"Two margaritas, one My Fair Lady, one Long Island Iced Tea, and a kamikaze." Sara quickly named off the drinks as she loaded them onto the waitress' tray. She moved down the bar, checking the drinks of the people sitting there before getting to the guy who'd just shown up. "What can I get you?"
"A White Russian and a glass of chardonnay." The man's eyes barely made it to her face before traveling down her body. Sara suppressed a flash of irritation. She moved to fill his order, conscious of the way his eyes followed her. He leaned against the bar, leering in a way that he probably thought was charming. "Are you going to be in the auction?"
"Do I look like I have time?" Sara took another order -- cosmo and a raspberry margarita -- while pouring his wine.
"Too bad. You'd bring in a lot of money."
She took both of his drinks to him and set them on the bar with a tiny bit more force than necessary. "Enjoy." She turned away, signaling to the other bartender. "Charlie, could you ring him up?"
Ignoring whatever parting words the man had for her, she moved down the bar and took a couple more orders while making the cosmo and margarita. It had been like this all night. Verdant was packed. It wasn't the worst she'd seen -- that had been the night some band she'd never heard of but which was apparently really popular played the club. At least that night, the crush of orders had backed off when band started playing. If she was lucky, the same would happen tonight when the auction kicked off.
Thea appeared at the bar out of nowhere. "Hey! How's it going? Any problems?" Despite the crush of people and what Sara assumed was a load of stress from organizing and running this event, Thea looked as great as always. Not just because of her shimmery green dress or perfect makeup, either; her eyes were sparkling and her whole body was alive with energy, making her radiant.
That kind of energy was infectious. Sara smiled, her own stress easing off just a little. "No problems, boss, just super busy. We're making a killing here."
Thea bounced on her toes a little. "Excellent, that's what I want to hear! Between this and the auction, we might actually make our goal."
Sara arched her eyebrows. "I'd be surprised if we don't go over."
Thea's smile was brilliant. "The more the better." She checked the delicate watch that circled her wrist. "Five minutes. Wish me luck!"
"Good luck," Sara obliged, but Thea had already disappeared back into the crowd. Sara's smile lingered while she got back to work.
Thea, of course, didn't need the luck. When she got up onstage five minutes later, she was confident and composed. She smiled that brilliant smile at the crowd. "I want to thank you all so much for coming tonight. As you know, we're raising money for the Glades Education Restoration Fund. Every cent you spend tonight will go towards rebuilding schools damaged or destroyed in the earthquake. With your help, we're already more than halfway to our goal." She paused for the ensuing applause. "We still have a long way to go, but I think our main attraction will add plenty to our total. So what do you say? Shall we get this thing started?"
Cheers and whistles greeted her question, loud and enthusiastic. Thea laughed. "Alright then! Ladies and gentlemen, Verdant proudly presents our first ever Bachelor and Bachelorette Charity Auction!"
Sara grinned and kept working, only listening with half an ear while Thea explained how the auction was going to go. Sara already knew it all, since she'd helped Thea plan it out. They'd be alternating between bachelors and bachelorettes, Thea explained to the crowd. Anyone could bid, but you could only win once -- "no collecting eligible bachelors, ladies," she teasingly warned. The starting bid would be $50 and subsequent bids had to be made in increments of at least $5. Winners and their "prizes" had to spend at least 4 hours together, whether that night or sometime in the following week. "That is the only obligation," she added. "What you choose to do together is entire up to the both of you." She lightly emphasized the word "both." "Everyone got it? Great, then let's get this started! Trish, bring out Bachelor #1!"
Sara glanced at the stage. Bachelor #1 was tall, tan, and fit. According to Thea's introduction, he was a firefighter. That got plenty of attention from the women in the crowd. Sara could respect the job, but otherwise she didn't see his appeal. His smile was entirely too cocky and his hair had too much product in it. Call her old-fashioned, but she preferred her dates to be real.
She kept a sharp ear on the auction while she worked, paying more attention to the sound of the voices than to the words. There was a lot of laughter and excitement. Some frustration, some disappointment, but nothing bad. Cheers followed every winning bid. The sound of people having so much fun made Sara smile.
When Bachelor #4 was called out to the stage, Sara washed her hands and called to Charlie. "Could you cover for me?"
"Not like we're busy." The rush had indeed dropped off when the auction started, thank God. "Why, you gonna go bid on this guy?"
Bachelor #4 was attractive enough: a tall, lanky man with deep brown skin and an honest smile. She recognized him from the band that had played the bar the previous weekend. Thea really had done a great job recruiting for this thing. "Who knows?" Sara said to Charlie, giving him an impish grin. She was out from behind the bar before he could blink.
Bidding on the guy was fast and furious. Despite what she'd said to Charlie, Sara didn't join in. The contest was almost entirely between a group of friends who were laughingly outbidding each other for a night with the musician. The winning bid of $135 was the highest they'd had so far.
Sara found herself holding her breath as the man walked off the stage. Thea waited a couple seconds before calling, “Bachelorette #4, come on out!”
