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We ended as lovers

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“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.”

“That’s nice.”

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.

“Felicity.”

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.”

“Thank you.”

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.

“I’m sorry.”

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.”

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.

“Adrian, hi.”

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.”

Chapter Text

“It’s just so good to see you again.”

Felicity’s chuckle sounded more like a choking sound as Sara hugged her so firmly that she could barely breathe. Sara might be almost as short as Felicity, but she had a lot of strength in every single inch of her. If the firmness of her hug was anything to judge. Felicity guessed that she wasn’t the only one who had missed her friend.

“I am so happy that you are here,” Sara said eventually, pulling back a little to look Felicity up and down quickly. “You look good. Still cute actually.”

Still cute. Felicity couldn’t help but smile at Sara’s words. They reminded her of the good, old times when they had liked to fool around, saying that maybe one day they would be together. They had always been perfectly in tune as friends and roommates which would have probably made it easy to be romantically involved with each other. Felicity even considered herself open to any kind of love that would come her way. It had just never clicked between Sara and her, not even during that awkward kiss while they had been spinning the bottle.

“You look great too.” Felicity tugged at a strand of Sara’s blonde hair. “I guess you are glowing like every bride does. Or is it blushing?”

“If you don’t know, how am I supposed to know?” Sara chuckled. “Anyway, not every bride might actually glow or blush. I am very sure that Nyssa is none of that, and nobody would even dare to claim anything else.”

Perking up her eyebrows, Felicity turned her head to where Nyssa was standing in the frame of the door. She had her arms crossed in front of her chest. Her body posture was tense, and her lips were pinched slightly. Smiling, Felicity realized that Sara was right. Nobody would ever dare to call Nyssa a glowing or blushing wife, not if they were somewhat sane.

“It’s not like I am not looking forward to the wedding,” Nyssa said a little grumpily. “I am just happy on the inside.”

Nyssa looked at Sara intensely. Though she almost seemed angry or annoyed about her fiancée’s words, the moment Sara flashed her a smile, the corner of Nyssa’s lips started twitching too. Nyssa might not be the most talkative person, but she was a good soul, and she was completely in love with Sara.

“As long as you two are happy, that is all that really counts.” Felicity let go of Felicity and hugged Nyssa. “I’m happy that you are happy.”

After a brief moment, Felicity let go of Nyssa and took a step back. She knew that Nyssa wasn’t really comfortable with too much physical affection other than the one was shown by Sara. Felicity respected that.

Looking Felicity up and down, Nyssa frowned. Her eyes narrowed down on Felicity, and her lips puckered even more.

“Sara is right,” she said. “You do look a lot better than you did when we visited you in Hub City six months ago and way better than you do on the tiny displays of our phones.”

Although there was a bit of a compliment in there that she didn’t doubt was actually meant honestly, Felicity knew that there was a little bit of a reproach in Nyssa’s words too. It was her work at Helix Dynamics and her refusion to come to Starling City that was to blame for the six months they hadn’t seen each other in person.

Sara cleared her throat and quickly stepped towards Nyssa, wrapping an arm around her waist. “What Nyssa is trying to say is that we are very happy that you came here to celebrate our wedding with us. Right?”

Nyssa pressed her lips together for a moment before she put on a smile. “Right.”

“Well, I wouldn’t have missed your wedding for anything.”

“Good because I would have killed you otherwise.” Sara nodded towards the inside of the apartment. “Now come in, or I’ll start feeling like you are on the run.”

Felicity followed her friends into the open living space where kitchen, dining room and living room were joint into one large area. The walls were at least five-meter-high, and the wall toward the terrace and garden was covered with large muntin windows that reached from the floor up to the ceiling. The dark hardwood floor was a contrast to the light walls and furniture. Everything looked incredibly elegant and expensive.

“Wow,” Felicity said. “I knew that OJQ isn’t paying badly, but I never thought that they would pay you enough to afford something like this.”

“They don’t,” Sara admitted honestly. “Moira promised that, once OJQ is really running with the big dogs on the fashion market, we will be paid more. So far, we earn a little less than most models do.”

“But you don’t mind,” Felicity said, not having to ask.

“Of course not. The Queens have been my family since dad died, so…”

Sara shrugged her shoulders. Felicity could see the glance of sadness in her eyes. Through the years it had become less, but it was still always there when she talked about her father. She really missed him since they had been very close and so very similar.

“So, how do you afford this?” Felicity asked. “The rent doesn’t pay itself, right?”

“Actually, it does.” Sara shrugged her shoulders once more. “It’s property of the Queen Family. Robert suggested that we would live here without paying rent. We should take that as a bonus for being the face of OJQ.”

“Which doesn’t mean that OJQ pays that badly that we wouldn’t be able to afford a place of our own,” Nyssa explained, dropping into the cushions of the couch. “It’s just that we could have never found something this beautiful.”

Felicity shot Nyssa a brief smile, nodding her head. She was sure that an apartment like this was a rare treasure to find here. She remembered how hard it had been when she had tried to find a place to live here in Starling.

Quickly, Felicity pushed the thought aside. It was too painful as searching for a place to live had been the beginning to the end. Maybe she would still call Starling City her home if it hadn’t been for that.

“So, how are things going with Ray?” Sara asked, letting herself fall onto the couch over the backrest. “Is everything still good?”

“We broke up.”

Sara’s smile dropped. “Oh.”

Smiling, Felicity shrugged it off. She seemed to have much less problems with the break-up than most other people did. Maybe it was just the fact that she had had some more time to think about it. Robert, Sara and Nyssa had heard about it the first time now here.

“It’s not that bad,” Felicity explained. “There was no big fight and no heartbreak. We just realized that we didn’t work as a couple. I mean we could tell each other everything about work, and we could work together constructively, but it wasn’t what a relationship should be like. We are better off being friends.”

“It’s good you realized that now before it’s too late.”

When Sara shot Nyssa a glare, she rolled her eyes. Felicity bit down on her tongue. She didn’t want to get into this little conversation between the soon-to-be weds. It was amusing to see them so in tune with each other though. Sara and Nyssa had always been the kind of couple everyone else was looking up to.

“So, what else are you doing?” Sara asked. “I mean what do you do all day in Hub City?”

“Work.” Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “I guess.”

“Exciting.”

Nyssa’s voice left no doubt that she was being sarcastic. While Sara shot her another glare, Felicity couldn’t be angry with Nyssa. She was right. Her life sounded incredibly boring. It probably would be if she didn’t love her job as much as she did.

Clearing her throat, Felicity changed the subject. “So, tell me everything there is to know about the wedding. I want to know everything.”

Sara and Nyssa exchanged a look that left no doubt how deeply they were in love with each other. Sara scooted a little closer to Nyssa on the couch and put her hand on Nyssa’s knee.

“Robert’s paying for the wedding.”

Felicity faltered briefly. She had expected a lot of first information to get about this wedding, but she hadn’t necessarily expected this to be the first thing Sara would tell her. She guessed most people would have talked about the location, the food or maybe the dress.

“Well, you did grow to be family to the Queens after your dad died,” Felicity said. “I am sure you made him very happy when you agree to let him pay for the wedding.”

“Yes, he offered again and again, and eventually, we just agreed,” Sara replied, nodding her head. “I wouldn’t have needed him to pay for the wedding, but it was a good feeling to know that he wanted to do so because he felt like he was my father, at least a little bit.”

Felicity smiled, knowing exactly what Sara meant. Robert Queen was the most generous person she knew, and he gladly invited everyone who was interested to become a part of his family. He had done so with Sara after her dad head died and she had had nobody else. He had done so with Nyssa when she had been abandoned by her father after he had found out that she was into girls. Once she had started dating Oliver, he had welcomed her with open arms too, and he would have still considered her family even if she had worked for his concurrent.

“Well, of course that means that they can also control the media,” Nyssa added, “but I think we found a good compromise on that.”

Felicity perked up her eyebrows. “There will be press attending?”

“No, we could convince Moira that we didn’t want that,” Sara replied. “We hired two of our usual fashion photographers though, and some selected photos as well as a joint interview will be printed in the next issue of the Vogue.”

Felicity whistled out a breath of impression. “That’s a big thing.”

