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Going Mental

Chapter Text

When she throws Slade Wilson a fluttery wave from across the bullpen when she thinks Oliver isn't looking, he knows. He knows she did this on purpose to get what she wanted. When his hot-headed agent slapped her, she had assured Oliver that she'd antagonized him, but Director Lance had wanted to avoid a scene—or worse, a lawsuit. Apparently, not only had she done just that, but she's continuing to egg it on behind Oliver's back, even as she holds an ice pack to her swelling cheek.

As Special Agent in Charge of the CBI's Major Crimes Unit, Oliver has seen a lot of things, but Felicity Smoak takes the cake.

When he heard her name this morning, he thought Sara had made a mistake. The Malibu police department had said that she called frequently, but never appeared in person. For the last year she'd been doing that, but now she's in his office in full force, apparently antagonizing one of his agents just to get her chipped, black fingernails on those Red John case files.

She's a confusing mix of contradictions to him. He'd expected the impeccably put-together psychic from the television footage when Sara had warned him about her presence, but instead the woman is disheveled and scattered. Her dark makeup is smudged, her articles of black clothing wrinkled as though she's been wearing them for a while, and her purple-streaked black hair is pulled into a haphazard ponytail, tangled and falling down in places. Even worse is that she looks gaunt, as though she hasn't been eating properly, with dark circles under her eyes.

But despite all those things, she's still flashing Slade a charming smile and a wave, just to let him know that she won this round.

Sighing at the tolls of his work, Oliver turns back to the empty desk where she sits. Lance has already told her the deal, but now the SAC needs her the hell out of his office—preferably before Slade goes into a rage again and Oliver has to fire him for real. "I can have the Red John files here tomorrow, Mrs. Seldon," he informs the grieving widow in a gentle voice. He can't help but wonder, though, why she'd introduce herself to Sara as Felicity Smoak when she was married.

To his surprise, she makes a face and a wordless sound in the back of her throat, as though the name is unappealing to her. "I, um, never got used to being called that," she answers, her voice going soft and quiet. For some reason, Oliver thinks this, at least, isn't an act. "And 'Miss Smoak' just feels weird now. I'd appreciate it if you called me Felicity."

"Felicity," Oliver agrees quietly, offering her a small hint of a smile. Then he notices the state of her clothes again and he can't help but ask her, "In the meantime, do you have a place to stay while you're in town? Malibu is a pretty long drive." Again his eyes fall over her appearance, and he wonders if she even has any money to pay for a hotel room or the night. Hesitating slightly, he adds, "If you need a place to stay, I have a spare bedroom at my house. I'd be glad to let you use it for the night."

The psychic stares at him as though he's suggested she backpack through the Amazon by herself. He hadn't noticed before, but now he realizes that her blue eyes are calculating, as if life is just one giant chess game and she's determined to stay four moves ahead. "You actually mean that, don't you?" Felicity asks him slowly, as though it's a novel idea. She waves her hands a little. "This isn't just an elaborate attempt to get into my pants—you're genuinely worried about me." Her head tilts to the side, as if she's trying to read him. "Why is that?" Oliver hesitates, but she tacks on, "And the truth please. I can take it."

With a sigh, Oliver answers as honestly as possible, "No offense, but kind of look homeless right now." He gestures toward her appearance, letting it speak for him. "Very lost and confused." He hesitates. "I took this job because I wanted to help people, Felicity. And, right now, I think you need some help."

She's quiet for an incredibly long moment before answering, studying him with a gaze that might as well cut through to his soul. "Well, then, Agent Queen," she answers with weight, "I accept your offer." She holds up her index finger. "But just this once."

Any other time, Oliver, might feel like it's a victory, but at the moment, it feels like he might have bitten off more than he can chew. Something tells him that Felicity is going to be a handful. "Alright," he admits after a moment, resigning himself to it. "If you'll give me your phone number, I'll call you before I leave the office. I can pick you up on my way out." He hesitates for a moment, but then decides to just go ahead and say it. She seemed to like his honesty before. "Maybe you could try to clean up a little, try to look a little less…" He trails off before deciding with a slight smile, "Zara the Magnificent."

A smile curves her lips upward, the first one he's seen on her face since she walked in. "I like your honesty, Oliver," she states, her tone playful. Then she rises to her feet with a smile that might be charming under different circumstances. "Can I call you Oliver? It's a nice name—I'd like to use it."

"That's fine," he assures her with a laugh, wondering how the hell this woman can manage to be so charming and so sad at the same time. She's clearly lost everything, but she's holding on anyway, sitting in front of him and smiling. It's hollow and doesn't quite reach her eyes, but she's definitely trying—something that Oliver had incredible difficulty doing after the island. He can only imagine her grief and pain, but she's still fighting to find her husband's killer.

Then she hands him a black business card with a quiet, "I'll see you later today, then, Oliver."

Chapter Text

Trudging down the stairs of his townhouse, Oliver runs his hands over his face, trying to bring himself out of his typical morning stupor. Though he's never lost that constant alertness that became a necessity on the island so many years ago, mornings just seem to be hard for him no matter what he does. Maybe it's the long nights on the job, or maybe it's the fact that nothing good has ever happened to him in the morning.

He stops on the last step, though, as he sees Felicity on the couch.

It takes him a moment to remember that he invited her to stay in his guest bedroom, and he rubs at his face again as he tries to get his bleary eyes to focus. When he does, he finds her reading some sort of paper and twirling a pen in her hand. The corner of his mouth lifts as he realizes she's in a yellow shirt with a picture of Van Gogh, the quote underneath reading, "It's about to get weird." He squints at her rather colorful pajama pants for a moment before he decides that they are, in fact, covered with cartoon cacti with little faces on them. Her hair is wet and he can't see any purple in it now, but she looks very different with glasses and without makeup.

Because Oliver knows he should probably do something besides gape at her, he manages to get out, "You're up early." His voice is rough and raspy from lack of sleep and damn it, he needs coffee. It's just after six and somehow it's still too early for him to be coherent, even after getting a decent night's sleep for a change.

