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Hide Away {We Could Be Beautiful}

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Monday, 29th April 2013  

 

“I received another one of my mother’s frantic calls while you were showering this morning,” Felicity tells Sara, rolling her eyes in annoyance.

If Felicity had a penny for every time her mom called her, concerned about her well-being, she’d be rich. She’s not talking about the la de dah type of loaded either but the type where she would be off jet-setting the world and sipping on margaritas wherever the sunshine and cute tanned boys took her. She means, like, rich rich.

Give-Mark-Zuckerberg-a-run-for-his-literal-money rich.

She could buy all the companies that were surrounding her in the Starling Business District right now.  And still probably have money to start her own tech company and do the cute boys and sunshine jet-setting thing, too. Talk about luxury and good times.

The hustle and bustle of the people heading to work flows on the busy street as she waits for the red hand to change into the green man at the lights. There’s something about this morning's call that irks her a little more than usual. Maybe she got up on the wrong side of the bed, which isn’t really hard to do if your name’s Felicity Smoak and you have a pure hatred of mornings until copious amounts of caffeine is involved, and even then, mornings are tedious. Or, maybe it's the fact that it's her first day at a new job, and her mom's rambling phone call has annoyed her before she can transform into that person who screams, ‘Yay, I’m so blessed to be awake before noon!’ Also, she’s running a little bit late, which is making her on edge, too. Well, late by her standards, anyway.

Rolling in her lips over each other, Felicity tries to find a way to say what’s on her mind oh so casually to her best friend, who’s standing beside her.

Note the keyword: tries.

Because yeah, Sara’s not having a bit of it. Of course, she wouldn’t. It’s Sara. The girl has a sixth sense for knowing exactly what’s up with her. It’s like she’s owns a ‘Climbing Walls and Calling on Shit: A guide to Felicity Megan Smoak’ manual or something. In fact, she probably wrote it herself within the 4 years of them being BFFs. It would be terribly annoying if Felicity didn’t love her as much as she does. 

“You should cut her some slack. All this change has been hard on her,” Sara says gently but there’s a firmness to it that Felicity recognizes. They’ve been here many times, especially in the last two weeks; the conversation is definitely not new to either of them. She looks over her shoulder to check on Felicity as she tightens the black sash on her karate keikogi before crossing the road when the lights change. She offered to walk Felicity to work today, for, you know, moral support and all that. But it helps that Canary Karate Studio, which Sara owns and runs, is only a hop, skip and a jump away from QC, situated down a tiny alley among all the tall buildings.

“I moved to a new apartment,” Felicity deadpans. Her blonde ponytail swishes in her face as the crisp morning wind increases while she crosses the road, hurrying to catch up to her best friend.

“You moved across the country, Felicity,” Sara retorts, snorting a little and shaking her head in her typical what-am-I-gonna-do-with-you-Felicity? manner. “That would give most parents a heart attack.”

3,045.2 miles. Boston to Starling City. A mere 5 hour, 38 minute flight. That is all it takes; it may look extreme on a map but in reality it’s nothing. Really. Felicity doesn't see what’s the big fuss; all she did was pack up her things and go on a casual plane ride. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. That was two weeks ago and her mom is still carrying on like she moved to Australia or something. Not like she has any such intentions; she wouldn’t move there willingly. Because kangaroos. With their beady eyes and paws that punch. Creepy, shady animals who pretend to be cute.

She doesn’t want to sound like a whiny teenager who hates their mother, because she’s not. Felicity owes everything to her mom, and she’ll be forever grateful for her love and support. Google, there’s nobody else in the world that she wants by her side more. Donna Smoak is one hell of a fighter.

Except, this is ridiculous. All this worry about nothing. She’s a twenty three year old woman. She can take care of herself, and it’s not like she’s doing some wondrous groundbreaking thing. Literally hundreds of thousands, even millions of people do this every day.  Normal human beings trying to find some independence and a fresh start.  And you don’t see their mothers calling every 5 seconds to see if they are still okay since the last 5 seconds they’d called. 

Plus, she thought they’d all agreed that it was time to move on from that night in Boston.

So? People do it all the time.” She huffs with a pout, stopping on the sidewalk in frustration. She knows she’s being childish but it’s her life, her choice.

Sara obviously senses the change in the air because she comes to a halt and turns with a perfectly arched eyebrow and Felicity chooses to ignore the slight amused upturn of her lip as she tries to avoid the knowing gaze of her friend. She can’t stop what’s about to be said but she can hide for a few seconds more.

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, they say.

“Yeah, but you have a little more to deal with,” Sara points out lightly as she bends down and gestures to the sparkly red wheelchair that Felicity sits in. She gives it a pat for good measure before standing up and continuing in the direction of Queen Consolidated.