“A lesbian and a bi that work as the faces of the same fashion label getting married in an extraordinary ceremony,” Nyssa said. “That is a big thing.”

“True.” Felicity nodded her head. “The media wouldn’t be interested if you weren’t this good at your jobs.”

Nyssa couldn’t hide the proud smile on her lips. Becoming a model hadn’t been easy for her as she had had no support of her family. She often seemed like she didn’t care about a lot of things, but Felicity knew better. Nyssa cared deeply.

“So, is anyone of your family attending the wedding?” Felicity asked Sara. “Like your mom or Laurel at least?”

Nyssa put her hand over Sara’s at the question, offering silent comfort. It was a rare occasion when Nyssa was the one pushing for the touch. She knew that Sara needed it, so she offered it gladly.

Felicity didn’t know what exactly had happened between Sara, her mother and her sister. All she knew was that their relationship had broken apart when Sara’s parents had gotten divorced. Laurel had moved to Central City with her mother. Sara had stayed in Starling with her father. It had been a difficult situation, and they had never really recovered from it. When Quentin had died on duty, the split through the Lance Family had only deepened.

“Laurel and my mom will come for the rehearsal dinner and for the wedding,” she replied a little tensely, and not even her smile could cover that she wasn’t comfortable talking about it. “I only found the courage to call them up and invite them after you agreed to be my maid of honor. That way I could have a reason why I didn’t ask Laurel to be my maid of honor. It made things easier.”

“You still don’t want her to take over the task?”

“No,” Sara hurried to say and shook her head firmly. “It’s going to be a challenge to have my mom and Laurel there for the wedding as it is. The less time I spent with them alone, the better.”

Felicity smiled at her encouragingly. “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back.”

“I know you do.” Sara released a sigh of relief, her fingers tightening around Nyssa’s hand. “And I already have Thea.”

“I guess she still loves organizing parties?”

“That and celebrating them,” Nyssa replied. “The little Queen is full of energy.”

Felicity smiled, thinking about how much she had missed Thea too. She didn’t have any siblings. While she and Oliver had been together, she had loved to see Thea as her sister though. They had been incredibly close, the way good sisters were, and Felicity had felt more than relieved that Thea had stayed in touch with her even after she had moved to Hub City.

“She is full of energy,” Felicity agreed, nodding her head, “but she usually manages to leads her energy onto the right paths. I am sure she got a lot of great ideas when it came to the wedding.”

“Yes, she did.” Sara nodded her head firmly. “It was her idea to use the Queens’ garden for the wedding ceremony, and she drew sketches of how to set up the tents and everything.”

That sounded a lot like Thea, Felicity thought to herself. Oliver’s younger sister never did anything half-heartedly. She loved to throw herself into new tasks headfirst. If she did, she always made the best of it. She never gave up easily, and she had the power to convince people of her ideas.

“She once mentioned that she always imagined planning your wedding with Oliver that way.”

Felicity’s heart stood still for a second. It didn’t go unnoticed by Sara, who threw her fiancé another angry glare. Felicity lowered her gaze, trying to ignore it. She didn’t want to think about what could have been between her and Oliver. Maybe in a couple of years she could laugh about it, but she wasn’t ready to do so yet.

Clearing her throat, Felicity lifted her gaze. She put on a smile that she knew didn’t reach her eyes. She could see it in Sara’s eyes. Her friend was looking at her with worry, wordlessly asking if everything was okay. Everything that had even remotely referred to her past relationship with Oliver had been a big taboo these last years.

“I am sure that Thea and I will make a good team.”

“That’s good to hear.” Sara smiled. “Maybe you could call her up and ask her if she needs help for our masquerade ball tomorrow.”

“A masquerade ball?”

“It’s ridiculous,” Nyssa mumbled, “but it was two against one.”

Sara pushed her elbow into Nyssa’s ribs playfully, and she dropped her head back on the top of the backrest with a groan. Felicity could still see the smile on her lips. As grumpy as Nyssa seemed, she was exciting for her wedding and whatever that masquerade ball was.

“Nyssa and I decided to share our bachelorette party because we have the same friends, and it would have been stupid to make them choose which party to go to,” Sara explained. “You know I was never a fan of those games or running around and selling kisses or anything. At first, we considered inviting everyone to dinner and going into a club after that.”

“I guess Thea had different plans?”

The corners of Felicity’s lips twitched. She couldn’t imagine that Thea would ever accept a bachelorette party like that. The youngest Queen had an extraordinary taste, and she knew exactly what was needed for an unforgettable party.

“She said we should pep it up a little.” Sara chuckled, knowing as well as Felicity did that it had to be an underestimation. “She organized everything at the Queen Mansion, and she designed dresses for Nyssa and me. Speaking of dresses, your dress for the wedding has to be fitted.”

Felicity nodded her head. “I know. I have that covered.”

Sara perked up her eyebrows. “Is Thea going to-?”

“No, Oliver will do it,” Felicity replied and hurried to continue, so there wouldn’t be any awkward pause. “I met Oliver at Queen Consolidated yesterday, and he invited or rather ordered me to his atelier tonight.”

“Maybe if I ask Thea-“

“Oliver would never let anyone touch his designs,” Felicity interrupted Sara, shaking her head. “Don’t worry. If Oliver has ever been professional, it has been during work. It will take fifteen, maybe thirty minutes. I can handle that.”

Sara looked at her intensely, and Felicity had to lowered her eyes. She couldn’t deny that her stomach tightened whenever she thought about this dress fitting tonight. Knowing how thorough Oliver was with his work, he was going to get very close to her. Felicity didn’t know if she would be able to handle that. She had only managed to find her freedom at some point in the last three years because she had known that Oliver was thousands of miles away.

With Oliver back in her reach, she felt her old anger embracing her, and she had never liked what that anger had turned her into. Still, the anger was easier to focus on than it was to focus on the heartbreak.

“Felicity, what happened between you and Oliver?”

Looking at Sara, Felicity put on a sad smile and shrugged her shoulders. “It’s a long story.”

 

* * *

 

“This loft is one of my favorite realties. I don’t get the chance to show it to clients often. The happier I am about the opportunities to show it to you.”

The realtor – Felicity had tried without success to remember her name in the last thirty minutes, and she didn’t care enough to keep trying – pushed open the door. A brief glance inside proved to Felicity what she had suspected long before already. This was in no way in their budget, at least not the budget she and Oliver had agreed on.

Puckering her lips, Felicity shot Oliver a glare. Unimpressed by her anger, Oliver grinned. He laced his fingers through hers and lifted her hand to his lips. Taking the first step into the loft and pulling her inside with him, he kissed the back of her hand.

“The house was built in the 1920s by a local company that used it to provide living space to their industrial workers. Later, it was a normal apartment complex for the middle class. Last year, it was bought by one of Starling’s own property tycoons. He renovated the entire building, going as far as demolishing almost the entire inside to create fewer apartments with more space and luxurious appointments. The penthouse loft is the best example for that.”

Felicity looked around the spacious area. Kitchen, dining room and living room were combined to one. Over two metal stairs you could reach the gallery upstairs. Five doors led away from it to separate rooms, while there were open areas at the sides, so you could look down from upstairs. Through the windows that reached from the floor to the ceiling and covered three of the four walls, allowing her an extraordinary view. She could even see the harbor in the west of the city.

Squeezing Oliver’s hand, she let go of it to turn around herself and take in every inch of the loft. The dark flooring alone looked expensive. Combined with the brick walls and metal pillars, there was an industrial touch to it. It looked modern and old at the same time.

To Felicity’s surprise, she actually liked the loft, and that didn’t sit well with her.

“There are nearly 3100 square feet for you to spread yourself out,” the realtor added. The loft features soaring ceilings that allow the open construction over two floors with the spectacular gallery. The wide-plan hardwood floors are luxurious and work nicely into the industrial style that reminds of the old times of the building.”

Felicity flashed Oliver a brief glance. When he caught it, Felicity could see that he was biting back an amused grin. Neither of them was particularly fond of any kind of sales conversation which was why they had rejected the idea of hiring a realtor in the first place. Since their apartment hunting had been without success these last couple of weeks, they had figured that a realtor was their best choice of finding an apartment. Their first home together.