Felicity Smoak walked out from behind the velvet curtain. She was wearing a sparkly blue sheath dress that was way shorter than anything Sara had ever seen her in. Between that and the at least 3” heels, her slender legs looked amazing. Her hair was down and soft, tucked behind her ears. Her makeup was bolder than usual, but still tasteful. Still Felicity. Thea had helped with all of it – where “helped” likely meant “took charge of” – and once again Sara mentally applauded the girl. Felicity didn't need any help to be beautiful, but this was a whole new level.
Felicity's smile, nervous and adorable, was all her. She hadn't volunteered for the auction, but she was game enough to go with it when the rest of them had encouraged her to participate after another woman bailed. She seemed a bit intimidated by the crowd now that she was onstage, but she relaxed a little when she spotted first Ollie and Digg and then Sara. Sara gave her a warm, encouraging smile.
“Say hello to Bachelorette #4: Felicity Smoak!” Thea said to the crowd. “Felicity is as brilliant as she is beautiful. She's a computer genius who basically owned Queen Consolidated's IT department before becoming the personal assistant to the CEO himself.” Thea shot Oliver a fond look. He toasted her with his glass. “Felicity is also the kindest, most patient, and absolute sweetest person I've ever met. Whoever wins a date with her is incredibly lucky, trust me. So let's get the bidding started – do we have $50?”
They did indeed. The first bid came from a guy near the front: probably late 20s, shaggy brown hair, reasonably attractive from what Sara could see. The second bid, $55, came from a man clearly in his 40s or later. Sara marked him. He didn't look shady, but it was creepy to bid on someone half your age. A third bid came from another 20-something, blond and athletic. Handsome, too. Sara immediately disliked him, but he didn't actually throw up any red flags.
Between the three of them, the bid quickly bounced up to $100. The first guy bowed out then. The older man hesitated at $130. The handsome blond started smiling.
“One fifty,” a new voice called.
Ah-ha. Sara's gaze swung around, along with everyone else's. There he was. Average height, medium build. His face was pleasant enough, but his eyes were hard behind his glasses.
The handsome blond bidder recovered from his surprise and offered $155 over the buzz of the crowd. Glasses countered and they once again bounced the bid between them, raising it quickly by fives. The blond faltered at $175. He cast a regretful look at Felicity and shook his head.
Butterflies dancing in her stomach, Sara took a breath and called out in a clear voice, “Two hundred.”
If Glasses' bid had been a surprise, hers was almost a shock, judging by the gasps and sudden rising volume of the crowd. Every head in the room turned towards her. She smiled easily, keeping her body relaxed. Onstage, Felicity's eyes were wide and Thea's jaw was slack. Sara's smile turned into a wide grin.
Thea recovered nimbly. “Two hundred in the back,” she announced. “Do we have --”
“Two ten.” Glasses glared at Sara.
Her smile didn't falter. “Two twenty-five.”
Glasses' eyes narrowed. “Two seventy-five.”
Sara ignored the crowd's reaction and calmly replied, “Three hundred.” She raised her eyebrows at Glasses. “I can do this all day,” she told him.
He gritted his teeth and looked at the stage. Sara kept her eyes on him. It took him several seconds of chewing on impotent anger to give in to the inevitable. He nodded his head in acquiescence. It was not a gesture of defeat; the glare he leveled at Sara made that clear. She gave him a sweet smile in return.
Onstage, Thea called, “Going once, twice... sold!” She banged her gavel on the podium. “For three hundred dollars! It probably goes without saying that that is our new highest bid of the night.” Thea was breathless with joy and disbelief. “Let's give a big round of applause for Felicity and her winning bidder!”
Felicity made her way off-stage to the sound of cheers and whistles. Sara was kind of impressed she only stumbled once, given the still-flabbergasted look on her face and the unfamiliar shoes she was wearing. She went straight to the table where Sara was paying up. “Oh. My. God,” she said to Sara. “Oh my god. Three hundred dollars?” A laugh was bubbling underneath the words, shock and delight vying for control of her voice.
Sara grinned, some of that same delight taking root in her chest. “Turns out that's the going rate for the time of a beautiful IT genius.”
“Sara.” Felicity shook her head, eyes wide. “If you'd wanted to hang out, you could have just asked.”
Sara lifted a shoulder in a little shrug. “Yeah, well, it's for a good cause. Besides,” she added teasingly, “this way I get to pick what we do. You're entirely at my mercy for at least four hours.”
Felicity winced. “Please tell me we're not going to spend the whole time sparring or anything. That is so not the physical activity I was hoping for tonight.”
Sara's brows rose and Felicity flushed, but she didn't take back the words. Sara wondered if that other kind of physical activity was still on the table, then chided herself. This was Felicity. And Sara's bidding, sadly, had not been an attempt to get an actual date with Felicity. Or a night with her. Sara chuckled a little. “No sparring. I have something way more fun planned.”
“Oh, good. Wait, planned?” Felicity's eyebrows rose. “So you were planning on buying me? I mean, winning me?”
