“When I said I could use a bath, this was not what I was thinking of!” Felicity flinched but mercifully didn’t shriek as another spate of gunfire chewed up the wall against the ancient claw-foot tub. Oliver was especially grateful because her mouth was only two inches away from his ear.
Drywall and dust pattered against his back, but he just gritted his teeth. Sara and Digg should be there soon. They had Felicity’s tracker. They had to get there soon or else Oliver and Felicity weren’t making it back to Starling City.
“I meant,” Felicity went on, flinching again and pausing for the gunfire that pinged off of the side of the tub, “that I was really dusty and could use a shower with water instead of drywall.”
“Yeah, I got that.”
“Not that I was, you know, imagining you and me taking a bath together or anything and—why did they stop shooting? That’s a bad thing. Shooting’s bad but not shooting’s usually worse.”
Felicity quieted, though he could see that her eyes widen in fear when he carefully lifted his head over the edge of the tub. There wasn’t the sound of Digg and Sara opening what Felicity liked to call a can of vigilante whoop-ass on the mercs, which worried him. He could see the exact instant Felicity arrived at the same conclusion, for she opened her mouth again.
He put his hand over her mouth to stop her.
She glared and bit him. When he glared back, she hissed, “Why does your hand taste like sock? Also, don’t do that. It’s demeaning.”
“Fine.” Her eyes promised that he was going to hear about this particular incident later, provided they survived. They were crammed in the tub, and even though he was doing his best not to crush her, he really didn’t have a choice. Or a weapon. When the mercs came in, he would have less than a second to react. He motioned for her to stay put and raised himself out of the tub, intending to drop silently to the floor and belly-crawl to the door.
Right before he could, though, they both heard the click of a safety. Felicity reached up and yanked, hauling him down on top of her once again.
The gunfire perforated the wallpaper where he’d been a second before. “New plan!” Felicity said. “Stay in the tub.”
“Stay in the tub,” Oliver agreed.
Two minutes later, Oliver craned his neck to look up at the cavalry, who stood over the tub, identical grins on their faces. “Have a nice bath?” Sara asked while Digg extended his hand to help a plaster-covered Felicity out.
“I prefer the real thing,” she told both of them with a sour look. “Oliver’s attendance is optional. I mean—oh, god, never mind. Let’s get out of here.”
“No, no, no, please don’t die, please don’t be dead.”
The voice cut through an intense, all-encompassing sense of cold, so stark and so deep that Oliver didn’t remember how heat even felt. Everything was cold. An eternity of winter and ice and frost.
“Oliver, please, please don’t be dead, please be okay—you need to be okay—”
His eyelids felt unbearably heavy. Why was it so cold? Was he on the island again? “Felicity?”
Something cold touched his cheek, and he tried to flinch away but everything dragged at him. “Oliver! You’re alive, you’re—you made it, you’re going to be okay.”
“I know, I know. But it had to be done. Open your eyes. I need to see your pupils, okay?”
“Dun’wanna. Turn off the air conditioner.”
“The air con—oh, Oliver. Here.” He felt something push against him and suddenly his shoulders were a tiny bit warmer. “Better? Open your eyes. I need to know you’re okay, that the drug didn’t work. It’s never boring, working this job, is it? C’mon. Open up.”
“If I do, will you leave me alone?”
He felt her huff of laughter against his skin. “I’ll think about it,” she said.
He forced one eye open and if he’d had any more energy, he might have jumped back in surprise at how close her face was. Where were her glasses? He opened both eyes in confusion: he was in the bathtub in a room he didn’t recognize. And it was full of ice water?
“We got dosed. Well, you got dosed. I had to lower your body temperature and I realize exactly how odd this must be because it’s not every day you wake up in a tub full of ice with your EA and in your underwear, but you’re going to be okay.”
“It happens more than you think,” Oliver said, and then it struck him that he could see a lot of Felicity’s skin. In fact, her shoulders were bare and when he looked down, he realized he wasn’t the only person in his underwear. “Nice bra.”
She blew out a breath that moved the little wisps of hair around her face. “Well, at least we know you’re cognizant. Can you tell me your full name?”
