Chapter 1: John Diggle
WHEN YOU FULLY TRUST SOMEONE WITHOUT ANY DOUBT, YOU FINALLY GET ONE OF TWO RESULTS; A PERSON FOR LIFE
A LESSON FOR LIFE
FROM THE OUTSIDE
“PERSPECTIVE IS THE WAY WE SEE THINGS WHEN WE LOOK AT THEM FROM A CERTAIN DISTANCE AND IT ALLOWS US TO APPRECIATE THEIR TRUE VALUE” –RAFAEL E. PINO--
The five times someone realized how much Felicity meant to Oliver and the one time Oliver realized it himself.
“THE BEST WAY TO FIND OUT IF YOU CAN TRUST SOMEBODY, IS TO TRUST THEM” –ERNEST HEMINGWAY-
“Felicity, are you sure your ok?” I ask for the millionth time that night.
“Yes, Mr. Diggle. I’m perfectly fine. Why won’t I be?” The blonde assures me.
I’m not convinced.
“Oh, I don't know, maybe because you had a bomb collar strapped onto your neck not even an hour ago because of a failed attempt to catch a jewel thief and were this close to a gory decapitation?” I respond sarcastically, completely aware of my raised eyebrows in disbelief.
Years and years in the military allowed me the ability to read people efficiently. This is how I notice the occasional tremble and the cracking resolve that is accompanied by panic and some sort of relief on the woman in front of me. I also notice her unwillingness to share it with me, which makes absolute sense since we barely know each other. However, if I’m being honest, saving a man’s life together holds more acquainting than necessary.
Still, I walk away from her for two reasons; one, to fetch her some cool water and two, to let her compose herself on her own.
“Here, drink this. Personal experience lets me know that a nice cool glass of water always snaps us back to reality.” I hand her the glass when I return and listen as she attempts to speak in between gulps.
“Thanks,” Gulp. “For the water,” Gulp. “And for taking care of me today,” Gulp. “And for doing whatever you did with the bomb collar back there.” She places the now empty glass on her desk.
“That wasn’t me, it was Oliver.”
“Ya. But you were the one fiddling with the bomb like a pro even though you didn't know a thing about it and was aware of the fact that you didn't know a thing about it but only fiddled with the bomb like a pro to make me feel more relaxed and at ease so that I can do my job and stop the man who put bomb collars on innocent people.”
Sometimes, it's easy to forget that she’s much smarter than most people are, especially when she’s currently a tiny, shivering mess of blonde hair and a short dress, on the verge of a panic attack.
I hear the clanking of heavy footsteps and although I know its Oliver, my hand instinctively go to my holster, only letting go when he finally reaches the last step and to our line of sight. The action is not lost on Oliver, nothing really is lost on Oliver, but I don't care.
He barely even spares a glance my way as he charges towards Felicity and frantically checks her over.
“Mr Queen...Oliver, I’m fine. Nothing happened to me thanks to you and Mr. Diggle. Actually, it was my fault in the first place. I should have never confronted him like that. I just wasn’t thinking. Never mind, I was thinking but I thought that he would put a bomb collar on me in the middle of a function crowded by people. So...” she trails off, unsure what to say.
“No, Felicity. It was my job to protect you and I failed. I’m sorry.”
I roll my eyes inwardly. He’s been playing guilty so much, that by now, it's almost expected of him to take the blame by now. Felicity though, has not been with the real Oliver Queen for long and therefore, doesn’t know the guidelines to the man.
“Oliver. If you failed, then I would be a dead, not-so-hot mess right now. The fact that I’m here and safe and alive are perfect reasons as to why you didn't fail.”
Oliver doesn’t say anything in return, he may be stupid enough to continue to silently hold on to his guilt, but he’s not stupid enough to argue with Felicity, especially when she’s fired up like this, he’ll never win. So the room is blanketed in an extremely gauche silence. It’s Felicity that (unknowingly) breaks the tension by once again shivering slightly, but, by being trained (me in the military, and him by God knows who,) to notice even the slightest of movements, both Oliver and I notice the subtle gesture.
“Here, take my coat. You’re cold.” Oliver removes the jacket of his tuxedo and wraps it around her, probably knowing the she would refuse otherwise.
“No...Um...I...Thank you. It's warm and it smells like you. Not that I smell you or anything. It's just that everyone has a specific smell usually defined by the products used or their daily perfume. Or it could be something they ate and so I was just remarking on how your jacket has the same scent as...I’m going to go there...and run some searches for...stuff.”
A soldier’s weakness in the battlefield is any sign of tenderness, a sign of compassion. A babbling, IT geek can bring out the rare smile from Oliver Queen, and I hope for all our sakes, that the outside world won’t know Oliver’s tells as much as I do, because he’s not doing a very good sign in hiding his weakness at the moment.
I allow my partner a few seconds to gaze adoringly at Felicity before clearing my throat. He snaps out of his daze and stares at me, his mask unfortunately back in place.
“Let’s go few rounds, shall we?”
I hear Felicity snort from where she is seated and we both once again turn towards her.
“Sorry, my brain has the worst way of picturing things.” She sheepishly shrugs her face a flaming red.
I look at Oliver and shake my head with amusement before he goes into the spare room to change into sparring clothes, which practically consists of no shirt (he does that more often to get Felicity riled up) and khaki pants.
We’re both standing on the mats, legs apart and tensed, ready to make a move if the other did, but knowing that no one is going to do anything due to extreme tiredness. So, we just circle around each other. I don't miss the way Oliver’s eyes go to Felicity’s figure and stare at her, until on some sort of instinct, she turns around a gives him a reassuring smile. He’s been doing this quite often now, almost every two minutes. It’s as if he’s assuring himself that she’s still here, that’s she’s safe and alive.
“She’s fine Oliver. You saved her.” I quietly tell him the words he needs to hear. However, I know that the mere words itself aren’t going to absolve him of the guilt. It was his idea to bring her into the team after all.
“Barely, Diggle. She was this close to being dead. I made a pact to keep her safe the moment I met her and I almost failed today. I almost failed her today.” He responds, his eyes never leaving our blond companion.
“Don't beat yourself up over it Oliver. No one could have ever known that the Dodger was going to put a bomb collar on her. It wasn’t your fault.” I reassure him, even though I know that no amount of reassuring is ever going to dampen the guilt he carries.
“She’s not going into the field ever again.” He seems to be telling himself that more than to me, but I nod anyway. Probably because I agree with that statement. She shouldn’t be in the field, because she has no training whatsoever (not that I can particularly image her trying to hurt someone) and would be vulnerable to herself and Oliver if shit hits the fan. It's then, in that moment that something Oliver previously said comes rushing back.
“You made a pact to keep her safe the moment you met her? What is that supposed to mean?” It doesn’t make sense. Felicity didn’t know Oliver’s secret then. I hide a smile and mentally pat myself on the back as Oliver winces after realizing that he unintentionally gave something away before a wry smile takes over his face.
“I told her that I spilled latte on my bullet ridden laptop and asked her to salvage it. She didn't believe it, she knew that it was bullets, but she helped me anyway. I knew that I was going to need tech assistance soon and I was planning to comfort her as the hood every time I needed help. I wasn’t planning on revealing my real identity and bringing her here though.”
“You do realize that she would have figured it out somehow. And that’s assuming you didn't tell her yourself.” I tell him, putting forth the inevitable.
He shrugs, gives Ms. Smoak one (long) last look and walks away.
As I’m putting away the sparring sticks to the corner of the room, it hits me (all of a sudden) that Oliver trusts Felicity. It may seem like a trivial matter to the customary eye, but as someone who’s been with Oliver Queen and the Hood almost all day and night for the past few weeks; it is such a significant matter. Because Oliver (the man that came back from a clearly brutal island that ate up everything that he was) trusting someone is a rarity. And I berate myself for not seeing the visible indications of the silent faith between them. Because it was always there, since day one.
See, Oliver went to Felicity for help long before he even remotely started to consider me as a potential ally. The blond IT genius had a place in his life as the Hood without either of them realizing it. However, I know now that it was intentionally done on Oliver’s part, which makes sense since the man precisely calculates every move in relation to the Hood. But he didn't calculate the immediate dependence he would have on Felicity. Not just the computer skills, although they are phenomenal, but Felicity herself. He’s attracted to her light, her babbles, and her positive view on life. He’s dark and he needs light. And light is Felicity. And now I'm starting to sound like a fucking poet.
It's an enormous risk to give someone hard evidence of what he was doing every night. Especially to a genius like Felicity. If he had brought in one more clue, she might have been able to piece things together. But Oliver trusted Felicity without even completely knowing her. That instance was very clear the day he was infused with Vertigo. I’d always wondered, ‘why go to a computer specialist, when you can go to the Applied Science Center?’ I didn't ask Oliver that, but the question was probably written all over my face because as the blond was walking towards us nervously, the man whispered to me under his breath,
“Don't worry. She’s a genius. She’ll figure it out.”
A few minutes later (after a babble on syringes, and ‘I said not, right?’), I could see why he was so enamoured with her. So, it wasn’t really a surprise when she came rushing down the stairs a few nights later, because Oliver knew that he could bleed in the backseat of her car and trust that she would take him here.
It all comes down to the trust the two of them have built in such a short period.
“WHEN YOU FULLY TRUST SOMEONE WITHOUT ANY DOUBT, YOU FINALLY GET ONE OF TWO RESULTS; A PERSON FOR LIFE
A LESSON FOR LIFE”
John Diggle knows that Oliver Queen found the former in Felicity Smoak.
Chapter 2: Tommy Merlyn
“THERE IS A LOOK THAT CAN MELT A WOMAN’S HEART FROM ACROSS A CROWDED ROOM THAT TELLS OTHER MEN, ‘SHE’S UNDER MY PROTECTION...’” GRAHAM R WHITE
“THERE IS A LOOK THAT CAN MELT A WOMAN’S HEART FROM ACROSS A CROWDED ROOM THAT TELLS OTHER MEN, ‘SHE’S UNDER MY PROTECTION...’” GRAHAM R WHITE
The pen makes a repetitive ‘clink’ on the metal of the countertop as I look through the numbers of the alcohol stock, a job that was supposed to be done for yesterday. Without my consent, my mind wanders to the interruptions and insanity of yesterday. I was falsely accused of selling drugs, the police raided the entire area, and I had to break my back moving computers, tables and arrows from the basement to save a certain bastard’s ass. Bottom line, I saved the bastard’s ass a countless number of times yesterday. At least the asshole had some dignity and humanity left to defend me.
“He’s selling Vertigo out of this building.” Lance confidently tells Oliver.
“Detective, I don't care what you may think of Tommy, but I know for sure, that he would never sell something that harmful to anyone. Never.” Oliver says just as confidently back.
Although, he may be an unrecognizable killer now, his defending me allows me to see a flash of the old Oliver and realize that I might have been too hard on him after all. Just a little though.
I close the door behind me, walk into the teeming, noisy club, and flinch from the absence of silence for the first time in my entire life. I take my usual place behind the bar, and keep an eye on my surroundings, alternating from the dance floor, and the narrow hallway that leads to the back door to Oliver’s secret hideout. Usually, around this time, he will make an appearance as the responsible owner for a few minutes before he retreats to the solitary confine of his man cave.
Instead, I see him walk into the club from the opposite direction; the front door. He scans the room thoroughly; something I should have noticed was a habit ever since coming back from that island, and he makes his way towards the bar where he spots me. He rests his elbows on the pristine counter and looks into the distance as I try to racket my brains for possible conversation.
“What’s with the sudden change?” I ask him, fully aware that he won’t understand what I’m trying to say the first time.
“Hmm?” He questions and I mentally summersault for finding a tactic to extend the conversation (as lame as it is).
“You came through the front door for a change,” I explain.
“We’re taking a break today. John is at home with his girlfriend, Felicity is at home...doing something and so I decided to pop by and see how things were going.”
I nod silently, understanding that this conversation is over. We stay like that for a minute before Oliver clears his throat and wanders away, telling me he’s going to check on things in the VIP lounge. Once he is out of eyesight, I groan and place my head on the cool counter. Oliver and I have had fights in the past but the one element we could always rely on was conversation. We could sit down and talk for hours about anything and everything. Now, even our one-minute long conversations are awkward and tense. It isn’t my fault; I just can't see things from his perspective.
I look up, back at the crowd and spot a girl. A really, really hot girl. She’s wearing this tight, green dress with a slit that ends mid-thigh and enunciates her gorgeous ass along with these strappy heels that look as if the devil made them. Her straight blond hair is clipped back leaving me (us all) with a clear view of her bright (and when I say bright, I mean bright) blue eyes. It can't help but bother me, because this woman looks very familiar. But the way she awkwardly manures through the dance floor to get out is not proverbial. Perhaps she was one of ‘those’ girls.
I watch as a highly intoxicated man walks up to Ms. Blue Eyes with the Nice Ass and whispers something in her ear. She smiles gently and from what it looks like from here, turns him down on his possible offer to dance. But, drunk-guy is very persistent as he tugs on her arm, which she snatches back real quick and speeds up, dodging her way through the swarm of bodies. He roughly places a hand on her shoulder and I watch in fascination (I know, I'm a creep) as her face quickly morphs into anger and she turns around, probably to give the asshole a piece of her mind. But before she can, two bouncers violently grab ‘asshole’ by the arms and drag him to the exit, while the confused Ms Blue Eyes with the Great Ass watches.
“Is everything alright?” I almost jump at the sound of Oliver’s voice from beside me.
“Jesus! When did you come back?” I ask him, noticing the slight twitch on his mouth, which is the only form of a genuine smile anyone receives from him now.
“Just now.” He tells me, and we watch in silence that isn’t as awkward as before.
I continue my scrutiny on Ms. Blue Eyes with the Great Ass who looks as if she realized something, that didn't make her very happy. She scans around the room, presumably looking for someone and finally, her gaze lands on the counter I’m at and her eyes narrow angrily.
Shit! What did I do? Did I impregnate her? (Laurel’s going to have a field day with that one.) Was she one of those girls that get angry when I didn't call? Did she notice my not so subtle stalking of her just now? My face probably is in a full-panic mode as she nears us, her (really pointy) heels making a clinking sound through the music.
She walks up to the counter, stands directly across from Oliver and bangs her fist on the countertop. I sigh in relief; she’s one of Ollie’s flings.
“I had that handled.” She tells him sternly.
Wait, what? I was expecting something along the lines of ‘I’m Pregnant.’
“I don't know what you’re talking about,” Oliver says innocently (only I, who has been with him since forever, know that nothing about that face is innocent.)
“Don't give me that fake look Oliver. I had that guy handled. You didn't have to kick him out for me.” She tells him.
So I wasn’t the only one that noticed ‘asshole’ bothering Ms Blue Eyes with the Great Ass.
“Felicity, this is my club. It's my responsibility to take care of the club and prevent people like him from bothering my customers.” Oliver tells her.
Of course, she’s Felicity Smoak. Oliver’s geek that helps him with his vigilante work. That’s why she looks so familiar. Although I’ve never personally talked to her, I’ve seen her around in the club a few times before she disappeared back down into the liar.
“Ya. That’s only if it is clear that someone is bothering your customer. What if he was just asking to dance and I would have accepted the offer if he did.” She retorts back.
“Felicity.” Oliver slowly says her name, enunciating every syllable, saying with such intensity I’ve never heard from Oliver before.
“The point is Oliver; you’ve been watching me like a hawk ever since Helena. Frankly, it's getting really annoying. Even Diggle pities me.” She complains and seats herself on the barstool.
“I’m just trying to protect you, Felicity.” He tries reasoning.
“I’m not going to suddenly combust Oliver. You need to stop treating me like a child. Nothing is going to happen to me.” She assures him.
“Your right, if something ever happens to you, it’ll be over my dead body.” He says with such ferocity, I’m holding my breath until he completes his sentence.
Ms Smoak looks at a loss for words, and I don't blame her. This is some messed up caveman shit Oliver’s got going for him. Also, it's the first nice thing Oliver’s ever said to a girl and actually genuinely meant it. However, I know that they’re not dating. So they’re just...really, really, really good friends?
It's then that Oliver finally notices his charming, sexy best friend and realizes that he’s never introduced said charming, sexy best friend (me) to his other hot, sexy friend (Felicity ).
“Tommy, this is Felicity Smoak. Felicity, this is Tommy Merlyn.”
“Ya, I know. It’s nice to finally meet you. Not that I haven’t met you before, we actually have seen each other and were aware of each other’s existence, but it slightly weird that we’re meeting now because I have been under you for a very long time. And I am shutting up in 3, 2, and 1.”
Okay. How the heck am I supposed to respond to that?
“I ramble. A lot.” She says as an explanation.
“Ya. I can tell.” I tell her and she smiles good-naturedly and tucks her hair behind her ear, allowing me a good look at the silver arrow that poses as an industrial piercing.
“Sir, there are just too many people in my area. Can't I send a few to the other bartender?” An employee (Max) asks me with desperation in his voice. I look at his bar, cringe at the swarming (somewhat angry) men surrounding it, and shrug apologetically.
“Sorry man, but unless you want to deal with the boss’ wrath and risk getting fired, I suggest you keep your trap shut and continue. I’ll send in a few waiters or waitresses to your bar for help okay?”
Seems that Oliver Queen is going through a very emotional crisis over Felicity Smoak and said crisis is prompting him to act like a possessive caveman.
After I was introduced with the lovely (hot) Felicity Smoak, we (Oliver and I) noticed the presence of quite a few (horny) men appearing at our counter despite the very empty counters on the other side. We (Oliver and I) soon discovered that men were not coming for a drink, but rather to flirt with Oliver’s cute tech-geek.
This didn’t bode well for Ollie (at all). So I, being the ever-present friend and making sure to keep him out of trouble (a newly attained position), gave myself the liberty of distracting the men (whose lives were in dire danger) who were hitting on an oblivious Felicity.
Apparently, it wasn’t enough.
Because Oliver looked very...arrowy to say the least. In fact, I was afraid that the ‘Hood’ would make an appearance during the night and shoot all the men who looked at Felicity Smoak like they wanted a piece of her which made me refrain from even looking at her much to her confusion (we were having a great conversation on Ollie’s annoying tendencies.)
So, I moved all the men to the other bar on the opposite side of the bar, away from Felicity Smoak and therefore away from Oliver Queen.
This brings me back to now. After sending the poor bartender off, I make my way to the bar where the Mr. and Mrs. sit, the latter trying to teach the former a few things about the technology he missed in the five years he was gone.
They're both engrossed in their conversation, with her waving her hand wildly as she speaks and his eyes never leaving her face as he listens, a small smile on his face. A genuine smile.
Quickly realizing how stalkerish I must look, I avert my eyes from the happy...pair and rather look at the long line up of girls in wait for a drink. They’re all Oliver’s (pre-island Oliver) type; long-legged, brunette, and as fake as a plastic cup. I guess they realize that they’re Oliver’s type (or hope to be) because unlike the men on the other side of the bar, these ladies don't make a single complaint at the tardiness of their drinks, instead they are content to watch the billionaire as he speaks with his lady friend.
That’s when it finally hits me. I realize that during the course of the entire evening, Oliver hasn’t noticed any of his leggy brunettes the way he usually did. Even when the odd brave one would muster up the courage to seductively walk across Oliver (too close to him) he wouldn’t even spare a glance. If this were five years ago, he’d be soaking up the attention, swinging from one chick to the other like monkey bars (EW, bad metaphor). But now, I don't even think he knows they’re here.
He’s too busy talking (staring, laughing, and smiling) with Felicity. I feel a small smile (or is that a frown? Why do I feel so drunk, sober?) grow on my face as I make my way back into the alcohol stock for some much-needed silence. This is way too much thinking for my mind. But I guess all it took was the recognition of Oliver as the vigilante and the way Oliver looks at Felicity to figure out that Oliver sees everyone (with the very rare exception) as threats, probably due to whatever crap he dealt with back in that island.
I guess I should give him a chance. Maybe I was a bit too hard on him. We’ll have a long (overdue) talk tomorrow.
I look up to spot a Felicity-less Oliver standing, his arms propped on the counter, his eyes focused on the door that leads to his man cave. The door in which Felicity skips (literally skips) out from with a jacket and tablet in her hands. Then, both Oliver and Felicity make their way out of the club with the former’s hand placed in a protective stance over the latter’s back.
“IF YOU FIND SOMEONE YOU LOVE IN LIFE, YOU MUST HANG ONTO IT AND LOOK AFTER IT, YOU MUST PROTECT IT.” DIANA- PRINCESS OF WALES
Tommy Merlyn can't believe it, but Oliver Queen does all these things for Felicity Smoak
Chapter 3: Thea Queen
"SOMETIMES, YOU MEET A PERSON AND YOU JUST CLICK - YOU'RE COMFORTABLE WITH THEM, LIKE YOU'VE KNOWN THEM YOUR WHOLE LIFE, AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO PRETEND TO BE ANYONE OR ANYTHING." ALEXANDRA ADORNETTO
“LOVE IS THE INEXPRESSIBLE COMFORT OF FEELING SAFE WITH A PERSON BECAUSE YOU NEITHER HAVE TO WEIGH YOUR THOUGHTS NOR MEASURE YOUR WORDS.” DINAH CRAIK
I look away from my tablet to see my brother walking into the club, his business suit (I’ll never get used to him wearing one) still on, and a briefcase in hand. He makes his way into my (his) office and although I was initially planning to leave, I decide to make an exception for a few moments alone with Ollie (we don't get those anymore).
“Look who decided to finally show up to his club.” I tease, treading unfamiliar waters.
“You’re doing a great job with it.” Is his short reply (most his replies are short ever since he came back from the island) which is proceeded by a barely audible chuckle (to my relief).
I walk into the office and gesture him inside, to which he willingly obliges and comfortably takes a seat on the plush, red sofa, and addition I added a couple of weeks ago.
“How is the club?” He asks me and I take a seat from across him, on a matching sofa.
“It's okay. The same old thing. Didn't realize how hard it was running a bar though. But I think I do it much better than you.” I say frankly, with a note of tease to lighten the atmosphere.
“Ya. Ya, I think you do. I'm proud of you Speedy,” He admits softly and I have to blink back the tears that form in my eyes at his words because that all I’ve ever wanted to hear from him.
“It's not just me though. Roy. He’s been helping a lot. With everything. And I'm thinking of getting him a higher position. Something better than a bartender.” I tell my brother, trying to defend Roy’s place in my life.
”Whatever you want.” His voice is slightly distant as if bringing my boyfriend into the conversation meant that he should remove himself from it.
“You know, you’ve got to get used to Roy, and me and Roy. Cause he’s not going anywhere Ollie. Not if I have anything to say about it.” I defend my boyfriend.
And for good measure (and my own curiosity) I add,
“And plus, I never complain about that blonde secretary you’ve been hanging out with all the time. Do I?”
“Executive Assistant.” His response is immediate and I don't know what to make of it.
“She’s my Executive Assistant. Don't ever let her catch you calling her a secretary.” He warns me, and leaves so many doors open for my next move.
“That’s if I get to meet this new Executive Assistant of yours. Is that all she is by the way? I mean, the blond, geeky kinds aren’t really your type, but I guess she’s pretty in her own way.” I walk through the door with the most opportunities to continue this conversation.
“Thea, Felicity is a friend. A good friend. I needed someone I could trust to manage me at QC and she was the only possibility I could think of.” It's touching; his answer. Too bad, I don't believe a single word of it.
I'm about to grill him more on his relationship with the blonde, when the woman in question bursts into the room (and when I mean burst, I mean burst. The dramatic flinging of doors and all), with a tablet and phone in tow.
Without even bothering to look at her surroundings, she strides straight towards my brother and thrusts a phone into his ear, which he accepts with a questioning glance.
“Call now, questions later.” Is her four-word reply.
“Hello?” Ollie’s voice is tentative but firm, and if I inch closer to attempt to hear the other side of the phone call, blaming my curiosity on Ollie’s EA’s excited face.
“Mr Adams, what a surprise. I was expecting to hear from you in a week or so.” Oliver says politely and I internally gag.
Whatever ‘Mr Adams’ says through the phone makes Oliver ‘s face (almost) mirror Felicity ’s excited one and he gets off his seat to continue the conversation outside.
Before he leaves, he holds the phone a few inches away from his ear, covers the speaker and looks at Felicity with a smile that causes me to choke on my own spit because I didn't even know Oliver Queen from before or after the island could smile like that.
“Felicity Smoak, you are remarkable.”
And with that, he leaves the room.
It's then that my brother’s new friend decides to notice the other presence in the room; me. When she does, she makes an adorable squeak and stumbles back.
“God, I didn't notice you. Not that you’re not noticeable, your very noticeable, cause your Thea Queen and your Oliver’s sister who's really pretty and successful and practically runs Verdant where come often and is probably internally laughing at me because I'm rambling. And I will stop. Now.” She’s unbelievably cute, and genuine. I can see why Ollie is so enamoured with her.
“I'm Felicity Smoak. We’ve met before—once. When Walter was rescued and I came by his hospital room to give flowers. But you probably didn't notice me because you were busy with your dad, who isn’t your dad anymore and ...I’m sorry—I didn't mean to imply that—you know.”
“That's alright. I know what you mean. And I do remember you.” I save her from misery, as the poor girl’s cheeks are already flaming red.
Ollie then charges into the room or more specifically to Felicity and envelopes her in a big hug murmuring a quiet but audible praise into her hair,
“I don't know what you did, but you are the best EA ever.”
It appears that it wasn’t exactly a compliment. Well, not for Felicity.
“That’s because I shouldn’t be an EA. I am overqualified to be an EA. I spent years studying my ass off to become an IT expert, not an EA. Oliver I’m a genius. My IQ is higher than everyone in your stupid conference combined!” She yells with a passion and if it weren’t for Oliver telling me how smart she actually is, I would have scoffed at her for being cocky.
“I know. And as soon as I get settled in, I promise to put you back where you belong and hire a new secretary.” He reassures her, putting his hands on her shoulder and I’m surprised by the lack of reaction from Felicity as if this is a normal occurrence every day.
“I'm holding you to that.”
And if I was surprised by Felicity’s nonchalance to Oliver’s touch then it was nothing compared to the shock I'm in when Felicity jabs Ollie (do not touch me or I’ll flinch and regard you as a threat Ollie) in the chest and he fails to give a response.
They finally remove themselves from their love bubble when Ollie realizes that he has a little sister sitting in the room posing as an audience. He clears his throat and shifts Felicity around using her elbows so that she’s facing me.
“Speedy, this is...”
“Felicity. Your friend. We’ve met already. Twice.” I interrupt him and then I wish I hadn’t because the room is then bathed in an awkward silence I'm not able to break.
But Felicity is.
“So...I like the new Verdant. Not that I didn't like the old Verdant. I mean, I never really had a good look at the old Verdant because I was too busy—helping you. Set up your routers. And you know...”
And that’s how we found ourselves discussing business for the next half hour; from QC to Verdant and then somehow to Big Belly Burger. But in all interest, I was only paying attention and participating when I was asked a question or when Ollie or Felicity looked at me for an opinion.
I was too busy (creepily) observing my brother.
I was young when Ollie left in that boat almost 7 years ago, but it was obvious that the man that came back from the island was not the boy that left. He was changed—and not in his sudden knowledge of Russian, or the scary amount of scars he received—but in the way he presented himself, the way he acted, it was different.
Ollie was never good at speaking his heart, he’d always make things seem insubstantial, as if they didn't matter to him. He was always good at hiding his feelings, but he used to talk to us. He used to come home (drunk or not), go to the kitchen to find something to eat, and on the way to his room, strike up a conversation with anyone in passing.
Now, he’s as silent as night. And it's getting harder and harder to talk to him. Because when we (me, Laurel, Mom, anyone) try to talk to him, he closes off, and thinks. He thinks about what he’s going to say, as if saying the wrong thing will cost him his life. He carefully weighs his words and his stance is always stiff and defensive, as if we’re interrogating him (when in reality we’re just asking about his day).
And honestly, I don't know whether I should be hurt by the fact that he does none of this with Felicity or happy that he’s found someone he can be genuinely carefree around.
He’s relaxed with her by his side. It's as if he has no role to play, no mask to wear. He’s not afraid of saying the wrong thing and the words just tumble out of his mouth before he can think it through. He doesn’t close off, as though he has no fear to be who is he is. He laughs and smiles as he pleases, and frowns and glares openly. He’s relaxed and happy, and he doesn’t look like he wants to be anywhere but here. In other words, with Felicity, it's as if Ollie can just be. And it hurts like hell—because why can't he be like that with his own family?
My inner musings and the conversation end when Felicity grabs her coat and tablet and stands up.
“Well, that was fun I guess. But um—I have a pint of mint chip ice cream and a Doctor Who episode waiting for me at home so I better get going.” She says as she makes her way to the door.
“Wait, Felicity,” Oliver calls and gets up after her. Another thing I forgot, my brother seems to have a weird obsession with Felicity’s name. He’s always saying it, even when it's not necessary.
“It’s a storm outside. I’ll drive you home.” He tells her, and to my surprise, Felicity doesn’t argue, she seems to be the type of girl who doesn’t take favours too easily and I assume that she probably doesn’t like driving in a storm.
Ollie gives me a farewell along with a peck on the cheek, before he shrugs on his coat and leaves the club, his hand placed protectively over Felicity’s back.
A couple (maybe 10) minutes later, I'm also packing up, storing my phone into my purse and grabbing my coat from the rack, getting ready to face the frenzy of people that will storm the bar in about an hour.
I do a final sweep of the office, making sure that I have everything I need before I go home to change and come back. It's then that I spot a silver phone on the couch, and upon seeing the panda phone case, I rule it out to be Felicity’s. I'm actually surprised, I didn't think that she’d go anywhere without her phone, but maybe I confused it with her tablet.
I grab the phone, not wanting to lock it in the room, and refrain from putting it in my purse, but rather holding it in my hand in an event that Felicity comes back looking for it. My guess was right, because the phone starts to play an identifiable song that makes me smile, and I look at the phone before I stumble on the steps and almost drop it.
Ollie is calling Felicity (there is nothing surprising about that, she must be using Ollie’s phone to locate hers) but I can't seem to tear my eyes away from the picture that appears on the screen to answer.
It's a picture of the two of them. They’re in Big Belly Burger, and Felicity’s left hand is holding onto a drink—her cheeks hollowed in the motion of slurping it—and her right hand in probably taking the picture. But it's Ollie’s face that gets my eyes widening. Because I don't think, I’ve ever seen him look at anyone like that before.
To normal eye (okay, maybe to Felicity’s eyes. That girl may be a genius, but she clearly oblivious to the way my brother looks at her) it looks as if he’s smiling at the camera. But he’s not. He’s smiling at Felicity. His face is one of complete amusement, adoration, and...Happiness. For the first time in a long time, my brother looks peacefully happy with the woman beside him, and I can't help but be ridiculously thankful for Felicity Smoak.
The ringing comes to a stop and I realized that I never really answered the phone. Turns out to be unnecessary as the caller itself rushes in, high heels clicking on the floor.
“Sorry. I forgot my phone.” She says, indicating the device in my hands, and I deliberately avoid the conversation of her ‘Oliver’ picture.
I hand it over to her and she returns her thanks when in reality, I should be thanking her.
“Thank You.” So I do.
“For helping my brother. For being there for him. We all know how hard it is.” I tell her truthfully.
“Yes, we do. Especially when he gets all grumpy and growly and stomps across the room like a bear whose fish has been stolen.” The metaphor is so ludicrous but so fitting that it makes me laugh.
Eventually, I can feel my face fall.
“I just don't know what I'm doing wrong,” I complain and place my head on the bar.
Felicity places her hand on my shoulder.
“You’re not doing anything wrong. It's just that—the man that left for the Gambit and the man that came back are not the same. Maybe instead of trying to find the old Oliver in him, you can try to get to know the new one. This way he doesn’t have to live to what he thinks your expectations are, and you get to have your brother back.”
If it were anyone else, I would have sassed them away. But I see bits of the Oliver I grew up with (not the partying playboy, but the kind and sweet brother) when he’s around Felicity so I’ll take anything she gives.
“Speaking of, your brother’s waiting for me. So I better get going.” She gives me an adorable wave before making her way to the club doors.
“Hey, Felicity,” I call her.
“We should hang out sometime.” No one can blame me for wanting to hang out with my future sister-in-law.
“Ya. We should.” She says before walking out the door.
Walking to my brother.
"SOMETIMES, YOU MEET A PERSON AND YOU JUST CLICK - YOU'RE COMFORTABLE WITH THEM, LIKE YOU'VE KNOWN THEM YOUR WHOLE LIFE, AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO PRETEND TO BE ANYONE OR ANYTHING." ALEXANDRA ADORNETTO
Thea Queen has a good feeling that Oliver Queen has already found that person in Felicity Smoak
Chapter 4: Moira Queen
“THERE IS ALWAYS THAT ONE PERSON WHO CAN MAKE YOU SMILE, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE AT YOUR LOWEST.”
"BEFORE I MET YOU, I NEVER KNEW WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE ABLE TO LOOK AT SOMEONE AND SMILE FOR NO REASON."
I finish signing the last of the papers before placing them neatly into the purple folder marked ‘PR’. Placing it into my briefcase, I crane my neck back and rest it against my plush chair, letting out a relaxing breath that easily calms me. The past few days have been extremely chaotic, with me giving out full permission for Oliver to run QC and my decision to run for mayor; the latter information only known by Oliver and Thea. I have decided to take a trip down to the law office to get their input on things, not that their input is going to deter me from my path, but I need to know whether I will have their full support.
I open the bottom drawer and place the folder neatly on top of the various black and blue files that already reside in there; Robert’s old files. I’m about to close the drawer and retreat to my room for a good night’s sleep, when I spot a sparkly blue at the very end of the drawer; completely different from the other plain files.
I pick it up out of curiosity, and let out a laugh, when I see our family photo stuck on the front page of the sparkly photo album using butterfly stickers and small gemstones. Thea’s sixth-grade project. I tentatively open the book, looking through the various pictures, not realizing the tears in my eyes until they slip and fall onto a picture of Oliver (which is quite fitting since the tears are for him).
In the middle of a cupcake washy tape border, sits a picture of Tommy, Thea, and Oliver. The two boys have got Thea hoisted on their shoulder and while Thea and Tommy are in mid-laugh, Oliver smiles at the camera happily, his mouth opened in a wide grin. If this were I seven years ago, I would have casually chuckled at the picture and moved on, putting it back in the drawer. Now, I sit crying in my office, mourning the loss of two sons.
I lost Oliver five years ago to the Gambit. Then, I got him back. However, he wasn’t the Oliver that left, and I fear that he will never be.
The Oliver that I used to know smiled as if he couldn’t stop. No matter what he did, no matter how tired he was, he would always smile. The smile was a permanent fixture on his face. Even after he learned to perfect his public face (that horrible charming smile I hated), he always had a genuine smile around us. He even smiled when he was sleeping (though I preferred not to dwell too much, on what made him smile in his dreams.)
Now, it seems like Oliver receives physical pain whenever he smiles. When he does (during those odd rare moments) it's fake and forced and I hate it more than the smile he gives the paparazzi. He seems lifeless, as if he’s actually dead, like he died on that godforsaken island. He never sleeps, and when he does, nightmares wake him up almost immediately. He’s juggling two jobs at once (and trying to keep the second a secret) and I don’t know why he’s putting so much stress on himself. I would do anything to see him smile just one more time.
I hear the creek of the steps, indicating someone is walking down, and I quickly wipe my tears and shove the book back into the drawer, well aware of who would be awake at this late of an hour. I expect him to walk out the door as he usually does, or get a drink of water, but he does neither.
Instead, he stands a few feet in front of the massive doors and paces nervously.
In all my life (before and after the island), I have never, ever seen Oliver pace so restlessly before. And why on earth is he pacing in front of the door at this late of an hour?
Unable to compress my curiosity, I gingerly get off my chair and walk out of the office, but nowadays, it’s like my son has a sixth sense because, despite the silence of my steps, he turns around immediately, relaxing only when he confirms to himself it’s me.
“Mom, what are you doing up so late?” He asks me, looking like a deer caught in the headlights.
“I could ask you the same.” I counter back, knowing that I have a very good excuse for staying up and curious for his.
“I’m waiting for someone.” Is his curt reply and I know that he’s not going to elaborate.
I nod. “Don’t stay up too late.” I need to keep up with the oblivious (to the fact that he moonlights as a hero every night) mother act.
I walk back into my office, and close the door partially, so that I have a clear view of the foyer without the foyer having a clear view of me. My curiosity is just too threatening.
When a quiet, soft (most definitely feminine) knock fills the silence, I almost drop the file I pretend to read at the way Oliver runs to the door as if it’s miles away rather than a few feet.
When the door opens, it doesn’t reveal a leggy brunette I expected, or fake redhead, but rather a petite blonde, with glasses and cupcake pajamas that I immediately recognize as Felicity Smoak.
When I first heard that Oliver had promoted the IT employee as a secretary, I was instantly disappointed in Oliver for using his southern regions rather than his brains. Moreover, as a mother, I instantaneously disliked Felicity Smoak for being able to manipulate my son in order to get to a higher position at work. Even then, when meeting the blabbering, flustered blonde, it hit me that she wasn’t actually Oliver’s type. A few weeks later, I learn from Thea, that they are not indeed sleeping together but are close friends (never knew Oliver had any female friends), and then had to listen to a lengthy speech on how Felicity was amazing for Oliver.
“Felicity, I didn’t mean right now.” Oliver reprimands her, worry lacing his tone.
“No, you said, and I quote, ‘Felicity, I can’t sleep. Do we have any important records I need to catch up on?’ and we did. So I brought you the financial records and a cinnamon bun.” She holds up a red file along with a brown bag.
“Cinnamon Bun?” And I see him trying to fight a smile (and I find so ironically bittersweet. With us he forces a smile, and with this woman, he fights it back). But his eyes are filled with some sort of emotion I can’t even begin to decipher. Nevertheless, as fast as it came, it goes away, replaced with a regular closed off look.
“It always helps me sleep. But you don’t have to eat it tonight. Or ever. You can just bring the cinnamon bun to the office tomorrow and gift it to me for being the best unwilling Executive Assistant ever.” Her voice is as cheery as it was the second time I met her (the first was at the hospital), even at two in the morning.
This time, my boy doesn’t even try to fight the smile. It just stretches across his face, genuine and real, and for the first time since he came back, I can see traces of the Oliver I lost. And I forget to breathe.
“You’re not my Executive Assistant Felicity. You’re my partner. I wouldn’t be here without you.” He tells her and it’s the first time Oliver has given someone a compliment (although he has never given anyone a compliment as deep and as genuine as that) with such honesty and no hidden intention.
“Well me and Dig of course. But, you’d probably be dead without me. I mean, you let Dig operate behind the scenes on your crusade on your crappy computer. That man doesn’t know how to hack for his life. He’s much better out in the field with you.” She rambles and I want to smack my forehead on the table for not realizing it sooner.
The whole secretary, driver, and CEO act was all a ruse. An excuse to slip in and out easily from work to their other work. Moreover, Felicity Smoak is a part of it. My son trusts this girl enough to bring her into his mission and put his life in her hands. I find myself asking for the hundredth time today; who is Felicity Smoak?
“Yes and you're better out of the field and behind the computers,” Oliver states firmly, his protectiveness for the girl making a short, but evident appearance.
“I know. But you’re always there when I’m in the field. You and Diggle both. So, I’m not too worried.” Felicity states confidentially.
“Right I remember. It felt really good having you inside me.”
I’m sure (and hoping) that it was supposed to be an inside joke, because Ms.Smoak’s mouth widens in an ‘O’ and my son laughs. I cry.
Because it’s been six years since I have heard Oliver laugh. He never laughed when he came back from the island. He chuckled (half-heartedly), and grinned (it looked painful) but he never laughed the way he is right now. A genuine laugh from the heart that causes his eyes to crinkle and his hands to hold his stomach, making him look years younger.
Ms. Smoak notices too, because once Oliver finished, and stares at Felicity with a teasing smile on his face (somehow different from all the other teasing smiles he gives to other girls) she beams at him.
“You’ve definitely been holding out on everyone Mr. Queen. We just found a simple and definite way to ensure your success within the company.” Felicity says.
At, Oliver’s raised eyebrow she continues, “All you need to do, is go into the boardroom and start laughing. Everyone will be on your boat in seconds.” She winces. “Oops, sorry bad metaphor. I meant they would definitely support you if you start to laugh. You probably don’t want them coming on a boat with you. You probably don’t ever want to get on a boat yourself. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”
“Hey, its fine. And besides, if I ever have to get on a boat, you and Dig will have to come with me.” He ignores her verbal throw up and teases her once again.
“Ya, won’t bode well for me since I’m seasick. And airsick. I’m hopeless.” They just stand there, awkwardly staring at each other for a few minutes and I wonder if I have to walk in there and interrupt before the go at it on the floor.
Nevertheless, Felicity, (as expected) breaks the silence. “Sooo, I’ll just make my leave now. It’ll probably take me an hour to get out of your driveway itself. I mean, who needs a driveway that big. You literally have four people in your family.” As she rambles, she walks towards the door, and I can see Oliver’s worried face follow her.
“Are you sure it’s okay for you to drive this late. Do you want me to drop you?” He asks, stopping her in place.
She turns around and smiles at him. “Believe it or not Queen, I was here long before you met me. I’ve driven in the dark many times. No need to worry.”
Before he can protest and offer again, she gets on her toes and gives him a peck on his cheek, and I watch in wonder and Oliver closes his eyes, as if he’s savoring the moment. I faintly hear the words ‘sleep, bed, and you need it’ but as quick as she came, she goes. However, Oliver stays. He stares out the door, for a very long time, longer than the time it would take for her to pull out of our driveway and drive out of sight. But Oliver stills watches, as if he can see her from our foyer.
The chiming of a phone fills the silence, I panic, thinking its mine, and rush to turn in off before it inevitably blows my cover (the fact that I am sitting here spying on my grown ass son and a girl whom he claims not to love). However, the ringing doesn’t come from my phone but my son’s who is still worriedly staring out the front door. He pulls out his phone and smiles at the screen and I immediately know who the caller is.
“Felicity.” He says and I take a moment to contemplate the way he says her name, it’s different every single time.
His eyes widen, and he looks sheepish, “No, I’m not. I’m in my room, going through the file. I can’t see you from my porch Felicity.” He lies and I have to hide my smile. I haven’t seen the sheepish, guilty look on my son’s face in a very long time along with meeting anyone who can read post-island Oliver so well.
I faintly hear the creek of the steps but more so Oliver’s murmuring voice as he climbs up the stairs to his room, still talking on the phone.
And a few minutes later, I myself, make my way to my room, not expecting the door to Oliver’s room to be open and the lights to be shining into the hall. Unable to quench my curiosity, (I must admit; the Oliver that came back from the island is much more interesting and surprising than the Oliver that left) I creep near his door, and peek through the doorway, only to find my son still engrossed in a conversation with Ms.Smoak.
