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What Makes a Father

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There were times that Felicity couldn’t help but think that Laurel was unnaturally lucky, and this particular case was one of those.

She had a father.

A pretty amazing father, actually.

Over the years, Quentin Lance had become a good friend to Felicity. She couldn’t count on two hands how many times he’d answered her distress calls or been the back-up she needed when Oliver couldn’t see he needed the extra help. When she got hurt in the crossfire, Lance was always the first one on the scene when the police had to intervene and he bee-lined to her, time and again, a heavy hand on her shoulder and a, “You okay, sweetheart?” that was gruff and worried and more comforting as time went on.

She wondered if her own father would be anything like Lance. She wondered if he would worry about her when he found out how many times her life had been threatened or how often she put herself in danger. She wondered if he would fight with her like Lance did when she offered herself up for dangerous missions.

“Now just what the hell are you thinking in the smart head of yours, huh? You trade all those brains in for spaghetti? This in’t a movie, kid. You’re gonna get your head blown off and where’s that leave the rest of us? This team you got going, it does a lot of good, but I’m pretty damn sure it’d fall apart if you weren’t around to pull the strings on these puppets!”

She wondered if he’d hug her when she made it out alive.

“Felicity? Felicity, come on, girl. Open your eyes.” He let out a shaky laugh when she blinked up at him tiredly, blood dribbling down from a cut on her forehead. “You scared me,” he told her, pulling her up and into his arms as he patted her shoulder. “You got more sense than this, but damn if I don’t see you runnin’ head first into the fire more often than I should.”

She wondered if he’d approve of her relationship with Oliver or if he’d pull the worried dad routine she’d seen in all those movies.

“Queen? You gotta be kiddin’ me.” Hands on his hips, Lance paced back and forth. “You’re too damn smart for him, you know that, right? You got too much goin’ for ya to tie yourself down to that sinkin’ ship, and you better believe that was a dig at what happened with the Gambit.” He sighed, shaking his head, dragging a hand down his mouth. “Felicity, I’m not just sayin’ this because I don’t like him. He’s grown up over the years, I’ll give credit where it’s due. But that kid, he… He doesn’t know when he’s got something good right in front of him.” He reached for her, hands squeezing her arms gently. “You deserve better.”

Yeah, Laurel had it good. Her sister disappeared, but she came back. Her parents broke up, but they remarried. Her father had his flaws, but he’d do anything for her. He never would’ve walked out on his daughter when she was six years old and never come back.

Felicity had known Quentin Lance for ten years. Ten very long, very busy, very life-threatening years. And he was her friend. Perhaps hers more than anybody else on the team. He trusted her. When he had information, when he needed help, he came to her. Not only for Arrow’s help, but for hers. There were times when it was just him, her, and a computer, tracking down bad guys and working her tech mojo to help him find trails he couldn’t find otherwise.

And sometimes he’d come over for dinner, they’d knock glasses of milk together (never wine; no alcohol when it came to him) and share a pot of spaghetti and he’d ask her, “How’s your week goin’?” So she’d fill him in, telling him about paper-jams and arguments with staff and how Oliver was late, again, for another meeting. He’d listen and give her advice and tell her things would work out. Sometimes the topic would be Arrow-related, what case where they working on, did anything crossover into his jurisdiction, that kind of thing. When she’d leave, he’s kiss her cheek and tell her to be good, to call him if she needed anything, to try and stay safe behind her computers for once. And she would smile and tell him she would, as soon as he stayed at his desk, where the only threat was paper cuts. So he’d chuckle and let it go, at least until the next time they saw each other.

He was special to her, she could admit. A part of the team, sure; he was separate in many ways but still significant. But personally, yeah, he meant a lot to her.

It was a sore spot that she preferred not to poke too much, but sometimes things leaked through.

She called him dad once.

There’d been a man and a gun and, without thinking, she’d simply shut her eyes, waiting for the inevitable snap-bang-boom before her gut was on fire and she’d have to talk Oliver down from killing someone. Only she didn’t get shot that night, Lance did. He jumped in front of a bullet for her and the return fire killed the assailant outright. When she’d heard his grunt as the bullet hit him, her eyes went wide, and she’d yelled, as he fell the ground, “Dad!” before she was kneeling beside him, putting pressure on the wound.

He never said anything about it and neither did she, but for a minute, while he was lying there, she thought he’d smiled at her. It was replaced with a grimace of pain shortly after, but she was pretty sure he heard her, and he didn’t mind. She thought that was a pretty good indicator of how they adapted to each other.

After six years together, Oliver proposed to her on a Wednesday. That was eight months ago. She was getting married today and, standing in front of the mirror, smoothing her hands down the front of her pale rose dress with white embroidered lace climbing it, she felt nervous.

