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Like A Queen

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When they finally got their fortunes back Oliver and Thea decided to not move back into their childhood home and instead opted to take up residence in the family’s penthouse situated at the top of the most expensive hotel in the city. At first, Felicity thought a hotel was an odd place for a family to buy a home but then she remembered that Oliver’s great-great grandfather made his fortune by playing and winning a real-life version of Monopoly so she just shrugged off their weird rich people logic.

 The penthouse itself takes up the top two floors and residency includes the use of all of the hotel’s amenities which she has no problem taking full advantage of, especially after Oliver pulled her aside one day and told her “What’s mine is yours.” Although, he was most probably referring to the company, his money, and the simultaneously scary and heartwarming notarized legal document that gives her durable power of attorney and not necessarily the use of the hotel’s complementary dry cleaning services. On the other hand, she does clean his Arrow suit just about every other night, so, yeah, whatever.

The point is that when Felicity walks into the penthouse one Sunday morning looking for her clothes she expects to find Oliver eating his Wheaties in the breakfast nook and instead finds Thea and Roy eating her not-so secret stash of Coco Puffs on the couch and no Oliver. 

“He’s not home yet,” Thea tells her and Roy wordlessly hands her the box of cereal, neither of their eyes wavering from the cartoon playing in front of them.

Oliver comes home halfway through their second episode of Adventure Time and the warm smile he greets her with does not cause Felicity’s annoyance level to fall, not one bit. She knows exactly where he’s been.

“Why are you wearing yesterday’s clothes, Oliver? Either you slept in the in the Foundry or you had a very good date last night and, considering that you dropped me off at my place at two in the morning, I’m pretty your answer is gonna be the former. So, really, my question should be ‘Why are you sleeping in the Foundry, Oliver?’”

“He sleeps there when Thea sleeps over at my place,” Roy says helpfully and Thea suddenly understands why Diggle and Sara call him a Mama’s Boy.

“Oliver! Why would you sleep in that dirty, dingy, damp basement when you have a clean and comfy place here? And I know you can sleep anywhere but your king size bed and fluffy pillows have to be ten times more comfortable than that cot I know you slept on. Besides, that is an emergency naptime cot for emergencies and naps, and last night was not an emergency. Do not make me regret buying that cot, Oliver.”

Oliver throws his back and sighs in what appears to be defeat. “I sleep there because I can’t get comfortable here. It feels like a hotel.”

“That’s because it is a hotel.”

“Exactly! It doesn’t feel like home,” he says in a surprisingly animated fashion considering he looks like he still didn’t get some decent rest despite going to sleep in a heavily secure underground superhero bunker. “Even when Thea’s here it doesn’t feel like home. It doesn’t even smell like home.” He makes a face. “Also, I think my dad used to bring his mistresses here.”

Felicity frowns and turns to Thea whose face is mirroring her brother’s cringe. “Thea, are you okay with moving into a new place?”

“Well, I am now.”

*

Since becoming Oliver’s EA, Felicity has stopped being surprised at how quickly money and the Queen name can get things moving; so, she’s pretty pleased at how the realtor’s appointment window immediately jumps from sometime next week Friday to Monday afternoon the moment she mentions she’s Oliver’s assistant.

The realtor, Joan, an attractive woman in her mid-fifties with perfectly styled red hair and equally red lips, diligently writes down every item on Oliver and Thea’s wish list. Thea explains that she wants something with lots of closet space and that her bathroom needs to have a tub; meanwhile, Oliver’s list boils down to “move-in ready” and “not a hotel”. However, when Felicity rambles off her own wish list for the future Queen home the realtor simply raises a carefully drawn eyebrow.

“We’re going to need at least 4 to 5 bedrooms, 3 to 3 ½ bathrooms, a big kitchen, and have good security,” she says, recalling the list she made the night before. “Oh! And it has to be kid-friendly. Or, at least, baby-friendly. Not that we have a baby or are planning on having one in the near future. It’s for when we babysit our goddaughter who is just the most precious little – Wait you didn’t write any of that down.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I got it all,” the Joan says through a polite smile.

She didn’t.

*

The first location the realtor shows them is a penthouse suite on the 40th floor of a building about three blocks from QC Headquarters. With two floors, five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and a twenty-four hour concierge service it is similar to the penthouse they are trying to leave behind. Actually, it seems like the only difference between the two is the fact that this one has floor to ceiling windows in every room.

