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A Debt Paid

Chapter Text

A single bulb hung from the ceiling in the dimly lit office space, the sparse furniture and shelving but shadows against the wall, the light faltering in its attempts to chase away the darkness.

 

The single bulb produced a stream of golden light to the scene below as it unfolded, its prism illuminating the shape of a man sitting in an old, metal chair just as he was struck against the jaw.

 

The man, appearing to be in his late fifties with salt and pepper hair, his eyes wrinkled with old age and a beard that hadn’t been kept, groaned as he turned his head to spit dark liquid onto the floor beside him- blood. A closer inspection would reveal a bit of chipped tooth now embedded in the growing pool of dark red liquid.

 

Feeling the familiar shock of white, hot pain shoot through his jaw and down his back, the man choked back a groan of pain. His left eye swollen shut during the assault, he grimaced when he saw his assailant switch his stance. Feeling as though another closed fist was coming his way, the man closed his eyes and briefly prayed to any gods that would listen to him that this last punch would send him into the darkness.

 

The man waited with baited breath, but never felt the weight of the other man’s fist come into contact with his face. Risking another swollen eye, the man opened his one good eye, seeking out the blurry image of his attacker. He fidgeted in his spot when the man just stood there, but the ropes tying his arms to the chair rendered him immobile.

 

He knew this man- John Diggle, more commonly known as just “Diggle,” ex-military, private security detail to the rich and famous and now enforcer and right hand man to the largest group of Bratva members in the United States.

 

Feeling a sense of security, the man allowed himself to get a good look at his captor. John Diggle intimidated most men by his towering height and the overwhelming width of his arms. The deadly combination had brave men cowering before him and the Bratva used that to their advantage.

 

The man watched as Diggle retreated a couple of steps, hiking his leg upon the desk that sat behind him, perching his hip against the cool wood beneath him. His eyes never left the man’s own and it sent a shiver up his spine. Without blinking, he watched as Diggle cracked his knuckles against his palms, waiting patiently for his next go around.

 

The man swallowed, his throat dry and raspy. He’d give anything for a decent glass of whiskey right about now. He kept his mouth shut. When you were in the presence of the Bratva, you didn’t ask for anything unless you were willing to sell your soul.

 

James Smoak, husband, father and notorious Las Vegas gambler, had no shortage of people who he owed money to in Sin City. He was constantly caught in a cycle of borrowing money, gambling it, and making just enough profit to cover his last loan. However, his luck began to run out, loans became outstanding and now the dangerous people he had done business with were coming for him.

 

Feeling the heavy burden of protecting his wife and daughter from his mistakes, James did the only thing he knew how to do- he gambled. This time he went to the only place where he didn’t owe anybody anything- the Bratva. He knew it was a dangerous calculation that he would even make it out of their offices alive, but he had always been good with numbers. If only he could make them see the profit they would gain, he might actually have a deal.

 

James met with Bratva Pakhan, Anatoly Knyazev, godfather of the Bratva. He took pity on the man, knowing that his family should be punished for this man’s mistakes. Anatoly was a ruthless man, but even he had morals- women and children were to be protected, not punished.

 

Anatoly promised James that all of his debts would be taken care and even assured James that his house’s mortgage would be paid for by the time he arrived safely back at his house. Anatoly even offered to set up a college fund for his youngest daughter to go to any school that she wished.

 

James was thrilled with the offer from the Bratva, falling on his knees in thanks. Promising that he would pay back every single penny.

 

Anatoly become serious, stating that he had five years to pay the Bratva back in full with interest. Stating that if he did not comply with this arrangement, that he would be met with the Brotherhood’s full weight.

 

At first James had worked hard to repay the Bratva, doing odd jobs here and there using his unique computer skills, but after he began to feel a sense of security, his old habits came crawling back. He once again turned back his old gambling ways, wasting the next five years of his life.

 

And because of that weakness inside of him, he now found himself within the grips of the Bratva. His time was up and he knew it. The ropes around his arms might as well have been around his neck, for he knew how much in trouble he was in.

 

James mind raced with flashes of his wife and daughter, wishing that he had had the strength to take care of them like a real man should. Gambling with money, particularly other men’s money had come naturally for him, win or lose, but this kind of gambling, gambling with not only his life, but with the lives of his wife and daughter made him physically nauseous.

           

James was ripped from his thoughts when he heard the low timber of John Diggle’s voice permeate the room, the only sound in the room almost as painful to his ears as his fists colliding with his face.

 

“I would like to think that I’m a very patient man, Mr. Smoak,” Diggle said, rolling his shirtsleeves further up his massive arms. James quickly wondered how the seams hadn’t ripped into shreds already as they stretched around the man’s biceps.

 

James had to strain in order to hear Diggle’s words, his deep voice being drowned out by the pounding of James’ heart just below his chest threatening to burst out of his chest. James trained his eyes on Diggle, feeling himself coward inwardly against the man’s piercing, dark eyes.

 

“But I’m not the one that you’ve pissed off, Mr. Smoak,” Diggle said in a deadly tone, “That would be my boss,” Diggle turned his head briefly smirking into the darkness, “and he isn’t exactly known for his patience.”

 

James’ eyes widened as he looked into the darkness behind Diggle, a nervous gulp feeding the butterflies in his stomach. He hadn’t known there was another man in the room. His eyes stared into the darkness and as they began to adjust to the darkness, a silhouette of a man began to form before his very eyes.

 

James shivered, this man had not made the slightest bit of noise or moved enough to make his presence known. This both intrigued and terrified James. He could now feel the dangerousness emanating from that particular space of darkness. He could feel the cold touch of two unseen eyes trained on him and he could help but turn inwardly on himself against that heavy weight.

 

James’ eyes danced back and forth between Diggle and the silent, shadow behind the desk. Before he finally focused on Diggle, deciding that if he could see the person he would be begging for his life, he might be able to use that to his advantage, watching their facial features change and monitoring their physical signs as to whether he would live or die.

 

“Please,” James begged, the swelling of his jaw distorting the pronunciation of the simplest words, “Please, sir, have mercy on an old fool.”

 

Diggle’s cold demeanor gave no indication that he had any sympathy for the man in front of him. It was always the same when the Bratva came to collect- there was begging and bargaining. Sometimes a new deal was struck and sometimes the debt was paid with life. Either way made no difference to him; he was paid not to care either way and this time wasn’t any different.

 

Diggle locked his captive still with his piercing gaze, “The Bratva has a long memory, Smoak, and its here to collect on your debt,” he spoke, his voice void of any emotion. It sent James into a panic. His mind whirling into a frenzy, trying to latch onto anything that would allow him to walk out of that room alive and with all ten fingers and toes intact.

 

“I don’t have the money that you’ve come to collect, Mr. Diggle.” James said, forcing the rising bile back down his throat as he watched Diggle shake his head. His eyes widened as Diggle stood up, reaching his hand behind his back to where James knew a gun was holstered.

 

In pure panic, he raised his hands as high as the ropes would allow him, warding the giant against any rash and hasty decisions that would ultimately end with his brain against the back wall.

           

Hoping to sound a little more sure of his quickly forming idea, James’ cleared his throat, but his voice still came out shaking and afraid.

“I-I-I don’t have the money,” he stammered, flinching at the shakiness in his voice. His eyes were darting between Diggle and the silent statue behind the desk. He waited with baited breath as to whether the two men would indulge in his newest offer. Taking their silence as permission, he continued.

 

“I don’t have the money you’re asking for,” he repeated, his nervous eyes flicking to Diggle, “I have something even more valuable to give you.”

 

Diggle raised an eyebrow, doubting that whatever this low life thought he had to offer would be of any use or value to the Bratva.

 

“Go on,” Diggle muttered, at least a little intrigued by the man’s offer. What could be so “valuable” that he was willing to bargain his life with it.

 

James took in a long, shaking breath, holding it in as he closed his eyes, hating himself for what he was about to say.

 

“I have a daughter,” James exhaled on that same breath, cringing inwardly as the words and their meaning left his mouth. He was scum, he was unworthy of anything that life or love could offer him, but at that moment he didn’t care; he didn’t want to die, especially not here and not at the hands of Bratva thugs.

 

Diggle quickly stood from his perch, the wooden desk creaking under the shifting of his weight off it’s foundation. He had to physically restrain himself from beating the man within an inch of his life. He could feel his fingers numbing as he pressed them into his palms, cutting off the circulation. He could barely look at the man before him.

 

“You would sell your own daughter to repay a debt of your own making?” Diggle spat, the loathing and disgust evident in his voice. His fingers itched to pull the trigger of his gun, as the man ruthlessly offered the life of his young daughter. Diggle had to calm himself down, he knew how the business worked, but that didn’t mean he had to like it sometimes. The Brotherhood came before everything else- even the morals of a single man.

 

James cringed under the heated glare of one John Diggle, feeling as though the man was only becoming larger and more intimidating, but quickly forced his eyes on the darkened silhouette, who had yet to make a single sound either way.

 

“She is beautiful and smart and kind and…” James looked down at his feet, tears stinging the back of his eyes knowing exactly what he was about to do, “She is my soul. She’s all I have to give.”

 

There was a pause of sound while James waited for the cloaked figure to either accept or reject his offer. He hated not being able to see his opponent, it made reading his facial features and body language all the more difficult in assessing which way this bet could go.

 

Unable to stand the mounting tension directed at him from Diggle and the growing uneasiness that was the silence of the Bratva boss, James decided to push a little farther with his proposal.

 

“In my pocket you will find a photo of my daughter,” James spoke, bending his head towards his left pocket of his jacket, “Take it, please. Know that I am telling you the truth of her beauty. You will not be disappointed.”