“You have a large fireplace in the living area and a luxurious designer kitchen over there. Are you interested in cooking?”

“Hell, no.” Felicity groaned at the idea of cooking and pointed back over her shoulder to where Oliver was already heading towards the kitchen. “He’s the cook in our relationship.”

“A man that can cook.” The realtor smiled at Oliver. “That’s impressive.”

“It’s just a hobby,” Oliver replied, shrugging his shoulders. “But I do need a good kitchen nonetheless.”

While Oliver and the realtor took in the kitchen, Felicity headed over to the living area. The fireplace looked indeed beautiful. She could imagine sitting in front of it during cold winter nights, working on her laptop while Oliver was drawing new sketches for his designs. Their feet would touch

Realizing that she could actually see herself living here, Felicity scrunched up her nose. The loft was nice. She couldn’t deny it even if she tried. Living here would be a dream come true – not necessarily her dream, but maybe the dream of eight-year-old her and definitely Oliver’s dream – if it wasn’t for the fact that she knew that they could never afford this.

Well, she could never afford this as she didn’t have millions of dollars in her account that was transferred to it from her escrow account when she had turned 21 years old. She hadn’t been born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Her parents weren’t billionaires.

She saw the exposé of the loft on the small table next to the fireplace where glasses and some water were prepared for the clients. Sitting down on the edge of the table, she brushed through the magazine.

In addition to the data and facts they had gotten from the realtor, exposé informed her that there were six apartments in the building. The loft was the most luxurious one, but the other lofts got the same opportunity of using the 24-hour house staff, the fitness room and courtyard in the back of the building.

That alone was scary, so Felicity was afraid of reading more. This life of luxury was nothing she thought she would ever get used to. She barely understood how people could live like that.

Continuing to read, she learned that there were four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The master bathroom even featured spa-like elements like a rain shower and a whirlpool, the master bedroom had a separate area that was already furnished with custom closets and parts of its ceiling consisted of glass. The office was constructed by an icon in the tech-field, so it was designed for the work with several computers and monitors. The balcony led from the northern over the eastern to the southern side, catching some sunlight all day and offering enough space for small parties.

Long story short, the entire loft was like the modern version of a castle. It was beautiful, extraordinary, and it matched both of their demands for a good living and work space. It might be more Oliver’s style, but Oliver had quite a good style.

That still didn’t solve the problem that it was nothing she could afford. Glancing at the last side, Felicity almost fainted at the prize as well as the fact that this wasn’t a loft to rent. It should be sold for a cool 2,250,000 dollars.

“So, what do you think?” the realtor asked. “Should we go upstairs and take a look at the rest of the rooms?”

“Actually,” Felicity said before Oliver could answer, “I’d like to talk to Oliver for a second.”

“Of course.” The realtor’s smile widened although Felicity could see a little bit of frustration behind the smile. Felicity guessed that she had realized within a couple of minutes that Oliver was the one she had impressed more easily and Felicity was the one who needed more convincing. “I will wait outside.”

As soon as the door had closed behind the realtor, Felicity lifted the exposé.

“For sale for more than two million dollars?”

Oliver rolled his lips into his mouth and cocked his head, admitting defeat. With a sigh, Felicity dropped the exposé to the table. They were short on time when it came to finding a new home as it was. Now they had lost some more time and-

“Okay, listen,” Oliver interrupted her thoughts and hurried towards her, grabbing her hands. “I know we decided to rent something, but we haven’t found anything we liked. I figured that maybe we should try something else.”

“This is definitely something else.” Felicity chuckled dryly. “Oliver, this is a modern palace, and it is beautiful in all different ways, but it’s too expensive.”

“Two million dollars are peanuts.”

“For you.”

Oliver already opened his mouth and took in a deep breath to reply when he realized that he didn’t know what to say. Sighing, he puckered his lips and brushed the knuckles of his fingers over her cheek.

“Is that still important?” he asked eventually, frowning slightly. “What’s mine and what’s yours? We want to live here together, and this place could make us both very happy. Can’t things just be ours from now on?”

Felicity felt her heart warming at the suggestion. For Oliver, it would really be that easy. He would just buy the apartment and make her feel like it was theirs every time of the day. He would never mention the money again, not even when they were fighting which they rarely ever did anyway.

For her, it just wasn’t that easy.

Moving in together with her boyfriend was a big thing as it was. Moving in when your boyfriend payed the apartment felt too big of a step. She knew that she wouldn’t really depend on him as she was still earning her own money, but it still felt like she was making herself a little dependable of Oliver and his lifestyle. She wasn’t sure if she could do that.

“Okay, come here.” Oliver tugged at her hand, pulling her against him, so her back was resting against his chest. Turning her towards the living space, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and rested his chin on her shoulder. “We could place a fluffy carpet in front of the fireplace, so we can make love in front of the fire in cold winter nights. We could place a long wooden table over there where we have dinner together every night and tell each other about our days. Maybe that area upstairs could be used as my space to work from home, and you use the office. The loft is the perfect place to work, to live and to love.”

With resentment, Felicity realized that she could indeed see all of that. She could see where the furniture was placed, and she could see Oliver working in the open area upstairs. She could even hear the heels of her shoes on the metal stairs when she was running towards the door, late for work after Oliver had kept her in the shower for a little longer than her schedule would have allowed.

And still it didn’t believe the unwell feeling in the pit of her stomach when she thought about the costs of the loft. She didn’t want people to think that she was a gold digger. They thought that already, and they would certainly consider it proven if she moved into a loft that she could only live in because Oliver payed for it.

With a facial expression that she was sure showed how much she was caught in a dilemma, Felicity turned around to Oliver. He perked up his eyebrows, wordlessly prompting her to say what she was thinking. When Felicity bit down on her bottom lip instead, he chuckled softly.

“Let’s head home and discuss this,” Oliver suggested, freeing her bottom lip from the maltreatment of her front teeth by brushing his thumb over it. “We will find an agreement, I am sure.”

No sooner said than done, Oliver and Felicity left the loft. They told the realtor, who looked anything but happy, that they would call her and stepped outside on the sidewalk. Hand in hand, they headed back to Oliver’s apartment where they were staying most of the time.

“So, is the money the only reason you are against buying that loft?” Oliver asked eventually. “Or is there anything else?”

“I just never expected to live in something like that.” Felicity gestured back to the building. “Eight-year-old me who lived in an one-room apartment over a Turkish fast food restaurant would have loved that, but that version of me was just too much influenced by the fact that my dad left and pushed my mom and me into that kind of life.”

Felicity sucked in a deep breath. She didn’t like talking about her dad and being left by him. More than a decade had passed since then, but the pain was still deep.

Oliver squeezed her hand, offering silent support. Felicity smiled softly and leaned against Oliver’s arm even more. She knew that she could always tell him what was on her heart. He always listened, and he always caught her when she fell. It was one of the many reasons why she felt so safe with him.

“I always imagined something smaller and cozier,” she added eventually, “like a townhouse.”

“It’s still the townhouse that was shown to us by the owner last week, right?” Oliver asked, squeezing her hand. “That is why you can’t say yes to the loft.”

Smiling, Felicity rested her head against Oliver’s shoulder and sighed. It still amazed her how well he knew her. He had the talent to voice what she was thinking because she had found the right words to say it. She was feeling as understood as she had never felt before, and what was even more surprising was that Oliver still loved her.

The thought made Felicity’s smile widened, and her stomach started prickling. They had been together for two years now. While their love for each other had certainly grown stronger with time, she still had a giant crush for this big, grumpy man, who turned into a teddy bear when they were alone.

“If I am allowed to think ahead, I think the townhouse might make sense.” When Felicity shot him a glance, he added, “A home with a garden will be useful if we have a dog or maybe a kid one day.”

“I still have great plans for my career,” Felicity reminded him, but she couldn’t help her heart to beat twice as quickly as before at the thought of spending the rest of her life with Oliver. “There is no time for a dog or a kid right now. I still have a hundred things to do before I can even think about taking on tasks that have nothing to do with work. I mean I want to have a name like my name at the façade of some building like your father has with Queen Consolidated before I have a baby. If you want to have a baby and-”

Felicity hadn’t realized how quickly she had spoken until Oliver had suddenly stopped walking, framed her face with his hands and made her shut up by kissing her lips gently. It took her a moment before she let the feeling of his soft lips against hers and the tickling of his stubble around her mouth relaxed her. With a sigh, she melted against Oliver’s broad body and answered to the kiss.