Felicity smiles at the action before scrunching up her nose. Her friend does have a point. She’s got her there. An incomplete spinal cord injury does impact your life. Even if she doesn't like to admit it. Gah, she finds it so morbid that her damaged spine is called incomplete. Like she really needs the reminder that she didn’t break it completely but only severely damaged it. Stupid doctors and their silly prognoses. 

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Felicity is a glass half full kind of gal after all. The fact she can still feel something in her upper right thigh, only if it’s a barely there tingle, is a bonus. Like when she won the battle against the by-the-book doctor who insisted that a catheter was necessary, when her test results had clearly shown that she was more than capable without one. Coming out on top with her head held high and her dignity intact was definitely a win in her books. 

However, today she didn’t feel like being positive about her mother’s worried thoughts.

“Well, she’s still accusing me of hiding away in my bubble and not being open to new things,” she whines, wheeling herself so she’s coasting alongside Sara.

Also, she did say she’s feeling a bit childish. So she gives her best mopey face and gives her moving wheel a tap, her version of a foot stamp.

Yep, she’s figuratively stamping her foot about this.

Ugh, why is her bubble involved? The bubble hasn’t caused any harm to anyone. Except her social life, maybe. But Felicity likes it like that. It’s allowed her to hide for the past five years. It’s safe and easy. Nothing can surprise her there. Her bubble lets her stay home most weekends and watch Netflix. Or code. Or scroll through her social media and be that stalker friend who knows what everybody’s up to at any given moment. The best part is that she can read until her little nerdy heart’s content. She likes anything from comic books to user manuals. But her guilty pleasure is romance novels; ones about soul mates and deep love, ones that make hearts race and pulses thrum. Whirlwind romances that take over souls. Love that she’ll never get to experience, but she’s okay with that. Romance and sex aren’t for women in wheelchairs. It took her finding out the hard way, but she has come to terms with it now. She’s not secretly crying over one of her novels and wishing that it could be her life.  No, frankly the idea of someone liking or possibly even loving her romantically scares the frack out of her since she’s been in the chair. But there’s something about seeing two people coming together—or reading about it—that brings her joy. She likes seeing people happy. And the bubble makes her happy. She can use it to shield herself from the outside world and cover the fear of being hurt with the illusion of liking her own company.

Sara watches her very graceful and classy adult tantrum, and with the way she’s grinning widely, the karate instructor is barely holding it together. Her shoulders shake even as her lips are pursed. Her blue eyes swirl with sympathy but there’s also a hint of the-jury’s-still-out-on-that swimming around the edges

“What? I've been out with you and Nyssa several times” Felicity argues defensively, but some of the bite in her tone is lost when she bounces over a raised lip in the sidewalk, her voice coming out stunted.

Out of all the third wheels in the world, Felicity has to admit she’s pretty lucky to have the coolest pair to third wheel to. Sara had moved back home two years ago from Boston to open up her lifelong dream of Canary’s, where she hired Nyssa, a badassed Taekwondo state champion who was looking for some extra cash. Like any great romances, one thing led to another and they fell in love. Nyssa had embraced Felicity like a sister, overlooking her circumstances and treating her like royalty. When Sara had worked last weekend, Felicity travelled with Nyssa as her date to an out-of-town tournament. Her best friend always jokes that she’s worried her girlfriend will leave her for the blonde.

“That’s different, Lis. And you know it.” Sara sighs as she circles an arm around Felicity’s shoulders and rubs her arm in comfort as they continue to walk throughout the throng of business people rushing by while on their phones. ”I’m your best friend and you live with me. You’re comfortable with us. All I’m saying is that Netflix and romance novels don’t constitute  plans on a Friday night... every week.”

The tap on her shoulder in jest at her reading romance novels doesn’t make Felicity say a playful retort back like she usually does. “They’re for someone who has no life!”

And given the way her best friend grits her jaw as her hand tightens on Felicity's shoulder, Felicity knows she sounds sadder than she intends to. 

There’s not anything either girl can say to that without getting deep at 8:42 in the morning. And no one wants deep that early, so they stride along together in silence, Sara’s arms still around Felicity’s shoulders with QC looming larger as they move with the busy crowd of suits.

“At least you’re trying something new today?” Sara suggests.

They’re outside Queen Consolidated. Their necks stretching in sync as they stare up at the impressive building, but each woman is wearing an entirely different look.  Like totally opposite ends of the spectrum.

Felicity is pretty sure that their faces could be used on those ‘How do I feel today?’ cards for kids in doctors’ rooms because Sara’s shocked curiosity is mimicking the emoji with the doubled raised eyebrows and the rounded mouth that is as small as the eyes. Felicity has always thought that emoji was pointless but now yeah, well done Apple™ you’ve finally found a moment that someone could use it.