The psychic doesn't bother to look up at him, still twisting the pen in her hand without missing a beat. "I'm not sure it counts if you don't sleep," she answers, in a voice so cheerful that it borders on sickening this early in the morning. Reaching out a hand, Felicity does the most glorious thing by pointing toward a cup of coffee on the table on the far end of the couch. "I heard your alarm go off a few minutes ago," she explains, "so I made a pot of coffee."

The corner of her mouth tilts up, devoid of black lipstick this time. "No offense, but you don't seem like a morning person. I thought the coffee might help before I tried to talk to you." Oliver picks up the mug, studying it for a moment as he decides whether she put sugar or creamer in it. She must notice because she observes, "You seem like the kind of guy to take it straight—just pure, black coffee. That white chocolate raspberry creamer and the no-calorie sweetener in there doesn't seem your style. And I don't think the mug with pink unicorns in your cabinet is yours, either—though I wouldn't judge you if it was. It leans toward a woman's presence. If you had a girlfriend, you probably wouldn't have invited me to stay with you, and this place is lacking a feminine touch, so I'm guessing it belongs to your sister."

Because it's far too early for this kind of shit, Oliver takes a sip of his coffee and allows the caffeine to permeate his sluggish brain before answering. Instead, he chooses to sit at the opposite end of the couch for a moment before finally saying, "Yeah. How did you guess?" He knows enough to know that Felicity Smoak isn't psychic, but he's starting to realize just how she convinced everyone she was. Her accurate assessment of everything borders on eerie.

Still she doesn't look up, as if carrying on a conversation with him doesn't take much of her brain power—and from what he's read, it probably doesn't. The information they have on her says she graduated high school at thirteen, college at nineteen, and that she has a Mensa membership. "It's known in the business as a cold read," she answers, her tone casual in a way he doesn't expect. "I notice details about people and draw conclusions about them. She shrugs. "There's a lot of guesswork to it. Mostly I use facial cues to tell me if I'm right or not." Her voice turns bitter. "Of course, no one ever calls me on it because everything gets jumbled up in the 'spirit world.'" Felicity actually makes air quotes at that. "It's how I made people believe I was psychic."

With her pain of losing Seldon, Oliver decides not to push any further on that subject, though he's more curious now than ever about her previous profession. She hasn't been seen on the circuit ever since her husband's death, and he thinks she might be done with that life. Instead, his attention goes to the information she seems to be so intent upon reading. "What are you reading?"

"Oh, just a case file you left on the coffee table," she answers in a flippant tone. He winces; Oliver didn't expect her to be a snoop, but apparently it's an old, fake-psychic habit she picked up. "I got tired of staring at the ceiling and wanted to do something more productive." She frowns. "Your bookshelf is sorely lacking on interesting reading material. Just leadership manuals that are full of bullshit information—and they call me the fraud, when you actually pay money for that—and a bunch of books on archery that I wouldn't be able to appreciate. And I've already read The Art of War five times."

Before he can do much more than gape, Felicity adds, "By the way, your prime suspect? Not the culprit."

Instead of answering, he holds his hand out for the file, and she reluctantly hands it back to him. "Felicity, you can't read my case files," he warns her, but he isn't sure she's paying attention because she seems to be staring at him. "These are confidential CBI information." Then he realizes what she's said. "Wait. Why do you think this guy isn't Deadshot?"

Instead of answering, she makes an odd sound in her throat. Her mouth opens several times before she finally says, "Wow. Give a girl some warning before you start flashing that." She motions to his torso, and he realizes he didn't take time to put on a shirt, and all of his scars from the island are on display. It makes Oliver feel vulnerable in a way he doesn't like—not when Felicity sees so much. With a flush to her face, she continues, "And I just made this weird, didn't I? I'm sorry. My mouth runs away with me sometimes. But, to be fair, you were the one to come in here and throw all of that… pretty at me."

The words take him by surprise; the very few people who have ever seen his torso have noticed the scars first. Instead, Felicity finds a way to compliment him. That doesn't make him any more comfortable, but yet Oliver thinks it might help him solve the mystery that is Felicity Smoak. With a tentative smile, he notes, "I should have grabbed a shirt before coming downstairs. I'm not used to having a house guest." He rises to his feet, motioning for her to follow. "I need to get dressed for work—come talk to me through the door. I want to know why you don't think our guy is the perp."

More sensing than hearing Felicity at his heels, he starts up the stairs as she replies, "It's all in the MO, really." Something brushes against his back. "I didn't mean to hit you—I just talk with my hands." Without his permission, the corner of Oliver's mouth turns up. "Your guy Deadshot—cute codename, by the way—is controlled. He's a thinker who doesn't like to lose. So much so that he laces his bullets with poison so that a minor injury can be fatal. "He's calculating, Oliver. Cold. To him, this is just business." She takes a deep breath as he walks into his bedroom, shutting the door behind him. "Meanwhile, your suspect, Jacob Cruz? He has past charges for B&E and manslaughter."

Oliver stops pulling on his trousers for a moment to attempt to find the logic in that. When he doesn't, he calls, "What's your point? A thief can't be an assassin?" He finds it a little hypocritical of her; she's a con artist with an impressive computer background. If anything, she just proves that criminals—like her, even if she was never arrested for it—can diversify their interests.

"No, of course not," Felicity assures him immediately, her voice muffled slightly by the door. "One has nothing to do with the other. It's more the nature of the charges against Cruz. The B&E charges are pretty impulsive. He walks by a store, bashes a window, steals the cash, and leaves. He doesn't even bother to check for security cameras, which is why he was caught in the first place. The manslaughter charge is because he was driving while drunk and hit a guy with his car."

Oliver doesn't disagree, nodding as he buttons his shirt, but he still doesn't see her point. "Your Deadshot guy wouldn't do this—not like this, anyway," Felicity qualifies. "He'd scope the place out, and take time to disable the security cameras before he robbed anything, and then he'd pick the lock instead of breaking out a window. He's not the kind to get drunk in public, either—that would mean losing control. If there are two things consistent about this guy, it's that he's patient and that he likes to maintain control." Her voice takes a turn, almost thoughtful as she adds, "You two are a lot alike in that respect."

