“Ladies and Gentlemen, because of the ongoing storms, we are not cleared for landing. We will take some spins around the area until we are cleared off in approximately thirty to forty minutes. Please stay seated and keep your seat belt fastened. I will inform you as soon as we got a landing slot.”
While everyone around her just groaned in annoyance about the delay, Felicity’s fingers tightened even more around the armrest of her leather seat. Every muscle in her body was strained painfully. Her chest was heaving wildly from the quick breaths she was taking in and out of her mouth to serve her heart with the necessary oxygen to keep it going at this punishing pace. Her stomach cramped so badly that she feared that she would throw up when the plane would dip into another airhole.
Thirty minutes up here was an inconvenience to most of the passengers here, but it was twelve more minutes in hell for her.
Felicity glanced at the orange pill container in the wall pocket of her first class’ cabin. If she didn’t have a business meeting to go to straight from the airport, she would take another benzo. After the three she had taken already, she wasn’t sure if she would make it through any professional conversation with even more medication in her system.
Felicity closed her eyes and tried to take in a deep breath. Her fear of flying that was particularly bad today given all the turbulence the flight had come with was making her breath stutter. It was almost like her lungs were fighting the breath, unwilling to take it in. At the same time, her need to breathe was so bad that her lungs were burning.
A sharp jolt went through the plane, and Felicity’s grip on the armrests of her seat tightened once more. Her fingers ached terribly, and she was sure that there wasn’t much missing for them to break. Whoever would sit in her seat next would probably think that she had clawed herself into her seat, unwilling to get out of the plane.
The plane continued shaking, but the movements were a lot softer than before. Maybe that meant that the storm was finally calming down and they might be able to land soon. At least Felicity hoped so and released a long breath through her clenched lips.
Felicity’s gaze met the dark eyes of the woman that was sitting in the small cabin at the other side of the aisle. She smiled at her comfortingly, maybe even a little sympathetically, while she was stroking her fingers through the thin hair of the man snoring next to her.
“Afraid of flying?” she asked with gentle voice.
“Usually, I am just unsettled by them,” Felicity replied although she was sure that most people who have been on a flight with her so far would disagree. “The turbulence is making it hard.”
The woman’s smile widened as she nodded her head. She took Felicity in thoroughly. Although her gaze was intense, there was something calming about it. Maybe it was because she had something grandmotherly about herself, something that made you feel more comfortable immediately.
“I am sure it won’t take long before we get to land. Then you’re home.”
“Actually, I am coming from home.” Felicity took in a deep breath, feeling that talking to that woman was indeed making it easier to endure all of this. “I am here for work reasons and because my friend is getting married.”
It was certainly nice to get the opportunity of negotiating the terms of a collaboration with Queen Consolidated, a company she had once dreamed to work for. It was also nice to see Sara again and be there for her big day. She’d also be able to see some old friends that she didn’t have a chance of seeing lately.
Going back to Starling City on the other hand was not that nice. Too many bad memories and too many angry feelings that should rather stay asleep were shaken awake by her return. If it wasn’t for Sara and the greater good of her work, she would have never decided to come back. When she had left Starling three years ago, she had sworn to herself that she would never come back after all.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the storm has decreased, and we just got cleared for landing. Please make sure your seats are back and tray tables are in the full upright position and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Thank you.”
Thank God, Felicity thought to herself and released the slightest breath of relief. Finally, this flight was coming to an end.
“It can’t take much longer now,” the woman across the aisle said with a soft smile. “I will make sure my husband won’t miss the rest of this flight now.”
Felicity nodded her head, shooting her a grateful smile, before she turned towards the window. It was only early afternoon, but the sky was almost as dark as it would be at night. As the plane descended, rain pattered against the window pane, and Felicity could see how stormy it really was still. Trees were bending in the wind, and the pilot seemed to have trouble keeping the plane in one line with the runway.
