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There's Nothing But Light When I See You

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Oliver goes straight to Verdant from QC and finds Tommy in his office, opening the door without bothering to knock.

"Oliver?" Tommy pushes back from his chair and stands up, squinting at him. "You're here and it's - daylight out? Who are you and what have you done with my friend Ollie?"

"You're not funny," Oliver mutters.

"I'm a little funny." Tommy leans back against his desk and grins. "Nice to see you finally join the land of the living."

"I'm living."

"Clearly." Tommy's voice is dripping with droll sarcasm. "Is there a reason you're here or did you come all the way over just to scowl at me?"

Oliver sighs and rolls his shoulders. "I want to have a party."

Tommy nods, mock serious. "I know. That's why we opened a nightclub. Every night is a party, buddy."

"No, like a - an event."

"An event?"

"A charity event?"

Tommy's eyebrows shoot up. "Excuse me?"

"I want to throw a party to raise money for that clinic in The Glades."

"The one that's on the verge of being shut down?"

He nods, hands in his pockets, watching Tommy contemplate.

"I know a guy," Tommy finally says. "Could probably get us some sponsorship. Smirnoff maybe." He walks around to his desk and picks up his iPad. "Gotta promote it obviously and we'll need a few weeks to pull everything together."

"Seriously?" Oliver asks.

Tommy shrugs. "It's a good idea. Good PR for the club, for a good cause." His eyes glaze over for a minute. "I'll talk to the staff, and you and I will have to talk numbers."

"Numbers?" Oliver asks weakly.

Tommy rolls his eyes. "Never mind, I'll recruit Laurel for that, I mean if" -

"No, it's fine, I don't mind if she helps."

There's a strange, awkward moment of tension between them, and then Tommy chuckles and slaps Oliver on the shoulder. "So, someone's suddenly hot for healthcare?"

Oliver laughs. "We are not calling it that."

"Are you kidding?" Tommy smiles dreamily. "Picture every wealthy young socialite in the city in a bikini holding out her checkbook. You, my friend, are a genius."

*

"Unplanned synchronistic meetings," Thea reads out loud from the checklist open on her laptop browser.

Oliver leans back against her headboard. Thea's room used to be decorated princess pink and white, full of stuffed animals and sparkles. Now it's decorated with dark wood furniture, a heavy plum brocade bedspread and stacks of makeup palettes on her nightstand.

It's Friday evening, the night of his date. Thea has found some article online, Ten Signs You've Met Your Soulmate, and has insisted on reading it with him, like they're two girls at a slumber party.

"Ollie?" Thea prompts, turning over her shoulder to look at him. "That's the first question."

"If running into each other all over town counts, than yes."

"So, check." Thea, sprawled out on her stomach, squints at the screen. "Connected through family, friends or work relationships, check. Increase in abnormal astronomical activity?"

"What?" he asks, scooting closer so he can see.

"Here, they list some examples. Inconsistencies in the moon cycle - okay, whoa, I didn't know that was a thing, sudden fluctuations in temperature and or/ general weather patterns, excessive rain, thunderstorms"-

"Check."

"Seriously?"

"It was raining the night we met. And um, the other day there was a - just keep going."

"Okay." Thea gives him an impish smile and scrolls down. "General feelings of warmth and well being, fondness, etc?"

Oliver swings his legs off her bed. "Okay, I think we're good here."

"Ollie" -

"I get the idea, Thea."

"And?" His sister sits up on her bed, looking so hopeful it makes him ache inside. Oliver remembers Roy, his matching mark, and makes a mental note to do something about that.

Maybe. Eventually.

"And we'll see how tonight goes."

Thea sighs dramatically and flops over onto her back. "You're so lucky. I wish I was going on a date with my soulmate."

"Oh, you never know," Oliver says lightly. "You could meet him tomorrow."

"Sure," she says wryly. "Trust me, I know every guy at my school and none of them are candidates."

There's something he doesn't really like in her voice, some kind of exhausted undertone, that makes her sound older than she really is. Oliver leans against her doorframe. "You on your own tonight?"

Thea nods, pulling a hairband off her wrist to secure her long curls into a ponytail. "Mom and Walter are going to that benefit."

"You going to be okay here by yourself?"

Thea rolls her eyes and chucks a throw pillow at him. "Go get dressed, you're going to be late."

*

As per their previous arrangement, Felicity meets Oliver at Freccia, a little Italian place he likes because it's upscale but too small to be loud or crowded. He drives his Ducati there, parks on the street and unzips his motorcycle jacket as he enters the restaurant and checks in for their reservation. Felicity enters only a moment later, resplendent in a red cocktail dress, no glasses tonight, her hair falling in soft golden waves over her shoulders.

"Hi," he says, stepping forward to take her coat, a soft silky knit black thing. "You look beautiful."

Felicity smiles, pleased. "Thank you, so do you. I mean, not beautiful, you're a man, although you really are, but. Handsome! You look very handsome."

"Sir?" The hostess, a painfully thin blond with a sleek ponytail, smiles tentatively at him. "Your table is ready."

He and Felicity follow her to their table on the far side of the dining room, his hand low on Felicity's back. He can feel the heat of her skin through the fabric of her dress and Oliver thinks of that silly checklist, general feelings of warmth and wellbeing.

Is that the reason why he feels like this, when he's around her? Because she's his soulmate?

Does that mean she feels the same way about him?

Oliver pulls Felicity's chair out for her almost automatically, silently working through the mind-shattering revelation that it could be possible for someone - okay not just someone, some faceless girl, but her, Felicity - to feel that way about him.

A waitress comes and they both ask a little too quickly for wine when it's offered. Awkward laughter ensues, the waitress comes back with a nice Cabernet and suddenly they're on familiar ground again. Alcohol, always a lovely icebreaker.

They're both clearly nervous but while Oliver gets nearly silent when he's nervous Felicity babbles, so they're well balanced in that sense. Everything feels heightened to him: the gold color of her hair in the candlelight, the warmth in his stomach, that specific first date apprehension, the awareness that this is a litmus test of sorts for both of them.

When their waitress returns Oliver orders from the menu at near random, entranced at the way shadows from the light flicker over Felicity's creamy skin. He gets a few questions in while she dips a wedge of perfectly toasted sourdough in olive oil and is rewarded with a cascade of information, delivered in quick little bursts between bites of bread.

Oliver learns that she is originally from Las Vegas. She's an only child and grew up with her mother, a cocktail waitress, attended MIT on a combination of scholarships and student loans. He probes gently for more information about her family but all he gets is a strained sense of affection for her mother before she starts tossing questions back at him.

At some point they settle comfortably into banter as their pasta arrives. Oliver lets her carry the conversation as they eat, cataloging all the body parts he can see that her red dress is revealing: her shoulders, the top of her chest, her arms, her legs, so much skin exposed by that little dress, all of it flawless and unmarked.

The whole thing goes by too quickly. One minute he's twirling fettuccine around his fork, the next their empty plates are being cleared and the check presented. Oliver pays of course, mentally daring Felicity to challenge him but she just smiles and strokes the back of his hand as he signs the receipt. They walk back through the restaurant with her hand in his, her palm warm and dry against his skin.

The hostess appears with Felicity's coat and Oliver makes a grab for it just so he can have the pleasure of sliding the fabric over her shoulders, covertly scanning her exposed back to look for her mark but all he sees is the long line of her spine. His phone buzzes in his pants pocket, Oliver pulls it out and when he sees the name Mom flash across the screen he sends her to voicemail.

