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Destiny Burns

Chapter Text

“So it’s fixed?” The short, stumpy man in front of her asked in irritation as he grabbed the laptop from her, “I won’t have to come back this time?”

Felicity had to resist the urge to snap at him, instead clutching her red pen tighter in her grasp and faking a smile.

“You’re all good. The other technician missed just a small part of the bug, giving it room to spread through the hardware again. Don’t worry—I scooped it all out this time,” She reassured, before her lips pursed at her strange wording, “I mean, not scooped because it’s not a real bug—I mean I metaphorically scooped it out. The virus. It’s gone now completely.”

The man in front at her stared blankly a long moment before nodding, “Good,” he said swiftly, turning on his heel and leaving without so much as a thank you.

She rolled her eyes, muttering to herself in irritation. She hated dealing with rude people—but as an advanced IT specialist, it happened all too often for her liking. Luckily though, Mr. Grouchy was her last appointment for the day. And she had a night ahead of her.

She quickly grabbed her purse off the floor next to her legs, plucking out a small mirror and positioning it in front of her on the desk. She used her always-ready makeup wipes to quickly wipe off her terrible day, her pulse already thrumming with excitement as she reapplied her makeup step-by-step—quickly winging her eyeliner, extending her lashes, and setting her lips into a bright red pout before tossing the mirror back in her bag.

She rose from her swivel chair, closing the sturdy door to her office, thankful that her best friend, Iris, had insisted on spicing up the room with a mirror on the back of the door. It had become incredibly useful during her many early mornings and late nights spent there—and she had changed more times than she could count in the confines of the small area (although the sequined flower vase Iris had bought had been less than useful, and had eventually stored her scissors instead of flowers).

Felicity quickly shucked off her blouse, feet slipping out of her heels as she shimmied out of her pencil skirt. She leaned over to the dress she had hung behind the door, but flinched at the stretch as a searing pain tore through her side.

She stopped, looked at herself in the mirror in front of her.

She was pale—paler than usual, due to Starling’s harsh winter—and was surprised to find a brilliantly pink scar on her side, the source of the sudden pain.

It was jagged and took up a large portion of her ribs, the skin raised slightly as it differed from the rest.

To anybody else, the sudden marking would be cause for complete panic. But Felicity, although irritated, wasn’t overly alarmed. She was used to the random scars and markings, the sudden aches and pains that came from no source known to her.

Her first marking had been seven years ago—just two years before she had moved out of her mother’s house. Donna Smoak had panicked at the marking on her daughter’s shoulder, taking Felicity to some whack-job psychic she had met the previous night on the strip in search of an explanation.

The physic had mulled over it a long while, before deciding it was a linked scar. She was marked with the injuries of her soulmate.

“You’re joking,” Felicity scoffed as Donna Smoak had gasped, believing the woman completely.

“Not at all, my dear,” The psychic said, smiling at her, “You’re very lucky—most people do not have a soulmate.”

“Wow! Felicity, baby, that’s so cool!” Donna said, staring in wonder at the mark.

“Ohhh-kay,” Felicity said, humoring them both, “Well thank you for that helpful information,” Felicity went to move away, but the woman’s hand suddenly grasped her arm.

Felicity startled as the woman’s eyes stared at her, her green eyes turning as black as her pupils.

“It hurts—doesn’t it?” The woman asked, her voice much more grave than earlier.

“No,” Felicity lied, although it didn’t seem that the woman needed an answer.

“He is far from you now. For the pain to stop, you must be together,” the woman said, “It is destiny.”

Felicity tried her hardest not to laugh, but couldn’t help the small snort that escaped as she ushered her enthusiastic mother from the dingy shop and away from the intense gaze of the woman behind them.

She forgot about the woman and the scar on her back after a few weeks—only acknowledging it when it began to ache or when she would catch a glimpse of the white skin while passing by a mirror.

And then, as suddenly as the first, there was another scar—this time on her hip.

And soon, another on her chest.

They came more frequently as she grew older, sometimes small, almost unnoticeable, such as the long, thin line on her forearm—sometimes larger, such as the new one on her side.

Felicity brushed her fingers across it gently, flinching from the contact, before grabbing her red dress and pulling it on, careful to avoid the sensitive skin.

She knew she should be searching for what these really were—and she had, after that second one. For years she had looked, questioned, and wondered. But she had always come back to wondering about that crazy psychic in Las Vegas and whether there were any truth to her words.

But there couldn’t be. Felicity didn’t believe in any of that supernatural, soulmate bull. Felicity believed in facts. Science. Things she could prove. And these scars? Well, they were just too out of this realm to wrap her mind around.

So instead of delving back into a subject that would just cause a headache, she slipped on her tall, black heels, a simple necklace, and earrings, before spinning in the mirror to make sure the high necked dress had covered all of her scars. Those were not something she wanted to explain on the first date. If ever.

“You can do this Felicity,” she told herself in the mirror, smiling brightly, “Iris said this guy was nice. So maybe it will work. Don’t be weird. And don’t babble. Guys don’t like that,” she instructed herself, before grabbing her bag and flipping off the light switch.

She had a date and she wasn’t going to let a scar change that—no matter how deathly serious it felt, aching at her side.

Chapter Text

Twenty minutes into dinner and Felicity was already plotting revenge on Iris.

Because her blind date was a dud in every sense of the word. Upon first glance, she had been utterly swept away by Ray—with his tall, broad shoulders and dark eyes he was utterly dreamy.

Then he opened his mouth— and he hadn’t shut it since.

“So dumping waste—your thoughts on that?” Ray spewed out, and it took Felicity a long moment to realize the end to his rant was in fact a question directed towards her. She worked hard on swallowing the spaghetti in her mouth, eyes tearing as the large bite lodged in her throat.

“On—on dumping waste?” She clarified, coughing heavily as she spoke and gulping a large swig of the wine in front of her, trying to catch her breath. He watched her struggle, eyeing her distastefully.

“Yes—what are your thoughts on the issue?” He asked, his eyes boring into her far too intensely for the subject at hand.

“Well, I mean dumping waste is most definitely not good,” she started, suddenly wishing she knew more about the subject. She fumbled, trying to recall anything she had read about it in the paper or online-- She breathed a sigh of relief as their waiter approached their table, looking at her.

“Ms. Smoak?” the waiter asked, and Felicity cocked her head at him, not recalling having told her her name.

“Yes?” she asked tentatively, shooting a look at Ray, but he was paying them no mind, his gaze fixed on the cell phone in his grasp.

“You have a phone call,” The waiter said.

“What?” Felicity asked confused.

“They said it was important—to get you straight away,” The waiter explained.

Felicity gave him a look, but began standing up, grabbing her clutch off the table.

“I’m so sorry, I’ll be right back—” she started towards Ray, and he simply nodded his head at her, taking a sip of his water as his gaze remained down.

Felicity was already plotting what excuse she would use to ditch her date as she let the waiter lead her to the phone near the hostess stand. She could say it was work calling her in. Or that her mom had been admitted to the hospital and hadn’t been able to reach her on her phone, as she had turned it off for the date (a courtesy that Ray obviously didn’t deem necessary).

Felicity pondered through scenarios in her head as the girl at the hostess stand passed her the cordless phone, an annoyed look on her face as she smacked bubble gum between her teeth.

“Hello?” Felicity asked into the phone.

“Felicity Smoak?” A deep voice asked on the other line that was unfamiliar to her.

“Yeesss?” she said back awkwardly, “Who is this?”

“Look into the dining room where you were seated,” the voice instructed, and despite Felicity’s confusion, she listened to the insistent voice, turning towards where Ray sat at their table.

“Why?” Felicity asked, unease sparking in her stomach at the grave tone on the other end of the phone. Something was off--something was very wrong. She could feel it.

“Do you see that man at the bar?” The voice asked, and Felicity watched as a broad, intimidating man on a stool just behind Ray shifted, standing up at the acknowledgement.

“Yes,” Felicity responded, watching the man uneasily. He was large--strong. His dark face was shadowed in the dim lighting, but she saw a casualty there that made the hair on her arms stand up. His moves were too methodical--too calculated. Far too graceful for a man of his size.

“If you don’t do exactly as I say, he’s going to snap your pretty boy’s neck right in front of this whole restaurant of people,” the voice said tonelessly in her ear, as though discussing the weather. Felicity tried to hide her gasp of horror as the man at the bar pushed aside his jacket slightly, hands brushing across a gun at his side.

“You wouldn’t,” Felicity said, her voice soft into the phone. This wasn’t real. This wasn’t her life—this couldn’t be happening.

“Okay,” the voice said simply, before his voice switched into a command, “Digg.”

The tall, dark man at the bar turned suddenly, tossing a twenty on the counter as he swiftly approached Ray from behind. Felicity jumped as his large hand gripped the back Ray’s chair.

“No!” Felicity yelled, and the hostess started at her, irritated.

“What’s your problem?” The hostess asked.

“N-nothing—Sorry,” Felicity quickly apologized, lowing her voice as she turned away from her, speaking into the phone.

“What do you want me to do?” Felicity asked, and she was surprised as a malicious chuckle filled her ears.

“Good girl, Barbie,” the voice said condescendingly, “I want you to take your phone out of your bag. Give it to the hostess and tell her it isn’t yours—you found it earlier. You wouldn’t want somebody to lose their nice phone.”

Felicity felt her hands shake as she nodded to herself, reaching for her bag and plucking the phone out.

“I found this earlier,” she said, turning to the hostess as she held it out. The hostess stared at her, confused, as she had just watched her pull it from her bag.

“Convince her,” the voice snapped in her ear, “Act natural.”

Felicity smiled brightly, “I don’t know how somebody could lose their phone, mine’s attached to me constantly. Which is why it’s so weird that I forgot mine at home tonight. You know, when you’re just running around so fast getting ready and then—”

“I’ll put this in our lost and found,” The hostess snapped, irritated at her babbling as she snatched the phone from Felicity’s grasp, setting it on the stand next to her, “Are you done on the phone yet? People are probably trying to call and make reservations.”

“Just one more minute,” Felicity apologized kindly, although her heart pounded loudly in her ears, wishing she could make the hostess understand her panic—wishing the girl would realize what was happening. But as the dark man still lingered behind Ray, watching her now, she turned her attention back to the phone, trying to look natural.

“Good,” the voice said approvingly in her ear, “Now you’re going to hangup and leave—do not go back to the table. You are going to walk outside of the restaurant and turn left down the fourth alley.”

Felicity stayed silent during the instructions, trying desperately to think of some way out of this. She had no idea what was happening, but with her phone out of her grasp and the man’s voice insistent in her ear, her terror was engulfing her almost completely.

“If you try to run or get away, my friend Digg over there will kill your date. Do you understand?” The voice asked.

“Y-yes,” Felicity stuttered, tears threatening the backs of her eyes, “I understand.”

“Good. Now go,” the voice said, before the line went flat, static filling her ear. She pulled it away at an attempt at casualty, holding it out to the hostess.

“Thank you,” she said, as the girl took the phone back.

“Uh-huh,” she clicked her tongue, staring down at a seating chart below her as she aimlessly hung the phone back up. Felicity looked around, staring at Ray who sat obliviously at their table. The dark man at the bar looked at her as she searched, a strange smile lifting his lips.

He shook his head slightly at her as she took a step towards Ray, a warning sign. She watched as he lifted his drink off the counter, angling towards the exit in a toast, before taking a small swing, eyes locked on hers, waiting for her next move.

Felicity gulped, nodding back in understanding.

Play by the rules, the man’s eyes instructed, There’s no way out.

Felicity left, trying to keep her shoulders tall as she walked down the sidewalk. She kept her chin up despite the chattering of her teeth, as she had left her coat at the table.

She counted the alley's as she passed them, stopping at the fourth and taking a left turn. Her heels clanked loudly on the ground beneath her, echoing off the narrow, tall walls as she brought herself into the darkness. She stopped when she was completely cloaked in the night, trying to make out any shapes around her.

“Hello?” she called, wrapping her arms around herself as her eyes searched the black.

Just this once, she wanted to be fooling herself. She wanted the entire phone call to be a figment of her imagination. She wanted to chalk this up to a daydream—to snap back to reality, only to realize she had been in her own mind the entire time. Realize she was actually still talking business projects and waste management with Ray.

Felicity Smoak had never been lucky though.

“You didn’t call anybody,” a voice said, suddenly behind her, and she jumped in spite of herself.

“No, I didn’t,” she confirmed, although she knew it hadn’t been a question.

“I knew you wouldn’t. You--Felicity Smoak--care,” the voice said, and she realized it wasn’t as deep as she had originally thought, although still undoubtedly masculine, “You would never let that idiot die for you, no matter how boring your date was.”

Felicity felt a motion close behind her and her pulse quickened in fear, “What do you want?”

“Oh it’s not what I want. I’m just the messenger,” the voice said, circling before coming halt in front of her, and she realized he wasn’t much taller than she in her heels, “But you, Barbie, have pissed off some pretty scary people.”

Felicity heard feet approaching from behind her, and she whirled, staring as the light from the main road lit the large shadow of a man, making his way towards them.

“Don’t panic—you already met him at the restaurant. This is John Diggle,” the voice behind her introduced and she heard an exasperated chuckle from John.

“Roy, why are you talking to her? You don’t need to tease her—she’s probably terrified right now. She did everything we wanted, let’s just take her and go,” the voice said reasonably, and despite knowing John had been mere seconds from snapping Ray’s neck, she trusted him more than Roy behind her. He seemed more rational than the other man. Less dramatic.

“You take all the fun out of these things,” Roy whined, although his voice was laced with humor.

“Oliver’s not going to be happy if he finds out you were talking to her any more than necessary,” Digg scolded, and even though Felicity couldn’t see Roy, she knew Digg’s words had sobered him up.

Felicity jerked as Roy’s hands gripped her shoulders from behind, a harsh material suddenly covering her mouth.

Strong chemicals overwhelmed her senses, and she struggled desperately against Roy’s harsh grip, trying to escape even as her limbs grew heavily.

“Catch her—Don’t let her hit the ground,” Digg’s voice instructed, although it seemed far away as her eyes clouded, distorting her view as she grew weak.

“Yeah, yeah,” Roy said, obviously used to being bossed around, “Just make sure the helicopter is actually landing near here this time, okay? I’ll take care of Barbie.”

“Let’s just go,” Digg said, exasperated.

Felicity felt the slight sensation of being lifted before her eyes fluttered shut without her permission, and everything went black.

Chapter Text

The first thing Felicity heard when she came back to her senses was water running—a sink, she realized. Not far from where she was.

She felt the air near her change, sensing somebody stepping closer to her, and she struggled to open her heavy eyelids to find the source.

“Don’t move,” A voice warned, but Felicity was surprised at it’s kind tone as a cool cloth pressed against her forehead, wiping away some of her fogginess.

 

Felicity blinked slowly, flinching slightly from the bright light that overwhelmed her senses as she attempted to adjust.

The rag moved away from her head as the woman in front of her allowed herself to be studied by Felicity. She had brown, wavy hair that was tossed behind one shoulder, leaving her pale, smooth face open and exposed. Her large brown eyes stared impassively at Felicity, and she wore a dark dress and heels that Felicity knew had to be killing her as she stooped, knees bent in front of—

Felicity started, looking around her.

She was in a bathtub.

“What—” Felicity looked around, confused, panic rising in her slightly at her strange location, “Where the hell am I? Who are you? Why am I in—?”

“Felicity,” the woman in front of her called, silencing her. Felicity stopped her questioning, shocked as the girl’s mouth lifted in a ghost of a smile at her babbling panic, “You’re safe for now—calm down.”

Felicity stared at her a long moment, watching as the woman’s eyes flicked towards the door and back on their own accord, and Felicity understood. They weren’t alone.

For now, the woman had said. Felicity was safe for now.

“Oh,” Felicity mouthed silently, straightening up in the tub and rising on unsteady legs as the woman stood from her stoop as well, talking as she put the cool rag back onto the counter.

“They weren’t sure where to put you where you could receive medical attention and still be detained—we don’t really have anywhere specified for that,” the woman explained almost nervously, and Felicity couldn’t help but smile at her, despite the unease in her stomach, “I mean you think we would by now in this huge house, but…”

“What’s your name?” Felicity asked.

“Dr. Snow,” the woman introduced, before cocking her head, “Or Caitlin Snow. Or Dr. Caitlin Snow. Whichever.”

“Dr. Snow,” Felicity nodded, resisting the urge to call her by her first name. She couldn’t get too friendly with this woman—after all, she had no idea where she was. She couldn’t let her guard down.

“Roy thought he might have hurt you when he knocked you out—they wanted me to make sure you were alright before you see him,” Caitlin explained.

Felicity’s brows furrowed, “Before I see who?”

Before Caitlin could respond, the door to the small bathroom opened with a bang, and she jumped up, standing in the tub.

She recognized the black man from the bar, and he looked at her defensive stance, smiling slightly.

“She okay?” he asked Dr. Snow, and Caitlin nodded.

“She’s perfectly healthy, although I don’t know why we’re going through all this trouble when—” Caitlin started, and Digg shot her a harsh look. She snapped her mouth shut promptly, wringing her hands in front of her.

Digg turned away from Caitlin, the warning look instantly fading from his face as he took in Felicity.

“Come with me,” he instructed with a kind smile, holding out a hand. She stared at it distastefully, stepping out of the tub (which was rather difficult considering the tight dress she still wore). She balanced easily on her heels, walking past Digg’s outstretched hand towards the door.

“Spunky,” she thought she heard Digg laugh under his breath, before he nodded to Caitlin, walking slightly ahead of Felicity and leading her through a long hallway.

“Where are we going?” Felicity asked, looking around, “And what is this place?”

Digg looked at her a long moment, considering. Something about her curiosity must have compelled him, because he sighed.

“This is the American Bratva headquarters,” Digg said, and Felicity walked silent a moment, before it hit her.

The Bratva—the Russian mafia.

“What?!” She exclaimed, whirling on him, “The Russian Mafia? What—why—what could you possibly want with me?”

“I think it’s best that Oli—Mr. Queen explain that too you,” Digg said, and Felicity’s interest spiked at his correction.

“Who is Mr. Queen?”

Digg looked down at her, “How much do you know about the Bratva?”

“Not much, really, just that they do a lot of business in the big cities—including Starling,” Felicity relayed, “Don’t they travel in teams or something?”

Digg smiled at her enthusiasm. She should be sacred—terrified, even. But she was curious. Hungry for knowledge.

“Sort of— our ‘team’ is called a Bratva. Ours has eight people in it—larger than normal. You will see all of our Boveik’s today and of course, our Brigadier, Oliver Queen.”

“Boveik? Brigadier?” Felicity knew she should be looking around her, taking in where she was, but she was strangely fascinated to know what to expect.

“Yes. Boveik means warrior in Russian. A Brigadier is,” Digg fumbled a moment, thinking, “Avtoritet. It means ‘Authority””

“Sooo, he’s like your captain?” Felicity clarified.

“Yes.”

Felicity paused, “Wait—I’ve heard that name before. Oliver Queen,” she tested it on her tongue, trying to remember where she had heard it before.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Digg nodded his head, “He used to live in Starling—him and Tommy were part of Starling’s elite.”

Felicity’s eyes went wide, “Wait— Tommy Merlyn and Oliver Queen?”

“Exactly the two,” Digg responded to her indignation, “Both of their families lost their companies in a fraud deal. Oliver had connections with our Pakhan, so he got the two of them in with the Bratva. The rest of us joined his team along the way.”

Felicity nodded, mulling it over, “Pakhan? That sounds like some kind of weird lunch meat.”

Digg had to hide his chuckle, “The Pakhan— he’s basically in charge of the activity of all the divisions—he’s in Russia, at main headquarters.”

“And what’s his name?” Felicity asked. Digg laughed at her instant response.

“You ask a lot of questions,” Digg noticed.

“I guess,” Felicity answered, cocking her head, “I hate mysteries. They bug me.”

“Well, we’re here, so you’re going to have to let this one rest,” Digg said as they turned a corner.

“Where exactly is here—” Felicity halted, staring dumbstruck at the room in front of her.

She could tell it had the origins of a normal—albeit, grant—living room. Paintings covered the ornate walls, and the furniture had that uncomfortable, elegant look that made her think the room was only for show. Felicity noticed the unoccupied couches seemed to form an informal aisle. Three people stood in front of each, facing inward as the spoke to each other. Felicity was surprised at the casual smiles that lit their faces—they were comfortable here, she realized.

It made her uneasy.

Her gaze froze as it reached the end of the aisle, her eyes widening.

A man sat in a grand chair. He was clothed in a simple black sweater and jeans, but Felicity could already tell they fit his perfectly sculpted body like they were made for it. But it wasn’t his physique that grabbed her attention (although his perfectly sculpted facial hair did help)—it was his eyes.

They were a clear, crystal blue, that she could make out from all the way across the room. He was pure ice, completely uninterested, but calculating. He was a man of stone.

And he was staring at her.

She felt her face flush of its own accord under his intense gaze and her thoughts begged to be babbled, but she had the sense, just this once, to keep her mouth shut.

“You’re Felicity Smoak?” A voice asked incredulously, and she tore her gaze from the man at the end of the aisle to find it’s source.

The man who spoke was to her left—he was tall, with dark hair and a flippant smile she recognized but couldn’t match a name to. He couldn’t have been more than three years older than her.

“As far as I know, yes,” Felicity answered, sarcasm oozing in her tone as she watched the man appraise her, “And who on earth are you?”

He looked delightfully taken aback at her strong rebuttal, eyebrows raising high as he chuckled a bit, “I’m Tommy Merlyn—I’m sorry for my surprise, it’s just, you don’t look like some crazy-hacker-genius.”

“Well, considering what family you come from, you should know not to underestimate people by what they look like,” she retorted, taking him in. The Merlyn family came with a reputation—they had been ruthless during their time in Starling City, hungry for power.

