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A Matter of Trust

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It had been a moment of weakness, the instant in which Felicity Smoak uttered those two most fatal words.

“I do.”

Night after night she recounted that occasion, remembered seeing Oliver Queen standing across from her, his face grim, his jaw set.  He’d said the words as well, and their fates had been bound together.  It hadn’t been romantic.  It had been a business transaction.

Felicity Smoak had, rather unfortunately, become privy to information regarding her boss Oliver's connections to certain high-profile crimes.  As his personal assistant at Queen Consolidated, she was primely positioned to learn everything about him.

But she’d needed protection from her past, and Oliver could give her that.  Oliver Queen?  He had needed to be sure Felicity would never speak out against him in a court of law.  A deal was struck.

And so began her dark spiral into the underworld of the Russian mob.  She lived under almost constant threat of death, and yet, strangely, she had never felt safer.  It hadn’t taken long for Oliver’s associates to warm up to the new Queen.  They revered her, adored her, and there was a list a mile long of those among them who would lay down their lives to protect her from harm.  In a city where one cop in fifty was a good man, that knowledge allowed Felicity to sleep soundly at night.

It drove Oliver insane.  The men thought it was jealousy.  Felicity thought it was some ridiculous need to assert his control.  Oliver tried not to think about it at all.

The marriage was a peculiar one.  She hated Oliver Queen.  He…didn't say a damned thing about what he thought of her.  But the overwhelming sentiment the moment they had both signed the marriage contract was essentially, "Damn it all, couldn't we have thought of any other way?"  They were married, and they would live despicably ever after.

She would always recall that first evening together with a shudder.  Oh, that night!  She recalled Oliver showing her to her room, her heart beating in her throat as she realized that the marriage wasn’t a legally binding one until….

“You don’t have to touch me!” the words had tumbled out of her mouth bluntly, before she could contain them or rearrange them more delicately.

Oliver's tiny laugh had sent a chill through her blood, as he stepped closer to her, his eyes dark.  “Don’t I?”

“I…no…” she whispered.  “I agreed to this.  I’ll say it was–was–” she stammered.

“Consummated?” Oliver had provided the word, and the air had rushed right out of her.  He stepped still closer and she’d found herself backed against a wall (Oh, what a fitting metaphor for her life in that moment!  Backed against a wall, indeed!).  “What,” he asked quietly, his eyes flickering to her lips, “if I say I don’t trust you?”

She would never…never know how she had summoned the courage to reply curtly, “You’ll have to,” before wrenching her body away from the wall and slipping past him.

Oliver had watched her in consternation over the coming months as she gained not only a certain comfort with her new situation, but also an unwavering loyalty in most of his associates.  She inspired something in them.  Perhaps it was her innocence, or her refusal to be intimidated even when she was most terrified of something.  But it wasn’t long before even the few who grudgingly disliked her respected her.

And she developed a fascinating dynamic with the ones who liked her.  Because really, men didn’t simply "like" Felicity Smoak.  If they liked her, then they loved her.  Most were too terrified to flirt with the boss’s wife.  But some were bold.  Some liked to tease her and flatter her, to invite her to dance because her sullen husband never did.  They would pull her onto the dance floor in front of him, shooting him a sly wink as their hands slid over her back and wrapped around her waist, and Oliver’s knuckles would whiten as they gripped his glass and he’d down another shot of vodka, watching them through narrowed eyes.

It had come to a head one night almost a year into their marriage when he’d been drunk.  “It’s disrespectful!” he’d yelled at her, watching her hackles rise as she whirled around to face him.

“It was a dance!” she spat.  “Don’t be so utterly ridiculous.”

“It was more than a dance.  His hands were all over you in front of me.  He was challenging me.”

“You read too much into everything.  And you’re drunk.  Go to bed, Oliver,” she’d rolled her eyes, lifting the skirt of her dress to climb the stairs.

His hand shot out and closed around her wrist, stopping her.  “Don’t turn your back on me,” he’d said in a low voice.

Slowly, Felicity turned her head only, and spoke over her shoulder.  “Don’t mistake me for a real wife,” she warned.  “I don’t owe you anything, Oliver.  We had a deal.  I’ve kept my end.  You’ve kept yours.  I don’t expect anything else from you, and you certainly shouldn’t expect anything more from me.”