"Everything okay?" Felicity asks lightly.

"Just my mom," he explains. "Do you want to go get a drink? There's a great little bar down the street."

"Sure," she says, at the same time his phone starts buzzing again. Felicity laughs softly, fingers toying with the collar of her coat. "It's fine, answer it. My mom completely panics when I don't pick up, and I'm sure after everything you've been through..." Felicity trails off, her cheeks flushing.

Oliver sighs, flashes her a tight smile as he takes his phone back out and holds it up to his ear. "Hey Mom, this isn't a great time" -

"Oliver, your sister's been in an accident."

He stumbles over nothing, reaching out blindly to press his hand against the wall. "What are you talking about, what kind of accident?"

"Apparently Thea was driving under the influence and crashed her car," she says hysterically. "The doctors said she took some kind of street drug for god's sake!"

"Are you at the hospital?"

"Of course we're at the hospital, are you even listening to me?"

"Is she hurt?"

"I don't know darling, they said she lost consciousness and the car spun out, we haven't seen her yet."

Out of the corner of his eye he can see Felicity, concern all over her face. "Mom, I'm sure she'll be okay, I'm on my way."

He hangs up, blinking back a sudden wave of dizziness. "Um, so my sister was in a car accident, I have to go to the hospital."

Felicity just nods sharply, reaching into her purse to take out her car keys while gripping his wrist with her free hand. "Come on, I'll drive you."

Some detached part of him marvels at her ability to take charge during a crises as he follows her dumbly out of the restaurant, lets her lead him down the street to a parked Mini Cooper. Oliver folds himself into the passenger seat, moving it back as far as it will allow so his legs aren't bent in half. Felicity signals and peels away from the curb, quickly turning down the blast of music blaring through the speakers.

"Are you okay?" Felicity reaches over the gear shift to curl her hand around his.

Oliver nods and strokes the inside of her palm with his thumb. "She's only seventeen."

Felicity exhales sharply through her nose and drives faster.

When they get to the hospital she drives around the entrance to the visitors' lot and parks, opens her door and gets out before Oliver even has his seatbelt off. He runs around the car and she weaves her fingers around his automatically, like she doesn't even realize she's doing it, her heels clacking against the cement floor of the garage as they cross to the entrance of the hospital.

When they get to the wing where Thea is he sees his mother, dressed in a heavy beaded evening gown, and Walter, in a chic black tailored suit, from all the way down the hall, hovering outside what he assumes is Thea's room. Felicity hesitates next to him, pulling her hand out of his grasp.

"I should let you be with your family," she says softly.

Oliver nods, numb, torn in two directions - his sister, injured and down the hall, and Felicity, here, right in front of him, soft and sympathetic in the fluorescent light of the hospital hallway.

"Thank you for dinner," she says kindly. "I had a good time, before the, you know..." she trails off, gesturing with one hand.

"I'll call you?" he offers quietly, aware that his mother is staring at them from where she is pacing back and forth.

"Okay." Felicity leans in quickly and kisses his cheek. "I hope your sister is alright."

"Thanks." Oliver smiles tightly at her. "I'm sorry, this isn't exactly how I planned on tonight going."

Felicity shrugs lightly. "Shit happens, right?"

"Right."

"Okay." Felicity steps back, car keys dangling from one hand. "Goodnight Oliver."

She gets three steps away before he reaches out to grab her wrist, spins her back to him, and kisses her.

He doesn't even think about it, just threads one hand through her hair to cup the back of her head and pushes his lips against hers. Her mouth is warm, she tastes like lipstick and wine, lips parting softly against his. The warm glow is back, seeping into all his muscles, everything going still except for the steady pressure of his mouth on hers.

She pulls away slowly, blue eyes wide and dazed, fingertips going up to her lips like she can't believe his lips touched her there only seconds ago.

Oliver smiles, unbelievably pleased with himself all of a sudden. "Goodnight Felicity."

He watches her walk away, eyes lingering on her back until she disappears around the corner. Down the hall his mother is waiting with her arms crossed, lips pressed tightly together. Walter is next to her, glancing down at his phone before pocketing it and holding a hand out to Oliver.

"Was that Felicity I just saw?" he asks curiously, peering over Oliver's shoulder.

"Yeah, we were just, uh, catching dinner together; she gave me a ride." He moves around Walter to lean in and kiss his mother's cheek. "Hey Mom, how is she?"

His mother sniffs delicately. "Apparently one of her friends shared some drug with her and Thea thought she was fine to drive. She has three stitches in her forehead, a totaled car, and she's been charged with driving under the influence" - she breaks off, a trembling hand coming up to her mouth.

"Hey Mom it's okay, she'll be okay. Remember all the dumb stuff I did when I was her age?"

His mother lets out a choked laugh and pats his cheek. "Yes darling, you certainly were a handful but even so, you were never charged with a crime."

"Call Laurel," Oliver suggests. "I'm sure she'd be willing to help you out."

She nods, reaching up to delicately pat under her eyes. "I just don't know what I'm going to do about her."

"Why don't you go get a cup of coffee?" he suggest gently. "I'll go talk to her."

His mother nods, giving his cheek a final squeeze. "Thank you sweetheart."

Thea's curled up on her side on the bed in her hospital room, wearing an ugly green gown. She has gauze taped over her left eyebrow and there's an IV inserted in the back of her hand. She looks so small, fragile, and there's a sudden ache in Oliver's chest as he remembers what a little baby she was, how he was so afraid the first time he held her, worried he'd accidentally hurt her.

"Hey," he says softly, walking forward to sit at the edge of her bed. "How are you feeling?"

She sniffs and shrugs, eyes staring blankly at the wall. "I'm fine, Ollie."

"I wouldn't call getting high and totaling your car fine, Speedy."

She glares at him before crossing her arms and rolling over. "I already got a lecture from Mom, I don't need one from you too."

He sighs, curling his hand around her ankle. "I didn't come here to lecture you."

"Whatever," she mumbles. "It was stupid, I get it."

"Yeah, it was really freaking stupid," he says hotly, something in his jaw twitching. "You could've gotten seriously hurt, do you have any idea how lucky you are?"

She stares at him, her eyes wide and bloodshot. "Lucky?" she says hoarsely. "Oh yeah, I'm so lucky."

"Thea" -

"You don't even get it." Thea's face crumples and she starts to cry. "I didn't - I didn't think anything would happen, I didn't think Mom would even notice."

His fingers tighten around her ankle. "What are you taking about?"

His sister covers her face with her hands, her words coming out in muffled sobs. "You don't understand what it's like.... what it's been like. When you and Dad... it was like time just stopped, and all of a sudden we were just alone and it was like... it was like I didn't even exist without you. She never... she never notices me unless I'm messing up. I'm always messing up and now Mom hates me, I know she does"-

"Hey, hey, okay." He slides one arm under her shoulders to pull her up so he can hug her. "No one hates you."

"You don't see the way she looks at me sometimes." She pushes her tear-stained cheek against the side of his neck like she's trying to burrow into him.

"What are you talking about?"

"You know what I'm talking about." The fingers of her right hand are stroking her mark where it covers the entire span of her left inner wrist. "Like - like there's something wrong with me."

"Thea."

"It's true," she whispers. "You know it's true."