“Touché,” he retorted just as the man at the end of the aisle spoke.

“Tommy?” he almost growled, and Felicity watched as Tommy gave her a slightly exasperated look that made her want to giggle, before turning towards the stern man, “Are you finished?”

“Yup. Sorry,” Tommy apologized, stepping back so the backs of his legs brushed the couch behind him. Oliver gave him a swift nod in acknowledgement, before his gaze turned back to Felicity.

“Do you know why you’re here?” He asked simply, and she felt something pull in her stomach as he looked at her, but she pushed it away.

“Well, I’ve actually been trying to figure that out since you guys threatened to snap my friends neck. I’m coming up blank,” she said bitterly.

“It was necessary,” Oliver excused, waving his hand dismissively.

“It was necessary to threaten an innocent person’s life? Really? How so?” Felicity asked, voice rising.

“We needed you here,” Oliver’s tone rose a pitch, anger seeping in. Felicity thought she saw Roy and a blonde woman she didn’t recognize exchange a look at his show of anger, but Felicity paid them no mind, taking a few steps towards Oliver as the anger she had forgotten blurred her eyes.

“He was my friend,” she said. Okay, maybe that was an overstatement. But he was a friend of a friend—it counted. It wasn’t right for them to threaten his life.

“He was nothing to you except a boring blind date. You were just weak enough to protect him over yourself,” Oliver snapped, his anger breaking through the surface. She watched him grip the arm of the chair hard, steadying himself.

“Protecting innocent people isn’t a weakness,” Felicity said, “It’s a strength.”

“Strength comes with power. As far as I can see, you have none,” He said coldly, gesturing to the people surrounding her. He was right, in that instance. Seven people, other than Oliver, surrounded her. They were all strong, standing tall. They towered over her even though Roy and the blonde seemed to be the same height as her.

They could easily overpower her.

They could kill her in an instant.

And yet, they hadn’t.

“Then why did you bring me here?” she turned back to Oliver, cocking her head, “I must be important if you dragged me all the way here instead of just having one of your “warriors” kill me in the alleyway. You need me,” Felicity realized, “Why?”

Oliver glared at her a long moment, so irritated at being reprimanded his nostrils practically flared. He looked down at his hands before answering, regaining control. When he looked back up at her, his eyes were ice again. Emotionless—uninterested.

“Do not get cocky, Ms. Smoak,” Oliver spat, and his voice had lowered a fraction, “The information you could provide is helpful, not necessary. It would do you well to remember that.”

She felt her eyes widen at the threat laced in his voice, and she had the sudden urge to run like hell from this man. He was breathtakingly handsome—too alluring. Dangerous.

He could see the change in her eyes at the realization and a satisfaction filled his face.

“Three weeks ago you hacked into the mainframe of a trafficking database,” Oliver began, “If you recall, you were looking for a lost prescription for a Mr. Joseph Madison. What you didn’t know is that this man was under the alias of Mr. Madison—he was, in fact, a member of ARGUS.

“You managed to, without barely any effort it seems, from the surprised look on your face, breach our military level security to access the information and stop the heist without setting off any alarms on our side, until suddenly, the drugs we were expecting never showed up.”

Felicity eyes widened at the knowledge, “And I just thought Walgreens had updated its security system—this makes much more sense.”

She heard somebody snort laughter to her left, and her gaze flicked to the boy laughing to her right. His stance was familiar, in his red hoodie. It was the boy from the alley— Roy, she realized.

She looked back to Oliver who was staring at her indignantly.

“Honest mistake,” she said, holding her hands up slightly, “I don’t even know what an ARGUS is.”

“Maybe, but your mistake cost us 50 million dollars, as knowledge of this heist prompted ARGUS to take ten members of the Bratva into custody after they intercepted four other shipments. All because of the intel you mistakenly provided them.”

50 million dollars, rang in Felicity’s ears.

“Oh,” Felicity mouthed silently, before offering a weak smile, “I’m guessing you didn’t bring me here to ask for the money back, because you can probably tell by my knockoff designer dress, I don’t exactly make millions.”

She could have sworn she saw him appraise her body in her tight dress, but as soon as she noticed a change in his eyes, they were back to ice.

“This is what will happen, Ms. Smoak. You are going to hack into ARGUS’s mainframe—help us get the money back. We could use somebody like you on our team. You met Dr. Snow?” He asked and she nodded weakly in response.

“Her skills as a scientist extend greatly into computers—but I have a feeling that is more of your expertise.”

Felicity didn’t know who ARGUS was, but she had a feeling that they weren’t the bad guys. The man in front of her though, with merciless gaze, was nothing but bad.

“And if I say no?” she asked.

“Ray isn’t the only person we have access to,” Oliver snapped, “You might not fear your own suffering, but what would you do for your mother? Your friend Iris? Your brother, Barry?”

Felicity felt the air go out of her lungs at the threat, and for the first time since she stepped into the room, tears prickled the backs of her eyes.

“You wouldn’t,” she pleaded.

“I think you know that I would,” Oliver said, “I have been as merciful as I plan to be by letting you live—it won’t extend any further than that. Agony isn’t something I want to inflict though. I avoid it, if possible. The choice is yours. Nobody has to get hurt here.”

The room around her was silent as she considered the man in front of her. His eyes dared her to fight him further, knew she wouldn’t. And how could she? With the threat of her family and friends, she was at his bidding.

“So, Ms. Smoak,” Oliver asked, his gaze challenging, “What’s it going to be?”

“Yes, Oliver,” Felicity said, mustering up strength she didn’t know she had to look at him levelly, emotionless, “I will join you.”

There was no choice to make.

Chapter Text

Oliver was getting impatient.

“What do you mean you can’t hack in?” He asked icily. (Felicity swore he was the only person she had ever met that could give the impact of a yell in a whisper.)

 

They were in a grand study, the walls lined with books Felicity longed to scrounge through. She sat at a large desk in the center of the room, while Oliver walked anxiously around her.

She had been at the computer so long, her back was starting to ache as she tried desperately to work her way into ARGUS’s system. So long that her original crowd, (Digg, Sara—the blonde she had seen earlier—,Tommy, and a ridiculously beautiful woman names Nyssa), had all gradually left, the initial interest in her hacking wearing off. Roy had only looked in for a minute in passing, before claiming he was hungry and bounding down the hallway to where Felicity assumed the kitchen was. The only people left in the room were Oliver and a woman named Lyla, who had apparently been a part of ARGUS a long time ago.

“I mean, their security system is ridiculously complex, with hundreds of layers to it. It’s going to take some time,” Felicity explained to Oliver, not hiding the irritation in her voice as he paced behind her, his hands working at his sides.

“It took you only a few seconds to hack into ours,” he pointed out.

“Not to hurt your ego, but your system wasn’t nearly as complex as you would like to believe. It was good, but one-dimensional.” Felicity said, “A few tricks and I was in.”

He gave her a look.

“She’s right,” Lyla agreed from where she leaned against a near wall. She wore a pantsuit that Felicity would have scoffed at in theory, but actually fit her perfectly. It wasn’t boyish at all, despite Felicity’s reservations, “Their security systems are about ten times more expansive than ours here. It’s just too bad I paid more attention to the weapons and training than the computers or this would have never been a problem.”

Oliver looked up at her briefly, pausing in his pacing, “Your training is valuable here. We have Felicity now for this—if she could just get through the system—”

“If you’d rather,” Felicity interrupted. “I could hurry up and risk tripping the alarms and alerting them there’s an intruder in their system,” Felicity offered, giving him a big smile. She felt a strange satisfaction when he glared at her and Lyla chuckled next to them.

“Ms. Smoak, are you trying to test my patience?” he asked, stopping in front of the desk, his hands clutching the edge.

“Call me Felicity,” she insisted, “And no. But I can’t hide how satisfying it is to see you angry.”

“I’m not angry,” he said, his jaw working, and she snorted, but turned back to the computer in front of her, focusing on the multitude of windows open on her screen, as her hands worked furiously to unravel the map in front of her.

“I can’t get through—at least not right now,” Felicity determined after another long couple minutes, sighing as her hands stilled on the keys.

“And why not?” Oliver asked through gritted teeth.

“There’s too many people in the system right now—It’s active. Their headquarters are probably fully functioning as I’m doing this. It’s too difficult to get through without leaving any immediate footprints while there’s this many systems to work around,” Felicity explained. She had no interest in helping Oliver, besides to keep her family and friends safe, but she couldn’t help but feel disheartened at being unable to do it. Felicity prided herself on success. She hated setbacks.

“You didn’t leave any footprints in our system when you hacked in though,” Oliver countered and she shook her head.

“I probably did, you’re just not trained to notice it,” Felicity said offhandedly, before she froze in her chair.

He couldn’t see the footprints.

But somebody trained for it at ARGUS could.

She could let them know she was here. She could get help.

“What?” Oliver asked, looking intently at her as she disappeared in her thoughts.

“I just,” Felicity started, pulling her lip into her mouth, trying to hide her excitement, “I mean we could try getting through later in the day—when a lot of the ARGUS agents have gone offline. It should be easier to get through then,” she offered, trying not to smile at her own genius, as Oliver was already giving her a funny look.

“Most people aren’t cleared out of there until at least 10pm,” Lyla said, “And even still, there’s people always there.”

“It’s worth a try at least,” Felicity said, trying to keep her voice neutral.

“So, we wait?” Oliver asked, cocking his head. He didn’t like the idea—but he had to trust them on this. He seemed (much to his chagrin) clueless on the matter.

“We wait,” she confirmed, leaning back in her chair. She suddenly wished it spun. It would have been a nice distraction. Instead, she leaned against the wood, cold and hard on her back as she stared at Oliver in front of her.

She wasn’t sure who ARGUS was, Oliver and Lyla hadn’t specified, but she knew if the Bratva was this anxious about tipping them off, they were powerful

Probably, Felicity realized, powerful enough to keep both her and her family safe.

She just had to be patient—and hope her patience outlasted Oliver’s.

“So, is there some sort of prison I go to while we wait, or is it back to the bathtub for me?” Felicity asked, not caring about the attitude she let seep into her voice.

Oliver had been looking down in thought, brows furrowed, but his deep eyes raised to hers at her voice. She thought she saw a flicker of amusement; a tilt of his lips, before he blinked and it was gone.

“You don’t have to stay in the bathtub,” Oliver said, gesturing for her to follow him.

She fell into step behind him as he walked out of the study, sending a light smile to Lyla before leaving. They made their way in silence she took the opportunity to look around her.

The walls of the hallway were tall and lined with countless paintings and pictures—much like the design of the living room she saw earlier. There were at least a dozen doors, and Felicity couldn’t help but wonder how people didn’t get lost in such a huge house.

“Raisa?” Oliver spoke suddenly beside her, and she jumped, turning to look at him.

His face softened a fraction as a woman Felicity hadn’t noticed approached them from the other end of the hall. She was an older woman with dark features and a kind smile aimed, surprisingly, towards Oliver.

“Mr. Oliver?” she asked, stopping in front of the pair of them.

“Would you please direct Ms. Smoak to the room you’ve prepared for her?” Oliver asked, and although Felicity knew she should be looking towards the woman in front of them, she couldn’t tear her gaze away from Oliver.

His voice was kind—questioning rather than commanding. She heard the ice still, but it had thawed slightly. His eyes had warmed slightly. He knew this woman well, Felicity realized.

“Of course,” Raisa said, and Felicity heard the slight dialect in her tone as she smiled at her, “Right this way, Ms. Smoak,” she said. Felicity resisted the urge to look to Oliver for permission, instead leaving his side and that strange feeling in her gut behind with him.

“Oh, and Ms. Smoak?” he called from behind. Felicity turned, and she saw that any traces of tenderness had been wiped clean as he looked at her, “If you try to escape or send for help—I will know.”

Chapter Text

Felicity’s room was huge. Bigger than any room she had seen in her life.

It had an entryway with a couch and an armchair—decorated much like the rest of the house. Grand. Ornate. A bathroom attached to it that look similar to the one she had been in earlier, but had a larger jacuzzi tub that she longed to soak in. There was a huge closet attached that sat painfully empty and she ached to fill it with her all of her clothes and more.

The bed in the main room was massive; covered in a deep gold comforter and about a dozen soft, cushiony pillows that she had immediately fallen into, letting them engulf her and work out the kinks in her back as she kicked her heels off lazily onto the floor.

She wasn’t sure how long she laid there before she realized she had nothing to entertain her. No phone. No computer. There wasn’t even a damn TV in the room. Nothing.

She crawled off the bed, making her way to a tall mirror sprawled across the wall. She almost laughed at her reflection, her disheveled appearance surprisingly matching her frazzled state of mind.

Her hair had seen better days, as it had long escaped it’s ponytail and tangled in wild curls across her shoulders, with no definite part or direction. Her makeup was smudged under her eyes and her lips had long lost the lipstick she’d had on, although they were still stained slightly red. Her glasses had smudges of makeup and fog in front of her eyes, and she quickly drew them from her face, cleaning them on the edge of her dress. Her skin was pale beneath the hem, which had a slight tear near her thigh, giving way to one of her scars she had tried so painstakingly to hide.

She longed to change into something—anything— else as the lace of her push up bra irritated the skin on her sides. She should have given into her temptation to wear a shittier bra on her date. Not like Ray would have ever had the chance to notice. She snorted at her thoughts, trying to tame her mane of hair with her hands, as she wished for a t-shirt bra.

She wondered what had happened to Ray—when exactly he realized she wasn’t coming back to the table. He probably thought she had ditched him and had, most likely complained to Iris about it. He seemed like the type to.

Felicity was almost relieved she didn’t have her phone, as there were probably dozens of texts from Iris asking why she had ditched Ray. Although, if she could call Iris and tell her what had really happened, Ray would be off their radar of subjects discussed in an instant.

Although, Iris would probably be curious and fascinated at her situation. Of course she would be worried—but Iris was a journalist. She questioned things, dug deeper—they were the same, in that aspect. But sometimes Felicity wished Iris wasn’t able to guess her inner thoughts so easily.

Because Iris knew everything—and the things she didn’t know, she could get out of Felicity in a matter of minutes. She knew the little things, like Felicity’s favorite icecream (mint chocolate chip) and the big things (Felicity’s dad leaving them. Felicity leaving Vegas and her mom because it was too hard for her to stay there, with so many memories and no opporunities).

Iris knew Felicity as well as she knew her—which is why Felicity knew Iris be curious as to why the first word that came to mind for Felicity when describing Oliver was sexy instead of dangerous.

Felicity, actually, was curious about that herself.

She quickly shook those thoughts from her head—it was silly to think like that. As handsome as Oliver was, she could never get past the cruelty he held. He was her captor for goodness sakes.

She might have forgiven his threats against her eventually, but her family? Never. She could never forgive him and she never wanted to.

But why did her resolve feel more ceremonial than genuine?

“Knock knock,” A voice said brightly from the door and Felicity startled in the middle of fixing her makeup, almost poking herself in the eye.

Felicity recognized the blonde from earlier—Sara— as she smiled from the door.

“Oh!” Felicity exclaimed, smoothing over her hair, “You’re Sara, right?”

“Yup,” Sara said, popping the ‘P’ as she walked comfortably into Felicity’s room, leaning against the wall next the mirror. Felicity stared at her a moment in confusion, frowning slightly at her casualty.

“I didn’t get through the security wall,” Felicity said, assuming that’s what Sara was waiting for, “I’m going to try again later though.”

“I know,” Sara said, a laugh slightly in her voice.

“Then…” Felicity trailed off, letting the what do you want? fall off her lips.

“Thought you might be bored. Oliver refuses to get cable—which is just ridiculous if you ask me,” she slightly muttered, before directing her gaze back to Felicity’s, “I was going to go get something to eat. Wanna come?”

“Yeah!” Felicity said, the prospect of leaving this room sounding more and more appealing. The paintings around her, while gorgeous at first, got creepier the longer you looked at them, “But I don’t think I’m supposed to.”

Sara raised an eyebrow, “You don’t think you’re supposed to eat?”

“No,” Felicity a babble in her throat, “I just mean, Oliver didn’t exactly say I could leave the room.”

“Well Oliver doesn’t say a lot of things,” Sara said, “He’s quiet like that. Reserved.”

Felicity couldn’t help but disagree—from what she’s seen of Oliver so far, he spoke often and angrily in barely-contained tempers and icy threats.

“He seems pretty open with his opinion of things,” Felicity said bitterly. He was incredibly honest with what ends he would go to to make sure she stayed in that house. For once, Felicity wasn’t so sure she enjoyed the honesty.

“You make him more vocal than usual,” Sara said, and then smirked at the innuendo, “But, whatever. Forget about him. You said you were hungry?” She asked directly. Felicity’s stomach roared in response.

“Yes,” she said tentatively, and Sara grabbed her arm, pulling her along.

“Let’s go. Roy got pizza, I think. And who doesn’t like pizza?”

And who was Felicity to pass up an offer like that?

****

“Roy, I swear to God I’m going to kill you,” a voice yelled suddenly from the room Felicity assumed they were going to, causing her to jump. She looked towards Sara, trying to look curious instead of panicked.

“That’ll be Tommy,” Sara said, shaking her head in exasperation, “He’s really territorial over his food,” she said as they walked through the doorway. Tommy looked up from where his hand was wrapped around Roy’s hood, to look at them as they entered the room.

“I am not,” Tommy challenged, letting go of Roy pointedly as he snatched a piece of pizza with the other hand, “I just really love pepperoni.”

Felicity tried not to smile. She really did.

She failed.

Tommy noticed her smile and pointed at it slightly, laughing past his mouthful of food, “Felicity Smoak smiles! What a day!” he exclaimed grandly, and Sara shoved him slightly, hopping on the counter next to the pizza box and grabbing one.

“Ignore him,” Sara said, although she looked at him playfully, “Pizza?” she offered the slice in her hand out to Felicity.

Felicity grabbed it tentatively, but nobody noticed her hesitation.

Actually, nobody pointed out the oddity of her there at all.

It was like she wasn’t a prisoner.

Like she was a guest.

She didn’t bite into her piece at first, fascinated as she watched them.

Tommy leaned against the counter, standing incredibly tall even as he braced himself against the granite. He was telling a grand story Felicity didn’t quite follow about a pair of strippers he had befriended, taking large bites of his pizza in between sentences.

Roy sat at a barstool, a large pile of cheese pizza on the plate in front of him as he sat with his elbows on the counter, laughing along with Tommy at the ridiculousness of the story—offering small changes of his own along the way. He had heard the story before, Felicity realized.

Sara sat, legs crossed, on the counter, back against the kitchen wall as she watched Tommy. Ever once in awhile she would let out a snort at something he said, but mostly she sat listening with a small smile lifting her lips. Occasionally she interjected strongly.

“Tommy, you can’t just use them like that because they’re strippers,” Sara said, “They’re not just a sex outlet, they’re people too.”

“They’re strippers,” Tommy responded indignantly, shooting Roy a “how could this have possibly turned into an argument” look. Roy simply shrugged, head down on his pizza.

“Yes, having sex is a job,” Sara said, “Were you intending on paying them?”

“Well, I mean, no, that was the point of the whole story…” Tommy floundered.

“So if you weren’t going to pay them, why would you expect them to have sex with you?” Sara asked. Her tone wasn’t judgmental, it was curious.

Tommy visibly deflated.

“Well… I mean…” Tommy started, and Sara shook her head.

“Nope, you lose. Stop being an asshole,” she said, although she smiled, “Next.”

Tommy looked disgruntled a moment, before his smile came back.

He had another story.

Felicity wasn’t sure how many stories they went through as she listened, nibbling on her pizza from where she leaned back against the sink, but they always went the same way— Tommy talking (usually with his hands), Roy laughing along, Sara pointing out something—sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always causing Tommy to think and stop his trail of thought. Then he would smile and start a new story.

They had a rhythm. It was natural.

And when Nyssa came in—the woman Felicity saw only briefly earlier— she kissed Sara lightly on the lips and sat on the stool next to Roy. She fit into the picture easily as well, sometimes beating Sara to the punch of her interruption, sometimes backing her up more strongly.

When Digg came in, he filled in another gap, laughing a little less than Roy, but interjecting much less than Sara.

They all had their place.

So Felicity, for once, stayed silent. Because as much as it seemed they had accepted her place—to the left of Sara and right of Digg—she didn’t fit.

But that was good, wasn’t it? Because did she really want to fit in a group like this? Where they could laugh and play one minute, and cause destruction the next?

She dropped her piece of pizza onto her paper plate at the thought, her stomach churning as she looked out into the dark hallway. She wondered where Lyla was—and Oliver. She couldn’t imagine Oliver fitting into this kitchen, eating pizza with the rest of them.

It just didn’t make sense.

“You okay?” Tommy asked Felicity as the rest of them talked after a story that, surprisingly, had little interruption. She dragged her gaze from the door, looking back to him as he reached past her towards the sink, washing his hands.

“What?” she asked, setting her plate on the counter as she turned towards him, “Of course. I mean, who doesn’t love being prisoner in a giant pimp house?”

Tommy chuckled, “For one, you’re not really prisoner. Oliver is just… extreme sometimes,” Tommy started, and Felicity snorted.

“Is that what you call it?”

“Two,” Tommy spoke over her, holding up his fingers to show the number, “This is not a ‘pimp’ house. I’ve only had a threesome once—okay maybe twice.”

He sounded entirely too proud of that, and Felicity blushed slightly.

“And three,” he continued, “I didn’t mean are you okay with this,” He moved his hands generally, gesturing to the house as a whole, “I mean you were smiling one minute, and the next you were staring dramatically into the hallway. Something changed?”

“I’m fine,” Felicity said with a weak smile, “I just… I’m really tired. I think I’m going to go up and rest for a bit. Long night of hacking ahead of me and all,” She said, mustering up the energy for a more genuine smile.

