Actions

Work Header

(i want to) save that light

Chapter Text

“You all right?”

Dig’s voice sounded distant in his ears as Oliver crossed the Foundry basement to the wooden crate he’d brought back home with him; the crate that contained Yao Fei’s bow, his hood… the List. He picked it up, feeling the smooth leather with his fingertips as he shook it, his brain already working.

“My father, he told me that he failed the city. Asked me to right his wrongs, but I never knew what he meant until now.” He could feel Dig and Felicity watching him as he paced, working his thoughts out. He was getting a little excited by what he’d just figured out. He wanted to explain it to them. So they understood.

“It's the Undertaking. I promised myself that when I crossed all these names off the list, I'd be done, but taking down these people... it doesn't honor him.” And that was what he wanted, more than anything else. He wanted to honor his father, to be the man his father had hoped he could be. He wanted to make his father proud, even in death. “I was just treating the symptoms, while the disease festered. I stop the Undertaking, I wipe out the disease.”

“What are you saying, Oliver? You would hang up the Hood?” Dig sounded incredulous and Oliver turned to face his two partners. Dig appeared skeptical and Felicity looked… she looked almost concerned, actually.

“Merlyn's plan is what I returned from the island to stop,” he explained, unsure who he was hoping to convince more. Dig? Felicity? Himself? He felt a pull, but he wasn’t sure towards what.

“Why don’t we wait until we see what’s in this data - see if I can even find this device before we start celebrating?” Felicity suggested.

Oliver found himself nodding before he realized it. “Yeah, that would be.... Yeah.”

Dig looked between the two of them before pushing off the table he’d been leaning against. “Well, since it’s probably gonna be a long night, I’m gonna go grab some Big Belly. Want me to bring you guys back anything?”

“Belly Buster and a chocolate shake,” Felicity said, turning back to her monitors.

“Same,” Oliver replied. “And a large order of onion rings.”

“You got it. Be back in twenty.”

The clattering of Dig’s boots on the stairs faded away until the banging of the security door announced his total departure. Oliver sighed, dropping the list onto the table next to Felicity’s monitors. She glanced up at him.

“You should be happy,” she told him. “You know... if you’re this close to being done, to being able to hang up the hood.”

“I am. I’m - I don’t know what I am, actually. It’s strange.” He pressed a hip against the table, crossing his arms over his chest.

“What are you going to do if you aren’t arrowing bad guys?” She turned in her chair to look at him, a teasing smile turning up the corners of her brightly painted lips.

“That’s just it,” he said. “I don’t know. I thought I’d know. I thought -” He stopped himself.

“What?”

Oliver glanced down into Felicity’s upturned face. Her eyes behind her glasses were wide and shining in the low light of the Foundry basement. She was listening to him, intent on what he was saying. He realized not only could he tell her what was on his mind, he wanted to.

“When I… when I was coming home, I thought that if I could ever have a normal life again, I’d want to be with Laurel. But somehow… things had changed. I’d changed. She’d changed.”

Felicity said nothing. But her silence was comforting. He settled against the desk more, letting more of his guard down than he ever had since he returned to Starling.

“I was awful to her, Felicity. I cheated on her constantly before the Gambit. And then… I brought her sister with me. I was sleeping with her sister and with her and all Laurel wanted was to move into an apartment together. And I ran for the hills like the Devil was after me,” he admitted. “I was a coward.”

“Why? What scared you about that?” There was no judgement in her voice, which he appreciated, but he still felt awful having to reveal this ugly part of himself to her.

“I was young and reckless and selfish,” Oliver said, sighing. “I took her love for granted. She knew I was cheating on her. Maybe not with her sister, but she had to know about some of the others.” He winced when he saw Felicity’s eyes narrow at the realization there’d been many more women he’d cheated on Laurel with. “Yeah, I was pretty terrible. And I think I knew that. I think I wanted her to know that too. She was so willing to look past all my faults because she wanted us to work out so badly. But I wanted her to see me for the dirtbag I was and dump me for good. Why do you think that is?”

Felicity lifted a shoulder. “I don’t know, Oliver. Maybe it scared you? How much she loved you?”

A thought occurred to him. “Maybe it scared me how much I wasn’t in love with her back.” After all, how could he have done all that to her if he’d truly loved her, the way she’d loved him? Something felt right about that revelation. It settled in his gut like a weight. He’d been a truly awful boyfriend to Laurel. She’d deserved better than him. She still did.

Felicity was watching him, her expression understanding. She shifted towards him and patted his arm.

“I feel terrible, Felicity. I hurt her.”

“You didn’t know what you were doing,” she said. “You know now. You can apologize now.”

Oliver nodded. “I will. I need to at least try to make up for what I’ve done.”

“Haven’t you been doing that all year?” Felicity asked him, her voice gentle. “You’ve been there for Laurel all year long, helping her out with her cases, with her father… keeping her safe.”

“You’re right. I have. Maybe I was subconsciously searching for atonement.”

“You need to tell her though. So you’re on the same page.” Felicity peered over at her screens, where the decryption was cranking along. “How does she feel? About you?”

He rolled his shoulders, pushing off the desk and pacing across the space to the wooden trunk. “I’m not sure. I mean, she was furious with me when I first came back. Then she apologized for that and wanted to be friends, but I was a dope and pushed her away and since then we’ve just… blown hot and cold with each other. She asked me… when I was at the hospital with Walter, I ran into her and I got the impression she might still have feelings for me. ”

His eyes flicked over his shoulder in time to see Felicity’s eyebrows shoot up. “Well, then you absolutely have to talk to her. What about her and Tommy?”

Oliver patted the hood where it lay atop Yao Fei’s bow. “Tommy is good for her. He makes her smile. He loves her. I told him to fight for her. He thinks she’ll always pick me but… I think she’s smarter than that.”

“Are you jealous?”

He was quiet for a moment. Then he turned back around and looked at Felicity, his friend and partner. She sat in her chair like she did night after night, helping him in this crusade of his. She believed in him. She didn’t even need to say it, he knew she did. Oliver wasn’t always sure he deserved that belief, but she offered it without qualification. Not for the first time, he wondered if he could have done this without her. Dig too. But Felicity… she was different. Special. And she was waiting for him to answer his question.

“No. I’m not jealous.” It was the truth.

“So we’re back to the original question then. What will you do if we take down Merlyn, stop the Undertaking and you get to hang up the hood for good?”

“I don’t know,” he replied honestly. “Whatever I want, I suppose.” He didn’t tell her that he hadn’t honestly expected to survive very long in this mission. It was likely a moot point now anyhow. “How about you?”

“That’s a good question,” she murmured. He crossed the room again to stand next to her. “You know, when I first joined up with you two, I said I would only help until you found Walter.”

“But you’re still here.”

“I’m still here,” she confirmed. “Somewhere in the last few months, I found a purpose to my life that had been missing for… a long time.”

Oliver could tell there was a story there. He bit his tongue to keep from asking about it, to just let her talk as she’d let him talk.

“I care about people and I want to help them. Working with you and Dig, I’ve been able to do that. If you stop… I don’t know if I can. I might just have to go find a new hero to run tech for.”

She winked at him, that lazy blinking of eyes that was never quite a proper wink but that Oliver enjoyed anyhow. Still, her words bothered him. The idea of her working with, of her inspiring anyone besides him was upsetting. The idea of coming into this basement and not seeing her sitting at those computers was upsetting. Hell, the idea of not coming down here at all was upsetting.

“Can’t have that,” he said, but he was already distracted by a thought that he was having.

“What are you plotting, Mr. Hood?” she asked him. “Because that is very much your plotting face.”

“I was thinking… what if I didn’t hang up the hood? What if we kept doing this, just to help out, to keep the city safe, to help out those who need help?”

The smile that bloomed across Felicity’s pretty face could have lit the whole room. “I was hoping you would say that.”

“But if I do that… if we do that… then my mission is no longer to right my father’s wrongs, is it?”

Felicity shook her head, her blonde ponytail swinging.

“What is it then?”

“That’s what you need to figure out, mister.”

“Will you help me?” The question came out a lot more earnest than he’d been aiming for. He’d intended to keep things light and teasing. But somehow, with her looking at him like he was inspiring, like she was happy to be his partner, it was impossible to be anything but completely sincere.

“Of course,” she replied easily. “No place I’d rather be.”

Chapter Text

The clock was ticking and Oliver needed to get to the Foundry as soon as possible. If the Undertaking was moved up, if it was tonight , they officially had barely enough time to stop it. As upset as he was with his mother for being involved in the whole plot, he was more concerned about saving the Glades at the moment than anything else. Storming towards the stairs, Oliver was intent on heading outside to where he’d parked his motorcycle. He fished in his pocket for his cellphone, intending to call Dig and Felicity and let them know what was going on.

Oliver had just started down the staircase when he heard it.

“Hi.”

The voice took him by surprise and he looked down see Laurel standing at the bottom of the stairs, wringing her hands together.

“Uh… hey.” Oliver slipped his phone back into his pocket and headed toward her. “What are you doing here?”

“I hadn’t heard from you… since the hospital. And, well… Tommy came by…”

His friend had taken his advice. Very good. “And?”

Her cheeks pinked and Oliver studied her. She’d never been very good at hiding her thoughts. He could read her like a book.

“You two get back together?”

“...something like that.” She looked upset, conflicted. Oliver crossed his arms as he stood before her, curious. “Listen. At the hospital the other night, I asked you to tell Tommy that you didn’t love me anymore, so he and I could get back together. And you couldn’t.”

“I remember.” Was that only a day or two ago? It felt like so much had happened since then. So much had become clear. He owed a lot of that to his talk with Felicity yesterday. She’d helped him open his eyes, whether she knew it or not.

Given her handling of Lance down at the police station earlier today, he might just owe her everything. Maybe even that bottle of wine he’d promised her months ago.

“What was that? Why would you say that, that you can’t tell Tommy you don’t love me? Do you… do you still have feelings for me?” she asked, her voice trembling. Her eyes were wide, tears clinging to her lashes. It was a look that used to always melt his heart. But now… it just felt wrong to him. Everything about her was wrong… for him.

“Laurel… You are one of my oldest friends. We were each other’s first relationship. My first kiss, my first everything. You were a big part of my life for a long time. I’ll always love you because of that. But I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. I’m not in love with you anymore.” He stopped himself from mentioning he wasn’t sure if he ever really had been. He didn’t want to hurt her any more than he already had.

“Oh…” The look on Laurel’s face froze and she stared at him, eyes wide and unblinking for several long moments. “I - I wasn’t expecting that…”

“I told Tommy to fight for you, and I meant it,” he told her gently. “He’s good for you and you’re good for him. I’ve seen you two together. He makes you smile.”

She seemed to thaw a little, hearing that. “He does. You know, while you were gone, he was there for me. When my dad was drunk and in danger of losing his job, and I had to come home and watch after him… Tommy was right there. Supporting me. Making me pancakes.” A faint blush tinged her cheeks, causing Oliver to tilt his head as he regarded her.

“Did he… make you pancakes this morning?” No-one was more surprised than him that the notion of Tommy having gone to Laurel to try to repair things and them falling into bed together wasn’t upsetting. Not like it might have been before. What was happening to him? Was this growth?

“Oliver… you don’t want to know that…”

“Okay, maybe not the details. But I want to know that he took my advice. That he’s fighting for you.”

Her head bobbed and she looked anywhere but at him. “Yeah, he came by. We talked.”

“And? Are you two good?”

“Why are you acting like Cupid all the sudden?” she asked, a little peevishly.

Oliver had to chuckle. After all, Cupid’s weapon of choice was a bow. The comparison was more appropriate than she realized. “You two are my oldest friends. I care about you both and I want you to be happy.”

“What about you?” she pressed. “Don’t you get to be happy? Please don’t say this is about you being noble and self-sacrificing, giving me up because you don’t think you deserve me or something.”

“Oh, Laurel. I don’t deserve you, though. I never did. You always believed the best of me during a time when there wasn’t any best to be found. I knew you had big plans for us and as much as they scared me, I knew eventually those plans would become reality. And I honestly thought you loved me enough to make up for the fact that I didn’t love you back the same way. Not like you deserved.”

She was tearing up again, which made Oliver wince. He continued.

“But Tommy does. He treats you a hundred times better than I ever did. The only reason he’s been so out of sorts lately is because he thought he was losing you to me. He was convinced that if I showed the slightest interest, you would chose me over him.” Laurel glanced down, her cheeks still pink. “You wouldn’t… would you?”

“Ollie… you and I, we were meant to be. I believe that. I couldn’t turn my back on that potential if I thought we had a chance to reach it.”

He deflated some. Poor Tommy. He began to feel a little indignant on his friend’s behalf. “You would turn away from Tommy, who loves you with his whole heart and soul, for a chance with a man who cheated on you at every turn and just told you that he couldn’t love you the way you deserve?”

“You don’t know what you’re saying. You’ve had a rough year, coming home and adjusting to being back. But I know you and I will come back together. We always have. It wouldn’t be fair to be with Tommy only to leave him later.”

She had a point there; it wouldn’t be fair to jerk Tommy around. The only difference was in reality, he himself didn’t play a part in that particular triangle. Not anymore, at least. Oliver ran his hand over the back of his hair. “Laurel… please, I want you to listen to me. I don’t see a future for us. I didn’t before the Gambit either, that’s why I ran off with Sara. We’re not right for each other. I don’t know how else to tell you this.”

“You’ll change your mind,” she insisted. “You always do--”

“Not this time, Laurel. Things are different now. I’m different. You’re different too.”

“Ollie, don’t say this…” Tears were running freely down her cheeks now. “This whole last year, you’ve been right there . Don’t tell me that’s not because you wanted to get back together!”

“I thought of you all the time while I was away, Laurel. I had a lot of time to think about us, about you, about what happened and why...  I felt horrible for what I’d done. I told myself that if I ever got to come home, I’d try my best to make it up to you. That’s what I’ve been doing, I wanted to make it better.”

“You can’t make it better,” she snapped, her eyes still wet but sparking with anger now. “You can’t ever take back what you did to me, to my family -”

Oliver held up a hand. “I know,” he said quietly. “I realized that, eventually. I also realized that it wasn’t you that could give me the atonement I need.”

Her mouth fell open, as though she was affronted.

Oliver recalled why he’d come here, his confrontation with his mother and the ticking clock bearing down on him and his team. Huh. He had a team now. That filled him with a warm feeling, knowing he wasn’t looking down this disaster all by himself. And right now, the important thing was stopping this nonsense of Merlyn’s and lessening the casualties if they failed. Which reminded him…

“Laurel, don’t go into CNRI tonight,” he said and her expression changed, a line forming between her eyebrows. “Stay out of the Glades altogether.”

“What? But… why?”

“You’ll know soon enough.” He expected Merlyn’s plot to be all over the news before too long… the police would have to hold a news conference to urge people to evacuate. The sooner, the better. “Just promise me.”

“Ollie, I have work to do, cases that need -”

“Please. I don’t have time, I have to get going. Just, promise me.”

“Okay…”

She was unconvinced, that much was clear. But he had no more time to spend here. He had to get back to the Foundry and coordinate with Dig and Felicity. He also needed to try to convince Felicity to leave the Glades too and somehow he had a feeling that was going to be a lot more difficult than trying to convince Laurel. A smile turned his lips as he strode out of the mansion and towards where his motorcycle was propped against the portico out front. Felicity never did like being told what to do. Well, too bad for her. He needed her safe.

Chapter Text

“Felicity? Are you down here?”

The sound of Oliver’s voice calling down into the Foundry basement was a welcome distraction from the dust she’d been breathing in for the last ten minutes. Felicity shifted, dislodging another cloud of dust. A stab of pain from her leg made her stop with a gasp.

“Here!” she called out, her voice strangled.

“I’m coming. Are you hurt?” he asked, sounding intent.

She could hear things shifting. She couldn’t see much… the lights had gone out pretty quickly after the quake hit and she was pinned under her desk by a collapsed girder. Her leg hurt and she wasn’t sure why so she’d thought it was better to stay put and wait for Oliver or Dig to show up. She knew one of them would.

But she was strangely glad that it was Oliver.

Felicity pushed that thought aside as she called out again. “My leg hurts, but I can’t see what’s caused it.”