The thing is, he does know what she's talking about. He's seen it before, that strange look on his mother's face when she's watching her only daughter. Sometimes Thea will do something, like laugh a certain way, or make a silly dramatic entrance into a room, or smile slyly, winking, and their mother's hands will fly up to her mouth to muffle a gasp, a mixture of sadness, shock, and fear flashing across as her face.

"I'm sorry," he murmurs. "I'm sorry I wasn't there but I'm here now."

She shudders and rubs her forehead against his shoulder. "That doesn't magically fix everything."

"I know." He sighs and rests his cheek on the top of her head. "It's going to be okay. We'll figure it out."

"I missed you so much," she whispers in a tiny voice, curling her knees in against his chest like she's trying to make herself as small as possible.

He swallows thickly and tightens his arms around her because he's her big brother and that's his job, to protect her from the rest of the world, keep her safe. "I missed you too."

*

Their mother stays at the hospital with Thea until she gets released, Walter drops Oliver back off at Freccia to recover his Ducati. He waits until he's back in his room, reclining back in his bed in a pair of grey Emporio Armani boxer briefs, to pull his phone out and call Felicity.

She answers after only a few rings, like she's been waiting for his call.

"Hey you," she says warmly, her voice soft and low. Oliver imagines her in bed wearing a silk chemise, or an old MIT tee shirt, or maybe even nothing at all, just her skin against the sheets.

"Hey," he whispers back, putting the phone on speaker and setting it down on the pillow next to him.

"How's your sister?"

There's something intimate about this, listening to Felicity talk to him while he's in bed. Oliver twists up to turn off his bedside lamp and reclines back against the pillows, the light from his phone glowing in the dark room.

"She'll be okay but the car wasn't so lucky," he tells her.

"Cars are replaceable," Felicity murmurs. "Sisters, not so much."

"True," he agrees. "I'm sorry, that really wasn't how I wanted our date to end."

"Oh, I don't know." Her voice is light and playful. "I thought the ending was pretty great."

Oliver sinks down under the comforter, lips tingling at the memory. "Yeah?"

"Definitely."

Warmth blooms in his chest. "I was thinking... we didn't end up getting that drink."

"Are you asking me on a second date, Oliver?"

"I have to go to Verdant tomorrow night, just to run over a few things with Tommy. I could come by your place when I'm done?"

He wonders for a second if he's being too bold, inviting himself over like that, but then she says, "I'd like that." Just like that.

"I'll bring drinks," he offers.

"I'll be waiting."

Oliver smiles to himself, imagining her sprawled out on her couch waiting for him in a dress or even better, maybe one of those long tee shirts and no bra. "So I'll see you tomorrow night then?"

She's not here but he can feel her anyway, can feel her smile through the phone when she says, "it's a date."

*

He goes to Verdant the next night like Tommy asked him to, to discuss the event Verdant will host that unfortunately has been officially named Get Hot For Healthcare. It is kind of genius though - charity events are usually held in a ballroom somewhere, black tie, stuffy and boring. They're targeting their peers, young members of the glitterati searching for the next best party. Oliver has even volunteered himself to take official pictures with the guests (at extra charge of course) because as Tommy says, he might as well use his newfound fame for something good.

Oliver only has to approve what Tommy has come up with so far, skim over the numbers and sign off on hiring a social media manager to promote the event for them. He can't bring himself to care that much, preoccupied with where he's going when he's done with Tommy.

He's so anxious to get to Felicity that he ends up getting to Verdant nearly half an hour before he's supposed to. He goes in through the back, eager to avoid the crowd that's always milling around the front entrance. He doesn't find Tommy behind the main bar or on the dance floor, he spots Roy running drinks in the VIP room but still no Tommy.

Oliver takes the stairs up and walks down the hallway to Tommy's office. The door is closed but unlocked, Oliver starts to push it open and freezes, shocked at the tableaux he can see through the crack.

Laurel is here, wearing one of her sleek tailored work dresses, royal blue tonight, and she's bent over Tommy's desk, propped up by her elbows, skirt pushed up to her hips, and Oliver can see a sliver of Tommy's chest against her back, one of his hands wrapped around her neck.

Oliver steps away, swallowing back hysterical laughter. The door creaks as he tries to shut it, he can distinctly hear Tommy say something to Laurel and the squeak of Tommy's shoes on the floor as Oliver steps back into the hallway. A few seconds later the door swings open, all the way this time, to reveal a sheepish Tommy, cheeks flushed and dress shirt half-unbuttoned.

"Hey, Ollie," he says weakly. "You had to be early for once, huh?"

Oliver shrugs, another hysterical giggle slipping out of his mouth as Laurel pushes through the doorway, hands frantically smoothing down her skirt.

"Real mature Ollie," she sneers, and stomps away, heeling clicking loudly against the floor.

"So...." Tommy shifts back on his heels. "That was obviously not the way either of us wanted you to find out but...."

Oliver waves a hand dismissively. "It's fine, Tommy."

Tommy squints. "Are you sure? Did you miss the part about me having, em, relations with your ex right under your nose?"

Oliver shrugs in answer. He's seen both their marks obviously, they all know Laurel and Tommy aren't soulmates. Laurel's mark is on her ankle. It's a set of scales, old fashioned, intricately drawn and ornate like the cage of Sara's mark. Laurel's scales are equally balanced, one of them holding a feather and the other, a dagger.

Tommy's mark is on his ribs, like Oliver. He has a wand with a crescent moon on the top, although his father likes to refer to it as a staff, as if that somehow makes it more masculine and dignified.

"For what it's worth," Tommy says quietly. "I really care about her. Things were - hard after you were gone, and" -

"It's fine, I get it." What is he supposed to say, anyway? He and Laurel have been over for so long, he knows now there's no chance of them getting back together. "You're my best friend, you deserve to be happy."

Tommy squints at him. "Okay, this whole new zen Oliver thing you've had going on lately is really starting to freak me out."

Oliver grins. "Can we get on with it, I kind of have somewhere to be."

Tommy quickly buttons up his shirt, eyebrows raised. "Really?"

"Yeah, I'm meeting up with someone."

"Someone."

"Yeah, I'm kind of um, dating. A girl. I met a girl."

Tommy blinks in surprise. "Since when?"

"Technically? Yesterday."

Tommy starts laughing. "And she wants to see you again?"

Oliver grins and gives him a good natured shove. "Yes, so if you could just finish putting your clothes back on..."

"Yeah, yeah, you know what? Just go, I'll email you, let me know if there are any issues."

"You sure?"

Tommy winks. "Buddy, I've been trying to get you laid for weeks, fuck, please go. For me."

Oliver flushes. "It's not - we're not"-

"Okay, okay." Tommy grips his shoulders. "You, my friend, are Oliver Queen. You can do this. You are the master of women, remember?"

"Not this woman," he mumbles.

"Ollie," Tommy says sternly. "You've been with a playmate. That hot Red Bull rep in college. That freaking princess of... damn, what's it called?" He snaps his fingers. "Monaco!"

Oliver raises an eyebrow. "Your point?"

"My point is, you've got this. Jesus Ollie, you survived five years alone on an island. You're a motherfucking hero."

Oliver stiffens. "I'm not. God, why does everyone say shit like that? I'm not a hero! I didn't do anything good, I'm not good, I'm not special, I'm not smart, I'm just. I'm just lucky! It's just dumb luck! And Felicity is like - she's gorgeous Tommy, and she's funny, and she's smart, and I'm just this idiot with a credit card and scars and a bunch of failed relationships."