“Oh, gotcha,” Tommy said, nodding his head, “Do you want me to walk you up to your room?”

Felicity shot him a shocked look, and he quickly backtracked.

“No no, not like that,” He said quickly, “I wasn’t sure if you remembered where it was. It’s easy to get lost in here at first,” he explained, a slight flush lighting his cheeks.

“Sure, that would be great, actually,” Felicity said, relieved. Everything in the house blended together in a breeze of upholstery and grand paintings, it was hard for her to get her bearings.

Tommy grabbed her plate, throwing it in the trash.

“I’m going to show Felicity around a bit so she doesn’t get lost,” He told Digg, who nodded, smiling slightly towards them.

“Nice to see you Felicity,” Digg said, swallowing a large bite as he turned back to talking to Nyssa.

“Where is Lyla?” Felicity heard Nyssa inquire as Digg turned back.

“In her room. Still,” Digg sighed, “She’s beating herself up about this ARGUS thing—nothing I say is helping.”

Felicity felt a tug in her stomach at that as she rounded the corner with Tommy, their voices fading behind them—she felt guilty, she realized. Like it was her fault Lyla was so upset.

And she guessed, in part, it was, but why did it matter? They were the bad guys, Felicity reminded herself. They weren’t supposed to win.

No matter how nice they seemed, they were monsters.

But it was hard to maintain that mentality with Tommy so outstandingly chipper and normal at her side.

“How about a little tour?” Tommy said. His steps were huge—Felicity scrambled to keep up. She was glad she was barefoot instead of in her heels. She would have twisted an ankle for sure, “I know you said you were tired, but you should know a little bit about this place, right?”

“Sure,” Felicity said, “Let’s have a tour around the palace,” she said, humor lighting her voice.

“So, basically, the house is simple once you know how it’s set up,” Tommy started, “Top floor—bedrooms, which is where you were before. Middle floor, training rooms. Main floor is where we are now. Kitchen, obviously,” He looked down, smiling at her as he gestured.

“Living room and Library which you’ve seen,” Tommy pointed as they passed them, “Dining room that nobody uses, foyer, and stairs,” He said as they started going up them, “Everybody pretty much hangs out in the kitchen or the training rooms—they’re the most fun,” His eyes twinkled at her, “Have you ever trained?”

Felicity laughed, “I do yoga. Sometimes,”

“So, no,” Tommy said teasingly.

“Yoga counts!” Felicity said, “It’s hard, you try it!”

“Oh I have no doubt,” Tommy said, holding up his hands in innocence, “I just meant fighting. Not working out.”

“Oh,” Felicity said, deflating slightly, “I punched a guy once in college,” she said proudly. He had been—well, stalking was a generous word. It was a weird time in her life.

“How did that go?” Tommy asked.

Felicity bit her lips, feeling her cheeks flush, “I broke my hand.”

Tommy’s laugh was sudden and loud at that, and she laughed back.

“I did get a bright pink cast though, that my best friend Iris covered in drawings,” Felicity said, making light of it, “I was a walking piece of artwork for two months.”

“Well at least there was a bright side,” Tommy said.

“True,” Felicity said, “Sometimes the weirdest things leave the best memories,” Felicity said, smiling.

Tommy directed her attention as they reached the next landing, “Here’s all the training rooms,” he said easily, about to mount the next set of stairs, before noticing Felicity hadn’t moved. Her curiosity spiked at his dismissal of the area.

She wanted to—needed to see. Where they trained; where they had become who they were. Where Oliver had become what he was.

“Can I see them?” She asked, looking at Tommy. He looked startled at her interest.

“Sure, I didn’t think you would…” He trailed off, before stepping back into tour mode, “Lets have a look.”

He bounded down the hallway, her following him, “This first one is a combat room,” Tommy said, flipping a light switch to the left. Felicity felt her eyes widen as she walked in—a large mat filling the floor of the expanse of the room, one wall a giant mirror, the other lined with weapons.

Felicity felt herself walking towards them without her permission—fascinated by the neatly organized rows.

Swords, knives, guns—even bows and arrows, filled the wall. There were all kinds of shapes and sizes—a large tool box next to them which she assumed held even more.

“And, those are our weapons,” Tommy said with a laugh, as she had wandered past him.

“There’s so many!” Felicity exclaimed, reaching a hand up to touch one intimidating looking sword, before pulling her arm back as she thought better of it. She turned towards Tommy.

“What do you use?” she asked, and he looked delighted at the question, quickly walking towards where she stood.

“I’m more of a gun person—so is Digg, actually,” he said, grabbing a huge gun high off the rack. Felicity took an involuntary step back.

“It’s not loaded,” Tommy assured, holding it out to her, “Here. Hold it.”

“What?!” she exclaimed, eyeing it distastefully, “No, I can’t.”

“Felicity, I’m not telling you to shoot the thing. Just hold it,” he said. and she grabbed it gingerly, almost dropping it as he let go.

“It’s heavy,” she said, holding it awkwardly in front of her. Too far from her. Not far enough.

“Do you want me to show you how to hold it?” he asked and she shook her head furiously.

“No thank you,” she said and he took the gun from her grasp (thank God), watching as the stress left her body.

“Not a fan of guns?” he inquired as he put it back affectionately.

“Nope,” Felicity said, “There was a shootout once in my high school.”

He looked at her bewildered, “Where on earth did you go to school?”

“Vegas,” she said distastefully.

“Huh,” he said, obviously surprised as he lead her out of the room.

“What?” she asked.

“You’re just not what I expected.”

“Touché,” she mirrored his remark from earlier, earning a smile.

“So what’s this room?” she asked.

“That’s the weight room,” Tommy said, before his eyes widened fractionally, “But wait, don’t go in right now—,” he started, but Felicity had already walked through the door.

She froze, realizing why Tommy hadn’t wanted her to go in.

Oliver was in front of her, muscles pumping as he worked his way up a salmon ladder.

But that wasn’t why Felicity was frozen (although his abs were out of this world). That wasn’t why her heart had both stopped and beat furiously in her ears.

Oliver’s chest was bare and completely covered in scars.

The same scars that had been slowly filling her body for years.

“Oh no,” Felicity exclaimed softly, that damned fortune teller’s words echoing in her mind as her world closed in on her.

You’re scars are linked to that of your soulmate.

“Felicity are you okay?” Tommy asked behind her.

For the pain to stop, you must be together.

“I… I don’t…” Felicity started lamely, having no idea how to answer Tommy’s questioning gaze. Not knowing how to respond as Oliver’s gaze snapped up towards hers.

It is destiny.

“Oh, frack.”

Chapter Text

“Frack?” Tommy questioned from behind her, a laugh in his voice, “It’s just Oliver shirtless,” He teased, “It’s not really that big of a deal.”

Felicity whirled around, tearing her gaze from Oliver as she felt a ready flush fill her cheeks.

“No, that’s not why I’m—” Felicity started, but her excuse fell on her tongue. Because what could she even say? That she had the same scars? What were they going to do? Whip off their clothes and compare them?

A small part of her screamed, yes! Ask him if he know’s what the hell is going on!

The more rational part of her though knew she couldn’t tell him this—give him this power over her. When he got hurt, she did. That much she understood. And that could be dangerous.

But the whole soulmate stuff…

“This is crazy,” she breathed to herself. She knew she was back to gawking, if Oliver’s confused and irritated look as he dropped from the salmon ladder was any indication.

“What’s crazy?” Tommy but Oliver spoke over him.

“What are you doing in here?” he barked and any longing to tell him what was going on left her at the ice in his voice.

He was Oliver Queen—Bratva Captain. He had threatened her. Threatened her family. Matching scars or not… she needed to get out, no matter how much she wanted to solve this particular mystery.

“Uhm. Tommy was showing me around a bit and I wanted to see where you guys trained…” she trailed off suddenly nervous. Oh God. She could feel the babble she’d been holding for hours threatening to spill over. There was a long silence between the three of them that made her skin itch.

“Despite being a giant terrifying fortress, this place isn’t actually that bad,” Felicity started before she could stop herself. What was she doing? “I mean, the paintings on the walls are about 50 shades of creepy and the whole place looks like some sort of medieval dungeon with really yellow lighting—but your bathtubs are really big. And your closets are out of this world. Come to think of it, basically everything in this house is huge. But I mean, you’re like, gigantic.”

Her sentence settled over them for a long moment as Tommy make a choking sound to her side that was somewhere between a snort and a laugh. Oliver’s mouth had dropped open ever so slightly, his breathing labored—was that from working out or something she had—

She felt her face pale. Had she just called him big? Was that something they could take as an innuendo?

From the look on Tommy’s face, it certainly was.

“I meant gigantic as in you’re tall,” Felicity blurted, “And, uhm, muscular. Which I can see. Because your shirtless.”

Why. Was. She. Talking.

“I’m going to go now,” she excused, a fake bright smile crossing her face—why was she being awkward? “Thank you for showing me around, Tommy, and letting me see the training rooms,” Why, exactly, was she thanking the people holding her hostage? She should be mad or upset or…

“Ms. Smoak?” Oliver called as she was about to walk out the door, and she halted, hoping her face was—God she didn’t even know what she wanted her face to look like.

It ended up as a sort of grimace.

“Hmm?” she settled for as she looked back at them. The less words the better, at this point.

“I asked Caitlin to get you some other clothes,” he said, in a tone that suggested he was as surprised as her at the action, “I mean, you’re going to be here a little while and you’re probably uncomfortable wearing—”

His gaze traveled fractionally from her bare feet up to her wild hair, before he seemed to catch himself, eyes snapping back up to hers.

Oh. There was the anger she had forgotten about.

“Well it’s the least you could do,” she snapped as she turned back, heading towards the door.

She tried not to stomp away, holding her head high and walking as fast as she could out of the room without looking like she was throwing the tantrum so longed to throw.

She couldn’t keep up with her reeling thoughts— Oliver was on the other end of these markings? The scars that had been filling her body for years had been his doing?

She was mad that her body had been mangled by somebody so destructive. Annoyed that she couldn’t find out more because it was Oliver she would have to confide in. Confused over her longing for him to not be such a monster so she could confide in him.

And overall, unbelievably crushed—because despite having dismissed all the soulmate talk as fairytales, a small part of her couldn’t help but hope it was true.

In a single instant that distant dream had turned into a vivid nightmare.

There was no prince. Only a monster.

She was about halfway up the stairs before she heard Tommy jogging to catch up to her, but his enthusiasm was less uplifting as her head raged and her heartbeat pounded in her ears.

“So, that was weird,” Tommy finally said after a long moment of silence, looking down at her with a smile.

“Well, he should get me some clothes,” she said offhandedly, “This dress is incredibly uncomfortable—have you seen the rip? There’s a rip up the side. I look like a hobo,” Felicity said and he gave her a look.

“You don’t look like a hobo, but that’s not what I meant,” He said, and this time, she was walking so fast he had to lengthen his strides.

“What was up with you staring at Oliver like he was a science experiment?” He asked.

“I wasn’t—”

“Yes you were,” Tommy insisted.

“No, I was just—surprised to see him there,” Felicity started, before noticing Tommy had stopped behind her. She turned around to face him, eyebrows lifting in question.

“This is your room,” he said with a smile, gesturing to the door next to him identical to the rest in the hallway, “Third door on the right.”

“Oh,” Felicity mouthed, walking back to the correct door and walking through it.

Tommy leaned against the same spot where Sara had earlier, watching her as she busied herself with nonsense—straightening the pillows she had rumpled earlier. Picking up her discarded heels and setting them neatly near the end of the bed. Back to the mirror, trying to do anything with her hair as it had only gotten worse since she had looked earlier.

“Felicity. Spill,” Tommy finally demanded.

She considered it—his eyes were open. Honest. Comforting.

But weren’t all the best villains charming?

“Hello!” A voice greeted happily from the door and Felicity was grateful to see the woman from the bathroom, Caitlin, breezing through her door, her arms filled with bags. Despite her anger at Oliver over keeping her there, Felicity couldn’t help the small sliver of excitement she felt looking at all the shopping bags.

What Oliver didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

“So I got a bunch of different stuff—I wasn’t sure what you liked to wear, so I just went with the things I liked?” Caitlin started, walking past them to the closet she was obviously familiar with, as she continued talking back to them, “Now, most of it is fairly comfortable but professional, but I couldn’t help but get a few nice things. Unlimited Bratva funds and shopping is too great of a temptation.”

Felicity smiled up at Tommy and he shook his head, already ducking out of the door, “And that’s my que. See you later.”

Felicity watched him leave, before following Caitlin’s voice into the large, walk in closet.

She saw that that hadn’t been Caitlin’s first trip, as the floor was already littered in bags.

“Not that I’m complaining, but isn’t this a bit much?” Felicity asked, plopping down on the chair in the middle of the room.

Gosh, the closet was bigger than her bathroom back in her apartment.

“Probably,” Caitlin said meekly, “But when I asked Oliver how much to get he had no idea, except to make sure you had everything you needed.”

Felicity heard the implied, because you’re not leaving any time soon, and her stomach felt heavy.

Caitlin noticed her silence, turning to look at her. She cocked her head, sympathy washing over her face.

“Oliver can be… harsh,” Caitlin excused and Felicity rolled her eyes.

“That’s not exactly the word I was thinking of. Or should I say: words. Expletives. Very imaginative ones.”

Caitlin laughed at that, considering a blouse as she spoke, before hooking it on a hanger.

“You should know that Oliver’s been through a lot,” Caitlin said, “He’s not… he wasn’t always…”

“An asshole?” Felicity offered.

“Yeah,” her face was thoughtful and Felicity couldn’t help but wonder what exactly Oliver had been through, “But, hey, at least we can get back at him a little with this giant dent in his credit card, right?” Caitlin offered, prompting her with a smile.

And Felicity quite liked that thought.

“You go shower,” Caitlin instructed, “I need to go give Oliver back his card. Then we’ll finishing putting all this stuff away?” Caitlin offered.

“Sure.”

“Okay, I’ll be back!” Caitlin said, walking out of the closet, her heels smacking loud against the wood floor of the hallway before fading off into the distance.

Felicity walked to the bathroom, finding towels and soap waiting on the counter that Caitlin must have left for her.

She washed quickly, reveling the warmth over her body only briefly before her thoughts wandered back to her scars and Oliver’s matching ones.

She instantly flipped off the water, focusing on her movements instead of her thoughts as she wrapped a towel around her and returned to the closet, scrounging through the bags.

Maybe if she could occupy her mind with the clothes in front of her, she wouldn’t have to think about anything else.

Felicity found a small bag with, thank God, undergarments in it.

She quickly chose a deep green bra from the bag and shrugged it and its matching underwear on under her towel before letting it drop. The bra was a tad too big, and Felicity tightened it as best she could. It was a hell of a lot better than that damned push up, that was for sure. The underwear fit, surprisingly perfect.

Felicity walked back to a bag she had seen earlier, bending down and grabbing a black pencil skirt that looked much like her one back home and slipping it on, before continuing to look for a blouse.

“Oh, sorry,” Caitlin’s voice was behind her suddenly, and Felicity whirled around, “I didn’t mean to just walk in…” Caitlin stopped with a light gasp.H er eyes were widened, a hand over her mouth as she stared at Felicity.

Or more accurately, at the scar on her side.

Shit.

Felicity quickly slipped on the blouse she had in her hand, tucking it into her skirt clumsily.

How could she have been so careless?

She smiled ignorantly at Caitlin.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, grabbing a hair brush out of the shopping bag and walking toward the mirror on the wall, untangling her curls.

“That scar— it’s almost like…” Caitlin trailed off, and Felicity saw her eyes were hazy, trying to piece together her thoughts, “The other day, he was cut in the exact same spot…”

Felicity felt her throat tighten slightly in panic. Caitlin was Oliver’s doctor. Of course she would recognize the scars.

“Oh, that scar on my side?” Felicity laughed awkwardly, “Car crash. I ran a red light. Sun was in my eyes.”

She could see Caitlin’s doubtful look in the mirror.

Caitlin walked up behind her suddenly, grabbing Felicity’s arm gently in the middle of guiding it through her hair. She pushed up her sleeve just a fraction, studying the thin white line that ran from her elbow to the back of her wrist.

Her head snapped back up to Felicity’s, eyes hard and suspicious.

“They’re the same.” Caitlin said and Felicity scrambled for a way out of it—an excuse that would explain the identical markings.

But Caitlin knew coincidences were rare—Caitlin believed in facts. She was much like Felicity in that aspect.

Fact was, the scars were the same.

They were mirrors of each other.

Connected.

“Explain. Now,” Caitlin demanded.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Felicity said miserably pulling her arm out of Caitlin’s grasp.

Caitlin crossed her arms, sitting down on the cushion as she watched Felicity at the mirror. Noticed the tension in her limbs—the fear in her voice. The helplessness.

“Try me.”

Chapter Text

“Biologically speaking the only way to get a scar is for someone to inflict that damage to your skin. Cells from one body cannot form the same way as the cells on another without being connected,” Caitlin said.

“But they are. Forming identically, I mean,” Felicity said, “At least in terms of damage.”

“I got that much. So how did you know Oliver was at the other end of this mystery” Caitlin asked, eyebrows raised, “Is that why you pissed off the Bratva? To get closer to him?

“What?!” Felicity exclaimed. The thought hadn’t even occurred to her.

Is that what everybody would think if they found out?

“No! I didn’t even know these were Oliver’s scars until about an hour ago! And getting closer to Oliver is the last thing on my mind, trust me.”

Caitlin stared at her a long moment, as though wondering whether or not to believe her.

“How is this even possible?” Caitlin asked. Evidently Felicity appeared sincere enough for her to believe.

“I’m as baffled as you,” Felicity shrugged, “I can’t find any science to back this up. It’s almost like I’m a walking voodoo doll or something,” Felicity almost flinched at her wording. Like these people needed more ideas as to how to hold her captive...

“Back in Vegas my mom took me to a psychic when I found the first scar, trying to figure out what it was. The lady said that the scars were--”

Felicity felt crazy. She was speaking in folktales for goodness sakes. But the proof was right there, covering her body.

“That they were what?” Caitlin prompted. Felicity bit her lip.

“She said the marks mirrored one person--that they were the scars of my soulmate and hat the closer I was to him, the less they would hurt. She said that it was “destiny” for us to be together,” Felicity’s words were a rapid spew and Caitlin looked dumbstruck.

“I’m not sure what I was expecting but that definitely wasn’t it,” Caitlin said after a long silence.

“How many scars do you have?” Caitlin asked, studying her. Felicity felt her face flush a bit under the attention.

“15 big ones. So many small ones I’m not even sure what’s from him and what’s my own clumsiness anymore,” Felicity shrugged, “I got the first noticeable one about seven years ago.”

“There has to be some explanation for this--there’s no such thing as soul mates and destiny--Hold on,” Caitlin stopped, eyes widening, “Did you say you got your first one seven years ago?”

“Yes, on my--”

“Shoulder?” Caitlin asked, and Felicity nodded.

“Yes...?” Felicity responded tentatively.

“Oliver wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms when he first joined the Bratva,” Caitlin explained, shifting uncomfortably, “Although the Pakhan is an old friend he made Oliver prove his loyalty to the Bratva. Oliver had to fight the existing US Brigadier for control,” the disgust in Caitlin’s voice was palpable.

“Oliver won. Slade--our Pakhan--was proud of him. Proud that he had killed that other man,” Caitlin’s eyes had misted at the memory, “Even though Oliver had won, he was shot in the back of the shoulder during the fight. The Bratva don’t exactly believe in taking care of their own,” She laughed humorlessly, “Slade sent Oliver away without assistance. That’s when he and Tommy recruited me to help. They were in Central City at the time and Tommy suggested they come to me to help Oliver--we had been friends before that. That was seven years ago.”

“And you just joined?” Felicity said in shock, “You joined the Mafia--just like that?”

Caitlin’s eyes closed off for the first time, giving Felicity a hard look, “We all have our reasons, Felicity. None of us just joined for the hell of it.”

Before Felicity could apologize though, Caitlin’s eyes had shifted from cold to curious again.

“Do they hurt?”

Felicity startled at the question.

“Your scars? Are they painful or do they just kind of... exist?” Felicity almost smiled at her curious nature. Almost.

“No,” Felicity answered, face paling, “At least not since I got here. They haven’t hurt in days. Not at all.”

The panicked look Caitlin wore mirrored Felicity’s--they both wanted a reasonable explanation for all of this. Facts. Things that could be proven.

And her pain disappearing simply because Oliver was in the same house as her wasn’t exactly a scientific explanation.

“Soul mates. Destiny. Okay. This is a new one for me. But until we find more answers... this... this is what we’ve got for now,” Caitlin seemed to be talking more to herself than Felicity. A pep talk, of sorts.

She studied Caitlin a moment as she tried to grasp what Felicity had spent a fraction of her life coming to terms with.

“Are you going to tell Oliver?” Felicity found herself asking. Caitlin looked up at her in surprise.

“You’re not going to?”

“No. At least not yet,” Or ever. She didn’t plan on being there much longer--she couldn’t chance Oliver finding out. With her luck, he wouldn’t let her out of his sight. Or he would use it against her. He was obviously used to the pain in ways she wasn’t.

Neither of which seemed like good options.

“Felicity,” Caitlin looked uncomfortable, “We don’t keep things from each other here. I know you can’t see it--but Oliver is family to me. And this is a huge thing to hide from him.”

“Help me find more answers,” Felicity begged, “Lets make sure there’s no other explanation. Then we’ll tell him once we know all there is to know.”

There was no more, Felicity knew. There were no more answers. But Caitlin didn’t have to know that.

“Okay,” Caitlin said tentatively, “But we will tell him. And soon,” Caitlin said, eyes narrowed. She didn’t want to keep this from him. but Felicity had intrigued her just enough to play along.

“Soon,” Felicity lied.

