Having your back!
Oliver really needed to get the scoop on this engagement after he messed up the foolproof ‘inside source’. That debacle was the reason why he was currently on a rooftop balancing on a tiny rope peeking into the glass roof of the restaurant. The NFL quarterback was supposed to propose to his singer girlfriend tonight and if he could break the news first his boss might forgive him for the mess he made.
It was just as well he was so athletic because as soon as he caught the eye of the extremely pretty hostess he could feel himself falling, tumbling down from his position and landing right where he most definitely did not want to be. Right next to the happy newly engaged couple. And he thought that his life could not get worse.
"Congratulations..." he muttered weakly to the NFL quarterback as his face was met with the rather disgruntled future grooms fist.
400 hours of community service for a broken window... What was the judge even thinking? Well, it might have been the fact that he had previously slept with her when she was newly qualified and never called her back as he promised he would do. And all because of that he now had to work with kids of all the people.
He stared at the address of the Kindergarten and then back up at the house. He could hear the yelling and the laughter of what sounded like five hundred children playing and screaming as loud as they possibly could. He groaned, knowing that there was no way around this. He had to do it. The faster he started this hour the faster he would be out of here. As he rang the doorbell he had to think about all the fun he would get up to with his little sister Thea. He had to give her a call later. He has been so caught with work and well other stuff that it had been way to long since he saw her. And if she was still dating the thief Roy he had to have words for her.
The door opened and a petite blond with glasses opened the door. Oliver couldn’t help but think he knew her from somewhere. From the reaction of the blonde he must have been right.
"Oh it is you. I kind of hoped there were more Oliver Queen's out there but just my luck you had to break the law and come work it off at my place. Talk about children trauma. You can’t work with these kids they will be traumatized for life it took me years to get over what you did to me. And great judging by your face you have no idea who I am. How could I even think that you would remember me, little geeky Felicity that you tormented throughout the entire of middle school…"
Wait what? Thought Oliver has his brain churned thinking about who she was. This was little Felicity? Oliver remembered her of course. He remembered how rude, how horrible he had been to her as a child and on many occasions he had been so close to figuring out where she lived now so he could apologize because he had been a real douche to her but he never gone through with it and boy did she change. Gone were the braces and the pigtails and the little extra weight she had always carried. She still had glasses so maybe that’s why he went with:
"Nice classes, Felicity."
"God you are still an idiot. Fifteen years later. Well I guess there is nothing we can do. Come on in. I will show what you need to do the next few weeks or rather months. What did you even do to get so many hours. No don’t tell me I don’t even want to know."
Oliver looked around the place and he couldn't deny he was impressed. Sure it looked like twenty kids just rampage through the place but wasn’t that the way ally kindergartens were? Felicity kept babbling on about what was expected of him.
Felicity – this would be easy. He would charm her and get out of this with minimal work. He had this.
He nearly walked into her when she stopped and turned around poking a finger in her chest.
"Let’s make on point very clear here. One phone call and your probation will end with jail time. So you better behave, Oliver.’"
Well maybe it wouldn't be that easy...
The work with the kids came easy to Oliver. It reminded him of all the times he spent with Thea when she was younger. The pillow fortress building, the knights and princess play. And Oliver found that putting a smile on the kids face made him happy too. He was enjoying seeing them happy and somehow the happiness was even starting to rub off on him.
Things with Felicity were tense though. There were two more people who worked there too. Anna a soft spoken woman who treated him nicely and Sara who judging by the nasty looks she gave him knew exactly what a douche he had been to Felicity in the past. Felicity avoided Oliver as best as she could but sometimes he couldn’t be avoided.
They were the last two left. Oliver stayed longer to clean up a bit and Felicity was busy in the office doing paper work. She came in the playroom and noticed Oliver tidying up the sheets.
"Oh you are still here!" She jumped slightly startled that she wasn't the only one in the building like she normally was at this time of night..
"Yeah I wanted to clean up a bit..."
"Well are you done?" Felicity asked her tone impatient. She really didn’t want to be stuck here with him any longer than necessary.
"In a minute," Oliver said and returned to the mountains of pillows the kids had used to build a castle. Knowing that if she helped him they would be out of there sooner she joined him. They worked in silence. But Oliver's mind was churning, he just had to know why she worked here, of all places.
"Hey Felicity. You were always so good with computers. Why didn’t you do this? Why kids? Don’t get me wrong its awesome. This place is really great but you were always so smart at school and I just expected you to do something else.’
"Oh, well I did go to MIT. I finished school. I started working at Palmer Tech but it didn’t make me happy. I still dabble in tech stuff. I program and freelance. But I wanted to do something meaningful. I want the kids to have something here which I didn’t have when I was younger, a friend. Someone who has their back."
