her merely 4 months ago. Back then he'd had no idea that that one chance meeting would be the beginning of his new life.
⁂ ⁂ ⁂
- 4 months earlier (January 2013) -
When he walked through the doors at QC the morning after his little heart to heart with his mother, he looked down at his watch and clenched his teeth. He was just short of running late for sitting in on a meeting with Walter. He nodded at the security guard at the front desk and rounded the corner to get to the executive elevator.
He heard a woman's voice exclaim something that sounded a lot like an 'eep' right in front of him and he immediately knew that he was not going to make it to the meeting in time. A second later, he felt the burning hot sensation of steaming liquid splashing against his stomach, effectively drenching his crisp, white shirt and his navy suit jacket.
"You've got to be kidding me?!" he exclaimed, his voice dangerously close to the Hood's.
Looking down he found himself staring into the shell-shocked face of a blonde woman who was frozen in place, holding her half empty coffee cup mid-air between their bodies.
Her mouth was hanging slightly open and her gaze darted from the growing stain on his shirt to his face and Oliver could pinpoint the exact moment when she realized who she just emptied half of her coffee on because her eyes widened in an almost comical way.
And really, were this any other day he would've probably laughed at the situation, but this meeting was important and now he'd have to show up late and with a ruined wardrobe in front of the company's most important investors.
He couldn't help but level his assailant with an icy glare. The blonde visibly flinched before she regained her composure and broke the silence. In that instance, it was like a dam had broken, the words started spilling out of her mouth with seemingly no control.
"Mr. Queen, I am so sorry. I didn't mean to ruin your shirt and your suit. Not that I meant to ruin anyone else's shirt and suit, because that would be plain mean, and generally, I'm not a mean person. And it would've been a bad thing to happen with anybody else, but with you it's probably the absolute worst case scenario because you're…well, you. You're a Queen."
Oliver closed his eyes briefly, caught somewhere between complete and utter annoyance, and wild amusement. He observed her as she ran a nervous hand over her plaid skirt and took a steadying breath. Here we go again, he thought.
"And that sounded like I was giving you the title of a queen… which would make you a woman." Her eyes drifted over his body from top to bottom and quickly added, "Which you're clearly not. So I guess that would make you a king…" Once again her eyes widened. "Not that I was just checking you out… or more importantly, checking if you had the right… equipment to be a king."
Oliver heard an "Oh God, why are you doing this to me" muttered under her breath before she took another deep breath. "But that's not what I was trying to say here."
"What are you trying to say?" he asked, arching his eye brow inquisitively, not quite able to hide his amusement anymore. She had dug a hole so deep, Oliver was finding it hard to not feel sorry for her.
"Sorry," she said and took a steadying breath. "I'm trying to say that I'm sorry."
He looked her up and down for a second. Yes, it had been an accident but, dear God, his mother was going to kill him for being so late and completely drenched in coffee, nonetheless.
He was about to reply when he suddenly heard someone calling his name from behind.
When he turned around, he saw none other than Malcolm Merlyn standing in front of him. He quickly extended his right hand. "Mr. Merlyn, good to see you again."
"Glad to see I'm not the only one running late for the meeting with Walter," he said amicably and shook the younger man's hand, giving his formerly white shirt a scrutinizing glance. "What a mess. You should change before we head up there," he nodded down to Oliver's drenched shirt.
"I'll text my driver to bring me new clothes, and just change after the meeting."
Merlyn fixed the blonde with a stern look that left her a little squirmish, before returning his gaze to Oliver. "You know I've fired employees for less than ruining a tailor-made Kiton suit."
Oliver looked down at the woman in front of him, not sure how to respond to Malcolm's not so subtle hint to fire her. "I'll deal with her later," he said, trying to sound cold.
- End of flashback -
⁂ ⁂ ⁂
That had been the first time he'd met Felicity Smoak. At the time, he hadn't had any idea that this clumsy, babbling blonde would be his wife only a few months later.
With a sigh he looked down at his watch and realized he couldn't avoid going downstairs any longer. When he stepped out of his room, he froze. Opposite of him, Felicity mirrored his stance, one hand still on the door handle.
Great, now they were leaving their rooms at the same time. Wasn't that fucking adorable…
They walked down the hallway of the mansion's east wing, their wing, towards the main part of the building, leaving as much space between them as possible without pressing against the walls.
Following their wedding, Felicity had moved into the Queen mansion to complete the deception of the public. He had moved out of his childhood room and together they lived in the east wing of the prestigious building. Each had their own room with lavish bathrooms and offices. The two bedrooms were connected by a living room. Scattered on the floor below and above them were a number of guest rooms, a lounge area with a large dinner table to host guests, a small library, a full-sized kitchen, and a swimming pool with a spa area. Basically, it was a home within a home. Their home.