“And you spent three hundred dollars.” Felicity was staring at her now.
“Ladies!” Ollie's arrival saved Sara from whatever questions Felicity was about to ask. “That was really something. Sara, I knew you were competitive, but I was not expecting that.”
Sara gave him a winsome smile. “I never could back down from a fight.”
“I guess not. And you,” he said to Felicity. “How does it feel to be the high ticket of the night?”
“Kind of astonishing.” Her grin was sudden and brilliant. “And awesome. Even if it I was bought by a friend and not by...” She waved a hand. “Well, okay, I'm glad it wasn't that guy in the glasses. He was kind of creepy. But you know what I mean.”
Sara and Ollie exchanged a glance. “Be that as it may,” Ollie said smoothly, “I know you two will have a great time doing whatever it is women do. Are you heading out now?”
“I just need to cash out at the bar,” Sara said.
“Wait, we're not staying? I kinda wanted to see Oliver go up,” Felicity said.
“I'm sure it won't be as interesting as your bidding.”
Felicity snorted. “If you go for less than $500, I'll eat my computers. All of them.”
Oliver laughed. Sara grinned. “Sorry, Felicity, but we've got a bit of a time crunch,” she said. “We need to hit the road as soon as we can.”
“Don't worry,” Ollie told Felicity. “Thea's got a videographer taping the whole thing. You'll be able to see the spectacle as often as you want later.”
Sara ducked away, leaving Ollie with the bemused Felicity. Digg, standing a few feet away and watching the crowd, gave Sara a nod. When she got to the bar, Charlie applauded. “Damn, girl. I did not see that coming.”
Sara gave him a sheepish grin. “What can I say? I have a weakness for cute blonds.”
“No kidding.” Charlie shook his head. “I'm guessing you're gonna ask me to cover the rest of your shift?”
“I'll totally take one of your shifts another night,” she promised him.
He waved a hand at her. “Go, have fun with your girl.”
Sara rejoined the others as Bachelor #5 went for a sum of $120. “Looks like you're still reigning champ,” she said to Felicity, bumping her shoulder.
Now that the shock had worn off, Felicity seemed to have settled into pure happiness. Her grin was infectious. “Yep!”
“Ready to go?”
“Sure. Sorry I won't get to see you on the block,” Felicity said to Ollie. “Good luck!”
“Thanks,” he said dryly. “You two have fun.”
“We will.” Sara winked at him, drawing a giggle from Felicity.
Sara hooked her arm through Felicity's and led her to the exit. There was no sign of Glasses, and no one else shady was hanging around when they got to her bike. Sara didn't completely relax, but it was hard to stay completely on edge when Felicity was practically bouncing beside her.
“We're taking your bike?” Felicity asked, eyebrows raised.
Sara handed her the spare helmet. “Yep. Think you can ride in that?” She swept a look down Felicity's body, the short, form-fitting dress and all that bare leg.
“Ride, yes. Ride without flashing everyone in the city...”
Sara picked up her own helmet, grinning. “Relax. We'll be going too fast for anyone to see anything.” She put the helmet on and Felicity followed suit. “Just hold on to me real tight, okay?”
They got on the bike. Felicity's body pressed against Sara's back, warm and soft. Her bare arms wrapped around Sara's waist. “This okay?” Felicity asked.
“Perfect,” Sara replied, a pleased laugh bubbling up under the word. “Let's go!”
The drive took more than an hour. They quickly left the city behind, cut through suburbs, and headed out into the wooded hills beyond. When Felicity shouted, “Where are we going?” into Sara's ear, she just shook her head and said, “It's a surprise!” She could imagine Felicity's curiosity and frustration, but the wind and the roar of the bike meant that Felicity mostly had to keep her peace.
Deep in the woods, Sara slowed the bike and turned off the paved two-lane road onto a gravel road that barely warranted the name. Felicity shouted in Sara's ear, “Please tell me we're almost there!”
“Almost!” Sara followed the gravel lane, careful in the dark with only the single motorcycle headlight showing the way. At a small pile of rocks, inconspicuous but distinct if you knew what you were looking for, she turned again. There was no gravel or pavement this time. The path was dirt covered with leaves, barely visible. It wound through the trees, following the natural contours of the woods rather than forcing a straight line through.
About five minutes after leaving the gravel road, the dirt path opened into a clearing. Sara stopped the bike and shut it off. She pulled off her helmet with a relieved sigh. “We're here.”
Felicity didn't move. “You're kidding, right?”
Sara looked over her shoulder. “You don't like it?”
“No! I mean, not no, I don't like it, but no, it's great. Totally. It's just, um. Not what I was expecting.”
Sara chuckled. The building illuminated by the motorcycle headlight was incredibly underwhelming. It was small, old, and kind of decrepit-looking. The exterior was faded and damaged. The awning over the front door sagged and the wooden steps up looked questionable. “It's not that bad,” Sara said, climbing off the bike.