He’s lying on the bed (for once) facing the ceiling and his phone is placed on his bedside, softly put on speaker.
And I realize that he’s not having a conversation with Ms. Smoak, but rather listening to one of her rambles, this one much toned down and soft compared to her usually chirpy ones.
“The last thing I remember was getting into a cab. I passed out after that. Thankfully, the driver turned out to be a sweet old man in his 50s who wasn’t a pervert and booked me a motel. I woke up and swore to never get drunk again.” She shares.
“Did you?” Oliver’s voice is drowsy and I can see him hold back a yawn.
“Nope. But in all fairness, that was over a year ago. A couple months before I met you.”
This time, the yawn bellows out of Oliver’s mouth loudly, and I hear Felicity giggle.
“Goodnight Oliver.” Her tone is knowing, and I see a fleeting moment of panic on Oliver’s face.
“Are you tired?” He asks and I realize that he doesn’t want her to leave. For the first time, my boy is chasing after a woman and not the other way around.
“No…do you want another bedtime story?” She says after a pause and this time, it’s me who is the one fighting a smile at the way she phrases her words.
Oliver closes his eyes but doesn’t say anything despite the unsure smile on his face.
I’ve come to realize that words aren’t necessary between Oliver and Felicity (despite only seeing them converse for the first time tonight) because I listen as Felicity recites another story and watch the exact moment that my son falls asleep. With a smile on his face and Felicity’s voice as his lullaby.
Moments later, in my own bed, I take the silence and sudden peace in my heart to consider all that I have witnessed in the past hour.
My son smiles with Felicity Smoak. He laughs with her, laughs at her and is just comfortable to ‘be’ with her. No false facades, no lies, no strained smiles. He’s genuine with her. He’s genuinely happy with her. Maybe it’s because she knows his secret. Or maybe it’s because there is something about Ms. Smoak that I just missed. But whatever it may be, I didn’t think that my son would smile after coming back from that island, and so I am thankful for whatever Gods are up there, for Felicity Smoak. The woman who brings a smile to my son’s face.
“THERE IS ALWAYS THAT ONE PERSON WHO CAN MAKE YOU SMILE, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE AT YOUR LOWEST.”
Moira Queen admits she never saw it coming, but Felicity Smoak has that effect on her son.
Chapter 5: Laurel Lance
“ONE DAY, SOMEONE ONE WILL WALK INTO YOUR LIFE AND MAKE YOU SEE WHY IT NEVER WORKED OUT WITH ANYONE ELSE”
"A GOOD RELATIONSHIP IS WHEN SOMEONE ACCEPTS YOUR PAST, SUPPORTS YOUR PRESENT AND ENCOURAGES YOUR FUTURE."
I look up at the familiar building that once was a representation of everything I could have had. Young, stupid me of seven years ago thought I could get Ollie to accept the CEO position in Queen Consolidated, that by doing so, I’ll start him on a path to becoming a better man for both me and his family. I had thought and hoped that I could be the one to do that for him, that he can accept responsibility for me.
In the end, it wasn’t his love for me that caused him to sit on the throne of this building, but rather being shipwrecked on an island for five years, coming back to another catastrophe caused by his mother, and losing his best friend. Though, I suspect that the five years on that god-forsaken island had more to do with the change than any other event that happened in his life so far. Not that I would know anything about what happened during the island. That topic has been unreachable ever since he came back a stranger.
Realizing that I’ve been standing at the entrance of QC for the past five minutes, I walk forward through the large glass doors into the pristine office I’ve been to so many times. I make my way to the front office and present my ID to the newly hired security guards.
“Dinah Lance from the DA office. I have an appointment with Mr. Queen.” My voice is sure and confident, it’s always been, and it always will be. It has to be if I want to make it unscathed in this unjust world.
The guard looks at his computer screen before giving me a nod and handing me a small card, instructing me to scan the card against the panel on the side of the elevator. I nod seriously, pretending as if I have never done these procedures before in this very office. Finally, after a long lecture on steps and security, they finally let me up and I make my way to the newly renovated elevator where I press the top button before scanning my card against the camera and I feel the elevator rise and take me up to Ollie’s office.
When the machine finally dings my arrival and the end of my journey, I step into the plush, enormous office of Oliver that takes up an entire floor. Knowing the place by heart, I walk through the spacious hallway to the room where I expected Oliver’s newly appointed EA (Felicity Smoak, who apparently is a good friend of Oliver’s according to Thea) to be sitting, but instead find her table empty and devoid of any inhabitant for the day.
I ignore it and walk straight into Oliver’s office, opening the glass doors and finding myself smiling with an automatic genuine smile that I always find present whenever I’m around most, if not all of the Queens.
Instead of being welcomed by the customary Oliver smile (that isn’t really a smile nowadays) that usually appears when he sees me, I’m instead greeted with a very nervous, worried-looking Oliver who relentlessly paces back and forth in his office, running his hands through his already disheveled hair before crossing them behind his back. When he detects a presence, his head shoots up, full of relief and hope, but the two emotions are quickly drained out when he sees me. Ouch.
“Laurel.” He says, greeting me with his customary smile that’s has lacked genuineness and happiness in the past two years, not really making it a smile anymore.
“Hey Ollie,” I reply back, giving him a smile of my own as I watch him shift back and forth on his heels, clearly restless about something.
I quickly check the time on my watch, aware of the fact that I have a second meeting in an hour. I look up at Ollie, ready to get started on this very brief meeting (hoping to catch up if we have spare time) only to find his attention completely focused on the door, which his so unlike the Oliver that came back from the island; whose eyes are almost constantly scanning every inch of a room.
“Oli…Mr. Queen, I’ll make a quick phone call. To check.” I turn at the source of the voice and feel extremely embarrassed because I haven’t noticed Oliver’s bodyguard standing next to the doorway until now.
Ollie is…was notorious for many things, one of them including the inability to keep a bodyguard for more than a couple of weeks before they quit. The Queen family has probably spent a fortune paying for all those bodyguards that came and went. Oliver has had the same bodyguard that’s been following him around for almost a year now, and it seems like they have developed an unlikely friendship, I think, as they silently communicate (something) before the bodyguard walks out the door, and I see him taking the elevator from the corner of my eye.
It (whatever just happened), finally gets Ollie to focus his attention on me, and he gives me a nod and a slight smile, “Well, let’s get started.”
I pull out a few papers from my briefcase as soon as we’re seated on the plush sofa, a new addition to Oliver’s office.
“I only brought the important transaction papers. The ones you need to look, review and sign. I went through the rest on my own” I tell him, “If you don’t mind.” I quickly add, not wanting to seem like I’m taking too much charge over his business affairs.
“No, no, that’s fine. I wouldn’t know much about any of this anyway. Honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know the first thing about running a business, and now…” He rubs his hands over his face and I finally notice his stressed stance.
“Hey, you’re doing fine Ollie. If there is one thing I know about you, it’s that you can do anything if you put mind your mind to it. You’ll do great, don’t stress it.” I reassure him, placing a hand on his knee, ignoring the hurt I feel when he flinches.
I quickly remove my hand, when the echo of heels fills the room, accompanied by a stream of chattering from a familiar voice.
“…it broke and you know I can’t operate anything without coffee, so I had to wait in line at and you know how long that sucker takes. And then I got trapped in a traffic jam, Which. Wouldn’t. Move. So I parked my car to the side and…”
I see, and hear Oliver’s relief, as he gets up, and is across the room before I can blink an eye to greet his blonde EA that just walked in.
“Felicity.” He sighs her name in a way I have never heard before, but Felicity doesn’t seem to notice as she holds up a finger and starts talking,
“Before you start brooding, I’m fine, not harmed or kidnapped, I just slept through my alarm cause I was…up late last night and then my coffee machine broke, and I had to wait in line to get some and that got me stuck in incredibly heavy traffic so I parked my car to the side and walked to QC in these heels which, however amazing they must look, are not in any way suitable for walking a mile, so please Oliver, I cannot handle your brooding right now. Brood in 15 minutes.” She says (In one breath) before placing a hand on her head and closing her eyes.
Ollie places a hand on her elbow, “Hey, you could have just called me in the morning. I would have let you stay home for the day. I would have been fine.” He tells her softly; probably unaware of the way the back of his hand was skimming her elbow.
Felicity opens her eyes, and tilts her head while raising one eyebrow, “Really?” she asks incredulously.
He smiles. Without a strain in his eyes, and a painful stance; he smiles at Felicity adoringly, “No, I was going mad without you. I don’t know where the files for today’s meeting are and I don’t know where the notes from yesterday’s meeting went.”
His blonde haired…friend (Thea said it was a friend) rolls her eyes, and jumps away from Ollie when she spots me for the first time.
“Laurel. I mean Ms. Lance.” She says, looking like a deer caught in the headlights.
I smile at her, “Hi, Felicity right?” I ask, even though I know her name very well through Thea, and Tommy.
“Ya. We’ve actually met before. I was setting up Oliver’s…”
“—router, I remember.” I finish her sentence, and she looks around the office awkwardly, neither of us knowing what to do.
“Laurel is helping me with the finalization of me taking over QC.” Oliver explains to Felicity, and she nods at him.
“Ya. I know Oliver. I make all your appointments. And I should probably get to work, and leave you two alone to do your thing. Business thing, I mean. I wasn’t applying that you were doing other things. Not that you two can’t do other things but what you do is your own business and not mine. I’m..I’m going to go now.” She rambles, before giving me a final smile and walking through the glass doors to get to her desk.
“Sorry, about that. She’s not usually late and I got worried.” Ollie tells me when he seats himself back down on the sofa.
“No worries.” I tell him.
“Shall we?” He gestures to the stack of papers, and I take out my pen and tablet to get started.
We work diligently for the next few minutes, going through the requirements and technical issues over his sudden takeover.
He’s in the middle of signing one of the papers, when he suddenly stops, and looks behind me at Felicity’s desk.
“Felicity, how long is it taking?” he calls out, his voice echoing through the empty halls.
Once again, the familiar clicking of heels fills the silence, accompanied by a chatter that always seems to indicate Ms.Smoak.
“Sorry, my desk was a mess, and I had to talk down Mr. Friar, and thank Dig for getting my coffee and bringing my car which seemed impossible because, I have no idea how he can fit into my Mini without breaking a spleen or something. How did you fit into my Mini?” During her babble, she had settled herself and her laptop onto the seat right next to Oliver, kicking off her heels and bringing her legs up.
Noting the silence that followed her rant, she looks up at Oliver before staring at me, and a flush immediately occupies her face. “Right, business meeting. Which I just interrupted, and am still interrupting. And I will stop, in 3,2,1.” She rapidly types on her tablet soon after, too engrossed in her work to notice the look Oliver’s giving her. One of complete amusement and genuine adoration and I can’t remember the last time he’s looked at me like that; looked at anyone like that.
We continue scanning through the documents in silence, the only sound on the floor being Felicity’s clacking of keys and my occasional explanation. And quite honestly, from what I have seen so far, I’m actually surprised that Felicity lasted this long without speaking, because, after almost ten minutes of silence, she frustratingly pounds her fists lightly on the keyboard.
Ollie and I both look at her, but her explanation is only given to Ollie, when he places a hand on her knee.
“My Kindle was supposed to come in today, but it got delayed so now I need to wait one more week until I get a new one. I mean, I can always hack into their system and put me on the top of the list, but that’d be unfair for those who ordered first, so…one more week.”
Ollie looks at her with his brows scrunched together in confusedness, “You’re what?”
Felicity rolls her eyes, “Remind me to remember to not to mention technology to someone who went five years without any tech.”
Oliver opens his mouth to say something, but Felicity holds her hands up and silences Oliver by continuing to talk, “And no, Oliver, a broken radio that you fixed doesn’t count.”
“Do you know how proud I was after that?” Oliver fakes a hurt face that both Felicity and I see through with ease.
“You should be, fixing such an outdated radio on the island. But it was an outdated radio, Oliver. It doesn’t count as modern tech. And plus, you should be more proud of figuring out the Odyssey quote compared to actually putting the radio pieces together.” She says, closing her laptop, and stretching on the spot.
I look at my watch once again, and realize that this meeting took much longer than I intended it to be.
“Alright then Ollie, I have to go now. I’ll send you the rest of the documents for you to sign.”
He nods and moves in closer to give me a tense hug, lacking its warmth and easiness, but it was already expected, which eased a little on the hurt, a little.
As I’m leaving (after sending a farewell smile to Felicity), I hear Oliver say, “For the record, I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out that quote.”
It doesn’t really hit me then. Not when I walk out of the office, or when I get into my car.
It comes as an epiphany at the DA office, as I finish off my second meeting.
Oliver talks to Felicity. He tells her things that are meaningful, and important to him and to his life. He’s talking to Felicity about the island. He’s opening up to her and sharing with her, something he hasn’t been doing with anyone else. I’ve talked to Moira and to Thea and they both told me that Oliver never told them what happened those five years he was gone. But he told Felicity. And Felicity knows enough about Oliver, about his time there, to joke about some moments comfortably. He trusts her, and he’s comfortable with her to tell her his secrets, the things he’s afraid will make the rest of us run from him.
And along with that epiphany occupies a stab of hurt. The relationship between Ollie and me ended five years ago, long before he got on that boat. But I had hoped that maybe it would work out between us; that maybe the spark that was always there connecting the two of us wouldn’t leave. I loved Tommy. I love Tommy. But Oliver was such a big part of my life that I didn’t realize that I’ve been continuing to hold onto my childish dreams of changing him into a better man until now.
And its only when I leave the DA office and spot Oliver and Felicity coming out of Big Belly Burger, laughing about something, his hand placed protectively against her back, both their faces filled with genuine happiness, looking like they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but there, beside each other that I realize. I need to let Oliver go.
Because he never looked at me the way he looks at Felicity. Never smiled at me the way he smiles with Felicity. Never said my name the way he says hers. And most importantly, he never, ever shared anything with me. Never the things that mattered. Our relationship lacked honesty. Oliver and Felicity’s relationship is being built on honesty.
“ONE DAY, SOMEONE ONE WILL WALK INTO YOUR LIFE AND MAKE YOU SEE WHY IT NEVER WORKED OUT WITH ANYONE ELSE”
Laurel Lance knows that Felicity Smoak is the reason why it never worked out with anyone else for Oliver Queen.
Chapter 6: Roy Harper
“FORGIVENESS IS THE BEST FORM OF LOVE. IT TAKES A STRONG PERSON TO SAY SORRY AND AN EVEN STRONGER PERSON TO FORGIVE”
I duck. I duck again. One more time.
Because I'm not an idiot who decides to punch Oliver Queen (A.K.A The Arrow), back when he is in what Felicity calls, ‘bear mode’.
Bear Mode scares me to an extent where I’d rather face off an army of Mirakuru Soldiers than deal with Oliver Queen in the phase.
Actually, cross that out. I never want to see another Mirakuru Soldier or hear the name ever again in my life. Last year’s madness was more than enough for me.
It has been a few months since the Slade fiasco. A few months since I was injected with a drug that made me go mad and hurt people with my insanely acquired strength. A few months since we (Team Arrow, as Felicity loves to call it, only to be glared at by Oliver. Sometimes, I think that girl has a death wish. Why else would she anger Oliver so much?) put Slade down, and locked him up in an Argus based prison on the very island that started it all. A few months since Thea left, and Moira died, and Lyla became preggers with a mini Diggle. A few months since Oliver decided that if he is going to have a team, then that team needs to be out in the field (with an exception of Felicity who Oliver won’t let into the field even if his life depended on it, not counting that one time with Slade) performing to the best of their ability. And since John Diggle is a to-be-father, Oliver won’t spend his day punching him when he’s frustrated.
No, he’ll spend the entire day punching me, pretending it's training, where instead; I'm really just anger therapy. Which makes no sense, since he’s supposed to help me with my anger management.
I faintly hear Felicity’s groan of frustration over my panting breaths and I can imagine her clenching her fists in anger before erasing whatever code she created to start a new one. Her diligence is impressive.
We’ve been tracking the same theft gang for the past week. They’re small town; robbing local banks, and small retail stores, and the police aren’t putting much effort in finding them, casting them away, and ignorantly believing that they aren’t as big of a problem as the rest.
In fact, it turns out that this set of thieves have been around for a couple of years, stealing small amounts and covering their traces well enough to not be found immediately. After they are proven to be insignificant, they rob again, in a different manner and scenery, so that the crime cannot be followed back to any suspicions of them. However, Felicity, being the genius she is, found a similar set of coding they used to hack the security cameras, and now, the Arrow has been pursuing these bastards for a week.
And we’ve been given the slip every, single time.
Thus, Oliver’s terrible mood.
My thoughts, Felicity’s actions, and the arrival of Dig proves that I'm not a very good multitasker, because Oliver very harshly flips me over, growling (yes, I'm going to use bear references) out,
“Don't lose focus Roy. You can't be distracted in the field.”
That's what I think he says, because I really can't hear properly over the ringing in my ears and the pounding in my head because of the fast, hard impact I made on the ground.
I'm pretty sure I lost my sense of sight along with sound because I (sort of) see Oliver peering down at me, his voice much toned down now,
“You all right?”
No, asshole. You just picked me up and threw me on the ground with all the pent-up anger and strength you had, and I'm just a man trying to get through one day.
“Yes,” I say instead.
He nods, “Good,” and suddenly, he’s out of my peripheral vision (have I been on the ground this entire time?) and I hear the doors of the foundry shutting, indicating his exit. This means that I can openly groan, and complain about my injuries and no one will give a shit except for Felicity who will offer an ice pack or a look of concern (and if you’re someone who hasn’t received concern throughout the better part of your life, avoid Felicity, because her concern is blinding. Actually on that thought, seek Felicity).
Trying to muffle my groan, I slowly get up, muttering through clenched teeth,
“A sorry would help too.”
“Oliver doesn’t apologize.”
Holy Shit! I sharply turn around to a Diggle, who somehow got from the top of the stairs to right beside me without moving, and I groan in pain once more, and thankfully accept Digg’s outstretched hand and he guides me to the med bay. I'm about to protest that I wasn’t hit that hard (although I probably was) when Digg continues to speak,
“Oliver doesn’t do apologies well. His ego is big like that. He makes a mistake, he tries to fix it, makes it worse, broods, hits someone, and by then everyone will have forgotten about it. That’s how things work down here.” He states plain and simple, with an undercurrent of what seems like annoyance in his tone.
Our conversation (or the makings of one) is put to an abrupt end, when Felicity’s monitors start to beep rapidly, and Digg leaves his place near the medical cabinets to what would have been Oliver’s place behind Felicity.
“I've been looking through the security footage of all the heists and guess what? This vehicle was at every single one of them. I've tracked the GPS of the van and every time there has been a robbery by these guys, the van goes back here every single time.” She explains without a prompt and points at the red dot on her screen. “Problem is, it's the middle of nowhere, no record of any buildings or anything in the past 10 years.”
I look closely at the satellite image provided on the screen and trace the familiar patterns with my eyes.
“No, but there was 20 years ago. Was a small butcher shop, demolished, but I remember a friend telling me about his dad who would hide in the basement of the shop, where they kept all the animals. So...”
“If there’s a basement, then the Argus satellite would have picked up on it.” Felicity finishes for me, and she rapidly clicks her fingers on her keyboard, and before I say, “Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow”, she’s pulled up a blueprint of the basement.
“I’ll have to run some searches and upgrade some schematics to access the digital blueprint of the basement now, but I guess it's worth looking into.” She tells me, and the two of us look at Digg for clarification.
“Alright then, we’ll check it out tonight. Get ready to suit up.” He says before walking away, presumably to tell Oliver, who will come running in a matter of seconds.
Meaning that I need to go out patrolling or something in an attempt to avoid Oliver’s training sessions.
My body cannot take it anymore.
Later That Night
“I know that they’re bad guys and all, but I really got to give them points for thinking of this. I mean, if Roy didn't point the basement thing out, I would have never found him. And by I, I mean we but, really it's me who does the finding and figuring out and you guys do all the arrowy stuff. Apart from Digg, who does the gun stuff. And I will shut up, because you want to do your work.”
As always, it's always an amusement listening to Felicity’s babble. It makes doing this, going out every night and essentially hurting human beings (however bad they may be) a bit more tolerable. Usually, Oliver seems to think so too, but this time, his face seems devoid of any amusement, and his jaw is clenched.
We make a pause at the end of a corridor, the two guards with guns confirmation that our little thieves do live here.
Felicity starts to say, but before she can finish, the two guards are already moaning in pain from the two arrows that hit their arms and legs. At Oliver’s signal, we move closer to the big metal doors, which in my opinion, is way too obvious for what I have once considered a fairly intelligent crime group, because big, barricaded metal doors scream ‘villain’
“Arrow,” Felicity’s voice crackles over the comms and we all pause at the slight shakiness of the tone.
“Felicity.” Oliver growls with impatience, probably not understanding that his voice modulator makes him sound scarier than necessary.
“Maybe you guys should wait and think of a plan. I'm reading way too many heat signals, right outside the door, which means that this whole thing could be a trick and there could be men with guns waiting behind that door to shoot you all right now.” She hastily warns us, and I can hear the clicking of her keyboard in the background.
“We can't stop now Felicity. We can't lose them. We’ll be okay. We’ve handled worse.” He assures her, drawing his bow back and aiming his arrow (a super cool, exploding arrow) at the door.
“Doesn’t mean we pretend we can take everything else. This is a really bad idea. Oliver. Oliver, are you listening. You might want to think of what you might do if there is a swarm of people with guns in there. Oliver........”
The faint click is all the sound I need for my eyes to go wide and to send a panicked look to Diggle (whose face mirrors my panic along with exasperation).
Because Oliver, just disconnected his comm link to Felicity.
And as the door explodes from the bomb on the arrow, the only thing I can think of is the fact that Felicity Smoak, is sitting in the foundry with no connection to Oliver, and her fear will eventually morph into anger.
It turns out that Felicity was right (when is she not). The whole thing was a sabotage of men and women with guns who put up a hell of a fight. But in a way, Oliver was also right, because when you’ve gone through Slade Wilson and his army of enhanced soldiers, then a bunch of incompetent fools who look at the Arrow with a sort of admiring glint, wasn’t really bad.
No one got hurt. Dig was panting as he got into the car, and I actually wished to be back in the training room with Oliver to punch me, but the two of us were fine.
Despite the fact that it was the three of us that went in, most of the shooters aimed for the Arrow, because he is the Arrow. In the process, Oliver was shot, and despite the fact that he was shot, and is bleeding buckets, I wonder if maybe we should take him somewhere else other than the foundry.
In all honesty, I think he has a lesser chance of survival if he goes down there, to where Felicity is probably sitting in anger awaiting his arrival so she can spend a good five minutes yelling at him and Digg and I will get to spend the next ten minutes of Oliver and Felicity arguing and wait until it all cools down until we can make a move. God forbid they drag us into their problems. How the hell am I supposed to choose between mom and dad during a divorce?
We reach the old steel factory and I help Oliver out, internally cringing at his intense teeth gritting, and preparing myself for the explosion to come. I pause and turn around when I fail to hear the car door open after me, and I turn around (ignoring Oliver’s groan) to see Diggle still in the driver’s seat, giving me a smug smirk.
“I'm going to go check on Lyla. She said she wasn’t feeling very well today. You alright on your own man?” He asks Oliver and I don’t know what he replies with over my panic.
How can Diggle play the pregnant card and bail on me! He’s going to leave me alone with Mom and Dad arguing and I’ll have to stay there with no support, all by myself! I want to drop Oliver, and run to Dig, maybe beg him to take me with him. Or maybe I can play the pregnant card. Oh, shit, I'm supposed to be dating Oliver’s sister. I can't get her pregnant! Or another girl!
“Roy, are you okay?” Oliver’s voice pulls me out of my thoughts and I realize that I've been standing here internally panicking while holding a bleeding Oliver who might need some help.
“Ya, Ya. Great.” And we both walk towards the metal doors of the club, into our impending death.
Felicity is waiting at the end of the stairs; arms crossed and face eerily devoid of emotion. She murmurs a quick ‘goodbye Digg’ and I'm thankful that Digg informed her of everything that’s happened but then I remember that the bastard ditched me and my thankfulness is gone immediately.
When she catches sight of Oliver’s shot wound, I don't miss the way she blinks back tears (Felicity doesn’t like any of us getting hurt, but I'm not fooling myself into believing that she doesn’t have a particularly special fear for Oliver) before walking without a word to the medical bay.
Oliver, sighing loudly, forgoes my support, and trudges himself behind her, and I seriously contemplate getting a bag of popcorn, because as scary as this is, it would make a good scene for a TV show.
I purposely hide in the backgrounds as I watch Felicity (silently. She is absolutely silent. No rambling or murmuring or yelling) nurse Oliver’s wound. They foundry is devoid of any noise apart from the sharp breaths that come from Oliver and the shaky ones that come from Felicity.
Felicity has always had a special way of patching up all of us, especially Oliver. She’ll constantly ask whether it hurts, look as if she’s the one in pain, and will spend half the time lecturing Oliver about his unconcern for his safety. This time, however, she stays silent, ignoring Oliver’s occasional groans of pain, and I can almost see her barely constricted babble of words that threaten to come out, but are held in by a scary emotional dam she’s managed to build in 20 minutes.
Eventually, Felicity finishes stitching him up and turns to leave, but is stopped by Oliver’s grip on her wrist.
It's at this moment that I'm so glad that I’m not eating popcorn or drinking soda like I had previously wanted, because I'm sure I would have choked to my death at the sound of Oliver Queen apologizing.
The action is apparently not a wonder enough for Felicity because instead of her eyes widening and her face morphing to one in shock, she stares at him, emotionless and brusque as ever.
Oliver, without his eyes leaving hers, or his hands moving from her wrist, tugs her in closer, and she begrudgingly follows,
“I'm so sorry for turning off my comms. I know I should have listened to you, I didn't and now I'm facing the consequences, but I'm truly sorry for scaring you like that.”
Man, this guy is killing me with all his apologies.
Felicity’s face slowly starts to crumble and the emotional dam she built breaks, and I watch tears stream from her eyes.
“Never, ever turn your comm off like that. Ever. Oliver, Do you have any idea how hard it is to send you to the field every day? Let alone have no connection to you when I know for a fact that there was danger awaiting you. I told you that it was a trap. I told you and you didn't listen!”
Oliver rubs his thumb over her pulse point gently, “I know. And I can't apologize enough. It’s just that these thieves really put a toll on me. They were supposed to be easy, and after everything we faced, I needed something easy, so the minute I found their hiding spot, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.”
“But you got shot.” Felicity points to the recently stitched bullet wound.
The laugh Oliver emits sounds scratchy and tired, but it's a laugh nevertheless, “That was punishment for not listening to someone with a higher IQ of me, Diggle and Roy combined.”
“And for turning off your comm.” Felicity adds, despite the small smile stretching on her face.
“And that. Which I promise to never, ever do again. I'm sorry Felicity.” Oliver looks at her with his stupid heart eyes, and I decide to quietly walk out of there, in fear of throwing up all over the floor.
To give the two lovebirds some alone time (maybe they’ll get their shit together and decide to kiss and admit their feelings for each other because I'm not sure how much more of this I can handle) but mostly to sort out my thoughts, now that I have witnessed a truly intimate moment between two quarters of the team, something I have never seen before. It caused me to come to a few conclusions as well as some realizations.
Oliver Queen doesn’t apologize to anyone, because as a leader of a team of vigilantes, he can't afford to look as if he has something to lose. His requirements are for him to be tough, ruthless, and driven to his mission. Showing too much emotion can cause him to be considered merciful; a human trait. Oliver Queen’s primary mission is separating The Arrow from Oliver Queen. What he doesn’t realize, is that in his attempt to distinguish the two figures, he’s just making them merge together into one. So, when the Arrow is required to be ruthless and merciful, Oliver Queen takes up some of the tendencies even after he takes the Hood off. A prime example of this is the events that happened this morning. Oliver didn't apologize to me because he is not willing for me to consider myself a vulnerability to him. He doesn’t want to vocalize that fact that he needs me. He doesn’t need me, but by not apologizing, it proves to him that even if I leave, he’ll be able to continue his crusade, because his value for me is silent.
With Felicity, it's different. With Felicity, it's always been different. Even a blind man can see that to Oliver, Felicity is the most important member of the group. And it's not only because her tech skills have repeatedly saved our asses, and put away most of the criminals we catch, but it's because she, as a person is extremely important to Oliver.
She makes him a better person. He listens to what she has to say, because she’ll find a way to make him listen if not, but also because she inspires Oliver to do better, to be better. She makes him smile, and I haven’t known him for so long, but I've known him long enough to pinpoint the fact that the man rarely smiles.
Oliver apologizing to Felicity is not just a gesture of how sorry he is, but also a gesture of how much he needs her in his life. He’s not willing for something such as an unresolved argument, come in the way of whatever they’ve been building in the past few weeks. He’s not willing to let Felicity walk out on him because he couldn’t apologize and fix the mistake he made. Because, Oliver can continue his crusade without me, but he can't do any of it, be the Arrow or be Oliver Queen without Felicity.
It's one of the wonders of working in this team; Oliver and Felicity.
“APOLOGIZING DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN THAT YOU’RE WRONG AND THE OTHER PERSON’S RIGHT. IT JUST MEANS THAT YOU VALUE YOUR RELATIONSHIP MORE THAN YOUR EGO.”
Roy Harper knows that Oliver Queen will always apologize to Felicity Smoak because he values her more than anything else.
Chapter 7: Lyla Michaels
“WHEN A GIRL IS IN LOVE, YOU CAN SEE IT IN HER SMILE. WHEN A GUY IS IN LOVE, YOU CAN SEE IT IN HIS EYES.”
“THERE IS SO MUCH HISTORY IN THE WAY HE LOOKS AT HER. IN THE WAY HE SAYS HER NAME. WHEN THEY ARE TOGETHER, THERE IS A CURRENT THAT RUNS BETWEEN THEM; LIKE AN ELECTRIC CHARGE ON THE VERGE OF ERUPTING INTO A PERFECT STORM”
I’m lost in thought as I stir the cut veggies in the pot, somewhere in the back of my mind completely aware that I should probably concentrate before this whole thing burns up, and I ruin dinner for my guests.
But my thoughts keep drifting, because how can they not?
I'm cooking dinner, in Johnny’s kitchen for his friends that are coming over for dinner while he’s in the next room taking a shower.
The domesticity of it all should scare me.
The familiarity of it all, however, is on the verge of giving me a panic attack.
Because I've done this before. Cooking dinner, barefoot in the kitchen, toying with my wedding band. I've had all this before, and it didn't work. I separated with the love of my life and although it seemed the best option at the moment, it was never enough.
Because no one looked at me the way John Diggle did.
I don't think I looked at anyone the way I looked at John Diggle. It was plain facts. I had gone on a couple of dates, but none of them had amounted to even the fraction of the man I knew my ex-husband was.
We’re taking it slow this time. The last time, things went wrong because we rushed into it. We were lonely and scared, in the middle of a war and we head dived into things before taking a moment to assess. I’d like to think that we aren’t making the same mistake. I’d like to think that this time, we’re taking it nice and slow, making room for conversation and arguments and resolutions.
(And yet, this feels too fast)
(Surprisingly, it doesn’t scare me).
“Babe, you might want to turn the stove off.” The man of my recent thoughts wraps his hands around my waist and whispers into my ear, and I hate (and love) the fact that it still brings me shivers every time.
But he’s right. The pot is steaming extensively and the chicken won’t taste good unless it's cooked to perfection.
John, sensing the outright panic on my face, reassures me,
“Lyla, you already know that Oliver and Felicity will eat up anything you give them. Him, because he’s lived on an island where there was no food and his diet was crap, and her because she can't cook for her life and will, therefore, appreciate yours.”
I smile at him, pushing him away to set up the dinner table, turning off the stove and appreciating the life the John has created for himself here. Especially the friends he’s made that are close enough for him to joke about Oliver Queen (I'm still having trouble grasping the fact that Oliver Queen of all people is Johnny’s friend and the Arrow) and Felicity Smoak.
“Lyla, where is that bottle of scotch Andy bought?” John calls from the hallway, and in my shock, I place the meat on the counter to stare at him incredulously.
“You mean the bottle of scotch that you received from your dead brother and swore to use for a very special occasion. That bottle of scotch.”
He reappears from wherever he left to with that bottle of scotch and rolls his eyes at me, walking into the kitchen to where we store our wine glasses.
“If I'm going to get through an entire dinner with Oliver and Felicity and their intense sexual tension, then I'm going to need everything I can get. And this is the best.” He tells me seriously, and it takes everything in me to not to burst out laughing, although a smile does break across my face.
“Oh come on Johnny they can't be that bad.”
Ever since I met Oliver and Felicity, it became a non-mutual understanding to Johnny that he is now able to confide to one other person on the sufferings he has to go through spending almost every moment with them.
Apparently, Oliver and Felicity are one of those slow burn couples who are utterly in love with each other and just won’t get their shit together to admit it and drive everyone around them nuts. Apparently, Oliver is worried that his lifestyle will harm Felicity (which is utterly stupid because they lead the same lifestyle) and Felicity respects Oliver enough to take a step back and allow him to be emotionally ready to start a relationship (which is also idiocy because girl, if you want him, go get him). But anyway, apparently, although they’re not in an official relationship, they sure as hell act like it through their flirting and banter and acting cute and all, which just drives Johnny nuts and he proceeds to drive me nuts by coming home every day to vent on every single thing Oliver and Felicity did together.
It's like watching a teenage girl trying to set up her best friend with the star quarterback and gossiping with her other friends on how cute they would be together and making a huge deal over every glance and touch that usually ends up being meaningless to the ordinary eye.
“You haven’t sat in a room with Oliver and Felicity for great amounts of time Lyla. I assure you that you will never utter those words ever again after tonight. “
And he walks away, muttering something about Oliver Queen, love eyes, and puppy faces. He walks away stringing a sentence that involves Oliver Queen and puppies.
I don't know the Oliver Queen from before the island, and I'm certainly not going to pretend to know the man that came back from the island, even though I may know more about who he is than some others.
What I do know is that both men would never be caught dead in a look that even remotely resembles puppy eyes and love.
Oliver Queen Post Island was an egotistical selfish bastard who had an ego the size of earth (not that all the girls chasing him around helped that) and therefore had no need for such a degrading look as a loving gaze. Oliver Queen right now seems way too harsh and jagged to pull off such a look.
This makes me conclude that John is being dramatic and over-exaggerating things.
Oh. My. God. I am going to die if we have another group anything before these two get together!
Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak arrived an hour ago, together, and as usual, the latter walked into the room in a breeze of smiles, babbles, and warmth. Her partner was quiet but observed the environment with a warm gaze, looking comfortable than I have ever seen him.
Everything was all right for the first hour before dinner, Felicity and I sat on the couch talking about everything from Argus, to weddings, to nieces and aunts while Oliver and Johnny sat out on the balcony with a bottle of beer talking about God knows what.
That’s really when it all started.
The living room was directly in front of the balcony, so every time the boys looked to the side, they faced us. This happened sometimes whenever Johnny would laugh, or Oliver would shake his head. It was normal.
What wasn’t normal was the way Oliver’s gaze dropped on the couch, more specifically Felicity, almost every minute.
The first time I noticed it was when Oliver and Felicity’s gazes met from across the room, and I couldn’t help but stare, as they stared. How could I not? It was electrical, for lack of a better word. They were captivated by each other; it was as if there was no one but themselves in the room.
I actually found it kind of adorable, the way they looked at each other, the way they couldn’t stop looking at another. And when I met John’s frustrated eyes when Oliver and Felicity were preoccupied, well, I just shrugged as to say,
They’re not that bad.
Now, I take it all back.
They were perfectly fine throughout the first part of the visit, probably because they were separated, and no interaction was going on between the two.
Then, we had dinner. The boys came out from the balcony looking so much in love (which each other) and we all made our way to the dinner table, John and I on one side, and Oliver and Felicity on the other side.
“Lyla, all this looks so great.” Oliver complimented, and I smiled my thanks knowing that he prefers conversations to be simple and not very lengthy.
We found conversation easily, taking about cooking of all things, which was quite surprising for a group of people that enter into violence and darkness for the most part of everyday.
“Well, I can't cook even if my life depended on it.” Felicity had interjected at some point.
Oliver looked at her, putting down his drink, “Felicity, I don't know how you survive all by yourself.”
She smiled at him, sweet and teasingly, “I don't. I have you. You feed me, like, all the time. Well, not all the time, since Big Belly Burger is a huge contributor to my survival, but you know, you're there too.”
He smiled back at her, a true, genuine smile that I had thought Oliver Queen was incapable of, “That I am.”
We went back to the conversation on cooking, primarily things that we used to enjoy eating as children, and I hope that no one noticed the way I was gawking at both Oliver and Felicity.
She had picked up her tomatoes and placed them all on his plate, and he took his pepper and put them on hers. He fed her a piece of chicken and stole a piece from her. All of this was done subconsciously.
I'm sorry, but what two people that aren’t in a relationship do all of that subconsciously?
Not to mention the countless amounts of inside jokes between them, the unbearable flirting (“please, you can't do a single thing without me.” “Well, you got me there Felicity, you’re essential to me”) and the looks. Oh, God the looks.
And this brings me back to now.
“Can we go for a milkshake on the way home?” Felicity asks Oliver, both of them ready to leave together (apparently, they came together, which does not help with my difficult task of not picturing them as a couple.)
She has a hopeful look in her eyes, and from what I have witnessed today, Oliver Queen has a very tough time refusing Felicity Smoak’s wishes.
“Alright, we’ll stop by Big Belly Burger to pick one up. “
And when Felicity throws her head back up at Oliver to beam at him, he looks at her with such love and intensity that I forget how to breathe.
I only take a breath when they walk out the front door, his hand placed on her back, Johnny following them to escort them to their car.
This has been some dinner.
It's only when all the madness has died down and I sit on the balcony sipping on a glass of wine while Johnny does the dishes that I take the time to actually think.
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but many have perfected the act of hiding what others see in them to an extent where the eyes are just an extension of the fake image that people create for themselves.
For the ones like Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, and me, if our eyes were a direct pathway to what we were actually feeling and thinking, to who we really are, it will get us killed. And so we spend most of our lives hiding our emotions and borrowing a cold, emotionless exterior in order to protect ourselves and the ones we love.
Especially Oliver Queen.
I cannot even begin to image all that he has been through in the five years he was thought to be dead. I'm not surprised he came back a new man, but even before he was shipwrecked on the island, Oliver Queen did not have the comfort of showing his true emotions. He had created a persona for himself; the selfish, playboy trust fund kid, and although many didn't see it, it was really just a mask for him to hide behind. He cheated on his girlfriend many times, got arrested, and was expelled from a countless amount of schools.
The Oliver that came back from the island, however different he was, still had to hide his face behind a mask, both literally and figuratively. He couldn’t be open to how he felt, because that would make the ones he loved in danger, he would basically paint a target on their back.
But when Oliver looks at Felicity, all his guards come crashing down, and his masks chip off.
It's almost as if he can't help it, as if he has to look at her like she hangs the stars and moon in the sky. He looks at her and gets lost; he could probably stare at Felicity for days and never stop.
Sometimes, he looks at her with disbelief, like he can't imagine that someone like her is with someone like him. He can't believe that she is still by his side.
Other times, he looks at her painfully, as if he’s a thirsty man in a desert and she’s the water he can't drink. He wants to be with her, but he can't, for reasons unknown to me.
He looks at her with pride, when she says something so smart that it completely flies by our heads; he looks at her with pride and adoration mixed in his gaze at the same time.
He looks at her with amusement when she babbles, protectiveness when she almost trips, and let’s not forget the way he looks at her with intense lust that makes me want to walk out of the room and away from all that tension.
But none of these looks compare with the way Oliver looks at Felicity when she smiles at him.
His whole face just brightens up, and he looks so relaxed and at ease. He looks content and happy. He looks at her the way a man looks at his bride walking down the aisle.
The way Johnny looks at me.
And that’s when I know that John was wrong. He was completely, utterly wrong.
This isn’t sexual tension.
“WHEN A GIRL IS IN LOVE, YOU CAN SEE IT IN HER SMILE. WHEN A GUY IS IN LOVE, YOU CAN SEE IT IN HIS EYES.”
Lyla Michaels is convinced Oliver Queen is in love with Felicity Smoak, his eyes say it all.
Chapter 8: Walter Steele
“RESPECT IS ONE OF THE GREATEST EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE.”
“ALL A WOMAN WANTS FROM HER MAN IS TO BE RESPECTED WHILE SHE IS IN HIS COMPANY, AND WHEN SHE’S OUT OF IT.”
I straighten out the stack of papers in my hands, taking great care as to avoid the various graphs and numbers printed on it in fear of an incoming headache. I am required to be at my full potential today, especially since I don't know what the day and my impulsive support of a dying company will bring.
Today is the first annual stock meeting for Queen Consolidated, I am equally nervous, and anticipating the outcome of the meeting, as I have heard some very good things on the direction, the new direction, that QC has been heading towards since Oliver Queen took on the throne.
I may not still be with Moira, but that doesn’t in any way change my affections for the two other Queens, especially Thea, whom I have visited quite often since the Undertaking, and who has been successfully running a nightclub that is apparently the hotspot in all of Starling City. One could not be more proud.
And in accordance with my thoughts, a familiar face appears on the TV screen in front of me, and I hastily search the table for the TV’s remote, to hear the latest scoop the press has on Oliver Queen.
It's terribly boring, I must say, only talks of his not-so-recent reign, his figure in a suit, and his haircut.
One could not be more proud.
I, being Robert’s close friend, spent the better part of my life watching Oliver Queen grow up. To say that I was disappointed in the way Robert and Moira raised him with a silver spoon was an understatement. The boy has so much potential and it could have been used for so much more than frat parties and drugs suppose his parents were more involved in his life.
Instead, he grew up to be the man who never respected women, treated them like dirt on the sole of his feet, ruined and wasted his life through parties, drugs and petty crimes, and Moira and Robert didn't do a single thing about it apart from bailing him out of jail and paying a new school every year.
And although the circumstances that led to his drastic change in personality were terrible, and as much as I wish I can go back and stop both father and son from getting on the stupid gambit and kept them in Starling City, I am forced to look at the one good that has come out of it. Oliver Queen.
He’s changed, some parts for better, some for worse, but I can honestly say that the Oliver Queen that came back from the island has a much better life paved out for him. He’s putting his trust fund to good use, running the company exceptionally well, and bringing back that honor and respect that the Queen name used to hold. It certainly helps matters that Thea has taken a turn for the better, and is on her way of giving up drugs and booze and trying to follow her brother’s footprints.