Oliver covers his hands with his face, overwhelmed, irritated at how easy it was for him to lose control like that.

Tommy sighs. "You really like her, huh?"

Oliver nods into his hands. "Yeah, she's... she's special."

"Is she your soulmate?" Tommy asks bluntly.

"Maybe."

"Alright." To his surprise Tommy puts his arms around him and pulls him into a hug. "It's okay," he says, his voice quiet and reassuring. "I just want you to be happy. You deserve to be happy."

Oliver's eyes sting. "I don't know, Tommy."

"Okay, this is what you're going to do. You're gonna go pick up a bottle of wine, maybe some chocolate or something, and you're gonna go romance the shit out of this girl, like you've been doing since you were sixteen, and she's going to fall in love with you. Okay?"

Oliver laughs dryly. "Okay."

"I mean it," Tommy says sternly.

"Okay." Oliver nods, resolved.

Tommy's face breaks out into a smile. "That's my boy!"

*

Oliver stops at a liquor store and buys a Mount Blac Malbec from Napa Valley, nice and moderately priced so as not to seem pretentious. He likes that Felicity doesn't seem to care about his money but it makes him self-conscious, the pressure to prove that he's not a spoiled trust fund brat who does things like drop a grand on a bottle of wine for a girl he barely knows.

He makes a quick detour at 7/11 and picks up a pint of mint chocolate chip and texts Felicity, so that when he parks his Ducati outside her building she's waiting for him, standing in the doorway, her silhouette illuminated by the flickering porch light.

She's dressed, nice but casual, in a soft looking knit grey sweater dress that falls to mid thigh over bare legs and little white ankle socks. At this point Oliver is almost sure her mark is on her foot, unless it's somewhere more private like the curve of her hipbone or maybe the soft contour of her stomach.

"Hi," she greets him softly, and rises up on the tips of her toes to kiss him.

Oliver goes through the usual chemical protocol when he's around Felicity: his body temperature rises, his cheeks heat, the tension in his chest dissolves, his lips curve up reflexively into a smile. "Hi."

"Come on in." Felicity reaches out and takes the hand that isn't holding the plastic 7/11 bag and leads him inside. "I see you've brought victuals."

"Wine," he announces, pulling the paper wrapped bottle out of the bag. "And ice cream."

Felicity beams and takes the bottle from him. "I'll open this, spoons are in the drawer."

She pours two generous glasses and brings them into the living room, Oliver grabs the spoons and follows her, peeling the lid off the ice cream carton and setting it down on the coffee table. Oliver takes the glass she offers and sits down next to her on the couch. Felicity takes a sip from her glass and makes a delighted little sigh, tipping her head back against the couch as she swallows.

"Do you like it?" he asks before he can help himself, and pops a giant scoop of ice cream into his mouth before he says something really dumb, like, do you like me?

She takes another sip, nodding. "I do, thank you." She reaches out to takes the ice cream, uses the same spoon that was just in his mouth to dig out a bite of ice cream. "How'd you know mint chocolate chip was my favorite?"

"It's what you had that night I ran into you, I figured it was a safe bet," he explains.

Felicity blinks and slides a fraction of an inch closer to him. She's sitting sideways so she can face him, head tilted sideways to rest against the back of the couch. "You remembered that?"

"Yeah, I - you're pretty memorable." Oliver buries his face in his glass, takes a gulp of wine that makes a new wave of heat roll through him as he swallows.

To his surprise Felicity grimaces, idly swirling her spoon through the ice cream. "Yeah, you didn't exactly catch me at my best that night."

Oliver reaches out and cups her knee, distinctly remembering Thea's insistence that Oliver be more proactive in learning about Felicity. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"Oh, um...." Felicity shrugs hesitantly, like she's been caught off guard. "I told you that's kind of a bad day for me, right?"

He strokes the soft skin of her knee. "Yeah."

Felicity gives him a nervous-looking smile before tipping her head back, and chugs the entire glass. "Okay, so here's the thing," she says in a rush, while Oliver stares, dumbfounded. "I had a boyfriend, back when I was at MIT."

He nods, focusing on the word had, past tense. "Okay."

"We uh, we kind of had a bad breakup. He did - he did something, and it was like, well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, you know? And we got in a huge fight about it because I thought what he did was kind of like, morally reprehensible? We didn't exactly see eye to eye about certain things. Our philosophies kind of diverged, I suppose. So we broke up and I stopped talking to him and I dyed my hair blond"- Felicity breaks off, her cheeks flushed. "Sorry, I'm totally rambling."

"You're fine," he soothes, because jealously is creeping through his veins and he doesn't like that Felicity is talking about this guy like he did something bad.

"Sorry." Felicity reaches up and slides the ponytail elastic out of her hair, which falls in golden clouds around her face. "Anyway, he ended up getting into trouble and he, um... he couldn't deal with it, I guess."

Oliver slides his hand under her knee, where the skin is as thin and smooth as a flower petal. "I'm not sure I understand."

Felicity reaches out to put her empty glass on the coffee table, staring down at her socked feet. "He killed himself."

Oliver freezes for a second before following suit, plunking his wine glass down next to hers and moving the ice cream out of the way. "Felicity."

"It's fine," she says quickly, sitting tensely on the edge of the couch. "It was years ago. I'm sorry, it's so depressing, it's just, that night, it was the anniversary of his, you know, so it was on my mind."

She looks so small of a sudden, feet curled under her, hiding behind her hair, her hands clasped tightly in her lap. Oliver swallows tightly, a lump in the back of his throat, remembering the sound of the gun going off, how he'd screamed and screamed at the black sky in terror and fury.

"Hey, c'mere," he murmurs, and puts his arms around her.

Felicity turns into him, pressing her face into his shoulder. "I'm sorry," she whispers. "I haven't dated since then, it kind of took me awhile to get over it, and I"-

"It's okay," he says. "You don't have to explain anything to me."

Felicity tilts her face up to him, her bottom lip quivering slightly. "I really like you, Oliver."

He takes a deep breath. "I really like you too."

Her whole face softens at that and Oliver privately marvels at her reaction, that five little words made all the sadness drain out of her expression. "So is all my baggage turning you on or what?" Felicity teases a little desperately, clearly trying to lighten the mood.

He chokes out a laugh. "You're talking to the king of baggage," he reminds her. "I can handle it."

"Yeah?"

He smooths her hair away from her face. "Yeah. Are you... are you okay?"

Felicity nods, her tongue coming out to swipe against her bottom lip in a way that seems totally deliberate. "Yeah, like I said, it was a long time ago. Ugh I'm sorry, talking about exes on a date is such bad etiquette."

"It's okay." For some strange reason it makes him feel a little better - not that she went through something terrible but that in some way she understands; she's been through something, she knows darkness just like him.

"He wasn't my soulmate," she says softly. "I think in some way that made it easier. Knowing we weren't really supposed to be together anyway. But it's just..." Felicity sighs, reaching up quickly to rub her eyes behind her glasses. "It's just sad, I guess."

Oliver frowns. "I don't want you to be sad," he confesses.

She raises an eyebrow, her expression turning hopeful. "I'm not sad right now."

"No?" he questions lightly. One of his hands is low on her back; it'd be so easy, to scoop it under her ass and pull her into his lap.

She shakes her head, and this time her eyes drift to his lips. "Definitely not."

