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After Hours

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Of course that Wednesday had to be the day Ed Raymond called in sick and all hell broke loose. And of course she'd be the one picking up the slack and fixing everything. That was a no brainer. Being the best of the best when it came to computers and information technology wasn't without its perks and pitfalls. Today's mess was a pitfall, but Felicity Smoak wouldn't trade it for the world.

Yet she would if it meant actually working on code to improve the security firewalls in place instead of scurrying from one executive's office to another in order to reboot the computer. At one point she'd been tempted to ask if the caller on the line had just turned it off and turned it back on again, but that could have resulted in more of a headache than just going up there to do it herself. Most of the executives were in their late 50's to early 60's and barely knew a thing about computers. That's what made her job such a pain in the ass today.

Instead of Ed being the one to scurry around fixing things, it fell into Felicity's lap. She was second in command of the I.T. department at Queen Consolidated, a position she'd worked hard to get into after being hired right out of college by none other than the former CEO himself, Robert Queen. He'd seen her potential and offered her a position as one of the techs at first, promising to promote her once she proved herself. Felicity had done just that, and within six months, she'd moved from a tiny, turquoise-colored cubicle to her own office beside the server room, which was usually her domain.

The pay still wasn't great, though. Felicity had acquired enough debt during her years at MIT that she needed a second, less respectable job in order to help pay off her loans. She hoped the hard work she put into not only fixing computers, but also updating the network with new security features that would help keep the company safe from cyber attacks would move her farther up the corporate ladder, but she'd been the assistant manager for the past two years now, and she was itching to do more.

Felicity had hope, though. After all, Robert Queen himself had promised her great things for her future, but then he had unexpectedly retired and his son, Oliver, had taken over the company. She had yet to meet the young CEO, which was probably a good thing considering everything she'd read about him in the tabloids. His early exploits as a playboy were well documented in the media. But after a drunk driving incident claimed the life of his best friend, Tommy Merlyn, and left Oliver in a coma for several weeks, he'd definitely changed, something Felicity had only really paid attention to the past few years since she started working at Queen Consolidated.

Oliver Queen looked like a younger version of his father, but he was quieter, darker, more imposing. At least that was what Felicity had heard from some of the techs that had run up to his office to fix any issues with his or his assistant's computers. One of the girls from her department had gone so far as to say he stood over her shoulder the entire time, watching her like a hawk until the job was complete, then he'd dismissed her without a thank you or goodbye.

Another ping rang through Felicity's speakers indicating a distress call from one of the executive suites on the 39th floor. Rolling her bright blue eyes, she scribbled down the information and grabbed her tool kit just in case it was more than an internet browser full of porn. Just seeing what some of the higher ups searched for made her cringe before she remembered some of the less savory things she'd done these past few months in order to keep her debt collectors at bay.

"Another call out?"

Felicity turned to the person that asked the question and smiled politely. Sitting at a desk close to the front of the I.T. department with one leg crossed over the other, revealing miles of bare leg, Carrie Cutter sat like the fiery, red-haired office vixen she was. Always wearing skirts that were far too short for work, most of the male executives always asked for her assistance when they needed someone to fix a computer problem.

But with Felicity in charge, they were content on calling her instead, even if she wasn't as sexy as Carrie. She was far more efficient, though, getting the job done in half the time it took her counterpart. But she figured there were other, more salacious reasons for that, reasons she'd heard through office gossip. Carrie Cutter was out to make a name for herself, and she'd do it by any means necessary, even if it meant she'd be the star of the water cooler gossip.

"Yes," Felicity sighed. "They just keep coming. I don't know how Ed does this all day."

"He delegates, something you need to learn how to do," Carrie snidely replied as she looked down at her perfectly manicured blood red nails. "Why don't you let me take this one? You can scamper off and do whatever it is you do at night."

Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Felicity answered, "No. It's fine. I can take care of this on my own. It's almost quitting time anyway, so why don't you finish fixing that computer you've been working on all day while I go upstairs and take care of whatever needs to be taken care of?"

