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Pieces of Always

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September 2014

The waiting room is serene.

It's all soft pastel colors, with a rather ridiculously-sized fishtank in one corner and a play area in another. The air is suffused with a feeling of calm, of peace and cheer, celebrating life and…

"I have to pee."

Oliver honestly tries not to smile, but he can't contain his grin. He's flying high today, absolutely on cloud nine in spite of how the rest of the week has gone, and he's easily amused at the moment. Even the solid thwack to his arm by his girlfriend as she bounces anxiously in front of him does nothing to dampen his mood. His grin quickly turns into a laugh, which might not be the best choice considering the way the love of his life has been bemoaning her situation and dancing about for the last ten minutes, but it's instinctive and he can't cage it in.

Really, most of the time she wouldn't want him to. But today…

"Oliver!" she protests, looking at him with scandalized offense. "Thirty-two. That's how many ounces of water I had to chug and now we're just sitting here? They could at least run on schedule. Do you think we could pay them to just go now? Everybody has their price, right?"

He shakes his head at her, which is an equally terrible idea, something that's only reinforced when her look morphs into a glare. But this is the same woman who balked at the idea of him buying their new home on his own just last week, in spite of the fact that he easily has more than enough money to do so.

He raises an amused eyebrow. "You want me to bribe the ultrasound technician?"

Even as she wriggles uncomfortably, she can recognize the irony. Her annoyance evaporates with a sheepish eyeroll. That is until she stops bouncing, which seems to somehow put more pressure on her bladder. She groans.

"If I've proven nothing else these past two years," Felicity points out, closing her eyes, "I think I've proven myself morally flexible. Sometimes extreme measures are called for."

"And this would be one of those times?" he prods.

"Hey, you drink a gallon of water and hold it for an hour while an alien invader uses your bladder as its own personal punching bag," she replies crisply. "Then you can talk to me about whether or not extreme measures are needed."

She keeps moving, but it does nothing to help. Misery works its way across her features as she whimpers. He's not without sympathy, not at all, but he's just so excited to see the baby that it's been overwhelming everything else.

Oliver reaches for her with a murmured, "Come here." He tugs her forward by her hips until she's standing right in front of where he's seated on the uncomfortable waiting room chair. "I'm sorry. I'll bribe them if you want me to."

She's considering it. He can see it written all over her face. Oliver has to bite his tongue to keep from grinning again.

"No," she replies mournfully after a moment. "I'm sure everyone else here drank a swimming pool worth of water, too. That wouldn't be fair to them." He declines to point out that her estimation of how much water she drank has steadily increased. "But, I reserve the right to stop caring about them if this goes even a second past ten minutes."

"Fair enough," he agrees, keeping his hands on her hips. He leans forward, pressing a soft kiss to her rapidly growing baby bump.

It's incredible how excited he is, how ready he feels. The contrast to the last time he'd been in a position like this is night and day. But he'd been such a mess back then, when Samantha had told him she was pregnant. He'd been so young. It's not like everything is exactly ideal now either, but he's in a better place. Hell, on paper, their situation might actually be worse, considering the mess on the Arrow's doorstep. But he aches with how much he wants this, how much he can't wait to hold his baby in his arms and soothe her cries, rock her to sleep. And, yes… yes, he'll be juggling that with being the Arrow and rebuilding QC and a relatively new and somewhat uneasy relationship with his son's mother, but none of that matters because he knows this is perfect.

He feels it with every fiber of his being.

"Maybe try thinking about something else," Oliver suggests, as if that's something Felicity hasn't been trying to do for the last hour. He knows she has even before she raises her eyebrows at him. He rubs her hips. "Hey," he says, his voice quiet with wonder. "We get to see her soon."

Felicity's face softens at that. She bites her lip, looking down at her growing stomach. She smooths her hands over it to cup her belly.

"We get to know for sure it's a her soon," she points out. "I know we've said it's a girl from the beginning, mostly because… because Ellie was so certain." Felicity swallows hard when she says her name. It doesn't come easily to her and he hasn't pushed. Yet. He wants to talk about Ellie more; he thinks they need to. Though right now is definitely not the time to start. "But it's not like she could have actually known, Oliver."

"It's a girl," Oliver says with certainty, looking at her stomach where its eye-level with him. "It's our little girl in there and she's going to be as perfect as her little sister will be."

A noise catches in Felicity's throat at that, but Oliver doesn't look up at her. He knows it's mostly for her sake.

