She was not supposed to be here.
The thought kept ringing through Felicity's head on repeat, her nerves stretched taut even as she appeared to be cool, holding her full champagne glass aloft, pretending to sip from it. Even though she knew taking a few sips would calm her frazzled nerves, Felicity refrained, knowing she needed clear head more than liquid courage for tonight. Maybe. Hopefully.
The party was in full swing, hosted in the sprawling gardens of the home of someone in the Maroni family. Damn Outfit. Good thing she had done her research.
Felicity glanced around the well-lit garden from the shadows, seeing the faces she had seen in her father's book over the years, sometimes even in her house. She saw the soldiers of the Outfit, saw the women, saw the enemies. She saw it all and just observed, ignoring the itch from her wig. She had taken great care to look like someone else tonight. The long black gown she wore hid the knives on her thighs. The bracelet on her hand had been a gift from an uncle, with a hidden button for pepper spray, and she'd tied her blonde hair tightly to her head, donning a silky wig of blue-black hair, her lips siren red. It wasn't her. But it was necessary. She'd been planning this night for days. She'd been relying on this plan to work for days. And she couldn't screw it up. Not after being in the house.
She looked at the house itself. It was a beast. There was no other way to describe it. Like a castle buried in the hills of Scotland, the house - something bigger than a mansion and smaller than a castle - was a beast. A beast with something of hers in its belly.
Speaking of beasts, Felicity's eyes lingered on the tall, grey-haired man laughing with a few other men in the north corner of the property, his face wrinkled with age and hands spotless of any blood. But he had blood on those hands, so, so much blood. Not that anyone in their world didn't. But he had carved a niche for himself as the bloodiest of them all, including her father. The man, Lorenzo 'Bloodhound' Maroni, was the boss of the Chicago Outfit, his career longer than four decades, his rap sheet longer than her arm, his cold-blooded attitude a thing of admiration in their world. Felicity had been around people like him long enough to not let them shake her. Or at least not let it show.
Beside Lorenzo stood his older son Dante 'The Wall' Maroni. Looking at him, Felicity could see why he was called so. The man was built like a wall, and from her research, she knew his attitude was like one too. He'd been trained since birth and he'd taken up a key role in the organization almost a decade ago. Felicity pretended to sip her champagne, and let her eyes wander to the man beside Dante.
He was an anomaly. The only non-blood member to have taken the oath with blood. The only non-blood member to be that high up in the family. Almost a capo.
Felicity took him in. He stood tall, almost as tall as Dante, in a casual three piece suit sans the tie, his dark blonde hair almost a dark a brown cut close to his head, his eyes seeming blue from the distance. Felicity knew they were blue. A striking blue. She'd seen pictures of him while doing her research, pictures of him surrounded by women or weapons, never without either of the two, always candid shots. But what somehow held her eyes to his muscular frame was the stories. The stories she'd heard about him in the last few years, from the mouths of her father, from the mouths of their people.
As the stories went, Oliver Queen had been the son of Lorenzo Maroni's personal bodyguard, who had died while protecting the boss almost twenty years ago. Oliver had been young, with a mother who had taken off after her husband's death and a younger sister. Lorenzo, for reasons unknown, had taken the young boy under his wing and personally trained him in skills of the trade. And today, Oliver Queen was a son to Bloodhound Maroni. Some said Maroni favored him more over his own blood. In fact, word was, after Maroni's retirement, Oliver would be the boss of the Outfit, not Dante.
Oliver 'The Predator' Queen.
They called him the predator. His reputation preceded him. He rarely went on the hunt but when he did he was lethal. When he did, he went straight for the jugular. No distractions. No playing around. For all his smirks with women, the man was more lethal than the knife strapped to her thigh.
He was also the reason she had come to the party.
She was going to kill Oliver Queen.
Life as the daughter of the boss of the Starling family had prepared her for a lot of things. Not this. Despite growing up watching crime shows, Felicity had never been prepared to infiltrate the house of her father's enemies, and by extension hers, and she had definitely not been prepared to kill a said enemy. Maybe she didn't have to kill him. Maybe kidnapping him would do too.
