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knight in shining armor

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When one gets into the private security business there is a list of rules and protocols they must follow. It’s actually a packet they receive with all that nasty paperwork that basically just ensures no one is going to sue the company if they die or get injured. A numbered and bulleted list of proper procedures and standards. How to act and how to treat your employers. As just that, employers.

There are, however, three unspoken rules when it comes to guarding the lives of the rich and famous. One; anything you hear or see, no matter how illegal or immoral, is never to be spoken of again. Two; you are an employee, not a friend or confidante. And the third, maybe the most important, is never under any circumstances allow yourself to fall in love with a client.

John Diggle was never a big fan of rules.

 

 

--

 

 

He has to admit, he has some prior knowledge of the Smoak family when he is given the assignment. You have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of them. In the hierarchy of famous families in the technology world it was pretty much the Jobs, the Gates, and the Smoaks. They might not have invented the two leading computer companies in the world but Smoak Technologies was still a multi-billion dollar company and truly something to behold.

The young, blonde daughter of the founder helped give the company some youth recognition, as well. Since her eighteenth birthday, Felicity Smoak had been tracked around the country by the media as she graduated valedictorian, attended MIT, and – as young adults in the spotlight are wont to do – went through a rebellious phase. Of course, for most heiresses this means parties; lost clothes; and, if TMZ can get so lucky, a perfectly imperfect mug shot. Felicity Smoak had rebelled by proving her hand as a hacker, dating a boy who got thrown away for federal crimes, and taking a temporary job for Smoak Techs’ leading competitor.

At the age of twenty-six, though, the only child of Jacob and Donna Smoak is regaled in the media as the ‘prodigal daughter’ after returning to take a leadership position in the company and is being primed to take over the company once her father retires. John can’t imagine himself having much trouble with the seemingly reformed tech genius.

So, when he closes the file and his superior raises an eyebrow and asks if he has any questions, he responds without hesitation, “No, sir.”

 


--

 

 

When he first meets her, she’s definitely not as friendly as he had been expecting. Her assistant calls into her office first before escorting him in so he knows she’s expecting him. She’s on the wrong side of her desk with her back to them, bent slightly at the waist, as she scribbles what must be her signature furiously on multiple papers. She stands suddenly, scooping them up and spinning so quickly on her heels that John gets a little nervous, before rushing over and holding them out to her assistant.

“Can you send the top two down to finance and make copies of the other three for each of the board members for the meeting tomorrow. They were supposed to be couriered over this morning,” she explains in a rush, separating the pile for her assistant who nods, taking them from her and motioning toward John. Felicity’s eyes flick to him briefly as her assistant – John makes a mental note to ask the man’s name later – speaks.

“I’ll have them sent of right away. This is-“ Felicity waves her hand dismissively, cutting him off.

“I know,” she says, her tone just this side of biting, “I can deal with it. Just please get those sent.” The man nods, not looking the least bit put off by her tone, and rushes off. John watches him go and assumes the tone is directed at himself and not her assistant. When she turns and heads back to her desk instead of acknowledging him, he clears his throat and steps forward.

“Ms. Smoak, I’m-“ This time she cuts him off, reaching the other side of her desk and spinning to face him, sleek ponytail swinging like mad.

“John Diggle,” she finishes for him, watching him with what he can only describe as calculation. “You’re ex-military, divorced after a surprisingly short marriage,” he raises his eyebrows at this and she waves her hand, like she doesn’t even realize what she said might have been incredibly offensive, and continues, “happens to the best of us. Four tours. You’ve been stateside for,” for this she glances down at her desk and he realizes she has a file on him, “almost five years, now, right?” He doesn’t confirm.

“You looked into me,” he says instead, folding his hands together in front of him. It’s not a question, the manila folder on her desk and her intimate knowledge of his professional life are proof enough.

“I’m not in the business of not knowing who I’ve employed, Mr. Diggle,” she explains, lifting the manila envelope up and flipping a page. She raises an eyebrow, smirking at him.

“For example, you have a record. Petty theft?” She clicks her tongue and he falters, his professional wall wavering.

“I was a minor. That was supposed to be a sealed record.”

“My father founded an extremely successful tech company, I spent four years at MIT running around as a self-proclaimed ‘hacktivist’,” she tells him, though he can tell she doesn’t expect any of this to be news to him. “’Sealed’ isn’t really a thing for me.”

