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Truly, Madly, Stupidly

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Hello, if you follow me on Twitter you will likely understand where the concept of this fic originated from, if you don’t follow me (You really should, I’m mostly delightfully funny ;) ) here is a brief run down.

I hate Hallmark Christmas movies.
But, I love pushing myself and my own writing boundaries.
So I started a poll with the most ridiculously cheesy plot points or set ups that I could think of without any idea of what would win and what I would be writing. Fun right?

The results came in and I set about writing... this is the result.

Thank you to Sandy and Sherall who answered my baseball questions. Thank you Emma for beta-ing. Thank you to Ash who thought me crazy but supported me all the same and thank you to the 220+ people that voted.

Enjoy.

Here were the results:

 Now...onto the story

Xox

Summer, 1998

“The crowd goes wild,” Oliver chanted with his long, limber arms punching fists into the air while he ran from one pretend base to another cheering himself on.

The midday sun was high and warm in a near cloudless sky of brilliant blue as the two friends enjoyed the first week of summer vacation in the cul-de-sac of the middle class suburban street they both lived on. The green ash trees that lined the sidewalk allowed the dappled sunlight to make patterns on the concrete as birds flew jauntily from one to the other, perching precariously on the very tips of the top branches to natter out their calls.

Tommy threw his Starling Thunderbirds cap down onto the asphalt in a hissy as he groaned loudly at yet another ‘ass-whopping’ at the hands of his best friend.
“You know if we were playing ice hockey,” Tommy grumbled as he picked up his hat and dusted the road mess from it.
“You’d have bet me ten times over,” Oliver announced gleefully, his voice echoing through the still suburban street. “Only, we ain’t and you didn’t,” he teased gingerly.

The low rumble of a truck pulling into the end of the street stopped both the game and the playful jesting between friends as Oliver scooped up the discarded ball and swung the bat over his shoulder before he backed towards the sidewalk.

A little blue hatchback travelling just ahead of the rented moving truck turned into the driveway of the house that had sat vacant for the last month or so. A tidy little villa with white decorative storm shutters and a porch shaded by the large oak tree in the front yard. The older lady that had lived there before would often pay Oliver in lemonade popsicles to pull weeds from her garden when she could no longer manage to do it herself. He’d overheard his parents saying she’d moved to a lovely retirement village out near the coast and that they ought to make a time to go and see her over the summer.

Probably aware the back of the little car was nearly dragging on the road, the driver slowed to a crawl to pull into the driveway, but the back bumper still kissed the street despite her best efforts.

But it wasn’t that which caught Oliver’s attention that typical Saturday. No, it was the young girl sitting in the front seat with curly brown hair pulled back in a skewed ponytail and dark, tortoise shell framed glasses that emphasised her vividly-cobalt eyes.

He smiled wonkily before he tucked the baseball into his jeans and raised one hand, waving it gently back and forth.

The young girl smiled brightly, while she mimicked Oliver’s wave with a leisurely one of her own before the blaring horn from the truck sent Oliver stumbling backwards off the street. The car, and its passengers, disappeared into the double-wide garage and the moving truck pulled up alongside the curb, disappearing Oliver’s view.

Tommy, who had witnessed the exchange, thumped Oliver's arm. "Future girlfriend," he teased the 10 year old before he took off running back towards his house, a dozen houses down the same street.

"SHUT UP MERLYN!" Oliver called down the street, his youthful face puffed up at the mere suggestion of girls. Girls were weird. Fact.

“First comes love, then comes marriage,” Tommy taunted from down the block before Oliver took off after him with two very curious blue eyes watching him from behind framed lenses.

“Come on Felicity, let’s take a look inside our new house,” her mother said.

》》《《

The next day was a Sunday, the morning started off warm and pleasant with a distinctive aroma of burnt toast and bacon drifting in through the open patio doors in the Queen house – a sprawling two storey (three if you counted the below ground den), 5 bedroom, 4.5 bath house. From the outside it was tidy, modern and quintessentially middle class, but inside his mother had decorated each nock and cranny in a tastefully opulent decor. The Queens were well off, quite well off, if you asked most people, and they could have afforded a house in a gated community where your house sat looking like it was far too large for the section it was built on, or the could have had a sprawling mansion in the ‘countryside’ where your next door neighbour was a 10 minute sprint away. But, both of his parents had made the conscious choice to raise Oliver, and his baby sister, in a far more middle class socio-economic structure than their wealth might otherwise allow for in the hopes it would ground their children in life.