That being said, her emoji face is a little more generic. The fear that is written on her features could exactly be the scream face or the puking face. Maybe a combination. She bets that emoji would sell like hot cakes. Because who doesn't feel nauseous when they are scared.

Either way, she has more than one emoji face right now.

“Being an EA to CEO that I have no knowledge about,” she says sarcastically before turning her head and making puppy eyes at Sara, before bringing up her hands up under her chin in her best ‘pretty-please-I’m-so-cute’ motion. “Are you sure you don’t want give me any information on The Queens? You’ve been here 2 years already.”

Let’s face it, Felicity’s more interested in the ‘Consolidated’ part than the ‘Queen’ part of the company. So when Robert Queen died in a boating accident 18 months ago, she was more concerned with reading the business updates rather than the tabloids.

She’d just assumed Moira Queen would be on the other side of the computer screen when the ding of the Skype interview call came through last month., However, she was met with the HR Manager, saying she’d be conducting the interview as the CEO was occupied with business matters, which seemed weird at the time but Felicity brushed it off, wanting to make a good first impression.

She never understood Starling’s obsession with keeping up with the Queens. But she’s been a New Englander for so long, so what would she know? She had only learned about the Queen family through a job expo at MIT, when she set her goals on QC as her dream career path.

A roar of laughter comes from her best friend as Sara tips back her head and puts her hand on her chest and gives Felicity a shit-eating grin.

Ugh, this is totally coming back to bite her in the ass. She should’ve known. If only she’d just listened that time when Sara was going on about them when the son, who apparently was in the army, was on the news for one thing or another. Instead, she’d angrily turned off the TV and given a lecture on how celeb gossip is indecent.

“Ha, I offered some of my magazines to you but you told me, ‘Tabloids are the black holes of information. They suck the decent human being part of your soul right out of you,’ ” her equally annoying and loving best friend says in a horrible high pitched voice which sounds nothing like her, okay. And whatever she’s doing with her hands, they are so not quote marks. “So no, I can’t help and corrupt your soul in the process.”

Sara Lance is a spoilsport. A big one at that. Felicity huffs playfully and sticks her tongue out in the direction of the other blonde before taking off towards the entrance, laughing as she goes.

“Fine, I’m sure Moira Queen is an efficient CEO and an excellent boss anyway.”

“Lis?” Sara calls out, her voice high in a singsong melody.

Turning one wheel back and one wheel forward, Felicity pivots her chair around and fear hits her hard at Sara’s face. She knows that glint in her eye and that damn smirk. Because that’s her I-know-something-that-you-don’t-know face. She can basically still hear the singsong melody going through her friend’s head as she silently says what she’s not telling her.

Shit, is it too late to do that google search she was tempted to do?

“Good luck.”

She takes a centering breath and exhales slowly like Sara has taught her too.

In. 1, 2. Out. 1, 2, 3, 4.

The familiar exercise immediately calms her, and she puts on a smile before nodding to herself. She totally has this. There’s nothing that Felicity can’t do if she puts her mind to it. Her past has taught her that and she’s also learned that it’s okay to take a moment to get her bearings.

A sound of a horn from the busy roads pulls her out of her thoughts and into the big wide world of Queen Consolidated. She looks up at the tall, modern building; absorbing in the city surrounding it through the blue reflective windows that cover the structure. She pulls her favorite purple wooly coat closer around her and swallows.

Right, let’s do this. And if she’s going to do this with style, she’s definitely gonna have a soundtrack in the background. Flicking through her Spotify, she chooses a poppy, empowering tune and pulls out her earphones from the back pocket of her chair and plugs them in until the sweet sound travels through her ears, making her do a tiny bob of her head to the beat. 

Now she’s ready to conquer the world. Everything feels better with music.

Doing one more check over of the building’s entry, Felicity’s crystal blue eyes follow the path that will lead her to her new beginning. With one final long breath, she can’t help but triple check that her QC ID pass is neatly hanging around her neck, and pat her pocket of her light gray pencil skirt, feeling for her phone. The movement causes the left bud to tumble out, so she places it back into her ear. Starting again, because LOL - sweat beaded forehead emoji face, that’s so typically clumsy of her earphones to do that - her hands comes down to meet the cool metal rims of the wheels of her chair, pushing off to start wheeling herself up the ramp towards the accessible doors.

She smiles when she reaches out to push the button for the door to open. Patiently waiting for the door to open invitingly, she starts to hum along to the song. But somewhere between the chorus and her humming turning into actual singing, apparently the door decides to not be automatic today.