He pauses in tying his shoes, wondering if she meant to insult him. Though it doesn't seem like the psychic's style—with him, anyway; she'd do it to Slade in a heartbeat—Oliver can't exactly ignore the slight in her words. "Thank you," he replies in a sarcastic tone. "I always appreciate it when people compare me to assassins."

In response, Felicity makes a noise in her throat. "Oh, don't be such a pansy," she retorts, and he can picture her rolling her eyes. "You know what I meant. I'm sure those qualities are why you're in charge of a unit. You stay in constant control of your actions, protect your core self very fiercely." There's a short pause as she contemplates that. "Defense mechanism, probably. I imagine a lot of it comes from your childhood—the wealthy never make for good parents—but it's probably partially due to the trauma written all over your body."

Never before has Oliver felt so vulnerable, so transparent to anyone. It's unnerving how accurate her words are. Now he understands why she was so successful as a psychic; it would be easy to explain away her ability as supernatural.

She continues in a casual tone when he doesn't respond, "I don't mean that as an insult. It's actually quite impressive, Oliver. Most people who are tortured like that end up with PTSD that greatly affects their daily lives, even years after the fact." There's nothing personal about her tone; she could be describing the weather for her interest, and Oliver finds he appreciates how clinically detached she is. "You, however, seem to be highly functioning—with no indicators of medication for it."

Unable to prevent himself from reacting, the CBI agent pulls the door open to stare at her, his tie still hanging loose around his neck. Even though he's never believed in such things, Oliver is starting to think she might actually be psychic. He's good at reading people, too, but nothing like this. Maybe, though, it could be helpful; he has a difficult time talking about what happened on the island, even now, but with Felicity, he wouldn't have to.

Another way it could be helpful, however, comes to mind. If she's this talented at reading people and bringing their secrets to light, then maybe she could be useful in helping them apprehend criminals. Eyes narrowed, he's finally able to ask her, "Did you just cold read me?"

The former psychic winces. "Maybe a little," she admits, holding her thumb and index finger fractions of an inch from one another. Waving her hands, Felicity continues, "But it's not something I do on purpose! It's an instinct kind of thing." She gestures toward him. "You scan rooms and check for exits when you enter a new place. I pick up details about people and draw conclusions." The comparison startles him; Oliver didn't even realize he still did that. "Everyone is a mystery. I hate mysteries—they need to be solved."

Because he knows how she'll feel about this, Oliver eases into it, slow and careful. "Maybe before you look into the Red John case files this morning," he starts, and already her eyes are starting to narrow in defiance, "you could do something to help me with my case."

As soon as he stops, he realizes he wasn't clear enough; a profound sadness mars her features again. It's so easy to forget all she's endured at times, but now he realizes just exactly what asking to hire her, a known psychic, has put her through. With a panic in her voice, she responds, "Oliver, I can't pretend to be psychic anymore. The last time I did, I—" She chokes on her words, closing her eyes and pressing her lips together to keep any emotion away. Still, her voice is watery when she finally finishes, "I taunted a serial killer on national television. Red John might have held the knife, but Cooper—" Again her voice breaks on the name.

Because Oliver has spent most of his life blaming himself for multiple things beyond his control, and he isn't going to let Felicity start that downward spiral. "Felicity, I'm not asking you to," he assures her in a quiet voice. "I'm asking you to do a cold read, like you just did on me. It could help me catch a killer." Though he knows it's probably a slippery slope for her, he throws his next thought at her anyway: "I have the Red John case now. If you can help me close a case, you might be able to convince Lance to sign you up as a consultant for Major Crimes."

Something dark slips across Felicity's features before she breaks out in a smile that sends chills up his spine. "Give me five minutes to get dressed."

Chapter Text

This time when Felicity walks into the Starling City branch of the CBI, she turns heads this time. Oliver doubts it has anything to do with her psychic days; it's been over a year since the case hit, and he has a difficult time equating the woman he sees now with the one who walked into his office yesterday. Instead of dark clothing, she's in a bright, orange dress with straps that cross one another in the back and a pair of black heels. Her hair is in a ponytail again, this time less disheveled.

As they walk into the bullpen, she finally asks him, "What is it, exactly, that you want me to do here? I've read the case and I might be able to give some insights, but I'm not actually psychic, Oliver." She waves a hand. "I mean, I have some pretty keen powers of observation, but I'm not going to randomly point at a picture and say, 'That's your guy.' That's not how this works."

He points her toward the board at the back of the room, ignoring the looks from his team. Digg and Sara have been with him for ages and follow his lead without question, but he knows Slade will be a problem. "Just take a look at our evidence board," he answers. "See what you can see." She throws a cheeky smile at Slade when she walks by, her fuchsia lips curving into a smile, but Oliver snatches her hand back before she can wave at his hot-headed agent. "You already used Slade to manipulate your way to the Red John case files, Felicity. Leave him alone."

Her eyes widen as she stares at him, her mouth turning into a smile. There's something… mischievous about it, and that immediately sets him on edge. "I'm sorry, Oliver," she apologizes out of nowhere. "I thought you were just another cop, but you're clearly smarter than that." He doesn't know whether she's insulting him or complimenting him. Before he can decide, she continues, "I have a feeling we're going to work well together."

With that, she leaves him for the board, staring at it for a long moment. "Oliver, you can't be serious about this," Slade interjects, rising from his desk to confront the SAC face-to-face. "She's a civilian—she can't be in on a case." He waves a hand toward her. "Not to mention the fact that she deliberately tries to cause trouble."

"I'm sorry you don't like the truth," Felicity says from the other side of the room, not looking away from the board. "But that doesn't take away from what I said. The reason why a man younger than you is your boss is because you can't keep your temper in check.  No one else will work with you because you're a liability.  The only reason Oliver puts up with you is because you remind him of someone in his past who had similar problems.  That's why I goaded you—you're an easy target." Then she points to the board, turning to Oliver. "Is it okay if I move stuff around? You're not very organized."