Of course, all of this meant little to the rambunctious 10 year old; all he knew was that his best friend Tommy lived across the street and 12 houses down, and his school was a pleasant 20 minute bike ride away which took him through the park that backed onto the baseball stadium.

That morning Oliver was in a hurry and he was moving around the breakfast table like a hurricane before he guzzled his glass of orange juice and ran for his bat and mitt which were sitting on the hall table.

“The newspaper,” his mother, an attractive socialite who ran a successful catering company as more of a hobby, called out after him and Oliver groaned obtusely at the delay the short jaunt to the letterbox and back would cost him.

But he knew better than to argue unless he wanted to spend his entire Sunday, or every Sunday of his summer vacation for that matter, pulling weeds out of every garden in the street as a lesson in humility.

“Yes mom,” he said dryly as he scuffed his sneakers on the polished wooden floors before he walked, heavy-footed, but not quite stomping, to the white letterbox with the green trim.

He found the newspaper where it always was and he fished it out with a trying moan that made the task seem far more lumbered and painful than it actually was. With the rolled paper tucked securely under his arm, Oliver looked up and, across the road, saw the same little girl from the day before standing, much like he was, by her letterbox pulling out the Sunday paper.

He lifted a hand and waved dutifully.
Her hand raised timidly to her chest and she waved back.

》》《《

The next time Oliver saw her was two days later, it was nearing supper time and Oliver, dirtied from a day running the dirt baseball field a short walk away, was trudging back home with his prized bat slung over his shoulder and his mitt hanging from the end of it.

She was sitting on her lawn, cross-legged and alone, with her nose buried in a book that looked larger than any he’d ever attempted to read. She was wearing a pair of indigo-denim overall shorts with one side hanging open, showing a grey tee underneath that was emblazoned with a faded rainbow decal in the centre. Her mousey brown hair was shimmering a dark blonde in the hazy late afternoon sun and she was chewing on a Strawberry Twizzler.

He stopped at the paved path up to his house and watched her for a moment. She was utterly entrenched in what she was reading and while he didn’t think he’d given much thought to the idea of introducing himself, the next thing Oliver knew he was walking over there.

“Whatcha reading?” he asked with a pop of his lips.
She looked up before she tugged the red Twizzler from her mouth, “Harry Potter,” she answered simply, lifting the cover of the book just enough for Oliver to see. He had no idea what a ‘Harry Potter’ was but he nodded like he did.

“Hi, I’m…” Oliver started.
“Oliver Queen?” Felicity interrupted with an impish grin.
He looked bemused. “How did you know?”
She pointed silently to the mitt hanging off his bat which had Property of Oliver Queen scribbled in black vivid in the palm.
“Good spot,” he commended and she smiled.
“Thanks,” she checked her fingers for sticky residue before she wiped them on her shorts just to be sure. “Felicity Smoak,” she introduced as she held out her hand.
He took it and shook it energetically.
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance miss,” he said with a stereotypical southern drawl as he tipped an imaginary hat.
His jest made her laugh and it was one of the airiest and most melodic laughs he’d ever heard and he soon found himself desperate to make her laugh some more just to hear it.

“Are you new to Starling or just new to the neighbourhood?” Oliver asked as he dropped the bat and used it like a walking stick to prop up his slouched body.
“New to the whole state. We moved from Vegas,” she answered, smiling shyly.
Oliver’s youthfully-imbued eyes it up; Vegas was the epitome of opulence in his young mind and staying in a penthouse suite with models hanging off his arms and people begging for his autograph would be the pinnacle of his career – future career.

“Are you a baseball fan?” Felicity asked while she nodded towards his bat.
“I play some,” he replied modestly, though the lopsided smile on his face was dying to rattle off his achievements without a scratch of humility if he was asked to. “Are you a fan?” he quizzed.
Felicity shrugged her slender shoulders, only then realising one of her overall clasps had come free. “I don’t really know much about the sport if I’m honest,” she answered as she focused on re-clipping the bothersome clothing and grimacing at not noticing it before.
“I could teach you,” Oliver exclaimed, somewhat brashly but with a smile that softened the directness.