However, I'm not sure that the lifestyle Oliver is living right now is any more emotionally healthier than the one he used to live. Before the gambit, he had a limitless supply of phonies. He surrounded himself with girls, friends, and people who just didn't care. He didn't care for any of them either. The only two people I can think of Oliver respecting was (and is still) Tommy Merlyn and Laurel Lance for some part.
Now, he’s just closed off. He seems like a shell of a man that used to be so vibrant and full of life. Even though I know that he’s is paying close attention and absorbing everything he is being told in a conversation, to the normal eye he looks like all the words being said are just passing through him. He unarguably lonely, although he seems to have formed quite a friendship with his bodyguard (the only one that has lasted more than 2 weeks) and with Ms. Smoak (although I wonder if there is a hidden motive around that) and I assume that is much better than being around ones who don't care about anything but your net worth.
And the timing today seems to be perfectly on point as the elevator doors open to reveal the famous trio walk into the office, Ms. Smoak and Oliver in the front, and Mr. Diggle the ever-so-faithful bodyguard trailing after them. They haven’t yet noticed my presence, so I decide to sit in my chair, watching them interact with each other, my eyes going from between Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle, especially the former two.
“It plummeted down 35%, but that was after the undertaking, and although you were the technical owner of QC, you didn't take over then and so make sure to add the fact that the cause of this plummet wasn’t your fault.” Ms. Smoak rambles, not looking at anything but her tablet.
“But that’s only if they bring up the 35% loss, right,” Oliver asks her, his eyes never leaving her and I do a double take on the open curiosity and attentiveness in his face.
“Ya, only if they ask. But knowing them they probably will. Because they’re all sharks that want to make sure that they leave the room with more money and the better deal, so any way to make you falter or feel uncomfortable, they will take it, don't let them.” She unashamedly states her opinion (her spot on opinion) and I’ve stopped looking at Felicity by now, and have focused my gaze onto Oliver (whose reactions are proving to be much more interesting) who has an amused and fond look on his face.
“Felicity, you do realize that you’re talking about the people in this office with your loud voice right?” Diggle interrupts her, speaking my mind, although he also looks more amused than mad.
“Never mind that. Felicity, back to the stock reports.” Oliver interjects, steering her towards the conference room.
“Right. So in the past few months you have actually gained 13% of the money you lost and I know that doesn’t really seem like a big number, but it is, well for me it is, I don't know how highly you think of that much money, but in terms of business, it seems fairly reasonable.”
They walk reasonably slowly to the room, directly adjacent to my office, and I take their obliviousness to my presence to observe Oliver and Felicity communicating about the stock value and the way he should manner himself on the stage and the things he must include and say, and however important the conversation may be, I can't stop the only thought that flows through my head from reappearing constantly,
Oliver would have never accepted advice and directions as such years ago, let alone from a woman.
As much as it pains me to say (think) Oliver Queen that left on the gambit was a sexist bastard and didn't care much for respecting the opposite sex unless they were his mother or Thea.
I guess some things change for the better.
I arrive last, making sure that my details and files are up to date, and also after making an appointment with Thea, whom I haven’t seen in weeks.
When I get there, everyone has already taken a seat, Oliver near the head of the table, while Felicity sits beside him and Diggle at far corner in the back looking closely at all the other investors with his sharp eye (not that I can really blame him. Not after we have learned that the most successful and well-known business man of Starling City was a mastermind hell-bent on destroying the city)
“Alright gentleman, let’s begin,” I say, walking to my seat at the head of the table.
Mr. Rittman clears his throat and stares at Oliver Queen oddly, “Mr. Queen, the meeting has started.”
Oliver mirrors my look of confusion but answers anyway, “I'm well aware Mr. Rittman.”
The man addressed indicates his hands towards Felicity, who looks shocked to be included in the conversation, and she scrunches her brows in a way that allows me to know that the wheels in her brain are spinning, trying to come up with every possible theory as to what could be wrong.
“Your assistant could leave now. We are not in need of any refreshments and she isn’t going to be of much use in here anyway. Nothing requires any noting down.” Rittman tells him unashamedly and by the look on Oliver’s face, I fear for the man’s life.
I anticipate a blow up from Oliver, telling the old man his place, something I will entirely support because I am very ashamed of my colleague’s behaviour and manners, or lack thereof.
But before the young Queen can get up and start fighting with an important member of the board, Felicity places her hand on his knee, an action only I can see from the head of the table, she shakes her head, and some sort of silent communication goes on between them; her face one of acceptance and reassurance while his is contorted into sorry and guilt, it is fascinating.
But before I know it, the young woman strides out of the doors of the conference room, her head held high and her steps never faltering. I see Oliver send another silent signal to his bodyguard (should I be slightly scared of the way this trio have managed to gain telepathic abilities with each other?) and the dark-skinned man proceeds to also walk out the door, probably to watch over Ms. Smoak.
The presentation was quite tense after that, since the other board members realized that they had upset the young billionaire by throwing his assistant out, especially since the report that Oliver presented proved to indicate a bright future for QC with profits rising up to almost 45%, which indicates money for us.
Once Oliver finished his presentation (he had everyone on board, especially the ladies as soon as he smiled), it was Mr. Rittman’s turn, and I kept my eyes focused on the screen, trying to keep my smile off my face at the sight of Oliver brooding and pouting I see from the corner of my eye.
Mr. Rittman’s is a fairly intelligent fellow, with the right amount of confidence and poise to be such a prominent figure in society. But the truth is that he lacks the many things it takes to be an individual who runs a bank; fundamentally speaking, math.
I almost groan in annoyance as he stumbles and tries to charm his way through the stock and mathematical figures and equations that I know his assistant made, and finally Oliver does it for me.
“Mr. Rittman.” He interrupts (more like gives the man more time to add the numbers to his obvious calculator pulled up on his phone).
“Y- Yes Mr. Queen.” He responds, straightening his back, putting in deep care to avoid me. If only he would put as much care as that into his work.
“Can I invite my assistant now?” Oliver innocently asks, and I have to wonder where he is going with this.
Rittman looks as equally confused, “I'm sorry?”
“Well you see, my Executive Assistant is a genius. In fact, I'm sure she has a higher IQ than any one of us in this room. I’m confident that she can get the answer to these problems and numbers in a matter of seconds, so I’m going to call my bodyguard and ask him to bring her up.” Oliver tells everyone blatantly, with an undercurrent of firmness in his voice (the undercurrent of something that reminds me of Robert) that leaves no room for argument.
He picks his phone up, ready to dial Mr. Diggle’s number, but stops midway, his expression turning harsh and cold and he looks at the rest of the room, specifically at Rittman (who shakes in fear at the hard glare he receives),
“And I would just like to remind all of you that I will not tolerate anyone treating my overqualified EA with anything less than the respect she deserves to be treated with. Am I clear?” his voice is stern and threatening, and it does the trick as everyone including Mr. Rittman shake their head rapidly, not wanting to get on Oliver Queen’s bad side.
His orders to his bodyguard are quick and curt and within moments, Felicity Smoak and John Diggle walk into the room, the former’s head held as high as it was when she left, proving the strength of her confidence and self-esteem.
She, without saying a word or making eye contact with anyone else in the room, gives me a smile before taking her seat beside Oliver.
The next few minutes are the last few minutes, of the meeting and Mr. Rittman’s presentation finalizes his termination of employment because he has proven to be useless ever since I took over as CFO and especially during the meeting.
I have to say that I was extremely embarrassed when Ms. Smoak, however smart she may be (and I know that she is incredibly smart), was practically presenting Mr. Rittman’s presentation by calculating all the numbers and reading the charts and percentages. It was a disgrace to the bank and especially to Mr. Rittman, who fled the meeting room the second everyone was dismissed, ignoring both me and a very smug Oliver Queen, who couldn’t seem to keep the grin off his face, despite his EA’s scolding.
And as the last person leaves the room, I call out to Miss Smoak, who is collecting the papers Oliver left behind after receiving a phone call from Thea,
“Ms. Smoak.” She turns to looks at me, her bright smile present on her face.
“I would like to thank you for all the help you have done today, despite the atrocious behavior of Mr. Rittman for whom I would like to apologize for,” I tell her sincerely.
“Oh ya, don't stress over it. It was fine. Not that it was fine, fine. But you don't have to apologize on behalf of him. I'm good. Perfectly fine. It not like I wanted to be here anyway. Not, that it's horrible and all, I'm sure the meeting was very...educational, but I'm an EA, and I want to do EA things, which do not require sitting in meeting rooms. Do they require sitting in meeting rooms?”
I laugh, completely refreshed by Miss Smoak’s babble.
“You are alright with your new position, right? I know that Oliver can be quite demanding sometimes.” I tell her, wanting to make sure that her presence in Oliver’s life, however beneficial it may be to him, is entirely her choice.
“Well, alright may not be the appropriate word to describe my feelings on the new position, but I'm fine. It's actually not as bad as I thought it would be and it helps that I have Oliver in return.” When the words finally process, she rushes to explain, “Not have him, have him! I mean to have him as a friend who makes working with him much easier because he works hard at business.”
She’s about to continue defending herself (unnecessarily) when Oliver himself pokes his head through the door,
Felicity turns around and gives him a smile, so unlike (brighter, warmer, fonder) the one she gave me (or anyone else for that matter), “Ya, you were just about to save me from my impending death through embarrassment.”
Oliver grins at Felicity, a boyish smile that I've missed since he left for that boat, “Well, Dig’s car is parked out front ready to take you to one Big Belly Burger to celebrate...”
She waves me goodbye and walks (more so skips) to Oliver, who also gives me a nod in farewell, and I hear Felicity tell Oliver,
And as I make my own way out the door to my office, I see Oliver eying his female companion with pride and respect, telling her, “We both know that you are your own hero Felicity. You don't need me.”
The respect Oliver has for Felicity can definitely be considered the basis of whatever relationship they have going on, whether it is friendship or more. The Oliver of before never really contemplated others, and never thought much about women apart from their physical appearance. It's good to see Oliver appreciating women for who they really are behind their looks.
But I assume that it is a different case entirely with Ms. Smoak.
Oliver Queen respects Felicity, not only as an equal but as if she were better. And I'm also sure that the pedestal he puts her on, is the only thing coming in between the two of them starting a romantic relationship. Only a fool would miss the way the two of them look at each other as if they were the only ones in the room, as if they were they only people in the universe. No one could have missed the secret smiles, the silent conversation, or the sudden touching.
But even if one did miss the obvious, the respect Oliver has for Felicity should be a dead giveaway.
He not only respects, but also defends her honor even when she’s not around, and expects others to treat her with respect as well. He sees Felicity’s full potential and makes sure that everyone else sees it too, so that they know that she deserves to be treated highly. He won’t tolerate any bad mouthing about Ms. Smoak; because he knows the kind of person she is and won’t let anyone other than Felicity herself change his opinion on that.
And that right there is the reason why everything is going to work out perfectly for the two of them.
“RESPECT IS ONE OF THE GREATEST EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE.”
Walter Steele knows that by respecting Felicity Smoak, Oliver Queen has proven to everyone how much he adores her.
Chapter 9: Sara Lance
“I CHOOSE YOU. AND I’LL CHOOSE YOU OVER AND OVER AND OVER. WITHOUT A PAUSE, WITHOUT A DOUBT, IN A HEARTBEAT. I’LL KEEP CHOOSING YOU.”
“...THAT’S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING IN THE WORLD; WHEN TWO PEOPLE BECOME FLUENT IN CHOOSING ONE ANOTHER.”
“Dig, it was a simple, petty theft. They were kids, and ran away in fear when Sara jumped through the window. Stay home with Lyla, and if there is anything big, you’ll be the first one to know.”
Oliver reassures John through the phone, the latter unable to come to the foundry today because of his sick girlfriend (and if Lyla Michaels is sick, she must be sick because I have never seen the woman in less than a perfect form) and has been calling Ollie for the past hour making sure that his absence hasn’t been costing the team.
The day has been going pretty smoothly for now, and as Oliver said earlier, the only situation we came across today was a kid high on adrenaline, trying to rob a bar, and who practically peed in his pants when he saw the Arrow swing into the room (despite Ollie saying it was me. The Arrow seems pretty popular around town recently).
“You okay?” Ollie’s modulated voice asks me, his eyes hinting at a slight concern, but also wariness, indicating that he won’t know what to do if I'm not okay.
“Ya. I'm good.” I tell him, knowing that both he and I can't do a thing about the darkness that swarms through our hearts, reflecting in our eyes.
He punches the numbers on the keypad in gloved hands (10,24,12 the date Diggle later told me was the first time Ollie met Felicity) and we both make our way down the steps, tensing when the lair is devoid of the normal chatter of Felicity and Roy, or the clacking of keyboards.
I quietly but quickly make my way down the stairs, aware of Oliver following me, his grip tightened on his bow.
It's only when I get down, that I realize the true reason for Roy’s amused smile and the silence in the room.
And I feel my shoulders shaking in laughter.
“Oh no, not need to hold it in on my behalf. At least I found something that will make you laugh,” Felicity says, hanging down from one of the bars on the ceiling, her pink nails making a striking contrast to the beams (well, everything about Felicity is a striking contrast to this place, her bright pink shirt, beige leggings, nude heels).
“Felicity,” Ollie says, from his place beside me, hood pulled back and mask off, “Do I even want to know?”
“Yes, yes you do. Roy dared me to do one pull up on this beam for a month of coffee runs whenever I want. And I'm not naturally one to back down from a challenge, so I said yes. And so he helped me get up, and I did the pull-up. I repeat, I successfully completed the pull-up, but now I'm stuck.” I can see her pout from here, it sets me on the edge, and I can't stop the smile from breaking on my face.
“Oliver, some help would be great.” She tells him, trying and failing to make eye contact.
I turn to look at Ollie, and I am immediately drawn back to a few moments ago, when I thought that both he and I couldn’t do anything about the darkness inside of us.
I was right. He can't do a thing about his darkness.
But Felicity can.
I lost my light when I joined the league. Ollie, despite his many misadventures, was always good and pure at heart. There is still light inside of him. It appears in moments like these, usually when Felicity says something or does something, and Ollie looks at her and smiles, so full of light and warmth and genuineness. Ollie has light; Felicity brings out his light.
“Let go, Felicity,” Ollie says, arms stretching wide as he moves directly under her.
“I...I can’t” Felicity’s legs wiggle restlessly, and I move away from my place to sit beside Roy, who is now avidly watching the events that unfold.
Oliver looks up at her, craning his neck to make eye contact “Felicity, I will catch you. Trust me.”
“Oliver, I trust you with everything I have. You can tell me to jump off a cliff and I would do it in a heartbeat. My problem isn’t the fact that you won’t catch me. It's the fact that if I jump, your family heirloom, which is lodged between my hair and one of the beams, will break, and just by looking at it I know they have diamonds on them, so we need to find another way and quick because my arms are killing me right now.”
I notice the shiny blue jewel in Felicity’s hair; a Queen family heirloom that has been passed down for centuries, gifted by each Queen to their dearly beloved (if I remember what Thea was saying correctly).
God, these two are so frustratingly stubborn that it makes me want to strangle someone’s neck. He gave her an heirloom for goodness sakes! Oliver Queen isn’t capable of doing anything more romantic than that! If they don't make out soon, I'm going to hold them at gunpoint and make them do it before they kill us with all their sexual tension.
I focus back to Oliver, who sighs loudly, “Felicity I don't care about the heirloom. Just let go so that you can get down.”
“But what about...” Felicity gasps loudly as one of her hands slips off the beam and she struggles to regain her grip onto it.
“Felicity, the only thing I care about is you getting down, okay. So jump.” Oliver says, leaving no room for argument.
Still reeling from her earlier scare of almost slipping, Felicity lets go as instructed, and I watch as she lands in the cocoon of Oliver’s arms, not once flinching or surprised, and I have to once again marvel at the intense trust these two have developed in the short span of just two years.
Their moment is interrupted by the ringing of Oliver’s phone, and Felicity hastily climbs off Oliver to allow him the privacy of his phone call, and by his curt short answers, it's most likely someone from the office.
“Felicity, we have a meeting.” Oliver shrugs apologetically, and I have heard complains about business meetings from Felicity so much that I don't even have to look at her to know that her face is probably scrunched up in a silent pain and reluctance.
“Noooo.” She whines sadly, despite immediately collecting her things and placing them in her bag.
As they leave, I hear Oliver tell his partner, his hands placed on her back in a gesture so customary, no one blinks an eye when it happens,
“I’ll make it up to you with a week of coffee runs whenever you need it.”
Whatever Felicity says next is drowned out by distance and the opening of the hard heavy doors but whatever it was made Oliver throw his head back from a genuine laugh, his light glowing brighter and bigger.
Felicity is his light.
“10 dollars!” Roy calls out from where he practices shooting arrows on the other side of the room.
“20 dollars!” I yell back at him, blowing a bubble out of my mouth from the gum I chew.
“Fine. If Oliver and Felicity get their shit together within three months, you owe me 20 bucks.” Roy says, putting down his bow and coming up to where I lazily doze off on a chair next to Felicity’s blue seat.
We’ve been talking about the worldwide phenomenon that is Oliver and Felicity for a while now, first complaining about how frustrating they were, then talking about their moments we witnessed and then finally coming up with a betting pool on how long it will take for them to get their shit together.
Unfortunately for Roy (who will be losing 20 bucks), he doesn’t know Oliver as well as I do. Oliver is not going to be acting upon his feelings anytime soon. It's not that he doesn’t like Felicity enough, but rather that he doesn’t like himself enough, and it will take much longer than three months to erase guilt and darkness that has been haunting him for over five years.
I can only hope that Felicity will be patient enough to walk with him every step of the way. Because there is no way he can do this without her.
My inner musings are interrupted by the loud, continuous beeping of Felicity’s monitors. Quickly entering the password (Donnajonasgreen) I shift through the various programs and searches that are running on the database, before coming face to face with a page highlighted in red.
“Wait, that’s the search Felicity ran on the mini terrorist group. The one that’s been traumatizing the glades for the past two months.” Roy points out to me, showing me the picture with the men dressed in familiar blue masks.
“Well, she managed to find out the next target through their phones and emails. I just need to try and figure out how to work this thing so that I can figure out what it is.” I scan the entire page, looking for any hints of buttons or anything to click, but the screens are programmed in such a different way from your normal regular monitor that I groan in frustration.
“Let me do this.” Roy, taking charge, seats himself on Felicity’s chair and begins to furiously type up a series of letters, before he is granted access into the findings of Felicity.
I feel my eyes widen as I look at the blueprint I almost know by heart stare back at me through the screen.
“They’re going to attack Queen Consolidated.”
“Try Again!” I instruct Roy, as he tries for the hundredth time to reach Oliver, who decides to ignore our calls at the single most terrible time possible.
Felicity was no success either.
“It doesn’t matter. We have the information we need. He’ll be attacking Queen Consolidated at six o clock, only minutes from now. If we want to make it in time, we need to move now.” Dig, with his ever-present calm composure instructs, as he loads his guns.
“I’ll get the van,” Roy exclaims, as he runs up the stairs leaving behind an uncomfortable silence that is derived from the underlayer of fear that is buried deep beneath our mask of calmness.
After getting confirmation of the attack on QC, I called Dig immediately, deciding that this was big enough to get him away from Lyla, especially since Oliver can’t put on the hood in front of his entire company.
As we speed along, the roads of Starling City, to QC, Roy suddenly curses loudly, looking at through the mirror,
“Guys, it's Sunday, no one is going to be at QC at this time except for the janitors and investors.” He points out the obvious that none of us had acknowledged before.
“That’s a good thing right? Ollie won’t have to worry about anybody else if he decides to defend himself.” I say, relaxing slightly.
Roy pulls under a relatively secluded spot near QC, saying, “How is he going to explain how he singlehandedly took out a fully trained terrorist group by himself? He can’t risk anyone suspecting.”
Diggle's next words have us all rushing out of the van, and into the building, our masks and hoods firmly in place, “Man, Felicity is there with him.”
Each and every one of us knows that Oliver doesn’t think straight when it involves Felicity. He has a particularly weak spot when it comes to the blonde genius. Chances are that he will panic and immediately try to protect her, blowing his cover without a second thought. He won’t even regret it.
Out of all the sights I had prepared myself to be confronted with (Oliver fighting with the terrorist, Oliver and Felicity hiding, a dead terrorist), I definitely did not account for this in my head.
Oliver (somehow) is in full Arrow gear (how the hell did he manage to get his hands on that? Does he bring a spare costume to work?), his bow and arrow on the floor, and his hands on his hood, ignoring the shivering mess of investors behind him, looking at only one thing.
The man in black whose gun rests threateningly on Felicity’s head, who is on her knees and screaming at Oliver pleadingly,
“Don't do it. Not for me. Do not do it.” she repeats.
It's only then, when Ollie makes a move to pull back his hood that, I understand what had truly gone on, and the price Ollie must pay for Felicity’s life.
Without a thought, I scream into the distance, the impact hitting everyone in the room, including Ollie, who dives after Felicity, pulling her into his arms.
The two stay there like that for the entire duration of the fight, even when Roy calls the cops to inform them of the tied up terrorist at QC.
The ride back is silent and slow, due to the massive traffic jam an accident has caused. Felicity has calmed down exceptionally (not really a surprise since she has faced the Count who was much worse) and now looks angry (for good reason) and I can only hope that the two of them start their couples squabble after we get to the foundry.
Roy seems to sense the tension and tries to drive as fast as he can, his eyes panicking, and Diggle just looks fondly exasperated, as if he’s seen this too many times for it to be threatening or fun (he probably has).
Felicity is the first one to break the silence as usual.
“You would have done it.” Her voice is eerily calm, and I hear Oliver sigh before he turns himself to face her.
“Yes.” He wasn’t ever a man of many words, but this one word resonates within the already tense atmosphere of the van, and becomes Felicity’s breaking point.
“Yes! Yes? Oliver, you didn't even think of the consequences. You can't pull your hood back. The entire board of investors was behind you. You could have lost everything. The mission, the company. You would either have to run or be put in jail.”
“He was going to shoot you.” Oliver grits out, his voice still oddly calm despite his clenched jaw and fists that state otherwise.
“And you didn't think about yourself? You’re supposed to think during these situations Oliver. Contemplate your choices. Not pull the hood down without hesitation. You’re supposed to think of the consequences each choice will make.” Felicity says as Roy speeds towards the foundry, all in good time, because this time, Oliver is the one that breaks control and screams,
“God Felicity, how many times do I have to tell you? It was you! There was no choice!”
The entire van goes deathly still as Roy pulls out the keys.
Diggle is the first one to make move moments later, and both Roy and I follow him out of the car, leaving a frustrated Oliver and an angry Felicity in the vehicle, where they will sort out their problems in peace before coming down to the lair.
This time, I know that the normal betting pool as to who will win the argument won’t be happening.
Because this time, we all know that Oliver is going to win.
I know that no matter how loud Felicity yells, or how upset she seems, it will not faze Ollie.
Because as he said, in his mind, there is no choice to make when Felicity is involved. Oliver has chosen Felicity since day one; to help him find information, to be in on his crusade, to be his EA, to be the one that harnesses his light, to be his friend; his partner.
Oliver has been choosing Felicity so often that it is as easy to him as breathing, he doesn’t think twice when he does it. It's a natural response.
Part of it probably has to do with selfish reasons; Oliver can't lose her, it's the one thing I'm sure he won’t be able to come back from. Despite the fact that this whole mission would be nothing without her, it's not only the Arrow that needs Felicity Smoak, but also Oliver Queen that needs her. He relies on Felicity to help him run the company, to berate him when he does something stupid, to challenge him, to surprise him with her quirky antics and babbles, to make him smile, to make him feel accepted and loved. Oliver needs Felicity Smoak to chase his demons away, and he’s not prepared to lose the one thing that keeps him sane.
The other part that has Oliver choosing Felicity is the one that tells him (and all of us) that she’s the least deserving person on this team of death (not including Roy). She has done so much good, and can do so much more, that a mere reveal of his identity is nothing compared to what he will do to keep her safe. Even if it means lying to himself every single day that she means nothing more to him than a very good friend and a partner.
So when the pair enters the liar a couple minutes later, a slight smile on both their faces, an air of acceptance, revelations, and calmness surrounding them, I know that they have sorted out their issues, and Felicity was the one to give in this time.
Because for the first time ever, Oliver Queen has put someone above himself, the mission and the city.
And she is going to stay there.
“I CHOOSE YOU. AND I’LL CHOOSE YOU OVER AND OVER AND OVER. WITHOUT A PAUSE, WITHOUT A DOUBT, IN A HEARTBEAT. I’LL KEEP CHOOSING YOU.”
Sara Lance knows that Oliver Queen will always choose Felicity Smoak and he will never stop.
Chapter 10: Quentin Lance
“A PERSON THAT TRULY LOVES YOU WILL NEVER LET YOU GO, NO MATTER HOW HARD THE SITUATION IS”
“WHEN TWO PEOPLE REALLY CARE ABOUT EACH OTHER, THEY ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO MAKE IT WORK. NO MATTER HOW HARD IT IS”
How stupid does he think I am?
It's the first, last, and constant thought the infiltrates my head every time the Arrow gives me a call for a specific mission that goes beyond his ability to help.
It is prime example of how much he has grown in the past few years; from a murdering bastard who preferred to enclose himself in his darkness to a justice-seeking vigilante who tries to do good with the help of the people who bring light into his life.
However, it is more of an example on how much he has grown throughout the past decade, from the person he was before he got on the wretched boat, to who he is now, not just as the Arrow but also as Oliver Queen.
And as we sit here on the this roof, his bow out and my gun drawn out in position, I wonder if it ever occurs to him that I might just recognize the boy who I saw grow up for the better part of his life.
Because yes, I did not like him at all, but no, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t there. Laurel and he were friends, then lovers, and I was there to witness the entire thing.
And boy did it hurt to witness.
The kid never really loved Laurel; that was clear as day. It was fine. They didn't need to love each other at that point and they sure as hell were too young to be thinking of anything beyond that.
But Ollie Queen was as invested in that relationship as Moira Queen was not invested in The Undertaking. He was there for her birthday, brought her to his fancy parties, walked around with her on his arm, but he wasn’t there when it truly mattered.
He uncomfortably stood in the background when Dinah left to Central City, visited once in the form of flowers when Laurel broke her leg, and from what I heard, drove off to Vegas when Laurel first told him that she loved him.
In essence, the boy let Laurel go, whenever they got to a point in their relationship that was slightly more difficult to handle.
But that is beside the point. The point is that it has never crossed Oliver Queen’s mind that the Hood and mask may cover his identity for one who gets a fleeting glance at him, but definitely not for someone who practically seen him grow up, like me.
“Felicity,” The Arrow’s (Oliver’s) modulated voice interrupts my inner musings, I am brought back to reality, and I tighten my grip on my gun.
Ms Smoak received information that a group of thieves would be stealing one of Starling’s precious jewels at the annual gala. The Arrow contacted me to arrange for tighter security, and Felicity (being the genius she is) convinced Queen that they could use an extra set of hands.
And here we stand; on top of a rooftop of a museum, Ms Smoak and Mr Diggle cruising around inside, ready to make their exit once the thieves are spotted.
I spot Ms Smoak at the window directly parallel to our position, she looks our way, but I know that she only has eyes for the leather-clad man beside me. “Team Arrow is up and ready to go,” she says cheerfully.
Queen growls, “We are not calling ourselves that.”
“And why not?” Felicity walks away from the window, her green dress (I try not to think of the irony of the colour) fluttering behind her.
“Because, Felicity, I said so.” Queen attempts to hide his smile when the blonde makes a short and quick reappearance at the window to give him a glare.
“And since when have I ever listened to you unless I wanted to?”
Queen doesn’t even bother to hide his smile anymore, “Never. But since I'm asking so nicely, you’re going to stop calling the team, Arrow.”
“And what do I get from it?” The tone of her voice is cheeky and playful, and I have to appreciate the way she finds a way to bring light into a situation as such, over my awkwardness at feeling like a third wheel.
“Big Belly Burger, no onions, a chocolate milkshake with fires and a brownie.” His answer is quick and immediate and I hate myself for wondering how things could have tuned out if the boy put this much thought into gifts all those years ago instead of throwing around diamonds.
Instead, I conceal my groan and ask no one in particular, “Are they always like this?”
But Diggle answers me (another clue as to who the Arrow is, Oliver Queen’s supposed bodyguard is named John Diggle, and the Arrow refers to a Diggle many times throughout his mission. They should really consider giving the man a code name), “Every time man. Every single time.”
Before the conversation can get any further, the museum alarm rings heavily and The Arrow has jumped down the roof and is running into the building before I can even process it.
“Felicity, get the hell out of here!” Queen yells into the comms and I spot the blonde on her tablet, making her way to the exit as I walk into the building, gun drawn, ready to fire.
And it's as if everything happens in a hyper lapse, because one minute both Queen and I are running towards the thief that came out of nowhere and the next minute, there’s a loud bang, one I distinctly remember as a gunshot, and then Felicity is on the ground, and Queen is screaming and everything goes to hell.
I faintly see Diggle tackling the thief to the ground and punching him with more vehement than necessary, but I put all my focus onto the woman lying in front of me, clutching her leg in pain, the red slowly seeping through the green fabric, and I rush to her, making sure not to get too close, because as I predicted, Queen beats me to it, holding her in his arms, applying pressure onto her thigh.
“Felicity, Felicity. Look at me. Look at me Felicity.” He calls her with such desperation; it makes me feel sorrier for him rather than Ms Smoak.
“Oll..iiv..errr” she slurs, and he clings onto her, whispering things into her hair, and I see a small, painful smile reach her face.
Neither of them acknowledges the fact that she just uttered his name in public. Gladly no one is here besides John Diggle and I, and we already know his secret.
I hear the sirens in the distance and I know that the upcoming scene won’t be pretty. Because the Arrow can't be here when the cops are, but the Arrow has no intention of leaving Felicity Smoak. For his sake and the sake of the team and city, someone has to get him out of here.
That someone cannot be me.
Thankfully, it turns out to be Diggle who has to physically drag the man out of the museum, while I help Ms Smoak get inside the ambulance truck, sending Diggle a nod to let him know that I’ll be with her. Queen and I may not see eye to eye (in the past) but I care for Ms Smoak very much, and I'm not leaving her to fend for herself after a bullet wound.
“Detective...Arr...rrow” Felicity stutters out through her pain and I have to marvel at the way the young women still thinks about Queen even when she’s being carried into the hospital because of a gunshot wound.
“He’s gone sweetheart. Diggle took him away as soon as the cops came.” I can do nothing but reassure her.
“M’kay,” she drowsily says before the pain overtakes her and she falls into oblivion.
Felicity is immediately wheeled into an emergency room when we reach Starling General and I can do nothing but wait patiently.
When I spot a nurse leave her room, I pull her aside, asking her the question that has been bugging me throughout the entire trip to the hospital “Is there anyone that needs to be notified of her injury miss?”
The nurse, Marley, hurries away after rushing her answer, “Her emergency contact has been notified. He will decide who to notify Sir.”
And by the blush that stains her cheeks as she scurries away, I have a good idea as to who Ms Smoak’s emergency contact actually is.
The man in question comes rushing in soon after, and I wonder if maybe he should have just kept the hood on.
He’s a mess. His hair is dishevelled, clothes wrinkled and torn, Felicity’s bloodstains on the side of his hand, and his eyes have a wild, desperate craze in them, which causes everyone in the building to jump out of his sprinting way. At the moment, I can't help but think that the Arrow looks and seems less crazy and scary than Oliver Queen.
When he spots me, he breaks to an even faster run (Something I didn't think was possible) and grabs me by the shoulders, seemingly oblivious to the fact that to his knowledge, I hate him.
“Where is she? Is she okay? What did they say?”
“Get your shit together kid, she’s still in surgery.” I gruffly tell him, despite the similar questions that constantly float through my head.
“Detective,” John Diggle interrupts the mini not-so-pep talk I was going to give the kid, “They want me to tell you that you’re needed at the precinct.” He looks calm and composed, stoic, like any bodyguard is supposed to be, but I can see the undercurrent of fear and grief in his form and it clearly displays the strong bond the three of them have developed throughout the years. It would be hard not to, after everything they have been through.
With that knowledge, I leave the hospital, walking away from an inconsolable Queen who has managed to get it together in the past minute, and a scared John Diggle, both expressions telling me that I am leaving Ms Smoak in the best hands.
I find myself parking in front of the hospital quite early today. I hope to pay a quick visit to Ms Smoak before heading towards the precinct to finish the case files and damage plan after last night’s hectic events.
I take the steps to the fifth floor (walking helps clear my head), to where I was informed that Ms Smoak was moved to after a successful surgery with no casualties.
When I reach the room at the end of the hall, I find that I have arrived the same time that the nurse from yesterday, Marley, comes out. Instead of her previously rushed, hurried state of yesterday, when she walks down the hall today, she seems to be in some sort of daze, muttering loudly enough to herself for me to hear.
“Oliver Queen staying up all night keeping vigil at a woman’s bedside. Must be a day of miracles.”
When I finally reach the entrance of Ms Smoak’s room, I'm surprised at the sight that greets me, even though the nurse muttered it to herself in awe.
Felicity Smoak rests in the middle of a gigantic room (one of the Queen’s private healing rooms), a series of monitors attached to her small, pale frame and a variety of colourful bouquets (quite apt for the young woman) placed carefully throughout the room.
And Oliver Queen is sitting on a tiny chair that is placed so close to the bed; I wouldn’t be surprised if it were glued together. The boy is holding her hand gently; bloodshot eyes never leaving her face, shoulders slumped in exhaustion.
With slow, deliberate movements, I open the door and throw my hands into the hair when Queen’s instincts kick in and his head shoots up, ready to assess the potential threat. When he sees me, he immediately relaxes, and proceeds to tell me about Ms Smoak without my asking,
“She’s doing well. They said she should wake up soon.” His voice harbours hope, guilt and grief and I feel sorry for both Diggle and Smoak who have to deal with this one later on.
Up close, I can see the evidence the nurse gathered to guess that the boy stayed up all night. He has the same clothes on from yesterday, the bloodstains aren’t wiped out from his hands, there are tired lines on his forehead, and his hair looks tousled and messed, as if he ran his hands through them a countless amount of times.
He looks like shit, and it's what prompts me to say, “Maybe you should go home. Get yourself cleaned up.”
He still doesn’t look away from his blonde, “I want to be here when she wakes up.”
The fact that both Oliver Queen and the Green Arrow won’t be caught dead saying something remotely similar to this is full on proof of how much this incident shook him.
We lapse into an uncomfortable silence, the two of us watching the steady breathing of the heart and soul of team Arrow.
Unwilling to let the boy stay and disintegrate in this hospital room (however luxurious it may look) I walk out of the room to get the two of us some coffee, despite how crappy the hospital coffee is. I wonder where Queen’s bodyguard is, the two of them always seem glued to the hip, and the man seemed pretty distraught yesterday, doing his own share of mourning for the young IT expert.
Carrying two coffees in both hands, I make my way to Felicity’s room once again, opting to take the elevator this time, not expecting for the woman to have woken up within the twenty minutes that I was gone.
“You can leave you know. Go home, get dressed and do your other stuff. Like QC stuff. Or your green stuff.” Felicity’s throaty voice stops me in my tracks.
I probably should either; walk in and alert them of my presence, or leave, but I can't help but eavesdrop, because for all I know about Oliver Queen, this is his opportunity to leave. This is his out. This is the part where he takes the out and flees. If something like this was said to him years ago, he would have jumped up immediately and ran out the door. But I've come to realize that the most parts of the man that left on the boat died there, and I'm curious to see what this new, improved man will do.
He doesn’t disappoint.
“Felicity I am not going to leave your side until you get better. We don't leave the other, no matter how hard things get. That’s what partners do.” He pauses to assess his partner’s beaming face before he adds, “besides I can't do anything without you. Not QC work or Team Arrow work.”
And if him vowing to stay by her side doesn’t make her happy enough, him calling the Team, Arrow, definitely does.
And then I find myself walking down the streets of Starling City, idiotically holding two cups of coffee, smiling like a lunatic to myself, too lost in my thoughts to consider the odd looks given to me by the citizens on the streets.
I was under the illusion that if Oliver were like this, a decade ago, then my baby girl could have had the chance at the happy life she had imagined with Queen.
Now, I know how wrong that was.
Queen wasn’t willing to fight for Laurel; for anybody. He wasn’t willing to put in the 100 percent into the relationship because it didn't matter much to him, it didn't matter enough for him to hold onto it.
With Felicity, he doesn’t have to think, or remember to make an effort. He doesn’t have to set reminders for her birthday, or tell himself constantly to listen to her, to consider her feelings, or to stay with her when she’s unwell. All these things come instinctively. They’re a part of his compulsion to hold onto her with everything he’s got. His desperate need for the relationship (whatever the relationship may be classified as) he has with this women, his need to preserve what he considers the one pure thing in his life, causes him to panic and go into overdrive when it is threatened. For the normal eye, it may seem obsessive, but the normal eye doesn’t know Oliver Queen.
The normal eye doesn’t know about the way Oliver looks at Felicity.
The way he won’t make any decisions pertaining to both Oliver Queen CEO and the vigilante without consulting her.
The way she is the only person that can get away with nagging him when he’s on a mission.
The way her safety is his top priority. The way he will risk his identity if it means staying with her when she’s injured.
The way he stays up all night by her bedside.
The way Oliver would do anything to ensure that she stays by his side, healthy and well.
And then I know that even if he never got on that boat, even if he didn't make a complete character change. I know that he would have met Felicity Smoak, maybe at QC or maybe at a coffee shop, and they would still be where they are right now. The boat and who Oliver is has nothing to do with the way he feels about Ms Smoak.
And he tells me they’re just friends. Just partners. Nothing more.
How stupid does he think I am?
“A PERSON THAT TRULY LOVES YOU WILL NEVER LET YOU GO, NO MATTER HOW HARD THE SITUATION IS”
Quentin Lance knows that according to Oliver Queen, there’s no letting Felicity Smoak go.
Chapter 11: Barry Allen
“WE ARE NOT A TEAM BECAUSE WE WORK TOGETHER. WE ARE A TEAM BECAUSE WE RESPECT, TRUST, AND CARE FOR EACH OTHER.”
“FORGET THE RELATIONSHIP. MAKE IT A PARTNERSHIP. AND BUILD AN EMPIRE”
There’s just something elaborately freeing about being able to watch the world in slow motion. To run through the streets, and cities, and take a moment to glimpse the people around you, their faces, their stances, their emotions. The things they try to hide within three seconds that I can grasp in one.
Today, the couple waiting in the limo catches my eye; Roberta and Jacob Stewart. Purposely slowing down my run a few notches, I take the seconds given to me to observe Central City’s so-called celebrity couple through the window of their luxurious, shiny limousine.
Roberta owned her own fashion line (Iris constantly raves about it) which was initially given to her by her husband, Jacob, who owns a series of bars throughout America and Asia, the power couple were most definitely striking in all sense to the outer eye, but are apparently having all sorts of trouble from what I'm witnessing at the moment.
The inside of the limo is a mess. Not in the literal sense; the limo is polished clean and not one fluke is out of place. The two occupants, however, contrast greatly to their environment. Mr and Mrs.Stewart don't work very well together; they keep hissing at each other, pushing body parts for space, losing files, train of thoughts, talking too loud, thinking too loud. I suppose it's the reason why the two opted to participate as silent partners in the others’ business; they do not work well at all, they’re terrible partners. No, they are a terrible team. A terrible couple in general, based on the extremely dirty looks being traded in the vehicle with absolutely no love or affection in them.
“Earth to Barry Allen!”
I come screeching to a halt, to the surprise of the city bystanders having lunch at the local park, trying to get Cisco’s voice to stop ringing in my ears.
“Not cool Cisco.”
I wince when he speaks again, paying no mind to my ringing ear by using his same tone, “Metahuman alert. The museum. He’s been wreaking havoc for the last minute, all of which I wasted calling your name while you were twirling around Central City.”
“Bare, finish up with this metahuman and then we can talk about your habit of spying,” Joe’s attempt to stop an argument before it even starts, works, and I'm in front of the Museum in seconds.
“Are you sure this is a meta, Cisco?” I ask my partner confusedly when I see the man in the middle of the parking lot, firing guns at everyone and everything.
“He got hit by the particle accelerator. Criminal activity tripled since then and success rate also went up. And by that, I mean he was successful every single time. So, yes, Barry, this is probably a meta.” Cisco’s voice hasn’t gotten any less quiet or sarcastic in the last ten seconds.
It's why I'm grateful when Caitlin decides to take over, “Metahuman or not, can we just bring the guy in?”
I have no response to that, but to speed in front of the man himself, a tall, well-built man. His face is covered by an elaborate mask, placed carefully so that he isn’t identifiable, but so that I can see his clear expressions without any trouble.
My easygoing smile is immediately wiped off, when I see the man’s face break into a wide grin when he sees me. He’s nowhere near surprised and warning bells instantly go off in my head because this guy didn't attack a museum to get money; he did it to get me.
“You're late.” He seethes, grin still in place, still unnerving me.
“Good thing I'm fast,” and I run towards him, handcuffs out, watching with curious amusement that morphs into horror as he throws his weapon away and punches me, in the stomach, sending me flying.
As I struggle to take a breath, I wince and curse at the loud screaming and callings in my ear and get up despite my protesting muscles, “Cisco, what did you say his powers were?”
His answer is immediate, for once, “I didn't. I don't know.”
I look at the gleeful man in front of me, and groan out loud.
This is not going to end well for me.
“Nothing,” Caitlin asks for the fourth time in bewilderment.
I shake my head for the fourth time, “Nothing.”
I flinch in pain when Cisco, body slams into me; his hipbone coming sharply into contact with my bruised one. He winces, but shrugs unapologetically,
“Sorry, bud. I need to try to pull up as much info as I can on this guy since there is absolutely nothing on him and you’re in my way.”
I roll my eyes, “How about an excuse me?”
“You know what Barry—” Cisco is cut off by Joe, his hand still midair in the classic Cisco-sass-moment pose.
“Alright, you two.” Joe grumbles.
“So, what do we know about this meta so far?” He questions, asking all of us, but looking at Caitlin, who always has this sort of information stored in her head.
“He’s somehow immune to the dark matter that was released during the explosion. Meaning that whenever Barry uses speed to achieve something, it doesn’t affect him. So Barry can throw a punch, or try to cuff him, but as long as Barry uses his speed to achieve those things, it won’t work. It's almost as if he’s a ghost to meta humans.”
“Right,” Joe adds, “And let’s not forget the amount of training this guy has. He’s like some sort of soldier ninja. I've never seen anyone fight like that before.”
I haven’t either. Never have I ever faced someone who fights like a super assassin that’s been trained all his life. No one but...
It's as if Cisco reads my thoughts because, with a smile that looks excessively gleeful for the situation we’re in, he excitedly asks, “Does this mean we have to call the Arrow?”