When she’d asked Lance to walk her down the aisle, her palms had been sweaty.

“You, uh, sure about that? I mean, everybody knows I’m not Queen’s biggest fan…”

She smiled. “I’m sure. I… You’re the closest thing I have to a father which, well, might be kind of pathetic, actually. I mean, you have daughters of your own and this is kind of a big deal and if you feel totally weird about it, then I won’t be offended. I just… It’s a big day and I don’t want to walk down the aisle alone and Digg will be standing beside Oliver, so I just… I guess I thought it might nice, if you wanted to… No pressure.”

He half-smiled at her, nodding as he looked down at his plate of spaghetti. “Yeah, uh… I’ll have to get a suit, clean myself up, but… I can do that.”

“Yeah?” she asked, hopefully.

He looked over at her. “Yeah, I can do that.”

“You’re beautiful,” a voice said from behind.

Felicity turned, a shaky breath leaving her. “It’s not traditional white…”

Lance shook his head as he walked further into the room. “You’re not a traditional bride.”

Nothing about her life was traditional, why should her wedding be either? There were elements, of course, but it was a mishmash of Jewish and Christian customs that, in the end, she was happy with. She and Oliver had gone over every detail of the wedding together. Some nights, while she was still bandaging him up, she’d toss an idea out on color schemes or guest lists and he’d just go with it. Because nothing said marriage like stitches and antiseptic. But those were the breaks and, really, she wouldn’t trade it for anything. Non-traditional, unlikely, unexpected; those were all things they had become synonymous with, as people, as a couple, in both business and pleasure. And, despite the fact that there wasn’t really a handbook on what to do when one’s life did not follow the usual path, she thought they were doing pretty okay.

Her hands squeezed into fists as they shook. “I’m nervous. Not… Not in an ‘I don’t want to do this, why am I doing this?’ kind of way, but a… ‘I’m about to get married to an amazing man and that’s kind of awesome and scary and life changing’ way, you know?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I felt pretty much the same way when me and Dinah got hitched.”

Felicity smiled softly. “Which time?”

He laughed, ducking his head. “Both times.”

She nodded, plucking absently at a white flower on the skirt of her dress. “Did you see him? Did he look nervous?”

“I saw him.” He shrugged. “Looked pretty calm. Kid knows how lucky he is, I’ll give him that.”

Felicity shook her head. “He’s not the only one. Oliver is… I know you don’t always like him, but he’s a good person and I wouldn’t be marrying him if I didn’t believe in who he was and what he does.”

Lance stared at her a long moment, searching her face. “You know, when I first found out about you, I was confused. What’s this girl doing helping this guy out, y’know? I didn’t know you from nothing, but you were smart and you had a good life ahead of you.” He walked toward her, shaking his head. “And when I got to know you, how much you believe in this big cause you guys had, I added another piece to the Felicity Smoak puzzle. You’re loyal. God, you’re too damn loyal for your own good. You’d get yourself killed trying to save the people you care about. I’ve seen you do it over a hundred times. And even though I was worried about you, I was proud.”

Felicity’s mouth wobbled. “You were?”

He nodded. “Yeah, sweetheart. I still am. You’re a force to be reckoned with, computer or not, and I’ve seen you do things, I’ve watched you take down some of the worst scum out there, and you know what? You still surprise me.” He reached for her then and took her fists into his hands, unfurling her fingers and giving them a little shake. “I know this is scary. It’s a big commitment, being Mrs. Queen instead of Miss. Smoak, but… I see how happy you are. How happy he makes you. And I was wrong all those years ago, when I told you he didn’t deserve you.” He frowned. “Well, no, he doesn’t, but he’s tried really damn hard to be worthy of you. And I don’t think you could ever love anybody as much as you love him. So… This is my blessing.” He raised one of her hands and kissed the top. “I’ll still put a bullet into him if he ever screws up and I’ll smuggle you outta here right now if you say the word, but if this is what you want, if he’s who you want to be your husband, then as a father, as someone who thinks of you like his own daughter, you got my blessing.”

Felicity blinked quickly, but couldn’t stop the tears from falling.

“Hey, hey, hey…” He reached up to brush her cheek. “Those better be happy tears.”

She smiled, an emotional chuckle leaving her as she nodded.

“Good. ‘Cause I got one more thing for you.”

Sniffling, she dabbed at her face, careful not to smudge her make-up. Thea would kill her if she did.