 

Diggle tensed, his muscles rippling through his back and down his arms as he itched to beat this man within an inch of his life. Diggle turned his head to look at the silent man in the corner. A silent conversation was had in the span of only a couple of seconds before Diggle stalked towards the now trembling man in the chair.

 

Diggle reached, none too gently, into the man’s pocket and produced a small 3”x5,” color photo. Unable to help himself from taking a peak, Diggle found himself looking into the beautiful, blue eyes of a young girl, no more than twenty-two years old. She had beautiful, blonde hair that cascaded over her shoulders. Her father was right- she was beautiful. What Diggle found most appealing was her smile. She looked to be laughing at the camera, her eyes sparkling behind dark, rimmed glasses. His heart broke for the young girl, who didn’t know that her very future was being leveraged for her father’s life.

 

The muscles in his jaw working overtime, biting back the words he wished he could unleash, he did the only thing he could- handed the photo over to the darkness.

 

James watched as a single, masculine hand reached to grasp his only photo of his daughter, the hand disappearing back into the darkness, the irony of his daughter disappearing with it before his eyes not lost on him.

 

Silence descended over the room once again, the only sound was the rapid beating of James’ heart now in his throat, making him rasp for air. The seconds seemed to stretch for minutes, the minutes into hours.

 

James opened his mouth to start begging once more, but was cut off with a sing Russian word. A word familiar to him only because he had bargained once before with Bratva, but today it was different. The voice was deep and final, sending shivers down James’ back. The word echoed in his head-

 

“сделанный”   

 

Done. 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 2:

 

“Central City’s own Dr. Wells is set to turn on his particle accelerator later this year,” a chirpy, young female voice announced to the room, “possibly proving to be the biggest advancement in scientific history since the space shuttle launch.”

 

Blue eyes lifted away from a computer screen perched on her lap, looking up to focus on the television across the room, the young woman’s attention now on the female news reporter eagerly explaining the evening news.

 

The young woman straightened her shoulders, angling her body against the couch so she could see the television better, watching as aerial views of Star Labs floated across her screen. She leaned back against the cushion of the couch, her feet tucked underneath her, a smirk forming across her face.

 

“Ya, lets not take into account the 100% increase in earthquake activity since they turned on the Large Hadron Collider,” she murmured to no one in particular, using her hand to adjust the dark rimmed glasses on the bridge of her nose.

 

Felicity Smoak once again, she turned her attention back to the computer screen in her lap, pulling up the latest issue of Scientific American, eager to read the issues main article, Thermodynamics: A History.” She burrowed down further into the couch, nestling into just the right spot, when a small sound alerted her to someone knocking on her front door.

 

A little annoyed that she had been interrupted yet again, the curiosity of someone at her door, pulled her from the comfort of her couch. She prodded through her living room, her socks creating a slickness against the hard wooden floor. She skid into place behind her front door, her hands pressed against the cool, painted wood of the threshold, her petite body leaning in to peak through the whole in the door.

 

“Dad?” she muttered quizzically to herself. She looked back at her wall clock and noticed that it was to early in the afternoon for her father to be making house calls. She knew that his drinking and gambling problem had gotten worse over the last couple of years and therefor, as a result, rarely saw her dad in the light of day.

 

Opening the door, she forced a smile to her face as she looked upon James Smoak, computer genius, town drunk.

 

“Hey dad,” she said, a little too cheerily, even she cringed against the ring in her ears, but she noticed her father had yet to look at her in the eyes. Instead, he was focusing on the ground a couple inches from his feet.

 

“May I come in, Lis?” he finally spoke, his eyes only lifting enough to settle on her abdomen, making Felicity instinctively place her hand across her stomach, an uneasiness settle just below her hand.

 

“Dad, what’s going on? You’re scaring me,” Felicity muttered, feeling her own heart rate uptick, as her father still hadn’t made eye contact with her.

 

“Look at me!” she said, louder than she had anticipated, but it had worked. Her father finally found her eyes and all of a sudden, Felicity wished she hadn’t asked him to look at her.

 

James took a deep breath, running his hand through his hair as he looked at his surroundings, “I would rather talk about this in the privacy of your apartment, Lis.” He gestured behind her and Felicity relented, her stomach forming knots in her stomach.

 

“Is it mom?” Felicity barely croaked, her brilliant mind coming up with a thousand things that could possibly have gone wrong, “Is she hurt? Where is she?”

 

James quickly came to stand in front of his daughter, bringing both of his hands to rest on her shoulder, tightening just a fraction to pull her attention to him.

 

“No, your mother is fine, thank God,” he said, “I just need to talk to you about…” He froze, his head tilting upwards, sniffing the air.

 

If Felicity wasn’t in a state of total shock and fear right now, she would have pointed out that her dad looked very much like a hunting dog right at that moment.

 

James’ eyes looked back down at his daughter, a question in his eyes, “Is something burning?”

 

Felicity just stared incredulously at her father, the turn of conversation nearly giving her whiplash, “What? Burning?” Oh frack! “The cookies!”

 

Felicity bee-lined to her kitchen, smoke already billowing around the oven. Felicity quickly turned off the oven, reaching for the oven mitt on the counter, covering her mouth with one hand while she opened the oven door and pulled out the cookie sheet with the other.

 

“Frack, frack, frack!” she muttered, wafting the smoke around her, hoping to disperse it enough that the smoke alarms would go off. She opened the single kitchen window, watching as the smoke escaped to the outside, her kitchen slowly coming into focus as the fog left the room. She exhaled slowly, looking over at the burnt globs of cookie dough on the rack before her.

 

She felt her father come up behind her, quickly turning around to face him, a look of pleading in her eyes.

 

“I can explain,” she stammered, holding her hand up before he could say a word, “Its all Dr. Clausius and Dr. Kelvin’s fault, really.”

 

“Felicity,” her dad murmured, but Felicity continued as if she hadn’t heard him.

 

“You know the fathers of thermodynamics. Of course you know who they are, you were the one who first explained the laws of heat and energy before I could even spell any of those words, but anyways, that’s all baking is and then I began to notice how hungry I was so then I thought I’d conduct my own science experiment…” her eyes strayed from his, back to the burnt would-be-cookies, a sadness in her eyes, a pout forming on her lips, “And I just wanted cookies.”

 

“Felicity!” her father all but barked, startling her and pulling her back into the present. Suddenly she remembered the tempo of the conversation before this fiasco and wished her only problem of the day was a bit of burnt cookie dough.

 

The uneasiness settled again in her stomach as she looked back into her father’s eyes, this time, seeing the infinite sadness in her cool, grey eyes. She gulped, taking his hand into her, a small smile of reassurance on her face.

 

She led him into the living room, padding across the room to reach for the remote still lying on the couch, turning the TV to off so that she could focus on whatever news her father had come to bring her.

 

“You may want to sit down for this, Lis,” he mumbled, shifting uncomfortably from where he stood awkwardly in the middle of her living room.

 

Felicity felt a shiver run down her spine, her father was never this serious with her, something bad, something really bad had him twisted into knots and Felicity didn’t know if she’d be able to stop the bile from rising in her throat if she didn’t get ahold of herself soon.

 

She gestured for her father to take a seat in the recliner adjacent to the couch, sitting herself on the edge of the couch; unable to fully relax against the cushions until whatever her father needed to tell her was said.

 

She watched as her father slid his hands over his thighs, perhaps wiping the nervousness from his hands and that only made Felicity’s nerves fire up another notch.

 

“Just tell me,” she heard herself whisper, hearing her voice as if another person was speaking, “Whatever it is, we can get through this.”

 

“No, Lis,” he groaned, a slight hitch in his voice that didn’t go unnoticed, “I don’t know if we will ever truly get past this.”

 

He leaned forward, putting his hands in his daughter’s, her small, feminine hands in his. He looked at their hands clasped together, remembering all those days and nights, teaching his daughter first how to type on a computer, then how to code programs, get into websites through secret back doors. He smiled, remembering how simple life was back then and how he had thrown that all away.

 

James looked into his daughter’s eyes seeing concern darkening her eyes just a fraction as their only sign of discomfort, but she remained silent, waiting for her father to continue.

 

“You and I both know that my drinking and gambling problem has only gotten worse,” he spoke softly, watching as understanding began to appear in his daughter’s eyes. Afraid she would pull out of his grasp, he tightened his hands just enough to silently plead her to listen to him.

 

“Lis, I got in too deep, I had no other choice, I –“ he stopped, physically incapable of choking out the last words.

 

“You leverage this house, didn’t you?” Felicity said, her eyes narrowing to slits. She tried pulling her hands away from her father’s, but he held on tighter.

 

“What? No, I…” he stammered, but Felicity cut him off before he could finish.

 

“What then? Mom’s special cruise fund? My bank account? What?” she pushed, leaning forward, her heart threatening to burst from her chest.

 

“You!” James’ bellowed, sobs erupting from his throat, “I gave them, you.”

 

Felicity yanked her hands from her father’s grasp, nothing but a white noise piercing her ears. She felt her spine straighten, her eyes flashing to her father’s. She watched as he slowly raised his eyes to hers, a brokenness inside him that made her stomach fall through the floor.

 

“Don’t joke about something like this! That’s not even remotely funny, dad, not to mention legal!” she scoffed, unconsciously leaning away from him. Maybe he was drunk and hallucinating? Maybe he’d taken drugs before he came to her doorstep. To be honest, she wouldn’t be surprised in the latest. The life her father led was less than remarkable.

 

“Lis, I was so scared,” he blubbered, reaching for her hands again, but Felicity scooted across the couch, her head shaking.

 

“No, stop!” she said shakily, whatever her father was on, it was scaring her, she needed to get him help, “I don’t want to hear any more of this. I’m calling the cops.”