He tilts his head down, slow, watching her blue eyes darken and flutter shut, and kisses her. Felicity melts into him, lips soft and sweet and gently parting. Oliver forces himself to go slow, slow, barely any pressure, letting her set the pace. She reaches up, curving her hand around his neck. He groans quietly, the feel of her nails on his skin making him shiver.

His hand finds her thigh and Felicity uses her grip on his neck to pull herself up and swings one leg over his so she's straddling him, her knees bracketing his hips. Her sweater dress rides up, Oliver has to pull away just so he can look down at her exposed thighs. His eyes flick back up to hers as he spreads his hands out, gripping her toned quads.

"Okay?" he whispers.

Felicity takes her glasses off in response and leans back down to kiss. Oliver's hands creep up, feeling her muscles jump under his touch. He finds her hips, curling his fingers around them and squeezing lightly before sliding around to her ass. She whimpers into his mouth and Oliver has to bite back a groan.

"You're like, a ridiculously good kisser," she mumbles against his mouth, undoing the bottom button of his shirt.

Oliver hums in response, turning his head sideways to kiss her jaw, under her earlobe, trailing his mouth down to lick the column of her throat.

"Oh my god." Felicity tilts her head to give him better access. Her eyes are closed, mouth slightly open, fingers still working the buttons of his shirt open by touch alone.

When she gets to the top one Oliver shrugs the shirt off, leaving him in just a white Hanes undershirt and dress pants. Felicity blinks her eyes open and stares rather shamelessly. He can't help but grin, sliding his hands up her bare back under her dress to trace the line of her spine.

Her hands come down to the hem of his undershirt, a wicked little smile on her face, and Oliver reaches down to catch her wrists in his hands, his cheeks burning. "I - I have some scars," he admits quietly. "From the island."

"Okay," Felicity murmurs easily, taking it completely in stride, like it's nothing, and pulls gently out of his grip, her hands resettling on her own hips. "How about...."

She grips the hem of her dress and in one fluid movement she peels it up and takes it off, tossing it somewhere behind her. Oliver stares, frozen, taking in creamy round breasts in a pale pink satin bra, matching pink panties that make her skin gleam gold.

"Jesus," he grits out, not knowing where he wants to touch first, taking in the shadow of her ribs, a flat stomach, the curves of her waist.

No mark, still. Felicity is grinning, allowing him to just take her in, her hands sliding up her own body to idly play with her hair. It's like his brain just seizes up, a total inability to think straight or come up with any kind of strategy.

Oliver just reacts on instinct, surging up to wrap his hand around the back of her neck to pull her mouth to his. Felicity gasps as his lips press against hers, giving him the opportunity to flick his tongue between her teeth. Electricity shoots all the way down his spine at the touch of her tongue on his. Oliver spreads one hand flat against the dip of her lower back, using it as leverage to push their bodies closer together.

Felicity rolls her hips and he practically growls in response, dropping his mouth to her collarbone to suck a bruise onto her skin. Her head drops back, her fingers threading through his hair. It's like a fantasy, a beautiful half-naked woman falling apart in his hands, his whole body hot and shaking, mind blissfully blank.

"You feel so good," she slurs, like she's drunk, even though she's only had one glass of wine (albeit all at once). "God, I've been thinking about your hands, like, obsessively."

"Yeah?" he pants. He wants to take her bra off but then he remembers that this is technically only their second date and settles for cupping her with his hands instead.

"Yeah," she moans. "I can't... I can't stop."

"Me too," he confesses in a rush, reaching up to cradle her face in his hands.

They're both breathing heavily; Felicity's cheeks are flushed, her pupils blown. She smiles, in this soft, self-conscious way that makes something in his chest ache. He rubs his thumbs over her cheekbones, caught in her gaze, and can't help but tilt his face up a little so he can rest his forehead against hers.

"Hey," he murmurs.

Her tongue darts out to lick her bottom lip. "Hey."

"We should probably slow down," he suggests regretfully.

"Mm." Felicity rolls her forehead lightly against his and giggles, sounding a little slap-happy. "Do you want to stay over? To sleep, I mean. Like, sleep with me - I mean, sleep, not like have sex with me, although I definitely wouldn't have a problem with that" -

"Felicity." Oliver cuts her off, because hearing the word sex out loud is not helping his body cool down whatsoever.

She gives him that smile again, that sweet, almost shy smile that makes him want to pull her to his chest and hold her close. "Stay," she whispers softly. "Please."

Oliver slides his index finger under her chin, tips it up to the perfect angle to give her a soft kiss. "Okay."

Felicity uses the bathroom first while Oliver waits in the hallway. She comes out dressed in a loose tee shirt, short enough to skim the tops of her thighs, makeup scrubbed off, hair pulled up in a messy bun, socks still on. She gives Oliver a toothbrush to borrow, he uses it and the toilet in the bathroom and comes out in his undershirt and boxer briefs.

Felicity's leaning against the wall outside the bathroom waiting for him, a glass of water in one hand. "Come on," she says, and Oliver obediently follows her down the hall to her bedroom. It's so Felicity, a bright blue accent wall, purple comforter spread over a queen sized bed, cozy and colorful. She places the water on the nightstand and crawls onto the bed, flipping the covers back and raising an expectant eyebrow at him. Oliver flips the light off, plunging her room into darkness, and slides into bed next to her.

She curls over onto her side to face him, her fingers tripping over the sheets until she connects with his chest and scoots close enough to tilt her head towards him for a goodnight kiss. It's all so easy, like they've been doing this forever, like they're a real couple.

Felicity falls asleep almost immediately, the soft sound of her breathing in his ear. Oliver stretches out next to her and closes his eyes, drifts in a half sleep for a few hours before giving up and quietly extricating himself. He pads softly back to the living room, moonlight spilling over the floor from the window. He drops to the floor and does push-ups to failure, flips over onto his back and does crunches until his abs burn.

He walks over to her bookshelf, thinking of reading until he finally feels tired enough to sleep, when he hears footsteps in the hallway and hears Felicity call out in a small voice, "Oliver?"

He walks quickly back to the hallway where Felicity is hovering, sleepy and confused, relief plain on her face when she sees him and Oliver suddenly feels like an asshole, she clearly thought he left her alone without saying goodbye.

"Hey," he says softly, bending down to kiss her forehead. "I'm sorry, I should've warned you that I'm an insomniac."

"Oh right," she murmurs sleepily, reaching her arms up to wrap them around his waist so she can nuzzle her face against his chest. "I bet I can help with that, come on, come back to bed."

He goes along with her, climbing back into her bed, content to just lie there with her while she sleeps, but Felicity pushes him back so he's leaning against the pillows while she sits cross legged next to his hip.

"You don't have to stay up just because I can't sleep," he says, but Felicity just gives him a wicked smile and brings her fingers to the waistband of his boxer briefs.

"Trust me?" she whispers, slipping her hand inside and tugging down the elastic.

His mouth goes dry, he can't do anything but nod enthusiastically as she peels the fabric down and wraps her hand around him. Oliver drops his head back against the pillows with a groan and watches through slitted eyes as Felicity proceeds to give him the world's slowest hand job, until he's writhing and shaking under her ministrations, bottom lip clenched between his teeth to hold back a torrent of curses.

When he finally comes his world goes white, body melting with pleasure, vaguely aware of her cleaning him up, those small hands wiping him off. Felicity crawls over him to snuggle into his side, he automatically lifts an arm around her, staring in sleepy amazement as she winks and kisses his cheek.

"Go to sleep," she murmurs, and he does, just like magic.