The subject of Ellie is still something she tries to carry privately. Sharing her pain about their daughter is not something that comes with ease. She's doing better - they both are - but the struggle is there.

So, instead of looking up at her, Oliver focuses on the evidence of his baby that's right in front of him. He kisses Felicity's belly again, smiling against the taut fabric stretched across her stomach. She's not a fan of the loose and flowy look and he's damned happy for that because her figure absolutely takes his breath away.

"Hey, baby girl," he murmurs against the tight jersey material that's really not meant to be a maternity dress. "Save the tap dancing on mommy's bladder for later, would you?"

Felicity huffs out a laugh, pushing her hands through his hair. She scrapes her nails over his scalp, just the way he likes it. With a sigh, he rests his forehead against her stomach. It's funny how much these quiet moments of mild affection mean to him, how much something as simple as her hands in his hair makes him absolutely melt. He can deal with anything life throws at him as long as he gets to keep coming home to this, to her, every day.

"Smoak?"

They turn in tandem to see a woman with a clipboard nearby, looking at them expectantly.

Felicity breathes a quiet, "Oh, thank god," grabbing his hand and tugging him up out of the chair before walking toward the nurse. The young woman has a bright smile and her clothes have little dancing duckies all over them. He vaguely hears Felicity talking to her - something about being excited, something about how she's been feeling - because the word 'Smoak' rings through his head.

He's gonna have to fix that. He wants to fix that, with a sudden yearning that takes him by surprise. It's not like he hasn't wanted it before, he has, but right now, in this moment, the want is stronger than ever before. And the sooner the better in his mind, but he's fairly certain Felicity's not quite there yet. There's been so much going on, and they really could use time to just be them before jumping into yet another new situation.

But he wants her to be a Queen.

He wants it badly.

"Hey."

He blinks. The doctor's office comes back into focus, and he finds both Felicity and the nurse staring at him.

Felicity tugs on his hand. "Where'd you go?"

"Nowhere," he says, a small smile inching across his face. It crinkles the edges of his eyes as he hones in on her. On his future wife. "I'm right here with you. There's nowhere else I'd rather be."

He pulls her hand up to kiss her fingers before following along as they head into a room for her appointment.

Oliver pays little attention to the routine parts that follow: checking her weight - she swears at least two pounds are due to the water - and measuring her blood pressure. No, his eyes find something else. There's a chart on the wall comparing fetus sizes by week to various fruits and vegetables.

A banana.

His baby's the size of a banana right now.

Oliver's not sure exactly why that's endearing, but it is. And amazing.

He's fully distracted by the chart right up until Felicity uses his shoulder for support as she takes off her shoes.

"You know," she says, prompting him to look at her. She's already taken off her dress and donned a dressing gown. The nurse is nowhere to be seen. Felicity taps his chest."This is the first time you haven't even looked my direction while I undressed. If I were a little bit more insecure, I might be worried it's because I look like a beached whale."

"You're gorgeous and you know it," he instantly replies, with a wink that makes her smile as she scrunches her nose at him. His eyes skim down her body. The drape-like blue gown is anything other than attractive, but it's her wearing it, and that's all he needs. He steps closer, tugging on the sleeve of the gown as he hones in on her. "I think maybe I need to remind you of that when we get out of here."

A little shiver hits her. Felicity bites her lip. It's intensely evident that she's not wearing a thing under that flimsy fabric, because her nipples peak immediately in a way that has his mouth watering in anticipation. He loves all of her - always - but pregnancy has done absolutely amazing things to her breasts. He's more than a little entranced with how sensitive she's gotten, how responsive she is to even the lightest whisper of a touch…

His thumbs itch to do just that.

"I think maybe you should," she whispers, looking up at him from underneath her eyelashes.

It's enough to suck all the air out of the room, leaving his lungs tight and his eyes blown wide. The whole world is reduced down to the two of them and the moment stretches out, feeling tangible and infinite all at once.

At least it does until a sharp knock on the door makes them both jump. Okay, so her OBGYN's office is probably one of the worst places to imagine all the things he's going to do her beautiful breasts, but oh well.

"Hi there!" A woman pokes her head in the room. Her disposition is so cheery it might be grating if Oliver weren't in such a good mood to start with. "I'm Connie, your technician today. You about ready to sneak a peek at your little one?"

"When can I pee?" Felicity asks in place of a response.

