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Platonic Best Friends Do Exist (You're Just Not Them)

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 “Thea, we’re not getting married just because Mom and Donna and everyone else think it’s convenient and are judgmental of new people.” Oliver crosses his arms over his chest as his little sister goes to work absolutely demolishing the pancakes that are supposed to be Felicity’s.

“No, you two should get married because you’re in love,” she garbles around a mouthful of pancake.

Before he can respond with his customary eye roll—an involuntary reflex after three years of the same old—they’re interrupted by a muffled yell.

“Oliver, do you know where my fuchsia dress is?”

“Isn’t it with the dry cleaning I brought back last night?” He drifts closer to the staircase and second floor landing to better ignore Thea’s waggling eyebrows. “And don’t you think that dress is a little much for a promotion announcement?”

After a long moment, the blonde in question appears at the stair railing along the landing, still tucking one end of a white towel under her arm. “Oliver Queen, what are you trying to say about my wardrobe?”

“It’s currently nonexistent?” He quickly averts his eyes from the long expanse of legs on careless display.

“That dress is super boob-y, and everyone’s going to assume you screwed Old Mr. Andrews for the promotion. How do you two even function?” Thea stomps her way up the stairs as she speaks, grabbing Felicity’s hand to pull her back into her room.

“Next time I’m having a wardrobe crisis, lead with ‘Thea is here’,” Felicity calls over her shoulder before following the grumbling brunette once again bemoaning all of the color in her closet.

Oliver just shakes his head and returns to the griddle—a birthday present from Felicity—to churn out more pancakes.

“I swear, are you two holding out on us because you know the last bet is for New Year’s and we haven’t gotten around to redoing the schedule?” Sara Lance holding a chef’s knife and all but growling is normally a fearsome sight to behold, but the exaggerated pout and dimpled chin ruin any intended effect. 

“By the normal rules of betting, wouldn’t the captain still win with New Year’s because it’s closest? Or are you using the can’t-go-over rule?” Felicity counters, taking Sara’s distraction as an invitation to swipe a strawberry slice. 

“Can’t-go-over rule. And that—” she carelessly waves the knife for emphasis “—was not a denial.” 

“I’m tired of wasting my breath. Purely platonic friends exist. Look at any of us and Roy.” 

“First, Roy is pretty much the silliest boy alive underneath all that brooding and childhood trauma, and none of us could date him with a straight face even if he and Thea weren’t madly in love. Second, platonic friends exist, but you and Ollie are not them.” Sara purposefully flicks the switch on the blender, drowning out Felicity’s inevitable protest. 

When the blades stop whirring, Felicity raises an eyebrow at the smug blonde. “I can’t anymore. Just finish making these margs before Oliver comes home and yells at you for using his good knife.” 

“You continue to make all of our points for us.” 

“What the—hey?” Oliver rears his head back in an attempt to focus on the blonde who has unceremoniously sprawled out full length on top of him, instead of picking up his feet and settling in on the opposite end of the couch like usual. 

“If we were in love, if we were anything other than platonic life partners, this would do something for me, right?” Felicity drops a foot to the ground to sit up slightly and better balance on his abs. “Like electricity, blushing, butterflies, stream of consciousness innuendos, other effects?” she quirks an eyebrow at him, ignoring the tingling in her fingertips, and he snorts in response. “But it doesn’t anymore, so we’re good.” Her fingers tap out nonsensical code on the ridges of his abs for emphasis, and he struggles to not squirm. 

Anymore?” Oliver questions after she’s pushed up off him, hands pressing solidly against his chest. 

“Oh, please, you know you’re stupid attractive. You know how much I used to babble around you. Thankfully, we’ve evolved past all that.” Liar, liar, pants on fire. Maybe literally because Felicity feels like she’s going to combust from his body heat. She quickly climbs off, subtly shaking out her hands, and sets off up the stairs towards her bedroom. “Night, bestest.” 

“Evolved. Right.” Oliver follows up the remark with a stern look at his crotch. 

At the sound which can be described as a pterodactyl screech, Oliver skids his way down the stairs and to the blonde blanket lump on the couch. “Why are you making sounds like a baby bear caught in a bear trap?” 