"Hack anyone lately?" Oliver spat out, fixing her with an icy stare.
To his annoyance, she just chuckled at that and when they reached the main staircase, she turned to him and said, "Nope. But it's still early. Wanna be on the No Fly List again?"
Before he could retort anything, she winked at him, a devilish smile playing on her lips, and hopped down the stairs two at once.
He stopped in his tracks. That might have been the first time she had actually smiled at him since the wedding. Sure, it had been a little smug and she was basically ridiculing him for his lame comment, but it had seemed genuine nonetheless. Why was she so happy? Any other day, she treated him like he killed her dog or something.
Usually, their days consisted of so many fake smiles and happy looks that he had lost count quickly. But just now she'd smiled at him and he couldn't deny that it had made her even more beautiful.
"Are you coming, sweetie? Everybody's waiting," came his mother's voice from downstairs.
He scrunched up his forehead in confusion when he made his way down the stairs. "Who's 'everybody'?"
"Tommy, Laurel, Walter, your sister and her… friend, Donna, and your grandmother," Moira rattled off.
Great, his grandmother was here. Even though she was the family matriarch she had no idea that he had entered an arranged marriage and actually believed and expected him to be head over heels in love with Felicity. The same thing went for Laurel and Roy.
"Why all the fuzz? Did I miss anyone's birthday?" he questioned, unable to keep the growing irritation out of his voice.
All he wanted was a quiet dinner that he could slip out of easily to put on his hood and cross another name of his father's list.
His mother looked at him with a comical expression on her face. "Honey, it's your birthday."
Oh. Right, birthdays. People liked to celebrate those.
He plastered on a fake smile and scratched the back of his neck. "The last few weeks have been such a whirlwind, I totally forgot."
Moira seemed to be content with his explanation and before she ushered him into the dining room, she hugged him tightly and wished him a happy birthday.
Once he entered the room, he was showered with more hugs, kisses on the cheeks and birthday wishes from his friends and family. But despite the fuss around him it didn't escape his notice that Tommy was hugging Felicity tightly in the far corner of the room, sending a flare of... something through Oliver's body. When they stepped apart, Tommy brought up his hand to cup her cheek in a gentle gesture while kissing the other. Oliver unconsciously gripped Roy's hand tighter, until Thea intervened his "big brother protectiveness".
He just shrugged it off, making a noncommittal sound before his eyes fell on Felicity's once again. This time, she was meeting his gaze and he could see the wariness in her eyes, that spark of uncertainty that he knew all too well when it came to their marriage.
She must've realized that they'd be forced to play happy newlyweds tonight and Tommy had tried to cheer her up or something. He never quite understood how those two had become friends after the shit she had pulled.
When he'd greeted everybody but her, he made a move to sit down at the table, intent on getting this over with as quickly as possible.
"And what about your wife? Doesn't she want to wish you a happy birthday?" his grandmother exclaimed slightly indignantly.
Oliver could feel how everybody's eyes shifted between him and Felicity. He looked up to see her freeze for a millisecond, before putting her happy-mask back in place. She let out a loud laugh which only he seemed to realize was totally fake, before striding over to him, her eyes never leaving his.
"Don't worry, Grammy, I already wished him a very happy birthday a few times today," she said while closing in on him. Her tone so salacious, that there was no mistaking what she meant to imply. "But of course I have no objections to doing again."
Despite her apparent bravado and sureness, Oliver could see the hesitation and uneasiness rolling off of her tense body. From having to play the happy couple way too many times already he knew that she enjoyed the charade about as much as he did.
She stopped right in front of him, hands shooting up to frame his face and pulling him down slightly. Standing on her tiptoes, she brought her mouth closer to his.
For a split second he thought she would actually kiss him, and more shockingly, for the same amount of time he wanted her to. But instead, she left a lingering kiss on his cheek. "Happy birthday, baby", she breathed in his ear, making sure it was loud enough for everybody to hear.
"I really hope there is a R-rated version of you wishing him a happy birthday, Lissy. Otherwise, I'll never be a great-grandma."
"Mother," Moira said sternly and let out an exasperated sigh.
Oliver could see Felicity blushing at the blunt statement and once again it was hard not to be endeared to her reaction. She let herself drop back to her normal height, shooting him a shy look of more uncertainty, and stepped even closer, her arms banding around his waist, effectively enveloping him in a tight hug with her cheek pressed into his chest.
She murmed something in his chest that he couldn't understand.
