To the best of her memory, Oliver only started staring at her ass during what she mentally called Season 2.
Once upon a time, she had enough free time to watch a lot of TV, and clearly his self-imposed exile on Lian Yu after the Undertaking was the summer hiatus after their first season. Not that she has any free time now. What with being occupied by a surprisingly time-consuming day job as her own boss and a night job as the technical prowess to a bunch of crime-fighting superheroes. It turns out when she has the option of setting her own hours, she’ll just work all of them and then some.
Back to the point at hand.
Oliver only started staring at her ass after her wardrobe glow up, for lack of a better term, upon becoming his Executive Assistant. That hadn’t been the intended result for the upgrade from pencil skirts to power dresses, but it certainly was an added bonus. To know a man who looks like that with his “dating” track record could appreciate an ass that looks like hers even with her personality quirks. Felicity would ask Diggle or Roy to confirm her observation, but the former would just pretend he didn’t hear the question and later propose that she find someone who could invent mental bleach, and the latter hadn’t been around for Season 1.
This is all to say that while Oliver has seen her looking less than put together at times, especially after a late night in the Arrow Cave, he’s never actually seen her deliberately put apart. It’s strange they’ve made it to Season 3 (or is it still the hiatus after Season 2?) before this happened, but here they are. She’s completely bare-faced (not even the remnants of the morning’s efforts or covered in grime and blood), hair washed but not dried last night and so a frizzy, curling mess down her back (not just falling out of her ponytail or losing its blowout), and actual pajamas (not her carefully selected athleisure for their training sessions or the occasional Team Arrow movie night). Most important of all, she’s not even wearing any underwear.
And now Oliver’s knocking on her front door, and she’s standing frozen in the hallway.
“Felicity? Are you home?” She almost answers “No!” before remembering it would entirely defeat the purpose. “Your car’s still out front.” Oliver continues talking to her front door like that’s normal, and she curses his perfectly reasonable observational skills.
She can hear him shuffling his feet on the door mat and she’s pretty sure that if she doesn’t answer soon, he’s going to break in to see if she’s home instead of going away like a normal person. Is it vain that she doesn’t want him to see her like this? Of course it is, she mentally scoffs. She’s just gotten, well, used to Oliver’s quietly appreciative gaze—Dig and Roy don’t look at her like that, nor does she want them to—and having that little bit of normalcy in their crazy lives.
What if he stops after seeing her completely dressed down? He certainly hadn’t paid any attention when she used to dress like Librarian Barbie. If she can’t have his heart—not that she’ll admit she’s already given him hers—Felicity’s going to cling to the notion that he at least finds her moderately attractive.
Vaguely, she hears her phone’s text message notification from her bedroom before Oliver knocks again. She’s being ridiculous. This is Oliver, her friend and partner, and that is all. It doesn’t matter what he thinks of her without her shiny veneer of makeup, styled hair, and pretty clothes.
Biting the bullet, Felicity grumbles “Coming!” then avoids looking in the hallway mirror—she doesn’t need a reminder of the freckles, chapped lips, or messy hair of the current moment—to take the final steps to the door. She undoes the locks and flings it open. To her great relief, he’s holding a tray of coffees in one hand and a paper bag in the other so she snags them from his outstretched hands without giving him a chance to react to her appearance. She forces herself to slow down and move casually, without the frenetic energy of her panic.
“At least you brought breakfast since you’re waking me up at this ungodly hour,” Felicity calls over her shoulder as if this is all perfectly normal. Because it is. Nothing to see here. Certainly not the sudden death of any hope she has of Oliver viewing her as possible love interest material. Like she said, she’s seen the TV shows enough times to know this scene will forever cement her as the quirky sidekick.
“Is that—” His voice sounds rough so, after setting the goodies on the coffee table, she glances back, giving him a confused look. “Is that why it took you so long to answer?”
Oliver appears pained. He’s holding himself stiffly, his face is strained, and his eyes aren’t quite looking at her but somewhere over her shoulder. Felicity’s trying to remember what could be hurting him since he came back from patrol last night unharmed. An old injury flaring up since he sometimes still sleeps on the floor instead of the bed she bought him?