When they broke the kiss, Felicity moved her tongue over her lips, chasing the last bit of Oliver’s taste on them. Opening her eyes, she found Oliver’s gaze already on her. He was smiling softly, soothingly even.

“I know that,” he told her with a gentle voice. “I meant one day far down the line, not now. We both have plans where for our careers, and we should follow them before we follow other plans, especially having a baby.”

Felicity nodded. “A dog would be nice though.”

“No way!” Chuckling, Oliver put his arm around her shoulders as they continued their way home. “A dog is only going to mess up with my designs.”

Felicity rolled her eyes, shaking her head. She doubted that there was a lot to mess up given the way Oliver worked. He loved to create chaos all around him while he was working. He claimed that there was some structure to his chaos, but Felicity doubted it. She kept her thoughts for herself though.

“Now, as for our new home, I guess that someone has to give in.”

Felicity nodded her head. They had seen uncountable apartments, and they could take a look at another hundred ones. They would never fully agree on anything. They came from two completely different lifestyles, and they had very contrary tastes. They needed to decide.

“Either the townhouse or loft,” Felicity thought out loud, nodding her head. “It will be one of those two, but someone has to give in.”

“And I guess we both know who it will be.”

Felicity nodded her head, repeating, “We both know who it will be.”

They just had to share a look for them to know that they didn’t have to say it out loud. They already knew who was going to give in. In those two years they had been together, Felicity had been the one to give in for the sake of freedom most of the time. Besides, she could see them living in the loft more than Oliver could probably see them living in the townhouse.

Felicity didn’t mind giving in though. A lot of things had changed for her in the last years, and there had been a lot of things she had never thought were good for her had turned into something great for her nonetheless. Having a boyfriend for one was not half as distracting from her career as she had thought it would be. Oliver supported her in everything he did, and he was wonderful in a million different ways. After eighteen months of doing a long-distance relationship, moving in together was the right move for both of them.

Their gazes met. They were both smiling happily that the first step to moving in together had finally been made. There was finally getting movement into the whole thing. Finally, finally, finally.

When Oliver suddenly wrapped his arms around her waist and scooped her up from the floor, swirling her around, Felicity chuckled. She put her arms as tightly around his neck as possible, holding onto him for dear life. While she was soon feeling dizzy from the swirling, she couldn’t stop laughing from joy.

Oliver kept his arms wrapped her around her tightly when he set her back to the floor, making sure that she wouldn’t lose her balance. He looked at her for a moment before he captured her lips in a hungry kiss. It told her all Felicity had to know although she knew it already. Oliver was looking forward to living with her just as much as she looked forward to it.

“We should sign the contract as quickly as possible.”

Felicity nodded her head. “Absolutely, but only after the first of April. I have-“

“-some other things to take care of, so you can start your new job at Merlyn Global in May.” Oliver pecked her lips. “I know.”

“The third of April would be perfect,” Felicity explained, remembering that it was a Monday. “At around eight.”

“Okay.” Oliver cocked his head. “I guess the loser can also make an appointment.”

Felicity hummed in agreement. It was better if she made that appointment anyway. Oliver might actually forget. He would never do so on purpose, but he just wasn’t that organized. There was a good reason his mother was the CEO of his company and not he himself.

“I am really happy we are moving in together,” Oliver whispered, moving his hand from the crown of her head back to her ponytail and wrapping it around his fingers as he loved to do. “Finally.”

Felicity smiled. “Finally.”

Oliver laced his fingers through hers as they continued their way home. Felicity rested her head back against his shoulder and put her free hand onto his bicep. She loved how her hand was just big enough to cup the muscle.

“We should celebrate our decision tonight.”

“I can’t. I’m going out with Sara and Nyssa for some drinks.”

Oliver groaned, reaching into the pocket of his leatherjacket to pull out his cigarettes. “I should have gotten involved with someone who wasn’t that beloved. Maybe that way my girlfriend would have time to- hey!”

Frowning, Oliver watched Felicity steal the cigarette from his lips before he could light it up. She trashed the cigarette in the first trashcan they walked past and quickly snatched the rest of the cigarettes from him too. With a triumphant smile on her lips, Felicity looked at Oliver, who was still frowning.

“You promised me that you’d stop smoking if I moved in with you,” Felicity reminded him. “That was the deal, Honey.”

When Oliver just grumbled again, Felicity chuckled. She was sure that she was going to suffer as much as he would these next few weeks until he had gotten used to the lack of nicotine. She was the one who would have to endure his moodiness that would probably come with the deprivation.

She didn’t mind. Oliver was worth it. What they had with each other was worth whatever struggle they might have to face to move in together as Felicity had never been this happy. For the first time, she felt like she was exactly where she was supposed to be. For the first time, she had a real home.

 

* * *

 

With a shake of her head, Felicity pushed those memories away. It wasn’t like she had forgotten all the good times she had ever had with Oliver. She knew that they had had a great time together. Otherwise, he would have never been able to hurt her the way that he had. The way he had ended things between them should just overweight whatever nostalgic warmth embraced her heart at the memory of good times.

Standing in front of OJQ, Felicity felt the mix of anger and sadness playing inside of her that had taken control of her the moment the plane had landed in Starling yesterday. She was sure if she didn’t get a hold of it soon, she would probably grow an ulcer in theses few days that she stayed here. She couldn’t have that.

Felicity shook her head once more. After three years, one might think that you got over the anger of a break-up. She had never been a resentful person, but she was resentful when it came to this she guessed. The betrayal coming from the person you had trusted the most was always the first after all.

Taking in a deep breath, Felicity tried to distract herself from her anger. She hated the idea that she was the angry girlfriend, and the last thing she wanted was to cause a scene. She was an adult and a successful business woman, so she would behave like one.

From what she could see of OJQ so far, Felicity guessed she wasn’t the only one who had become quite successful in the last three years. Back when she and Oliver had still been together, he had just started his own fashion label, and he worked in a tiny shop. By now, the administration of OJQ had moved into a modern office building, while the creative department was working in an annex.

Felicity knew that Oliver liked to have noises and movement around him. He could never work all alone in a wide room. He did, however, hate to be annoyed by people from the administration while he was doing his job. He wanted to focus solely on his designs.

With a glance at her watch, Felicity decided to go in. The longer she would wait, the harder it would be. The sooner she started, the sooner it was finished though.

The front desk wasn’t staffed, so Felicity just strolled through the annex. The industrial style reminded her a lot of the loft they had planned to rent. The thought made her heart tighten painfully for a second, but she pushed the thought away quickly.

“Oliver?” Felicity called out. “Oliver, I’m here. Come on, let’s get this over with quickly, so we can all go back to-“

Felicity stopped when a hulk of a man with arms like the trunk of a tree approached her. He could easily be frightening if it wasn’t for the warm smile on his face.

“Ms. Felicity Megan Smoak,” he said and spread his arms. “It’s great to see you again.”

Chuckling, Felicity stepped into John Diggle’s arms and let him hug her. When his arms wrapped around her small body, she thought about how easily he could crush her. She knew that he would never do that. John Diggle was a gentle giant and a person you could trust blindly.

“You look great, John,” Felicity told him when she pulled back. “Really great.”

“So do you.” John squeezed her fingers. “Are you here for the wedding?”

Felicity nodded her head. “Yes, I just arrived yesterday, and now I gotta fit my dress. He is lucky that Sara convinced me that I had to wear one of his designs. I would have definitely fought him on that, but I don’t fight with the brides. It’s their day, so I do whatever they need me to do, even if I have to be here for that.”

John hummed vaguely. In his eyes, she could see that he knew exactly that these next thirty minutes wasn’t going to be easy for her. Maybe Oliver had already told him about it.

“I was just about to leave, but now I wonder if I should stay in case you go at each other’s throats. Sara’s and Nyssa’s dresses aren’t through the last fitting yet either, and I am sure the sudden death of the designer and the maid of honor that short before the wedding would overshadow the occasion.”