“It’s illegal to hack into a government database.” She raises an eyebrow.

“Are you going to tell on me, Mr. Diggle?” Again he avoids the question, asking one of his own.

“You don’t want me here, do you?” This time, she doesn’t answer, flipping the envelope closed and taking a seat at her desk. “Why did you hire me, then?”

I didn’t,” she corrects and he notices her own wall falter and she suddenly looks so young and vulnerable. “There was an.. incident and, well, between my father’s concern for my safety and the board’s concern over the only person competent enough to take over the business from him, Smoak Tech officially hired you as a personal security consultant for moi.” John raises an eyebrow at this. The file he’d been given had said nothing about an incident.

“Incident? I haven’t heard anything.”

“Well, you wouldn’t. My father has been receiving some.. not very nice messages regarding me and for the sake of the company it’s been kept very quiet.” The wall comes back up as she appears to realize what she’s said. “You realize, of course, that if I hear anything about this from the press I’ll know exactly whose ass to come after,” she threatens.

“With all due respect, Ms. Smoak, I’ve been in private security for almost five years. I know how to keep a secret,” he assures her. She surveys him for a moment and it takes everything in him not to fidget under her gaze.

“Yeah,” she says quietly, after a few moments, “I suppose you do.” He’s not sure what that’s supposed to mean but she continues on so quickly he doesn’t have the time to analyze it before she’s standing up again, tossing his file onto her desk and heading towards him with her tablet cradled in her hands.

“The real question is; can you keep up?” She smirks, moving past him toward her office door, leaving him no choice but to follow. “I have a meeting across town and should have left five minutes ago. Tell me, how opposed are you to a little traffic light tampering?” She waves her tablet as they head for the elevator bank and he can’t honestly tell if she’s kidding or not.

 

 

--

 

 

If four tours with the military hadn’t taught him that sexism was alive and well, a week of playing shadow to Felicity Smoak certainly would have done it.

At least twice a day, he watches her shoot down with surprising grace someone’s concerns about her ability to run the company and her merits. At least twice an hour he considers pulling his gun on a man with his eyes on places other than her face. He considers this is a bit of an overreaction to a common occurrence but pushes the urge aside and decides not to think about that too much.

It’s been a long week of meetings and employee complaints and Felicity even had to deal with HR at one point over an issue but had managed to get it all cleared up without harm on any party. John hadn’t even had to participate in any of it and the week had left him drained. He was starting to realize the Felicity Smoak was really quite incredible. Of course, billionaire children being groomed to take over a company in the next five to seven years don’t get a normal weekend of binge watching Netflix and eating the weeks stress away with unreal amounts of junk food.

No, Friday night had been a late one due to a last minute board meeting regarding the finance department running until well past seven o’clock and Felicity had still had to finish her necessary work that the meeting had interrupted. Saturday had started with a brunch with Jacob Smoak which John would have thought was a personal meal if he hadn’t been privy to the majority of the conversation which revolved around the company. Then, Felicity had had a dinner with a prospective investor that she had sent John away from, telling him to pick her up afterwards, only to call a half an hour until when he was supposed to get her and tell him to give it another hour.

When he showed up at her surprisingly modest home on Sunday evening to pick her up, he could tell from the minute she answered the door she needed a break. Her curled hair was missing its shine and the sort of natural glow her positive personality gave her wasn’t there. She’d opened the door and waved him in, still wearing a robe and in the process of pinning her hair to one side.

“Hey, sorry, I’m running behind. Come in and wait.” She rushed out of the hallway before John could argue that he could wait in the car. He trailed into the entryway. In the week since their first meeting in her office, Felicity had always been ready exactly when John got to her home. She’d never had the need to invite him in before and he’d be lying if he wasn’t the least bit curious. He moves slowly through the large space, not sure where he was supposed to go exactly but too curious to just stand in the hallway. He headed in the direction Felicity had gone, hoping he would find a sitting room or something and not her bedroom or bathroom. Thankfully, she finds him first.

She comes out of a door to his left, holding out a gold necklace with hanging diamonds. She’s changed from her robe into a floor length red gown and he stalls a minute, taking the sight in as she comes towards him.