Ignoring his perfect appearance, especially in that leather jacket to ward off the morning chill, and forgetting her own imperfect appearance, she rushes back to him. “Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?” She’s about to grab his forearms and steer him to a chair, when he takes a giant step back.
“Are you—” Oliver shuts his eyes, swallowing visibly. Felicity has no idea why he’s suddenly speaking in sentence fragments when that’s usually her thing. “Is there someone here?”
Arching an eyebrow—does he really think she would have company over looking like this?—Felicity scoffs, “Are we counting my imaginary friends? If so, the answer would still be no.” Waiting for him to break his silence, she almost crosses her arms over her chest to start tapping her foot but realizes that might draw unwanted attention to her braless state.
Oliver breaks out of his trance with a sudden jerk, though his eyes are still wide and glassy and not looking at her. “Sorry, I just—you look—”
Felicity hums a little questioningly when he doesn’t continue. Does she really look that bad? As much as she knows how to put herself together—thanks Mom—she’s never relied on her looks. But, still, Oliver’s just being rude with this whole schtick. She gets it already. He’s not used to women looking anything less than their model-best around him.
Without finishing his thought, he swallows hard before finally meeting her eyes.
That’s not—she means—is he—
She’s a little stumped. Intense is the only word to come to mind to describe the look in Oliver’s eyes. Like more than that first time she stood up to his overly homicidal ways in pursuit of Kurt Williams. Maybe on par with when he told that ridiculous lie to trick Slade into kidnapping her. Yeah, that’s maybe a decent comparison.
The longer she goggles at him in wondrous confusion, the darker his eyes become. With what she thinks is reluctance, Oliver breaks their staring contest to drag his gaze up and down her body, lingering over her bare legs and, yes, her braless chest. The goosebumps immediately break out in full force. Instinctively, her arms raise to cross over herself, and his eyes snap back up to hers guiltily. For maybe the first time ever, she watches as his face flushes deep red, spreading down his neck and under the collar of his t-shirt.
“Sorry,” Oliver apologizes again, his expression contorting in some weird wince, “you just look...” He’s been trying to finish that thought for at least five minutes, and she’s practically choking on her curiosity. When she says Oliver is being bad for her ego, Felicity means he’s pretty much trashing it. “You look like se—like you just rolled out of bed.”
His course correction is too little, too late, and he knows it. It’s Felicity’s turn to flush bright red because he can’t have meant to tell her she looks like sex. Yet based on the way he suddenly finds her ceiling riveting, she knows she didn’t mishear him. Of all the outfits to break Oliver Queen’s mental dam when it comes to commenting on her appearance beyond “You look tired,” it’s a pink tank top that’s seen better days and a pair of gym shorts that have never been used for their intended purpose.
And if that isn’t his full on, trademarked “Ask Me About My Regrets” face, she’ll eat her least painful pair of high heels.
“Can we—How about I go outside and come back in and we pretend this didn’t just happen?”
“You think this hot mess”—she uses one hand to gesture down the length of her body, the other to comb through her hair, fingers miraculously not snagging on a knot, and his pupils dilate again, eyes flitting from the movement of one hand to the other as if he can’t decide which is the more appealing track to follow—“is sexy?”
Dumbly, Oliver nods before catching himself. He almost objects, but she raises her eyebrows and he remembers that’s also an unideal response. Really, this man has seen her in the most expensive dress she’s ever worn, miles better than the atrocious bridesmaid dress that’s now the second most expensive dress she’s ever worn, and he’s somehow struck dumb by her frakking pajamas.
Surprisingly quickly given his speaking abilities so far this morning, he responds with, “Objectively, no. Subjectively, yes.”
Well, thank you for that perfectly lucid response, Oliver. It’s not at all cryptic and dramatic. Felicity pouts, almost scowls, because what the hell is that supposed to mean? He must catch her train of thought, shaking his head before continuing.
“You’re always so put together so, yes, it’s se—stimulating,” Oliver frowns to himself, obviously finding that description as troubling as the other word he still can’t bring himself to use in conjunction with her, “to see you so undone.”
His voice rasps at the end, sending a shiver down her spine. Okay, yeah, when he puts it that way, she sees the issue, really vividly in fact. Felicity can’t bring herself to respond verbally so she frantically gestures over her shoulder, hoping to just solve the problem. Her hasty retreat to her bedroom, to other clothes, is stalled by the strange choking sound Oliver makes. She half-turns to find his eyes glued to, yep, her ass, and, oh god, are these shorts as short as she remembers them being? As in short enough to seem inappropriate for the gym and relegated to sleepwear?