“What if I want more?” he’d demanded, but had read no reaction in her face to his question.

“Don’t speak in Russian at me, Oliver.  You know I don’t understand a word of it.”

Surprised with himself for not realizing he'd slipped into another language, he’d loosened his hold of her wrist, and watched her retreat upstairs, standing still until he heard the sound of the door to her room click shut, taking a grim satisfaction in the fact that tonight, like every other night, he didn’t hear the lock switch.  It was a small consolation, the knowledge that although she wanted nothing to do with him, on some small level, she trusted him.

Their…union, as Felicity referred to it in her mind, had become infinitely more complicated a few short months later when Oliver’s mother was murdered.  He’d been missing from the funeral, and Felicity had been asked to speak—to speak for a woman who had regarded her with nothing short of contempt—in Oliver’s place.

It had been one of the lowest moments in her life.  She hadn’t known what to think, had been furious with him for shirking his responsibilities as a son.  She’d burst into their home, intending to verbally tear him to shreds, but her rebuke died on her lips when she found him on the floor of his bedroom, a dead look in his bloodshot eyes.  His face, that strong, cut face that never trembled, never wavered…it was tear-stained.

“Oh Oliver,” she’d breathed, collapsing to her knees beside him and wrapping him in her arms.

He remembered sucking in a breath of shock when she touched him.  It was like being surrounded by light, too bright to look at.  So he’d closed his eyes and collapsed into her arms, turning his face into her shoulder and choking out a sob, letting her comfort him, her soothing words flowing over him while she gently stroked his back, and her delicate, lithe fingers combed tenderly through his hair.

He would never forget that moment, thinking that this must be what it felt like to be loved by Felicity Smoak.  How unfair that she actually hated him.

The injustice of it all had caused venom to spew from his mouth, and the only thing he could be grateful for was that it hadn’t been directed toward her, for once.  Instead, it had been aimed at his mother’s killer.  “I’ll have his head for this,” he uttered furiously through his tears and his weakness.  “I’ll have his head on a spike.”

Her body had frozen for the briefest instant.  The innocent girl with the viper in her arms.  “It’s not the answer, Oliver.  Can’t you just grieve?  Must you hate, too?” she asked quietly.  “Can’t you just mourn her?  Do you have to turn this into a war?”

He’d lifted his head then to look at her, something in his eyes pleading with her, like he was a drowning man desperate for something to keep him afloat.  “I can’t keep feeling like this.  It’s going to eat me alive.  The anger doesn’t hurt nearly as much.”

To his surprise, she’d smiled very gently at him.  “Of course it hurts.  The things that are best for us often do.”  And she’d pressed a kiss to his forehead.

It was the most affection she’d ever shown him in the entire time he had known her.

So like the greedy bastard he was, he’d taken more.  He’d leaned in and kissed her, savoring the sharp intake of breath in response to the touch of his lips against hers.  He’d felt her start to pull back, and, much to his own shame, he’d panicked.  His hands flew to cup her face and pull her closer.

Imagine his relief, his satisfaction when she acquiesced, when her hands rose to his wrists to steady him, to urge gentility, and she softly kissed him back.

It was the beginning of the end.

They never spoke of it, but months later another precedent was broken.  For the first time that anyone had known them, Oliver Queen danced with his wife.

Oh, they thought it was hilarious, trying to make Oliver jealous.  Felicity smiled to herself when one of their ‘friends,’ a tall, handsome man named Lexie, offered her his hand and invited her to dance, complimenting her dress and adding a soft Russian endearment.  What a wasted effort it was, of course, she thought, casting a subtle gaze in Oliver’s direction as she allowed herself to be led away.  He wasn’t, so far as she could tell, even paying attention.  Instead he was deep in conversation with a guest from out of town, an important contact, and he was carefully masking his emotions behind a vodka tonic.

So imagine her surprise when she saw his firm hand come to rest on the shoulder of her dance partner, bringing them both to a halt.  He leaned in and said something to her partner in Russian, soft and low enough that even though she was learning, she couldn’t pick up a single word.  She hadn’t known what to think when the other man inclined his head slightly before backing away, smoothly transitioning Felicity into her husband’s arms.