“Can you help me with this?” She asks, holding her hands up to him with her fingers spread once he takes it from her. “I don’t want to ruin my nails.” They’re bright red but he only catches a glimpse of them as she’s already spinning and holding her hair out of the way. He lowers the necklace over her head, pulling one end through the loop of her arm, and tries to clasp it with the least amount of touching he can manage. The backs of his fingers still trail against the back of her neck when he finally closes the clasp and he clears his throat uncomfortably as she turns back to him, letting go of her hair.

“Thanks,” she murmurs, not making eye contact and it strikes him suddenly how personal and dangerous this is. The moment breaks as she covers her mouth, smothering a large yawn.

“Ms. Smoak,” he starts, amending himself at her look, “Felicity, how important is this party tonight?” Felicity shrugs, adjusting the diamonds on the necklace.

“It’s an investors party,” she explains, “which means I just have to show up, smile, talk enough tech that my expertise seems valid but not so much that I overwhelm the technologically inept.” She pauses, as if his question suddenly occurred to her, and raises an eyebrow, “Why?”

“I’ve shadowed plenty of businessmen and high rollers in my day,” he explains, “and I have never encountered one who works as hard and as consistently as you do.”

“That’s not true. I frequently sneak to the bathroom to play Candy Crush,” she jokes and he smiles at the attempt but presses on regardless.

“Surely, the investors’ party would go on just as well without you. I think you could use a break.” He doesn’t mean to insult her or anger her but he notices the moment her wall goes up. She stops fidgeting with her necklace and straightens up. The heels he’s just noticing add a good deal to her height but she’s still at least a head shorter than him.

“Unfortunately,” she starts, tone forcedly civil, “I don’t have the luxury of a break. I have an entire building of employees and board members and investors and press to convince that I am not only capable of taking over after my father but also of pushing the company forward. If I as much as stumble in that endeavor, I might as well be the chum in a shark tank. So, no, I can’t take a break or let my guard down or play nice. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She turns, skirts rustling, and heads back into the room she’d come from. John decides to wait for her in the car, stomach churning the whole way back to it.

A few minutes later, when Felicity comes out and slides into the back seat of the town car, he catches her eye in the rearview mirror.

“You could have waited inside,” she offers quietly and John just nods before pulling away. A block away from Smoak Tech where the party is being held on the executive floor, Felicity tells him to pull into the parking lot and use her employee spot and he raises an eyebrow at her in the mirror but she’s staring out the window.

“I’d assumed I’d just be dropping you off.”

“I’d like you to stay,” she says quietly, not looking round at him. “If that’s all right.”

“Of course.”

 

 

--

 

 

She drinks too much champagne and starts babbling at the investors. John can see the exhaustion hitting her hard and, while he finds the constant stream of words and intoxicated giggle endearing, he can see the people she talks to becoming confused. John is on his way to try to help her when her father appears out of nowhere, smiling cordially.

“You’ll have to forgive her,” he says to the couple she’s talking to, placing his hand on her back to steady her. “She’s been working overtime this past week.” The couple nods in understanding and drifts away. John reaches them as Jacob turns to Felicity.

“I think you’ve done enough for tonight, why don’t you head home?” The words would be comforting if John couldn’t hear the underlying twinge of anger. He curses himself for not keeping count of Felicity’s glasses of champagne better, though he doesn’t know what Felicity’s response would have been if he’d even attempted to cut her off. Especially after their encounter in her hallway. Jacob turns to him suddenly.

“Mr. Diggle, would you please take my daughter home to get some sleep?” John nods and finds himself surprised as Felicity latches onto his arm. Jacob narrows his eyes, glancing around the room to see if anyone is paying them any attention. The closest group seems to be caught up in a seemingly charming story Donna Smoak is telling. Jacob gives John one last look before plastering on a smile and heading for his wife.

It isn’t until John is helping Felicity out of the car and towards her house that he realizes she was at some point crying in the backseat. He doesn’t want to point it out and make her feel worse but he aches to make her feel better. She drops her keys and he has to unlock her front door for her, helping her inside. He observes her behavior and decides that it’s much less the alcohol and more the exhaustion that has caused it. He follows her into the house, wanting to make sure she makes it to an actual bed. She leads him to a sitting room instead. There’s a large couch and a TV facing it but John is surprised by the floor to ceiling bookshelves completely filled with books.