When the earthquake had hit, dust had started to rain down and the lights had flickered, but Felicity had thought she’d be okay. The basement was reinforced pretty well, Oliver had seen to it during the construction of the nightclub. But then the shaking worsened and she had a moment where she started to worry. But the ceiling didn’t fall in on her and she thought the worst was over. But a few minutes later, a small aftershock rumbled through and that’s when the beam fell… right over her workstation.

She’d dived under the desk in time, but something had hit her leg. And then the lights had went off. She hadn’t been stuck here for very long. He must have headed over here right after his fight with Merlyn. Something about that warmed her.

“I’m coming,” he called, and she could hear him picking across the debris-strewn floor.

She shifted again, testing what she could move. Her arms were fine, but she couldn’t move her lower body; something was pressing on her leg.

“I think my legs are stuck.”

“Just hold tight, I’ll get you out.” A moment later, Oliver was there. His leather suit creaked as he knelt next to the desk and she heard some more shifting of debris. “The beam fell, looks like.”

“Yeah, I caught that part,” she returned.

“This thing is heavy, hold on a sec,” he replied, puffing as he tried to move the beam. She could barely make out his outline as he moved just a foot from her. It was really, really dark. For a moment, she wished she could see because Oliver in action, moving heavy things, his muscles straining, was a sight to behold.

“Where’s Dig? Is he okay?” she asked.

“He’s fine,” Oliver grunted. “Got hurt pretty bad during the fight, but it was mostly superficial. He was gonna go to the hospital, get it stitched up.”

“Merlyn?”

Another grunt. “Dead.”

There was a loud crash and Felicity coughed as new dust spewed up into the air. Then, she felt more than saw Oliver enter her space. She could smell the leather of his suit and the musky scent of his sweat that she’d grown especially fond of over the last few months. His gloved hand brushed down her side.

“I need a light.”

“I could have told you that,” she quipped.

“Hold on.” His hand drew away from her, leaving her feeling cold, but a moment later, a piercing light split the darkness, cutting across her eyes and making her wince. “Sorry.”

The beam moved away and Felicity blinked. He’d set it on the floor next to him in a way that it illuminated a small circumference around them. She saw that it was a little flashlight, of sorts, with a light far more powerful than she’d have expected from such a small object. Then, her eyes landed on him.

His face was streaked with dust, as she imagined hers was too. His hood was down and there was no paint around his eyes, but he still wore the suit. And she noticed that his shoulder was damp and dark. Blood probably. She hoped it wasn’t his own, but at the same time, she knew better.

“Are you okay?” she asked, reaching out to touch the spot.

He captured her hand, his fingers stroking hers before he set her hand aside. “I’ll be fine. Let’s get you out of here first.”

She kept her eyes averted as he removed some computer debris that had fallen onto her legs. The end of the table was also pressing down on her, where it had fallen under the weight of the beam above, restricting her movement. He shifted the table, relieving the pressure on her leg and she exhaled. Oliver resumed examining her for injuries, focusing on her leg. Felicity dared a glance down and felt her stomach drop when she saw the blood oozing down her leg.

“Looks like you’ve got a nasty scrape here,” he murmured, gingerly touching the edges of her wound. “You’re going to need some stitches.”

“Oh no,” she moaned. “I hate needles.”

“I’ll be gentle,” he promised. Felicity fought a shudder at his low voice. He meant that purely platonically, she reminded herself. Don’t make it strange.

His arms came around her and she held onto him as he pulled her out from under the table. Then, before she could protest, he hoisted her into his arms.

“I can walk,” she said, a little breathless. He was holding her so close, his breath was fanning over her forehead, disturbing the hairs that had come loose from her ponytail there.

“You sure about that?” he replied easily. “Just let me help you.”

“But you’re hurt.”

“So are you.” He made a noise as he shifted her in his arms. “Tell you what. I’ll let you patch me up but that’s a two way street, Felicity.”

It was no sense arguing with him. She relaxed a little in his arms. He moved towards the side door, leaving the little light behind. She was almost ready to tell him to go back for it when, with one arm holding her and the other pushing on the door, they were free of the dusty room and outside.

Oliver carried her all the way up to his motorcycle, which was parked in the alley. Oh, frack. “You okay for me to set you down?” he asked her.

“Yes… or at least, I think I am…”

He gently lowered her, keeping an arm around her until he was sure she was steady on her feet. The pain in her leg shot up past her knee a little, making her wince as Oliver strapped his helmet to her head, tightening the strap under her jaw. Then, he climbed on and reached behind him to pat the spot on the seat behind him. “Hop on.”

Felicity swallowed. “I’ve never… wow, a motorcycle. Uh…”

Oliver chuckled. “Just swing a leg over, hold onto me tight, and when I turn, lean with me. Easy as pie.”

Hold onto me tight . He’d said that to her yesterday in the elevator shaft and she’d royally embarrassed herself by blurting that she’d always thought he’d say that non-platonically. As if he needed any more reason to see her as nothing more than a hopeless dork with a crush.

Felicity did as Oliver instructed, fitting herself against his broad back, wrapping her arms around his midsection. “Aren’t you worried people will see you in the suit?” she asked, referencing the green leather he was still sporting.

“Nah,” he replied, reaching up to pull the hood over his head. “I think everyone has a lot more to worry about tonight than me and my lovely passenger.”

Her cheeks warmed. “Oh. Where are we going?”

“My house,” he replied. “And, Felicity?”

“Yeah?”

The engine of the motorcycle revved, ripping through the night air, vibrating beneath her. It settled down and Oliver turned his head so she could hear him say, “I’m not sure if these circumstances are platonic either.”

The bike peeled away then, causing her to squeak in alarm and renew her grip around him. Her heart pounded as they tore down the street. What the heck did that mean? Well, she knew what he meant… and he was obviously referring to the elevator shaft gaff from the day before which she really hadn’t expected him to remember. But then… now… not platonic? What? Was he teasing or was he being sincere?

Those thoughts flew out of her head as Oliver steered them through the streets of Starling at lightning fast speeds. She had to focus on holding onto him, on turning with him on the corners and, to be perfectly honest, the scent of him as she fit herself to his back was rather intoxicating. Being pressed against him like this… it was something.

Entirely too soon for her liking, they were coasting along the driveway leading to the Queen manor’s front door.

Once parked, Oliver helped her off the back of the bike and Felicity squeaked again as he swept her up into his arms.

“Oliver!”

“Felicity!” he mimicked, making her smile.

Twenty minutes later, Felicity was perched on a bathroom counter in the nicest bathroom she’d ever been in, in her life. Oliver knelt before her, fastening a bandage over the fresh stitches he’d put in for her. He’d been very gentle, surprising her. She’d barely felt it at all. But maybe that had something to do with him. His soft voice, his intent eyes, his pursed lips as he worked.

Felicity had insisted on tending to his injury first. As soon as they’d arrived at the en suite located off of Oliver’s bedroom (HIS. BEDROOM.), Felicity had insisted. She could finally get a good look at what was going on with his shoulder and the bleeding looked pretty terrible. Grudgingly, Oliver had relented. He’d set her on the bathroom counter and left for a moment to change in his closet. When he’d returned to her, he’d been wearing a pair of soft looking grey sweatpants and was carrying a black t-shirt. Which meant his chest was bare.

Oh, frack .

It had taken all of her considerable willpower to ignore his rippling muscles and hot skin and focus on patching him up instead. But she’d managed it. He needed her so she had to be here; she had to be strong and capable. She couldn’t let him down.

Now, he had the t-shirt on, but she could still admire his biceps as he worked, smoothing the tape of the bandage.

“Why did you come to the Foundry? And not… not to CNRI? I know you heard me mention that Laurel was there over the comms, that Lance was headed there… So why did you come to the Foundry instead?”

Felicity had been nervous to ask - she was almost afraid of what the answer might be - but curiosity got the better of her. She had to know.

Oliver was silent for a long moment, almost as if he hadn’t heard her. Then, he got to his feet and began to pack up the bandages and creams and other supplies back into the first aid kit. At last, he sighed and turned his attention to her, his blue eyes boring into hers.

“As you said, Lance was headed there. And I had a feeling… I heard the noise on the comms, I knew you probably needed help too. Nobody was coming for you… but me.”

She swallowed. “Okay, but aren’t you curious about what happened? If she’s okay?”

“There’s plenty of time to find that out later. I was more concerned about you.”

“Oh…” Felicity had a hard time looking away from Oliver, she felt pinned by his gaze. “Well, uh… thank you…”

“You don’t have to thank me, Felicity.” He helped her down off the counter, again making sure she was steady on her feet.

“Think I can bum a ride back to my apartment? I don’t think the buses come all the way out here.”

Oliver shook his head. “No, you’ll stay here.” Felicity nearly swallowed his tongue, but then he continued. “There’s a guest room just down the hall. C’mon, I’ll show you where it is.”

She followed along after him, feeling a bit dazed by everything. The night was catching up with her at last. The Undertaking had happened. Hundreds of people probably had lost their lives. But they’d absolutely minimized the damage. At least, she hoped they had. Oliver had come to her, not Laurel. What did that mean? He’d brought her to his house, patched her up, and was having her stay the night just down the hall from him. Why? She didn’t ask. She could guess though.

And, oh boy, was her imagination vivid.

Chapter Text

The last four days had been hell. Utter, complete, and total hell.

503 souls had perished in Malcolm Merlyn’s Undertaking. One of those souls was that of his best friend.

Tommy was dead.

Oliver hadn’t gotten the news until the next day. The next morning. He’d fallen asleep at some absurd hour, after making sure Felicity was comfortably set up in a guest room with some pajamas and toiletries he’d swiped from Thea’s room. His sister had texted him, letting him know she was with Roy; they were helping out down in the Glades and they were safe, so he didn’t need to worry about her. He’d thought that was it, then. That he could stop worrying. At least for the moment.

But then Oliver had woken up to his cell phone ringing. It wasn’t Felicity, since she was just next door. His first thought was Dig, checking to make sure they were good, even though Oliver had shot him a text last night telling him that Felicity was okay and for him to take it easy with his injury.

But it hadn’t been Dig on the other end of the phone line. It had been Lance. It was odd enough that his ex’s father who hated him was calling, but before he had enough time to properly process that revelation, Lance was telling him that Tommy had died when CNRI collapsed.

Apparently, his foolishly brave and utterly heroic best friend had gone running to the Glades as soon as he’d heard about the Undertaking. Oliver could only assume Tommy had been concerned about Laurel. Given both he and her father had warned her to stay out of the Glades and CNRI, Oliver really had thought the pig-headed woman would have listened for once. But no. She’d gone in anyway. And for what? To salvage some files?

Lance told him that Laurel had been pinned under a beam when trying to escape the building after the shaking started. And that Tommy had run straight in, bystanders yelling at him that it wasn’t safe. Lance had seen the heroics himself. A few moments later, Laurel had come running out with… no Tommy behind her. Then the ceiling had caved in. And that… was that.

Oliver had been mad . At Laurel, for being mule-headed and not listening to him or her father, risking lives for some inconsequential work papers. At Tommy, for being the hero and putting himself in that danger for a woman that Oliver knew would have cast him aside at the first sign of encouragement from his best friend. At Lance, for not stopping Tommy from running in there. At Malcolm, for coming up with the whole Undertaking in the first place. At himself, for not being there to save him.

Felicity had tried to convince him that it wasn’t his fault. So had Diggle. But Oliver couldn’t listen to them. All he could do was spend the next few days drowning himself in alcohol and trying to will the pain away. Tommy, his best friend since practically birth , was gone.

Today was the funeral.

Oliver had shown up, but couldn’t do more than stand at the back of the small gathering of people and watch. There weren’t very many people there - surprising, considering how many friends Tommy had always had. But the Merlyn name was a black mark in this city, considering Malcolm was responsible for 503 deaths. Some folks weren’t able to distinguish between the psychopath and his son. Still, Oliver felt the cemetary should have been packed. Tommy was a damn fine man. He deserved better than all of this.

After the ceremony, Laurel approached him. She wanted to split a pizza and reminisce about Tommy together. Oliver brushed her off. He couldn’t imagine something he wanted to do less . From what he’d heard, Tommy had given his life to save her. He’d rushed into that crumbling building, freed her, and then been killed himself. He’d died in there, all alone. It wasn’t fair.

The last person he wanted to spend time with right then was the person who’d least deserved his best friend’s sacrifice.

But Oliver found he didn’t want to be alone either. He remembered how Felicity and Diggle had both tried to reach him since he’d got the news, and how he’d pushed them both away. They’d given him the space he needed… or thought he needed… at the time. He wanted to run, badly. As far as he could from this city, and all it’s heartaches and losses. But he couldn’t leave without talking to someone first.

That was how he found himself outside Felicity’s window, ten o’clock at night, bottle of wine in hand. He should’ve gone to the door. He knew this. But he didn’t want her neighbors to see him and ask any questions neither of them had any answers for.

He tapped on the frame, catching himself before he worked the opening himself and let himself in. It was getting late; he didn’t want to scare her. A moment later, a light went on in the room and then the curtains were pushed aside. Felicity’s surprised face filled the window, but she didn’t hesitate before opening it up.

“Oliver! What are you doing here?”

He held up the wine. “Brought you an overdue present. And I need someone to talk to.”

Her face instantly transformed and she nodded, stepping back. He handed her the wine before levering himself over the windowsill and landing in the room. A quick glance told him it was her bedroom. He tore his eyes from her bed before she could catch him looking at it.

“Dig told me to wait you out, that eventually you’d be ready to talk to someone,” she said, and he turned to her. He might have been safer looking at her bed, though. Felicity was dressed for bed, wearing a pair of baggy pajama pants that had cute little matryoshka dolls printed all over them, a tiny, thin tank top (with no bra underneath that he could see), and her hair was piled on top of her head, a few tendrils hanging down around her neck. Her feet were bare and her face was scrubbed clean of makeup. She looked absolutely edible . Oliver cursed himself as he looked away. That was not what he came here for.

“Oh, wow,” she murmured, just noticing the label on the wine he’d handed her. “I never thought I’d actually see this.”

“I had to pull some strings to get it,” he admitted. “But a promise is a promise.”

“Well, come on then. I’ll pour us both a glass.”

Oliver followed her out of her room and down the hallway to the kitchen. He leaned against the counter while she rummaged in a cabinet for wine glasses. She pulled a couple of stemless glasses out and Oliver took her bottle opener from her hand, opening the wine up for her. She sniffed at the cork, closing her eyes as she made the most delicious sound.

“This is just as dreamy as I thought it’d be,” she said with a groan.

He couldn’t help but chuckle, the first time he’d done so since that horrible morning.

A few minutes later, they were sitting on her sofa, a candle burning on the table in front of them and filling the cozy room with a pleasant floral scent. They each were sipping from their glasses, and Oliver was trying not to notice how adorable Felicity looked, curled up on the other side of the sofa, her feet tucked under her.

“Oliver, I am so sorry about Tommy,” she said. “His funeral was today, right?”

He nodded. He couldn’t form the words over the lump in his throat.

“It’s not your fault, you know.”

His eyes flashed up to hers. “What?”

“I know what you’re thinking. And it’s not your fault. You came to help me instead of to CNRI to help Laurel. And you’re wondering what would have happened if you hadn’t done that… that maybe you could have saved Tommy.”

The lump in his throat grew larger. After a long moment where he blinked against the moisture collecting in his eyes, he nodded.

Her hand landed on his knee. “Oliver. You don’t know if you could have saved him. And his death is not your fault. It’s the fault of Malcolm Merlyn. Tommy went there all on his own. He wanted to save Laurel. His death is a tragedy but it’s noble.”

“That’s a small comfort,” he muttered. He took a long drink from his glass, the red wine coating his throat, burning in a warm, soothing way.

“I know. But blaming yourself and letting this guilt fester… it won’t bring him back.”

She was right, of course. Felicity was always right. “I… I was thinking of leaving.”

Felicity’s eyes widened and she looked stricken. “What? Leave? Why? Where would you go?”

“I was thinking… the island.”

If anything, her horrified expression only deepened. “Oliver! Why on earth would you want to go there ?”

He took another drink and then set his glass down next to the flickering candle. “Do you know what Lian Yu translates to?”

Felicity shook her head, her loose bun bobbling on top of her head.

“Purgatory. I know it probably sounds crazy, but I really felt that while I was there. I had to atone for my sins on Lian Yu. And… maybe I can atone there again.”