 

“Felicity, please,” her father pleaded, “This isn’t a game. If we go to the cops, he will kill us all!”

 

Felicity paused, mid motion to extract herself from the couch. Her eyes widened as she once again looked at her father.

 

Who is going to kill us?” she asked, the words sounding so foreign that she barely recognized her own voice, “What have you done?”

 

Felicity wasn’t naïve. Growing up in Las Vegas made kids grow up way too fast in the face of what went on in between the city limits of Sin City. She never turned a blind eye to the temptation that threatened to pull even the most strong-willed visitors and locals, throwing their lives and the lives of their loved ones down the drain. However, she had been naïve enough to think that this part of the city she grew to love would never touch her or her loved ones.

 

Felicity closed her eyes, the gravity of her father’s situation weighing heavily on her, threatening to crush the life right out of her.

 

“Who do you owe the money to?” she asked, her eyes still closed. She was trying to formulate a plan, anything she could think of to get her father out from under whoever’s thumb he was under.

 

“Its too late for that, Lis,” he whispered, unable to look at her directly, instead he was looking at a section of the wall just over her left shoulder.

 

“What do you mean it’s too late,” she asked, her brow furrowing in her forehead in confusion, “They don’t want their money back?”

 

“I took too long in repaying and so now they have to make an example of me,” he stated, still not peeling his eyes from the nitch in the wall he cornered, “with my life.”

 

Felicity felt the rush of air leave his lips, her hands beginning to shake, “I don’t understand; if it’s your life they want, which is totally unacceptable by the way, what does that have to do with me?” Her mind was running a million miles a minute, not stopping on one thought long enough to process it before it was on to the next.

 

“Lis,” he said, finally bringing his eyes to her’s, “I didn’t want to die.”

 

She could clearly see the pleading in his eyes for her to understand, and beneath it all, she saw fear.

“Dad,” she whispered, not wanting to hear the question fall from her lips, but nonetheless, she proceeded, “What exactly did you promise this guy?”

 

“Your hand,” he whispered, seeing the look of confusion in her eyes, he clarified, “in marriage.”

 

Stunned, Felicity sat in silence, her eyes never leaving her fathers. She couldn’t say a word even if she wanted too. The gravity of those four words, particulary the last two were too much for her brain process.

 

She closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose with her fingers, steadying her breath, forcing her body to take in adequate amounts of oxygen and exhaling the same amount of carbon dioxide. She focused on the task for what seemed like forever before she finally opened her mouth to speak.

 

 

“Did I miss something?” Felicity questioned, her eyes opening to narrow dangerously at her farther as she sat perched on the edge of the couch cushion, her leg bouncing furiously, “Did we take a hot tub time machine family vacation, racing back to a time where women’s rights were nonexistent and misogyny ruled?”

 

At her father’s lack of response, she ushered on, “No? Oh silly me, it just sounded like you prearranged a marriage without my consent,” she ground out through gritted teeth. She could feel her heart beating faster, her hands beginning to shake at what her father had done.

 

“This is so not happening right now,” she moaned, her hands threading threw her ponytail. “This is America,” she added, she placed her hand to her chest, “I’m an American. Is that suppose to mean something. “I mean of course it means something, just ask George Washing, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edision, John Hancock, Abraham Lincoln…” she stilled, closing her eyes to focus her thoughts before she rambled herself into a panic attack. “It means that you’re on your own. Clean up your own mess, James. Leave me out of it.”

 

“Lis, I…” her father tried, but Felicity cut him off by holding her hand up.

 

“This is the part where I talk and you listen,” she cut in, “If you think I’m going to participate in your Neanderthal, backwards payment plan then you couldn’t be more wrong. That won’t be happening… ever.”

 

“Felicity!” James cried, “Please, it’s the only way that I could guarantee the family’s safety.”

 

Felicity pinned her father with an icy stare, her hands forming fists. She could feel her fingernails digging into her palms, but she welcomed the pain, it kept her from losing all control.

“Don’t pitch this as some sort of noble sacrifice,” she seethed, barely keeping a lid on her rage, “You did this to save your own ass,” she felt herself cringe inwardly, bile rising in her throat at her last words, “By sacrificing your own daughter.”

 

Unwilling to show any sign of weakness in front of her father, Felicity stood from the couch, unable to sit still for a second longer. She felt so vulnerable at this moment, open for attack, fearing that this guy would swoop in from the shadows and wisk her far, far away, never to see her loved ones again.

 

Felicity wrapped her arms around her waste, protectively, turning to face her father where he still sat in the chair. She looked at him, really looked at him, questioning if this was the person he had always been and she just hadn’t seen it, blinded by her love for him.

 

She had worshipped him as a young child, wanting to impress him with her knowledge in computer sciences. As she grew up and saw the toll his drinking and gambling took on his life, she began to see that maybe her dad wasn’t perfect, but they still had their computes to talk about and that was all that had mattered to her. But now she only saw a shell of the man she thought she had known.

 

She could barely look at him now, the face of the man that she loved. Had he never really loved her the way that she had loved him. It was called into question when he could so easily bargain with her life. Wasn’t a father supposed to protect his children at all costs?

 

Felicity felt a steeliness enter her spine, looking at her father, she spoke, “You didn’t even think of what this could do to my life, my career.”

 

James couldn’t meet his daughter’s eyes; knowing that what he had done was unforgivable. If he could make her see…

 

“Lis, I think you’re looking at this all young, sweetheart,” he tried to smile through the prickling of tears behind his already red eyes, “This could prove to be the best thing that has ever happened to this family.

 

Felicity scoffed, unwilling to give a response to her father’s wayward way of thinking.

 

James’ continued, willing his daughter to see his reasoning through his words. He had to make her believe that maybe, just maybe, this could all turn out better than it sounded.

 

“Oliver Queen is a very powerful man, Lis, no one would dare cross the woman married to such a powerful man,” he continued, mistaking Felicity’s quietness as understanding. “He’s also wealthy beyond measure, some estimating him to be worth billions of dollars, billions Felicity.”

Felicity blanched at the mention of the name Oliver Queen, “I know that name; everyone with a decent cable connection knows that name. Though never convicted of any crimes, the name “Oliver Queen” is synonymous with the word mob, more specifically, a Russian mob known as “the Bratva.”

 

She threw her arms across her chest, a look of defiance on her face, “So Mr. Queen’s power comes from inflicting pain and terror on those weaker than him, and the money, well all it is blood money and if you think I’m going to marry a man that conducts his life in the seedier places of society, then you don’t know me at all.

 

James hung his head down in defeat; he knew that his daughter would come forward willingly and so he had to play the last card he had, the one he knew would make her crumble. He knew that he was a bastard for evening giving the idea spare thought, but he had to make his daughter agree to the terms, it was a matter of life and death.

 

“Your mother,” he whispered, barely audible, but he knew Felicity had heard him because he heard the very loud intake of breath from across the room, “Your mother doesn’t deserve any of this, Felicity. If for no other reason, do this for her.”

 

Anger propelling her forward, Felicity rushed her father where he sat, flashes of red coloring her vision. She stopped, mere inches from where he sat, her finger poiting accusing at his chest, “Don’t you dare bring her into this, James Smoak.”

 

“Don’t you see? She’s already in the middle of this, Lis, but you’re the only one who can save our family now,” James moaned, wiping a tired hand over his face, “I know this is all my fault.”

 

“Good, then you marry the Godfather,” Felicity snapped, again placing her arms over her chest. She couldn’t help picturing the consequences of not honoring the deal her father had made with this Oliver Queen, but how could she?

 

Her mind swiftly thought of her mother, Donna Smoak, Las Vegas cocktail waitress. Her and her mother were never really close, seeing as that Donna just wanted a daughter she could dress up but her Felicity was more interested in how to buid her first HP processor by the age of seven.

 

However, as she grew older, Felicity began to see that Donna not only saw the potential in her young daughter, but she busted her ass every night in high heeled shoes, making measly tips from overly grabbing cliental all so that her young daughter could have a better life than the one she had. Felicity had never known how to thank her mother for that- the words never quite seemed to fall from her mouth, which was an oddity where Felicity was concerned.

 

Perhaps this was her way of repaying her mother for her sacrifice. The irony of her sacrificing her life for her mother’s was not lost on Felicity, but if Felicity knew one thing, it was that she loved her mother, and yes, even her father and she knew that she could not have the consequences of not going through with this deal on her conscious.

 

Felicity let her hands fall to her sides, a sign of relenting. She closed her eyes, focusing on her breathing, forcing her mind to slow down. Once she was able to let go of the breath she had been holding for over a minute, she was able to open her eyes, a resolved look in her eyes as she made eye contact with her father.

 

“Okay,” she whispered, the sound of defeat nearly choking her to, “But I’m doing it for mom, not for you.

 

When James finally pulled his eyes from the floor, looking to his daughter, his heart broke. Perhaps he deserved it, but seeing the way she looked at him so cold and detached was unbearable.

 

He smiled weakly at her, “Thank you, Lis, thank you.”

 

“After the ceremony,” Felicity simply stated but then frowned, “Which I’m sure will be traditional and therefore I will need my dad to walk me down the isle,” her eyes began to shoot back forth as her mind raced with some many questions, “And oh god, what kind of ceremonies do mob kingpins have? Will there be a bloodletting? A murder?” Felicity trailed off before she was able to bring herself back into focus, “After everything is done, I never want to see you again.”

 

James couldn’t hold back the tears as he watched his daughter turn from him, the rigidity of her back like another knife to his back.

 

“But Lis,” he mumbled, his heart seizing under her cold words. Starting to get up from the chair, he ached to hold his daughter in his arms like he had so many times before.