“I’m gonna have to deal with that tomorrow,” Felicity says suddenly, dropping down onto the couch. John follows her, standing rigid at the end of the couch, prepared to suggest she head to bed, when she pats the seat next to her. He hesitates, knowing he should keep professional and just head home to his own bed, but moves forward and sits next to her anyway.

“You were right,” she murmurs after a moment and John frowns. “I needed a break not another party.”

“You were right, too, though,” he counters. “I don’t know anything about your life, not really. The minute you started to falter, your father showed up and sent you home. Not the best show for investor loyalty.” He realizes what he’s said and pauses, afraid he’s gone too far, but when he glances over, Felicity has her bare feet curled underneath her and is nodding with her eyes closed.

“He means well,” she says softly and John isn’t sure he agrees but stops himself just short of saying such. “Sometimes I’m just not sure I’m cut out for this.” She sniffs and rolls her shoulders and it hits John hard that she actually believes that.

“Felicity, you’re incredible. I can’t imagine anyone else more cut out for this. You’re irreplaceable.” Her eyes open slowly to look at him and, after a moment, she smirks.

“You don’t even know me,” she insists and for some reason it causes a sharp pain in his chest. He feels like he knows her, like she knows him. Factually, he knows she’s right and yet the very suggestion makes him feel ill.

“Then I have no reason to lie,” he counters and she smiles at him. Suddenly, she leans forward and John freezes. Her lips graze his cheek softly, just enough to make his skin tingle but not enough to leave a lipstick mark he’s sure. He’d bet she’s made an art of not smudging her lipstick.

“Thank you, John,” she whispers before she pulls away fully, standing and stretching. Her red dress shifts around her and shows the wrinkles of her time curled up in the backseat of the town car and here on her couch.

He’s never seen anything as beautiful as a slightly drunk, sleepy Felicity Smoak.

“Call it a half day tomorrow, okay? I’ll get to work on my own and see you around noon,” she tells him, leaving no room for argument before smiling sheepishly. “You can show yourself out, right? I just want to get out of this dress.” He nods and stands as she heads from the room, though he tries to get the thought of helping her out of that dress out of his head the entire way back to the car. Once inside, he adjusts the review mirror to see his own face, inspecting his cheek. Sure enough, there’s no trace of her red lipstick anywhere and he’s a little disappointed.

He rubs his hand over his mouth and murmurs, “Shit.”

 

 

--

 

 

Over the past two weeks since he started working for her, John has brought on Felicity’s anger only a handful of times. Although, it’s not usually something he incites in other clients, he’s never spent enough time talking to them to do so. He spends a good deal of time trying not to think about how much different Felicity has been than any other job.

He’s incited her anger but he’s never heard her yell. She’s never broken her composure, the cool civility she adapts that lets him know he’s gone too far, and actually yelled or shown any real sign of anger. So, when he’s getting the car door and misses the photographer outside the fundraiser she’d been attending get much too close and personal, he curses himself for letting it happen. He turns and spots the man, too close to Felicity for anyone’s comfort, barking questions, and is about to snatch his camera and threaten to make him eat it when Felicity beats him to it.

She shoves the camera roughly out of her space and steps back from the man, smart enough to know not to actually touch him, and yells. She shouts at the man until he’s so stunned by both her words and the anger behind them he couldn’t have followed her to the car if he wanted to. John watches her in awe as she heads towards the car, sliding into the backseat and closing the door behind her. He shakes it off suddenly, moving quickly around to the driver’s door. He checks the rearview mirror and she’s already staring back at him, smirking proudly. He lets out a laugh.

“You’re something else, Ms. Smoak,” he grins, pulling away from the curb. “Something else entirely.”

 

 

--

 

 

He begins to notice her patterns of behavior. Her nervous tics and ways of dressing to suit her mood. She only wears her hair down for events and important meetings because he thinks she thinks it makes her look more sophisticated and refined. In reality, she always looks sophisticated and it only gives her something to fiddle with nervously besides her earrings. She almost never wears pants and when she does it’s when she’s going into the office on the weekend for a short time to finish something up. When she’s feeling particularly stressed, she’ll repeatedly smooth her hand over her already immaculate ponytail until she can solve whatever problem she’s working on.