She gave him a look and then moved to set her glass next to his. Then, she shifted on the sofa so she could face him fully. Reaching forward, she grabbed his hands and held them, holding his eyes as well. “Oliver. If you have any sins to atone for since returning home, and I’m not saying you don’t because you’ve dropped quite a few bodies in the last nine months… don’t you think the best place to atone for that is right here? Where you can do the most good? What could you honestly accomplish on that island besides gazing at your navel?”

“You really think I have any business putting on that hood and going out there? After I failed to stop the Undertaking?”

“You didn’t fail alone.” She cast her eyes down and released his hands. “I should have expected Merlyn would catch the Trojan in his system. I should have expected there’d be a second device.”

“Felicity,” he replied softly, leaning forward to capture her hands again. “You’re not at fault here.”

“Okay, but if that’s true, then it’s true for you too.” He was about to argue when - “And don’t you say it’s different for you, because it’s not .”

“Felicity… Tommy died thinking I’m a murderer. And he was right .”

“We can argue semantics another day, but right now… how about you find a way to help the city and honor your best friend?”

Oliver thought about that. “That would mean no more killing. Do you honestly think I can do what needs to be done without killing anyone?”

“I don’t know,” she responded, shrugging. “But you won’t know if you don’t try. The city needs you, Oliver. Your family needs you…” She bit her lip, stopping her speech. Oliver wondered what she’d been about to say.

“You really believe in me that much?” he asked, humbled yet again by her.

“Of course I do. I think everything you do, all that you sacrifice, makes you a hero, Oliver.” She smiled at what must have been the dumbfounded look on his face. “That’s what I told Lance, when he had me down at the station.”

He shook his head, amazed. “I was all ready to charter a plane to take me there.”

“But you came here to talk to me. And now look. Disaster averted.” She winked, which was more of a blink than anything else, and reached to pick up her wine glass again. Oliver picked up his too and clinked it against hers.

“I’ll need your help to stay on the wagon,” he warned her.

“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Chapter Text

It had been a few months since the night of the Undertaking. Laurel felt she’d recovered and gotten past that horrible night rather well, all things considered. The first week after the event, she’d barely left her room, only leaving to attend Tommy’s funeral, and then she was back in there again. Her father had worried about her, but she just needed the time.

Actually, she’d expected Oliver to come check on her, and had been more than a little surprised when he hadn’t.

Yes, he’d told her that he wasn’t in love with her that afternoon at the mansion, before everything spiraled so terribly out of control. At the time, she’d been devastated. But in that week after the earthquake machine went off, she’d had a lot of time to think. And Laurel had realized that Oliver just hadn’t been himself that day. She’d known it at the time, but couldn’t figure out why .

It was only later that she realized he’d run into her directly after talking with his mother. His mother, who went on to hold a press conference not even an hour later, announcing her involvement in Malcolm’s horrible Undertaking. Laurel realized that Moira must have told Oliver then about the Undertaking and her involvement. It explained why he’d asked her to stay out of the Glades and not go into CNRI. It explained why he’d said such things to her. He hadn’t meant it.

And he’d not come to her after the funeral because he was upset too. And he’d probably thought she was upset about Tommy and not wanting to deal with his romantic advances right then. Which was… sort of true. She’d been thrown for a loop by what Tommy had done.

During the earthquake, she’d been pinned under a beam while trying to escape the building. With debris raining down around her, Laurel had thought that this was it. She was about to die. But then, he’d been there. Tommy showed up right next to her and he was lifting the beam. It was the most amazing moment of her life. His brow had been sweaty, his muscles straining and his beautiful face determined. He’d told her he loved her. That’s why he’d come for her. For a moment, she’d thought that she could have a beautiful life with this man. He loved her wholly. He was beautiful. And funny. An heir to a fortune, it was true. Most women would love to have a man like Tommy in love with them. She could do much, much worse. And given Oliver’s refusal earlier that day, it was her best offer. But then he’d died. And she was alone.

But after the fog of grief cleared, Laurel realized that Oliver’s actions had been dictated by Merlyn’s Undertaking. He’d pushed her away because of what he knew, his mother’s involvement in everything. He was distracted and probably deeply upset by the whole thing. He didn’t know what he was doing. Then, after the funeral, he’d probably felt bad for how he’d acted and didn’t know how to explain it to her.

That had to be it, because telling her that he wasn’t in love with her? That was just crazy talk. She and Oliver were soulmates. Laurel was sure of it.

However, it turned out that getting ahold of Oliver was more difficult than she’d expected. He’d changed his cell phone number sometime around Tommy’s funeral, and every time she stopped by the mansion, he wasn’t there. She’d even gone to Verdant, hoping to find him, but either he was too busy to talk or, yet again, not there. And his sister, who was working at Verdant now, didn’t ever seem to know where he was either.

That was why she’d decided to follow him. It was cheap and underhanded but he’d left her no other choice.

She waited in her car, down the street from Verdant and not in the parking lot. The reason for that was last week she’d been in the parking lot, hoping to talk to him when he left, and he’d seen her car and went back inside. She’d gone in and asked Thea where he was but she’d said that he’d already left for the night. He must have slipped past her.

So she was parked out on the street, so she would be sure to catch him leaving. It took a while, but she had a book to read while she waited. Around 9 o’clock, a little red Mini pulled out of the Verdant lot and headed down the street away from her. She was about to return to her book when she saw a motorcycle, Oliver’s motorcycle , peel out of the lot behind the little red car. Grinning to herself, Laurel started her car and shifted into gear before pulling out.

She was very careful to leave plenty of space between her and the motorcycle, in case Oliver noticed her. He didn’t seem to, which was lucky. Or maybe Laurel was just getting better at going undercover. If she didn’t find another legal job in town now that CNRI was busted, maybe she should go for her PI license.

Laurel followed, discreetly, through the Glades, puzzled about where he could be going. The Queen mansion was in the opposite direction.

Oliver turned down a somewhat residential street and that’s when Laurel realized he must be following the red Mini. A red-hot flash of jealousy washed over her. Was this some tramp he’d picked up at the club? Was that was this was? Some one-night-stand back at her place? Laurel sneered to herself as she pulled over a few buildings down from the apartment building the red car and the motorcycle pulled up in front of.

The only problem was, she was a bit too far away to really see what was going on. And, in grand Starling City tradition, it was starting to rain and she couldn’t see past the spatters on her windshield.

So Laurel got out of her car, pulling the collar of her coat up around her ears and ducking down as she locked her door. Then, she crept towards the building, staying close to the bushes and trees so Oliver wouldn’t notice her. She wasn’t sure she could explain why she was there, to be honest.

She grew nearer and noticed the girl getting out of the red Mini was blonde… she had a blonde ponytail, to be exact. And… glasses? Brow furrowed, Laurel squinted. She was dressed in a sensible, work-appropriate dress and heels, not exactly what she would have expected for nightclub fashion. She was gesturing as she talked, her mouth going a mile a minute as Oliver followed her up the walk towards the building, a smile on his face. When was the last time she’d seen him smile like that?  

There was something vaguely familiar about the woman. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she could swear she’d seen her somewhere before.

The pair disappeared into the building and Laurel hurried forward, determined to get another look. She peered in a few windows until… there! She could see into a living room, brightly decorated and Oliver was sitting on a sofa next to the blonde girl. They were talking and she was pouring them each some wine into some glasses sitting on the coffee table. Oliver looked… relaxed. His arm rested along the back of the sofa and he was turned towards her, clearly intent on what she was saying.

Laurel kept watching as the blonde girl put on a movie and they settled in to watch. She watched for far longer than she really should have. But she found she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the scene through the window.

As she left, nearly a half hour later, she suddenly remembered where she’d seen the blonde girl before. It had been at Verdant. Shortly before the Undertaking. Oliver had introduced her as… Felicity. Said she was setting up the internet for the club. It had seemed a bit fishy at the time but Laurel’d had other things on her mind at the time.

Felicity. Who the hell was Felicity ?

***

It’d taken quite a bit of digging on her part, but Laurel found out that Felicity was Felicity Smoak, and she worked in the IT Department at QC. So Laurel dropped by the next day. Just to pay a little visit.

“Hi!” she said cheerfully as she entered the dark little server room that Felicity worked in. “You’re Felicity Smoak, aren’t you?”

Felicity looked up, and her eyes went wide as saucers behind her glasses. “Oh. Uh… Laurel… I mean, uh, yes. I’m Felicity. Can I, er… help you?”

“Yes, actually. I was wondering if I could ask you a couple questions.” Laurel actually rather enjoyed seeing Felicity fumble and blush as she stared at her. Clearly, the girl was intimidated by her being there, which meant Laurel had the upper hand. She liked having the upper hand.

“Questions? What about?”

“Oliver Queen.”

Felicity’s mouth dropped open, but before she could say anything, a deep voice sounded behind Laurel, startling them both.

“What about me?”

Laurel whirled around. “Oh! Oliver! You’re here.”

His brows drew together as he regarded her, and then he peered over her shoulder at Felicity, as though making sure the other girl was okay which was… ridiculous, really. “Yeah, I am. What are you here for, Laurel? Why have you come looking for Felicity?”

The protective vibe he was putting off was messing Laurel up. She expected, she wanted, that protectiveness to be in service of her. This other girl? With the glasses? She just didn’t get it. Why the hell would he be protective of her ?

“I just… wanted to -” She stalled for a moment, fishing for a reasonable excuse. Then, the perfect idea came to her mind. “I was looking for you, actually. You’re a hard man to get ahold of, Mr. Queen,” she said, grinning at him and batting her eyelashes flirtatiously.

Oliver looked unmoved, which was odd. He sighed, and then looked back to Felicity. “I know we’re supposed to have lunch, but can you wait here for a minute? I’ll be right back.”

Felicity smiled up at him, pushing her glasses up her nose. “Sure. Big Belly can wait at least ten more minutes.”

“More like five,” Oliver grumbled as he walked away, beckoning for Laurel to follow him, which she did. Dutifully. Really, talking to him alone was what she wanted.

Oliver pulled her into an alcove and Laurel immediately turned on the charm. She reached forward to run a hand down his chest before looking up at him from under her lashes. “I’ve been wanting to get you alone for weeks now, Ollie.”

His jaw was stiff, and he didn’t meet her eye. “I know, Laurel. And I probably should have talked to you again sooner, but I just… wasn’t ready.”

“I know,” she said. “I figured all that out, actually. The Undertaking and then Tommy… it was a lot, for both of us. But now, that’s all behind us. We can finally be together.”

Oliver looked directly at her then, his expression decidedly incredulous. “What are you talking about?”

“You and me, Ollie. I know why you pushed me away before and I was hurt, but I get it now. I just want us to put it all behind us and look towards the future. Together.”

He stared at her for a long moment, his expression not changing. Laurel started to fidget. This wasn’t the reaction she was expecting. At all.

“Laurel, I was being honest with you before. I told you, I’m not in love with you anymore. I wanted you to give things a try with Tommy.”

“You said that because you thought you weren’t any good, but - it’s okay. I forgive you. For all of it, for Sara, and all the other women, and for leaving me for five years, and even for trying to push me towards Tommy. I forgive you.”

He closed his eyes then, shifting his stance and rubbing his hands behind his head. “Oh, Laurel. No. Listen, I didn’t want to say this; I wanted to spare your feelings at the time, but I’m starting to think that unless I say it, you won’t get the picture. I don’t think I was ever in love with you. Because if I had been, I never would have cheated on you the way I did. With your sister . You asked me to move in with you and I ran away with Sara. I wanted to blow up our relationship and I was too young and stupid and cowardly do it properly. So I set off a bomb in our relationship, just like Merlyn set off a bomb in the Queen’s Gambit. The end result is the same, in both circumstances. We’re not together. We will never be together again. We’ve both grown and changed, and I’ve moved on.”

Laurel narrowed her eyes. “You’ve moved on? With who? That blonde… bimbo in there?”

His brows drew together, and now he looked angry. “That’s enough. You won’t speak of Felicity that way. She’s done nothing to deserve that from you. In fact, she’s been nothing but supportive of me since I’ve been back home. Unlike you. We’re through , Laurel. Please, stop embarrassing yourself and let this go.”

She felt as though she’d been punched in the gut. There was a rigid certainty to him that had never been there all those years ago. He’d been softer then, easier for her to get him to do what she wanted. He’d let himself be led by her then. Now? He was digging in his heels, and she was realizing that the man she loved was right about one thing; he wasn’t the same man he’d been before.

“Ollie,” she started to beg, though the fight had gone out of her. Her voice was weaker, even to her own ears.

“Enough, Laurel. Let’s just… leave the past in the past. I’ve moved on, and it’s time for you to do the same.”

Then, without so much as a backwards glance, he turned and walked away, leaving her there in the alcove. Alone.

***

Two weeks later, Laurel Lance moved to San Francisco to accept a position at an up-and-coming law firm. She never returned to Starling City.

Chapter Text

John Diggle sat in a chair in the glass-walled office, an unfolded newspaper in his hands, scanning the headlines and trying to ignore the two bickering idiots for the umpteenth time that week.

Ever since Oliver had assumed the CEO position at Queen Consolidated and then appointed Felicity as his Executive Assistant, it’d been a non-stop sexual tension circus on the executive floor of this enormous glass building. Dig had been amused at first, but he was quickly running out of good humor. He was currently one under-caffeinated morning away from locking the two of them in a supply closet together.

The weird thing was, the two of them managed to keep the flirtation down to a dull roar in the Foundry. All summer long, the three of them had worked like a finely oiled unit. The Undertaking had rattled Oliver hard , and Dig hadn’t been able to reach him, but Felicity had. He’d returned to the Foundry a week after Tommy’s funeral, hammer in hand, ready to help them rebuild what Felicity called the lair, much to Oliver’s chagrin. They’d managed to do the renovations at the same time as the repairs were being done on the nightclub above them, hiding any suspicious activity. Really, that was all on Felicity for coordinating the work so well.

Once everything was back in order, Oliver hit the streets on patrol again. This time, he just looked for those who needed his aid; robberies, muggings, assaults… and with Dig providing the backup, the two of them were able to provide some real help. Even the police had relaxed about the ‘Hood’, now that no more bodies were being dropped.

And that was another thing. Felicity had helped Oliver to realize that killing the bad guys wasn’t honoring his father and it certainly wasn’t honoring Tommy. Dig had tried to put that bug in his partner’s ear for the whole last year, but it took Felicity joining the team to make him really think about changing how he did things. He wasn’t even sure the man realized he was doing it. He thought it was sweet.

Or rather, he did before it’d been months and the two of them hadn’t progressed beyond Felicity’s double entendres, and flirtatious looks at one another. Dig didn’t know what was holding them up; Felicity clearly had a crush on Oliver, and Oliver hadn’t slept with another woman since he’d broken up with McKenna. That was unprecedented in the time he’d known him. That was how Dig knew that this was more than just flirting or attraction. He just wished the two of them would talk about it.

Soon, however, he was regretting that wish, because he hadn’t been quite specific enough about it.

***

About a week after Felicity’s promotion to Oliver’s Executive Assistant, Dig found himself alone in the Foundry with the archer. Felicity had told him earlier that she was meeting up with some friends from MIT who were in town for a symposium that she was also planning to attend, and they were making a night of it. Oliver had been finishing up in a private meeting with one of the VPs and she had to leave a little early. Dig promised to cover for her.

All he’d said, really, was that Felicity had plans and needed the night off. Truly, Dig had thought that would cover it. Apparently not.

Two hours later, the two of them were at the Foundry, running through training drills on the mats together. The slap of the sticks echoed off the walls as they moved in perfect synchronization. But then Oliver switched things up and swung for his head. Dig was only just able to duck the blow. He turned to his friend, forehead furrowed.

“What the hell, Oliver?”

He at least had the decency to look somewhat contrite. “Sorry, Dig. My mind’s on other things.”

Dig caught him glance at Felicity’s empty workstation, and it all became clear. “I have a pretty good idea what those things are.”

Oliver met his eyes, and his lips twisted as he looked down, scuffing his shoe against the edge of the mat. “Dig, I wasn’t… It’s not -”

He held up a hand. “Spare me. I’m not blind, and I’m not an idiot. You’ve been watching her and I know the look, man. I’ve had that look before. You can deny it all day long if you want, but I know you have feelings for Felicity.”

If anything, that just made his friend look panicked. “Is it that obvious? You don’t think she -?”

“Nah, man. Pretty sure she thinks you’d never look twice at her that way. For a genius, she can be pretty dumb. But then again, you can too, and you don’t have being a genius to fall back on.”