“Right! I'm sure it's great.” Felicity hadn't made a single move other than to let go of Sara when she got off.
Sara held out a hand. “Come on. Humor me.”
Felicity finally took off her helmet. Sara resisted a giggle at her helmet hair, but Felicity caught her look. “You should see yours,” she retorted.
“You coming down?”
Felicity sighed. Visibly steeling herself, she swung a leg over the bike and slid off. Sara grabbed her arm when she stumbled. “Dammit,” Felicity swore, glaring down at her feet. “High heels and nature do not mix.”
Sara chuckled and tucked her hand into the crook of Felicity's elbow, both steadying her and guiding her towards the cabin. “I'm guessing computer scientists and nature don't really mix, either.”
“Nooo.” Felicity shook her head. “There are bugs in nature. The physical, creepy-crawly kind.” She gave Sara a sidelong look. “You're lucky you bought me tonight, or there is no way you'd have gotten me out here.”
“I know.” Sara squeezed Felicity's arm. “Thank you for being a good sport.”
Despite their appearance, the three wooden steps barely creaked when they went up to the front door. Sara unlocked the door, the mechanism working smoothly. She pushed the door open and stepped inside, flicking the light switch on the wall.
She heard Felicity's indrawn breath. “Not what you expected?” Sara asked with a smile, turning to look at Felicity.
“No-o.” Felicity's eyes were wide as she looked around the room. “Wow.”
The interior of the cabin was clean and completely updated. The hardwood floor was stained a dark cherry. The walls were lighter wood, completely solid and sturdy. To the left of the entryway was a modern kitchen fully equipped with a stove and refrigerator, both of which were clearly bought in the last ten years. To the right, an overstuffed couch sat in front of the fireplace. In the back was a queen-sized bed covered with a quilt and headed with a pile of pillows. The place was still small, maybe 600 square feet, and it was all one room with the exception of the bathroom, but it was a far cry from the dump it looked like from the outside.
Felicity started to wander around. “Yeah, this is way better. I mean, we're still in the woods, but I can live with this.” She ran a hand along the back of the couch. “Of course, I didn't bring any clothes or anything...”
“Diggle packed you a bag. It's beside the bed.” Sara leaned a hip against the small dining table and waited.
“He did? He did.” Felicity stared at the bag for a minute. “So... you spend way too much money on me, rush me out of the club, drive like someone's chasing us, and take me out to the middle of nowhere to this surprisingly nice cabin. Meanwhile, Diggle apparently went through my things and packed a bag for me. Either you really wanted to get me alone for the weekend and Diggle is playing matchmaker, or there's something else going on.” She looked at Sara, eyes sharp. “While I'm totally okay with the former, I'm kind of guessing it's the latter.”
Sara nodded slightly. “The man I outbid was working for Javier Stokes.”
Felicity blinked. “The guy who tried to hire me last week?”
“That's him. Apparently he's not taking 'no' for an answer. We figure he sent his guy to the auction to try to take you quietly.”
“So you bought me instead.” Felicity shook her head a little. “Wow. I knew he seemed sketchy – Stokes, I mean, although the guy who was bidding on me was, too – but I didn't think he was that sketchy. There are other programmers out there. Not many as good as me, but I'm sure there are a few who could do what he wants. You know, without the kidnapping part. Would it count as kidnapping if he'd bought me at the auction?”
“I would think so.” Sara leaned back against the table, bracing herself with both hands. “I hope that doesn't mean you think I've kidnapped you.”
“Well, you kind of have,” Felicity pointed out. “You did whisk me off to the middle of nowhere. Speaking of which, why are we here?”
“We needed to get you out of Stokes' reach.”
“Yeah, but I could have just stayed in the foundry.”
Sara cocked an eyebrow. “Would you have stayed there? Maybe for days, without even going upstairs?”
Felicity winced. “Maybe?” She paused. “Wait. How dangerous is this guy?”
“Dangerous,” Sara said quietly. “We wouldn't be out here otherwise.”
"And Oliver is out there without backup?"
"Not physically dangerous," Sara clarified. "And Oliver can handle his goons. But Stokes has reach. And something else. From what we can tell, he has something he can use to hurt someone who's at a computer screen. Don't ask me," she said before Felicity could. "Oliver wants you to look into it after Stokes is neutralized. In the meantime, you'll be here, where his goons can't find you -- and where there are no computers or internet."
Felicity's eyes rounded. She turned in a slow circle, gaze sweeping the room. "No computers. At all. Great." She grimaced. "Guess I should be glad there's at least a television."
"There's a DVD player, too," Sara offered. "And a decent stash of DVDs."
"So, what is this place?" Felicity asked, turning to face her again.
Sara shrugged a little. "A safehouse I set up a while back. One of a few I've got around Starling City." She knew better than to rely on just one. There was no telling which direction she'd have to run, or if she'd have to hole up somewhere inside the city. It was harder now that she couldn't use League safehouses anymore, too. "This one is the most secluded. It's my favorite, actually. This far from the city... It's peaceful."