She chuckled at the suggestion thinking the boy with the floppy mop of blonde hair and the sapphire eyes couldn’t be serious.

“Felicity, hon, dinner is ready,” her mom called from inside the house.
Felicity cringed; her mother wasn’t much of a cook so she wasn’t sure what ‘delectable delight’ she would be facing on the dinner table; which was actually just an upturned cardboard box in front of the couch as having a place that fitted furniture was a new concept coming from their tiny apartment in Vegas, so there were some ‘gaps’ to fill.

“I better go,” she quipped as she stood up from the front lawn and tucked her book under her arm. “Nice meeting you Oliver Queen.”
“Nice to meet you too Felicity Smoak.”
And then he bid her farewell with a wave, which she returned with a smile.

》》《《

The next day, a Monday a little after 9am, Oliver showed up on her doorstep with his bat, mitt, ball and a bright, pearly-white smile which was met with a bemused smile from Felicity when she opened the door to his knock.

“You ready?” he chirped as he swished back his floppy fringe which peeked out from the peak of his cap.
Felicity laughed as she absently mirrored his action, trawling her splayed fingers through her naturally wavy hair. “For what?”
"Your baseball lesson."
He answered her like it was the most obvious answer in the world and all Felicity could do was mumble a confused, "I-, I-," and little much else.

She was dressed in towelling shorts and a stretched and baggy tee which she had slept in. She hadn't run a brush through her hair and her tongue still tasted like strawberry pop tarts; she wasn't in any fit state to go outside.

“I can wait,” he chortled as if reading her adolescent and scattered mind.

Donna Smoak appeared behind her daughter, drawn from her morning date with a strong coffee by the sound of her only daughter laughing.

The move from Vegas to Starling was a big one and she had found herself worrying that taking Felicity from her friends – irrespective of the fact they were bouncers and other cocktail waitresses at the establishment where she had worked on 6 inch heels – would be a tough adjustment for her sweet, bright and reserved daughter to make.

But when she found a boy at least a foot taller but with the exuberant face of a child not much older than Felicity, she realised that perhaps she’d fretted over nothing.

Oliver instantly shucked his cap from his head and brushed back the hair from his face while he stood as straight as a butter knife. “Good morning Mrs Smoak.”
Donna leaned against the doorframe beside her daughter and smiled. “Miss, and good morning to you. Who’s your friend Felicity?”

“My name is Oliver Queen Miss Smoak and I live right over there.” He pointed to his house across the road, clearly the nicest on the block if not within a 5 mile radius. “I can take you to meet my parents if you like.”

Donna nodded as she let him carry on. “If it’s alright with you I thought I could teach Felicity a thing or two about baseball. See there is a field just around the block, but if you prefer we could play right here,” he continued as he pointed to the cul-de-sac.
“Well that sounds fine to me if Felicity wants to go.” She looked down at her young daughter who bobbed her head in a soft but assured nod.
“I'll just go change,” Felicity remarked as she backed away from the front door and disappeared up the stairs in a symphony of racing feet on wooden floor boards.

“So how old are you Oliver?” Donna asked as Oliver maintained his straight posture.
“10 ma'am,” he answered without pause.
“And what are your parents’ names?”
“Robert and Moira Queen,” came another swift answer. “I can write down their number if you like.”
“That's quite alright,” Donna assured him. “Will you have her back for lunch?”
“Absolutely ma'am.”
He put out his hand and Donna shook it with a laugh.

Felicity came back down a few minutes later with her hair brushed and pulled back into a ponytail that sat below her crown, a pair of black kicks with rainbow laces, a knit tank top in an ombre of pink and purple tones and a pair of grey jersey shorts. An outfit, in Oliver's opinion, that was fully suited to a friendly game of baseball.

“Back before lunch,” Donna reminded.
“Yes ma'am. Absolutely,” Oliver chirped as the pair trotted down the front porch stairs.

“We gotta go get Tommy first,” Oliver said cheerily, as the two set off down the street.
“Okay,” Felicity lithely shrugged even though she wasn’t exactly sure who Tommy was. But there was something else that was making her more curious. “Why do you want to teach me about baseball?”
“Well,” Oliver took a deep breath, as if there was a great tale to be told, before he continued, “I’m going to be a pretty famous baseball player one day and they often go onto coaching so I might as well start practicing to do that now, is what I figure.” He finished with a smile and his floppy fringe curtaining half his forehead again. “Oh here, I brought you this,” he continued as he handed her a cap which he’d had folded up in his pocket. She looked down at it a little puzzled. “Don’t worry it’s freshly washed and dried last night,” he pledged with his hand over his heart.