“That might be the most depressing simile I’ve ever heard,” Felicity responds with a huff, untangling the blankets enough for him to shove onto a cushion of the couch. 

“Sorry? It’s that or pterodactyl screech, and you already vetoed that description.” 

Ignoring the comment, she thrusts the tablet into his face. “Mother is sending me wedding dresses.” 

“Yeah, that’s not what I imagine your wedding dress to look like.” He squints at the slightly blurry screen—her arm is shaking with either rage or the inability to hold her tablet out for that long. “Again with the baby bear in a bear trap noise.” 


Oliver just sighs and squeezes the bridge of his nose. “And we’re back to the pterodactyl screech. You’re not allowed to complain about that description anymore, by the way.” 

“You haven’t answered the question,” Felicity lobs back at his standard deflection. 

“Because Tommy and Laurel are in defcon one wedding mode, Thea’s had a wedding binder since she was like four and still updates it—don’t tell Roy—and Sara won’t stop “bragging” that when she and Nyssa get married she’s going to wear a tux,” Oliver rattles off. As everyone around them puts it, it’s that time of life for weddings. “You never say anything so my brain got bored one day and filled in the gaps.” 

“Sara would rock a tux,” she muses before burrowing back under the blankets. 

Oliver pokes the lump he knows is her leg but she merely kicks out at him, refusing to emerge. “Fine, I’m making pizza for dinner. And tell Donna no sleeves.” He rolls his eyes at the muffled screech that emitted from the blanket lump before retreating to his room. 

“So what’s she like?” Thea just about sneers the question, and Felicity leans back slightly at the ire in the younger woman’s voice. Sara snickers when Felicity makes a confused face and mouths Who? “Ollie’s new girlfriend,” she clarifies, the duh going unsaid. 

“Oh,” unconsciously, Felicity’s lips drop into a pout, “I don’t know. Oliver hasn’t introduced us. He says she’s not his girlfriend though.” 

Sara snorts into her drink. “You two live together. Is he just sneaking her in and out when you’re not there?” 

“Again, I don’t know. I haven’t been spending much time at the loft anyway. I just know I haven’t been deemed worthy enough to meet her.” Felicity tries to keep the statement light, but it’s clear to the others that she’s hurt by Oliver purposefully excluding her from an aspect of his life. 

Thea rolls her eyes and growls lowly. “More like he’s embarrassed about how far his standards have fallen. Did I tell you she tried to write an exposé on my recovery by posing as a member at an NA meeting?” 

“No!” the blondes exclaim simultaneously. 

“What’s this bitch’s address?” 

“Do you know where she banks?” 

“Forget it,” Thea waves off the rabid pair, “I already threatened her. Obviously, it didn’t stick, and she needs a little reminder of what exactly a Queen can do in this city—especially when she’s trying to get into big brother’s pants.” 

Sara and Felicity share a wince, neither wanting to know what the tiny brunette has in mind for her new nemesis. Quickly, Sara decides to change the topic—or at least the person in the hot seat. “And how’s Detective Small Hands?” 

Felicity only rolls her eyes at the unsubtle jab. Unfortunately, she has no basis to make them stop since everyone’s flings and significant others receive unflattering nicknames until they prove themselves deserving of their actual names—Lyla and Nyssa remain terrifying exceptions. Roy is just barely making his way past Abercrombie; one step forward, two steps backwards with that one. “Billy is great.” 

“But hasn’t graduated to first name status in your phone,” Sara points out astutely. Felicity isn’t even going to question how the other woman knows that. “And let me guess, you’ve been spending time at his place because he’s uncomfortable in the loft, especially when Ollie is there.” 

“Billy doesn’t have a roommate so it makes more sense to be at his than to mess up Oliver’s routine. I’ll thank you to stop making baseless assumptions,” Felicity responds with a faux haughty expression. 

“Then let’s have family dinner at the loft,” Thea suggests with a dangerous smile. “We haven’t had one of those in awhile. It’ll be a sextuple date: Sara and Nyssa, me and Roy, Laurel and Tommy, John and Lyla, you and DSH, Ollie and crazy bitch.” 