Waiting for the ungentle joggle that would go through the plane when the wheels touched the ground, Felicity tightened her fingers around the armrests of the seat once more. She held her breath until she gasped for breath as she was jolted forward by the ungentle landing followed by the sharp hint of breaks.
Even when the plane was slowed down, rolling towards the gates in a reasonable speed, Felicity could still feel how hard the storm was making it to keep the plane on the path. It made it impossible for her to let go of the armrests and chime into the applause of the other flight guests.
Only when the plane came to a full stop, ready to beck docked to the terminal, Felicity was able to force her fingers to let go of the armrest. Her fingers were aching, and they didn’t move easily. They still felt cramped.
While everyone was already getting up and grabbing their stuff to leave the plane as quickly as they could, Felicity stayed where she was. She was still shaking, so she doubted that her legs would carry her even if she tried to get up. Hence, she just stayed sitting in her seat, giving her body time to recover, while she was taking another look out of the window.
Looking at the airport building, Felicity felt her stomach cramp badly. In the intense rain, it looked like a giant, grey chunk. Hence, it looked quite different from the beautiful building with the large glass facades where the light broke into all colors of the rainbow. It felt like her last view of the airport before her departure, compared to her first view of it upon returning now, was quite symbolic for her view of Starling City. Back when she had left here, she had thought that she was leaving paradise, the one place that had made her happier than anything. Now, she felt like she was going back to hell.
Shaking her head, Felicity tried to get rid of those dark thoughts.
She had come back here for Sara and Nyssa, and she was using this little trip for work too. She was killing two birds with one stone, making sure she only had to go to Starling once this year. If she was doing her job well, the next business meetings could take place in Hub City. She might be able to form a strong collaboration with Queen Consolidated without ever returning to Starling.
With that thought in mind, Felicity packed her stuff into her purse and got up. Her legs were still shaking slightly, but she felt them growing stronger and safer with each step.
Following the other people to the baggage claim, Felicity recalled her schedule for her stay in Starling. She had some appointments with Robert Queen, and Sara would probably keep her busy the rest of the time. If Sara was too calm, Felicity would just make sure to turn her friend into bridezilla, so she would keep her busy.
While everyone was gathering around the baggage claim, Felicity kept her distance. She stepped towards the large windows and looked outside.
Back in Hub City, it had been warm and sunny. Starling was still showing the cliché April weather. Although the rain was slowly fading and the sun was trying to break through the thick clouds, the weather still looked uncomfortable. For Sara’s sake, Felicity could only hope that Sara got a backup plan for her wedding day.
Taking her suitcase with her, Felicity stepped out of the protected area. It took her a moment to orientate herself as it had been three long years since the last time she had been here after all. Seeing all those scenes of reunion – kids running towards their parents, lovers kissing each other passionately and friends hugging each other close – she regretted turning down Sara’s offer to pick her up from the airport.
When Sara had suggested it, Felicity had thought that she didn’t want Sara to waste the precious time she needed to make the last preparations for the wedding by making her pick her up from the airport. She wouldn’t have much time for her anyway as she was heading right to Queen Consolidated, and, thanks to the landing’s delay, she was kind of late already.
Felicity straightened her shoulders. She couldn’t waste all her self-pity in the first thirty minutes of being back in Starling City. There would be nothing left to take her through the next days, so she really had to spare some.
Turning towards the door, Felicity stopped dead in her tracks before she had even taken a single step towards the exit. With held breath, she watched the tall man, who was standing next to the doors. His dark hair was slightly wet from the rain and a little tousled from the storm. It only accentuated the strong line of his jaw and sharp eyes that were directed at her already. The corners of his lips twitched up into a smile. Nodding his head towards her, he bobbed on the balls of his feet, his arms still crossed in front of his muscular chest.
Adrian Chase was one of the handsomest men Starling City had ever seen, so Felicity wasn’t the least bit surprised that several women turned their heads to take him in thoroughly. Some even flashed him a smile and greeted him when they walked past him, trying to catch their interest. Adrian only had eyes for her though.