She nodded and said a quiet “Thank you,” before she slipped it onto her head and pulled her ponytail through the gap.

“There,” Oliver grinned, “now you definitely look the part.”

They hadn’t yet reached the cobble path to Tommy's house when a young boy, half a foot shorter than Oliver with wild deep-brown hair and a frazzled smile came sprinting out from the house and down the front steps.

Wordlessly he nodded Oliver to match his pace and it became very clear that Tommy was in a hurry.

“TOMMY!” a male voice bellowed from inside the house that Tommy had just dashed out from.
Tommy, whose face was tense with frustration, stopped and kicked the toe of his shoe against a nearby storm grate.
“Shit,” he muttered under his breath before he dragged himself back towards the house. “Yeah dad?”
“Take your sister.”
“Step,” Tommy grumbled as he stomped back inside two tone brick house.
He returned a minute later with a brunette the same age, she was wearing florescent pink short-shorts and a Spice Girls tee. Her hair was richly chestnut, silky and immaculately tied back in a perfectly-centred ponytail that sat high on her crown with a scrunchie that was almost identical to the colour of her shorts. She was slim, tall and wearing lip gloss.

Oliver physically groaned.
“Hi Oliver,” the new arrival purred, the scent of her cherry bubble gum drifting on the passing breeze.
“Hi McKenna,” he answered wryly. “Felicity this is Tommy’s step sister McKenna, McKenna this is Felicity, she’s new.”

McKenna looked down at Felicity's hand as the younger girl jutted it out, before she buried her hand in her pocket, “Hi,” she said dryly and Felicity retracted her hand. “McKayla and McKenzie are coming too,” she added bluntly.
Tommy threw his hands in the air. “You don’t get to just invite your friends!”
She pouted sourly and he grumbled off knowing there was nothing he could do about it.

“Are you visiting from some little town?” McKenna asked while she looked down with mild amusement at Felicity’s clothes.
“Uh, no, I just moved up from Vegas,” Felicity answered, pretending to ignore the very distinctive vibe she was getting that she wasn’t welcome there.
“The Vegas,” Oliver added as though that made all the difference.
McKenna blew a bubble, sucked it in and shook her head as they continued walking. “There’s a lot of crime there.”
Felicity just shrugged, she could probably argue statistics but it was pretty clear they wouldn’t make a difference here.

“I never asked how old you were,” Oliver chimed in as the troop walked down the street with Tommy kicking a soda can at the head of the pack.
“I’m 9,” Felicity answered succinctly.
“We're all 10,” Oliver hummed as though that proved to be a paradox of sorts. “Will you go to school here?”
Felicity nodded, the brim of her borrowed hat shifting a little further down her forehead. “Starling Oaks.”
“Same, that’s where we all go. We’re all in Grade 5 though, but McKenna’s friend McKayla is in Grade 4,” he looked at McKenna with sharply-focused eyes, “I’m sure she could show you around and stuff.”
McKenna huffed, shrugged and managed to roll her eyes simultaneously, “Sure I suppose I could ask.” She had no intention of doing any such thing.
“Actually I’ll be starting in Grade 5,” she cringed as she said it, half expecting the teasing to start, but it didn’t.

Quite the opposite in fact.
“Well damn, I’ll finally have a smart friend,” Oliver enthused with impish grin and followed with a hearty laugh as Tommy turned around and scowled.
“I heard that!” he hollered.
“We’re friends?” Felicity asked sheepishly. She hadn't really had any of those her own age before.
“Sure.” He lifted the brim of her hat and tipped his head to one side. “When I’m rich and famous and planning a trip to Vegas I’m going to need someone to tell me all the best spots,” Oliver prattled; and he was entirely serious.
“Alright then, it’s a deal,” Felicity chuckled. “I know the best waffle house after all.”

》》《《

Oliver was shadowing Felicity with her hands braced on the grip and his larger hands over the top as he showed her the right form to hit a ball, well he was attempting to but neither of them could stop laughing at Tommy who was standing on the pitcher’s mound winding up like a tornado.