Ignoring Thea’s waggling eyebrows, Felicity has the distinct feeling that she’s being backed into a corner and conscripted into whatever nightmare Thea’s concocting to scare off Susan. So far, she’s limited Billy’s time around her friends since she isn’t sure about him yet, but now she’s stuck her foot in her mouth. “Fine, but you have to call him Billy.” 

“Oooh, his skin’s too thin for a not untrue nickname? Billy boy’s not going to last long,” Sara predicts, clinking her glass against Thea’s offered one. Felicity just shrugs; whether or not Billy’s nearing his natural expiration date, the ability to deal with her friends’ particular brand of crazy is always a deal breaker. “I’m in. Nyssa is always fascinated by your guys’ special train wreck of first-world/straight-people problems.” 

Thea winces. “Harsh but fair. This one’s going to be a doozy.” 

“Thea’s planning family dinner. When are you and Susan free?”

Felicity’s surprised to find Oliver in the loft that night. Dinner was cut short when Billy got called into the precinct, but she wasn’t entirely disappointed by the prospect of a night to catch up on her shows. And she’s sort of relieved to see Oliver on the couch, mindlessly watching some college football highlights.

Oliver accepts it without question when she kicks off her heels and sprawls on the couch, dropping her feet in his lap. “I’m free whenever. And I don’t think it’s been long enough for Susan to come to something we call family dinner.”

Felicity just shrugs in the face of Oliver’s discomfort. “Billy’s coming, and you know how Thea feels about odd numbers.” Oliver’s jaw ticks at Billy’s name—he doesn’t necessarily like the other man much, called him mealy-mouthed to John when he thought she was in another room—and Felicity internally smirks. Okay, so maybe she’s a little annoyed that Oliver still hasn’t introduced her to Susan—even if the woman is evil incarnate based on Thea’s experience.

“Fine, I’ll ask her,” he bites out through his still clenched jaw. “Who else is invited?”

“The usual gang. Why?” Felicity narrows her eyes. Oliver typically just wants to know how much food to make—too much, always—but this sounds like more than that.

“Just that Susan hasn’t met anyone.”

Felicity wants to correct him and say that Thea has, but that isn’t her story to tell. She imagines that if Thea can’t chase Susan away with this dinner, the Narcotics Anonymous incident will be the ace up her sleeve because no one fucks with Thea Queen on Oliver’s watch. “And whose fault is that? Scared we’ll embarrass you, Oliver?” Her tone is light but a bit of actual curiosity slips through.

“No. It’s just,” Oliver sighs and runs a hand through his hair, “we’re kind of a lot. You, Thea, Laurel, Lyla, Sara, and Nyssa definitely can scare off other women.”

“Hey,” Felicity cuts in quickly, offended hurt in her expression. “That’s unfair. Just because you have terrible taste in women—the Lance sisters aside—doesn’t mean we’re some unbearable crew of harpies looking to cut down other women. We have plenty of other female friends. And I don’t avoid introducing guys I date to you, Mr. Most Eligible Bachelor of Star City. If anyone has an intimidating reputation, it’s most definitely you.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Oliver raises his hands and tries to backtrack.

“Then say what you mean, Oliver. We did not scare off Isabel; we figured out that she was using you for corporate espionage. It’d be one thing if we didn’t like her for some petty, superficial reason, but I’m pretty damn sure trying to steal your family’s company is a legitimate one. McKenna was an exception, and we were in no way responsible for her injury and move; it’s frankly insulting to her for you to imply she could be scared away. But don’t even get me started on Helena the Mob Princess, or were you actually looking forward to becoming the Bertinelli's newest patsy?”

He cringes away from Felicity’s deployment of her Loud Voice and truth bombs. “What I mean is, I don’t want to waste everyone’s time if this isn’t a long-term thing. Especially because you’re all protective, and if you guys don’t like her, dinner isn’t going to be a fun experience for anyone, but in particular, Susan.”