“I hope it won’t be that bad.”

Felicity mumbled the words. She couldn’t deny that there was a real chance that that might actually happen. Three years of bottled up anger could easily lead her to claw out Oliver’s eyes. She wasn’t proud about it, but it was the truth.

“Do you-?”

Before John could ask his question, Oliver came from one of the rooms. He only shot Felicity a brief glance before he looked away. His facial expression darkened, and his muscles tensed.

“You’re here.” His voice sounded as tense as his body looked. “Hurry up and put on the dress. I don’t have much time.”

With that, he disappeared behind a curtain. Felicity shot John a glance and saw that he sighed. She guessed that he had been on the receiving end of Oliver’s mood most days. If John hadn’t the patience of a saint, he would have probably quit his job years ago.

“I will leave you two to it.”

Felicity nodded and hugged John once more, whispering into his ear, “If they find his dead body tomorrow, I hope you testify in my favor because it will have been out of self-defense.”

John chuckled and kissed her temple. “See you soon, Felicity.”

“Yeah, see you.”

Turning her head back over her shoulder, Felicity watched John leave. She took in a deep breath before she followed Oliver to the area behind the curtain.

The area was separated to only one side, so there was a clear view to the workplaces of the dressmakers that weren’t occupied right now. A giant table made of wood was placed in the middle of Oliver’s working area. Bales and shreds of cloth as well as papers with half-finished designs were lying around on the table and the floor, creating the usual chaos Oliver loved to work in.

“You can change in there.” Oliver nodded his head towards a curtained area in the back of his atelier without looking at her. “The dress is already there.”

“Of course, your Majesty,” Felicity mumbled to herself. “Your wish is my command.”

Rolling her eyes, she hurried towards the changing room, put away her purse and opened the clothes bag where her dress was kept. Felicity took a step back and puckered her lips, taking the dress in.

The long dress had a delicately lavender color. The skirt was made of several layers of flowing fabric. The top was made of a half-transparent fabric. Thanks to the embroidery with sparkling pearls, it still covered most of the skin. It formed a sweetheart neckline, so the cleavage, shoulders and arms were just covered by the transparent fabric. A small belt accentuated the waist.

Felicity liked the dress which angered her more than she had thought. Oliver shouldn’t be able to meet her taste that easily after three years.

Swallowing down her anger or annoyance or whatever it was, Felicity changed into the dress and looked herself up and down in the mirror. The dress looked even better on her body than it had looked on the hanger. It suited her figure, making her look a little slimmer than she was. It didn’t scratch her at all like she had feared it would. It was actually kind of comfortable.

“Are you getting ready today?” Oliver asked from outside. “Or don’t you know how to put on Haute Couture?”

Felicity rolled her eyes, pushing the curtain aside. She had a snide answer on the tip of her tongue, she didn’t get to voice it. The way Oliver looked at her, his pupils blown wide and his lips slightly opened, made every word die on her lips. She knew that expression, knew what it meant, and she couldn’t prevent it to cause a prickling in her center. Nobody had ever looked at her with so much desire like Oliver.

She glanced at his lips. They looked heavenly kissable, and kissing they could. That was what she remembered. She didn’t remember what had been their last kiss. She didn’t remember exactly what it felt like to kiss them. All she remembered that she had loved to kiss them.

Taken aback and even overwhelmed by her reaction to the way he looked at her, Felicity quickly lowered her gaze. She sucked in a deep breath, doing her best to push away whatever she had thought and felt a second ago. She had come to Starling for Sara and Nyssa, and she was using her trip to the forbidden city as she liked to call Starling for work. Those were the only reasons she had come here, just as it should be. After everything that had happened between her and Oliver, she had to focus on her anger if that was her only chance at withstanding him.

Only chance at withstanding him. The words echoed in her head. Oliver was handsome, hot even. He wasn’t irresistible. She had just underestimated her reaction to seeing him again which had made her weak for a second. It had confused her. If she just focused on his many bad traits, that little bit of weakness she still had for him would soon be forgotten.

“Get on the pedestal.”

His moodiness was certainly a good starting point. Oliver could look at her like he wanted to devour her in one moment and order her around coldly the next. She guessed the expression in his eyes had been directed at his latest design rather than the person in it.

Not surprisingly, the thought relaxed her a little.

Sucking in another deep breath, Felicity stepped onto the pedestal and let Oliver walk around her, to take in the dress. His face was completely focused. When he was at work, he was always completely focused because Oliver loved his job as much as she loved hers.

When his eyes met hers briefly, Felicity hurried to look away. She just focused on the dressmakers’ work stations. Some of them were arranged neatly. Every reel and every pincushion had its place. Others were just as untidy as Oliver’s atelier. Felicity was sure that those were the people Oliver preferred working with.

Getting closer to her, Oliver started working on the seams. He pinned it at her hips, at her waist and some other parts. Like it usually was when he was working on his designs, he was very thorough and absolutely focused. He ordered her around, making sure he got the access to the dress he needed.

Felicity just followed his orders, distracting herself by going through some reports mentally. Oliver wasn’t the only one who could focus on work after all.

It wasn’t until Oliver had worked his way to the front of the dress and started working on the neckline of it, Felicity felt her focus waver. Oliver’s face was so close that she had trouble not staring at him, no matter how hard she tried looking away. Oliver’s hands were brushing against her cleavage as he pinned the neckline. His breath was ghosting over her skin, causing goosebumps to spread there.

Felicity pressed her lips together, taking deep breaths. She tried not to let Oliver notice how much his close presence affected her. She wished she herself hadn’t noticed it.

Why did he have to smell so good? Under the biting scent of nicotine on his skin, Felicity could smell the scent that was truly Oliver’s. It was indescribable, but it made a flood of warmth go through her. His smell brought back the feelings of the good times, but Felicity couldn’t have that.

When she had finally agreed to come to Starling, she had thought that she could finally make a real cut. She had imagined running into Oliver, swallowing down her anger and finding the strength to forgive him. She had thought that would be the final step to making peace with what had happened between them.

Obviously, she had been wrong.

Oliver’s fingertips grazed against her skin purposefully now, following her goosebumps. A blush spread across her skin wherever he touched her.

Swallowing down the lump in her throat, Felicity met Oliver’s eyes. Just like when she had stepped out of the changing room, his pupils were blown wide and his lips were slightly parted. The sight made her breathing falter until it got stuck in her throat.

Felicity told herself not to do it. These last three years, she had found her peace. There had still been uncountable unanswered questions, but she had almost accepted that she would never get the answers. She had learned to live with it. If she drew a line here, maybe she could still go back to Hub City without feeling like she had to start all over before she had allowed her anger to cover the pain.

If she crossed this line, she possibly risked all steps of recovery she had already managed to take. Crossing this line was going to be a mistake.

It didn’t matter how many times Felicity told herself that. She repeated the words in her head again and again and again. Yet, she started moving at the same time Oliver did like some invisible power was drawing them towards one another. One moment they were still looking at each other intensely. The next, their lips were already clashing together.

That was what it had always felt like to kiss Oliver Felicity thought to herself when she felt like a thousand little fires were lightened up inside of her. They spread through her veins like wildfire, consuming every part of her. She was almost that embraced by the feeling that she could barely enjoy the feeling of his soft lips moving against hers, his tongue dancing with hers and his stubble tickling the skin around her lips.

All thoughts and all other emotions washed away as desire flooded through her.

Oliver’s arms wrapped around Felicity’s body. Strong as he was, he embraced her so tightly that she could feel his body oh so well. His biceps pressed against her sides. His hands roamed over her back. His abs pressed against her stomach. His hips urged towards her.

With a deep sigh, Felicity moved her fingers into Oliver’s hair. She pressed herself closer to him and stroked her tongue deeper into his mouth. Oliver moaned into the kiss in response. His fingers dug into her skin slightly like he was trying to hold onto her for dear life.

The little voice that had warned her of this before tried fight itself to Felicity’s consciousness, but all her sensations distracted her too much. The feeling of Oliver’s lips against her, the taste of his tongue, the vibration that went through his chest when he moaned against her lips. All that distracted her way too much to listen to any doubt. She was caught in the moment, unable to think about what had been or might be.