It really shouldn't have been as amusing to them as it was. But it was summer, they were young and he looked absolutely ridiculous.

"Who’s the mouse?" McKenzie asked as she popped a bubble of grape bubble gum between her overly-glossed lips. She was slender like McKenna but with fairer skin, a smattering of freckles over the bridge of her nose, which she loved one day but hated the next, and strawberry blonde hair that caught and radiated the sun quite brilliantly.

The other friend, McKayla was the youngest of the three and was a grade behind her two friends. She was quiet and could often be found staring into middle space while she coiled her honey-blonde hair around her finger. She was probably the most absentminded of the three and that morning didn't contradict that.

“Where is a mouse?” she squeaked as she dropped her hair and pulled her knees tightly to her chest.
“I mean because of her hair,” McKenzie sighed exaggeratedly as if to show her sheer exacerbation at being asked.
“Some charity case,” McKenna huffed as she dabbed another coat of gloss on her pouted lips.
“Oliver and her look friendly,” McKenzie remarked.
McKenna glanced up briefly. “Don’t be ridiculous, he’s just being nice because she doesn’t have any friends,” she scathed.
“Looks like she has a friend now.”

McKenna jammed the little pot of lip gloss into her pocket before she abruptly stood up on the second row of the wooden bleachers. She took one step, dramatically stumbled and screamed out loud enough that everyone on the field looked.

“Oh my god McKenna are you okay?” her friends said in unison as they ran to her aid.
Oliver and Felicity jogged over too, but Tommy, unamused, stayed where he was with his hands on his hips.

“I think I twisted my ankle,” McKenna sobbed as she stretched her hand towards Oliver. With a sigh he offered his hand and helped her up. She leaned against his chest with her arms around his shoulders.
“Oliver, please could you help me home? You’re stronger than Tommy and I need someone strong to help me,” she pleaded as she fanned her lashes at him.
Oliver felt his whole body tense at how she was draping herself over him well her two friends smirked. “Can you wait ‘till we’re done?” he asked as he propped her back up onto her own weight.
“Please it might be broken,” she cried and a single tear she had managed to squeeze out made a dramatic trail down her cheek. “Take McKenzie’s bike and I’ll sit on the handle bars because I trust you.”
“Fine,” Oliver huffed.
He gave Felicity an apologetic smile before Tommy offered to walk Felicity home.

》》《《

“So your step?” she paused to seek clarification from Tommy who nodded, “sister seems nice, I hope she’s okay.”
Tommy stopped on their slow saunter back towards their respective houses and shook his head. “She’s a total bitch and I’m sure she’s just fine,” he said gruffly. “I’m even sure she listens to every conversation I have in my room, I just haven’t figured out how,” he pondered wearily.
Felicity kept walked and Tommy jogged to catch up. “So you aren’t a fan of your blended family?”
He laughed boisterously. That was his answer.
“Does anyone else think it’s weird they all have Mc names?” Felicity wondered aloud before a smile tweaked her lips.
“They’re all evil clones that got dumber each time they got cloned.” Tommy smacked his leg and laughed at his own joke before he stopped and looked at Felicity pensively. “Word of advice though, they’re snakes don’t trust them.”

They stopped at Tommy’s house, with the pink bike now on the lawn.
“Well this is me, you okay to walk the rest of the way?” Tommy asked as he peered further up the street to the red letterbox he could just see in the distance.
“I’ll be fine,” Felicity nodded. “Thanks for walking me.”


She was halfway home when Oliver caught up to her and began walking backwards a few paces in front of her.
“How’s McKenna?” Felicity asked.
Oliver rolled his eyes. “She made a miraculous recovery when we got to her house.” But he didn’t want to talk about that, so he moved on quickly. “You played pretty good for your first time.”
“I think I’ll leave the ball playing aspirations to you. But thank you, I had fun” she said as they reached her house. She took off his cap and handed it to him.
“You can keep it,” Oliver decided with a lopsided smile.
“Wait right there,” she simpered, not waiting for a response before she ran inside. She was gone only a few moments and returned with the Harry Potter book she’d been reading the day before sandwiched between her palms.
“Here, you can have this in return,” she offered.
“But you weren’t finished,” Oliver commented.
Felicity lifted one shoulder into a shrug. “That’s okay I have another copy”
“You have two copies of the same book?”
The little nod she gave him made Oliver chuckle.
“A reading one,” she began as she tapped the one she'd given him, “and a study one.”
He turned it in his hand, feeling its weight. “It’s a big book.”
“I believe in you,” she said brightly before giving him a playful wink.
“Hey I have an all stars game on Saturday, maybe you and your mom could come?” Oliver asked as Felicity started towards her house.
“Okay,” she nodded happily. “Sounds fun.”
She ran up her front stairs.
“See you tomorrow then?” Oliver called after her.
She stopped at her door and waved. “See you tomorrow.”

