"Thea thinks we should take a class," Sara says.
Oliver looks up from his paperwork and waits for that to make sense. It doesn't happen. "What?"
"Yeah." Sara's got her own chair in Oliver's office, a circular-shaped minimalist thing that she'd liberated from one of the conference rooms on the eighth floor. It's the ugliest thing Oliver's ever seen, and though he's never had the slightest urge to sit in it, he imagines it's just as uncomfortable as it looks. Sara doesn't care though, she sprawls sideways in it whenever she's there and smirks at anyone who dares to comment. It's like a metaphor for her entire personality. "Like, you know, pottery or swing dancing or something. A class."
"Together? You and me?"
She nods. "She thinks it'll help us or something."
Oliver tries to picture Sara sculpting pottery and fails spectacularly. "Okay."
"That's what I said." Sara sighs, letting her head fall backwards, hair spilling over the rim of her chair. "Just a heads up, she'll probably talk to you about it next."
Oliver sighs. "She means well."
Silence falls; the comfortable kind. Oliver doesn't think he ever truly knew what 'comfortable' meant, before he had these silences with Sara.
"I guess we could," she says, after a few minutes. Oliver looks up from his financials again to see her peering at him, her feet propped up against the window, pushing her chair back to sit on two legs. "If it'd make Thea and your mom feel a little better, I guess."
"What kind of class would we take?" he asks in amusement. "I don't even…"
Sara laughs, a little incredulously. "I don't know. Where do people even take classes? It sounds like something in a romance novel."
"Google," Sara repeats gleefully, still finding it endlessly funny. "Now that sounds like a romance novel term. Google me."
"We're living in the future," Oliver says.
Sara shakes her head. "Apparently."
She turns to look at the ceiling, rocking her chair back and forth on its legs, boot still braced against the window. Oliver watches her for a second before going back to his paperwork.
"I'll find something fun maybe," she says after another minute. "Something physical."
"Yeah," Oliver says. "Physical's good."
For the first year or so, they stuck together constantly. Every minute of every day was spent within arm's length of each other. They never separated, never let each other slip out of sight. It was too dangerous, too risky, too much like the boat, when they were holding hands one second and the next - they were gone, vanished, stolen away by the waves.
Oliver doesn't know what happened, exactly. Maybe it was when he got sick. Dysentery, he knows now, but at the time it was just - sick. Everything was vague, simple, on the island. Sick. Tired. Food. Water.
Anyway. They got better, after that. Maybe they thought - if we get used to not having each other, it'll be easier if. Thought, we should prepare ourselves for the inevitable. Thought, it was a miracle we both survived this long, what are the chances, what are the odds.
It was a small island, really. A few miles across. By the end they knew every inch of it, and they could go weeks, months without seeing each other, only glimpsing the evidence of the other's presence, here and there. Like planets, orbiting each other - you could get so tired of another person, being so inside their head, so isolated with them, but you can't go back once you do that, either. You want them and you don't, you need them but you're sick to death of seeing their face.
If you live somewhere long enough, it becomes a part of you, maybe. Maybe that's why they have so much trouble, trying to be people again. They left the island, but they didn't. Maybe they are the island. Maybe home is just - just another place.
Queen family dinners when Robert was alive were grand, lively things. Robert was a grand, lively person after all - he loved parties, holidays, music, life. He was the ultimate all or nothing man, as Walter says, sometimes, wistfully, holding a glass of scotch. He didn't know the meaning of halfway.
"Just like Ollie," Thea said once. Oliver's still unsure whether it was a compliment.
It's a different animal now, with Walter and Moira, Sara and Oliver, Roy and Thea, these new pairings that nobody had seen coming. Not worse, or better, exactly, just - different. They eat at the same time each night, with rotating menus that Moira and Raisa plan out at the top of each week. The dining room is different too - gone is that scuffed, oak table with the mismatched, wobbly chairs from Oliver's childhood, now in its place is this grand, dark, gothic table, huge chairs that are as tall as Thea is, standing up. They even have a chandelier now - eating dinner in there is like a scene from Downton Abbey.
"I was thinking, like, kickboxing or something," Sara's saying, leaning her elbows on the table, "Thea suggested dancing but can you honestly picture Ollie and me dancing?"
"We dance," Oliver protests. "At parties."
"No, you sway," Thea says.