While her words weren’t meant in spite it still hurt Oliver to hear that he was the reason she felt like this. He really messed up.
Felicity didn’t know how it happened but somehow Oliver and her begun hanging out together after work. Maybe he wasn’t so bad. He certainly was good with the kids.
"I got a younger sister you know. After you moved away. It changed me. I was her big brother and I swore to her I would always protect here and when the kids started picking on her in school. It made me realize what I did do you. And seeing her cry because of their words made me ashamed. So I am sorry for what I did and I am sorry it took so long to apologize. I actually wrote you a letter once well Thea made me do it after Tommy told her about the time we threw your- what was it? Oh yes your processor thingy in the well."
Oliver had to smile at the memory of Thea's outrage. "Ollie the poor girl. Imagine if someone had thrown my Barbie in the well. What would you have done?"
Oh he knew. He would have beaten up that kid.
"It's fine Oliver. It was a long time ago. Yeah it hurt a lot but I am over it. So you can let it go..."
Her hand found the way to his knee and she squeezed it affectingly. "I would love to read that letter though and Thea sounds wonderful. I am glad she had a big brother to look out for her."
"I should have looked out for you too though."
"Don’t feel bad Oliver. Sure it wasn’t fun. But I learned to fight my own battles. I learnt that I had to be my own partner. Sure I would love to have someone by my side, someone that has my back, be a partner but everything that has happened to me has made me stronger."
She kissed his cheek and left to chase after one of the kids.
Oliver was in trouble.
He wasn't sure when it had happened but he started liking the way Felicity would tuck her loose hair behind her ear or how she would get excited about something and used her whole body to express herself. Or the way her eyes lit up when one of the kids did something good. Or how she would notice when somebody felt left out and she would include then in the hopes of cheering them up.
But everything he thought about her more he knew he couldn’t do this to her. She deserved someone better. Someone with a better job, a good guy. He had already messed up her childhood he wasn't going to ruin all the good she had made now. It was his last day tomorrow and he knew he had to let her go. So he did what he always did as a kid. He ran.
"Well you didn’t do so bad," joked Felicity as they stood together at the gate on his last day her shoulder bumping against his playfully.
"Felicity what you did here. It’s amazing. Those kids are lucky they have someone like you in their life."
"Oliver…" Felicity started reaching for his hand but he shook it off and turned around.
"Bye Felicity. It was good to see you again."
And then he left. He couldn’t bear to look around. She deserved better than him.
Weeks went by and he quit his job as a ‘journalist’ and one night he met John Diggle. A large, muscly man who needed help starting an after school program for difficult youths. The aim was to help them, make them realize their potential and most importantly being a friend. And he finally felt like he was doing something right in his life. Something meaningful.
He would force himself not to think about Felicity and how she smelled and the one time she kissed his cheek. One night after a few beers he spilled the story to John. About the girl he tormented as a kid and then met again and she was wonderful but she deserved better than him.
He pretty much cut all the contacts with his old world. He would avoid the tabloids in the store and when his contacts reached out to him he would tell them to piss off.
But then one day he couldn’t believe his eyes there on the cover of the magazine was Felicity next to a handsome man he knew as Ray Palmer CEO of Palmer Tech. His heart broke. But Felicity looked so happy. He bought the magazine and read the article. It was about a charity gala and apparently Felicity was there as Ray's date. Ray Palmer, he only met the guy once but he couldn’t stand him, he was a genius and he acted like it and in Oliver's opinion he was a big douche.
He drunk in the sight of Felicity. God, she was beautiful. He was happy that she found someone but it hurt. It hurt so damn much seeing her with him. She deserved better than him. He paused, he needed to know more about what was going on between them, so this time he decided to reach out to one of his contacts and ask for more info on the couple.
But he didn’t like what he heard. Apparently Ray came with Felicity but they didn’t really spend any time together. Ray spent the evening talking up investors and Felicity was mostly alone. Didn’t he know what a diamond he had in his hand? If Oliver had Felicity, he would never let her go and treat her like a Queen, his Queen. And yes he really did see the irony in that statement.
The next day he got into work early. He needed the distraction if not he knew he would do something stupid like drive right over to Felicity and telling her he loves her. And he couldn’t do that. Because that was stupid. The ringing of his phone startled him.
"Ollie! Since when do answer your phone so formally."
"Thea!" He smiled hearing his little sisters voice. Ever since his first day of community service he had been calling his sister. She was delighted to hear from him and even though she had told him she was still dating Roy it was good to catch up. She was the first person he called when Diggle offered him his job. And even though Thea had asked what had brought the change in him he hadn’t told her about Felicity.