Felicity actually meep’s, like the sound the Roadrunner makes in those Saturday morning cartoons, and hauls as—butt to her room. Collapsing against her closed door, she tries (and fails) to make sense of the morning’s twisted turn of events. A tentative knock sounds on the other side of the door, and she gasps, lunging away from the surface. It takes a ten second countdown for her to calm down and decide to open the door, mainly because there’s not an emergency exit from her own bedroom. She’s not Oliver. She’s not going to climb out the window like that’s a thing she can do.
Unsurprisingly, Oliver’s on the other side, looking somehow just as flustered but more determined than a moment ago.
“Um, if you want to—” He gestures vaguely in the miniscule space between them. She surges towards him at the same time he takes hold of her elbows to haul her closer. “Yes, finally,” Oliver mutters against her lips, walking her backwards and further into the room.
Oliver’s not entirely sure when their relationship went completely off the rails. He knows it really, truly started the night she had the audacity to override his locks with Dig snickering quietly in the background, picked up steam after her demotion masquerading as a promotion and her subsequent change in style, was chugging along by the time the incident with Isabel happened, and lost control by the time the other incident with Slade happened. But the exact moment he realized he was completely gone on Felicity Smoak?
That's unclear to him.
He’s tried to remain unaffected even as he fell headlong into her orbit under the guise of pulling her into his. Valiantly, he’s pretended to be unruffled by any and all aspects of Felicity—her sharp mind, her incredible body, the way she takes him apart with a single look and a flick of her earring. Since Diggle’s never stopped quietly snickering in the background, he assumes he’s failed to maintain his stoicism far more times than he’s willing to acknowledge.
That’s why he’s standing on her doorstep, too early to be justifiable, with only the flimsiest of pretexts. At least he’s brought her breakfast so when he offers the excuse of being unable to sleep, she might feel bad enough to let him in. He can see it now, the way her eyes will soften, how she’ll tug the door open wider and invite him in, maybe wrap him in a still sleep-warm hug and take him to bed—
Nope, now he’s going too far. Best not get too invested in those daydreams. Again.
She’s taking forever to answer the door, hasn’t even responded to his texts, and if he weren’t so committed to the idea of spending the morning on her couch, he’d do the normal thing and leave. Since leaving isn’t an option in his mind, he sends another text and knocks again. His impatience shows in the way he mutters at her door like it’s going to answer him. So he's unprepared for it when she does finally throw the door open. Immediately, he stills, relinquishing their breakfast without conscious thought.
What fresh hell is this?
Her tank top is so worn it should be pictured in the dictionary next to threadbare, and her shorts are so tight and, well, short he’s wondering if she took up volleyball in her spare time and forgot to tell—warn—him. Felicity, of course, is oblivious to his gawking, just grateful for the provisions. He doesn’t tear his eyes away from trying to figure out if she’s wearing a bra—99.9% sure the answer’s “no”—until she reaches the coffee table where they normally share breakfast.
That’s when the rest of her appearance registers. Oliver’s positive he’s never seen Felicity so disheveled before. Her face is makeup free, letting him see her freckles and the dark circles under her eyes, both of which he’s long suspected exist but hasn't seen in person. Her hair is, to be blunt, the epitome of sex hair. Her clothes are rumpled in a way that suggests she just threw them on. Finally, her movements are incredibly languid. Her limbs are loose and relaxed, as if she spent a long night working out all the kinks.
It’s an appealing mental image, which might be the biggest understatement of his life, until he remembers that he wasn’t here last night. If Felicity’s been engaging in stress relief, he clearly wasn’t the other participant, or she took care of herself. Both scenarios set his teeth on edge for vastly different reasons. Oliver can’t help chasing the thought down the rabbit hole, and thankfully Felicity doesn’t pick up on the real reason behind his awkward line of questioning.