Before Oliver can respond, John Diggle takes a few steps toward her, half sitting and half leaning against the conference table. "Actually, we have everything grouped according to suspect, evidence, and victim," he corrects, watching her move things around.

"I misspoke," Felicity answers, still adjusting the board. "You're organized wrong." She pulls all the suspects away. "Do you know how much it costs to pay for a hit?" No one answers, and Oliver hopes that's a rhetorical question. "Your so-called suspects aren't going to pay for an internationally-renowned assassin over a personal vendetta. This is business." She turns toward the team. "Did anyone talk to Marcus Redman's wife, ask who his enemies are?

Sara steps forward, frowning with furrowed brows. "She said he didn't have any," she answers, crossing her arms. "I asked about it several times, but she insisted that everyone loved Redman."

The former psychic scoffs at that, pulling the wife's picture from the suspect side of the board and tearing it up. It sparks a cry of surprise from Slade, but she ignores him as she throws it in the trash. "Then she's definitely not your killer. That level of marital delusion means she loved him." She points to the picture of Redman. "Look at this guy. He's wearing a pressed suit, and his credit card statements showed he paid two hundred dollars for a haircut. He has photographs in his conference room of him and three former presidents." She points to the victim's photo. "He's vain and he likes to intimidate people. This is exactly the kind of guy who makes enemies." She turns to the team before asking, "Was he involved in any business mergers?"

John is already flipping through the file folders, already catching on to her line of logic. Oliver has a feeling those two are going to work well together, but, then again, almost everyone works well with Digg. He's one of the most laid back people on the force; ruffling him is near impossible. Of course, it probably helps that Felicity isn't attempting to irritate him, either. After a few moments of rustling pages, he answers, "No mergers, but it looks like he was competing for Unidac Industries. The auction is tonight."

Something lights up her eyes, her excitement building with her theory. "Has anyone else been murdered this week who has been bidding for Unidac?" she asks, leaning over Diggle's shoulder to read the report more clearly.

Though his participation is grudging at best, Slade answers, "I heard something on the radio this morning about Carl Rasmussen being shot to death in his home." He crosses his arms over his chest, staring at the former psychic with a frown. "Apparently he was trying to grab Unidac as well." He turns to Oliver. "I'll pull the autopsy reports from local PD."

Nodding, Oliver turns to Felicity. If they're targeting the auction, there's no way he can weed out the rest of the buyers before then. Their guy will have to attack the auction house, and that means they have a chance to stop him. "Do you have anything planned for tonight?" he asks her.

Her eyebrows furrow together as she shakes her head. "I have a date at the twenty-four-hour diner over on Eighth," she answers. "I'm sure the Red John case files and a few cups of coffee are going to be good company." Tentative, she takes a few steps forward, her mouth turning down in a frown. "Why? What are you thinking, Oliver?"

Before he can answer, Sara laughs, the blonde turning to her with a hint of a smile. "I thought you were supposed to be psychic, Smoak," she teases.

Though it could easily be a tender subject, apparently Felicity takes the joke for what it is. "There's no such thing as a psychic," she answers, her tone flat. "There are only charlatans and con artists. We just read people and tell them what they want to hear. For three hundred dollars an hour, I might add." Sara lets out a low whistle, and Felicity continues, "Not that I really needed the money—that just keeps out the kooks who want you to read their palms." She casually leans against one of the tables. "I was pretty much set for life after I decided to count cards in Vegas." She frowns. "I should have gone somewhere else. Since they banned me from the city, I can't go see my mother anymore." Oliver knows there's a story in there, but it's neither the time or the place. She turns back to him. "Why did you ask me what I'm doing?"

He hesitates. This could delay her work with the Red John case, but he thinks that might be good for her; something tells him that the former psychic is going to obsess over this case. "Because I need you at the Unidac auction tonight," he answers. Absently, he remembers his stepfather talking about it. The idea of Felicity Smoak in the same room with his family puts him on edge. "Think you can let the case files go for one night?"

In a dry tone, she responds, "As long as I'm not the entertainment, I'm in."

Chapter Text

Oliver has to lean on Felicity as he enters the office, but the former psychic doesn't even seem to mind. If anything, she seems almost apologetic, offering to drive him back to the CBI headquarters so that he can finish up paperwork. It's an odd reaction to the shooting; after all, it wasn't her fault that he jumped in front of the little red dot lined up on her orange dress. She'd made the mistake of stepping in front of Walter at the refreshment table, and the SAC was not going to let it be her last decision.

He hasn't said anything about it, but now he remarks to her with half a smile, "I thought you were supposed to take it easy on me." He'd warned her about his family being there, and her response had been a cheerful, Don't worry, Oliver. It's our first case together—I'll go easy on you. He isn't sure what that implies for future cases together, but being shot twice with curare-laced bullets sets the bar pretty high for the difficulty of later cases.

Now he's sure he's in over his head.

"You're the one who threw yourself in front of a bullet," she retorts without sympathy, motioning to the way he favors his ribs. He'd earned the first bullet saving her, but the second he'd gotten by being careless after chasing down Deadshot. Oliver might have a team, but he's not sure he's a team player yet. Her voice goes quiet as she adds, "And I was more than willing to take it."

"Felicity—" he starts, unsure of what to say. That's a powerful confession, and one he isn't sure how to deal with. Oliver might have had trouble after the island, but survival felt like his only option.

The former psychic saves him from his own good intentions. "I'm not going to do anything drastic," Felicity assures him with a roll of her eyes. "If I take my own life, then Red John wins." Her tone goes dark and cold, two things he doesn't associate with her and definitely doesn't like to hear in her. "And I refuse to give that son of a bitch the satisfaction."

Before he can speak again, he's interrupted by Diggle and Sara entering the bullpen with two boxes of pizza, and… Oliver stops short at the sight of his sister, trailing along behind them, her face less pale than it was just after the shooting. "Thea, what are you doing here?" he asks, though not unkindly.