The thought made Felicity chuckle as the bare idea that she and Adrian could be anything other than friends seemed ridiculous to her.
Felicity and Adrian approached each other slowly, keeping their eyes locked. From the edge of her visual field, Felicity took Adrian in thoroughly. He seemed to have gained some muscle during the last three years, and Felicity couldn’t deny that he looked even handsomer than he had looked three years ago.
With only a couple of feet separating them from one another, Adrian spread his arms.
“Felicity Megan Smoak,” he said, pride shining through his voice. “CEO of her own company at the age of 26 years. Impressive.”
“Actually, I am just one of three CEOs,” Felicity explained, clearing her throat with a flattered smile. “Still impressive though.”
“Absolutely,” Adrian agreed. “Come here.”
Chuckling softly, Felicity stepped into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her head against his chest and closing her eyes for a moment. For the first time since she had agreed to come to Starling, she thought that maybe coming back here for a short visit wasn’t so bad.
The truth was that Felicity had found some really good friends here, and she had missed not seeing them. Avoiding Starling had also meant avoiding them. Until now, she hadn’t realized how bad that had made her feel.
As they pulled apart, Adrian grabbed her by the shoulders and looked her up and down. He seemed to be satisfied with what he saw. Grabbing her suitcase before she herself could, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and led her to the parking lot. Felicity hesitated before she leaned into his side, glad not to be alone.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, frowning slightly.
“Isn’t that obvious?” Adrian chuckled. “I came here to pick you up of course. After all I was the one to say goodbye to you at the airport three years ago, I figured that it was quite fitting.”
Felicity nodded her head slowly and almost absentmindedly. She remembered saying goodbye to Adrian very well. He had tried to retain her, telling her that maybe there were easier solutions, but Felicity hadn’t been able to agree. She had barely been able to listen, too hurt by everything that had happened. She had known that she needed to leave Starling if she ever wanted to find happiness again.
Adrian seemed to realize that talking about the circumstances of her departure might not be the best topic to start their reunion.
“I took the afternoon off for you,” he told her. “What do you think? Should we grab a snack?”
Felicity smiled, grateful for Adrian’s offer and sorry that she had to turn it down.
“I’m actually kind of late for my first appointment here in Starling already,” Felicity replied with a smile. “I fear that I have no time to grab a snack.”
Adrian whistled out a breath. “Five minutes here and already in work mode? You should enjoy your stay here. Go and see the city.”
Felicity perked up an eyebrow. “I have lived here, Adrian. I have already seen everything, and, just to be honest, it’s not like there is a lot to be seen here.”
Chuckling, Adrian tightened his arm around her shoulders and placed an amicable kiss on her temple. With a low groan, Felicity shot him a glance. Seeing Adrian’s amused grin, she couldn’t hold back a chuckle. Adrian always found reasons to make her smile which was one of the many reasons why they were such good friends.
“Okay, I can’t offer a snack now, but if you are free for dinner, I’ll invite you.”
“You invite me?” Adrian chuckled and stroked his free hand over his expansive tie. “I am not sure I can accept that offer. I am a little old-schooled.”
“Too bad because I am very modern,” Felicity replied. “You gotta decide if your pride can take being invited to dinner by a woman or if you’d rather eat alone.”
“Well, that’s a hard decision to make, but I think I can take to be invited to dinner by a woman once.” Adrian winked at her. “I will take you to Queen Consolidated and pick you up there later to take you to a fancy restaurant. Since you will pay, I have to warn you that I will order an appetizer and at least three different desserts.”
“Don’t worry, Adrian,” Felicity told him and sighed, petting his bicep. “If I can’t eat myself out of house and home, neither can you.”
* * *
Watching the displayed floor number rise, Felicity took in a deep breath. She moved her fingers over the soft fabric of her dress. It wasn’t the dress she would have chosen to wear for this meeting, but her delayed arrival hadn’t given her any time to change into something more suitable for the occasion. Since she didn’t have a choice anyway, she guessed this dress was alright too. At least she had told herself so while she had been crossing the entrance hall downstairs.