"Yeah, and you look like you're plotting murder whenever you do it," Roy adds.
Moira clears her throat with that delicate look on her face she gets, whenever Roy feels brave enough to speak up at dinner. He doesn't flinch; he's getting better at not flinching, generally. Oliver's almost impressed. "Kickboxing, though? Isn't there something a little more...advanced, that you could try? I'd think you'd both be well above that."
"Kickboxing, Pilates or Zumba are pretty much our options at this point," Sara says. "That's all they offer at the Y, and I couldn't find anything else, as far as gyms and stuff go - "
"Oh my God," Thea says blithely, "picture Oliver and Sara in a Zumba class. Everyone close your eyes and just imagine it."
"I'm imagining blood," Roy says. Sara chokes on her water, covering her mouth and laughing into her napkin. "Lots of blood. Some crying."
"Isn't that the one set to music?" Walter asks, shooting an indulgent look at the girls, laughing and poking at each other's arms. "No - don't do that."
"I agree; that doesn't strike me as a good fit," Moira says, mouth twitching. "What about yoga, darling? There's an instructor who leads classes at the gym at QC; she's supposed to be very good."
"Isn't that just, like, stretching?" Sara asks, wrinkling her nose.
"Not exactly," Walter replies, laughing a little. "It's much more involved than that, I assure you. I attempted a class once - Moira, do you remember? - I barely made it through."
"Yoga can get intense," Thea offers. "My friend Mindy does it. She's all into it. There's like, a bunch of different kinds, it's like - this whole lifestyle."
"That might be better," Oliver says quietly. "Than kickboxing, at least." Sara looks over and catches his eye. Her earrings sparkle a little, in the candlelight.
"Excellent," Walter says decisively. "I'll look up her name for you, after dinner. I don't remember it off the top of my head."
"F-something," Moira muses. "Felicia, maybe?"
"Something like that," Walter says absently, and takes a bite of chicken.
The yoga instructor's name is Felicity, not Felicia. Felicity Smoak, and she turns out to be the cute blonde girl that Oliver accidentally spilled coffee on one morning, a few months back, when he'd gone down to the fourth floor breakroom to meet with his father's former EA, who now works in Accounting.
("Nope, it's fine, nope," she'd said, shaking her head and waving him back out of her personal space, which he'd invaded without noticing. He's better at that now - not much better. But better. "Seriously, it's fine! I'm wearing jeans, okay. I've had this blouse since I was nineteen. This outfit was made to get stained." She blinked. "I didn't mean, like - I meant normal stains. Not - oh my God okay, never mind, I am officially not talking anymore - "
"At least let me pay for the drycleaning," Oliver replied.
"Drycleaning," she said, blinking, saying the word like she'd never had to pronounce it out loud before. Then she said, "no, that's okay, really," and fled his presence like he'd offended her, which - maybe he did. Oliver's not all that great at recognizing that sort of thing, anymore.)
He hadn't gotten her name, at the time. No matter - he has it now.
"You want to take my class?" she asks, emphasis on the 'you,' as in you, Oliver Queen, of all people, "I mean - of course you can take my class, it's just - "
"Sara and I do," Oliver says. Then, after a beat, "Sara Lance. My - " girlfriend always seems like a strange way to put it, a too-small word to describe everything that Sara was, is, always will be, "partner."
"Right, no, I know who she is." Felicity blinks, adjusting her glasses fastidiously. "I didn't mean - just, you were on TV a lot. When you guys were rescued. Obviously I know who you are, so - wow, I'm sorry, in my head I was like, 'oh I'm totally not gonna bring that up' which I should've known would lead to me bringing it up."
Oliver blinks at her, a little overwhelmed. "Okay."
"Sorry. I talk a lot. Um." Felicity smiles nervously. "The thing is? My class is like, really small."
"Okay," Oliver says again.
"Like, there's only five of us." Felicity gives him a look, like he's supposed to understand what she's actually trying to say here. "They're all women."
"Well for you, yeah." She blushes, a tiny, red tinge at the tops of her cheekbones. "I'm just saying, you know - not trying to discourage you or anything! But - it's kind of a tight-knit group, mostly receptionists and stuff, and we've been working together for awhile, and…"
The light bulb finally clicks. "The CEO's long lost stepson and his girlfriend joining in the middle is going to be a little awkward."