Soon, Oliver’s fingers were taking hold of the zipper at the waist of her dress. Without breaking the kiss, he lowered the zipper and brushed his fingers against her skin. The touch was featherlight at first. When Felicity arched her back, pressing her chest even stronger against him, he seemed to become braver. His hand moved into the small slit of fabric until it rested against the small of her back.

Felicity sighed into Oliver’s mouth. His hand was wonderfully warm, and that warmth spread across her skin now. Oliver’s fingers moved along her spine, making her melt into him even more. She could feel how calloused his fingertips were, especially against her soft skin.

More was all Felicity could think. She wanted more. She needed more. Everything inside of he was aching, demanding to fill the void those last three years had left with her. Her imagination or maybe her memory or even both had been sparked by, and she knew there was no going back now.

Quickly, Felicity grabbed the hem of Oliver’s shirt and pulled it up his body. It took a moment before Oliver pulled back and lifted his arms over his head, so she could take it off. Before she even got the chance to just drop the piece of clothing to the floor, Oliver’s lips were already on hers again, ravishing her.

Felicity put her hands to his shoulders. His skin was soft compared to the tight muscle it embraced. Felicity couldn’t withstand the desire to dig her short fingernails into his skin gently and scratch them down his back. Oliver growled against her lips in response, and Felicity couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Just you wait.”

Oliver mumbled the words against her lips, and Felicity already considered pulling back to tease him, but Oliver was quicker to react. He grabbed the skirt of her dress and pulled it over her head. Felicity could feel the pinups scratching over her skin, but to her surprise, neither of it pricked her too badly.

With a carelessness that Felicity had never seen when it came to how Oliver treated his designs, he threw the dress across the room to the floor. For the break of a second, she wondered if they had to pin it again now.

Oliver pushed his hands behind her knees and lifted her against him, making her focus switch back to him and only him. It was easy to focus on him because her naked chest was pressing to his chest now, her nipples rubbing against his heated skin. That fact that with her legs wrapped around his hips, she could feel his hardened member pressing against her panties only made her focus on him more.

Her hips started moving against him, rubbing her aroused sex against the zipper of his jeans to get the friction she needed so much. It offered some release, but not nearly enough. Her movements quickened, trying to get even more. Oliver groaned in response. His front teeth grazed against her bottom lip.

There was something raw to the way they moved together on instinct, following their need for release and nothing else. The rawness of the moment made them only drive forward even more purposefully. They were tearing at each other’s clothes, trying to get the last barriers away from between them.

While Oliver pulled his pants and boxer briefs down in one go, Felicity got up on her knees and got rid of her panties. As soon as Oliver had rolled the condom onto his cock, Felicity crawled to hover over him. Oliver positioned his cock at her entrance. Their eyes locked. Slowly, she sank down on him.

Her lips fell open at the feeling of how he eased into her. His cock stretched the slick walls of her channel, already fluttering around him. As much as she needed him to fill her immediately, she enjoyed the slow penetration too much to hurry up, especially given how tense Oliver’s jaw was. He was just as torn between the need of a quick relief and the enjoyment of slowing things down as she was.

Once his cock was buried deep inside of her, Felicity stilled. They looked at each other intensely, breathing the same air as they were panting from the arousal that was already taking hold of them. Desire and need were written all over Oliver’s face.

He was the one to move first. He shifted his hips, thrusting shallowly. The movement was all Felicity needed to have her need for more overweighting the enjoyment of slowing things down. It didn’t seem to be different for Oliver.

They moved together in perfect synch like it hadn’t been years that they had had sex the last time. When Oliver’s hips lifted off the floor slightly, Felicity pressed hers down onto him, making him go particularly deep. Their movements were quick and fast. Skin slapped against skin and filled the room, mixing with their heavy panting and low moans.

When Oliver leaned his head forward, Felicity wanted to meet him halfway, but Oliver had different plans. He avoided her lips and brushed his lips against the side of her neck instead. He kissed, licked and nibbled her skin, making Felicity bite down on her bottom lip to strangle her moans.

Soon, Oliver’s lips traveled further down. He kissed a long path from the side of her neck over her cleavage towards her breast. His lips were so close to her nipple that they brushed against it whenever Felicity took in a deep breath. Teasing her, he stayed just out of reach until Felicity couldn’t wait any longer. She moved her fingers into his hair and pulled his head towards her breast.

“Oh god.”

The choked moan escaped her lips at the rough feeling of his tongue moving against her nipple relentlessly. Her breathing became shorter, and a jolt of pleasure drove through her core. Her hips moved down onto Oliver’s even harder.

It felt good having him surround her and inside of her, so incredibly good. His strong arms kept the coolness of the room away from her. His chest helped her balancing her movements. His cock was filling and stretching her just the right way, hitting all the sensitive spots that increased her pleasure quickly.

Indeed, it didn’t take long for her pleasure to rise to a height. She could feel it in the way her lower stomach tingled and her inner walls fluttered even more around Oliver’s cock. She was sure that Oliver could feel it because he suddenly angled his head back and looked at her, his iris darkened and his pupils dilated.

With a long moan, Felicity came. The pleasure spread through her, causing her muscles to spasm from the energy running through her. Even in her haze, she could see the way Oliver looked at her. The expression on his face was intense.

Just when the last waves of pleasure ran through her, Oliver’s hips stuttered. He came with a deep groan, resting his head forward against her chest. His warm breath ghosted over her breast, causing her nipples to harden even more.

They continued moving together lazily, riding out the last waved of their pleasure while they were trying to catch their breaths. Felicity was still holding onto Oliver’s shoulders that were covered with a thin layer of sweat now.

Wrapping his arms around Felicity’s back tightly, Oliver leaned back until his back rested against the floor and Felicity was sprawled out on his chest. Her head was resting against his shoulder, her right leg was lying between both of his.

Carefully, Felicity shifted her hips until Oliver’s cock slid out of her. They both moaned lowly at the feeling of being separated. Oliver’s arms only wrapped around her more tightly.

They lay together quietly. Neither of them said a word. Neither of them moved. Felicity didn’t even dare to look at Oliver’s face. All she would have to do was angling her head back to look at him, but she didn’t dare to do so. Instead, she kept her eyes on her hand that was resting against Oliver’s lower stomach were a thin line of hair ran from his belly button down to his lap.

Now that the haziness of desire and pleasure started to slowly fade away, that little voice that had already told her that she would regret this reported itself back to her. The doubts that had been washed away by her desire before came back with force and caused her heart was still pounding in her chest from her orgasm, was racing even faster now.

This had been a mistake, a terrible mistake even. Oliver had been her first great love, the person who had made her believe in love, but she had been burnt so terribly by being with him. She knew that she couldn’t have that happen to her again, especially since she had proven to fall for him so easily. He was like a drug that she couldn’t resist if it was rubbed in her face.

 “So,” Felicity said carefully, and the tremble in her voice gave away how tense and nervous she was, “that happened.”

At her words, Oliver’s muscles tensed. Hesitatingly, Felicity angled her head back to see that his face showed the same tension she felt in his body. His eyes were darkened, but it was a different kind of darkness there than before. It didn’t come from passion or arousal. It came from anger and regret.

At least they could agree that this had been a mistake that should never happen again.

“I will make sure the dress is ready for the wedding,” he said, straightening up. “I will bring the dress to my parents’ house, so you don’t have to take care of anything.”

“Thanks.”

Oliver grabbed a large piece of clothing that he handed to her. Quickly, Felicity wrapped it around her breast to cover herself, watching Oliver gathering his clothes and getting to his feet. He stood in the middle of his atelier, obviously unsure what exactly he should do now.

Since the situation was already more awkward than Felicity could endure easily, she cleared her throat and whispered, “I’ll get dressed and find my way out.”

She could see Oliver biting down on his tongue. He looked uncomfortable, but she couldn’t and wouldn’t take that away from him. Sucking in a deep breath, she got to her feet and disappeared behind the curtain where her clothes were waiting for her.

Holding her breath, she listened to what was happening in the atelier. There was a long moment of silence. She couldn’t even hear Oliver breathe, and she wondered if he was holding his breath the way she did.