The technician laughs and wrinkles her nose, but Felicity is most definitely not amused.

"It's a lot, I know," Connie agrees. "Just try to hang in there and we'll get you to a bathroom as soon as we can, okay?"

Felicity sighs, but she doesn't argue. When he glances at her, there's a new nervous energy surrounding her, and Oliver knows her easy acquiescence is mostly due to her wanting to see their daughter every bit as much as he does.

He captures her hand in his, squeezing it gently.

"Why don't you hop up on the table," the tech says, patting said table as she sets a clipboard down. "And I'll try to warm up this goo so it isn't so brrr chilly on your belly!" Connie gives them an overly enthusiastic fake shudder. Oliver's pretty sure he's looking at her like she's crazy - and he kind of thinks she might be - but she doesn't seem to care. She hums to herself, using her hands to warm up a tube of something that's an unnatural shade of blue.

But she doesn't hold his attention long.

"Need a hand?" he asks, moving to help Felicity before she can answer.

"I'm good," she counters, waving him off as she hops up onto the table. "I'm a total pro at sitting. Been doing it most of my life."

"That's sass," he says, raising his eyebrows. "You're sassing me right now."

Felicity's way too smug as she gives him a little grin and half-shrug before laying back against the paper-covered plastic bed. He just shakes his head, standing at her side. The paper crinkles loudly under her as she situates herself, but her sudden sigh of relief drowns out the noise quickly.

"Oh thank god, she moved," Felicity breathes, closing her eyes and touching her stomach. "Thank you, baby. Thank you so much. If you could just stay right there, I will totally promise you cookies or a pony or a trip to Disney or whatever you want. Deal?"

"Awww… bribes aren't the answer, Momma!" the tech says, perma-grin in place as she adjusts a monitor and flanks Felicity's other side.

"That depends entirely on what the question is," Felicity replies blank-faced.

Oliver bites his lip to keep in a snicker. This really isn't the time.

"So," Connie says, completely bypassing Felicity's retort. "Sounds like you two think it's a little princess you've got there, huh?"

It's not the first time they've heard that, not by a longshot.

The media's been speculating since well before the baby bump had even been visible, and it's only grown in fervor as her pregnancy and their presence in the public eyes has become more pronounced. Interest in the Queen family seems like it's at an all time high these days. Between trying to rebuild the company - literally - and his mother's role as mayor as well as his sister's sharp decline in public appearances, speculation has run wild. It seems like the whole city is waiting for confirmation on whether it's expecting a new princess or princeling to call its own quasi-royal heir.

It's been exhausting.

But they both ignore that and get right to the point.

"Yes," Felicity replies as Oliver intones a firm, "Absolutely."

The tech's waves some kind of wand-like piece of equipment about. "Wanna see if we can't find out for sure?"

"Let's do this," Felicity agrees, taking a deep breath.

Connie drapes a thin white sheet over Felicity's legs before helping her ruck up her gown to expose her belly.

A nervous excitement creeps along Oliver's skin, making it feel too tight and too static all at once. His heart's got to be going a million beats a minute and he grips Felicity's hand as much to support her as he does to settle himself. She calms him some. She always does.

But she clenches his hand with a sudden squeeze and lets out a yelp when the technician squirts some of that gel on her stomach.

"That's warmer?" she asks, blinking at the tech.

"Believe it or not!" Connie replies. "Trust me, you aren't gonna be real concerned with that in a minute."

She's absolutely right.

The instant she stops talking, she puts the wand against Felicity's skin and the room is suddenly filled with an almost machine-like whir of noise. It's fast and repetitive and it takes a moment for anything to register in Oliver's head, much less picking up on exactly what that is.

When it hits him a split second later, he stops breathing.

"Well, you're sure easy to find aren't you, little one?" Connie chuckles, pressing the wand at a slightly different angle.

"Is that…" Felicity starts, looking between Oliver and the technician. He can't reply, though. He's at a total loss for words because he knows exactly what he's hearing and he's suddenly so overwhelmed he's not sure he could get a word out without crying. He's vaguely aware that Felicity's still staring at him. "That's the…"

"That'd be your baby's heartbeat," the chipper technician confirms. Her cheeriness is significantly less annoying all of a sudden.

"Oh my god."

It takes Oliver a minute to realize he's the one who spoke.