"I guess it is that." Felicity pursed her lips. "Do we at least have cell phones?" she asked hopefully.
"Nope. I left them at the club."
"You mean you left yours at the club." Felicity started digging through her purse. "Mine is..."
"Not there," Sara told her, a faint smile on her lips. "I'm pretty sneaky, huh?"
Felicity groaned, dropping her head backwards and looking up at the ceiling. "Completely disconnected. How long did you say we were going to be here?"
Sara did her best not to laugh. "You'll survive." Which was actually the point of this little vacation, after all. That thought sobered her up. "You should make yourself comfortable. I'm going to check the perimeter."
"Comfortable, right." Felicity slid her hands down her hips, considering the dress. "Guess I should get out of this."
Sara's eyes followed Felicity's hands. "You're welcome to wear it as long as you like." Although the thought of her taking it off was also pretty appealing.
"Somehow it doesn't go with sitting around in a cabin," Felicity said. "Plus, it's kind of tight. Hopefully Diggle packed me something cozy." She headed to get her bag from beside the bed. Sara couldn't be blamed for watching the way her hips and rear swayed with every step. She did have the grace not to stare when Felicity bent to get the bag and dig through it, at least.
"This will do," Felicity said, pulling a couple things out of the bag. "He actually did a decent job of packing." She straightened up and turned her back towards Sara. "Could you undress me?"
Sara's eyebrows went up.
"Zip! Unzip me. The dress. Please."
Sara couldn't see Felicity's face, but she could imagine the eyes squeezed shut and the faint blush creeping in. She chuckled, low and warm. "Sure."
Felicity swept her hair over her left shoulder. Sara couldn't help herself: her fingers grazed the skin above the fabric before gripping the zipper and pulling it down slowly. The fabric parted, revealing a long strip of creamy skin. “It's a great dress,” she said, her voice low.
“Thanks.” Felicity ducked her head. “Thea picked it out.”
“You make it hot.”
Felicity took a breath, her back rising under Sara's hands. She turned her head a little. "Usually you call me cute."
"Usually you are. Tonight, you're hot." Almost unconsciously, Sara's thumb brushed over the skin low on Felicity's back. "I happen to like both."
Felicity drew a quick, quiet breath. She turned her head farther and lifted her eyes to meet Sara's. From this distance, they were large and very blue. Sara was captivated. She didn't know what Felicity was looking for in Sara's gaze, or if she found it, but after a long, silent moment, Felicity softly said, "Good."
The desire to pull Felicity closer and kiss her, and then keep kissing her, was so hard to resist. Sara wanted to slide the dress off of her and run her hands over all of that smooth, warm skin. Wanted to – do more than that. And god, in that moment, she thought that Felicity would react as enthusiastically as Sara could ever hope for.
Sara swallowed a suddenly dry mouth. "You should go change," she said. Her hands had found Felicity's waist; she gave her a nudge forward before reluctantly dropping them back to her sides. "I need to check the perimeter."
"Check -- right." Felicity took a deep breath and looked away. "You go -- check that. I'll be here."
Sara backed off and headed for the door, feeling like she was walking against the pull of gravity. When she looked back, Felicity hadn't moved except to put one hand on her head like she was trying to keep it from exploding. Sara could relate.
Outside on the front step, Sara closed her eyes and took a minute to breathe. She was there to protect Felicity, not to strip her naked or lay her down on the bed and -- Sara tilted her head back, face up towards the sky. "Chill, Sara," she muttered. "Come on." She reached for that calm, centered place inside her that she'd found at the teaching of Nyssa and the League. Meditation and focus were vital to their lives. Sara used those lessons now to bring herself back down to reality.
When she opened her eyes again a minute or two later, she was able to think clearly. Thoughts of Felicity weren't totally banished, but they were safely set aside for the moment.
Sara got to work. She walked a careful path through the trees, one that would look random to anyone watching. She'd planted traps and telltales all around the cabin. There was no way to cover every inch of every possible approach, but the distribution and number she did have out there gave a high probability of catching anyone who tried to come at the cabin. There was a chance of innocents getting hurt if they blundered through, but there was nothing Sara could do to prevent that. The possibility hadn't bothered her before – collateral damage was part of the life. Now she felt a twinge of guilt. Felicity wouldn't like the idea of endangering anyone, even animals, in the name of her own safety.
Well, she didn't need to know.
The first few times Sara had been back here, animals had been caught in some of the traps. They seemed to have learned by now to avoid the area, as there were no animals, live or dead, caught now. That, at least, would make Felicity feel better. There were no humans caught up in the traps, either. By all appearances, no one had come through this way since the last time Sara had visited. None of her active traps and triggers had been tripped. She checked them to make sure they were functional, which they were. Other traps she had deactivated the last time she left. She reactivated them now. It was highly unlikely that anyone would find them, but with Felicity's life in her hands, Sara refused to take any chances.
It took a while to make the circuit. When she finally went back inside, the wonderful warm scent of cooking spaghetti sauce greeted her. An involuntary moan escaped her. “That smells like heaven.”
