Chapter 1: Pretty Fucked Up
“I was hoping I’d see you here,” he picked up a lock of her dark hair, tugging it gently as he drawled on.
Felicity cringed, reaching up to remove his hand from her space. “I was hoping you wouldn’t.”
“Well maybe you should stay. My room’s upstairs.”
Felicity scrunched up her nose, pulling a face as she glanced up at the frat boy in front of her. She swore the dark hair and eye-liner were a challenge to him. It was obvious that she was not his type, if the three cheerleaders hanging off him when she’d walked in had been any indication. “You’re bored,” she sighed, rolling her eyes. Because it was true. He could probably be fucking any of the groupies he’d had surrounding him, but he’d chosen to chase after the unusual girl that he probably thought would spice up his sex life. A change from all the similar tan faces and long legs. Tired of all the blonde hairs left on his pillows.
For guys like him, she was a fun story to tell.
That time I screwed the weird goth chick at my frat party.
It was disgusting how this wasn’t the first time she’d caught the attention of this humdrum jock. They’d had Environmental Science together last year. He hadn’t even noticed her until halfway through the semester when they were paired up together for an experiment. Ever since, the guy just couldn’t let it go that she wasn’t interested.
“I won’t be bored if you come up to my room with me,” he grinned at her as if he was a clever bastard and she’d slap her knee and say ‘oh, you got me! Show me the way, baby!’
Instead, she flashed him a sarcastic smile, shaking her empty cup in his face. She wouldn’t even be here if Curtis didn’t drag her. “Great party, Chris. I need another drink. Bye.”
It was impossible not to roll her eyes when she felt him trailing behind her, his hand ghosting over her elbow as if he was trying to act like they were walking together, rather than her running away. She crossed her arms, casually brushing him off. But two more seconds of this shit, and she was going to lose it.
Felicity didn’t slow down until she was in the kitchen, reaching up to grip her roommate’s shirt collar. “Are you done fighting with Tommy yet?”
Curtis glanced from her to her shadow, and then he sighed. “She calls you Creepy Chris. Learn how to take a hint.” Curtis waved his hand around dismissively.
Chris’ shoulders sunk as he shuffled off. Then she pinched Curtis’ arm, “you didn’t have to tell him that!”
“Give me ten more minutes, please.” Curtis said, ignoring her, his eyes glancing above her head, zoning in on Tommy.
She groaned, and Curtis spun her around, back towards the living room, “go mingle. Dance. Enjoy yourself for once.”
“That all sounds like hell.”
Her roommate shoved her back into the crowd, tapping her on the top of the head good naturedly before closing the kitchen door in her face. She frowned, turning to the party. Creepy Chris was sitting on the couch, sipping his beer with furrowed eyebrows as if he was in the midst of an existential crisis. She watched him for a moment, wondering if he was taking Curtis’ words seriously. But when he noticed her looking at him, he immediately perked up, a wide smile plastering itself onto his face from ear to ear as he stood up and started walking towards her.
Seriously, did he have the attention span of a fish? Or did his brain just not compute information that contradicted his ego?
Felicity weaved through the people, using her height and small physique to her advantage.
Not daring to look behind her and see if Chris was following, she lunged for the stairs, taking them two at a time. Then she picked a door and opened it. Shutting herself in the bedroom, Felicity didn’t care where she was as she fell back onto the neatly made bed with nice black sheets, enjoying the peaceful silence. The music from downstairs could barely be heard. It was twenty degrees cooler in the room than down with all the sweaty bodies.
It was nice. Felicity closed her eyes.
A chair slid across the floor on the other side of the room, and Felicity yelped, pushing herself back up to a sitting position. “Don’t you knock!?” She screeched, the first words that came to mind.
In the corner of the room, a boy was sitting in the chair, and there was a blonde straddling his lap. They were both frozen, his hands on her hips and her head turned to look at Felicity. She had clearly interrupted a hot and heavy makeout, and she doubted their plans to continue on the bed were going to work now that she was sprawled out all over it.
Although she prided herself on not being easily embarrassed, Felicity’s face turned bright red.
The boy’s eyebrows shot up as he looked at Felicity. “Sorry, I...wait.” He let out an annoyed breath. “This is my room!”
They stared at each other for a long moment before the blonde shimmied her way off of him, “that’ll do,” she said with a shrug. Then she offered a nod and a “hey” to Felicity, completely unaffected by the interruption.
“Tell Laurel and I kill you,” the girl sang as she breezed out of his room, adjusting her clothes on the way. “See ya,” she waved to them both, closing the door behind her.
“Well then,” Felicity stood up, “surprisingly, this is even more awkward than downstairs, so...sorry. Unintentional cockblock.” Felicity pressed her hand against her forehead. “I didn’t see you there.”
“What are you doing in here?” He asked, crossing his arms and standing up.
Felicity tried to smile apologetically as she gestured to the door, “Creepy Chris kept following me around. I’m just here, waiting for my roommate to get done fighting with his boyfriend and then we’re leaving. I would walk home alone, but, uh, honestly I think Chris might take that as an invitation...and after the lacrosse stalker incident of freshman year, it just gives me the jeebies. So I was waiting for Curtis. Plus, it’s dark. And I hate the dark. Not that I’m afraid of it or anything. I’m an adult, but you never know what’s out there.”
“Creepy Chris?” He asked, pulling that out of her word-vomit.
“Yeah. You know, Creepy Chris that can’t talk to you without at least one part of his body touching at least one part of yours?”
His eyes narrowed, and she was half expecting him to defend his frat brother and tell her to get out. But there was a darkness behind his gaze as he asked, “Chris has been bothering you?”
She huffed out a little laugh, not knowing what to think of the intense look on the guy’s face. “Doesn’t he bother everyone?”
The boy cocked his head to the side, “I don’t hear anyone else calling him ‘Creepy Chris.’”
“Oh,” she stuttered, wishing she knew how to keep her mouth shut. “Right. I’m sorry. This is clearly your room. Your house. Your makeout that I ruined.Your bro-your frat bro-uh, that I'm insulting. I didn’t mean...I’m just being dramatic.”
He frowned, moving to his dresser. He silently pulled a gray shirt out of a drawer, “I didn’t say that.”
“I should go,” she blurted, getting up and hedging to the door.
“Hold on,” he glanced at her as he pulled the shirt over his head. “I’m Oliver.”
“Felicity,” she breathed, saying a silent goodbye to the abs that had been on display before meeting his gaze again.
Oliver moved by her, slipping his shoes on before he opened the door. Gesturing her out, Oliver led her silently down the hallway and back down the stairs.
He glanced around at the party, taking in all the people with a watchful eye. When Oliver’s eyes zeroed in, she followed his gaze until she was looking at Creepy Chris. Her heart dropped into her stomach. This stranger was not about to cause a scene.
Oliver didn’t speak or even look at her as he approached Chris.
“Hey,” he said, getting Chris’ attention.
“Ollie!” Chris yelled, holding his hand up for a high-five that Oliver ignored. “Finally bagged Sara Lance, huh?”
Felicity watched as Oliver’s jaw tightened, his eyes narrowing. Chris was oblivious to the reaction, rattling on, “I’ve been working on this stick in the mud all night,” he bragged, “she’s playing hard to get, but I’ll have her horizontal in an hour.” He winked, raising his hand for another rejected high-five. Oliver shifted, revealing Felicity standing awkwardly behind him. Chris’ eyes widened with nervousness, but then they lit up, “Felicity,” her name rolled off his tongue like a pornstar’s.
“You’re going to leave her alone,” Oliver said simply.
Chris glanced from Felicity to Oliver and back, blinking. And then he started laughing. When Oliver didn’t join in, his smile fell. “You’re kidding.”
“Nope,” Oliver deadpanned, keeping his eyes focused on Creepy Chris. Felicity clenched her jaw, waiting for the inevitable macho-man show down. No thank you. Not at her expense. But Oliver didn’t speak again, keeping his words and the authority behind them to a bare minimum. Regardless, Chris seemed to understand.
And it both baffled and infuriated her that Oliver’s ‘no’ meant more to Chris than her own. But the creep took off, mumbling an immature “whatever, man,” as he went.
Oliver turned back to Felicity as if it never happened. “Ice cream?”
“What?” She stared up at him.
“Do you want ice cream?” Oliver asked again, as if the question was simple.
Technically, it was...she always wanted ice cream, but… Felicity stared at him, trying to tell if he was serious. And he just raised an eyebrow, lifting his chin to the door to say ‘let’s go.’
“No,” she huffed, crossing her arms defiantly, “I don’t want ice cream.”
He frowned, “Tommy and Curtis will probably be fighting for at least another hour.” He guessed. She narrowed her eyes at him in challenge, watching as humor filled his. He started walking away again, curling his finger for her to follow.
Felicity was too curious not to. Oliver seemed unlike anyone she’d ever met. In the span of fifteen minutes, she’d seen him half naked and saying goodbye to his makeout buddy, watched him scare off her admirer, and now he was asking her to get ice cream.
Opening the kitchen door just a crack, Oliver grinned knowingly at Felicity. And she rolled her eyes, stepping beside him to share the small space of the doorway. Curtis was whining, “baby, please, we can visit your sister at the end of the semester. I just have way too much to do next weekend.”
Oliver closed the door in the middle of Tommy’s, “you just don’t want to meet her.”
She groaned, dropping her head to the wall with a thud. They really would be at it for another hour. Probably more, since visiting Tommy’s sister hadn’t even been their original argument.
She felt a gentle tap on her shoulder, and she turned around with a sigh, looking at Oliver as he smirked back at her. “Ice cream?”
“How did you even know I meant I was waiting on Curtis?”
“You said he was here fighting with his boyfriend. Tommy’s my roommate. Trust me, I know how long those arguments can last. They like to fight almost as much as they like to make up.”
Felicity watched him for another moment, and he stared back. “Come on,” he waved her along, “I’ll walk you home.”
The ice cream shop down the street was just about to close when Oliver stepped up to the window and flashed the girl a smile. She rolled her eyes, but took their order.
Felicity leaned towards him as he passed the worker his credit card, “you don’t have to pay for mine,” she told him, slyly pulling a twenty out of her bra. He raised an eyebrow at that, finding it impossible not to glance down at the black straps peeking out beneath her army green tank top.
Oliver shook his head, gesturing to a bench at the edge of the parking lot, placed under a street lamp. “Go sit, it’s fine.”
When he had their ice cream, he plopped down on the bench beside her with a content sigh, handing her the monstrous chocolate dipped waffle cone she’d ordered; mint chocolate-chip ice cream dripping over the side. Felicity did a cute little happy dance as she licked the melting spot, “thank you,” she moaned around her ice cream.
He just laughed, taking a bite of his own sundae. Felicity frowned, looking over at his bowl, the pile of whipped cream distracting her from her own cone. He grinned, somehow knowing that she was one of those . A food stealer. A sharer. A ‘your food looks better, can I try some?’ kind of girl.
He held up his spoon to her, “want a bite?”
Felicity blushed. “No,” she shook her head in a jerky motion, like the idea of sharing a spoon with him was absurd.
He couldn’t help but laugh. "Suit yourself."
Oliver hadn’t recognized her when she stumbled into his room. Not until she introduced herself.
But Tommy was his best friend. And Tommy was dating Curtis. And one of Curtis’ favorite topics was the brilliant and talented Felicity Smoak. Curtis spoke about her as if she made the world keep turning, and he was simply lucky enough to be her roommate. Since Curtis was one of the smartest people Oliver had ever met, he knew it was high praise.
He didn’t really think much about it, or her, except to laugh when Tommy would roll his eyes and mimic Curtis’ motor mouth as he rambled on about some new code Felicity created. He’d pictured a mousy girl with glasses every time Curtis mentioned her. So the last thing he expected Felicity Smoak to be was a tiny, black haired, babbling mess. With eyes that were very, very blue. And a nose piercing.
“So,” she said around another bite, turning her frame towards him, “are you always this happy, or did you just win the lottery or something? Because I don’t think I’ve seen anyone look so relaxed after not having the sex they thought they were about to have.” She cringed, “I’m still sorry about that, by the way.”
“Happy?” Oliver raised his eyebrows at the assessment.
Brooding, sure. Intimidating, yes. Angry, absolutely. The guy you didn't want to pick a fight with, without a doubt.
But no one really thought of him as happy. He really wasn’t. Hadn’t been in a long time. Oliver bit his lip as he glanced at Felicity, realizing the mood she was sensing, and why he was conveying it. “I guess I just feel a little bit more free. Released, in a way.”
Felicity considered his words, watching him carefully. “She must have been a great kisser,” she mumbled.
He choked on his bite that was all whipped cream and hot fudge, looking over at her as she stilled. Her eyes widened at the same moment that he coughed, “that’s not what I meant.”
“Sorry! Way too personal. It’s none of my business to pry on anyone’s kissing abilities. I mean if a heavy makeout session got the job done, then kudos to her and oh my god my brain to mouth filter is seriously malfunctioning. Well, it’s kind of always malfunctioning. Usually someone has to stop me, just so you know. How’s your ice cream?” She spoke rapidly, trying to change the subject.
Oliver grinned down at her, "why would anyone stop this? This is amazing. And cute as hell."
She blushed. And Oliver watched her curiously. This tiny, tough looking badass that got shy when he flirted with her. That turned red under his stare. He guessed that the hard shell was a facade. Just like his.