“Lord Anarchy’s stronghold. I locked them out.” Her lower lip was quivering. Actually, Oliver realized, she was shaking—no, shivering. Without thinking, he lifted his hand and put it on her shoulder, hoping to help, only for her to flinch. “S-sorry. You’re really cold.”
“Why’re you in the tub with me?”
“Because you kept trying to drown.”
“Why’re we in our underwear?”
“Because we need to get into something dry later, provided you weren’t going to die.” She was kind of crouched over him, her feet planted on either side of his waist and her hands braced against the back of the tub, under his armpits. It put their faces close together, letting him see the goosebumps all over her shoulders and neck. “How do you feel? Besides cold?”
“What’s your full name?”
“Why do you keep asking me that?”
He recited his name and the serial number he’d made up when he’d been pretending to be in the Army, and she nodded. “They’ve got some blankets in the corner. I’m going to pull you out of here and we’ll warm up while you regain your strength.”
Oliver nodded and very carefully did not look down the front of her bra, even though it was kind of right there in his face. This was Felicity. She’d just saved his life yet again. She deserved respect. “Can’t feel my toes,” he said.
“Savor that feeling. In about ten minutes you’re going to not want to feel your toes at all,” she said. She went down on one knee, which put them even closer together, and nudged her shoulder under his armpit. “Ready?”
He wasn’t, but Oliver nodded anyway. It took a lot of grunting and all of his strength, but they managed to make it safely over the edge of the tub. He began to shake even harder, which made Felicity swear and pat him down with one of the blankets. She looked at him critically for a long second.
“What?” he asked, doing his best to remain upright as she picked up the second, dry blanket.
“This wasn’t quite how I imagined this would go,” she said, wincing.
“How you imagined what would—” Oliver started to say, but he broke off when Felicity wrapped the blanket around his shoulders and helped him sit down on the floor by a heating vent. “Felicity, what are you—”
“Sara and Digg are going to get such a kick out of this if they find us before we find them,” Felicity said, and kneeling, she crawled into his lap, tucked her head under his chin, and hugged him. He was incredibly numb from the cold, but strangely, he could feel her eyelashes against his clavicle as she squeezed her eyes shut.
“Uh,” Oliver said.
“Shut up, we’re sharing body heat, and if you let me keep talking, I will make this awkward. So let’s just sit here in silence, okay?”
Oliver found that he really didn’t have that much energy and Felicity’s hair smelled nice. “Okay,” he said. “Sorry about the scars, though. I know they’re a little ragged.”
“It’s fine. I’m used to them. Not like, I spend hours staring at them or have them memorized or anything or—this is exactly what I was talking about. Okay, whatever, I can’t keep quiet. So here’s what happened. You took a shot that was aimed at me and I had to get your body temperature down to nullify the drugs in your system. But you’re alive and very soon we’ll get dressed and run out of here and you’ll put the fear of Arrow into some henchmen who probably don’t even have pensions, and everything will be okay.”
“Everything will be okay,” Oliver said. He wasn’t sure which one of them was shivering harder, so he tightened his grip. “Hey, Felicity?”
“You saving my life? Never awkward.”
He felt her eyelashes brush against him again as she blinked rapidly, and he decided not to think about how much he enjoyed the sensation. “Thanks,” she said.
“I’ve got an idea,” Felicity said. “And it’s probably crazy enough to work.”
Oliver, who was standing by the attic window, counting the number of minions filtering in below with a sense of grimness he didn’t feel like sharing with the rest of the class, looked over at her. For a second, he lowered the bow and followed her gaze. “No,” he said.
She raised an eyebrow in challenge. “You’ve made crazier entrances and we know it’ll stop bullets, we’ve lived through that before.”
“Isn’t it a little…Scooby-Doo?” Oliver asked.
“Oh, excellent.” Sara, who’d been checking the roof, swung back in. “Kind of thought it’d be a little different when I was getting into a tub with the both of you, but I’m game.”
Felicity made a random noise. “Anyway,” she said, turning deliberately toward him. “You cannot complain about things being Scooby-Doo, Oliver. You put on a hood and hunt bad guys with a bow and arrow every night. If you weren’t so ab-solicious and all around good, you’d be the Scooby-Doo villain at the end of the episode, okay? You got a better idea?”