 

Ever,” she said, the single word said with enough force to send him back to the chair, the wind knocked out of him.

 

His eyes burned with tears unshed; some for the self-loathing he knew he would never get rid of and some for the loss of a child he knew he would never have again. So, he spoke, the only word he could form coherently.

 

“Deal.”

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 3

 

The study was quiet save for the gently clinking of glass as Oliver poured himself a glass of vodka. He could hear the dull hum of conversation from the other room getting louder as the guests started piling into the mansion for the wedding. He closed his eyes, trying to block out the noise and center himself. He had to go through with this. There was too much at stake if he did not.

 

He could feel eyes on the back of his head, burning holes in the back of his head. His eyes opened, knowing that the only other person in the room with him was perhaps that only other human being outside his immediate family who he could trust.

 

He knew that John Diggle didn’t approve of this arranged marriage, but Oliver couldn’t let himself care about his opinions. He had to force down the slight shame and embarrassment he felt at his own action because that would be showing weakness when it came to his dealing as a Bratva Captain. After all, he was a Bratva Captain who loaned the money and he was still a Bratva Captain when he proposed a marriage to the daughter of a man who couldn’t pay his debt. Going back on the deal would show weakness and that was clearly not an option where Oliver was concerned.

 

Oliver looked down into his drink, swirling the amber liquid around the cool glass.

 

Weakness was something that Oliver never allowed himself to exude in any aspect of his life. He had been weak when he fled Starling City all those years ago and it was his weakness that had nearly gotten himself killed while on the island. Through the years, he was able to become something else entirely, something that held strength and power close to his chest. It was the only way to survive the ugly world he’d long since inhabited.

 

Earning his place as a Bratva Captain, Oliver had to be ruthless in order to earn the loyalty of his brothers. He had to be sure of himself and the decisions he made for if at any point the Brotherhood found him second-guessing himself, he would be labeled a liability and that could get himself or his family killed. That was unacceptable.

 

Bringing the cool glass to his lips, Oliver through back the liquid in one easy swallow, savoring the burn of the smooth liquor down his throat. He felt the stinging of the liquid all the way down his throat, but he welcomed it because it made him feel something.

 

“Oliver.”

 

Oliver instantly tensed, hearing the underlying command just below the surface. He knew John didn’t approve of his decision, but he couldn’t let that affect him. Not now, not ever.

 

“Don’t, John,” Oliver warned, not wanting to have this conversation at this moment, or any moment for that matter.

 

“Don’t do this, man,” Diggle said, shaking his head, “You’re better than this. You’re better than tying an innocent, young woman to you forever. She’s just a kid, Oliver.”

 

Oliver didn’t let himself outwardly react to Diggle’s plead because he couldn’t, but inwardly he knew that what he was essentially forcing this young woman to do was far beneath him. If anyone tried to pull something like this on his sister, he would kill them in a heartbeat, but he couldn’t let himself think like that.

 

He had to say something to John, so he said they only thing that popped into his head at the moment, “I wouldn’t exactly call her a kid, John.”

 

“You know exactly what I mean, Oliver,” Diggle insisted, not allowing Oliver to sidetrack the conversation.

 

Oliver huffed, realizing that he wasn’t going to get out of this conversation; he abandoned the liquor bar in front of him and turned on his heel to face a very serious John Diggle.

 

“John, I understand your reservations about the circumstances that surround my pending marriage to Ms. Smoak, but I assure you that our union is mutually beneficial,” he said, urging his friend to just let this whole thing go, but he knew his efforts were futile. If anything, John Diggle was persistent.

 

“Do you honestly think Ms. Smoak considers this mutually beneficial,” Diggle asked, raising an eyebrow in Oliver’s directions. Dig wasn’t buying any of what Oliver was trying to sell and it was painfully obvious to Oliver, but he couldn’t show that how much it was affecting his resolve to follow through with his commitment.

 

Diggle scoffed at Oliver’s prolonged silence, “To be honest with you man, why the young woman even agreed to this mess is beyond me.”

 

Oliver agreed, shaking his head. He had to admit that the lovely Ms. Smoak hadn’t put up much of a fight, none at all really, when it came to essentially trading her freedom for her father’s life. It was one thing to think that you would willingly give your life for a loved one, but it was a completely other thing to actually follow through.

 

Oliver didn’t know the beautiful blonde from that small photo, but he would like the think that her sacrifice gave him a peak at her character and to his surprise; he liked it, if not a little more than intrigued about his young woman.

 

 

Oliver had to visibly shake himself out of the rabbit hole of thoughts his mind was leading him down to. This marriage was purely professional.

 

“Well, I guess having her father’s life as collateral is a pretty big indicator,” Oliver mused, already growing weary of this conversation.

 

“Yes, but you were the one who demanded that she marry you, Oliver. We could have found other uses for the girl. She’s exceptionally bright and talented with cyber security and technology; surely she could have been of other use to the Bratva,” Diggle argued.

 

“No, she couldn’t,” Oliver said a little too quickly and upon realizing this, he scrambled for his justification. “You saw how quickly her father bartered with his own daughter’s life. What was to say that he wouldn’t have offered her up to the next person that he failed to pay off? Do you mean to tell me that she would have been better of with someone like Damian Darhk, Ras al Ghul or, heaven forbid, Malcolm Merlyn?”

 

Oliver felt his blood pumping through his body, the adrenaline kicking him into high alert. He had to ball his hands into fists in order to keep himself from swiveling on his heal and throwing his palms down on the table behind him.

 

No, he wouldn’t allow it. Oliver didn’t know Felicity Smoak, he only saw a glimpse of her in a single photograph, but that’s all he needed to see in order know that this young woman didn’t deserve a life among men like that. He could protect her from her father’s misdeeds and he would, with the only way he knew how. Her father couldn’t marry her off to someone else if she was already married.

 

Diggle looked at Oliver, taking in his barely controlled rage, and he smirked, “So this is about saving her then? You see a damsel in distress and, what Oliver, you decide it’s up to you to save her?”

 

“What? No, of course not,” Oliver rushed to reply, “I’m no hero, Dig, you know that.”

 

In a moment of thought, Oliver’s eyes fell to the floor. He was remembering the instant he laid eyes on the photo James Smoak had so blatantly waived in his face. He remembered being enraptured by the beautiful girl in the photo, her smile reaching her eyes. Her beauty and innocence was so bright in that single, tiny photo graph, it could almost eclipse the sun. He felt the pull, no, the need, to be in her orbit and perhaps that is why he demanded that she marry him.

 

I need her, Oliver thought, his brow furrowing in thought. His head snapped up when he heard the sharp intake of air through Diggle’s mouth. He then realized that he had spoken that last thought out loud.

 

“So this is about saving yourself, then?” Diggle asked, a little incredulously. For the first time in a long time, Diggle felt as if he was seeing something in Oliver that perhaps he hadn’t seen before. Oliver wanting something, for himself, not for the Brotherhood, but for himself.

 

Diggle smirked, “Careful, Oliver, your humanity is showing.”

 

Oliver scowled ready to storm out of the study, but he knew that he couldn’t show Diggle how his words were affecting him or give him any indication as to his true motives behind his decision to marry the young and beautiful Felicity Smoak. He trusted Oliver with his life, but he couldn’t trust himself to allow himself to feel anything. It was too dangerous.

 

Oliver straightened himself to his full height, feeling his chest barely puff out in a challenging stance, daring Diggle to argue with him, “I needed a wife to produce an heir, John. Felicity Smoak is a young, healthy female who is more than capable of giving me a son.”

 

Diggle just stared at Oliver, his features giving nothing away to Oliver if he believed that this was the only reason as to why he demanded that Felicity marry him. Even Oliver had to forcibly push down the bile rising in his throat after he spoke the words. He knew they were cold, cruel, and misogynistic, but he was grasping at straws here and he didn’t like feeling like he had to explain himself, especially to someone who worked for him, friend or not.

 

But if he knew John, and he would like to think that he did, he knew that he could give John one hundred different reasons as to why marrying Felicity Smoak was a good idea and John Diggle wouldn’t believe a single one to be the actual reasoning behind Oliver’s decision.

 

Diggle’s eyes narrowed at Oliver’s, “I know you’re not that cold, Oliver, but if this is how you want to play it, then so be it. I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into, man.”

 

Oliver let his stance relax just a hair at Diggle’s acceptance of what was to come and briefly allowed himself to consider John’s last statement. It was almost laughable that John would think that he wouldn’t be able to handle a woman such as Felicity Smoak. How much trouble could a young, innocent girl really be?

 

“I’m a Bratva Captain, leader of one of the strongest factions of Bratva men in the United States, John. I think I can handle the young Ms. Smoak,” he replied with an air of annoyance that him not having control over his future wife was being insinuated at all.

 

Diggle watched as Oliver turned on his heel and headed out of the double doors leading out into the hallway. He cast his eyes to the ceiling, closing them briefly to steady his own breathing. Something deep inside him was telling him that no one was quite ready for what was to come.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

“Mom, if you add one more curl to my head, I’m going to walk out of here looking like the 1980s version of Annie,” Felicity said, paling before another thought formed in her now rapid firing brain, “And that’s not even a good part of the 80s like Madonna or, you know, leg warmers.”

 

Felicity watched as her mother wrapped another piece of blonde hair against the hot iron, her eyes following the slick strand of hair around and around, making her a bit nauseous. Her mind wondered what the boiling point of hair was and briefly pictured herself walking down the isle bald. She shivered against the mental image and looked at her mom with pleading eyes.

 

“I’m sorry, honey,” Donna Smoak blushed, releasing the blonde curl from it’s iron prison, setting the instrument back on the table, “I just want everything to be perfect for my baby girl on her wedding day.” Donna brought her hands to rest on her young daughter’s shoulder, “Even if she never told me about the young, dashing gentlemen stealing her heart.”