Felicity watched carefully as Oliver Queen finally, after an hour of staying glued to Maroni's side with a dark scowl on his handsome face, moved to the bar. Felicity debated whether to approach him or wait for him to head towards the house. She decided, after seconds, on the latter. The former was just too dangerous and were she exposed, it would not only mean her death sentence, but a war between the two families. A mob war. She shuddered, just thinking of all the morbid tales she'd heard over the years.
She wondered if she was being logical in wanting to kill the man.
Maybe not, but she did need to get in the house. Specifically Oliver Queen's room. Where it was hidden.
It being the codes she had spent almost a year writing for her father. A complex set of codes that were capable of not only digitally defacing anyone to the government, but completely destroying the entire mob if it were to fall on the wrong hands. Almost a year ago, Felicity had started working on the codes, just for fun, and discussed them with her then secret boyfriend, Cooper Sheldon. They'd met in college and had a secret relationship, mutually enjoying their geniuses together. A few weeks ago, when the code writing had finally been completed, Cooper had stolen the codes on a drive and run off. And she'd started looking for him.
That was when she'd discovered it. Cooper had been sent to spy on her by the Outfit, more specifically, Oliver Queen. How he'd learned about the codes, she did not know. What she did know was that she was screwed. Telling her father was a complete no-go. Not only would he give her hell for dating an outsider and writing a time bomb without any protection, but knowing who had the codes, her father would kill her without batting an eye. She knew it, and frankly, she didn't care. But she had friends in the family. People who did not deserve to have their lives destroyed by her mistakes.
So, after weeks of researching and stalking, she'd finally faked herself an invitation to the party in Chicago. Her father thought she was there meeting friends. Her protective detail thought she was drunk and sleeping in her locked hotel suite. She'd escaped. Come this deep into the den. She had to get that drive and get the hell out. And she also had to silence Oliver Queen. And the only way to do that would be to kill him.
Knowing how he'd masterminded everything with Cooper, her blood boiled. Oh yes. Killing him won't be a problem. The urge intensified every time she thought of the sick asshole.
Felicity grit her teeth and blinked as Oliver Queen moved towards the pseudo castle, taking a secluded path up.
Nodding to herself, she put her glass on a tray one of the many waiters carried around and surreptitiously made her way towards the path, sticking to the shadows, her dark dress and dark wig ascertaining that she wouldn't stand out. A few steps on to the path, she saw the party disappearing behind her, behind the bushes that shrouded the way. Up ahead quite a few steps, she saw Queen's tall, broad figure walking agilely towards the steps of the house, climbing them two at a time. Felicity rushed, needing to keep him in her line of vision.
She quickly bent down and climbed the steps, her eyes darting around the area, frowning at the lack of security around the house. Over to the left, she could see the party in full swing and the guards surrounding the gardens. Just as she entered the huge double doors, a guard made his way towards it. Adrenaline hitting her hard, she ducked behind the first pillar she saw, her eyes darting around the huge entrance with an over-the-top chandelier, the area leading into a hallway, at the end of which she could see Queen's back turning to the left.
She suddenly felt the guard pull on her arm, frowning at her.
"Are you lost, ma'am?" he asked, his eyes suspicious, and before she could rethink, Felicity picked up the vase beside her and smashed it over his head. The guard's eyes widened, before he crumpled down and Felicity escaped, berating herself. That had been sloppier than she would have liked. Frack.
Taking a deep breath, focusing on that disappearing back, Felicity crouched low, heading towards the hallway. Once inside, she made a run for it, stopping to pick her heels up in her hands to avoid making any noise. Within seconds, she was at the turn, looking at a set of stairs leading to a single door. Swallowing, she tiptoed, her heart pounding, and climbed up.
Reaching the landing, she tiptoed her way to the door. Taking in a deep, quick breath, she pulled the knife out of it's sheath from her thigh, and reached for the knob, donning her heels, and turned it open. She leaned her neck in, looking around the semi-dark bedroom of sorts. It was empty.