I nod along, hoping that my face doesn’t betray the excitement makes me want to jump up and down like a kid on Christmas Day.
I'm teaming up with the Arrow!
He walks into the lab like a predator; Hood up, mask in place, bow gripped tightly, quiver filled to the brim. His companion the absolute opposite; flowy bright pink dress, bright smile, tablet swinging lazily, and a skip to every step.
Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak cannot be more different.
But I'm too drained to try to think about their complex relationship right now. Joe was right; this team is a mess. We’ve tried spending the last few hours brainstorming ideas to figure out who our mystery man may be and how to find him, but each of us had suggested a different method to figure it out, arguing over the best one. We then tried each of our methods, running a citywide scan for men with the features that slightly resembled our mystery man; Cisco and I ended up in an almost fist fight over the controller, and Caitlin kept messing up our instructions, pulling up the wrong pieces of information. My idea was to run around the city and for Cisco to play it in slow motion; he kept changing his mind from left to right and he would call out a direction too late. Caitlin groaned in frustration before shutting herself into her lab and doing God knows what as we waited for Starling City’s heroes to make an appearance.
The ginger doctor only appears when they do, taking the time to explain the issue and everything we have learned so far, to them, knowing that Cisco and I will stumble over ourselves trying to form full sentences in front of a broody, scary looking Oliver Queen fully decked out in his Arrow gear.
He nods slowly and I can see the wheels in Oliver and Felicity’s brain turning, storing the information in, the latter plugging something into her tablet, her brightly painted nails making a contrast to the screen.
Her gaze is then immediately directed to the series of high tech computers placed neatly on the table, and she gives me a pleading look, and I know Felicity well enough to understand what has got her so agitated.
“Go ahead you two. We’re going to take a long break because we’re out of ideas and brain power.” I say, resuming my seat at the comfortable cushion I stole from Joe.
Felicity gives me a dopey grin before she wiggles her fingers in front of her... Partner, friend, boss?
“Playtime.” She grins before a blush coats her cheek and she rushes to continue, “In a completely platonic way.”
For the first time since he got here, Oliver’s face breaks into a small grin before they both walk in front of the computer screen, Felicity takes a seat and Oliver positions himself behind her.
“So we have no facial recognition or name.” She speaks mostly to herself, breaking everything down into smaller bits.
“We’ve worked with less.” Oliver murmurs, his eyes never leaving the screen.
Cisco discreetly presses a few buttons on the large screen in front of us so that we can see the movements made by Felicity on the monitors.
Oliver makes a move, and I watch in amused fascination when Felicity slides her chair to the right, accommodating him before he even reaches his destination.
Not blinking an eye at the smooth transition, Oliver points to the screen that is playing the version of the attack that was recorded from my suit.
“If we can obtain another perspective, like the—“
“Traffic cameras at the back.”She finishes his sentence.
“Been there. Done that.” Joe says, walking in, sending a thorough unimpressed look at Oliver that has him stiffening.
His shoulders only return to their previously relaxed position when Felicity’s hand gently covers his, and even from the distance, I can see the reassuring squeeze and the smile that the vigilante gains.
They’re stuck in their own little bubble; Felicity smiles silent words of comfort to the man staring down affectionately at her when he perks up, an idea formed and in place.
He speaks only to the blonde expert beside him, “Traffic Cameras.”
Felicity gives Oliver a questioning glance, and I silence Joe, who is about to speak; I haven’t known them for long, but I have been a witness to the major outbreaks team Arrow has had, and their ability to find simple, efficient solutions in a matter of seconds.
Oliver walks over to the empty counter and proceeds to remove his quiver after placing the bow on the surface all the while explaining, “We don't have to look at the cameras near the Museum, because whoever this is, he must have—“
He doesn’t get far into the explanation because Felicity cuts him off short, finishing his thought in that creepy way of theirs.
“—gotten to the museum either on bus or car. But we’re going to assume car—“
“—because he was carrying a large gun that would have surely attracted unwanted attention and our villain doesn’t like surprises so—“
“He wasn’t willing to take on the Flash anywhere else but the designated area that he wanted. I'm pulling up the cameras from the intersections around the museum. Guys,” she focuses on us for the first time, “look at each of the cameras on the screen and see if one of them is your mystery man.”
Unable to saying anything else, we follow her instructions without an argument or questions, our eyes scanning the screen in front of us while our (mine, but from the way Cisco and Joe’s faces are reacting, they're doing it too) ears are paying close attention to the conversation behind us.
“Very smooth Mr. Queen. You’re handling this better than I expected. No bumps or potholes in the way”
“What exactly are we talking about Ms. Smoak?”
“Your initial disagreement to come here to fight some metahuman. You’re doing amazing actually.”
“Really? I could have sworn that you were talking about the bike ride we had. Speaking of, you did very well too Ms. Smoak, no screaming or panicking, and although I might have a bruised abdomen tomorrow morning, I'm glad you didn't squeeze me to death.”
Feeling as if I'm interrupting a very private... Intimate moment, I turn around swiftly, just in time to see the wink that Oliver gives to Felicity that sends her blushing a shade that could match my suit. At my cleared throat, his charming smirk is replaced by murder and battle.
I'm about to tell him that we can't find our guy (and to please stop having eye sex in front of children) when Caitlin’s voice stops us all in our tracks,
The next few minutes are a swarm of frenzy. I'm suited up and ready and Felicity walks across her room with her tablet, running a second set of searches with a different program that she created.
The rest of us can only watch in morbid fascination as Oliver and Felicity walk around the small space of the lab that they occupy without any accidents.
She ducks out of the way when he swings his quiver behind his back, and shuffles to the side when he flings his bow once, all the while keeping her gaze fixed on his tablet. He moves to the side when she needs to type something in and manages to zip up his jacket while she puts on his mask without their hands turning into a pile of messy limbs.
And then Joe, Oliver and I walk out the front door to where we know Adam Rivera spends almost all his time, according to his dark green jeep; a secluded campsite off the outskirts of town, perfect for a nice battle that doesn’t involve any civilians.
Making sure that not even a trace of the speedforce is outwardly present, I hitch a ride with Joe because neither Oliver or I want for me to get on behind him on that tiny motorcycle that needs two people to be absolutely flushed together (and now my over imaginative brain has images of Oliver and Felicity on this bike.)
“How about Davens?” Oliver’s voice comes over the Comms, and I feel my brows scrunch in confusion over his question.
“No way! He doesn’t give two cents about anybody but himself. Not even his company.” Felicity retorts back vehemently, understanding dawning upon me that this is one of those sacred Oliver and Felicity moments and people are expected to listen and not interrupt.
“Which is why the merge should be easy.” Oliver says as a matter- of- fact.
Felicity scoffs over her comms and I can almost picture her eye roll, “it's also why his company is in shambles and on the verge of being bankrupt.”
“Hack into the Bryce Daven’s company? Yeah. I needed a valid reason other than the fact that he’s a creep and I don't like him to convince you to not take the offer to work with him because I know that you were considering it.”
Oliver’s responding sigh sounds partially amused and knowing, “And you know that because you looked at my internet history and I searched the company up.”
Felicity’s defence is quick and loud, “Hey, I was just making sure you didn't do any more ridiculous online shopping. And by that, I mean purchasing ridiculously expensive shoes for one blonde IT expert as an apology for hiring her as an EA knowing that she’ll never refuse the shoes and let those poor babies go to someone else. You don't play fair Queen.”
“I never said I would.” He huffs out a breathy chuckle and I choose to ignore the flirty undercurrent in his tone.
“And besides, you should know better than to believe Google. It's absolute zero integrity. You’ll be better off with me. “
The car comes to a stop near the park and we get out, spotting Oliver casually leaning against his Ducati, talking to...whatever Felicity is to him, I don't even know anymore.
He spots us and gives us a nod as we silently trek through the forest, making our way to the edge of the campsite, where we know our culprit is resting.
“Should I turn off the comms?” Oliver quietly whispers into the darkness, even though we’re quite a distance away from our desired area. Oliver can probably run there, but he probably doesn’t want to leave Joe and I behind, or he most likely wants to continue talking to Felicity.
Speaking of, she responds to his question, “Nah, we both saw that guy fight on the video. You’ll be able to beat him in seconds. Those thugs you fought a couple of weeks ago were better than this guy.”
This time, I get to see the huff of laughter on his face and I'm once again reminded of all the reasons I was insecure when Iris ogled at Oliver Queen.
“No, they weren’t.”
Felicity also huffs, but in exasperation instead, “Okay, but you can still beat him in seconds. We still need to talk about all the reasons why you shouldn’t do this merger.”
We come to a stop when we spot the relatively large tent, placed right along the edge of the lake. Oliver throws the Hood over his head, obstructing us all from his face, but I can easily picture the look on his face when he says,
“Felicity, you don't like him. There is no way I'm doing this merge.”
It's probably the same look I get on my face when Iris fails to understand the extent of my feelings for her, just his look is probably less moody and bitter since the women he loves knows every single nook and cranny of him.
The last thing I hear is Joe and Cisco groaning loudly in my ear, the former whispering conversationally to the rest of us poor spectators,
“I can't handle any more of this.”
I only smile before running off to fight alongside Oliver, who clearly doesn’t need any help, from the way he’s pinned Rivera down on the ground.
Oliver and Felicity take their leave an hour after a successful meta hunt, chicken pot pie, and a major business deal (made during dinner).
They both leave on the subway, after Felicity refused to get on Oliver’s bike once more, and Oliver, being the lovesick little puppy he is, followed his partner (finally found a suitable term to define them), asking me to flash the Ducati to Starling.
And since I have all the time in the world, I play my little game as I speed through the streets of Central City, armed with an expensive bike that would cost me a fortune.
And once again, I pass and slow down when I spot the Stewarts, doing their ‘daily scroll through the neighbourhood’ more for the paparazzi than themselves. Their hands are linked together, but they walk with a reasonable distance between them, awkwardly shifting so that they can compensate each other.
They should really think about getting a divorce. Their marriage is making no one more miserable than their own selves. They can't sit in a spacious limo together without causing a mess, they can't actively participate and get involved in the other’s business affairs despite owning half of it, they can't casually walk down the streets tied to the hip because they’re going to get themselves hurt.
They don't work well together, they’re not a good team, they’re not even a team. Not like Oliver and Felicity.
Jacob Stewart doesn’t look at his wife the way Oliver looks at Felicity. Roberta Stewart doesn’t trust her husband like Felicity trusts Oliver. I don't think anyone has the electrifying connection that Oliver and Felicity has; the ability to sense the other from a mile away, their bodies so attuned to each other’s movements. I've never witnessed any two people able to keep on the same line of thought so accurately that they’re finishing each other’s sentences. Jacob would never consult with Roberta over anything related to his business and Roberta wouldn’t do it either; even if she did, there is no way I see her actually taking her husband’s opinion and suggestions into consideration. And above all, while Jacob and Roberta may be ‘happily’ married for quite some years now, they lack the one thing that Oliver and Felicity have, the one aspect all relationships should have.
“Guys like us don't get the girl”
For the first time in my entire life, I am positively sure that Oliver Queen is wrong.
“WE ARE NOT A TEAM BECAUSE WE WORK TOGETHER. WE ARE A TEAM BECAUSE WE RESPECT, TRUST, AND CARE FOR EACH OTHER.”
Barry Allen knows that Oliver Queen and Felicity will be successful in both vigilantism and whatever unknown thing they have going on between them because they are a team; partners.
Chapter 12: Joe West
“BEING DEEPLY LOVED BY SOMEONE GIVES YOU STRENGTH, WHILE LOVING SOMEONE DEEPLY GIVES YOU COURAGE” –Lao Tzu
The Flash Season 2 Episode 8: Flash Vs Arrow
“Ms.Smoak,” Harrison Wells speaks up and Felicity spirals around, her blonde hair whipping through the air, “I think you may need to call the Green Arrow again.”
And after the aftermath of the battle, after Barry was okay, after the Arrow had somehow weaselled his way in as Cisco’s hero, and after the trio had left town, Team Flash snoozed around in Star Labs.
Cisco, after trying to replicate Felicity’s algorithm (which looked like gibberish even to him) stopped typing on his monitor to look at Wells who was quietly helping Joe with the paperwork. Caitlin was beside him doing some doctor thing, and Barry wasn't speeding reading a book.
The question that had been bothering him all day finally was released (maybe he should stop hanging around Felicity that often; her verbal diarrhoea seems to be contagious. But Felicity is his only connection to the Arrow.) “Are you telling me that you have no idea?”
Everyone turned to look at him and after learning that he was the subject of the random interrogation; Wells raised his eyebrows in silent question, asking him to elaborate.
“Oh, come on. Are we all supposed to believe that you haven’t figured who the Arrow is?”
At the statement, everyone turned their questioning looks from Cisco to Wells, dying to know the answer, everyone but Barry that is.
Wells shrugs and resumes reading the report, his face a complete look of nonchalance, “I would if I wanted to Mr.Ramon, but I don't.”
Cisco gave him a weird look, “Why the hell not?”
Wells puts the report down to look at him straight in the eye, “Because Mr.Ramon, he as all of us are, is entitled to his own secrets. If he does not wish to share them with us, then we have no business snooping around.”
Cisco pouted childishly, “But... Barry knows.”
The speedster raised his hands up in innocence, “We’re friends... kind of, and he trusts me.”
He ignored the look of disappointment from Joe entirely. Barry knew how much Oliver had sacrificed to save the city, how much he endures to try to make Starling safe and there is nothing anyone can do to make him think otherwise. Without Oliver, there would have been no way Barry could have been the Flash.
The Green Arrow is a hero and a good man. Oliver Queen is better.
“A FLOWER CANNOT BLOSSOM WITHOUT SUNSHINE, AND MAN CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT LOVE” –MAX FULLER
“Nope can do. This is impossible. Do you know how hard I had to work just to be able to get into the traffic cams, CCPD, and tracking signatures of Central City? There is no way that I can possibly do all that for Starling City in time.” Cisco raises his hands up in the air, a frustrated look on his face.
I rub my forehead with my index finger and thumb, the stress of it all finally catching up to me.
We encountered Sebastian Keith two days ago. Hit by the particle accelerator, he is able to become invisible for a short amount of time. While Barry is damn good at being the Flash and while super speed may be useful for a whole lot of things, there isn’t much one can do when you can't see the target. Keith’s abilities were also what helped him skip town and escape to Starling City, which is out of our jurisdiction.
I look at Barry, wondering if he has an idea for all of this. My role in this team is quite limited, and I know it. Barry comes up with the ideas, Cisco comes up with the technical and technological concepts for the idea, Caitlin backs everything up with her own expertise of medicine and health, and I make sure that the idea isn’t stupid or self-sacrificial.
Like when Barry tells us all, “We need to go to Staring City.”
Sure, that part is fine. It's the logical thing to do. Go to Starling, find the Meta, and bring him back.
“And how exactly do you propose we find the Meta? You can't exactly stroll around Starling City wearing the bright red suit,” Caitlin voices my thoughts out loud.
Barry shrugs before walking towards his phone, “We get some help.”
At that moment, I know three things. One, judging by the look of pure glee on Cisco’s face, and the situation in Starling City, is that the ‘help’ Barry is referring to is from The Arrow. Two, there is no way I am letting my boy near that man ever again. Three, there is no way I am teaming up with the Arrow once again. And yes, two and three and very distinct reasons that should be valued equally.
“No,” I find myself saying before Bare can even turn the phone on.
He stops in his movements to stare at me confusedly, but looks at me in tired disbelief when he sees the look on my face; the same look I had when he went to that college party with that frat boy who was arrested three times before that.
He sighs loudly, “Joe, he helped us last time.”
I refuse to budge from my decision, “Last time, you didn't tell us you were bringing in the Arrow. Last time we were here, on our turf, we made the decisions, we made the rules, and I am willing to bet that it will be the opposite there.”
And if there is anything that I taught Barry Allen growing up, it was to formulate your own opinion and choices and stand by it and fight for it, even when the whole world tells you to stop.
I guess the universe is coming back to bite me in the ass today.
“Which is exactly why we need to go there. Joe, we’ve been doing for less than a year. Harry is gone, and we’re all over the place. I’ve seen the way Ol... Arrow and his team do it. They’ve been doing this for far longer than we have and the Arrow has been doing this sort of stuff for far longer than that. So trust me when I say that they are exactly what we need.”
And without even giving me the opportunity to argue some more, he presses the dial button on the call, the untraceable cell (courtesy of Ms.Smoak) with no information on the contact apart from The Arrow. How useful.
“Hey, I might need your help.”
God help me if I'm going to survive this without trying to shoot the Arrow (and end up brutally murdered by an arrow).
Ms.Smoak is present when we walk into Verdant, the hot new club opened in the city by Oliver Queen and now run by his sister while Mr. Queen takes over Queen Consolidated after both his mother and father’s death. Can’t say I'm surprised. When I first heard the news of the kid coming back from the dead. I knew that the partying playboy that featured heavily in the news will be no more, and I was correct. It even went as far as to him being suspected as the Hood, but eventually released, presumably after the police department thought how ridiculous the idea was (I didn't think so at the time),
I have to wonder if Mr.Queen is aware that the former EA, newly appointed Head of Applied Science, and his bodyguard are working for the vigilante.
“Felicity,” Barry speeds his pace when he sees her, and the two former 'somethings' embrace in the middle.
“Hey, Barry. God, it's nice to see you again. Though it really sucks that every time you see us or we see you, there is always a meta involved or a villain involved and it usually requires you and the Arrow to go into battle and then possibly get hurt and you know...normal hero's life.” She releases him and they smile dorkily at each other for a moment and I wonder why the hell these two aren’t in a relationship yet (apart from obvious reasons such as distance, jobs and Barry’s love for Iris).
“How about we go in before some reporter gets a full scope of Felicity Smoak of Queen Consolidated hugging an unmasked Barry Allen in front of the foundry doors?” John Diggle speaks up for the first time and I take a second look at his arms, which are twice the size of anyone back in CCPD. He gives me a nod, and I silently pray the Hail Mary in my head as we go down a series of steps.
Turns out, the Foundry isn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Instead of rusty metal, and breaking walls, everything in here is up to date, modern and sleek, from the training area at the side to Felicity’s monitors and the suits lined up on mannequins.
“This. Is the. Coolest. Thing. Ever!” Cisco surveys the place like a child on Christmas and I roll my eyes.
“Cisco, the place at Star Labs is much better than this,” I tell him blatantly, ignoring Bare’s silent scold to be nice and Felicity’s indignant ‘hey’
The young engineer turns around to look at me as if what I said was the most stupid thing in the world, “Ya, but that doesn’t actually look like a secret hideout. Actually, that isn’t even a secret hideout. Like, anyone can literally get in and we’ll all be exposed. This. This is the coolest place I've ever been to. Does it have, like, secret tunnels or something? Does the ceiling open up and the Arrow likes jumps down.”
As if he was acting according to Cisco’s word, one of the tinted windows in the little not-so-cave, opens up, and we all get a nice look at an arrow slicing through the air hitting the wall at the opposite end, easily going through the same pinprick on the wall that was used every time the Arrow flew into the room. He lands gracefully in the middle, and disappointingly leaves his Hood on.
For a moment, I think it's going to be all awkward silence before the man in the hood stares at Cisco and says with dead seriousness, “The club is above us. I can't jump through the roof.”
Barry, chuckles, and steps up, making Caitlin and I the only ones to hear Cisco whispering in awe, “The Arrow just joked with me.”
“The place looks nice.” As an afterthought, Barry adds, “Not that I got to see the old place much since you were choking the life out of me.”
I lose all my rational control when the words come out of Barry’s mouth and would have probably choked the Arrow myself if the vigilante hadn’t made a sound close to a chuckle before saying, “In all fairness Barry, you’re the one that poisoned me first.”
Barry smiles with ease and familiarity, and I have to remind myself of how much I don't know about my son’s life.
“That’s two jokes in one day. What happened to you?”
I can almost imagine him rolling his eyes (which would be much easier if I had a pretty good guess of what his face looks like) before we all turn to Cisco, who somehow made his way to Felicity’s computers and sequels like a teenage girl who just got asked on a date by her crush.
“Look at all this stuff. Is that the FBI? Oh my god. Did you just hack the FB...”
And before Cisco could say anything more, and ruin my moral values once again (I know too much as a cop), Caitlin appoints herself as his babysitter, going there to drag him away from more squealing, unknowingly helping me to pretend I didn't hear what he was about to say and Felicity from an extensive police search (even though I doubt I will find anything).
The Hood or the Arrow (whatever name he goes by now) walks up towards the computers, and I watch as Felicity Smoak wheels herself to the side, somehow unconsciously sensing that the man was coming, and now the two of them fit perfectly side by side, her on her chair and him beside her staring into the monitors as it combs through a series of people.
“Felicity, your med bay has nothing!” Caitlin calls from the other side of the room, where a metal table, heart monitor, and a series of other things I see in Star Labs’ med bay are placed.
The blonde laughs, taking the pen she’s been chewing out of her mouth, “Feel free to make a list. Tarzan here sometimes thinks he’s invincible.”
She looks up at the man from her spot, and I know that from her angle, she can see most of his facial features clearly and I eliminate the theory (one of many theories about the Arrow) that the Arrow doesn’t show his face to anyone, not even his teammates. But I guess that theory was farfetched since Barry knows who he is so there is no reason that both John and Felicity don't.
Speaking of Barry, he has now placed himself beside John, the two of them have their arms crossed and are staring at the computers, or more specifically, the Hood (Arrow) and Felicity.
“So, how is that progressing,” Barry asks John and for a minute, I think they’re talking about the case and I wonder why he isn’t asking Felicity or the Arrow himself.
Only to discover that while Caitlin and Cisco are stocking up the medical bay, the Arrow and Felicity are running searches trying to find this guy, John Diggle and Bare are gossiping about someone’s love life (presumably Felicity’s because as far as I know, the Arrow doesn’t have time for a love life).
“They’re at the stage where she’s been promoted, they went on a successful first date, and then with all this madness, haven’t had time to talk about it or go on a second one. But man, they things they do now since the feeling was discovered to be mutual, I need to remind them I'm in the room half the time.”
Felicity has an office romance, I suppose. Where else would John Diggle be present to watch all he described. Unless...
No, that isn’t possible. Felicity and whoever is under the hood? No way. Office romance it is.
The loud beeping noises interrupt everyone’s working and gossiping, and Felicity yells out to the crowd of people, “We have him.”
The Arrow nods and turns to face Dig and Barry, “Suit up.”
And when I follow them with their eyes, I see the two of them heading towards the mannequins where Barry’s second suit is placed and I once again wonder how close the Flash and the Arrow are if the Arrow’s secret lair has the Flash’s suit.
“Oh! If you guys have an extra suit of the Arrow’s he can put it in Star Labs, so he doesn’t have to carry this one around when he’s there!” Cisco offers excitedly, but immediately tones down when I give him an ‘Oh Hell No!’ look.
And even though I knew it was going to happen, even though I expected this long before we even got here, it doesn’t stop my fears and morally stupid self from appearing when I see the Arrow and John Diggle make their way behind Barry.
“No,” I say before I can stop myself and I can see Barry’s silent plead from all the way here.
I walk up to the trio and stand toe to toe with the vigilante, even though I'm pretty sure he and the whole room can feel my sweaty palms and racing heart.
“You don't have to go any further than this.”
“Joe..” Barry starts but he is interrupted by the man in the hood.
“Excuse me?” He sounds bewildered as if he can't, for the life of him, figure out why I would stop him.
“Listen, Barry is fully capable of handling this meta by himself. He doesn’t need additional people.” I tell him, trying to keep my voice even.
I hear Barry’s disappointed sigh from all the way here but I keep my eyes formally trained on the Arrow, even as he growls out in that modulated voice of his that makes everything seem ten times more scarier, “With all due respect Detective, Starling City is my city and I am here to protect this city. So if Barry is going to go out there to fight some metahuman, then you are not going to stand in the way of my trying to protect my city.”
It's then that I become desperate and blurt out the one thing that has been bugging me throughout today, “I cannot trust my son with some masked man I don't know and trust.”
The foundry goes silent all of a sudden before the Arrow’s focus diverts from me to the dark-skinned man beside him and across the room to Ms Smoak, the latter two nodding to him after some telepathic conversation, not even Team Flash or my family is capable of accomplishing.
Barry somehow understands what he means, because he takes a step forward and before glaring at me tells the Hood, “you don't have to do this.”
The Arrow looks at him and I see the slight upturn of his lips, “It's okay Barry. If we’re going to have any more of these, then they might as well know.”
The Hood comes down, leaving nothing but Oliver Queen in the Arrow suit, and I can't stop staring even though I know I should say something.
“Trust me, detective.”
And before I can get in another word, the trio walk up the stairs out the door, leaving a more star struck than before Cisco, a swooning Caitlin, a worried Felicity, and me.
With more fear in my heart than before.
Because Oliver Queen is The Arrow.
Felicity’s scream is the next thing we hear along with the bomb blast that came before it.
Turns out that the meta wasn’t aiming for Central City at all, his primary focus had been Starling City and it just so happened that Central City had quite a few materials necessary to make a bomb like the one that just went off.
The bomb that exploded in the harbour and caused Barry and The Arrow, now known as Oliver’s comms to go off (I solemnly vowed to not think of all the signs I missed that lead to him).
The lair is silent. It's silent for a long time. No one dares to speak a word or call out to anyone. My throat feels tight and my eyes well with tears as I fall on the ground with the same heavy heart I had when Barry was found in his lab struck by lightning.
No one makes a move and no one breaths until we see the familiar red streak and then Barry is in front of us, sooty but alive, with a beaming smile on his face.
Not caring about anything, or the missing two members, I grab him into a hug, vaguely hearing Caitlin and Cisco breath signs of relief and join the small bubble that we’ve created.
“Oliver’s fine Felicity. He’s just talking to that detective.” Barry tells Felicity when he pulls back, but in my happiness at seeing him, I fail to notice the way that the young blonde still doesn’t get up from her seat.
“Man, I knew Oliver Queen was the Arrow. I just knew it!” Cisco says happily, somehow more in awe of the man than he was five minutes ago.
Barry shakes his head smiling before giving me a scolding glance (sometimes I have to wonder who the father and who the child is) “Are you fine now?”
No, No I am not.
I decide to tell him so, “No Barry I'm not. I was finer before he pulled the Hood back.”
At Barry’s questioning glance, I place my hands on his shoulders and tell him, “I told you the Arrow was dangerous. Well, Oliver Queen as the Arrow is worse. He lost his mom, his dad, his best friend, his sister is gone, and everything he knew that made him human is gone. A man is nothing without love.”
Barry pulls back immediately, “Is that what you think? That Oliver is dangerous because he doesn’t have anyone?”
My silence answers the question and Barry tells me, his words strong and powerful,
“Joe, I will bet on my life, my job, and my speed that there is nothing more wrong than what you just said.”
And if I thought Barry’s words were a powerful indication of how I was so very incorrect, the events that happened then, was nothing compared to it.
The Foundry door opens and Oliver Queen makes his way down, stopping to look at all of us and give us a nod before his eyes go straight to the genius in the chair.
For the first time since the blast went off, I take note of her; wide eyes, pale, hands gripping the chair so hard that her knuckles turn white.
And when she sees Oliver Queen, she lets out a sobbing exhale and runs to him, at full speed, throwing herself at the leather-clad man who catches her easily as if they’ve been doing this for years.
“Oliver,” I hear her breathing out, and I watch transfixed, at the way Oliver rubs a soothing motion on her back, holding her close.
I watch as the Arrow, Starling City’s vigilante who shoots arrows into people on a daily basis, can break a man’s neck in a minute, and has no trouble watching men and women bleed to death, gently hold Felicity Smoak in his arms as if she were made of glass and whisper soothing words into her ear.
“Shhhh. Hey, I'm here. I'm okay. I'm here.”
The two of them stay like that in their embrace, neither letting go and eventually, Barry whispers in my ear,
“Told you so.”
I don't have it in me to contradict him.
Felicity Smoak mumbles into Oliver’s leather jacket, but everyone can hear her clearly, “If you ever think of dying on me Oliver Queen, I am going to ruin your life so hard and leak your baby photos on the internet.”
He chuckles, and I don't remember the last time I saw Oliver Queen show any emotion of happiness on the TV or during the few times he was in Central and I was in Starling. “Yes Ma’am.”
And after everything dies down. After Felicity fusses over Oliver and John and Caitlin and I fuss over Barry, Team Flash (as Cisco loves to call it) makes their way to leave, Barry and Oliver having some kind of moment at the far end of the hall, and Cisco and Felicity swooning over tech while Caitlin gives John medical tips and the list she made.
I stay behind, watching everyone walk up the stairs and turn around to look at Oliver Queen standing in the middle of the foundry, Felicity plastered onto his side, holding onto his forearm. They probably realize the picture they paint, and if they weren’t in this room with guns, darkness, and Arrows, then they would be the kind of picture you put on a Hallmark greeting card.
I give the two of them a nod and Oliver Queen nods back before his eyes return to his blonde whatever she is to him and he gives her a blinding smile.
It's my cue to leave.
I’ve never been a fan of interrupting young love.
“BEING DEEPLY LOVED BY SOMEONE GIVES YOU STRENGTH, WHILE LOVING SOMEONE DEEPLY GIVES YOU COURAGE” –Lao Tzu
Joe West knows that as long as Oliver Queen has Felicity Smoak, he’s going to be just fine.
Chapter 13: Slade Wilson
“SOMETIMES THE PERFECT PERSON FOR YOU IS WHO YOU LEAST EXPECTED IT TO BE”
Special thanks to i-greece (iop), who suggested doing Slade Wilson's perspective and practically inspired this whole fic.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“SOMETIMES, SOMEONE COMES INTO YOUR LIFE, SO UNEXPECTEDLY, TAKES YOUR HEART BY SURPRISE, AND CHANGES YOUR LIFE FOREVER”
I don't know how I went wrong.
It's the same, repetitive, genuine thought that has failed to leave my mind in the last 12 hours, from when Oliver beat me, to now, as I'm being flown to God knows where, on this terrible, broken down helicopter with cuffs restricting every single part of my body and an additional ten ARGUS agents restricting me even more.
I have to admit, I feel smug, and a little cocky that ARGUS and Oliver thought that I needed this much protection even after my defeat and loss of the Mirakuru.
And when the thought of failure crosses my mind once more, it is accompanied by the same damn, thought that won’t leave my head.
I don't know where I went wrong.
I had planned this for years and years. Ever since I learned that the boy was still alive. I spent every living moment planning for every possible outcome, every possible move, and every possible error. There was no place for things to go wrong; there was no way things could have gone wrong.
I knew his secret identity. I had a plan in place and running long before he even knew I was alive. I had Ms Rochev infiltrate his company. I had Blood become his friend. I had Mirakuru. I had enough skill to beat him in a fight. I had everything necessary for my success.
I don't know how I went wrong.
Tired of facing the same stone face agent for the past hour, I opt to look out the window.
And feel rage fuel me, causing my hands to strain against the restraints and my jaw to clench so tightly I feel pain in my head.
They’re taking me back to fucking Lian Yu.
I prefer death to this place. A place where I lost everything I have ever known. The place I found Oliver. The place where I became a true monster. The place where I fell in love. The place where I lost a brother. The place where I lost Shado. The place where I lost my sanity. The place where I lost fucking everything.
Yet, I don't give anyone the satisfaction of seeing my face crumble, the panic weaving through me, and the memories slaughtering my brain, making it unable for me to breathe. I keep my expression schooled into the blank, hard cold mask that I had to don ever since Shado died, ever since I felt the monster take over.
And as I set foot onto the island for the first time in years, unprepared for the familiarity of it all, I can't help but allow the onslaught of the words that are etched into my brain now.
I don't know how I went wrong.
I know when it went wrong. I know where it went wrong. But I don't know how.
It went wrong in the wretched mansion. It went wrong through the camera I put in order to spy on the Queens, the camera that unexpectedly came to life on that fateful night. I remember hearing the beeping in my office, I remember being confused because there wasn’t supposed to be anyone in the mansion. I remember thinking that perhaps it was a Starling City resident who somehow managed to break into the great estate to provide them with some safety from to the terror I had rained on the city.
I remember being shell-shocked when none other than Oliver Queen had walked into the room, followed by none other than Felicity Smoak. I remember being even more confused as he told her to stay in the mansion. I remember wondering why he wasn’t searching for Ms Lance or his sister, or anyone.
I remember my world falling apart when he admitted to loving her, because that wasn’t a part of the plan. He was supposed to be in love with Laurel Lance, he was supposed to see her die. I remember going back through memory lane to the night when Shado died, to the night when Oliver had to make a choice.
I remember the excruciating amount of satisfaction I felt when the opportunity was presented to me on a silver platter. I remember hastily ordering guards to snatch me Ms Smoak, calling Oliver as soon as she was in front of me. I remember the cold feeling of satisfaction as I asked Oliver to make his choice, as I asked him to choose between his current love and his former love.
I remember it all going shit after that.
We pass through the forest, through a path I don't entirely recognize despite being on the island for so long. We cross the river, and walk in the opposite direction of the plane. I notice that all the landmines are gone, and that some of the plants and trees have been cleared.
A still don't know how I went wrong.
I know Oliver Queen better than most. I shaped him into the man he is now. I know all his ticks, and tells, and expressions. I was the one who taught him how to hide his feelings, how to make his weaknesses vanish in the face of an enemy and how to lie so efficiently, you don't even realize you’re lying.
How did I miss the fact that he was lying when he told Felicity that he loved her?
Even I, the master of lying, cheating and manipulating, know that there is no way I could have pulled off such a believable lie. The way Oliver was looking at that women; as if she was his world, his hope, his entire reason for living, it's practically impossible for any one person to bogusly look at someone like that.
And I know that there is no coming back from being looked at the way Oliver looked at Felicity. While
Ms.Smoak may have been in on the plan, I can almost guarantee that she was not expecting for Queen to look at her with such...love, the kind of look in one’s eye that every single person on the planet wants to be on the receiving end of.
Oliver Queen did the unthinkable by pretending to be in love with Felicity Smoak.
How did I go wrong?
The answer comes to me when I am escorted into a dark room, littered with a series of cages, and nothing else, providing me good insight on what Oliver and Argus have in store for me. They’re going to trap me in some cage as if I were a dog or a wild animal; a cage in Lian Yu, Oliver probably thought up of that one with the assistance of Waller.
The Argus agents roughly lead me along the dark and enclosed cave, until we go through the very last door into a room with nothing but a moderately sized cell and Team Arrow huddled together in the corner.
When the sound of the door opening registers, Oliver and John Diggle have their defenses up immediately, Ms Smoak only following seconds later, when the doors close shut. I don't miss the way the three inch closer together, the two men taking a step in front of Felicity, who, instead of looking scared and exhausted, looks rather mad and deadly. The very trio I vowed to destroy into small tiny pieces is alive and stronger than ever.
John Diggle makes his way to exit the prison, presumably to exchange a few words with Amanda Waller, if she’s even here, or whichever winged monkey she sent. I have to smirk in pride at the glare he sends me, full of hatred and violence, but not lacking fear. I'm a chained animal and they still fear me. The thought is gratifying.
It leaves me alone with Oliver, Felicity, and four other unknown agents. As I refocus my attention to the former two, I notice that Oliver has gotten Felicity plastered to his side, her small figure partially hidden behind his broad shoulders, their fingers intertwined behind his back, at her side; they look like a cliché couple on an action movie poster.
“Man, let’s go.” I don't turn around at the sound of John Diggle’s voice, but I can picture the man at the entrance, impatiently clenching his fists, waiting to get out of this godforsaken island. The island that Oliver is once again abandoning me in.
Maybe it's the leftover Mirakuru in me, or the anger in my veins. Maybe it's just the fact that I haven’t riled up Ms Smoak as much as I wanted to, or maybe it's the fact that she outsmarted me, but either one of those aspects could have been the reason as to why I end up calling for her, as she walks away.
“Tell me Ms Smoak,” They both freeze. I see Oliver’s face take on a murderous rage and the hand on his partner’s back urges her forward, but the stubborn blonde doesn’t move, allowing me to continue, “Which one of my great acts did you enjoy the most? Stealing Oliver’s company away from him through Isabel Rochev, making him an orphan by stabbing his mother, ruining Roy Harper. Or maybe it was the way I forced Oliver to look into your eyes with uttermost love that ended up being an absolute lie just so he can pawn you off to the devil—“ I’m not given the opportunity to finish.
Because Felicity Megan Smoak, throws a punch straight to my gut, probably with all she has, because I can feel the pain resonating through my jaws and in the ringing of my ears.
But I'm unwilling to give her the satisfaction of knowing that the punch got to me, so swallowing the blood that has risen to my mouth, I harden my face and turn around to look at Ms Smoak, expecting to see and hear a cliché, corny, witty comeback that these heroes have managed to perfect.
Instead, her face is scrunched up into a look of dramatic pain, and she starts to mock howl, clutching her fist to her chest, and blubbering out a mess of almost incomprehensible words.
“Holy Fracking Google! What the hell was that! That hurts so much I think I broke five bones in my abdomen just by throwing a punch. Why did anyone tell me it would hurt? I think I deserved to know. Actually, I have a right to know. Do you guys actually do this on a daily basis? Sara makes it look like nothing when she taught me how to throw a punch. In fact, she made it seem like the most simple thing in the world. But damn...”
Her voice eventually tunes out because all my attention and focus is directed towards Oliver Queen who, instead of stopping her and taking her away after she punched me, looks at the still rambling blonde (how did the conversation go from punches to bullet wounds?) with a soft look in his face that eliminates all the darkness that I helped conjure up, leaving only the blinding light of the boy who got shipwrecked on this very island seven years ago.
“Felicity,” He says her name, stretching out every syllable, giving each letter a meaning of its own, “Let’s go.”
And he places his hands on her back, and guides her out of the door, too busy looking her fisted knuckles to bother looking back at me. And damn, he was supposed to look back at me. He was supposed to turn around and be reminded one last time, of everything that he lost. Everything that I took from him.
And it's only after everyone is gone, after they leave me locked up in darkness, in the very island that started it all, that I finally manage to decipher the expression in Oliver’s face; an expression that I, for the life of me, have never seen before.
I was so blinded by the light that radiated from him at that moment, the light I fought so hard to shut off, the light I had genuinely thought I took away, that I completely ignored all of his other tells, the tells I know so well.
I know all of his tells. I know his lies, his masks, and his darkness. I thought that two years away had changed him, that I couldn’t recognize what he was trying to do, when he was trying to fool me.
But it didn’t.
I still know all of his tells.
Meaning that he wasn’t lying when he told Felicity Smoak he loved her.
And I finally gather some insight as to where my plan had gone wrong.
I severely underestimated Felicity Smoak. I paid absolutely no attention to her, and dismissed her as some genius IT geek who served as nothing but tech support in Oliver’s crusade. I deemed her far less important than Moira, Thea, Sara, Laurel, John, and even Roy. I completely ignored her because I didn't think that Oliver himself held her at any importance.
Turns out he holds her at a higher level of importance than anyone else.
In hindsight, I should have seen it coming. The way he abandoned his teammates to protect her when I attacked their lair, the way he never, ever mentioned Felicity in any of our conversations, the way he made sure to put her in the open every time, noticeable enough to not raise my suspicions but far enough to not consider her as a target, proves that he loves her.
It's proven in the way he looked at her in the cave a couple of hours ago; with love, affection, desire, yearning, and surprise. Surprise. He doesn’t realize the severity of his feelings. Didn't realize it until recently. As soon as he admitted the feelings he knew he had somewhere in his cold, broken heart, he realized how true they were, how strong it was, how far gone he was.
I had expected everything. Planned for every miniscule detail. Prepared for any possible outcome, error, and complication.
I did not expect Felicity Smoak. I did not expect her to be brave, to be smart, and to be so trusting of Oliver Queen to willingly go into the lion’s den and wait for him to rescue her.
I did not expect her to be so important to Oliver Queen. I did not expect for her to make him fall in love with her.
The bittersweet part of all of this; falling in love with Felicity Smoak is the last thing Oliver Queen himself expected to happen to him.
I know how I went wrong.
“SOMETIMES THE PERFECT PERSON FOR YOU IS WHO YOU LEAST EXPECTED IT TO BE”
Slade Wilson failed because he didn't expect Felicity Smoak. In his defense, Oliver Queen didn't expect her either.
Special thanks to i-greece (iop), who suggested doing Slade Wilson's perspective and practically inspired this whole fic.
Chapter 14: Iris West
“IF YOU CAN TOUCH HER HEART WITHOUT TOUCHING HER, THEN YOU CAN MELT HER HEART JUST BY SAYING HER NAME”
Iris West knows that no one other than Oliver Queen can make Felicity Smoak fall in love just by saying her name.
I know that at the beginning of this fic, most of the chapters took place around season 1 or season 2 and it was easy to differentiate when what happened. However, the next few chapters are going to be all over the place so in case any of you get confused I'll just inform you all of the approximate time each chapter takes place in relation to season.
Chapter 14 is a Season 3 AU
Happy Reading :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO CALL YOU BY YOUR NAME. BUT THERE IS ONLY ONE PERSON WHO CAN MAKE IT SOUND SO DAMN SPECIAL.”
The first time Iris met Oliver and Felicity, she was too busy staring at Starling and even Central’s City’s celebrity. No one could blame her for it. She had always harboured the tiniest of crushes on Oliver Queen, and while it must have been worse than anything ever possible, Iris thought that the island did wonders for his appearance.
So yes, the first time she met the couple, she was too busy staring at the man, to even notice the woman he was with, despite her hitting it off very well with Felicity the last time they met. And yes, she does feel ashamed to admit it.
It was only after she gave Oliver coffee and chastised Barry, that she fully allowed herself to observe Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak.
She was an aspiring reporter, and unlike most people, understood the extent of the integrity most publishing companies anticipate to achieve; little to none. She knew that the rumours and news on Oliver Queen only highlighted the man and the boy at his worse, because she knew, through Felicity and other sources, that the man had changed heavily, and was turning over a new leaf, trying to do and be better than his parents.
She also knew that his playboy days and reputation no longer mattered to him. While women were a constant feature in most of his previous pictures, a different one in every photo, they were all absent now, and Iris West wonders what changed.
But then she stares at Oliver and Felicity, and finds herself unable to stop.
They were wrapped in their own bubble, leaning across the table to whisper to each other, paying bystanders no attention as they converse. Only Felicity’s mouth moves, and while that notation isn’t a surprise, Oliver Queen’s complete attention and adoration are. He smiles at her as if she’s the only thing that matters, and Iris can't remember the last time she’s seen that look in anyone’s eyes, not even Eddie.