》》《《

They saw each other every ‘tomorrow’ that week and on Saturday afternoon Felicity and Donna took a seat in the bleachers for the game. Oliver saw them from the field as his team were milling around waiting for the game to start. He waved and Felicity waved back, before he jogged up the aisle and shimmied his way down the row to where she was sitting.

“You came,” he enthused.
“You asked,” she replied. “Nice outfit,” she added with a teasing glint in her eyes.
Oliver looked down at his black and white Little League uniform, it was still a little shiny, but he’d soon fix that. “What do people do in Vegas for luck?”
“Blow on the dice I think,” Felicity replied.
Oliver lifted his bat towards her. “Could you, for luck?” he asked sweetly.
She leaned down and blew on the barrel with an effervescent laugh. “Good luck.”

Oliver had one of his best games ever that Saturday, only to be outdone by the Saturday after when Felicity also was there as his newly-minted good luck charm.

The two of them developed a fast friendship and spent almost every day of the first three weeks of their summer holiday together. Their families became acquainted and every Sunday morning without fail they would wave across the street at each other while they collected the paper.

Her by her red mailbox
And Oliver by his; white with a green trim.

The fourth Sunday of the summer started off just like that only Felicity’s wave was lethargic and slightly woeful and Oliver noticed the difference immediately.

He tucked the paper under his arm and jogged across the street. “Why the mopey face?” he teased light-heartedly.
“It’s the end of my summer,” she sighed, morose. “My mom goes back to work tomorrow.”
“Are you doing a summer programme?” Oliver quizzed.
She looked embarrassed and dug her toes into the grass verge. “We can’t really afford that. My mom is a waitress, we’re only in this house because the guy that owns it was a regular where my mom used to work in Vegas. His mom used to live in it, but she moved to a retirement village so he’s renting it to us real cheap.” She looked up and clamped her mouth shut, wondering if maybe she’d said too much.
But nothing about what she had said made Oliver even flinch. “Is that why you moved to Starling?”
Felicity nodded timidly. “He wants to open up a new bar here and he wants my mom to manage it, but his plans have been delayed a little so she needs to pick some other work up in the meantime.” Another glum sigh. “So I have to go to work with her. The diner is going to let me sit at a table as long as I move if they get busy; there goes my summer,” a sarcastic smile fluttered across her lips.
“When does she start?”
“First shift is in about an hour.”
“Okay, wait…” Oliver started running backwards before he called half-way across the street, “…I’ll be back.”

20 minutes later and there was rapt on the Smoak’s door which Felicity answered and found Oliver on the other side of.
“You don’t have to go, you can stay with us,” he puffed after having just sprinted across the road.

Once the finer points were arranged between the parents, Felicity waved her mom off from the edge of Oliver’s driveway. It looked like her summer wasn’t at a miserable end after all.

》》《《

The den in Oliver’s house was a large windowless, open space. There was a TV, a comfy, tan couch and a floor to ceiling bookcase filled with movies. It was tastefully decorated in simple white walls and bright pops of colour in the pillows and the rug that Felicity and Oliver were lying on.

The air conditioner worked decidedly well and Oliver had it turned on so cold that it felt like the dairy section at the local grocery store. She didn’t know why he would ever leave that room to be honest.

It was on the floor, with their heads propped up on throw pillows and a sound system playing pop music behind, that Felicity regaled Oliver with her love and knowledge of 80s music – despite not really being able to call herself a child of the 80s, while he entertained her with his never ending knowledge of baseball.