Oliver scowled because he really didn’t. “You are aware of how many ways this can go wrong?”
“Oh, c’mon, Ollie.” The three of them dragged the tub over to the door at the top of the stairs as Sara shot him a wide grin. “You can’t deny this is going to be fun.”
“What is it with us and bathtubs, anyway?” Felicity asked as Sara climbed in first. She climbed in after the Canary and ducked down, looking both fearful and determined.
“Got your earplugs in?” Sara asked, and Felicity and Oliver confirmed that they did. “Let’s do this thing. Ollie, give us a push?”
“I let the two of you talk me into the worst things,” Oliver grumbled, but he shoved off against the tub as hard as he could just as Sara opened the door and then they were flying and so were the bullets and arrows.
“We think he’s using it as a distraction,” Oliver said, talking toward Felicity’s phone, on the bedspread next to them. “So keep looking for him and don’t worry about us. He’s got some kind of diabolical plan. I know his type.”
“Should be locked away in an asylum?” Diggle’s voice was absolutely dry.
“Too smart for his own good,” Oliver shot back.
“We know he’s not alone there.” Across the bed, Felicity frowned. She was bent over the cuffs locking her left wrist to Oliver’s right wrist, her hair a tangled disarray. He was still in his leathers and she wore the same skirt and blouse she’d had on the night before, but they’d already checked: neither had any memory beyond walking out to their cars outside the Foundry after a shift of saving the city. Or any idea how they’d come to wake up, handcuffed together, atop Felicity’s comforter. “I think I got it.”
“Are you sure? Because PuzzleMaster doesn’t seem like the type that lets you have a do-over.”
Felicity looked up, her eyes meeting his for a very serious moment.
“Okay,” Oliver said. “Sorry. You got this.”
“Thank you. Though I’m not kidding when I say I’m moving, like, as soon as we get out of these cuffs. It is creepy that that man was all up in my townhouse, going over my life.”
Oliver reached over and gently wrapped his fingers around her wrist, above the cuff. “I will help you move.”
“My hero,” Felicity said, her throat working. It hadn’t taken her long to realize that the handcuffs attaching them to each other were yet another one of PuzzleMaster’s mind-games. He’d been leaving them giant puzzles to solve (which usually involved saving lives in what Felicity called Saw, Part Arrow) for three days, and Oliver knew that Felicity had been approaching the end of her rope, her eyes growing more and more frantic the more people ended up in PuzzleMaster’s twisted crosshairs. The dark circles under her eyes made him want to hit something, but until they actually found the man behind all of this chaos, he was stuck without a punching bag. It was like the Clock King all over again. “Okay, so not that you’re too interested, but it’s a formula I learned at MIT, in my theory class my sophomore year. He’s testing my mathematical knowledge. And if I’m wrong…these needle things are probably going to inject us with poison and I hope you told everybody you love them recently.”
“You can do it,” Oliver said, tightening his grip a little.
“I hope I told everybody I love them recently,” Felicity said.
“You told me that just yesterday,” Diggle said over the phone. “Twice.”
“I brought you coffee. You declared your everlasting love for all things Diggle. It was touching.”
“Did I break out into song?”
“No, but there was a little dance number. You can do this, Felicity. I’ll be there in ten minutes. Sara and Roy are out looking for the distraction, you two are more important.”
“Should we wait?” Felicity asked, eyeing the needles that were ever so slowly pushing in toward their wrists.
Oliver shook his head. “No time, just do it.”
“Okay, but—never mind. We’re going to get through this and there is time to deal with this later.” Felicity took a deep, hiccup-y breath and bent over the cuffs with a look of sheer determination. He could hear the catch in her breathing, but her hands never shook as she slid the little tiles around on the panel between the two locked cuffs. Oliver stayed absolutely still while she worked. He counted his heartbeats and imagined punching PuzzleMaster the first chance he got. For hurting his city, for upsetting Felicity, the reason didn’t really matter.
“Here we go,” Felicity whispered and her hand finally shook as she slid the final tile into place.