Well, okay, that’s true. It’s why she asked Thea to use Billy’s actual name, but she has never really shied away from exposing her boyfriends to the full extent of her crazy life. Either they can hang or they can’t, and as Sara bluntly noted, those who can’t are quickly gone. Hacktivist Cooper ended up prosecuted by Laurel for cyber crimes (first rule of hacking: don’t get caught); good-natured Barry held his own but was never serious given that he’s in love with Iris (one of their other female friends who’s been wholeheartedly embraced by the group, thank you very much, Oliver); and blindly idealistic Ray was nearly killed by Sara (and Roy and Dig and Lyla and Oliver and Nyssa). “So you don’t know if it’s real,” she summarizes.

“Right, and there’s no reason to put her through an inquisition if this doesn’t go anywhere.” Oliver relaxes in relief when Felicity reluctantly nods in agreement. “How about Malone? You guys have been spending a lot of time together. I feel like I’ve barely seen you. Anything real there?”

Felicity sinks a little deeper into the couch cushions with a heavy sigh. “I don’t know.” 

Dinner  is going terribly. Which means Thea is overjoyed. Felicity doesn’t think she’s ever truly appreciated how much Thea is her mother’s daughter until tonight. 

The night had started off on the wrong foot when Felicity, as usual, went to help Oliver bring out the feast he had prepared. Even though (nearly) everyone knows the loft and the general location of random items—why do you own multiple fondue sets, Oliver?—it’s still Oliver and Felicity’s home, and they like playing host to their friends. Except she’d been busy shielding Billy from Nyssa’s blunt and standoffish personality, and by the time Felicity had realized Oliver needed help, Susan had insisted on stepping in. Unfortunately, the new addition had grabbed a serving plate from the spot Oliver reserved for hot-as-fire-don’t-touch and ended up with the broken dish and its former contents on the floor. 

Lyla had pulled the woman aside to patch up the minor burn and must have mentioned her work in private security, because when the women emerged from the bathroom, Susan had an endless list of questions and Lyla looked vaguely homicidal. By the fifteenth time Dig and Lyla had insisted that their clients were confidential, the reporter had finally conceded that they weren’t going to give her anything. But she had revealed herself to be generally tone-deaf and tenacious in the wrong way, and the uncomfortable feeling hung over that end of the table. 

To Felicity’s disappointment, Billy isn’t faring much better. He’d been clearly uncomfortable breaking bread with a quasi-reformed petty criminal and a drug offender who’d been bailed out by her family name. And the Lances had had a strict no shop-talk rule growing up that they still observed, so Billy had been unable to generate any help there. Felicity keeps trying to remember what conversation topics they normally cover, but it’s dawned on her that conversation is not a highlight of—or even a regular occurrence in—their relationship. 

Back on the other end, Oliver is silently grateful to Laurel for at least trying to find a topic of discussion with Susan. But when the DA asks if Susan has read their friend Iris’ recent exposé on STARLabs’ former CEO, his date responds with, “Oh, Iris West? Yes, that article was... quaint. A bit amateur hour if you ask me.” 

Half the table, himself included, nearly revolts. 

“Well, no one asked you!” Tommy practically explodes, ignoring that Laurel basically had. “When’s the last time you wrote an article exposing one of the world’s most foremost scientists as an imposter and evil mastermind?” Turns out evil masterminds posing as benign father figures are still a sore subject in the Queen-Merlyn household. 

“Ollie,” Thea pipes up from her seat smack in the middle of the drama, drawing the table’s attention, “I’m sorry but someone who speaks ill of a friend shouldn’t be welcome here.” With a barely suppressed smile, she turns to the offending reporter. “Laurel told you that Iris is a friend, and her article saved Central City from suffering a similar fate as the Glades. You should know how close to home that type of situation is for me and Tommy. After all, you’ve been following the Queens closely for years now.” 

The woman pales, and Sara not-so-quietly mutters a gleeful, “And here we go.” 

“I hate to be the one to tell you this, Ollie, but Susan here was once so desperate for a scoop on the Queen family that she followed me to an NA meeting and pretended to be a fellow recovering addict to befriend me. Fortunately, someone else recognized her and kicked her out, apparently not the first time she’s pulled that stunt.” 

“You tell me this now?!” Oliver growls in frustration, and Thea grins unrepentantly. “You’re a goddamn drama queen, sis,” he sarcastically grumbles before turning his attention to his date, “Kindly get the fuck out.” 