"Cute?" She scoffed, turning her attention back to her ice cream. "I don't seem like your type." Oliver pursed his lips, knowing she was referring to Sara. But it wasn't like Felicity was wrong.
“That was...Sara is…”
“Oliver,” Felicity closed her eyes, giving her head a quick shake. “You really don’t have to tell me. I don't even know you, it's none of my business.”
“No,” he shifted, feeling like he should explain himself. For some reason. He’d never felt the need to justify his actions to anyone. Not his parents when he’d dropped out of the first two colleges. And definitely not Laurel. “Sara is the sister of my ex-girlfriend. We broke up a year ago, but she still thinks it’s going to work out.”
Felicity pursed her lips, “and you don’t think so?”
“I know it won’t. Laurel and I have never wanted the same things. She’s always tried to make me better, and I have never.... never stepped up to the plate. I’m sure this sounds pathetic and ridiculous but, I got tired of being given chances I didn’t deserve. With her, it was free pass after free pass. And that was...great at first. But it just got to a point where we were only hurting each other,” he sighed, “you can only drag someone through hell so many times before it becomes too dangerous, you know? And we were...way beyond that limit.”
In the silence that followed his heart-on-sleeve confession, Oliver didn’t want to look at Felicity’s face.
He’d treated Laurel like shit, and instead of trying to be better, he’d taken advantage of her attempts to change him. Their relationship as a whole made most of the people in their lives uncomfortable. The definition of unhealthy. They’d nearly ruined each other. Why Laurel wanted to hold on to that...he would never understand.
Oliver leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and swirling his spoon around his melting ice cream. “So,” Felicity whispered, “screwing her sister...you think that’s the final nail in the coffin?”
The tone in her voice made him hesitate. It wasn’t reprimanding, just...confused. Trying to understand something so destructive. “Well...luckily it didn’t come to that,” he sighed, realizing that he was actually quite thankful for Felicity Smoak’s interruption.
Yet, his intention was to sleep with Sara. He would have. And that would have been unforgivable.
But as twisted as it was, unforgivable had been the most appealing part.
“And...how do you feel about Sara?”
Oliver shrugged, “she knew what she was doing,” he whispered, glancing down at his bowl again. “Laurel’s always pissed at Sara for one thing or another. Or Sara’s pissed at Laurel.”
Felicity’s eyes narrowed, “ah, you wanted your ex-girlfriend to hate you, and your solution was to sleep with her sister,” her voice was harder, an edge of judgement. And he couldn’t stop staring at her. “Exes and cockblocks aside...you kissed her sister. You planned to fuck her sister .”
He’d be lying if he said he’d thought the whole thing out. He didn’t. It barely crossed his mind how it would affect Laurel and Sara’s relationship. And god, their father. As Felicity put it, it was his version of the final nail in the coffin. The line he knew that if he crossed, he could never go back. Not with Laurel.
Despite the terrible way he’d gone about it, that was what he wanted. He wanted a reason to never go back.
“Pretty fucked up,” Oliver mumbled, leaning back and forcing himself to look at Felicity. She was staring at him, nothing but curiosity in her gaze.
He shouldn’t care what she thinks. He didn’t even know her. She was a random girl that had ended up in his room in the middle of a very awkward situation.
“You’re right,” she said, standing up. He froze, watching as she adjusted her tank top, pulling at the edge to cover her stomach more. “That’s pretty fucked up, Oliver.” He didn’t stop her when she started to back away, not taking her eyes off of him. But he didn’t feel judgment or disappointment coming from her.
It looked like pity in her eyes.
Which seemed a lot worse.
“I should get home. I think I can make it from here, my apartment's just down the street…” she gestured in the direction. “Thanks for the ice cream.” Felicity said with a wave.
Oliver stared after her, watching as she dropped her cone in the trash and headed towards her building.
He couldn’t blame Felicity for wanting to get far away from him and whatever aftermath was going to follow what he’d done. She seemed like the no-drama kind of woman. Another thing that felt refreshing and different from his past.
His long and exhausting history with the Lance sisters was coming to an end. He cared about them both. But part of him, a bigger part than he wanted to admit, felt so relieved for it to finally all be over. Kissing Sara was the end.
So then there was Felicity, sitting on his bed like a breath of fresh air.
This girl, who had a problem he could easily solve; Creepy Chris, as she’d called him. He could help her, get Chris to back off. And he’d wanted to.
He’d felt like turning over a new leaf, being the kind of man that respected women, instead of hurting them. The kind of person that someone like Felicity Smoak wouldn’t mind getting an ice cream with.
Chapter 2: Delete My Number, Oliver Queen!
The cafeteria food was better than most colleges. When you had a pick of pretty much any school in America and when you didn’t care about things like education or tuition prices, meal plans became the main draw. Followed by number of sororities and whether or not there was a decent football team.
Oliver didn’t play football. But a good, winning football team meant hot cheerleaders.
He’d picked Northeastern for three reasons. It checked off most of his boxes. It was across the country and far away from his mother. And it was the only school Tommy had been accepted to. “Dude,” Tommy groaned as soon as Oliver answered the phone. “I’m starving and I have an hour to kill. Want to get lunch?”
Oliver rolled his eyes as he walked across campus, knowing that Tommy didn’t need to be starving just to use the dining hall. Any day of the week was an excuse enough for them to take advantage of the all you can eat offer. “Yeah,” he answered, “I just have to drop this paper off to Dr. Lawton. Then I’ll meet you there.”
His favorite professor didn’t have a problem with emailing assignments, but Oliver liked to stop in to his office whenever the opportunity came up. Dr. Lawton was a retired Army Lieutenant who taught U.S. History, a subject that Oliver was increasingly gaining an interest for. His professor's passion and closeness to the subject were a huge part of it, especially since he’d introduced himself on the first day of class by telling the story of how he lost his eye in combat.
Going to his classes was usually a day-to-day decision, but he hadn’t missed a single minute of Lawton’s lectures. It was possibly the first time he’d wanted to work hard, the only time he’d liked it, and Oliver was pretty sure that he’d be getting an A to prove it.
Disappointed to see Dr. Lawton’s office lights off and door shut, he slipped his paper under the door and headed off to meet Tommy.
His best friend was pacing outside of the building, and Oliver rolled his eyes as he headed for him. Oliver walked up the pathway, and a head of dark hair caught his attention; a girl he probably wouldn’t have noticed had she not barged into his room and saved him from making the biggest mistake of his life.
It irritated him that a woman like Felicity wouldn’t have turned his head. He wanted to change. Just sitting next to her the other night while she made adorable little noises into her ice cream had made him feel giddy.
How many girls like that had he ignored? How many times had he hurt someone sweet like Felicity Smoak? How many times had he passed up someone exciting and challenging in favor of a boring, easy lay? Oliver skidded to a stop when he reached the table she was sitting at. The top half of her hair was pulled back and out of her face, tied into a messy little bun, but it still had the length. Dark strands that barely grazed the waist of her jeans.
It was hot as hell, but she wore tight ripped jeans and a black tank top, attracting the sun. She seemed content though, her face in a book as she chewed an apple. Hesitantly, he approached her, getting her attention only when he was close enough to block her sun. “Hi,”
Felicity squinted up at him, “hi yourself.”
Taking that as an invitation to sit down, Oliver forgot all about Tommy and sat down on the stone bench across from her. He put his elbows on the table, leaning towards her. She glanced up at him to roll her eyes playfully, pinching her lips together and fighting a smile. Then she looked back down at her book, and he watched her. “Can I help you with something?”
In the sunlight, her eyes were much bluer than he’d noticed before. She also had glasses on now, which were usually a turn off. But they made her look cute.
“What are you doing tonight?” He asked, cocking his head to the side as the words rolled off his tongue easily, his trademark charm coming out in full swing.
Her eyes immediately narrowed, and he had enough experience with women to know when to tap the breaks. “Why?”
Oliver was grateful for his talent with quick thinking and recoveries. Knowing that asking for a date would earn him a hard no, he considered an idea that might be a little more appealing to her. “Tommy and I were going to go to Ramon’s to study.” He shrugged, since it wasn’t technically a lie. He was craving Ramon’s, he needed to study for Lawton’s test next week, and he knew Tommy wouldn’t say no. “You and Curtis should come.”
“Like...a double date?”
The way she frowned as she asked was an uncomfortable blow to his ego.
Oliver brushed it off quickly, smiling and shaking his head, “Like...four people who need to study before Thanksgiving break.”
She bit her lip, “I don’t know.”
“Oliver!” Tommy finally caught sight of him, looking relieved as he hurried to the table. “Did you miss the part where I said I was starving?” He complained, sitting down next to Felicity and plucking the apple out of her hand.
She feigned insult as Tommy took a bite, curling his lip at a smudge of lipstick she’d left on the fruit. Felicity shoved his shoulder, snatching her apple back. Oliver watched, intrigued and slightly confused.
Felicity seemed to relax instantly in Tommy’s presence. He knew that his friend spent a lot of time at Curtis’ apartment, which meant a lot of time at Felicity’s apartment. But he had no idea when they’d become buddies. Curtis was in awe of the girl sitting in front of him now, but clearly Tommy admired her, too.
Why hadn’t they introduced him to Felicity sooner?
“I was just telling Felicity she should come with us to Ramon’s tonight.” Oliver spoke up, giving his friend a subtle kick beneath the table, hoping he’d play along.
Despite his clue, Tommy’s eyebrows furrowed. He glanced at Oliver for help. Raising an eyebrow, Oliver let his eyes wander to Felicity. Tommy’s face cleared with recognition, and he nodded. “Yeah, you should totally come. Have you ever had Puerto Rican lasagna before?”
Felicity laughed a little, “no. I can’t say I have.”
“Then you have to come,” Tommy implored. “It’ll be fun.”
“I do need to study…” she pulled her lips to the side as Tommy’s eyes drifted to Oliver. His friend watched him curiously, confused about whether they were going to dinner or studying. Oliver just raised his eyebrows, waiting for Felicity to give an answer. She sighed, shrugging her shoulders, “all right, I guess it’s better than yelling at Curtis to turn down his music every ten minutes.”
Tommy patted her shoulder sympathetically, “Hamilton is all he listens to now.”
“Yes!” Felicity’s hands flung into the air, her eyes widening. “I’m afraid he’ll never listen to anything else. I’m afraid I’ll never listen to anything else.”
Oliver glanced back and forth as they lovingly teased Curtis, seeing where their friendship clearly stemmed. After a few minutes, Tommy stood up suddenly, “okay, my stomach is trying to eat itself,” he looked down at Oliver, “feed me before I die.”
“Come on,” Oliver sighed, grinning at his dramatics. “Felicity, we’ll see you tonight?”
She nodded, lifting her fingers to wave as they retreated towards the dining hall entrance. “What time should I meet you?”
Felicity smiled, “okay,”
He didn’t realize that he’d been walking backwards until he bumped into a girl coming out of the building. “Sorry,” he mumbled before looking back at Felicity. “O-okay. See you then.” She giggled, the sound a sweet and innocent contradiction against her dark hair and bold makeup.
He liked it.
Tommy was staring at him as they walked down the hallway to the dining hall. The smile immediately fell from Oliver's face. “What?”
“Nothing,” Tommy shrugged, grinning like there was definitely something. And he wasn’t dense enough to not realize what Tommy was thinking. “I’ve just never seen you resort to studying to spend time with a girl.”
“I just thought Felicity could use a night out. I mean, does she have friends, or…? She’s got that whole ‘loner goth girl’ thing going on.” It was a bold faced lie. He definitely thought that Felicity made a habit of being alone. But asking her to go out had nothing to do with pity. "I'm trying to be nice. Is that so bad?"
“No,” Tommy shrugged, not buying it but letting it slide as he smiled. They both knew Oliver was full of shit.
What was she supposed to wear to a not-double-date-study-session at a Puerto Rican restaurant? “Curtis,” she called from her bedroom.
“Yeah,” he replied from the kitchen, where she could see him tilting a bag of chips into his mouth.
“Is Ramon’s like, a ‘dress to the nines’ kind of place, or a ‘jeans are acceptable’ kind of place?”
Curtis glanced at her, coming down the hall to stand in her doorway. “Felicity, I don’t think you own anything brighter than black.”
“I have black dresses or black pants, though.”
“Pants are fine,” he answered, glancing around at her clothes tossed around the room. “You know we’re just studying, right?”
“So…” He raised his eyebrows questioningly, gesturing to the mess, “is there a cute waiter I don’t know about or something?”
“No...I just-I’ve never been there and Oliver didn’t say how formal of a restaurant it is, so I wasn’t sure...” she trailed off, looking around at the clothes surrounding her as if she was seeing it for the first time. She never cared. She’d walk into a five star joint wearing jeans as long as she was comfortable.
Her mother’s lectures about ‘dressing to impress’ that truly translated to ‘dress to find a husband’ had really turned her off to the idea of anything eye-catching or fancy. She had no idea why she was so worried about what to wear now...to study.
Well, maybe Oliver had gotten in her head a little bit.
“Oliver?” Curtis asked. “Like Tommy’s roommate Oliver Queen?” His eyebrows shot up. “Oliver Queen's coming?”
“Yes,” she looked up at her roommate, “please stop using his first and last name. It's weird. Relax. This was all his idea, anyway. Tommy didn’t tell you?”