Felicity blows out a breath, like she's relieved he's finally on her same page. "They're kind of gossipy," she says, leaning in slightly, like she's telling him a secret. "I mean, you're still welcome to join, of course, it's your company and all - technically? I guess? - but, you know, fair warning, it'll be a little bit like moving in next door to the TMZ offices and announcing your every move through a speakerphone."
"I see." Oliver nods, considering this. "That sounds...horrible, actually, thank you for the warning."
"Glad I could help." Felicity fidgets a little - she'd chosen Sara's chair, actually, for this meeting. Oliver's not sure if it means anything, but if it does, he thinks it's probably a good sign. "If you're interested, I mean - I teach other classes. This isn't like, my only job." She blushes again. It's cute. "Not that I'm trying to get money out of you, or anything, like - I would have to charge you, since it's not my studio - if it were my studio I'd totally let you have a free class! But - "
"Ms. Smoak," Oliver interrupts.
"Felicity," she insists.
"Felicity." He pauses, rolling it around in his mouth. Felicity. "What studio do you work out of?"
"Harmony Yoga & Wellness," Felicity recites, snapping her fingers and reaching down into her tote bag, digging into the zipper and pulling out a powder blue business card. "Here's my - yeah. I run a bunch of different classes there - not that you have to take any of mine! There's four of us, total, and there's a pretty large variety of options. Whatever you two are most comfortable with - but everybody there is good. Obviously, or I wouldn't work there."
Oliver smiles before he even realizes that he's doing it, sort of taken aback and charmed and half-smitten with this entire experience already. Felicity Smoak, who talks a lot and teaches yoga. This is definitely a thing he did not expect to be in his life before this very moment. "Well," he says, "Walter recommended you, and if you recommend your studio, then it's not much of a choice, I would say."
"Walter recommended me?" Felicity asks, with a pleased little smile. "That's - um. Wow, tell him thanks."
"And." She bites her lip. "There's - one of my classes goes three times a week at four-thirty in the morning? It's a little bit more advanced, but that one's pretty small too, so I'd be able to help you guys catch up, and it's - " she eyes him nervously, folding her hands together in her lap, an obvious tell. "It's a good group of people. My favorite group, actually, and - I'd think you'd fit in well."
There's a kindness in her voice that Oliver trusts - or wants to trust. But his instincts haven't let him down yet, so. "I'll talk to Sara, then," he says. "Four-thirty in the morning, huh?"
"Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday." Felicity shrugs, and smiles. "You seem like the early-riser type," she says. She's not wrong.
Later, after Felicity leaves, Oliver's phone buzzes. It makes this violent rattling sound on the glass top of his desk. He looks down and sees Sara's face, and closes down his email to answer it.
She doesn't say anything at first, and he lets the silence sit, listening to her breathe. She went to see Laurel today. It probably went about as well as it ever does.
"So," she finally says, "did you talk to the cute yoga girl?"
"There's a class at her studio," he says. "Early in the morning."
"Four-thirty am." He smiles at the pained noise she makes. "I'll wake you up. Make you coffee. We have coffee now, remember."
"How cute is she exactly?" Sara huffs. "Like - on a scale. I need to quantify this."
"That's a little twelfth grade for me, Sara, I'm not going to rate our new yoga teacher."
"At least tell me what kind of cute," Sara pushes. "Like - more of a regal, Angelina Jolie prettiness? Or romantic comedy girl next door kinda thing?"
"She's - " Oliver taps his fingers against his desktop, watching his assistant sneaking a game of Candy Crush through the glass walls. "She has glasses. And she babbles."
"Nice," Sara says, in satisfaction. "Angelinas are overrated, anyway."
On the island, there was no time. Sara had kept track of the days at first, notch marks on the side of a tree. Then there'd been this bad storm, and they'd had to stay inside the plane for awhile, and when it was over they both sort of forgot about it.
The boat that found them took them back to its port, where there'd been a small hospital with well-meaning nurses and doctors to give them food and clean clothes and kind, gentle smiles, and one of them had handed Sara a cell phone, and Oliver remembers looking over from his bed to see her staring at it in utter perplexment.
"I don't know how to - " she'd said, and Oliver remembers realizing with a nasty jolt that he hadn't actually heard her speak in quite a while. They hadn't really needed to speak much, at the time. "Ollie, it's 2012."