Felicity wasn’t usually this nervous before meetings, but this time was different for a handful of reasons. Firstly, this meeting was taking place in Starling which itself made her nervous already. Secondly, when she had been a kid, Queen Consolidated had been in her Top Three of companies that she wanted to work for after graduating from MIT. Thirdly, the future success of her company depended on how this meeting would go. Fourthly, she knew her friends counted on her. Fifthly, she knew Robert Queen, head of Queen Consolidated, quite well, but it was the first time that they were meeting as equals when it came to business.
Felicity could probably go on for another hundred reasons, but those seemed to be the most urgent ones. Especially the way she knew Robert so well unsettled her a little. Being back in Starling was already able to rip open old wounds so easily. Meeting Robert could easily crack the little broken pieces of her heart.
When the high-pitched pling! told her that the elevator had arrived at the top floor, she quickly put on a smile and straightened her shoulders. If she had learned one thing, it was that in a man-dominated area, a woman had to be twice as tough to be taken half as serious.
To Felicity’s surprise, Robert was sitting on the edge of his EA’s desk in front of his office. He had his legs stretched out with his ankles crossed. His hands were resting on the tabletop behind him as he leaned back casually. He looked relaxed, especially since he wasn’t wearing a suit but dark jeans, a dress shirt and a pullover. Felicity wasn’t sure if she had ever seen in wearing anything but a suit a tuxedo.
With a warm smile on his face, Robert got up. Felicity was still trying to figure out if his casual look was a good or a bad sign when Robert reached out his hands for her. Felicity was about to take his hand and shake it, but Robert already hugged her. Felicity tensed slightly, utterly surprised by this hug, but it didn’t last much longer than two seconds. One moment Robert had been pulling her to her chest, the next he had already taken a step back. With his hands at his shoulders, he looked her up and down.
Although his eyes were scrutinizing, Felicity couldn’t say that she was feeling particularly uncomfortable about the way Robert looked at her. The soft smile on his lips and admiration in his eyes was enough to let her knowthat everything was fine.
As his eyes finally met hers and he probably saw the surprise still visible on her face, he laughed softly and pulled his hands away. Holding them out in front of him, he showed that he meant no harm.
“You gotta excuse an old man,” he said with a smile. “Age is making us incredibly nostalgic.”
Felicity couldn’t help but smile. There were a lot of words she would use to describe Robert. So far, nostalgic had never been one of that. Maybe the last couple of years had changed him though.
“It’s good to see you again, Robert.”
Robert’s smile widened, and with a nod of his head, he asked her to follow him into his office. As much as he might have changed, nothing in that room seemed to have changed since she had last been here.
“I saw your flight was delayed. I almost thought that we had to postpone to give you a little time to recover. I remember that you aren’t very fond of flying.” Robert gestured towards the chair in front of his glass desk. “Coffee?”
“Yes, please.” Sitting down on the chair in front of the desk, Felicity felt her nervousness decreasing slightly. “Through the last few years, I got more and more used to flying. I’d still prefer any other kind of traveling, but I am getting along.”
Felicity knew that it was quite exaggerated as she still had trouble with flying, but her fear of flying had improved after all. She shot Robert a smile when he placed the mug in front of her. Lifting the mug to her nose, she sucked in the delicious steam and smiled.
“Starling had always had the best coffee.”
“Compared to the swill you were offered in the flight I bet everything I offer tastes like heaven.”
“Probably,” Felicity replied with an amused smile. “These last few years, I have tried dozens of coffee, but this still is the best.”
Robert took a sip of his coffee, and Felicity could almost see how he tried to taste the same Felicity did. Either he wasn’t such a coffee enthusiast as she was, or his gustatory nerves just weren’t as fine as hers. Either way, he didn’t seem to be able to understand exactly what she meant.