“Nope,” Curtis shrugged, heading back towards the kitchen, to find more food, no doubt.
“We’re about to get dinner!” She chastised after him.
Curtis’ head popped back into her room, “wait,” his eyes widened, “are you trying to find something to wear for Oliver?”
Felicity threw the first shirt she touched at him; an over-sized, touristy Vegas t-shirt her mom had sent her as a joke.
He flung the shirt back, letting it land gently on her face as he teased, “you got ice cream with Oliver Queen, and now you like him.”
She scoffed, pulling the shirt off of her head and dropping it. “I don’t like him. I met him while he was making out with his ex-girlfriend’s sister. I don’t like him...not like that.” She said convincingly, saying it out loud for her own benefit as much as she was for Curtis'.
It was impossible not to find Oliver hot. Charming. But he had a boat-load of issues. He was nice to buy her ice cream and walk her home. And she was surprised that he’d sought her out at lunch. He was also Tommy’s best friend.
There was no reason to be a jerk to him or to hate him. But that didn’t mean she had to fall for his flirting. She didn’t need to play his games and become the next melodrama of his life. The next notch in his bedpost. Maybe he could use a friend.
Felicity had a feeling he didn’t have many of those.
She decided on a pair of plain black leggings, a gray sweater and her combat boots. Curtis grinned as she finished braiding her hair, walking by him through the door and onto the street, “you look cute.”
He received an eye roll in response, and that was all he was getting. Felicity adjusted her backpack as they walked, already dreading the final paper she had to write for Greek Mythology.
She’d walked by Ramon’s on her way to class every now and then, but she’d never been inside.
It was painted a pretty, sunset orange color, with hanging lights and dark wooden floors and tables. The decorations on the walls were like a love letter to Puerto Rico, displaying their colorful structures and gorgeous beaches, not to mention the handmade pottery placed throughout.
Distracted a bit, Felicity didn’t realize that Oliver and Tommy were already there, sitting across from each other in a wide booth adorned with vibrant pillows. Curtis grabbed her sleeve to drag her in the right direction as she looked around the restaurant.
Tommy and Oliver had their work fanned out over the table, Oliver’s papers mixing with Tommy’s as they each had their heads buried in their books, looking like they’d been there for a while.
Oliver saw them first, his face lighting up a bit when he noticed them approaching. “Hey,” he smiled, looking up at her with all of that heart-melty sweetness. She reminded herself again that developing a crush on Oliver Queen was not a good idea. Bad idea. Bad. If their first meeting was any indication, he was exactly the kind of guy her mother warned her about. Platonic is good. Platonic is better.
“Hi,” she waved. Tommy greeted them, moving their sodas and shoving all the papers away to make some room. Curtis plopped down beside his boyfriend, kissing Tommy’s cheek and exchanging their private hello’s. It was only fair, since this was the first time they’d seen each other all day, but she felt a little awkward. Like it really was a double date rather than four friends getting some work done. Maybe they should have picked a study room in the library instead of a romantic, cozy restaurant.
“You can sit,” Oliver said with a grin, gesturing to the seat beside him. “I don’t bite,”
She took her bag off and sat down, “unless I want you to?”
His head turned towards her, and she could feel her cheeks turning bright red. It was a stupid thing her ex always said. Come cuddle, I promise I won’t bite, unless you want me to.
Oliver seemed amused, glancing back down at his work. And Felicity watched him, her backpack on her lap. She leaned closer, looking at the book he was taking notes on, “Write It When I’m Gone?” She read the title, frowning. Felicity knew she couldn’t possibly know everything about everything, but books she’d never heard of always made her feel sad.
“Have you read it?” Oliver asked, picking up his pencil to toy with. She shook her head, leaning over him to flip through the pages. Felicity was curious, but she was more interested in the way he wrote in the margins, just like she did. “It was written by this journalist who was friends with Ford.”
“Yeah,” he plucked the book out of her hands, “it’s actually really cool. Ford was probably one of the most underrated presidents, but he was a really smart guy, and it’s pretty impressive to see what it was like for him to pick up the mess Nixon left. He had plenty of opinions about Bush and Clinton, and I mean as far as politicians go, he was actually one that deserved a lot more recognition. So, he knew this journalist, Thomas DeFrank,” Oliver explained, pointing to the author’s name on the cover. “And they became friends over the years. He spent nearly thirty years telling DeFrank all of his thoughts and opinions, under one condition...to...you know, only write about it once he was gone.” Oliver trailed off as if he was getting embarrassed by his interest and the excited way he was explaining it, but Felicity couldn’t stop staring.
She didn’t think Oliver was interested in anything besides parties and cheerleaders. Maybe the occasional sport. He clearly wasn't used to talking about things he enjoyed. Or maybe he just wasn't used to talking a lot. Jeesh, total opposites.
It was flat-out charming to see the animation in his eyes. “That sounds pretty cool,” she told him with a gentle smile, “you’ll have to let me borrow it when you’re done.”
His smile widened, as if loaning her a book would make his whole day. “Okay,” he nodded, looking back at his notes.
He was supposed to be a meathead jock that she could never fall for. But damn him. He was a dork. A big, adorable dork who made her heart feel light when he rambled about something he loved.
She was in trouble. She already knew it.
“So,” he looked back at her, making her realize she was still staring, although luckily he didn’t seem to notice. “What are you working on?”
Felicity opened up her bag, pulling out her book and computer. “I have to write a paper about The Odyssey.”
“Yup,” she sighed, handing him the book. “Give me numbers, data, and a calculator, and I can solve anything.” Oliver raised his eyebrow, setting the book on the table and turning towards her. “Tell me to write a ten page paper on the Epic hero Odysseus...and my brain can’t find a creative thought or sentence to save its life.”
He smirked as he listened to her rattle off her complaints, resting his elbow on the table and his head on his palm. She vaguely remembered that Curtis and Tommy were on the other side of the wide table, but Oliver’s next words made her forget everything except that his eyes were very dangerous with their deep blue color that a girl could fall into and never find her way out; “of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth, nothing is bred that is weaker than man,” he whispered.
She stared at him for a long moment, and he stared right back.
It was relatively easy to snuff the flicker she’d felt at the frat party last week. His confession about sisters and drama and baggage was enough to splash cold water on that flame. Yet the fireworks exploding between their gaze now was a little harder to ignore. Without a word, Felicity took the book from his hand, breaking their eye contact so she could find the page. Then she pursed her lips and turned it to him, showing him the passage she’d highlighted. It wasn’t that she planned to do anything with it for her paper, she’d just liked it. And obviously he did too.
Oliver huffed out a laugh, shaking his head as if the two of them having anything in common came as a surprise. It did to her, that was for sure.
“Tommy and I can order some of Ramon’s Puerto Rican lasagna he sold you on,” Oliver cleared his throat, “and then uh, then I can help you with your paper. If you want, I mean.”
She bit her lip and nodded, interested to see how good of a teacher Oliver could be. Or how well she’d handle being the one getting tutored. She started to slide out of the booth, letting Oliver out.
Before she could stand up, a pair of tan legs in jean shorts were in her face, “you said you had to study.”
Felicity looked up at the girl hovering above, sliding back into the seat. Oliver had his arm on the back of the booth, in the middle of getting up himself, and when Felicity retreated, her back brushed against his chest and his arm was kind of around her...and it probably looked less platonic than it was. The blonde’s eyes narrowed at Oliver, who had the decency to look embarrassed. He didn’t bother moving his arm, though. Oliver pointed at their chaotic, collective work, his arm curling around Felicity some more. “I am studying, Riley.”
She crossed her arms, “a study date is different than just studying, Oliver. And ditching me for her?” Riley glanced Felicity up and down as if she was superior in every way, making Felicity’s back stiffen. “She’s creepy.”
Oliver’s fingers grazed her shoulder, and Felicity looked up at him. His eyes were on her, apologetic until he turned them to Riley. “Don’t bother calling,” he told her without a trace of emotion or regret. “We’re done here.”
Riley stomped her foot. Like, actually stomped it. “Delete my number, Oliver Queen!” She threw her temper tantrum, “I’m so done with you!”
To his credit, he let her storm off, not caring to clarify for Riley or the people whose attention she’d caught that he had actually been the one to end whatever it was that just ended.
Oliver stared down as he gently nudged Felicity to let him out of the booth, “we’ll be right back,” he muttered, waving Tommy along too. He seemed a bit angry, probably mourning the loss of Blonde #581743 in his contact list. But she couldn’t stop her mouth from pulling up into a smile. He’d placed his fingers on her shoulder in comfort, apology, a way to say ‘I don’t think you’re creepy.’
Felicity was only slightly embarrassed by Riley’s rude comments. She was used to it by now. Yet Oliver didn’t even flinch. He didn’t pull his arm away or look like he regretted being there with her. Logically, she would have expected him to be embarrassed. But he truly didn't care.
She’d been called a lot worse than creepy. She could handle it, and hopefully Oliver knew that. It wasn’t like he caused a scene to defend her. It felt more like he was telling Riley ‘if you have a problem with Felicity...there’s the door.’ And that was a loyalty and protectiveness she hadn’t ever known.
But maybe she was reading too much into it…
Curtis cleared his throat, and Felicity’s head snapped up to look at him, the dopey, girlish smile falling from her face. He just raised his eyebrows, waiting for her to say something.
“Shut up,” was her choice. Then she pushed out of the booth and headed for the bathroom.
To get there, she had to walk by Tommy and Oliver standing at the counter, ordering the food. Their backs were facing her, and Felicity slowed down, noticing how they were huddled together like two gossiping middle schoolers.
“Dude, did you see the look on her face? Felicity was loving it.” Tommy assured Oliver.
“Okay, so what?” Oliver asked, “I should ditch more girls to hang out with her?” He lifted a shoulder, followed with a quick “no problem,” under his breath. "But there are girls like Riley all over campus. Felicity's better than that bullshit," he said, shaking his head.
Why would it matter what she thought of his choices? Riley was the one who embarrassed herself with that fit...not Oliver. His judgment when it came to women was clearly screwed up, that was clear the moment she stumbled upon him kissing his ex's sister. But she wasn't quite sure what that had to do with her. Felicity glanced one more time at Oliver, wishing she could stop and listen, but they’d see her if she just stood behind them like a creep.
Oliver sighed heavily, his eyebrows furrowing as if he was worrying about something.
And then she made her way to the restroom.
Platonic, Felicity. Platonic.
Chapter 3: We're Friends...Right?
Her phone kept ringing. By the fourth call, she finally took her fingers from the keyboard and stood up, stomping over to her bag on the other side of the computer lab. She knew it couldn’t be Curtis, since he knew better by now not to bother her when she was in the zone. If she didn’t answer after his second call, Curtis either assumed she was in the middle of a difficult code, or he just pinged her phone to figure out where she was. She regretted teaching him how to do that.
“What, Queen?” Felicity clipped, rolling her eyes as she solved the mystery of who the hell would be annoying enough to call her so many times.
“Felicity!” Oliver shouted excitedly, and she bit her lip, hearing the smile in his voice. “Damn, finally. What have you been doing all this time? God, Felicity, please don’t tell me you’ve been getting laid or something.”
Her mouth dropped open, “you thought I could have been having sex, so you called me three more times?”
“Hey, you cockblocked me first. I thought it was our thing.”
“We don’t have any things,” she grinned.
“We could have plenty of things,” his voice was thick with flirtation.
Over the past few weeks, they’d made a habit of studying together. Usually it was at the restaurant with Tommy and Curtis. Sometimes in the library. A few times at the local coffee shop. A couple of times she’d invited Oliver to tag along when Tommy came over. She imagined that he had better things to do, but he always said yes, much to her curiosity.
They’d spent time together almost every day. And her fondness for him was proof of it. He was growing on her.
Every now and then, when the mood and conversation were right, he’d turn on some of his charm. He’d flirt, like he was putting on the Oliver Queen facade just to see if she’d allow it. And she did.
It wasn’t that she had a problem with it, she flirted right back.
But there were other moments with him, like at the restaurant, when they talked about other things. Real things. They’d take breaks between their work and just talk. Everything from venting about their professors, to debating whether or not the plane crash survivors on Lost were really dead the whole time, to sharing some of their personal stories about their families and friends. It was always simple. Oliver was surprisingly easy to talk to. Which was why she kept agreeing to spend time with him.
He made her feel good. Listened to and understood.
“What are you doing tonight?” Oliver asked, ignorant to her distracted thoughts.
Oliver groaned, “that’s all you did last night.”
“That’s all I tried to do last night,” she argued, “you and Tommy were a bit distracting with all of the yelling and screaming about that dumb Madden game.”
“Aw,” he chuckled, “I’m surprised you even know what it’s called.”
Felicity rolled her eyes, “well, now I have plenty of work to catch up on.”
“Okay...but you have to eat, right?”
“Well, yeah...in terms of survival, food is a necessity.”
“I’ll pick you up. Apartment or computer lab?”
She grit her teeth, hating that she was that predictable. “Computer lab, but I’m not really that hungry.”
“Not even for pizza? What if we order half with pineapple?”
Felicity huffed again. This guy had known her for less than a month and he could already predict her every step. Was she truly this boring? “Fine. Tell Tommy to grab my laptop charger? Curtis borrowed it last night and left it at your house.”
“Tommy has practice tonight. Curtis is pulling an all-nighter in the library with his Linguistics group to finish their project. I’ll grab your charger. Can I pick you up in twenty?”