"Case-closed pizza, duh," she answers, rolling her eyes. Her smile is a little shaky, but he considers her attempt at humor a good sign. "I can use some greasy pizza tonight." Oliver slides away from Felicity to grab a chair, and Thea's eyes latch onto his new, official consultant, walking up to her with a smile almost as terrifying as the psychic's. "You're new around here," she declares.

"Very," Felicity agrees with a smile. She points to herself, not offering a hand. "I'm Felicity." She fidgets a little in place, and he can see her tense a little as she offers her surname, "Smoak." Oliver can only assume it has something to do with not wanting to be recognized for her last foray in the spotlight. It must be difficult for her, being known as the woman who taunted a serial killer on national television, only for him to get revenge by killing her husband. "I'm a consultant, I think."

"You are," Diggle supplies, as he snatches a piece of pizza out of the box next to him on the conference table. It's a tradition Sara started years ago, in celebration of a job well done. "Director Lance told me he was turning in the paperwork earlier tonight."

From her place on the couch, Sara supplies, "I think he's kind of impressed with you, Felicity." She offers her a hint of a grin. "We've been hunting this guy for weeks—they wanted to give the case to the feebs because we weren't getting results." She holds up her red, plastic cup in salute, probably filled with beer since her girlfriend is picking her up tonight. "Thanks to you, we caught Deadshot and the guy who hired him to take out the competition. Slade's getting him to lockup now."

Felicity's fears are unfounded because Thea spent the last year glued to her phone and religiously avoiding the news. As she walks over to grab pizza, she finally asks, "So, consultant, what kind of consulting do you do?" she asks, sitting on the desk next to Oliver. She frowns at the former psychic suddenly. "And, more importantly, who told you black hair was a good look for you?"

"Speedy," Oliver warns. Felicity's been through enough without forcing her into his sister's good-natured fashion advice.

He should really know better by now; if there's one thing he knows about the former psychic, it's that she gives as good as she gets. After all, Slade later admitted that he might have said something to her about moving on with her life before she goaded him. Before she answers, she pulls herself onto Slade's desk, sitting atop it. "I have a very useful skill set," she replies with a smile Oliver has come to fear in the past twenty-four hours of knowing her. "I can read minds."

Thea scoffs, looking to her brother for the truth. "She's not kidding," he assures his sister. What Felicity can do might not be telepathy, but it's an excellent imitation of it." It earns him a smile from across the room.

"And I seriously need a makeover," Felicity continues, as though Oliver hasn't spoken. "If I can't pull off black hair, what are your thoughts? I'm not ready to be brunette again." She makes an odd face. "I had the worst haircut in junior high when I had brown hair. Bad memories."

Studying her for a moment, the teenager gives her a thoughtful once-over. It's only now that the SAC is starting to get concerned; the idea of Thea and Felicity becoming friends might be worse than them hating each other. "I think you could go blonde," she admits slowly. "I mean, it would take some work—getting rid of dark colors is a horrible experience, but I think you could pull it off." She shrugs. "The only problem is that people underestimate you because of that 'dumb blonde' thing." She rolls her eyes. "Which is ridiculous."

Felicity thinks on that a moment before replying, "Being underestimated just means you can take them by surprise. I'm in."

Chapter Text

As she sits on the vinyl booth with her brothers—one by blood, one by choice—Thea can't help but think there would be some serious perks to living in Starling City, as opposed to the mansion ten miles out of town that she still calls home. Being out from under her mother's thumb would be nice, but it's frustrating that she never has time to meet Oliver for lunch. Getting to see Tommy, too, is a rare treat—his nightclub, Verdant, means he works odd hours—but they're all centered around the table, covered by a kitschy, red-checkered tablecloth.

When a natural break arises in the conversation, she asks, "So, Ollie, what's been going on at work?" She slurps on her milkshake while waiting for an answer, though the smile on his face is enough. The mention of work usually makes him grumpy, so it's probably been smooth sailing.

"It's been pretty slow for the last two weeks," he answers as he munches on a fry. Ollie doesn't eat much, Thea has noticed over the years; he more snacks than anything. He's always sure to order regular-sized portions, but only because he knows she'll end up snatching half his fries. "It's given me plenty of time to catch up on paperwork. Someone is always filing a complaint, but I'm about to get caught up."

Thea frowns immediately. Though slow days are good for her brother, they're also disappointing in some ways. No new cases means Felicity can't get up to any crazy antics. At first she thought he was exaggerating, but then she met him at the office for lunch one day. She'd been there just in time to watch two guys nearly get into a fight, and just when Ollie had diffused it, Felicity walked up to one of them and whispered in his ear—maybe said five words. It had been a free-for-all between the men, their families, and the cops. Meanwhile, the former psychic just sat and watched the whole thing explode with a smirk on her fuchsia lips.

Unfortunately, though, the blonde's unpredictability makes for a difficult quality in a friend. Thea texts her often, but the consultant's replies are few and far between, usually at odd hours at the night and days later. For someone so fascinated by technology, she's a little scattered when it comes to her phone. Because of that, the heiress is forced to keep up with her friend through stories from her brother.

And no stories means no news. "That sucks," she officially declares.

To her surprise, Ollie laughs. He doesn't laugh much anymore, either, but he's been doing it a lot more in the last three years. Felicity has something to do with that, even as much as he loves to grumble about her and pretend he doesn't like her. "Not really," he argues with an amused smile. "It's a good thing when homicide detectives are bored."

"No, I meant it sucks for me," Thea clarifies with a grin. "Slow days mean no crazy Felicity stories." Tommy's brow furrows, but she ignores it. "I mean, you have no idea how funny it is to hear you state one of her antics like it happens every night." Throwing her voice deeper in her best—but still lousy—impersonation of her brother, she mimics, "'Sorry, Thea, but I can't go to dinner tonight. Felicity has us on a stakeout because a doctor had legible handwriting.' 'I can't pick you up tonight, Thea. Felicity just threatened a guy with a bomb again, and I need to do damage control.'" Tommy's eyes widen at that; the heiress figures he hasn't heard that one before. "And, my personal favorite: 'I have to go, Thea. I think Felicity is going to try to set this guy on fire.'"

