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Adventures First, Explanations Take Such A Dreadful Time

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“And I told him, I told him that profits were gonna be up this quarter, but did he listen to me? Noooo. Pfft. Just some female who runs the CEO’s desk and still fixes all of the tech glitches at QC, what the hell do I know?”

Oliver licked his wrist, grabbed the bottle and took a swig, his eyebrows lowering slightly when Felicity started to move around weirdly, like she was trying to dance. “What are you doing?” he asked, eyebrows going lower. It looked a little bit like a seizure.

“This sweater’s too hot. Which, I gotta tell you, is a first because we keep this place like an icebox.” Her eye-roll included all of the Foundry in one sweep, which was a little impressive. Oliver just watched in fascination as she finally wormed free of the purple sweater. It hadn’t looked like a prison, but the way Felicity struggled against it, it might as well have been. “So anyway, that’s really not the first time Tim in Accounting’s been douchey, but it’s the first time he’s followed it up with an actual request to take me out. The man drinks Boone’s Farm, what the hell am I going to do with that?”

Oliver decided he probably should lay off the tequila. He was lucky he hadn’t been drinking during that last announcement, as one of Felicity’s computer monitors would have been covered by tequila and spittle right about now. “Yeah, that’s unfortunate,” he said, keeping his voice neutral.

“I mean, he’s cute and all, and he knows it, but he’s not, like, you and Diggle-level cute.”

Oliver wisely covered his mouth before he could start laughing.

Felicity bent over to pry her feet free of her pumps. “Shut up,” she said, pointing one finger at him (well, a little to his left, maybe she needed to lay off the sauce as well). “I am allowed to say that you’re cute and have it not be weird when you have that face, Mr. Queen.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The pumps went flying, joining the sweater in the pile in the corner. Felicity picked up the salt-shaker and dosed the side of her hand again and Oliver specifically did not pay close attention to the way her tongue flicked out as she licked up the salt. She took a long swallow and made the same face she’d been making all night.

“The vigilante lifestyle’s kind of hell on the dating life anyway. I mean, if I’m not staying late at the office, I’m here, and that kind of dedication’s hard to explain to some random nine-to-fiver dude. Which is why Tequila Fridays.” She helped herself to some corn chips and tossed them into her mouth, one by one. It was what she called her ‘drunk skills.’ She didn’t have a very good sense of aim while sober, but for some reason, pouring some liquor in her meant she could catch anything with her mouth: marshmallows, corn chips, jelly beans. She’d demonstrated several times.

Tequila Fridays had kind of become a thing.

“You want?” Felicity said, holding the bottle toward him.

He’d meant to stop, but… “Sure.”

“You know, me having Tequila Fridays, I can understand,” Felicity said, and he finished his gulp quickly before she could go on. “But you, shouldn’t you be out with one of your passel of women? They go for the brooding vigilante thing, you have your pick.”

“I’m not a brooding vigilante,” Oliver said, tilting his head a little.

“Fine. Brooding CEO, then. Either way, you’re like catnip for a certain type. Like…woman-nip. No, catnip works. Queen-nip?”

“Maybe you’ve had enough of this,” Oliver said, putting the cap on the bottle.

Felicity just shrugged and caught another chip. “Fine by me. Everything’s happy and a little float-y. Any more and it’ll go angry and drown-y.”

“I’m going to get us some water,” Oliver said. He wasn’t entirely steady when he rose from where he’d been sitting on the edge of Felicity’s desk, but he kept his feet under him as he crossed to the sink in the corner and filled them up a couple of glasses of water.

He turned around to find Felicity unbuttoning her shirt, and panic bolted through him. “What are you doing?”

“It’s hot in here.” She said it like it was completely obvious. “And I think I’m getting allergic to my clothes because it’s so hot.”

“Keep your shirt on.”

“You and Diggle parade around here half-naked all the time. It’s just a shirt, Ollie—ver. Oliver, yeah, I don’t think I can call you Ollie, sorry.”

“I really don’t mind,” Oliver said, and his blood pressure shot to unhealthy levels when she went back to unbuttoning the really pretty pink blouse she was wearing. “Felicity, keep your shirt on.”

“Why is it that only the douchebags in Accounting hit on me, anyway?” Felicity undid another button, a little line puckering between her eyebrows as she focused all of her attention on the task. “I mean, that last actual nice guy that was decent enough to be polite while he was hitting on me was Barry before you went all growly vigilante on him.”

She tugged the shirt out of her waistband and kept unbuttoning things, and Oliver was so distracted by her hands that it took him a minute to catch what she had just said.

“Hey, I don’t growl,” he said.

She seemed to think that was the funniest thing ever, for she fell against the desk, nearly upsetting the water glass he’d just set down. She giggled until there were tears streaming down her cheeks. “Oliver, I love you, I really do, but you totally growl. You’re like a green bear in leather and a hood. Oh, wait, you’re offended by that. No, no, it’s okay that you’re a bear, it really is. You make it work. It’s like your thing.”

“Thanks?” Oliver wasn’t sure what he could possibly say other than that. At least, the not-so-traitorous part of his brain pointed out, she’d stopped disrobing. He’d seen her in her work-out tank tops, which left her arms bare and her shoulders exposed, but trying to fight off Diggle on the training mat and pulling off clothing while tipsy on tequila and talkative were two very different things.

He tried not to think about Felicity that way. It wasn’t right. He respected her, even if she had just equated him to a teddy bear.

When he turned back to ask her if he should order some food from Big Belly Burger or upstairs, something greasy to help soak up the alcohol, she was in the process of peeling out of her shirt.

His mouth went completely dry. “Felicity—what are you—”

She turned and the panic finally subsided enough that he could see she wore a tank top under the shirt. “Hmm?” she asked. She balled the shirt up and tossed it into the corner with the pumps and the sweater. She massaged the side of her neck as she rolled her head around, sighing in relief. “Ah, that feels so much better. I gotta tell you, no wonder you and Diggle wander around shirtless all the time. This feels so nice.”

“Just do me a favor and keep the tank-top on.”

“Well, yeah,” Felicity said, and she snorted. “Like I’m gonna go full shirtless in front of you? Pppfft. Yeah, right. You have a full six-pack. Diggle has a six-pack and his arms oh my god. Roy has a six-pack. Even Sara has a six-pack. I have a no-pack. This shirt is staying on.”

“Good,” Oliver said before he realized what that sounded like. He winced. “I mean—”

“Though if you’re going to be a prude, you might want to look away because the hose is coming off, Oliver. It’s constricting and hot.”

“I’m going to go get us some food,” Oliver said, deciding that the best offense was to retreat the hell out of there before she compared him to a stuffed animal again. Also, he wasn’t entirely sure his system was going to settle anytime soon, not after the traitorous part of him had exploded with a riot of mental images of Felicity calmly peeling off even more clothing, like that skirt, and the tank top and— “Yeah,” he said. “Food. Now.”

“Cheese fries, please,” Felicity called after him as he all but ran for the stairs. “And a really big diet soda!”

“As you wish,” Oliver said. His last thought as he headed up into Verdant was that he had absolutely no idea why she had just made that strangled noise, and maybe it was better if he didn’t know.

It took his heart rate nearly an hour to slow down.

Oh, boy.

Was he ever in trouble.