When he picks her up on a Wednesday and she’s wearing sky high heels and her hair is down, he nods to himself, pulling the car door open for her.

“Big meeting today?” He asks, though he knows the answer. She stalls in between the door and car and stares at him.

“Yeah, I was gonna tell you about it on the way. How’d you know?” John shrugs and motions to her hair with one hand.

“You only wear your hair down to work when there’s some kind of really important meeting,” he explains and she runs her hand through her hair. He considers that maybe this pattern of behavior has become so typical she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it.

“Oh,” she says, her hand falling from her hair as she slides into the car. He pushes the door closed behind her and moves around the car, sliding into the driver’s seat. He’s halfway down the street when she finally speaks again.

“You’re the first person to call me out on that,” she tells him, a lightness to her tone that lets him know she isn’t bothered like he’d worried she was. He shakes his head, grinning to himself. So, she does know she’s doing it.

“You’re very perceptive,” Felicity comments after another beat of silence. “Lucky for me, as to not be outdone, so am I.” He laughs at this, pulling up to a red light and glancing back at her in the mirror.

“That so?” He asks and she nods, looking very excited at the prospect of showing off. He waves a hand, urging her to go on, as the light changes.

“When you’re trying to be professional, you clasp your hands in front of you,” she clasps her hands in her lap as demonstration, “when you’re feeling threatened or annoyed you clasp them behind you.” She doesn’t demonstrate this but gives him a moment to take it in, which he does. He’d never thought about how he stands when he’s annoyed but she’s ignored his safety concerns enough over their time together that he supposes she would know what he looks like when he’s annoyed. He expects that to be the end of it, but she continues after a moment.

“When you’re uncomfortable, you unbutton your suit jacket. Inversely, when you’re feeling very relaxed, you remove it altogether,” she takes a beat as if she’s thinking through the next part, whether to say it or not. He sneaks a glance at her in the rearview mirror, the question clear in the frown on her face.

“You also appear to be very uncomfortable with touching. I don’t know why, though.” She doesn’t say it like she expects him to tell her. She just says it as a fact. John stares straight ahead, doesn’t sneak anymore looks at her on the way to work. He changes the subject to the meeting she’d planned to tell him about and the air in the car turns far more professional.

He doesn’t tell her that she’s the only person he won’t let himself touch.

 

 

--

 

 

It isn’t until the first time someone makes an actual attempt at her life that he realizes he’s in much deeper than he’d realized.

In the time he’d been working for her, it had been mostly quiet. Jacob Smoak would keep him up to date on any particularly worrisome threats he’d received and John would up the security on Felicity and her home until he was sure the immediate threat had passed. Felicity would roll her eyes at the twenty-four hour watch and snap at him more frequently when there were multiple men taking rotation of keeping watch. Even when he had a team watching her, he kept himself closest.

He was beginning to believe that Felicity might be right in her insistence that these threats were empty, though he would continue to treat each one with the seriousness her father felt it warranted. But the first time he has to actually put his life on the line for her, there is no build up to it.

It starts as a single shot in the museum gallery the Smoak family had donated. John knows the sound of gunfire better than he likes and is immediately next to Felicity, pulling her roughly to the ground behind a table. He doesn’t think about how tiny she is compared to him, doesn’t actually notice when her head hits the ground as he lands somewhat on top of her, until she lets out a squeak and an “ow”. His eyes widen as he looks down at her, holding a hand to the back of her head.

“Dammit,” he hisses, “I’m so sorry, Felicity. Are you all right?” She nods but looks a little dazed and his concern skyrockets. He’s pulled away as he hears another shot, though, and peaks his head up. All he catches is a figure but they’re clearly looking for someone they doesn’t see before they take off for the emergency stairwell. He has a pretty good idea who they’re looking for. He looks down at Felicity underneath him and pushes up off of her.

“Stay here,” he orders, not waiting for a response before he’s up and taking off after them. He takes as many stairs at a time as he can, gun pulled and at the ready, but loses them through the emergency exit as they disappear onto the street.