She needed to get out of there--before Caitlin could slip anything to Oliver. Before anybody else found out.

Felicity was relieved to see night falling over the windows in the main bedroom. It was almost time to go into ARGUS’s system again. It was almost time to fool them all into thinking she was trying to help, when she was actually sending for help.

She was so close to going home, she could almost taste it.

Everything just had to go according to plan--Oliver had to be ignorant enough for Felicity to leave the footprints without him noticing and ARGUS had to deem her cry for help worth answering.

No biggie.

_________

Oliver was a master of pacing, Felicity had noticed. It was almost rhythmic--the back and forth. His hands swung by his sides, his fingers clenching and unclenching anxiously.

Tommy and Lyla, this time, both stood in the back of the library, talking quietly to the other. Lyla looked miserable and Felicity had heard Tommy reassure her multiple times. She hadn’t even cracked a smile.

Oliver suddenly stopped his pacing and came to stand behind her, watching her work. His breath as he leaned down was close to the back of her head, making the hair on her exposed neck stand up.

He was too close.

Felicity was leaving obvious traces as she worked through the system.

Oliver’s breath was just near her ear now.

She left a trail as she worked--so quickly he couldn’t see what she was doing.

Subtle, purposeful movements.

Oliver leaned forward slightly and Felicity’s eyes flicked towards him. He stared curiously at the computer screen in front of them, paying her no attention.

She sped up her hands over the keys, paranoia growing as she felt each time he shifted next to her, his arm brushing against hers

Her breath sped up without her knowledge, heat flooding from where their bodies connected, up her body and spreading over her face.

Focus, Felicity.

Now she just had to imprint a message in the alert mainframe...

His shoulder knocked against hers.

“Oliver,” she snapped, gritting her teeth as her hands slammed to a stop on the keyboard. She moved her gaze from the computer screen to where he stooped behind her, “Back. Off.”

His curious look instantly closed off at the irritation in her voice, “This is tedious--it’s taking longer than it did earlier. I can’t even tell what you are doing.”

“I’m sorry you’re bored. It is not my job to entertain you!” She yelled back.

“I’m not bored,” he said, before qualifying, “I’m impatient.”

“I’ve noticed,” she said.

He glared down at her a long moment, their gazes stuck on each other, and Felicity watched as they both began to realize what a strange position they were in.

Felicity’s face was turned back towards where he stood behind her in her chair. His hand now rested on the back of it, a breath against the collar of her button up blouse. As he had been stooped when she turned around, his face was only a few inches from hers.

Too close.

Too far, a small part of her yelled.

Felicity watched as his lips opened fractionally, shock playing over his features as they breathed in unison.

The moment lasted forever--and was over in an instant.

“Alright,” Oliver excused, holding his hands up in a surrender pose, “I’ll be over here. Waiting.”

He stood up straight, walking so he stood in front of the desk and plopping in the chair. Sitting there: watching her from the opposite side.

She stared at him in shock a long moment before her gaze fluttered to where Tommy was staring behind them, an amused grin lifting his lips.

What. Was. That.

Felicity cleared her throat awkwardly, adjusting her hands slightly on the keyboard before her eyes fluttered back to the screen.

She went back diligently, trying to focus, but the flush on her cheeks and her heartbeat loud in her ears begged her attention.

“This chair is incredibly uncomfortable,” Oliver noted, shifting on the wood, and Felicity’s eyes rolled as she glanced back up at him.

“Yes. Imagine actually trying to work in it,” she said.

“Huh,” he considered, leaning against the back of it, “We’ll have to get you a different one then,” he decided.

She looked up in shock at the suggestion. His eyebrows were raised in question at the offering--waiting for her response.

It was such a small gesture. So unimportant. After all, he was forcing all of this. The least he could do is give her a good chair.

But still, she felt a smile lift her lips. She nodded slightly.

“One that spins,” she decided. Amusement lit his eyes.

“One that spins,” he agreed.

And she dragged her attention away from him again.

It was almost worse with Oliver sitting there--in front of her. His gaze rested just above her monitor and she had to force herself to push down the feeling that bloomed in her stomach each time their eyes brushed each other.

There was a familiarity, somehow, in his eyes. A comfort. An invitation.

But also, heat. Danger. Seductiveness.

The weight of it begged her to look up longer--answer his eyes one more time. See what happened.

She focused her eyes on the screen in front of her--but suddenly, her typing was fruitless. The screen froze.

LOCATION DOES NOT EXIST..

The screen flashed in harsh letters and red text, blinking at her incessantly.

“No no--shit,” Felicity’s eyes widened as she smacked her fingers faster on the keys.

She felt the room shift as Oliver moved in his seat, attentive to her panic. Lyla and Tommy both turned curiously at the change.

“What’s happening?” Oliver demanded, leaning forward on his chair.

“Dammit!” She yelled, ignoring him as she put all her effort into acting out the hacking techniques she had perfected in college.

They were useless.

She was locked out.

The system was gone and she hadn’t even finished coding her message.

She hadn’t even managed to call for help.

“Ms, Smoak?” Oliver asked loudly, trying to get her attention. She knew she must have looked insane--tears wet her eyes slightly as her movements on the computer slowed to a stop. She leaned back in the uncomfortable wood chair, shoulders sagging slightly.

“I don’t know how they could have caught me that quickly,” Felicity whispered. Who were these people? They were good--too good. Better than she had thought. Better than she had prepared for.

Oliver rose from his chair, walking deftly to stand next to her.

Together they watched the taunting message blink in front of them a long moment.

“What does that mean?” Oliver asked cautiously, seeming to sense her hysteria.

“They must have caught on to me in the system too quickly--they took the whole thing offline,” Felicity said brokenly.

She had destroyed any chance of getting someone from ARGUS to come help her.

“So...” Oliver prompted, glancing between her and the computer, “You can’t get in?” She waited for the anger to fill his voice. Waited for him to yell.

He just looked at her, one eyebrow raised.

He looked almost... concerned.

“If it’s offline I can’t hack it from here,” Felicity explained, sitting back up straight in her seat, “I would literally have to be in the same room as their servers to get into their accounts and transfer anything.”

Oliver studied her a long moment.

I’m useless to them now.

The phrase echoed in her head.

What was the point of them keeping her alive when she failed the one thing they had needed her for?

She felt panic fill her throat and she glanced around the room.

Tommy and Lyla were both looking towards her--but neither of their glances offered sympathy.

She felt her skin chill as she realized how much danger she could be in.

Despite everything--these people were warriors. Fighters. Killers.

Did the Bratva carry around unnecessary baggage? She hoped so--she may not have another way to escape in that moment, but being killed would definitely put a damper on any chance of a prison break.

“What if we get you in the same room then?” Tommy offered from the opposite side of the room.

Oliver’s head snapped up to his.

“No,” Oliver said instantly, but Felicity felt excitement brew in her stomach. Hope.

“Well, actually, yes,” Felicity agreed, “I could do it easily if I was in the same room. I know what to expect now. Also we wouldn’t have to worry about security--they would already know we were there. It would just be a matter of locking what movements I made afterwards so they couldn’t see it.” She shrugged.

She could get help there. She could be free there.

“The place is guarded day and night,” Lyla shook her head, “We’d have to go through all the guards.”

“Just have Caitlin cook up some of those sleeping-shots,” Tommy said. He looked elated at the prospect, “Bring a bunch of those in there. It would be quiet--In and out. We’d be fine.”

Lyla looked like she was considering it. Felicity startled as Oliver’s hand came down sharply on her desk.

“It’s too dangerous,” Oliver said loudly, and Felicity stared at him, shocked at his outrage, “What if it doesn’t go quietly? She isn’t even trained!”

Tommy and Lyla stared at Oliver in utter shock. Tommy cocked his head.

Was Oliver... worried about her?

Oliver straightened up, running a restless hand over his head.

“She would be a liability,” he said, “That’s a risk we can’t take.”

Oh. That was the Oliver she remembered.

“Then minimize the risk,” Felicity said strongly. The three of them turned toward her, seemingly confused at her words. Lyla’s eyes lit up after a moment, nodding slightly.

“It would be hard work,” she warned, and Felicity shrugged it off.

“It’s probably necessary if I’m going to help with this kind of thing in the future,” she felt the room shift at her words.

They looked at her, stunned at her submittal. She would appease them, become one of them. That was the only way she could escape now.

She had to earn their trust.

“It looked like you have a decision to make,” she said to Oliver, noting his torn look. She smiled, feeling in control for the first time since she had got there.

“I told you, Ms. Smoak,” Oliver said, teeth gritted slightly, “Your skills are valuable--not necessary.”

Felicity shrugged, “Maybe. But you can either train me--properly train me so I can defend myself. Or you can lose out on 50 grand,” she said matter of factly. She felt brave at the new challenge ahead of her.

She would become strong.

Learn how to fight.

Earn their trust.

Break free.

“So, Mr. Queen,” she mocked his refusal to say her first name, cocking her head, “What’s it gonna be?”

She watched his resolve weaken, his shoulders drop ever so slightly.

“You better get a good night’s sleep,” he said, trying to regain control, “Tomorrow's going to be hell.”

She gulped at the depth in his voice--it was rough in warning but unlike the past times she had heard him growl like that, she wasn’t fearful.

She was on edge--curious. Interested. Nervous.

The darkness inside of him seemed to call to the deepest parts of her and she found herself holding in a shiver at the depth of his words.

What had she gotten herself into?

Chapter Text

Felicity was surprised that next morning when Raisa woke her early, darkness still streaming in the windows, relaying that Oliver was waiting for her in the training room. She spent far too long in her large closet once she had managed to stagger out of the ridiculously comfortable bed trying on outfit after outfit.

She studied herself long in the mirror, before settling unhappily on a pair of yoga pants and a long sleeved workout sweatshirt.

She gathered her hair low on the nape of her neck, securing it with shaky hands. Her movements were slow, avoiding leaving the confines of her suite.

She was procrastinating--she knew that. She didn’t want to be stuck in that room with Oliver. She had figured Tommy or John would be training her. Even Roy would have been better.

Or maybe it was more like she hoped it was one of the others training her. It was easier for her to be around them--they didn’t make her stomach twist in a way that confused and scared her. They didn’t fill her with such utter fear and curiosity at the same time. They didn’t make her fidget. They didn’t leave her with more questions than answers.

With the others, she was either scared or at ease. And most of the time it was the latter.

Oliver though... with him, she was both terrified and fascinated. The danger of him always lingered in the back of her mind, but she felt this unknown curiosity when he was around. She wanted to know more about him--wanted to understand why it was them who were connected. Why not another man? Why him? Why somebody so cruel?

Just the thought of him made her nervous. Constantly pulling at the edges of her sweater to make sure all her skin was hidden. Tugging her ponytail longer so her curls hung over the scar on her neck. Twisting the thin ring around her middle finger out of habit as she finally forced herself out of her door and down the dark, eery halls of the mansion.

“Are you wearing a sweater?” Oliver asked, suddenly in front of her in the hallways outside of the practice rooms. She focused her eyes, jumping at his loud voice in the darkness as she saw the bite in his voice reflected in his eyes.

“I, uh,” She looked down awkwardly at her outfit, before returning her gaze to his. Well he wasn’t supposed to point out how overdressed she was... “Yes.”

“You might want to change,” Oliver advised, “You’re going to get hot.”

She felt flustered as he studied her intently, her mouth working hard at forming coherent thoughts.

“I’m fine, I don’t get hot easily,” she said and his brows furrowed a moment at her before he turned on his heel, leading her down the hall to the second training room. Or more like, stomping down the hall. His face was grim and irritated, although that seemed to be his usual setting around her.

“Not giving me weapons just yet?” she laughed lightly under her breath as they passed the first door. Oliver glanced at her slightly, before flipping the light switch to the training room.

“You think you could handle one of those weapons?” Oliver asked.

“Well, probably not,” Felicity said, pouting slightly. She hated guns, yes, but she couldn’t help but wonder what it was like to hold one of the swords. Or even the bow and arrow.

“But, I mean eventually right?” She tried not to sound too eager. How was she supposed to escape this place if they never taught her how to use a weapon? “How else would I win if somebody attacked me?”

He looked at her, his momentary confusion easing his scowl, “What do you mean?”

“Well, I’m small,” Felicity said, looking from herself to Oliver as he towered over her, “Obviously I’m not going to win hand to hand combat. Unless I’m fighting a child. Which I don’t particularly want to fight or see any reason to--although I’m pretty sure I could win against a kid right now. I mean I’m not certain because I’ve never had to do that, but I’d like to think if a ten year old tried to kill me I could hold my own.”

Oliver studied her a long moment--too long of a moment that made her realize just how crazy her babbling was, but his gaze wasn’t as annoyed as earlier, his eyes traveling over her body, “You’re about the same size as Sara.”

Felicity startled at that--the girl’s presence was so demanding, it seemed impossible for them to be the same size.

“But she’s just so...” Felicity tried to find a word, but shrugged, “She’s powerful. Intimidating. Not like me.”

“Maybe not now,” Oliver said as he sat down on the ground, gesturing for her to do the same, “But that’s because you haven’t done this before. Sara was like you once too.”

“She was?” Felicity was shocked--how did you get from how she was to how Sara was? It boggled her mind.

“Yes,” Oliver said with the finality of ending a conversation, “Now, stretch and lets get started.”

***

Three hours later Felicity’s pink sweater was itchy and hot, her hair was sticking to the back of her neck, her legs felt like jelly beneath her, and she was pretty sure if Oliver barked, “Keep going!” one more time, she was going to kill him with her bare hands.

Or, at least, use her loud voice.

“You know,” Felicity panted out, almost slipping off the treadmill as her concentration wavered. She paused a moment as she regained her balance, swallowing loudly before continuing, “This might surprise you, but I actually do know how to run.”

Oliver simply lifted an eyebrow from where he stood in front of her, leaning of the front of the machine.

“So I’m not quite sure what this is trying to prove, but,” Felicity started, but was shocked in silence as Oliver’s hand suddenly came down on the emergency button on the machine and it came to a screeching halt underneath her.

She fell. Right on her ass.

“What the hell are you doing?!” She yelled from where she tumbled discarded on the floor. Her face flushed with both embarrassment and anger as he looked down at her with an almost smug look on his face.

“I thought you were tired of running?” Oliver asked. Was he teasing her?

The mere thought infuriated her further.

“Yes, but you didn’t have to slam down on the machine like that! Some warning would have been nice! I could have gotten hurt!” She shouted, trying to control her breathing.

“You’re not going to have any warning during an actual mission. You have to be ready for anything,” he said simply, coming around to stand beside her and studying the post-workout numbers on the machine, seeming completely unperturbed at the thought of her dying on a damned workout machine.

“Pretty sure I’m not going on any treadmill-missions anytime soon,” she muttered, but her anger had faded slightly as she watched his face turn thoughtful as he considered her stats.

She hated it--but she wanted a reaction out of him. After how hard she had worked that day; after how many times she had pushed harder, gone faster, she craved it. So she stayed silent. She waited.

Well, she waited as long as Felicity Smoak could ever wait.

“So, should I sign up for a marathon or what?” she joked after a long minute, finally standing back up and leaning on the handrail opposite of him. When he finally turned his head towards her, his eyes were light with humor, but it didn’t reach his mouth.

“I know this seems... excessive,” he chose, “but this is how you start. It’s the little things.”

“Pretty sure running for three hours isn’t a little thing,” she countered.

“You weren’t running the whole time,” He said.

She gave him a look.

“I did awesome,” she said, suddenly confident. She wanted to hear him say it. Wanted him to admit it, “I’m probably one of your top students.”

“You’re my only student,” a smile lifted the corner of his lip, and she felt her stomach twist in that annoying way it did when he acted so ridiculously normal.

“Well then that makes me the best, doesn’t it?” She said back, leaning forward so she rested on the other handrail, looking up at him with a laugh ready on her lips.

He glanced down at her, a mere flicker of his eyes, but the contact felt long; burdened with words she couldn’t seem to find. So intense it sent Felicity backwards. She pushed herself away slowly, back to where she had been before as the moment crackled between them.

She couldn’t do this, not with him. Whatever this was, she didn’t know, but it felt wrong. It felt like an abandonment of all her morals.

She couldn’t be so normal with him.

But she also couldn’t seem to help it.

His eyes avoided hers and he stayed silent a long moment before he spoke, seeming to mirror her hesitation.

Or maybe she was the only one catching her breath--it wouldn’t be the first time for Felicity Smoak.

“So we know you can run--and pretty fast too,” Oliver coughed, clearing his throat, “Let’s keep going with the next little thing.”

She nodded largely, accepting her glasses as he handed them back to her and slipping them on easily.

He guided her to the center of the room where a small table sat with a large bowl on it. It was filled with water.

She looked down at it a long moment before looking up at him, cocking her head slightly.

“That’s a nice bowl,” she said awkwardly, almost a question.

“Hit the water in it,” he commanded. Her eyebrows disappeared into her hair.

“What?”

“Hit the water,” he repeated.

“Okay, so I did hear you correctly. Why, exactly, do I need to hit water in a bowl?” she asked instead, appeasing him for the moment. He couldn’t be serious.

“Ms. Smoak, if I’m going to be training you, you should know that every thing I make you do in here is for a purpose. It might not be clear now, but I have a reason for everything.”

He was serious.

She furrowed her eyebrows a moment, waiting for the resolve to waver in his eyes. When they stayed level, she turned towards the table, studying it a moment, before hitting the water gently and awkwardly so the water only rippled a moment before it was still again.

“No,” Oliver shook his head, “Harder. Like you would smack a person--use that strength. Don’t worry about splashing the water.”

She let her hand come down hard on the water, sending it flying around her as she almost lost her balance at the strange sensation. Oliver moved to stand across from her nodding encouragingly.

“Good. Now, again.”

_______

She wasn’t sure how long she went through Oliver’s incessant exercise--she hit the water until the bowl was empty. Then Oliver filled it up again.

And again.

And again.

She stopped trying to count the bowls after awhile, instead trying to focus her attention on anything other than the ache that was beginning to make her muscles shake with exhaustion.

The only thing that had proved any relief was talking, it seemed, much to Oliver’s annoyance.

“Never in even my wildest dreams--and trust me, my imagination is extensive-- did I imagine something like this would happen to me. I mean you read crazy things in books and things, but nothing has even compared to this bizarre experience. And I’m not even thinking about this particular moment with me slapping a bowl of water.”

“Oh?” Oliver said simply. He had finally settled into a chair after pacing around her awhile. He stared impassively at the bowl, seeming content to continue refilling it whenever needed.

“I mean, my life? My life is normal. I work in the IT department even though I should, really, run it. I have a boring apartment that I can barely afford. My oven is broken so I store things in it--but I have a great coffee maker. I have a best friend, and a normal family--well, there’s some drama there, but doesn’t everybody’s family have drama? I went to a normal high school, and then college...Did you know I went to MIT?”

“I did, actually,” Oliver said.

“Well, right. Of course you do. You had to borderline stalk me to kidnap me in the first place. Which is creepy in itself, now that I think about it,” she bit her lip, considering it. How had they known she was going to be at that restaurant that night anyways?

Oliver seemed to sense her line of thought, because he shook his head.

“We mostly just looked through your records--most are public, like where you work and live and where you went to school,” Oliver shrugged.

“What about the restaurant? That wasn’t in any records,” She could feel the bitterness seep into her voice and she tried to bite it back as she hastily wiped the sweat beading on her forehead before continuing the rigorous pace of the exercise.

Oliver watched her a long time in silence, the cautious look on his face telling her what his next words confirmed.

“We might have listened in on your phone calls as well. It was necessary,” He said slowly, and she bit her lip in frustration.

“Necessary,” she muttered, shaking her head. She couldn’t meet his eyes anymore. She couldn’t look at him.

“Yes, necessary.” She paused, hand mid air, before it came down to rest on her thigh, her grip latching tensely on her leg.

“That seems to be a pattern with this place,” She seethed between her teeth, “Excusing behavior, claiming it’s what needs to be done.”

“I don’t want to do any of this, but I have to. All of my decisions are thought through--we all do things we don’t want to out of necessity, Ms. Smoak,” He said. His eyes flickered to her hand on her leg, “Keep going with the exercise.”

She ignored him.

“I suppose it was a necessity to threaten my family then?” Felicity asked.

“Ms. Smoak,” his teeth were clenched, “We need to keep training.”

“A well thought out plan?” She could feel her anger spread as a heat over her skin as she saw his eyes grow darker, but she continued on.

“Because, well, it didn’t seem like something you thought out carefully,” she spoke over him, “You said it rashly and simply to scare me--to make me help you. So did you enjoy it then? Do you find pleasure in the absolute fear it brings, Oliver? Threatening innocent people? Only letting me leave at the expense of the people I love?”

“You’re not the only one here for the people you love!” Oliver’s tone burst from him, so loud it echoed across the room, his voice as icy as his eyes.

Felicity froze at his words, her anger dimming into confusion--a wave of concern passing over her without her permission as he stood abruptly from his chair.

“You... what?” she asked slowly, standing as he began to walk past her towards the door. He stopped a moment, and she watched his heavy breaths from behind, his back tense. His head tilted just slightly towards her, and she could see his jaw was clenched, his gaze cast downward, his eyes almost closed.

“Oliver, what do you mean?”

She watched as he slowly controlled his uneven breaths, reigning in his burst of emotion.

“Nothing, Felicity... it’s nothing. There’s nothing. I won’t apologize for putting your family in harms way--it isn’t something I want, and I wish I didn’t have to resort to the threat, but I don’t do things rashly. Everything is for a reason,” He said unevenly. His eyes were hazy, distant. He wasn’t there with her, in that moment, but somewhere else entirely.

“We’re done for the day,” and with that he was walking away from her, leaving her in the middle of the training room as his footsteps echoed down the hallway.