“Hey…”

“Why don’t you ask her out? You know she’d say yes.”

Oliver shifted, tossing the stick to the side and rubbing his palms on his pant legs. “It’s not that simple for me, and you know that, Dig. This life... I can’t do that to her. She deserves better than what being with me would mean for her.”

“You could let her decide that for herself,” Dig suggested.

“And you could mind your own business,” Oliver snapped in return.

Dig held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “Just some friendly advice, man.” He hefted his stick and pointed it at Oliver. “You wanna go again?”

“Nah, I’m gonna do the ladder,” Oliver said, whipping his shirt over his head as he headed across the room to where the salmon ladder was set up. Dig shook his head and headed over the dummy to run some drills on it while Oliver vented his frustrations on that poor piece of equipment.

***

Right after the Dollmaker incident, Dig noticed that Felicity wasn’t acting quite herself. She was quiet in the Foundry, all business. And in the office, she was downright reticent. It was extremely unusual, and Dig was worried. Still, he didn’t want to say anything to Oliver. He knew Oliver’s reaction would be strong and negative and he might do something stupid like kick her off the team to keep her safe or something like that. So before he went to Oliver, he went to Felicity herself.

It was lunchtime and Oliver had a lunch meeting with some CEOs from out of town. He’d wanted Felicity to join him but she’d sent one of the other assistants in her place. Before the Dollmaker, Dig didn’t think she would have done that. Felicity was as protective of Oliver as he was of her and even for something as mundane as a business lunch, she would have wanted to be there, having his back. Holding his hand. Metaphorically, of course. The two of them deliberately touching each other? He’d laugh if it wasn’t just so… frustrating.

So John and Felicity were left in the office alone. He’d picked them up some sandwiches from a nearby deli to enjoy and they sat around her desk, eating and chatting. Well, he was having to do most of the talking. Because Felicity was still being uncharacteristically quiet. And he was tired of it.

“Okay, Felicity… I want you to tell me what’s bugging you.”

“Mmm?” she looked up from her sandwich, still chewing a bite. She looked surprised.

“You’ve been acting weird ever since that Dollmaker business. What’s the deal? Are you spooked? Do you feel unsafe? Because we could keep you out of the field if you’d rather stay back in the Foundry.”

She swallowed, and then took a long drink of her iced tea. “That is not what I want,” she said forcefully. “At all.”

“Then what’s going on? Come on. It’s just you and me. You can tell me.”

“I’m fine, I promise I’m fine. I’m just… processing. That’s all.”

“Okay, that’s a bullshit answer and you know it. What are you processing? Are you scared? Did that psychopath hurt you?” The very worst thoughts came to him then, and Dig had to set aside his lunch. He’d just lost his appetite.

“No!” she shouted, and then she glanced around at the empty rooms, but still lowered her voice. “Dig, no. It’s not… that. It’s just… The Dollmaker had me, right? And I was scared, but I also knew Oliver would come and get me. And then… he did. And it was… it was a lot. But then, before I could really talk to him about it, Mathers took Detective Lance, and you know how all that went down…”

Dig peered at his friend over the rim of his cup as he sipped at the contents. He was starting to get the picture. Felicity had volunteered to act as bait for the Dollmaker, since she was able to figure out that his method of targeting his victims was finding women who purchased a certain brand of face cream. It was pretty genius, actually. And Mathers had fallen for the bait quite well. Oliver had been crabby about it since the plan’s inception, and when the killer had, in fact, grabbed Felicity, he’d been in a bit of a tailspin.

When Mathers realized he was being pursued by the Arrow, he’d pushed Felicity aside and ran for it. She’d fallen and hit her head and Oliver, instead of chasing after Mathers as had been the plan, had stopped to make sure Felicity was okay. When Dig had caught up, he’d found his friends staring at one another, Oliver’s gloved hand gently cradling her head. Something was going on there, but they were in the middle of a chase. So he’d shooed Oliver off, telling him to join Lance in chasing down Mathers while he tended to Felicity. Of course, it’d been too late by that point.

Mathers had grabbed Lance, easily over-powering the older man, and by the time Oliver caught up, they were gone. It took them the rest of the night to locate where Mathers was holding Lance and by the time the Arrow got there, it was almost too late. Then, of course, the blonde woman with the bo staff had shown up as well, and they’d been able to fight Mathers back and rescue Lance.

Dig hadn’t realized the whole thing had affected Felicity quite like that, though. “So what are you thinking?” he asked her.

“I just… sometimes he’ll look at me and I wonder. Does he just see me as a friend, or could he maybe see me as something more? It’s getting harder to tell. But then I convince myself it’s just my own feelings for him that make me imagine what isn’t there. But my heart hurts, Dig.”

Speaking of which, his heart hurt for his pretty, blonde partner just then. “Oh, Felicity.”

She made a hand waving motion. “It’s okay. It just put me in a funk, that’s all. I’ll be okay, I promise. This lunch is helping a lot.”

“For the record, I think he does care about you.”

“Please don’t get my hopes up, Dig.”

“I’m not. I’m just saying what I see. And I think he’s being an idiot. You both are, actually.”

Felicity grumbled. “Better an idiot than a fool with a broken heart,” she muttered.

So… yeah. Dig was just about over this nonsense between his two best friends. They were clearly into one another, and instead of exploring that like two sane adults, they had chosen to drive him crazy.

Great. Just… great.

Chapter Text

Oliver blew out a breath and leaned back into the heated spray of his hotel shower. His stiff muscles began to finally relax. He tried to convince himself he was so uptight because they’d come off a tense mission to get Dig and Lyla out of that gulag. But the truth was, his shoulders had been tight since Isabel had walked out of his hotel room earlier that night and Felicity had been standing there, watching her walk away with a dismayed expression on her beautiful face.

Isabel had been sure to feed Felicity’s assumptions that she’d been in Oliver’s room doing far more than just talking QC business. Which was patently untrue, of course. Oliver would no sooner sleep with Isabel than he would stick his dick into a hornet’s nest. The woman was a viper. And he didn’t trust her for a second. Plus… she wasn’t the woman he had on his mind these days. Any romp with her in the sheets would be less than satisfying. It wasn’t just because Isabel was such an unpleasant creature to him, to Felicity, to just about anyone she came into contact with… though those things certainly added to his disinterest.

He’d been going over some contracts with Isabel in his room; she’d come there with them in hand, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Since Oliver knew time was ticking down and they needed to meet Anatoly and go rescue Dig and Lyla, he’d been all about doing anything to get her out of his room and off his back. She’d tried to put some moves on him, which was a little odd. She’d never shown interest in him before. But Oliver had kept steering her back to business and eventually, she gave in and returned to the task at hand. He’d thought that he’d dodged a bullet… at least until Isabel had left the room and walked straight into Felicity out in the hallway.

To Oliver’s horror, Isabel had sneered at Felicity, insinuating that the two of them had just slept together. Felicity’s mouth fell open as she watched the other woman sashay away towards her own room and while he’d tried to explain, she’d just shut down. It was clear she didn’t want to talk about it and soon, the needs of the mission had overridden anything else. But Oliver promised to himself that he’d clear things up with her as soon as he could. He couldn’t bear to have her think he’d do something like that, that he would even want Isabel.

The water in the shower started to cool, so he turned the taps off and reached for his towel. Everyone was meeting down in the hotel bar for drinks, to celebrate the successful mission. He’d promised Anatoly he’d stop by as soon as he took a shower and had a moment to decompress. Felicity was probably down there, and maybe he’d have a chance to talk to her now. That thought spurred him to get dressed as quickly as he could in a fresh Henley and a pair of jeans.

Five minutes later, he was stepping off the elevator and heading towards the hotel bar. Before he even got there, however, he could hear the noise. Music was playing loudly and people were shouting and cheering. Curious, Oliver hurried his steps.

He entered the hotel bar to find a swarm of people gathered around all on one side of the bar. He recognized Anatoly, Dig and Lyla, but no one else. A lot of them were young men who were cheering and shouting things in Russian. Some of those things were… not exactly polite. He didn’t see Felicity. Not at first, at least.  

When he pushed forward, he saw her. She was on top of one of the tables, her shoes kicked off, her hair tousled. Her arms were up over her head and her hips…

“What the fuck is she doing?” Oliver growled.

“Dancing,” Anatoly helpfully supplied.

He bit back an angry retort and instead shifted his glare to Dig, who at least looked equally concerned. “What the hell happened to her?”

“Five shots of Anatoly’s vodka happened to her,” he told him.

Oliver’s eyes returned to Felicity who was still swaying on the table, grinning at anyone who called to her and cursed under his breath. Russian vodka was much, much stronger than the stuff she was used to. Especially the stuff that Anatoly preferred. His gaze shifted to his Russian friend. Anatoly was laughing and clapping along with the loud Russian rock music that was pouring out of the jukebox speakers. Oliver really wanted to yell at him, ask him what he was thinking. But the guys encircling the table Felicity was dancing on were creeping closer, and some were reaching out to run their hands over her legs.

He needed to get her out of there.

“Dig,” he said, offering no other explanation. His partner seemed to understand him though, and moved forward to block a few of the more avid men while Oliver stepped up and called up to her.

“Felicity!”

She turned her head, looking down. A smile bloomed slowly across her lips, lighting her up like a beacon. “Oliver!” she cried. “Did you come to dance with me?”

She was clearly drunk, her eyes half lidded and her grin broad. Oliver had some experience with drunk girls and knew the best way to get them do what you wanted was to make them think you were doing what they wanted.

“Sure,” he called back. “But you gotta come down here.”

Felicity pouted, her lower lip poking out. “Aww, but I like it up here. The view is so great!”

Oliver thought quickly. “There’s no room for me up there though. If you wanna dance with me, you gotta come down.”

“Oh.” She glanced around her, clearly realizing he was right. “I don’t know how to get down.”

“Here.” Oliver extended his hand and she looked at it, smiling before slipping her own hand into his. He wrapped his fingers around her small hand and tugged on her, pulling her towards him. She wobbled precariously, even without shoes on, and when she would have tumbled off the table, he caught her easily in his arms. She landed with a soft ‘oof’, and his senses were filled with her scent as he held her close for the first time since the Undertaking. Once again, he was struck with the thought of how well she fit there, nestled against him.

Oliver tore his eyes away from her and saw that the men were now glaring at him, and Dig was furrowing his brow, clearly wondering what his plan was. Until that moment, he hadn’t had a plan beyond getting her down off the table. But Felicity was giggling and patting his cheek, and very much drunk. And the last place she needed to be right now was in this bar.

“I’m gonna take her upstairs,” he said to Dig, as he passed him and Lyla.

Dig gave him a look. “You gonna be back down?”

It was very clear what Dig was asking, and Oliver didn’t care for the implication one bit. For starters, Oliver would never take advantage of a woman who was this drunk. For another matter, this was Felicity . If he couldn’t cross a line with her when sober, how on earth did Dig think he could when she was drunk? So he gave his friend a glare, and Dig put up his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“Okay, no need to give me the glare of death. I’ll order you a beer, but you get right back down here.”

The warning was clear. “I’ll be right back, I promise.”

Oliver carried Felicity out of the bar, much to the disappointment of the assembled crowd. He didn’t stop until he was on the elevator, headed up to their floor. The whole while, she hummed a song that he didn’t recognize, but that didn’t even bother him, because she kept patting his cheek fondly, and he loved the feel of her hand on his face.

He carried her to her hotel room door, which was just two doors down from his own room. “Felicity… I need your key. Where’s your key?”

“Mmm,” she hummed, smacking her lips together. “In my bra.”

Oliver felt the blood drain out of his face, and he swallowed hard. He could not reach into her bra, he just couldn’t . “Can you get it for me?” he asked.

“Mmmmaybe.” She reached up and Oliver averted his eyes while she fished around in her top. He could feel his cheeks getting hotter, and hoped that Felicity was drunk enough not to notice. “Ah ha! Got it!” she crowed a moment later. He looked back to see her brandishing the key card for her door. He took it from her fingers and slipped it into the lock, sighing as the lights flashed green and he pushed the door open.

He carried her straight to the bed and gently set her down on top of the covers. She wriggled a little but he held up a finger. “Stay still while I go get you some water and some aspirin.”

“Ooookay,” she replied.

Oliver slipped into the bathroom and saw her cosmetic bag on the counter. He rifled around inside until he found a small bottle of painkillers. He filled the glass that sat on the counter with water from the tap and took that and the pills back into the room.

As soon as the bed came back into view, Oliver nearly swallowed his tongue.

Felicity was still where he’d left her on the bed, but she was moving… she was kicking off her jeans and her turtleneck was bunched up under her breasts. He had just a moment in time to fully acknowledge that, yes, those were Felicity’s panties and, yes, they were dark green just like the color of his hood. Then he whirled around, facing the other direction, cursing himself under his breath.

“Felicity?” His voice sounded strangled to his own ears. “W-what are you doing?”

“I can’t sleep in my clothes,” she explained, her words still slow and slurred. “Too uncomfy. Can’t move around like I want to.”

A host of images filled his mind just then, of Felicity writhing on top of the sheets, her hands busy all over her body, her head thrown back, her mouth open on a pant…

Shit, shit, shit.

“I’m gonna…” Oliver stopped and cleared his throat. Already, his length was hardening in his pants and he desperately needed to get out of this room. “I’m just going to leave this water and these pills on the nightstand and, uh, I want you to promise me that you’ll take two aspirin and drink the whole glass of water. Okay?”

The only sound was Felicity’s jeans hitting the floor and some more rustling, probably her removing her turtleneck. Oh, god. He looked around him for some place to set down the water and realized… his best option was the nightstand. Which meant he’d have to turn around unless he wanted to fall over the corner of the bed. And he really should make sure she took the aspirin and drank the water because in his experience, drunk people didn’t always do what you asked them to. Shit .

“Felicity? Can you, uhm… c-can you get under the blankets for me?”

“Why?” He could literally hear the pout in her voice. “I’m all hot and sweaty from dancing.”

Oliver squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his jaw. He was going to need the whole bottle of Anatoly’s vodka after this was over. “Because… you’ll get cold. The sweat will dry and you’ll get a chill and you don’t want to get sick, do you?”

It was a shot in the dark, and he held his breath for the moment it took her to respond. “That makes sense,” she replied. He heard more rustling.

“Are you under?”

“Yep!” She popped the ‘p’, and he blew out a very relieved breath as he turned around.

She was, in fact, under the covers, the sheets pulled up to her chin. She was smiling at him, her tongue poking through her smile. He fought the urge to smile back. Instead, he sat on the edge of the bed near her and handed her the glass. She went to sit up and he quickly stopped her, making sure she had the sheet in hand as she lifted up.

“Drink,” he told her. She obeyed, keep her eyes on him as her lips sipped at the edge of the glass. He cleared his throat and shook out a couple of aspirin into his palm, waiting until she extended her own palm before giving them to her. “Take these.”

Oliver watched as she did so, and then he urged her to finish off the glass of water. A few drops dribbled out the corner as she drank, running down her chin and he literally had to clench his fists to keep himself from reaching out to brush the water away.

When Felicity finished, she handed him the glass but her smile was decidedly sleepy. He set it on the nightstand before urging her to lay back down. “Now… sleep this off, okay?”

“Mmkay,” she hummed, her eyelids drooping. She looked adorable. “You’re sweet… taking care of me.”

He got up to refill the glass. He called back to her, “Anything for a friend, right?”

When he returned, she was scowling. “Still mad at you about Isabel though. That’s just gross, Oliver.”

He set the glass on the nightstand. “Drink this when you wake up.” He waited for her to nod, her eyes already closed. Oliver watched her for a few moments, memorizing the slope of her cheeks, the cushion of her lips, the curve of her nose… Her eyes stayed closed and he knew she was falling asleep. But he wanted her to know something. “Felicity.”

“Mmm?” It was a quiet sound.

“I didn’t sleep with Isabel.”

No answer.

“I just… I wanted you to know that.”

Still no answer. He wasn’t sure if she’d heard him or not. But he had to go. He had to get back to the bar before Dig wondered what was keeping him. Oliver paused for a moment before leaning forward. He brushed his lips over her forehead before straightening. Then he turned and walked out of the room, turning off the lights and letting the lock engage after him.

