Rene found out about Oliver and Felicity on a Tuesday.
Curtis mentioned it in passing -- something about Felicity calling off the wedding -- but it makes Rene do a double take. It’s not that he can’t imagine either of them being in a romantic relationship (well, maybe Oliver and all his prickliness is harder to picture) but them being in a relationship together seemed totally wild.
Coming into the team so late had been a constant game of catch up. When Oliver wasn’t kicking his ass in training, Rene was trying to piece together the team dynamic and how he fit into it.
Oliver and Felicity -- and later, John Diggle -- worked together like a well-oiled machine, completely in sync in the field. It had impressed Rene from the start, though he’d never say it. It’s the kind of bond formed through shared traumas and triumphs -- never had it crossed his mind that some of those would be romantic.
Now that he has context, though, a few things start to make sense.
Like how Oliver and Felicity never linger long around each other in the bunker, but Oliver always walks the long way around the platform to grab his Arrow suit from its case, strutting needlessly in front of Felicity’s desk. Despite that on comms they converse like coworkers, all tactical and efficient, he notices the way Felicity’s eyes always scan Oliver for injuries first when the team returns.
They’re little things, barely anything at all, and Rene chalks it up to residual awkwardness after a break-up -- especially once he learns from Thea that Oliver has started seeing someone new.
He pays attention to Felicity closely the next few days after hearing that, but doesn’t notice any lingering looks or jealous glares from her.
Honestly, for being exes who work together every night, Oliver and Felicity are pretty boring.
Christmas comes and goes as the team hunts Prometheus relentlessly. As the weeks passed, Rene thinks more on Oliver and Felicity’s relationship and the effect it had on the team dynamic.
He wonders what the team was like before he joined -- was it always like this? The way Oliver and Felicity dance around each other like polar magnets would be funny if it didn’t make the atmosphere so weird sometimes.
But it isn’t until the night he and the rest of the team learn what Helix is and what they’re capable of that things start to get interesting between them.
Things become startlingly clear fast --oh , Felicity isn’t just a flighty blonde and Oliver isn’t just an emotionally stunted dick (well, he isn’t just those things). These are two people who have been walking around with a broken heart for over a year.
They aren’t just exes. They’re in love.
Finally, he thinks. This is getting good.
Dinah had a hunch.
Ever since she became a detective nearly a decade ago, she’d relied on her own instinct more than anything. It’s what had led her to Hub City and what convinced her to trust Oliver when he asked her to join his team of vigilantes.
And Dinah had a hunch that something was going on with Felicity.
Admittedly, it didn’t take detective skills to see that -- Felicity had been an easily frazzled person since Dinah first joined the team but lately it was like someone had put her settings on high. When she wasn’t practically jumping out of her skin with this nervous, flighty energy, she was gone from the bunker entirely with no explanation besides a brief text.
When Dinah first met her, it seemed like Felicity lived and breathed the team so her absence was both noticeable and troubling.
Everyone noticed, but no one dared bring it up. She could tell it bothered Oliver -- his face would fall almost imperceptibly whenever he arrived at the bunker to find Curtis in her chair instead. Still, he said nothing.
She chalked it up Oliver being in over his head -- after Adrian Chase had revealed himself to be Prometheus, he’d kidnapped Oliver’s girlfriend Susan Williams and then Oliver himself. He’d been held captive for a week, and while Dinah didn’t know all the gory details, it definitely messed with his head.
He’d disbanded the team almost immediately and only recently agreed to letting the rest of them hit the streets again.
Oliver looked worse each time she saw him, exhaustion etched on his skin. Dinah had a hunch as to what -- or who -- was causing him so much stress, and it wasn’t Prometheus.
Her suspicion was confirmed the night Helix abducted Felicity.
It had been a mundane night for them -- after dealing with Prometheus, muggings and gang-related violence just wasn’t as exciting.
The elevator doors opened and Oliver appeared, looking like he hasn’t seen sleep in weeks.
Rene called out to him as he walked up the platform. “Hey hoss--”
His words are drowned out by a loud alarm blaring from the PA system. As if on cue, all the computer screens in the bunker start flashing on and off in time with the alarm. They all look at one another in confusion but the whole ordeal is over within 30 seconds.
“What the hell was that?” Oliver yells as soon as the alarm stops.
The computers appear to be back to normal and Curtis immediately begins typing.
“I don’t know I…. it sounds like the emergency distress signal app Felicity had been working on. She told me about it last week after Prometheus…” Curtis trails off, sending an apologetic look to Oliver. “It’s something she installed in our phones that, if you’re in danger and need to alert the team, sends an SOS signal to the bunker. Maybe she’s just testing it?”
His optimism is admirable, but their lives just aren’t that simple.
“So it’s Felicity who set off the alarm?” Oliver clarifies.
“How do we know she’s testing it and not using it?” Dig asks. They all shudder at the implications of that, Prometheus still fresh in all their minds.
“Has anyone heard from Felicity today?” Oliver looks around the room.
“I haven’t seen her since she was in the bunker on Tuesday, hoss,” Rene tells him as Dinah nods in agreement. Oliver raises an eyebrow at Dig expectantly, but he just shakes his head.
“I haven’t talked to her in days, man.”
Oliver sighs heavily, bringing his hands to the bridge of his nose. Clearly he hasn’t spoken to her either. “Can you trace her phone?”