*

He spends the next week working on the healthcare event with Tommy, hanging out at home with a grounded, moping Thea, and seeing Felicity. They go out to eat during her lunch hour with Dig, spend hours making out in dimly lit bars, get coffee and walk around the city. For the first time since he's come back from the island he feels normal, or close to it.

It's strange, this new thing in his chest, this warm steady feeling that everything's going to be okay.

Like hope.

The morning of the charity event Oliver changes into a henley and jeans, goes into the kitchen for a cup of coffee before he has to head over to Verdant to help the staff set up. His mother intercepts him, catching him by the arm as he's draining his mug.

"Take your sister with you," she instructs, tapping an email out on her phone. "I've had enough of her lying on my couch pouting at everything in sight."

"I thought she was grounded," Oliver says lightly, thinking of Roy, who's supposed to already be at Verdant to sign for the liquor deliveries for this evening.

"Put her to work, it'll be good for her." His mother waves a dismissive hand and swishes out of the kitchen, leaving a cloud of Chanel Number 5 in her wake.

Oliver sighs and wanders through the mansion until he finds Thea in the den, sprawled out on the couch in boxer shorts and one of his old hockey jerseys watching The Real Housewives of Coast City.

"Hey, time to get dressed, you're coming to work with me." Oliver walks over to the remote and switches the tv off.

"Hey, I was watching that!"

He catches the throw pillow Thea chucks at him and tosses it back to her. "Mom said I have to take you with me to Verdant, let's go."

"Ugh, boring."

"Come on, go get dressed, I'm gonna be late."

Thea scowls but allows him to heave her up by the arm and push her out of the room. She stomps upstairs grumbling but comes back down five minutes later in a pair of worn in skinny jeans and a cropped grey tank top, a stack of bangles covering her mark.

He drives the Range Rover to Verdant with Thea in the passenger seat, using the mirror on the back of the visor to apply a thick layer of lip gloss. He parks in the back, holds Thea's hand as they cross the alley, ignoring her complaints that she's not a baby, god Ollie, you're sooo embarrassing. He walks her through the back hallway past the stockroom and into the main area of Verdant, pulling out a bar stool for her to sit on.

Tommy was insistent on sticking with the tropical theme; the bar has been transformed into a tiki hut, stung with garlands of fake purple hibiscus and little unlit torches. It's all hands on deck today, servers are scattered across the dance floor blowing up plastic beach balls, setting up tables across one wall, and dumping fake sand into a cordoned off 'beach area'.

Roy is here, Oliver catches him conferring with one of the bar backs, a clipboard in one hand. Oliver catches his eye and waves him over, resigned to the fact that there's no avoiding this, his baby sister is almost eighteen and her soulmate is waking right over to them, his ridiculously blue eyes taking Thea in.

"Hey," Roy says, leaning up against the bar and offering a light smirk. "Who's the kid?"

"I'm not a kid," Thea immediately protests, giving Roy a dirty look.

Oliver chokes back a wave of laughter. "Roy, this is Thea, my baby sister."

"Oh my god Ollie, screw you, I'm seventeen!" Thea buries her face in her hands for a brief second before reaching out and smacking his arm.

Roy raises an eyebrow. "You brought your underage sister to your bar?"

"Yeah, she's helping out today," Oliver confirms.

Roy sighs, looking a little put out. "No offense but I've got a shit load of things to do, I don't have time to babysit."

"No problem." Oliver yanks Thea off her stool and pushes her at Roy. "Consider her your personal assistant."

"I have to work?" Thea looks thunderstruck and this time Oliver does laugh.

"Mom's orders," he says, smirking. "Consider this phase two of your punishment."

"What'd you do?" Roy asks curiously. "Max out your credit card? Spend all your trust money on cocaine?"

"If you must know I crashed my car," Thea says primly. "I'm being unjustly punished."

"Thea," Oliver warns shortly.

She glares at him but Roy just shrugs and pushes his clipboard into her hands. "You know how to take inventory?"

Thea gives him a blank stare and Roy rolls his eyes dramatically. "Come on princess, it's easy, I'll show you."

Oliver watches them walk back towards the stock room, feeling a modicum of relief that Roy's wearing a red hoody with long sleeves that cover his mark, before going upstairs to Tommy's office. Tommy has all the paperwork ready for Oliver to sign, he approves the drink menu (they're sticking with the topical theme, everything heavy on rum and tequila). He sits on the edge of Tommy's desk while Tommy runs the staff meeting, wanders back out to glance down at the main floor where Thea is following Roy around the bar, scribbling things down on the clipboard.

He drives Thea back to the mansion that afternoon when they're done. She doesn't say anything in particular, it's clear she hasn't figured out who Roy is, but she's smiling from ear and to ear and when Oliver asks her what she's so happy about she just shrugs, giggling behind her hand.

He manages to get in a workout in the backyard, showers, wolfs down a quick dinner in the kitchen before driving back to Verdant that night. He's wearing a sky blue tee shirt and jeans, as close to the theme as he's willing to dress, Tommy will just have to deal with it. They meet down the block from the club, where a freaking red carpet has been set up, photographers are crowding each other on the sidewalk taking pictures of scantily clad young women waiting behind velvet ropes.

"Really?" Oliver says to Tommy, raising an eyebrow.

"What?" Tommy says innocently, smoothing out his hideous bright orange tropical print button down.

Oliver sighs reluctantly but poses with Tommy outside the club before going inside. They have a photo station set up by the fake beach, Tommy gets Oliver in a plastic lawn chair, a daiquiri in one hand, before calling over the photographer and a staffer to organize a photo line.

"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," he grumbles, taking a healthy gulp of his drink.

"And I can't believe girls are willing to shell out twenty bucks a pop to take a picture with your ugly face but there you go," Tommy says cheerfully, and disappears into the crowd.

Oliver sighs, chugs his drink and sets down the glass, big fake smile on his face when the line starts moving. He takes pictures for what feels like hours, smiling so hard his cheeks hurts, reminding himself that he's doing this all for a good cause. The line finally winds down, the staffer manning the line grins at him, shaking a glass jar stuffed with twenties at him, before she saunters off to get Tommy.

"Got time for one more?" a girl's voice asks shyly.

Oliver snaps his head up. Felicity is standing in front of him, wearing a pretty blue and yellow floral sundress, her hair falling in beachy waves down her shoulders.

"Hey, you came!" Oliver jumps up from the chair so fast it tips over but he doesn't even notice, tipping his head down to give her a kiss.

"Of course I came, you've been talking about this all week." She slips her hand in his, surveying the massive crush of bodies on the dance floor, beach balls flying over their heads. "Looks like this was a massive success by the way."

"Yeah, we're thinking of doing a monthly thing," he says. "Hey, do you know what time it is?"

"Almost eleven," she informs him. "I would've been here earlier but the line was all the way down the block, it was insane."

"Great, let's go then," he says, eager to get out of the crowd and be somewhere with just Felicity.

"Don't you need to stay?"

He shakes his head. "I helped set up earlier, the photo station was the only thing Tommy needed me for tonight."

"Oh." Her lips curve up into grin. "In that case I know somewhere close by."

Oliver drives them to her condo in the Range Rover, parks outside on the street and follows Felicity up the walk, shifting impatiently as she gets her keys out and unlocks the door. She kisses him as soon as they get inside, her keys clinking as she drops them onto a little dish by a side table. Felicity starts to walk backwards, her hands hot on Oliver's hips, heading towards the bedroom.