With a click, the cuffs sprang loose, freeing Oliver and Felicity’s wrists. Felicity leaned back with a sigh—and the tiny little spout over the tile panel shot a geyser of fine blue-white dust in their faces.
“What the—” Felicity started coughing, her face contorting with disgust. “Oh, crap, it tastes like—”
“Don’t breathe!” Oliver tackled her across the bed, spinning in midair so that his shoulders and back took the brunt of their landing. He kept that panicked image of her blinking away the dust in his mind as he stumbled to his feet, already racing for her bathroom. “Your clothes, take off your clothes!”
“What?” she asked, tripping along behind him.
“Chemical agent—take off your clothes! Do it, do it now!” He had to elbow the door to her bathroom open, as he was already reaching for the zipper of his Arrow tunic. Blindly, he reached for the spigot, turning it on full.
She yelped when he plucked her up and dumped her under the stream. “What’s—what—”
“Don’t exactly have a chemical shower. This will have to do,” he said, flinching because the water was cold. They fumbled for the buttons on her shirt, adrenaline making their hands clumsy. After three fumbling attempts to get a button undone, he growled. “Screw it, I’ll buy you a new one,” he said, and he ripped the shirt down the front, shoving the pieces off of her.
Felicity gasped, her eyes going wide. But she blinked and then she was tugging at the waistband of his pants, fingers digging for the snap and he was so concerned about how close she had been to the mystery dust that he didn’t give a damn. Soap. She had to have soap somewhere. She always smelled amazing—there. He snatched up the bottle of body wash and dumped it right on her shoulders and back even as his pants tangled around his knees.
He stepped out of them, kicking them to the side. Before he could reach for her skirt, though, Felicity squeaked and pushed it off herself, so he focused on the soap, spreading great gobs of it everywhere. For several frantic seconds, all he could think was that they needed to get clean of the dust, that soap would help, so his hands roamed all over Felicity’s torso while she rubbed soap onto his chest…
And his brain kicked back in.
This was Felicity.
“O-Oliver,” Felicity said. “Your hair—your hair’s still dry.” She lurched backward even as she grabbed him by the waist, tugging him forward. It ultimately put them in a weird position, though, since her bathtub really wasn’t all that big, so she was stuck between the soap rack and the blue tile and him. And he should have looked away as he felt the water—scalding hot—stream over his head and down his shoulders. But she was right there, her hair plastered around her face. She had her lower lip gripped in her teeth, her eyes huge and frightened.
A dab of soap clung to the tip of her nose. He couldn’t stop staring at it.
Felicity swore under her breath. “Screw it,” she said in exactly the same tone he’d used a minute before and Oliver was lucky he was fast on his feet because she seemed to leap at him. She took a step up onto the lip of the tub, wrapped her arms around his neck, and pretty much attacked his mouth with hers. It took Oliver a second of confusion to really catch what was going on and by that time, Felicity had one hand on the back of his neck and the other gripping his shoulder, and she was kissing him.
Some part of him knew that he should step back, but he didn’t care. So when she slipped off of the edge of the tub, he caught her, changing the angle of the kiss so that she wasn’t looming over him. She ended up pushed against the tile again, but this time, the water beat down on his back, her fingers clamping down on his shoulder. He wrapped a hand around her thigh to keep her from slipping, their chests pressing together.
Their noses bumped and Felicity pulled back with a gasp—and then a curse as she smacked her head against the tile. “Oww,” she said, eyes closing.
“Felicity!” It was pretty much everything he could possibly need to jolt him out of the moment, out of the incredible and intense and remarkable kiss that had just blindsided him. He set her on her feet, already reaching for the back of her head. “Let me see.”
“It’s fine. Oh, god, it’s fine, it’s—I don’t know what just happened, I’m not normally like that and please don’t hate me. I just—the water, the soap, and we could have almost died and you are not responsible for my feelings, okay, you are completely in the clear, this was all me, and I need to get away from you and that chest and the abs and—”
“Felicity,” Oliver said, taking a deep breath. He had to focus on breathing because if he thought about anything else, they would both regret it. So he reached out to feel the back of her head.