Chapter Text

Oliver had been acting strangely ever since Russia. The morning after the mission to save Dig and Lyla, Felicity had woken up with a throbbing headache, a lack of memory on how she’d gotten from the hotel bar to her hotel room, and her phone buzzing with texts from Dig and Oliver both, informing her they needed to leave for the airport in fifteen minutes.

The plane ride home had been miserable. Not just because of her headache either. Isabel kept giving her infuriating, smug looks and Oliver wasn’t looking at or talking to anyone … he just stared out the window and read his book the whole way. Dig and Lyla were wrapped up in each other, talking lowly as they sat next to one another. She hadn’t wanted to interrupt that. They deserved the chance to reconnect.

Felicity had feared a surplus of Isabel once they returned to Starling. She pictured the demon woman dropping by Oliver’s office all the time, flirting with him, making him laugh, making her want to vomit… But the reality was she saw less of Isabel, if anything. And anytime she would come marching off the elevator to speak to Oliver, he always made himself scarce as quickly as possible. She wondered what had happened, post Russia-hookup. Had Oliver told her he didn’t want a repeat? Felicity couldn’t help but wonder.

Amidst all that, their worlds were turned upside down. Oliver’s mother’s trial took place at the same time the Count decided to terrorize the city again with his nasty drugs. Except this time, he went full-Joker-in-1989’s-Batman with it and tried to get the whole city under his thumb. Since Oliver was busy and distracted by his mother’s trial, and Dig was dosed, Felicity thought she would step up and do her part to try to bring the Count down. Except he caught her, which she realized she should have seen coming.

But Oliver had come to save her. He’d left the courthouse and showed up at QC, right there in the executive offices in his Arrow suit. Hood down, though, because the Count had already figured out who he was. Thanks to her. The guilt she’d felt was suffocating. It’d only gotten worse when the Count threatened to inject her with a lethal dose of his newest concoction and Oliver had been forced to kill him just to save her life. He’d vowed not to kill again, wanting to honor Tommy, and here he broke that vow. For her .

She felt sick about it.

Of course, Oliver had tried to assure her that it wasn’t something she needed to feel bad about. That he’d made that decision himself and he would do it again. But that didn’t make her feel any better about it. He’d been so strange with her after Russia and now this? To say things had gotten tense between the two of them would be a vast understatement. Felicity wasn’t at all sure what to do about it either. As far as she could tell, Oliver was going out of his way to not be alone with her. Then, he showed up and saved her life. And then, he went back to avoiding her. She felt like she had whiplash where he was concerned.

Of course, her rampant crush on him was still going strong. If anything, she’d have to say that it was longer just a simple crush. And it probably hadn’t been a simple crush for a long, long, long time now. She had feelings for Oliver. Stronger and realer than anything she’d ever felt for anyone before. Oliver avoiding her had no impact whatsoever, either. Shoot, Oliver sleeping with Isabel had no impact. And if her view of him didn’t diminish with that atrocity, then Felicity was well and truly screwed.

Except… not. She wasn’t getting screwed, in the literal sense. And she hadn’t gotten screwed in… a long time. Since before she met Oliver. This dry spell coupled with her deep and unrequited feelings for Oliver and matched by his continued avoidance of her meant that Felicity was fifty different kinds of frustrated these days. That’s why, when Barry Allen showed up in Starling and started flirting with her, she gravitated towards him like super-planet to a black hole.

Then again, maybe she should find a less destructive simile. After all, Barry was a puppy dog and she doubted he could ever hurt a fly. Oliver on the other hand…

The minute Barry had showed up at the break-in over at Applied Sciences, Oliver had been suspicious of him. And had Barry been any less of a puppy, Felicity might have been suspicious too. But he was earnest, eager to help, excited to hunt down the bad guys with them and… yeah, he kept looking at her like she was special. It’d been a good while since Felicity had experienced that with a guy and it was nice.

Well. That wasn’t entirely true, was it? Oliver had flirted with her over the summer. After the Undertaking, she’d started to wonder if Oliver might be interested in her. They spent a lot of time together and, yeah, he’d started looking at her differently. But then… once he made her his Executive Assistant, things started to change. Felicity didn’t know what changed for him, but something must have. After Russia, she felt as though she’d been very firmly reinstated in the friend zone.

Which… fine. If Oliver wasn’t interested in her like that, that was fine. She would just have to try to forget him and the best way to do that was to turn her attention to another man. In this case, Barry Allen was a good candidate.

The best part, besides his boyish good looks and engaging smile, was that Barry seemed to be just as into nerdy things as she was. They had quite a bit to talk about as they worked together to unravel the mystery of who stole the centrifuge. Being with Barry was so easy, in fact, that Felicity didn’t hesitate before asking him to join her at the Queen family Christmas party/Welcome Back Moira bash.

That plan was nearly driven off the rails when Oliver confronted Barry about who he really was. And it turned out that Barry hadn’t been completely honest, but once they heard the story, it was very understandable why he’d fudged the facts and why he considered this case to be of personal interest. Felicity had been furious with him about that. By her way of thinking, they lied every day to the people in their lives about who they were and what they did to help the city. To call Barry out on doing the same thing was more than a little hypocritical.

Oliver must have felt bad about it, because he’d called Barry himself to ask him to come to the party and meet her there. And she’d gotten to dance with the young forensic scientist. What he lacked in grace,  he made up for with sincerity and amusing observations to make her smile while they glided around the dance floor.

“That woman there… you see her?” he said, turning Felicity so she could see where he was talking about.

“Isabel? Ugh. Yes, I see her.”

“You know her? Does she always look like she could kill a person just with her stare?”

Felicity chuckled. “Yes, she does. She’s the most unpleasant woman I’ve ever had to deal with.”

“Let’s dance over on the side of the room then…”

Over there, they were near the bar. Barry dipped his head in Oliver’s direction. Felicity saw him there, leaning against the bartop, nursing a glass of whiskey. He’d been talking to his mother but now he stood alone, his head bowed, looking more than a little morose.

“What’s his deal?” Barry asked. “Did someone kill his puppy?”

“Not quite.” Felicity wasn’t entirely sure what Oliver’s deal was, to be honest. But she was afraid it had something to do with her.

“Let me go talk to him real quick,” he said, releasing her. Felicity wandered over to where Thea stood with Roy and joined their conversation. Still, she kept her eye on Barry and Oliver. At first, Oliver looked aggravated to have Barry talking to him. But then he relaxed a little, his shoulders loosened and he nodded before looking over Barry’s shoulder to where she was standing. Felicity ducked her head, hoping she hadn’t just blushed. She was trying to get over this stupid crush, damnit! Barry was her transition guy! She shouldn’t care what Oliver did or if he looked at her or anything like that.

A minute or two later, however, Barry returned to her and he had Oliver in tow. She stepped away from Thea and Roy to join them and Barry smiled at her. “I’m going to go call my captain, let him know that I plan to stay in Starling a little longer. I’ll be back in a few.”

He walked off, leaving her a little confused until Oliver cleared his throat. “Barry thinks I should dance with you.”

Felicity blinked at him. “He what?”

“I told him I didn’t think you’d want to dance with me, not after I was such an ass earlier today…”

“You were pretty awful, Oliver.”

“I know. Let me make it up to you?” Oliver held out a hand towards her in a clear invitation.  She knew she should turn him down, for the safety of her heart, but she was utterly unable to stop herself from fitting her hand into his and letting him tug her back onto the dance floor. She went into his arms easily, too easily, and they began to sway to the soft music that was playing.

“As nice as this is,” Felicity said, struggling to keep this casual and ignore the fact that her skin was on fire where he was touching her, “I’m probably not the one you need to make things up to.”

Oliver dipped his head in acknowledgement. “Yes, but… he told me to dance with you. So really, this is making it up to him.”

Felicity narrowed her eyes. “I’m not sure that logic checks out.”

“Felicity,” he murmured, his voice low and intimate and she felt a shiver shoot straight down her spin at the sound of it. “For once, turn off that big brain of yours.”

Her teeth clicked as she snapped her mouth shut. There literally was nothing she could say to that. So she did her best to turn off her brain and to focus on the dancing. He moved her deftly, one hand in hers, the other spread across her back, his fingertips grazing the top of her dress in the back, skimming that spot between her shoulder blades. Felicity shuddered, biting her lip.

But her brain refused to stay turned off. “Why did you do it, though? Barry has been nothing but helpful to us, but you went digging into his life, and then confronted him like that, made him feel awful… why did you do that?”

Oliver sighed, she felt his chest move against her as they turned on the dance floor. For a moment, Felicity thought he wasn’t going to answer her question. But then…

“I was jealous,” he admitted.

All her breath left her in an instant. Surely he couldn’t mean… did he? “Oliver?”

He drew back enough to look in her eyes. “I am a selfish bastard. Things have been so awkward with you and I lately and I’ve really missed our friendship, all those movie nights, having lunch together, joking and teasing… and here comes Barry -” He spat the name out, but then shrugged - “And he gets to joke with you, and make you smile, and... I was jealous. Because I miss that with you.”

“Oh.” He didn’t mean it like she’d thought. Not really. But what he’d said was no less sweet for the lack of romantic overtones. She missed him too and if all she could be was his friend, was that the worst thing in the world? “I miss that, too.”

“Can we just… get back to that? To being friends?” he asked her.  

Felicity glanced over at Barry who smiled at her with a wink, lifting his drink in salute. He wasn’t Oliver, not even close, but he was pretty great. She could have the best of both worlds here. Well. Maybe not the best . But close enough. She wouldn’t be greedy.

“Yeah,” she told him. “We can.”

Chapter Text

The last few months had been long and rough. Oliver wasn’t even sure where he could trace the badness back to, but he felt like it was somewhere around their trip to Russia. He’d very nearly lost Felicity’s friendship, which he valued as much as anything else in his life. He’d been jealous and ridiculous when Barry Allen came to town. Acting like a petulant caveman had almost driven Felicity away from him, right into Barry’s arms.

But after she’d yelled at him for his behavior, Oliver had realized something very important. He might not be able to indulge in a relationship with Felicity, keeping her out of his romantic life was the best way to keep her safe and to maintain the integrity of the mission, but he couldn’t expect her to remain single, waiting for the day for him to hang up the hood. Realistically, Oliver didn’t know if that day would ever come and it wasn’t fair to place that expectation on her.

He figured there were worse options out there than Barry Allen. Despite the fact that the guy looked like he was still a teenager, he was a decent guy and he seemed to be properly enamored of Felicity. Oliver instantly suspected anyone who didn’t fall at least a little in love with her after they got to know her. He wasn’t sure it was even possible not to love her in some respect as long as that person had a soul.

When Felicity brought Barry into the foundry hideout, in an effort to save his life, Oliver had wanted to be angry with her. He’d wanted to yell at her for revealing his secret. But she’d done it to save his life and it was her secret too. It was the right move. If her and Dig had taken him to the hospital after Cyrus beat the hell out of him, then the whole city would know he was the Arrow. Barry had been able to save him. His help had been invaluable. And he’d even gifted him with a new mask when he left to go back to Central City. Barry was a good guy. He might even be good enough to deserve Felicity.

But no sooner had Oliver reconciled himself to that than Barry had been struck by lightning. He still couldn’t believe that’s a thing that could actually happen to someone. The chances seemed so small and he couldn’t help but wonder if it was connected to the particle accelerator exploding down there in Central City. Regardless, the poor guy was in a coma now and Felicity had spent a great deal of the last few months traveling back and forth, visiting him in the hospital.

Oliver tried so hard to be understanding. He was Felicity’s friend now and it was a friend’s job to support one another when things were rough. But he hated that she was out of town so much. He missed her in the foundry, at the office… in his life . The jealousy he felt was sharp and acrid and absolutely not platonic like he’d assured her back at the Christmas party. There was just no way he could ever let her know that. So instead, Oliver was caught between friendly concern and trying to hide his raging emotions.

To say that he was a little tense as a result would be a vast understatement.

Luckily, Dig was there to take his frustration out on. And if his teammate noticed that he was more aggressive than usual, he didn’t say anything. Roy, on the other, did say something. Lots of somethings. He didn’t care for The Arrow’s brutal training methods but it satisfied him, at least for the moment.

Then, Sara came back to town. She provided a distraction, especially when her League of Assassins girlfriend came after her, intent to bring her back to Nanda Parbat with her. Oliver found Nyssa Raatko to be impressive and hugely intimidating (and yes, her kissing Sara was pretty damn hot… he was a red blooded man, after all). And he absolutely never wanted to be on her bad side if he could help it. That said, he couldn’t let her take Sara, not if Sara didn’t want to be taken. So he helped his old friend in any way he could. Dig and Felicity were more than glad to join the cause as well. Felicity clearly liked Sara, and vice versa, which was nice. Neither seemed to be especially jealous of the other.

But then the shit really hit the fan. Felicity found out his mother had been hiding a huge secret for many, many years. Thea wasn’t Robert’s daughter. She was the product of an affair his mother had with Malcolm Merlyn years and years ago. The truth had shaken him to his core and having to go up on stage to promote his mother at her mayoral campaign rally was one of the more difficult things he’d ever had to do. But he did it. And then he let his mother know that he was done with her. That was the last straw, as far as he was concerned.

Then, he went back to the foundry to beat the hell out of the training dummy.

That was where Felicity found him, about a half hour into his self-punishment. “Oh! I didn’t expect there to be anyone down here,” she said as she paused halfway down the staircase, clearly trying to avert her eyes from him.

Oliver paused, leaning against the dummy to look at her. Her cheeks were pink, her lips forming a pouty “o”. She looked fantastic, but then, she always did. And frankly, given the state of things with his family, the last thing he should be thinking about was throwing Felicity up against the nearest pillar and making her come so hard they could hear her screams up in the club. Alas, he was no boy scout.

“I, uh… just had something I wanted to check. Before I went to bed, er, to sleep,” she admitted, slowly descending the rest of the stairs.

“I won’t get in your way,” he promised.

Felicity hesitated next to her desk, her fingertips skimming the surface as she looked at him. “Are you okay?”

Oliver huffed out a humorless laugh. “No. I’m pretty sure that I’m not.”

She took a few steps towards him before she stopped. “Oliver, you just learned something fairly awful about your mother and with everything else that’s been going on… it’s okay to not be okay.”

“Doesn’t feel okay,” he muttered, looking back at the dummy. But the fight had gone out of him. For now.

Her hand landed on his arm and he looked up, meeting her eyes. “I’m sorry for my part in it.”

Oliver furrowed his brow. “Felicity… you are not the problem here.”

“Am I though? You were fine with your mother before I told you and now… you’re down here, beating your knuckles bloody.” Her hands skimmed down to said hands, running her fingers lightly over the bruised knuckles. He bit back a hiss. “You didn’t even wrap them? Oh, Oliver.”

“Slipped my mind,” he said, but they both knew that was bullshit. He allowed her to lead him over to the med supplies and watched as she got the cotton balls and antiseptic out. She began to clean up his knuckles and he watched her. “It’s not your fault, you know. I’m not mad at you.”

“Maybe you should be,” she grumbled, dabbing at his torn skin with an antiseptic soaked cotton ball. “You mother… she warned me that you would be just as angry with me as you would be with her.”

Oliver stilled. “Wait, what? What did my mother tell you? When did you talk to her?”

She bit her lip, her teeth making dents in the pink-painted flesh. “The night before I told you. I stopped by the mansion, asked to see her. I told her what I knew and suggested she tell you herself. I thought you needed to hear it from her, not me.”

He was stunned. He’d had no idea. Oliver knew that Felicity felt intimidated by his mother, and by the mansion. But she’d gone there with this bombshell and confronted his mother… for him . And Felicity was right. He should have heard this from his mother and not anyone else. Clearly, Moira had disagreed.

“What did she say?” he asked, suddenly very curious. He tried to picture Felicity going toe to toe with the Queen matriarch and came up short in his imagination.

Felicity made a disgruntled noise as she dried his cuts. “She threatened me. She knew how to hit me where it hurt, I think. She’s very perceptive, you mother.”

Oliver bobbed his head. “She is, almost frighteningly so. I never could keep anything from her, she always figured it out eventually.”

“I learned that first hand last night. Anyhow, she told me that you’d hate me for bringing this knowledge to you. Just the thought… I couldn’t stand to lose you, Oliver. But I couldn’t stand to keep anything from you more.”

When her hands dropped, finished with her task, Oliver quickly moved to cover them with his own. “Felicity…” He was moved… he knew she was loyal but this felt a notch above just simple loyalty to him. “You were very brave to tell me. It’s an incredible gift, to know that I can trust you to always tell me what I need to know, even if you fear my reaction.”