“Fuck,” he whispered eventually, his voice so low that she could barely hear him, and released a long breath. “Just fuck.”

A couple seconds more passed in silence before she heard footsteps and knew that Oliver was leaving. At least that way she hopefully didn’t have to see him again when she left.

“Terrible mistake,” Felicity whispered, hurrying to put on her clothes. “Stupid me.”

Chapter Text

“Oh, I am so glad that you’re back!”

Thea Queen was a tiny woman of maybe 5’5’’ and less than 120 pounds. She had the face of a fairy, and her short brown hair that framed her face in soft waves only added to the sweet look. Nothing about Thea revealed that she had that much strength in her arms that Felicity thought to herself that, if people continued to hug her like this, she might end up in the hospital with cracked ribs.

No matter how worried Felicity was about the safety of her bones, she hugged Thea back tightly. She couldn’t possibly more relieved or happy that Oliver’s little sister still seemed to consider her a friend although they had barely talked these last three years since she and Oliver had broken up. Oliver was family to Thea, so Felicity wouldn’t have been angry or even surprised if Thea had chosen her brother’s side. Given how close they had been back during Felicity’s time in Starling, she was happy that Thea hadn’t turned against her.

“Okay, we really have so much to catch up on,” Thea said, putting her hands to Felicity’s shoulder and pushing her the length of an arm away from her, “you have to tell me everything about your company and working with Lena Luthor and Lily Stein. You three are known as Charlie’s Angels in the world of technology. I have read so many articles about women of power, and the names of your girl trio has always been in the top five.”

Felicity couldn’t help but smile. She was proud of what she, Lena and Lily had achieved since they started working together. The three of them were indeed trying their best to make sure that women got more recognition. In too many fields of work and society, men still believed that women were the weaker sex.

“And we also have to use this opportunity to watch some of the horror movies that were released these last three years,” Thea continued, “because nobody agreed to watch them with me. I have no idea what’s wrong with people that they refuse to watch horror movies. They are so funny.”

Felicity chuckled, shaking her head. If there was one thing that had connected her and Thea, it was their love for horror movies. They had spent entire nights, watching one movie after the other and just laughing about them.

“Yeah, I missed that too,” Felicity admitted in a whisper, smiling softly, “but I fear that I don’t have much free time. Apart from the wedding, I have some business to take care of. On top of that, I won’t stay long.”

Thea’s smile faded. She looked honestly disappointed and sad at the prospect that they wouldn’t have any quality time to spend together as friends.

Felicity bit down on her tongue. Seeing a friend that disappointed was hard. Having those sad puppy eyes that seemed to run in the Queen Family directed at her felt unbearable. It was just impossible to resist those eyes. Felicity had thorough experience with that.

“Maybe I can make a little time.”

“You better do,” Thea said quickly, shooting her an intense gaze. “There is just no way that we don’t spend some time together now that you are back here in Starling.”

“Only for a couple of days,” Felicity whispered once more, but Thea only shot her an almost annoyed glance. “So, what about the masquerade ball?”

Thea shot Felicity another glance that left no room to deny that she had recognized the sudden change of subject. She let it pass instead of saying anything about it though.

Linking their arms, Thea led Felicity from the entry hall towards the living area of the Queen Mansion. At least from all the time that Felicity had spent here when she had still been Oliver’s girlfriend, she knew that the spacious room had been the family’s living room. Since the room had been cleared of all furniture, Felicity had barely recognized it.

“So, the masquerade ball is going to take place here,” Thea said, making a gesture with her hand to make sure Felicity got that the entire room was used for it. “There will be a buffet over there with some opportunities to sit down. A DJ will make sure there is always some music. That area right there will be used to dance. I hired a light designer to make sure that the light matches the different areas, and I have bought a lot of decorations to add something special.”

Felicity whistled out a breath of admiration. Thea had always been great at planning parties. In those three years that they hadn’t seen each other, she seemed to have gotten even better at it. It was impressive how focused she was and how sure she was that she knew what she wanted.

“I wanted to offer you my help, but I guess you have everything in control:”

Thea chuckled. “I actually do.”

“Sara and Nyssa are going to love this,” Felicity said, already seeing what it would look like if everything had been set up. “It’s going to be a bachelorettes party everyone will talk about for years.”

“If that happens,” Thea replied, bumping her hip against Felicity’s, “that would be exactly what Sara and Nyssa deserve.”

Felicity nodded her head. She knew that Sara and Nyssa didn’t have it easy. They had been put through quite a lot on their individual ways. Since life had thought that wasn’t enough, it had put some more hurdles in their way of finding each other. If someone deserved a really costly and absolutely perfect party, it was them.

“You always had good instincts when it came to parties,” Felicity told Thea and wrapped an arm around her waist, “and this is going to be perfect.”

Thea leaned against Felicity’s side and smiled. “I hope so.”

“I am sure of it,” Felicity encouraged her, “there is just no doubt.”

Smiling, Thea looked at where the party was going to take place. Felicity was sure that she could see everything she had planned the way it would look like when it was all set up. She certainly had an even better and more detailed picture of what it would look like it was completely set up.

“You really are a party genius.”

“I guess it runs in the family.”

Felicity did her best not to think about what happened between her and Oliver yesterday. The bare thought made her stomach tighten. She knew that it should have never happened.

“If there was one thing your brother knew how to do, it was certainly party.”

Felicity mumbled the words under her breath, trying not to sound too harsh. If the way Thea was looking at her was any indication, Felicity guessed that she had failed miserably. She quickly shot Thea a smile.

“I gotta show you something upstairs.”

With that, Thea grabbed Felicity’s hand and pulled her to the stairs. They hurried upstairs where Thea’s room was. Unlike three years ago, when loud colors like turquoise and pink had filled the room, the walls and furniture were covered in different shades of beige. The mess that had been here had been replaced by a giant mess that reminded Felicity of Oliver’s atelier. Apparently, Oliver wasn’t the only one who had been working on designing fashion.

Thea pulled Felicity right in front of her wardrobe. A closed clothes bag was hanging there, and Thea made sure that Felicity was placed right in front of it.

“I designed a dress for you to wear for the masquerade,” Thea announced, “and I also bought a mask.”

Surprised, Felicity looked at Thea. “Why?”

Thea just shrugged her shoulders. “I was just feeling like doing it, and I don’t know.”

Once more, Thea shrugged her shoulders. “I just thought it was a nice idea.”

There was no way Felicity could miss the slight nervousness in Thea’s voice or in the way she twirled a stand of hair around her finger. Wrapping an arm around Thea’s waist, she leaned closer to her.

“It’s an honor that you designed a dress for me.”

Felicity lowered the zipper of the clothing bag and freed the dress and mask from the protecting fabric around it. Taking a step back, she took in the dress Thea had designed solely for her.

The dress was made of a flowing fabric. The top was tight-fitting and only had one strap. From the strap over the right shoulder across the back towards the left waist, some glittery embroidery was added to the fabric. The skirt looked light like it would just flow in the wind. Its color faded from the black of the top to different shades of a dark green color. The mask was silver and glittered like the embroidery.

“I have been in Venice recently to buy some roll of cloths for Oliver, and I bought some masks there. They inspired me, so I started designing and tailoring dresses. I tailored maybe a handful of them upstairs in my room. Anyway, Oliver visited me unexpectedly, and he saw the dresses. He said that one reminded him of you.”

Felicity’s heart jumped up into her throat. As much as she wanted to not care about this, she did care. That Oliver had thought about her when he had seen that dress meant that she wasn’t the only one who hadn’t been able to forget what they had had. Oliver had thought about her too.

That moment of relief was soon replaced by confusion. She shouldn’t be relieved that Oliver had been thinking about her too. It only made things more complicated, she guessed.

“Hence, I figured that it was best to give it to you as some kind of surprise.” Thea smiled almost a little nervously. “I mean I thought that you were probably too busy to buy a dress and-“

“The dress is really beautiful,” Felicity said, interrupting Thea firmly. “Thank you.”

Almost dignifiedly, Felicity reached out her hand and brushed her fingers against the soft fabric of the dress. It felt almost felt as soft as water, and it moved like it too. If the fabric was blue instead of green, it might even look like it.