She'd never been a catty person, but something in Carrie's demeanor always brought out her inner bitch. It was as if she was always trying to find a way to best Felicity when they both knew her IQ and her I.T. accum were far greater than anyone else in the department. But since Carrie was willing to wear the short skirts and show more cleavage, it seemed as if she'd always be everyone's favorite, and that really got under Felicity's skin. She would never admit to it, though, or let it seep into her work intentionally. She'd play it neutral until she got the job she wanted and could break away from the grunt work.

"Whatever," Carrie hissed before turning back to the computer.

'What the hell did she do in eight hours?' Felicity found herself wondering as she turned and walked towards the elevator. One of these days, she'd place a camera over Carrie's desk and see exactly what she did during her work day. She had a sneaking suspicion it had nothing to do with work.

The elevator door chimed its arrival and Felicity hopped on, heading up to the executive offices where she was needed. She hoped the problem wouldn't take too long. The day was almost over, and she needed to get ready for her night job if she wanted to work off a little more of her debt. Getting stuck trying to fix another executive's computer after it crashed would set back her timetable and net her less money after hours.

When the elevator chimed again, its swirled gold and red glass doors opening to reveal dark marble and blue sky slowly turning shades of purple, Felicity's breath caught in her throat. This was her first trip to the 39th floor since Robert Queen had hired her. She hadn't been up here in almost three years, but it was obvious that the new CEO had decided to keep the place as it was, making no obvious changes from what she remembered.

Stepping up to the executive assistant's desk, she politely identified herself to the woman occupying the chair. "Ah, yes, Miss Smoak. Mr. Queen is expecting you. Go right on in," the lanky brunette said in a voice a little too high pitched for her liking. But Felicity smiled, thanking the assistant, whose nameplate read "Isabel Rochev."

She pushed through the large plate glass doors into the spacious executive office once occupied by Robert Queen to find his son sitting at a brand new desk, one made of polished steel and frosted glass. It was a stark contrast from the wood desk Robert had, but then her eyes settled on the new CEO and she stopped in her tracks.

Pictures of Oliver Queen failed to do him justice. The real life version was far more gorgeous than she could have imagined, even if his attention was focused on the piece of paper he was writing on. He had sharp features: from his cheekbones to his jaw, his face seemed to be chiseled like ancient Roman statues of the gods. The rest of his body looked just as good, dressed from head to toe in fine Italian grey wool suit that fit him to a tee. Embarrassing thoughts quickly began to swirl in her mind, and Felicity did everything in her power to try and stop them.

But nothing could prepare her for the moment he looked up and their eyes met. Startling sapphire pools bore into her, catching her off guard. Her jaw dropped as she stared at him for several moments longer than necessary. The scruff covering his cheeks and jaw made him look even more imposing than he already was, something her body was having a strange reaction to.

"Felicity Smoak?" he said in a voice so rich and velvety, she almost swooned. But it also served to pull her back to reality. He was standing, all six feet of him towering over her tiny five-foot-three frame in her ballet flats with the panda faces on the toes. She should have been more embarrassed by her choice in footwear, but at that moment, her mind was far from it.

Felicity swallowed hard when a smile graced his lips, showing off the dimples in his cheeks. "Hi, I'm Oliver Queen," he introduced himself, extending his hand towards her.

Well, that was rather unexpected, Felicity thought for a second. Oliver Queen was nothing like the girls in the office said. He actually came off… warm toward her.

"Of course I know who you are, Mr. Queen," she replied, respectfully shaking his hand, proud that she'd saved herself from an awkward situation just in time.

"Mr. Queen was my father," he said, as if trying to correct her even though she knew it was proper etiquette addressing her boss the way she did.

"Right, but he's gone. I mean, he retired. But you didn't. Retire, that is. Instead you took over for him. Which means you could call me up from the I.T. department and listen to me babble." There went her mouth, taking on a life of its own as her cheeks flushed scarlet. "Which will end in three… two… one…"

Felicity took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment before she opened them again to find her boss staring down at her with a warm smile and a twinkle in his eye. He didn't look perturbed by her accidental word vomit, like many people usually did. Instead, there was a fondness in that deep blue gaze she wasn't expecting.