"August." She laughed, an even stranger sound. "My birthday was last week. Go figure."
The nurse had walked in then, talking quietly in a dialect of Chinese that neither of them recognized. From her hand gestures, though, it was clear that she'd wanted Sara to use the phone. Call your family, of course. It's been five years. Call your family.
Sara had just laughed again, looking over at Oliver and shrugging helplessly.
"I have no fucking clue how to use this thing," she'd said. "I thought it was a computer when she handed it to me."
"2012," he'd said back.
"Yeah, fuck," Sara said.
They actually miss their first class, as Oliver literally cannot wake Sara up. He finds out later that she'd stayed up late with Thea the night before, doing - whatever it is that they do, locked up in the rec room together.
("Sorry," she says, sounding genuinely so, pressing her nose against his neck and kissing his adam's apple. "Really. I am. I'll go to bed early tomorrow."
He kisses her crown, doesn't remind her that the whole thing was her idea. Thea's. Whatever.)
The studio is small, clean, close by to QC. Felicity's at the front desk when they arrive, and waves away their apology.
"I figured you probably slept in or something," she says. "Four-thirty is four-thirty, I get it. Hi, I'm Felicity." She reaches out and offers her hand to Sara, who blinks a little in surprise, still sleep-drunk and groggy. "Sara, right? Nice to meet you."
"Oh. Yeah, uh me too. I mean, thanks." Sara shakes her head and Felicity's hand at the same time. "Sorry, I'm - "
"Four-thirty." Felicity nods. "Yeah, I know. You'll get used to it." She gestures to the desk. "Come on, let's get your paperwork filled out, before everyone else gets here."
Felicity seems a little different, than she'd been before, in Oliver's office. More professional, certainly. Oliver understands. Home turf is a powerful thing. She still chatters, but it seems less uncontrollable now, more like a conversational quirk than a nervous habit.
"I have to warn you," she says, "this class isn't exactly conventional. Like, don't expect to get the typical yoga class experience, or anything, is what I mean. We don't really follow a lot of the 'rules,' so to speak."
"You signed us up for the rebel yoga class," Sara comments, elbowing Oliver's arm softly. "Good one, Ollie."
"We don't do it on purpose!" Felicity exclaims. "It just - sort of happens. Cuz we're all sorta friends. You'll see."
"How many people are in it?" Oliver asks.
"Including the three of us," Felicity replies, "six. I told you it was small - didn't I?"
"You did," Oliver replies, inclining his head. Sara smiles a little, her head still ducked over the form she's filling out. He catches it out of the corner of his eye.
It does become abundantly clear, very quickly, that it's not exactly a class so much as a group of friends working out together. Oliver thinks that it would be very strange, an intrusion of a sort, for he and Sara to be there, if Felicity wasn't exactly the type of person that she is. She has a way about her. He's not sure how to describe it.
John Diggle and his wife Lyla are the first to arrive, pulling up in a big SUV with government plates. The hi-beam headlights shine through the glass door of the studio and reflect off the mirror behind the front desk, causing Felicity to huff and shield her eyes.
"Oh no, the fuzz are here," she says dryly, as they walk in. Both of them laugh.
"Mornin'," the man says, slipping a familiar arm around Felicity's shoulders and squeezing a hello, "these are the new ones?"
"You can say fresh blood, we won't care," Sara says.
"Was actually gonna go with fresh meat, but whatever," he replies. He's about Oliver's height, built, holds himself like a soldier. His wife is the same way - solid-footed, square-jawed, with a kind face and clear eyes. "John Diggle."
"Sara Lance," Sara says, accepting his shake.
"Oliver Queen," Oliver supplies.
"And I'm Lyla, is that coffee?" Lyla points behind the desk. Felicity waves her around, nodding. "Thank God."
"Late night," Diggle says, to Felicity. "Don't ask." She mimes zipping her mouth shut and he grins, shaking his head.
The three of them are obviously in tune together, chatting amicably as they hustle around the workout space, teasing each other lightly as they all set up. It seems easy enough for them to include he and Sara in it, and by the time they've all started to stretch out, Sara's lost that tight-eyed look she gets around strangers, doing leg stretches on a mat next to Lyla and laughing at Digg's jokes.
