If you'd asked twenty year old Oliver Queen if he'd like, one day, to be so broke that fast food would feel like a luxury – to be so broke that he'd be living in a studio (a studio) apartment, with precisely three pieces of furniture to his name and shared laundry facilities in the basement – twenty year old Oliver Queen would have called security and told you to get the hell out of his mansion.
But the odd thing is that broke thirty year old Oliver Queen is happier than he can remember being in a really, really long time.
He owns a refrigerator, a coffee table and a futon, all carefully sourced off craigslist. He also has a microwave, curtsey of Diggle, and hot-plate, from Laurel (he's pretty sure, actually, that it's the same one she had in her first apartment back when they were still dating). And an actual working lamp pulled out of a skip down the street.
And the walls here are clean, it's not damp and it doesn't smell totally disgusting, which is better than half the places he looked at before this one. There's windows: he can see out onto a park. He's thinking about putting up posters.
Also Felicity is currently kinda naked on his futon, which is doing wonders for the rest of the interior design.
He kissed her three days ago. (Best decision he's ever made. Hands down. Wow. Great life choice, round of applause for Mr Queen – he thinks this in a voice uncannily like his sister's, and realises he needs to call Thea, soon).
He kissed Felicity on a whim. Well, no. Not totally on a whim. He'd planned it a little a bit, so they were, you know, alone. But he'd done it on kind of a – high. Because he saved the city again and things are going good, Laurel doesn't hate him (or the Arrow, two for two!) and Sara's safe-ish and Quentin Lance is on the mend and Digg's got a framed ultrasound scan picture pinned up by the mats, and hell Roy is almost a competent archer at last and – everything seems pretty fine right now. Oliver was feeling like testing his luck. Just a little.
So he waited until they were alone, and he walked up to Felicity, and pulled her out of her chair, onto her feet, and pushed her against her desk – gently, carefully, watching to make sure she seemed okay with it – with him.
He kissed Felicity against her desk in their new lair, the one they've spent the last few weeks outfitting. He kissed her there because once or twice, when he was too tired to stop himself, he'd thought about pushing her onto her desk in the old lair, and doing more than just kissing her, actually. So he tries it there, to see what it's like. He wants to know if the way she looks at him sometimes – the way she's been looking at him since the mansion, since that whole Totally Part Of The Plan declaration of undying love situation – feels the same a little closer-to. She has this shy, contemplative way of watching him, lately, sort of warm, sort of friendly, sort of tentative; a sort of knowing, intimate way of looking that is really distracting, and inexorably attractive.
It's like they have some secret, now, even though everybody knows what went down in the Queen mansion – that was kind of the point.
And Oliver just wanted to know, that was all. He wanted to know if it was getting to Felicity like it was getting to him, so. He pressed her up against her desk, when they were alone, and he kissed her, and she made this startled little sound like maybe he'd frightened her so he stopped – but.
She didn't look scared. She just looked... sort of surprised? Was she not expecting – had she not been thinking along the same lines – had he been totally imagining all the looking or –
Except then she'd kissed him back and okay well, that was clear enough.
Now she was on his futon, in these tight little boxer briefs with bluebirds (bluebirds? No – swallows, little cartoon swallows) on them, and baby blue knee socks, and glasses, and nothing else.
And holy crap Oliver Queen is a lucky bastard. With his studio apartment and three pieces of furniture and Felicity Smoak, mostly naked, alone with him.
He's tracing the elastic waistband of her boxer briefs with his thumb, kind of fascinated by them – she's checking her email, laptop open on the floor next to the futon.
“You're not helping,” she nudges him with a foot.
Oliver gives the elastic an experimental tug, exposing half an inch of soft, warm skin on her hip, faintly marked by the waistband. “I'm not trying to help.”
She snorts. “This is important, mister, okay? I need this job. What with that whole thing where you lost Queen Consolidated and I still have to pay rent.”
“You gotta work now though? Really? This very second, right now?”
“And you're still topless because...?”
“Because your place doesn't have working air con and you got me this undressed, Oliver, you can deal with the consequences for half an hour.”
“Half an hour?!”
“Felicity...” patience has never been Oliver's virtue of choice. He's more of a 'hope' sort of guy. More – 'charity', 'verity'. Love. (When he's doing virtues at all).
She's come over on the pretence of helping him set up his internet. Which she had done in five minutes flat, and then made patently clear how much of a pretence the entire exercise was to begin with, by climbing into his lap.
Not that he wasn't aware this was probably gonna be a thing sometime soon – naked Felicity, in his life. After the kissing in the lair, and everything. He took her to dinner yesterday (and by dinner, he means they bought burgers and sat in the park because it was a nice evening) and then they ended up making out behind a bus stop for half an hour and he missed two buses home because he didn't want to stop. They'd gotten some funny looks – he suspects one or two people recognised him – and he'd been so high on the general situation that he absolutely hadn't cared.
He'd held Felicity tight and she'd brushed her hands up under his shirt and it had felt like his head was going to explode and damn she made him feel good. Nothing else in the world had ever felt this damn good, kissing Felicity, feeling her smile against his mouth, seeing her eyes bright and warm – someone could have offered him the entirety of his company back in return for that moment and he would have turned them down.
Not worth it. Not a bit. Not for the way Felicity smelled and tasted and smiled at him in that half an hour.