"What can I do for you, Mr. Queen?" she asked, hoping this time around her brain-to-mouth filter would kick in even though she knew more awkward rambling would follow in a matter of time. It always seemed to happen around the attractive ones, which was why she was so glad her second job forced her to keep quiet most of the time.

"First off, call me Oliver," he said, gesturing toward a chair across from his desk. "Second, I seemed to have made a mess of my computer." Oliver gestured towards his laptop and the remnants of a spilled drink that had been hastily wiped clean before she'd come up.

"Oh, my poor baby!" Felicity nearly cried as she quickly pushed him out of the way and moved behind the desk to inspect the ruined tech in front of her. "What did you do? Spill a latte on it?" she angrily asked when she picked up the laptop and saw brown liquid leak out of one of the screw holes.

"As a matter of fact, I did," he said with much hesitation. The murderous gaze she threw at him made Oliver take a step back. "I'm sorry." He winced out his apology, throwing his hands up just before Felicity turned back to the ruined keyboard.

"Well, it looks like you're going to need a new one," she ground out, hoping her words didn't sound too harsh considering she'd just scared her boss with the amount of love she showed to all things electronic. With a heavy sigh, Felicity shut the lid and quickly unplugged it. "I'll see if I can salvage any of the data. With luck, you didn't completely fry the motherboard or hard drive. It might take a little while, but I am the best, after all. If I can't salvage this, nobody can."

"What should I do in the meantime?" Oliver asked as she tucked the computer under her arm and began to make her way out of his office.

"I can have one of the techs run up with a replacement for the time being," Felicity said. "Just please don't drink another latte anywhere near it. Otherwise you're going to hear my loud voice and that could possibly get me fired."

Oliver smirked. He actually smirked as she gazed up at him, his deep blue eyes boring into her. It made Felicity cock her head at him for a moment, intrigued by that look. The man was a mystery, that she was sure of. He was hiding something behind that scrutinous gaze, something that she was itching to uncover.

"I promise, no more lattes near any electronic equipment," Oliver vowed, holding up one hand as if giving an oath to her.

"Good," Felicity replied with a nod. "I'm going to run back down to my office and see if I can fix this for you tonight. If you need to finish anything, I can have a tech up here in ten minutes with a new computer."

"Take your time. I was just heading out for the evening," he said. "Would it be alright if I walked you to the elevator?"

This was the first time anyone had ever offered to walk her to an elevator before, but Felicity nodded as she turned to head out of the office. Oliver quickly strode ahead of her, opening the door since her arms were full. She kindly thanked him and soon they were boarding a car that would first top on her floor before continuing down to the lobby.

When the elevator chimed and the doors opened, Felicity proceeded to disembark, but his voice drew her attention back. "It was nice meeting you, Felicity," Oliver said. A warm smile crossed his lips, showing off those sexy dimples again.

"You too," she stammered, returning the smile with one of her own.

"My father was right about you," he added before the doors closed and he was gone.

Felicity was left standing there staring at the brushed steel as she tried to comprehend what he meant by that statement. Shrugging it off, she returned to her office and began working on the ruined laptop, hoping it wouldn't take longer than an hour to fix. She had her own obligations that evening, none of which would be too happy if she showed up late.

It only took Felicity half an hour to transfer the important components of the ruined laptop into a new casing, one that was more resistant to spilled drinks than its predecessor. The hard drive and motherboard had been, thankfully, left relatively unscathed in the latte incident, as she would call it from now on. After booting it up to make sure it ran, she did a complete virus scan just to make sure it was clean before powering it down and heading back upstairs to leave it on Oliver's desk.

Mercifully, he was gone for the day, which meant she wouldn't be embarrassing herself with anymore word vomit incidents. Instead, she tiptoed past his assistant's empty desk and through the glass doors into his now dark and quiet office. At least that's what she thought until she heard whispers coming from the conference room next door.