“Already on it,” Curtis answers. “I’m pinging the closest cell towers to where the signal was coming from. It says she’s…” Curtis stops. The air is heavy with silence. “It says she’s in.. five… no six… different locations? What-” They hear the ping of the GPS locator -- once, twice, three times more -- showing Felicity everywhere from deep in the Glades to the outermost of Star City.
“What’s going on?” Dinah breathes.
Suddenly, all the locations disappear at once, and a red error message appears on the screen. It’s unlike any Dinah has seen before.
It’s like time slows down as they all read it.
Dinah prides herself on having nerves of steel. But this sends a chill down her spine.
Dig curses under his breath as slowly everyone turns to watch Oliver. His eyes haven’t left the screen, but his expression is murderous.
The air in the room thickens, as on the screen the message continues to blink, taunting them.
“Did you really think we’d make it that easy? Good luck finding her, Team Arrow.”
Curtis can name on one hand the number of times he’s been outsmarted.
(He’s a genius okay? It doesn’t happen often, so each time stands out to him.)
There was the time in 8th grade when he lost the science fair to that bitch Sally Jengins and her exploding volcano, or the time his professor in college gave him a B+ in Advanced Physics (though he swears that one was rooted in homophobia).
He felt outsmarted while working on Felicity’s implantable biostimulant, but that had been more about burnout than anything. Each time he’s outsmarted, he’s embarrassed. A little ashamed, maybe, that he didn’t try harder.
This is the first time he’s been outsmarted and it makes him feel sick. Physically ill.
An hour had passed since that message popped up on his screen, mocking him with it’s untraceable origin. Whoever took Felicity is better at covering their tracks than he is at uncovering them. It’s like they knew the person who would be the best equipped to find Felicity would be… Felicity.
Diggle hovers nearby, probably about to ask him again if there’s anything he can do to help. They both know the answer: there isn’t. Still, he asks.
Oliver is still and silent behind him, like a volcano waiting to erupt. Curtis doesn’t need to turn around to know the archer is glaring daggers into his back.
“This has to be Chase, right?” Rene asks. “I mean, who else would do this?”
“We don’t know anything for sure,” Dig says quickly, shooting a look at Oliver. “Let’s wait for Curtis to find something before we jump to conclusions.”
“Why would Chase go to the trouble of taking Felicity, though?” Dinah asks. “After taking Oliver, it’s safe to assume he knows all our identities but he’s already made his point. He took Oliver, and Oliver’s girlfriend before that. Why target Felicity last? Isn’t that a little… anticlimactic for Chase? ”
The why Felicity was so obvious it never occurred to him it might not occur to the newer recruits, that they were not privy to Oliver and Felicity’s… colorful past. When they’d joined the team, Oliver and Felicity had done their best to act professional. They hadn’t seen the post-break-up heartbreak, the sexual tension, the palpable tension between them after the night of Chinese food in the bunker that Curtis pretended not to notice.
Dinah and Rene knew them as Oliver and Felicity, not Oliver and Felicity .
“Felicity and I were engaged last year,” Oliver supplied matter-of-factly. Surprise flitters across Dinah’s face as he clarifies. “We broke up. It’s… complicated, but Chase wants to see me break. He knows more about me than I’d like to admit and he knows that taking Felicity would be the easiest way to break me.”
The room is silent, processing this and Curtis feels that pit in his stomach grow larger. This isn’t just a bad-guy-of-the-day they’re dealing with -- Chase is a psychopath . And if he has Felicity….
He types faster.
Curtis doesn’t know how much time passes as he searches for any sign of what could’ve happened to Felicity -- Dinah brings him a cup of coffee at some point, which he accepts with a grateful hum and chugs without breaking his focus.
Occasionally the tension becomes so thick in the room he feels forced to give an update -- something like “ running security cameras for the south of the Glades, we should know soon” or “I’m running background checks on everyone that lives in her building” -- because he’s worried if he doesn’t give Oliver a bit of hope to cling on to, he’ll completely lose it.
Oliver never says a word, but Dig thanks him.
Curtis loves drama -- he doesn’t want to admit how many Real Housewives of Orange County episodes are on his DVR right now -- but he didn’t really want a front-row seat to Oliver’s descent into madness.
He doesn’t dare say it aloud, for fear Oliver might actually decapitate him, but he stopped scanning grainy security footage hours ago.
His gut has led him to the dark web. It's a worst case scenario -- anyone who frequents this interweb underworld would be just as bad as Chase, if not worse -- but he has to know. Oliver has to know.
His gut ends up steering him right.
“Oh!” He exclaims, jumping up. “Oh! Those motherfuckers! Pardon my language.”
“Did you find her? Where is she?” Oliver’s eyes are wild, his chest puffed with adrenaline. Dig clamps a hand on Oliver’s shoulder in warning and he nods, letting out a deep breath.
“What is it, Curtis?” Dig repeats, more calmly.
“I know who has her -- and it’s not Chase.”
Oliver looks surprised, but not unbothered. “Who has her?”
“Helix.” Blank stares. “Helix is -- well, I didn’t know it actually existed for real until like two seconds ago but --” He cuts himself off, trying to collect his thoughts. Now isn’t the time to geek out, Curtis.
“It’s rumored to be an underground group of hacktivists who gather information on powerful figures and use it for leverage. Blackmail, extortion and such. They’re like… the secret agents of hacking. I know that may sound redundant since all hacking is done in secret but these guys are next level.”
“And how do we know for sure they have her?” Dinah questions, the detective in her coming out.
