“So what are you up to?” Thea asked, plopping down unceremoniously on Oliver’s bed.
“You could knock, you know,” Oliver said, glancing at her. This lack of boundaries wasn’t exactly best for the clandestine state of affairs he was trying to run. Still, it was Thea. Like he’d ever been able to make her do anything.
Thea made a sort of “pfft” noise and sprawled out on the bed, leaning on her elbow. “I’m not in the mood to go out; you want to watch a movie or something? I’ll make the popcorn.”
Oliver grabbed his jacket from off the back of a chair. “Love to, but maybe another time. I have to go meet Diggle.”
Thea rolled her eyes. “Oh, sure you do.”
“No, it’s cool, I got it. Diggle. Better not keep him waiting.”
Oliver stared at her. “Did you just wink at me?”
Thea waved him off. “God, no. What would I do that for?”
He took another moment to side-eye her but then proclaimed it a lost cause. Teenagers. He’d given up on ever understanding his sister long ago.
“I don’t know why I didn’t go to places like this more often,” Oliver said, popping his last fry into his mouth and then stealing one of Diggle’s for good measure.
“Weren’t diners beneath the great Oliver Queen?”
“Let’s face it, pre-island Oliver Queen was kind of an ass.”
“You’re kind of an ass now,” Diggle said and just for that, Oliver didn’t feel at all guilty over sneaking Diggle’s last handful of fries. Diggle’s effort to fend him off was decidedly lackluster.
“At least I’m an ass who appreciates the merits of greasy comfort food and a squeaky bench.” He shifted in his seat to illustrate his point, making Diggle chuckle.
Carly came by to clear away their plates and set a generous piece of pie on the table between them, with two forks. “On the house, boys,” she said, smiling at them.
Oliver followed her with his eyes as she walked away because there was something weird about the way she’d looked at them. Still, free pie. “I guess it’d be rude to ask for two slices.”
“Worried I’ve got cooties?” Diggle asked, sounding amused.
“More like I want to make sure I get my fair share.”
Diggle broke off a large chunk of the pie with his fork. “Hey, you snooze, you lose.”
Oliver nudged the plate slightly closer to his side of the booth. There was no way he was going to get out-eaten by Diggle.
“What do you think they’re talking about?” Tommy asked, tipping his head in the direction of Laurel and Diggle as they stood near the bar in the club, chatting.
Oliver shrugged. “As long as it’s not me, I don’t really care.” Considering the way the two of them were laughing, he sincerely hoped it wasn’t him.
“Right, that whole ex-girlfriends thing. Awkward,” Tommy said.
“Right.” Oliver focused on Tommy more, not quite sure what he was getting at. What did Laurel being his ex have to do with anything?
But Tommy moved on, saying, “He seems like a nice guy. Diggle.”
“Yeah, he is.”
“He doesn’t act much like a bodyguard.”
“Would you rather he just loomed mutely in my shadow?”
Tommy grinned. “Okay, I can see how that would get old pretty fast. I guess I mean that he isn’t what I expected.”
Oliver tried not to appear completely clueless. Tommy seemed to be going somewhere with this train of conversation but Oliver wasn’t at all sure where that was.
“Ready to go, Tommy?” Laurel asked, walking up to them.
Oliver didn’t fail to notice the gleam of mirth in Tommy’s eyes as he took note of the way Diggle stopped just behind Oliver’s shoulder. Yeah, like a mute, looming shadow. He rolled his eyes.
Tommy slipped his arm around Laurel’s waist and said, “Yeah, let’s get out of here. See you, Oliver, Mr. Diggle.”
Oliver lifted his hand in farewell and Diggle nodded at them. “Miss Lance, Mr. Merlyn.”
“It’s Laurel,” Laurel called back.
“So you and Laurel looked pretty chummy,” Oliver said.
“She’s a sweet girl.”
“Don’t believe everything she says.”