She wonders if they notice it, the way they stare at each other. The way they look so much like a couple that Iris would have thought that they were married and on their honeymoon if she hadn’t known otherwise. Barry’s never told her about knowing Oliver Queen, but she tries and racks her brain to think if there was a time when he ever talked about Felicity’s boyfriend. She can't.
The first time Iris West meets Oliver and Felicity is the first time she is left wondering if there will ever be a day when someone would look at her like that. Wonders if anyone would smile at her as if she was the sun, the moon and the stars.
The first time Iris meets Oliver and Felicity she knows they have the potential to be something great.
I try to avoid the pounding in my head as I finish typing up the article on my laptop. The chatter around the office today is unbearable, and I'm pretty sure it has much to do with the fact that I'm running on little to no sleep for the past few days, ever since Eddie took on another Meta case and has been working himself tirelessly through the week.
Barry and my dad joined him, and made it so that I have not one, but three people to worry about.
Instead, I put all my focus and attention into the article, the latest article on the Flash, who is also helping on this meta case. It takes some of the stress off my shoulders, knowing that he’ll (I'm pretty sure he is a he) protect them if necessary.
Cursing myself for letting the three men invade my thoughts and distract me once more, I fully extinguish my dad, boyfriend, and best friend from my mind.
I continue typing, despite the clicking of the keyboard doing nothing to soothe my head, and pour everything I need to say into the document, wondering if the space I'm allotted will fit my thoughts.
The sky has darkened when I finish, and almost everyone has left the building, it being a Sunday and the Christmas holidays nearing. I finish my last sentence, and move my mouse towards the submit button, but before I can click it, my phone rings.
Not thinking that it could be anyone else but Barry, Dad or Eddie, I pick up after the first ring, holding the device to my ear.
“Hello,” I take a calm breath in after I hear the desperate urgency in my voice, forcing myself to calm down.
I'm heavily disappointed when the answering voice is not one of a man’s but of a woman’s, the voice familiar and easy to pinpoint despite us only communicating a couple of times.
“Hey Iris, its Felicity,”
I smile, not upset that she’s calling but trying to keep the worry and disappointment to myself, “Hey Felicity, how are you?”
“I'm good. Very good. I'm also here. Like here, here. As in Central City here.” She babbles, not too much so that I don't understand what she attempts to tell me.
“That’s great Felicity,” I tell her, genuinely pleased but at the same time wondering why she’s calling me.
“Right so, um...I came to see Barry, but he just so happens to be busy, like super busy and I really don't know anyone else here except for an ex-boyfriend and that would just be so awkward since we parted on not so amazing ways, and I was wondering if you were busy?”
There is a moment of silence, that I hope Felicity is used to, because it takes me a moment to break apart her sentence and comprehend what she is asking of me.
“Oh no, I'm not busy at all. I'm at CCPN, the office is empty, and you’re welcome to pop by until Barry’s done.” I say, staring at the laptop screen with the finished entry, the wheels on my head spinning.
I hear her beam through the phone, “Great, thank you so much. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
The line clicks, indicating that she’s ended the call, and once I've finally pressed the submit button, I take a moment to concoct my plan.
Making the list of all the reasons Felicity and Barry should be together was relatively simple; the list is quite long, and filled with numerous validations. Figuring out why they’re not, well that proved to be the difficult task. I know they tried for a date (sort of) the last time she came here, but I don't know what happened after that, and whenever I ask Barry, he shrugs it off, telling me that it wouldn’t have worked out.
So, since I have nothing else to do, I’ve made it my personal mission to figure out what other reason apart from distance Barry and Felicity have against pursuing a relationship.
A cool gust of air blows through the office, causing me to shiver and indicating Felicity’s arrival. She spots me immediately and smiles, her face as happy and as bright as ever, and I wave to her, happy to see her again.
“It's so good to see you again,” she tells me as we hug, and I return the sentiment.
“So,” I say, clapping my hands together and gesturing her towards a seat, “What happened to you?”
She smiles cheerfully, “Not as much as what happened with you,” she looks around the office, blonde ponytail swishing around her, “You were defiantly not here the last time we saw each other.”
I nod, “Got a job, my dream job. It's amazing. But you would happen to know something about that, wouldn’t you? Especially since you’re the Head of Applied Science in Queen Consolidated.”
She finally takes a seat, “Ya, it's amazing but I think I've underestimated how much work it is. Not that I don't like doing what I'm doing, but it's a huge jump. IT department, EA and now Head of Applied Sciences. It's all so...crazy.”
She gives me the perfect opportunity to ask her what I've been wanting to for a long time, “Does that mean that you don't have time to date?”
I don't miss the blush that coats Felicity’s cheeks, as she answers, “No, no one in my life right now.” As if the blush doesn’t make me suspicious, her rambling does, “Not that I don't have anyone, I have you, Dig, Barry...Oliver, but I'm not, dating anyone at the movement.”
I tip my head to the side, “Why not,”
She shrugs, “I don't know. Work, too busy, there’s a lot of things going on right now.”
I don't believe the excuse, but I let it go, especially since the door opens once more, and while I was hoping that Eddie would pick me up, the man that walked through turned out to be most convenient.
Barry spots me first when he takes his eyes off his phone, “Hey, Iris I...” He trails off when he sees his blonde friend and I smirk at the smile on his face.
“Felicity?” He questions her presence, but walks up to hug her anyway, and she returns it.
I feel my smile dying and I confuse myself with my reaction. Why don't I feel elated? This is what I wanted.
“Hey,” She whispers into his shoulder and the answer comes out muffled, and I look away from the two of them, busying myself with packing up my stuff, trying to shake off this feeling in my chest.
“What are you doing here? Not that I'm not happy to see you, I really am.” I can hear the smile in his voice even though I'm not looking at him. Being friends with him for so long allowed me that capability.
“Had to meet someone here for a Queen Consolidated thing, decided to catch up with you after. But you were busy with CCPD stuff and so I hung out with Iris until you were finished. We were just about to make our way to Jitters,”
I look at her confusedly, “We were?”
She smiles and nods at me, “Yep,”
Barry shrugs at me in defeat, but I see that he has no problem going to Jitters, and while this should probably be the moment where I let them be and allow them some time to start their epic romance, something makes me do otherwise.
“Sure, let’s go,”
We walk out the door, making a mad dash to Jitters; bringing our fists to our faces in an attempt to fight off the cold as we race across the streets to get to warmth. We stampede into the coffee shop, shivering and shaking, and I fight the urge to knock Barry’s hands away when he wipes Felicity’s snow-covered glasses and places it back on her face. It's not normal for me; to have the urge to be so rude and possessive, I don't know where these notions are coming from.
I smile at Felicity and link my arm through hers, steering her in the direction of the table I usually claim, the table we used last time for our double date, while Barry waits in line to order a drink.
I go for the jump as soon as we sit down, because as a reporter, my curiosity is killing me, “So, we were talking about dating before Barry so graciously interrupted us. An interruption I don't think you minded so much.” I don't head straight to the point, but I beat closely around the bush so that she clearly understands what I'm enunciating.
She is also quick to protest and decline, “No! No! Barry and I, we...we’re not a thing. We were never a thing. It's not like that between the two of us...He’s...amazing! He really is great, but the two of us...” she stumbles over her words adorably, “We’re friends and we’re going to stay friends, because of many reasons excluding distance,”
I tilt my head, “Reasons such as,”
She gives me a small smile, indicating that she may be physically here, but she is mentally not, “It's complicated. But it's never going to be like that between the two of us.” She says the words with no hint of disappointment, remorse or sadness. Just an acceptance with an undertone of relief.
Barry arrives with three steaming cups of coffee just as we close up that part of the conversation, and he takes a seat between me and Felicity, shrugging off his coat and wrapping it on the back of his chair.
We chat about mundane stuff; our jobs, favourite restaurants, eventually leading ourselves into a lengthy debate on the importance of high heels; Felicity and I versus Barry.
Conversation with Felicity was always easy. She had an easygoing attitude that made it simple to confidently state your opinion and values and not have a fear of having it revoked or being judged.
“Hey, I forgot to ask, how’s Oliver?” Barry suddenly interrupts, changing the topic, and if I wasn’t too focused on staring at the freshly baked pie that they just took out of the oven, then I would have seen the way Felicity’s face immediately shone like a star at the mention of his name and the knowing smirk Barry was trying to hide.
“He’s...busy,” She says tentatively, and I don't think much of the question or the answer since Barry and Oliver Queen seemed pretty close the last time (the first time) I met him, even when Felicity glares at Barry.
“You guys work really close together right? Since you’re Applied Sciences and he’s CEO,” And this time, while Felicity mentally tells Barry to shut up, I look at him suspiciously because he has his innocent, ‘up to no good’ face. The look that neither Felicity or I are buying.
Regardless, Felicity grits her teeth in an obvious show of irritation and replies, “Yes Barry, my boss and I see each other very often. Too bad the girl you have your sights set on doesn’t work at CCPD”
After hearing that piece of information, my curiosity over why Barry was teasing Felicity about Oliver completely left my mind as I was handed a new mystery to solve. And by the look of betrayal on Barry’s face directed towards Felicity, what she said wasn’t a petty lie to put him on the spot.
“You have a girl in your sights?” I cringe after I say it too loudly, and I mentally berate myself for the tone I used towards him. It almost sounded accusatory, as if he liking someone was somehow a fault. It wasn’t.
He’s allowed to date whomever he chooses to Iris.
“No, Iris, no. Felicity’s just being mean.” He shakes his head vehemently, seemingly to have forgotten that I've grown up with him and capable of deciphering when he lies.
Some sort of silent conversation passes through the two friends, from the looks of it, a threatening conversation, and I decide to let the matter of Barry’s girl drop for now, with all intentions to pursue it once Felicity has left.
The stare-off between Barry and Felicity is interrupted when the latter’s phone lights up and rings the ringtone familiar and easy to pinpoint as the Whistle Stop song from Robin Hood; my favourite Disney film.
This time, I get a front row seat and an accurate look at the way Felicity just...lights up (no other way to describe it) when she hears the ringtone and sees the name on her phone.
And if I thought that the Felicity that I've been talking to so far was a ray of sunshine; with her bright purple dress, neon painted lips and shining smile, then this Felicity Smoak, the one staring at her boss’ name on the phone screen, doesn’t compare.
I wonder if I look the same when I'm fawning over Oliver Queen. Surely, I couldn’t look that happy could I?
Felicity picks up the phone without hesitation as one usually does when receiving a phone call from their boss’ boss and I remind myself that they were close friends long before they had any sort of business relationship. He probably greets her first and by her response, it isn’t the usual ‘hi’.
“I'm at Jitters with Barry and Iris. Everything okay?” She’s surprisingly vague for someone who thrives on babbling, but her voice holds a tone of unsure concern.
Whatever he responds with on the other side of the line causes her to sigh in relief, and I notice for the first time that Barry, sitting beside me and also attentively listening to the conversation, does too, and I assume and brush it off as a concern for a friend.
Felicity is asked a question and it causes her to turn and look at the analog clock displayed above the door of the cafe and respond, “I’ll take the eight-o-clock train, depending on how many stops, I’ll be here before you guys go on pat...” her eyes widen considerably, and her gaze snaps towards me, panicked, before she corrects herself, “go on your limo to the Queen Mansion.”
I turn to stare at Barry, knowing that he must have also heard the obvious slip up, but he determinedly avoids eye contact, avidly keeping them trained on Felicity, and while my suspicions don't die down (in the least bit), I refocus my attention on the blonde once again (this conversation is way too good to pass up), who is now debriefing her boss slash friend on the meeting she was here for.
“He said he’s going to schedule a formal meeting with the entire board next month or maybe sooner, depending on...”
She’s so engrossed in her retelling that she fails to notice the jingle that resonates throughout the small space that has gotten empty since we arrived almost half an hour ago, the jingle that indicates the entry of another person.
The person ends up being Oliver Queen, looking...indescribably hot in his suit, unbuttoned, tie pulled loose. He has his phone in one hand, and his eyes zero in on our table almost after he (weirdly) scans the entire shop when he enters.
Felicity, who’s babbling has now taken a turn into ATM machines (I still don't know how she does it; jump from one topic to the next so quickly) fails to notice her boss enter the building, and continues rambling in that charming way of hers.
This time, I force myself to not be blinded by Oliver Queen’s outwardly (godly) appearance and smile at him warmly when he makes eye contact with me. He smiles back and sends Barry a nod before returning his gaze to Felicity, who is yet to notice him since he is directly behind her.
Then he talks, or more accurately, says her name.
I see the exact moment when it registers to Felicity, and if I thought that she was a ray of sunshine before; then I would have to say that she is blinding right now.
The moment Oliver Queen says her name; she beams and turns around, almost falling off her chair in doing so, but the billionaire instinctively places his hand on the small of her back, steadying her and I don't need to see her face to picture the wide smile of joy and surprise she gives him.
“What are you...” For the first time, Felicity Smoak seems to be unable to figure out what to say.
Oliver shrugs and puts his hands in his pockets, “I'm picking you up. The subways are always empty at this time and...” He trails off, but each and every one of us can finish his sentence.
I don't want you to be alone.
She steps away from the billionaire and makes her way towards me, and I envelop her into a hug, kind of sad that our time together has to end; she and I have become very close despite only meeting a couple of times. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Barry and Oliver shaking hands and whispering quietly to each other, something that seems super private and confidential and something I will definitely ask Barry as soon as we’re alone.
Felicity and I come to a silent agreement to allow the boys some time to bromance, but Felicity tenses up and shrieks five seconds into the agreement.
“Wait, did you just leave QC and come here?”
Oliver arches an eyebrow and walks up to her visibly confused.
“Oliver you can't just leave your company and come here. The last time you did that The Wicked Witch of the West stole it and you were neck deep in bankruptcy. You’re supposed to be showing the board that you can handle this and running off to Central City to pick up some...” Unlike me and Barry, Oliver doesn’t look overwhelmed even the slightest bit and I presume that he is used to her long rambles by now.
But then, he places both his hands on either shoulder and says her name, each syllable containing its own meaning, each letter holding such affection, “Felicity,”
And there is no other way to describe it, but to say that Felicity just melts. He says her name and she, who was fired up and chaotic, instantly calms down and melts; she melts into him.
His voice lowers to a whisper and he guides her out the door as he says, “Let’s go home.”
Barry’s voice breaks my very obvious staring, “They’re not dating.”
I don't respond to him. I'm too busy watching the pair that walks out the door. I'm too busy looking at the matching expressions on their faces, trying to pinpoint why it looks so familiar.
The first time I met Oliver and Felicity. The first time I saw them together at Jitters.
It's love. It's the only conclusion I have. It's the only possible explanation as to why Oliver drives all the way here to pick her up, why he’s the only one with the ability to quiet her frantic rambling, why he says her name with so much meaning. The only reason why Felicity just dazzles when Oliver’s name is mentioned, gets flustered when talking about him, shines when she sees him, or becomes inexplicably happy when he’s around.
The way she looks as if her heart grows three sizes and beats out of her chest when he says her name.
The first time Iris meets Oliver and Felicity she knows that they have the potential to be something great.
The next time Iris meets Oliver and Felicity, she knows they’re in love.
“IF YOU CAN TOUCH HER HEART WITHOUT TOUCHING HER, THEN YOU CAN MELT HER HEART JUST BY SAYING HER NAME”
Iris West knows that no one other than Oliver Queen can make Felicity Smoak fall in love just by saying her name.
A special thanks to vamp_zuzu94 for suggesting Iris West and for patiently waiting until I finished writing this.
Chapter 15: Damien Darhk
“THERE IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE THAT ONE PERSON IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU CAN’T WALK AWAY FROM EVEN IF YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO”
This Chapter is a Post Season 4 AU. You guys probably would have figured it out, but since my chapters are going to be all over the place now timeline-wise I just thought I should inform you of when each chapter happens.
Happy Reading :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“THERE’S ALWAYS THAT ONE PERSON THAT WILL ALWAYS HAVE YOUR HEART”
It's so dark in here. It's so cold. It's been dark and cold ever since I landed in this...abyss. Ever since I found myself in this vortex of nothingness, this vortex of death. It does make sense though.
I'm dead and this is where my soul chooses to entrap me. This...hell of pain and suffering. I suppose it's what I deserve, even though I was trying to do the best for the world; help it create a new beginning.
And I would have succeeded; I had everything I needed to succeed.
If only Oliver Queen had stayed in his urban townhouse playing farm with his girlfriend.
Because I, for one, underestimated him severely. I underestimated him, and I underestimated the love of his life.
Every man has his weakness, every man has his totem, and every man has his strength. A smart man would place a different sentiment for each category.
But for Oliver Queen, Felicity Smoak was his weakness, his totem and his strength.
When I figured that out, I laughed until my ribs hurt at the stupidity of Oliver, whom after training almost ten years in a constant war, should understand the wrongness of that decision. Making one person your everything is the most idiotic thing to do, because when they leave, when they’re gone, they take everything they have with you and you become nothing more than a piece of flesh.
It didn't hit me then, why someone who was extremely tactically intelligent like Mr Queen, would even consider doing such a risky move because I was thrilled that he made fighting the war so easy.
You want to kill Oliver Queen, you kill Felicity Smoak.
Unfortunately, eliminating her entirely proved to be a far difficult task than I thought. She had someone with her at all times and ninety percent of the time, that someone happened to be none other than Oliver Queen himself.
But then things turned out far better than I planned. Instead of her dying and Oliver coming after me in some distorted sense of vengeance and revenge, she left.
And I had thought; this is it. This is where he breaks. This is where he falls.
It was evident in the way he fought the next few days. The way his movements lacked purpose, his focus was deterred, the spark in him gone.
And I thought, despite the possibility of anyone harnessing it, Oliver Queen had lost too much for him to even potentially make a speck of light magic. The only thing keeping him at bay walked away from his life without the slightest clue as to how much he relied on her, how much he depended on her, how much was dependent on her.
And against my better judgment, I became cocky. I stopped keeping close tabs on Oliver Queen and instead focused on bringing my plan into action.
And then I died.
I had died before. But before, my soul didn't have a shred of the Lazarus Pit in it and so all I remember was being stuck in darkness and being numb for what seemed like an eternity.
Now, with the aid of the Pit, my soul can travel through this hellhole, and sometimes, enter the world before it is briefly pulled away, back into darkness and pain.
The first time this happened, I immediately went to Ruvè’s grave. She and Nora were the closest things I felt to love and losing her caused a pain in me I never felt before. And I visited her grave, and I don't know how long I stood there, feeling nothing but numbness, until the swirling black hole engulfed me again, reminding me that I was dead, and she was too.
The second time I was given the opportunity to travel into the world, I visited Nora. She was sitting on a chair in the corner of a dusty room in a house I did not recognize and looking out the window. Her eyes were red, her nose was puffy, and she was as pale as snow, but seeing her, alive and safe gave me a sense of peace that I didn't know I needed. The second time I was given the opportunity to travel into the world, I felt the sharp pain of sadness break through the numbness, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before the abyss sucked me in completely and I wouldn’t be able to see my daughter ever again.
The fifth time my soul was thrown back into the world, I listened to my curiosity (do dead people still feel curious, I don't know) and instead of closing my eyes to think about Nora’s features, I instead focused on someone else.
I was immediately transported into ‘the liar’. It gave me a small sort of satisfaction to look at the damage I made, the broken glass, ruined computers, missing mannequins. It gave me a small sort of satisfaction that I left Oliver Queen alone in the world; no sister, no Diggle, no Laurel, no Felicity.
For a second, when the elevator dinged an arrival, I almost ran for cover. Until I realized that I was dead (for a fact so prominent, it was sometimes hard to remember) and that Oliver Queen couldn’t see me.
He walks across the room, all suited up, placing his bow on the table before making his way into a room I presume is the bathroom, judging by the sounds of water running.
I'm about to deem the situation terribly boring and worthless, until the elevators open once again and I spot Felicity Smoak making her way into the liar, her eyes automatically scanning for Oliver.
When she hears the water and sees him gone, I feel a self-satisfied smirk take residence on my face at the way she sighs in relief. Things are still stiff between them. Oliver may have won the war, but he’s lost the love of his life and that is somewhat enough for me.
The sound of the shower comes to an end (man he showers fast) and Oliver walks out of the room, lacking a shirt and also failing to notice Felicity. The same cannot be said for the woman herself though, who can't keep her eyes off her ex-fiancé (emphasis on the ex) and for someone who claims to have no feelings for the man, the look on her eyes show more than just a few.
The moment Oliver spots Felicity is the same moment he stops drying his hair with the red towel, and he stops in his tracks.
I expect for an uncomfortable silence to overthrow the entire liar and for Oliver to resume staring at Felicity with that pathetic sad puppy look he donned back when I was alive.
Instead, he breaks out into the widest smile I've ever seen and I know if I were alive I would most certainly pop out of the corner I'm unnecessarily hiding in and taunt him saying “You are so whipped for a woman you’ll never have ever again!”
He breaks the silence in the room, “Hey, how was your trip?”
Ms Smoak, who seemingly went somewhere for a couple of days (explains why Oliver came back from patrolling without anyone maiming the computers) doesn’t say a word. She stares at him for a long minute, searching for something.
“I can't do this anymore,” She says finally, and I fear my face is going to break because of my wide grin.
Today was an exceptional day to visit Oliver Queen. He killed me, but I get to see his heart break once again.
But as quickly as it came, the grin is wiped off my face in a matter of seconds.
Because only a few seconds is needed for Felicity Smoak to cross the distance that separates her and Oliver and kiss him, wrapping her arms around his neck and tugging him closer to her.
Do people goodbye kiss?
Oliver, for the first time, pulls away, “Felicity...I don't...I don't understand.”
She smiles softly, caressing his face with her hands, “I can't do this anymore. I can't be with you every single moment of my day and pretend that I'm still mad at you, or that I don't want to be with you. I'm so tired of waking up and not seeing you, and I hate living in the loft without you. I'm so tired of being without you.”
My mood sours, even more, when I see the glistening hope on Oliver’s face, the hope that I thought had washed away when I killed Laurel Lance, “But...I thought...I thought that you couldn’t...”
He’s as speechless as I am because this wasn’t supposed to happen. Oliver Queen was supposed to lose Laurel Lance to death, John Diggle to the army, Thea Queen to her soul, and suffer every day with Felicity Smoak by his side and not being able to love her, watching her move on and fall in love with another man.
Felicity scoffs in response to his hesitance, “We’re still doing the exact same thing we were doing in Ivy Town up until we broke up except for the fact that you leave the loft at 12 am to sleep and I don't have your mother’s ring on my finger.” She falters for a moment as if a thought suddenly struck her, “Unless, you...don’t and I just walked here and kissed you when you don't want this or...or...are you seeing someone?”
I roll my eyes. For someone who claims to be a genius, that was an exceptionally stupid thought; Oliver Queen loving anyone else.
He shuts her up with a kiss and I internally gag at the bright smile on their faces, even as Oliver whispers, “I have never stopped loving you, Felicity Smoak.”
The swirling black hole comes for me just then, and the next thing I know is that I'm once again stuck in this cold, dark abyss.
And while I wish, I’d never gone to spy on Oliver Queen. Even though I wish that I had stayed well put and spent the rest of eternity thinking that I had taken everything away from the man, I know that some part of me is glad I went there.
It cleared my confusion as to how Oliver Queen was able to summon light magic, when his totem, his light, and his weakness left him.
This has nothing to do with Oliver and everything to do with Felicity Smoak and her incapability of ever letting go of him.
She loves him too much to leave him. Doing that just ensures pain for her, and suffering for the both of them. Felicity loves Oliver to an extent that she’ll never leave his side, even when she’s hurt and lost and confused; she’ll keep loving him because loving him is the only thing that feels sane to her.
Loving Ruvè was the only tangible thing in my life. Yes, I placed power over her, but that didn't make my love for her any less weak than the love she had for me. She kept coming back even when I messed up, because she was willing to make it work; she wasn’t willing to live without me.
I should have known Felicity Smoak would be no different.
“THERE IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE THAT ONE PERSON IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU CAN’T WALK AWAY FROM EVEN IF YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO”
Felicity Smoak will never be able to walk away from Oliver Queen. Not knowing that was Damien Darhk’s greatest mistake.
Huge thank you to CaptainSammyAngel for suggesting Damien Darhk. There was no way I would have thought of this character all on my own so thank you so much for that.
Chapter 16: Donna Smoak
“SOME HEARTS UNDERSTAND OTHER, EVEN IN SILENCE”
This chapter takes place during yet another season 3 AU
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“FIND SOMEONE WHO’S COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR SILENCE. FIND SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T NEED YOUR WORDS TO KNOW IT’S TIME TO KISS YOU” –CLAIRABELLE ANN
It's a worldwide known fact, something that makes her, her. People chalk it up to her personality, something she is and something she can't control.
I'm her mother. And despite our initial differences; the big void that was previously present, I know her better than anyone else in the world.
And I know that sometimes, Felicity’s babbling is a mask, a method to fill a void of silence, a feeling of necessity to protect her from the silence that broadcasts who she is, makes her vulnerable.
Felicity has yet to meet someone who she is comfortable enough to be silent with, someone who’s willing to understand her without words being necessary.
And as I look out the window on the plane, magazine forgotten on my lap, I pray, to whatever God is up there, whatever higher power watches over me, that my daughter will find someone with whom she can share not only her words with, but her silence as well, and have him (or her) understand her heart in both forms of communication.
Hailing a taxi from the airport, I make my way to Felicity’s apartment; a new address since the last time I saw her, her promotion allowing her some of the finer things in life.
I don't follow up on the news; I don't have time to follow up with the news. By the time I'm off my feet and get home, I'm too tired to do anything beyond taking a nice bath and collapse on my bed. But having worked for the same casino for the past decade allows me some benefits, including fewer shifts and a higher position. It also allows me to follow up on some of the very few things that happen in Starling City, including matters concerning the company Felicity works in, which is my only interest.
Apparently, Oliver Queen had regained the company after losing it last year, and now does a much better job of running it. There was a mini battle with Ray Palmer, the man with the nice watches, but in the end, the young (and handsome) Queen won, and all is smoothly set for that boat (bad use of words).
I come to a stop in front of her door, hesitating. I did text her that I was going to come, but she didn't respond, and I wonder if she really wants me here. The two of us never really got along, our obvious differences made it easy to do so, and while we do talk on the phone from time to time, neither she nor I have had the time to have visits like this regularly. But she’s my daughter and the only family I have left, and the knowledge gives me the courage to knock on the wooden door.
I hear the familiar grumbling and groaning from the other side, indicating that Felicity just woke up, and I stifle a teary smile at the memories the sound brings.
“You have a key to the apartment, why don't you use—” She freezes when she sees me, and we stare at each other for a moment, she in surprise and me in curiosity as to who she thought I was, someone that has a key to her apartment.
“Mom?” She exclaims in shock and I involuntarily smile at her, pulling her in for a hug trying not to cry because it's been so long since I held my baby girl.
“What are you doing here?” Her voice holds no cold, indicating that she genuinely didn't know I was coming.
“I sent you a text,” I pull out my phone and show her, and she sighs in frustration.
“You didn't press send,” She deadpans, and I giggle nervously.
Well, my bad.
She ushers me in, and when she turns around after closing the door, I allow myself a good look at her.
She has a white blanket wrapped around her tiny frame, her glasses aren’t present, causing her to squint, and her nose is cherry red, matching her cheeks.
“Oh, honey, you’re not feeling well,” I fuss, and I watch her straighten her back and shake her head in denial.
“It's just a little cold mom, I’ll be fine. I was stuck in the rain last night because my car is in service and Dig was busy with his daughter, and I was waiting for a cab, and yesterday just happened to be the night that everyone decided to not drive by my way and I was stuck in the cold rain, and ya...”
I nod silently, following her into the kitchen feeling slightly hurt that she still feels the necessity to fill in the silence with me, and the fact that she won’t bring down her walls and allow me to take care of her.
I wasn’t the best mother, I’ll admit. It's the one thing I absolutely regret. Because by not being there for my daughter, I unintentionally taught her to never rely on someone else, and to never let someone in to take care of you. I taught her to take care of herself, and not accept help from others. And it sucks.
“What about breakfast? You’re supposed to eat breakfast.”
She waves her hand dismissingly, casually telling me, “Oliver’s bringing it.”
Felicity is the head of the Technological Department of Queen Consolidated, and I am so proud of her. No one deserves the position more than my daughter does, and I'm so happy she got the job of her dreams. She also made two very good friends, judging by the way she talks about them whenever we do have the time to have a conversation over the phone. Oliver Queen and John Diggle have been a constant in my daughter’s life for three years now, and I'm truly glad Felicity has made true friends in this city.
The only problem happens to be the fact that my daughter is head over heels in love with Oliver Queen.
And I don't know how I feel about that. I know that he’s changed. I know that he’s better, I know that he’s trying to be better, and I know that if my daughter chose him, then he must be worth it.
What I don't know is if he feels the same way.
As if he was privy to my thoughts, the door opens, and from where I sit, I can see Oliver Queen enter the apartment, returning the spare key he used into his pocket.
He pauses mid-step when he spots Felicity in the kitchen and tilts his head, and I watch in rapt fascination as my daughter tilts her head back as she listens to his question, “What are you doing out of bed?”
She rolls her eyes, “I have a cold Oliver, not pneumonia.”
He sighs and shakes his head, and the action causes him to notice me for the first time, and I smile and awkwardly wave.
Felicity does the customary introductions, “Oliver, this is my...mother. Mom, this is Oliver,”
I mentally prepare myself for what is sure to come next. The part where people stare at me and Felicity oddly, as if they cannot believe someone like me could ever birth someone as amazing as her.
Instead, I'm greeted with a wide smile and Oliver Queen approaching me, offering me his hand to shake, “Mrs. Smoak, it's nice to meet you,”
Up close, I can see why the media is such a fanatic for him. He surely is the catch. True to myself, I wink at Felicity and the action isn’t lost on anyone in the room, one groaning in embarrassment, while the other just smiles, probably used to this sort of attention.
I look at the billionaire once more, “Aren’t you supposed to be at the office?” I ask, noting the custom designed suit that he adorns.
He nervously shifts on his feet, “Uh...Yes, I would have been in the office now. But uh...my mom makes...” I register pain in his eyes as he hastily corrects his sentence, “used to make us this soup when we were sick and so I just thought...”
He trails off and I have this sudden need to pull him into my arms; this poor boy who has lost too much in the course of just a few years, and who manages to take care of my little girl better than I ever did.
Instead, sparing us both the mortification, I joke, “Looking at my daughter’s cooking skills, or lack of them, that’s probably a good idea,”
My daughter intercepts the conversation right there, and I don't miss the way she looks that much happier and comfortable, her eyes shining bright, “I can cook! Look, here’s a bagel for you, mom.”
She hands me a slightly burnt bagel, but I proudly shove it in my mouth, dramatically moaning through the ashy taste.
She hops up on top of the stool on the opposite side of the counter, focusing her attention back to her boss (not that it ever left him), “Did you bring...”
“Company reports,” he finishes for her, waving a stack of papers in the air.
He seats himself beside her, and I watch with rapt attention at the way the two of them work together.
For the first time in a long time, Felicity Smoak is in the room, and there is nothing but silence.
And the thought brings tears to my eyes.
But I push them back and observe them, noticing crystal clearly, how much in love these two idiots are.
They go through the reports together, only speaking when words are necessary,
“If we change the distribution of that then we gain more profit here,”
“Maybe we can give this department a raise, they did give us the most gain this month,”
They flip through the pages in sync, somehow knowing when the other is done the reading, without words.
And Felicity, for once looks completely comfortable in her skin, unafraid to be who she really is, words not being necessary for her because she’s comfortable with Oliver. Oliver doesn’t give her the need to hide under a plethora of words to coat over the silence. They have made a small little bubble just for them, and I, for the life of me, am so glad that Felicity found someone who understands and values her for who she is, awkwardness, babbles and brains including. I'm glad Felicity has found someone who has the ability to understand her complex self better than anyone has managed to do since her father, and remain by her side all throughout it.
The peaceful atmosphere is disturbed by the shrill ring of the phone, and I make a movement to open my purse to check if it's mine, but Oliver Queen’s authoritative voice suggests otherwise,
“Oliver Queen speaking,”
He listens in silence for a moment and I watch as Felicity, who feels discomfort at ever physically interrupting someone’s space, leans in closer so that she can listen to the speaker too.
“Yes, yes, I’m on my way.”
He turns the phone off, and makes his way out the door, pausing when he passes me,
“It was very nice meeting you, Mrs. Smoak,”
I smile warmly at him, “Oh the pleasure was all mine. And please, call me Donna,”
He nods and smiles and I'm not surprised to see that it isn’t as bright and happy as the smile he gives to my daughter as he retrieves his coffee from where he placed it at the counter. Neither one of them are aware of the picture they paint; him, dressed in work attire holding a coffee on one hand and a briefcase on the other, smiling at her, wearing pajamas and leaning against the frame of the kitchen waving him goodbye.
They prove their well-earned uniqueness when she calls out to him as he toes on his shoes,
“When you come back...” She trails off, and I raise my coffee over my mouth to hide my smile at the pure confidence Felicity has in Oliver that he will come back.
Before him, it was always if you come back.
“Bring the stock reports I receive today,”
Felicity opens her mouth to say more but in that creepy way of theirs, Oliver knows what she’s about to say.
“No, I won’t schedule a meeting with Kord Industries until you’re better and yes, I will ask Dig to bring you his pot roast.”
She grins widely at him, and the grin doesn’t fade even after he leaves the apartment, and she busies herself with the task of making coffee.
And for the first time since my daughter left all by herself to Starling City, I feel a sense of relief and peace.
I know that Felicity is going to be fine here. I know that she’s going to be happy, safe and loved.
Because she has Oliver Queen.
“SOME HEARTS UNDERSTAND OTHER, EVEN IN SILENCE”
Donna Smoak cannot be more happy, because Felicity Smoak found someone like Oliver Queen, who understands and loves her without any words being necessary.
A huge shoutout and thank you to both Sadfangirl and Bluedove for requesting Donna and helping me come up with this chapter.
Chapter 17: Noah Kuttler
“FAMILY IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN TWO PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE”
I apologize if your getting tired of them, but this chapter is a season 3 AU again because I'm a sucker for season 3 AUs which is why I'm writing so much.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She comes through the door with a tear-streaked face, her red eyes concealed by the fogginess of her glasses, her ponytail swishing dangerously as she runs and throws herself at her father, whose attention is diverted from the television as soon as he sees his baby girl crying.
She doesn’t say anything for a long minute, and the only other sounds in the living room are her occasional sobs as she wraps her chubby hands more tightly around her father’s neck, trying to pull him closer to her.
He can hear the shower running upstairs and for someone so naturally beautiful, he knows that Donna is not coming down anytime soon.
“What happened baby?” He asks her worriedly.
This isn’t normal for his daughter. She loves school, runs out the door and onto the bus with a wide smile every day and comes home with a bigger one. Considering everything he noticed during her unconscious rambles, no one’s bothering her at school either, if anything, all the kids respect her for her smarts.
She lifts her head off his shoulder and his heart breaks at her dampened face, devoid of the happiness she was named after. She sniffles for a moment, before seating herself more comfortably onto his lap, brushing her loose dark hair off her forehead.
“Clara...Clara,” she sniffles some more, trying to get her breathing back in control and he gives her another moment, waiting patiently.
Clara, he knows, is her best friend. The little girl has come over to their house many times since his daughter started school and he knows that Clara has taken residence in his genius’ heart for a long time.
‘What about Clara honey? Is she alright?” He urges her to continue, placing a hand on her back when she totters slightly on his lap.
“She left,” Her eyes water again and this time, he wipes the tears away before they can roll down her cheeks.
She continues with a scratchy voice, “Her momma and dada left her and so she has to go and live with her nonna in Arizona.”
He rubs his hand on his daughter’s back to soothe her, “It's going to be okay honey. You’ll make new friends. Everybody wants to be your friend.”
He soon learns that it wasn’t the separation of a friend that got his daughter so upset. Her brain is far more different and advanced than most people. She launches herself at him once more and buries her face into his shoulder, so that he has to strain to hear her muffled words, “But she’s got no family no more. What if...”
He hears the unasked question and pulls his daughter back so that he can look into her eyes and hope that his message registers into her for the rest of her life.
“Felicity Kuttler, you are always going to have a family in me, no matter what, I will always be here with you. And you, baby girl, you’re always going to be my family. Don't you ever forget that.”
“FAMILY ISN’T DEFINED ONLY BY LAST NAMES AND BLOOD; IT’S DEFINED BY COMMITMENT AND BY LOVE”
The wine here is the best I’ve ever tasted in a long time. It's rich and smooth, and it doesn’t taste cheap and warm.
Being on the run isn’t ever easy. You have your bank card stocked with loads of money, and you know you can afford to go to the classy hotels that serve champagne with every meal and have suites the size of houses but you can't because cheap motels don't have enough in their pockets to install security cameras that are near to impossible to hack.
But once in a while, I stop running, and I treat myself to a lavish restaurant, heavily tipping the servers and ordering the best and most expensive food as an apology for the shitstorm that will soon hit the restaurant after I leave and the FBI catches the whiff of my presence. By then, I will have to be at least out of the city, stuck in another dingy hotel room, eating cold turkey and stale beans.
I have my suit on, gold watch on one wrist, platinum ring on the other. Still surprises me to this day at how the manager and servers immediately took me into the private room I requested for, returning in a second with a glamorous display of their best wine.
I’d asked them why I wasn’t able to dine in the room next to mine, which was undoubtedly larger and fancier, but the restaurant employees were adamant that I couldn’t, until the manager explained to me that the room was rented out specifically for their special guests, who had close ties with the big boss.
“Besides,” The man had told me, “The room, is designed with a two-way mirror. The guests are informed of that obviously, but it's for the false feeling of privacy and quiet even when all the other patrons are staring wildly at the women that are fixing their hair.”
I chuckled at the mental image the sentence formed in my head and dismissed the server with a wave of my hand, prepared to fill my empty stomach.
They brought me this wine as I was waiting, and I put down my phone as the server poured the glass, smiling at me before walking away.
Sipping the rich texture leisurely, I comb through the security cameras of the building, blurring out the areas where I am clearly spotted. I make it so that it doesn’t seem highly unusual, but enough so that the facial recognition program won’t be able to pinpoint anything too soon.
There’s a loud commotion at the door, and my head shoots up in a slight panic but I relax when the absence of authority is clear.
The commotion comes in the form of four individuals, all dressed to the nines, lead by a striking slim woman with brown hair and matching eyes. She charges towards the room next to mine, the room that I had initially wanted, the room with the two-way mirror, and surveys the area as the older man of the group speaks with the restaurant manager, who eagerly nods at whatever he is being told.
The tiny, slim woman gestures for the older man to walk faster, her arms frantically waving, “Quentin, come on. We don't have all day!”
The man, who I now identify as Quentin, shakes his head as he enters the room, “Hold your horses, Thea. They won’t be in until another hour. And knowing your brother, they’re going to be late.”
One of the four; a tall, dark man with arms the size of Texas speaks up, “Ya, if only they were late because they’re admitting their feelings to each other instead of dancing around them.”
I see the small chuckle on their faces before Thea takes charge again, calling everyone by their names and allowing me to pinpoint who is who without having to base them off their physical appearance.
“Okay, John, you order the food and drinks. Quentin and Laurel, you two set the banners and streamers. I'm going to go call Barry and tell him to keep an eye out for Starling tonight.” Thea goes marching out the door, and I trail my eyes behind her, wondering why she looks so familiar. I chalk it up to her obviously rich status, and probable involvement with the news and television.
The remaining three in the room perform their assigned task; cleaning up, setting the table with a ridiculous amount of cake and drinks and showering the ceiling and walls with banners and balloons all with a matching message of ‘Congratulations!’
“Come on, come on!” Thea comes barrelling into the room a moment later, her hands waving frantically in the air.
The other woman, Laurel, looks down from where she’s perched up on a chair pinning the final banner into place, “What’s wrong now?”
“They’re here. He’s early for once.” Thea responds, and the four of them rush around the area, cleaning up their mess in record time, before waiting in front of the door.
I look towards the front entrance, just in time to see the doors swing open and two people walk in, a tall, handsome man and a woman, who’s hidden behind the man, her small hands cupping his eyes, directing him towards the door.
Her heeled foot kicks on the door twice, and as it opens, she brings her hands away from the man’s eyes and the whole room erupts in a shout that is a mix of the words ‘surprise’ and ‘congratulations’.
I find myself craning my head to see the woman, who seems so familiar, but she’s now standing beside the man who I recognize as Oliver Queen, media darling, whose bulky frame is preventing me from getting a glimpse of the blonde haired girl.
The Queens, of course. How can I not recognize them?
Oliver Queen’s return to his family’s company has been splashed all over the news, along with his decision to fire some company executives and replace them with far more capable, talented people. I suppose the so-called celebration that is taking place right now is to commemorate this very victory.
Queen lets out a surprised laugh and I take yet another sip of my wine as I watch him move forward to his sister, probably to wrap her in a hug.
The next thing I know is that I'm choking on the red liquid, the burning in my throat diminished by the excruciating pain in my chest and I know that the tears in my eyes aren’t only the cause of liquid seeping through my lungs but also because of the onslaught of memories that threaten to overtake me.
Because standing right there, on the other side of the mirror, is my daughter, the little girl I used to tuck into bed after reading stories. The girl who made me the happiest person on the planet when she called my name for the first time. The little girl who used to whisper ‘I love yous’ into my ear and run to me when she had a nightmare. The little girl that I abandoned. The little girl I refused to fight for. The little girl who was subjected to the horrors of her father breaking his promise of always being her family because I was a coward.
I wipe the tears off my cheeks, unaware of how they got there, and I'm unashamedly staring at the two way mirror, as the long-haired woman whom I think is named Laurel, pulls Felicity into a hug, “Vice President of Queen Consolidated. Way to go Smoak!”
She used to be Kuttler.
Oliver pulls away from his sister, to give John a handshake and tell Laurel, “She should have been CEO, but she refused.”
My daughter mock glares at the blonde haired billionaire, “I don't want your company, Mr. Queen.”
Quentin chuckles and intervenes the pretend fight, “Ya, ya, why don't we start eating. I've been starved since five.”
He places a kiss on Felicity’s cheek and fondly praises her, “I'm proud of you sweetheart.”
My little girl beams at the older man, and the sight brings a pang to my chest, “Thanks, Quentin.”
John pulls her into a hug before guiding her towards the table full of the food he was required to order, “Dinner is both your favorites. They wouldn’t let me bring in Big Belly Burger. Sorry, Felicity.”
She adjusts her glasses, a tendency that I recognize from her youth, “This will most definitely do. We could have just gone to Big Belly you know that right? Not that I don't want to be here or that here is awful. It's amazing. But you didn't need to do this for the two of us.”
Queen’s little sister waves her off, “You two worked so hard the past few days trying to get this company back. It's the least we could do.”