Lowering his mug to the tabletop, Robert leaned back in his chair. He folded his hands on his stomach and just watched Felicity quietly. A soft smile, even softer than before, played around his lips.
“I was surprised when you reached out to me, surprised but very happy.”
Felicity felt her breath getting stuck in her throat for a second. Robert didn’t even have to address what had happened three years ago for her to know that it was the very reason he was surprised she had reached out. She wondered what exactly he knew about what had happened, but she didn’t care. She wasn’t here to revive old memories.
“Back when you served your internship at QC in 2014,” Robert continued before Felicity could say anything, “I knew that you had a great future ahead of yourself. I was so disappointed that you turned down the offer to work here after you quit at Kord Industries. I followed your career nonetheless, so I can say with certainty that Wayne Enterprise was the right choice for you. I mean your company is still a baby when it comes to age, but it’s also running with the big guys. I read about the development of bio-stimulants. The company you have built is doing impressive work.”
“I didn’t build Helix Dynamics alone. If it wasn’t for Lily and Lena, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” Felicity said quickly. “The bio-stimulant was the result of teamwork.”
“Of course it was.” Robert nodded. “I think I met Lena Luthor a couple of years ago. She worked for Bruce Wayne before you joined the company, right?”
“Yes. Lena, Lily and I all met there. Working with them is the best turn my career could have taken.”
Felicity smiled at the thought of her two best friends and business partners. Meeting Lena and Lily was the best thing that could have ever happened to her. The three of them were a great team. They were all driven by the wish to make this world a better place, and they used their different abilities to create innovative tech. They complemented each other instead of seeing rivals in each other. For them, three strong ladies were much better than one all alone.
“I am very happy for you, and, at this point, I’m just slightly disappointed that you didn’t come to work here with me. I would have loved to have you in my team.”
There was a warm feeling forming around her heart and making her almost a little fuzzy. His words meant a lot to her. She just wished it was someone else saying them to her, but she had given up hope that that would ever happen a long time ago.
Quickly, Felicity put on a smile and told herself to focus.
“You know, it just wouldn’t have been a good idea to accept your job offer. As much as I would have loved to work for Queen Consolidated and for you, the fact that Oliver and I-“
The warm feeling that had formed around her heart before was suddenly blown away and replaced by something much colder. She hadn’t talked about Oliver in a long time, hadn’t even dared to say his name. In all her urge not to think about her father too much, his name had just slipped her.
Bitterness arose inside of her as much as Felicity tried to prevent it. It’s been three years, but she was still so very bitter about what had happened.
“Mixing private and work life is never a good idea,” Robert said, pulling her back from her thoughts, and nodded his head slowly before he sighed. “I am very sorry that you and Oliver broke up.”
Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Quickly, Felicity grabbed her mug of coffee and took some gulps. The liquid was still so very hot that it almost burnt her mouth, but at least it distracted her from the bitterness.
“Yes, probably.” Robert sighed. “It’s still a pity. When Oliver was with you, he was happier than I have ever seen him. He wanted himself to be better for you. I think you were really good for him.”
Felicity bit down on her tongue, not saying anything. A mess of different emotions were flooding her chest, making it hard to breathe. There was a part of her that wanted to recall all those wonderful memories she had gained during her relationship with Oliver, but she knew they were tainted by the way they had broken up. Another part of her wanted Robert to just shut up, but she knew she could never ask that politely, and she couldn’t afford to make him angry before he had signed a deal.
Lowering her gaze to her hands, Felicity just focused on her breathing. She took in deep breaths and held them for a second before she released them. Her hands were rubbing up and down on her thighs slowly. Her skin was so heated that the warmth reached through the fabric of her skirt and her tights.
“He has been single since you broke up, you know?” Robert chuckled quietly. “He has fallen back into old patterns. It’s driving Moira insane.”
Felicity knew very well what those patterns looked like. She had seen quite a few of the covers that showed him and whatever model he was screwing right now. He was denying it in front of the press, but, just like Robert said, it sound a lot like he had fallen back into old patterns. Smoking, drinking and casual flings had been his thing before.