“I was getting desperate for leads, so I started checking the dark web,” he explains. “I was mainly looking for human and sex traffickers--” Oliver takes a sharp breath. “I didn’t find her there, thank god! But one of the encrypted sites I found had this weird binary code that I remembered is Helix’s signature. It’s actually really cool, there’s like this--”
“Nerd brain!” Rene interrupts. “Wrap it up.”
Forget daggers -- Oliver is glaring straight up swords and spears now.
“Right, sorry -- When I finally broke into their server, I immediately recognized it. Ghost Fox Goddess. That’s Felicity’s hacker name from her college days.”
“So they want Felicity because of what she did in college ?” Dig asks incredulously.
“I don’t know why they want Felicity, but they definitely have her. They’re practically bragging about it -- Helix’s whole thing is what information they’re able to get their hands on and still remain anonymous. And then using that information for whatever serves their purpose.”
“So Helix might not even want to hurt Felicity… they might just want to brag they’ve captured her?” Dinah clarifies.
“In a way, yes. Helix is in the business of illegal activity, for sure, but I’ve never heard of them being violent. They’re more about mind games.”
“How do we find her?” Oliver asks, and he’s standing so rigid, fists balled at his sides.
“That’s going to be the tricky part. They’re not exactly on Google Maps--”
“God dammit!” Oliver erupts, and the sound of a chair hitting the wall with a thud echoes before Curtis can even register Oliver kicked it. “We have to find her, Curtis! You need to find her!”
No one moves a muscle. They all wait on baited breath, fixated on Oliver like a wild animal that may attack at any moment.
“Okay, Oliver. Curtis is doing the best he can,” Dig says slowly, carefully. “We all want to find Felicity and we will find her. I promise you that. If I know Felicity, she’s probably figuring out a way to contact us as we speak.”
“Unless she’s hurt,” Oliver replies brokenly. Instead of arguing, Dig just rests a reassuring hand on Oliver’s back, nodding. He understands. There are no words that are going to comfort him. Not until Felicity is home safe.
“I need to hit the streets. Give me a location, please.” Curtis whips his head around -- is this man deaf? Didn’t he just say three seconds ago finding Helix would take time?
“Oliver--” Dig protests.
“No! No . I need to… I need to do something. I don’t care if it’s not the right place, just give me somewhere to go.”
“And then what? We send you on a wild goose chase so you can blow off some steam? And then when we find where Felicity really is, and you’re all the way across town, then what?”
Oliver clenches his jaw -- he knows Dig is right. He knows it. But the temptation to punch, fight, kick away the emotions threatening to strangle him is so strong.
“She’s out there alone and it’s my fault.”
Dig closes his eyes, sighing. “It really isn’t, Oliver. No one could have predicted this.”
“Except we could’ve! I knew Felicity was into something. We all did. I knew it could’ve been bad. And I just… I let it slide because I felt it wasn’t my place. But I should’ve asked. I should’ve pushed. Maybe if I did…”
“We all could’ve,” Dig concedes, looking guilty. “But we didn’t and that’s on us.”
The two men nod at one another in silent recognition. Curtis feels a wave of guilt pass over him, too -- Felicity is his closest friend. Would he really have not noticed if she got mixed up with people as shady as Helix?
Curtis takes this as his cue, turning to the computer and getting to work. He’ll be damned if he’s outsmarted again -- especially by Helix.
John has seen Oliver at his worst.
He’s seen him after coming back from the island a damaged and broken man, as a motherless boy willing to sacrifice his life, as a misguided hero ready to join a league of murderers because he was so heartsick for the woman he loved. He’s seen him beaten to a pulp and caked in blood.
Until then, Dig didn’t think there was anything Oliver could do that would phase him. He’s seen it all.
Tonight has changed that.
Oliver shakes with anxiety -- it’s subtle, just his hands, but John is trained to notice these things -- as they sit side by side in the van on their way to Helix. By divine intervention or just dumb luck, Curtis had located their headquarters in under an hour.
Good thing too, for Curtis and himself, because he wasn’t sure how much longer Oliver would have been able to reign in his temper.
It’s a short drive from the bunker to Helix and they’re only a few miles outside of the Glades when Rene parks the van, a street over from the address Curtis had given them.
He’s suited up -- they all are -- and Dig is just thankful Oliver could still see reason while seeing red, because he’d been ready to storm Helix, full speed ahead as Oliver Queen, before Dig convinced him not to.
Oliver is past caring, past rationality and reason, and he knows if he could open up his friends mind only one thing would be on it:
Felicity, Felicity, Felicity, Felicity.
If this were any other mission, they would’ve strategized and plotted and found the most efficient way to break into the warehouse Helix inhibits, but this is not a normal mission. So they are going in, guns ablazing, without much of a plan besides “rescue Felicity” and Dig can’t say it’s smart, but he’s following Oliver’s lead on this one.
“Take the back entrance, so at least you’ll have some element of surprise,” Curtis instructs them over comms. He hates hearing Curtis’ voice when it should be Felicity’s. The idea that he may never hear her voice again over comms --
No. Felicity is alive. She has to be.
“I mean, chances are Helix already knows you’re here. They’re super hackers. They probably have this entire block on high security, so getting in undetected was a pipe dream. Unless it was Felicity hacking in, which of course is impossible, cause--”
“Curtis…” Dinah says in warning.
“Right, my bad.”