The hours they spent together soon stretched into days and, over the course of those languid summer weeks, they became fast friends; sometimes they were joined by Tommy and the three Mc’s. Sometimes they could be found loitering around the baseball field or public library when Felicity had her way. There was a trip to the beach and an amusement park, but mostly there was time spent on his den floor discussing everything and nothing while a movie they barely paid attention to, or a an old CD Oliver had found in his parents’ collection, played in the background.

Felicity’s good luck saw Oliver’s team crowned state champions and on the last week of summer vacation Oliver and his parents flew to Pennsylvania to partake in the Little League World Series.

While Felicity offered him good luck over the phone while they chatted the night before his team’s first game, it wasn’t quite the same and the Starling Oaks were knocked out.

But Oliver’s skill didn’t go unnoticed and his name was scribbled in a few notebooks that day.

》》《《

They biked together their first day of school and, as fate would have it, they ended up in the same classes. As the years ticked by they became somewhat of a common feature on the neighbourhood landscape. The two had forged a friendship that had made them nearly inseparable despite having different hobbies and the unlikely nature of the pairing.

But they made it work.

Oliver would go with her to science fairs and she would cheer him on from the bleachers at every baseball game he played. It was as though they lived a sort of symbiotic relationship; even if Oliver had no idea what that meant.

As time passed and they moved on from Elementary School into Middle School, Felicity helped him keep his grades up and his size and inherent popularity made sure no one ever picked on her for being smart. There was only one boy that tried it, an 8th grader called Max Fuller but he realised pretty quickly that was a bad idea.

That was the status quo until their Junior Year at High School.

 

March 2005

The Junior Year saw them in different classes due in part to the fact that Felicity had selected ones that put her on the track to graduating at 17 and get early admission into MIT while Oliver took what he needed to allow him to focus on the same goal he’d had most of his life; The Baseball Major League.

As he neared his 17th birthday, 2005 was his last chance to compete in a Little League World Series (The Big League) and hopefully be scouted to play college baseball; or even better, straight into drafts when he graduated.

But there was one little thing standing in his way, a glowing-red ‘C’ in maths, and his parents had given him an ultimatum; “fix it before summer starts or no baseball”.

He knew exactly where to turn for help; and by the time there were only a few weeks left of school before summer that pesky C was no more.

In what would be one of their final study sessions before school broke for summer, they were relaxing in Felicity’s bedroom with open text books scattered across her taupe-carpet floor.

It was well after 5pm and Felicity watched the decadent orange and pinks of sunset trickle in through her bay window as she sat cross-legged on the bench seat below it.
“Is your mom working tonight?” Oliver asked as he lay on Felicity’s bed throwing his ‘Jackie Robinson’ ball in the air and catching it as it came back down.

She glanced over at him, his massive frame taking up most of her full-sized bed and she couldn’t help but chuckle at how the lavender comforter stripped away some of the intrinsic masculinity most boys made a show of. But not her Oliver.

Her Oliver.
She’d caught herself thinking that way a few times, but it wasn’t like that – like most people assumed.

People often teased them about being a couple but in all their years as friends neither one of them had ever felt that way for the other, in fact Oliver had had a fair string of short-lived romances mostly ending for one of two reasons, they either couldn’t compete with baseball or they couldn’t handle his best friend being a girl.

“Yeah she told me to order in, you wanna stay?” Felicity finally answered him when he turned his head towards her, baseball in hand.
“I’ll stay, your choice,” he answered. “But when is your mom going to let me visit her work?” he teased with a roguish pluck in his expression.
Felicity threw a turquoise pillow at him, knocking his prized possession from his hands. “Pervert,” she goaded.
“Come on,” Oliver sighed as he threw his legs over the edge of her bed and sat up. “She works at the hottest place around.”
“You’re 17,” Felicity badgered back.
“So I have needs.”
She made a vomit face as she playfully gagged. “No one needs to know about your needs.”

She stood up and straightened her crumpled denim shorts. “You haven’t told anyone right?” she asked, watching Oliver’s expression for any hint he was lying; she’d known him 7 years and she was an expert at telling when he was lying; his dimple twitched.
“Of course not,” Oliver promised, not a dimple twitch in sight. “Not even Tommy, though I don’t get what the big secret is.”
She sighed, listless. “I just don’t want it getting around school that my mom is a cocktail waitress, you know?”
“She’s the manager,” Oliver corrected.
“Same thing around these parts.”
“Frankly I think it’s an amazing vocation and I champion anyone that does it,” Oliver declared as he saluted.
She wacked his taut stomach with the back of her hand. “Oliver I’m serious,” she warned.
He threw his arm around her shoulder and sighed. “I know, and I haven’t. I promise.”
“You swear?” she asked, looking up at him with turbulent eyes as she held out her pinky finger.
16 was hard enough without giving your peers ammunition.
“I swear.”
“Truly?”
A chuckle floated from his lips. “Truly,” he chortled.