Oh, c’mon! This is the legit bane of her life. Automatic doors failing to do their job. How hard is it to test them every so often? Obviously too hard because she faces this problem way too often.

Groaning under her breath, she stubbornly presses the button harder because the great genius Albert Einstein once said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

The door still isn’t computing. Grrreat.

Slamming her palm against the stupid wheelchair signed button one last time before realising she’ll have to do it the good ol’ fashioned way, she rolls up and starts to open it manually. The stupid glass door bounces off the rubber of her wheel and she loses her grip on the handle. On the second attempt, Felicity manages to open the door a crack, wedging it between her wheel and the left foot plate so she can let go of the outside handle and push from the inside while moving her chair around it. Despite the sucky situation, she can’t help but stop for a moment to hum the next song as it starts.

Felicity’s gearing herself for the big chorus breakout but is cut short when a guy comes jogging towards her, only slowing when he’s touching the door. Felicity notices that the gray suit he’s wearing is perfectly tailored and fits snug around his biceps, the soft material bunching as he pushes the door open she wheels herself back.

“Hey. Let me get this for you.” He whispers softly, walking through the door to hold it open from the other side, obviously noting that she’s humming slightly. Which is weird, because most people just stare when she’s listening to music because it looks like she’s talking to herself like a crazy person.

Okay, Felicity admits she does that sometimes. But that’s only when she’s coding. She’s not that crazy.

So she appreciates when Snug Suit Man has common sense. It’s kind of unusual. But it’s good and it makes her smile and want to be overly thankful. Some people can be jerks, either they watch her struggle and walk away or ignore her completely. But the others, who stop and offer help, she’s so grateful for human kindness. Despite the fact she would probably decline the help, those people get a big dose of happiness, like this guy. Felicity prepares to give her best happy sunshiney smile and whisper a thanks back before continuing the to be on her merry, but late, way.

But when she looks up to meet his gaze, her world comes to a complete standstill. Like her world comes off of its freaking axis.

‘Cause she’s staring into the most ridiculously beautiful, clear but intense, bright blue eyes she’s ever seen.

“Whoa…”

Felicity's having trouble functioning. She couldn't respond even if she wanted to. She was too busy staring into Snug Suit Man’s eyes.

Those eyes. Those hypnotising wild blue eyes.

They seem to have a haunted depth to them but yet they shine brightly. The mixture has her curious but hyperaware of the man before her. It's a sensation she's never felt before and Felicity isn’t sure how it makes her feel.  

Apart from feeling unusual.

Oh b-t-w, she's noticing that his other features are seriously hot too. Scuff is peppered along his squared jaw, and his messy short hair looks like it was made literally for fingers to run through it. Broad shoulders fill out the top half of his suit, and the tiny uptick of his lips are giving her butterflies low in her stomach.

The kind of butterflies that make her feel uneasy.

Blinking slowly and shaking her head to retain some normalcy back, Felicity wheels through the door, turns the chair on itself to face him, and swallows the lump in her throat while preparing herself to speak to the stupidly gorgeous man. Yeah, the butterflies that are swirling around in her stomach are definitely bad.

The door shuts behind him when he enters, making a beeline to where she's sitting. Rushing to pause the music, she tugs on the cord of her earphones, causing the them to fall out of the jack and the phone to tumble out of her pocket and land with a loud thud on the floor of the fairly quiet lobby. Thankfully, no poppy, empowering music plays tinnily through the iPhone’s speakers.

Thank you universe. Felicity 1, Embarrassment via iPhone 0.

Snug Hot Suit Man bends down to retrieve the the offending item and gently passes it over.

“Holy Google, I am so sorry! And thank you,” she starts to say apologetically as she takes the phone out of his hands, but pauses and tilts her head to study him. He's still crouching, his enchanting eyes solely on hers. If common sense is unusual, him kneeling before her is absolutely rare. Something that makes her giddy and nervous at the same time. This tall man is making his large body tiny so that they are on the same eye level. No one ever does this for her. Apart from Sara. And her mom, but even then half the time she forgets. She spends most of her waking time staring up at people. It's shocking that she doesn't have a permanent crick in her neck.

Feeling awkward at having this simple attention on her, Felicity blushes and looks down to where her hands are fiddling with her phone, and that’s when she feels it.

Oh god, one of her famously embarrassing nervous babbles is about to break free. She tries to tame it so it doesn’t unleash on this poor unexpecting man who has already helped her enough, but fails.