 

Felicity didn’t miss the slight squeeze of her mother’s hands on her shoulder or the slight disappointment in her mother’s eyes that she tried to hide with a fake smile. Felicity felt a tug in her chest, causing her to shift uncomfortably under her mother’s stare.

 

“It all just happed so fast, ya know?” Felicity offered, forcing her lips to quirk up in a small smile, “It was a gamble for sure.” The irony of her words matching exactly the circumstances that had her sitting in that chair was not lost on her.

 

Donna smiled, running her finger’s through her daughter’s hair, the curls brushing along her shoulders, “A gamble, huh? You get that from your father, you know.”

 

Felicity feels the tension growing in her own shoulders and forces her facial features not to contract into a scowl.

 

“Don’t remind me,” she scoffed, trying not to think of her father in this moment. He was reason she was in the situation in the first place, preparing for her own wedding in a house that could fit ten of her apartment, in one of the

 

“Oh, my baby is marrying a billionaire!” Donna squealed, shaking Felicity’s shoulders in pure delight. “Wait until the girls at work hear about this. They are going to be so jealous of my baby girl!”

 

“Oh ya, lucky me, I’m marrying a billionaire-crime boss,” Felicity muttered, rolling her eyes.

 

“What was that, honey?” her mother inquired, picking up her foundation clasp from the table in front of Felicity.

 

“Uh,” Felicity scrambled, “I said, lucky me! Go team Felicity!” She raised her fist in the air and forced a smile back on her face. In her blind happiness for her daughter, Donna missed that the forced smile on her daughter’s face didn’t quite reach her eyes. Felicity couldn’t blame her mother though, why would she suspect anything other than what Felicity had told her as the truth.

 

Felicity had told her mother that she had met Oliver through a dating app, but chose to keep their relationship on the down low because of his notoriety. Her mother didn’t think anything of the allegations of Oliver’s reputation. Growing up in Vegas, it took a lot to scare Donna Smoak.

 

Felicity looked up at her mom through the mirror, watching as Donna dabbed on another unnecessary layer of foundation. She knew that her mom coped with nervousness or excitement with an abundance of makeup layers, but this time she couldn’t pull her eyes away from the older woman.

 

“Mom,” Felicity spoke, almost in a whisper, but Donna stopped in mid motion, lowing her head to look down at her daughter through the mirror.

 

Felicity turned in her seat so she was facing her mother. She took her hands in her’s and looked up into her mother’s eyes, seeing not only the eyes of her mother staring back at her, but the eyes of a woman who would do anything for her family.

 

Felicity swallowed the rising lump in her throat, “I know that we may not have always seen eye to eye on a lot of things and maybe that strained our relationship,” she felt her mom’s shake in her hands, so Felicity held on a little tighter, “But I want you to know that I appreciate everything you have done for me. You busted your ass every day so that I didn’t miss out on a single opportunity growing up.”

“Oh baby,” Donna whispered, letting one of her hands slip from Felicity’s grasp to cup her daughter face, “It was my honor to be your mother. I got to watch you grow up into a beautiful, smart, and kind young woman. Oliver is lucky to have you, sweetheart, I wish you both all the happiness in the world.”

 

Felicity had to choke back the small cry threatening to crawl out of her throat. Lying to her mother about the circumstances of her marriage to Oliver was one thing, but to hear her mother’s honest and pure happiness for her daughter was just too much. Her mother’s was everything Felicity wanted to be- strong, honest and loyal. And that is why she knew she had to go through with this wedding. She knew that if she were to reject Oliver’s proposal, it could mean putting her mother in danger and that was clearly not an option.

 

Felicity laid her hand against the wrist cupping her face, smiling, perhaps genuinely for the first time that day, perhaps in the last week.

 

“I love you, mom,” she whispered, the burning of unshed tears behind her eyes.

 

“I love you too, baby,” her mother rasped over her tears. She brought her arms around her young daughter’s neck and held on tightly for a long minute before dragging herself out of Felicity’s embrace. She quickly wiped the tears from her eyes, careful not smear any of her mascara.

 

“No crying until after the pictures are taken,” Donna ordered, smiling down at her daughter. “Would a daughter let her mother help her into her wedding dress?”

 

Felicity smiled, perhaps the first genuine smile to grace her lips since the whole situation started, “I wouldn’t want to spend my last moments as a single woman with any other person.”

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 4

 

 

Felicity nervously swayed from one foot to the other, her eyes drilling a hole into the set of double, wooden doors before her. On the other side was a room full of people, full of strangers, who were waiting for her grandiose entrance into her new life. He was there, Mr. Oliver Jonas Queen.

 

Feeling her heart skip a beat at her future husband’s name, Felicity bit the inside of her cheek to keep from moaning in nervousness. The fact that she was being forced to marry the alleged mob boss was only slightly made worse by the fact that this was the first time she was going to be face to face with him.

 

It had only been a week since her father had told her about his deal with Mr. Queen and subsequently, the rest of her days as a free woman were spent uprooting her life from Las Vegas to Star City.

 

A brief worry flitted across her mind. What if Mr. Queen didn’t approve of her when he saw her? What would happen to her family if he decided to cancel the wedding and make her father pay his debt in another, more lethal way? She shuddered at that thought, forcing it down beneath her subconscious.

 

Wanting to erase the shakiness from her hands, Felicity busied herself with smoothing down her wedding dress. It was simple, yet elegant. It had the traditional princess cut with a sweetheart neckline that showed a tasteful amount of cleavage. She smiled as she remembered the spark in her mother’s eyes when she walked out of the dressing room wearing the gown for the first time.

 

The Queens had taken over most of the ceremonies preparations, but Felicity had insisted that she and her mom have at least this moment to themselves. She wasn’t about to let her mother’s lose out on this experience with her daughter, and honestly, Felicity didn’t want to relinquish this right of passage into womanhood either, no matter how much the circumstances clouded the situation. She still tried to make it as much about spending time with her mother as she did just relishing in what could have been.

 

Felicity was so caught up in the sweet memory, she didn’t hear the heavy footfalls of someone approaching her, until a deep voice caused the hairs of her neck to stand on end, making her go rigid all over again.

 

“You look beautiful, Lis,” James Smoak said, his grin splitting his face in fatherly pride at the site of his daughter on her wedding day. Apparently the irony that his misdeeds had put her in these very shoes, very expensive shoes she might add, was not lost on him., “You look just like your mother did on our wedding day.”

 

Felicity’s eyes snapped to her father’s, narrowing in barely restrained anger, “Don’t.” Her clipped tone was even harsh to her own ears, but she stood her ground. She couldn’t deal with him right at this second looking at her like he was the proudest father in the world, lucky enough to be marrying his daughter off to the man of her dreams, “You don’t get to talk to me today.”

 

James opened his mouth to speak, but was quickly interrupted by the sound of orchestra music wafting from the double doors that stood closed in front of them, making Felicity’s breath hitch in her throat. She’s pretty sure her heart forgot a couple of beats before it started again; increasing is rate as the song cued her to walk through the opening doors.

 

Felicity was acutely aware of her father’s outstretched arm and took it, hesitantly. Not only because that’s how a bride was to enter her wedding, on her father’s arm, but because she needed something to tether her to the ground, making her focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

 

With one shaky last breath, Felicity allows her father to lead her through the double doors into the sunroom. It was quite the space tucked away in the Queen mansion, the place that her in-laws had insisted they have the wedding in order to provide both safety and privacy for the newly weds. Felicity hadn’t cared where they held the ceremony; she had just wanted to get it over with.

 

As soon as her first foot crossed the partition, all the guests sitting in their chairs stood up turning their bodies towards her to watch the young bride walk down the isle. Making an effort to appear as though she wanted to be here, Felicity tilted her chin upwards and ticked her lips at the corners of her mouth, showing a quiet smile, meeting strange eyes wherever she looked. She kept her eyes on their guests, unwilling to meet his eyes. Not yet.

 

 

 

 

Oliver waited for the moment the music started playing, cueing the new bride to make her entrance into the room. The only outward sign that he was beginning to feel restless was the way his fingers rubbed together at his side, as thought feeling a bow between his fingers.

 

His jaw began to twitch as his patience was running thin; he was about to ask what the hold up was when, perhaps sensing the grooms darkening mood, the music started, instantly training his eyes to the slowly opening double doors.

 

The moment the young Ms. Smoak stepped in the room, all the air rushed out of Oliver’s lungs. She was absolutely beautiful in her white dress, her long blonde hair pulled back into curls at the nape of her neck, a shear veil cascading down her back. His eyes swept her frame, taking in her petite form, compared to the talker, stronger statures that he normally sought out in a woman. But Ms. Smoak’s smaller frame lent her a gentler beauty, one that made Oliver’s chest tighten almost imperceptivity.

 

Taking him completely by surprise, he felt a rush of protectiveness come over him as he briefly assessed all the eyes in the room on her, on his bride. He wanted nothing more than to go to her, apologizing for anything and everything at the same time, but he stood rooted to his spot as she came closer to where he was standing.

 

He allowed his eyes to find her face once more and a tick of surprise washed over him by what he saw. He expected to see a myriad of emotions flitting over her features some of which included- anger, resentment or even fear, but what he saw instead was a smile.

 

He felt the tightness in his chest increase a little as he saw that the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes, but he appreciated her making the effort to portray that this ceremony was indeed wanted mutually.

 

Oliver quickly realized how brave this young woman was to be giving up so much freedom to a complete stranger in no less than a week. He was beginning to think that maybe she was the bravest woman he had yet to meet and that was saying something. He felt something shift in his chest as he watched her close the distance between the two of them…

 

No, he thought, she has a part to play and so do I. This is just Bratva business.