It earns another breath laugh from Ollie, a fond smile playing on his lips—the special one he only seems to reserve exclusively for Felicity. "Even on slow days, she's still Felicity," he assures her. "She was painting Sara's nails when I left for lunch. Diggle plays cards with her using candy instead of money, and I think he's lost three bags of gummy bears." He does another of those breathy laughs. "Then she did one of her mind game tricks on Curtis from Forensics." He shakes his head. "The poor kid is convinced she can read his mind now. He won't even stay in the same room with her now because he's so afraid."

With a furrowed brow, Tommy cuts in, "Who's Felicity?"

At first Thea laughs because she thinks he's kidding, but the confusion doesn't leave his face. Turning to her brother, she demands, "Tommy doesn't know who Felicity is?" He winces at her tone, but she ignores it. She knew he was protective of her, but not introducing her to Tommy is taking it a bit far. "Ollie, you two have been together for three years now! How does Tommy not know her?"

Ollie shrugs, staring at his plate as he folds in on himself. It's a defensive gesture, and Thea realizes too late she took it too far. "Tommy never comes to the office," he offers by way of explanation, "and he hasn't been by the townhouse since he moved in with Laurel. We don't really talk about work, so it never came up."

Light dawns in Tommy's eyes, and they widen as he puts some things together. "Wait, Ollie," he starts, looking a mix of angry and confused. "You've been living with a girl for three years and you didn't tell me about this?!" His voice raises at the end, furious.

Though she tries not to, Thea laughs. It's not that he's wrong, per se, but she knows the idea would make her brother balk. Ollie's idea of commitment involves staying the night, yet he doesn't seem to realize he's been living with a girl for three years and otherwise single for nearly as long. "No way," she assures him before Oliver can get a word in edgewise. "Ollie hasn't had a girlfriend since he broke up with that girl from Narcotics two years ago." At least, not one he's introduced to her or their mother, which means nothing serious. "Felicity is his partner—work partner."

It does nothing to ease Tommy's confusion. "I thought you were in charge of a team," he says to his friend.

Ollie nods in agreement. "I am. It's the Major Crimes Unit." That small smile turns his mouth up again. "Felicity Smoak is our team's consultant," he explains. "On paper, I think she's supposed to answer to me, but Felicity doesn't really understand the chain of command at the CBI." He breathes out another laugh. "It's easier to work with her if I treat her like an equal instead of a subordinate." A wide grin graces his face. "She's less of a pain in the ass that way."

In explanation, Thea cuts in with a roll of her eyes, "He likes to pretend he doesn't like her, but they're friends. She's the only person I've ever seen who can call him out on his bullshit." Turning her brother, she demands, "Tell her I'm staying with you tomorrow night. It's been a while since I've seen her and I could use some girl time."

Tommy interjects into the conversation, "So why does she live with you?"

The way he tenses is predictable; there are certain things that cause Ollie to get a little cagey about his work friend. Thea guesses it's just another way to protect her. "Felicity's living arrangements are… complicated," he admits carefully. "She doesn't have a permanent address. She doesn't think she needs one because she's a highly functional insomniac. She used to check into a hotel, but I have three bedrooms in the townhouse, so she stays in my guest room when she decides to sleep." He shrugs. "Otherwise she works out of that twenty-four-hour diner on Eighth or stays at the office."

Thea can tell by Tommy's face that he isn't buying it. She understands; she had her own misgivings when she found Felicity on the couch one morning in pajamas, but she knows better. "She's practically been living with you for the last three years," he says in a flat voice, "and you two aren't having sex."

Her brother's eyes go cold at that, as they always do when someone crosses a line regarding Felicity. It's the same look that was on his face when a drunk guy on the street started catcalling the blonde—right before Ollie pinned the guy against the wall and made him apologize to her. "Felicity is my partner, Tommy," he states in a firm tone. "Our relationship is professional."

Thea chokes on her milkshake at those words. They may not be doing the do, but that doesn't mean she'd describe them as professional anything. "Yeah, right," she snorts, coughing a little. Before Ollie can protest, she turns back to Tommy. Oliver might be her big brother and her protector, but Tommy is more like a partner in crime. With no mercy, she teams up against her brother by explaining, "She flirts with him a lot. And hard. I think she has a crush on him, but it's hard to tell because…" Words fail her; there aren't really words to explain Felicity. She's tactile to the point it encroaches on personal space—but she has to be the one doing the touching—with the exception of Oliver, of course. "Well, when you meet Felicity, you'll understand. She touches him a lot and she calls him cute all the time."

If Ollie wasn't the shameless sort, Thea might think his ears were a little red at the suggestion. Tommy doesn't miss a beat, tormenting him a little more with a merciless grin. "Is she hot?" he asks, though the grin his face seems as though he knows the answer.

Thea already knows how her brother will respond, mouthing the words along with Ollie as he says, "She's Felicity."

While she might like to goad her brother a little, Tommy's far more relentless in his interrogation. "Oh, come on, Ollie," he demands, leaning across the table. He rolls his eyes. "Like you don't know a hot girl when you see one." He steals a fry off Thea's plate, and she slaps his hand before stealing one off Ollie's to compensate. "She might be your friend—and just a friend—but if she's hot, you've definitely noticed."

It's quiet as Oliver makes a big show of eating his burger, saying nothing. Because Thea can practically hear crickets chirping in the background, she breaks the silence. "She's pretty," she confesses to her partner in crime, grinning. "Very." While that's true physically, it's true in other ways as well. "But it's more than that," she decides. "Felicity is really bubbly and cheerful. It makes her ridiculously personable. I'd even call her charming."