It’s a flurry of hasty denials on deaf ears and abruptly pushed back chairs and slammed doors before Oliver returns with a grim expression and a glare for Thea. “What? You mess with the bull, you get the horns. I’m not apologizing for your shitty taste in women.” With that, Thea happily tucks into her soufflé. 

The last straw for Billy comes at nearly the end of dessert with Nyssa’s blunt statement that police officers are unnecessary and people should be allowed to seek revenge as they see fit. The mechanics of a society not under martial law are a frequent discussion point between her and Laurel, given that the former comes from an isolated “association” where her father’s word is literally law. The detective splutters for a moment before turning red and walking out the front door. 

“Don’t know why he took offense at that, Dad says he’s terrible at following protocol anyway,” Laurel mutters under her breath. 

Ignoring the lawyer for the moment, Felicity points an accusatory finger at the unflappable Nyssa, “You did that on purpose.” 

“I do not know to what you are referring, Felicity Smoak, MIT, Class of ‘09,” she responds calmly, just a hint of mirth in her dark eyes. “My beloved was correct. Your companion does have dainty hands. He would not excel at combat.” 
Felicity supposes combat is one way to describe the night so far. She shuts the door on her howling friends—Sara is literally on the floor laughing—and goes to break up with Billy. 

They had silently finished the last few chores once everyone had shuffled out. Oliver had still been hand-washing his cast-iron skillets when she’d finished wiping down the table, so Felicity had crashed on the couch and channel surfed to an old Doctor Who episode. 

“Well that went worse than expected,” Oliver snorts then drops tiredly next to her, plopping his head into her lap. “Our friends are a nightmare. Should have known Thea was up to no good.” After a brief moment, he pops his head up to regard her seriously.

“Do you know more about that? Do I need to talk to her?” 

“Maybe,” Felicity genuinely hedges. How Thea handles stress is still a mystery to them all. “The revenge might have been good enough for her though. Pretty sure Susan’s never going to report in Star City again once Thea’s done making calls.” 

Oliver rolls his eyes and scoffs, “Somehow, I’m okay with that. I don’t think complete humiliation in front of a small crowd is enough punishment for stalking an 18 year-old to an NA meeting for a story.” He pauses before changing the subject, “Are you okay? Noticed you weren’t too happy with Sara and Nyssa.” 

“Eh, if Billy can’t roll with Nyssa’s idea of justice, I’m pretty sure my recreational hacking wasn’t going to fly either. At least he broke up with me and I didn’t have to babble my way through it.” Absentmindedly, she starts carding her fingers through his hair, and Oliver hums contently. “Looks like Tommy won’t have to worry about redoing the seating chart.” 

“Just you and me till the end of the line.” Oliver sleepily rubs his cheek against the top of her knee to cover the involuntary purring rumbling out of his chest. “And I thought Laurel was handling the seating chart?” 

“Apparently, she wasn’t taking it seriously enough so Tommy took over. It’s really cute how involved he is in the wedding—I mean, no reason he shouldn’t be, it’s his wedding, too—but he’s so excited about all the details.” She grins in remembrance of Tommy’s bouncing feet and beaming smile as he recounted the latest of the finalized wedding details. “It’s just adorable.” 

“Yeah? You think I wouldn’t be excited about all the details?” The drowsy quality in his voice tells her that he’s nearly asleep in her lap. 

“I think you’d be happy to go along with what the bride, and Thea, and the moms, plan, but you wouldn’t be describing your thought process in choosing cream over ivory cardstock for the dinner menus. Unless I’m wrong and you’ve gotten a wedding binder stashed away next to Thea’s.” He’s quiet for so long that Felicity assumes he’s fallen asleep. She figures she’ll give him till the end of the episode before waking him up to drag themselves to their own beds. 

“Glitter. Donna would want so much glitter.” 

Her fingers freeze in his hair, but the soft snuffling—I do not snore, Felicity—tells her he’s well and truly out. “Damn you, Oliver.” 