“Oh...so...it’s just me and you?”
He hesitated, “is that okay with you, Felicity?” God, she could see the grin on his face. He was teasing her.
“Yeah,” she yelped, trying to sound relaxed even though she was freaking out a bit. Studying was always the excuse she used to see him. Their time together largely revolved around library dates and meeting up for coffee. Always casual and convenient. If he came over, it was because Tommy was already planning on it. Most of the time they had Tommy and Curtis somewhere nearby anyway. He’d never asked to do anything just the two of them.
“Relax, Felicity,” Oliver laughed as if he could see her face, the nerves running through her body. “It’s just pizza. I’ll see you soon.” And then he hung up before she had a chance to respond. Before she could change her mind, probably.
“Okay, Felicity,” she sighed, dropping her phone back into her bag. She stood up, starting to talk to herself. “You’re being ridiculous. Calm down. You’ve been alone with Oliver a dozen times.” She took a deep breath. He tended to wander into her room whenever he got bored of hanging out with Tommy and Curtis. They hung out alone in the library and at coffee shop.
But this seemed different. Like a date?
“No,” she shook her head at herself, “no, no. It’s not-it’s not one of those.” They were friends. If it was a date, he would have asked her...on a date. He was hungry and he wanted someone to eat pizza with. That was it.
Felicity finished what she could of her code before packing up her bag and heading outside to wait for Oliver. She saw his car parked across the street and she crossed her arms, walking towards it. He leaned over the seat and swung the door open for her as she approached. “You said twenty minutes,” Felicity mumbled as she plopped into the passenger seat.
He smiled, turning to look at her. “I was giving you time to finish your hacking.”
“It’s not hacking,” she swung her hand out to hit his arm, glaring as he pouted.
“You’re feisty tonight.”
She rolled her eyes at him, “I get feisty when you tease me.”
“I know,” he shook his head, pulling away from the curb and heading downtown.
Felicity chewed on her lip, glancing out the window and avoiding the slow smile that spread across his face. “You know, you don’t know me that well.”
“No?” He looked over at her.
“Nope,” she popped her P. “So you know that I like pineapple on my pizza and spend too much time in the computer lab. So what?”
Oliver raised an eyebrow, “fine, then tell me something I don’t know. Something deeper.” As Felicity eyed him, Oliver squirmed in his seat.
“I didn’t mean that I wanted you to know more. We only met a few weeks ago, in one of the most awkward introductions in my life, mind you.” She frowned, “it makes me feel like I’m predictable. Boring.” She hadn’t intended to share that with Oliver or anyone else, but that seemed to always be the case with him.
“You’re not boring,” he huffed out a laugh. Then he glanced at her, “did you ever think that maybe what’s happening isn’t that you’re predictable...but just that I’m paying attention?”
She stared back at him until he had to refocus on the road. Felicity bit her lip, feeling nerves wiggling in her stomach at his words. The good kind of nerves. Like butterflies.
But damn him. He was not supposed to be making her feel like that.
“My dad left me and my mom when I was seven.”
“Yeah?” Oliver glanced down at her, his eyes softening. She never mentioned her father, all of the stories she’d shared with Oliver involved her mom. And she knew he was probably curious, but he never asked. Never pushed. “When was the last time you saw him?”
“The night he left,” she breathed, and Oliver raised his eyebrows.
“Have you ever tried to find him?” Oliver adjusted his grip on the wheel, and Felicity watched his fingers flex and relax. She wasn’t sure how comfortable he was with heavy conversations. From what she could tell, his relationships were typically quite shallow. Especially with women. But he was asking...trying...so she shook her head.
“I know I probably could track him down if I wanted to,” Felicity shrugged. “But I don’t really want to know him. He left,” she whispered, “that’s on him.”
Nodding, Oliver gave her a look that made her feel like he understood why she wouldn’t want that man in her life. “He must have been an idiot to walk out on someone like you.”
“He was actually a genius. I mean, my mother’s...a lot of things, some of them admirable, but I definitely got my brain from my dad—” she looked over at Oliver, seeing his mouth pulling at the corner. “Yeah,” she smirked, “he was an idiot.”
“How does your mom feel about him?”
“Better now,” Felicity answered, “the first few years were a nightmare. I stopped asking about him, because it just made her cry. She hates him, but she’s not broken like she was before.”
“That must have been hard,” Oliver mumbled, “seeing your mom like that.”
Felicity tried to smile, playing with her fingers in her lap. “It was...but I also learned a lot from her, and my dad...not to be careless with my heart. Not to give it to someone who will just end up breaking it.”
His eyes shifted to hers as he pulled up to a red light. And he stared at her for a long moment. “Felicity…”
She shook her head, knowing she’d said too much. Telling Oliver what she was afraid of meant that he would know how to use it against her. That was always her mother’s mistake; show the man the cracks in your armor, and then when the time came, he’d know just where to strike. “It doesn’t matter,” she smiled gently.
“You want to be alone?”
“Most of the time,” she lifted her shoulder. Oliver pinched his lips together, looking back at the road as the light turned green and he could turn into the parking lot.
They stayed quiet until he reached the restaurant. “Hey,” Oliver stopped her with a hand on her arm when she moved to get out of the car. She kept her eyes on his, feeling his fingers tighten, squeezing her arm. A reassuring smile twitched at his lips, and she returned it. His look said so much. Making sure she was okay, that he hadn't upset her. Felicity didn't want to admit how much that meant to her.
Winking, Oliver got out and rounded the car, nudging his shoulder against hers as they walked into the restaurant.
It was the most stereotypical pizza joint in town, with also the most basic menu full of greasy options. And it was Oliver’s favorite.
Once they sat down and had their drinks, he pulled out the menu from the holder on the table and sighed, looking it over. Felicity grinned as she watched him, realizing that she knew him just as well as he seemed to know her.
“We’ll take a large pizza,” he said to the waiter when he came back to the table, “half pineapple and half—”
“Bacon and pepperoni,” Felicity finished.
The waiter glanced between them before writing it down and walking away. Oliver smirked as he leaned towards her. “What if that wasn’t what I wanted?”
“I watch you and Tommy inhale pizza at least nine times a week,” she exaggerated, rolling her eyes. "It's always the same."
He laughed, “see, it’s not a bad thing that we know what kind of pizza the other likes.”
“Yeah,” Felicity shrugged, “that’s what friends do, right?”
His smile fell for the briefest moment, but it was back in place fast enough that she didn’t have time to examine it. “Right,” he nodded back.
She reached out for his drink, her hand moving right by her own water and wiggling her fingers at his milkshake. He rolled his eyes, sliding it forward so she could reach.
“Yay,” she danced in her seat, glancing around the restaurant as she sipped from his straw.
Oliver shook his head as he watched her, and she was suddenly reminded of the night they’d met and how embarrassed she’d been when he offered her a bite of his ice cream. His food always ended up being their food. But he really didn’t seem to mind, which only encouraged her more.
“You’re quite the puzzle, you know that?”
Felicity’s eyebrows pushed together, giving him back his milkshake as she frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“The dark makeup, hair, piercings...it suggests that you would probably kick my ass if I tried to fuck you.”
“And I would,” she warned sternly, but she smiled.
He cocked his head to the side, “but it seems like you’re putting on a bit of an act. You’re sweet, Felicity. Compassionate and loving. And I get the feeling it’s not a side of you that you’re comfortable with showing people.”
“I like my hair,” she said with a straight face. “I like my clothes, I like my makeup, and I like my piercings.”
“So do I,” he answered honestly, making her quirk an eyebrow at him. “But underneath all of that… I can’t help but wonder if all of this,” he gestured towards her, “is because you don’t want people to see you.”
Her back stiffened, wondering when the hell Oliver Queen had become a shrink. She’d never consciously intended to put on a front, she really did like her style. But he wasn’t completely wrong, either. “I like who I am,” she defended herself, her lips forming a hard line. “I’m not changing into some preppy cheerleader just to appease you.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
They got quiet again as their waiter brought over the pizza. And Felicity tried not to meet his eyes, feeling them on her face every few minutes while they ate. “I’m sorry, Felicity,” he finally sighed. “I didn’t mean to push your buttons. I was out of line.”
She pulled her lips to the side, picking a piece of pineapple off her pizza and eating it. “It’s okay. Just stop trying to analyze me,” Felicity smirked, “because if you remember the way we met, I have plenty to unpack about your choices, too.”
He shook his head, dropping his food and leaning back. “Low blow, Smoak,” Oliver clipped, glancing away. His eyes hardened, his jaw tightening.
“Oh,” she froze. “Sorry...I—” when she looked back at him, he was grinning.
Felicity picked off another pineapple and threw it at him. He retaliated by scooping some whipped cream off his milkshake onto his finger, holding it out like a weapon. “Uh-uh,” she held her hand up to stop him before he flung it at her. “We’re even, okay? Truce?”
Oliver cracked a crooked smile, bringing his finger to his mouth and sucking off the whipped cream. She watched, licking her own lips. And Oliver winked. He knew he was sexy, and he used it to tease her on more than one occasion. “Truce,” he agreed.
As they finished dinner, the waiter placed the check in front of Felicity, smiling at her and backing away. Felicity stared at him, trying to remember if the boy had even looked at her all night. But he’d been perfectly mundane, seeming more bored with his job than anything else.
Felicity’s face turned red as the waiter lifted his hand, waving to her before he pushed through the kitchen door. “Okay,” she shook her head, “what the hell was that?”
Oliver frowned, reaching for the check, but Felicity picked it up first. “I got it,” she mumbled.
As she pulled out some cash, she glanced over the bill. And her face dropped when she noticed seven handwritten numbers at the bottom of her copy. “Oh,”
“What?” Oliver asked.
“Nothing,” she quickly took out the receipt, shoving the bills into the black book and slamming it shut.
Oliver’s eyes narrowed, “Felicity.”
Rolling her eyes and knowing he’d hawk her until she told him, Felicity held out the bill, showing him the phone number the waiter had left for her. “I’m assuming it’s for me, I mean, I guess he could have been trying to give his number to you, but he handed the check to me so I…”
Oliver tapped his fingers along the table, offering her a tight smile. “You don’t have to hide it from me, Felicity. We’re friends...right?”
“Well, yeah,” she bit her lip. “I don’t know, it just felt weird in the moment.”
“It shouldn’t,” he shrugged nonchalantly. “You should call him.”
“Sure,” Oliver shrugged again, looking away from her.
His gaze found something behind her head that held his attention, his eyes lighting up a bit. And she turned to follow his line of sight. Felicity’s stomach swooped when she realized a curly haired brunette was the distraction. She looked back at Oliver, watching as his eyes roamed from the girl’s head to her toes.
It made her feel sick, seeing the way he checked the girl out as if she wasn’t sitting right in front of him.
That terrible knot in her chest was exactly what she was afraid of. That heart sinking feeling. And it was only a fraction of what she’d feel if she let herself fall for Oliver.
Because with Oliver, it wouldn’t be an if he broke her heart. It’d be a when.
Oliver closed his eyes when he heard his phone buzzing again. Another text. Taking a deep breath, he set his beer down on the counter and picked it up. This time, Felicity had just sent a string of emojis that conveyed both her annoyance and her confusion.
He shook his head, tossing his phone back onto the counter and getting another beer.
The four other guys who lived at the house were all out for the night. Three of them were at a party. And Tommy was at Curtis and Felicity's. He’d opted to stay home. Which of course, made them all think he must be sick. Instead of telling his roommates that he was being driven crazy by a frustratingly charming girl, he'd nodded along and feigned a headache.
Sitting on the couch alone, drinking beer and watching the game actually sounded better than a party. For the first time in a long time, he didn’t care about who he’d be taking home or going home with.
When the game was over and the beer was gone, Oliver contemplated going to bed. He had no idea why he was feeling so shitty. Aside from the fact that Felicity gave her number to another guy last night, right in front of him.
He didn’t know what to say to her. It wasn’t his place to get angry. He had no right to. And he knew that. But it hurt nonetheless. He wasn't sure how to handle it yet, knowing that he couldn't confront her. What would he say? Don't text that asshole waiter because I don't want you to? No. He just needed some time to throw a little pity party. Then get over himself. The feeling sucked though. It was more than jealousy. Worse. It was a harsh realization that he had feelings for Felicity. Real feelings. The scary kind that made him worry about getting his heart broken. Because Felicity Smoak could surely be the death of him if he let her.
All he needed was a night to get his head on straight.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Oliver glanced up to see his roommate standing in the doorway of the TV room, hands on his hips as he curled his lip at Oliver’s collection of beer bottles. “Thinking," he mumbled, sliding his eyes back to the television.
Tommy kicked the bottles aside, sitting down next to him on the couch. “You need to pull yourself together.”
Chuckling without humor, Oliver raised his eyebrows. “Sure. I’ll get right on that.”
“I’m serious, man.” Tommy insisted. “Can we have an honest conversation for once?”
“What the fuck about, Tommy?” Oliver sighed, exhausted.
He clenched his jaw, setting his last beer bottle on the floor by his foot. “What about her?”
“You hurt her feelings tonight.”
“I didn’t feel good. Not really in the mood to hang out with anyone.”
“You’re full of shit. You feel fine.” Tommy snapped, “you told her you’d come over to have dinner with us. She was disappointed that you didn’t show up. You couldn't even text her with your lame excuses? Come on, Oliver. Do I really have to explain why that makes you an idiot?”