 

Oliver quickly replaced his temporary relaxed feature with a mask of indifference as he watched the blonde woman close in on him, stopping to stand right in front of him.

 

 

 

 

Having no where else to look, seeing as that they had travelled the full length of the main isle, Felicity finally allowed her gaze to settle on the still figure of Oliver Queen. When she saw the way his blank eyes looked back at her, she wish she hadn’t. She didn’t know what she expected to find behind the eyes of her future husband, but cold indifference certainly hadn’t been an option. It was definitely unsettling and she had to work especially hard to stifle a nervous shiver from racing up her spine. Felicity tried to offer a small smile in his direction, but his cool gaze froze her muscles into place, barring her from any movement under his stare.

 

Felicity suddenly remembered her father at her side when his harsh clearing of his throat brought her out of her intense staring into Oliver’s ocean-blue eyes. Unable to take her eyes away from Oliver, her other senses were fully in tune to her father’s voice as it broke the silence after the music had stopped playing.

 

“As promised,” James smiled weakly, unsure of what he should say or do now that he was to very literally hand his daughter over to the dangerous man in front of him.

 

Felicity felt her eye twitch at her father’s words, a rush of bile rising in her throat, threatening to suffocate her. She had to will her eyes not to water as she stared intensely into Oliver’s eyes, but she wasn’t seeing him quite then, she was too focused on controlling her own body’s reactions at the moment.

 

However, it was the stiffening of her father’s frame beside her that pulled her attention to the men in front of her. She looked to her father briefly, her brow furrowed before following his gaze to the man who stood in front of him. Oliver’s gaze no longer on her own, but looking to her father. Felicity gasped as she saw the barely restrained disgust and danger that radiated from Oliver’s eyes.

 

Now it was James’ turn to shift uncomfortably from one foot to another as he physically swallowed against his drying throat.

 

“Right, well, uh, congratulations,” he rushed, turning on his heels to make a quick exit finding his seat next to his wife, leaving Felicity all alone in front of this stranger was exuding so much hostility that she swore caused the temperature in the room to plummet ten degrees.

 

Felicity waited for a brief moment, unsure of what to do next; its not as if she was accustomed to the flow of a wedding ceremony, so she waited.

 

She stilled when she felt more than saw Oliver’s eyes shift back to her’s, all trace of his hostility gone from his eyes, replaced by indifference as he stared back at her. She gulped, feeling nervous butterflies fluttering in her stomach, she decided that his indifference was just as unnerving as his anger, if not a little more since it was directed at her.

 

Suddenly, Oliver turned to the side, extending his forearm, making her visibly jerk at his quick movement. Pulling herself together, she placed her hand around his bicep and allowed him to lead her the remaining steps to the front of the venue.

 

She almost balked at the massive size of his muscles underneath his tux, his muscles rippling under her touch as they moved forward. Subconsciously squeezing his arm, a fit of feminine pride flowed through her at being the one to get to marry a man this in shape. She new it was ridiculous and that it was some deep primordial urge to find a mate that could protect her blah blah blah, but that didn’t stop her from letting herself admire how strong felt under her touch.

 

Felicity took a moment to really look at Oliver, at least as much as she could out of the corner of her eye. Sure, she had seen the periodic tabloid with his profile on it and she would be remiss to say that she hadn’t noticed how well he filled out his suits that he usually wore out in public, but being next to him, here and now, it just made her realize just how larger than life he really was. It made her feel small and somehow very vulnerable in that exact moment.

 

Felicity was once again ripped from her runaway thoughts when Oliver came to a sudden halt, altering her that they had ended there brief walk and now was the moment she had dreaded for seven days straight.

 

Oliver dropped his arm to his side; forcing Felicity to mirror his actions and gently lower her’s to her side. She briefly wished she had her mother up there with her, she wanted nothing more to feel a family hand on her shoulder or around her waste, letting her know that she wasn’t alone.

 

“Now that everyone is present,” a voice, heavy with a Russian accent, said, pulling Felicity’s eyes to the other man beside her, “Let us get on with ceremony.”

 

Felicity let her eyes wonder over the older gentlemen in front of her. He appeared to be in his late forties, early fifties, with a head full of thick brown hair and a beard to match with strands of gray lending him an air of wisdom about him.

 

“Normally, this is time I talk about bride and groom, but I’m afraid that is not possible under circumstances,” the man continued before focusing on Felicity, “You see, Ms. Smoak and I have never me and so there is nothing much to say except, My name is Anatoly and you’re too beautiful to marry Oliver. He is too serious at times, but he is still my favorite American.”

 

Felicity bowed her head in the stranger’s direction, not sure how to respond to his words just yet. She glanced in Oliver’s direction hoping she could take his lead, but she only saw the indifference from a few moments ago still reflecting in his eyes. She felt a pang of annoyance settle over her, but just turned her attention back to Anatoly as he addressed the audience.

 

“Now we start,” Anatoly clapped, “Oliver take woman’s hand now.”

 

Without pause, Oliver turned to face Felicity making her body still and his hands clasped her, reminding her how small and vulnerable to felt next to him. She looked down, her eyes widening as his hands swallowed her’s. She couldn’t help risking another glance up into his eyes, but quickly retreated, focusing on Anatoly, as she was unable to look at the piercing, blue eyes look back at her. Man, she was really going to have to get over that, or she was just going to make him wear sunglasses all the time.

 

“Russian proverb says- If you go to war pray once; if you go on a sea journey pray twice; but pray three times if you are going to be married.”

 

Oliver’s mind briefly acknowledge the words coming from Anatoly, but he wasn’t paying attention to what the words meant at all, nor did he hear the hushed chuckles of the guests seated feet away as the Bratva leader read the Russian proverb allowed. His focus was honed in on the blonde woman before him.

 

He briefly allowed his mind to wonder back to how it felt when her hand had curled around his bicep and the faint male pride that broke throughout his chest when he felt the imperceptible squeeze of her hand around the girth of his arm. He had to force himself to keep walking forward, but his mind didn’t miss the way the she was his complete opposite. Where she was soft, he was hard; where she was light, he was dark. A dark wave of guilt had surged through him at the thought of what tying her to him forever might do to that light, but he couldn’t let himself think of the consequences. He had made their bed and now they both had to sleep in it.

 

Her attention currently on Anatoly droning on about the importance of marriage, Oliver allowed himself to really look at the woman he was forcing to marry him. He told himself that he must know everything about her if she was to become his and surely that’s what she was now- his.

 

As if sensing his intense stare, he watched as she pulled in her bottom lip between her teeth, biting lightly in her nervousness under his gaze. If he was completely honest with himself, Oliver would have to admit that it was probably the most adorable thing he had ever seen.

 

His fingers itched to rub across her small hands in his, or to cup her cheek in his hand, pulling her worried lip from beneath her teeth- anything he could do to ease her anxiety that he himself was causing.

 

Whoa, he mentally jerked. What was this woman doing to him. He hadn’t been in her presence more than ten minutes and already she had him so enamored with her very being. He had to force his mind into blankness, reminding himself that he had to have total control over this relationship. After all, it would cost him his life and the lives of everyone he held dear if he let her in.

 

Oliver barely registered Anatoly telling him that he would be the first to share his vows with everyone. He took a slow breath in through his nose, steadying his thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Felicity eyes found Oliver’s, her stomach tightening into an anxious knot with anticipation. What do you say to a complete stranger you’re about to marry? She waited on bated breath until the low tenor of his voice broke the silence. At first she thought she was going to pass out as his words were garbled, but then she realized he was speaking Russian.

 

He stopped so abruptly that it took Felicity a minute to realize that he was done and that all the eyes were on her to cite her vows.”

 

Felicity cleared her throat, “Uh, thank you for those words, I guess. I bet they were lovely and I don’t know if you and lovely necessarily belong in the same sentence,” Felicity gasped, a pink flush coloring her cheeks, “Not that you aren’t lovely, your very lovely,” she rushed, feeling like she was blindly falling down a rabbit hole as words kept tumbling from her mouth, “and I’m just going to take a deep breath in 3..2..1…”

 

Felicity closed her eyes briefly, steadying her rapidly beating heart. She opened them to see a flash of something in Oliver’s eyes, but shook it off as a trick of the light because it had disappeared just as quickly as it had came.

 

Clearing her throat, she started once more, this time, thanking the Google gods that her voice came out steady.

 

“I, Felicity Smoak, take you, Oliver Queen, as my husband for better or worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

 

Felicity cringed at how hollow her own vows sounded, but when she tried to write her own words, her otherwise over-chattery mind was silent, only cementing into her mind that her and Oliver knew nothing about each other and were probably the most under qualified people to marry each other. So, in an effort not to look like a gaping fish at her own wedding, Felicity used Google to search a traditional wedding vow and relied on her photographic memory to recall the words when the time came.

 

Quickly leading them through the exchange of rings, Anatoly focused his attention back to the audience, hoisting his arm up and over the couple, “It is with great honor that I pronounce this couple, man and wife. You may kiss your bride, Oliver.”

 

Felicity blanched, how could she have forgotten the kiss at the end, sealing her fate to the man who stood before him? Her eyes went wide as she stared back at Oliver, not daring to make the first move. She didn’t know how to initiate the contact expected of them from the hundred of eyes looking back at them. To be honest, she wasn’t sure what she expected of him right at that moment.

 

Felicity was about to whisper that they didn’t have the kiss, but instead bit her lip, not trusting her voice at the moment. She saw the tick in Oliver’s eyes as he zeroed in on the lip she was chewing on. She blushed under his stare and nearly squeaked when she realized he was leaning down towards her.