It should be an awkward wedding. What with the groom’s father incarcerated for attempted mass murder as revenge for the murder of the groom’s long deceased mother; the bridesmaid who’d only recently discovered that the groom is her half-brother (and that the best man is only her half-brother); the best man who’d dated the bride and cheated on her with her sister, the maid of honor (and conversely, the maid of honor who’d helped the best man cheat on the bride); and the bride’s divorced parents bringing unexpected dates: her mother with a fellow professor no one had ever met before, and her father with one of the other bridesmaid’s mothers. Yet everyone holds it together for the length of the ceremony and enough of the reception that Tommy and Laurel are sent off on their honeymoon with nothing but good memories of the day. 

“Champagne. Give me all the champagne,” Felicity mutters as she runs to her refuge, stealing the flute from first Sara and then Nyssa. 

“Take it easy, slugger,” Sara chides before slipping the second glass out of Felicity’s hand and returning it to an uncommonly shocked Nyssa. Thankfully, her sometimes terrifying girlfriend has always found Felicity to be more amusing than anything. “What’s going on?” 

“My mother, your father’s date, has been going around telling everyone that Oliver and I are up next. First, we are not getting married. Second, he would have to convert to Judaism and that takes way longer than my mom is giving it credit for.” 

“Who’s converting to Judaism?” Oliver cuts in with a light hand on Felicity’s elbow to create a space for himself in the group. 

“You, apparently,” Sara blithely responds as she snags a replacement drink from a passing waiter. Oliver furrows his brow at them, and Felicity ignores the silent inquiry by taking a moment to drain her glass. “Donna’s been telling people you and Felicity are taking a trip down the aisle post-haste.” 

Before Oliver can draw breath for his own response, Felicity jumps in with a panicked ramble. “Not post-haste, post-haste. Not like I’m pregnant post-haste. I mean, obviously. Because this is not a friendship with benefits. Which you all know. Just that ‘haha, you’re next’ thing older people think is so funny to say at weddings to the younger crowd, but it’s not. It’s just cringeworthy and awkward and uncomfortable. But my point here is that my crazy mom has been pimping us out to each other in front of random strangers.” 

A beat of shocked silence passes before Oliver chuckles awkwardly. “It’ll be fine. Your mom’s just happy and kind of drunk, I guess.” It wouldn’t be the first or the last time that Donna and Moira openly discuss the possibility of their marriage, much to their children’s mortification. “We know like none of these people. What’s it matter what they think?” 

Felicity just goggles at him in response until Sara breaks in with a grin, “Well, you two basically are an old, married couple. Might as well make it official.” 

Nyssa hmms under her breath and the trio turns to her expectantly. “What are the characteristics of an old, married couple?” 

“All the obligations of marriage, none of the hot sex,” Sara replies readily, ignoring the spluttering from both Oliver and Felicity. “Don’t know and don’t care which part of that you take objection to,” she singsongs to their continued disgruntlement.  

“That sounds undesirable, beloved. We shall not be doing that.” 

Sara laughs quietly at Nyssa’s response as their quartet is bombarded by a stately-looking older couple, offering their sincere congratulations to Oliver and Felicity. Ignoring the death glares from the pseudo-couple, she quickly abandons figurative ship, leading her girlfriend away with a firm grip. 

“No objections to that.” 

Her lips are chapped, just at the edges and maybe a little in the middle. It’s an odd thing for him to notice, even odder that he can notice; she normally applies a precise layer of bright lipstick.  Except it had been Sara’s turn to choose the girls’ day activity yesterday so she had dragged a more than reluctant bunch hiking, and Felicity had returned windblown and woken up excessively groggy from the exertion. She’d requested—demanded—blueberry pancakes, and he’d immediately obliged, just glad that the other women hadn’t stayed over and he wasn’t cooking for the equivalent of a small army. 

Now, she’s happily grinning at him over the rim of her coffee cup, showing off those just slightly chapped lips, and he’s experiencing a not-entirely-unfamiliar jolt of kiss her. Felicity wrinkles her forehead at him, and Oliver figures she’s reacting to the abnormal application of his bedroom eyes in her direction so he purposefully clears his throat. “What are your plans for the day?” 

“Thea wants to get our nails done; she’s still grumbling that hiking isn’t girls’ day. Lunch, probably. Not sure after that.” Felicity bites down on her bottom lip in indecision, and that’s apparently the last straw as he all but lunges over the island. The first few moments are clumsy but not lacking purpose, and Oliver breathes her in for a second longer before Felicity staggers back in delayed surprise. 