“Fuck!” He curses to himself, returning the gun to its holster and heading back inside. An ambulance and the police have been called but no one was hurt too badly, which John is grateful for. He knows if someone were to have been hurt or killed because someone wanted to get to her, Felicity would never stop blaming herself. He makes his way to where Felicity is being checked out by an EMT, a shock blanket around her shoulders as the man shines a flashlight in her eyes. The EMT sighs, shaking his head and switching off the flashlight. He smiles politely at her as she tightens the blanket around her shoulders.

“I think you’ll live,” he tells her, “but it does look like you have a mild concussion. Do you have someone that can stay with you tonight and wake you up every few hours?” Felicity spots John just as his stomach drops at the knowledge that he’d caused her a concussion. He expects her to be angry, this is his fault after all, he’s angry at himself. But she smiles at him, instead.

“John, can you stay with me?” He wants to decline, to suggest her parents or assistant, hell, even someone from his team. Anyone who isn’t realizing that they have fallen hopelessly in love with this woman. His voice betrays him.

“Of course.”

 

 

--

 

 

He follows her into her home for only the third time since they met three months ago and stands around awkwardly. Felicity rushes between rooms, changing clothes and undoing her hair and makeup. He eventually finds his way back into the sitting room from those months ago. He tries sitting but finds himself too restless, settles instead for browsing the book titles on the massive bookshelves. Felicity comes in just as his finger trails gently over the spine of a first edition copy of Peter Pan. He turns as he hears her shuffle in and smirks.

“Nice jammies,” he teases and she glances down at her fuzzy, cartoon covered pants, before giving him a mocking smile. He chuckles and turns back to the bookshelf.

“Have you actually read all of these?” He asks and she comes up next to him, though he thinks she’s studying him rather than the shelves.

“Mostly,” she shrugs, “I had a lot of time to myself as a kid.” He nods and turns away from the bookshelf and towards her. He studies her undone hair and mostly washed off makeup. Reaching out to put a hand gently on her shoulder, if only to reassure himself she’s still there, alive and breathing.

“Are you all right?” He asks and she nods, her head dipping to the side slightly, like she was going to rest her cheek on the back of his hand but stopped short. After a beat, he pulls his hand back.

“You can stay in the guestroom down the hall from mine,” she tells him, pulling her phone from one of the pockets in her pajama pants. “I’ll set an alarm for every two hours, you can do the same and just come to make sure I’m awake.” He nods and she leads him down the hall to the bedroom where he’ll be staying. He turns to tell her he’ll see her in two hours but before he can get the words out, she’s in his arms, wrapping hers around him tightly. He tries not to react but his arms move around her on their own and he holds her a little tighter than necessary.

“Thank you, John,” she says quietly as she pulls away. “For everything.”

With that she disappears into her own room and John heads into his for the night, setting his alarm and stripping into his boxers and undershirt for bed.

Two hours later, he’s tossed and turned and gotten maybe five minutes of sleep total when his phone alarm starts chiming. He turns it off, pulling himself out of bed and heading for Felicity’s door. He knocks once, out of habit, before entering. She’s already turned her alarm off and is lying in bed, staring at the ceiling.

“Felicity?” He murmurs, but she doesn’t look at him. “Are you awake?”

“Yeah,” she answers quietly. “Couldn’t fall asleep anyway.” He nods in understanding, moves a few more feet into the room.

“Can I get you anything to help?” He asks and she sits up, turning to him suddenly.

“Could you… could you just stay with me for a bit?” She asks quietly and sounds so broken, so desolate, he has no choice but to nod and move towards her. He plans to just sit on the edge of her bed until she can sleep but she moves to one side and pats the space on the bed next to her. He sits cautiously where she pats, on top of the comforter, and leans back against the headboard.

“John,” she murmurs, again staring up at the ceiling instead of at him, “can I tell you something?”

“Of course.”

“I’m scared,” she admits and he looks over at her. She looks calm enough but her voice wavers and his heart breaks. How could anyone want so desperately to see this woman dead? He reaches out without thought and takes one of her hands in his own. She starts, looking down at their hands in surprise and he considers letting go but suddenly she squeezes his hand tight and lets out a sob. She covers her face with her free hand and he doesn’t know what to do for her. She cries into her hand for a bit before rolling over and curling up against him. He wraps his arm around her and rubs her back soothingly, murmuring gentle words into her hair.

She cries herself out and then falls asleep, gripping tightly to his t-shirt. He thinks he should probably sneak out and come back to wake her when their alarms go off but he can’t find it in himself to move her off of him.