"God, do you know how hard that was?" she breathes, kicking off her cork wedges and dropping five inches in height. "Watching a million hot girls in bikinis take pictures with their arms all over you?"

Oliver follows her into the bedroom, leaving the light off so he can take off his shirt without showcasing his scars and mark. "I barely even noticed them," he says in a rush, hands all over her dress to locate her zipper and undo it. "I just want you."

Felicity lifts her arms over her head and Oliver yanks her dress off, undoes her bra clasp with one hand and unceremoniously tosses it onto the floor. Her hands go to the fly of his jeans, he reaches down to help her and shoves them down his hips to kick them off, leaving them both in only their underwear. Oliver scoops her into his arms and she shrieks, laughing as he tosses her onto the bed and crawls up the mattress.

She's wearing a lace thong, it's too dark to tell what color. Felicity lifts her hips off the bed, her bottom lip sucked in between her teeth, and Oliver rolls the fabric off before setting down on his stomach, his hands on either side of her hips. He reaches down and presses a kiss to her hipbone, hearing her sharp intake of breath.

"Is this okay?" he murmurs, running his tongue over the bone.

"Yeah." Her voice is unfamiliar, high and tight. "Yeah, definitely."

Oliver pushes her thighs apart with his hands to settle between her legs. It's too dark to see properly, he walks his hands up to the apex of her thighs and finds her by touch, using his thumbs to spread her open where she's already wet, like she's been anticipating this.

The first touch of his tongue on her has Felicity bucking into his mouth. Oliver chuckles at her eagerness, using his hands to pin her hips to the mattress. He goes slow, licking into her until he feels her relax against the mattress, soft little sighs spilling out of her mouth. He draws circles onto her with the tip of his tongue, spells out secrets letter by letter, until Felicity's hands are buried in his hair and she's babbling, oh god, Oliver, please, Oliver, oh god, oh oh oh oh!

He works her down slowly, lapping her up, reveling at this - the taste of her in his mouth, her trembling thighs in his hands, her blue eyes wide open in the dark. He kisses his way up her body to sprawl over her, dropping his head to her chest to hear the sharp staccato of her heartbeat.

"Here." Felicity reaches down and presses a foil packet into his hand.

Oliver glances up at her. "You sure?"

Felicity smiles, serene and debauched, hair spread around the pillow like a halo. "So sure."

Oliver rips the packaging open with his teeth, kneels between her legs and slowly rolls the condom on. She's watching him, her hands running up and down his sides. Her fingers accidentally trip over his mark and Oliver jolts like he's been electrocuted. She doesn't seem to realize what's she's done, it's too dark to make out much more than the outline of their bodies, the tip of her nose, her light eyes refracting the sliver of moonlight spilling through the crack in the closed curtains.

He braces himself with one hand planted next to her head and reaches down to guide himself inside her. He forces himself to go slowly, a long torturous slide, until he's seated all the way inside her, and Felicity makes this broken noise in the back of her throat.

He puts his weight on his forearms, dropping his forehead to rest against hers. "Okay?"

Felicity smiles up at him and she looks like an angel like this, like something pure and sweet that Oliver just wants to ruin. "So okay," she breathes. "So, so, okay."

"I don't want to hurt you," he mumbles, turning his head to kiss her temple.

"So don't," she says, like it's that easy, and wraps her legs around his back.

Oliver rocks slowly into her, hyper aware of everything - her breath in his ear, the beat of her heart, the hot wet drag every time he pushes into her. He turns his head to the side so he can bury his face in her neck, licking and suckling whatever flesh his mouth comes into contact with. Her heels press against his lower back, her arms slung tightly around his shoulders. It's like drifting in a sea of Felicity and he doesn't want it to stop. He wants to feel like this forever, like every molecule in his body is lit up and glowing, just for her.

Felicity starts to moan, rolling her hips along with him. He forces himself to focus, keeping his pace steady and even when she starts to whimper, tightening up against him, nails digging into his neck. Heat pools low in his stomach, a warning sign, and he doubles his efforts, arms shaking with the effort of holding his body over hers.

"Oliver," she pants urgently. "Oliver!" Her head is thrown back, the white column of her neck exposed.

He finds her hands and laces their fingers together, kissing down the side of her throat. She squirms under him; Oliver slams into her again and again, until Felicity begins to cry out, her whole body shaking. She's close; he can feel it.

It only takes two more thrusts before her body tightens like a bow, one long line of tension. Oliver drops his mouth to kiss her and Felicity comes sobbing against his mouth, her hands squeezing his. He shudders, insistently fucking her through it until he can't hold back anymore; his hips stutter and he spills into the condom with a grunt.

After a few moments of just breathing, Felicity’s head tucked under his chin, Oliver regretfully pulls out of her and walks over to a corner of the room to trash the condom. When he turns around Felicity's curled over on her side watching him, naked and smiling and content. He has to rush back over to the bed just to kiss her, burying his hand in her hair as he lies back down. Felicity curls into him, finding all the places where her body fits right up against his body.

"Stay," she murmurs sleepily, kissing his chest.

"You got it," he breathes, and falls asleep with a naked Felicity wrapped up against his side.

*

Sara is crying, reaching her arms out for Oliver. Water is everywhere, he pushes through icy waves trying to reach her. Oliver screams for her, plunging under the water, hands searching for Sara's body. He finally connects with an arm, a wrist, but when he hauls her up it's not her. It's Felicity, bloated and blue and dead.

Oliver screams in terror and water rushes into his mouth, he chokes and chokes, Felicity limp in his arms as the water pulls him under. His mouth still opens in reflex, a scream tearing out of his throat and bubbling under the water, but when he opens his eyes there's just darkness and he's sitting up, head in his hands, and Oliver falls right off of something soft, a bed, idiot.

He stumbles around in the dark, choked sobs fighting to tear out of his mouth. He can hear someone calling his name, Oliver, Oliver, but he's lost in the dark and Sara is dead or maybe Felicity and he can't handle it, he can't fucking breathe. He walks right into something, a wall, and he follows it blindly, stumbling into a room, his hand smacking against a light switch.

He's in a bathroom, it floods with light and his eyes burn. Oliver gasps for air, hands over his face, and then someone is there, small hands all over him and he thinks of Felicity, dead Felicity, with blue lips and a white face, and he yells, jerking away, and rams the back of his head against the wall. He groans, trying to inhale but he can’t breathe, he can’t get any air, and everything slowly fades to black.

*

"Oliver." The voice is different than before, deep and masculine.

It’s Dig.

Oliver squints his eyes open. He’s on the floor, his bare ass cold against the tile, and his head is fucking pounding.

He groans and shuts his eyes.

“Open,” Dig says, fingers against his lips.

Oliver obediently opens his mouth and dry swallows the pill Dig places on his tongue. Dig touches the back of his head and Oliver rolls away, arms coming protectively to his face on instinct. From far away he can hear someone crying or maybe its just Sara in his head.

“Oliver,” Dig says softly. “Tell me where we are.”

“Bathroom.”

“Whose bathroom?”

“Fel… Felic” –

Dig barely gets him up in time for Oliver to heave bile into the toilet.

“Alright,” Diggle says. “It’s alright.”

He somehow has clothes for Oliver, who is too dazed to feel humiliated as Dig gets him dressed. Oliver blinks heavily, wondering where Felicity went. Dig leads him out of her apartment, Oliver’s eyes on the floor so he doesn’t have to see her, wherever she is, can’t make himself face it. He lets himself get manhandled into a car and buckled in; Oliver tips his aching head back and shuts his eyes.