Felicity was at the stove, stirring a pan that was merrily simmering away. She'd changed into pink knit pants and a baby blue t-shirt, which looked both cute and incredibly comfortable. “I'm starving, and I guessed that you would be, too,” she said, reaching for the knob on the stove and turning the heat down. She glanced over her shoulder. “Sounds like I was right.”
“Very much so.” Sara kicked off her shoes. “So, you cook?”
Felicity shrugged. “I can cook spaghetti. Which you had in the cabinet. How do you have food here, anyway? I mean, spaghetti and jars of sauce don't go bad all that quickly, but there's milk in the fridge. Unexpired milk.”
Sara sat down on one of the wooden dinette chairs, pulling one foot up onto the seat. “I have a maid come up here sometimes. When I knew I'd be bringing you today, I asked her to bring some groceries, along with both of our suitcases.”
“You have a maid come to your secret hideout?” Felicity gave the pan one last stir before turning to face Sara. “Doesn't that make it a little less secret?”
“She's very discreet.” Sara chuckled at Felicity's skeptical face. “I'm serious. A lot of rich and private people use her. She's very well paid for silence.”
Felicity was nonplussed. “I know you're private, but... are you rich?”
Sara hid a wince. She hadn't meant to invite that particular question. “Not Oliver Queen rich,” she hedged.
“But – how? You're a bartender, and before that --”
“Before that, I spent a few years being paid very well,” Sara said evenly. Her heart beat harder in her chest, betraying her anxiety. She hated having to bring up her own past, especially with someone like Felicity.
It took a moment before understanding dawned. “Oh! Right.” Felicity grimaced. “Sorry. I forget sometimes.”
“I'm glad you do,” Sara said quietly. “Most of the time, I wish I could.” She sighed. “I don't like using the money. I only keep it for things like this.”
Felicity nodded her understanding. With a lift of her shoulders, she said, “You could at least use it to get a place in the city.”
Sara shook her head. “I'd rather make my money for that cleanly. The clocktower and Laurel's apartment are fine for now.”
“You can stay with me sometimes, if you want,” Felicity said unexpectedly. “I know sometimes Laurel has – someone – over --”
“Someone meaning Oliver,” Sara supplied with a suppressed smile.
“And the clocktower isn't great when it's hot. Or cold. Or rainy.”
“It's not that bad.”
“I have a big, soft bed. I'm just saying, you're welcome in it anytime.” Felicity immediately flushed. “You know what I mean.”
Sara's smile widened. The thought sent a happy little thrum through her chest, even if it was just a Freudian slip on Felicity's part. “I'll keep that in mind,” Sara said evenly. “Thanks.”
Felicity cleared her throat. “Would you mind setting the table?”
Sara obliged. The dishes were cheap and honestly kind of ugly, having been picked up at a dollar store, but they were clean. The silverware was the same way. Between those and a couple of plastic cups with cartoon characters on them, they had perfectly serviceable table settings.
Felicity caught sight of the cups when Sara filled them with refrigerated water, and she giggled. “Those totally fit with your badass image.”
“What, badasses aren't allowed to like pink?” Sara held up the two cups. “Which one do you want: My Little Pony or Strawberry Shortcake?”
“Strawberry Shortcake,” Felicity said immediately. “Grab your plate, food's done.”
Dinner was easy and relaxed. The food was good. The company was excellent. Even after they'd finished eating, they lingered at the table, talking and laughing. Sara was captivated by Felicity's animation. Every thought and emotion was expressed by her entire body, with nothing hidden. Sara had known her for a while now, but she'd never spent this much downtime with her, or been alone with her for this long. Having all of that energy and spirit directed at her was like basking in warm sunshine. For someone who had known only shadows for years, it was almost intoxicating.
She knew she should have her guard up. This wasn't a date. They were there because someone was after Felicity, and it was Sara's job to protect her. And she was, she told herself. Even if she was relaxed, if she smiled and laughed, if she thought about touching Felicity's hand or cheek, if she wondered if Felicity's lips were as soft as they looked.
Felicity's flow of words stopped abruptly. "Sorry. I'm babbling."
"I like it when you babble," Sara told her. "But my butt is going numb from these chairs."
"They are kind of uncomfortable, aren't they? I didn't want to say anything, since I'm a guest and all."
Sara waved that off. "I don't live here," she pointed out. She got up and started collecting their dishes from the table. "Think of it more like a hotel room."
"Wow, we're sharing a hotel room? This date's moving kinda fast." Felicity trailed Sara into the kitchen area and started scraping the last bits of food into the trash.
Sara chuckled at the comment. "I'll take care of the dishes," she said, running water over the empty plates.
"Are you sure?"
"You cooked." Sara waved a hand, shooing Felicity out of the kitchen. "Go sit."
Washing the dishes gave Sara a good reason not to look at Felicity. She needed that distance to once again try to get her mind back in the game.