Ollie makes a sound in his throat before swallowing his bite of food. "Which is why I spend most of my time getting yelled at by someone who wants her fired," he deadpans, sounding less irritated than he probably should. "She makes the effort with you because she likes you, Thea." The brunette stares at him blankly; she didn't realize that Felicity had any fondness one way or the other. She treats the rest of the team precisely the same. "But when she doesn't like someone, she…" He sighs, sounding weary now. "Well, as Sara said, she's 'hell in three-inch heels.'" Thea still doesn't quite understand, and he tries a new tactic. "Remember that cat you had when we were kids? The one that used to catch mice and play with them for hours before she finally ate them? That's what Felicity reminds me of when she doesn't like someone."

He frowns before adding, "Her suspension starts next week. She'll be missed at the office—in Major Crimes, anyway, but I won't miss all the paperwork that comes with her." He frowns. "At least it will give us some time to train the new kid before she can scare him off. She finally got Slade fired." Shaking his head, Ollie explains, "He lost his temper one time too many about a month ago, and Felicity finally got tired of tormenting him."

Finishing the last of his fries, Tommy interjects with knitted eyebrows, "What did she do to get suspended?"

Thea leans forward; she hasn't heard this story, either. Probably because he's not too thrilled about losing her for a week—despite the paperwork. "On our last case," he replies with a weary sigh, "our perp killed his daughter because she wouldn't have sex with him anymore." The heiress shudders. Sometimes she forgets the kind of world Ollie lives in every day. Occasionally he calls her in the middle of the night or drops by her tiny apartment for a hug and to sleep on her uncomfortable couch. "Felicity used his wife to figure out if he was guilty, and the wife ended up killing him."

She nods at that; just another Felicity-level disaster. The suspension is going to hit Ollie hard, though; Thea will have to stay in her bedroom at his place every few nights just to keep him from getting grouchy and completely unmanageable. She pities the poor new guy; an Ollie without Felicity in the office is pure hell to work for. Digg and Sara have worked for him for years, and she heard them talking about it as manning the battle stations.

War might be hell, but she has a feeling that her brother is a close second sometimes.

Tommy doesn't seem to know that he shouldn't ask questions about Ollie's cases. The more he talks about them, the more they affect him, so it's just better not to remind him. "That's horrible," he agrees, "but I don't understand how that's Felicity's fault."

It pulls a small, tentative smile out of her brother, and Thea just laughs while reaching for the last of his french fries. "It's hard to explain if you don't know Felicity," he admits slowly, "but it was her fault. She has this way of manipulating a situation, and it was only able to escalate because of her." He grabs back a few fries from his sister before continuing with a hint of pride, "She conned millions out of people by pretending to be psychic before she came to us." That's all he'll ever say; even three years later, Thea doesn't know why she had a change of heart. "She can read people incredibly well. In her trade, it's known as a 'cold read'—to take things you observe about someone and use it to draw conclusions. That's what she does." That note of pride enters his vvoice again. "She's good at it. Sometimes it's hard to believe she doesn't have some sort of sixth sense."

Tommy's eyebrows go up, clearly impressed with the description his friend is painting. "That sounds kind of cool," he says." With a grin, he allows, "Well, when she's not making trouble for you, anyway." He leans forward. "I'd like to meet her, Ollie. She sounds like a lot of fun."

He snorts. "Only if your idea of fun is cleaning up her messes."

Chapter Text

Roy Harper has regretted a lot of things in his life, but never anything as much as he regrets taking his current job at the California Bureau of Investigation in Starling City. Sure, he's been wanting to do this for years, but the minute he met his new boss, Special Agent in Charge Oliver Queen, he knew it was going to be one hell of a ride. While relatively reserved during the interview, he was practically growling at Roy last week when he showed up to work. And he hasn't stopped growling since.

His right hand man, one John Diggle with a posture that screams ex-military, had told him something along the lines of you get used to it, but something in his expression said that Diggle knew more than he was telling. Roy just keeps reminding himself that the Serious Crimes unit of the CBI is a prestigious placement and that any number of agents would die for, so the least he could do is see it through his probation period before making a decision.

As if sensing his thoughts, the tall blonde agent on the team, Sara Lance, looks up from her computer screen, her smile knowing. "Ollie isn't always like this, you know," she assures Roy, but he doesn't quite believe her. It also doesn't escape his notice that she calls him by a nickname, and he wonders if they didn't have a thing at some point. "It's been a tough few weeks. We're moving into this building, and he hates moving. Not to mention, one of our consultants got our perp killed two weeks ago, and then last week we caught a drug case—those always hit him pretty hard."

She purses her lips, as though she's not sure she should be saying anything before finally continuing, "His sister has been dealing with drug problems for years now, and he takes them personally." She turns back to the screen with a frown. "And now we're dealing with another Red John case—the last thing we need right now."

Before Roy can open his mouth to ask, another blonde rounds the corner. She's shorter than Sara, her build and posture completely different. While Sara has military posture, this woman walks like a civilian, in yellow heels that field agents typically don't wear. He doesn't think the red dress is standard issue, either, judging by the short hem and the cutout below the collarbone.

A ponytail bounces behind her as she walks into the bullpen, her red-painted mouth turned down into frown. When her eyes land on Roy, she studies him with a smile that promises mischief—and immediately raises his guard. "You must be Roy Harper," she declares after pushing her glasses up on her nose. Then she offers a hand. "I'm Felicity Smoak." At his blank expression, she adds, "I'm the consultant on this team." She turns to Sara with a frown. "No one thought to tell him about me? I'm surprised—usually Oliver slaps a warning label on me for the newbies."

The rookie field agent nearly laughs. He sincerely doubts that this woman, of all of them, needs a warning label. While Diggle is ex-military and he's not sure he wants to know where Sara was trained, Roy thinks that Felicity might be the the most unassuming thing he's seen since he stepped foot into the CBI building a week ago.

The blonde agent shrugs with a smile. "I think he's afraid to invoke your name for fear of bringing you down upon us—again," Sara answers with an odd tone in her voice, one that isn't quite serious but definitely isn't teasing, either. She tilts her head to the side. "I thought you were suspended for another week after that whole shooting thing, Smoak."