Her thoughts pounded into her louder and faster than she could grasp, confusing and baffling her. But she couldn’t shake the torture in Oliver’s eyes--a sadness she had never seen before.

He was, almost... haunted.

Chapter Text

“Knock knock,” Tommy’s voice sounded at the door not long after Oliver left, finding Felicity stretching on the floor, consumed in her thoughts.

“Huh?” she looked up, meeting his gaze with only a hint of a smile, “Oh. Hey.”

“I just came to check on you guys—see if you wanted lunch or something but I see the teach is skipping class,” Tommy rose an eyebrow in question at her. She sucked a lip in her mouth, crossing her legs and trying to stretch out her sore arm.

“We had a—uh, disagreement,” she said. He nodded, unsurprised.

“So, you yelled at him?” Tommy smiled down at her. She couldn’t help but smile back.

“Yup,” she popped the “p” matter-of-factly.

“It was only a matter of time before that conversation,” He made air-quotes around the word, “It’s not exactly casual, you being here.”

“Right,” she nodded, “He said something… strange though,” she continued slowly, unsure that this was something she should bring up to Tommy, “About why he was here?”

Her words held a question in them and Tommy took a seat in front of her, coming down to her level as he spoke, “We’re all here for a reason, Felicity. Some of ours are simple—no strings attached. Or, a few, at least. This place was a getaway for a lot of us. But some of us—well,” He ran a hand over his face, scratching it slightly out of habit, “There’s a lot there. Oliver doesn’t talk much about his past and for good reason.”

Felicity watched him a long moment, nodding, “So you know then? What Oliver meant, I mean.”

“Oh course, I’m his best friend,” he scoffed in mock offense, before shaking it off for sincerity, “But I’m surprised he mentioned anything to you. Nobody else here knows.”

“Well, I don’t think he wanted to mention it. Sort of slipped out.”

Tommy’s eyebrows rose into his hair, “Slipped out? Oliver’s not the babbling type.”

“Well he sort of yelled it at me,” Felicity explained meekly and Tommy snorted a laugh.

“Well how about that,” Tommy said with a smile of disbelief. Felicity cocked her head slightly at his tone and he explained.

“You make him mad—more mad than I’ve seen anybody make him in a long time,” Tommy noted and she smiled.

“That actually makes me happy,” she said and he chuckled.

It was something he did often, Felicity couldn’t help but notice. He laughed freely, and it opened up his face. It was charming. He had a carelessness to him. A kindness. Although it seemed like most of the people here had that friendliness—well, except Oliver. She couldn’t help but wonder if that had something to do with whatever had happened with the people that “he loved”.

She studied Tommy a minute, leaning back on her hands as she stopped her stretch.

“So, are you like Oliver—more strings than Pinnoccio?” she asked. Tommy smiled at her wording, but shook his head.

“Not exactly. My mother was killed about a month before Oliver came to me about joining. When he asked… it just, made sense,” Tommy shrugged, “I was in a bad place back then. My dad up and left when my mom passed and Starling City was suffocating with all the fake sympathy and fake friends. Except Oliver.”

Felicity nodded slowly, looking down at her hands.

“Except Oliver,” she repeated quietly.

It was had for her to imagine; that side of Oliver. To her, Oliver Queen was Bratva Captain—cruel, merciless Bratva Captain, but she supposed he’d had a life besides that. Oliver Queen, best friend. Oliver Queen with a family. Oliver Queen with humanity.

She couldn’t help but wonder what he had been like.

“I know you only see how he is now… he wasn’t always this distant,” Tommy shook his head sadly, “Sometimes I see glimpses of his old self, but it’s fading. I can’t exactly blame him for changing, he’s been through a lot and he’s always been there for me—my whole life. Even before my mom died, my dad was flakey at best. Oliver’s dad became a stand-in, almost. His family was my family. It was nice—I was an only child. With the Queen’s though, I had a brother and a sister.”

Felicity’s interest peaked slightly, “A sister?” she prompted.

“Yeah, Thea,” Tommy grinned,” Or, Speedy, as Oliver called her.”

“Speedy,” she tested it on her mouth, lips curling into a smile as Tommy nodded, running a hand through his hair.

“Bossy little thing. Hot-blooded, Oliver would say,” Tommy chuckled, “She was a handful.”

Tommy’s laugh though faded in front of her eyes, his smile turning down slightly. His eyes had shadowed, their light fading.

“So, uh, you done here?” Tommy said, clearing his throat. She faltered in her thoughts, staring at him as he rose from his spot, waiting for her.

“Uh—yeah,” she stuttered, taking his offered hand as he brought her to her feet.

He began walking in large strides to the door. She jogged a bit to catch up before matching his pace.

“So, wait, how old is Thea?” she asked, curious still. He glanced at her slightly, his frown having eased, but his smile was still nowhere to be found. Instead, a casual disinterest had replaced it.

“She would be 19 now,” Tommy said quickly, before continuing with more enthusiasm, “So are you hungry then? Cause we could get a sandwich or—”

“So that would have made her… 14 when you guys left, right?” Felicity asked.

“Yeah I think that was about the age,” He confirmed evasively, “So, anyways, I have exciting news. We’re playing a baseball game later, all of us—it’s random, yes, but it’s something we do the first day it’s nice enough outside to play. We made a makeshift field out in the back. Interested?” Tommy asked.

Felicity paused from walking, making him stop as well and looking up at him curiously. His eyes held an excitement as he spoke—but it was different than earlier. Forced almost. Like he was avoiding something.

She backed off though, noting the distress behind his eyes and joining his smile, “Maybe a little. Wouldn’t it be weird though? Me being there?”

He looked grateful, almost, as she appeased him.

"Not really," He answered, a skip back in his step as they made their way down the hall, "If it helps any, Oliver almost never comes to these things. I know you guys have been… tense."

Felicity rolled her eyes at the understatement..

"Alright,” she conceded, “But I need to change first," She gestured to her (honestly, disgusting) outfit.

“Awesome!” His excitement was contagious and Felicity was grinning despite her dispositions, “We can get something to eat before, if you’re hungry. I’ll meet you in the kitchen after you change?”

She nodded, parting ways with him.

When she got back to her room, she showered quickly, aching to get out of her sweat filled clothes. As she was drying off, a knock sounded at her door. She felt panic fill her at her exposed state, her scars bright against her clean skin.

“Felicity? It’s Caitlin,” the voice called, muffled through the door. Felicity breathed a sigh of relief, opening the door with a smile.

“Hey,” Felicity greeted, gesturing for her to follow her to her closet. Felicity studied the clothes there a moment before looking back up at Caitlin, “What’s up?”

“I thought you might want to hangout,” Caitlin offered, “Maybe go to the library and try to crack what the hell is up with your freaky scars. Because I have to admit, I’ve been thinking about it all day.“

“You’re not going to the baseball game?” Felicity asked. Caitlin raised her eyebrows.

“No. Not that good at sports. I didn’t think you were going either,” Caitlin said, “Didn’t think you were invited. Not that you shouldn’t be invited. I just don’t know the protocol for this I guess. I mean, you here. We’ve never had anybody like you here before.”

Felicity was shocked at that, “It surprises me that Oliver hasn’t held prisoners before.”

"See that’s just it—he has. Or at least, I’m sure he has. But never has he let us meet them, let alone stay in the house. You’re like a guest,” Felicity rolled her eyes slightly at that, “Okay, maybe a guest with restrictions, but definitely not a prisoner. And from what I’ve seen-Sara, Tommy, even Digg," Caitlin paused, a fascinated look on her face, "You’ve charmed them and they don’t even know about your secret."

"Well I don’t know about charmed. I haven’t said much to most of them, besides you and Tommy." Felicity considered an outfit, holding it up in front of her before she looked back at Caitlin, "Tommy has been nice. Amazing, actually."

"That’s Tommy for you," Caitlin said. She smiled warmly at the thought and Felicity watched the softening of her features, clucking her tongue in understanding.

"Oh," Felicity mouthed, smiling, "I get it now."

Caitlin gave her a confused look, “Get what?”

"You and Tommy are a you and Tommy," Felicity said, and Caitlin’s face flushed at the statement.

"What? No. Tommy’s one of my best friends—no, I don’t like him like that. And he doesn’t like me. No, we’re not anything together. Caitlin and Tommy—separately. Not a two. A one and one." Caitlin’s retort came out fast paced and defensive, and Felicity smiled.

"Whatever you say," Felicity said, taking pity on Caitlin’s discomfort and changing course, "This baseball game is strange. I wouldn’t be going if Tommy didn’t seem so excited about it. And Oliver isn’t going, which is a plus,” she admitted.

"I take it training didn’t go so well," Caitlin noted.

"It went as well as anything with Oliver and I in a room together goes."

"So, there was yelling," Caitlin said and laughed when Felicity gave her an exasperated look. She came up behind Felicity, plucking out a long-sleeved pink and black baseball-tee Felicity hadn’t seen, handing it to her, "Well, it’ll get better. You’ll see. He won’t be obtuse forever—I mean, Oliver refused to let anybody else train you. He’s got to have a good reason for that.” Caitlin shrugged, going to the closet.

Felicity froze, eyes widening a bit, “He did what?”

Caitlin stopped her digging for a pair of jeans, to look at Felicity.

"I was just as shocked. Tommy said he didn’t mind doing it, it would be kind of fun. Or, he said, Digg would probably do a good job although he had a lot on his plate already. And then Oliver just like, held up a hand to shut him up.

Caitlin laughed, “He looked so serious, and he was like, “’No. I will train Felicity. Nobody else.”” she said in a deep humorous voice. If Felicity’s mouth wasn’t hanging open, she would have laughed.

"What? Why?"

Caitlin shrugged, “I don’t know. But it’s crazy—he has about a million other responsibilities to handle. And really, anybody here could train you and train you well. Hell, even I know how to use a gun if I need to. Oliver has never trained any of us though. That was always Tommy’s job—and then when Digg joined, already skilled from Afghanistan, they took turns. Until now, I guess.”

Felicity sat down on the chair in the center of the closet, propping her chin in her palm as she listened to Caitlin talk.

Oliver chose to train her. Oliver, for some reason, hadn’t wanted anybody else to train her.

Only.

Him.

“I don’t know why, but I probably don’t want to know. With my luck, he’s trying to get me killed or something,” she laughed weakly, shaking off Caitlin’s concerned and confused look as she pulled on the jeans in her grasp, turning away to quickly drop the towel and shrug on a bra and the baseball tee before turning to the page mirror, studying herself diligently.

“None of them are visible,” Caitlin affirmed, knowing what Felicity was searching for. Felicity nodded gratefully.

“Thanks,” she smiled at her before arranging her ponytail low on her neck once again. She paused, elastic in her mouth, as Caitlin’s thoughtful gaze met hers in the mirror, “What?”

“It’s just…” Caitlin paused, biting her lip, “You don’t think Oliver could know about the soul mate thing too, do you?”

Felicity scoffed, “How would he know? And even if he had a hunch—why would he think it was me?”

“Well, do the scars go both ways?” Caitlin asked.

“I don’t know,” Felicity realized. She hadn’t thought about it much, if she was honest with herself, “But even if they do, I haven’t gotten any major scars that I know of. He has so many, he probably wouldn’t think of the few small one’s he would’ve gotten from me.”

Felicity shrugged, trying to shake the anxious feeling off.

“I wonder if it would hurt him if you got hurt. You said it hurts when you get the scars,” Caitlin was pondering, almost to herself, “Would it feel different now that you’re near him? I mean, you said they don’t ache anymore, but I wonder what immediate impact is like, if that’s affected. I mean, you would think so because…”

“Lets hope we don’t find out,” Felicity interrupted, shooting Caitlin a wary but amused look. Caitlin seemed to realize what she was saying and shook her head slightly.

“Right. Of course not,” Caitlin laughed, “Sorry, I didn’t mean that.”

“I’m going to get something to eat before I go to the game,” Felicity said, “Want to come with?”

Felicity searched around her, as though looking for something, but stopped as she realized there was nothing for her to grab. Normally, before going out, she would grab her purse. Her wallet. Her phone.

She didn’t have any of that now.

She tried not to visibly falter, placing her hands instead on her hips and looking up at Caitlin.

“Sure,” Caitlin said, “I’m kind of hungry.”

Felicity slipped on a pair of sneakers (a little big, but pulling the laces tight made it almost unnoticeable), and fell into step with Caitlin as they made their way down to the kitchen.

“You should come to the baseball game anyways,” Felicity shrugged as they entered the doorway that was growing familiar to even her. The kitchen was the most inviting of the rooms in the house—free of the fact portraits and hangings on the walls. It smelled strongly of bread as they walked in, Raisa working at the counter as she hummed, glancing at them with a smile as they walked in.

“Hello girls,” she greeted, kneading dough under her hands. Felicity followed Caitlin, sitting in the stools opposite of Raisa.

“Hello,” their chimed in unison, before Felicity continued, “Don’t you think Caitlin should go? If everyone else is, I mean, it would be fun. I’m no good at playing either.”

“Yes, Miss. Caitlin,” Raisa agreed, “You almost never play with the others. It would be fun for you.”

“Well…” Caitlin began considering, lip tucked in between her teeth, but was interrupted by a tall form bounding out of the walk in pantry.

“There’s nothing in there besides stale bread,” Tommy whined slightly, “I ate all the poptarts yesterday. I guess we could just have—” He started, but froze as he noticed the girls standing past Raisa, “Oh! Hey!”

Felicity cocked her head, a laugh on her lips at his startled stance.

“Hey Tommy,” she greeted in a tone near dramatic, trying to snap him out of his confusion, “We just came down for something to eat. Which you knew. Because you invited me.”

“Right!” he seemed to collect himself, turning to Raisa as though he was going to keep talking, but seemed to forget where he was going in the first place.

“I put together fruit salad and sandwiches for you all before the game, if that sounds alright, Mr. Tommy?” Raisa prompted, and Tommy snapped his fingers, pointing at her in approval.

“Yes, wonderful!” he exclaimed, going to the refrigerator. Caitlin and Felicity exchanged a look, but Felicity ignored Tommy’s murmuring search for food as she continued talking to Caitlin.

“So will you come? I’ll feel better if you’re there. I haven’t talked much to the others and as casual as this baseball game is, it will still be weird—not like we’ll all be fast friends,” the term came easily off her lips, but she felt the doubt swirl in her stomach as soon as it left her mouth.

Was that what she and Caitlin were? Friends?

Yes, Felicity realized. They were, in the strangest sense. Caitlin had helped her when she was scared, had (and still was) keeping her secret even though she was hiding it from people that were like her family. Caitlin wanted to help her find answers to questions that had haunted Felicity for years.

Friends did that kind of stuff. Right?

As long as Felicity ignored how she got there and how she couldn’t leave, she almost felt at ease with the realization that she had befriended Caitlin and, in turn, Tommy.

Well. Almost.

“I don’t know…” Caitlin said, and Tommy was suddenly leaning on the counter between them, smiling at her.

“You should, Cait. It’d be nice to see you let loose a little bit,” He winked, a grin spreading easily over his features as he handed them both forks, setting a giant bowl of fruit salad between them.

“Don’t eat out of the bowl,” Raisa sighed, handing them plates. Caitlin scooped some of the fruit onto hers and Felicity’s, while Tommy continued to sneak bites out of the bowl.

“I… I mean, I guess I could go watch,” Caitlin said finally.

“You and Felicity could keep score,” Tommy offered, shrugging as he took a large piece of watermelon in his mouth.

Felicity looked to Caitlin, but Caitlin wasn’t returning her questioning gaze.

Instead, her eyes were locked on the way Tommy’s tongue swept softly over his lips, lapping the juice that had remained there before she seemed to catch herself, sitting back from her casual rest to nod vigorously.

“Sure! I mean, that could be okay—fun, even, I mean,” Caitlin agreed.

Felicity looked between the two, Caitlin sitting eerily straight in her stool, feigning normality as she went from outright gawking at Tommy to avoiding looking at him completely—Tommy, leaning his elbows lazily on the counter, sloppy grin lifting his lips as his stance accented the muscles that showed prominently due to his shirt.

Felicity felt an excitement fill her at the two, and could almost hear Iris’s voice in her head.

"Look at her, Iris would have said excitedly, She said there was nothing there, but she practically jumps out of her skin every time he moves. Swooooooon. Seriously. That girl is in so deep and she doesn’t even realize it."

Felicity felt comforted at the thought of her best friend encouraging this. It ignited her interest. Distracted her from the constant nervousness that had fluttered in her stomach since she had woken in that bathtub just a few days earlier.

"That boy is totally in love with her and he doesn’t even know it. Leaning on the counter like that? He knows it shows off his arms and he’s totally trying to impress her."

"Don’t fight me on this Felicity," Iris would always say when they spotted people like this, "I know what I’m talking about."

"How could you possibly know that?" Felicity would always ask, laughing in disbelief, even as she too would find herself studying the couple.

"I’m a love expert, obviously." Iris would laugh, "Trust me, a little encouragement, a push there, a shove there, and they will be head over heels. Just watch."

Felicity felt a smile creep over her face as she popped a grape into her mouth.

At the very least, helping the two of them get together would distract her from thinking about her scars and Oliver.

And what could it hurt? Iris had never been wrong about this sort of thing.

Chapter Text

Somehow, Sara and Felicity had ended up as team captains.

She didn’t know how, exactly—one second she was settling next to Caitlin in a lawn chair and the next Sara was hauling her to her feet, already calling dibs on Nyssa for infield on her team.

Caitlin was no help either, simply smirking at her before returning to the book cradled in her lap.

And they were off.

Felicity got Tommy. Sara took Roy. Felicity chose Digg. Sara, Lyla.

They were out of people, and their teams, uneven. Felicity looked to where Tommy stood, noting his gaze had flitted to Caitlin. She was cross-legged in her jeans and tank top, her sunglasses perched on her head, holding her soft waves away from her face. Felicity watched a soft smile fill Tommy’s face—different than his normal smile. Softer. Something else.

“Caitlin,” Felicity said, resisting a smirk. Caitlin looked up in confusion from the book she had been studying. Tommy’s head snapped up to Felicity’s too, a brow lifting at the knowing smile she gave him.

“Huh?” Caitlin asked, shocked as everyone stood, staring at her, “What did you say?”

“You’re on my team,” Felicity said and she couldn’t stop the smile on her face as Caitlin’s eyes widened in protest.

“Nononono,” she protested in quick succession, book abandoned on her jean clad knee, “I can’t play, I don’t even know how.”

“If I have to play, you do,” Felicity decided, “Besides, Tommy can help you if you need it.”

Tommy’s Adam’s apple bobbed slightly at that, still looking suspiciously at Felicity, before his big smile returned and his gaze moved back to the brunette, “Yeah, Cait! We’ll have fun!”

“So, Caitlin’s playing,” Sara announced, looking delighted, “We’ve never had enough for teams of four!”

Sara turned to her team behind her, looking them over a minute before nodding her head, “Okay then, Roy and Lyla—outfield. Nyssa and I will cover infield and I’ll pitch,” Sara decided quickly, and her team nodded, already jogging out to their places on the makeshift field.

Felicity turned back to her team, letting out a big breath, hands on her hips, “So. Uh, what do you guys normally do?” Felicity asked, smiling nervously.

“I go outfield. Cait can join me so I can help her out,” Tommy decided for them, “Digg normally pitches.”

Digg nodded in agreement.

“Okay,” Felicity said, “I can probably do infield,” she nodded more convincingly, “Yeah, it’ll be easy! I used to play with my dad when I was little. I was okay then and, I mean, it’s like riding a bike… right?”

Tommy and Digg looked at her, worry etched slightly on their faces, and Caitlin laughed next to her.

“Exactly,” Caitlin said, turning from them, “We’re going to kick ass. They’re going to wish they had never asked Caitlin Snow and Felicity Smoak to ever play baseball with—“

“Uh Caitlin?” Digg called as she began walking toward the field with the others.

“Yeah?” She turned. Digg held up the bat in his hand.

“We bat first,” he said, a laugh on his lips. Caitlin stopped, staring a him a moment before she scoffed, shaking her head as she grabbed the bat from his hand.

“I know that. I was just, uhm, testing you,” she said awkwardly, “Lets go hit that ball!” she said enthusiastically, walking past Tommy to the plate.

Felicity watched as Tommy jogged to catch up with her, telling her where to stand by the plate as he stood off to the side.

“Sara, give her a couple practice one’s,” Tommy said, and Sara rolled her eyes.

“You know, that’s not really how the game works,” She said, but she threw a couple anyways.

Caitlin jumped out of the way at the first one, almost knocking Tommy over. Felicity couldn’t help the grin that spread on her face.

“What’s that look for?” Digg asked from next to her. Felicity pointed to Tommy and Caitlin.

“I’m playing matchmaker,” Felicity said. Digg nodded slowly, popping a few sunflower seeds into his mouth (which he got from god know’s where) as he studied the two for a moment.

Caitlin was flushed with embarrassment at her squeal away from the ball, nearly jumping out of her skin when Tommy approached her from behind, carefully raising her elbow where she held up the bat.

“Caitlin and Merlyn?” Digg asked, looking at her incredulously before shaking his head, eyes returning to where Sara was stretching her arms on the mound, trying not to be impatient, “On Caitlin’s side, maybe, but not on Tommy’s.”

“$20,” Felicity said suddenly, inspired. Digg’s gaze shot down to Felicity at that.

“What?” he asked, laughing slightly.

“$20 that it’s mutual, even if either of them have admitted it yet,” Felicity said, her gaze challenging. He laughed at her outstretched hand, grasping it in his large one.

“Alright, fine. $20 if it’s mutual,” Digg agreed, pulling his hand away as the two returned to watching the field, “But how are we going to know if they don’t admit it?”

Felicity shrugged, “A push here, a shove there and we’ll have love declarations in no time. Trust me,” Felicity said, smiling at the words she knew Iris would be saying if she were here with them.