Surprised, Felicity lifted her gaze. She wasn’t surprised to see honest regret on Robert’s face. She didn’t think that he would use the messed up past she had with his son to screw her over in case they were able to agree on a collaboration.
“I shouldn’t have said this. I’m really sorry, Felicity.”
“It’s fine,” Felicity lied, swallowing the bitter feeling that was still left on her tongue. “After all, it’s been three years.”
“And you are happy with Ray Palmer as far as I have read.”
“Actually, we broke up two months ago.”
Robert pressed his lips together and looked at her for a long moment. Embarrassment and a little bit of amusement were shining through his eyes.
“Maybe we should just start over. Don’t you want to go down into the foyer and come back up here again, so I can try not to put my foot in my mouth with everything I do?”
Felicity released a long breath, almost chuckling a little bit. Shaking her head, she remembered why she had come here. It had nothing to do with Oliver, their relationship or their break-up. It didn’t even have much to do with Robert, who she had always appreciated as a person.
“Let’s just focus on business.”
Immediately, Robert straightened up in his chair. He rested his forearms on the edge of the desktop and nodded his head. While he didn’t seem impolite, he was a lot more formal now. Everything about his body posture and the way he moved proved that he had switched into business mode.
Felicity didn’t mind. She could do the same after all.
“Helix Dynamics is working on a new project,” Felicity explained. She grabbed her purse and pulled out the files she had stored there, putting it on the desk in front of him. “We are trying to develop a device to help people with optic nerve hypoplasia to see.”
Robert’s eyebrows perked up briefly, showing his astonishment. Felicity was used to that reaction. From the three other people she had proposed a collaboration in this area, everyone had reacted the same. They had been astonished, and they hadn’t let her present the project to the end. They had thought that research in that area was hopeless as nobody had been successful so far. That Helix Dynamics was still very new to the branch of medical engineering hadn’t helped either. Everyone thought that this second big project in such a short span of time was overloading their capabilities.
Since Robert didn’t interrupt her but actually started to browse through the files that she had given him, Felicity took that as a good sign.
“We are basically following the example of cochlear implants, so the device will consist of two separate parts. One is basically a tech-driven contact that will percept the view of the customer. The data will be sent to a biochip that will be placed in the occipital lobe.”
“Is a surgery like that possibly?” Robert asked without looking up.
“We have three neurosurgeons in our team. According to them, it is possible to have surgery on it,” Felicity replied. “The only struggle we could run into is the trouble of finding out where exactly the biochip has to be placed for it to work the way we hope for, but with the research that was already done for the auditory brainstem implant we have an example to look at for the placement of our biochip too.”
Felicity gave Robert the time he needed to skim through the rest of the files. His facial expression was unreadable to her. She couldn’t say what he thought about the project. She wasn’t even sure if he really read the papers or if he was just pretending to do so because he wanted to be polite.
Biting down on her tongue, Felicity told herself to stay calm. If Robert really considered the offer, she wanted him to take all the time he needed to decide. Felicity had never been good at waiting. A river of words wanted to break their way out of her mouth in the form of a babble, so she only bit down on her tongue harder.
“This is quite the big thing, Felicity,” Robert said, still not looking at her. “Even for Queen Consolidated a project like this would be a big thing. Your company is still young. It isn’t that stable on the market, and I am sure that you don’t have that much money saved to finance a project like this. Besides, Lily is soon going to have her baby, right?”
“Only a couple more weeks.”
Robert shot her a brief smile over the edge of the file before he went back to focusing on the papers. Once more, Felicity just waited.
Since Felicity had met Lena and Lily, the three of them had come up with a dozen of ideas how to put their knowledge and their abilities to good work. This project had been second on their top priority list. Everyone should get the possibility to admire Chris Evan’s beauty after all thought and felt the corner of her lips twitching.