“That’s a lot of windows,” Felicity remarks as they enter the foyer and are immediately greeted with beams of sunlight and a fairly impressive view of the ‘Q’ atop the QC building. “There are just windows everywhere. It doesn’t seem very private and we’re big on privacy. Also, the concierge service is a little too hotel-y and the security seems…lacking.”

If Joan the Realtor is surprised by Felicity’s commentary, she doesn’t show it.  Instead she flashes Oliver a pearly white smile and presses a button on a nearby home control panel that causes the crystal clear windows to suddenly turn opaque.

“Mr. Queen, I can assure you the 40th floor will grant you as much privacy as you need.  Meanwhile, the building has a top of the line security system that is monitored, maintained, and was designed by a former employee of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and his very select team of personnel. You will be as safe as the President in the Oval Office.”

Oliver can see from the critical and mildly offended look Felicity is giving the control panel that she can hack it in about two seconds and that is about two seconds too fast for any of them to be comfortable with.

Also, it really does feel a little too hotel-y.

So, Oliver grits his teeth and slips on his perfected CEO smile. “Can we maybe look at houses instead?”

All three of them realize they’re not going to like the second location the moment they realize that Joan is taking them into the hills just outside the city limits, although she tries her best to sell them on the “spectacular views”. Nevertheless, their suspicions are confirmed the minute they walk into the off-beige, ultra-modern mansion and are greeted by its very sleek, shiny, and surprisingly sharp looking interior.

Naturally, Felicity is the first to comment.

“Why don’t the stairs have bannisters? I know this place is going for ‘modern chic’, but isn’t that a safety hazard? Although, that jagged cliff of a backyard is definitely a hazard. We’d have to be extra careful babysitting or she’ll crawl out there when we’re not looking and then it’s bye-bye Digglet.”

Joan simply blinks at her for a moment and then turns to look at Oliver rather expectantly.

“This seems more like a bachelor pad than a family home,” he politely says as he gently rests his hand on the small of Felicity’s back, “and we’re looking for a family home.”

Thea swears she can see the puzzle pieces finally coming together in Joan’s head.

From then on, for the most part, the houses start to fit the criteria set out by all three of their wish lists. While Joan continuously looks to Oliver for his opinion as the man responsible for her commission, Oliver essentially gives each house a passing glance, opting instead to go by Thea’s facial expressions and Felicity’s criticism.

“This kitchen is tiny compared to the rest of the house. Only half of our leftovers will fit in that teeny-tiny fridge.”

“There are no bathtubs in this whole house. Sure, there’s a hot tub outside but that’s not the same as a bathtub and Thea said she wanted one. Thea, didn’t you say you wanted a bathtub?”

“Who puts carpet in their kitchen?”

It takes them the better part of three days to find the right house; and when they do, it is absolutely perfect.

The six bedroom, 3 ½ bath, two-story colonial sits in a high-class neighborhood close enough to both Verdant and the office for traffic to be manageable while still having enough distance from neighbors to maintain their desired level of privacy and security. Thea oohs over the wide deck in the expansive backyard and aahhs over the luxurious Jacuzzi tubs in the upstairs bathrooms while Felicity immediately falls in love with the kitchen and its stainless steel double oven.

“So, Mr. Queen, what do you think?”

Oliver looks at Felicity and Thea’s ridiculously hopeful faces and chuckles, “Whatever my girls want.”

And, just like that, they buy a house.

*

It takes them about two weeks to actually move into the new house. Oliver and Thea first have to go through all of the furniture and knickknacks they have at the penthouse and in storage to figure out what they want to take with them and what they should buy, and then there’s the whole process of actually physically moving everything in. Felicity, the meticulous organizer she now is, has them draw up where they want the movers to put everything on a simple blueprint of the house. Thea had expected Oliver to defer to Felicity for that task but instead found the blonde telling her, “This is your home, Thea, you should put things where you feel they should go.”

Still, it doesn’t stop Felicity from picking out the much needed curtains and the overlooked welcome mat, from placing bouquets of fresh flowers in the foyer and on the kitchen table every week, or having a spare toothbrush and her favorite coffee mug from quickly migrating into the house.

It also doesn’t stop the movers from calling her “Mrs. Queen”; although, she does give up on correcting them after about forty-five minutes and Lyla teases her about it during the house warming party they finally have two months later when Sara and Nyssa pass through town.

They invite the rest of Team Arrow and Laurel and Captain Lance. Walter is in London, but he sends gorgeous and outrageously expensive tea set they immediately lock away in a display cupboard. Oliver buys a grill for the occasion and Felicity bakes four pies in her beloved double oven while Thea contemplates whether it warrants the use of their newly purchased china. Roy saves her the trouble and gets them mountains of paper plates and plastic cups and tells them to “Just make a barbecue out of it, you rich weirdos.”