Laurel scoffs and moves closer to Thea (and inevitably the mirror which Thea rests against) to whisper into her ear, “Besides, we deserve it too. We were the ones who had to resist the urge to smash their heads together when they bickered like an old married couple these past few days.”
Thea replies with a well-practiced eye roll, “Past few days. Try past few months.”
Oliver waves the two gossiping girls over with one hand, his other hand serving Felicity some food.
I watch in fascination at the way the group interacts for the rest of the night, more specifically, the way my daughter interacts with the group of people and vice versa.
If her hair and appearance is any indication, I know that a lot has changed between then and now, but it still baffles me on how much. It seems like I still expect her to be the shy, little eight-year old that I gave up on, but she’s a grown woman, with her own opinions, preferences, and attitude that fascinates me.
What also fascinates me is the way the people around her seem to know everything about her. Especially Oliver Queen. In fact, the way Felicity interacts with Oliver reminds me of another blonde. The one I also gave up on all those years ago.
He knows all her favorite foods, and she knows his. He stops her after two glasses of champagne because “You get tipsy Felicity. You babble and then wake up the next morning mortified and make me promise not to let you drink that much ever again. This is me keeping that promise.”.
She picks up the peas from his plate because she knows that he hates peas. And she always asks for a specific dish for the billionaire in advanced, even before the man asks for it himself.
And soon after, when the entire party is over and Thea and Laurel are drunk of their minds and escorted back home by Quentin and John, Oliver and Felicity are left to clean up the mess, a chore they happily agreed to do.
It's captivating to watch them work together in sync. The way Felicity opens a garbage back and turns around to let Oliver throw things in once in a while, always a perfect shot. The way Oliver maneuvers Felicity subconsciously when she’s about to bump into something, obviously knowing that she may not be drunk but that she isn’t completely sober either.
The way Felicity and Oliver stand side by side in a completely clean private party room that they didn't have to clean but did, smiling proudly at their work as the new CEO softy stares at her with such an intense look in his eye saying, “That was nice.”
“That was a reminder Oliver Queen. You have a family. We are your family. Don't forget that.”
I can't see her face, but I know that my daughter is staring at the man with an equally intense look in his eyes, filled with the same amount of adoration and tenderness.
And as he places a hand on her back and leads her out the door, opening it for her after helping her put on her coat, I feel a pang of sadness and misery as I pick apart Felicity’s words for what she really means.
“You’re my family Oliver Queen. Don't forget that.”
And after everything that I know my daughter went through; after everything I have done that must have broken her, seeing Oliver Queen treat my daughter in such a way has me thinking:
As far as family goes, Oliver Queen might not be that bad.
“FAMILY IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN TWO PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE”
Noah Kuttler knows that Felicity Smoak found her family in Oliver Queen.
Thank you to Sandfangirl for suggesting and inspiring this chapter. Much love to you!
Chapter 18: Dinah Lance
“A LOVER DOESN’T DISCOURAGE YOUR GROWTH. A LOVER SAYS, “I SEE WHO YOU ARE TODAY, I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE WHO YOU BECOME TOMORROW” –DONTE COLLINS
This chapter takes place somewhere in the very beginning of season 2.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“BE WITH SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO SEE YOU GROW” –Toni Payne
There’s a reason why I chose Central City to move to after the divorce. The city, unlike Starling, is clean. Yes, there are crimes. Yes, there is evil. Those two aspects are inevitable regardless of place. But there is just something so serene about being in Central City that gives me a feeling that I could have never found in Starling, in any circumstance.
It also helps that I love my job here in Central. Helps that I love the bright minds that I get to teach, the institution and people I surround myself around, the fact that I can leisurely stroll around the newly paved sidewalk on a bright day after I have finished my lunch, having half an hour more to spare.
Today is one of those days. One of those days where I'm casually walking through the sparsely populated city, this time of day not being as crowded. I take a seat on one of the street benches, the position of the seat allowing me to watch the rare citizen scurrying across the path with their heads buried into their phone, hands holding a cup of coffee, or earplugs in, listening to music or talking to a friend. Nobody notices me and I find myself preferring it that way.
And as I turn, I spot a familiar face, and have to stop a bittersweet pang that resonates through my heart when I do.
Oliver Queen walks down the sidewalk, donning a brown leather jacket, his hands in his pocket, face tilted towards the ground.
I'm genuinely glad he survived the island. I mourn for the poor boy every day for what he must have endured for five years without proper food, sleep or company. And I, have never and will never, blame him for the death of my daughter. Laurel and Quentin may, but I don't. Sara made her own choice to get on that boat and she subjected herself to her own fate. Blaming Oliver will not bring her back, nor will it help the man who is surely plagued by the demons that he was infected with during his time away, and I refuse to be another person who adds to the list of demons; to the list of hurt.
And I watch him; my lips tilting up when I spot two others catch up to him. One is a tall bulky man, tanned skin and the posture of a soldier. He walks slightly in front of Oliver, but close enough for me to see the trust and familiarity between the two of them, something I'm glad for; Oliver needs more genuine friends besides Tommy Merlyn.
However, it's the second of the two that actually brings a smile to my face. On the other side of Oliver walks a blonde woman, hair pulled up into a ponytail that swings as she speed-walks in order to catch up with her two companions, the heels she adorns making it slightly difficult. Everything about her makes me want to smile, from her bright orange dress to bubblegum lips, and fuchsia fingertips.
The trio stop in their tracks just a few feet away from me, enough for me to hear the dark-skinned man tell his friends, “Hey, do you two mind if I catch up with you in Starling? I have a friend here that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Oliver nods at his friend wordlessly, and doesn’t see his blonde companion ’s hesitation and nervousness.
The other man does though, and he wraps his arms around the girl, “See you soon Felicity.”
Felicity. What a beautiful name for a lovely girl.
And soon, it is only Oliver and Felicity (is it just me or do their names sound perfect together?) that is left, the former resuming his mindless stare onto the ground and the latter looking at anywhere but the man beside her, fingertips playing with the tablet in her hands.
Felicity clears her throat, “I...um...found some information on the name you needed.” She trails off unsurely, and I frown at the thought that such a bright and lively girl seems so timid.
I found the reason for it when Oliver gruffly nods and curtly says, “Tell me when we get home.”
She nods silently, slowing her pace down a bit so that she’s not shoulder-to-shoulder with Oliver, putting some distance between them, confirming my doubts that Diggle was the icebreaker in the relationship. They walk closer towards me and I spot Felicity stop at the shoe shop, probably staring at the beautiful red heels that I had also drooled over when I passed it.
When he realizes that his friend isn’t following him, Oliver turns around, calling for her, “Felicity, what’s wrong?”
She spares one last look at the shoes and smiles at Oliver, shaking her head to his oblivious self, “Nothing. Nothing. You know...just things in here. A lot of things in here.” Her index finger circles around the crown of her head and I can spot the tiny smile on Oliver’s face before the breeze swipes it away faster than it came.
And as they come to a stop at a black van pulled over right in front of me, as Oliver gets into the driver’s seat and Felicity gets into the back, I think, with absolute sorrow, that this is the Oliver that the island created.
It's ironic, to think of it that way. All my life, I had spent hearing from Laurel and Quentin every day that “Oliver needs to grow up,” “That Queen kid better grow a pair soon before I shoot him.” and now here he is, grown up, mature, and so very sad.
I suppose that was the problem. Laurel, was so determined to help Oliver ‘grow up’ that she thought the best way of doing that was to make him do things that will somehow push his growth. The only thing that did was make him cling on to who he was harder and drift further away from her. It was what inevitably caused him to take my youngest daughter on a boat and die. Laurel was so desperate to be with the Oliver that was mature, responsible and grown up, that she wasn’t willing to settle for Ollie.
And within a single second, within a single boat ride, Ollie was murdered and replaced by this new man.
It makes me wonder what would have happened if someone, anyone, stayed with the boy and let him grow and thrive and accepted him for who he was, patiently waiting for him to grow up on his own terms.
Makes me wonder who is going to stay with this Oliver, waiting for him to break out of his shell and his dark cloud, staying with him through his worse today and accepting the person he will become tomorrow.
“Thank you, for waiting so patiently,” I tell the father-daughter duo in front of me, handing them their well-earned tickets and watching as the little girl clings onto her father’s arm, her brunette pigtails flying in the air as she skips towards the elevator, presumably to the dinosaur exhibition, if her t-shirt was any indication.
I enjoy volunteering at Central City Museum; have been for two years now. While on most days I'm leading the tours and teaching kids, adults, and adolescents, today I've decided to lay it back a little and do some front desk work, simple ticket printing and location directing.
Rachel, the events coordinator taps my shoulder to gather my attention, “We need more pamphlets,” She tells me, looking slightly guilty for asking me.
I smile at her before bending down to the lower cupboard and shifting through the stacks of papers to find the remaining pamphlets I know I placed in here before closing yesterday.
Rachel taps my shoulders again, this time faster, with much more urgency and enthusiasm, “Oh my God, Dinah, It's Oliver Queen!” She squeals in a high-pitched voice.
I shoot up from the ground in an instant, but not for the reason that most of the viewers and workers in the museum are staring at Oliver for.
No, I shoot up because I haven’t seen him in a year. I haven’t seen him since he lost his best friend, his mother went to prison, and he inherited the family company. I haven’t seen him since that one time in Central City, where his eyes were dead, posture haunted, and no happiness in his stance. Haven’t seen him since the day I watched him and the timid blonde-haired woman skitter around each other uncomfortably, not sure what to do in each other’s presence without the bodyguard with them.
He walks through the door in a tailored business suit, something I faintly remember he wouldn’t wear unless his mother and father had to force him into it. But he walks through the doors wearing a tailored business suit, and I notice, with a light feeling in my chest, that his eyes aren’t dead anymore. His posture has a purpose. His being radiates a smile. No, he’s not perfect; there is still darkness in his eyes, he is still tense, and the aura of lifelessness still surrounds him. But he seems so much lighter, so much happier, eyes so much brighter, and it's only when Rachel moves to the right and clears my view that I see why.
His eyes, focus, attention; his entire being is fixated on the rambling blonde woman beside him. The same blonde woman that I saw with him the last time in Central City, over a year ago.
She’s talking a mile a minute, if her fast-paced mouth is any indication, and he’s looking at her as if she’s hanging the stars and moon in the sky. There’s a small smile that graces his lips, and his head tilts in a way that specifies fascination.
They walk over to the painting hanging on the wall nearest to me, and the woman, whose name I don't remember, turns to Oliver and exclaims,
“What are we doing here?”
Oliver’s gaze doesn’t leave the painting and he shrugs to downplay his gift, “You rambled about the new museum a couple months ago. Thought we should visit it since we’re here anyway.”
She tilts her head slightly, her eyes never wavering away from Oliver, “I didn't think you’d...”
Oliver’s eyes leave the painting and pierce hers, “I always listen to your rambles, Felicity.”
Felicity. What a beautiful name for such a beautiful girl!
They stay like that for a moment, just staring at each other, a sense of peace enveloping Oliver, the kind of peace that I haven’t sensed around him since he came back from the island. Then Felicity clears her throat and smiles playfully,
“You’re going to regret it one day when I say something embarrassing and insult your face or something. Not that there is anything to insult about your face, it's a really pretty face...everyone thinks so, it's not just me, I'm not trying to come on to you or anything,” She closes her eyes and counts down from three.
It's because her eyes are closed that she doesn’t notice how big Oliver’s grin has gotten, big enough to almost pass for an actual smile.
He bumps shoulders with her gently, “Keep going. You were complimenting my face.”
I'm trying to wrap my head around that fact that this is the same man Laurel called and told me about, the man who shied away from touch and flinched when receiving it. The same man who huffs out a slight chuckle when Felicity slaps his chest lightly, “Shut up, Oliver.”
She then grabs onto his hand and tugs him towards the elevator, and he willingly obliges. And it's only because I'm focusing so intently on her that I see the way her eyes flicker to the right to gaze upon the painting of a green emerald for one millisecond before she looks away and resumes her trek to the upper floor, Oliver letting her drag him along.
Half an hour later, and I'm back down at the cupboards, stacking the new copies of the pamphlets at the front of the space so that it will be easier to find next time. A familiar clearing of a throat interrupts my work, and I shoot up just as Oliver says, “Excuse m...Ms. Lance?”
He seems shocked to see me, but I just pleasantly smile at him, noticing with glee that the bags in his eyes aren’t as prominent and his cheeks aren’t that sunken anymore. “Oliver!”
“You work here?” He asks curiously, looking behind me.
I bob my head from one side to the other, “More so volunteer. How can I help you?”
He puts his hands in his pockets, fishing for something as he says, “I want to buy a painting actually,” I know which one he’s talking about even before he points to the one of a kind painting of the large emerald, surrounded by so many different shades of green.
I smile and nod at him, “Sure, that’ll...” I trail off when he hands me his credit card before learning the price, and I note that this used to be Oliver years ago, with booze and drugs and cars rather than a thoughtful gift for a girlfriend, “...be $5000”
I swipe the card, and page one of the workers, who rush down after hearing Oliver’s name and make a quick work of removing and packaging the art.
As we wait, I ask him, “Where’s your girlfriend?”
His eyes widen with surprise and...longing, “Felicity is in the car, I wanted to surprise her. And she’s not my girlfriend. She’s my...she’s...” He struggles with his words and I pat his hands gently, not missing the way he answered where she was first before correcting my thoughts on their relationship.
“It's okay. Some relationships are hard to define. She works for you at Queen Consolidated right?”
He nods in affirmation, “She works with me. I can't do any of it without her,” And while we’re talking about QC, I can't help but feel that he’s talking about so much more.
The painting reaches his hands and he smiles at me one more time, “Thank you, Ms. Lance.”
And as he’s walking away, I call out for him, needing to say something, “Oliver,” He turns around, “I'm happy for you.”
He confusedly smiles, before walking to his car, which is parked in front of the Museum entrance, and I watch as Felicity rolls her windows down from her seat in the front, curiously glancing at the covered painting in Oliver’s hands before they drive away, probably talking about a million things.
And it hits me at how different, but similar the two of them are; how much they’ve grown over the past year.
Oliver who was cold and distant, unable to exist comfortably around Felicity without his bodyguard as a buffer is now taking her to Museums, smiling and teasing her, looking more at peace and comfortable than he does anywhere with anyone. Oliver, who didn't notice her smiling longingly at a pair of shoes for a full on minute last year, notices a quick flick to a painting that lasted a fraction of a second.
Felicity, who seemed so unsure of how to act and what to say around Oliver, keeping her distance from him, walking quietly the last time I saw her is now rambling a mile a minute with Oliver, saying everything on her mind, walking close to him, grabbing onto his arm and mock slapping his chest. Felicity, who didn't feel comfortable going on an hour car ride sitting beside Oliver in the front, now automatically gets into her unofficial spot beside him, rolling down the windows to talk to him even before he climbs on.
They’ve grown. They’ve grown together. They’ve allowed the other person to grow; grow at their own pace, to their own comfort. It's the reason why they’re so comfortable around each other, the reason why they can spend so much time together, the reason why Oliver doesn’t sag under the pressure of being someone he’s not as he used to all those years ago.
Oliver and Felicity allowed each other to grow.
Neither of them realized that during their growth, they’ve also grown to fall in love with each other.
“A LOVER DOESN’T DISCOURAGE YOUR GROWTH. A LOVER SAYS, “I SEE WHO YOU ARE TODAY, I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE WHO YOU BECOME TOMORROW” –DONTE COLLINS
Dinah Lance knows that the reason why Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak love each other so much is because they are willing to grow with each other.
Huge thanks to Bluedove for suggesting this chapter.
Chapter 19: Anatoly Knyazev
Set in Season 4,
“TO ME, SHE WAS THOSE FINAL STEPS, THE TURN AROUND THE LAST BEND, THE HOUSE WITH A LIGHT ON, AND A FIRE LIT, AND A FAINT LAUGH IN THE DISTANCE ON THE WARM WIND. THAT WAS SHE. SHE WAS ALWAYS COMING HOME.” –Atticus
I apologize in advance, but from now until late June, early July, updates are going to be slow. I'm so, so sorry that I won't be able to update as often as I usually do, but I have so much going on in the next few weeks, I don't think I'm going to find the time to write and edit as much. I do hope you all are willing to stick by me and wait patiently for the next chapters.
Thank you so much for your patience and kindness.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“HOME IS NOT WHERE YOU ARE FROM, IT IS WHERE YOU BELONG. SOME OF US TRAVEL THE WHOLE WORLD TO FIND IT. OTHERS FIND IT IN A PERSON.” –Beau Taplin
“Thank You so much Mr. Knyazev.” The ugly, bald man stutters in front of me and I dismiss him with a disgusted glare, watching as the pathetic excuse for a human being trips over his two feet as he exits the room.
“Shall we finish him off sir,” Ivan asks me, his hands folded respectively behind his back, even though there is a slight tenseness to them, making me wonder how much of a request it really was.
I wave his suggestion off with a flick of my wrists, “No, men like him aren’t worth killing for. All they’ll do is waste space in the graveyard.”
Ivan nods his head and leaves, but I see the small tick in his jaw, the same bloodthirsty hunger that I saw in a man over two years ago. A good man, a loyal man, but a monster nevertheless.
Oliver Queen was an enigma indeed.
But I am not ashamed to say that I do miss him. It has been so long, and Oliver was always the voice of reason in my head, despite what he may think of himself. He kept me check, prevented me from becoming the devil, and I often find myself assessing situations based on what Oliver Queen will do, although I will never publically announce that thought.
The last time I saw him, he and his two friends were in Russia trying to save his big friend’s wife—or something. Although I met John Diggle, if I recall the man’s name properly, I did not get to meet Felicity Smoak at all. Oliver purposely kept her far away from the Bratva, despite her being heavily involved in his Robin Hood activities.
The new, sleek model of the new phone that was gifted to me by one of my fancier customers rings and shakes and I take a moment to ungracefully fumble around with the deathtrap before sliding the green button to the side and bringing the rectangle box to my ear.
“Hello?” I decide to speak English when the number calling me turns out to be unrecognizable.
“Anatoly,” The familiar voice stops me from fiddling with my pen, and I remove the phone from my ear to stare at it, as if it actually read my thoughts and called Oliver for me.
But it is great to hear his voice again, “Kapiushon! What a pleasant surprise. Didn't think you’ll be calling again so soon Kapitan. What is the matter?”
We could beat around the bush and prattle around false pretenses for a couple of minutes, but it would get us nowhere. Pleasantries weren’t ever something we in the Bratva did; especially not Oliver and I. We knew what this call is about. He needs a favor. And for all that he did for me, and all that he is doing, I will happily oblige, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the matters of my group.
“Vitaly Sokolov. My team has been after him for almost a month by now and we have good proof that he’s somehow managed to flee to Russia.”
His tone, as usual, is all business; rough, hard and straight to the point, his voice leaving no trace of vulnerability or weakness, something that is as distinctly familiar as Oliver is, I find myself at ease with the conversation.
“Oliver, I cannot let you go all Robin Hood in Russia all over again for a petty criminal. You know that’s not how it works.” As much as I would love to help him, I'm disappointed that the Bratva rules didn't occur to him before calling. I'm disappointed that he forgot the codes so fast.
“In the course of a month, he’s managed to murder five wives in their homes, three children, and four young girls. Now, he’s coming to Russia.”
Shit. He knows he has me there. Seems like the boy hasn’t forgotten the rules as much as I thought.
We the Bratva aren’t sexist; we’ve found ourselves growing and modifying as time passes, willing to bend in order to blend into society. But in the Bratva, wives and children are always something to be respected and protected. The killing of innocent women and children is something we do not allow. And Oliver knows it.
“Come. Do what you need to do. Get rid of this bastard.” I reconsider my sentence, remembering the things Oliver told me the last time he was here; something about trying something different, honoring his friend’s memory and saving the city, “Or catch him and throw him in your little fancy prisons.”
“Give me a week Anatoly. I need full terrain of the place.”
I smile into the phone, knowing that both he and anyone else cannot see it (thankfully. Not the time to show weakness. Never is there a time to show weakness) “You’re the Kapitan, Kapiushon. You may do whatever the hell you want to do. No one in your way.”
I hear him relax and I make mental notes to have a drink with him during one day of that week; the boy seems too wound up. I guess that is the price for having an entire city on your shoulders.
“We’ll only be causing trouble for a week, Anatoly. Then I’ll be out of your hair and back home.” It's his way of a ‘goodbye, see you soon’. I’ll take it.
“I cannot wait, Kapiushon.” And I cut the phone. Or maybe he did; I have no idea how to use these anyway. Might need to call Ivan in and get him to replace this with my old one.
And after I have put the phone away, and get ready to make the necessary arrangements for his arrival, is when something Oliver said resonates through me.
It's a precarious word, one many don't know the true meaning to. As children, we associate home with a house, a place we live in, a place where we sleep. Then we grow and move, and change and realize that our perceptive of 'home' was an error in many ways.
By that time, we do not know what our home is anymore.
Oliver Queen went to Starling City, but it wasn’t his home. It was never his home. If it was, then he would have gotten a plane and went back there the minute he got off the island, consequences be damned. Starling City may have been the city where he lived in all his life, the city where he threw parties every night, was arrested, had family pictures and picnics, but it never was his home.
(He had said it so himself before we parted, “I don't know where home is anymore.”)
I sent the boy away to Starling City, homeless, hoping that he would find his lighthouse there, find an anchor, a place that would lure him home when he got lost, a place that would help him fight to come back, and place where he was always desperate to go back to.
I guess I’ll see if he found it yet.
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“On your left.” Felicity Smoak presses a series of buttons on the sleek, modern tablet of hers, and I get a full, clear, live view of the large warehouse Sokolov has managed to hide himself in.
The team appeared a week ago and this time, only Oliver came by secretly to visit, looking so happy and bright and free. Starling City (now Star City) apparently has a new set of heroes; Speedy, and The Black Canary included, allowing the man to not worry about his city while he’s here.
I also finally got to meet Ms. Smoak formally for the first time when she came skipping into the bar a couple days later (she was like the sun and made the cold, dark place look colder and darker) her hands intertwined with Oliver’s and a look of adoration on his face as he listened to her talk about something made me finally pinpoint the reason for Oliver’s lightness.
She was ushered into the room almost immediately after, not before staring Oliver down for his caveman-like tendency (quite impressive actually, there’s not many who have the guts to do that), and no one missed the way the Kapitan’s eyes were stuck on the door Ms. Smoak went through to set up the various devices needed for the mission.
And we come to the present day. Vitaly Sokolov’s address has been pinpointed, the blueprint of the warehouse pulled up, the cameras around the area displayed on the screen, Sokolov’s car has been identified and traced, and I'm tiring my brain trying to think of ways I can keep Ms.Smoak here with me and with the Bratva (each method ends up with Oliver Queen holding my heart in his hands).
She’s absolutely brilliant. She’s been here for all of five days, and managed to get into files and decrypt locks and codes some of the best hackers in Russia have been trying to do for five years. Where in the world did Oliver find her?
“It's locked,” Oliver’s weird growly voice speaks over the comm that I have in my ear and I look at the screen that showcases the camera on his suit to see him and Mr. Diggle come across a large door bolted shut by some high-end technology.
“I'm on it.” It takes Ms. Smoak all of ten seconds to unlock the door, and once the green light beeps, Oliver walks effortlessly into the room.
“Pull your bow up I said, make sure no one is there I said, maybe you should have installed those motion sensors I wanted on your suit I said. Does he listen? No.” For a minute I think she’s talking to herself, I find that she does that sometimes (it's quite amusing to watch), but her eyes are directed at me and I have no idea what to say.
Oliver fills the awkward tension, “Honey. You’re doing it again.”
She winces and I give her a small smile, “Sorry. Keep going.”
Minutes later, Vitaly Sokolov is on the other end of an Arrow, rolling his eyes and complaining in a thick Russian accent, “What? You're going international now?”
Felicity turns off both her comms and mine so that we can take a minute and let out the snort of laughter that threatens to blow out before she turns her headpiece back on,
“And that’s one point for Team Arrow. Come home, Oliver.”
Home. Only this time, we’re not in Starling City. We’re in Russia. But Oliver doesn’t hesitate in doing exactly what his woman tells him to do, taking his place by her side as soon as he enters the dingy bar. His hand automatically goes to her back, resting there, and she leans into his touch, tucking her head under his chin. I see the toughest women of our family swoon and adoringly gaze at them. The Kapitan and his women.
Home. There’s that word again.
I'm at the Russian airport only days later, on a runway that holds a great, big, fancy plane that Ms.Smoak apparently owns. I shake and kiss her hand as she comes out of the bathroom, and watch as she flusters and turns a shade of red before winding up on one of her odd rambling tangents,
“Not that I don't want you coming to Starling or anything, I'm not telling you how to live your life, I'm not telling you anything actually, I would never tell you what to do. I just thought that with the Bratva here...am I allowed to say that aloud? Is that like, a taboo subject or something, like we have to use code names and...Oliver, this is the part where you stop me!”
She glares up at the man who just came to stand beside her after helping the pilot load the bags (half of it was Felicity’s technology) and is smiling at her as if she was the sun that his planet revolved around.
After noticing that her partner isn’t going to do anything but smile at her like a lovesick fool (I still cannot believe that this is the same Oliver I befriended all those years ago), she gives me a little wave, wince, and sorry.
I refocus my attention on Oliver, who smiles at me, his face free of most of the darkness he was harboring the last time I saw him.
“It was good seeing you again my dear old friend.” I pull him in for a hug.
“I should be saying that to you. Are those streaks of gray in your hair Anatoly?” I pull back in mock anger, to see him smile cheekily, traces of the boy that was shipwrecked on the island showing for the first time since I met him.
“I hope the next time I see you, you have reading glasses on, balancing on a cane as you read to your grandchildren, Oliver Queen, we’ll see who the laughing stock is then.”
He just laughs at the comment, showing me that the boy who got shipwrecked on the island (the boy who would have shuttered and closed himself off immediately,) is truly gone, and he looks at the women beside him (who has always been beside him) fondly, as if imagining my words before looking back to me and saying,
“I really hope that the next time I see you won’t be that far along the line.”
I nod, hoping the same even though there is no reason for our paths to cross that often anymore. The Bratva in Star City is not a good idea (despite a Kapitan already there) and the Green Arrow in Russia is a terrible idea. But maybe Anatoly Knyazev can come to Star City and Oliver Queen can make visits to Russia.
We stand in a comfortable silence after that, a silence that Ms.Smoak can't help but break, “Wow, is it always this cold here? I don't remember it being this cold the last time. Well, the last time we were helping Dig bust into a prison by being arrested and the adrenaline and fear that accompanied it were enough to keep me warm. Oh, and let’s not forget all the anger about the Isabel thing. Which, I am still not over because, seriously Oliver, Isabel Rochev. She was a snake before she was a snake.”
Oliver wraps his arms around Felicity’s waist and pulls her closer, brushing a kiss on top her hair, murmuring the words so quietly no one else but she and I can hear.
“Let’s go home.”
And as I watch the plane fly off into the distance, to Star City (still not getting used to the name), I have to laugh at the fact that Oliver Queen still hasn’t figured out what home really means yet.
Home isn’t a place, or a building. It's a lighthouse. The aspect of feeling safe, comforted, cherished and loved is home. Smiling, laughing and dreaming are home. Home, is people, is emotions, is a feeling.
Oliver Queen didn't have a home to go to when we last parted on the island, because through the death of both him and his dad, and the Hood that he vowed to wear to protect the city, he gave up the home he once had. He gave up his mom and sister for the city, for the Hood. The man that came to Russia two years ago didn't think that he would ever get that feeling of home ever again. Little did he know that he was in the process of creating a whole new home for him in the form of John Diggle and Felicity Smoak.
He has that now. He has a home. He has his sister, Laurel Lance (was actually really surprised to hear about that one, especially with all the history that those two share), Sara Lance, John Diggle. They’re all aspects of what makes his home safe, and happy.
His home itself lies in Felicity Smoak.
It doesn’t matter whether he is in Russia, or Starling, or Bali, he is always going to be home as long as he has Ms.Smoak with him. She, in every way, makes him feel safe, loved, and proud. He goes out in the field every single day with the sole purpose of coming back home to Felicity in one piece. With her, there is no need for false pretenses, or hidden secrets. She’s accepting of all of him, good and bad, and it's the reason why he always seems to gravitate towards her, always finding his place by her side. She’s his home.
And by the way, she looks at him. The way she doesn’t seem to breathe completely until she sees him again. The way she could be in Russia, or Starling or Bali and still smile, ramble and laugh comfortably.
Oliver Queen is Felicity Smoak’s home too.
Here’s to hoping that they realize it soon.
What a funny thing home is.
“TO ME, SHE WAS THOSE FINAL STEPS, THE TURN AROUND THE LAST BEND, THE HOUSE WITH A LIGHT ON, AND A FIRE LIT, AND A FAINT LAUGH IN THE DISTANCE ON THE WARM WIND. THAT WAS SHE. SHE WAS ALWAYS COMING HOME.” –Atticus
Anatoly Knyazev is glad that Oliver Queen found his home in Felicity Smoak.
This chapter is dedicated to i-greece. Thank you so much for the suggestion!!
Chapter 20: McKenna Hall
Set sometime in Season 2
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“THIS IS MY CONFESSION. AS DARK AS I AM, I WILL ALWAYS FIND ENOUGH LIGHT TO ADORE YOU TO PIECES, WITH ALL OF MY PIECES.” JOHNNY NGUYEN
Starling City decided to grace us with a beautiful day today.
It rained all day yesterday, much to my disappointment at returning to the city after several months only to be greeted with empty streets and stormy clouds. Today, the sun is shining at its full capacity and the gentle breeze provides enough cooling for the park around the coffee shop to be packed.
I take another sip from the latte I received prior to taking a seat at the Grind and Jolt cafe. Starling looks just like how I left it; bright and sunny, with the underlying darkness only a certified few are aware of.
Well, I guessed that changed when Malcolm Merlyn decided to bust open the Glades with a man-made earthquake and Moira Queen decided to out him publically. The city then became aware of a fraction of the darkness that Starling City holds.
I remember sitting in my sister’s apartment in Coast City, the shock and terror that filled me when Moira Queen’s press conference came on TV, and the way my heart was pounding as I stayed up all night watching my city fall apart into pieces, not being able to do anything about it, miles away from Starling with a broken leg. I remember finally breaking down and crying after channel 65 played a montage of all the deaths and I caught sight of Tommy Merlyn. I remember mourning for my former friend, mourning for everyone that lost someone they loved; mourning for a city I knew was capable of so much more than destruction and death.
I remember mourning for Oliver Queen; the man that lost so much, and came back to lose so much more. As if being stranded on an island wasn’t enough, he had to come home and deal with his mother being an accessory to a mass murder and the death of his best friend. He left the absolute darkness and came to so much more.
As a cop, I had recognized when the darkness briefly overtook him during our first date, when I asked him about the island. It was a stupid move on my part, I was curious and I let it overtake my ability to empathize. It didn't stop the darkness in Oliver, the darkness that he must have experienced, to make an appearance before he immediately shut it out, proving his effectiveness to do so. I was sympathetic and hurt. Sympathy for the man who felt as if he couldn’t share that part of himself with someone else, as if he couldn’t be himself, light and dark, with anyone, as if no one will love his darkness, wounds and scars. Hurt for the fact that he didn't feel comfortable enough sharing it with me. Sure it was only a first date, but I couldn’t stop the hurt from making an appearance, even though I now realize (after getting over Oliver and meeting Zach, my boyfriend of 6 months) that the hurt was slightly unfair to blame on Oliver.
I hope he’s doing well. I really do. I made sure to follow up on Starling City news occasionally and I know that he’s inherited his family’s company, and I know that he’s doing a pretty good job of running it, if the smiles on the investors’ faces during public outings say anything.
“The usual Mr. Queen?” My head swivels at the name, and I’m faced with the man of my thoughts standing at the counter, his coat handing off his arm.
I can see his smile from here, and even though I’m over him and in a happy committed relationship, I admit that the smile still sends butterflies into my tummy because, hello, no one is immune against Oliver Queen’s smile.
“For me, yes. Can I get a white hot chocolate for Felicity please?” He asks the elderly barista, making a move to fetch his wallet from his pocket.
“How is she doing?” The barista, Lauren if I remember correctly, makes small talk, while the order goes through and Oliver punches his pin.
“She’s doing good, still complaining about being my EA, and still refuses to bring me coffee,” Oliver tells Lauren good-naturedly, but the smile on his face, a mixture of fondness and amusement, two emotions that I’d thought I’d never see Oliver Queen don for a girl makes me wonder. Who the hell is Felicity?
Grabbing the two cups, Oliver turns around to head for the door, manoeuvring his way through the crowd of people that walk in the shop after spending hours in the park. In doing so, his gaze falls on me, and I recognize the hint of shock and surprise before it morphs into a neutral confusion along with a hint of a smile. Abandoning his way to the exit, he walks towards me, coffee cup still in both hands, and winter coat still draped around his left arm.
“McKenna.” His face is one of pure gladness, and I’m hoping this doesn’t turn out to be as awkward as I expect it to be.
“Hi Oliver,” I smile at him, trying to remember the boy that I was friends with instead of the man that I dated.
He waves his hand towards the empty seat in front of me, the empty seat that allowed me to watch him clearly (I don't know if I sound more like a cop or a stalker). “Do you mind?”
I shake my head, “Please, it's been some time.”
He chuckles, but I see him holding back, and find that it doesn’t hurt as much as it used to. Something tells me that it's not just me that’s on the receiving end of Oliver wall. Oliver holding back on his friends and family will be one thing that they all will have to learn, accept and live with. “It's been a long time, almost a year. How are you? How’s your leg?”
His concern is genuine and I'm thankful for that. I've spent so many months with sympathetic looks and concern from people who don't know me and it feels nice to get some genuine care after a long time.
I bring my much-healed leg out of the table, stretching it to the side to show him, “Much better. I still can't walk in high heels though, which makes wearing dresses a bitch, but I’ll survive.”
“I'm sure you will.” He smiles at me, it's more of a small grin than a smile, but I’ll take whatever I can get. I’ll be lying if I said that the breakup didn't hurt, but it was easy to get over, even though my care for Oliver was a hundred percent genuine.
“Girlfriend?” I ask, pointing to the white-hot chocolate that I know belongs to a Felicity without having to read the name written in bold letters on the cup. I'm happy to learn that the thought of him moving on provides me with no hurt, just content and happiness for Oliver.
However, the man in front of me shakes his head with vigour, so much that it feels like he’s denying himself rather than denying me. “No, no, not a girlfriend. Felicity is my friend.”
I feel my brows rise ever so slightly at the finalization of his tone, and the way he starts off with the fact the Felicity is his friend before adding,
“And my overqualified Executive Assistant who has been promised her old job as an IT specialist as soon as I'm done figuring out how to run QC.”
I'm shocked, and glad. Not many people would want to transition from EA to IT due to the extreme difference in payment, let alone request and demand of it. I'm glad that Oliver found someone, whether it's a friend or more, that is true to who she is, and doesn’t give two cents about Oliver Queen’s billions. He deserves more people like that in his life.
The rapid approaching of high-heels snaps me out of my inner musings and I look up to see a pretty blonde striding our way, her winter coat unzipped and flying being her, showcasing her neon orange dress that somehow suits her. She comes to a stop at my table, and her ponytail swishes in the air as she adjusts her glasses, “Oliver I—“
Her words come to a halt when she notices me, and as her eyes go slightly wide, I get a pretty good guess on whom the woman is.
“Hi. You probably don't remember me because you don't know me even though I know you and we’ve never really met but you’re McKenna Hall the gorgeously beautiful cop—ex-cop and girlfriend—ex-girlfriend and Oh my God, I totally made this really awkward right?” She wrings her hand uncomfortably.
I smile at her, slightly dazed by her ramble, but charmed nevertheless. She’s really refreshing. Felicity is like a bright ball of sunlight on a stormy day; I can see why Oliver likes her so much. “No, no. It's nice to meet you. You’re Oliver’s friend right?”
She beams while nodding, and I give myself a mental pat on the back for referring to her as Oliver’s friend rather than his EA.
“Felicity,” my gaze snaps to Oliver who has a smile similar to the one he had when he was previously asked about Felicity, only this one is slightly different; it's brighter, and happier. “What happened?”
Felicity looks momentarily confused at the question but gathers her surroundings quite rapidly before giving her boss a sheepish shrug, her cheeks going slightly pink.
“Well you were gone and I thought that maybe something happened like Lauren kidnapping you and my coffee or you getting shipwrecked again and I came looking for you because I thought that I would have to get on another plane to save you and believe me when I say I have no intention of going to an island that literally translates back to hell so...” the pink tinge on her cheeks grows darker and she shifts uncomfortably from foot to foot.
I have no time to feel sympathetic for the girl because I can feel my eyes go wide as I stare at Oliver and mentally prepare myself for a situation similar to what happened the last time the island was mentioned. Specifically our first date, where the darkness overtook him for a moment and he panicked, tried to hide, and caused the date to go downhill from there, (it most definitely didn't help matters that I had to leave after) especially since he donned the shuttered look for the rest of the short date.
I actually choke on my own drink, when Oliver’s face remains the same; sending an awfully adorable grin towards Felicity’s direction that is followed by a chuckle (a chuckle. A god to honest chuckle) before he tells her, “That would also be my preference.”
I stare at the two of them for a moment as they’re wrapped up in whatever bubble they have created, eyes only for each other, oblivious to the entire world for a moment, and I admit to myself that I’d never thought I’d see the day when Ollie was so enamoured with a girl that he sends her dopey grins, lovesick chuckles, buys her coffee, and stares at her as if there was no one in the world except her.
Best friends my ass!
As if noticing me for the first time since his blonde ‘friend’ walked in, Oliver clears his throat before getting up and focusing his attention on me.
“Sorry to cut this short, but I have to get back now.”
I wave my hand in dismissal, “ya, sure, I’m going to head down to the precinct for a quick visit anyway.”
He nods his head, “We should catch up sometime later. When are you heading back to Central City?”
I tell him Wednesday and he nods again, before looking at Felicity, who somehow understands what he’s trying to say.
“Your Wednesday is cleared. Not yet, but I will clear it. As soon as we get back. Not the entire Wednesday, but lunch maybe. I don't think you have much on Wednesday anyway, if you don't count the investors meeting that you have to attend. Or maybe that was Thursday, but honestly, what’s the difference?” I've only heard it two times, but I'm really starting to enjoy these babbles of Felicity’s, they’re completely endearing.
Oliver purses his lips as if he were to say something to her, but thinks better of it I suppose, because he instead asks me, “Wednesday? Lunch?”
Man, he can probably fit a day’s worth of vocabulary on a coffee cup.
I just smile and nod, because, despite everything that went down between us, we were good friends growing up, and I want to know how he’s been, and I want to talk about Tommy (who I was slightly closer to), and I just want to connect with someone that’s not going to look at me and see an injury but rather a cop, someone who did something with her life. Call it selfish, but it's what I want.
I wave the two lovebirds goodbye, and I watch and listen as they make a quick stop in front of the door for Oliver to put on his jacket.
“Shipwrecked on an island?” Oliver’s voice sounds bemused, but somehow I know that he’s smiling at her.
“You never know with you.” Felicity shrugs, and smiles a tiny smile of her own as Oliver leads her out of the cafe, hand placed protectively on her upper back.
One would be a complete fool to think that Oliver got over what happened to him on the island, that he’s comfortable talking about it, that he’s comfortable when people mention it. Something like that takes decades to finally come to grips with; if one ever does.
Which leads me to conclude that there is just something about Felicity.
Oliver doesn’t try to hide his darkness, past or scars away from her. He is openly himself, a hundred percent himself when he is around her and finds himself comfortable when doing so. He’s found someone who he can share all his parts with, light and dark, and not have to worry about scaring her off, or being judged. In fact, he’s even all right when the island is mentioned as a joke in a conversation and instead of the pain and sorrow, it brought him when I asked him, all he felt was amusement and fondness when it was Felicity.
She makes him smile. She makes him comfortable enough to share his mental and physical scars with her. He doesn’t feel the need to hide who he truly is with her. She’s exactly what he needs.
So if I hear wedding bells in my head as I watch Oliver and Felicity walk away from sight, smiling at each other, I’ll just have to blame the beautiful day Starling has decided to grace us with today.
“WHILE THEY ALL FALL IN LOVE WITH HIS SMILE, HE WAITS FOR THE ONE WHO WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH HIS SCARS” THE DREAMER
McKenna Hall is glad Oliver Queen can share all of who he is with Felicity Smoak.
Thank you to everyone who has been taking time off their day for reading and commenting on this story; I really appreciate all the support I've received the past year and cannot thank you enough.
I'm sorry for the long wait for this chapter, I've had a hectic few weeks and couldn't find the time to write and edit. I'm grateful for your patience.
With that being said, updates will occur more often from now on and I will not make any of you wait almost a month for the next chapter.
Chapter 21: Ray Palmer
Another Season 3 AU (If you haven't guessed by now, I'm a sucker for season 3 AUs)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“WHAT I HAVE WITH YOU, I DON'T WANT WITH ANYONE ELSE”
I’ll get the company. I won’t. I’ll get the company. I won’t.
I pull the petals of the mental flower in my head (a daisy, as a matter of fact), debating my chances at actually leaving this gala successfully. Not that the daisy idea is, in any way, helpful or good for my already fried nerves and skittish feet.
If I'm going to impress every single person in this room, then I have to be on my A game. Absolute best.
Sure, I don't really care about this company. I care, but I wouldn’t be too beat up if things don’t go my way. I have a plan B and C, all residing in Coast City, which, after intense research done only last night, apparently holds a variety of valuable tech that would prove very useful for the future suit that I might potentially build.
But since I’ve already started in Starling, might as well continue here and if everything goes to hell, then I can damn well relocate and start fresh in Coast City, where there are more opportunities and less competition.
“Mr. Palmer,” Some old dude walks up to shake my hand, and while I don't remember him at all, I recognize him as one of the members of the board.
“Hi,” I say, avoiding calling his name as I rush to small talk, “great party!”
Yes, maybe I should have researched and got my facts straight about QC and it's board, but in my defence I was too busy looking through and wondering how I had missed all the resources in Coast City, including a company that was falling apart and had no handsome CEO who wanted to protect it because it has been in his family for generations.
“Yes it is,” The old man nods, clasping his hands behind his Armani suit, “Thea Queen does have a knack for decoration. Just like her mother,”
And I did not know that either. Seems like the Queens have gotten a head start against me. Normally, I’d be so willing to try to charm the pants off this gentleman, but as I look around the beautifully decorated ballroom, I find myself looking for one person in particular.
Felicity Smoak was an enigma ever since I met her at Tech Village a few weeks ago.