His eyes fly from Felicity's belly to her face and what he finds there matches what he's feeling exactly. Wetness clings to the edges of her eyelids, but the tears don't spill. This is overwhelming in the best possible way. Love and happiness fill his chest, making his heart feel like it might just burst. From morning sickness to the rounding of Felicity's waistline, their child has made her presence known for months.

But this is different.

This is more.

"Sounds good, you two," Connie informs them. "Right about 150 beats per minute, which is well within the normal range. Now, let's see if we can't get a good picture, shall we?"

Oliver doesn't trust his voice, so he just nods vehemently as he pulls Felicity's hand to his lips and kisses the inside of her wrist over and over. She uncurls her fingers to touch the side of his face as he breathes her in at her pulse point, savoring that wonderful mix of scents that are uniquely hers.

Before he's entirely ready, the technician flips a switch and brings the monitor to life.

He's not sure what he'd expected. He'd missed all of this with William - it all would have been vastly different then anyhow, on many levels - but he's a little surprised when the screen is grainy and black and white. Of course it is. It's an ultrasound, not a video camera. But still, it takes a few moments for his eyes to adjust and figure out what he's seeing.

The technician presses the wand in a few different angles, trying to get a clearer view. It's like the image on the screen is pushing through waves of dark water as she moves it, bits of white dissolving into the black surrounding it.

She suddenly stops. It takes a few seconds before the picture slowly starts to solidify…

And then his daughter is right there in front of him.

"Felicity…" he chokes out. Oliver turns his face into her hand for half a second before realizing he's missing a precious view of his baby and he turns back toward the screen. It's somehow more amazing and beautiful. "Oh my god, do you see that?"

Felicity's free hand is over her mouth and she's completely at a loss for words - for once - letting the gravity of the moment run through her instead. She doesn't even bother to try to keep the tears in. She's unbelievably beautiful in this moment, seeing their daughter for the first time, and Oliver just has to kiss her temple. But then he's looking back at the screen, his forehead still touching hers.

"That's an arm there and those are the legs," Connie tells them, pointing at the screen with a pencil. "Baby's awake right now and kicking. Do you feel it?"

Felicity manages a noise that sounds like some kind of denial in spite of the fact that's it's basically unintelligible.

"Not yet," Oliver manages.

"Any day now, then," the tech says, shifting the wand slightly. "There's a good view of your little one's face."

It is. It really is. Maybe it's just a grainy profile ultrasound view, but Oliver can see his daughter's cute little upturned nose and the soft curve of her chin. Her little lips part as she brings a fist to her mouth.

She's gorgeous.

Perfect.

Oliver's heart is absolutely stolen by his daughter right on the spot.

He'll never get it back and he's more than okay with that.

"Looks like you've got a thumb sucker there," Connie tells them. "That's pretty common."

Oliver barely hears her. He's too taken with the sight on the monitor to split his attention like that. The urge to touch Felicity's belly, to have some sort of physical connection to his child, is so very strong that it's almost a compulsion, a need. He doesn't give a damn that she's covered in that blue goo or that he can't feel his little girl kick yet.

He doesn't realize he's moving until his fingers brush through some of the gel. That snaps him back and he pulls his hand back, gripping Felicity's arm instead.

Really, the only thing stopping him is the realization that if he does touch it, he might disrupt the picture in front of him.

And that's just unacceptable.

"She's beautiful, Oliver," Felicity whispers against her own palm. Maybe it's a bit silly because it's not like they can really see her, not like she's in their arms. All they've got is a grainy silhouette. But he has to agree, because it's one of the most beautiful things he's ever seen in his life.

"You two are pretty dead set on this little one being a girl, huh?" Connie asks them with an amused grin. "Scale of one-to-ten, how positive are you? Because this baby's in a pretty good position for me to get you some evidence one way or another."

"Twelve," Oliver answers immediately. "That's my daughter."

He knows it with every fiber of his being.

"That's a whole lot of certainty there, Dad," the tech tells him, looking somewhat impressed. "Mom? Scale of one-to-ten?"

Felicity hesitates a moment and drops the hand from her mouth, her eyes darting to him then back to the screen. "Eight," she finally says. Her eyes slip back to Oliver before they go back to the screen, and in that split second, her confidence grows. "It's a girl. I'm almost certain."

"You wanna know?" Connie asks, looking at each of them in turn.

"Yes," Felicity says instantly, just as Oliver says, "Go ahead and tell her it's a girl."

"Good instincts there, Dad." The tech grins as euphoria erupts in his chest. "You've got a baby girl. Congratulations!"