She hadn’t been that close to him since his mother’s funeral.  She felt her pulse stammering, her face flushing at the touch of his hand at her lower waist, his fingers closing around hers.  “Well this is a change,” she said.  Because she couldn’t not talk.  She was too nervous.  He was looking at her very intensely and it was making her hands shake.

He didn’t reply, though, just continued looking at her, the only indication that he’d heard her the slight lifting of his eyebrow.

“How are things going with your friend?” she asked instead.  “It must be good if you’re leaving the table.  Lexie was just saying—”

“Do you like Lexie?” he interrupted.

“I…what?  Of course I like him.  He’s nice to me.  He’s always been very sweet and—”

“He made you feel welcome when I first brought you into all this,” Oliver said.

Felicity bit her lip, not quite sure what to make of the statement.  Or was it a question?  She didn’t know.

“I wanted to…” he paused, looking briefly unsure of himself.  He shook his head and didn’t finish the thought, instead gently spinning her in time to the music, crossing her arms in front of her, their hands still touching lightly as he held her and continued the dance.

She gasped lightly when she felt his lips ghost over the back of her neck.  What was he doing?
She opened her eyes and caught sight of their friends watching them, smirks playing at their mouths.  Was that his game?  Was he simply staking his claim?  “I don’t belong to you, you know,” the words slipped out quietly, but she was sure he heard her.  She felt the faintest change in his hold on her hands.  “I don’t.  I’m not property you can acquire, or a thug you can command.  I’m not an organization to be controlled.”  Her heart tightened in her chest as she spoke, feeling humiliated that he so clearly thought of her this way, that he would try to make a display of his ownership.  “I do not,” she said firmly, “belong,” her words were punctuated by her emphasis, “to you.”

He still didn’t reply, but instead turned her again, continuing the dance so that she faced him. 

His grip on her waist was not oppressive or too tight.  In fact, it was just the same as when they began, but she could see the cold steel of anger in his eyes.  He was such an angry man, she thought with a tiny sigh.

The song ended, and she heard the guests of their private party applaud them, pleased with them, and he took advantage of the noise to lean in and whisper to her, brushing his lips against the delicate shell of her ear, “Владельцам вас не то, что я хочу.”

She didn’t understand the whole thing, but she caught part of it: “I want.”

Months later, things came to a head again, when someone came to Oliver, to tell him that Felicity had been meeting with a detective named Quentin Lance.  He’d nearly throttled the man for telling him, for bringing him information that made him so livid, that made his heart wrench with a feeling of betrayal.

It couldn’t be true.  But it was.

The facts were these: That one in fifty, Quentin Lance was one of the only good cops in Starling City.  Felicity trusted him, and when word reached her that her father was in town, she arranged to meet with Lance, to ask for his help.

Although Detective Lance treated Felicity with no small amount of suspicion, he believed her when she said, “I’m coming to you because I don’t want to see him harmed.  I just want to see him behind bars.”  She explained that she knew her husband would protect her, but she still wanted justice.  “Justice,” she emphasized, “not vengeance.”

But Oliver didn’t know any of that.  He only knew that Felicity, the one person for the past two years that he’d genuinely believed was trustworthy, innocent, had just come tumbling from her pedestal.  She was lying to him, keeping secrets, sneaking around behind his back with the likes of Quentin Lance.

When she got home that night, he’d been out of his mind with anguish.  He couldn’t tell what emotion he was feeling, didn’t have a name for it, but when he caught her going up the stairs, her name ripped from his throat like a curse.

She’d paused on the mid-landing of the stairs to look at him, an expression of complete innocence on her face, and he’d snapped.  How could she look at him that way?  How could she pretend that he hadn’t betrayed him?

The next thing either of them knew, he was on the stairs, shoving her against the wall and crushing his lips against hers.  He didn’t know what led him to do it, all he knew was that he suddenly found himself desperate to make her feel something for him.  How could she be so immune to him?  After two years he’d found himself caring more deeply for her every day, sometimes as a friend, sometimes with the affection of family, and sometimes, in his darkest moments, he pined for her like a lover.