“This project is innovative, exciting and very promising,” Robert said, put the files on the desk and leaned back in his chair, “but I am sure that you knew that already. So, Felicity, what can I do for you?”
* * *
Felicity’s head was spinning and she felt like, if her head would hit the pillow, she’d fall asleep immediately. Still, she was unable to wipe that wide smile from her face.
Reaching into the pocket of her coat, Felicity pulled out her phone. She called up the group chat she had with Lena and Lily and typed a quick text.
FS: Robert’s interested!
Smiling at the words, she just looked at them and let them sink in for a moment. She knew that she could text them a lot more, but she really didn’t have to. This was all they needed to know that she was going to continue her work to make this collaboration happen. Her friends trusted her because they all trusted each other. It was one of the many benefits of working with your best friends.
With one click, Felicity sent the message and dropped her phone back into the pocket of her coat. She had achieved everything she had wanted to achieve today and more. Robert would propose the project to the board within the next couple of days, so they would meet again later this week to discuss the terms of their collaboration. Smiling, she waited for the elevator to arrive at the ground floor.
Once she had arrived at the ground floor, Felicity stepped out of the elevator and crossed the foyer. Several heads were turning in her direction, looking either irritated or scared by the smile on her lips. It only caused her smile to grow even wider.
She’d video call Lena and Lily within the next few days to tell them everything about the meeting with Robert. That way, she could also tell them what she thought Robert would demand to agree to the collaboration, and they could discuss how to react to that. All in all, Felicity was more than hopeful.
Cheery about the way her stay in Starling City was going, Felicity stepped out of the QC building and onto the street. The sky had cleared, and the sun had come out. It didn’t look like the storm the city had faced a couple of hours ago had happened. This day actually looked really good.
Closing her eyes, Felicity took in a deep breath to take in the fresh air. If she really focused on it, she could almost smell the rain. It smelled wonderful, like cozy autumn nights when she was taking a walk after work to clear hear head and-
Her thoughts were interrupted when she bumped into someone. She lifted her gaze quickly, an apology already on the tip of her tongue. As soon as she saw who she had bumped into, the apology died on her lips and everything around her seemed to fade away until there was nothing left but them.
Piercingly blue eyes were looking at her and tried to get under her skin as they were taking her in an intensely. Felicity was unable to break the eye contact, so she focused on what she could see from the edges of her visual field. It distracted her from the intense lock of their eyes.
Oliver’s hair was a little shorter than it had been three years ago, but it was still as tousled as it had been back then. He was still wearing a scruff that quickly looked scruffy for other men, but not for him. He was wearing a black leather jacket. Its fabric was spanning around his broad chest and muscular biceps. He looked as handsome as he had looked when she had left Starling City, maybe even more.
It had been three years since she had last seen him. During those three years, Felicity had done her best not to think about Oliver too often or too thoroughly. It had been difficult to live with the ache of her memory already. Living with the thought of Oliver constantly at her mind would have been impossible.
The memory of how things had ended between them made disappointment rise inside of her, and it caused anger to spread in her veins. As nostalgic as she was now that she was back in Starling and able to look at him, she was at least twice as angry.
She was about to snap at him, telling him that she should had bumped into him a little harder, so he would have hopefully been pushed onto the street and been hit by a bus. She really would have liked that.
It took a lot from Felicity, but she stopped herself before she voiced any of her thoughts. She and Oliver had to spend a lot of time together as long as she was in Starling. After all, Sara and Nyssa were his friends too. As much as she hated him, she couldn’t let it overshadow the wedding. It wouldn’t be fair to her friends.
“I’m sorry,” she told him, the tension audible in her voice. “I didn’t see you.”
There was a long moment that Oliver still looked at her with astonishment. She almost believed that there was a soft smile playing around her lips, but she couldn’t say with certainty. The next moment, the smile was gone anyway, and he looked at her with an angry frown.
“You should be more careful the next time.”