“Thank you so much. I’m so sorry, I’m just being extra clumsy today. Not that I can be clumsy in its original sense. Because hello, wheels!” she rushes out in a breath, internally wincing as she can feel herself pointing to her chair, but her brain seems to have a mind of its own because she continues on this absurd line of thought. “Ugh, I’m so late to this boring secretary job for the CEO, too! Well, not late late. But I wanted to get here early because I haven't even met the CEO. Like, she wasn’t even at my interview. Who doesn’t pick their own EA? What sort of boss does that? ‘Occupied with business matters.’ What does that even mean? Like is it -”

 A small choking sound that suspiciously sounds like laughter trying to be held back interrupts her long, weird speech and she immediately realises what she’s said. She groans as she puts her head in her hands, shame flooding her veins.

She’s totally going to get fired. She hasn’t even started the work day. Felicity 1, Embarrassment via herself 564690...

“I assure you, you won’t be getting fired anytime soon. And as for the CEO, I’m sure they had their reasons. Don’t take it personally.”

A deep, low voice fills the space between them, making Felicity look up to see Snug Suit Man still before her with a wide grin, eyes dancing with mirth as his head tilts to the side, studying her with a soft look.

Can this day get any worse? Now she’s obviously talking out loud.

Felicity can’t help but notice his smile as it grows from ear to ear when she slumps and groans more pathetically than before. She’s making a fool of herself and this guy only gets prettier. His lopsided, dimpled grin draws her in as a small chuckle escapes him before he extends a hand out to her.

“Oliver,” he tells her fondly as she grips his hand to shake. His hand look so big around hers, his fingers rough with calluses, but yet there’s a smooth warmth to them. It makes her more curious about the guy in front of her, which makes her want to distance herself even more.

“Felicity,” she replies back, slipping her hand back to return it to the brim of the wheel, giving Oliver a shy smile and an awkward wave before nodding towards the elevators. “It’s nice to meet you, Oliver. Thanks again, but I better head up to HR before I’m really late.”

The squeal of her wheels against the shiny tiled floor echoes as she turns to leave, but she doesn’t make it far when Oliver calls out for her.

“Felicity, wait!” The sound of his shoes tapping on the floor is the only warning Felicity has before he’s standing in front of her once again, smiling so broadly that a dimple appears on his right cheek as his eyes shine. “I’ll take you to HR.”

“Oh, that’s alright! I can find it okay, truly,” she says politely, despite that the dimple is giving his beautiful eyes run for their money. He seems to be a genuinely helpful guy, but Felicity can’t seem to shake the feeling that if she accepts his offer, she’ll either embarrass herself more or give in to her curiosity and let this stranger nudge at the gate of her perfectly constructed walls. “And it looked like you were on your way out?”

“Ah. Um, I was,” Oliver mumbles sheepishly at the floor, raising a hand to the back of his neck and giving it a little rub. If she didn’t know better, Felicity would think that Oliver’s nervous or something. Before she can have a moment to work out what the little frown on his face means, he straightens himself and raises his gaze to met hers. With a charming smile and a stare that could pin Felicity in place, he waits a few seconds before continuing, “No, I wasn’t. I was waiting for... someone. Obviously they’re running late.”

There’s no moment for her to refuse again as Oliver is turning on his heel and purposefully striding towards the elevators, looking over his shoulder.

“Are you coming?”

Wow, he’s certainly bossy for a good samaritan. But it’s not pushy in any way. There’s a kindness, even a gentleness to how he says it. It reminds her of how Sara is with her. Her best friend has always tested her limits, pushing her to strive for more. Like when she gives up too easily when she can’t reach the mint chocolate chip ice cream on the top shelf of the freezer, or when she thought she couldn’t do another sit up at physiotherapy rehab after her hospital stay. Something makes her believe that Oliver would be that kind of friend, too. Not that they are friends, or probably ever will be.

“Okay, okay. Hold your horses, mister!” she teases as she wheels beside him and watches him push the up button repeatedly. “Has anyone told you that you’re bossy?”

Huffing out a laugh, he gives her a little shake of the head and there’s a smile in his voice when he glances over briefly. “My sister. Numerous times.”

The moment’s broken when a text chimes through on his phone. He checks it and types back quickly before facing her with a crestfallen look etched on his face before he bends down to her level, stopping himself when his hands immediately go to rest on her knee.

“Look, I’m sorry those accessible doors weren’t working. That’s totally unfair to you. Maybe it’s worth telling HR when you go?”

Warmth hits her heart so suddenly at how genuinely concerned and worried he is about her accessibility that she has to put a hand over it to make sure it doesn’t explode. She’s never seen someone so thoughtful. Honestly, she can’t count how many times she has come across faulty accessible doors and things like that, especially in older buildings. Although she hates it in the moment, it doesn’t bother her that much, it’s just the way things are. Nobody checks these things unless somebody tells them.