Surprised, he realized that he had brought up his hands to grab her waist when she had kissed him. Now pressed into him, he couldn't help but return the fierce pressure of her hold, trapping her against him.
What the hell was happening to him? Why was a hug with her affecting him this much?
When they finally stepped apart after a long moment, Felicity looked up at him with a sheepish smile, and judging by the shiver that ran through her body, she also felt the cold rush that went through him upon losing body contact.
He was sure the uncertain look in her eyes mirrored his own as he looked down at her. He could see the questions swirling through her blue orbs, her brows furrowing slightly in a mixture of confusion and concentration.
A few seconds passed where nobody said anything until finally Tommy chimed in. "I think it's great that you guys are all googly eyes and all that but I'm starving, so how about you break up your little PDA session and sit down so we can get started?"
After that, the dinner was more or less uneventful. Oliver and Felicity sat next to each other but both avoided any physical contact. He glanced over at her a few times during the 5-course meal but she stoically looked everywhere but in his direction. What was that about?
Sometime during the third course, Tommy announced that he'd prepared Verdant for the required birthday bash. Oliver was quick to agree, seeing an opportunity to go out on the streets and make progress on the list, after all. Feeling better, he sat back and finally started to enjoy the meal, glancing over to his wife he noted with a furrowed brow how she had stiffened at the mention of going out. This woman was just one big mystery to him. A mystery that he was intent on solving at some point. But not tonight.
⁂ ⁂ ⁂ ARROW ⁂ ⁂ ⁂
After dinner, Thea had whisked her away to her room to find something "short and hot" to wear to the party. While she generally enjoyed Thea's company and enthusiasm concerning fashion, tonight she was just not in the mood to entertain the younger woman's bubbly self, or go out to celebrate Oliver's birthday, for that matter.
But what choice did she have? She was his wife. Or at least, she had to play the role of his wife in public. God, this whole situation was so messed up.
She let Thea dress her and do her make-up, while she was completely lost in her thoughts.
During the whole dinner, she'd felt her mother's disapproving looks thrown her way. Apparently, the kiss on the cheek hadn't been enough of a show of affection in her eyes.
But at what point in her life had she not disappointed her mother?
Donna hadn't approved of it when Felicity had changed her hair color in high school, saying it made her look like another dumb blonde.
She had wanted her daughter to study in Princeton, her alma mater; instead, Felicity had gone to MIT.
She had wanted her daughter to intern at SmoakSolutions, but Felicity had chosen to complete her mandatory internship at Queen Consolidated.
And then she had gone as far as accepting the job offer she received from Walter Steele personally who was hell bent on binding her to QC after her graduation.
The only time Felicity hadn't completely disappointed her mother was when she'd (very) reluctantly agreed to marry Oliver Queen.
There he was again. Oliver Queen. Asshole extraordinaire.
The day she first met him was etched into her brain even four months after it had happened. And what a painfully awkward first meeting it had been for her. For him it had just been plain painful.
⁂ ⁂ ⁂
- 4 months earlier (January 2013) -
Felicity couldn't believe her bad luck today. She'd overslept and barely made it to the QC building in time. Three feet before reaching the safety of her small office the heel of her right shoe had broken off and she had narrowly missed slamming her face into the door frame.
While sitting in her chair and leaning down to put her beloved (but frowned upon by her colleagues) panda flats on, the phone had rung and startled her so much that she had banged her head into to the table, making her see stars for a second.
The front desk had called her down to take a look at their computers that were acting up again. She had grabbed a much needed cup of coffee on the way to the elevator, forgoing a lit to let it cool faster.
A choice she'd regret only a minute later, when she crashed into a brick wall of a man and poured more than half of the cup's steaming content over his shirt and suit.
This day really could not get any worse, she thought to herself while staring in complete shock as the brown liquid spread over the stranger's shirt. The beginnings of an apology were forming on the tip of her tongue when she managed to force herself out of her daze and looked up to meet her coffee attack victim's eyes.
Holy crap, the day had just gotten worse. So, so much worse.
Standing in front of her was none other than Oliver Queen.
Before today she'd only seen him on TV or in a magazine. Especially after starting to work for the company, he'd always been photographed with a big grin on his face, even though if you asked her, she thought it looked a little fake. Right then, she would've give, anything to see that fake grin, but instead he fixed her with an ice cold look.
She totally failed to conceal her body's reaction and visibly tensed under his intense blue eyes.
She found her voice again and immediately started babbling like her life depended on it (and to be fair, judging by his look, her life did depend on it), accidentally insinuating that she was checking him out to find his man parts.