Unsurprisingly, the back door is bolted shut, but Dinah motions for everyone to move aside and unleashes her canary cry. If Helix didn’t know they were here before, they do now, but fuck it. The door flies off its hinges and Dig bolts inside, following Oliver.
“Where. Is. Felicity. Smoak?”
Dig’s gun is cocked, ready for a firefight as he steps inside and looks around. It’s an old warehouse, though Helix has pimped it out. Large TV screens hang wall to wall, desks with servers and computers line the open space. Dig isn’t good with tech, but he knows all this shit is top of the line.
Curtis wasn’t wrong. This is Helix’s headquarters. One problem: there’s no one here.
Not a soul sits at the computer, no one lurks in the corner waiting for a fight. It’s just… empty.
“Do a complete scan of this place,” he barks at Rene and Dinah, though it’s more a formality. Wide stairs lead to a second level, but the floorplan is so open he can’t imagine there is much lurking up there.
Dig feels dread prick through him -- this is the only lead they have on Helix, and if they aren’t here then...
“There’s nobody here!” Oliver yells. “Curtis, did you get the wrong location?”
“I -- I don’t think so!” He can hear the panic in Curtis’ voice. “This is the only location I could find! I--”
Oliver growls, pressing the comm into his ear so hard it must hurt. “Son of a bitch !”
Dig winces -- it isn’t Curtis’ fault, but he is the most adjacent to blame. And Oliver needs someone to blame right now.
The tech whiz is granted one small mercy -- as if on cue, a screen that hangs on the wall lights up and a woman's face appears.
“Team Arrow, nice of you to finally drop by. Welcome to Helix,” she says. Rene and Dinah rush back down the stairs, flanking Dig and Oliver as they watch. The woman looks young, probably around Felicity’s age, with long brown hair and square glasses. “Sorry we can’t meet in person… my boss doesn’t exactly trust outsiders. Especially the vigilante kind.
“We had hoped to join forces, combine our skills since we both seem to love justice done outside the confines of the law, but it appears that won’t be happening. Ghost Fox Goddess made that perfectly clear. Unfortunately, my boss also doesn’t handle rejection well.” Her voice is high and misleadingly sweet, laced with a threat. Oliver curses under his breath.
“She isn’t hurt, don’t worry!” she rushes. Her instantaneous response to Oliver’s reaction finally clicks -- this is live. She can see them.
“I have far too much nostalgia attached to her to let that happen but--” The brunette looks off camera for a moment, as if being scolded. When she focuses again, her expression is hardened.
“This is a warning. Our assistance isn’t free, as your teammate seemed to assume. We require some sort of compensation, and when the time comes, we’ll let you know what that is. You’ll find Ghost Fox Goddess in an unmarked storage container outside our building -- don’t worry I left it unlocked for you,” she says. “We’ll be in touch, Team Arrow.”
The screen goes black and Oliver takes off, running with a speed that could rival Barry’s.
The storage container sits right outside, unlocked, like the woman said. It’s ugly and beaten down, barely bigger than a shed -- Helix is smart, terrifyingly smart. The Glades are the perfect camouflage. Nothing sticks out like a sore thumb here -- everything is a sore thumb.
Oliver yanks the door open and there she is, lying on the floor, hugging her legs to her chest, looking so small and vulnerable and un-Felicity-like and Dig wants to punch his fist through a wall.
Oliver bends down, laying a gloved hand on her cheek and the relief practically radiates off him when she stirs. Dig nods at Oliver in understanding, and then the archer is cradling Felicity in his arms, wincing in pain as he rests his weight on his bad knee.
His jacket acts as a shield for Felicity, covering her as they run to the van.
“We have her!” He hears Rene alert Curtis. “We’re on our way back. Get the med bay ready.”
“Is she hurt?”
The question meets static because none of them really know -- from what Dig can tell, there aren't any physical injuries but she’s barely conscious, her fingers weakly clinging to the fabric of Oliver’s jacket as he climbs into the van the only indication that she’s awake.
Dig is glad Rene swings the driver’s door open without being asked -- he tells himself, logically, he needs to be in the back in case Oliver needs a break from holding Felicity, but there is nothing logical about the fear still rushing through his veins that won’t allow him to take his eyes off Felicity.
“I’ve got you. It’s okay, I’ve got you.”
Oliver’s tender voice can barely be heard over the screeching of tires, but Dig hears it clear as day. The archers hands move up and down her sides as he cradles her, silently assessing her for injuries.
“Oliver?” She sounds disoriented.
“I’m here. I’ve got you.”
She lifts her head from his shoulder, squinting up at him through the harsh light. She looks around, trying to reorient herself.
“I— what happened?”
“Helix. They kidnapped you and held you for…” Oliver trails off, eyes clouding over when he realizes he doesn’t even know how long Helix had her for. None of them do. It’s been days since she was last in the bunker. God...
“But you’re safe now. I’ll never let them touch you again.”
Her face crumples, tears leaking from her eyes. Dig looks down -- this feels wrong. Felicity isn’t supposed to cry -- she isn’t supposed to get hurt . She’s the one who is supposed to be safe and unharmed, tucked away in the bunker.
Five years ago, that is what he and Oliver promised each other. They have failed. They have failed so many times.
“Hey. Hey hey…” Oliver uses his free hand to wipe her tears as they come, keeping his hand there when he notices the action soothes her. “Are you hurt?”