“Please don’t give me the pity look.” Felicity put her hands up, cursing when they brushed against his chest. “I’ve already embarrassed myself enough today and—underwear, I am in my underwear. Just forget about this, all of this.”
He tried saying her name again, but she just kept going, talking at speeds only Felicity Smoak could achieve. He gave her a frustrated look until she stammered to a stop. “Yes?” she asked, looking the most pitiful he’d seen her since her network had been blown up.
“I want to get a look at your head.”
“My head’s fine. I hit it on things all the time, I’m a bona fide klutz.”
“Okay,” Oliver said. “But humor me anyway.”
“Such a worrywart,” Felicity said, attempting to smile. The look quavered and died on her lips as she leaned forward to let Oliver get a look at the back of her head. “Oliver?”
“Yeah?” He didn’t even feel a bump as he probed his fingers around on the back of her head, to be sure. He absolutely did not think about how close they were standing, or the water running over both of them, or how both of them smelled like her soap. This was not the time for it.
“Please say something. Anything. I am seriously freaking out here. And not—not just about the kissing, because wow, I understand so much more right now, but about the powder and what’s going on. Please just be my friend.”
“Are you going to let me get a word in edgewise?” Oliver asked, and Felicity looked absolutely miserable as she nodded. “It’s okay. We’re going to be okay. I’m not feeling anything from the dust, are you? It was probably just PuzzleMaster messing with us.”
“Messing with us how? Like, like that stuff that Homewrecker dosed you and Sara with?”
“I…” Oliver blinked. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Great, so that whopper of a kiss I just laid on you was all me.” Felicity bit her lips and closed her eyes for a second. “I don’t have a good excuse. I am so sorry.”
“It was the heat of the moment,” Oliver said before he could stop himself. “You said it yourself. It’s fine. It’s…no reason to change anything.”
What on earth was he saying? What was he doing?
“R-right,” Felicity said.
“And I, I think you’re remarkable, Felicity, I meant that when I first met you and that hasn’t changed.”
“But you don’t feel that way about me,” Felicity said.
Actually, what he was feeling was that he very much wanted to pick up where that kiss had left off. But instead he reached out and turned the water off. The sudden silence in the bathroom only amplified their breathing. “I wish I was allowed to,” he said. “But I don’t pity you and I could never hate you. You’re the one person in my life that I could never hate.”
Felicity looked down and took a deep breath. “Oliver, what are you saying?”
“I’m saying that…” They both looked over when they heard the sound of the front door being shoved open and Diggle shouting both of their names. When Felicity squeaked, Oliver grabbed the fluffy green towel from the rack by the door and handed it to her.
Diggle crashed into the doorway a few seconds later, his eyebrows shooting up when he took in Felicity wrapping a towel around herself. “What happened here?”
“We got dosed with something. PuzzleMaster rigged the cuffs,” Felicity said.
“Are you okay?” Diggle wasn’t looking at Oliver but at Felicity.
She nodded. “It hasn’t taken effect, whatever it is. Sara should probably test our blood, and we’ll need to run an analysis on the dust. It’s all over my bed still. Excuse me, I think I’ve got some clothes in the dryer downstairs so I’m just going to…”
She slipped by Diggle and Oliver stood there dripping in his boxers, feeling as though he’d just handled everything wrong.
“I know that face,” Diggle said. “What happened?”
“I really don’t want to talk about it.”
“I am going to kill Sara,” Felicity said. “Or, on second thought, I am not going to do that because she was bench pressing my body weight the other day and she could snap me like a twig, but she will be getting a very strongly worded email from me as soon as I fire up my laptop. What was she thinking, changing our reservation?”
Oliver scowled. He agreed with Felicity, but it wasn’t like he could point that Sara, among others, had picked up that things were a little off between the two of them and had devised her own plan to set things right. Which involved changing their reservations to a room with a single bed. Real subtle, Sara, he thought, staring at the bed like it was the enemy.
As far as he was concerned, it was. That incredibly hot, incredibly brief kiss they’d shared in Felicity’s bathroom had screwed everything up for him and nearly a month later, they were all still dealing with the fallout. And he hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in that entire time because all he could think about was how ridiculously hot that thirty seconds had been, and how he was hyper-aware of every single movement Felicity made now. He’d spent a board meeting watching her hands the other day, admiring their shape, wondering how she decided which colors to paint her nails.