His voice was hoarse and dark as he said that. He sounded and looked annoyed like it wasn’t at least partly his fault that they had bumped into each other.
Even if it wasn’t, Felicity felt like he had no right to be angry with her. After everything he had done, she could bump into him a hundred times each day for the rest of his life, and he still wouldn’t have any right to be angry with her. He was the one who had pushed for their relationship to take the next step and who had run when the first struggles had happened.
His eyes still locked with hers, he lifted his cigarette to his lips and took in a deep inhale. Releasing a mixture of a grunt and a snort, he wanted to push past her.
Felicity turned around on her heels, almost bumping into Oliver, who had suddenly frozen in place, again. Shooting him a brief glance of annoyance, Felicity stepped forward from behind him and smiled at Adrian, who was waiting for her next to his car.
She crossed the distance towards him and hugged him shortly. It seemed like she owed him a lot more than just dinner as this was the second time that he was saving her in an uncomfortable situation. Maybe she should handcuff herself to him for the rest of her stay in Starling.
When she stepped back and looked at his face, she saw that his eyes were locked onto Oliver’s face. Both of their faces were unreadable, but Felicity was sure that mutual aversion was visible there. Apparently, she wasn’t the only one who had crossed Oliver out of her life although they had been quite close once.
Oliver’s eyes snapped towards her. The anger in his eyes had turned into hot rage now. His jaws were tensed, almost like he was trying to hold back a scream. He tossed his cigarette to the floor, stepping onto it until it stopped fuming, and walked towards the doors of QC.
Felicity shook her head slightly. Apparently, she wasn’t the only one who had been changed a lot by the last three years. She couldn’t say that the change had been for the better when it came to Oliver. Even from this short meeting she knew already that all those gossip magazines were right. He had grown that dark and moody that it was barely bearable anymore, or, to say it with the words of his little sister, he was a cranky stinker.
The corners of Felicity’s lips twitched into a smile at the thought of Thea and possibility of seeing her again soon. Except for Oliver, she really liked the Queen Family.
She was just about to turn towards Adrian and suggest finally grabbing some food when Oliver turned back around once more. He took in a deep breath. His eyes were no longer filled with rage, but they were still very cold.
“You have to come by for a dress fitting,” he told her. “Tomorrow. Seven pm at OJQ. Don’t be late.”
That being said, he stepped into the foyer of his father’s company and walked towards the elevators without looking back.
“Sure,” she mumbled to herself. “I didn’t have any other plans you would have to be considerate of anyway.”
Shaking her head, she turned back around to Adrian. He was looking at her with pity and a little bit of amusement. Felicity chuckled and shook her head once more.
“I just remembered why I wasn’t hooked to come back the moment Sara and Nyssa invited me to their wedding.”
Adrian nodded, pushing his hands deep into the pockets of his pants. He puckered his lips and looked into the foyer of QC where Oliver had disappeared. When his eyes met hers again, he cocked his head.
“That looked like an ugly meeting.”
“It was.” Felicity sighed. “I’m just glad I got to meet him for the wedding. That way I am prepared to see him again. I don’t want to mess up the wedding.”
Again, Adrian nodded. “Has to be hard. I mean you two have been so close and-“
“You have been friends too,” Felicity interrupted him. “Why aren’t you anymore?”
“After I took you to the airport and drove by his apartment. I told him what I was thinking about him and his behavior. He got upset. We… got into a little bit of a fight, and I told him that I was no longer interested in being his friend. That was the last words we spoke to each other.”
Felicity sighed once more. Seeing his own faults had never been something Oliver had been good at. She guessed that he had hoped nobody would say anything about the way he had dumped her. He must have underestimated that his friends had grown into her friends too. That was what happened when you had a long relationship.
“Let’s change the subject,” Felicity said, waving it off, and stepped towards Adrian’s car. “On our way to the restaurant, you can tell me everything about your job. It has to be exciting to be the District Attorney.”
Adrian chuckled, opening the door for her. “You have no idea.”