Oliver blinked, “she was disappointed?”
Pressing his fingers to his temples, Tommy sighed as if he was dealing with a ignorant child. Which didn’t feel wrong. Oliver’s heart clenched just knowing he’d disappointed her. “Of course she was. Oliver, Felicity's not going to put up with your bullshit. I'm just saying... she's not the type to fall all over you and become a doormat. Don't make promises you can't keep, not with that girl.”
“Why not?” Oliver shrugged, knowing that he’d blown off plenty of girls. Some of them were left waiting in restaurants when he decided not to show up for a date. Sometimes he’d completely bail on Laurel and she wouldn’t hear from him for days. “She’s just a friend,” he rolled the word with too much sarcasm.
Tommy gave him a pointed look. “You want me to be real here?”
“You like her. We both know that. But for some reason Felicity doesn’t see what’s right in front of her.”
“So what am I supposed to do?”
“I don’t know, Oliver. But getting drunk and ignoring her isn’t it. If you want to be the kind of guy she deserves, then start acting like it. Felicity has a lot of trust issues,” Tommy shrugged, “so just prove to her that you’re not going anywhere.”
“She doesn’t see me like that,” Oliver muttered, glancing down at his hands, hating the vulnerability in his voice. “We got dinner last night… It was going pretty well until the waiter gave her his number. You should’ve seen the look on her face, Tommy.”
“Look, no matter how tough she fronts, Felicity is still human. She wants to be loved just like anyone else. The difference between her and most of the scum on this planet is that she deserves to have it. If you really like her, then you need to figure out your long game here.”
Oliver’s eyebrows furrowed, “what do you mean?”
“I mean...don’t ghost her. Don’t treat her like you just want to get between her legs-”
“That’s not what I want.” Oliver interrupted. "Well, that's not all I want," he cringed, admitting it quietly. It was different and it felt terrifying, yet he knew that much was true.
He understood what Tommy was saying.
Felicity wasn’t fucking with him. She wasn’t playing games. She was always honest, and it was refreshing. Oliver huffed, "she’s got me wrapped around her damn finger and she’s not even my girlfriend.”
“Then maybe you should make her your girlfriend.”
“We both know I’m not boyfriend material. Felicity knows I’m not boyfriend material—”
“Does she?” Tommy interrupted. “Because it sounds to me like she is just as scared, and just as fucked up in the head as you are. So maybe you two could actually be good for each other. If you could just pull your head out of your ass and show her that you won’t hurt her.”
“She tried to hide the guy’s number from me,” Oliver shook his head, “she was going to keep it and just not tell me. What am I supposed to do with that?”
“I don’t know,” Tommy said sarcastically, “not act like a jealous jerk and ignore her?”
“I’m not,” Oliver argued.
“No,” Tommy shook his head, “you’re being the asshole that calls himself her friend but eventually wants to get in her pants.”
Oliver huffed, scratching the back of his neck. “Well…”
“Yeah, yeah,” Tommy waved him off. “I know, you do. I’m just saying, be there for her. Not with the intention of sleeping with her, but because you genuinely care about her.”
“I do care about her.”
“Good. Then just...focus on that rather than flirting with her all the time...then maybe she won’t feel like she has to hide random dude’s numbers from you.”
“What if she only ever sees me as a friend, though? What if she never wants anything more?”
Shrugging, Tommy patted his shoulder, “you’re just going to have to see what happens.” Oliver nodded, watching as Tommy stood up. “Just don’t fuck it up,” were his friend’s final words before he headed up to his room.
Shaking his head, Oliver settled back into the couch with a sigh. Friends. He could be her friend. He was confident in that for one reason. It was Felicity.
It didn’t really matter that he didn’t have any friends of the opposite sex. It was her, and he’d be happy to have her in his life in any way he could. For now, at least.
Chapter 4: Some Sort of Kitchen Fight Club
To say that rugby wasn’t her thing would be an understatement. She would never truly understand the point of “entertainment” that involved ramming your heads together until someone ended up bleeding and on the ground. The rules were confusing, the number of possible concussions she’d witnessed was alarming, and it made it all worse that Tommy Merlyn happened to be one of the best players on the team.
The violence was cringe-worthy on its own, but being invested in Tommy and not wanting him to die made the whole thing hard to watch. “Remind me why I let you drag me here,” Felicity grumbled to Curtis, his hand squeezing the hell out of her arm as Tommy ran the ball from one side of the field to the other, jumping over opposing players and nearly dying the whole way.
“Because I thought that letting you spend your Friday night watching Netflix movies and drinking wine was too sad,” her roommate answered helpfully, cringing when Tommy finally got taken down, his legs knocked out from under him by another player, landing on his back in a painful slam.
She gasped, flinching as Tommy rolled over with a groan, pounding his fist on the ground. “Right,” Felicity pursed her lips.
Rugby was a great distraction. It definitely took her mind off of Oliver...until Curtis reminded her why she’d been perfectly content to spend the night alone with a bottle of wine.
It’d been almost a week since she’d heard from him. Since she’d invited him and Tommy over to have dinner and Oliver had bailed without bothering to tell her why. Tommy said he was sick, but she still hadn’t heard from him.
The least he could do was send a simple text message to let her know that he was alive.
Since then, Tommy insisted that Oliver just needed some time to himself. Which was fine, of course it was. She wasn’t his girlfriend, he didn’t owe her an explanation, but it didn’t make her feel very good.
At the end of the day, she knew the truth. And it was realizing the simple fact of it that was eating her up.
She missed him.
After spending the last month having some kind of contact with Oliver Queen every day, whether it be studying, grabbing a coffee, or even just texting if they were both too busy to make time, she hadn’t gone a day since their night at Ramon’s where she didn’t speak to him. Now she hadn’t heard from him in nearly a week, and she couldn’t help but wonder what the hell was going on with him and if it had something to do with her.
It couldn’t be a coincidence that he distanced himself after their pizza date. The pizza date that was not a date. But she had no idea what she’d done wrong. A waiter had given her his number. She’d done nothing to flirt with the guy. In fact, he’d barely even looked at her until he was suddenly dropping his digits down with the check. And it wasn’t like she’d texted him.
Even if she had texted that waiter, though...there was no way Oliver was jealous. She’d seen the women he got mixed up with. Gorgeous blondes like Sara Lance, tall bombshells like that Riley girl from the restaurant, or even the dark haired, exotic beauty he’d been checking out after they got pizza.
She was not his type. So, he had no reason to be mad at her. And he was just really pissing her off.
“Earth to Felicity,” Curtis leaned in front of the spot on the ground she’d been staring at, waving his hand in her face. “Hello,” he snapped and she shoved his hand away. “Game’s over.”
“Good,” she sighed, looking up at the field and the bloodied, dirty players who were packing up to leave. She couldn’t wait to get home and take a nice hot bath for them in spirit, feeling exhausted and achy after just watching that game.
Felicity crossed her arms to fight off the autumn breeze, narrowing her eyes at Tommy Merlyn as he jogged over to them, his duffel bag slung over his shoulder and a slight limp on his left foot. But his smile was wide and his eyes excited. “Hey, guys,” he panted, “thanks for coming.”
“You were great out there,” Curtis reached for his hand, leaning in to kiss his sweaty, dirt-stained face. As he pulled back, he squeezed Tommy’s arm, and Tommy winced. “Oh,” Curtis raised his hands in surrender. “Sorry, sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Tommy smiled, shaking his head. “You’re just going to have to take really good care of me tonight.”
They smiled at each other, and Felicity sighed. Sometimes, no matter how much she told herself that she was content with being alone, watching Tommy and Curtis made her heart ache a little bit. There was a part of her that wanted it. To love someone as easily and unconditionally as they loved her. Even though she’d been shown time and time again by her mother that men were consistent disappointments, there was irony in the fact that having Curtis and Tommy in her life made her want to believe otherwise. Maybe it was just straight men who were disappointing.
“You guys coming back to our place for the party?” Tommy asked, raising an eyebrow at Felicity.
Their place. As in the house he shared with his frat buddies. Including Oliver. “No,” she shook her head harshly. “No way.”
“And why not?” Tommy retorted, asking even though he knew exactly why.
She glared at him, “Oliver never answered my texts the other night. If he wants to see me, then he can call me.”
“Felicity,” Tommy sighed, “I’m sure you’ve picked up on this by now. Oliver isn’t exactly competent when it comes to his own feelings. Sometimes he just gets moody. He’ll come around.”
“Moody about what?” She scoffed.
Tommy just sighed again, lifting his shoulders. “He knows he pissed you off. And I hate to say it, but you’re probably going to need to push him a little harder than most people.”
Felicity hesitated, looking down at her feet, “why should I?”
“Because he matters to you,” Curtis answered this time.
Looking up, she let her eyes drift between her friends. She knew that they were in the middle of her and Oliver’s drama, and that neither of them wanted to be. They were doing their best to stay neutral. Tommy wrapped an arm around her, then one around Curtis, herding both of them towards his car. “I’m not saying you have to forgive him for bailing on you, or that it’s going to be you putting in all the effort. You matter to him too, Felicity. All I’m saying…” he huffed, looking down at her and shrugging, “is that you should come over and have a drink. I have no idea if Oliver’s even home.”
Well, when he put it like that… She groaned, “fine.”
The ride back to the house was only fifteen minutes, which was apparently the perfect amount of time to get herself all worked up. And that made her feel silly, because seeing Oliver shouldn’t make her so nervous. But then again, she realized, it always kind of has.
Sighing, she followed Tommy and Curtis into the house, where a decent crowd was already building after the team’s win. Tommy immediately waved them off, telling them he’d be back down after he showered. And she followed Curtis into the kitchen, where he pulled two beers from the fridge and cracked them open.
The last time she’d been at a party in this house, she’d met Oliver. Or rather, she’d cockblocked a random stranger from having sex with his ex-girlfriend’s sister, and then somehow found herself in an unconventional friendship with him while she tried to deny that she had a crush on him.
Typical college stuff.
Another reminder of that night came sauntering up to her before she’d even had one sip of her beer. He leaned against the counter and winked at her as if he was some suave romantic hero. She couldn’t stop the snort-laugh that escaped her, her eyes rolling involuntarily.
“Get lost, Creepy Chris,” Curtis shook his head, amused, and took a sip of beer.
She smirked, glancing up at Chris, who was already buzzed, unfazed. “Felicity Smoak,” he drawled, “I knew you couldn’t stay away from me.”
“Having a front row seat to watch you embarrass yourself is not the same thing as not being able to stay away.”
As usual, Chris ignored her insult, stepping closer and draping his arm over her shoulders. “Listen Smoak,” he wagged his eyebrows in a way that he probably thought was cute, but she burst out laughing. “You’re here. I’m here. Let’s make the most of it.”
Her jaw popped open, shaking her head at his line. She huffed out a laugh, nudging his side. It wasn’t that she thought his advances were charming in any way. But after getting to know Oliver, she realized that if Creepy Chris was threatening in any way, Oliver and Tommy would never allow him to live under the same roof with them. His persistence was irritating, but she didn’t sense anything menacing. Now, she could see that if Chris was anything less than harmless, Oliver would have kicked his ass by now.
That didn’t stop her from shoving him off of her though. “You don’t give up, do you?” She rolled her eyes.
Chris stumbled back a bit before catching himself. Then he smiled, reaching out to take a strand of her hair between his fingers. “Nope,” he shook his head, still grinning like the dopey, drunk fool that he was. “Not on a girl as pretty as you.”
Her eyes instinctively rolled again, and she slowly peeled his hand away from her hair, narrowing her eyes. “If you touch me one more time without me asking you to...you’ll have five broken fingers and an even harder time holding on to the ball than you did tonight.” She flashed him a sarcastic smile, tossing his hand aside.
Chris whistled in response, his eyes sparking as if he took it as a challenge. And Felicity sighed. “Is that your way of saying you’ll ask me to touch—” He was cut off by a sudden, massive body standing between them, coming in out of nowhere. His back was to her, right in front of her face as he loomed over Creepy Chris, and she knew exactly who it was even though she hadn’t seen his face.
The muscles on Oliver’s back were rigid, his breath coming out in shallow pants. And he shoved Chris, hard enough that the guy tripped over his own drunken feet, falling on his ass. “What the hell, Queen!” He shouted, scrambling to stand back up.
“I told you to leave Felicity alone.”
Utterly offended, Chris gawked, finally getting himself upright and taking a few steps away from Oliver. “If every girl you’ve fucked is off limits Oliver, the rest of us would have to leave the state to find any nice ass.”
When Oliver growled and stepped towards Chris, Felicity instinctively grabbed his arm, stopping him. For some reason, she could read him perfectly. And she knew instantly that Chris would walk away with more than a few injuries. Oliver stopped as soon as her tiny hand wrapped around his giant bicep, tilting his head back to see her. She held her breath as he looked at her for the first time, seeing something in his eyes that she hadn’t experienced yet.
Rage. Live, violent, intimidating rage. But she knew that it wasn’t directed at her. When he met her gaze, she watched the rage dampen, ever so slightly, hearing him let out a long breath. Calming. She gently shook her head, telling him not to do anything stupid.