Her cheeks pinked up adorably. “Oliver--”

“Let me finish. You never need to fear that I will hate you or not want to know you anymore… that would never happen. Ever. Okay? I’m angry at my mother for saying that I would, it tells me she has no idea who I am, what sort of man I’ve become. And I’m angry that she would try to threaten you like that.”

“Oh.” Her eyes were wide as she stared at him and for a moment, Oliver found himself getting lost in the stormy blue depths there.

The trance was broken by the slamming of the door and the sound of feet hammering down the stairs. “Oh! I’m sorry. I’ve interrupted something, haven’t I?”

Oliver looked up to see Sara lingering near the bottom of the stairs, looking more than a little uncertain and also more than a little upset. “Sara? What’s going on.”

“Nothing, I just-- My family and I-- Laurel, she… You know what? Nevermind. I’ll just… go,” she said jerkily before gesturing over her shoulder.

“No, that’s okay, Sara. You look like you need to talk,” Felicity said.

The other woman relaxed a little, smiling with relief. “I do, actually.”

Oliver didn’t feel like talking anymore. His thoughts were filled with not just rage at his mother for lying, for being horrible to Felicity, for feeling like she could control everyone’s lives… but with Felicity herself. He could have seen himself kissing her just then. He hadn’t even begun to act on it, hadn’t even leaned in, but for the briefest moment, he’d wondered… what if?

So yeah. He needed to work off some more tension. And then maybe a cold shower. Definitely not a good time to listen to Sara talk about her dysfunctional family.

Felicity glanced at him before looking back at Sara. She smiled. “Let’s go upstairs and get a drink. You can tell me all about it and then we can dance ourselves silly. What do you say?”

Sara also glanced at him but her eyes slid over to Felicity as she nodded. “You know what? That sounds perfect. Let’s do it.”

Oliver cleaned up the supplies while the two women walked upstairs and into the club beyond, to let off some steam. A part of him wished he could join them but… the point was to lessen his temptations, not amplify them. After everything was put away, he headed back over to the training dummy and started to pummel it once more.

Chapter Text

Oliver woke with a start, sweat coating his skin, his heart pounding in his ears. The nightmare he’d just had was still fresh in his mind. In it, he could see Shado, on Lian Yu. He saw her reaching out to him and then… then she was covered in blood. And then, when he turned from that horrible sight, he saw Felicity. And she too was covered in blood. The worst part was when she gasped, “It’s your fault, Oliver.”

He swallowed back the bile that had risen in his throat as he sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the cot he slept on in the foundry basement. The blankets were rumpled and his pillow was damp...whether from sweat or tears he didn’t know. He needed to get up. There was not going to be any more sleep for him tonight.

Normally, he was glad for the silent loneliness of the foundry on nights like this, but tonight, he missed the light and chatter that came with Dig and Felicity’s presence. Even having Roy around lately had been nice. Oliver had to bite back the urge to call them all up and tell them to come in. He even had the phone in hand before he realized that it was nearly 3:30 in the morning and they’d think there was some emergency. And there wasn’t.

Okay, yes, there was Slade Wilson and that man was a four-alarm emergency all on his own. But ever since he’d shown up at the Queen mansion and faced off with him by his car outside, the man had been frustratingly absent from anywhere. Felicity had been scouring security cameras and any other method she could think of and so far, no dice. He was laying low, which Oliver knew was a bad sign. If he was laying low, it meant he was gearing up for something . The question of when is probably what prompted this nasty little nightmare of his.

This wasn’t the first night he’d had this dream or one like it. The common thread was always Felicity, covered in blood, dying at his feet. Sometimes she blamed him with her dying breath, like tonight. Others she cried and told him she loved him before dying in his arms. Those were the worst ones. But she died in each and every nightmare he had. And in the dream, he always knew the one who had killed her was Slade Wilson.

Oliver paced… he shot arrows into tennis balls… he even did a few runs on the salmon ladder. But the anxiety from his nightmare remained lodged in his chest. So he crossed to the desk he’d set his phone on and, closing his eyes for a moment, he opened his texting app. He promised himself it was just a text. If she was asleep, it wouldn’t disturb her. If she was awake, on the other hand, she’d reply. He just needed to reassure himself that she was okay. Just one text. Then he could relax.

Oliver: Hey. Are you awake?

He set the phone down and paced a little, stopping by the small fridge Felicity had put in last summer and getting himself a bottle of water. He took a long swig and heard his phone ding. A reply. He rushed back over to the table and snatched up his phone.

Felicity: unfortunately. What’s up?

He paused, his fingers hovering over the phone, unsure what to reply with. What could he tell her? He didn’t want to worry her, but if he didn’t say something soon, she’d probably freak out even more. Oh, this was a bad idea.

He was still figuring out what to say when she texted again.

Felicity: did you have a nightmare?

She always seemed to know. Even the next day, when she’d see him in the office or here at the foundry, she always seemed to sense when he’d had a bad nightmare. He knew she worried about it, even though he always was telling her not to. So he really shouldn’t have been surprised that she guessed it was a nightmare this time as well. And there was absolutely no sense in trying to lie to her.

Oliver: yes.

Felicity: I’ll be right there

Oliver felt a rush of emotions just then. Relief, gratitude, panic… He was in the middle of typing out a protest when she texted him again.

Felicity: don’t bother telling me not to cuz i’m already getting in my car

He blew out a breath. For better or worse, she was on her way. In the meantime, he was going to finish his water and look for a t-shirt to slip on because being shirtless with her at this time of night, alone in the foundry… that was not a good situation to put himself into. Not now, with his walls down and his emotions so close to the surface. Oliver wasn’t sure a simple t-shirt would help but… it couldn’t hurt, right?

Oliver was back to pacing when Felicity let herself in through the security door. She appeared at his side in an instant, her hand on his arm, stilling him. He looked at her then and the first thing he saw was her concerned eyes behind her glasses. Then, he slowly took in the rest of her appearance. Her hair was pulled up into a bun, tendrils and curls escaping and trailing down her neck. Her face was clear of makeup, making him notice the freckles on her nose even more and how pink and pouty her lips were even without lipstick. She wore what looked like pajama pants with a tank top and her jacket thrown hastily over the top. On her feet were fluffy shearling boots.

She looked incredible. As usual.

But that wasn’t what he should be noticing right then. And he absolutely shouldn’t be noticing how badly he wanted to reach out and hold her close to him. Yet he did notice and his palms literally itched with the need to touch her and make sure she was real and whole and safe.

“Oliver? I’m here. Are you okay?”

“Felicity…” He literally didn’t know what else to say. As much he wanted to hide it from her, he couldn’t quell the shaking that started in his hands and moved suredly up his arms to his shoulders and across his back.

She came to him immediately and took his hands in hers, looking him in the eye. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost. Come on, let’s sit down.”

Felicity led him over to his cot, the only real place two people could sit. Oliver willed his brain to believe it was a regular sofa and not a bed. Her touch, even just on his hands, was calming him already and when she sat next to him, her leg pressed against his, he could feel himself relaxing even further. She was there. She was okay.

“Was it a bad dream?”

He blew out a sigh. “Yeah, but that’s not all, Felicity. I know the dream was brought on by Slade Wilson and the threats he’s made against me, my family and my friends. I’m worried. Maybe I was wrong to bring you, Dig, Roy and Sara into this. You all could get hurt… or worse.”

“Stop.” Her voice was quiet and commanding. “You stop that right now, Oliver Queen. Do not even thinking about distancing yourself from all of us. You need us and we need you. We are a team . Slade is a danger, but we’re being proactive about it.”

“What if he got to you?” he asked, almost hating to voice the fear. The look in Felicity’s eyes changed a little and she sagged against him, her shoulder brushing his.

“He doesn’t even know a thing about me. And even if he did, you’d protect me. You’re my hero,” she told him, her lips quirking. He realized she was trying to make a joke out of this but she was more right than she probably knew.

“Felicity,” he whispered. The thought of something happening to her, of Slade doing something to her, wrenched his gut like nothing else. The man had threatened everyone Oliver knew, his city, his entire life... He felt he could deal with all of that. But Felicity… she was different. Special .

She looked up at him, her eyes shining behind her glasses. The light in the foundry was low and Oliver found himself fascinated for a drawn out moment by how the light caught the curve of her cheek, how it sparkled in her eyes as she watched him. Felicity believed in him in a way that no one in his life ever had before. She knew him astonishingly well, even though he hadn’t known her before last year. She was so damn important to him…

Oliver found himself drifting towards her, his head bending towards hers, his eyes intent on hers. Her lips parted but she didn’t move away from him. He was close enough to count her eyelashes now, her soft breaths fanning his face, her subtle perfume filling his senses. He wanted to kiss her so badly he ached with it. The pull was unlike anything he’d ever felt before.

Before the Gambit, Oliver wouldn’t have hesitated. Back then, if he wanted something, he took it. But he wasn’t that man any more. He couldn’t afford to be that thoughtless, that selfish. And right now, while he wanted to kiss Felicity more than he’d ever wanted to kiss another woman in his life, he knew that to indulge the way he wanted to would be breathtakingly selfish. This life he led, the danger he surrounded himself with, it meant that he couldn’t have a normal life. Felicity deserved a normal life with someone who wouldn’t bring danger to her front door every time she turned around.

So Oliver held himself there for a moment longer, his nose just barely brushing hers, and took a breath. Then, with all the self control he possessed, he drew back. Her eyes were closed but he saw her shoulders slump. Then, she was pulling back as well. There was a long moment where they both were quiet, still, collecting themselves.

Felicity got to her feet, brushing her hands on her pajama pants and giving him a smile that reminded him so much of how she’d smiled at him after Isabel had walked out of his hotel room in Russia. It made him feel a little ill to see it again.

“I better get going. Hopefully I can get another hour or two of sleep before my alarm goes off,” she said, moving towards the stairs. Oliver followed after her, feeling unsure what to do or say.  “See you tomorrow? Err… later today?”

He’d been skipping the office a lot lately, something Felicity had been giving him grief about. He felt bad about that. “Yeah, I’ll be in.”

She nodded, her eyes skating away from his. “Okay. See you later then. Get some sleep,” she said before escaping up the stairs. Because that’s what it felt like she was doing; escaping.

When the security door slammed shut, Oliver sagged and trudged back to the cot. That was a mistake. A huge mistake. And now things were awkward again. He cursed himself as he readied to lay back down and try to sleep. Though he knew, sleep would most likely evade him.

Chapter Text

“The streets are quiet,” Sara said, her fists on her hips as she faced off against Oliver. Felicity looked up from her keyboard, noticing the somewhat stormy expression on Oliver’s face as his once-ex stood toe to toe with him. “Slade is quiet right now. The Huntress is in police custody. Can’t we have a night off?”

His jaw looked like it could cut stone, as tight as he had it clenched. “Slade may be quiet, but he is out there , Sara. He’s going to make a move and--”

“And when he does, our resident IT genius is going to be all over it.” Sara placed her hands on Felicity’s shoulders. “Come on. We’ve been running ragged for weeks now and we could all use a night off to recharge.”

“Sara…”

“Please, Oliver?” Felicity hated to resort to begging, but desperate times, desperate measures. Oliver’s blue eyes snapped to hers and his entire demeanor seemed to shift.

“I wouldn’t mind a night,” Diggle admitted. “Lyla wanted to see this movie and we just haven’t had time…”

“Fine. We’ll take a night off. But everyone stay alert, okay? Felicity, you have your searches running?” Oliver looked at her hopefully and she patted her computer tower.

“Yep. Soon as there’s a hit, I’ll get a ping on my phone.”

“Okay. We’ll take the night off. But if anyone sees anything off, you let me know.”

“Will do, boss,” Sara said with a salute. Oliver glared at her. Felicity chuckled.

Everyone began to disperse and Sara tapped Felicity’s arm. “C’mon. You’re with me.”

“I, but… Netflix…” Felicity sputtered. Sara rolled her eyes and smiled.

“You can do that anytime. Tonight, you and I are going to do a little drinking, a little dancing, and a lot of girl talk. I can’t really do it with my sister these days, even if she’s forgiven me for the whole Ollie mess seven years ago.”

Come to think of it, Felicity couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a girl’s night. It’d probably been in college, with a bunch of girls from her dorm. And that was… ages ago. “Okay. Where to?” Felicity asked, standing up and grabbing her purse.

“Upstairs will do. See ya, Ollie!” Sara called to Oliver as she pulled Felicity towards the stairs.

“Be careful!” he called back.

Sara rolled her eyes again. “Yes, dad, I’ll have her back by curfew.”

Oliver was still sputtering when they dashed through the security door and into the back hallway behind the club.

Thanks to her new employment there, Sara was able to snag them a cushy VIP booth near the dance floor. Felicity ordered the first round of shots and they toasted each other before throwing back the burning alcohol. It warmed her from the inside out, loosening her limbs and making her mind go pleasantly fuzzy. Sara tugged her on the dance floor and they danced for a couple of songs before returning to the booth to do it all over again, taking turns on who bought the shots. Eventually, Felicity pleaded for them to switch to water and Sara begrudgingly relented.

“Can’t have you show up to work tomorrow all hungover. Ollie would kill me,” Sara mused as she sipped at her water.

“It’s cute that you think I won’t be hungover anyhow,” Felicity mumbled, pushing some damp hair off her forehead. She’d taken down her ponytail when they first started dancing and now her hair was sticking to her sweaty neck most unpleasantly. She had some regrets. “Besides, Oliver won’t care if I have a bit of a headache. I think you’re overestimating his ‘boss-ness’.”

Sara rolled her eyes in dramatic fashion. “I didn’t mean he’d be upset at you being hungover… he’ll be upset that I got you drunk enough to be hungover, and that he wasn’t hovering around us all night to make sure you were safe and sound.”

Now it was her turn to roll her eyes. “Oh please. Oliver isn’t like that. Not with me.”

Her friend and teammate burst out laughing. “Oh, Felicity. Tell me you’ve seen how he looks at you, how he always asks you for your opinion or input on a plan, how he’s always ten times nicer to you than he is to anyone else on the team.”

Felicity felt her cheeks heat up. “We’re just friends, Sara. It’s not like that with us. He’s just concerned about me and honestly, if anything, it’s patronizing.”

“Okay, I’ll give you the patronizing thing… at least a little. The man can be a bit overbearing with the people he cares about, particularly the women. But I’m telling you, it’s because his feelings for you run a lot deeper than friendship.”

Maybe she would have thought so once but now… “You’re wrong, Sara. He doesn’t look at me that way.”

“He so looks at you that way. Take it from someone who used to be looked at him that way a long time ago.” Sara paused, sipping at her water thoughtfully before continuing. “Actually, I take that back. He used to look at me, but it wasn’t quite as intense as the way he looks at you now. Honestly, if I’d been getting some of this from him back then, I would have been over the moon, booking the reception hall and sending out save the date cards. Are you telling me you’ve never got the impression that man was interested in you? Ever? You’re a smart, observant woman, Felicity. I have a hard time believing that.”

“Okay. Maybe last summer I started to think that… maybe… he could be interested in me. We spent a lot of time together after the Undertaking and I thought we were flirting. But then he started to get weird and it just wasn’t the same. We’ve got a bit of that back but… he’s very careful not to flirt with me. I think maybe he realized he was doing it and didn’t want to give me the wrong impression.”

“Or maybe the right impression.” Sara lifted an eyebrow at her.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Just that… Ollie doesn’t have the best romantic track record and given his new… hobby , he might be nervous about starting things with you.”

“Oliver? Unsure? With a woman? I doubt that,” Felicity scoffed.

“He’s not the same man he was before the Gambit.” Sara’s voice was solemn and Felicity knew she meant she wasn’t the same either. Neither of them were. They’d lost something of themselves in the tragedy.

“I know that, Sara,” Felicity replied, softening her voice. “But I’ve also seen him with women since being back and… he doesn’t seem to struggle too much.”

“You’d be surprised. Plus, those women weren’t you . He can’t be casual with you.”

She chewed on her lip, considering Sara’s words. “There is one thing…”

Sara leaned closer over the table. “What? Tell me.”

“Well, the other week… he had a nightmare and I came over to make sure he was okay--”

“Wait, wait, wait. You came over because he had a nightmare? In the middle of the night?”