Diggle chuckled. “About you, you mean? No, I’m pretty sure I should believe every word.”
Getting shot definitely didn’t ever get easier, regardless of whether it was by a gun or a bow. It was times like this that Oliver questioned the whole vigilante thing.
Having Felicity around made things a bit different, though. She started talking while she helped disconnect him from the machines. “So Mr. Diggle was pretty worried about you, not that he said so, but I could tell he was super tense, and, you know, I get that this flippant thing is just how you are but--”
“Felicity, I was just shot. I really can’t handle complex conversation right now.”
“Maybe you should, I don’t know, try not to get shot, that’s all. Because Mr. Diggle worries.”
Oliver used his hand to support himself as he slowly and painfully levered himself into a seated position. Felicity’s hands were hovering by his shoulders like she hadn’t made up her mind whether she should try to help or not. “Can’t say getting shot was part of the plan.”
“Yeah, well…” Felicity dropped her hands back down. “Your plans kind of suck.”
The laugh was unintentional and also regrettable, because damn, he was sore. “I admit, I should probably have thought this one through more.”
“Admitting you need help is the first step on the road to recovery.”
Felicity was grinning at him and Oliver couldn’t help but smile back. “I’ll let Dig know you were so concerned about his well-being. He’ll be touched.”
“Maybe I just don’t want this thing you two have to get messed up. You guys are weirdly sweet,” Felicity said, but Diggle returned with a blanket before Oliver could ask what she meant.
Oliver stopped and turned, watching Laurel hurry past a couple striding leisurely down the sidewalk. “Laurel, hey,” he said when she caught up to him. “Fancy meeting you here.”
Laurel adjusted the strap of her purse over her shoulder. “I was actually just thinking about giving you a call. I have a…” Her brow furrowed slightly. “A proposition for you.”
“Oh?” That sounded vaguely ominous.
“Yeah, it’s just, I was thinking, and I thought, I know we’re trying this whole friends thing, and there’s Tommy and me, and…” Laurel’s cheeks had flushed faintly. “So that dinner we went on, before, it was kind of a disaster, right? But I thought, we shouldn’t let that stop us.”
“Laurel, I’m not gonna lie, I am incredibly confused right now.”
A small, nervous laugh escaped her. “What I mean is, do you want to try again? A double date? I think the first one was doomed from the start but maybe we’ll have better luck now.”
“That sounds great,” Oliver said, even though he was actually slightly horrified. “The thing is, I don’t know who exactly you think my date would be.”
Now Laurel looked confused. “I thought you’d bring Mr. Diggle.”
Oliver felt himself gaping at her and closed his mouth. “Uh, what? Diggle and I aren’t dating.”
“I’m pretty sure I would know.”
Laurel’s eyes had gone soft and fond and she was looking at him with that, ‘Ollie, you’re such an idiot that I don’t know how you survive’ expression she got sometimes. “Do you even realize how much time you spend with him? Tommy and I almost never see you and you don’t go out anymore.”
“I’ll admit there have been some changes to my social life, but come on, I was on an island--”
“That’s not it. Just think about it for a second.”
So Oliver did, because, you know, she was Laurel. It wasn’t possible though, right? How could someone be in a relationship they didn’t even know about? Sure, he spent a lot of time with Diggle, but mostly that was because of the partners thing, not to mention Diggle was still technically supposed to be watching him.
What did people who were dating do? To be fair, Oliver had slept with a hell of a lot more people than he’d actually dated, not to mention the fact that he’d been a terrible boyfriend, but it wasn’t like he was completely inexperienced. People in relationships went on dates, obviously. He and Diggle didn’t go on dates. Okay, they did have meals together, but the diner wasn’t exactly romantic. It wasn’t like they shared their food… Or maybe they did, but that was Carly’s fault, and if he sometimes stole things off Diggle’s plate, well, that didn’t count and Diggle should be more watchful anyway.