"I know you wanted to spice things up, Ollie, but sex in your office is a little mundane," Felicity overheard a slightly high pitched voice say just as she stepped past the small lounge area a few feet from the glass desk. She froze immediately, afraid she'd stumbled into something that would get her into trouble or possibly fired.

Turning on her heels, Felicity high-tailed it out of there with the laptop still securely under her arm. But her escape didn't go quite as planned. She accidentally bumped into the modern black leather couch in the seating area a few feet from the desk, making it scrape across the marble floor. Hurried footsteps rushed in from the conference room just as she turned.

Oliver and a woman about her height with golden blonde hair were staring at her in shock.

"Mr. Queen! I am so sorry for the interruption. I just finished your laptop and thought I'd bring it back up to your office before I left for the day. But I obviously stopped in at the wrong time. I swear I didn't hear a thing, and even if I did, I'd never say anything to anyone because I really like my job and…"

"Felicity," Oliver quickly cut her off mid-ramble, his voice calm instead of condescending.

Her mouth immediately snapped shut as she stared at the couple standing a few feet away from her.

"Hi, I'm Sara Lance," the blonde in tight black jeans said as she stepped forward, hand extended in greeting. "Felicity, right?"

"Um, yeah…" she replied, shaking the woman's hand, still wide-eyed and slightly terrified from what had transpired earlier.

"I'm a… friend of Ollie's. It's nice to meet you."

"Felicity is a tech from the I.T. department," Oliver said

"Assistant Manager, actually, but I usually work on tech when Ed's not here. I actually prefer it to talking executives through shutting their computers off and turning them back on. That can get frustrating after a while, as I've learned today," Felicity said before pursing her lips. "And there I go again with the babbling."

"You're cute," Sara replied with a smile as she adjusted her black leather jacket over her ample breasts, something Felicity happened to notice considering they were basically on display in her tight black V-neck top.

"Thank… you?" she said.

Sara grinned at her while Oliver chuckled and shook his head.

Suddenly Felicity felt rather uncomfortable by the way the conversation had turned. She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth before realizing she still held the laptop under her arm. "Anyway, here's your computer, Mr. Queen," she said, holding it out to him. "Again, sorry for the interruption. I'll just be on my way."

Still red-faced and utterly mortified, Felicity turned on her heels to leave, but Oliver's voice drew her back. "Felicity," he called. She pivoted on her heels to face him. "Why don't you join us for dinner tonight? After all, you pretty much saved my laptop and possibly the company with your quick work."

"I... Uh… What?" she sputtered, feeling as if she'd been thrown into an episode of the Twilight Zone.

"Think of it as my way of repaying you for all the great work you do for this company," Oliver said.

Felicity paused for a moment, simply staring at the couple in front of her. She didn't know what to make of the situation. Robert Queen had wined and dined her back when she had just graduated from college, but that was because he'd wanted her to choose his company over all the other job offers she'd received from around the country.

Oliver, on the other hand, seemed to have a completely different agenda, one she couldn't figure out, especially after his line just before the elevator doors shut. "My father was right about you." The words ran on repeat in her mind, puzzling Felicity to no end. But as much as she wanted to figure out what his angle was, she still had her evening obligations to attend to.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Queen, but I can't," Felicity finally replied. "I have plans tonight."

"Oh, then I'm sorry for keeping you," he quickly apologized. "Boyfriend waiting?"

"God, no. Haven't had one of those in ages," she replied before pursing her lips and squeezing her eyes shut. She just couldn't turn her mouth off that night. "And again, I'm sharing too much information, so I'd better just… go."

"Maybe another time, then?" Oliver asked.

"Maybe," she halfheartedly replied. All Felicity wanted to do was get out of there as quickly as possible. It felt strange having her boss ask her out to dinner after meeting her only once. Turning again, she finally managed to get to the elevator and pressed the down button.

A stop to her office allowed her to pick up her things before heading down into the parking garage. Felicity rushed home and quickly changed out of her pink dress shirt and gray pencil skirt, throwing on her evening attire before rushing back out again. Running even ten minutes late was unacceptable to her clients, so she floored it all the way to her destination: Verdant.