Felicity shakes her head, folding her lips to keep from crying. “No. No. I’m just…” She lets out a shuddering breath. “I’m so sorry.”
“I should have told you about — about Helix. I didn’t know how to and then everything got so crazy and —“
“Hey…” Oliver tucks her hair back, a gesture so innocent but intimate that Dig feels like he’s intruding. He hasn’t felt that way around them in a long time. “You don’t need to apologize. It’s okay.”
“No. No . It’s my fault for getting involved in something so dangerous.”
“This is time you could’ve been using to do something important like find Chase and instead you had to waste your time looking for me--“
“There is nothing in this world more important to me than you and you know that.”
His voice is fierce, leaving no room for argument. Felicity sucks in a breath and it feels like the air leaves the entire van.
Dig looks at Dinah and Rene in the front seat, who are both doing a pretty shitty job at pretending not to listen. But Oliver is oblivious, all his attention zeroed in on Felicity.
A beat passes as Oliver and Felicity exchange a loaded look, and then Felicity nods, burying her face in the hollow of Oliver’s neck -- a lover’s gesture if there ever was one.
Oliver’s relief is palpable, and as if they’d all been waiting for Oliver’s permission to relax, the atmosphere changes. Dig feels like he can breathe -- truly breathe -- again.
Felicity is going to be okay. They’re both going to be okay.
Felicity wraps her free hand around his neck, inching even closer as his fingers tentatively stroke her back, like one wrong move will pop the bubble they’ve created for themselves.
“Thank you,” she murmurs.
“You never have to thank me,” Oliver whispers back.
She smiles into his neck. “I know.”
Felicity will never admit just how much she loves when Oliver fusses over her.
It reminds her of Ivy Town, the first time she’d gotten sick on their five month adventure together. It’d just been a common cold, nothing Felicity hadn’t dealt with on her own, but Oliver had insisted on waiting on her hand and foot, going as far as making her chicken soup from scratch and taking her temperature once an hour.
It had been a little annoying, sure, but mostly Felicity was touched. She’d always prided herself on being independent, taking care of herself, but it felt good to be loved in such a way where she didn’t have to anymore.
The break-up had been hard for many reasons, but one had been how Oliver no longer had the right to fuss over her when she’s sick or hold her when she’s upset no matter how much Felicity secretly wanted him to.
Oliver carries her until they reach the elevator when she gently reminds him her legs work this time. He blushes a little, but puts her down so she can walk to the med-bay where Curtis waits.
Felicity is 98% certain she’d been drugged but didn’t know what with. After a few blood tests that come back normal, Curtis concludes that whatever they did drug her with is out of her system, so she should be fine.
Oliver is a little grumbly at that, wanting Curtis to monitor her more, but Felicity is insistent that everyone goes home and gets some sleep.
She’s a little surprised when everyone filters out but Dig sticks around. She hasn’t seen much of him lately -- not that he’s the only one to blame -- and sometimes she feels like they’re on unsure footing, not knowing where the other stands.
It’s the three of them alone in the bunker, just like the good old days, except nothing about this feels good and suddenly Felicity wants to be anywhere but here.
“I’m glad you’re safe, Felicity,” Dig breaks the silence first. “We were all so worried.”
Felicity smiles tightly -- she believes it and she doesn’t. This team isn’t her family, not the way it used to be, and sometimes she feels so alone surrounded by them all.
“You’re the glue that holds this whole thing together, you know that right? We love you.”
Her eyes fill with tears, even as she looks at the floor, avoiding John’s gaze. This feels like the most sincere conversation they’ve had in months and it’s freeing but it’s also more than she can handle right now after the day she’s had.
John can sense that, so he just rests a comforting hand on her shoulder like he always used to.
“I failed you as a friend these past few months, Felicity. And I’m sorry.”
“No, it’s true. You should never have to go things alone when you’re part of a team and you’re not just a part of the team. You’re family.”
Real, heavy tears fall down her cheek then that she pointedly ignores because this is what she’s needed to hear for months, this is part of what’s been broken inside her that she was using bandaids to fix.
There’s nothing else to be said, not right now, so Felicity just nods and offers him a small smile in thanks. She can tell that’s what Dig had been needing, a reprieve to the guilt boiling over inside him, and she hands it over gladly.
John smiles warmly, before moving to Oliver and shaking his hand. There's emotion behind the gesture and Felicity can only imagine what the past hours have been like for them both.
It’s unspoken that Oliver is staying with her, for all of them, and Felicity is just thankful in that moment that John doesn’t comment on it.
There’s an energy between her and Oliver ever since he pulled her close in the back of the van. She’s not ready to label it, but it feels… good. She doesn’t look at Oliver and see the man who can’t help but love her and lie to her at the same time. She just sees…. Oliver.
The elevator doors close with a ping, leaving her and Oliver and all of their history alone together in the bunker.
Oliver watches Felicity as she opens the drawer of her workstation, grabbing her back-up pair of glasses. He knows she keeps them there for emergencies, and then another pair at home -- at her home on the bedside table.
He loves her face bare, but there’s some sense of normalcy and relief that washes over him at seeing her glasses back on her face where they belong. The image of Adrian Chase gleefully holding them in his calloused hands will be burned in his memory forever, and he has to remind himself to breathe.
Breathe, he tells himself. She’s okay. Felicity’s okay. She’s right here.
If Felicity notices his anxiety, she doesn’t let on.
“Thank you… again.”
“I told you, you never have to thank me.”