“He called me. He sounded rough so I came right over.”

Sara narrowed her eyes. “Mmhmm. Go on.”

“We talked and he was calming down and just… well… we almost kissed.”

“What?!?”

Heads all around them swiveled to stare at them and Felicity winced. “Shhh!”

“Sorry, just… you almost kissed, Felicity? You’re sitting here telling me you don’t think Oliver thinks of you romantically when you two almost kissed ? Why the hell didn’t you lead with that?”

Felicity wasn’t sure, exactly. There was a part of her, small and private, that wanted to keep that lost moment to herself. Neither she nor Oliver had mentioned it since, pretending it hadn’t happened. But she hadn’t forgotten. Not even close. She thought of that almost kiss constantly. Her dreams had teased her with what it might have been like had their lips met. What Oliver’s arms around her would have felt like, his hair under her fingertips, their hearts beating together…

“I don’t know, Sara. I just… we didn’t kiss. Okay?”

“Who stopped it? Him? Or you?”

“Him. He leaned close and then stopped… then he pulled away. I felt mortified so I made a quick excuse and got out of there. We haven’t talked about it since.”

“Hmm.” Sara looked thoughtful as she tapped a finger to her chin.

“What does that hum mean?”

“It means I think I need to talk to Ollie.”

Felicity grabbed Sara’s arm. “Oh please, don’t. Sara… I don’t want him to know I’ve told you all this. You have to promise me you won’t say anything to him.”

“Felicity…”

“Please, Sara.” She gave her friend her best puppy dog eyes. Finally, Sara sighed.

“Fine. But if something doesn’t shake loose soon, I reserve the right to at least smack him upside the back of his head.”

Felicity chuckled and let go of Sara’s arm, relaxing and leaning back in the booth. “Sounds like a deal. Now, with that out of the way… now it’s your turn.”

Sara looked surprised. “My turn?”

“Yes. Tell me the story with Nyssa.”

“Oh crap.”

Felicity laughed. Turn about was fair play, after all.

Chapter Text

Oliver had been sitting there on the cold concrete floor, his back against an equally cold concrete pillar, for so long now that he was numb all over. That suited him fine; it matched the way he felt inside. Everything felt numb, from his head down to his heart and down to his toes. All he could do was stare at the blank walls of this backup lair that he hadn’t stepped foot in for months now. 

He’d purchased the space at the beginning of the year, planning with Felicity to build a bigger, smarter, more functional bunker for the whole team. But then things got busy and Slade revealed himself and the secondary location was left unused. It wasn’t until the day after his mother was killed that he even remembered this space existed. 

He needed to be alone.  

He’d been here ever since, frozen, unsure what to do next, his damning thoughts plaguing him constantly. Slade Wilson had killed his mother, brutally, in front of him and Thea. As horrible as it was for him to have to witness her be run through with a sword, he knew it had to be a million times worse for Thea. She wasn’t used to this sort of violence. She hadn’t witnessed their father (and no mistake about it, Robert Queen was Thea’s father in all the ways that mattered) put a gun to his head and pull the trigger. Oliver should be there with her, comforting her, helping her through this, reassuring her that he wasn’t going anywhere. 

But he was frozen. Stuck. Overcome. 

It was all his fault. His mother sacrificed herself for him and Thea but if it weren’t for him, she never would have needed to. The guilt was crushing. The regret was sickening. 

“Oliver?” Her voice interrupted his dark spiral of thoughts. “Are you in here?” 

For the briefest moment, he considered not answering her. But he realized that with the light on, she had to know someone was in here. And since he was the only other one who knew about the space, she’d know already that he was here. Her calling out like that wasn’t an inquiry; it was a notice that she was here and he’d better be prepared to receive her. 

Oliver shifted on the cold, hard ground, his muscles protesting at movement after so long staying still. “I”m here,” he called back, his voice threadier than he expected. He cleared his throat, finding it dry and sore. 

He saw Felicity as she rushed towards him, her face filled with concern. His heart leapt towards her while his body remained still. It was the first time he’d seen her since… that night. She’d shown up at the park with John and they’d stayed with him and Thea, drove them home. Oliver hadn’t spoken a word but he still recalled the way Felicity’s hand constantly smoothed down his arm and his back, trying to soothe him. Her touch had been the one thing that grounded him that night. 

But at the Queen mansion, he’d shut himself in his room and his friends had left and he hadn’t even spoken to Thea. He knew it was wrong to leave her alone but he had no words to comfort her with. Not then. Not now. He’d left the mansion because of all the pressure he felt to find his strength before he was ready. He’d needed to be alone. 

Now… all he felt was empty. 

Felicity knelt by his side and her hand went immediately to the side of his face, cradling his cheek. “Oliver! You’re as cold as ice! How long have you been down here??” 

He had no idea. Hours? Days? Oliver only looked at her, his eyes drinking her in. She was so warm and bright, she smelled amazing. He felt a pull towards, wanting to fall into her arms. Could he do that? 

“Your mother’s funeral is in the morning, Oliver. You need to be there. For Thea. For… yourself.” 

Tomorrow? So soon? Maybe he’d been here longer than he thought. 

“I--I don’t know if I can. Felicity--” His voice was scratchy and quiet. She grabbed his arm. 

“You can. I will help you. But right now we need to get you off this floor.” She stood pulling up on his arm as she went. Oliver knew he could easily shake her off but she didn’t deserve his mulishness. He let her pull him up, getting his feet awkwardly underneath him. He wobbled, his legs threatening to give out on him but he braced a hand against the pillar to steady himself. 

“You got it?” she asked him, breathless. Her whole body was underneath his arm, trying to support him. 

“Felicity, you didn’t have to come here,” he told her quietly. 

“No one had heard from you in days. Not even Thea and she was out of her mind with worry. No one knew where to look for you either. I remembered this place, but I didn’t tell anyone. I wanted to come and check before raising any alarms.”

“Thank you for that.” 

Felicity led him over to a folding chair she’d left there the last time they’d both been down here together. She nudged him towards it and he lowered himself onto it. It felt strange to sit normally after so long and his joints protested the change. Felicity knelt down next to him, her hand on his, her eyes still filled concern. 

“Oliver… what happened is awful and I can only imagine what you’re feeling right now,” she said. 

“Can you?” He stared down into her upturned face. “Have you ever experienced anything like this before?” His words were harsh but he kept his voice soft. His purpose wasn’t to upset her, but to make her see how he was hurting. 

Her eyes glistened and he knew. She saw. Her hand tightened on his. “Of course not,” she sighed. “It’s unfathomable. Your mother… she was an indomitable spirit. I can’t say she was ever a favorite of mine, but I respected her. And I never doubted how much she loved her family. You and Thea were always her first priority.”

Oliver squeezed his eyes shut, recalling his mother’s final moments, her last words. She had tried to shield them… first from Slade’s blow and secondly from the horror of witnessing her death. “I know we were.”

“She would hate to see you down here, suffering alone, shutting out your sister, hurting. She would want you to get back on your feet, fight for your family, live to face Slade another day.” 

He swallowed hard. She was right. Yet he still felt frozen. 

“I can’t--”

“I need you, Oliver,” she said quickly and his eyes flashed to hers. “I need you to get up, walk out of here, and be the man I know you can be. Slade wants to take over this city, we know that now. You can’t sit by and just… let him. You have to get up. You have to fight .” 

His throat was dry again, but not from thirst and disuse this time. It was because of the passion in the eyes of this woman before him. She spoke to him, called to him and his heart. She knew he couldn’t resist the call of people who needed his help. More than that, she knew he couldn’t resist her . He never have been able to. 

“Felicity… what if I can’t beat him? What if--”

“Shh. You will beat him because you must. You want to save this city? You want to right your father’s wrongs and all the wrongs of all the fathers who have corrupted Starling City? This is how you do it. You stand up and fight because it is the right thing to do.” 

He pulled her up, so she stood before him and he had to tip back his head to keep meeting her eyes. She stood between his spread legs and he could feel the soft fan of her breath on his face, feel the warmth of her body so near his. He kept his hands on hers, twining their fingers together. Felicity didn’t look away or start to stammer. She stood strong and met his gaze. 

She was his equal.  He realized that now more than ever before. Her strength matched his, support his, fed his. And he did the same for her. All last year he’d been focused on Laurel but that was the wrong woman, wasn’t it? All along, it had been Felicity. 

“I’ll need you,” he told her earnestly. “If I’m to even have a hope of fighting Slade… I’ll need you.”

“You have me,” she said softly. Then, her lashes fluttered as she caught herself. “And Dig. You have us both. You are not alone.”

He wanted her to take back the correction but understood why she’d made it. Oliver struggled to rein in his emotions; he’d spent days walling them up in an effort to not feel anything and now, within five minutes of being in Felicity’s presence, they were spilling forth. It wasn’t right… it wasn’t fair to her. She deserved so much better than him . He squeezed her hands again. 

“Felicity, I… I know I shouldn’t be so selfish but having you here, having you--” He bit off his words, tried again. “You deserve so much better. You deserve fine words and grand gestures… You deserve a normal man.” 

Her eyelashes fluttered again as she drew in her breath, her eyes searching his. “Oliver?” 

He pulled her to him, his hands moving up her arms, cupping her shoulders. A fine tremor ran through her, making her shake a little. So he stood, but didn’t move away from her. Instead, he crowded into her more and she reached for him, her hands grabbing his arms. 

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” he admitted, just before he brought his hands up to cup her face. Then, bending his head towards her, he pressed his lips to Felicity’s. 

They were soft, plush and full, warm and perfect. He could feel the frame of her glasses pressing lightly against his cheeks as he turned his head, deepening the kiss. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her fully against him, letting her body warm his and bring him back to life. He traced her lips with the tip of his tongue, enjoying the flavor of her and hoping, praying , she might grant him entrance. 

She did. Her lips parted on the sweetest moan, a soft sound that Oliver eagerly swallowed as he stroked his tongue into her mouth, tasting her fully. Her tongue teased his and he felt his blood boil as instinct fought to take over. 

But this wasn’t the time and it definitely wasn’t the place for what he wanted. Plus, they needed to have a conversation first and it definitely wasn’t the time for that. So, with great reluctance, Oliver drew back from Felicity, unable to resist placing a few more soft kisses on her pouting lips before resting his forehead against hers. 

Her eyes were closed still, her breath stuttered. Her arms were around him, a hand in his hair and she didn’t move. He rather liked how it felt, being held by her. And holding her. God, this felt right . He’d fought it all year long only to end up here anyhow and Oliver couldn’t see fit to regret what had just happened here. If anything, he regretted all the time he’d wasted trying to stay away from her. 

“Later,” she breathed. “After… Slade. We’ll talk.” 

It was like she could read his mind. As always. “Yes,” he agreed. 

“But for now… we need to prepare to fight back. Are you with us?”

Oliver drew back so he could look in her eyes which were now open and watching him closely. He smiled, feeling warm in her embrace. “No place I’d rather be.” 

Chapter Text

It was done. 

Slade was cured of the Mirakuru, Oliver fought and subdued him, and now the man was in an ARGUS prison on Lian Yu. It was done

Of course, there was more to the story than just that. Felicity was instrumental in administering the cure… Oliver had discovered cameras in the now empty Queen mansion and had plotted with Felicity to use them to lure Slade to come to kidnap her. In the days leading up to Slade’s terrible siege on the city, Oliver learned that the madman’s true endgame was simply to take everything Oliver loved from him; his family, his city… his love . Back on Lian Yu all those years ago, Slade had thought that love was Laurel Lance. But she was long gone now. Felicity had actually come up with the idea to pose as his great love and Oliver wasn’t sure she knew just how close to the mark she was. It still wasn’t the time to discuss it. 

The words weren’t spoken… they simply acted out a small scene where he told her she needed to stay hidden there, safe from Slade. And then he kissed her. It was a good show for the cameras. And it had worked quite well. Oliver got the call while still mopping up the army of Mirakuru soldiers in the tunnel outside the city that Slade had Felicity and he wanted a confrontation. 

After that, everything had gone exactly according to plan. While Slade had postured to Oliver about taking away his true love the way Oliver’s choice had taken Shado from him, Felicity had been close enough to stab him in the neck with the Mirakuru cure. After that, it’d been a quick but brutal fight but Oliver had gotten the upper hand. And with the help of ARGUS, Slade was now locked up. Oliver, Felicity and Dig had flown him to Lian Yu themselves, to see to it personally. 

Now they were back home, a home that was picking up the pieces from the siege, much the way they’d had to pick up the pieces from the Undertaking only a year before. It made Oliver wonder just how much he was actually doing to save this city. Or was he just hastening it’s destruction? 

He was tired. It felt like he’d been awake for days on end. But there was something he had to do. 

After the three of them arrived back in Starling, Dig left to go check on Carly and AJ and, as he said, sleep for a week. Oliver called a cab to drive himself and Felicity. They didn’t even discuss it, either before or on the trip home. He really had no place else to go now. And they still needed to have that talk. 

However, they were both dead on their feet. And no sooner had they sat on Felicity’s overstuffed sofa but they’d fallen asleep. Fast and deep and sound asleep. They didn’t wake for hours, until long after the sun had set and the room around them plunged into darkness. 

Oliver woke to a soft noise and a movement at his side and it took him a full minute to remember where he was and who he was with. He couldn’t remember the last time he’s slept so deeply that he forget where he was. Before the Gambit, to be sure. 

That wasn’t to say that he was comfortable. There was a crick in his neck from where he’d let his head rest against the low back of the sofa. What was comfortable, however, was Felicity, cuddled up to his side. She made the soft sound that had woken him again as she shifted against him. Her head was against his chest, her arm tucked around his waist. He bent his head, smelling the soft floral fragrance of her shampoo and he smiled. 

He’d hoped, after arriving back in Starling, that he and Felicity would get to talk about things between them and maybe… well. He’d hoped . Apparently the both of them had been more exhausted than either of them thought. He felt refreshed now. 

“Felicity,” he murmured into her hair. 

She moaned, a sweet noise that had his blood heating.  She shifted against him again, rubbing her cheek into the fabric of his shirt. “Tired…” she sighed. 

“Are you?” he asked, feeling amused. If she was determined to sleep, he could easily carry her into her room, lay her on her bed where it was more comfortable and leave her to sleep. They could always have their big talk later. Though the prospect of that was a little disappointing.

“Mmm…” She moved again, stretching. Oliver felt his body harden in response and he squeezed his eyes closed, willing himself to calm back down. While he was holding his breath, Felicity stilled. “Wait. Oliver?” 

“Yep,” he managed. 

Just like that, she was up, pushing away from him and Oliver instantly felt cold where her body had been touching his. She sat up, brushing her hair out of her face and rearranging her glasses on her face. He straighter, clearing his throat, unsure what to do or say now. 

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…” She trailed off, gesturing at him and he could swear he saw her cheeks burn red in the dim light of the living room. 

“Felicity, it’s okay. I fell asleep too. I-- I didn’t mind it… you resting on me. Felt nice, actually.” Oliver felt awkward but kept promising himself he wasn’t going to run from this. From her. 

“Oh…” Her eyes were wide on him and Oliver found himself holding his breath. “We do need to have that talk, don’t we?”

“Yes. We do.” Oliver stood up, which made her look more flustered. But he smiled gently and inclined his head towards her kitchen. “We also shouldn’t have the talk on an empty stomach. You have anything in your fridge?” 

“Oh… uh…” If anything, her cheeks turned redder. “Actually, I’m not much of a cook…”

Oliver walked into her kitchen, flicked the lights on, and headed directly for the fridge. He opened it to find… a container of yogurt, a bottle of water, and box of leftovers. And that was it. He turned to regard her as she joined him, her expression sheepish. 

“I know, but… I eat take out. A lot.”

“Let’s see the menus,” he said, holding out his hand. 

Ten minutes later, they had food from Mr. Chow’s on the way and Felicity had shown him where her bathroom was so he could take a shower. When he’d insisted he could wait until she had hers, she waved him off. “I’ll just hop in super quick before we eat. Guests first.” 

Oliver felt strange that she thought of him as a guest but couldn’t put his finger on why. He didn’t want to argue so he thanked her and shut himself in her little en-suite bathroom to take the quickest shower he could manage. It was breathtakingly difficult not to think of her in this room, taking showers… naked. One whiff of her shampoo and he was assaulted with a million different memories and fantasies from the last two years. 