Yes, I did know who she was. I had done extensive research on Queen Consolidated, and she was the third one to pop up on the list, proceeding with Oliver Queen and his dead Co-CEO. And while her over-qualifications definitely caught my eye, meeting her in person at Tech Village (I didn't know she was working there, I really didn't) was a refreshing surprise. I’ve yet to meet someone that can keep up with all my babbles and tech talk, but it turns out that she can outtalk me, and is much smarter than I am.
Smart enough to fill the missing pieces of the ATOM suit I haven’t been able to figure out yet.
I find her at the side of the room, a distance from the crowd in a way that doesn’t seem obvious, but still makes her look alone. Ignoring some of the investors that smile and walk up to talk to me, I grab two chutes of champagne and walk over to her.
“You don't really look in the holiday spirit,” I comment, handing one of the glasses to her.
She graciously takes it and gives me a small smile, “Ya, these aren’t really my scene. I hate them.” She takes a long gulp before eyeing me suspiciously, “this isn’t one of those things were you approach me and turn everything I say into some way to win the company, is it?”
No, this is one of those things where I charm you into joining my company because I have never met anyone that has forced me to think harder and smile more since Anna.
Instead, I smile at her and say, “No, this is one of those things where I am as equally uncomfortable at this party as you and just want to talk to someone who’s not going to grill me on company shares and profits and will just talk to me.”
She arches a perfectly shaped eyebrow even though she delivers her sentence in a completely malice-free way, “And what makes you think that I’m not going to grill you on the company’s history?”
I laugh, some of the tension and nervousness rolling off me in waves.
She catches on it and subtly gives me a small shoulder bump, “Hey, don't worry. Most of these people—like seventy-five percent of them are actually really nice. If you want a break from torturous grilling, I suggest you go to any one of the people in that group over there.”
She points to the spot where about seven to eight slightly elderly people are gathered in a circle, the old man that previously approached me one of them. I mentally catalogue their faces in my head, saving them in case the time does actually come.
“What about them?” I turn back to Felicity, whose eyes dart back to me, and I realize that while I was observing the group that she pointed out, her eyes were darting around the hotel ballroom.
She quickly composes herself though, and I don't think much of her distraction (what do you think Palmer? She’s not going to creepily stare at you the way you do her when she’s not looking.) “They’re some of the investors of the company that have been there ever since Robert Queen himself was a little boy. They’re great to talk to when you feel overwhelmed by all of this. It's almost like they temporarily adopt you as their grandchild while you talk to them,” Her explanation is accompanied by a series of dramatic hand gestures that has me grinning.
We lapse into an awkward silence after that, neither of us knowing what to say and I look around the room, trying to think of something that would prove as a good conversation topic.
“Did you hear about the particle accelerator?” I ask, blurting out the first thought that comes into my mind, which, unfortunately, is an event that happened almost a year ago.
For the second time today her eyes, dart back to mine and I finally realize that she’s looking for someone, evident from the way she scans the entire ballroom.
“Huh, Oh, ya...it’s kind of hard not to hear about the particle accelerator, especially when it was such a failure and killed so many people,” Her voice takes on an almost sad, odd, undertone and I curse myself for not being able to hold back my next question.
“Did you know anyone?” I hold my tongue after that, hoping that she wouldn’t have understood the question, but that would entail hoping that she isn’t the smartest person in the room.
“Ya. Barry, he’s a...friend.”
“Palmer Tech is constantly trying to come up with different methods to decrease the amount of time a person is in a coma for. The amount of time a person’s body needs to be in a coma for.”
This time, I allow her to scan the room again, her eyes darting to every corner then back to the front doors, but she easily catches up to the conversation, “What have you come up with so far?”
We spend the next few minutes tossing around ideas; she, countering all of mine with possible negative impacts, and me, trying to come up with an improved idea with no flaws. I've never met anyone that has been capable of keeping me on my toes before. It is truly refreshing.
“My offer is still on the table, you know,” I say, turning the conversation around completely.
This time, she doesn’t send me an annoyed look that suggests I'm a flea that won’t leave her alone (probably because I don't sound as creepy and as pushy as the last few times), “I know. And I really do appreciate you holding out for me for so long. Not that you are holding out for me. Holding out the position for me for so long. I really do appreciate it, but the thing is...”
By now, I've gotten used to the occasional moments where her eyes would dart across the room, searching for someone, for something. This time, whatever she was looking for is found, or rather whoever she is looking for is found, because no one could miss the way her eyes inexplicably light up when she spots them from across the room and my eyes follow hers, curious as to who has occupied her mind for such a long period of time without them even being there.
And really, I should have expected the answer. It should have been blatantly obvious since the first moment I met them, ever since day one.
Oliver Queen looks around the room until his eyes lands on us, more specifically Felicity Smoak and I watch in fascination as his eyes light up as well, in a way I had previously thought possible; in a way that should be impossible for someone who lost his parents, best friend, company and five years of his life.
They stare at each other for a long minute, neither moving their eyes away, a small smile overtaking their faces. It's as if the whole room has disappeared in favour of those two, it's as if they can't see anything but the other. It reminds me of a time when I was happy. A time when I had Anna.
And with single-minded determination, Oliver Queen walks up to Felicity Smoak, but doesn’t have to, because she, who has been waiting for him all this time, meets him halfway, not before giving me a hasty, “Excuse me for a moment,”
She makes her way towards him, and I note with amusement at the extra speed she and Oliver Queen put in their steps in order to get to each other faster.
When they do reach each other, however, they stop, only a breath away from the other, a wide grin on their faces and I look away because while they’re not doing anything (they’re not even touching each other), the moment seems too intimate for me to keep looking on.
I walk out of the ballroom, trying to look for the bathroom when I stumble upon John Diggle, Oliver Queen’s three-year bodyguard. He’s talking on the phone in the corner of the room, and I, so very unlike myself, find myself inching closer to him in an attempt to hear the fascinating one-sided conversation.
“Roy, Felicity has her searches running and we will all be notified if something comes up. Why don't you go home and get some sleep.”
What searches? I’ve never come across a Roy in my thorough research of Queen Consolidated.
Roy (whoever he is) must have asked a question because John Diggle groans, before complaining, “It's terrible. These two idiots won’t get their heads out of their asses and ask each other on a date ever since their first one got cancelled.”
Not wanting to risk getting caught eavesdropping (especially by John Diggle who has arms the size of pillars), I speed walk into the men’s restroom, having a pretty good guess as to who he was gossiping about over the phone.
When I re-enter the ballroom, I find that most of the guests have left, and the only ones that remain; the ones that I can identify are the board members, Oliver Queen, Felicity, John Diggle and me.
The latter three are tucked in a corner, chatting about something; years of friendship showing in their stance and the way, they regard each other. Oliver, Felicity and John each send the other silent looks, and there is a lot of smiling and comfort in the tiny circle they’ve created for themselves.
It actually says much about Oliver Queen, who in the past, had no regards for anyone but himself, but now treats his former secretary and his bodyguard as if they were his equals or as if they were better than him.
“Such a nice group isn’t it,” I turn to my side to find the nice old gentleman that had approached me right before I went to talk to Felicity.
I nod, before he introduces himself, “Jonah Myers, Mr. Palmer,”
I ignore the impulse to tell him that I forgot his name because it has been a long evening and that I'm tired and opt for a more honest response, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Myers,”
“You too young man.” He smiles warmly at me for a moment, before he resumes his observations on the trio at the back.
“Do you know them?” I ask him, struggling to find something to converse about.
“Why of course. I was on the board when Robert Queen took over. Spent my years watching Oliver Queen grow up. Was disappointed in the way Robert raised his or more accurately didn't raise his son. I never really talked to the young man until two years after he came back from that godforsaken island and took over the company.” Jonah tells me, his eyes never leaving Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak, who are now alone and talking in hushed whispers to each other, a soft smile on both their faces.
Mr. Myers continues, “Ms.Smoak however, I’ve had the fortune of talking to her several times. She is the brightest and happiest person I have ever seen.”
I agree; one would be stupid to say otherwise.
“I remember meeting her for the first time and thinking, one could not shine more than this,”
For the first time, I take my eyes off the couple in the far corner and look at Mr. Myers, “But?” I ask him.
He turns to face me as well, before nudging his head in the direction of Oliver and Felicity who are both now looking at something on her tablet, “But then Oliver Queen walked into the room, speaking on the phone to his little sister and I, for the life of me, have never seen anyone look at someone the way she looked at him. She just glowed. And for a moment, I felt sorry for the young woman. I had grown up around the young Queen and his ways with women weren’t ever a secret.”
I look at Oliver Queen again, trying to find the spoiled brat of eight years ago and failing, listening to Mr. Meyers at the same time,
“But the boy was just as smitten as she was, judging by the way his eyes zoned in on her the second he walked into the room.”
It finally hits me right then, and I look at Jonah for confirmation, “I'm not getting Queen Consolidated, Am I?”
It turns out that I was right and I didn't win the company. Most of the board members were friends with Robert and Moira Queen and were willing to give their son a second chance.
Seems that I'm not too upset as I thought I would be, especially since I just got the green light for a business takeover in Coast City, the perfect opportunity for building the Atom suit.
One by one, the investors leave, Oliver at the door thanking them for coming and making small talk with the guests, clearly uncomfortable when some of the older women flirt with him (not that I blame him). Felicity stands on the other side of the room, and I note with confusion that the two of them haven’t really said a word to each other since the company’s board members focused their attention on Oliver and gave him the company. Not even a congratulation.
The great doors close and the room is bathed in an awkward silence that is immediately cut off by a high pitch squeal that comes from Felicity as she runs across the room into Oliver arms that immediately wrap around her as he laughs good-heartedly.
“I knew it! I knew you would get it! I'm so happy for you Oliver.”
Oliver just smiles and I note that he looks happier at this moment compared to when the board announced that the company would belong to him.
It's only when they separate that the two notice me, and Felicity squeaks out in that adorable fashion of hers, “Ray!”
Oliver turns around and spots me, and makes no hesitation to give me his hand, “No hard feelings?”
His voice is tentative, indicating no experience in this sort of matter, and I return his handshake, telling him genuinely, “No Hard feelings.”
I look at the woman beside him, her face adorned with a smile, similar to the one she had when we were talking but brighter since Oliver Queen walked into her orbit.
And as I walk away, I know, without turning around, that her eyes would have already fallen back to Oliver, and she would have blocked out everyone else in the room.
As she is a woman in love.
“IN A SEA OF PEOPLE, MY EYES WILL ALWAYS SEARCH FOR YOU”
Ray Palmer knows that he has no chance with Felicity Smoak because she’s never going to stop looking at Oliver Queen as if he’s the only one in the room.
Again, thank you to i-greece for waiting so patiently for this chapter especially since you asked ages ago. This one is for you.
Chapter 22: Nyssa Al Ghul
Takes Place During Season 4
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Nyssa Al Ghul
"IF YOU CAN'T GET SOMEONE OUT OF YOUR HEAD, THEN MAYBE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE THERE,"
I remember the first time it happened.
It was a couple of days after Oliver Queen had arrived at Nanda Parbat to take his rightful place as Al Sahim. While many knew of his skills and strength, not many knew of his unwillingness to claim the throne; nobody knew of the man behind the mask.
I didn't either. Sarab did.
Oliver called him Maseo. The two of them developed an unlikely friendship from long before Oliver had even entered Nanda Parbat; the familiarity between both men was too obvious to miss. Maseo became Oliver's only source of comfort in the place during his first days. The two men were often seen speaking in hushed voices together when my father wasn't around, but no one dare defy the heir to the throne so no one reported the odd conversations back to my father.
I remember the first time it happened.
Maseo pulled me aside one night after I had finished training and told me to fetch Oliver. Told me to tell him to come to the balcony at the east wing.
Maseo was more of a father to me than my own. So I obliged.
It was far too late for there to be a multitude of guards surrounding the area and it allowed me to easily slip in through the various quarters until I reached Oliver's, gently twisting his doorknob as to warn him of no threat suppose he was awake.
It was the first time that I had seen the man with his guard down; looking anything but wild and ready to fight.
Living with men like Oliver Queen, being the kind of person Oliver Queen was, knowing what it feels like to have to fight for every moment in life unless you want to be killed, I did not touch him or shake him awake that night.
Instead, I had called him by his name, the name that was granted to him by his parents, "Oliver Queen,"
I remember saying it softly as to not wake my father and cause a commotion.
The first time it happened, Oliver Queen opened his eyes, breathing out the name that could not have been misunderstood for anything else,
He looked around the room, and for a moment, I saw something other than darkness infiltrate his eyes; I saw hope.
I had put my hands behind my back and took a step backward away from the man, giving him the privacy of vulnerability. I had given him the opportunity to gather his thoughts back to Nanda Parbat and away from the blond haired woman I know saved my Sara's life.
I was wrong to think that he would be able to get Felicity Smoak out of his mind.
Because that was the first time of many times it happened.
The Second time it happened, we were in the garden.
Oliver and I, at this point, were anything but friends, but were cordial to each other for the sake of Maseo, who looked truly happy when he was taking walks around the paths with the two of us, talking about herbs and plants.
The second time it happened, the three of us were walking through the gardens some of the female escorts tended to. It was the one bright and colourful area in the whole vicinity, and it was Maseo's favourite place.
The second time it happened, Oliver stopped midway through our stroll and reached down to pick up a flower. A lavender.
Maseo had tilted his head towards the purple petals and said, "It's a..."
Oliver interrupted him, looking so lost in thought it was almost as if he wasn't there anymore, "A lavender. It's one of Felicity's favourite flowers. She'll probably put it into that ugly vase when I bring this home to..."
He had trailed off, before straightening and clasping his hands behind his back, clearing his throat and moving forward, asking questions about each and every other plant in the garden to distract us from his obvious slip.
He had left minutes later, clutching the lavender on one hand. His eyes a dark stormy mess and I remember thinking that the Oliver Queen that Maseo and I witnessed when he was talking about Felicity Smoak was probably the one that girls were rumoured to swoon over and men were rumoured to idolize.
It didn't stop after that.
I soon learned that Felicity Smoak had somehow found a way to occupy a part of Oliver Queen's brain. She was in every word he said, everything he did, every breath he took. She was in the glasses on his nightstand, and the picture on his phone. Felicity Smoak may have been in Starling City, but she never left Nanda Parbat.
She had never left Oliver Queen.
The memories fall back into place as I stalk through the roofs of the city, slipping in and out of places that our two rouge assassins are most likely to be. Usually, a task like this would only take a few minutes; men and women of the League will disperse throughout the area and will find the intended target before the hour hits. Now, I have been travelling around this wretched city for hours and have not found one sign of Hamaza and Fadir.
When the clock strikes six in the evening, I take a well deserved, momentary break, losing the League Uniform and replacing it with something more suitable to blend more proficiently with the crowd. The last thing I need at the moment is Mayor Oliver Queen on my ass.
And just as I collect my coffee from the barista and take a nice, long sip, I hear the gasp of someone so familiar, followed by a set of unique words I have never heard anyone but one utter,
I swivel gracefully on my heels to come face to face with the familiar blonde, only to find her attention already focused on me, her eyes wide with fear, anger and calculation.
She tries to be subtle when she reaches into her purse to pull out her phone, but I quickly grab her hand in a painful grip and drag her out of the coffee shop, dumping my own precious drink into the dumpster nearby, needing both my hands in case Ms. Smaok tries anything irrational.
"I can't believe you have the guts to walk into my city, kidnap me in broad daylight, throw away a perfectly good cup of coffee that I would have drank if you didn't and expect to get away with all of it without Oliver figuring out." She sputters out in one breath once I drag her into a deserted alley.
"I'm not here for trouble Felicity Smoak," I calmly tell her, an idea formulating in my head.
She rolls her eyes, "That's what they all say. If Oliver were here, he'd have pinned you down to the ground the minute you touched his arm."
I don't notice it then. Probably because I was too busy contemplating her sentence and deeming it possible.
However, I give the woman in front of me a cocky shrug, "I would like to see him try."
Then, quickly gathering opportunity, I speak before she can do anything to jeopardize my plan, "Don't you want to know what I'm doing Ms. Smoak?"
From everything that I have collected from what Oliver Queen said around Nanda Parbat, I know that Felicity Smoak hates mysteries. They are something she needs to solve; the faster, the better.
She doesn't say anything; a silent prompt for me to keep going.
"As you know, after my father died, the League Disbanded temporarily. Malcolm Merlyn is now the new Head but some left the League and are seen and heard to be going rogue. They are on a killing spree and two of them are in Starling City at the moment. I've made it my mission to get them out and bring them back to Nanda Parbat."
I should have known that Felicity Smoak would not have taken the half-assed explanation because she glares suspiciously at me before asking, "I thought you didn't want anything to do with the League anymore."
I smirk, "Consider this a thank you to Mr. Merlyn for letting me out of the League."
I wait for her to catch up on my plan.
She doesn't fail to deliver, "Why are you telling me all this. For all you know, I can leave right now and tell Oliver. I don't even have to move my legs to tell Oliver."
She waves her phone in the air; the phone she somehow managed to get out of her purse.
Feeling confident, I take a step closer to her, tracking her thumb and phone in my peripheral vision in case she tries something, "Because, Ms. Smoak, you are going to help me find the assassins.
She starts laughing, clutching her stomach while I watch on unimpressed, "You think I'm going to help you? Did you hit your head or something? You should not have thrown out that coffee."
I shake my head, knowing that this plan will work because I know her greatest weakness.
"Think of it this way Ms. Smoak. You have two murderers running around the city killing innocents every hour. Your boyfriend, my husband, cannot don the hood until dusk. You have the means to track them down in a fraction of the time until their next kill. You can say no and I'll be on my merry way and we'll forget this ever happened."
I already knew she was going to say yes, but she surprises me when she murmurs to herself loudly enough so that I can hear, "Oliver has his campaign event to go to today too. He shouldn't have to make a choice."
I didn't notice it then either.
She looks at me with a newfound fire in her eyes and a fierce expression, "Okay. But if we do this, we do it my way. No unnecessary killing, bloodshed, and nothing that will get you on the public news. Oliver doesn't need anymore on his plate."
Oddly enough, I'm so elated by her answer that I don't even recognize it then. I just give her a sharp nod and then walk away, fully expecting her to follow me.
We reach the site where I had dropped of my weapons, and I grab onto the largest knife in the pack, hiding it in my modern trenchcoat, and placing the smaller one through my pants, letting it rest against my lower spine.
At her arched brows, I clarify, "You insult your intelligence if you think they will leave without a fight."
And as we approach the deserted building that I have been camping out in for the past day, I hear Ms.Smoak whisper quietly under her breath, "This is the building Oliver wanted to buy out for the shelter."
I don't think too much of the observation, letting Ms. Smoak do her thing on her little device, my focus partially on getting into the shaggy building and partially on the two red circles that have yet to locate the assassins.
Ms. Smoak footsteps make a loud crunch in the gravel as she halts, and the sound is followed by two beeps from her device.
I nod at her, "You found them. Tell me their locations and I'll handle it from there,"
She looks up from her tablet, eyes wide, lips pursed and shakes her head left and right, her hair flying around in the same direction and I glare at her.
"What do you mean, No?"
She looks around hastily, and I follow her movements, getting an inkling of what she found out.
"You don't need their locations. You're here,"
And with that statement, I pull her down just in time for a dart to zip past us, my two former colleagues finally making an appearance, decked in Leauge uniform from head to toe.
Felicity, who has probably been in situations as such, swiftly and stealthily crawls over to a small spot behind a couple of garbage bins, muttering so quietly to herself only I can hear, and must strain to do so;
"Oliver is going to kill me if he figures out. Oliver is going to be so pissed once he figures out. Oliver is going to murder Nyssa once he figures out. Oliver will lose his mind if I don't come back,"
I tune her out eventually, preferring to focus on the two assassins in front of me, their swords blared out in a display of readiness to fight.
And so we do. The fight is relatively simple. They are no match for me, who has been learning only the best of combats since I was old enough to crawl. But it just so happens, that I have extremely precious cargo with me; cargo that I will probably be hunted down for should anything happen to her. Which means that my focus is taken away from the fight for a fraction of a second every minute to check and make sure Ms. Smoak is faring well.
It's during one of those split seconds, that Fadir gets an upper hand on me, swerving swiftly to attack me from the back, while Hamaza keeps both my hands occupied in front of me.
I prepare myself for the sharp pain of a stab that Fadir is going to inflict on my back, but as I push Hamaza into the wall, I don't feel it, turning around in time to see Fadir tumble onto the ground due to the force of the hit Ms. Smoak gave him with the metal beam she found on the ground.
She looks wide-eyed in shock but screams my name as Hamaza gets back up, and as I'm occupied with her, Felicity curses as Fadir gets back up.
She fares well, Ms. Smoak, hitting Fadir in the crotch where it will hurt before he can even fully right himself up off the ground, I effectively knock Hamaza out by them, just in time to see Fadir punch Felicity onto the ground, but before he can stab her, I have him unconscious and handcuffed.
I rush to Felicity Smoak, who lies on the ground, eyes closed and breathing even. I tug on her shoulders and shake her awake, calling out her full name.
Perhaps it was the number of times it has happened over the course of just an hour. Or maybe it was the striking familiarity of the situation; me using their full name to ease them awake. However, she wakes up and calls out one name
It echoes through the alley and brings me back in time to Nanda Parbat into Oliver Queen's room.
Instead, I had called him by his name, the name that was granted to him by his parents, "Oliver Queen,"
I remember saying it softly as to not wake my father and cause a commotion.
The first time it happened, Oliver Queen opened his eyes, breathing out the name that could not have been misunderstood for anything else,
He looked around the room, and for a moment, I saw something other than darkness infiltrate his eyes; I saw hope.
The same hope that is easily replaced by fear and confusion, when Felicity cannot find her loved one.
She looks at me, then at the two unconscious assassins on the floor and she helps herself up, as I spot the car I’d parked into the shadows.
“You can leave now Ms. Smoak. I have what I came for and I will be on my way back.” I tell her.
She nods and shuffles uncomfortably, “I’d tell you goodbye and that I hope to see you soon, but we’d both know that it’ll be a lie so I’m going to leave and tell you to be careful because I genuinely mean that.”
She leaves then, and I load Fadir and Hamaza into the large black van and drive away.
I’m lost in thought during the ride home. Lost in thought even after I deliver the two assassins to Merlyn and leave them for the comfort of my bed.
I have seen love before. Been privy to the emotion myself. But till this day, I have never seen love like the one Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak share.
The kind of love that never leaves your mind.
Because all Oliver thinks of is Felicity and all Felicity thinks of is Oliver. They can't stop thinking of each other, can't stop talking about each other, can't get the other out of their minds. From the minute I met Felicity Smoak today, all the way till I bid her goodbye, she somehow managed to talk about the Arrow at least 10 times every hour. When she woke up from her unconscious state, the first name to leave her mouth was Oliver’s, the same way Felicity’s was on his all those years ago.
I suppose I have a marriage to annul.
“You will always be the answer when someone asks me what I'm thinking about,”
Nyssa Al Ghul knows that Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak are what they call soulmates; they can't stop thinking of each other.
Thank you Sadfangirl, JD-Winter and Bluedove for prompting this chapter
Chapter 23: Billy Malone
I NEVER WILL TRULY LOVE ANYONE THE WAY I LOVE YOU”
Set as a Season 5 AU
Made for Bluedove. Thank you for suggesting.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“EVEN IF I FALL IN LOVE AGAIN WITH SOMEONE NEW, IT COULD NEVER BE THE WAY I LOVED YOU”
In hindsight, I know that I had missed, or had maybe chosen to ignore many things concerning my relationship with Felicity Smoak.
The way she never lets me place a protective hand on her back when we're walking across the streets or when I'm leading her into her favourite restaurant. The way I automatically chalked it off to the fact that the chip enabling her to walk was placed there which was the reason my hand couldn’t be.
The way I’ve been staying in her loft for weeks now, and I've yet to go into the balcony because the doors always remain locked. The way I believed her immediately when she told me that she lost the key and was too lazy to get a new one.
The way there is no physical evidence of me anywhere in the loft. No pictures of us framed on the wall or on the refrigerator, or on tables. In fact, there aren’t many pictures of us anywhere. I simply told myself that she was camera shy, and preferred to be the one behind the tech, not in front of it.
The way Oliver Queen was still Felicity Smoak’s emergency contact; something I figured when the Mayor called me at the hospital when Felicity fell down a flight of stairs. The way I convinced myself it was because of the years and years of friendship formed between the two of them; the close friendship that refused to die even after their engagement did.
They way I ignored the uneasy feeling whenever Felicity refused to accompany me as my date to parties she knew Oliver Queen would attend; and since he was the Mayor and I was a detective that worked under his city’s police force, he was present in the events that I was present in more often than not. I thought I understood her reluctance because of the awkwardness between two individuals who were so close to the point of engagement, only to have all that shatter. So I let it go. Like I did most things.
Tonight is an example of one of those times, I think, as I undo the button of my coat, and give it to the lady in front and walk into the lavish hall that’s decorated accordingly to commemorate Quentin Lance’s birthday; a kind gesture prompted by the mayor. I look around and spot Oliver Queen himself, surrounded by several City officials, and walk over to the other side of the room, where the police department crowds together.
We’re in the middle of talking about yesterday’s football match when the Deputy Mayor and Mayor do the customary rounds.
“Nice party, Mr. Mayor,” Detective Pike shakes Mr. Queen’s hand, as the man himself, bashfully, straightens his tie.
“It was all Thea. I don't have a decorating bone in my body.”
Lance smirks and bashes Queen jokingly, “Oh, believe me, I know. I was the poor officer that was privy to the awful posters and decor in his room when he was a teenager.”
The group around me laughs, and I feel myself shaking with laughter as well. Despite the fact that he is well aware that I'm dating his ex-fiancée, Oliver Queen has been nothing but kind and courteous to me. In fact, I'm in charge of security along with John Diggle for this party.
I excuse myself from the group and walk over to the tall, bulked man at the corner, whose job is to make sure that every guest has an invite, and that the ones who don't are prevented from entering.
“Everything going smoothly, Kent?”
He smiles at me, nodding once in affirmative, “All good Sir,”
I give him a pat on the back and make my way back into the party, grabbing a chute of champagne at the same time as Oliver Queen.
He gives me a tight smile and nods, “Detective,”
I raise my glass to him, “Its Billy, Mr. Mayor.”
He lets out a laugh, eyes crinkling at the sides, making me remember why I was always so hesitant to ask Felicity Smoak on a date at first; how can you compete with Oliver Freaking Queen? “If I'm going to call you Billy, you might as well call me Oliver,”
I give him a nod, suspecting that I won’t be able to call my boss’, boss’, boss by his first name, but not wanting to tell him.
He clears his throat uncomfortably, and after a brief hesitation that one wouldn’t have noticed if they weren’t a detective, he asks me, “Felicity didn't come?”
I wince slightly. I know what he’s trying to do; he’s trying to make sure that the subject of my girlfriend and his ex won’t be something that is going to affect our work ethics the next time we have to work together, but the topic is uncomfortable at the least, and probably the last thing I want to talk about. However, I appreciate his efforts in taking the first step in closing the Felicity awkwardness between the two of us.
“She, uh, had some coding that she needed to finish. You know how she gets with her coding.”
He huffs out a nostalgic chuckle, “Ya, ya I do.”
And since we’ve already taken a step forward, I decide that we might as well cross the bridge itself while we’re at it. Better now than during a mission.
So I say, “I hope it's going to be okay with the two of us working together given that I’m dating your...”
He finishes for me, “Ex-Fiancée?”
I nod and take another swing of my champagne only to find it empty. The action gives the Mayor enough time to formulate his next sentence; a very long one in fact.
“What happened between me and Felicity...was entirely my fault. I was the one that caused her to end our relationship, and I know I hurt her. All I want, is for her to be happy. If she’s happy with you, if you can give her that, then I'm okay. Then we’re okay.”
I don't have enough time to respond. I don't have the time to do anything actually.
Because before I can get another word into the conversation, before I can fully make a decision concerning the relationship I have been in for a few months, Kent screams into the large hall, his boisterous voice echoing, the fear and panic bouncing.
It all happens in a second. But I know that the orange and yellow flames, the people hurling through the air, and the blood soaking the walls will forever be engraved into my mind. I’ve seen many things during my short period as a detective, but I've yet to come across a bomb. Not until today.
I suppose it's the reason why, as soon as Kent yelled the word into the hall, I froze.
And the only reason why it isn’t my blood splattered on the walls is thanks to Oliver Queen.
Because the second Kent yells, I'm being shoved backwards and behind the podium by a firm grip, and the next thing I know is the ringing in my ears and the pounding of my heart, and I'm unable to formulate any thought, any sentence beyond that.
And not even seconds after the bomb has blasted, Oliver Queen runs out of his hiding spot, and charges into the gruesome hall, surveying the people and helping the ones who still have breath in them.
And if Oliver Queen, ex-billionaire playboy who was spoon-fed almost everything growing up is getting up immediately after a bomb and running around the place, then I, a detective and cop, can most definitely do the same.
It's where I find myself a few minutes later, helping Oliver, Quentin and several others, identify dead bodies, help the injured and calm down those who are in obvious shock.
A commotion at the door raises all our attention, as the Mayor was clear on not letting anyone in, suppose the bomber was targeting one person in the room. I vaguely acknowledge the other cops in the room mimic my actions and raise their guns in the air, but I put mine down when the voice arguing with Kent and his partner at the door is the same voice I've been going home to for the past few weeks.
“I swear to God, if you don't let me in I will technologically ruin you to a point where you...”
I feel my brows scrunch in worry at the hysteria in her voice; sounding choked and clogged with tears.
Oliver calls out her name in confusion and something that can only be described as salvation, “Felicity,”
At the Mayor’s recognition of the voice, Kent moves out of the way, and she comes barrelling in, hair messed, and face red and blotchy, as she scans the room for the person she’s been worrying about.
She spots him and sobs out his name in relief and love, “God, Oliver,”
The next thing I know is that she’s in his arms, her hands wound around his neck, her tears coating his back.
“Thank God! I thought...I thought. I saw the bomb and you..and...” She hiccups her words, and Oliver runs a soothing hand over her back, resting it on the spot where I know her chip is.
“Hey, it's okay. I'm okay. We’re all fine.”
It's as if the use of the plural pronoun finally strikes something in her, and her head shoots up from where it was resting on Oliver’s shoulders until her gaze lands on mine, eyes wide as if she hadn’t thought of me until now.
I suppose it would have hurt more if I hadn’t decided to break up with her the minute Oliver told me all he wanted was for her to be happy.
It's only after I break up with her in the middle of a blown up party hall to both our reliefs and I get home to my apartment for the first time in weeks, that I allow myself to see what has been in front of me this whole time.
It comes in the form of several videos. Even before Oliver Queen was Mayor of Star City, he was a Queen, and the Queens garnered a lot of attention from the media; it also happened to be that Felicity was in charge of a multimillion-dollar company left to her by Ray Palmer, so the two of them were constantly photographed, interviewed, and filmed.
I know that I had missed, or had maybe chosen to ignore many things concerning my relationship with Felicity Smoak.
The way in every single photo taken with Oliver Queen, even after her injury, even after her spinal chip, after their break up, his hand is always placed protectively, securely on her back. Sometimes it's running along her spine, other times it just rests there, but never is there one photo of them walking without his hand on her back.
The way that out of the many paparazzi photos taken of them without their knowledge, most if not all of the photos of them are on the balcony; Felicity’s locked balcony. They’re either sharing a meal together, sitting on the loveseat wrapped up in a blanket, looking at their city with her head resting on his shoulder, or looking at each other with his hands resting on her hips and her arms thrown around his neck; whatever their doing, the obvious sign of love and peace is evident in every single shot, no matter how grainy.
The way Felicity and Oliver held an interview to advertise her company and his campaign in their home; Felicity’s loft. The way, the camera operators and producer loved to pan to the many photos scattered around the house of Oliver and Felicity. There are many of them vacationing together. One with her, Oliver, Thea Queen, John Diggle and several others I have never met. Plenty of printed out selfies taken by Felicity of them in a nice suburban house, in bed, under the stars. When asked about the pictures, Oliver is the one to respond, “Its all Felicity. She loves to take pictures. Loves to get them framed and hang it wherever she can even more.”
The way every party Oliver Queen attended, Felicity Smoak was there, long before they actually got together; years before they actually got together. Felicity Smoak was a permanent fixture beside Oliver at every function, auction and event.
There were many things that I had missed, or chosen to ignore concerning my relationship with Felicity Smoak.
It's only after we break up that I realize that the extent of her love for Oliver Queen was not one of them.
“AND WHEN I LOVED YOU, I REALIZED, I HAVE NEVER TRULY LOVED ANYONE, I REALIZED, I NEVER WILL TRULY LOVE ANYONE THE WAY I LOVE YOU”
Billy Malone broke up with Felicity Smoak because she will always be in love with Oliver Queen.
I know that I haven't been posting as often as I used to, and I wish I could tell you that updates will happen more regularly...but I can't. I'll be going away for a month and I have my schedule packed so tightly with my friends adding on, that I doubt I will have enough time to write, edit and post new chapters. I'm so sorry in advance for the delay, and I hope everyone understands and has a great summer!
Chapter 24: John Constantine
“I’M NOT PERFECT. I AM SOMETIMES SELFISH. OCCASIONALLY SELF DESTRUCTIVE. AND PRONE TO VERY BRIEF, YET SEVERE SPELLS OF SADNESS. BUT I WOULD FIGHT UNTIL EVERY BONE IN MY BODY WAS BROKEN TO PROTECT YOU. THAT’S A PROMISE.”
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“WHEN I’M WITH YOU, I FEEL SAFE FROM THE THINGS THAT HURT ME INSIDE”
The only thing I can focus on as I hold Melissa Angelus’ arm are the intricate tattoos covering it.
I'm supposed to try and picture the Arrannon in my head; I'm supposed to picture the blood coming out of its eyes, and the large open wound on its chest. I'm supposed to picture the black oozing mush that won’t stop leaking from its mouth and the missing fingers and toes.
Instead, my eyes won’t leave the swirl of black ink covering Ms. Angelus’ arm; words, pictures, symbols.
“How do you know?” I'm snapped out of my inspection when her friend asks me the question.
We’re in a dark alley, off the shore of the Chew Valley Lake. I look at Melissa’s girlfriend, Eliza who had asked the question and tilt my head to portray confusion.
While Melissa looks like the type of girl that most parents will be wary of; her half-shaven head dyed in a multitude of colours, piercings coating her eyebrows, jaw and nose, and tattoos covering up every inch of her body, Eliza is the complete opposite; blonde hair, blue eyes, pale, unmarked skin, and an innocence that I've never really come across before. How in the world these two found each other will always be a mystery to me.
I'm broken out of my inner thoughts when Eliza explains, “How do you know what demon you’re looking for?”
I answer her immediately, “Well for starters, the demon that possessed your friend is called an Arrannon. The bloody sucker gets into your soul and sucks everything up, until there is no more fight left in you,” I tell her, with dramatic gestures that cause her eyes to go wide.
“You’d fall unconscious immediately.”
She nods and follows along, but I can tell she isn’t convinced because I’ve just described the symptoms for every demon possessing shown on TV.
So I elaborate, “I've been chasing this creature for a week now love, and it's jumped from people to people too many times to count. Each time, it leaves a kind of representation of the next person it's going to jump into, which is how I found your friend.”
I anticipate her next question, “How did you know it was in Mel?”
I point to the black ink on her shoulder; the sun, formed by names.
I bow mockingly, “Now if I may, let’s get rid of this bloody demon.”
Focusing all my energy onto reciting the words I’ve recited far too many times, I feel my body start to go slack as I'm taken to the other side.
And then I'm back to reality again.
I look around my surroundings for an answer as to why the spell didn't work, when a loud roar reverberates throughout the alleyway, followed by a large smoke-like figure that appears and ceases to within a split second.
Melissa Angelus’ eyes snap open just then, and she embraces her lover; the two girls whispering corny-ass words of love to each other.
I follow the trail of black blood, hoping desperately that the Arrannon’s next victim will be easier to track than Melissa was.
And when I see the green mush that flows out of a silver bow, a rich emerald arrow nocked in, I smile.
There is only one person I know of, that wears green leathers and goes around shooting a bow and Arrow.
I arrived at Star City on the next flight; ignoring odd looks from the airport staff as they scanned through my suitcase filled with what a normal person would consider odd possessions.
Not bothering to call Oliver or try and remember the code to their stupid elevator, I place my hands on the electronic panel and smirk cockily to myself when the elevator slowly takes me down.
I'm a damn genius and I know it!
The elevator dings my arrival, and as expected, Felicity Smoke is at her place in front of her computers.
What’s unexpected is the gun she has pointed my way.
“Now, now, love. I, for one, am not confident you’re confident using that gun. And we both well bloody know that a gun isn’t going to fare well if it does come down to a fight between the two of us,” I say, my hands going up in the air regardless in a show of peace.
She drops the gun as if it burned her, and goes on one of her tangents, “I was expecting someone else here because everyone is there,” she points to the five dots on her monitor, “And the last time I checked, the only people that could get in here was the League of Assassins but they did not use the elevator, but with Malcolm you’ll never know so I was just trying to save myself which was completely unnecessary because it's just you and I don't know how to fire a gun very well. I tried to once and it just,” She made an oddly adorable gesture of things breaking with her hands and while her rambles entertain me like no other, I stop her immediately because we have no time.
“Where is Oliver?”
Picking up on my no bullshit, business voice, she points to the screen with the small green triangle on the move, the words “Arrow” being written above.
“He’s...”She looks up and looks around, “He’s here.”
True to her word, the elevator doors open for the second time that hour, and Oliver Queen, decked out in full Arrow ensemble walks through, looking straight at me questioningly.
I just observe him with disbelief. Unless I was wrong in assuming that the signs the Arrannon left led to Oliver Queen, he shouldn’t be looking like he just walked out of a magazine cover; walking, talking and breathing. The monster should have captured his soul in a vice grip and rendered him comatose.
“John, what the hell...?” He startles back when I invade his space and force his eyes wide for any sign of the demon.
“Doesn’t make any goddamn sense,” I say, more to myself than anyone else but loud enough for Dig and Oliver to hear.
It's only when the man with the scarred face and white mask decides to open his mouth that I remember the three new members on Oliver’s team, “Hoss, you wanna tell us what the hell is going on?”
The question is directed to the team leader but I answer since Oliver himself clearly doesn’t know what is going on. I look at Oliver and tell him, “You. Possessed. Demon. Me. Exorcist.”
The woman, whose suit and mask looks awfully similar to the one Laurel Lance wore speaks up, “Did he say demon?”
John Diggle rounds the three new members of the team, guiding them to the back of the room to where I presume he will explain the whole “Soul world” demon bit.
In the meantime, I focus on my predicament with Oliver Queen. Never before have I wrongly assumed where the Arrannon was going next. There is literally no other person in this planet who can be associated with a green arrow other than the Green Arrow.
“So are we going to get an explanation better than five words or what?” Felicity Smoak asks from behind me, her heels tapping impatiently on the floor and I wonder why she isn’t taking her usual place beside Oliver Queen.
“There’s a demon. Called the Arrannon. It's going around possessing people, jumping from one host to another, and I’ve been wasting too much of my bloody life trying to find it.”
Oliver puts his bow down and unzips his leather jacket, “Why are you here?”
I tilt my head, “See mate, I'm not so sure anymore. Before the Arrannon enters a new host, it leaves behind some sort of representation of the person. When I saw a bow and a green arrow, I thought that it got to you. But I guess I was wrong?”
Another member of the new team, Curtis, asks me why.
“Because, when the Arrannon possesses you, it grabs a hold of your soul. Without your soul, you don't have any fight in you and you lose your conscious state. But considering that your fearless leader is still very much awake and not comatose, I suppose I got the wrong person.”
Diggle speaks up after a long bout of silence, “Is there any way you can check? Oliver may have found some kind of loophole to fight the demon.”
I look at Oliver for confirmation and he nods his head with uncertainty, the whole talk of demons possessing him leaving him uneasy.
Diggle helps me set up the ritual, and as we’re lighting the fire at each corner of the wooden replica of Oliver’s Bratva tattoo, I look at Oliver and Felicity. Last time I was here, I didn't see the two of them without each other; always finding some way to touch and talk and feel. Now, he’s on one side of the room talking to the new Black Canary, and I have no idea where Felicity is.
“Those two fell out of love?” I ask John, knowing that he’ll understand whom I meant.
At my signal, Oliver lies down in the space provided for him in the middle of the Bratva star, the rest of the team take their places on a specified corner, everyone except for me, John and Felicity.
Diggle shakes his head, looking sympathetically at Oliver, “Nah, those two could never fall out of love. He screwed up big and she got scared to give him another chance and now they’re both silently pining like they were two years ago.”
I turn around at a sharp intake of breath to come face to face with Felicity. I don't know how long she’s been standing there, but the bothered look on her face tells me that she heard everything.
“I'm coming too,” She says, her tone hinting stubbornness and leaving no room for argument. I suppose it's easy for her since one of the only two people that would try to argue with her is lying unconscious on the floor.
The other one of the only two that would try to argue against her coming does, “Felicity, it's not...”
“It's not real, is it? We’re all still here, and if anything happens, Constantine will send me back.”
John opens his mouth to argue again, but I interrupt him this time, “We don't have much time for a court discussion. Whoever wants to come, take a corner and let’s get on with it.”
They take their corners, and I perform the ritual, only opening my eyes and stopping my chanting when I feel the brush of trees on my coat. Of course, Oliver’s soul would take us back to this wretched island!
I move up front with Felicity by my side, addressing Diggle and the rest of the crew, “Now remember, Oliver’s not going to make it easy for us. Chances are that we’ll get interrupted by one or more of his many demons. It's why I had asked for you to come prepared, suit and all.”
Rene points to something behind me, and I turn just as he says, “By one or more of his demons, do you mean them?”
Lined in front of us are four men. I recognize Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk, and Ra’s Al Ghul, but the fourth man has a mask covering his face as well as two swords strapped on his back. I suppose this is Slade Wilson.
Dinah Drake whispers to her team, “I don't suppose anyone had the time to think of a plan?”
Diggle responds without hesitance, “The four of us can hold them off for a while. Felicity and Constantine can go find Oliver.”
I look to Felicity and we run off the other way, as she asks me through panting breaths, “How do we know where to find him?”
I stop and so does she, the sounds of guns and swords an echo in the distance, “We don't find him, love. He finds us.”
True to my word, the scenery changes, this place unrecognizable to me, but not to Felicity.
“It's the entrance to the Foundry. The old one. The first one.” She walks up to the old metal door and opens the keypad to the right, and punches a series of numbers in.
We walk down the metal stairs, each step making a creek too loud for my preferences. On stair number 16 we stop. The loud roar that resonates throughout the hollow lair allows us to do nothing but freeze. Felicity’s reaction to the gnarly beast was the same as mine the first time I saw it. She whimpers and gags in disgust, and I whisper into her ear, “It isn’t real, Smoak. It cannot exist in your world.”