There hadn't been a single doubt in his mind. But there obviously had been in Felicity's - her relief is tangible as she asks, "Really? Like really, really? You're absolutely sure? You're not gonna be like, 'Oops! Looks like your boy was shy!' in a few minutes or… God, in a few months?"

Connie laughs and shakes her head. "I've been doing this a very long time, Miss Smoak. You're good to go buy a bunch of pink frilly dresses."

Oliver's ready for the speech about the ridiculousness of gender-based baby colors, but it never comes. Emotion overcomes his girlfriend at the confirmation that their baby is a girl. Her face crumples as she leans back fully on the bed, covering her face with her arm. She gulps back a sob… but she's smiling. It's a huge grin that's so full of joy that it instantly quadruples Oliver's.

The technician has more than enough experience to know she ought to give them a moment and go about her business as unobtrusively as possible.

It's not easy to pull his eyes away from the monitor - his little girl is utterly captivating - but the urge to turn to Felicity is undeniable. She needs him, and that comes first. Even now.

Oliver nudges her arm out of the way and he puts his forehead to hers. Felicity wraps a hand around the back of his neck with a ragged sob. It's a mixture of relief, joy and hormones flooding her, but there's a tinge of sorrow, too.

A hint of that will probably always be there.

Ellie would have been overjoyed to see her sister on the screen, too.

"She was right," Oliver points out in an insistent whisper. "She was so sure and she was right."

Felicity gives the smallest nod imaginable, her face barely moving against his.

"Time wants to happen," she adds, putting her free hand on the side of his face and pulling him the scant bit closer he needs to be so she can kiss him. It's as chaste as any kiss they've shared - the technician is right there and her belly's still covered in goo, after all - but it's just as meaningful as any of the others. There's unity in the way she kisses him, a sense of strength and partnership. When he pulls back after a moment, her hand lingers on his face, tears shining in her eyes, but she's grinning.

They both are.

"I'll get out of your hair," Connie says, slightly more muted. It's a happy muted, though, an obvious deference to their joy. She wipes the majority of the gel off Felicity's stomach before grabbing her clipboard. "I've got to enter in these measurements and I'll print you off a few photos, okay?" She pats Felicity's arm. "You can get dressed again whenever you're ready."

"Oh, but-" Felicity starts, sitting up and whipping her head around to look back at the screen. She breathes out a visible sigh of relief when she sees the baby is still on the monitor. It's a freeze frame, a slice of time caught on camera that Oliver already knows he'll carry around in his wallet for years just as soon as the technician gives him a print out. Still, there's more than a hint of disappointment on Felicity's face when she realizes the sonogram itself is over. "I just thought…"

"You're always gonna want more," Connie says with a knowing smile. "You'll have that baby girl in your arms soon enough. Until then, let me get you your pictures. And good news, you can use the restroom whenever you'd like now."

With that, she walks out, leaving Oliver and Felicity alone with the picture of their daughter on the screen.

The gown settles over the remaining goo on her belly. It sticks strangely to her skin, leaving a blue stain on the cheap fabric. Felicity doesn't seem to notice. Or, at least, she doesn't seem to care. That might be more accurate.

She's entranced.

Oliver sits down behind her and wraps both arms around her. He rests his chin on her shoulder, watching the screen with her. Even as he urges her body to lean back against him physically, he says nothing, giving her the space he knows she needs to process everything that's just happened.

After a moment of silence, she starts, "Do you think…" but her voice breaks away before she finishes.

"Do I think what?" he asks. He presses his lips against the skin of her shoulder just inside the loosely tied hospital gown.

Felicity licks her lips before turning to look back at him. She shows him vulnerability so much easier now than she used to, but it's still not something that comes naturally to her. Part of him wonders if it ever will be.

"Does it look like her?" she asks, searching his eyes. "I keep… I keep looking at her nose, her lips, the slope of her forehead and the shape of her chin and… I guess I just keep looking for pieces of her."

"They're sisters, honey," he replies softly. "I'm sure there will be plenty of things they have in common. Bits of you and me that we pass on to both of them."

"Yeah…"

Felicity looks back at the screen with a furrowed brow.

"I'd say there's pretty solid odds all our kids wind up with blue eyes," Oliver adds. "I'm less sure about the blond hair, though."