Instead, she seems more concerned about his physical well-being than anything. Probably because he’s doing his best impression of a marble statue in her entryway. If he moves, he’s pretty sure it’ll be to pick her up and ravish her like in his mother’s secret stash of clichéd romance novels. Her eyes roam over him perfunctorily, checking for any visible sign of injury, until they pause at the collar of his jacket. For a brief moment, she looks like she wants nothing more than to mark up his neck in the best of ways before reorienting herself to pseudo medical professional. Then Felicity approaches so surely, without any inkling as to what she’s doing to him, that he can’t take the proximity, forcing himself a step back.
Yeah, definitely not wearing a bra.
He can hardly participate in their stuttering conversation, if one could even call it that, as he tries to explain his weirdness without being so blatant about his attraction that it makes her uncomfortable. Oliver doesn’t want to object too strongly. It would come across as false, and he has no desire to insult Felicity or hurt her feelings. He also has to avoid any variation on the word “sexy”. If he says it out loud, his brain will refuse to think about anything else, ever, other than sex with Felicity, his friend and partner. Plus, she’ll immediately know how far into the filthy gutter his mind went when she answered the door.
But he’ll never forget her reaction to his fumbling explanation: complete incredulity that he finds her, this version of her, attractive. Yet another understatement. Especially when she gestures to herself like a prize to be won on a game show, even if that’s the most inaccurate and degrading thought he’s ever had about Felicity’s inherent value.
How is she this oblivious to his heightened interest? Based on the way Diggle—and now Roy, of all people—will not stop giving him shit, Oliver figures he’s an open book about his desire to be around Felicity, always, in any way, shape, or form, often against his better judgment. The harder he tries to pull away from her for her own good, the more spectacularly he fails.
Like right now.
This is probably what Thea would call an epic fail.
His voice drops down to Arrow territory, and his expression must telegraph his barely suppressed desire to be the reason she’s so undone. The unexpected intimacy of seeing her so casually relaxed has unleashed a level of yearning he hadn’t reached before, and that Felicity apparently didn’t even realize existed. There’s probably an eloquent, romantic way of phrasing that, but he doubts he landed on it.
In the next moment, Felicity jolts into action instead of coming up with a response. After a flurry of hand wringing, she flees towards her bedroom, leaving him with a lasting impression of her backside. When he chokes on air, she pauses before her pace quickens again and she disappears.
Oliver decides he has two options at the moment. The first involves pretending he didn’t just see Felicity as the living embodiment of all his early morning fantasies and then some, and the second requires confronting the feelings he’s been burying for far too long. He can’t always be imagining how Felicity’s gaze lingers on him, especially when he’s working out shirtless. That physical attraction isn’t nearly as important as how she’s constantly there for him, reassuring him, bolstering his confidence like no one else has. Her unshakable belief in him is why he has any security that she reciprocates his more-than-friendship feelings.
Bracing himself for rejection just in case, Oliver rushes to her bedroom and knocks before he can talk himself out of it. After a much shorter wait than at her front door, Felicity opens the door, still barely dressed, still flushed, still wreaking havoc on his self-control. He gestures in the shrinking space between them, as if that’s going to encapsulate everything he’s offering her.
Him. All of him. However she’ll take him.
Somehow, Felicity grasps his meaning, or at least he hopes she does because he wants more for them than a frantic hook up. Not that this will be frantic. He fully intends on taking his time with her, preferably at least all day and night. Genius that she is, she crashes forward into his open arms at the same time he reaches for her.
Oliver’s imagined their first kiss in every shade of lipstick Felicity’s ever worn but he’s never considered she’d be bare lipped and slightly chapped. He’s a freaking idiot, to be honest, because everything about this is outstanding. Finally free of his self-imposed restrictions, he starts muttering nonsense into Felicity’s mouth. Every inch of her he can reach is graced with every fleeting thought he’s had about her, every compliment he’s never voiced.
Somehow, they get mostly undressed and land in her bed, all the while he’s still babbling at her. Gorgeous, brilliant, so good, adorable, best, love. Both their breaths catch at that one, and Felicity takes the opportunity to grab his face and meet his eyes. This time, neither of them shy away from the intensity.
“Not that I don’t appreciate it—the compliments and you taking over the uncontrollable rambling thing and just everything—but you’re getting a little repetitive. Less talking, more kissing.”
Oliver can’t help it. The words slip out before he gleefully follows her instructions. “Bossy. ‘S damn sexy.”