Frowning, she stepped inside, shutting the door behind her quietly, and saw the bathroom door open on the other side before she even had a chance to take in her surroundings. Heart hammering, she crouched in the corner, seeing Oliver Queen step back into the space without a jacket, his suspenders stark against the white shirt unbuttoned at the collar, stretched across the broad expanse of his chest. A very muscular chest. She bet he had abs too.
Although she hated herself for noticing, she couldn't deny the man was very, very appealing. That was an understatement. Too bad he was a bastard of the highest order.
She saw him pick up his phone and scroll through something, concentrated on the screen, presenting his back to her, and she straightened. Now or never.
Walking behind him, her hand slightly trembling, gripping the knife with white knuckles, she inched forward, not even daring to breathe lest she alert him. Almost two steps behind him, she placed the knife on his back, right above his heart if he had one, and uttered as coldly as she could.
"You twitch and you die."
She saw the muscles in his back stiffen, one by one, even before she had spoken. It would have fascinated her had she not been so shit scared. And raving mad.
"Interesting," she heard him speak evenly, like his life wasn't hanging in her trembling hands. She steadied them.
"Drop the phone and raise your hands," she ordered and watched him comply, his voice breaking the tense silence.
"Since I'm not already dead, I assume you want something."
The completely unruffled tone of voice did nothing to cool her nerves. Wasn't he bothered that she could carve him open?
Sweat broke out over her back, her wig itching but she focused on his back, pulling out a second knife from the other thigh, and shoving it against his side, right where the kidney was. His back tensed even more but his hands didn't waver, staying completely upright.
"What do you want?" he asked, the tone never changing.
Felicity inhaled deeply, gulped, and spoke. "The thumb drive Cooper Sheldon gave you."
There was silence for a few beats, before he tilted his head towards the left. "It's on the top drawer of the table over there."
Felicity blinked in surprise. She hadn't expected him to give it up so easily. Maybe he was a wuss under all that macho crap. And the rumors and stories were fabricated. Maybe. Hmm.
Felicity looked towards the desk, and the moment her head turned, her back slammed into the wall beside the door, one hand holding the knife up and restrained by a tight grip, the other hand with the knife held against her own throat by a very angry Oliver Queen. Felicity blinked up into his eyes, his very blue, very pissed off eyes, stunned at the turn of events. Nope. No wuss this one. He was very quick. And she was very screwed.
Felicity gulped, feeling the blade of her own knife held in her own hand that he was gripping against her neck, felt the cool metal just threaten her skin. She felt his huge, rough hand grip her other hand above her head, his fingers wrapped like manacles around her wrist. She felt his huge, muscular body press into hers, his chest warm against her heaving breasts, the musky scent of his cologne invading her senses, his legs retraining hers, rendering her completely immobile.
Swallowing, she looked up into his eyes, straightening her spine. If she had to die, she wasn't going to die like a coward, especially not at the hands of a jerk like him.
He leaned closer, his face just inches from hers, his eyes cold and voice brutal as he spoke.
"This spot, right here," he spoke quietly, coolly, pressing the blade of the knife against a spot on her tilted neck. "It's an easy spot. I nick you here, and you will die before you can blink."
Her stomach churned but she grit her teeth, refusing to show fear, silently listening as he moved the knife to another spot at the side of her neck. "This spot. You will die but it won't be as clean."
Her heart thundered with a vengeance in her chest, her palms sweating at the look in his eyes. He moved the knife again. "And this spot. You know what happens if I cut you here?"
Felicity stayed silent, just watching him, his voice taunting, his eyes anything but.
"You'll feel pain," he continued, undaunted. "You'll bleed to death and you will feel every drop of blood that leaves your body. Death will come, but much, much later. And the pain will be excruciating."
He held the knife to the spot, speaking in a cold voice. "Now, if you don't want to feel that pain, tell me who sent you and what you know about the drive."
Felicity blinked at him in confusion, before realization dawned. He didn't recognize her. Of course he didn't. They had never really met, and as first meeting went, this one left a lot to be desired. He'd probably just seen her pictures like she had his.