Dig gets into the driver’s seat and just sits there for a minute. “Do you want to go to the hospital, just to get checked out?”

“No,” he mumbles. “I just want to go home.”

“I had a feeling you’d say that,” Diggle says grimly, and turns the ignition over.

*

Oliver emphatically sends Dig home when they get back to the mansion because it’s apparently five in the morning, quietly lets himself inside and stumbles up to his bedroom. He head hurts but it’s not so bad, and he’s not dizzy, he’s pretty sure he doesn’t have a concussion. He’s sure at least that Dig wouldn’t have left if he thought Oliver wasn’t okay, which is good enough for him.

He’s fine. He just needs to sleep, and then he’ll figure out what the hell to do about Felicity.

Oliver goes into his bathroom and swallows two sleeping pills, gargles with mouthwash to get rid of the sour taste in the back of his throat, and strips down to his boxers. He shuts off all the lights in his room, closes the curtains, sets his phone on the nightstand and crawls underneath the covers, drifting off to sleep to the sound of distance crying echoing in his head.

When he wakes up it’s to the sound of buzzing. Oliver groans and stretches, rolling over to snag his phone and unlock it. He has a text from Felicity, only two words but they make his whole body go cold.

Call me.

Oliver swallows and dials with shaking hands. It only rings twice before she picks up. “Hey,” she says softly. Her voice sounds hoarse, like she’s been crying.

“Hey.”

“How… how are you?”

“I’m okay,” he lies fluidly, without even thinking about it.

“Good, that’s good. Um, I was wondering, do you think you could come over? Like, now, maybe? Unless you can’t, but I really need to talk to you in person.”

Of course she does. She’s breaking up with him.

“Yeah,” he says casually, like it’s fine, like he doesn’t care. “I’ll be right over.”

“Oh.” She sounds surprised. “Okay then, I’ll uh, see you soon.”

He hangs up and covers his face with his hands before turning over and screaming into a pillow. It’s a little after noon now, which meant he got over six hours of sleep at home, so his head is clear enough to get through this even though driving himself over to Felicity’s so she can let him down easy like the nice girl she is is the last thing he wants to do.

He changes into a clean pair of jeans and a grey henley, grabs his brown jacket and jogs downstairs, and gets into the car. He drives all the way over to Felicity’s and when he parks he realizes he doesn’t even remember the drive, he’s that out of it.

“Come on,” he mutters to himself, gets out of the car and forcefully slams the door shut.

Felicity must be waiting because her door swings open right as he knocks. She’s wearing a pair of dark jeans and a soft looking pink sweater, hair pulled back in another perfect ponytail. And then Felicity launches herself at him, reaching up to wrap her arms around his neck.

“Hey,” he murmurs, one of his hands coming up to cup her head. “It’s okay.”

“I was so worried,” she says into his chest, her words coming out muffled.

“I’m fine,” he says softly. “Really, I’m okay.”

She sniffs and pulls away, giving him a fragile smile. “So I guess when you said you’d be a terrible soulmate this is what you meant?”

Oliver nods tightly, one of his hands coming up to nervously scratch the back of his neck. “Look, I get it, I can just go if you want.”

“Wait, what?” To his surprise she looks confused. “So you had a nightmare, so what? No, that’s not even what I want to talk to you about.”

He squints at her, baffled. “Okay?”

“Wait,” she says. “Did you think I asked you to come over because I was breaking up with you?”

“Uh… maybe?”

“Oh my god, seriously?” Felicity huffs, and grabs his hand. “Come on.”

Oliver allows her to lead him to the living room. “Sit,” she orders, pushing him at the couch.

He sits down more out of shock than anything else, watching her sit down next her and then bend down and take off her socks.

“What are you doing?” he asks slowly. “Felicity, you don’t have to do this.”

“I saw your mark,” she says, and Oliver’s stomach curls up in a knot.

“What?”

“In the bathroom, last night. You weren’t wearing a shirt.”

Oliver blinks at her, his ears ringing, watching as Felicity pulls her legs up and lays her feet in his lap. “It’s the right one,” she says softly.

Oliver slowly brings his hands to the sole of her right foot and there, right where he saw it the night they met, is her mark.

It’s an arrow.

Or rather, the thin outline of an arrow with a line of script, a word in another language that Oliver doesn’t know, written down the middle. He runs his index finger down the length of the shaft and Felicity gasps. When he glances up her eyes are glassy and her cheeks are flushed.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers. “I don’t know if this is really the way you’d want to find out” –

“No, no,” he shushes her, transfixed by her foot is his hands, his arrow on her skin. “Do you know what the word means?”

Her expression softens. “Yeah. Beshert. It’s Yiddish. It can be used to describe any fortuitous event really, but it’s most commonly used to mean. Um. Soulmate. It means soulmate.”

“Felicity,” he murmurs, and releases her foot to hold his arms out to her.

She launches herself into his lap, pressing her face into his chest, and it feels so right, so perfect, and Oliver realizes he doesn’t even need a mark to prove it, he knows she’s his soulmate. He can feel it.

“Are you okay?” he whispers. “I know this is…” he exhales in frustration. “You’d be signing up for a lot. Media attention. Lawyers. My mother.”

To his surprise Felicity laughs. “Hey, you haven’t met my mother yet either, that goes both ways.”

“True,” he concedes. “Look, if you want to go to an analyst, just to be sure…”

“Oh. Um.” Felicity shifts off his lap, suddenly looking bashful. “We don’t need to do that. I uh, I have a prototype for an app on my phone that matches marks with up to 99.99% certainty."

He blinks at her. “What?”

She reaches for her phone, pulling up her camera app. “We’re beta testing now but I wrote the code, trust me, this is going to put match analysts out of business in a few years.” She holds the phone over her foot and snaps a picture of her mark before gripping the edge of his shirt. “Is this okay?”

“Yeah.” He lets her lift his shirt, his cheeks heating, and she takes a picture of his mark before sitting back cross-legged on the couch, phone in her hands, turning shoulder to shoulder with him so Oliver can see the screen.

Felicity pulls up both pictures of their marks in the app and taps a little bubble that says Match Me! A blue wheel appears on the screen, spinning and spinning and spinning. She reaches over with her free hand to grip his palm and Oliver squeezes her fingers, staring down at the phone.

The screen flashes green, and then text appears, in big bold letters. Congratulations! Perfect Match!

“Holy shit!” Felicity exclaims, and drops her phone.

She turns to him and they both start laughing at the same time, Oliver scoops her into his lap, his chest so warm and full it’s almost scary. Almost.

But then Felicity kisses him and it’s exhilarating, it’s everything he’s been aching to feel and thought he never would.

“Hey,” she says against his lips, giggling. “You want to take a walk or something?”

“A walk?” he parrots.

“Oh, it’s just, I feel like things are going to get crazy, you know, when everyone finds out, and I thought maybe we could just like. Process. Just the two of us. Go get coffee or something?” she asks hopefully.

Oliver smiles. “Yeah. I’d love to.”

He waits patiently for her to put her socks back on and retrieve her shoes. Oliver follows her out the door, stopping to squint up at the perfect cloudless sky, bright sunshine everywhere he looks.

“Oliver?” Felicity calls out. “You coming?”

Oliver smiles, nodding, and steps out into the light.