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Like A Queen

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Felicity has never felt so satisfied eating a salad. It’s probably because the rosewater bath, deep tissue massage, and lemon-avocado facial have left her feeling like brand new and so relaxed that eating anything heavier would put her right to sleep in her fluffy cotton robe. So, yeah, this super fancy lemon salmon arugula salad thing is totally hitting the spot; and, judging by the happy sighs coming from Lyla’s end of the table, it’s doing the same for her too.

“I don’t know how I’m going to repay Oliver for all this,” Lyla sighs, lazily gesturing around the Serenity Bay Spa and Salon’s chic restaurant. “It’s almost too much for a birthday present; but after having the baby and everything that happened before… this is perfect.”

Felicity can feel the excited squeal that’s threating to climb up her throat and ruin Diggle’s plan for a surprise re-proposal tonight and the real reason for Oliver’s ‘early birthday present’. Luckily, she manages to bite it back with a generous smile.

“Well, I’m glad we can help you feel better, Lyla. And a simple ‘thank you’ will be more than enough for Oliver. Although, maybe also a hug?” she adds thoughtfully. “Is it just me or has he been extra affectionate lately? I mean, I get why he’s been showering Thea with hugs and kisses since she came back because, let’s face it, that girl needs all of the emotional reassurance she can get; but lately it’s been like he can’t leave the room without touching me or something. Not that I’m complaining, he’s a great hugger. But, yeah, what’s up with that?”

Lyla just smiles back and shrugs because, although Oliver has been more affectionate as of late, she can’t bring herself to tell Felicity that, other than his sister, it really is just her.

John had told her all about what Oliver had done to bring down Slade and it had taken some measure of restraint on her part to keep from putting a bullet in him for putting Felicity in such a position, for not only using her as bait without her consent but toying with her heart as well. She knows that Felicity is the type of person who tends to wear her heart on her sleeve, who loves freely and openly once she lets someone get close enough and there is no way she could never hide how she feels about Oliver Queen, regardless of the seemingly infinite number of masks he wears. Once upon a time John was sure that both of his friends were destined for a world of hurt because Oliver refused to speak plainly and go after what they both wanted because, for whatever reason, he wasn’t ready or he thought it was too dangerous. But now, Starling City’s crime rate is at an all-time low, QC is back under the control of the Queen family, and Oliver regularly and openly looks at Felicity like she’s his own personal ray of sunshine and Lyla thinks she’s ready to bet that John was wrong.

There’s a soft hand gently tapping hers and she looks up to see a somewhat amused Felicity and a half-concerned looking waiter looking at her rather expectantly.

“Ly-la. Earth to Lyla!” Felicity calls to her in a song-song voice. “Boy, are you relaxed! Pete here wants to know if you want some dessert before we head over to the salon for our mani-pedis. No? Okay.” She turns to smile brightly at Pete. “We’ll just take the check, then.”

“Oh, there’s no need, Mrs. Qu – I mean, Ms. Smoak. Mr. Queen already took care of everything, including the tip. I hope you ladies enjoy the rest of your afternoon.”

“All right, that’s the third time someone here has almost called you ‘Mrs. Queen’,” Lyla says the moment Pete is out of earshot, “and that’s not counting the general manager who actually called you ‘Mrs. Queen’ twice when he greeted us in the lobby.”

“Yeah, they’ve gotten better at it; before I had to correct them every five minutes.”

Lyla raises her eyebrows at Felicity’s apparent nonchalance to regularly being confused as her boss’s wife. Although she had been surprised at how familiar and comfortable Felicity seems to be in the ultra-exclusive and incredibly expensive spa when they first arrive, she really didn’t expect that kind of response from her.

“About once a month I get my hair colored at the salon,” Felicity explains, suddenly becoming engrossed with the condensation dripping down her glass of water.

“And they would still call you ‘Mrs. Queen’ because…”

“Because Oliver pays for it,” she half mumbles into water. “Hey, how are you getting your nails done? I’m thinking of painting the fingers purple and my thumbs green like The Hulk.”

Nope. There is no way Lyla’s letting this go.

“Oliver pays for you to get your hair done? I get the coffee-inside joke-thing and I know he’s a generous friend, but why would he regularly pay for your hair?”

“Because it’s his fault and he knows it.”

“How?”

Felicity takes a deep breath.

“Before I met him I used to sometimes get it done at a little place on Hill Street whenever I had some extra cash, but most of the time I did it myself and it was fine; in fact, I did it so well no one ever knew I colored it. But then, he walked through my door and before I knew it I was working two very stressful full-time jobs with not enough time to actually make sure that the box of Clairol I was grabbing at Rite Aid was the right shade to touch up my roots. I didn’t even realize it was the wrong color until everything was done and I had zero time to buy the right stuff and fix it. Luckily I didn’t have to go to the office that day, just to, you know, my other job, and I could just put on a hat and hide until morning. But then stupid Roy had to go and pretend to be funny and take my stupid hat off my head and start asking me what was wrong with my hair, so I yelled at him. In my loud voice. Oliver, of course, heard the whole thing and the next morning he had Thea bring me here because this is where she and Moira always got their hair done, which is probably why they’re so used to saying ‘Mrs. Queen’.”

“Whenever I hear someone say ‘Mrs. Queen’ I still think of Moira,” she, unsurprisingly, continued. “And I swear, the first time someone called me that I thought the woman had come back from the dead just to belittle me for hiring her old stylist.”

“She didn’t like you?” Lyla was sure no one was capable of disliking Felicity. Well, except for the criminals and corrupt one-percenters she helped take down and put away but they don’t really count.

“I think, at first, she just tolerated me for Oliver and Walter’s sake; but then I confronted her about Thea and... She just wasn’t very nice,” she explained with a sad sigh. “I did feel bad about bad-mouthing her at her funeral, though.”

Lyla sagely nods her head, to Felicity’s surprise.

“John’s mother hated me, too.  She didn’t like Carly much either. We ate our way through her wake so no one would hear us talking smack about Mama Diggle. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who got along with their mother-in-law. At least in your case no one would fault you for not getting along with yours,” she teases with an almost wicked grin.

Felicity looks at her thoughtfully before humming appreciation. “I guess that’s one way to look at it.”

Lyla has to bite her lip to keep the giddy giggle from escaping because Felicity, the woman who apparently walked around reminding the world that she wasn’t married to Oliver Queen, just about referred to his mother as her mother-in-law.