Despite bumping the temperature down, the shower did nothing to quell his arousal and when he toweled off a few minutes later, he was harder than he’d been when he got in the shower to start with. Cursing to himself, he pulled on his cargo pants and henley but left his socks and shoes off. 

When he exited, Felicity dashed in behind him, calling out for him to watch for the delivery person from Mr. Chow’s who should be there any minute now. Oliver was glad for the distraction. Focusing on that small task did wonders to take his mind off his more lecherous thoughts. They hadn’t even talked yet, for crying out loud. It could be she wasn’t interested in anything more with him. There was absolutely no sense in getting ahead of himself. 

Still. Oliver found it nearly impossible to restrain his hopes. 

The food arrived and he busied himself with dishing up the plates for both of them. He set them on the coffee table in front of her sofa and then paused, unsure for a moment. Then, he decided to screw it and hunted up a few candles and some matches to light them with. By the time Felicity emerged, he had their dinner lit with candlelight, a couple glasses of red wine poured, and some soft music playing through a bluetooth speaker. 

Felicity came to a halt, her eyes wide as she drank in the scene before her. Oliver stood, his palms suddenly feeling damp so he wiped them on his pants. Maybe he’d gone too far setting a romantic scene. Nervously, he watched her as her eyes lingered on the wine and candles and then moved back to meet his own. 

“Wow,” she said, her voice little more than a breath. 

“Too much?” he asked, holding his breath. 

She shook her head quickly, the wet tips of her hair shaking droplets loose. Her glasses were off and her face was clean of makeup, making her eyes look somehow enormous. His eyes drank her in, noting the golden dusting of freckles marching across her nose, the way her wet eyelashes clumped together giving her a dewy, innocent look, how her bare lips looked so plump and pink and soft that he could already imagine sinking his teeth into the tender flesh. She wore a loose t-shirt and some shorts that were short enough that he barely saw the hem of them peeking out from under the shirt. Like him, her feet were bare and he noticed her toenails were painted purple. Oliver literally had to tear his eyes away from her before Felicity noticed him staring.

Instead, he beckoned her over to the sofa, indicating the spot next to him. She obliged, sitting next to him and offering him a smile before she lifted her wine glass. 

“What should we toast to?” she asked. 

Oliver hummed thoughtfully. “To saving the city?”

Felicity shook her head and he noticed a twinkle in her eyes. “How about… to us?” She lifted a brow as she held her glass up towards him in a clear challenge. 

It was a challenge he was more than happy to meet. “To us,” he agreed. He clinked his glass with hers and took a drink, noticing how she kept her eyes on his over the rim of her glass the entire time she sipped. 

Slowly, Felicity returned her glass to the table. She cleared her throat. “So. I guess I’ll start. Uhhh… you kissed me the other day.”

“I did,” he returned, also setting his glass down. He took a bite of his food and she mirrored him, nodding her head. 

“And you did that because…?”

“I told you, Felicity. I’d wanted to do that for a while.”

“How long a while, Oliver?”

Tough question. “Months,” he admitted. “Longer, probably. Maybe as long as I’ve known you. I don’t know. I can’t remember knowing you and not wanting to kiss you.” 

“Oh…” Her cheeks were adorably pink and she cast her eyes down, focusing on taking another bite of her dinner. After a moment, she spoke again. “Is that all you’ve wanted? A kiss?” 

His eyes widened and hers did too, looking shocked at what she’d just said. “Oh! I didn’t mean… not like that … I mean…” Felicity stopped herself and took a deep breath. 

“Felicity.” He caught her eyes with his own. “No. That’s not all I wanted. Not by a long shot. I came so close, so many times. Last summer, when we spent so much time together… I could see myself falling into a life with you and it was… everything . But then all the copy cat vigilantes started acting up and then we had to deal with the Dollmaker and the Count and… I got scared.”

Felicity’s forehead crinkled in an expression of adorable confusion. “Scared?” It was clear she had a hard time picturing him being scared of anything. That made him smile. 

“Terrified,” he told her. “Because I realized that what I felt wasn’t just a crush or a passing attracting… it was deep and growing every day and I knew that with this life, chances were very good of me losing you. Or you losing me. Or some other awful thing happening. I convinced myself that you deserved more out of life than a broken man like me.” 

“Oh, Oliver.” Felicity’s eyes shone with unshed tears and he knew she wanted to argue against what he’d just said. But had to finish now that he’d gotten started. 

“I tried to put my feelings back in a box, push it aside. Just be friends with you. You and I had become such good friends and I really wanted to keep that, if I could. But then… well. Things happened.”

“You slept with Isabel.” 

Say what now? Oliver blinked. Did she actually still believe he had? “No, Felicity, I didn’t. I actually told you that I didn’t, but you must have fallen asleep. You must not have heard me.”

She looked shocked. “But… all this time… I thought-- You knew I thought--”

“I couldn’t do that, Felicity. Even pushing my feelings for you aside, I couldn’t do that. She’s… not a good person. And I wasn’t attracted to her, like that. Isabel tried, but I turned her down.”

“Oh… wow…”

“And I was so jealous of Barry, when he was in town, and I hated myself because I had no right to be jealous. Plus, I knew you’d be better off with him than me any day. He wasn’t so… damaged.”

“Oliver,” Felicity interjected. She reached forward and grabbed his hand. “That has never bothered me. Not once since I’ve known you. I only ever wanted you to let me help you when you were feeling bad. I just wanted to be there for you.”

“You’ve been my rock, Felicity. I don’t know what I would have done this last year without you. Probably would have made a billion mistakes.” 

She grinned crookedly. “Probably. Now tell me, do I need to tell you all the ways in which you were wrong to push me away and tell yourself you weren’t good for me?”

Oliver grinned back and shook his head. “No. I’ve… I’ve figured that part out myself.”

One of her brows lifted. “Oh? What prompted that?” 

“Several things. Believe it or not… Slade showing up made a lot of things clear. So did losing my mother. Through it all, everything was stripped away and I realized what was truly important. Friends. Family. Loved ones. Touchstones. Soulmates.”

Her eyes grew wide as she stared at him and Oliver knew she was working out what he’d said. “Uh,” she finally said, softly, “which am I?”

“Friend for sure. Touchstone, definitely. Loved one… and I’m pretty sure you’re my soulmate. Give me half a chance, Felicity, and I will make you my family too.” 

“Oliver…” she breathed. Her eyes were wide behind her glasses, her mouth falling open as she gaped at him. He scooted closer to her on the sofa, his wine and dinner forgotten. Bringing his hand up, he stroked her cheek gently, feeling the soft smoothness of her skin underneath his fingertips. 

“I mean it, Felicity. I’m in love with you. I have been for a while now and the more I tried to deny it, the stronger I felt. I kissed you because I wanted to. And I’d like to do it again.” He stopped, drawing a breath, feeling his heart pounding a mile a minute. Felicity was still staring at him, an inscrutable expression on her face. “That is… if you want me to. If you don’t feel the same, Felicity, just say so and I’ll -”

Her hand came up quick, a finger laying across his lips, silencing him. “Oliver. You’re a smart man, a brilliant tactician, and more street savvy than I could ever hope to be… but sometimes you can be really dense.”

Oliver furrowed his brow, unsure what she was getting at. 

“I’ve been in love with you for ages , Oliver. I thought it was obvious,” she finished, her cheeks pinking a little with her admission. 

Now it was his turn to gape at her. He’d barely let himself hope that she might feel a fraction for him that he felt for her. Oliver knew she found him attractive. That was the bulk of the reason he was always working out shirtless around her. He liked the feel of her eyes on him as he climbed the salmon ladder, did pushups, beat on the training dummy. Oliver knew she cared for him… but Felicity cared for everyone in her life with intensity. Diggle. Roy. But love? 

“When?” he gasped out. 

Her eyes rolled slowly, a gesture of reflection and release. “Oh, probably since we met,” she admitted. “I was drawn to you, even when I knew you were lying. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. And the more I got to know you, the more I felt. I had myself convinced  you would never feel the same way about me and that being at your side, helping you in your mission, that was enough.”

“It’s not enough,” he argued, pulling her to him, his arms wrapping around her. “Anything less than loving you the rest of my life is not enough.” 

A single tear spilled down her cheek. “Oh, Oliver.” 

He kissed her. He couldn’t bear not to have his lips on hers for another second. She met him with equal fervency, her fingers grasping his hair, holding him to her, opening to accept his tongue and twine it with her own. The taste of her kiss went straight to his head… and then to his groin. He moaned, the sound immediately swallowed by her as he pulled her fully onto his lap. Her legs bracketed his hips, hugging him, her core grinding down on his growing erection as they kissed and kissed and kissed… 

Oliver tore his lips from hers, gasping for breath and Felicity immediately skated her lips over his jaw, down his neck, her tongue flickering against his pulse point. His heart was pounding in his chest so hard he thought it might explode. He’d never, ever, been so turned on. 

“I want you,” he groaned. “Felicity, please…” 

He didn’t even know what he was asking until he’d asked… and suddenly all he wanted was her beneath him, spread out for his pleasure. Their pleasure. 

Felicity lifted her head, her eyes cloudy with lust as she regarded him. The color was high on her cheeks, her lips swollen from his kisses, her glasses a little askew on her nose. He’d never seen her look so ravished and beautiful. 

“Yes,” she replied breathlessly. “Yes, Oliver… please…”

Oliver needed no further encouragement. He stood up, a hand under her ass to hold her against him as he moved. “Which way is your bedroom?” 

Felicity’s fingers dug into his shoulders and she looked behind her, waving her hand in that direction. “Down that hall. Last door.” 

As he moved swiftly down the hall, Felicity returned her attention to his neck and Oliver felt his legs shake as her teeth grazed a tendon. 

“Shit, Felicity,” he groaned. He swiftened his steps to her bedroom as her breathy giggle filled his ear. With a growl, he kicked the door closed behind them before striding over to her bed and dumping her right in the middle of it. 

She giggled as she bounced, her eyes sparkling as she watched his fingers fly over his belt buckle and at the fastening of his cargo pants. When her tongue slid out to wet her lips, Oliver felt a rush of heat and he growled. His pants open, but momentarily forgotten, he lunged forward and grabbed the waistband of those ridiculously tiny shorts she wore. In one fluid movement, he tore them and her underwear down her legs, tossing the garments over his shoulder without taking his eyes off of her. 

Her cheeks pinked but before she could build up any real embarrassment over her state of undress, Oliver was yanking his own shirt over his head and he saw how her eyes glued to his abs, his chest, his arms… That distracted her well enough and while her eyes were on him, he took the opportunity to shuck his pants as well. Felicity seemed to gather her wits again and tore her own shirt over her head. She didn’t wear a bra underneath and the sight of her sprawled nude on the bed before him, laid out like a feast, had him hard as steel in an instant. 

He advanced towards her but she scrambled to her knees and held up a hand. “Wait. Just… one second.” 

Amused, he watched as she flicked on the light on her bedside table and then scrabbled in the drawer for something. A moment later, she returned to the middle of the bed brandishing a foil packet. Her tongue was tucked between her teeth and she was giving him that saucy wink of hers where she wasn’t quite able to keep the other eye open while she did it. It made him grin as he moved towards her. 

He kept his eyes on her as he settled on his knees before her, plucked the foil packet from her fingers, and tore it open. Her eyes stayed on his too and he saw how her pupils were swallowing up the blue of her irises. That plus the color rising on her cheeks and her softly panted breaths told him she was every bit as aroused as he was. He rolled the condom down his painfully hard cock, giving it a pump for good measure, not that he needed it. He groaned, wishing his hand was her hand… knowing that soon he would buried inside her. But first… 

Oliver settled over her, kissing down her chest, between her small, pert breasts and down around her navel, over her hip bones and further down until he was breathing in the intoxicating scent of her. Felicity whispered his name, her fingers reaching for him, pushing through his hair, encouraging him. As if he needed further encouragement. 

This was something he was good at, had been good at long before the island. Back then, he’d taken pride in growing his skill in the area of pleasuring women. Now, he had many skills outside of the bedroom that he was proud of but, like riding a bike, eating a woman out was still something he excelled at. And apparently Felicity agreed, judging by the yelps and shouts of his name that came from her as he lavished attention on her soft flesh. Her thighs trembled beside his ears and her fingers pulled at his hair. Oliver savored the bite of pain and, in turn, nibbled on her gently, making her squeal. 

He pushed her until he could feel her muscles tensing up, signaling her impending release. Then, he moved back. Felicity cried out in disappointment, making him chuckle. But as eager as she was, he was equally so. In a moment, he was back over her, kissing her lips, across her jaw, down her neck. Felicity writhed beneath him, her breasts pressing into his chest and making him groan at the feel of her pebbled nipples. He wanted badly to suck on them but… if he didn’t get inside her right this minute, he was going to lose his mind. 

Oliver took his straining cock in hand and positioned it at the juncture of her thighs, right where she was warm and wet and quivering for him. Biting back a moan, he pushed into her in one smooth motion, thrusting until his hips met hers. A cry escaped his lips regardless and Felicity reached for him, her hands on his arms, urging him to drop down closer to her. He obeyed, kissing her deeply as he began to move in and out of her, trying to keep his thrusts slow and even, to build her up properly. 

He needn’t have worried. The welcoming sheath of her body hugged him and the flesh around his plunging cock quivered and pulsed as Felicity’s cries filled his ears. She was on edge in an instant, it felt like, and as much as Oliver desperately wanted to let go and pound into her, it wasn’t ready for this to be over yet. 

She fit him perfectly. It’d been over a year since he’d last had sex but even if it’d been last week, Oliver still thought sliding into Felicity’s body would have felt singularly amazing. He’d known it would feel this good. As early as last summer, he knew. That was part of why he fought against his attraction to her for so long. He knew once he gave himself to her this way, there was no way to go back. He was hers, now and forever. 

And she was his. He knew it when she looked into his eyes, her nails digging into the muscles of his back, her mouth open on a moan. They were connected, and not just physically. 

“Oliver,” she gasped. “Please… harder …”

He groaned but was helpless to resist. Gritting his teeth, he sped up his hips and she lifted hers to move with him, in perfect sync. They built each other up, their pants and cries echoing off the walls of her bedroom. Felicity began to plead with him and he knew exactly what she needed. He was more than happy to give it to her. 

Holding himself up on one elbow, Oliver reached down between their bodies, his fingers grazing her supple curves on the way. He felt where they were connected, where his cock emerged from her body, coated in her desire, before plunging back inside. He felt for the hard nub of her clit and circled it purposefully. Felicity’s cries grew in pitch and volume and he knew she was close. Her walls were clamping on him rhythmically, causing the nerves at the base of his spine to tingle, threatening his own impending release. 

“C’mon, baby,” he urged her, sweat beading his brow. “Let go for me. Let go, Felicity.” 

Oliver tapped at her clit and then gave it a mighty pinch at which point she screamed out, body stiffening for one glorious moment before her hips bucked beneath him and her walls threatened to squeeze the life out of his cock. He continued to fuck her through her orgasm until his own release crashed over him, swamping him from head to toe with unfathomable pleasure. 

They cried each other’s names as they clung to one another, riding out the spasms and waves until they were spent, collapsed in a sweaty heap together. It was many long moments before they were able to catch their breaths and curl up together, their limbs tangling, their hearts pounding in time with one another. Felicity was cradled against his side, her hair tickling his arm as her lips traced over his Bratva tattoo. Oliver felt satisfied in a way he’d never felt before in his life. His arm tightened around her, pulling her even closer. He felt her lips grin against his skin. 

“I was right,” she murmured. 

“What about?” he asked, feeling warm and loose and happy. He never wanted to leave this bed. 

“You are freakishly good at that. Like… woah .” 

Oliver huffed out a laugh. “You’re no slouch either, you know,” he told her. His sweet, beautiful Felicity was a lot more… responsive in bed than he’d expected. Much to his delight. 

“I can’t wait to do that again.”

Heat bloomed low in his belly. “And again. And again…” He pulled her up and dipped his head to kiss her again. 

If Oliver had his way, they’d be doing this again and again for the rest of their lives. 

***

A year later, Oliver asked Felicity to marry him. 

She said yes. 

Six months after that, they were married in front of all their friends and family. 

Two months after their first wedding anniversary, Felicity discovered she was pregnant. 

They got their happily ever after. And while things were never easy (they never could be, not with the lives they lead), and they had their fights, they fought to stay together and faced all the trials that came their way just like that. Together.