He can't resist tugging lightly at her ponytail as he says it. Having to forego hair dye for the duration of her pregnancy had been nearly as hard on Felicity as giving up caffeine. He's found himself oddly enthralled by the emergence of her natural roots. They're a lot darker than he'd expected.

She looks back at him with a long-suffering smile and an amused roll of her eyes. There's no doubt she thinks he's being ridiculous. And he is, but it's with purpose. And that purpose is to cut through whatever it is that has her in a bit of a funk and bring her back to this amazing moment they're sharing together.

"No dying her hair before 12," Felicity says with surprising finality. "House rule."

Oliver rests his chin on her shoulder again. "That's a good rule for the brownstone."

Felicity sighs. "Oliver."

It's still a point of contention between them, still very much an ongoing debate. But he's pretty sold on the absurdly expensive four story brick home in the heart of downtown and he's pretty sure he's finally starting to wear her down.

"It is," he protests. "First rule of the Smoak-Queen home."

That makes her pause. "The Smoak-Queen home?"

"Yeah, that's…" He suddenly feels a little lost and nervous all at once. "Yes."

"Oliver…" Felicity turns to look at him, her brow knitting together as her body tenses up. "Are you planning on hyphenating her last name?"

His heart sinks because that sounds like a definite no. They haven't really talked about this. There's been so much going on. But he'd always just assumed that she'd want their daughter to have his last name, too. And the idea that she might not hits him with an unexpected blow.

"I, uh…" He can't keep her gaze, his eyes settling on the speckled linoleum tiles instead. "I just thought…"

"Hey." Felicity touches his chin gently, guiding his gaze back up to her. "I think we got some wires crossed in there somewhere."

He lets out a beleaguered sigh. "I guess so."

"Oliver, I want all our kids to have the same last name," she tells him firmly, searching his eyes. As he puts together exactly what she's saying, she smiles. "This baby is a Queen. All our kids will be. I don't need Smoak in there."

That has a weight he hadn't even realized he'd been carrying slipping right off his shoulders. "Are you sure?" he asks.

"Yeah," she says quietly, slipping her thumb across the line of his jaw. "I'm sure. I thought we might give her my middle name, so she has something from my side other than, you know, half her genes." She taps his jaw with a scrunch of her nose. "Meghan seems like a fair trade."

The grin that breaks out across his face stretches from ear to ear and he kisses her hard. It takes her by surprise, if the little squeak she lets out is any indication. It's all gratitude and it's the only way he can think of in this moment to express it fully, so he doesn't wait for her to meet him halfway, not this time. It's a different sort of kiss than their usual kind - this isn't about passion. It's not even about love, not the sort they generally share anyhow. It's about expressing how intensely thankful he is the only way he knows how, in a desperate kiss that's almost raw in its innocence.

"Thank you," he tells her. As if he hadn't just said exactly that.

"Mmm." Felicity hums happily, stroking the side of his face. "So we have a middle name and a last name. Just the first to go, I guess."

He doesn't think he pauses, doesn't think he gives anything away, but Felicity reads him absurdly well these days. She always has, but it's a new level now - it's quickly obvious that she knows he's holding something back.

She narrows her eyes at him. "You totally have a name for her, don't you?"

Oliver swallows hard, pressing his lips together as he looks around the room a moment because… Yes. Yes, he does. He'd spent hours scouring the internet on his phone making lists and narrowing them down right up until the perfect name had crossed his path. He'd stopped looking after that. He's had a name picked out for her for the past three weeks, but he hasn't shared it with Felicity.

It somehow almost felt too private to share at first. Some slightly irrational part of him had been afraid she wouldn't like it and would reject it out of hand. There isn't a special meaning behind it, or a person they'd be naming their daughter after. But, all the same, he loves the idea of it, the way it rolls off his tongue. And it has rolled off his tongue plenty of times. He's taken to talking to their daughter as Felicity sleeps, telling stories to her belly.

But he hasn't told Felicity. He wasn't ready. He's not sure he is now, either.

"It's just an idea for one," he says, and God, is he blushing? He's pretty sure he is, which makes him feel like a total ass. This means a whole lot more to him than he can readily admit, though, and part of his reaction is because he's not even entirely sure why.

There's no doubt that Felicity's picking up on that.

"So…" Felicity leans back against him. "Do I get to hear it?"

His hesitance only serves to show precisely how meaningful this is to him.

"Julianna." He takes the time to savor each syllable as it trips off his tongue. "Julianna Meghan Queen."