She smiles, so polite and reserved, like they hadn’t just clung to each other for dear life in the van 20 minute ago. But this is the relationship with Felicity he’s known for the past year -- careful and pragmatic, never getting too close to the line neither dare cross. It’s a prison, but one of his own making.
She takes a deep breath. “I should have told you about Helix. That was wrong. I’m sorry.”
He can’t say her secret keeping hadn’t stung, but he has a long way to go before he can judge others for the things they keep to themselves.
“It’s partly my fault too. I knew you were into something -- John and I both did -- and we just… let it go. I didn’t want to pressure you but I should have at least made sure you weren’t in danger.”
“I didn’t think I was,” she says. “I thought I could trust -- well, trust is a relative word -- but I thought that I could at least depend on them for information. It was only after I was too far in that I realized they wanted something in return.”
She pauses. “The Green Arrow’s identity.”
“I would never give up your identity Oliver, especially to a group as shady as them.” Her words tumble out, like she needs to convince him, like he would even for a second doubt her loyalty. “I know this situation makes it seem like I was trying to hide things from you and I promise that wasn’t it--”
“Hey.” He puts his hand on her shoulder and she instantly calms. “You don’t need to defend yourself. I trust you.”
A flicker passes over Felicity’s face, but it’s gone in an instant. He’s brought all their issues to the surface with a single word.
“Anyway,” she continues unfazed, “apparently Helix doesn’t take too kindly to being told no, because the next thing I know there’s a knock at my door that I thought was my Thai food but was actually a Helix member with a syringe. And if you remember my abject horror towards everything in the needle family you’ll know how unpleasant that was.”
He winces. He’s still worried about her, but he knows she’s trying to deflect her trauma with humor, so he indulges her and offers a small chuckle.
She smiles, grateful that he isn’t going to press. He can sense this conversation is nearing an end -- are they going to pretend nothing shifted between them tonight? Are they going to go back to the way things were before, stoic and polite? Or worse -- is Felicity going to pull back from him even more ? The thought has his stomach churning.
“How did you find Helix?”
“I didn’t. They found me.”
“Why did you start working with them?”
“They had critical information that we needed to find Chase. To find you.”
He nods, taking it in stride. He can’t judge Felicity for the means she was willing to go to to stop Chase -- hell, he was in bed with the Bratva last week for the very same reason -- but it’s disconcerting that she wouldn’t tell him. Tell John. Tell someone.
Have they really drifted so far apart that they don’t share even the important stuff?
“I wish you had told me,” he tells her, and it’s not an accusation but he’s trying to be honest. “But I understand why you didn’t.”
The smile that graces her lips is beautiful and grateful and for a second, just a split second, he sees a glimpse of the Felicity who loved him. Who thanked him with a kiss for leaving the toilet seat down and who buried her face in his neck when she didn’t want to wake up on Sunday mornings.
He takes this moment between them for the opportunity it is -- one he isn’t sure he’ll ever get again. The nerves bubble in his chest, he’s tiptoeing over the imaginary line they’ve created for themselves, but he forges on.
“Felicity, I want you to know that… I meant what I said.”
Her head tilts adorably, so he clarifies.
“There is nothing more important to me than you. Not even my identity.” Once it’s out, he doesn’t know why he thought it’d be so hard to say. How he feels for Felicity is the simplest thing in the world. “That’s all.”
He doesn’t expect her to say anything, so he turns to leave.
“Don’t say that to me.”
“What?” He turns back. Her expression is cold, bitter.
“Don’t say things you don’t mean.”
“What are you talking about? Of course I mean it--”
“If I was the most important person in your life,” she interrupts, and her voice reminds him of when she’s trying to reign in her emotions, slow and controlled. Like if she speaks any faster the emotions will swallow her whole. “Then you would want my opinion on important things. You would have talked to me before sending William away. You would have backed my plays with Prometheus. If I were the most important person to you, Oliver… you would trust me. And you don’t.”
“I do trust you!” He exclaims, because how many times are they going to have shades of the same argument? How many times is he going to try to explain to her what he can barely explain to himself? “I’ve always trusted you, Felicity. It’s not about that.”
“Then what is it about?”
He struggles, stutters and stops. When it becomes clear he can’t answer, Felicity sighs.
“Why is it so easy for you to say these beautiful things to me but you can’t give me your trust?” Her broken voice guts him, and he desperately wants to scoop her up and dry her tears and ask her -- beg her -- to believe him when he says he is trying.
Flashes of Adrian Chase -- his malicious laughter, his blood-caked hands as they forced him to reveal a secret he didn’t even know he was keeping -- cross his mind. Adrian had taken the Bratva tattoo from his skin, only to brand him with something much worse in its place: the truth.
“I’m not…” He sighs, all the air and fight leave him at once. Why can’t he give her an answer that doesn’t disappoint her?
“It’s not that I don’t trust you, Felicity. I’m sorry I made you feel that way.”
She takes a step closer. “Then why does it feel like you don’t?”
So many answers dance across his mind.
Because I’m a murderer he wants to say, but she knows that. She knew that and she loved him anyway, and he knows she won’t accept that now.
Because I’m a liar sounds better, something he forced her to realize last year. She would take that pill, swallow it slowly, but in the end it wouldn’t cure anything. The disconnect between them would still be there tomorrow.
He looks into her eyes, the eyes that have seen him through hell and back and still wanted to clean the blood from his skin. It’s Felicity, so this is terrifying, but it’s also Felicity so it’s the easiest decision he ever made.