It was beyond ridiculous.
“Oliver?” Felicity asked. “Any idea why she’d do this?”
“You’ll have to ask her.” Oliver glared at the bed again as he set their luggage down. “I’ll sleep in the tub.”
“I can sleep anywhere and you deserve your privacy. I’m kind of tired.” He picked up his bag and one of the pillows from the bed and headed for the bathroom, grateful that the hotel was fancy enough that the bathtub and toilet were actually in separate rooms. “Good night, Felicity.”
“Good…night,” she called after him, sounding confused.
In the bathroom, he stripped out of his suit and grabbed a pair of sweatpants. It had been a long day, full of jet travel and frustrating delays. Lyla and ARGUS had called in a favor from Diggle and Sara had been needed to handle something with Helena and Laurel, which meant that only Felicity and Oliver were available to travel to Coast City to check out some of QC’s factories. The fact that the trip had nothing to do with his vigilante life and he had still been tricked into sharing a hotel room Felicity made things burn even more. Prior to their little incident in the shower, Felicity would have made the trip at least partially amusing by pointing things out to Oliver, but now with things being strained between them, Oliver had had no choice but to stew in silence for most of the day.
And now he was just bone tired. And beyond that, tired of it all.
Of course, lying down in the tub did absolutely nothing because all he could think about was what lay beyond the door. He adjusted the pillow, staring determinedly at the ceiling as if that could possibly will sleep to come.
When he heard the knock on the main door and the call of “Room service!” he lifted his head. His stomach growled, as dinner was just a distant memory. Muted conversation that he assumed was Felicity chatting with the waiter followed, and then silence.
The second, closer knock made him lift his head. “Yes?”
“You’ve seen me in less,” Oliver said, as he wasn’t wearing a shirt.
“Works for me.” Felicity nudged the door open with her shoulder, as she was balancing a wine bottle and two glasses in one hand and a platter on the other arm. “I’m starved and if I’m hungry, I figure you have to be two times worse. At the very least. Hold this, will you?” She shoved the platter at Oliver and moved over to grab a chair out of the corner of the room, dragging it over beside the tub. Instead of sitting in it, though, she set the platter atop it, forming a little table.
“What are you doing?” Oliver asked.
“Late night snack. Sorry for using the company card, but if you share, it’s justified. Scoot over.”
“Wh-what?” But he didn’t have a choice; Felicity climbed into the bathtub with him, sitting with her knees pulled up to her chest. She wore a black tank top and bright pink silk pants, and her hair was down in lazy ringlets around her neck. Her feet were bare and he could see that her toenails were painted the same green as his hood, which he found pretty damned distracting. He pushed that aside to focus on her face. “What’s going on?”
“I got you some of those stuffed olives.” Felicity reached for a bacon-wrapped date (“Don’t tell my mother.”) and popped it into her mouth before she poured the wine. She held the first glass out to him. “C’mon, it’s been a long day. Don’t make me drink alone.”
“If you insist.” He offered her the pillow to lean back against, since she looked intent on staying, but Felicity waved it off. “Cheers.”
“Cheers.” They clicked glasses. Felicity rubbed the side of her neck as she took a long swallow. “I thought that flight was never going to end.”
“The wait at the airport was longer.”
“So long. Ugh. If this meeting weren’t so important to your investors, I’d have cancelled all of our plans when they told us there were engine troubles.”
Oliver tilted his head, considering. “I think I give you too much power.”
“You’d be lost without me.” Felicity sorted out the cheese and crackers, offering him his favorite before she took a cheese-laden cracker for herself. “In fact, I kind of feel like you are.”
“Please, let me talk.” She pushed her shoulders back, spine seeming to straighten vertebra by vertebra. She met his gaze directly. “I screwed up, Oliver. I thought it was my worst nightmare that I would make my move and get turned down, but what happened is worse than that, and I don’t know how to fix it. I broke everything.”
“You didn’t break anything,” Oliver said, guilt churning through his stomach.