“Um, kissing you?” Her response is dazed before she seemingly shakes it off, “Wait, kissing you was not on the agenda. The hell, Oliver?!” 

Oliver ducks his head, not knowing how he’s ever going to look his best friend in the eye again. Because it feels like he’s just flushed all those years of very careful separation and boundaries down the drain. “I don’t—Sorry?” 

“Now you’re apologizing for kissing me?” Instead of her Loud Voice, she’s back to sounding dazed, like this is all some sort of weird fever dream she’ll wake up from. Nightmares are dreams, too, his mind morbidly reminds him, and Oliver internally cringes. “I want to start yelling. Please explain yourself before I do.” 

Unable to think of an appropriate answer, Oliver responds in a way he knows will buy him some time: answering a question with a question. “Felicity, why do you think I kissed you?” 

“I don’t know! I don’t know why you do anything. I don’t know why you saw me, socially awkward, ungraceful IT girl with delusions of grandeur, and thought, This one. This one will be my best friend. I don’t know why you invited me to live with you when neither of us actually need or should have a roommate at our income levels and age. And I don’t know why you think it’s a good idea to participate in what is essentially a sexless marriage with your best friend who’s in love with you. I mean, Tommy’s kind of, not really, but maybe seriously accused me of cuckolding you.” 

“You’re in love with me?” 

Oliver recoils with such disbelief that Felicity actually drops her forehead to the wood counter before expelling a distressed sound of denial, and completely missing the slow smile stretching across his face. “Half? I mean, like five-eighths max. Actually, do you mind if I walk that one back entirely? Because digging our friendship’s grave legitimately isn’t on today’s agenda.” 

She’s refusing to meet his eyes so Oliver reaches out to lightly poke her shoulder. “Hey, two months ago, you straddled me, felt up my abs, and swore you felt nothing.” 

“You know that childhood saying? I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...” Felicity can only manage a self-deprecating smirk as she finally raises her head to peer at Oliver’s smiling—why is he smiling?—face. 

“Are you really comparing this situation to Thomas the Tank Engine?” Briefly, he flashes back to storytime with a young Thea, and that is not what he needs to be thinking about right now. He frowns at her sheepish smile; this is serious business. “You’re not being as cute as you think you are.” 

Felicity returns the frown because he should know by now when she’s purposefully using her babbling as a distraction. “I don’t think I’m being cute at all right now. What is wrong with you that you think I think it’s a good time to play cute?” 

“You’re always cute to me.” He immediately cringes so she knows it’s not a purposeful admission, which sets off her warning bells. 

“Something you’d like to admit?” Her question is just as suspicious as it is hopeful because her best friend is still grinning dopily and more importantly has not run screaming from the room. 

Oliver sighs, reaching for the hand that’s pointing an accusatory finger at him. After a long beat that’s as much for courage as it is to frustrate her, he breathes out the truth. “I’m five-eighths minimum in love with you.” 

She gapes at him for an even longer beat, her hand lifelessly dropping from his to land on the counter with a dull thud. For a moment, Oliver panics. He knows she needs the sincerity after the trauma of her father leaving and the often disjointed relationship with Donna. It’s a total misstep to go with the lighthearted answer. She’s never going to believe him now. Can he get a do-over? 

But then she slowly breaks into a broad smile, and he’s 99% sure it’s the best thing he’s ever seen. “You are not being as cute as you think you are.”

They take a moment to just beam into each other’s faces before Oliver comes to a sudden decision. He quickly rounds the long island, grabbing her hand to tug her over to the long couches. “We need a redo,” Oliver declares as he whips his shirt over his head and sprawls lengthwise along the couch in one eager movement. In response, Felicity carefully clamors atop him with barely restrained enthusiasm. He waits until she’s balanced straddling his hips again before speaking up again, ”Here’s the thing: I don’t think we were ever platonic.” 

Felicity scoffs even as she traces the ridges of his abs, astutely cataloging each sharp inhale and quiet gasp and relishing the tingling in her fingers. “Oh, now he realizes.”