Thea spends most of the party playing with Lyla and Diggle’s baby in the living room with Roy while Captain Lance and Diggle teach Oliver how to use his brand-new, overly complicated grill and Lyla, Nyssa, and the Lance Sisters follow Felicity on her grand tour of the house.

“I was really iffy about the kitchen having an island but then I baked some pies and I got over it,” Thea hears Felicity say when she wanders into the kitchen for a drink.

Lyla barely stifles a giggle as Sara and Nyssa nod appreciatively and Laurel looks at them in amused confusion.

“I love the backsplash here,” Nyssa comments. “We saw something similar on Property Brothers and I thought it looked somewhat garish, but here it certainly works.”

“It really compliments the counters and cabinets and it brings out the detail in these cute little knobs,” Sara adds and Laurel becomes even more confused.

“Wait, you guys watch HGTV?” she asks.

“We basically live on a cargo ship, Laurel. We have to live out our domestic lives through others.”

Oliver laughs as he walks through the kitchen with a tray full hotdogs and burgers and tells them to gather in the dining room if they want to eat before dropping a kiss on Thea’s head.

For Thea it feels strange to have this rather odd group of people be the ones to attend the housewarming party for her new house. Before the Gambit, back when she had both a mother and a father and an older brother and the world seemed like an even meadow, such an event would have taken place in an opulent mansion and consisted of over a hundred of her parents “closest friends” with catering and staff and gowns. Now, it’s a little over half a dozen people, throwaway dinnerware, and burgers despite the house being more of a modest mansion than a house (although it’s still the biggest in the neighborhood).

When Thea was twelve years old the ocean swallowed her father and brother and that was when she gave up on the idea of home. She still had her mother and their castle of a mansion, but despite her mother’s best efforts and Walter’s steady presence, it became a haunted place with each corner, nook, and cranny screaming absence. Funnily enough, she used to fantasize about them being found and rescued off of some deserted island, having them come home tan and tired and alive; but then she would walk past Oliver’s empty room or hear Walter’s voice in her father’s office and she would hide herself in whatever drug her so-called friends handed her.

When half of her fantasy came true, when Oliver came home tan, tired, and very alive, she hadn’t expected for everything to fall apart.

(In hindsight it all makes sense – her mother, Malcolm Merlyn, Oliver and everything he carried with him to the surface when he climbed out of the Pacific and cut through the night with arrows and a hood.)

Despite all of the changes – a new house, a new extended family, an altered identity, and a new way of looking at the harsh world – she looks at Oliver sitting at the head of the table with Felicity talking animatedly at his right and she feels something familiar beginning to set inside of her.

Later, after the party is over and everyone else has gone home, Thea watches as Oliver gently urges Felicity to leave recovery for the morning with a chaste kiss on her head and soft pull of his hand and she comes to understand what this familiar feeling is that has settled inside of her again.

Felicity isn’t what she expected for her brother. She had thought, like just about everyone else did, that Laurel would be The One. At first glance, Laurel made sense. Laurel has a shared history with Oliver. Laurel is a sophisticated, sharply dressed, high-powered attorney and a seemingly perfect fit for the Queen heir. No one saw Felicity Smoak coming, not this bespectacled bottle-blonde in panda bear flats cursed with a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease. But she has been exactly what he needed, what they needed. With Oliver technically her boss, Felicity doesn’t have to defend Thea’s need for time and a little more space, she didn’t have to ask Thea for her opinion on the house or push for her to get her much desired bathtub, and she didn’t have to use Raisa’s old recipes to bake their four favorite pies from scratch and have the new house smell like sugar and cinnamon and home.

But she did.

So, it’s a funny kind of shock when, on her way to her brother’s room, Thea finds Felicity alone in a guestroom wearing one of Oliver’s old shirts and strategically arranging the pillows on the bed. Still, Thea knocks on the door and her heart is warmed by the affection she finds in her eyes.

“I just wanted to stop by and say goodnight,” Thea says. “And, maybe, also get a hug?”

Felicity’s eyes widen for a moment but then she quickly spreads her arms wide open and Thea settles in her ready embrace.

“Are you okay, Thea?”

She sighs as Felicity starts to softly rub her back. “Sort of. I just wanted thank you.”

“For what?”

“For taking care of us. For everything,” Thea answers quietly and she feels Felicity smile into her hair.

“Well, that’s what family’s for.”