“I don’t know, Merlyn’s pretty stubborn.“ Digg said.

“We’ll see,” Felicity shrugged.

“You and Caitlin are friends then?” Digg asked, looking at her.

“Yeah. Something like that,” Felicity said, smiling at the brunette in front of them. Digg nodded in approval.

“Good. She’s a good person, the best out of all of us. Makes sense you would be friends with her,” Digg said, but Felicity looked towards him at the sad tone, studying him a long moment.

“You guys aren’t that bad,” Felicity said, remembering her conversation with Tommy earlier. She wondered what kind of strings Digg had that made that crinkle form between his dark brows, “You’ve been through a lot to get here, I’m assuming. I’m surprised your not all monsters.”

Digg’s eyebrows raised at her emphasis, shaking his head, “He’s not either, you know.”

Felicity looked at him in question.

“Oliver, I mean. He’s been through the most out of all of us—he’s not a monster. He’s a survivor.”

Felicity resisted to retort on her lips, letting Digg’s words wash over her instead.

A survivor. But what did that mean? How much surviving did you have to do to get like Oliver?

Her thoughts were stopped short as they watched Tommy grab Caitlin’s hips, guiding her into the swinging motion slowly. Caitlin followed his lead a few times, Tommy close behind her, before she turned her head to thank him and they both froze, startled at their close proximity.

And then, Tommy stepped back—but not before a flush had encompassed his entire face, his fingers lingering on her body.

Felicity laughed victoriously, looking up at Digg, “Better get your wallet ready, John. I’m almost never wrong.”

He rolled his eyes at that, but laughed along with her as Caitlin swung at the first real pitch and the game began.

****

Three innings in, and they were shockingly enough, tied. It turned out, Felicity did remember a few things, and although her batting was subpar at best, she was quickly picking back up on how to play infield.

Caitlin was a decent batter, after she got the hang of things and Tommy never failed to get a home run. Digg pitched like he was born for it. Together, they weren’t half bad.

“Barbie, you got me out!” Roy exclaimed in mock hurt and legitimate shock when Felicity had caught Tommy’s throw just in time to get him out on second.

“Didn’t you hear? Barbie can do anything,” Felicity winked at him and his hurt ego flipped to laughter at that, still chuckling as he jogged back to the sidelines.

Felicity’s smile faded as Lyla, up to bat, stepped away from the base, propping the metal bat against her shoulder as she looked past the outfield, confusion filling her face.

Felicity turned with the others in the direction of her dismay, watching as Oliver came towards the 8 of them on the field at something more like a sprint than a jog. Everyone around Felicity froze at that, the air stilling in tension.

“Surprise check in,” he said simply, stopping with a grunt at the edge of the field. Felicity watched Digg as he stood in front of her, the muscles in his back tightening in tension as Oliver’s words left his mouth.

“But they were just here last month,” Tommy said, eyebrows furrowed. There wasn’t a trace of a smile on his lips.

Oliver’s eyes locked on hers and she had to hold in a gasp at their intensity.

“Yes. They must have heard about the… hiccup in Starling City. Slade is coming himself,” Oliver said and the others stirred at that, understanding and panic flooding through them.

“And if he finds out we didn’t take care of the problem?” Sara asked, crossing her arms so her mitt was tucked under her arm. Sara’s eyes flickered only briefly towards Felicity, a wariness in them, before she seemed to push it away, looking back towards Oliver. Felicity felt as though the wind was knocked out of her as a wave of understanding hit.

She caused the hiccup.

She was the problem they hadn’t solved.

She felt her face pale at the realization.

“So he’ll want you to take care of it,” Felicity said, trying to get her normal bravo in her words, although her stomach felt hallow to her; her voice distant, “The problem, I mean. I’m the problem.”

Oliver stepped closer to her, just a step, but stopped his approach, instead shaking his head slowly.

“No. That’s not the problem. You’re not the problem,” he assured and Felicity’s lips turned down further at that—more in confusion than anything else.

Oliver’s gaze finally broke from hers, looking up at the others, “He’ll be here any minute, Raisa took the message right before I came out here.

“Tommy, Sara, Nyssa, and Lyla— go to the living room and set it up accordingly. Digg and Caitlin, go to front, ready for them. Their driver will be bringing them there. Welcome them as you normally would,” his eyes bored into Digg’s, a severity to them that chilled Felicity to the bone, “Make sure he senses nothing out of the ordinary.”

They were all nodding along, silently accepting Oliver’s words.

“And what of Ms. Smoak?” Felicity was surprised to hear her name slipping out of Nyssa’s mouth, the woman’s dark gaze resting on her, “Surely if Mr. Wilson finds her, she will be dead for the inconveniences she’s inflicted.”

“I will take her somewhere she will not be seen,” Oliver said, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed thickly, looking at her fractionally before returning his gaze to Nyssa.

“And if he finds out we have tried to hide her, we will all be in danger,” Nyssa said, her words cool with rationale, but there was an anger in her eyes that set Felicity on edge.

Felicity’s eyes flickered to Oliver, and she watched as anger filled his deep blue eyes. He took a menacing step towards Nyssa as he spoke—not too close, but a big enough action that Nyssa’s eyes widened a bit.

“Slade will not find out about Ms. Smoak. She will be somewhere only I know of—safe. Do you understand?” His words were as cool and merciless as he had spoken to Felicity herself, that first day she was there. It was strange to hear them directed at Nyssa—defending her.

Protecting her.

“Of course. I apologize,” Nyssa said, although her eyes held an air of shock at the severity to his tone before her head bowed slightly. Oliver started at her another long moment, before looking up at the others.

“Go. Now,” he said and they scattered instantly at his command, walking briskly back towards the house.

Oliver walked slightly in front of her, his strides so long she had to almost run to keep up.

“Who’s coming?” She asked. She understood generally—there was some protocol happening but it was abnormal, even for them. She hated not knowing things, it made her nervous.

“Come on, we have to go quickly,” Oliver said, nearly running through the hallway past the living room, foyer, and kitchen.

“Oliver, please,” Felicity begged, running behind him. She watched him falter in his steps at the helplessness in her voice, and he turned back to her, “Just tell me what’s going on, please.”

He looked down at her, harshness leaving his cold eyes as he looked at her.

“Slade Wilson,” Oliver said, “He’s the Bratva’s Pakhan—hardly ever personally leaves Russia,” Oliver said, his voice quiet as he spoke. He hardly blinked, looking at her in the shadows of the hallway

“But he’s leaving this time. Or, well, he already left. For a checkup? What, like he’s going to make sure your room are all nice and tidy or what?” Felicity. Oliver’s lips twitched fractionally, and Felicity tried not to watch the way he bit his lips slightly to contain it.

“No, check-in’s happen about every three months, to make sure we’re bringing in enough money and things are running smoothly. Slade only comes himself when he know’s something is wrong,” Oliver explained, and he stiffened suddenly, head snapping from hers behind him, focused on the light flooding from the entry way into the other end of the hall.

There was a creaking noise as the front door opened, a cruel laugh raining over them that Felicity didn’t recognize.

“Ms. Snow, you sure do have a certain charm about you,” Slade said, and Felicity already knew the flush that had to have spread over Caitlin’s cheeks.

“You’re not so bad yourself, Mr. Wilson,” Caitlin said, but her normal cheery tone was clipped in mock sincerity.

“How about a drink, Slade?” Digg’s voice asked and Felicity was startled as Oliver turned back towards her suddenly, hand lifting from his side towards her.

She looked in between his outstretched hand and his eyes, a panic in them that scared her more than anything.

“Where’s the kid?” Slade’s voice boomed through the halls, coming closer as they moved from the entry way to the living room. Oliver flinched at the question.

“We have to hide you. Now,” he growled. Oliver’s eyes flashed in something between fear and anger. She startled at the look in his eyes, and tentatively slide her hand into his, his palm warm against hers.

If Oliver Queen had reason to fear… well, they were in some deep shit.

“He had to attend to a… matter of personal concern,” Digg said from the other room, “He’s on his way back to the house now.”

Slade barked out a laugh as Oliver tugged her hand gently, leading her quietly to the library she had been just a few days before.

“A personal matter, huh?” Slade asked, “So what poor girl is he leaving in the dust today?”

Oliver’s jaw was clenched as they walked towards the side of the room opposite of the desk she had slowly gotten used to, and his hand that didn’t drip hers skimmed over the shelves, as though searching for something.

“Oliver, what are you…” She started, but stopped as Oliver seemed to find his mark, fingers latching onto the book case as he gave it a tug and it swung out towards them. Felicity felt her jaw drop, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Oliver smiled lightly at her shock but pulled her hand, guiding her towards the darkness. She looked down, seeing a slight landing that descended into a set of shadowed stairs he must have known were there.

It was a secret door. In a bookcase.

“You do realize this is the coolest thing, like ever,” Her words were quiet, but excitement bubbled in them, “I mean, considering the situation, it’s a bit terrifying, don’t get me wrong. You could be taking me down here to kill me or something because nobody would find my body— but at least I will have gotten to see an honest-to-goodness secret room before I kick the bucket.”

“Ms. Smoak,” he breathed her name, the formality of the title not matching his tone and she looked up at him, swallowing hard at the tightness in his eyes.

“Right. We’re hiding. Got it,” she nodded, biting her lip as the full weight of the situation crashed back into her.

“You go first,” Oliver said and she tried not to notice how cold her hand seemed when he let go of it, “Trust me, it’s safe.”

She hesitated only a moment, looking up at him, before she slowly went to the landing, waiting for him as she tried to make out anything past the next step.

Oliver stepped in closely behind her, carefully bringing the door shut until it clicked almost silently in place and they were completely engulfed in darkness.

She couldn’t see anything, it was so dark. Oliver was close behind her, his chest almost pressed to her back as she listened to his even breathing, trying to calm her own.

“There are 13 steps,” Oliver said, voice close to her ear. She felt his body shift behind her, the muscles rippling with movement that made her shiver slightly before his hand landed gently on her shoulder. He mapped her arm with his fingers as his hand ghosted back down to find hers, “Go slowly, there’s no railing. I’ll try to help.”

She nodded even though he couldn’t see her, sliding her foot slowly forward until reached the end of the landing, laying it carefully on the step below, remembering how far down it had been.

She descended slowly, counting under her breath.

When she hit 7, she tripped slightly, but Oliver’s hand tightening on hers balanced her.

“You okay?” Oliver asked, his voice deep. It was strange, to hear his voice, without seeing the face that matched it. Soothing almost.

“Fine,” she said between her teeth, but her nails bit into Oliver’s palm harder, finding comfort in the feeling.

When they finally reached the landing, Oliver kept her hand in his, tugging her to walk.

“There should be a lamp right…” He trailed off, taking slow steps. Felicity kept her unoccupied hand in front of her, feeling to make sure she didn’t slam into anything.

“Ahh, here we go,” Oliver said from her left, and she heard the turning of a switch before a low yellow haze flooded over them.

The first thing she noticed was how different the space around them was than the rest of the mansion—it was warm, lit low, with a worn looking couch. It was a bit messy, but not ridiculously so. More lived in than anything.

There was a coffee mug, half full on the table in front of the couch. Littered books on every available surface. Blankets, unfolded on the couch—as though someone had merely pushed them aside to rise.

It was warm, but not unbearably so. Comfortable. Cozy.

“What is this place?” Felicity said in a hushed, awed tone. She looked to Oliver, who’s hand was still wrapped around hers.

She wasn’t sure who pulled away first, but Oliver used his to offhandedly scratch the back of his neck once it was free. Hers hung abandoned at her side.

“This is…” Oliver searched for a word a long moment, shrugging, “This is where I go all the time. My own place, I guess.”

She walked, almost without permission towards the couch, sitting down on it. She let her hand fall to the blanket next to her, soft to her touch.

“It’s so… I don’t know,” She whispered, fingers toying over the material before she looked back up at him, “You. Not that I really know you or anything, but this feels so much more like a home than the rest of the mansion.”

“You don’t have to whisper—nobody can hear us in here,” Oliver’s tone though, was low too. More intimate than normal—his gaze different in the low light. Darker. More heated.

Maybe that was why Felicity found herself flushed. But maybe it was the innuendo she heard behind his words as his eyes surveyed her on the couch.

“Nobody else knows about this place,” Oliver said, still watching from afar.

“Oh,” Felicity said, suddenly feeling like she was intruding by where she had taken a seat, “I’m sorry.”

She stood up quickly, and he shook his head, “No, it’s… you’re fine there. I’m okay with that.”

Felicity nodded at his words, and they watched each other a long moment.

She looked down, breaking eye contact first as she ran her hands over the books, noting their bent and worn spines. She couldn’t help but wonder what was Oliver’s favorite.

She didn’t ask.

Felicity turned, looking around the room. The carpet beneath her feet looked soft, and she wished she wasn’t wearing sneakers so she could feel it against her feet. It was a reprieve of a room—like they were in a whole other world than the chaos happening above them.

“How do you know what’s going on upstairs?” she asked, looking at him with a furrowed brow as she cocked her head slightly, “I mean, it it’s soundproof…?” she trailed off, studying the space.

“Oh, come this way,” He said, smiling. She was relieved when he didn’t grab her hand this time, instead walking towards the stairs they had just descended from.

She noticed a door then, under the staircase, that she hadn’t noticed before. He opened it with ease, flicking on a light and holding it for her as she stepped through.

Monitors glowed around them, lit with what looked like images of the mansion on almost all the screens, but at different angles in each frame, about four filling each monitor.

There was a chair in the center of the room, one that looked much like hers back in Starling City at her office. She found herself gravitating towards it, hand resting on it as she looked around her.

There were cameras in the mansion. Everywhere. Watching everything.

She felt fear ice her chilled body as reality slammed back into her with full force.

“I know, it’s a bit rough, but it gets the job done,” Oliver misinterpreted her look, coming up behind her and looking around, “It’s the best I could do on my own.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t get a specialist,” she said, trying to maintain the outrage she would normally express over such poor care of computers if she wasn’t so distracted by the extreme surveillance, “I bet Caitlin could do a better job than this.”

It was a sloppy set up. One she could have probably done better with before even going to college. But it was there. And it was too much, even that poorly handled.

“Well, considering Caitlin doesn’t know it’s here, that wasn’t exactly an option,” Oliver said shrugging, “It does what I need it to.”

“And what’s that?” Felicity asked.

“Make sure there are no surprises,” She looked up at his tone, changing suddenly into something more distracted. He was looking past her, slightly, his gaze unfocused, “I’ve had enough surprises for a lifetime. None of them good.”

Felicity couldn’t help but wonder if his hatred of surprises had something to do with his outburst earlier.

“I’m sorry,” she said before she could help it and his eyes refocused on her, eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

“Excuse me?” he asked. She wanted to take it back, instantly. What was she doing?

“I’m sorry for assuming you haven’t been through anything hard in your life,” Felicity said, looking down at her hands in her lap, “You’ve probably lost people you love too.”

Oliver was silent, behind her, causing her to turn.

His face was complete shock, staring at her.

“What?” she asked, defensiveness seeping into her tone.

“You’re… apologizing?” He was frozen in place, staring at her.

“Yes?” it came out as a question.

“I had you kidnapped. Brought you here against your will. Threatened your family, made you stay here,” Oliver spoke slowly, thinking over his words as he spoke, “And you’re apologizing for making me lash out at you?”

Felicity watched his shock; his complete and utter disbelief that somebody could look past any of those actions. And she supposed she hadn’t, not entirely. Each sentence stung in it’s own way, each blow raw, but the fact that he was pointing out those actions. The fact that he wasn’t just taking her apology—there was more to Oliver Queen. She just knew it.

It wasn’t just that he had lost people too or that he’d come out a survivor, whatever that meant. There was more. It was that somehow, someway, she couldn’t believe that whatever power had linked them together would pair her with a man completely cruel and merciless.

There was a reason he was bound to her; that they were soulmates. Even if she didn’t know what it was yet, she found herself longing to understand.

“I’m apologizing for not thinking of why you had to do all those things,” Felicity said, her voice quiet as she tried to breathe through the tension.

He laughed, a humorless awed kind of laugh, “Felicity… I knew you were kind, but I had no idea you were so considerate,” he said, as though that was a thing of wonder.

I knew you were kind.

Felicity floundered at that, but suddenly Oliver’s eyes snapped back up to the screens and she turned with him, looking at what had changed his demeanor so quickly.

He was looking at the camera panned on the living room, where Slade stood with the rest of them.

Well, stood was an extremely generous term—he was holding a knife up to Nyssa’s throat, hand clutched in her hair. The rest of the team was frozen, watching them.

“Felicity, hit the volume for the mics. On your left,” Oliver barked, and Felicity searched only a moment before she hit the button that seemed promising and sound flooded from the monitors.

“Now,” Slade’s growl was even more rough that in person, crackling over the mics, “Somebody tell me where the kid really is or I’m going to have to make more of a mess with this one than I did with the Queen girl.”

Felicity looked up towards Oliver, but he was already turned, heading back towards the door.

“Oliver, what are you going to—“ She started and he turned facing her only slightly as he quickly opened a drawer in the coffee table she had been looking at before. She froze as he pulled a gun out, shoving it in the waistband of his jeans.

“Oliver,” she started again, and he looked up at her, eyes blazing.

“Stay here. Do not come out until I get you, do you understand?” he said, and she was slow to nod, “I’m not losing anybody else today. I can’t.”

He walked towards her seemingly to hesitate next to her. She was surprised when his hand cupped hers, just a moment, before he let go, bounding up the stairs.

Felicity watched him slowly open the door, slipping through, before she ran back towards the monitors to watch.

Oliver came into the living room with a casual gait, much different than his stance just a moment ago, and froze as he saw the scene.

“Oh,” Oliver asked, “What’s going on?”

Slade rose an eyebrow at him, “Where did you come from?”

“I was talking my way out of commitment,” Felicity was surprised at the way Oliver spoke. His voice was pitched higher, like he was trying to please, “Came in through the back door. What did I miss?”

Slade’s eyes narrowed at that, “You’re all hiding something. I need to know what it is. Now.”

“We’re not hiding anything, Slade. But if you don’t believe me feel free to look around,” Oliver said, a hand gesturing generally towards the house around them. Slade shook his head.

“Whatever I could have found, you just took the time to hide, didn’t you?” Slade asked. His knife dropped from Nyssa’s throat, shoving her aside as he approached Oliver.

She saw Oliver’s hands twitch at his sides, and she wished more than anything for him to have put the gun somewhere less noticeable.

“I trained you, boy,” Slade said, “I know how you think.”

Slade stopped in front of him, taking Oliver’s hand from his side and sliding up the sleeve.

“It’s fading, I see. That particular scar,” Slade said, leaning his face close—too close—to Oliver’s, “It’s the worst when it comes from family, isn’t it Kid? But it’s a good reminder of why we started all this in the first place.”

Felicity only saw vaguely as Slade’s knife tipped to Oliver’s forearm—but soon, it wasn’t her concern.

The horrid sensation of the skin on her own arm ripping itself open though, seemed a bit more pressing, as screams unwillingly ripped from her lips until the edges of her vision faded to a red that matched the blood dripping around her. She dropped herself slowly into the chair behind her, almost missing it as she slammed her eyes shut, failing to control the screams that didn’t seem like hers at all.

Chapter Text

When Felicity’s eyes fluttered open, she was still alone.

Her face had smashed against the desk near the monitor she was looking at, her arm laying near her head as it still seeped blood, a large pool forming underneath it.

Felicity knew, logically, that she needed to hide it. Nobody knew where she was except Oliver and he would come down to retrieve her soon enough. But she was lightheaded—her vision fading in and out— so she settled for letting it spread, making it less obvious the gash was a replica of the scar Slade had so brutally traced.

She knew she should be worried that the wound hadn’t closed—was still bleeding as though she had just been cut, but she wasn’t. There was this sense of relief, somewhere inside her, that she couldn’t explain.

Like this was supposed to happen. Like this was a good thing. Like this cut, with pain like it was make for two, was something she wanted to endure.

So instead, she cradled her arm closer to her, sighing into the desk as she watched the monitors between her long, fluttering blinks in and out of consciousness.

___________

“Felicity? Slade’s gone—which I’m assuming you saw, but I just figured I would come down and—Felicity? You can come up now—” the voice was growing nearer with each syllable. A moan sounded that Felicity assumed had escaped her mouth, echoing in the room around her.

“Felicity?” The voice was more urgent this time, the footsteps faster, before they froze not far from her, “Felicity.”

Her name on his breath was filled with so much in that moment—surprise. Astonishment. Confusion. But most of all, fear.

But all she could feel was relief. A smile spread on her lips as he came into sight, looking at her from the doorway. He looked no different than when he had left earlier.

“You’re okay,” she breathed in relief, sagging against the desk, “You’re not hurt.”

He floundered at that, looking confused as he gazed down at his own arm, before he looked back to her, walking quickly towards her as he noticed the deep shadow on the desk around her.

“How did this—what did you… I don’t understand… The blood?” Oliver was stuttering for the first time since she had met him and she couldn’t help the halfhearted smile that lifted the corners of her mouth.

“I’ll admit I’ve made men forget how to speak before. Well, one man. Singular. But never because I was bleeding all over his computers,” Felicity tried to say, but it came out slow and sluggish, her words slurring. Oliver’s eyes widened.

“We need Caitlin—“ Oliver said, “Caitlin! Cait!” His panicked yelling boomed around her and she flinched at first, but suddenly found herself giggling at it’s intensity.

“Didn’t you hear? It’s soundproof down here,” She said, before pausing, considering, “That rhymed. I think,” she laughed.

Oliver came over to her, kneeling as he looked gently at her arm, turning it over in his hands with a gentleness that surprised her. Still though, she flinched involuntarily.

“Uhm, ow,” she breathed out, closing her eyes fully as they demanded her to, “Hurts.”