Focus. Think about the job. She should go recheck the perimeter, she thought. Check her traps. On the other hand, the alarms she'd placed on most of them would have alerted her there in the cabin – they were wireless and silent to anyone who might set them off. Only the receiver, which was there beside the bed, would sound. Which it obviously hadn't.
The cabin was secure, too. The door was heavy and solid; the walls and ceiling were, too. The door was the only easy and obvious way in, since there were no real windows. There was a trapdoor under the bed – a point of egress for them, but not a way in for anyone else.
In other words, Sara had done her job. Felicity was safe. In fact, leaving her inside alone while Sara went to check her traps was probably the worst thing she could do. Better to stay there in the cabin with her than to risk splitting up.
So... maybe it was okay to relax. Enjoy Felicity's company. Enjoy the flirting, too, even if she knew it probably wouldn't come to anything. Although, those Freudian slips and outright comments Felicity had made were very interesting...
When Sara turned around, she found Felicity watching her from the couch. Her arms were folded on the back cushions and her chin was on her hands. Her face kind of drooped morosely. Sara's brows creased. "What's wrong?"
"Oh. Nothing." Felicity sat up straighter as Sara came to sit on the other end of the couch. "I was just thinking how typical it is that I went to this auction thing and only got 'won' because some bad guy is out to get me."
"Hey. We weren't the only ones bidding on you, remember? There were three guys before us. That blond guy would have won if Stokes' man hadn't jumped in."
"True." Felicity considered that. "He was kind of cute."
Sara shrugged, looking away. "If you like that type."
"Sara." Felicity gave her an are you for real look. "He was blond and athletic."
"So you dated Oliver Queen. You like that type."
"I like Oliver. There's a difference."
"Whatever you say." Felicity shrugged. "But blond and athletic is kind of my type." She held Sara's gaze, surprisingly bold. It only lasted a second before she looked away, pink staining her cheeks. She cleared her throat and started to say something else, but Sara stopped her.
"I'd have bid on you anyway."
Felicity's eyes flicked back up to Sara's. "Really?"
"Yeah. If I didn't know you, I mean," she added quickly, then immediately winced.
Felicity did, too. "Wow. Ouch."
"That's not how I meant it. I --" Sara groped for words. "We're friends. It would be different from bidding on someone I didn't know. That's all I meant."
"Right, no, that makes sense." Felicity looked at Sara thoughtfully. "But otherwise you'd have bid on me?"
"Totally," Sara said honestly.
They lapsed into silence for a minute, a sort of pause in the conversation rather than a stop. Sara didn't know what Felicity was thinking. She barely knew what she was thinking. She waited.
Felicity looked up again, a smile flickering on her lips and crinkling the corners of her eyes. "So. Let's say you didn't know me, and you bid on me and won. What would tonight have been like?"
Sara's eyebrows rose. She let out a soft laugh, tension easing out of her. "That's a good question." She drew her legs up onto the couch and curled up against the back cushions. "I'd have taken you to dinner. Rio's, I think."
"Ooh, I love that place," Felicity said, lighting up a bit. "Wait, did you know that already?"
Sara held up her hands. "I didn't, I swear."
"Good. That would be cheating." Felicity wriggled deeper into the cushions, getting more comfortable. "So...?"
"So... We'd order drinks. Maybe an appetizer?"
"Oo, those stuffed mushrooms."
"I honestly don't know what we'd have for dinner," Sara said. "But I do know that we'd talk."
"You'd ask me what I do," Felicity said. "I'd ask you, and we'd both lie."
"I'm a bartender. Nothing wrong with that."
"No, of course not. And I'm an executive assistant and an IT girl, which is fine and all, but we'd both be leaving a lot out."
"That's different from lying."
Felicity frowned at her. "Lies of omission are still lies."
Sara shrugged a little, looking down. "It's part of the life." After a second, she lifted her eyes again. "We'd still have plenty to talk about, though. I'm pretty sure we didn't mention Oliver or the vigilante business more than once during our actual dinner," she said, nodding her head towards the cabin's table.
"True." Felicity followed her gaze, her expression thoughtful.
Sara put her arm on the back of the couch and propped her head on her hand. "It's still pretty early when we're done. I don't think I'd be ready to say goodnight."
Felicity's smile was soft. "Me, either. Maybe... Oh! The movie in the park!" At Sara's lack of recognition, Felicity said, "Memorial Park. Every Friday night starting in April, they put up a big screen and show some movie or other. It's kind of like a drive-in, except you sit in the grass instead of a car."
"That sounds cool," Sara said, nodding. "What are they showing tonight?"
"Ummm... not sure. Does it matter?" Felicity asked. "I like pretty much any kind of movie. Although horror is not my favorite."
"I'd protect you," Sara assured her.
Felicity grinned happily at that. "I have to warn you, though, I'm not a great person to watch movies with. I sort of talk a lot. Nitpicking things and sighing over romances and whatever else. I've been reliably informed that it's annoying, but I just can't help myself."