“No, it’s fine. You don’t have to apologise, Oliver,” she says matter-of-factly, staring into his intense blues, noticing his narrow brows and his pursed lips. The need to comfort him about something that affects her is overwhelming. He so obviously cares that she can’t help but give him a reassuring smile as she pats his bicep. She holds back a gasp at the well defined muscle she feels under the soft material of his gray suit. “It’s sucky, but it happens all the time. Don’t worry, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get by. I’ll make sure HR knows, too.”

Nodding once, his frown eases as he stands when the elevator doors ding open.

“Good. I hate the thought of you getting stuck again,” Oliver says softly, voice filled with a hint of something Felicity can't name as she scoots past him into the elevator while he holds the doors open and steps in after her, blindly tapping on the button to take them up the 34th level.

A beat passes as the heaviness in the air settles around them. Felicity tries to stare ahead but fails, sneaking a quick glance over at Oliver who seems unaffected by the atmosphere. It’s only after she looks back at the matte metal doors that he breaks the silence with a light playful lilt in his voice.

“Sooo, if you have such disdain for the secretarial arts, why did you apply to become a ‘boring’ EA?” he teases, turning around so he can casually lean against the side wall and arch an eyebrow in her direction.

Felicity laughs then, not just at the question but how good he looks casually leaning against a damned elevator wall, looking very much like a GQ model. His blue eyes sparkle with boyish mischief as he waits for her reply.

Hey! I don’t have any disdain for the secretarial arts! I’ve never said that,” she exclaims, still giggling as she stares at those stupid eyes before readjusting her glasses on her nose, an old nervous tick she perfected years ago. “It’s just not my forte. Actually, my heart’s set on your Applied Sciences program. However, I still have a few more months on my Masters in Computer Science that I do online. Two more classes and then, yay master's degree! I saw this as a stepping stone for next year, ya know?”

She shrugs as the doors ding open and wheels out, only to stop and wait as Oliver steps in line with her.

“I’m sorry that you didn’t get what you wanted but you seem like the type of person who has a plan ready for next year,” Oliver says as he pats the top of her seat to gesture for her to follow him down the long hallway of doors. 

Something occurs to Felicity as they make their way down the wide hallway. Her brows knit in confusion as she takes in a glass door with ‘ACCOUNTING’ displayed in stainless steel letters before looking up at the man beside her.

“Oliver?”

“Hmm?”

“What is it exactly that do you do here?”

Oliver’s lips turn up slightly in a secret smirk as he comes to a halt outside a open door. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that through the doorway is HR, but Felicity, a certified genius, just stares at it blankly. She’s pretty sure that she’s having a brain malfunction right about now because Oliver’s at her level again, but this time he’s much closer than before. His knee is brushing against her wheel and his face is right there, causing Felicity to turn her neck slightly in order to see him. Scents of cologne, musk and something totally male invades her senses, and Felicity bites her bottom lip in reaction as the flipping sensation starts to stir again in her stomach.

Good lord, why does he cause this reaction in her? He’s only being nice like a sane, normal person. But yet there’s something about his thoughtfulness and plain adorableness that has her attracted to him. It’s not on looks alone; there’s also a pull that she can’t explain, which scares the living daylights out of her. Something that she must push away before it can slither through the gate of her walls.

He smiles like he can see the internal battle within herself, and he gently cups her elbow. His thumb stroking the crease once, before pulling away and pointing at the open door. 

“Through there is HR,” he says smoothly, ignoring her question. His intense eyes hold hers as he speaks. “Good luck. I hope you find some fun in your new job. I’ll see you around, Felicity.”

The tone in his voice makes the last statement sound more like a personal promise, and despite her trepidations, Felicity secretly hopes he keeps his promise. 

After signing her name over to the Fortune 500 Devil, Felicity Smoak is now an official QC employee. All she has to do is meet her boss and they’ll be on their way. Her chair parked neatly in the small sitting area of HR, Felicity puffs out her cheeks before slowly letting it exhale slowly through her lips as she picks at her aqua covered nails, waiting for the CEO to collect her. She doesn't quite know why she’s nervous all of the sudden. Maybe she’s not. It’s probably the thing with Oliver that has her on edge. Even the idea that she’s calling a technical stranger by his first name like she’s known him all her life is definitely unnerving. WTF is happening to her?

A tall figure walks through the doorway, turning heads of the workers in the cubicles. Their faces are like someone who has seen a rare animal in the wild. Or a muggle at Hogwarts. Or Bigfoot in general. Whoever it is does not come to HR a lot. Or ever, going by the high pitched gasp that poor old lady at the printer in the corner is making while clutching her at old lady pearls. And she’s clutching those bad boys pretty hard. Felicity doesn't have time to shift her gaze to where everyone's looking at before she hears a familiar deep voice standing in front of her.