And yet she despised him.  Well, he would make her feel something.

His name was a gasp of surprise on her lips, not knowing what had brought on this sudden ardor, but he didn’t slow down for her to catch up.  He raked a hand through her hair, tilting her head back so he could deepen the kiss, and the beast inside his chest roared with satisfaction when her hands wrapped around him and she kissed him back.

For two years he’d been faithful to her, and she knew it.  He had never brought on her the disgrace of sleeping around, had used her as the perfect excuse not to get tangled up with women, whom he found untrustworthy.  But all that pent up emotion and lust was coming to a head, and he clawed at her blouse, ripping it open and grasping her breasts, his thumbs rubbing coarsely over her nipples, feeling them tauten.

She panted in response, releasing a breathy moan as she leaned her head back against the wall and clung to him.  She had no idea what had come over him, but she was not of a mind to make him stop.  He nipped and sucked at the long column of her throat, leaving bruising marks in his wake while she dug her nails into his shoulders, holding onto him for dear life.

Tearing her shirt off of her, he reached up and wrenched aside the cups of her bra, pinching her breast with one hand while his lips closed around the other and gently sucked on it.  Her back arched into his mouth and he laved her with his tongue before switching his attention to the opposite breast, raising his hand to the one that had just been in his mouth and teasing it, now slick with his saliva.

Her hands threaded into his hair and he groaned, his eyes falling shut from the erotic sensation of her fingertips delicately scraping into his scalp.

But he didn’t want delicate and gentle from her.  He wanted her to be as furious, as desperate as he was.  He wrenched her skirt up her hips and shoved his hand between her thighs, palming her through her panties and slaking his lust on the sound of her moans.  She ground against the heel of his hand longingly, and cried out in frustration when he removed the pressure to push her panties aside and test her.  She was slick with need and he could have crowed with pride.

Ha.  She could be made to feel something.

So he shoved two fingers inside of her and fucked her hard, grasping her hip in his free hand to steady her.  Her cries escalated and he took sick pleasure in it, in her need for him.  He felt the exact moment that she reached her climax, and he quickly pulled his hand away, leaving her gasping and empty as she came unravelled, clinging to him for solace, for more, for something to fill the hollow ache.

“I thought I could trust you,” he said coldly in Russian, and she searched his face in confusion.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“It means I’m going to fuck you,” he said, watching the darkening of her eyes and the movement in her throat as she swallowed tightly.

But she didn’t protest, so he freed his hard erection and hoisted her around his waist and, shoving her underwear aside to fuck her against the wall, passion and hurt pouring into his movements as he thrust into her and she screamed his name in response, biting into his shoulder to stave off her pleasure, tears pricking in her eyes from his relentlessness.

He felt like he was breaking something.  He hated himself.

It didn’t stop him.  He ran his thumb over her clit and circled it, driving her insane until she finally came a second time, spilling around him and sobbing his name and slackening in his arms while he continued to pound into her.

“Oliver, please,” she begged softly in his ear.  It was too much, too intense.  “Stop.”

The moment came to a screeching, crashing halt as he forced himself to slow down and pull out of her, gasping for breath.  He slowly lowered her from the wall and instead wrapped his arms around her, crushing her to him, his whole body trembling from the effort.

What he didn’t expect was for her to gently push him back, just slightly, not enough to make him let go, but enough to allow them both to breathe.  He didn’t anticipate that she would study his face, see the distress in his eyes, and gently cup his face in her small hand, before leaning forward to kiss him.

His chest was still rising and falling with each panted breath of air, but she slowly pulled open the buttons of his vest and slipped it off.  She loosened his tie and pulled it free, then began unbuttoning his shirt until she pushed it off his shoulders and freed him of that, too.  With gentle hands, she pushed his pants and boxers the rest of the way down until he kicked off his shoes and stepped out of them.

He was still hard, still desperate to be inside of her, but his very soul was in agony as she undressed him, and a demented part of him needed to know what she would do next.  He was stunned when she unzipped the back of her skirt and slipped out of it with her own underwear, her heels long since having fallen off.  She reached up and unhooked her bra and let it fall, the final addition to the heap of clothing at their feet.