“Because I don’t trust myself.”
“I don’t trust myself.”
The words come like fire catching in a forest, once it’s started he can’t stop.
“Not to run this team, not to protect this city, to protect you, not even to be a decent fucking human being. I’m not a good person, Felicity. I’m not… Everything the team has done has been in my name and it’s been a lie.”
She watches him like he’s pulling her heart out, but he can’t stop. “Chase made me realize that… I’m a killer. I didn’t do what I did to right my fathers wrongs, I did it because I enjoyed it. I enjoyed killing.”
Felicity sucks in a breath at his admission, and he’s probably scaring her but he can’t stop.
“I’m sorry you ever got involved with me and I’m sorry you ever met me because I was a liar. I don’t know what kind of person I am Felicity, but I know it’s not good. I’m not good.”
Everything drains out of him, and this feels worse than being stabbed in the chest but also weirdly cathartic.
Finally, he’s admitted it. Now Felicity knows and she can leave and get far, far away from him before he destroys even more than he already has.
He can’t meet her eyes, staring at their feet as they remain stock still. He breathes slowly, his hands on his hips, trying to remain upright under the brutal force of the truth.
“Oliver,” her voice is a croak as she tentatively steps closer, resting her palm on his cheek.
“I don’t even know where to start with how many things are wrong in that sentence, but let’s start with the first one. You are a good person, Oliver. I’ve never doubted that for a second. You spent five years in hell, and then came home to a city full of monsters and the fact that you are still here, fighting, shows me exactly the kind of man that you are.”
He closes his eyes, letting her words wash over him. He doesn’t deserve them, but he’s selfish, so he’ll take them anyway.
“Chase held you hostage for a week. I don’t know what happened or what Chase said to make you believe this, but you did what you had to to survive . Everything on the island and everything after. Chase could never understand that because he is a coward , and you are the strongest person in the world.”
Oliver scoffs at that -- the strongest in the world? -- but he meets her eyes and sees nothing but vehement sincerity there, and sobers quickly.
“I would have never fallen in love with you or wanted to marry you if I didn’t know with all my heart that you were a good person.” Her other hand moves to his cheek, framing his face in her hands. “I can’t tell you what kind of person you are, you have to figure that out yourself. But I know you are nothing like what Chase has convinced you.”
“Felicity,” he whispers. He can barely see her through the tears clouding his vision. “I want to be good. Better. But… I don’t know how.”
“You have to let people in, Oliver. If it’s not me then… someone. Stop carrying the blame for every bad decision or mistake in your past. It’s weighing you down.”
He sighs heavily. He knows she’s right. He knows it. But blame and guilt and crushing regret is all he is these days. He doesn’t know how to be anything else.
She smiles sadly. It’s the same excuse he’d given her last year, when she’d set the ring on their kitchen table. It’s probably just as meaningless as it was then, but he doesn’t know what else to say.
“I know. I can see it. I’ve seen it all year,” she says, surprising him. “But your gut reaction is to always go it alone. Even when you have a whole team behind you who believes in you.”
He swallows harshly.
“You don’t have to do things alone, Oliver. And you don’t have to hold yourself to this unreasonable expectation that your father created for you in your mind. If your father were alive, he’d see what an amazing man you’ve become. How many lives you’ve saved and changed. There’s no way he wouldn’t be proud.”
He doesn’t know what to say -- she’s left him speechless, like she often does.
“Felicity… thank you.”
“You don’t need to thank me,” she tells him. “Just no more I enjoy killing talk, okay?”
He lets out a wet laugh, nodding. “Okay.”
“I’ve always trusted you, Felicity. More than anything. I need you to know that.”
He must’ve said the magic words, the words that helped sever a year's worth of separation, because suddenly she is throwing her arms around him, wrapping him up in her unconditional warmth.
He sinks into her, holding her tighter as she melts into his embrace. Her hair smells like the vanilla coconut shampoo she used when they lived together and he can’t believe he’s so lucky.
They must hold each other for five minutes, ten minutes, longer -- he loses all sense of time, and if she thinks he’s gonna be the first to let go she’s kidding herself.
But then she’s pulling back and her lips are on his and actually -- oh -- this is better.
Her lips are dry but soft, and he kisses her like he’s drowning and she’s his lifeboat.
She pulls back first, lingering as she rests her forehead against his.
Oliver tries to get his heartbeat under control, tries to process how he was expecting her to walk out his life ten minutes ago and now she is breathing life back into him.
“Oliver...” she whispers.
“I know I have so much to make up for…”
“I understand you so much more now, Oliver. Why you’ve hidden parts of yourself from me. And the truth is, I know you’re not the same man who hid his son from me.” The words sound easy on her tongue, but they burn like she’s throwing acid on his skin. “I forgave you for that a long time ago, Oliver. I just need to know that you’ll trust me. That you’ll rely on me.”
“In case you couldn’t tell by the way I nearly fell apart today, I already do.”
She smiles warmly at him. Her hand is still rubbing through his stubble and he’ll do anything to keep it there.
“Then maybe we can…” she looks cheekily at him.
“Maybe we can..?”
“Pick up where we left off?”
He doesn’t know if she means the kiss or their relationship but he’s far too elated to stop and ask. He scoops her up and her legs wrap around his waist instantly as she reaches down to capture his lips.