"Okay, so like," Felicity says, pulling her sweater up over her head and revealing a lycra top, almost identical to Lyla's, "I did warn you two that this isn't conventional. And please feel free to ignore anything they say about me, because I am totally a great yoga teacher, and during all my other classes, I swear to God we meditate and chant and all that stuff. Promise."
"Chanting," Oliver says.
Lyla rolls her eyes. "Yeah, it's a whole thing. Trust me, you're better off, here with the red-eye crowd."
"We'll take your word on that," Sara says.
The last remaining red-eye member stumbles in right at four-thirty on the dot, dumping a ratty backpack on the floor by the door and kicking her shoes off quickly, sending them flying across the room haphazardly.
"Sorry, sorry sorry," she says, stripping out of her heavy coat and scarf, "got held up at work, sorry, fuck - "
"Hey, Sin," Lyla says, laughter in her voice, "new people."
"Oh, sorry," Sin says, whirling around. She's young, short cropped hair around her face and a mouth made for smirking. "Hi. I'm Sin. You're the shipwrecks, right?"
"Sin," Felicity hisses. "Oh my God - "
Sara's laughing, though. "That's awesome, Ollie - that's what we should've named our wifi network, shit."
Sin grins, hopping over to where Oliver and Sara sit, crossing one arm over the other and shaking both their hands at once like a circus clown. "Nice to meetcha."
"You're a menace," Diggle says fondly. "Go get your clothes on, jeez."
Oliver notices for the first time that she's in some sort of work uniform, khakis and a polo with a small logo on the breast pocket. She hops over to the cubbies up against the far wall and grabs a small bag, ducking into the bathroom with a salute. Felicity rolls her eyes at the room, a general statement of exasperation.
"Always late," she says conspicuously, pitching her voice to be heard through the door. Sin hollers something back, muffled and indistinct.
"Okay," Felicity says, clapping her hands together as Sin emerges, barefoot and in that same lycra top that seems to be a shared inside joke or something, "since Oliver and Sara are newbies, you all can do - whatever, I don't care. I'm gonna help them and you can watch. Or not. You decide, I'm not your mom."
Lyla snorts. "Thanks, teach."
"You don't need to rearrange the whole thing for us," Oliver says. "We'll keep up if we can and watch if we can't."
"Hey, I am the teacher," Felicity says, "so I'll rearrange if I want. They're impossible, anyway." She waves a hand, and sure enough, Diggle and Lyla are already in some sort of matching pose, their foreheads pressed to their mats and their legs stretched out behind them. "See? Can't tell them nothing."
Sara glances over and shrugs, rolling her shoulders and settling down cross-legged on her mat. Oliver silently follows suit. "Okay."
"Okay, great," Felicity says, dragging her mat a little closer. "Sin, you in?"
"Sure." Sin shrugs, and shoots Oliver a big, cheesy smile. "Can I set up behind him?"
"No," Felicity says.
It is mostly stretching. Intense stretching. It's easy to get lost in it. Felicity helps, although he's pretty sure she thinks she's doing the opposite.
(Oliver's pretty sure this is a common occurrence, for Felicity. To help and not know it.)
"You guys are in pretty fantastic shape, huh," she says, helping Sara roll up her mat. "Like - of course you are, obviously you would be. Not that - that wasn't a comment about the deserted island. I was just saying, you're both really, um, fit, of course you would do well, physically, uh - "
"I always poke her when she does that," Sin calls from across the room. Lyla, gulping from a water bottle next to her, reaches out and smacks her without looking.
"You're so cute," Sara says, shaking her head with a laugh. "Relax. We both know what happened, we're not gonna have a breakdown if you mention it."
"Still, I'm sorry," Felicity says, rising to her feet and looking somewhat mortified. "I swear I'm not always like this."
"Too bad." Sara grins, and Felicity's eyes widen comically.
"I like them," Diggle announces. Sara's grin widens.
In the car, Sara says, "I liked it."
Oliver flips on the turn signal and stops completely at the red light before turning right. He doesn't need to; it's still early and the intersection is empty.
"Did you like it?"
If he looks over, he'll probably see her making that face, like she's surprised at herself. "Yeah, I liked it."
"Really?" Sara reaches out and takes his hand, resting on the gear shift. "Okay. We'll keep going then."
Oliver squeezes. "Okay."