In a silent conversation, he nodded back, letting her know that he wouldn’t. Oliver turned back to Chris, crossing his arms. “Get out of here, asshole,” Oliver said lowly, “before I change my mind.” The slight challenge in his voice at the last words sent a thrill through her. There was a part of him that was hoping Chris would choose not to back down. A part of him that wanted to fight.
Gritting his teeth, Creepy Chris seemed to consider it. His pride arguing with his self-preservation. Ultimately, even drunk, Chris picked the smartest option and stormed off towards the back door.
Once it slammed behind him, Oliver turned slowly, looking back down at her with a whole new expression. Trepidation. Concern. And she was suddenly very aware of where they were. Aside from the music coming from the speakers in the living room and the voices of the oblivious co-eds in there, the kitchen was silent. Curtis and the group of party-goers who happened to be present for the drama were all perfectly silent, staring at the two of them with wide eyes, just waiting to see what happened next.
Her face turning red, Felicity quickly made her way out of the kitchen, heading for the front door since she knew Creepy Chris would be busy stewing in the backyard. And she made it all the way to the front porch before she felt Oliver’s fingers on her elbow, spinning her around to face him with an annoyingly gentle “hey, hey, hey, slow down.”
She wheeled on him, pulling her arm away from his touch. “What the hell is wrong with you? Are you some kind of caveman or something? I don’t need you to fight my battles, Oliver! Especially when you can’t even speak to me!”
He raised his hands, taking in a deep breath. Oh yeah, she had a temper too. He wasn’t the only one who got to be pissed off around here.
“I’m sorry, Felicity.” He sighed, “I just needed some space.”
“Why?” She demanded, crossing her arms. “What did I do?”
“Nothing,” Oliver shook his head, taking a step closer. “You didn’t do anything wrong. If you haven’t noticed,” he gestured back towards the party, the spectacle she’d just run from. “I don’t exactly have my head screwed on right all time.”
“You could have at least texted me back.”
“I know, and I’m sorry that I didn’t. All I can say is that I’m trying to figure it out, Felicity. I’m...to use your term here, a bit of a caveman, I guess.” He exhaled sharply, looking into her eyes. “It’s embarrassing, okay? I just—the only women in my life who I truly care about, who I don’t want to disappoint, and whose opinions actually matter to me, are my mom and my sister.”
She watched him, trying to keep her expression neutral, not ready to give him an inch of forgiveness yet.
“I don’t know, Felicity... I met you and I got to know you and now I worry about those things when it comes to you and… I don’t do girlfriends.” Her heart fluttered a bit as he continued, “and I also don’t do friends who are girls. In fact, when it comes to women outside of my mother and my baby sister, I tend to not give a fuck what they think about me. I needed space, Felicity, some time to get my shit together...because I don’t want to screw this up and ruin this friendship. I realized that I give a fuck what you think about me.”
A long moment passed between them. Felicity stared at him, trying to reconcile the angry, violent man at the edge of snapping who she’d seen inside with the pleading, wide eyed, heart-on-sleeve man that stood before her. And she felt her own anger draining. When she’d first met him, she’d thought that he was a pretty fucked up dude; almost sleeping with his ex’s sister. A month later and she was quite certain that Oliver Queen had some issues to work through. But like a fool, she’d let herself warm up to him anyway, even though she’d known from the first moment she saw him that he was dangerous.
And now she gave a fuck about him, too.
“Okay,” Felicity finally sighed, nodding once. “But rule number one of being friends with me...don’t ever shut me out like that again.”
He nodded back, biting his lip, “deal.”
Felicity narrowed her eyes, “and I can handle jackasses like Creepy Chris on my own. I don’t need or want you to make a scene like that over something so stupid.”
Oliver pursed his lips, his hands tightening into fists and she knew that he didn’t find it stupid at all. He stared at her for a moment, “I don’t doubt that you can handle it, Felicity. But that doesn’t mean you should have to.”
Sighing, she closed her eyes. There was no way he’d let her win that argument and she knew it. Oliver was not the type of person to sit back. He’d always intervene. And even though it had pissed her off, there was something comforting in that knowledge. Something that made her feel safe.
So, she let it go.
“Let’s go get a drink,” she breathed, stepping back towards the door.
Oliver seemed to release a breath of relief, reaching for the handle. And Felicity put her hand on his arm, stopping him before quickly wrapping her arms around his middle. He huffed, freezing for a moment before hugging her back. She’d never actually hugged him, but it felt like as good a time as any. And damn, did it feel nice.
His body was warm, his thick muscles coming around her like a fortress. Oliver pressed his cheek to the top of her head, “what’s this for?” His voice rumbled from his chest to her ear.
“Being honest with me,” she whispered back, squeezing him tighter.
Three hours into the party, Oliver realized that Felicity was intoxicated. He wasn’t sure when exactly it happened. But he looked at her across the room, leaning against the wall while she waited in line for the bathroom, and noticed that she was teetering, using the wall for support more than her own two legs.
Oliver frowned, instantly moving towards her. He leaned down once he reached her, placing a hand on her elbow and whispering in her ear. “Come on, let’s get you some water.”
Pouting, Felicity shook her head, reaching for his fingers on her arm and squeezing them. She leaned her head back on his shoulder, “I don’t want water. I want to pee.”
“You can pee upstairs, come with me.”
Pulling her mouth to the side, she seemed to think about it, rolling her head on his shoulder so she could look up at him. “Lead the way, sir.”
With a hand on her back, Oliver guided her up to his room, letting her use his bathroom and then having her sit on his bed and finish a bottle of water before he let her go back to the party. And just like he expected, she rolled her eyes at him, but settled onto his pillow and started sipping.
Satisfied, Oliver took a seat on the other side of the bed, leaning back into the headboard and closing his eyes.
He could feel her eyes on the side of his face, but he crossed his arms, letting out a deep breath and relaxing. “You brought me up here so you could take a nap?” She finally asked.
Oliver tilted his head towards her, peeking one eye open to look down at her. She had her head on his pillow, her face angled up to watch him while she sipped at her water, the bottle in one hand and the cap in the other. He smirked, “I brought you up here because you’re drunk and you could use a minute to cool off.”
“I was fine, Oliver.”
He sighed, realizing by now that having Felicity in his life meant a constant uphill battle. She’d never let anything slide. And that kind of excited him. He wanted someone to stand up to him, question him, challenge him. “I know you were fine, Felicity.” He mumbled, closing his eyes again and turning his face towards the ceiling. “But don’t expect me not to look out for you.”
She didn’t respond right away, and he kept quiet, just listening to her breaths. “I never drink like this at parties,” she eventually whispered.
Nodding, Oliver looked back down at her, watching as she played with the cap in her hand, deep in thought. He’d noticed as much. She didn’t strike him as a party girl in any sense.
“I’ve never had any desire to get drunk with a bunch of strangers, you know?"
He couldn’t say he’d felt the same, considering the countless unrecognizable faces that passed through his house each weekend while he got hammered. And just the thought of Felicity being blackout drunk and unaware of her surroundings like he’s been, made his heart sink into his stomach.
Glancing at her face again, Oliver felt a little baffled. He had no idea what it was about this woman that made him feel things he didn’t think he was capable of feeling. All she was doing was chewing on a water bottle cap, and he felt completely enchanted by her.
She’d blown into his life, with pivotal timing, like an unexpected storm. A tsunami. Flipping everything upside down, throwing him off, and making him unsure about which way was up.
“I guess I just felt safe tonight,” she shrugged, pulling him out of his musings as she looked up at him again, her bright blue eyes popping behind the dark makeup she wore. Felicity smirked, “don’t think I didn’t notice you watching me. Keeping an eye on me all night.”
He inhaled, his eyes darting up to the ceiling. She wasn’t wrong. He’d barely been able to focus on anything longer than a few seconds before his eyes had roamed back to her, seeking her out, making sure she was okay.
Biting his lip, Oliver waited for her to chastise him. To tell him that he needed to back off because she could take care of herself. So it surprised him when he felt her shift beside him, scooting across the mattress until she could lean over him to set her water on his nightstand. “Felicity,” he started, ready to make his point again that she needed to stay hydrated. But she quickly ducked her head, nestling onto his chest. And he froze, keeping his hands to himself.
Felicity tugged on his crossed arm, pulling it to her chest and wrapping her hands around it, cuddling. She was cuddling.
Oliver just sighed, drained and sick of worrying about what boundaries he needed to keep up in order to keep her. He’d been wrestling with it for days. Not wanting to see her until he could hash out exactly how this was all going to go, now that he recognized his feelings for her.
He didn’t plan on treating her the way he’d treated other women. He had absolutely no desire to lose her. And the thought of hurting her made him feel sick. But he didn’t know if he could trust himself. Just because he had the best intentions with Felicity, didn’t mean that he was good enough for her. It didn't mean he wouldn't screw everything up, as he usually did, in the end.
At some point during his thoughts, he’d nodded off. And apparently Felicity had, too. He woke up to the sound of glass breaking downstairs, and he sat up quickly in bed, forgetting that Felicity still had a hold on his arm and her head on his shoulder.
She gasped at his jerky movement, her eyes flying open and her nails digging into his forearm, yanked up with him. He cringed, letting out a groan as his stiff muscles disagreed with the abrupt movement.
Another loud crash came from the first floor, followed by loud, drunk voices. And he sighed.
Rubbing her hand, Oliver mumbled an apology, gently pulling her nails off his arm and getting up.
Felicity squirmed, stretching her legs and yawning. Oliver watched her for a moment, trying not to be obvious about how fucking cute he thought she was as she woke up. She rubbed her eye in her weariness, letting out a tiny noise of pleasure as she stretched again. And he smiled, shaking his head when she remembered her makeup, frowning at the black stain she’d left on her hand.
“I’ll be right back,” he said, “I need to check on whatever the hell is going on down there.” And please don’t move while I’m gone.
Felicity looked up at him, “I’ll come with you,”
Pointing a finger at the abandoned water bottle beside the bed, he shook his head, “we made a deal.”
Chuckling, she picked it up and took a sip, raising her eyebrows. Oliver nodded, “okay. You drink that. I’ll be right back.”
She just grinned, somehow looking even more gorgeous with smudged makeup, sleepy eyes, and a mark on her cheek from the seam of his shirt.
Leaving her, he quickly jogged down the stairs and followed the noise into the kitchen. There, he found Tommy wailing on one of his sophomore teammates, Brody.
Brody was an asshole. One who had continually gone out of his way to get under Tommy’s skin by calling him names and insulting Curtis. They had no idea what Brody’s issue was, but Tommy never threw fists unless someone deserved it. So, instead of stepping in and saving Brody’s precious face, Oliver sidled up next to Curtis. “What happened?”
Curtis sighed, glancing at him and rolling his eyes. “I kissed Tommy and Brody Bag-of-Dicks got offended. Tommy was going to let it go until he called us faggots.”
Despite growing up with Tommy, being familiar with the way the world still worked for him, experiencing how cruel high schoolers in a prestigious, preppy academy had treated his friend for the four years they'd been there, Oliver’s blood still boiled. It never let up, and he had to fight to keep his own feet planted when what he really wanted to do was kick the idiot in the balls. But just like Felicity, he knew that Tommy preferred to fight his own battles.
Crossing his arms and watching passively, Oliver also knew that Tommy wouldn’t take it too far. He never did. He delivered exactly the amount of violence that was fair. And Tommy landed blow after blow while Brody only managed to sneak a couple of fruitless jabs in.
By the time Tommy had him on his back, everyone in the house was cheering, making Oliver smirk while Curtis shook his head. Tommy’s boyfriend was no advocate for fighting, but he also knew that Tommy never lost control. He’d put Brody exactly in his place, and then he’d let it go.
It was a quality Oliver envied about his best friend; as the one who had always struggled with letting things go and knowing when to stop. He wasn’t nearly as good as Tommy at keeping a lid on his temper.
When Tommy eventually slowed down, getting in a few last blows to Brody’s face that would let the entire campus know he’d gotten his ass kicked, a head of dark hair pushed out of the circle, lunging for Tommy. Oliver jolted at the sight of her, nudging people aside while she grabbed Tommy’s arm, horror written all over her face. “What are you doing!?” She demanded, shoving at Tommy.
Thank god, Tommy had quick enough reflexes to stop mid-punch, avoiding taking Felicity out with it. The crowd cleared for Oliver, and he reached for Felicity, instinctively wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her away from the bloody mess on the floor. Tommy yanked his hand out of Felicity’s grasp, giving Brody one final blow to his cheek and leaving the asshole groaning on the floor.
“Do you douchebags run some sort of kitchen fight club I don’t know about!?” Felicity yelled, her seething eyes meeting Oliver’s as he lifted her by the waist, carrying her towards the back door. She let him, her anger boiling while she glared at Tommy over his shoulder.
He didn’t put her down until they were on the back porch, the cold air hitting his face. And he quickly set her feet back on the ground, “I'm going to assume that you just had a momentary lapse of judgement and that I never have to worry about you doing that again.”
Her eyes widened, “me!? How am I the crazy one when all of you were just standing there watching Tommy beat the shit out of some guy!?”
“Because that guy deserved it, Felicity. Tommy knew what he was doing.”
As if to help his point, Tommy and Curtis came out onto the porch, and aside from disheveled hair and a bloody lip, Tommy looked perfectly put together. Relaxed. Felicity was still worked up, her blood pumping as she glanced between all of them. Oliver sighed, tilting her chin up to meet his gaze again. “Felicity, please tell me that you have no intention of getting between two grown men throwing punches ever again.” He’d meant to sound calm about it, but his heart was still in his throat from watching her run towards a fight.