He had growled at her, like, literally growled when she couldn't seem to stop her ramble.
Usually, she wasn't afraid of men and she could stand her own ground, but holy shit, this guy was pretty damn intimidating.
She barely dared to look up again, fearing what she would see in his eyes.
But when she finally did, she was surprised by what she saw. Yes, there was the anger that matched his icy stare from earlier (that had only warmed up marginally) and there was annoyance etched into the hard features of his face. But there was also something else that she couldn't quite place. Surprise maybe?
His lips twitched ever so slightly and despite his growly tone and grim look, she could swear for a second that he was fighting off a smile that threatened to break out on his lips.
"Sorry," she said and took a steadying breath. "I'm trying to say that I'm sorry."
She watched him while he considered her apology and by the way his face softened she was sure he'd accept it and just brush off the whole incident. That was until his name was called from the entrance of the lobby.
Talk about intimidating men. Malcolm Merlyn was in the Top 5 of her people-she-didn't-want-to-encounter-alone-in-the-dark-list. He was always a total gentleman during the few public events she had encountered him at, but at one of those she'd also seen a harsher side of him when she'd witnessed him firing his assistant after he snapped at her for wearing a dress that was the same color as his tie. That man was just a pretentious ass hat, in her opinion.
She watched as Oliver greeted him and talked with him, a little annoyed that he just dropped her like a hot potato just because Merlyn waltzed in.
Suddenly, the man in question turned towards her and fixed her with a condescending glance, before returning his gaze to Oliver. "You know I've fired employees for less than ruining a Kiton suit."
Yeah, she knew that all too well. Bastard.
And then to her shock the man, that had been just about to accept her apology, said, "I'll think about it."
Felicity watched their retreating forms speechlessly.
Despite her mishap she was annoyed by Oliver's reaction. He could've at least acknowledged her apology instead of basically agreeing with Merlyn's suggestion to fire her.
But hey, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if he fired her, because she was pretty sure that once he took over the family business for good, he'd probably just run it into the ground. From what she heard from one of her friends who worked on the executive floor, Oliver Queen may be hot as hell but had the business sense of a pebble stone.
A few hours later, she sat in her favorite cafe writing a quick email to her mom on her laptop, while waiting for the very handsome and what her best friend Jenny would classify as a "highly fuckable" barista to finish her low-fat extra foam extra hot caramel latte with an extra shot of espresso and a drizzle of caramel syrup on top.
"Felicity, your order's ready."
Even without turning around she could hear the toothpaste ad worthy smile in his voice.
"Yup, just one second," she said and concentrated on her laptop once more to finish the email and hit the 'send' button, without bothering to close down the lid. Because, seriously, what could possibly go wrong in the ten seconds it took her to go to the counter and get her coffee?
When she got up from her seat with a little too much enthusiasm, an uneasy feeling of impending mayhem settled in the pit of her stomach.
And since the universe clearly completely hated her today, it only took a second to make her suspicions come true.
The logical part of her brain warned her that she moved too fast and that she'd either knock over her table and maybe even her chair, or trip over her own feet and land flat on her ass.
What happened next only took a few seconds in real life but to her it seemed like everything was moving in slow motion, prolonging the misery of the moment.
Instead of hitting the table she saw herself face-to-(very well-dressed) chest with a bulky man. She tried to move out of the way but her own momentum combined with the stranger's forward motion resulted in her completely being knocked off balance.
To avoid falling down and causing an epic scene she grabbed for the stranger's arm to steady herself.
When she heard the "holy shit" from the man in front of her she knew this situation was about to get even worse.
Her eyes flickered down to where her hand held onto the man's arm and further down to his hand. There was some foam and light brown fluid dripping down from it.
She caught sight of the cup that had previously been in his hand just before it hit her table and spilled all over her laptop.
She couldn't help the (maybe a tad bit dramatic) "nooooo!" that escaped her lips.
The very annoying logical part of her brain informed her factually that her laptop was fried, kaput, wrecked, ruined. Suddenly, she felt anger seep through her veins.
Narrowing her eyes she moved back a half step to face the laptop killer and took a deep breath to give him a piece of her mind.
But the words died on her tongue when she realized who she just ran into... again.
Oh, you've got to be kidding me.
Son of a…
"You spilled a latte on my laptop," she said slowly, narrowing her eyes at him in accusation. "You killed my baby."
He gave her an irritated look. "Okay, a) it wasn't just my fault that this happened."
"What? You're saying it was my fault?"
"And b) it's a machine. Get over it," he finished, ignoring her question.
"Get over it? Who the hell do you think you are to tell me to get over it?"