“But I did. I could’ve kept my feelings inside. I’m good at that. And what we had was better than anything, it was more than just some stupid crush and it was the best thing in my life. I feel like I broke your trust that day in the shower.”
Her gaze never wavered. “Then why is it so weird between us?”
His voice dried up. “Because,” he managed to say.
“You don’t have to lie to protect my feelings. It’s okay. I can take it. I want to fix it. If it’s something we can’t come back from, I’ll understand.”
“Felicity, it wasn’t you, it was me!” Oliver pushed his hand over his hair, scowling when Felicity gaped at him. “I screwed it up, and I can’t seem to fix it. I also can’t stop thinking about that kiss and you and your fingernails or how you chew on pen caps or anything. As you can see,” and he gestured at the bathtub as though that should explain everything, and it kind of did, in his opinion, “I’m not handling it well.”
“Oh,” she said, and then her eyes widened. “Oh. My fingernails, really? I…no, that’s not the point. The point is—wait, what?”
“It’s not you, that’s the point,” Oliver said. “And I’m sorry it’s weird. It’s my fault. But then, it usually is.”
Felicity opened her mouth to say something but seemed to change her mind. Oliver really wanted to look away, but he couldn’t, not when her face was cycling through emotions almost too fast for him to comprehend. “Exactly why are you blaming yourself?” she said at length. “It’s not because that’s what you always do, right? There are two of us here that have clearly failed to communicate.”
“No,” Oliver said, shaking his head. “This time, it’s my fault.”
“Because I didn’t want to stop kissing you that day and it’s wrong because you deserve a lot better than me, okay?” And this was not really an appropriate conversation for a bathtub, Oliver realized, but some part of him pointed out that stomping out was only going to look ridiculous. He picked up his wine and took a long drink, scowling. “So yes, my fault. I’m sorry I made it weird. Whatever you want me to do to fix it, I’ll do it.”
Felicity lowered her chin a little so that she was studying him in that way she sometimes did, whenever she claimed the mysteriousness was getting too large. He gritted his teeth. “Could really use an answer, Felicity,” he said.
“Hmm,” was all she said. She surprised him, then: she scooted a little closer. “I think you need to tell me about the pen caps.”
She bit down gently on the tip of her thumb in thought, resting her knuckles against her cheekbone. She never broke eye contact. Oliver felt his blood pressure begin to creep up. “You heard what I said. I’ve been driving you to distraction?”
“You don’t want this,” Oliver said, holding very still.
“I have given you plenty of evidence to the contrary.” She kept nibbling on her thumb. “Oliver, I am really smart. Like, super smart, MENSA levels of intelligence we’re talking about. And when I say I don’t think there’s actually a problem here, you should take my word for it.”
“It’s probably a bad idea,” Oliver said.
Felicity tilted her head and he thought back to that dab of soap on her nose and the way she’d felt against him and all of those thousands of stupid smiles and things keeping him awake at night. “Nah,” she said.
“Nah? That’s all you have to say?”
“Yup.” She leaned over to set her wineglass outside of the bathtub and scooted forward until she was almost right up against him. He swallowed hard. “The way I see it, we’re adults. You didn’t want to stop kissing me and I didn’t want you to stop, either. I don’t actually see how there is a problem.”
“And when it goes wrong?”
She touched his face, the tips of her fingers light against his jaw. “Why does it have to go wrong?”
“You’ve never been with anybody with computer skills as awesome as mine, so I don’t think it counts, but nice try.” She blinked, rapidly. “Or, wait, have you? Because if so—”
He couldn’t help it: the tension broke and he laughed. “Felicity,” was all he said, and he leaned forward, closing the distance between them. This time, there wasn’t the threat of life or death between them, no water pounding on their heads, no villain waiting to poison them or kill them. He just kissed her, slowly, as her hand slid from his jaw to the back of his neck.
“See?” she asked, leaning back, and for the first time, he could see the hesitance in the way she regarded him. “Isn’t this way better?”
“Know-it-all,” Oliver said, and he kissed her just to feel her smile against his lips.
“Um, we are actually going to get out of the tub eventually, right?”