And now she shows up at his apartment, with Chinese food and wearing knee socks, of all things. And she sets up his wireless router, whilst he sprawls on the futon, and then, after a brief intermediary period of him wanting to undress her and wondering how he should go about asking permission to start, she climbs into his lap and kisses him, grazing his stubble with her finger tips, the tip of her tongue soft and warm where it just brushes his and – christ. He never stood a chance.
Whilst she works, lying on her stomach, half-hanging off the futon, he occupies himself studying her back. He's never seen this much of it all at once before and he decides it's beautiful, all of it – from the freckles on her shoulders to the notches of her spine. The small of her back, especially. Has he ever seen that before? No, surely, she's not worn anything he could see the small of her back in before.
He leans over, and kisses just that spot – that one spot he's never seen before – and feels her shiver. So he does it again, and moves up, slowly and gently, along her spine, where the bones shift and her muscles contract under his fingers.
“Oliver...” she reaches back to touch him as he lets his nose graze the nape of her neck. (He's seen the nape of her neck before, of course. Lots of times. But he's only recently been allowed to touch it and he's enjoying the resettling of their personal boundaries too much to not take advantage of that right now.)
“Do you want me to stop?”
“Mm, no...” she shifts, contentedly, “a girl could get used to working like this.”
And he grins into her shoulder. “Please tell me you'll be done soon.”
He groans, exaggeratedly, and she laughs – easy and warm and teasing in ways he never thought he'd hear from Felicity. Felicity teasing him, Felicity warm and pliant against him, Felicity full of promise about what's going to happen next. He's not even nearly worthy of any of this – the briefs or the knee socks, the goddamn glasses – and he wants it all so badly it hurts. It's not much to ask, is it? Three pieces of furniture, and this woman's continued presence in his life, in this capacity.
He wonders about pulling down her briefs but... no, he wants more ceremony for that particular moment. He decides on her socks instead, curls his fingers around the edge of one and peels it down her calf – a good calf, he decides – perfect, lovely. He reverently kisses the back of her knee, and feels her shift and shiver again (the back of her knee? Really? Okay, duly noted – one of several bullet points on the mental file he has recently opened marked 'having awesome sex with Felicity Smoak ; item one – good back, we like her back, great; item two: cutest nipples ever, how does that even happen; item three: sensitive behind the knees').
He pulls off her other sock, and counts her toes. They have chipped pink nail polish on them. Jesus Christ why is he turned on by that? Has he discovered a new fetish or is this just what Felicity does to him now? Make chipped nail polish seem erotic?
With a grunt he flops onto his back next to her and waits, stroking the skin over her ribs.
“Oliver. That tickles.”
“Are you nearly done?”
She told him twenty minutes less than five minutes ago – is he turning her on? Yes, good, excellent.
If he could he'd go back to mouthing at her chest the way he was doing before her email pinged. Her nipples were fucking spectacular, after all (little and puffy and very pink, the same colour as the blush rising up her neck), and when she'd taken her bra off with her blouse, in one go, like she could just do that to him and expect him to not be driven completely out of his mind with lust – he'd had to fight the urge to splutter incoherently in a way that would have been mortifying had she not also been blushing. As it was it was sort of reassuring to see the colour creeping up to the tips of her ears – like he wasn't the only one a bit helplessly undone by this entire situation.
He'd felt like a kid, staring at her like that. Not even like his own teenage version, because teenage Oliver Queen wouldn't have valued this. Would have felt completely and totally entitled to this spectacular woman, wouldn't have had an inkling how privileged he was to see her like this – and as a result probably wouldn't have seen her at all. No – Oliver doesn't feel like that version of himself. He feels like some other schoolboy, some decent, respectful young man witnessing the mundane miracle that is Felicity Smoak without her clothes. Not a fucking clue what to do in the moment but stare and be incredibly grateful.
It's a gift: Felicity intimately at ease with him, tugging at the buttons on her blouse, cuddling into his chest as she twists out of her bra, her breath warm on his neck, his fingers gently running through her hair, then down her neck, then down to her chest, making her breath hitch. How soft and hot her skin is to the touch – a little tacky from perspiration, smelling faintly of soap and shampoo – the feel of it and the taste of it and the scent of it, is a fucking gift. He's a kid having the kind of birthday money can't buy.
But from this angle, the way she's lying, he can't get to her breasts at all. Maybe that's a good thing. Clearly she actually does need to get whatever incredibly urgent thing this is done or he doubts she'd seriously have broken off whilst getting him out of his pants to do it. He's enjoying all the nudity right now but he's not actually such a selfish bastard anymore that he'd truly stop her getting work done. And given how she reacted when he first closed his mouth on one of her nipples, he doubts she'd be capable of anything vaguely professional if he could touch her like that right now.
She diverts one hand from her keyboard to his chest for a moment, just resting her warm little palm there, over his heart, her fingers drumming absently . And for a moment it makes him so powerfully fond of her that he wants to say something – though he's not sure what he'd say if he opened his mouth.
(Telling her he loves her again, right this moment, might not be wise. If they're even dating at all, this barely counts as their second one, and even pre-Island dumbass millionaire frat boy Oliver knew not to whip out the L-word this early on).
(Awed respectful schoolboy not-Oliver Queen however might not be that wise).
“Felicity...” he breathes. “I...”
“Done!” She declares, with a quick, giddy grin, flipping the laptop's lid closed.
“Oh, thank god.”