“Told you I'll see you around.”

When she raises her head, she meets the same ridiculously beautiful intense blue eyes that made her world stop earlier that morning.

Frack.

Oliver is the CEO. Meaning, by her calculations that she’s barely calculating because, wow, Oliver is her boss, that Oliver is a Queen. Oliver Queen. Therefore, he’s the son that came back from an army tour not so long after Robert died, and he was plastered all over the news lately. Probably for the promotion of CEO of QC. Which means Sara probably knew this along and--

“I swear to Microsoft, I am going to kill her!”

“Not that it’s any of my business, but who are you going to kill? Because I don’t think that’s in the job description here.”

Felicity eyes widen in shock as she realises that she has openly admitted that she’s going to kill an unknown person out loud. To her boss. That is Oliver. A man who was kind and lovely to her and had a kind of moment with her in the hallway. Who’s now is staring at her weirdly with a confused smile.

OMG, she can’t even get her head around this.

“Sara!”

Of course, she freaking replies. It’s so like her to answer automatically. Because Donna Smoak taught her that it’s rude not to answer when spoken to. And of course, she kind of shouts it like he should know who the hell she’s talking about. This is crazy and she’s flustered and she’s sure poor Pearly over there has snapped her necklace in half from all the commotion.

“Sara?” Oliver casually asks. Like none of this is bothering him in the slightest. Actually he looks like he's enjoying this. His hands are in his pockets and he’s quietly chuckling to himself. Nodding to the exit, he gestures for Felicity to follow him to the elevators.

Not even bothering to answer him because she has her own set of questions that need answers pronto, Felicity trails behind him. Her dainty hands work overtime to push her wheels to keep up with him as she starts her line of questioning.

“Um, so where’s Moria?” she asks awkwardly as they step into the elevator. Once again, Oliver holds the doors for her even when there’s plenty of time for her to zip by.

Moira”--he has the audacity to sound like he’s talking about a mutual friend rather than the CEO of this company, and his mother. Okay, she kind of deserves that. She’s the one who called her that in the first place. But still, he doesn’t have to enjoy this as much as he is--“is focusing on her campaign for Mayor. So you have me now. Is that okay or are you going to kill me, too?”

She did read somewhere in the business newsletter a few months back that Moira Queen was contemplating running for mayor, so she’ll let that one slide. But his stunning, smirky face and his teasing questions? Yeah, she’s going to ignore them completely.

“And you knew who I was all this time, didn’t you?” Felicity asks accusingly, her bright eyes narrowing as he laughs and bends down to answer her.

“Kinda,” he says, putting up his hands in mock surrender, eyes sparkling as he explains, “But you were on the roll with that babble, and I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt you. I found it refreshing, actually.”

Refreshing? He found her babble refreshing? Oh Lord, and it’s all coming back to her now. She went on about her boring job and questioning the CEO’s hiring skills. Like she even had the right to: she was literally becoming a employee there. Ugh, she’s so awkward.

And her brain thinks of the worse way to says things.  

“And as for the broken doors,” Oliver adds sheepishly, looking down with a shy look on his face, “I didn’t want to embarrass you by admitting I was waiting for you.”

Her heart legit skips a beat on its own accord. The way his cheeks pinken as he smiles while his eyes dart to her then back to the floor, he’s clearly nervous to tell her. It’s adorable to see. But he’s probably right. She would’ve been embarrassed at the gesture of him single-handedly waiting to help her. Felicity has never been good at being in the spotlight. But the honesty is good. It takes a lot for people to be honest about things like that, she has found. It’s like people treat her as if she’s wrapped in cotton wool and wouldn’t cope with the embarrassment of bringing up the nature of her condition.

She might hate the attention but that doesn’t mean that she’s not stronger than she looks.

She’s about to thank him when the elevators ding open to the Executive Floor and he’s up and  nodding at her before stepping out in a rush. But that doesn’t stop him from being a gentleman with the doors though.

“Well, this is where all the magic happens,” Oliver jokes, gesturing to the smaller area with two main doors and a small meeting room near the elevators. He grins when Felicity gives him a chuckle.

She guesses the desk outside one door is hers and the room is his office. So the other door to her left must be the kitchen. Ooo, she hopes they have a fancy coffee machine. Because she will be definitely not complaining if they do.

The wheels of her red wheelchair squeak as she moves further into the space to inspect her  new work home. Everything is very modern and very white and it’s very, very cool, in Felicity’s opinion. The glass floor-to-ceiling windows show a picturesque view of the city below, and Felicity wonders why it’s not on a postcard.