"It's just an object. Buy a new one."
She scoffed. "Of course you would say that. You've probably never built anything with your own hands in your entire life."
She noted that his tone was matching the irritation of her own.
"I built this laptop. I selected every single part to meet my specifications and needs and then pieced everything together," she explained. "But this wasn't just any laptop. This was a prototype for a new office laptop for your company. It took me 7 months to find all the right parts. Seven freaking months."
"Well, maybe you shouldn't bring a prototype to a place where something like this could happen," he shot back immediately.
Damn him for being right. It wasn't like she wasn't allowed to bring it outside of QC. In fact, she usually took it home with her on the weekends to work on it some more, but bringing it to a coffee shop probably wasn't her best idea.
"Normally, it's perfectly safe here. You're here for all of ten seconds and suddenly my laptop is dead."
"You mean my laptop," he corrected her.
"Well, if this is a Queen Consolidated prototype, it technically belongs to me," he replied, a smug grin firmly planted on his lips.
"Are you serious right now? Is this your idea of payback for earlier? Because I gotta tell you, that's some twisted sense of justice you got there."
"I didn't do this on purpose," he growled, grin wiped from his face.
There it was again. The growling. Did he think this would intimidate her or something? So yeah, maybe that had worked earlier, but not anymore. No, sir, not when they were discussing the untimely death of her work child.
Just then she realized she was still clutching his forearm, a very muscular forearm. She let it go and took a moment to look him over.
Instead of the white dress shirt that she had ruined earlier, he was now wearing a fitted dark blue button up with the sleeves rolled up. One might say he fit into that highly fuckable category if only he wasn't such an asshole in the character department.
"Are you done checking me out?" he questioned, smug grin back in place.
She opened and closed her mouth a few times, her brain refusing to come up with a witty response. Her phone chirped in her pocket, indicating the ten minute warning before her break would be over.
She sighed and looked down at the ruined laptop again. With a sinking heart she realized that she was supposed to present the laptop to the board in less than an hour. Which had been the initial reason for her to come to the coffee shop in the first place. To calm her nerves with a big cup of delicious coffee to make her forget about the morning from hell she'd had.
She still had a kick-ass PowerPoint presentation that contained 3D models of the laptop, but still, without the actual end product she'd look like a complete fool in front of the most important people of the company. All because of Oliver Queen, she thought grimly, anger finally replacing the shock she'd felt until now.
Her eyes flew back up to meet his, annoyed to see the cocky smirk still playing on his lips. She ground her teeth together.
"What? Now you're at a loss of words? That's gotta be a first," he teased.
A devilish smile formed on her lips. "Mark my words, Oliver Queen. You'll regret this," she vowed darkly, jabbing her index finger into his chest, which she totally didn't to notice to also be very muscle-y.
She gathered her things and turned to him, "Since this is apparently your laptop, Mr. Queen, why don't you clean up this mess?" she hissed and left the coffee shop, ignoring his protests.
- End of flashback -
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"What has you grinning like an idiot?" Thea asked, pulling her out of her thoughts.
Felicity opened her eyes, taking a second to focus on her reflection in the mirror. Thea truly was the master of make overs. She knew that she wasn't an unattractive woman on a normal day, but Thea could make her feel like a real life princess with just a few skillful strokes.
"Oh, you know... stuff," Felicity responded tentatively. Thea wasn't just good with make-up, she also had the annoying gift of seeing right through Felicity.
As if to prove that point, the younger woman countered cheekily, "Stuff? Or Oliver's 'stuff'?"
"Thea," she sighed exasperatedly, hoping the copious amounts of make-up would cover the profuse blush on her cheeks.
But Thea just clapped her hands, seemingly overjoyed. "I knew he'd eventually get to you. Didn't I tell you, Lis?"
"He didn't get to me, okay? I was merely remembering the day we met and how much he pissed me off."
"Ooh, the blind date with our mothers, right? I remember that that week was just one big disaster for Oliver. Like, literally, everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong," Thea mused.
Felicity cocked her head, a mischievous smile playing on her lips. "Huh, is that so?"
The brunette regarded her for a moment before it dawned on her. "No.fucking.way! That was you? All of it?"
"I plead the fifth," Felicity sing-songed and went over to the walk-in closet to find matching shoes.
"Oh, my God. It was you. The photo of Oliver leaving the sperm bank, the no fly list, the health department checking Verdant twice in like three days? The SWAT teams that stormed QC and the mansion?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about," the blonde replied with the biggest shit-eating grin on her face, suggesting something completely different.
Thea looked at her for a long moment. "Can you teach me that stuff?"
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