She huffed, “yeah that probably wasn’t the best decision, I kind of just reacted.”
Letting out a breath, Oliver put a hand on her shoulder, anchoring her from all that adrenaline. And he noticed that she’d taken her makeup off. Her eyes were clear of the black lines, the dark shade of her lipstick washed to reveal luscious, naturally pink lips. And he stared at them for a moment too long, suddenly distracted, wanting to find out how they’d taste.
Clearing his throat and stepping back, he glanced away from her mouth, only to fixate on her long dark hair pulled into a straight, neat ponytail. She was always gorgeous, but knowing how perfect she was underneath all of it, even when she’d just woken, was a whole new level of enticing.
“I’m going to need another drink,” Felicity whispered, making his eyes dart to meet hers again.
Oliver liked to think he had game. Well, he did. He could play games, too. Toying with women, leading them on, charming them just for the fun of it. Yet he’d just checked Felicity out pretty blatantly, and he doubted that his expression did much to mask what he thought of her. She'd just ran headfirst into danger and he couldn't pretend it didn't rattle him.
Did he even want to hide it? What would be the point?
“Yeah, well if you keep charging into drunken fights, I'm going to need a few drinks," he sighed, taking her hand to lead her back inside. "Come on."
Tommy and Curtis’ raised eyebrows were ignored. And it was especially ignored when Tommy whispered ‘did they just wake up?’ to Curtis behind their backs.
Chapter 5: I'm Sorry if I Get You Sick
It started with a sneeze. Her night from hell was all because of one, stupid, incredibly rude sneeze.
If it weren't for how terrible she felt, she'd be hacking. She'd be ruining that stupid, incredibly rude boy's life. Not only had he not bothered to cover his mouth, but he'd literally sneezed on her. Oh, he was in for one hell of a ride for their sociology projects next week. No chance in hell would she be reading over his section of the group paper like she did last time. No sir.
As soon as Felicity had gotten home, all she'd wanted to do was lay in bed. And that was all she had done, aside from half of her biology homework that had caused a bigger headache than it usually did, forcing her to give up, surrender to her bed.
Everything hurt. Curtis had gone home for the weekend. She couldn't sleep. And she really just wanted to complain.
With a sigh, she picked up her phone and called her most recent contact. He was always willing to talk.
Per usual, Oliver answered with an affectionate, "hey, you," that made her heart skip a beat. He always sounded so happy to answer the phone when she called, like he'd been waiting for it all day. "Tommy dragged me to the commons for lunch, I was kind of bummed not to see you out there. I missed you."
He'd gotten so used to saying things like that. Things that she never really knew how to take. If she was feeling grouchy or upset at him, she chose to see it as friendly. But when she wanted to look a little deeper, to let herself daydream, she couldn't help but wonder if there was something more. Something meaningful in the way he spoke to her.
"Hi," Felicity grumbled back. The butterflies in her stomach were not so welcome in that moment, making her nauseous. "I missed you, too." Her throat felt scratchy, and her voice echoed the same.
"Uh oh," Oliver sighed, "you don't sound very good."
It took all of five seconds for him to notice and worry that she had the stomach flu going around. And another five for him to fuss over the fact that she'd be alone at the apartment all weekend. Felicity just closed her eyes and listened as Oliver talked out loud. "I'll bring you some soup," he offered. She groaned, her stomach doing a few more turns at the idea of any kind of food. "Ginger ale?" He suggested next, to which she groaned again. "Okay," Oliver chuckled, getting the point. "How about I just come over and watch a movie with you?"
Felicity stayed quiet. That idea sounded perfect. She'd always been a 'snuggle while sick' kind of person. And that boundary had fallen between her and Oliver, somewhere along the way. He was always poking at her, tickling her and playing with her hair. It seemed silly sometimes, but Felicity never complained.
She knew he'd have no problem curling up on the couch with her. "I'll take that as a yes?" He mumbled, the smile in his voice could be heard through the phone.
"Okay," she answered.
"And Felicity?" She waited, listening to him laugh. "Stop chewing on your lip, it's just a movie."
Her teeth released her bottom lip instantly, and she clamped them shut. "Jesus," Felicity chided, rolling her eyes even though it hurt. "What'd you do? Bug the apartment?" His ability to read her mood over the phone was some kind of witchcraft. And she still wasn't sure how she felt about him being so observant of her. Knowing how much he noticed made her feel self conscious sometimes.
"No," he chuckled, "I can just hear your brain working from all the way over here.”
Once they hung up, Felicity forced herself out of bed with the intention of putting clothes on. She was also a 'get naked and drown yourself in blankets' kind of person whenever she had a fever. But with Oliver coming, she reluctantly pulled on a pair of flannel sleep shorts and yanked on the first sports bra she touched before falling back into bed.
God, just standing made her body ache and her head feel light.
As much as she hated to admit it though, she already felt better knowing that Oliver was on his way. Over the last few months, she'd learned that the man truly did care about her. And that apparently included taking care of her while she was sick. In truth, Felicity knew that she could probably write a list of all the ways Oliver proved to her how much he cared. He always had her best interest in mind, always had her back, and she trusted him more than almost anyone.
But just because she could write all those things down, really think about them and what it all meant...didn't mean she wanted to.
With Oliver, she was happy to go with the flow for once. Just let them be. Although she would never admit it...she had feelings for him that continued to grow deeper every day.
But she could still deny it, even to herself.
So it’s not like she was about to go around making any lists that solidified how incredible he was.
After a few minutes without hearing him, Felicity pulled herself out of bed again, frowning while she shuffled down the hallway, her blanket tightly wrapped around herself.
Tommy and Oliver's house was only three streets over, just a couple minutes between them and her apartment, as she knew from the handful of nice walks she'd shared with Oliver. It was still impossible for her to pass the ice cream shop down the street without thinking about him.
Before she crashed onto the couch, Felicity unhitched the lock on the front door. Because once she landed on the cushions, she wouldn't want to get up to open the door for Oliver. Settling into the couch, she turned the television on and flipped through the movies on Netflix, knowing that he'd let her pick, but wanting to choose one he would like, too.
She still hadn't decided when there was finally a knock. "Come in," Felicity croaked, peeling her eyes from the screen.
"Hey," Oliver greeted as he came through the door, closing and locking it behind him. His eyes found her on the couch, cuddled in her blanket, her hair in a dark and messy bun on the top of her head. She hardly ever let anyone see her without makeup, but subconsciously, Felicity had started to not bother with it when she knew Tommy and Oliver would be coming over. And it was all because of the special look Oliver got in his eyes when he saw her like this.
He smiled, his eyes softening, doing the thing...and then he held up a brown paper bag. "I brought drugs," he announced, "and soup." Oliver took his shoes off, leaving them by the front door in the same spot he always did. Silently, he turned for the kitchen, pulling the medicine out of the bag and setting it on the table. Then he looked up at her and raised the takeout container full of chicken noodle soup before stashing it in the fridge, "for later," he clarified, and she nodded. There was no way she'd get anything down.
When he was done, Oliver made his way over to her. And she squirmed, making room for him on the couch. He sank down beside her with a sigh. "How are you feeling?"
"Meh," Felicity shrugged, not overthinking it when her body instinctively leaned into him. And he was on the same page, his arm winding around her shoulders without question.
What did surprise her though, was when he gently rested his lips on her forehead, just above her temple.
It made her heart flutter and her stomach flutter right along with it.
But that felt more like nausea. Felicity groaned pathetically and pushed her head towards him some more. Oliver chuckled in response, his breath blowing across her skin. "You're warm," he whispered.
"Yeah," she sighed back, realizing that he was just trying to check her temperature. But fever brain wanted to think it was a kiss. "I probably have a fever."
He hummed, "you're lucky to have me, you know. There aren't many people I'd let get their sick germs all over me."
Felicity knew he was teasing, but she didn't have it in her to laugh. Instead, she snuggled up to him more, burrowing her nose in his neck. "I know I am," she whispered back.
Eventually she fell asleep, before Oliver could decide on a movie, either.
But having him come over had been a bad idea. Because when Felicity woke up from her nap, her head still on Oliver's shoulder while the credits from his movie rolled, she felt worse than she had before.
Like, much, much worse.
And it took her a moment to realize why she was waking up at all...until her stomach whirled with another round of nausea. The bad kind. The kind when you just knew there was nothing you could do to stop it. "Oh," Felicity whimpered, jumping from the couch and bolting for the bathroom on weak, ungraceful legs.
Oliver called after her, jolting at her sudden movement, his own voice groggy with sleep.
Felicity slammed the door behind her, quickly dropping in front of the toilet just in time. And she thanked the google gods that she made it. Puking in front of her very hot best friend who she may or may not have a massive crush on? Not great.
When she finally felt like her stomach had nothing left to lose, Felicity stood up. She flushed the toilet, groaning when she caught sight of her reflection and the tear tracked face looking back at her. Her legs shook as she washed her hands and face, brushed her teeth, and retied her hair into a neat ponytail that would stay out of her face in case that happened again. By the time she was done, she needed to sit down, her body feeling weak and annoyingly hot.
Felicity dropped back onto the edge of the bathtub, sighing in relief once the room stopped moving and she could feel the cool tile under her thighs. Just as she closed her eyes, Oliver knocked. "You okay?" He called through the door.
She groaned again, dragging herself to the door and pulling it open. "You should go home," she suggested immediately. "Save yourself from catching this awful misery."
Oliver smiled, "it's probably too late for that, you were drooling all over me in your sleep."
The laugh that wanted to break free was too much for her body, and it ended in a pathetic cough. Felicity looked up at him, pouting, and he gave her a sympathetic look in return. "Come on, let's get you to bed."
"I imagined you saying that under different circumstances." As soon as the words were out, she pinched her lips together, cursing herself. His eyebrows shot up, but she squeezed her eyes shut before he could comment, silently begging him not to.
Thankfully, he listened and let it slide. And Felicity knew that she really must look as awful as she felt, because any other day Oliver would have said something. He took both of her hands, pulling her from the bathroom and helping her slowly down the hall. "How did you get sick, anyway? You were fine yesterday."
The reminder of Sociology Sneezy made her blood boil again, remembering who was truly to blame for this. "Ugh!" Felicity complained, "you're never going to believe this."
They reached her bedroom, and Oliver walked her to the bed, sitting her down on the edge of it. He arranged her blankets and pillows as she explained, "this asshat in my class, he sits right next to me, clearly shouldn't have even come to lecture today, if he felt anything like I feel. Which he did, because this is entirely his fault."
Humming, Oliver slowly helped her to lay down, checking the water bottle she'd left by her bed to make sure it was full.
"Oliver," Felicity seethed, getting his full attention as he sat down on the mattress beside her legs. "He sneezed. In my face." His lip curled in disgust, and Felicity made the same face as she nodded. "I know!"
Shaking his head, Oliver pulled the blankets up around her, "you sleep...I'll go kick his ass."
She snorted, another failed attempt at laughter that hurt her stomach. "Ow," Felicity winced, "stop doing that."
"Get some sleep," he whispered, still smiling down at her.
Letting out a deep sigh, Felicity closed her eyes, "'kay." She felt it when he stood up a few moments later, and she opened her eyes again, "are you leaving?"
"No," he answered, "I'll hang out for a while...if that's okay."
Felicity nodded, keeping her eyes closed. "Yes, please."
They had a rough night.
It was impossible to sleep when her bed felt ten thousand degrees too hot. Of course, it was only when Felicity finally began to drift off that her stomach would revolt, and she'd be flying to the bathroom to throw up again.
Oliver tried to help, lying beside her while he soothed his fingers through her hair, but he only made the bed hotter. By the time he resigned himself to the couch, they were both exhausted.
Eventually, Oliver gave up hope that he'd find sleep, knowing Felicity wouldn't. And he just stared at the ceiling fan. He heard her every time she got up, and he'd lay on the couch quietly waiting until her feet shuffled back down the hall to her bedroom.
As much as he hated seeing her miserable, and as bad as he felt that she was sick, Oliver didn't regret coming over. He wasn't mad that he spent the whole night making sure she was okay. He took care of her. And he also kind of liked the fact that they were toeing another line of boundaries. Shedding another layer of her walls and getting more intimate.
Felicity stopped caring that he was seeing her like that. She was pale, sweaty, and pitiful. Still beautiful, but clearly not feeling quite like the Felicity he'd come to know.
His phone vibrated as he thought, and Oliver pulled his eyes off the ceiling to look down at the screen. "Tommy?" Oliver answered it quietly, not wanting to wake Felicity. If she’d even found sleep.
"Dude," Tommy slurred back, "Chris is a mess. Are you home? We need some help."
Oliver huffed, instantly annoyed. He'd spent one too many nights carrying the drunk ass of ‘Creepy Chris’, as Felicity called him, to his room because the guy couldn't make it there himself. "No, I'm at Felicity's."
"No shit!" Tommy hollered, and Oliver closed his eyes, finding patience. It was rare that Tommy Merlyn ever drank too much. But when he did, he went all out. Too bad no one had given him the memo that tonight was the night. He could only imagine the chaos their house was in if all of his roommates were this far gone.