 

 

 

 

Oliver didn’t miss the way Felicity involuntarily tilted her head away from him as he closed the gap between their lips. His left hand dropped from her’s to cup the back of her neck, pulled her closer to his as their lips met. He swallowed her gasp as he placed her lips over his.

 

Her lips were so soft and pliable, he had to stifle a moan from slipping past his lips, his lips tingling with the urge to open up to her, but he only allowed himself a fraction of a second to enjoy the feeling of her lips on his before he pulled away.

 

Their captive audience applauded, allowing Oliver a brief cover to hide him clearing his throat, putting in place the cold mask he had worn all the way though the ceremony.

 

 

 

 

Felicity stifled a moan when Oliver pulled his lips from hers. Her lips were tingling from where his lips had met her’s. Unable to stop her right hand from touching her lips briefly, she quickly followed Oliver’s lead and turned towards the audience. Her eyes swept along the many unfamiliar faces until she saw the one that meant the most to her in that moment in time, her mother.

 

Donna Smoak stood, huge tears of happiness for her daughter on her wedding day and it nearly made Felicity’s heart shatter in a thousand pieces. She returned her mother’s smile with one of her own, trying to indicate that she was going to be alright. Later, Felicity would question whether the sentiment behind her smile was more her mother or herself.

 

 

Felicity and Oliver stood before the audience, taking in the amount of applause and cheers from the crowd, both of them unaware that their hands were still clasped tightly together.

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 5

 

If Felicity thought that promising herself to a complete stranger, in a room full of strangers, was hard, having to individually greet them with a smile on her face was even harder. She’d lost count of how many hands she had shaken or cheeks she had kissed as they offered their congratulations to the newly weds.

 

One thing was for sure, Felicity noticed, there was an alarming rate of suspicious looking characters in attendance. Most of them focused on Oliver, speaking to him in Russian, she presumed, she wasn’t quite sure; her Russian was obsolete. Like Oliver, they were mostly quiet, speaking only with enough words to get their point across, which unnerved Felicity who seemed to have a knack for run on sentences. Other than the occasional nod of their heads in her direction, or a light peck on the cheek, she generally went unnoticed by these men and she was more than okay with that. They gave her the creeps, to be honest.

 

As the crowd began to filter from the room, Felicity let out a sigh. This whole bridal business was exhausting work. Her cheeks were cramping under the constant upturn of her lips as she greeted every last guest in attendance and her legs were beginning to stiffen as the aching of standing in one position for too long in high heels began to sink in. All she wanted to do was go up stairs, lock herself in her room the Queens had provided before the wedding and fall into the large, four-poster bed, knowing that she would sleep for days, if given the chance.

 

At the raising of Oliver’s arm to her side, Felicity inwardly groaned at the realization that the opportunity to escape upstairs was not an option. Her night was long from over as wedding tradition dictated that the bride and groom present themselves, for the first time, as a married couple by entertaining their guests with a bit of light drinking and dance. She pushed down the exhaustion creeping into her bones, knowing that she still had a part to play in this charade. Shaking herself back into her role as the blushing bride, she forced a smile on her face and took Oliver’s outstretched arm with a head tilt his way as a silent thank you. Following his lead, she let him guide her through the halls of the mansion, towards the light sound of chatter and the soft playing of music.

 

As they grew closer to the rising sounds of their reception, Felicity took the time appreciate the brief silence around them. She hadn’t realized the tension she held in her shoulders when the eyes of a hundred strangers were on her, looking at her, silently judging this unknown variable that seemed to have spontaneously appeared beside Starling City’s most eligible bachelor. She didn’t know if she was quite prepared for their eyes to once again be focused on her, but she knew she didn’t have any other choice.

 

Stealing a nervous glance towards the man on her left, Felicity began to wonder how Oliver was handling all the attention they were receiving. His stoic mask and short, clipped greetings to their guests hadn’t gone unnoticed to Felicity’s ever observant eyes, which led her to believe that maybe she wasn’t the only one who wished to be anywhere else but here. Frankly, she would have been fine with going down to the court house and using a justice of the peace, but marrying the son of a billionaire and heir to a Fortune 500 company, such as Queen Consolidated, had them putting one foot in front of the other down the never ending hallway.

 

 

 

 

Oliver didn’t have to turn his head to know that Felicity was gazing at him; he could feel her eyes on him, the patch of skin feeling as though it was on fire. He’d noticed the imperceptible tightening of her hand on his forearm the closer they got to the reception hall and could just picture the way she would be biting that lower lip in her nervousness. He couldn’t blame her; he felt just as uncomfortable as she did having to fake his way through small talk as people he barely new congratulated him and the eyes of his Bratva brothers, especially Anatoly, were constantly on his every move. But, her reminded himself, it was all apart of the role he played as Bratva Captain and billionaire-CEO.

 

Oliver let himself acknowledge the fact that it was unfair of him to subject his young bride to such scrutiny, making him almost pause to tell her that they didn’t have to walk through those double doors, but familial responsibility and Bratva reputation propelled him forward, his resolve slipping back into place. But before he totally slipped under his well-fitted, stoic mask, Oliver briefly titled his head to the side, catching Felicity’s eyes with his. He was all too aware of the breath catching in her throat as he caught her staring, watching as a thousands questions filled her eyes. He briefly wondered what she saw reflecting back at her. An ally? A monster? A stranger? He opened his mouth to offer some words of comfort of solidarity, he wasn’t quite sure, but was cut off from saying anything to her when the sound of a sharp applause sounded over his ears, pulling his gaze away from her as he turned his attention forward.

 

Felicity watched as Oliver’s mask slipped back over his features, leaving cold, blue eyes surveying their environment, his mouth pressed into a tight line. She felt a sense of loss, unexpectantly, yearning for another brief glimpse of what she saw behind those ocean blue eyes before the wall was built back up between them. She thought she had seen some sort of understanding in his eyes, that maybe she wasn’t alone in feeling as though she wanted to be anywhere else, but she would never know as she recognized the look of a man who was completely closed off.

 

 

“You must be Felicity.”

 

Felicity, startled, broke her gaze from the side of Oliver’s head to turn her head towards the young brunette, who had placed herself strategically in her path, preventing her from advancing further into the room. Felicity couldn’t help but blush under the intense scrutiny she felt radiating from the thin brunette. Her eyes were intense as she took in Felicity in front of her, waging some sort of thought process behind eagle sharp eyes.

 

Coming to some sort of decision, the young woman stuck out her hand in greeting, “I’m Thea, Ollie’s younger sister and obviously the better looking Queen.”

 

Felicity couldn’t help the smile forming on her face at the young woman’s use of the shortened version of Oliver’s name. It was a nickname, a form of endearment, and it gave Felicity the single hope that maybe she hadn’t married a brick wall, impressive physicality not with standing. She took in the younger Queen’s appearance, appreciating her youthful smile that seemed to reach her eyes, in genuine curiosity and contentment at the woman who’d married her brother. Felicity let this breath of fresh air wash over her, rejuvenating her for the night to come.

 

Realizing that Thea was still waiting for her to take her hand, Felicity grasped her thin hands in her’s and brightened her own smile, feeling it also reach her eyes, perhaps for the first time that week.

 

“Nice to meet you, Thea, I’m Felicity.” Felicity felt a strong pull towards Thea as she felt the slight tightening of her grasp in her hand. She briefly considered that in giving her life to Oliver Queen, she was going to need all the friends she could get and she was hoping that Thea would be willing to fill that role for her.

 

Thea’s eyes ticked to her brother’s, her jaw setting in mock annoyance, “You know, Ollie, it would have been nice to meet my sister-in-law before your wedding.” She dropped Felicity’s hand, to through her small wrists on her even narrower hips, tapping her foot heatedly, presenting a look of childish frustration. She waited, seemingly un-phased by her brother’s stoic silence.

 

Felicity, who often became very uncomfortable with growing silences, bristled with nervousness. She cleared her throat, pulling both the stares of the Queen siblings away from their silent battle of wills and unto her.

 

“I’m sorry, Thea,” Felicity spoke, giving the girl a small smile, “I asked Oliver to keep our relationship between the two of us. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to meet you; I just wasn’t ready to step into the limelight that comes with being a Queen.”

 

Felicity watched as Thea mulled over her words, her eyes searching Felicity’s for God knows what. She hoped that whatever she saw, she approved of because Felicity was finding it hard to keep up appearances under her intense stare.

 

With an exaggerated sigh, Thea dropped her hands from her hips, “I guess I’ll forgive you; I’m sure that all of this has been quite overwhelming for you.”

 

Felicity smiled in reply, happy that Thea had believed her small lie. However, the lie wasn’t totally unfounded. She had been more than happy to put off meeting Oliver’s family before the wedding, not knowing if she could stomach a week’s worth of trying to live up to the formidable Mrs. Queen’s expectations for the woman her only son was to marry and having to put on a show for his younger sister, may have proven too much of a task in the wake of all the other emotions she had to sort out before the big day. No, she had needed the week to herself, in order to present herself as a young woman in love to a room full of strangers.

 

“I think I like you, Felicity,” Thea added, a look of appreciation in her eyes, “I think you’re exactly what Ollie needs.”

 

Felicity couldn’t help the snort that slipped through her nose at the thought of her being what the silent and deadly looking Oliver Queen needed. She wouldn’t even know where to begin to chip away at that hard exterior, but the curiosity of what was beneath all those built up walls was starting to eat at her, especially since catching a few glances in the short time she’d spent with him today.

 

Felicity flashed a quick glance towards Oliver, who was looking at his sister with the same stoic gaze as he did everyone else in the room, but she also noticed a sliver of affection cross his eyes briefly. She glanced back towards Thea, a reply to her earlier statement dying on her lips.