"Well its been a couple of days since you called so I wanted to check in. How are the teens? How are you?"
"I am fine Thea. Everything is fine."
"That doesn’t sound convincing Ollie. Did something happen?"
He couldn’t not tell her, he needn’t to get it of his chest. So he started ranting about Ray Palmer and how he didn’t deserve Felicity and that Felicity was the reason he changed and that all he wants in life is to make her proud.
"Wait Felicity, like Felicity? The one Tommy told me about?"
"Yeah. She founded the kindergarten I where I had to work my community hours in."
"So there was a girl all along I knew it! Ollie you are the best big brother a girl could want. And I know you changed and I believe you changed after seeing Felicity again and the fact that you are jealous about someone else being with her even though you haven’t see her in weeks shows that you love her. Maybe you have always loved her. You meeting her again, you having such a big impact on each other lives. She became that beacon of hope because of what you did and then turned you into one too. This isn’t a chance. I don’t think your path together is over. You should tell her how you feel."
He forgot that today was the day of the play which the kids had been practicing for ages. After Thea's call he couldn’t wait any longer. He loved Felicity and he needed to tell her. He needed to tell her that Ray was an idiot and that she deserved more than being an afterthought.
The children caught sight of him first. And it brought all his thoughts of Felicity to a halt. He still couldn’t believe the way their eyes lit up when they saw him.
"Oliver did you come to see our play?"
"I knew you would come."
"Mum this is Oliver!"
It was great to see them again and he realized how much he has missed them. Felicity called the parents to the stage when she caught sight of him. She was visibly startled by his appearance. All he managed was a wave. The moment was broken when one of the kids took his arm and pulled him over to the seating demanding he sit next to him.
Felicity wouldn’t meet his eye. This was killing him. Being so close to her. As she left to go inside after the play he knew he had to follow her.
"Oliver. What are you doing here? I mean it’s great that you didn’t forgot I was sure you would the kids are happy you are here though. But why are you here in the kitchen?"
She moved back from him until her body hit the doorframe. Trying to put a little bit of distance between them.
"Felicity I did forget about the play. I mean that's not why I am here."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm- I'm here because I saw the magazine. I know you are happy. And Ray may look like a nice guy and you are happy together but… but Ray is an idiot and actually where is he? He should be here next to you. Always. Because that is what you deserve to have someone next to you. Having you back. Being your partner. And I would do that. I am here for you." He knew he wasn't making any sense but he had to get it out.
"Oliver, what are you saying? Why would Ray be here?"
"Because he is your boyfriend."
"What?" Laughed Felicity. "No. Why would you think that? Ray's a friend. Anna, you know Anna who works here. She was sick so She asked if I wanted to go to the gala with him and it was great I got to meet so many smart people and then I was telling them about my ideas and they were really interested and wait... Why would you even care that I have a boyfriend? I could have a boyfriend if I wanted to. You are the one who left. Left me behind again." She made a step towards him poking her finger in his chest. "You don’t get to come here and be mad that I have a boyfriend which I don’t but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t…"
Ray was not her boyfriend. She did not have a boyfriend and right now that was the only thing that mattered.
"What? Oh. You are really close..."
And he couldn’t not kiss her. And before he knew it his lips were on hers and she went still and for a second he thought he was too late. But then she kissed him back and her hands circled his neck as she pulled herself closer to him. They continued enjoying the feeling of each other and he slowed the kiss down savoring her. When they finally broke apart he had to tell her what he came here to say.
"I am sorry I left. I was scared that I would hurt you like I did before and I thought you deserve better, you do deserve better than me because all I do is hurt you and leave you."
"Oliver..." she whispered resting her finger on his mouth to shush him. "Shut up and kiss me..."
And so he did.
It took only a moment for her to realize what he had said and she pulled her lips abruptly away from his.
"What do you mean I deserve better than you? All these weeks I've had to comfort eat my way through too many tubs of mint chocolate chip because you thought you weren’t good enough? Seriously Oliver. Do you even know me at all? Let’s get this straight. I love you. And I think based on you showing up here, being mad at my non exist boyfriend and thinking we don't deserve each other is wrong. It isn’t about who we deserve but about who we choose. And I chose you. I think I chose you a long time ago...’
God he loved this woman. And even though he regretted the weeks he didn't have her by his side they had done him good. He couldn’t wait to show Felicity what he did now. Who he was. She would be so happy and hopefully proud of him. And as they kissed once more he had to break the kiss for the last time that day.
"You know you are wrong right? You do have a boyfriend."