With tenderness he still didn’t understand, she stepped closer to him again and pressed a soft kiss against his chest, over his heart, gently pushing him back and down, until they were on the floor.

He couldn’t remember ever expecting to be seduced by Felicity Smoak.  He’d often fantasized about it the other way around, but he’d underestimated her, clearly.  He groaned when she grasped his cock in her hand and softly stroked it while he lay there with her, his body half-angled on the steps to the top flight of stairs.  And then, he tasted paradise as she slowly sank onto him, gasping, shivering as he filled her, her hands splayed on his chest for balance while she began to ride him and he dropped his head back, groaning in pleasure.

It wasn’t long before he felt that once-familiar pressure building and he spilled inside of her, crying out for her and simultaneously cursing her in Russian, his vixen, his minx, his undoing.  The serpent under the flower.

He slung an arm around her waist and pulled her down to him, rolling them over on the stairs so he could kiss her, wondering when the next time would be that she would allow him the liberty of doing so.  He dominated her with his kiss, his tongue overpowering her  as she clung to him, her body surging against his in response.

It was beautiful and tragic all at once, and they fell asleep together, naked, on the stairs.

When she woke, she was alone, had been carried and deposited in her bed, and he was nowhere to be found.

Later that day she received a message from Roy Harper, warning her that, “I don’t know what’s going on, Mrs. Queen, but there’s a rumor going around that you’ve gotten friendly with some cop.  I think Oliver knows…just…listen, if you ever need anything…anything at all, I’m here for you.  I’m sure this is all a mistake, but if you need to get out of there while we get this sorted…if Mr. Queen is…just…I’m sure he would never hurt you, but if they’ve convinced him…I dunno,” he gave up with a frustrated sigh.  “Just call me back, Mrs. Queen.”

Felicity dropped her phone in shock, the events of the preceding night flickering through her mind, each scene more horrible than the last.

She found Oliver in his den, looking grim.  He didn’t speak when she walked in.

“So,” she said simply, looking at him with contempt.  She’d dressed herself, attempting to use clothes as armor, but no dress or skirt could cover the throbbing ache in her core, the satisfying soreness in her thighs.  She tried not to show it, but her body was humming in satisfaction, and she hated every second of it.  “You got your way.”

Whatever he’d been expecting her to say, that wasn’t it.

“You heard that I’ve been talking to someone on the police force, and you jumped to conclusions, and you remembered that twitchy little out-clause in our arrangement: the fact that we’d never had sex.  So you fucked me.  And now you’re safe.  Do you feel better, Mr. Queen?” she asked coldly.  “Are you satisfied with our arrangement now?  Will you sleep more soundly tonight?”

“I could have him killed you know,” Oliver retaliated, disliking her accusations.  He felt like he’d been struck across the face because what she was suggesting…it had honestly never occurred to him.

“Excuse me?”

“The detective.  Quentin Lance.  All it would take is one word from me and he wouldn’t be an issue.”

“How dare you.  How dare you!  If you lay one finger on him, I’ll never forgive you.”

“Why did you do it?  Why marry me?  Was it really because you wanted protection from your father?  That was what you told me.”

“Why does it matter?  You proposed!  I accepted!  I thought…” she shook her head, tears welling in her eyes as she covered her mouth and turned her head away.  “I thought I could trust you.”
It was rich, coming from her, and Oliver found himself on his feet.  “You’re the one who’s admitted she’s talking to the cops!  And you’re daring to—”

“I was talking to the cops about my father, you fool!” she screamed through her tears.  “Not about you!”

“Your—”

“Father!  He’s back in town and I wanted to give the cops a chance to put him away for good.”

“I could have—”

“You could have what, Oliver?” she snapped.  “Had him killed as well?  Had him tortured in my name?  I trusted you to keep me safe, Oliver.  I always trusted you with that, but I never wanted my father murdered.  I wanted him on trial and behind bars.”  She shook her head, looking miserable and defeated.  “All you had to do was ask.  I can’t believe—” she uttered a quiet sob, unable to look at him.  “I can’t believe I let you touch me.  I—I thought—” she broke off, shaking her head and fleeing the room.

The world crashed in around Oliver, but still he went after her.