“Shit,” he breathed, eyes wide as he too realized the wound was still bleeding freely, “Felicity what did you do?”

“Mmm, slipped, I ’think,” her lie wasn’t graceful and Oliver paused a moment, staring at her speculatively before seeming to drop it for the moment, his gaze leaving her face and looking around them as panic radiated off of him.

“I’m fine, just tired,” She mumbled and he shook his head.

“Can you walk? We need to get upstairs,” He said. When she merely hummed in response, he slipped a hand around her, trying to help ease her off the chair.

“Arghh,” a grumbled yell came from her throat at the jostling movement, blood dripping up the seam of her elbow and seeping into her shirt.

Oliver grunted at her yell, setting her gently back down on the chair as he searched the room around him, rifling through things. When he stopped, he was running a hand through his hair in frustration, before he grabbed the neck of his shirt, pulling it off hastily.

“What are you doing?” Felicity tried to ask—although it came out more as, “Waddareyoudoin?” as Oliver once again kneeled in front of her, tying the cotton around her arm. When Felicity squirmed at the tightness, he laid a palm on her thigh, shaking his head.

“Stay still, we need to stop the bleeding. You’ve lost way too much blood, and it’s not… it’s not stopping,” He swallowed thickly, confusion and worry clouding his face as he meet her gaze, “Hopefully this will help the pain a little too.”

“Does yours hurt?” she asked, but gasped as instead of answering he slipped an arm under the crook of her knee and the small of her back, lifting her to him so fast the movement wasn’t so much painful as it was surprising. She froze a moment against him, feeling him straighten up as he adjusted to her in his arms.

There was a small part of her that knew getting this close to him was, well, bad, but she pushed it away, accepting the way her entire body sighed in content, curling against him, his chest warm against her cheek.

His arms tightened around her as he walked with them, trying not to jostle her as she cradled her arm against her stomach.

“You okay?” He asked, and she could feel him move to look down at her. She dragged open her eyes, not remembering when she had shut them, to gaze up into his.

“Yes,” she breathed, “I can’t feel it now. Are you okay?” She needed to know. She needed to know that he was alright—that he wasn’t hurt. He seemed fine, but she was learning that Oliver hid pain well.

“Felicity, stop asking if I’m okay,” he said, although he seemed relieved at her words a moment, looking away from her to watch where they climbed up the stairs, before he tensed, realizing what she meant.

“You can’t feel it at all? Your arm?” He asked, voice higher than normal. She used her good arm to try to soothe him, hand traveling over his chest. Her eyes had closed again, and she worked to open them, to see his face, but he was growing fuzzy by the second.

“It’s okay, Oliver. Don’t worry. Everything’s okay,” She said and he walked faster, almost running with her in his arms. He was surprisingly steady, even at a sprint, and she found the movement soothing rather than jostling as her eyes demanded to stay shut.

“Felicity, don’t you dare fall asleep. Stay awake, please,” he pleaded, and she her brow creased at his tone.

She didn’t want him to worry—she tension in his muscles. He was supposed to be okay. He wasn’t supposed to care this much.

“Oliver, stop,” She said as loudly as she could manage, lifting herself slightly away from his chest, trying to get him to look at her.

“Felicity we’re almost there, okay, just stay with me,” he said tersely, his gaze determined staring ahead of them.

“Oliver,” she whispered, arm gripping his shirt. Her head was spinning, clouding with weariness, but it didn’t matter: he needed to understand—he needed to listen.

“Caitlin will be able to stop the bleeding better, she’ll be able to help you we just need to—“

“You’re okay. You’re safe,” she said, curling back into his chest as her body tired of being help up, grabbing his shirt gently in her fingers, reveling at the soft cotton in her hand, “Everything’s okay. You’re okay.”

She wasn’t sure why, but it was all she cared about. Feeling his heart beating fast under her cheek, his breath quick but healthy—she felt herself calm in his arms. Completely at ease for the first time in her life.

Oliver was safe. And that was all that mattered.

__________________

She felt small hands on her arm, breaking her from her sleep as they checked her pulse. There was a slight breeze as the person walked around her, and Felicity heard the slight tinkering noise of someone moving things, before it stopped suddenly.

“You’re awake,” Caitlin’s voice was quiet as Felicity’s eyes fluttered open slowly, coming to rest on the small girl at her side, “Good thing, too. We need to talk before any of the others come back—I told them to get out while I was stitching you up. Well, except Oliver. He wouldn’t leave until I literally kicked him out.”

“He’s okay then?” Felicity asked instantly. Caitlin’s eyebrows rose at the worry in her voice, turning to consider her.

“Yeah. He’s fine—much better than you, actually,” She said, before turning away from her.

Caitlin was messing with the IV that was in her arm, adjusting settings on a monitor. Her eyes flickered to Felicity’s and she saw the worry there as Caitlin shook her head.

“That doesn’t normally happen, does it?” Caitlin asked, “The uncontrollable bleeding, I mean. The cut wasn’t actually that terrible, you just lost an insane amount of blood.”

“It’s never been like that—it’s always just an immediate scar. That was...” Felicity trailed off, gaze landing on her own arm. There were fresh stitches up the length of her forearm, the blood (thankfully) cleaned up.

“Insane,” Caitlin finished for her, pulling up a chair next to the bed. Felicity realized they were back in her room, Caitlin’s medical supplies strew around her in a makeshift hospital room.

Caitlin was staring at her arm as well, a mix of intrigue and awe on her face.

“When Slade cut Oliver,” Caitlin started, “It barely bled. I might have been the only one other than Oliver that noticed—probably because I was staring at his arm,” she shrugged, “I was curious how it happened between you guys, so I watched. I couldn’t help but wonder if something went both ways that we just hadn’t realized yet.”

Caitlin grabbed gauze and tape from the table next to her, gesturing for Felicity’s arm. She moved it towards her, happy when the pain was only dull at the movement.

“I watched as Oliver’s arm bled for a split second before it stopped bleeding all together, like it hadn’t been gushing just a moment ago,” Caitlin said, shaking her head in confusion, “The thing started closing—not right away, but slowly, it was mending back together.”

Felicity watched as Caitlin gently bandaged over the stitches, hands smoothing the tape over her sensitive skin.

“So it’s healed now?” Felicity enquired with relief she couldn’t find the source of, “He’s okay?”

“Felicity,” Caitlin said, brows furrowed as she spoke slowly, setting the supplies back down as she looked up at Felicity, “Oliver doesn’t even have a scratch. No scar. No nothing.”

Past her relief, there was confusion. It wasn’t possible for him to have nothing at all—she had seen it all.

“But I saw it on the monitors… Slade cut him,” Felicity said, “Right? You said that he was cut. So how can he have nothing?” she asked.

“I’ve been thinking about that, actually. Now, hear me out because it’s going to sound kind of crazy,” Caitlin paused until Felicity nodded, taking a breath before finally speaking, “I think you took the pain,” Caitlin said. At the startled look on Felicity’s face, she held her hands up, “No, honestly. Think about it. That crazy psychic said that when you and your “soulmate”—Oliver—were finally together, the pain would stop, right?”d

“Right….?” Felicity affirmed, “But she meant the scars would stop aching.”

“Yes, but what if she didn’t? What if she didn’t just mean your pain? I mean, obviously the scars have stopped aching which is great and all—but what if she meant that you could take away his pain?” Caitlin asked. Her voice had hit a pitch Felicity recognized as excitement, her eyes lighting with curiosity.

“That’s crazy,” Felicity said instantly, logic outweighing the insane possibility.

“Not any crazier than sharing scars with your soulmate,” Caitlin countered, “I mean, if that’s possible, this isn’t that outside the realm of possibility.”

Felicity pursed her lips, leaning back slightly into her pillow, “So you believe it, now? What the psychic said about the scars?”

It was strange to see Caitlin put such stock into the fairytale—even Felicity still had her doubts, but with the evidence in front of their eyes, it was hard to fight the truth.

Caitlin looked as pained as Felicity felt admitting it, “I can’t find anything else. There’s no other explanation.”

Felicity sighed—she got scars from Oliver, yes, but they came instantly aged, like they had been there all along. They didn’t tear her skin open and bleed like it was her pain to take—they didn’t make her feel like her body was being controlled by something bigger than her. And they had never, as far as she knew at least, made Oliver’s pain go away.

Something had changed, with her near Oliver. How and why, she wasn’t sure, but it was different this time, if her stitched arm was any indication.

As much as the thought revolted her—as a small part of her wondered if the malicious side of Oliver would use this to bend her will, there was a bigger part of her that lingered on the Oliver she’d seen that day. The Oliver that had held her hand in the dark and had showed her his hidden room. The Oliver that had found her bleeding and had helped her without question, carrying her like she was weightless.

The Oliver that was unmasked; that let worry and fear in his eyes and held her like she would break at any second.

It brought out the side of Felicity that she hadn’t known existed—the part that wondered if he needed protecting from this dangerous world he immersed himself in. The part of her that ached to think about all the things he must have gone through to get that haunted look in his eyes. The part of her that was relieved if she could save him even an ounce of pain.

The part of her that she was pretty sure was bat-shit crazy.

The sound of footsteps echoing in the hallway sent Caitlin into overdrive, cleaning up her supplies quickly and throwing Felicity’s blanket casually over her arm. Felicity raised an eyebrow.

“Best not to give the others another view of how identical it is to Oliver’s,” Caitlin said, biting her lip.

“What do I tell them?” Felicity lowered her voice to a panicked whisper, as Caitlin gave a nervous shrug.

“Whatever you want—the truth is always good,” Caitlin said. Felicity shot her a look like she was insane.

The door creaked open, effectively shutting them both up, and Tommy walked in, followed immediately by Digg, Sara and Oliver. Felicity avoided the latter’s gaze, instead resting on the others.

“You’re alive!” Tommy said, a worried smile on his face, “With the amount of chaos you were causing I thought you were a goner for sure.”

Caitlin made a surprised noise at his comment, elbowing him as he came to her side, “Seriously Tommy?”

He merely grinned at her before turning his gaze back to Felicity, “Seriously though, I’m glad you’re alright.”

Felicity smiled warmly back, “Thanks Tommy.”

Sara leaned on the end of her bed, eyebrow raised curiously.

“So, what the hell happened?” Sara asked. Felicity felt Caitlin tense next to her. Felicity paused a long awkward moment before words bursted off the tip of her tongue.

“I’m hemophilic,” she blurted, “Which means I bleed a lot. My blood doesn’t clot well, so yeah, I tend to bleed often. I just tripped and—and I smashed my arm into the corner of the desk.”

Digg looked dubious, “You ran into a desk?”

“No I slammed into a desk. Hard. I have thin skin and—it happens a lot?” Felicity said, and it came out as an almost question. Everyone stared at her, confused.

“So you have thin skin… and hemophilia?” Sara asked slowly, looking her over, “Wow. No offense, but you’re a mess.”

When Sara laughed, trying to lighten the mood, Felicity found herself following suit, the nervous coil in her stomach fading slightly.

Until she noticed Oliver.

He was standing father than everyone else, silent, although his gaze was unblinking and intense on her. He stared at her as though they were the only two in the room, a depth there that took her breath away.

He didn’t believe her story one bit.

“Hey, word of advice?” Sara said, dragging Felicity’s gaze away from Oliver, “Try not to bleed out during already stressful events. Pretty sure today alone has shaved like 10 years off my life.”

Felicity mustered up a laugh, “I’ll work on it.”

Caitlin was watching Oliver intently, noticing how his gaze locked on Felicity. He wasn’t dropping this—it wasn’t over.

“You guys? Why don’t we give Felicity some room, she’s going to be really tired from all the drugs I pumped into her. Who’s up for pizza?” Caitlin offered, grabbing her phone off of Felicity’s bedside table as the rest of the team already was stepping away from her.

“Get some rest Felicity,” Digg said, smiling kindly at her.

“Yeah, and don’t slam into anything while we’re gone,” Tommy said, following Digg out, “With you here, we’ll run out of medical supplies by the end of the week.”

Sara smiled at her, “Feel better babe—we need all the females we can get with all the testosterone in this place.”

She shot a look between the three large men, winking at Felicity as she followed them out the door. Felicity pulled closer Caitlin as she tried to leave her side.

“Caitlin,” Felicity whispered, panicked as Oliver stayed still in his place, “I don’t know—“

“You have about one second to figure it out,” Caitlin snapped, before softening apologetically as she took in Oliver’s terse look, “I’ll bring you pizza later.” She squeezed her arm, grabbing her purse and following the others out, the door swinging shut.

And she and Oliver were alone.

Chapter Text

Felicity avoided Oliver’s gaze as long as she could—toying with the edge of her comforter, adjusting her pillows behind her, tucking her hair, falling from it’s low ponytail, behind her ears.

“Felicity?” He prompted softly and she felt herself relax at his call, the demand that she anticipated nonexistent.

When she met his eyes, they were deep, set on her with an intensity that made her breath catch in her chest. He looked more confused than she had ever seen him; worry coating his features as he waited for her to explain everything. To help him understand.

“So I take it Slade left?” She decided instead, watching as he sighed at her evasion, unsurprised, before closing the distance between them, leaning against the wall next to her bed. He crossed his ankles and arms, submission mixing with a hint of irritation at her evasiveness.

“Couldn’t prove anything was wrong—Caitlin altered the numbers in the system to cover up the still missing money,” Oliver said shortly.

Felicity’s brow furrowed at that, “Well then where does he think you got all the money?”

“He thinks we took it from you before—“ Oliver faltered a moment, eyes slipping to her wounded arm and back at her, voice steadying in effort, “Before we killed you.”

“Killed me?” Felicity repeated in shock, “He think’s I’m dead?”

Slade thought they had killed her? Wouldn’t it have been easy enough to see through that lie—or hard to accept without proof?

Her face paled as the realization dawned on her—why it had been so easy to believe she was dead. Why there had been no proof otherwise; why he had left so easily from the mansion.

He wasn’t the only one that thought she was dead.

Felicity Smoak, as far as anyone knew, had died just a few weeks earlier.

Felicity Smoak had left her blind date and never returned.

“Everyone… my friends, my family,” Felicity swallowed thickly, “They think I’m dead, don’t they?”

“Yes,” he said simply, although the sympathy in his eyes shocked her, “It’s safer for them this way. It’s safer for them not to look for you.”

Felicity nodded methodically, blinking back tears she didn’t want to fall. She knew it was better for them to be as far away from the Bratva as possible, but the thought of them grieving her; coming to terms with her death brought a sorrow and loneliness she had never felt before.

“How do they… what do they think happened?” The blanket in her hands was softer than silk, and she focused on the gold against her pale hands as she listened to him take a deep preparatory breath.

“Lyla scrounged up an SCPD uniform from before her ARGUS days and went to your brother Barry’s house about . Your mother was with him. Lyla told them your car had been found at the bottom of a lake—no body, but enough evidence to presume you dead.”

“My mother was there?” Felicity asked in confusion, “But she lives in Vegas.”

“Lyla said she came up to Starling when you were pronounced missing,” Oliver explained.

“Of course,” she barely recognized her voice; its wispy quiet kind of tone, “It’s good they’re together. It’s good they have each other, at least.”

She tried not to think of her mother and brother, mourning her. Thinking she was gone forever. Planning her funeral.

She hoped Iris was with them. She hoped she was okay.

Oliver embraced her silence, sitting next to her in the chair Caitlin had been in earlier. He was watching her pick at the blanket a long while before he spoke again.

“Sorry about your car,” He excused. She looked up at him, startled.

“What?”

“We had to make the story believable,” Oliver said with a grimace and her eyes widened in horrified realization.

“You killed Ambrosia?” she yelled, feeling her control snapping.

“Ambrosia?” He asked clarification, a slight smile spreading at her outrage, “You named your car Ambrosia?”

“I’ve had her since my freshman year of college! She was the first thing I bought all on my own!” Felicity said feeling tears sting her eyes again, “You’re… you’re such an asshole. You don’t even care.”

His smile faded instantly at her raw tone, surprised at the emotion there.

“I’m sorry, Felicity I didn’t mean to… I can’t imagine how overwhelming this all is,” he apologized, and Felicity felt his warm hand direct hers away from where it still played with the blanket, lacing his fingers in hers.

“Felicity?” He said, waiting until her gaze flittered back to hers, “I’m so sorry for everything you have lost—all the pain I’ve caused you. ”

She was more aware of the stitches in her arm suddenly, feeling the weight behind his words. Feeling all the pain he had caused her. Realizing he didn’t even know half of it.

“It’s not your fault—you couldn’t have known,” she found herself saying before she could stop, her gaze wandering momentarily to her bandaged arm and his breath stuttered next to her, “You had no idea what was happening to me this whole time.”

She hadn’t realized his thumb was tracing circles on the skin of her palm until it froze.

“Your arm,” he said, “It’s the same—,”

“Oliver, I’m all stitched up. I’m fine,” Felicity said, trying to muster up a smile for him, “Everything’s fine. Everything’s okay.”

His hand left hers, instead pulling her bad arm towards him, his fingers peeling back the bandage. His fingers were gentle on the skin around it, surprising her with it’s tenderness.

“You kept saying that, after I found you,” He realized, voice a wounded quality she had never heard before, “You kept repeating that everything was okay because I was okay. To not worry about you… because I was okay.”

Oliver stared at her raw, stitched arm a long moment, pulling his own arm up next to hers.

His skin was smooth, clear completely of markings.

“I had a scar here, before today,” Oliver said softly, dropping his arm as his finger ghosted over her wound, making the hair on her arm stand up at the close proximity, “I was cut, terribly, a long time ago by someone very close to me; something Slade likes to remind me of. But it’s gone now—not a mark left.”

Oliver’s eyes left her arm, meeting hers, “And now it’s on you.”

When Felicity spoke her mouth was dry, “Yes.”

“Why?” he asked, “You didn’t fall. You’re not hemophilic. You don’t have thin skin and you didn’t cut yourself—I know you didn’t,” He stopped every excuse where it lay on her tongue, “Help me understand how I was cut and you were the one bleeding.”

His eyes pleaded with her, leaning in close to her as his hand cupped her elbow, stroking the skin there as though he was trying to calm something inside of her. Make her open up—trust him.

And she supposed some part of her did; some part of her had wanted this moment to come since she had found out Oliver’s scars were the one’s she bore. She wanted to confide in him, wanted to know what would happen when it was all in the open despite knowing it could put her in danger.

She took a steadying breath, biting her lip, praying to any sort of God it didn’t sound as crazy out loud as it did in her head.

“I barely understand it either. I believe in science: facts. When I was seventeen a psychic told me that the scars I had been getting were marks linked with one person—one soulmate. I, of course, didn’t believe her, but when I saw you that day in the gym—your scars,” She looked away from his eyes, needing to escape their confines, “They were the same as the one’s that had been showing up on me for years.”

“That’s…” Oliver said.

“Crazy?” Felicity finished for him, sighing, “It is. Insane, actually.”

He was silent a long while, and she waited for him to wrap his head around it—waited for the inevitable moment where he would understand the power he held over her.

“Your whole life… you’ve been bleeding like this every time? Every scratch, wound, scar I’ve gotten… you’ve suffered for?” He asked, his voice monotone.

“I’ve never bled before this,” She answered honestly—there was no point in hiding now, “Every time before I just got the scars. The psychic said that when I linked with my soul—,” She cut herself off, “when I connected with whoever had the scars, the pain would go away. I thought that meant they would stop aching, which they did when I got here, but Caitlin got me wondering if it also meant the pain would go away for you. Like I could take away the pain.”

“Caitlin knows about this?” Oliver asked, eyebrows raised. She nodded.

“Yes.”

“Well that explains why she kept asking me where you were after Slade left,” Oliver said.

Felicity stayed quiet, trying to gauge his reaction.

“So the link is getting stronger the more we… connect?” Oliver asked. Felicity nodded.

“I suppose it is,” Felicity agreed.

He was quiet again, studying her. Her breath caught in her chest when his hand came up to her ponytail, pushing it behind her shoulder. She could hear her heartbeat in her ears as he pushing aside the collar of her baseball tee, revealing the rugged scar she had had for years.

And suddenly, his hand flew off of her, and he was out of his chair, standing up.

His eyes were laced with horror and disgust, backing away from her until he was at the end of her bed.

“Oliver?” She prompted, shocked at his sudden retreat. Her cheeks were still flushed, her skin humming with the feel of his fingers on her skin.

“You have… all of the scars,” He said, hands coming up in frustration, running harshly through his hair, “Everything I’ve done has hurt you.”

“I’m okay—they’re just scars,” She found herself downplaying it at the agony in his gaze and she realized the disgust wasn’t directed at her—it was towards himself, “Really Oliver, it’s—,”

“You have to leave,” he said, and she stopped short, shocked at his words.

“What?” She asked. She couldn’t have heard him right.

“You need to get away from me before something worse happens,” Oliver said, “You need to go back to Starling City.”

They were the words she had longed to hear for the past two weeks—words she had never thought she would get, right there for the taking.

And yet, she found herself fighting them.

“We have a mission at ARGUS—I’m not done training,” she countered before she could stop herself.

“We’ll find another way,” Oliver was shaking his head, “Not like this.”

“Nothing has changed! I’m just as much of a risk as I was before, nothing is different at all,” Felicity said.

“Everything is different Felicity!” Oliver was yelling, hands gripping the end of her bed tightly in his palms, “There’s double the risk!”

“Well don’t get hurt!” Felicity yelled back, “Train me and then protect yourself so nothing happens to me!”

She needed to finish the mission. She needed to make sure Slade could never trace this back to her and her family in Starling City—she needed to stay with Oliver so everyone she loved was safe.

Or, at least, that’s what she told herself.

“I have to do this or I don’t have a life to return to,” Felicity said, voice thick, “I have to get out of this mess before I can leave.”