"I don't mind. If it was any kind of action movie, I'd be nitpicking the fighting." Sara lifted a shoulder and said lightly, "Besides, if I wanted you to stop talking, I'd just kiss you."
The words slipped out easily past Sara's guard. She held herself outwardly calm, but her heart thumped faster in her chest. It was such a risk...
Felicity froze. "Oh," she said, more a squeak than a word. "That -- that would work." She hesitated. Her eyes flicked down -- to Sara's lips? -- and then back to meet Sara's eyes again. "I guess we probably wouldn't see much more of the movie, then," she said, her tone casual but her voice unsteady. "Because I would totally kiss you back."
Warmth blossomed in Sara's chest. She didn't fight her growing smile. "Good," she said softly. She could have backed off then, maybe made some regretful comment about it all only being hypothetical. She didn't deserve someone like Felicity. Didn't deserve to even entertain the idea. But Felicity was there, watching her with wide eyes that looked hopeful, and that drowned out all doubts.
When Sara leaned in, Felicity met her halfway. Her lips were as soft as Sara had imagined. Her kiss was as sweet and open as she was. Sara cupped her cheek with one hand, fingers caressing the smooth skin. She ached with longing for more but also wanted this simple, sweet, perfect moment to never end.
Felicity eventually pulled back, just enough to breathe. Her face was satisfyingly flushed. “Good,” she agreed, a little dazed and breathless. Sara knew the feeling. “Very good.” She touched her forehead to Sara's, bumping their noses together.
Sara tipped her face up, ghosting her lips across Felicity's. She slid one hand along Felicity's waist. “C'mere,” she murmured, feeling giddy.
Felicity smiled brilliantly. Then she was in Sara's arms, and the world fell away.
Two mornings later, a shrill BEEP-BE-BEEP jolted Sara awake. She rolled to face the source, raising up on one elbow. She hadn't set a wake-up alarm, which meant – was it one of the outside alarms? After a split second (and another round of BEEP-BE-BEEP), she realized it was the sat phone ringing. She snatched it off of the nightstand. “Hello?”
Sara groaned and dropped back down onto the mattress. “Oliver, you are far too chipper for this time of morning.”
There was a pause. “It's ten AM,” he said, sounding perplexed and amused. “I figured you'd be up by now.”
Was it that late? There wasn't much in the way of natural light in the cabin, but the clock agreed with Ollie's statement. “It's not like we're setting alarms out here.” And she and Felicity had gone to bed late the previous night. Or rather, they'd gone to sleep rather late, she amended mentally, grinning sleepily to herself.
Felicity's arm slid around Sara's waist as she snuggled up behind her. “'Zat Oliver?”
“Mm-hm.” To Ollie, Sara said, “What's the word?”
“Stokes is being booked as we speak.”
No wonder he sounded so cheerful. “Nice job. Though, doesn't the Arrow usually work before sunrise, not after it?”
“Yeah, well, Oliver Queen had a hand in this arrest. As did Diggle. I'll tell you all about it when you get home.”
“Sounds great.” To Felicity, she said, “The coast is clear. We can go home.”
Felicity made a sleepy, displeased sound. “Do we have to?” She nuzzled under Sara's ear. “I like it here,” she murmured, brushing her lips against Sara's skin.
“Mmm. We could stay...”
“Stay?” Oliver's voice was a little sharp with confusion.
“For another day?” Sara said.
“I need you both here.”
“You've done just fine without us the past two days,” Sara pointed out. “And you did just fine before I came back to Starling and before you brought in Felicity. I think you'll manage another day without us.”
“We deserve a vacation,” Sara interrupted him firmly. “So we're taking one.”
She could imagine his face right then, frustrated and confused. The sigh that came through the phone confirmed it. “Okay, I guess we'll... see you tomorrow, then.”
Felicity propped her chin on Sara's shoulder. “Bye, Oliver.”
Sara grinned. “Bye, Ollie.” She hung up the phone and tossed it back onto the nightstand. “So.” She rolled onto her back to look at Felicity. “You're safe.”
Felicity lifted herself up on one elbow and smiled down at Sara. “Thanks to you.” She traced the line of Sara's jaw with one finger. “And we still get one more day of this.”
Sara caught Felicity's hand and pressed a kiss into the palm. Suddenly uncertain, she looked up into Felicity's eyes. “Actually, I was hoping we'd have a lot more than one more day of this.”
Confusion flickered across Felicity's face before understanding dawned. “Oh! I meant here.”
“I know,” Sara said, keeping her eyes locked with Felicity's. “I didn't.”
Felicity's lips parted on an indrawn breath, and then she smiled, soft and sweet. “Good. 'Cause that's what I was hoping, too.”
Sara let out the breath she was holding. Her body tingled with relief and happiness. “Good.” She reached up and stroked hair back from Felicity's face.
Felicity closed her eyes, leaning her head into the touch. “Mm. Of course, we really should make the most of the time we do have left here.”
Sara smiled broadly. “You read my mind,” she murmured and pulled Felicity down for a long, sweet kiss.