"She's sick," Oliver grit out through his teeth, trying not to be irritated with his friend since he knew it wasn't often that Tommy let loose. He'd just picked a bad night to do it. Before Tommy could answer, Oliver heard the tell-tale sounds of drunk idiots in the background. A stupid argument that would probably end up in broken furniture if he was lucky, broken bones if he was not so lucky.
"Uh," Tommy sucked in a breath, "if Felicity's not dying, you might want to get your ass back here...or one of these assholes might die." As if on cue, a loud voice echoed through the line, 'kill each other!'
Oliver sighed, scraping his hand over his face. "Fine," he grumbled, "I'll be there in ten." And he hung up on Tommy without waiting for a response. "Idiots," Oliver muttered to himself as he shoved his phone in his pocket and put his shirt back on. Then he quietly walked down the hall to Felicity's door, listening for a moment. Hearing nothing but the fan, he knocked gently.
"Come in," she called back instantly.
He pushed the door open, hesitating in the doorway as she sat up on her elbows to see him. "I have to run back to the house," he whispered. Her eyes flickered to the clock on her nightstand, noting that it was much closer to sunrise than seemed fair. "Think you'll be all right for a bit?"
"What's going on?"
"They're just being morons," Oliver sighed, shaking his head. "I have to go make sure they don't wind up in the hospital. Seth is still paying off his last bill."
Felicity chuckled, "he told me about that. Bonfires and morons don't mix."
Oliver flinched, remembering the story. Luckily they could joke about it, but Seth tripping over a rock and being too hammered to realize or even feel that his hand was in the fire? Not so funny at the time. "Which is exactly why I have to go," he frowned. "Will you be okay for a little while?"
In response, she pushed out of bed, getting to her feet. "I'm going crazy with this illness from hell already, I think I could use some fresh air. Besides, you might need my help. We can threaten them with my germs until they go to bed."
He pinched his lips together, looking at her apologetically. "I'm not sure you want to come...I took the bike."
"As in your motorcycle?"
"As in my motorcycle that you refuse to ride."
Felicity huffed, blowing her hair out of her face. "Well, you better drive slow." She stood up gingerly, and he might've argued she get back in bed, if not for the fact that she clearly didn't want to be alone, and that made him not want to leave her alone.
So, he drove slow. Very, very slow. And Felicity's shaking fingers gripping the hell out of his abs was not as pleasant as he’d hoped it would be. Sick and shivering wasn't exactly how he imagined getting her on the back of his bike.
Oliver had asked plenty of times, and Felicity always declined, no matter how much she trusted him.
"Well," Oliver said when they reached his house. He slowly climbed off the motorcycle once it was secure. Then he leaned down and carefully scooped Felicity up into his arms. "You finally did it," he teased, carefully carrying her towards the house.
She rolled her eyes, giving him an adorable little snort. "Maybe you'll have better luck convincing me next time." A moment later, her face dropped, and she wiggled against him in an attempt to climb down. He helped her, frowning and trying to keep her steady. But as soon as her feet touched the pavement, she ran for the bushes in front of his house, where she bent over and puked.
Oliver cringed, following after her. Grabbing her ponytail that had slipped out of its holder on the ride over, he retied it back into its rightful place. "Ugh," Felicity groaned miserably as she stood up. He knew that there really shouldn't be anything cute about a girl vomiting in his front lawn, where countless other drunk college kids had done the same. Yet Felicity whimpered, leaning her back against his chest. And he waited, rubbing her shoulders gently while her head fell back against him. "You're a saint for dealing with me tonight."
"You make it easy," he whispered back. "Come on, let's get inside."
As soon as they opened the door, it was obvious that the party was on its last breaths, but wasn't quite dead yet. There were still people milling about his house, the ones that tended to pass out on the furniture somewhere and find a ride home in the morning. He could hear his obnoxious roommates in the kitchen. Keg stands, by the sound of it.
The mission, as usual, was to get Chris to go to bed. It took an army, on nights like this. But since there were no signs of a third world war breaking out, Oliver decided that Felicity took priority. Bypassing the kitchen, he led her up the stairs to his bedroom. She moved with him, understanding just where he was taking her.
Once they reached his room, he waited while she washed up in the bathroom. Then he helped her into one of his clean shirts and tossed her dirty clothes into his laundry basket.
Before he could speak, Felicity was moving towards his bed. And he watched her, doing his best not to grin like a fool. Sick Felicity was sweet and vulnerable. Sick Felicity let him take care of her. Sick Felicity allowed him to see a side of her that she hadn't let him yet. And Oliver liked it. He liked every side of her.
Watching her crawl under the covers and nuzzle her head on his favorite pillow, Oliver didn't bother telling her to make herself comfortable. He smiled as she closed her eyes, mumbling "I'll be right back," quietly.
Flicking the light off on his way out, Oliver gave himself one more glance, and then he shut the door silently behind him. In moments like that, it amazed him how quickly and how much Felicity had changed him. To the point that he preferred taking care of a sick girl with a puke stain on her sleeve rather than partying with his friends on a Friday night. To the point that he would probably pick Felicity any way, any time, any place. No matter what the other option might be.
Jogging down the stairs and into the kitchen, he glanced around until he found Chris. And his timing was perfect, because the poor idiot was in the process of crushing beer cans on his skull. "You can’t afford to lose any more brain cells than you already have, man," Oliver grumbled, catching Chris' wrist before he could ram the aluminum against his forehead.
It was a bit of a process to get Chris into bed, especially since Oliver seemed to be the only sober, person in the house. Aside from Felicity, who was too sick to be helpful. Felicity, who was currently sleeping in his bed and in his shirt. "Come on, you asshat," Oliver mumbled to Chris, half dragging the guy down the hallway to his bedroom. “Let’s hurry this up, all right?”
Oliver didn't stop until he dropped the drunkard into his bed, making sure he was on his side with a bucket on the floor next to him. Then he turned, still panting with the effort, to look at Tommy who stood in the doorway with a beer in hand. "Thanks for the help," Oliver said sarcastically.
"I was supervising," Tommy taunted back.
"Yeah, well, now I'm supervising you. Go to bed."
When Tommy rolled his eyes, waving him off with his hand, it was impossible not to notice his palm. Or rather, the large, sloppily written numbers on his palm. Oliver's eyes narrowed as he stepped away from Chris, grabbing Tommy's hand. "What the hell is this?"
"Ah," Tommy smiled like the devil, raising his eyebrows. "That was Veronica."
Oliver gaped at him, his grip tightening. "And who the fuck is Veronica?"
"A very cute lady who thinks I'm very cute." He winked, "but who doesn't?"
It amazed Oliver that three months ago, he wouldn't have given a single shit about this. He would've laughed at it and told Tommy to do whatever the hell he wanted.
But Tommy had a good thing, and Oliver wasn't about to enable him in losing it.
"If you hurt Curtis," he warned seriously, "you know I'm going to have to punch your pretty face at least once."
At the words, Tommy slumped, his energy draining. "I didn't do anything."
Sighing, Oliver slung his arm around Tommy, leading him back downstairs. "Let's sober you up," he mumbled, glancing apologetically at his bedroom door. Ironically, it was because of Felicity that Oliver once again found himself prolonging getting back to her. Girls in his bed had always been more important. His own needs trumped everyone else's. He knew he had a penchant for selfishness, but he was working on it. Which is why he herded Tommy to the kitchen and got him some water.
His friend needed to talk. Apparently.
Oliver swung the back door open and gestured Tommy along, hoping the fresh air would also help. "What the hell happened tonight?" He offered the water to Tommy, closing the door behind them.
"I got shit faced," his friend grinned, leaning against the porch railing.
He pursed his lips, "I can see that. Why?"
At the question, Tommy's smile broke, falling from his face. "I told Curtis today," he admitted, accompanied by a long sigh. "It kind of freaked him out. He said he needed some time to 'digest it'. What does that even mean, Oliver?"
Pausing, Oliver blinked at Tommy. "You told him..."
Oliver froze, staring at Tommy while he blinked in surprise. They'd agreed when they left Starling not to let that follow them. "I just didn't want to lie to him anymore, Oliver," Tommy closed his eyes.
"Lying and omitting are different things," he answered lowly.
Even drunk, Tommy was wiser. He smiled tiredly, shaking his head in response. "No," his friend whispered. "They're not."
Still... "You should have talked to me before doing that, Tommy."
"I know, I just—" He doesn't get to finish his sentence. A loud scream from the house had them both stopping. But it only took Oliver a moment to recognize her voice.
He launched for the door, charging through the kitchen and straight up the stairs without taking a breath.
As Oliver reached the landing, he saw Chris in the hallway, looking confused as he stumbled out of his room. His room. The second he realized which door Chris was coming out of, Oliver saw red. He moved down the hallway in two steps, grabbing Chris by his shirt and slamming him against the wall.
Tommy was impressively fast, catching up to them with adrenaline burning the stupor right out of him. And since Oliver was too angry for words, it's Tommy who growled, "what the hell did you do?"
It's also Tommy who was thinking clearly. He pushed right by Oliver and Chris, moving into the bedroom.
Letting his rage go, for now, Oliver shoved Chris to the floor and followed.
She was sitting up in his bed when they came in, the covers bunched in her lap and her eyes wide. Oliver dropped to his knees on the mattress beside her, his hands reaching to hold her face.
And for the first time, Oliver hated the way she looked. Afraid. Tiny and scared on his large bed.
"What happened?" He asked gently, prepared for the answer to end in him dragging Chris' ass outside and forgetting all about controlling his temper or his fists.
"I don't know," Felicity huffed, catching her breath. "I woke up and he was just—just standing there." She gestured towards the space by the bed. "I mean, I knew I call him Creepy Chris for a reason, but it was creepy."
"Did he hurt you?" Oliver asked, and her eyes snapped up to his. She blinked, shaking her head. But his anger was too far gone already, and he needed words. Oliver's thumbs brushed her cheeks, "Fe-li-ci-ty," he grit through his teeth, "did he hurt you?"
His intensity was clearly surprising her, and her eyes widened even more. "No," she said with another shake of her head. "No, he didn't hurt me. He didn't even touch me," She took a deep breath in, releasing it just as slowly. "I'm sorry, I'm okay...it just freaked me out," she offered quietly. "I woke up and just saw some big guy standing there..."
"Hey," Oliver sighed, dropping his forehead to hers, unable to stop himself. "You do not need to apologize."
When he pulled back, Felicity bit her lip, glancing sheepishly at him and then up at Tommy, who was pacing behind him. "I screamed and he stumbled out of here," she nodded towards the door, making a face. "I think I scared him as much as he scared me," Felicity explained, raising her shoulders. "When I screamed, he seemed startled. Was he looking for you? Maybe he didn't even notice me..."
Oliver shook his head, "you don't need to apologize," he repeated slowly, moving to stand up, "and you don't need to make excuses for him." Knowing that she was okay calmed him down significantly, but he still felt like he needed to kick the snot out of 'Creepy Chris'.
“Where are you going?” Felicity reached for him, and it sounded a lot like please don’t go.
Amazingly, that was all it took. At this point, it should really stop surprising him. “Nowhere.” He breathed, sitting back down beside her.
They both glanced at Tommy, whose own adrenaline was declining. The event seemed to sober him right up, too. Tommy nodded, heading for the hall, "I got it," he mumbled to Oliver, shutting the door tightly behind him on his way out.
Got what, Oliver wasn't really sure. He had no idea where Tommy's head was at, but Oliver didn't really care. Instead, he focused on calming himself down. Getting his heart to relax. Repeatedly telling himself that Felicity was okay. It helped an awful lot when she nudged him to lay down. And when she curled up to his side, resting her head on his chest. Her fingers trailed over his collar, his own hand bunching up the fabric over her waist. He gripped her shirt in a tight fist. Then released it. And then again. Until they could both hear his heart rate returning to normal.
“I’m being silly," Felicity eventually whispered into the darkness. "Probably still feverish."
Sighing, Oliver let go of the shirt in favor of running his hand over her, up to her shoulders and back down to her waist. "You're not being silly," he assured her. “I’m sorry, Felicity. I should have locked the door...or not brought you here in the first place. The last thing you deserve is to feel unsafe. And that’s the last thing I want you to feel being here.”
She shivered under his touch, and he pulled the blanket up around them. “It’s okay. I’m fine. And I'm not trying to make excuses for him, Oliver. I'm just saying that he seemed surprised when I screamed. It was dark and no one knew I was here. He was probably too drunk to notice that I was in here. It just scared me to wake up and see him there. He didn’t do anything. I swear,” her fingers tightened.
Oliver closed his eyes, not responding because he wasn't quite in the mood to give Chris a pass. The guy had always been a tool. But Oliver had never seen him cross a line. Felicity might be compassionate enough to let it go, but Oliver could only imagine what she’d been thinking when she woke up. And it made him want to crush Chris.
"You're okay?" He whispered, checking one more time.
Felicity laughed, and it relieved some of the strain he still felt in his chest. "I'm fine," she promised. "I feel a lot better with your gargantuan self in bed with me.”
He chuckled too, stroking his fingers through her hair in a move that relaxed both of them. Felicity hummed, wrapping her arm around his middle.
“Hey Oliver," she mumbled sleepily after a few minutes of comfortable silence. "I’m sorry if I get you sick. You’re a really good cuddler though.”
Oliver smiled, picking his head up to look down at her. And he was too tempted not to kiss her hair, so he did. “Don’t worry about that, honey. Just rest.”