The kiss is heady and intoxicating and he nearly forgets what his trajectory is --- oh yeah, the bunker bed -- a few times before he feels Felicity wiggle, silently asking to be put down.
He sets her down, breaking the kiss, but he can’t be too upset because she’s lifting her shirt and -- okay. This is happening.
Oliver’s eyes glaze over as she unhooks her bra, leaving her bare. It’s been nearly a year since he’s seen her naked, and though he could map from memory each freckle on her skin, it still sends a shockwave through his system.
“Oliver.” She raises her eyebrows expectantly, smugly.
And then his mind catches up with his body. He unzips his Arrow jacket and shrugs it off his shoulders as Felicity removes his undershirt.
There’s no fanfare, no gazing. They move in sync with a single minded focus — to get the other naked as quickly as possible.
Felicity helps him with his leather pants -- he knows from experience how much she enjoys this part -- and he’s hard and straining in her palm. She plays with him, stroking him until he sees stars.
“Felicity —“ he chokes.
She grins, moving backwards until her feet touch the bed. He remembers her like this — playful and wild, teasing but warm.
She sits on the bed, looking up at him as he crouches down. He knows exactly what they both want.
He moves her panties slowly down her legs, feeling smug as she shivers at his touch.
Her legs spread instinctually, and — yeah. He’s doing this.
He leans in, his mouth close to her center and meets her eyes. Pure lust stares back, and while he wants nothing more than to slide into her, to relieve the feeling of despair and loneliness that’s been inside him since they broke up, he wants this more.
He wants Felicity looking at him like this. Always. How did he go so long without it?
She moans his name and he hasn’t even touched her yet.
“Felicity… you’re so wet.”
She nods, frantic. “Please! Please…”
Felicity begging always does something to him, and he dives in, licking her folds lightly before moving to her clit.
“Oh god Oliver…. oh god... ”
Felicity’s always been a talker during sex. She can’t lie still, can’t keep quiet, and it drives him fucking wild. Oliver isn’t a man of many words — in any scenario — so he’s always shown Felicity exactly how he feels with his actions.
He licks her, moving up to suck her clit before shoving one finger, then two inside her. Her loud moans filling the room tell him she’s close.
It eases something inside of him that he can still bring her to completion so easily — that among all the things that had changed between them this year, this one hasn’t.
He doesn’t want to take his mouth off her for even a second to tell her to come, so instead he just groans against her, eating her out even harder.
She’s thrusting against his head, tugging on his hair and then —
“Ah! Ah, fuck! Oliver!”
Oliver presses soft kisses to her center and up her stomach as she comes down.. He’d be content to just kiss her into oblivion, but his aching hard-on is making itself pretty known.
“God, I missed you,” she whispers into his mouth.
He smiles dopily. “I missed you, too.” One kiss. Two. On the third, she reaches her hand down, pumping him.
“I want you.”
“Felicity…” He kisses down her neck, sucking at that spot that gets her going.
“Yes Oliver… god…”
“Ye- ah!” she cries out on a moan as he sucks harder. If he leaves a mark… that’s totally unintentional.
She eventually pulls at his hair, dragging him to meet her eyes.
“Oliver. No more playing. I need to feel you inside me.”
He lines himself up at her entrance, taking a few calming breaths. He doesn’t know what he’s waiting for, but this feels monumental. He wants it to be perfect.
“Make love to me, Oliver,” she breathes, her eyes still hazy from her orgasm. “Love me…”
Like she even needs to ask.
He pushes inside her. It feels like heaven, so tight and wet, that he takes a few stabilizing breaths.
Felicity’s eyes are closed but she’s smiling, no she’s laughing , and he doesn’t know how their intimate moments can go from sinful to silly in minutes but he loves it.
“You feel so good,” she says, moving to cradle his head and bring his lips to hers.
She normally is the one on top, setting the pace, but she seems to want him to take control this time and he’s more than willing.
“I love you, Felicity.”
Her smile is incandescent, it’s the sun, it’s everything.
“I love you,” she promises. “Always. So much.”
He can’t not move anymore, so he tilts his hips back and drives in.
His thrusts are slow but firm, and it isn’t long before she’s scratching her nails down his back, burying her face in his neck to muffle her cries.
This bed in the bunker isn’t made for exuberant activity (as they learned many times) and it squeaks across the floor but he doesn’t care.
Over and over, he fucks her, chanting her name, moves his lips wherever he can reach. She clings to him desperately, the force of his thrusts moving her up the bed, but she isn’t complaining.
“Oh yeah Oliver,” she moans when he switches the angle, hitting her deeper with each thrust. “Right there, right there!”
He groans, his thrusts more erratic, and he knows it’s a matter of moments before he reaches the edge.
“Felicity,” he pants. “Come for me.”
She moans, needy. “Don’t stop…”
“Felicity. Baby I’m gonna—“
She knows, and he watches the way her eyes squeeze shut like when she’s close but doesn’t wanna distract herself.
“I’m close! Oliver…”
He moves his finger down, down, down, rubbing her sensitive flesh and then she’s screaming. Her back arches off the bed.
“Oliver! Yes! Oh my—“ she cuts herself off on a wail.
It’s all he needs, that little bit of bliss of watching her come undone for him to let go.
His dreams, his memories, his dirtiest thoughts — none of them come close to the real thing. It’s nirvana, it’s heaven, it’s everything he didn’t think he could have again.
And when he comes, it doesn’t feel like the reprieve it did that drunken night in the bunker -- it feels like a fresh start.