He has no idea what she thinks, and it's because he's too nervous to keep her gaze. His eyes dart to the monitor where her little face still is. Julianna.

Felicity slips her hand up his arm where his arm is wrapped around her, her fingers tracing a line up to his bicep.

"Julianna?"

It sounds almost like she's testing the name out.

"Yeah." Oliver licks his lips. "I thought… Maybe we could call her Jules, or maybe Julie… Julie-bug. I just liked it."

For a long moment, all Oliver can hear is his own heartbeat. When he looks up, his eyes catch on the screen again, on that perfect little screencap of his baby girl… his Julie-bug… The baby he's been quietly whispering declarations of love to by name for almost a month.

When he dares look back toward Felicity's face, it's full of blinding levels of soft affection as she stares at her stomach.

His heart goes a bit faster at the sight.

"I like it, too," she tells him, a smile slowly covering her face. Oliver lets out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "I really like it."

"Really?" he asks. Even his voice sounds painfully hopeful.

"Yeah, really," she agrees. She nudges his arm. "Oliver, how long have you had that name picked out?"

"Uh… a while," he admits. "A month, maybe."

Felicity lets out a surprised laugh. "A month?"

Oliver's shrug is sheepish. "I was trying to come up with a way to suggest it so that you'd like it, too."

"Well, you did," she tells him, settling more fully against his chest. "And I think it's perfect."

That has relief and happiness filling him. Oliver shuts his eyes and leans his head against her temple. He smooths his hands down the curve of her belly with gentle reverence, relishing even the feel of the gel leaking through the gown.

His hands have seen so much brutality in life, wrought so much damage and death; but, they've done this, too. They've loved this woman, and their children, with a gentleness that he wouldn't have thought himself capable of just a few years ago. It's mended something inside him that he'd thought was permanently broken.

As Felicity sighs contentedly against him, he whispers, "Looks like we've got you a name, Julie-bug."

"Julie-bug," Felicity echoes, her hands covering his. "Julie-bug who likes to live on mommy's bladder."

Oliver laughs.

A sudden rap on the door pulls them back to the reality of where exactly they are. Connie peeks her head back in, her chipper smile firmly in place.

"It's pretty distracting, isn't it?" she asks. "These little ones have us wrapped around their fingers way earlier than they've got any clue. Still… you might want to change out of that gown. It gets surprisingly drafty in here!"

"Right," Felicity says with a little nod.

Oliver kisses Felicity's temple, lingering just a little longer. His thumbs stroke over her stomach once more before he helps her sit up. He eases off the bed and grabs her a clean towel to wipe off the worst of the goo with.

"Oh, there she is," Felicity announces. The concrete knowledge that the baby is a she rings in her voice and it's the most beautiful thing he's ever heard. "She moved again." Felicity shifts with a wince and a hard nod as she slips off the table, holding the back of her gown shut. "Bathrooms are…?"

"Two doors down the hall to the left," the technician tells her.

Connie holds the door open as Felicity waddles hurriedly toward the door. Oliver quickly slips off his jacket and hangs it over her shoulders as she passes because 'drafty' is a bit of an understatement and hospital gowns are the absolute worst.

"I'll be back as soon as she's no longer tap dancing on my bladder," Felicity says over her shoulder as she leaves the room. He doesn't miss her turning to her belly, chastising their daughter for her inconsiderate kicking as she shakes a finger at her stomach in reprimand.

Oliver can only grin.

"You two are adorable," Connie says. "And you're gonna have an absolutely beautiful little girl. I can tell."

"Thank you," Oliver says genuinely. He's still staring down the hall in the direction Felicity had disappeared.

"And these are for you." Connie steps into the room, holding out a couple of black and white pictures that look like they've been printed on paper that's only marginally better than what he uses for the office. "Here you go, Dad."

They're some of the most precious things he's ever held in his hands and he immediately treats them that way, careful to hold the edges and not to crinkle the fragile paper.

They need to last forever, after all.

"Thank you," he says again, grinning wider as he takes in the writing at the top of the page. 'Baby Smoak-Queen' it says. He shakes his head. "I appreciate this more than I can say," he adds, "but you got her name wrong."

"No hyphen?" Connie guesses correctly.

"Just Queen," he confirms, staring down at his daughter's profile, committing it to memory. "Julianna Meghan Queen… My little Jules. She's got a remarkable life ahead of her."

He has no idea how right he is.