But as we walk down the stairs, I find myself so bloody confused. If the Arrannon is really here, then why hasn’t it snatched Oliver’s soul yet? Why hasn’t it stopped Oliver from fighting yet?
The answer presents itself when we walk down the steps and the whole picture falls into view.
Oliver Queen, decked out in the Hood he wore five years ago, shoots arrow after arrow at the monster, each arrow preventing it from moving forward. And as I survey the scene, I feel a smile threatening to take over my face and I take a step away from Oliver, ready to leave, only to be held back by Felicity.
“Where are you going? You can't leave him in here!” She hisses.
I realize I'm going to have to explain myself to her, and I hope that what I say won't strain the couple’s relationship any more than it already is.
“When the Arrannon enters its host, it goes for the soul. Without the soul, the person can't fight back and the Arrannon will have a peaceful stay until someone like me attempts to ruin its life. When I came here, I expected to take the Arrannon out of Oliver’s comatose body because I had expected the Arrannon to have already taken control of his soul,”
I point to the scene in front of us; Oliver Queen repeatedly putting arrows in the Arrannon, without any hint of exhaustion.
“But as you can see, Oliver Queen never gives without a fight. Especially when it comes to protecting his soul,”
I force her to acknowledge the one aspect of the scenario I know she’s been trying to ignore.
Because Oliver Queen has strategically placed himself between the Arrannon and the woman seated at a silver table, typing away in front of her monitors, red pen in her mouth and blonde ponytail swaying.
“I don't know what happened between you and him, I really don't. What I do know is that he will fight this bloody thing until his bones crack and his heart stops because he’s protecting you from it. So we need to go back and capture this demon from the outside before that archer’s bones crack and heart stops. Because we both know Felicity, he’s not going to let that thing get to you otherwise.”
And with that, I'm chanting again, only stopping when we’re back in the foundry.
Everyone looks at me wide-eyed, stumbling back as an after-effect of going to the other side. Rene and Diggle have their guns out, Dinah has her staff, and Curtis holds two silver balls (how kinky). They’re too busy gasping for air that they don't notice Felicity’s look of agony and terror.
“Stand back!” I call out, before I put all my energy into completing the ritual that I've been chanting for the past few months but never got to complete.
The demon disappears in a smoke of black air and green mush, splattering itself on the ground, causing groans of disgust.
A few moments later, they walk out of the lair to clean themselves up, telling Dig to text them when Oliver wakes up. Diggle walks away to the lair’s showers after asking Felicity if she wants to go first, to which she replied with a hard no.
We sit there quietly, both our eyes trained on the man resting in front of us, not knowing what else to say to each other. I'm about to make small talk when a quite groan breaks the silence.
“Oliver,” Felicity crawls over to him, and when he manages to sit up, she throws her arms around him in an obvious gesture of relief.
“What happened,” He says, looking very much disoriented.
Diggle appears then, face clear of green goo and I respond to Oliver’s question, “Demon’s gone. All good.”
Moments later, after I retold the entire evening to Oliver (minus some personal parts on Felicity’s request)I make my way out of the liar and onto a plane to London.
And as the plane takes off and I look at the city getting smaller and smaller, I remember the way Felicity refused to leave Oliver’s side all evening, something Oliver either didn't notice or chose to ignore.
And I leave Star City knowing one thing.
The next time I come back, it’ll be to an Oliver and Felicity with rings on their fingers and the same last name.
It doesn’t take a genius to know true love.
“I’M NOT PERFECT. I AM SOMETIMES SELFISH. OCCASIONALLY SELF DESTRUCTIVE. AND PRONE TO VERY BRIEF, YET SEVERE SPELLS OF SADNESS. BUT I WOULD FIGHT UNTIL EVERY BONE IN MY BODY WAS BROKEN TO PROTECT YOU. THAT’S A PROMISE.”
John Constantine doesn’t know what happened between Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak. What he does know is that Oliver Queen will protect Felicity Smoak until his very last breath. And if that isn’t love, he doesn’t know what is.
I know, I know. I said I'll update before summer ended, but it's October and I cannot believe how fast the time has passed. I am so sorry for how long it took for another chapter, but I've been suffering a major case of writer's block (my worst one yet) and didn't get the inspiration to write until a few weeks ago. Luckily I finished this chapter just in time for Arrow's season 7 premiere (which I'm super excited for) and I hope y'all like it. I will try and update this story every other week, and as usual, prompts will always be taken into consideration.
Chapter 25: Amanda Waller
“I LOVE HER, NOT FOR THE WAY SHE DANCED WITH MY ANGELS BUT FOR THE WAY THE SOUND OF HER NAME COULD SILENCE MY DEMONS”
So this takes place in season 2, as you will see when you read. I do apologize for the unorganized timeline of this fic as the seasons vary each chapter. I will end up reorganizing the chapters in chronological order when I complete the story. Problem is, I don't know when I'm going to complete the story so.....
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“HER LOVE ROARED LOUDER THAN HIS DEMONS.”
It's a taboo concept for most; they want to believe that they are not the type of person who will house such atrocity. They want to believe that they are strong enough to fight the darkness, to repel their demons out of their chest.
I know better.
It's why I'm so apt at using one’s darkness and demons to get my way. It's why I can get a man to do my bidding within a matter of seconds. I make them acknowledge their darkness, I make them lure out their demons, I make them need the two abstract concepts, and then I pretend to help them embrace it.
I keep them in the darkness until they become addicted to it; the scent of blood, the sound of gunfire, the feeling of flesh.
“Amanda,” The voice is identifiable; one of the very few I allow to address me by my given name.
“Lyla, what’s the matter?” She doesn’t typically consult me outside of debriefing hours. She usually finishes a task successfully without the excess blood and tears and then reports it back, knowing that I won’t say a word against her as long as I have what I want. She’s smart like that. I've always admired her for that.
She stands up a bit taller, “You have an issue in the centre room.” From the look on her face, I know that she’s unaware of the problem and that she’s perfectly fine with her state of ignorance.
I decide to let her have her way. “You’re dismissed, Agent Michaels. You can resume your work.”
She nods, relieved, and heads her way to her office on the other side of the building, smiling and conversing with the other agents that pass her by. I, on the other hand, walk to the opposite side of the building, watching with satisfaction as agents scurry away from my path until there is no one left walking the halls but me.
The center control room goes dead silent the minute I walk in; everyone is looking at me fearfully, and I suppose it has more to do with the gun I have strapped on my side and the coat I forgot to wear to hide it.
Making a beeline to my IT head, I bark at him, “Where the hell is he Nelson?”
His face pops up on both his monitor and the large wall that was made into a screen; Javon Knapp, former Argus agent who escaped with valuable information pertaining to the suicide squad and has been in the wind for a week straight. A week too long.
Nelson straightens up and responds, but his fingertips never stop moving across his keyboard, “We’ve pinpointed him to an area of a fifty-mile radius; we’re just waiting for it to improve accuracy.”
And so I wait, looking at the monitor in front of me, and banging my fist on the table when the imbecile’s location shows up.
Out of all the cities in the world, why did the moron have to choose Starling?
If there were any place in the world capable of fully understanding the two entities, then it would be Starling City; the place that’s been a witness to so much blood, so much destruction, so much death.
Queen Consolidated stands tall and proud, despite all the lives it's ruined, and I scoff at the fancy displays and elaborate decor that tries and fails to hide the darkness swarming through the building. Mass murder isn’t an easy thing to get rid of. Moira Queen in jail and Oliver and Thea Queen scrapping for pieces of what’s left of their reputation is a prime example.
I realize I've forgotten how much darkness Oliver Queen reeks until I walk into the top floor of the company, to where his office is located; a spacious area that spells money.
I walk into his office during what I assume is an intense argument between Queen and his Co-CEO, Isabel Rochev. Both parties look justifiably angry, but Oliver looks murderous. His fists are clenched and his thumb and index finger rub against each other; a tick I know means thirst for blood.
It's only when Rochev raises her hand at and points at her that I notice Felicity Smoak standing in the corner of the room; Oliver’s personal assistant, and the reason why none of my agents can access any of the Arrow’s files and information. The girl has strategically placed herself in the corner of the room to attract the least amount of attention; a futile attempt in my opinion, especially since she dons a neon green shirt, pairs it with white jeans and paints her nails a bright shade of gold that matches the hair that falls down her back in stylish curls.
Felicity Smoak may be many things, but she cannot be invisible, not when she lights up a room like that.
She isn’t invisible to the other two in the room either, especially to Isabel, who apparently has a few things to say about the young genius and judging by Felicity’s flinch, I'm assuming that Isabel doesn’t like the blonde very much.
Whatever she says about Felicity causes Oliver to snap. He bangs his fist on the table and his eyes turn into a storm, making me see what it is about the Arrow that inflicts so much terror on the city.
It's his darkness.
His demons, all of them ugly, ooze out of him as he screams at his Co-CEO and scares her shitless, “GET OUT!”
The raven-haired woman scurries out of the room, going too fast to even notice my presence while Oliver tugs off his tie and throws it on the floor.
My curiosity gets the best of me then, and I move myself over to the side, where I'm not as obviously seen and continue to watch the scene in front of me unfold, shaking my head in sympathy when I see Felicity make a move towards Oliver, the love she harbours for him evident on her face.
“Oh, sweetie. Men like Oliver Queen are not capable of love. Even women as bright as you cannot diminish his darkness,” I murmur to myself, itching to say the words to the IT expert instead of at the white walls of the office.
Still, I watch her walk up to the angry businessman, picking up his tie along the way before she reaches for him, grabbing his hand and forcing him to look at her.
I inch closer to the door in order to hear what she’s saying and what she says astounds me.
Typically, one would try and calm Oliver down, speaking in a soft, slow voice, offering to listen, telling him that he’s right, so on and so forth.
Felicity, as she hooks and knots his tie back on, tells her boss, “So there is no need to go all Arrow on the tie, it did nothing to you but make you look more ridiculously hot...” she clears her throat after the admission and backtracks, “which I didn't notice at all.”
I straighten my back when instead of the annoyed glare I was sure Ms. Smoak was going to receive, Oliver gives her a hint of a smile instead.
“And, as much as it pains me to admit, and believe me, no one is in more pain than I am when I say that she’s sort of, kind of, right. The excuses we give her are terrible and she’s not the type of person who will turn her head the other way for so long. We need to think of something legitimate. Fast.”
Felicity smoothes down the tie, her eyes trained towards the accessory and therefore she doesn’t see the look Oliver Queen is giving her.
And from that look that Oliver Queen is giving her, a look I have seen very few times in my entire life, I find myself reeling back with shock as I realize that Oliver Queen, as much as he tries to hide it, is in love with the woman in front of him.
They just evaporated from Oliver Queen in a matter of seconds. He went from being ready to stab someone with a pen to the main protagonist of a teen rom-com.
I jolt myself at the sudden loss of focus. I came here with a purpose. The sooner I find Knapp, the sooner I can leave and return to my more pressing matters.
I burst open the glass doors, bursting the young couple’s bubble at the same time. I take a moment to relish their faces of pure shock and fear before I begin my mission.
“Mr. Queen. We need to have a word,”
“Am I the only one here that thinks this is an awful idea?”
The noise the helicopter makes only partially drowns out her voice as Ms. Smoak faithfully keeps her eyes trained on Queen as instructed by the man himself as a method to distract her from her fear.
John Diggle, Oliver’s partner and moral compass—to some extent—shakes his head, “Nope. I vote we turn back,”
Oliver shrugs beside me, “Me too,”
I smirk when Felicity sighs heavily in frustration and resignation, “But if we do, she,” the blonde unapologetically, maliciously indicates a hand towards me as if I were a speck of garbage on her stilettos, “will terrorize the city,”
I suppress the need to threaten her and instil the fear of God into her for her impertinent way of addressing me, as it's become clear that as long as Ms. Smoak has her two bodyguards around her, there isn’t much that can touch her.
When Oliver Queen and John Diggle are with her, nothing can hurt Felicity Smoak. Nothing can even think to try.
I realize that I've forgotten how much Oliver Queen had until I see him fight. Of course, he’s suppressing himself. His demons, some of them, are locked away into his innermost self, and I know that Queen plans on them staying there until the day they lower him into his grave.
Me. Well, I came here to do what I do best; unleash one’s demons. I remember being quite good at releasing Oliver’s demons once upon a time. I suppose that even now, despite his legendary oath to kill no more, I can still unlock the cage that hides the monster.
“What the hell is this?”
I turn to Miss Smoak, who was initially backing up her team from our private jet; unlocking doors, disabling alarms, detecting heat signatures, but has now meddled her way into things she shouldn’t be meddling into.
So, I tell her as it is, “Those are none of your concerns Miss Smoak,”
Her eyes glow fierce and angry, and the very few demons inside of her, despite the lack of quantity, still ugly and repulsive make their entrance, “Like hell, it isn’t. You’ve got armed guards at each entrance of the building. May I remind you that there are 40 other people living there?”
She presses a few buttons on her keyboard and the click in my earpiece makes it known that she’s gotten us back into the open link with Oliver and John Diggle. I take my earpiece off, grab her wrist in a grip that should hurt, and threaten her,
“You can tell your teammates and risk them getting distracted, or you can listen to what I have to say.”
She caves and turns the open line off, her fingers poised above her keyboard in a way that clearly tells me to hurry up.
“They’re for clean up.”
It's the last thing she expects to hear, and I suppress my satisfied grin at her look of shock that promptly morphs into a reasonable distrust.
I sigh and settle myself more comfortably into the seat, “The man that you’re trying to catch is Argus. When you and your friends finish messing the place up, we need all traces of Knapp gone; the blood, the body, the mess. Everything must return to how it was.”
As expected, Ms. Smoak’s head whirls when I mention my plan.
“The body? I'm sorry, by body, do you mean Mr. Knapp’s body? As in his dead body? Like, not breathing, lifeless body? Because I don't remember that being a part of the plan and I have a phenomenal memory.”
I stare straight ahead at the sky through the large windows, “I omitted some parts of the plan, Ms. Smoak. The mission works better that way.”
Felicity Smoak’s glare doesn’t faze me at all, as well as her words, “There would be no mission if you told us that someone else was going to shoot down the man Oliver’s fighting.”
I scoff at her naivety, her pathetic belief in good, in Oliver Queen.
“Someone else isn’t going to kill Knapp, Ms. Smoak. The Arrow is.”
She huffs out a small, wry chuckle, “Then you must not know him as well as you think. He’s better than you. He is a hundred times better than you.”
It all comes down to the two of them. Always begins and ends with the two entities that everyone hides from, locks up, but can't ever get rid of. Always begins and ends with the monsters that each and every one of us tries to keep hidden every moment of our lives.
Monsters that learn to crawl out of their holes soon enough.
I have a live video feed of the events happening in the apartment building. I have a guard placed beside me, and Felicity Smoak frantically types on her keyboard to enable her comms once more, courtesy of Nelson, my top IT specialist. Still, I know that I have only a few moments before Ms. Smoak cracks the code. I'm not one to undermine skills.
“He’s got the best lawyers ever Oliver. He’ll be out of jail in a matter of a couple years. He’s killed over fifty people in his lifetime, Mr. Queen. Not all of them deserved it. Some were kids. Some were about your little sister’s age. Some were fathers and mothers.”
His grip on his bow tightens. The bow with the arrow aimed straight at Knapp’s heart. In the background, John Diggle is fighting off an Argus agent. Little does he know that more will come until his partner releases his fingers.
I hit him right where I know it will hurt, “One of them, Thomas, was drunk and stumbled into the way. He was celebrating his birthday before he went to med school.”
I punch him dead-centre, the one spot that I, despite how recently acquired the information is, know will cause whatever restraint he has to break in two, quick and clean, “One of them, Emily, came back from the convenient store with ice cream and a movie to celebrate her getting into MIT.”
It's fascinating to watch. The monster that is Oliver Queen, big, ugly and horrendous breaks free; the monster I know nothing short of rotting flesh and lifeless heart will tame.
The monster that retreats and scampers away from one word from one person.
Felicity Smoak’s voice fills the silence, and I watch in disappointment as Oliver Queen heaves his first breath in a minute, and he calls out to the one person I knew would be the turning point of all of it.
“Felicity?” His voice is conflicted, torn, and scared; asking for help, for guidance. Nothing at all like the Oliver Queen that I once knew. The Oliver Queen that I once wanted for Argus.
“You’re better than that. You will always be better than that. Remember your other way. For Tommy, and Laurel, and Thea, and your dad, and Diggle. Another way, for me.”
I put down the newspaper, the headlines “Javon Knapp, Active Terrorist Killed In Jail A Week After His Prosecution” a nice remedy for my blood-thirsty soul. My Argus agent did well. All I need to do is wait for her to come back for a debrief.
I had always thought, was under the impression that those were the only two factors that human hides. The only two concepts that are big enough, dangerous enough to hide and keep a secret. The only two aspects that human has to hide in order to survive in this brutal world.
I was wrong.
There’s another factor that I didn't include. A concept conventional to all and welcomed by all, and yet people tend to hide it. Not because they want to pretend that it doesn’t exist, or because they don't want it, but rather because they want to protect it. They’re afraid of what’ll happen if someone takes it away. They want to be selfish.
And seeing Oliver Queen on T.V, answering questions about a Queen Consolidated new tech, a thousand people in front of him but his eyes only returning to one again and again. I know that it's not two but three things human hides.
Darkness. Demons. Light.
Hood. Arrow. Glasses.
“I LOVE HER, NOT FOR THE WAY SHE DANCED WITH MY ANGELS BUT FOR THE WAY THE SOUND OF HER NAME COULD SILENCE MY DEMONS”
Amanda Waller knows she can’t bring Oliver Queen back into the darkness; not when Felicity Smoak will be there to harness his light.
Huge thanks to JLC who gave me the idea for Amanda and waited patiently for this chapter because I took so long to update.
Chapter 26: Helena Bertinelli
“YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY I LOVE YOU TO SAY I LOVE YOU”
“I HOPE YOU KNOW THAT EVERY TIME I TELL YOU TO GET HOME SAFE, STAY WARM, HAVE A GOOD DAY OR SLEEP WELL, WHAT I’M REALLY SAYING IS I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU SO DAMN MUCH THAT IT IS STARTING TO STEAL OTHER WORDS’ MEANINGS”
“There is sometimes, in the discourse around gender, the assumption that women are supposed to be morally “better” than men. They are not. Women are as human as men are. Female goodness is as normal as female evil.”
The words resonate too great for me to continue reading. Considering my present circumstances and the decisions I've made that led to them, the words on the page hit too close to home.
As a result, I'm forced to fold the corner of the page and put down Dear Ijeawele; the book that’s been keeping me company for the past month. I’ve read various pages, skipping some, marking others with a fold, but I've yet to read this page, and it seems as if I'm not going to continue any further.
Instead, I’ve chosen to stare at the bland ceiling; the ceiling that the guards allowed me to draw on for five minutes, under a careful scrutiny of course. Forgoing pictures, I wrote words, quotes to be exact. Quotes from my favourite book.
“Feminism and Femininity are not mutually exclusive. It is misogynistic to suggest that they are,”
The loud chatter that erupts in the usually silent Iron Heights is what takes my attention away from the ceiling to the hall, which is now occupied by four prison guards instead of the customary two. This area of the prison is well known for its lack of trouble, and as a result, guards and guns are a rarity.
Curious over the reason for the commotion, I look to Amber Yamana, the inmate placed in the cell next to mine, to find her already staring at me.
“You know what’s happening?” I ask her, even though I know the question is moot. Amber always has the recent gossip about what transpires in this place. I've yet to figure out how since she keeps to herself most, if not all, the time.
She shakes her head at me as if I were a poor insolent child. I resist the urge to pound her face on the bars, “Haven’t you heard Bertinelli, Oliver Queen is here.”
Ice-cold shock runs through me at the words, and I turn away from Amber to prevent her from seeing the pain slice through my chest. I never thought I was going to see Oliver again. It was justifiable of course, we weren’t exactly the best of friends, but I owe a lot to him, and always found myself wondering time to time how he was doing.
I look at Amber, hating her smug grin, “Why?” I ask.
She rolls her eyes and I know better than to assume it was at me, she’s stupid but not enough to anger the Huntress; I’ve become notorious for violence since my rampage, “Something about interviewing old QC members who were put in prison. That’s what I heard Chester saying anyway.”
I nod thoughtfully. Chester is one of the night guards, and a very reliable source since all the other prison guards enjoy talking to his drunken ass more often than not, oblivious to the fact that his mind is sharper when inebriated.
It hasn’t even been an hour since Amber gave me the information when Oliver Queen walks into my sector of the jail. I take a step back into the shadows when I spot him, fully aware that he’s going to do his customary room scan; looking for entrances, exits and threats. I don't know why I do it, but I hide. I suppose it's because some part of me is ashamed at what I did to him; what I did thanks to him.
It's only when I catch sight of blonde hair, that I press myself further into the walls, ignoring Amber’s questioning glances that are becoming less subtle as the moments go by.
It's odd that I'm surprised. I shouldn’t be. The reason why I had targeted Felicity Smoak that day was not only because of her genius mind but also because of Oliver’s fierce protectiveness over her.
I’ll admit it now, I was jealous. Even when I was practically a carbon copy of the true Oliver Queen, I wasn’t able to garner his attention, worry, and adoration the way Felicity Smoak did. The fear that went through his eyes when Felicity walked into the basement was the first and only sign of fear I’ve ever seen from him.
I resume my attention back to the well-dressed duo, surprised, but not really, to see them together. I study them and noting the deliberate distance put between them, and the undercurrent of some kind of tension, I conclude that they’re not together; no romantically at least.
They make a direct beeline to the man in the cell directly diagonal to me; Matthew Temple. An innocent man. I smile in relief. He has two daughters and a drug addict wife; he needs to get home.
Oliver does the talking, introducing him and Felicity and therefore, clarifying some things to me, “Mr. Temple, I’m Oliver and this is my EA Felicity Smoak,”
Through the bars, the two men shake hands and Mr. Temple, regardless of his confusion finds his voice, “I know who you are Mr. Queen. I’d been working for you for a good three months.”
Felicity speaks up for the first time, “Call him Oliver. Mr. Queen was his father,” She waves her hands around in elaborate gestures, and with her brightly painted nails, white top and pink skirt, she lights up the entire room.
I can see why Oliver has taken a liking to her. She shines brighter than the sun.
At her words, Oliver turns to her and smiles, as if they are sharing some inside joke and I smirk at the progress he is making; he can actually smile now.
“Mr. Temple, if you haven’t heard, my Co-CEO, Isabel Rochev was involved with a madman raging on Starling City and I know that she used false accusations to throw many innocent executives into prison.”
Temple nods and looks vaguely hopeful as Oliver continues,
“I recently got the company back, and a trusted associate—” His look of pride at Felicity suggests exactly who his trusted associate was, “has proof that you were one of these people. We just need to ask you a couple of questions so that we can get on with your release,”
Matthew Temple’s elated look suddenly turns into one of panic, when he looks up, probably to thank the heavens, but catches sight of the analog clock I know is mounted on the wall across his cell.
Hesitatingly, he asks his ex-boss and his assistant, “Mr. Queen, my daughters visit for an hour every day at three and I...” Temple’s eyes dart around the place in nervousness, as if him not being present will somehow take away his shot at freedom.
Oliver puts his worries to rest, “My whole afternoon is clear Mr. Temple and you’re our last client. We can wait.”
And true to his word, when Mr. Temple is whisked away by the guard to see his daughters, Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak seat themselves on the prison ground, opposite from each other, their backs resting on the grey cemented walls, the soles of his dress shoes making contact with the soles of her heels.
Felicity Smoak breaks the silence, not with words but with a slight cough.
Oliver is quick to take off his fancy Armani suit jacket, placing it around her shoulders and tugging her hair out, all the while softly scolding her, “You should be wearing a coat, Felicity. It's too cold out and you’re going to get sick.”
“Helena put on a coat. You know it saddens me to see you sick,”
“You are lucky you’re hot Michael Staton or I would have you on your ass for ordering me around.”
“I do it cause I love you,”
“I know. I love you too.”
He’s on his knees in front of her. She’s curled her legs so that she can give him room, and now his knees rest against her calves. She reaches up and traces her ringed index finger under his eyes, where the dark circles are prominent.
“And you should buy yourself an apartment, or a condo, or whatever the hell you billionaire bachelors like to live in and get some proper sleep.” She counters back, seemingly unaware that her fingers are still lightly tracing under his eye.
“Felicity...” Oliver starts to protest softly but she doesn’t give him the chance.
“Promise me you’ll try and sleep Oliver,” she quietly implores him, their eyes locked on each other.
“That’s enough for one night babe. You need to get some sleep,”
“I love you Helena Bertinelli, and your health is my first priority. Now come to bed,”
The two of them are whispering quietly to each other after that, becoming aware of their intimate position and returning to their previous distanced one in the speed of light. The next sound we hear throughout the now quiet prison with cellmates straining to hear the couple is the growling of the stomach of one Felicity Smoak.
Oliver chuckles. It's the first time I’ve heard him chuckle. “I’ll call Dig and tell him to meet us at Big Belly. And since Roy is most likely to go with him, I’ll convince him to order for us.”
Felicity beams at the prospect of food, and while her happiness is very much relatable, her smile blinds my eyes, “I want...”
She doesn’t need to tell him, “...classic Big Belly Burger, no tomatoes, fries and a strawberry milkshake.”
She doesn’t even look shocked at the fact that Oliver Queen, notorious playboy billionaire known for his inability to keep girlfriends, remembers her order word for word.
Instead, she just teases him, “Make the fries and strawberry milkshake extra large since I know a certain billionaire who’ll say he doesn’t want them, but will steal mine the first chance he gets. Not that I mind you stealing my food, I can't eat all of it anyway and I like it when you’re playful. But I also like you when you’re not playful, I like you when you’re you, I mean...you’re always you but...”
“Fried shrimp, steamed rice, and a diet coke. I know.”
“If I didn't know better I would call you a creep.”
“Yes but you do know better Bertinelli, and you know that I love you and that I’m trying to score boyfriend points by knowing your order,”
“You’re doing great babe.”
I snap out of my thoughts, and when my eyes return to Temple’s empty cell, I see only Oliver and no sign of Felicity.
“She went to the bathroom. They’re going to meet up in the interrogation room.” I snap my head in shock at the suddenness of the voice beside me only to find Amber sitting next to me, the only thing separating the two of us being the metal bars.
Seems that she’s been avidly watching and listening to our favourite couple with almost an equal interest as I have.
Oliver gets up and turns around to walk in the opposite direction where the interrogation room is, which, inevitably, leads him to spot me.
I realize I'm not prepared to see him again, especially when, instead of hatred and disgust marring his face, he seems shocked and almost glad to see me as he makes his way closer towards my cell.
“Helena,” He curiously calls my name, offering me a small tilt of the lips that doesn’t really pass for a smile, but is enough to show that he means no harm to me.
“Hey Oliver,” I say back in response, ignoring Amber’s scrutinizing stare that I feel burning a hole on my back.
Oliver places his hands in his pockets and rocks on his heel once awkwardly, “How are you doing,”
I chuckle genuinely for the first time in a long time at his obvious method of small talk but decide to humour him, “Considering everything,” I wave at my surroundings, “I’m ok.”
And then, purely on impulse, I say, “thanks for the book,” I tilt my head towards Dear Ijeawele placed on my bed.
He panics for a pure moment, confirming my suspects before trying to deny it, “I didn't...”
I interrupt him, “I’ve only ever told two souls about that book Oliver and one of them is dead.”
He nods, and I know, somehow, that it’ll be the end of our conversation, and true to my thoughts, Oliver gives me a small smile this time, a real smile and says, “It was nice seeing you, Helena.”
I whisper, “You too,” and watch him take a step back to leave.
And I don't know what prompts me. Maybe it was all I was witness to for the past few minutes, or maybe it was all the memories it brought me. Maybe it was my knowledge of loss or maybe it was some of the genuine feelings I had harboured for Oliver Queen long ago.
Whatever it was, it causes me to call his name and when he turns around to look at me questioningly, I whisper to him, quietly so that only the two of us can hear,
“Make sure you don't let her go.”
He stares at me for a long moment before he nods, knowing exactly who we’re talking about (there’s probably no other ‘her’ worth holding onto in his mind) before walking away and not looking back.
It's then that Amber scoots up to me, surprising me with her choice of topic, “I’m not going to ask what that was because I know you’re not going to tell me. But you cannot tell me that you didn't enjoy watching the clandestine flirting between boss and EA.”
I smile at her, giving her a smug grin, watching her eyes narrow as I shake my head and look at the metal bars of Temple’s cell.
“It’s not clandestine flirting. It's love.”
“YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY I LOVE YOU TO SAY I LOVE YOU”
Helena Bertinelli knows that Oliver Queen is in love with Felicity Smoak, even if he doesn’t say the words.
Chapter 27: Dinah Laurel Lance
I don't do chapters on the current season simply because Arrow has so many twists and turns and I never know what will happen to any character (case in point; John Diggle). That being said, this idea came to me and it was too good to pass on and so I present you an AU set in season 7.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I LOVE YOU BECAUSE THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE CONSPIRED TO HELP ME FIND YOU” – The Alchemist
Dinah Laurel Lance
Reading this fine print on page 20 out of 45 isn’t helping to ease the harsh pounding in my head. How Laurel Lance of this Earth willingly managed to do this for years is a mystery I’ve yet to solve.
I remember the time when I used to be on the other side of the law; the side where I was the one restricted by handcuffs, drowned by sins, choked by blood. The time that I threw away and replaced for something boring and mundane.
For Quentin. For my dad. To survive.
For the first time in an hour, I look away from the black on white and close my eyes, seeing green spots dance in the darkness of my closed lids. And when I open my eyes a second later, the world seems too bright, too sunny, too happy.
The thought reminds me of a time when I was happy; when I was bright and sunny. A time when I appreciated the good in the world.
Putting my hands into the pocket of my jeans, I pull out my phone. Removing the plain black case uncovers the folded photograph underneath; the photograph that has creases, and burnt edges and soot all over. The photograph that has travelled to cities and countries and earths. The photograph that witnessed the crying and suffering of a little girl who just wanted her family back.
The door bursts open before I can unfold the memory, and I flip my phone over and hide my vulnerability before Felicity Smoak can see it.
I look at the time and then at her, “Aren’t you supposed to be on your way to pick up your husband?”
She bends her knees awkwardly before nodding her head, “I told Dig to pick me up here. You know, just in case there is some last minute legal stuff I need to know. Is there some last minute legal stuff I need to know?”
I've never lacked perceptiveness, not even when I shut off every emotion I had and replaced it with ice-cold shards that were capable of nothing but destruction. I‘m perceptive enough to know that the reason why Felicity Smoak is here is not that of her lack of insight on the legal matter of this case. The question is whether I'm going to do something about it.
For Quentin. For Dad. For survival.
“You know, when my mom visited us for the first time since the divorce, I asked my boss to give me a longer shift that day so that I would have to face her.” I finally say, opening a box that I haven’t opened since Quentin died.
Felicity shakes her head in denial, “I'm not here because I don't want to face Oliver.”
I remove myself from my plush chair and make my way around the large oak table, “And I didn't work for an extra hour because I didn't want to see my mom.”
While there are some similarities I found between Felicity Smoak and the girl I used to be, her willingness to open up is not one of them.
She plops herself on the white couch of my office and pieces together bits and pieces of her thoughts, “Everything is different. Star City is different. Dig is different. The team is different. I’m different. I've done stuff that I would not have even thought of doing eight months ago.”
“You’re scared that Oliver won’t like the new you. You’re scared Oliver isn’t going to accept the new you.”
I remember thinking the same thing every time I killed someone. I remember thinking that my dad and Sara would be ashamed to call me family.
But my dad and Sara were not this Earth’s Oliver Queen. And I am not Felicity Smoak.
It's this understanding that prompts me to exclaim, “Did you lose your IQ from Hope Springs to Star City or what?”
Her head, which was bowed down in nervousness and stress up until now, shoots up, and her eyes glint to showcase that she is about to defend herself.
I don't let her.
I seat myself on the plush couch across from her so that my entire attention is focused on the scared blonde in front of me.
“You know, I'm actually surprised you didn't ask me more about the Felicity Smoak of my earth. I thought you’d be more curious.”
Her brows scrunch in confusion, “What does that have to do with anything?”
At her question, I open the box that I haven’t touched or thought of since I came to this Earth, maybe even longer.
“I met Oliver Queen, the Oliver Queen of my earth when I was 10. I was being bullied for not being rich enough to afford the sneakers all the other girls wore and Oliver and Tommy stood up for me.”
“Hey, stop laughing at her,” The boy with the bright blue eyes and dirty blonde hair had yelled at the group of girls. The boy with the messy dark hair had held out his hand and smiled. It was kind and sincere, the kind of smile her daddy gave her and her sister and her mommy. So she took his hand and he pulled her up.
The boy with the dark hair smiled wider, “Hi. I'm Tommy. This is Oliver. We’re going to protect you from now on.”
“And they did. They protected me from everything; bullies, teachers, trouble, pain. They even tried to protect me from heartbreak.” I feel a smile threaten to break out at the thought.
I look at Felicity, glad to see her entranced by the story; entranced by the story of another version of the man she loves, “Oliver tried to protect me from everything. It's funny now, looking back that he failed to protect me from the one thing that could have actually hurt me. He couldn’t, and wouldn’t, protect me from Felicity. In hindsight, I realize that he never wanted to.”
Felicity looks shocked at the statement. Maybe it's because she wasn’t aware of the fact that her doppelganger’s life crossed paths with Oliver’s or maybe it's because I indicate no bitterness when talking of her. Whatever the reason is, I see that I've piqued her interest further, which means that there is no closing the box on my end.
“Felicity Smoak of my Earth met Oliver Queen on a bright sunny day similar to this. She was an intern at Queen Consolidated and Oliver...was Oliver Queen, a business major.”
Oliver Queen was surprised to see that instead of some mousy computer geek, the woman behind the desk was a beautiful blonde woman, with clear blue eyes and bright purple lips holding a green pen in her mouth. Her eyes had widened comically when she looked up and had realized that her future boss was in front of her desk.
“Mr. Queen. You’re here. I mean, of course you’re here, it's your company.”
For the first time in a very long time, Oliver was genuinely surprised and amused. “Can I have a few moments of your time? I lost an important presentation and I can't figure out how to retrieve it.” He didn’t know what had prompted him, but something about this woman had made him want to give her all the respect she deserved.
She had pulled the pen out of her mouth and had pushed away folders and files to the corner of her desk, “I'm all yours.” She shook her head as her cheeks flamed red, “Not yours, yours. I’m not coming onto you or anything. I didn't mean that in a sexual manner, I just mean that...” She had closed her eyes in utter embarrassment and didn't get to see the fond look in Oliver’s.
“Little did anyone know that you, the Earth 2 you, would be on the receiving end of that fond look for years. Oliver always had a soft spot for Felicity, ever since the first time those two met.”
Felicity speaks up for the first time since I started, “When Oliver met me for the first time he made me retrieve files from a bullet-holed laptop. Then he kept coming back for more help.” Her smile turns nostalgic and I feel a feeling in the pits of my stomach; the feeling I've been starting to feel recently. A feeling of self-satisfaction.
“There was a Christmas party organized by Queen Consolidated. Everyone attended. Sara, who Felicity were friends with, by the way, dragged her along.”
“Sara, you cannot force me to a party and then disappear! Everyone, who I do not know, by the way, keeps wishing me a Merry Christmas. Do you want to know how I know they don't know me? They keep wishing me Merry Christmas. I am Jewish!” Felicity Smoak had yelled into the phone, the voicemail stretching in duration.
When she had looked up it was to bright, blue eyes; the same eyes that had asked for her help weeks ago and had rendered her speechless.
“Felicity Smoak,” It was surprising to her that Oliver Queen remembered her name. Typically, people brushed her off as the smart IT Geek who got things done.
Oliver Queen had taken the IT geek in. It was no longer suitable for him to call her an IT Geek. She was beautiful the first time he had met her but wearing a gold dress with her matching hair in curls had made her look more so.
“Mr. Queen,” The name had fallen instinctively from her lips and at the disapproving tilt of his head Felicity had corrected herself, “I meant to say, Oliver.”
“Hey! Smoaky, watcha doing here!” Tommy’s loud voice had interrupted their awkward conversing and Oliver had looked between the two of them confusedly.
“You two know each other?” He had asked, feeling a weird tingle in his stomach at the thought of Tommy knowing Felicity for years. It wasn’t right of him, he was already in a relationship, and so he had deduced the feeling to pettiness over not being involved in a small aspect of Tommy’s life.
“Not really. Sara took me to her when I had computer troubles. Then we met at Sara’s birthday party. And then we bumped to each other at Big Belly. But she certainly didn't smile at me the way she smiles at you Ollie,” Tommy had teased.
At the comment, Felicity had spluttered the drink she was helping herself to, and Oliver, the gentleman he was, had offered her his handkerchief, his smile widening further when he spotted the constant reddening of her cheeks.
Tommy, seemingly unaware of the intense eye lock between the two, had offered, “How about we ditch this stupid party and get ourselves some Big Belly Burger. Real food.”
Oliver had looked at Felicity, “You in?” His were pleading and he didn't know why at the time, but he wasn’t willing to let the opportunity to get to know Felicity Smoak slip away.
And Felicity Smoak, for the first of many times, had found herself unable to say no to Oliver Queen, especially when he was looking at her like that.
“And that’s how the two of them became the best of friends. Oliver enjoyed Felicity’s babble and ability to see the best in him, and she enjoyed they way Oliver was the first person to ever really listen and hear her. Felicity saw a side of Oliver none of us ever saw; a side of him none of us ever got to see.”
“Their friendship lasted for years. It strengthened and tightened to a point where they could practically read each other’s thoughts. Felicity was the first person that Oliver would go to when things got difficult and Oliver was the first person Felicity would go to when she needed to breathe.”
Felicity looks hesitant when she asks her next question; hesitant for good reason, “What about you and Oli...”
“We still dated,” I say simply. “It was always on and off and Oliver and Felicity had made it very clear to me and the guys Felicity dated that the two of them were purely platonic. I suppose it was that constant repetition of that lie that allowed the two of them to lie to themselves for a year.”
Felicity smiles that same nostalgic smile once again, “Just like me and Oliver,”
Although I only know the brief rundown, the part where Oliver and Felicity had pined for each other for over a year did not escape the debrief I received from Cayden James.
“Their love was also so obvious that everyone started to see it. The lingering touches and looks, the heartbreak etched on both their faces whenever either of them brought a date to a party. It was the tension between the two of them that eventually turned into awkwardness. Turned into a point where conversation was no longer easy between the two of them.”
I take in a deep breath, the contents of the box marked Oliver nearing its end,
“I broke up with Oliver on grey, cloudy day. It was a decision that I didn't even have to think about. It was a decision that came as easy to me as breathing. I suppose that was how I knew that no matter what, even if you weren’t in the picture, Oliver and I were not meant to be.”
“I'm sorry,” Oliver had told her. His eyes looking remorseful and guilty. Guilty for something that was beyond his control.
She had smiled, remembering the boy who promised to protect her all her life. The boy who had tried his best to honour that promise and had succeeded, for the most part, “Don't be. This is the best thing for the two of us. It's the best thing for you. It's the best thing for me.”
She has paused, unsure of whether she should say the next thing that had come into her mind.
She said it anyway, thinking that no harm could have been done by doing so,
“When you come back, make sure you tell Felicity you love her,” She had told him.
His eyes had widened in surprise but then softened, focusing on a point behind her, and she immediately knew what, more accurately who, it was.
Oliver had pulled her in for a hug before whispering, “I’ll do you one better and tell her right now,”
“And he did,” I continue, relishing the shock on Felicity’s face. I suppose no one told her about the complex relationship of their doppelgangers.
I clench my fists as I scramble for the last pieces of the “Oliver” box, “You had your first kiss at the harbour on a grey, cloudy day in front of the Queen’s Gambit.”
A tear instantly forms and drops from Felicity’s eyes as she anticipates the direction of the story, but I opened my box of memories, and I will not be satisfied until I let it all out.
“It was also your last kiss. It was the last time the world saw Oliver Queen. He died on that boat and you, who had no one but Oliver, shut down. You froze your heart, built Smoak Technologies and became untouchable.”
The room is bathed in silence. The kind of silence that is neither comfortable nor welcome. The silence that John Diggle breaks when he barges into the room and collects Felicity Smoak to reunite her with the man she loves, the man that loves her back.
The silence that I cannot remove myself out of. The kind of heartbreaking, gut-wrenching silence that prompts me to return to my desk, to where my phone lies on top of the only tangible piece of the girl I used to be.
And when I finally unfold the paper after ten years, I don't try to stop the tears that fall down my eyes and onto the photograph.
The last photograph I took with my family. It was during Sara’s birthday party, on a bright, sunny, summer day. There’s a table with the birthday cake and several presents and us standing behind it; me, dad, mom, Oliver, Tommy, Felicity and Sara.
I've looked at this photo several times and somehow, up until now, I've never noticed a crucial aspect that resides in this single artifact.
During the shot, Oliver had cracked a joke in Felicity’s ear; one of their inside jokes that no one ever understood, and because of that, Felicity had tilted her head up at her then best friend and laughed. Oliver had laughed back, his eyes glinting with the kind of happiness no one but Felicity Smoak could induce.
And I realize, after all this time, after telling Felicity Smoak of this Earth the story of my Oliver and Felicity, that the look Oliver and Felicity give each other in this photo is not one of friendship but of love. It has always been love.
And I acknowledge the truth that I've been subconsciously aware of for a long time. The truth that I realize after spilling the memories I never wanted to return to just to make Felicity Smoak feel better.
I'm not doing this whole ‘being good thing’ for survival. I'm not doing just for Quentin Lance who sacrificed his life for me.
I'm doing it for my sister. I'm doing it for Tommy Merlyn, the boy who always helped me up. I'm doing it for Oliver Queen, the boy who always protected me. I'm doing it for Felicity Smoak, the girl who lost her whole world in a single boat accident.
I'm doing it for myself; for the girl who was happy, bright, and kind.
Oliver and Felicity’s love made me realize that.
“YOU DON'T FIND LOVE, IT FINDS YOU. IT’S GOT A LITTLE TO DO WITH DESTINY, FATE AND WHAT’S WRITTEN IN THE STARS.” – Anais Nin
Dinah Lance has known for a very long time that Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak are meant to be; in every timeline, in every earth, despite any circumstance.
I wrote this after the recent episode of Arrow and I tried to update as soon as possible so forgive me for spelling and grammar errors.
Also, am I the only one who is loving the new season? It is so much better than the last one.