Lance dug around in his pocket then and came up with a square box. “This was my mother’s, and her mother’s before her. It’s supposed to bring good luck to a new couple.” He opened the top, showing her the three-strings of pearls inside, a beautiful necklace that made her breath catch in her throat. “Dinah didn’t wear ‘em the first time around, but she did at our second marriage.” He plucked them from inside and tucked the box back in his pocket. “My mom was married forty-two years to my dad, and my grandmother was with her husband for fifty-seven. Don’t know if I’d wish Queen on anybody that long, but you get the idea.” He circled around her and gently put the necklace on for her.

She touched it delicately as it lay across her upper chest and turned bright eyes on him. “Are you sure?”

He nodded shortly. “Family custom.”

Tears sprung to her eyes anew and he sighed. “You’re killing me with the crying.”

She nodded, waving her hand at herself. “I know, I’m sorry, I just… I wanted a father so badly and I told myself I didn’t. And then you were there and you were just everything I wanted in a dad. But we’re not the most traditional friends and there are so many secrets and I imagine a few people would be confused about why you’re walking me down to the aisle, to Oliver no less, but… I’m really glad you’re here and that we met, even if the circumstances are kind of wild.”

He half-smiled. “Yeah, well, turned out for the better, didn’t it.”

She nodded, swiping at her cheeks once more. “Okay.” She blew out a breath and tried to steady herself. “I just need to touch this up and then… I’ll get married.”

He patted her shoulder before she moved to take a seat in front of the mirror.

Felicity watched him, his hands tucked in the pockets of his pants, looking so out of place in a pristine room filled with white furniture that looked like it’d never even been touched. Quentin Lance was a dark individual; he was course, unrefined to some, blunt, and no-nonsense. He was more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt than a well-fitting suit. He’d shaved though and he’d dressed up; she wondered if Dinah had pushed that or if he’d done it on his own. She thought she even caught a touch of cologne on him.

She smiled softly to herself, finishing up with her makeup before she stood, slipping her feet into the white lace, peep-toe shoes she’d picked out specifically for the occasion. The white bow on the heels matched the same on the otherwise blue garter around her thigh. Finally, she stood, taking in a deep breath and picking up the flowers tied in green ribbon. “Okay. I’m ready.”

With a nod, Lance held out an elbow for her to take and she slipped her arm through it.

As they left the room and walked toward the door leading into the hall, Lance dug out the yarmulke from his pocket and stuck it on his head. He raised an eyebrow down at her and asked, “So? Last chance to sneak outta here.”

She chuckled under her breath and shook her head.

“All right,” he sighed, before pausing to reach up and pull her veil down over her face. Finally, he reached for the door and drew it open. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

As they stepped inside, Felicity’s lips widened in a smile. Up ahead, Oliver stood under the silk chuppah, with flowers wound around the four poles holding it up. When she started tearing up again, Lance handed her the silk handkerchief from the pocket of his suit. “Here, think you’re gonna need this.”

She laughed under her breath and wrapped her hand around it.

As they walked up the aisle, Felicity kept her gaze mostly on Oliver, who was staring at her with the largest smile she’d ever seen on his face. Digg was at his back, smiling at her warmly, giving her an encouraging wink.

The walk up the aisle was simultaneously the longest and shortest journey of her life.

They climbed the stairs to meet Oliver, who stepped down, his hand out for hers. She passed her flowers off to a teary-eyed, smiling Thea before returning her attention to two of the most important men in her life

Lance turned, leaning down to kiss her cheek, and then raised her hand up for Oliver to take. He met Oliver’s eyes and told him seriously, “You take care of my girl, Queen.”

Oliver nodded at him. “I will.”

With that, Lance stepped to the side, taking his seat near the front, and Felicity continued up the stairs with Oliver’s hand held tightly in hers.

He blew out a breath as he looked down at her, standing under the chuppah, searching her face and glancing down at her dress. “You look amazing,” he said, his voice shaking a little. He blinked quickly and blew out a thick breath.

Felicity reached up with the handkerchief she’d been given and dabbed at Oliver’s eyes when a few tears threated to fall. He laughed, his head tipping back, and then looked down at her with a smile.

“You don’t look so bad yourself,” she complimented, smoothing a hand down the lapel of his jacket.

His expression was soft, adoring as he stared at her. “Ready?”

Nodding, she took his hand once more. “So ready,” she whispered.

Oliver leaned in to press a soft kiss to her forehead through her veil before he nodded at the rabbi to begin.

There, with John at his back, with Thea and Roy to bear witness, with her mother and grandparents in the crowd, and the Lance family seated in the front row, with faces she did and didn’t recognize taking in every moment, Felicity Smoak became Felicity Queen. And while, technically, her father wasn’t one of the few to see her big day, a man much better suited to the job clapped louder than anybody.