He heard her feet on the staircase and gave chase, following the sound of her bedroom door slamming and—his heart clenched—the lock clicking.

“Felicity!” he called through the door, pounding his fist against it.  “Please…you’ve got to listen to me.  You’re right…I—” he swallowed.  “I jumped to conclusions.  I saw the evidence and I thought there was only one possibility and I was crushed because whatever messed up arrangement you and I have…we have trusted each other all this time.  It tore me up inside because I thought you knew…you knew the good I’ve been trying to do here, trying to get the family to go straight.  And the idea that after everything you’d just hand me over without warning…I couldn’t bear it.”  His voice broke and he slumped against the door when she didn’t answer.

“Felicity, please,” he begged, leaning on her door and praying that it would open.  “Whatever you think…last night…” he shook his head, trying to find the words to explain himself.  “I didn’t do that because I thought I was…I don’t know…whatever you want to call it.  I wasn’t thinking about the fact that you could have the marriage annulled.  I was hurt.  Because I…I feel things for you.  And I wanted to make you feel something for me.”

Still there was no answer, and Oliver sank to the floor in defeat, leaning back against her bedroom door and burying his head in his hands in his misery.

“Last night was the most incredible thing that’s ever happened to me, and the only reason you didn’t wake up in my arms was because I didn’t know how to make sense of what I was feeling for you versus the idea that you’d sold me out.  But I realized something, Felicity: for better or for worse I’m in love with you.  I don’t even know how long I’ve been in love with you but I think it’s probably been since the moment you signed that damned marriage certificate and looked at me and told me to get my own damned pen.”  He gave a weak laugh.  “I think I’ve loved you since the moment you figured out who I was and started babbling about whether or not I understood what I could do with this kind of power and it sounded uncannily like you were talking about sex even though I knew you meant the Bratva.  I’ve almost definitely been in love with you since I brought you home and you point blank refused to touch me, never mind have sex with me, and your face completely drained of color when I said the word ‘consummate.’  It was the most damned adorable thing I’ve ever seen.”

He paused, hoping against hope that maybe this was something that would earn a response from her, but still she was silent.

“The point is I’m hopelessly in love with you which has made me completely irrational and I went out of my mind when I thought you’d betrayed me, but I never…I would never in a million years…I didn’t intend to trap you into something.  This has been your choice since day one.  You could have walked away at any time.  You still can.  You always said you’d pretend our marriage was real for my sake…I’ll pretend it’s not for yours.  I’ll give you an annulment.  If that’s what you want.  But please…don’t think that I would ever do that to you.  Don’t think that of me.”

Silence echoed in his ears as he ran out of anything else to say, and he beat his head back on the door once, letting tears form in his eyes in response to the throbbing pain it caused him.

And then a miracle: the sound of the lock being released.  He quickly scrambled back from the door as she slowly turned the handle and opened it one tiny crack.  Her face was pale and tear-streaked as she looked at him before opening the door a little bit more.  “Swear to me,” she said.  “Swear to me that wasn’t what you were trying to do, that—”

“It wasn’t!” he rushed.  “It wasn’t, Felicity.  I wouldn’t—”

She held up a hand to stop him, “If you swear that you weren’t trying to trap me, I’ll believe you.  I’ve trusted you for two years and I realize,” she stifled a little sob, “I realize that I went behind your back about my father and Lance.  You still shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions—” she gave him a sharp, quelling look, “but I understand why you did.  So I’ll believe you if you swear.  Do you?”

He looked into her eyes with every honest fiber of his being.  “I do.”

She gave him a watery smile, brushing away a stray tear with the back of her hand.  “Good.  Now come here,” she said, tugging him forward.  “We need to work on how you make love to a woman.”

He couldn’t believe he still had it in him to laugh.  “Excuse me?”

“You make love like you’re going to war.”

“Is there any other way?” he asked, allowing himself to be dragged into the room.

“There are so many other ways.”

“Whatever you say, Солнышко моё.”

She raised an eyebrow at him.  “What does that mean?”

He kissed her softly.  “It means, ‘my small sunshine,’ essentially.”

“Huh.  I like the sound of it.”

He didn’t answer, just smiled, and eventually began whispering Russian in her ear, listing for her all the things he loved about her.