Wetting her dry lips, Felicity whispered. "I know about the drive because it's mine."
She saw his eyes narrow slightly. "Is it?"
Her own narrowed, the anger that had fled in the face of fear returning with a vengeance. "Yes it is, you asshat. I worked my ass off on that code and I'll be damned if I'll let you use it. Cooper stole it from me and I need it back."
Surprise flared in his eyes. "You're Felicity Smoak?"
Felicity gave a sharp nod, aware of the blade at her throat. He looked her up and down, his eyes lingering on her wig and her lips, taking in every inch of her that he could, before returning to hers.
"Well, well, well," he spoke, a small curve lifting the side of his lip, his scruffy jaw loosening now that he knew her identity.
She opened her mouth to retort just as the door beside them banged loudly. Felicity yelped a little in surprise and he let go of her hand, putting the hand over her mouth. What did he think she was going to do? Scream for help in the Outfit household? Seriously?
"Oliver, have you seen anybody in the house? Someone knocked out Matteo downstairs," a heavy voice spoke from the other side, a slight accent deepening it.
Felicity felt lead settle in her gut, and saw his eyes come back to hers, his eyebrow raising as he called back.
"No, I haven't." His eyes never moved from hers. "I'll be down in a few minutes."
Felicity heard steps shuffling away and after a few seconds, the hand from her mouth retreated. He didn't.
"Would you mind removing the knife?" she asked quietly, her eyes pinning holes into him.
That raised eyebrow notched even higher before he leaned back in, the knife never going from place. "You should know not to come into the house of the enemy, all alone, unprotected. And you should know never to sneak up on a predator. Once we catch the scent of your blood, it's a matter of the hunt."
Felicity clenched her jaw, her palm itching to lay on on him and his patronizing attitude. "I want that drive back."
He stayed silent for one long second, before stepping back, releasing her arms but swiping the knives from her, checking them.
"Coming here was foolish, Miss Smoak," he spoke quietly, looking at her. "If my people found you, you will be dead. If your people found out, you'd be dead. Did you want to start a war?"
Seriously? He was accusing her of that? Pots and kettles.
Felicity took a step closer to him, glaring. "I'll be dead anyway, so it doesn't seem foolish. Do you even have any idea what the contents of that drive can do? This hypothetical war you are accusing me of starting- imagine that ten times worse." She inhaled deeply, trying to reason with him. "Look, just give me the codes so I'll destroy them and be on my merry way."
There was a heavy silence for long minutes, his eyes contemplatively looking at her, making her squirm a bit under the scrutiny, before he spoke, handing her the knife. "Under the stairs there is a door. It'll lead you to the gates. Get out of here before someone sees you and chaos breaks. I'm having a quiet night after months and I will not be cleaning up your blood."
Felicity inhaled deeply, taking the knives from him. "I can kidnap you."
For the first time, Felicity saw something else flicker in his eyes. Amusement. He just crossed his arms over his chest, tilting his head to look at her.
"Take the door."
Sighing, she knew she was beat. There was nothing she could do. And going back home meant telling her father. Which meant either death or exile. Damn.
Nodding, she turned on her heel, heading towards the door, feeling his eyes on her back.
She turned her neck to look back at him, to see his eyes glittering with something that made her heart skip and stomach flutter.
He pinned her with the look for a long moment, before speaking.
"You're in my debt now."
"Since you are a thief who stole my work, I don't count that."
His gaze intensified. "Anyone but me, and you would not have been breathing."
Felicity blinked in surprise and saw his lips twitch at that, even as his eyes stared at her with that look.
"I'm no gentleman to give you a free pass," he spoke quietly. "You are in my debt."
And then he closed the space between them. Felicity swallowed, her hand tightening on the knife even as her heart pounded, and tilted her head back to keep their eyes locked. He stared down at her for long moments, before leaning in, their gazes never moving, and whispered, his breath ghosting over her face, his scent acute in her nose.
"And I will collect it one day."
Felicity felt her breath hitch.
And then she ran out of the room.
He was on the prowl.