That night they ordered Chinese and ate it on the floor of the living room while they watched highlights from the first baseball game of the season.

Once the leftovers were in the fridge and they were nearly finished washing up the few dishes and cups they’d used, Felicity had a mischievous idea she couldn’t help but act on.

While Oliver was chatting away about the baseball drafts with his back to her, she scooped up a handful of bubbles from the sink and, preparing to run out of the kitchen as fast as her shorter-than-his legs would take her, Felicity launched the foamy projectile at him, catching him square on the neck. She stood for a second and watched the bubbles slip down his shoulders before her flight instinct took over and she fled.

He caught her in the living room by looping around the other side of the kitchen and he scooped her straight up into the air. She squealed loudly between fits of laughter before Oliver dropped her onto the couch, but he didn’t move away fast enough and her foot caught his leg, knocking him off balance and he toppled over, directly on top of her.

Time stilled. The echo of the clock centred on the wall behind them thumped in time with his heart. Her lips parted; his did too. Their eyes locked. Her throat warmed to a dusky peach. His breath hitched. Time stilled.

He had known her for 7 years.
7 years.
For 7 years she’d just been ‘Felicity’, his fun, happy best friend who was so often shy around people she didn’t know but could talk to him for hours. The girl that would choose listening to 80s ballads and watching sitcoms on repeat over going to tailgate parties or bonfires at the beach.

The one who supported him, even in his faults; but always challenged him to be better than them.

His Felicity.
The girl with the little wave and the crooked ponytail.

But, in that moment all he saw was a beautiful teenager with brown hair, naturally rosy lips, full and parted and vividly blue eyes that were looking up at him just as bewildered as he was.

And all he wanted to do was kiss her.
Her.
His Felicity.

“Oliver?” she breathed, her voice whispered and husky.
“Yeah?” he hummed, mesmerised by the way her lips moved around his name.
She choked out a breath. “You’re really heavy.”

He bounded off her and apologised profusely before in one of the only awkward moments during their 7-year friendship so far, Oliver fumbled out an “I’m sorry, I forgot I have a thing with my family tonight,” as he walked towards the door.
“Oh okay,” she babbled as she kept her eyes to the floor and played instinctively with the tips of her hair. “I have homework too.”

He nodded.
She nodded.
They were both lying but neither was going to challenge the other.

“I’ll see you tomorrow for school?”
“Yep, yep,” Oliver remarked as he opened her front door. “See you tomorrow.”

》》《《

That night Oliver lay awake staring at his ceiling in the darkness. It was as though for the last 7 years he’d been wearing blinders and tonight that fall had knocked them clear off.

He’d scoffed at Tommy suggesting that his last ‘relationship’ (term used lightly) with Kelly Grebble, a Senior with red hair and a full chest (Tommy’s words; not his) didn’t work out because Oliver was really more interested in a brunette with a well-portioned B cup (Again, Tommy’s words) and a pair of glasses.

He had laughed at the idea as being preposterous, not because he didn’t think Felicity was pretty, he wasn’t an idiot of course he could see that she was, but he’d never felt that way about her. They were friends. They had been for seven-fucking-years.

Great friends, the best of friends; but now all he could wonder about was how soft her lips might be, whether she’d ever kissed – like really kissed – a boy. She’d dated a guy from her computer sciences class, Barry Someone-or-Other, a few months back but Oliver never knew if it had gotten serious.

Had Barry kissed her the way he wanted to?
Had he felt her warm lips brush against his? Or had her tongue curiously dipped into his mouth; teasing, fighting, dancing? Had his hands found their way across her supple body, gently stroked and caressing her as he studied her excitement on her face or listened for the enjoyment in her tiny moans?

“Shit,” he huffed into the darkness as he tried to force those thoughts deep into a vault of his brain.

Because things just got stupidly complicated.