He doesn’t fall asleep again before the alarm goes off for the second time that night. He nudges her gently.

“Felicity,” he murmurs and she shifts, nuzzling into his chest.

“M’fine,” she slurs. “Can I go back to sleep now?” He chuckles and lets her fall back asleep, resetting the alarms. Eventually he does fall asleep, waking up every so often to wake her up and then go back to sleep. After a while, he stops reminding himself that he should leave her bed and enjoys the contact.

When her actual work alarm goes off in the morning, he wakes up with his arms wrapped around her and her back to him. He takes a few deep breaths trying to remind himself not to get attached. Suddenly, she lets out a groan and shifts in his arms, turning towards him. She nuzzles her face against his chest without thought and murmurs, “God, you’re huge.”

Her eyes fly open suddenly as both their cheeks go red.

“I meant your stature, not your- well, I’m sure you’re great there too.. not that I spend time thinking about it- I mean, you’re attractive obviously but I’m not hitting on you, I-“ she stops as she catches sight of his wide eyed look. “I’m gonna stop talking now.” John nods, detangling his arms from around her and immediately missing her. She clears her throat and sits up, John follows suit.

“Well, I didn’t slip into a coma.” She pumps her fist in the air jokingly. “Score!” John laughs and nods, standing from her bed. He can’t help but notice she won’t look at him.

“I’ll head home and change and be back to pick you up at the normal time,” he offers and she nods, picking at the comforter in her lap. He heads back to the guest room to change and tries to forget the feeling of her in his arms.

 

 

--

 

 

When he comes back at their normal pick up time and knocks on the door, he surprised to find her still in her pajamas. She grins at his confused look and waves him inside.

“Ms. Smoak,” he starts but she cuts him off with a look.

“Don’t do that,” she says and he raises an eyebrow. “Don’t run back to professional distances just because something happened last night and this morning. Don’t act like we’re just employer and employee.” He frowns.

“We are just employer and employee.”

“No we’re not,” she counters, stepping into his space and frowning. “Are we?” He hesitates. He could lie, he should lie, tell her they’re only relationship is professional. It’s like an addendum to one of those unwritten rules. Don’t fall in love with a client and – an asterisk here to make the point – if you do, keep your damn mouth shut about it.

Well, he’s never been a big fan of rules.

“No,” he tells her gently, shaking his head, “we’re not.” She nods once, stepping back from him and he frowns in confusion, sure this conversation was headed somewhere else.

“Good,” she says, turning and heading for the sitting room, leaving him no choice but to follow. “Do you remember when you told me I needed a break?” He nods, though he knows she can’t see it. Hard to forget the first time he’d realized he was in serious danger of falling in love with her.

“Well, I’m finally taking it,” she explains as he follows her into the sitting room to see a pile of pancakes on the coffee table and the TV screen lighting up with the Netflix home page. “And you’re taking it with me.” She grins, turning to him and clapping her hands together once in front of her. He can’t help but smile back at her, the fear and panic from the night before seemingly completely washed from her system. They settle into the couch, John removing his suit jacket and tossing it on the back of the couch, and turn on the first familiar comedy they can find.

Hours later, after multiple movies and too many pancakes to have been healthy, John begins to consider that maybe he’d been the one misreading Felicity’s intentions. Maybe she was just asking him if they were friends and he was in the clear. He could have Felicity around in a personal capacity without breaking any rules. He certainly couldn’t complain about that.

If he weren’t so desperate to kiss her.

At some point, she’d pulled her hair back into a sloppy ponytail. It looked nothing like the ones she wore to work and John couldn’t help reaching out and tugging on it slightly. She turns away from the movie and grins at him. Something on his face must have given him away, though, because it suddenly melted into a frown and he was pulling his hand back, ready to apologize, when she’s instantly in his space, pressing her lips to his. He’s so surprised by the change, his hands initially fumble, landing first on her upper arms and moving upwards to cradle her face. She’s the first to pull away, after a decent amount of time but not nearly long enough for him, breathing heavily and grinning at him.

“Told you we weren’t just professional.” He barks a laugh and rolls his eyes at her.

“You always have to win, don’t you?” He teases, pulling her lips back to his before she has a chance to respond.