“I can see why,” she quips, edging closer to the window. “The view is amazing!”

Oliver hums in agreement as he walks past her, but then his demeanor seems to go up a notch into business mode.

“C’mon, I’ll give you the grand tour later. But now, let’s get you settled at your desk.”

Nodding, Felicity drives herself under the desk and wriggles in her seat to get comfortable. She guesses that the CEO needs to get started on CEO things so they can’t chitchat all day. Placing her elbows on the table, her hands itch for the keyboard that’s in front of her. She can’t help it. It’s her own Pavlov's Dog situation. She’s been conditioned to reach out whenever she sees a keyboard. She longs to hear that tap, tap, tap sound of the keys. But she’s realising that the table is at that really awkward height where her hands are higher than her chest. Her elbows are going to do that weird thing where they’ll rub across the table and she be that EA with red blotches on her funny bones.

It’s annoying but it’s doable. She has had worse. Try to do chem experiments when you could rest your chin on the table perfectly. That was a fun class.

“Soooo...” she starts, grasping her hands together and looking up at him where he stands on the other side of the desk.

The sight that greets her makes her stop in her tracks. His blue eyes have turned intense as Oliver surveys her with a frown. He doesn’t look away as he pulls out his phone and dials. Very confused, Felicity looks down to see if there’s leftover Lucky Charms on her pink button down. More than likely, there’s going to be a wet patch with half-dried cereal on her left breast or something. She’s not proud of the statistic, but it happens at least once a week.

But who’s Oliver calling, the Fashion Police?

She sniggers at her own joke, but it dies when she hears him speak. Actually she thinks she sputters dumbfoundedly as her elbow slips off the table and wide eyes shoot up to meet his.

“This is Oliver Queen. Can we please order Miss Smoak a new desk? One that’s a few inches shorter.”

Who even is this man? Felicity hasn’t met someone who is so fierce yet blase about making her feel comfortable and at home within her physical surroundings.

It makes her head spin.

“Whoa…”

She really needs to stop saying that.

“What?” Oliver asks after hanging up the phone and pocketing it before coming around and sitting on the edge of the desk. The confused look on his face indicates that he thinks what he has just done means absolutely nothing.

“It’s-it’s nothing,” Felicity stutters. “You’re observant, that’s all. Not many people would notice the table height.”

“It’s common sense,” he says matter-of-factly, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.

Wait, when did common sense become swoon-worthy? Is it an actual quality that someone can be attracted to? Because Felicity thinks it’s just became the number one thing she’d look for in a man. If she dated, of course.

The man beside her sighs and checks his watch before turning his torso towards her.

“I have a board meeting in a few minutes. So I thought we’d get all the dull job requirements out of the way.”

Felicity rolls her eyes in response while Oliver smiles cheekily.

“Clearly you’re new to Starling because you didn’t know who I was, the CEO,” he quirks with humour, pointing two thumbs at himself before turning serious. “But I am new to the role so I’m learning as I go. All I ask of you is to take phones calls, manage my calendar, call me out if you think something isn’t right and just be yourself, okay?”

She nods. She can do all of that. Simple enough. Although that last one is pretty weird for a job requirement. But Oliver seems like a guy who doesn’t approve of fakery. Especially if he did a stint in the army. Office politics probably isn’t his type of fun.

“Your turn,” Oliver continues, waiting intently for her to speak.

Oh right. He wants to know about her. This should be interesting. People are curious but yet when they find out, they get this look of regret and pity. Like they didn’t really want to know. It’s not a nice story. But it’s one that she could tell in her sleep.

“So, I have what they call Incomplete spinal cord injury. I was in an accid-”

“No. Not about the wheelchair, Felicity.” He almost sounds offended that she thought he was asking about that. “I was asking about you. Do you have any requirements for me as a boss?”

Oh. That’s something else. People tend to go straight for the hard question. The butterflies in her tummy are back, fluttering harder than before. He’s asking about her.

“Umm...” she thinks out loud, her finger on her chin as she ponders. She shakes her head when the answer comes to her. “No, not really. But I like your honesty so that can stay.”

She smiles at him as he nods like she just told him the most important piece of information.

“Honesty. I can manage that,” he agrees, pushing off the desk and making his way to his office, not before adding with a gorgeous smile that lights up his beautiful eyes, “Well, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship, Felicity Smoak.”

Feeling like her world is about to change completely, Felicity watches Oliver stop at his office door and pivot back around, one hand one the door jamb.

“Oh, and if you want to take at look at the specs on your computer, I’m happy to get whatever you need to help you with tasks and your Masters when you get downtime.”

Having a friendship with Oliver Queen is going to be the easiest and the hardest thing that Felicity’s ever done.