 

Thea smirked at her, leaning in, whispering conspiratorially, “Don’t worry; underneath all that macho-man stuff, he’s just a big ol’ teddy bear.”

 

Felicity blanched, never in a million years would Felicity characterize her husband as a big ol’ teddy bear. And judging by the way that Oliver’s whole physique went rigid, he wasn’t thrilled with his sister’s depiction of him either.

 

“Thea,” Felicity heard Oliver’s deep, timber voice mutter in warning, but the smaller Queen just looked up at her brother with dancing, mischievous eyes and an innocent smile. Felicity had to bite her cheek to keep the smile from forming on her own face. She decided that she like Thea Queen; she liked her very much. Perhaps with her help, she’d be able to crack the mystery of Oliver Queen. After all she hated mysteries; they needed to be solved.

 

“Well isn’t it my favorite godson and his beautiful bride,” a male voice sang, slicing through the small circle’s brief moment of silence.

 

Felicity felt Oliver’s already rigid body stiffened impossibly more, his arm dropping to his side. But before she could feel the loss of his presence, he wrapped his arm around her waste, his hand resting possessively on her right hip. If they were in any under circumstance, such behavior would be rewarded by a slap of his hand and a tongue thrashing, but seeing Oliver physical reaction to the voice, she decided to let the events play out.

 

Felicity turned her attention to the male approaching their little circle, seeing Thea move closer to her brother out of the corner of her eye, which only served to make her anxiety go up a notch. Both Queens on their guard couldn’t be a good sign.

 

The man stopped just in front of her, almost making her take a step back, but Oliver’s tight embrace around her back kept her firmly in place. She looked into the other male’s eyes and forced down a shiver from zipping up her spine. He was handsome enough, sure, with his short, brown hair and sharp features of his face, but it was his eyes and the way he smiled that set all the warning bells in her head off.

 

“You must be the newest Queen. My name is Malcolm Merlyn, but please call me Malcolm,” he smiled, showing all his impossibly white teeth, his eyes traveling over her appreciatively. She felt Oliver tug her closer to him and she had to stifle the urge to roll her eyes at him. A man’s leering gaze at her was nothing new to Felicity; she just ignored it, pretending it never happened.

 

 

Oliver felt his jaw ticking as he watched Malcolm’s eyes sweep Felicity’s form, making him want to step in front of her, shielding her from his prying eyes, or to just give him a better angle to punch him square in the jaw. He’d settle for both. Malcolm couldn’t be trusted, not in the business world and certain not in their private lies. But Oliver heard his mother’s words of the Queen’s being friends with the Merlyn’s for generations and thus kept his expression blank, but that didn’t stop him from holding Felicity a little tighter.

 

“You look absolutely ravishing,” Malcolm added, “Oliver was wise to keep you hidden for so long.”

 

Felicity could have sworn she felt a slow rumble in Oliver’s chest. Was that a growl? She wanted nothing more in that moment, to peel herself away from her husband’s side to get away from whatever was going on between him and Malcolm Merlyn. She glanced around, seeing that Thea had already made her stealthy escape, but she was trapped against Oliver’s side, his strong hand keeping her prisoner.

 

Unable to deal with the growing tension, Felicity faked a smile and held out her hand to Malcolm, “Its nice to meet you, Mr. Merlyn, I mean, Malcolm. I’m Felicity.”

 

“Aren’t you just too adorable for words. Oliver, where did you ever find such an endearing young woman?” Malcolm replied, his eyes flicking to Oliver’s, “You sure are lucky to have such a beautiful woman at your side. I hope you remembers that.”

 

Felicity’s brow furrowed as she stared at the man in front of her, for someone who was supposed to be a long time friend of the family, he came off as someone who was dangerous, someone you shouldn’t turn your back on. She filed away this thought for later. Perhaps she would ask Thea about the palpable tension between the heads of the two most powerful families in Starling City.

 

“Malcolm,” a light, feminine voice spoke, cutting through the tension between Oliver and Malcolm. Felicity followed their gazes, her eyes falling on the fierce and regal figure of Moira Queen, her mother-in-law.

 

Moira didn’t give Felicity so much as a glance, her focus zeroing in on her son and Mr. Merlyn, observing the strain growing between them. She pulled her lips upwards into a smile, placing her right hand on Merlyn’s upper arm. It was an intimate gesture that made Felicity fidget in Oliver’s arms and she could tell that Oliver felt the same way by the slight twitch of his fingers around her waste.

 

“Its good to see you, dear,” Moira added, “I was hoping that Oliver and I could take this opportunity to discuss business with you. I believe we have a business proposition that would mutually benefit both Queen Consolidated and Merlyn Global.”

 

Malcolm’s eyes softened as he gazed at his long time friend and colleague, a small smile forming on his lips, “Of course, Moira.” He let his gaze drift back to Felicity momentarily, “That is, of course, if the new Mrs. Queen doesn’t mind us spiriting away with her husband just moments after they promised to stay by each other’s side for all eternity.”

 

Moira snapped her eyes to Felicity, finally acknowledging her presence, but Felicity wished she hadn’t. Moira’s icy stare made the hairs on the back of Felicity’s neck stand on edge and she visibly gulped under the intenseness of her gaze. Her mouth ran dry, preventing her from speaking. It was only Moira’s quirk of her eyebrow that cooled her features enough for Felicity to breathe again. She quickly surmised that Moira Queen wasn’t someone you turned your back on either. She was beginning to think that her new life was going to be a never ending game of chess.

 

“I’m sure that my new daughter-in-law understands the importance of the family business,” Moira said, her steady gaze challenging Felicity to say anything different.

 

“Of course, absolutely,” rushed Felicity, nervously clasping her hands in front of her. “I’ll just be over there,” she said, pointing towards the bar, “Doing something else, anything else. Okay, bye.”

 

Felicity pulled herself out of Oliver’s tightening embrace, not missing the way his fingers lingered on her back as she pulled away, obviously telling her that he was reluctant to let her go. You’re on your own, Oliver, she mentally said, giving him an almost sorry smile, almost. He just looked back at her, not giving away a single thought in those deep, blue eyes.

 

Spinning on her heel, Felicity practically ran towards the small bar set up in the far corner of the room, eager to put as much distance between herself and the suffocating tension she’d left.

 

As soon as she found herself belly up to the bar, Felicity reached over the counter, snagging the closest clear bottle of liquor she could reach, much to the protest of the hired bartender.

 

She flashed him a look that challenged him to stop a bride from taking her fair share of drinks at her own wedding and saw him surrender, throwing his hands up. She tipped her head in silent thanks and proceeded to pour herself a healthy amount of the clear liquid in her crystal glass. With a mock toast to herself in the air, Felicity brought the glass to her lips and downed the liquid in one gulp. After all, you could take the girl out of Vegas…

 

“Prochnost.”

 

Felicity coughed, the smooth liquid burning her throat as it passed from her lips to her empty stomach. She turned towards the voice, meeting soft, brown eyes looking back at her. Wiping her mouth, she studied the man sitting on the bar stool to her right. He had dark skin and black hair that stood out in a barely tamed blowout, but his eyes held a genuine friendliness that Felicity felt drawn too.

 

“Excuse me?” she asked, unable to stop the smile from answering the growing one across his face, “What did you say?”

 

“Prochnost,” the stranger repeated, as if just saying the word again would make its meaning more clear. Upon Felicity’s continued silence, he continued, “It’s the Russian word for testing strength. A little pretentious, if you ask me. But when in Russia, right?” His brow furrowed in thought, “Which would make more since if we were in fact in Russia, which we clearly or not, but one could be confused as there’s an alarming number of Russians in attendance.”

 

The man looked back at Felicity, a blush instantly forming on his face.

 

“Oh my god, I am so sorry. My husband, Paul, is always telling me to remember my manners and my punctuation. I tend to talk in run on sentences, it’s a curse.” He stretched out his hand to her, “I’m Curtis, Curtis Holt.”

 

Felicity stood silent, quietly wondering if this is what it felt like to have an out of body experience. Never before had she been on the receiving end of what she could only guess was a similar episode to her ramblings she so frequently she subjected people too. And if it was, she wasn’t sure if she could face society ever again. It was a good thing she married a Queen, she figured their castle-like home was as good as any to hole herself up in for all eternity.

 

“Sorry,” Curtis said apologetically, “I had three energy drinks before coming here and I’m pretty sure I’m having a cardiac event right now, the blubbering is just an unfortunate side effect, which will end in three, two, one.”

 

A burst of laughter fell from Felicity’s lips, making a weight lift from her shoulders, one that she hadn’t known she’d been carrying until just then. She took Curtis’ still outstretched hand in her’s, shaking it.

 

“Nice to meet you, Curtis, I’m Felicity Smoak. I mean, Felicity Queen. Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m a Queen. Well, you know, not like a queen-queen, but a Queen with a capital Q and of course you know that already, you attended the wedding, which was today, so unless you suffer from extreme short term memory loss, you know who I am,” Felicity’s brow furrowed in concern, “Oh god, you don’t actually suffer from memory loss do you because then I’d actually feel horrible and actually it may be a gift that you’d actually forget what I said and I’m just going to stop talking now.”

 

Felicity busied herself by pouring herself another glass, taking another glass to pour a shot for her new friend, Curtis Holt. It may be a little presumptuous for her to believe that they would be friends, but Felicity always had a way of reading people and she believed that her and Curtis were going to get along very well.

 

She turned back to Curtis, handing him the glass of alcohol, which he accepted graciously, raising his hand in a toast to her.

 

“Prochnost.”

 

Felicity smiled, “Prochnost.”