Oliver’s breathing was heavy as he stared at her, considering. His eyes closed in thought as he pinched the bridge of his nose, overwhelm coating his features.

“Fine,” He spoke in a clipped tone, “You will stay. I will continue to train you until the mission but that it the only contact we will have. When it is over, you will leave. We won’t let any sort of connection form between us. You will return home safely.”

“Okay,” Felicity found herself agreeing, her body sagging in relief. He nodded, going to leave.

“Why does it matter?” she stopped his retreating form, curiosity burning through her, “Why does it matter if I’m safe or not? Why does it matter if I get hurt?”

He seemed hesitant to answer, but finally met her gaze.

“You might not remember, but you saved my sister once. She was in Vegas with my mother on a business trip—at thirteen she already was a hotshot, got completely wasted and some older guy was trying to get her to come home with him. You helped her.”

And Felicity remembered, suddenly—she had been taking out the trash at the restaurant she had waitressed at when a small brunette had stumbled into the alley way. She was crying, drunk, her clothes falling off her body is disarray. Felicity had gotten her water and walked with her back to her hotel, staying with her until she had eaten and fallen asleep.

Felicity had left a note next to the aspirin and water on her bedside table, telling her to be safe and that she wished her the best and signed her name.

She was fired the next day for leaving work during her shift, but she hadn’t minded. She’d hated that job anyways.

“That was Thea?” Felicity asked, realizing she had never asked her name, “I had no idea. She just looked like she needed help.”

A soft smile filled Oliver’s lips at that, “That’s why it matters, Felicity—you’re the most selfless person I have ever met. When Thea told me the name of the mystery girl who had taken her in for the night, I knew she was kind, but I didn’t know half of it until today. You’re as strong as you are kind—brave as you are compassionate.

“I don’t know much about soulmates, but if this is it, destiny is playing some kind of twisted game. You deserve so much more than this, Felicity. You deserve so much more than the pain I’ve put you through.”

His voice broke, horror in his eyes as he turned from her and left without another word.

Chapter Text

Training with one bad arm and an instructor that didn’t want to look at you was a challenge—by the third day, Felicity was tired of the tense quiet. Tired of Oliver’s unfeeling, monotone commands. And dear god, if she never had to do speed interval sprints, slap water, or shoulder presses again in her entire life it would still be too soon.

She supposed she could bow out, tell Oliver how much her arm had been bothering her that day, but she couldn’t pull that. She wouldn’t. It hurt, yes, but it was healing well with Caitlin’s treatment. She could do these exercises without complaint, although the movement took the strength of 5.

No, she could deal with the pain. What she couldn’t deal with was that look that came across Oliver’s face the few times she had allowed herself to flinch or bite her lip against the ache. The guilt in his eyes; the shame—she hadn’t thought of Oliver feeling guilty over all of her scars and aches and wounds. She had never thought past the bad he could do to think of the bad he could feel.

He had put down his barriers once—and only once. It was the first day after she was cleared after she had insisted she was fine to do simple free-weights. She had don’t 13 reps when her arm buckled, shaking as the weight crashed to the floor, flinching at the sound. She wasn’t sure why tears sprang to her eyes; it hurt, yes, but no more than earlier. She just felt defeated for the moment, the loud tumble against the silence deafening.

“Hey,” Oliver said, stepping toward her instantly, hand on her arm, “What happened? Does it hurt?”

She kept her gaze away from his, forcing a laugh through her lips.

“Slipped out of my hand. I’m fine,” she reassured. She grasped her shorts at her side, hard, trying to stop her shaking arm.

She felt him studying her, expecting him to back away, but he stood his ground, his breathing mingling with hers. His hand slid down her skin, grasping her forearm. She watched as his fingers wrapped all the way around her pale skin; tiny compared to him. He turned her arm over slowly, his thumb ghosting over the scab that was starting to scar there.

She yanked her arm out of his grasp with a tug, before letting it fall at her side slowly. His gaze flew up to hers at the sudden movement, brow furrowed at the tears in her eyes.

“Are you okay?” he asked slowly, and she wanted to ask him to specify: was he talking about her arm or everything else? She blinked hard, trying to push away the wetness in her eyes, but to her dismay all she succeeded in doing was helping it gloss down her cheek.

Her breath stopped when his hand flew to her cheek like it was instinct, wiping it away like it was something he was supposed to do. He froze, fingers lingering on her cheek.

His eyes were too blue, staring at his hand on her skin as though he was shocked to find it there.

He was standing too close, his chest nearly brushing hers.

She could see the softness of his skin; the slight sprinkling of sweat along his hairline.

He smelled musky in the best way.

When his eyes finally met hers, she was so close she could see as they slowly closed off, remembering all that had happened. She watched as his slowly cast his arm down, stepping back from her and taking away a heat she hadn’t realized he had brought.

He gave her one last look that had a semblance of the Oliver she had grown to know before he leaned down to pick up the weight she had dropped. When he looked back up, he was gone again.

So she matched his monotone for monotone: grunt for grunt. She bit back the wit and comebacks on the tip of her tongue and focused on each rep and set. Concentrated on the burn of her muscles as they begged her to let up.

It was the purest form of torture could think of.

“Woah, I see I’m interrupting some serious crunch time,” Tommy’s sudden voice piercing through the quiet was the most glorious sound Felicity had heard in days; even his pointed look at Felicity’s sweat drenched state was welcome.

Just because Oliver knew about the scars didn’t mean she wanted to broadcast them. She figured he didn’t want them in his face anyways, but sadly that meant a excessive amount of clothing during their training.

At least she didn’t have to worry about Oliver falling into the whole ‘soul-mate’ thing when she was red-faced and pouring sweat every time she saw him.

“We were just about done,” Oliver said, surprising Felicity as he began re-racking weights—they still had an hour of training left. But he seemed almost as tired as she did.

Felicity watched him, concern settling in her stomach. She hadn’t realized how much Oliver had opened up to her until he returned to the closed off man she had met her first day there.

Unlike then though, she had started to notice when Oliver was biting his tongue—she could see his eyes change right before he would speak, but his lips always parted for just a moment before he caught himself, turning away from her as she let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding in.

Tommy looked between them, noting Oliver’s evasive gaze and Felicity’s curious one, before seeming to let it go.

“Well great! We were thinking of going into town to get something to eat,” Tommy said, and Felicity’s head snapped to him curiously at that, “Raisa’s off this weekend, home with her family, so the kitchen’s basically empty.”

The past couple days, things had shifted in the house. After Felicity had gotten Caitlin’s approval to get out of bed, there had been a lift on rules she hadn’t realized had been there—like when she was allowed to run to the store with Caitlin to pick up a few incidentals. Or when doors that had been blocked off before were unlocked, free for her to peruse. There were no guards by the front door anymore. No guards anywhere, actually.

If she wanted to, she could leave. Walk out, right then and there.

Oliver understood: Felicity had decided to stay. She could leave at anytime, go back to her family—he wanted her to leave, for whatever reason. Seeing their matching scars, seeing her bleeding like that made him push her away. But if she left now, she risked Slade finding out she was still alive; the money unpaid. She risked him coming after her and her family. She risked everything.

So she stayed.

Felicity watched Oliver a moment for his reaction to leaving the mansion for dinner—something they obviously hadn’t done since she’d arrived. Instead, he ignored them, shucking off his sweatshirt. She tried not to notice the way his muscles flexed, revealed a long moment before he put on a fresh shirt, but she cold feel the flush creep up her neck in spite of herself.

“I’m going for a run,” Oliver grunted their direction, before his cold gaze lifted fractionally as he answered Tommy, “Rain check on dinner.”

Oliver went to walk passed them, but paused, looking down at Felicity. She was shocked as his eyes met hers unabashedly for the first time in what felt like ages.

“We’ll be running outside tomorrow—dress for the heat,” He said and Felicity thought she saw him hold back a smirk as he looked over her thick hoodie and pants, “There’s no need for all that. Not here. Not anymore.”

His words hit her hard, shocking her into silence. He saw her startle, watching her a moment to see what she would say— but she couldn’t explain it; why his words hit her in her gut. They left her breathless.

His eyes were soft, despite the hard set of his jaw—they were closer to the Oliver who’d carried her when she was hurting than the man who had stood in his place the last couple days.

They told her she didn’t have to hide, not around him. Not anymore.

“I agree with Oliver. Show us a little leg,” Tommy teased through the silence, nudging her, although when Oliver shot him a harsh look he held up his arms innocently, “Or not. Whichever. Your choice.”

Oliver nodded, walking past them, leaving Felicity and Tommy behind without a glance back.

________

“So what should we eat?” Sara asked from drivers seat, elbow resting in the open window as they entered a small town Felicity didn’t recognize. It was beautiful; a different kind of warmth than anywhere she’d ever been. Not as dry and sweltering as it had been in Vegas but more breezy than it had been in Starling. She could have sworn she could smell water, but she couldn’t be sure.

“Pizza!” Tommy yelled the same time as Caitlin said, “Mexican!”

The car was full even with only four of them, Tommy’s large frame overtaking the back seat, Caitlin looking tiny next to him. And somehow Felicity had ended up shotgun, surprised at the easy chatter that had overtaken the car since the moment they started driving.

Sara rolled her eyes at that, looking towards Felicity in a just-another-day-with-these-two-idiots manner as though they had been privy to situations like this before. As though, somehow, they shared this inside joke.

“Felicity?” Sara asked, “Tie breaker?”

“Chinese,” Felicity said and Sara laughed.

“Sorry guys, you’re outnumbered. I’m so down with Chinese—We can bring that back and get enough for everyone too, maybe watch a movie or something,” Sara reasoned at the disappointed looks in the backseat before turning her gaze back to the road and switching lanes.

“So… where are we?” Felicity finally decided to ask.

Silence surrounded her a long moment before they seemed to decide there was no reason to keep it from her—she could find out on her own easily enough.

“Capeton,” Caitlin said, and at Felicity’s confused look she continued, “About an hour outside of Miami.”

“Miami?” Felicity echoed, shocked. She’d known she was nowhere near home, but she hadn’t realized she was that far. She tried not to visibly falter, “Well, it’s gorgeous here. Different, but gorgeous.”

“You’ve never been to Miami before?” Sara asked curiously.

“Never been anywhere really, besides where I needed to be,” Felicity shrugged, watching the town pass her by out the window in wonder. Everything was so bright and alive here—so different than dreary Starling City, “Graduated high school at 16, went right to MIT, waitressed in the summers back home, and got a job right out of college.”

She told her life story quickly, no hesitation, as though it had been something she had said a million times. It was short enough that when you said it, people assumed you had left out a billion details—a million grand things you had done that didn’t fit into the basics. It was short enough that nobody ever guessed that the basics were all you had.

But when she turned back towards Sara, she was looking at her, brows furrowed as she studied her.

“What good is being a damned genius if you don’t do anything fun?” Sara asked.

“I’ll have time for fun later—after I get settled in my job and my life.” Felicity explained but Sara was already shaking her head.

“Nope,” she said, “Not acceptable. Life never stops, babe, so there’s no use in waiting for a minute to catch your breath. There’s no pause button so you’ve just got to keep playing. You take every moment and make it yours—and sure, some of those moments are about school and work but even more of them are about everything else. Don’t forget about the everything else.”

Sara switched lanes suddenly, jerking the four of them as a car slammed on their horn behind them.

“What the hell, man?” Tommy yelled from the back, rubbing his head where he smacked it against the window.

Sara turned, following a long ramp and merging onto the highway.

“I thought we were getting Chinese?” Caitlin asked and Felicity felt her hand on the back of her chair as she leaned forward to look out the front window.

“We can get Chinese anytime,” Sara said, turning to Felicity and smiled. Sara nodded to the large green sign over them that read Miami, 40 miles.

“But for now, we’re embracing the everything else.”

Chapter Text

She wasn’t sure where they ended up, but the music was loud, the air filled with smoke and alcohol, and there were more people in the small space than she had ever seen.

She was underdressed among the girls in revealing dresses and stilettos, but not horribly so, which she was thankful for. She’d decided on a black romper and borrowed a pair of Caitlin’s corked wedges (God did she miss her heel collection back at home) before they had left—the only nice outfit with shorts in her closet and a neckline high enough it covered the scar on her the right side of her upper chest.

Sara had looked her over while in line outside the club, pursing her lips in thought before pulling Felicity’s curly hair down from the low pony it had been gathered in, letting it billow around her shoulders with a satisfied look before they went into the club, Sara simply giving a friendly kiss on the cheek to the bouncer in payment.

“What do you want to drink?” Sara yelled now over the music and Felicity pulled her gaze from the crowd, focusing on her.

“Uhhh,” Felicity thought a long moment, pulling her red lip between her teeth. She didn’t have a usual drink other than red wine and she supposed that wasn’t the etiquette in a place with bass so loud it rattled her bones.

“Vodka soda?” Sara prompted helpfully and Felicity nodded.

“Vodka soda,” she echoed, relieved, and watched as Sara went to the bar with Caitlin. She and Tommy were left to watch the crowd.

Felicity felt uncomfortable in her skin, seeing everyone move so freely with the music. It made her weirdly aware of her arms, hanging limp and empty at her sides. She crossed them awkwardly.

“Not a big partier?” Tommy asked, smiling down at her, and she laughed uncomfortably.

“What gave me away?” She joked.

“You’ll be more comfortable with some alcohol in you,” Tommy decided and as if on queue Sara was back with two drinks in hand, one outstretched to her. Caitlin offered Tommy something in a small glass and kept one filled with something blue for herself. Felicity took a tentative sip of hers, trying not to grimace as the alcohol burned her throat.

Sara was already scanning the dance floor, her attention off of them as she looked for an in. Her eyes lit up, and she turned to Felicity excitedly.

“Get a few drinks in you—loosen up. Find a guy. Do what you normally wouldn’t,” Sara said, going to depart before she paused, looking back at her, “—But don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

And with a suggestive wink, Sara turned into the sea of bodies, mixing her way perfectly through the throngs of motion until she disappeared entirely.

Felicity turned to Caitlin and Tommy, surprised at Sara’s abrupt departure, but they were nonplused.

“Hmm?” Caitlin noticed her look halfheartedly, “Oh, Sara always disappears at these things. She’s gone for hours, popping up every now and again, and somehow always knows when we’re about ready to leave; telling grand and exciting stories the whole ride home.”

She rolled her eyes, but the smile on her face was humorous, “Sara loves the mystery of it all—she doesn’t even use her real name most of the time. Says it’s more fun that way. Like a game or something.”

Felicity tried not to look as appalled as she felt—she had never done anything like that. Sure, in college she had a surprise experience with a pot brownie but it was admittedly horrible, as she was allergic to nuts and ended up at the hospital, more sober than she had even been in her entire life. She had never completely let loose like everyone else seemed to be able to do. She had never been like the girls her age, who so easily fell into the crowd.

She wasn’t grace. She wasn’t mystery. She wasn’t like Sara, just like she hadn’t been like Iris.

Felicity was ambition, intellect, and pride; lighthearted, bumbling, and silly all at once.

She had never been the popular one, the sexy one. She was never the girl to get the guy, she was just a girl. The girl in the shadows of people like Sara and Iris.

“Let’s dance!” Tommy said. Felicity watch as his eyes lingered on Caitlin, smiling in invitation.

Well she could at least help someone get lucky tonight.

“Okay!” Caitlin said, taking Tommy’s lazily outstretched hand, just as Felicity spoke.

“You guys go, I’ll catch up,” Felicity said.

“What?” Caitlin said, halting in her motion, looking back at her, “You’re not going to come?”

Felicity quickly slammed the rest of her drink, proud of herself for not flinching, “Tank’s empty. I’ll see you guys in a bit!”

She left before they could object, working her way towards the bar. When she glanced back, Tommy and Caitlin’s backs were disappearing towards where Sara had gone, lost in the music.

Felicity slowed down, lazily making her way up to the bartender, who was distracted making other people’s drinks. She went to wave him down and he flew by her, not giving her any notice. She plopped down in the nearest stool, settling in to wait.

She could see Tommy and Caitlin faintly and nearly laughed out loud at the sight.

Caitlin stood meekly next to him, hand resting lightly on his chest. Tommy pulled her closer, her eyes widening impossibly in surprise as his arms came around her waist. Caitlin’s cheeks grew bright at the proximity and although Felicity couldn’t see Tommy’s face, she could tell by the way Caitlin’s face lit up, the shyness slipping away, that he was smiling down at her.

She was so winning that bet with Digg.

She swiveled back in her stool smugly, facing the counter.

“Can I get a—“ She started as the bartender walked past her, hurrying towards the opposite end. “I wouldn’t talk to me either,” She joked under her breath.

“It’s not you, he’s a terrible bartender,” said a voice next to her and Felicity turned.

He was cute—not crazy, out of this world hot (she nearly smacked herself to who her mind immediately pictured)—but even in the dark club she could see how defined his jaw was. His skin looked soft; his teeth ridiculously white as he dimpled down at her.

“Are you sure? It’s starting to feel a little personal,” She said as, yet again, the bartender ignored her to wait on someone else.

“Trust me, if he had any sense at all, he would be paying attention to you,” the man next to her said, appraising her quickly before his dark eyes met hers again, smiling. He stuck out his hand, “I’m Cooper.”

She smiled warmly at his obvious interest, grasping his hand with her own, “Felicity.”

His eyebrows rose, “Unique name.”

“Unique person,” she said back instantly and his grin spread.

“Can I buy you a drink?” he asked.

“If you can catch him,” she shrugged noncommittally, gesturing towards the bartender.

He kept her gaze a moment longer, still smiling, before he turned.

“Dylan, can you get us some drinks?” He yelled, and the bartender looked over immediately, his focused irritation at his job turning into a joking eye roll as he walked right over to them.

Just like that. As though Felicity hadn’t been trying to wave him down like an idiot.

“Felicity, this is Dylan. Dylan, Felicity,” Cooper introduced, smiling between them.

“Wait, you know each other?” Felicity said, turning red. Had she said anything about him not waiting on her? Had she been mean? She suddenly couldn’t remember. God she hoped not.

Dylan was a tall, lanky guy in a black dress shirt and dark jeans. He wore a bright pink tie that matched the sign of the club, Under the Lights, that hung over his dark short hair-clad head. He gave the two of them a rueful grin.

“Sadly, yes. I’ve been stuck with this idiot since junior high,” Dylan said and Cooper’s hands flew up in mock hurt.

“You wound me,” Cooper said. “I’m the best thing in your life and you know it.”

Dylan scoffed, shaking his head, before looking between the two of them.

“Drinks?”

Cooper turned to her, “What would you like?”

She was really starting to hate that question.

“Dealers choice,” she said, hoping she sounded coy instead of lost. He smiled and she tried not to make her relieved sigh too obvious.

“Tequila for both of us,” Cooper announced, raising an eyebrow, daring her to challenge his choice.

She stayed staring at him until Dylan set the shots down in front of them. Lots of shots.

Cooper went to grab his wallet but Dylan waved him off, “You covered me last time: I got it.”

“Thanks, man,” Cooper said, before picking up a shot glass and handing it to Felicity before taking one for himself.

Felicity looked down nervously at the glass and he grinned mischievously.

“You ready?” he asked.

She stared at him, looking deep into his challenging gaze. He was leaning closer than before and she could see his eyes weren’t brown like she first thought, but a hazel, with little flecks of gold. They were light, humorous. Open.

So different than the cold blue set she had grown used to.

Before her mind wandered any further, she slammed her shot, forgoing the limes in front of them, smiling at Cooper’s shock, his mouth popping open slightly as he watched her lick her lips.

“Are you ready, Cooper?”

____

She wasn’t sure how many shots they had done—all she knew was that her fingers were tingling, her eyes heavy, and she couldn’t stop laughing. Cooper’s cheeks were flushed, his blond hair more ruffled than she remembered it being.

She was warm, all over. She felt good. Like everything was right in the world. Like this night; this moment was all that mattered. Consequences didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, excepting keeping this feeling as long as she could.

“Want to dance?” Cooper yelled over the music, and she nodded. A small part of her reminded her that she didn’t dance—ever—but she shushed it. She felt graceful. Confident. And she wanted to dance.

She took his outstretched hand, following him through the throngs of people. She didn’t know the song, but it was the kind of slow fast song that make you completely awkward.

Not her though, not this time.

She put her hands loosely around his neck, smiling as his hands wrapped around her waist, pulling her flush against him. The lights were both bright and dark around them, flickering in a way that made her feel like she was moving in slow motion. Like nothing was real.

She opened her eyes a moment, seeing Sara distantly behind Cooper.

She gave her a thumbs up in question. Are you good? She mouthed, concerned.

Felicity nodded halfheartedly, letting her hands trail up Cooper’s chest, fingers playing at the skin just above the buttons there.

His body was hard against hers, lean where she was soft. Fitting against her curves easily, moving in time with her.

It felt good, to be with someone like this. To touch someone else without thinking.

She was all music, it made her body move by itself, her mind unattached.

His hands came away from the small of her back, one ghosting the back of her thighs while the other cupped her cheek, threading in her loose curls.

She felt his cheek brush faintly against hers, and it was softer than she expected. She had longed for the scruff against her skin for so long, but in a moment the thought was gone.

Her breathing was heavy, feeling him against her, her body filling with a desire she had been pushing away.

A desire she hadn’t realized she had felt so strongly until this moment.

“Felicity,” he murmured against her lips, close but not close enough.

“Oliver,” she breathed back, and instead of the lips falling on hers, she was surprised when they were gone entirely.

It took her longer than she intended for her eyes to flicker open. Even longer to focus on the man in front of her, who looked annoyed.

Very annoyed.

“What…?” she said, her brilliance dimmed by the funny feeling in her head. Like she wasn’t in her body—she couldn’t feel herself.

He looked even more mad at her stumbling words.

“Who the hell is Oliver?” Cooper asked and her mouth popped open in shock at his words.

Oh frack. What had she done?