He wasn’t attracted to Diggle, was he? Sure, he’d noticed the guy was pretty ripped, but it was hard not to when they were sparring. Oliver had never actually thought… No, wait, strike that on the basis of awkward, incriminating things that he couldn’t be held accountable for.
When Oliver had been dating Laurel, she had been the first person he thought of when something important happened, or when he heard a good joke, or whatever. Oliver was pretty sure his calls to Diggle outnumbered the total calls he made to anyone else, but surely that was because they were kind of saving the city together. They didn’t talk about important, non-vigilante stuff and Diggle didn’t make him laugh or make him feel -
“Oh my God. We are dating.”
Oliver lapsed into silence as the ramifications of that hit him. How could he have missed that? Maybe he really was an idiot.
“Ollie, you’re a great guy but you can be dumb as a bag of bricks sometimes,” Laurel told him.
Laurel laughed and squeezed Oliver’s arm. “I’m happy for you. You could use a good influence like Mr. Diggle in your life.”
“Again, I think a compliment was meant to be in there somewhere, so I’ll take it in the spirit in which I think you meant it.”
“See you later, Ollie,” Laurel said, her smile bright. “Call me if you want to have that double date.”
“Sure,” Oliver said as he watched her go, her skirt swirling around her knees as she crossed the street.
He should probably make sure Diggle knew they were dating before he started making double dates, though.
Diggle was in the club’s basement when Oliver arrived, sitting in a chair in his shirtsleeves and reading the newspaper. “Hey, Oliver,” he said, not even looking up.
“Dig,” Oliver replied and then went quiet, drawing a blank. How was he supposed to do this? What was he supposed to say? Hey, man, sorry if this is awkward but I had this revelation that we’re actually dating. Are you cool with that?
The newspaper rustled as Diggle set it down. “There a problem?”
Oliver shook his head quickly. “No, nothing, I…” He moved closer to Diggle. “I saw Laurel, and I had a thought, and…” Oh, fuck it, Oliver decided and bent down, grabbing Diggle’s tie and kissing him.
Diggle went completely still except for his hands, which pressed to Oliver’s chest in a motion halfway between pushing him away and holding him where he was. Diggle’s lips were soft and a little dry and then Oliver drew back so fast he almost fell over.
“Wow, that is so not what I meant to do,” he said.
“Really,” Diggle said, still leaning back in his chair, his gaze quietly assessing and his hands now resting on his thighs.
Oliver tried for a joke. “Yeah, you know, if you want to sue me for sexual harassment, I know a pretty decent lawyer.”
Diggle’s mouth actually twitched, and he had to be laughing at Oliver because that certainly hadn’t been one of Oliver’s better efforts. “I don’t think that’ll be necessary.”
“Maybe you could tell me what that was about.”
“Would you accept drunken stupidity?”
“That might work if I’d smelled any alcohol on your breath.”
“Plain old stupidity?”
Diggle cracked a smile, more fond than amused, and stood up. “Come on, Oliver.”
Oliver made himself not take a step back. He lifted his chin. “Maybe I wanted to.”
“That’s a pretty stupid question, don’t you think?”
Diggle was now standing close enough that they could kiss again with only the tiniest bit of a lean. “This would be a lot easier if you’d stop fooling around.”
It burst out of Oliver before he could stop himself. “I wanted to kiss you, okay? I wanted to see what you’d do and I figured, hell, if we’re dating already, I should at least get to kiss you!”
That small smile was a little bit infuriating. “Oh, you think so, do you?”
“Now who’s fooling around?” Oliver said, frustrated. “Is this okay or not?”
Diggle put his hands on Oliver’s hips and leaned that tiny bit forward until they were kissing. This time around, he definitely wasn’t completely still, tugging Oliver closer to him and dragging his teeth lightly over Oliver’s bottom lip. “That a good enough answer for you?” he asked, breath whispering against Oliver’s mouth.
“Yeah, that works,” Oliver said, and slid his fingers into the back of Diggle’s waistband.