Felicity waves a hand as though it's a minor detail, but Roy's eyebrows go up in alarm; she's the last person in the room he'd expect to be involved in a shooting. "The man murdered his daughter because she wouldn't have sex with him anymore," she answers bluntly, examining her yellow fingernails. "Sorry if I'm not really broken up about his death." She waves a hand. "I know this is the part where Oliver says something about 'life is a precious thing' and 'he didn't have to die' and 'vengeance isn't justice,' but again, I'm citing man killed his daughter because she wouldn't have sex with him anymore. And his wife shot him. So forgive me for saying this, but so what?"

"And how did his wife shooting him get you suspended?" Roy can't help but ask. Felicity only offers a sweet smile that puts the fear of God into him before her answer is cut off by another voice.

"You didn't know that," he calls sharply from behind them, and they all swivel to look at Oliver Queen, a frown set permanently on his face. Roy can't help but wonder if the man ever smiles. His expression is a thundercloud, blue eyes narrowed at Felicity in a look that Roy does not ever want to see focused at him. "You couldn't have known that. It was a guess."

While Sara looks as nervous as Roy feels, Felicity seems perfectly at ease, smiling at him. "Good morning, Oliver," she states cheerfully. "Did you miss me over the past two weeks?" Something about the way she says his name seems too personal for the team; sure, Sara might call him Ollie, but never to his face (at least not during working hours; what they do after hours is their own business). Felicity, however, doesn't seem to have an issue with that. Roy can't help but wonder what the story is with these two.

Queen points at her, his expression… agitated, to say the least. He uses the same intimidation technique on her that he uses on the rest of them, hovering in her space and towering over her in that way that makes people feel small even if they're taller than him. Unlike the rest of them, though, the blonde is undaunted by his anger. "You did not know that. If the victim hadn't left a diary—"

"But she did," Felicity interjects, poking him in the chest with playful ease. Roy's eye catches the glint of something silver, and only then does he notice that the ring finger on her left hand has a nice, solid line of diamonds on it. Even more surprising is the fact that he swears the corner of Queen's mouth twitches up for the briefest moment. It could just be his imagination, though; his boss doesn't seem like the smiling type. "I know it wasn't your favorite by-the-book police work, but we caught the guy. Case closed." She frowns at him, her gaze speculative. "That usually makes you happy."

When Queen sighs, Roy can't help but think he seems weary, as though this woman is the weight of the world settling around his shoulders. In the few seconds they've been in the room together, the SAC looks more exhausted than ever. But, at the same time, there's a spark of something akin to amusement in his eyes—one that Roy hasn't seen in the last week. "Why are you here, Felicity?" he breathes in exasperation. "You're on suspension."

She raises a finger. "Technically," she corrects, "it's mandated leave and it ends next week." Felicity moves closer to him—though Roy didn't think that was possible—and for a moment, he thinks she might actually be flirting with their boss. It doesn't make sense because of that ring, and he doesn't peg the blonde as the cheating type. "But, since you had the Red John case, I thought I'd come by earlier to see if I could help you."

Without looking at Sara—or at Diggle, who has quietly filtered into the room—Queen asks, "Which one of you two told her?" Neither one speaks, so without taking his eyes off Felicity, he asks, "It was you, wasn't it, Digg?" Before the man can affirm it, Queen continues, "I thought I told you to stop calling her about the Red John cases—they're not good for her."

He opens his mouth to speak further, rounding on the man, but Felicity turns him back toward her with a tug on his arm. "Can we skip your usual if-you-do-this-again-I'll-have-you-directing-tourists-around-the-capitol-in-a-stupid-hat speech?" Roy barely manages to contain his laugh in a cough, and judging by Queen's narrowed eyes, he doesn't quite succeed. Fortunately, the blonde he's starting to think of as a whirlwind is awfully skilled at capturing their boss' undivided attention. She crosses her arms, all smile and charm suddenly disappearing from her expression. "Red John is mine, Oliver," she insists with a ferocity that Roy doesn't know to expect. "I signed on because of this case, and you can't keep me away from this."

Only then does Roy realize that Felicity Smoak isn't as defenseless as she appears. She might hide it behind smiles and charm, but he has no doubt that beneath it, she's more terrifying than anyone else on the team. He was wrong before: she isn't a whirlwind, but a hurricane.

Oliver looks as though he bit into a lemon for a moment. "Red John doesn't belong to anyone, Felicity," he answers quietly, his voice a warning. Roy doesn't understand the message there, but he's beginning to decide he doesn't know as much about this team as he thought he did this morning.

"Red John belongs to me, Oliver," Felicity answers in return, her expression turning dark and cold in a way that sends chills down the rookie agent's spine. "You, of all people, should know that."

A sigh leaves Oliver, and Roy would have thought it impossible, but his frown turns even darker than it has been over the last week. The SAC runs a hand over his face. "This is why I don't want you on the Red John cases, Felicity," he states in a quiet voice. "You take it too personally, let him get inside your head." Something in his expression softens and—is that sympathy? "He takes you to a dark place, and I… we don't want to see you go there again."

Unsurprisingly, Felicity Smoak doesn't yield. "The reason Red John is inside my head," she starts carefully, "is because I got inside his first. And I take this case personally because he made it personal. And when I find Red John, he's not going to face justice in the court system." She pauses. "If you try to keep me off of this, I'll call Quentin. I know it's not very nice of me to go over your head—and I don't like to do it—but this is a Red John case. You, more than anyone, know what I'll do for a Red John case." There's something of a threat lingering in the air, and the fact that she left it hanging so vaguely makes Roy more scared than if she'd been more direct. "Your boss expects you to use me to your advantage—he doesn't like it when I start making noise."

"Fine," he retorts sharply before barking out orders and directions more tersely than usual. He just stands there for a moment afterward before shaking his head. Roy decides he wants to know more about this Felicity Smoak; anyone who can make him yield so easily would be an asset. Queen brushes past her, muttering to himself, "I had a nightmare that started like this."

Roy swears he hears him chuckle as Felicity calls behind him, "But at least you dream about me!"