“You are so damn talented.”

Felicity shot Thea an intense glance, but she just shrugged her shoulders. In her eyes, there was pride and happiness visible, but she tried to hide it as much as possible. It was like she didn’t want to consider being a real designer a real possibility because she didn’t think that it was ever going to make it.

“Maybe one day.” Again, she shrugged her shoulders. “For now, I am Oliver’s design assistant. At least officially.”

Thea didn’t have to explain what exactly that meant. Felicity was actually sure that she knew that already. She knew how much Oliver loved to do things himself when it came to his dresses. While other designers were known to sketch the dresses and skip everything about the tailoring until they could add some final details, but Oliver was nothing like that. He liked to be involved in every step from the first idea to the presentation on the catwalk. There was little to nothing left to do for Thea.

“Did you show Oliver more of your work?”

Again, Thea shrugged her shoulders. When Felicity flashed her an intense glance, making sure she knew that she really wanted an answer, Thea shook her head.

“Oliver doesn’t have time for this right now. He’s too busy with his new collection. It will be presented soon after the wedding.”

Felicity nodded her head slowly as this wasn’t any news to her. She had read about the imminent presentation of his newest collection several times. The gossip magazine was full of them. They were expecting something great of OJQ, well, something greater than it had offered these last couple of years. Oliver’s first two collections were still said to be the best.

OJQ was under pressure. They were in the black, but they still hadn’t managed to take up to the success of the first two years. The designs were said to be beautiful, creative and promising, but they were still missing the last finesse to make the designs as unforgettable and admirable as the dresses of the first two collections had been.

When OJQ was under pressure, it meant that Oliver was under pressure. He probably thought that there were more important things to take care of than his sister’s interest and desire to become a designer too. As much as he loved his little sister, he wasn’t able to focus on her with all the focus that was on him and his work.

“You should show those designs to him,” Felicity said, “or to your mom. She is the CEO of this company, and there is a good reason for it. If she sees your talent, she will find a way to include you in the company or to let you find your own way.”

Thea nodded slowly. She knew that Felicity was right. Felicity could see it in her eyes. It didn’t matter how much she knew that it was right though. For years, she had lived in her brother’s shadow, and it just wasn’t easy to get out of the that.

“I guess it’s not easy to grow up in the shadow of your big brother,” Felicity said eventually, “Oliver’s career started quite impressively.”

Thea shrugged her shoulders once more. If the way she lowered her glance was any indication, she felt the same way Felicity did.

People would certainly be able to work with you more easily,” Felicity suddenly heard herself saying. “Oliver can be quite moody. He loves to take out his bad mood on others, especially the ones working for him. I am sure that the tailors would appreciate if you took over. Or, actually, everyone working at OJQ would probably be relieved if you took over.”

Felicity bit down on her tongue quickly. She had tried to hide it. She had wanted to hide it. Nonetheless, her anger had shone through. She just hadn’t been able to get a grip on the sudden wave of anger and hate that had taken hold of her for no real reason it seemed. If she herself had been able to hear it, there was no doubt that Thea had heard it too.

Hesitatingly, Felicity shot Thea a glance to see that she looked indeed tense. She wasn’t saying anything, but she didn’t have too. The way she stared blankly was enough for Felicity to know that she was struggling with her reaction to all of this. Even if she thought that Felicity was right, she loved her brother too much to voice it.

“I am sorry,” Felicity hurried to say, lowering her gaze. “I shouldn’t have said that.”

Thea shrugged her shoulders for the umpteenth time today it seemed. “I just want to be left out of whatever happened between you and Ollie. I love you, and I love him. I don’t want to be wrenched in between.”

Felicity nodded her head, feeling incredibly guilty. She had never been in Thea’s situation because she didn’t have any siblings. She believed that she was still able to understand what Thea felt, and she knew it couldn’t be good. Felicity was lucky that Thea still considered Felicity a friend although her relationship with Oliver had been one of the main reasons why they had become friends in the first place.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I didn’t mean to put you in an uncomfortable situation. I don’t want you to feel like you will be wrenched between your brother and me.”

Thea shot her a grateful smile. “I know this entire situation can’t be easy for you either.”

Felicity nodded her head slowly. “It’s not easy being back.”

Not easy was probably an underestimation. She had barely been back for like a day when she had already fallen for Oliver’s eyes again.

“It’s not easy for Oliver either,” Thea whispered, “He might look like he doesn’t care, but he has never loved anyone as much as he loved you.”

Felicity frowned, trying to figure out how she felt about Thea’s words and whether or not she believed that they were true. She knew that she had meant quite a lot to Oliver. No matter how badly things had ended between them, their relationship had meant something to both of them. It had been far from perfect though. Otherwise, their relationship might have lasted.

A long time ago, Oliver had said that they were a little bit like leather and lace. She didn’t remember what exactly that meant, but she remembered thinking to herself time and time again that that was the reason they had struggled in their relationship, at least sometimes. It had been something along the lines of saying that they were both quite precious fabrics, but they were complicated to handle at times. Together, they had the potential for Haute Couture if it was done right. Otherwise the dress would either look cheap or rip apart.

“I’m not so sure about that, Thea.”

Thea shot Felicity a brief glance, shrugging her shoulders.

“Well, I am sure for both of us.”

 

* * *

 

Letting the door fall shut behind herself, Felicity kicked her high heels away into the mess of shoes that was already gathered next to the door. If she was at her and Sara’s apartment, she would have put her shoes away neatly because there was a certain tidiness there. In Oliver’s mess of an apartment, she could be as tidy as she wanted to be, but it wouldn’t make a change. His mess would always cover everything else.

There were days that Felicity would be annoyed by that. Right now, she couldn’t care less. She was too exhausted and frustrated after her day at work if you could even call it work. It was more like a soul crushing exercise in misery that offered health and dental. Even that felt like it was too nice to describe what she was doing.

It was a good thing she had an incredibly hot boyfriend to comfort her. If someone could help distracting her, it was him.

“Oliver,” she called out, dropping her purse to the floor too, “I’m home.”

Barefoot, she strolled to the open living space. Oliver was working like he was most days at this time. He liked to sleep in and work late during the day, sometimes until deep into the night. Just like in the entry area, there was chaos all around his working area too. Shreds of different fabrics as well as buttons, zippers and pearls or other stuff for the embroideries he had worked on so hard these last months. Since Felicity knew that it wasn’t unlikely for needles to be somewhere in that chaos too, she kept her distance and sat down on the backrest of the couch.

“Hey.”

Oliver flashed her a quick glance. “Hi.”

A low sigh fell from Felicity’s lips as she looked him up and down. He was wearing sweatpants and was barefoot. The fabric of his Henley suited around his muscles perfectly, showing exactly how strong and muscular he was. Looking at him, she couldn’t be more relieved that it was just a couple of months until they would finally move in together because sharing a living space with him meant that she always got home to this delicious view.

It also meant that it was only a couple more weeks until she could finally leave her job and start over. It was time for a change when it came to her job. The longer she’d stay at Kord Industries, the longer she would be stuck in a job she didn’t like.

“Have I mentioned lately how happy I am to leave Kord Industries soon?” Felicity asked. “I swear the atmosphere in the office gets worse with every day. I have no idea how I lived through this for months, or maybe it had really just gotten this bad with time. Either way, I need something better. I need a place where women are welcomed to do more than set up badly handled computers or regain lost data.”

Felicity shook her head. She graduated from MIT with summa cum laude. She had been the youngest and high-ranked person in her graduation class. She majored in Computer Science and Cyber Security, and she was good. She didn’t deserve for anyone to treat her like she was less than the genius she was just because she was a short blonde with glasses.

“Let’s hope Stellmoor International offers a more welcoming atmosphere when it comes to women in STEM. Their Vice President is a woman which is great because it proves that women aren’t left aside completely. Let’s just hope she is not catty. She sounded terribly annoying and harsh on the phone. I mean just hearing her name can make goosebumps spread down my back. Isabel Rochev. It sounds scary, doesn’t it? I really hope she’s different in real life and-“

Frowning, Felicity looked at Oliver. Since she had started talking, he hadn’t looked at her a single time. He hadn’t said a word or even just hummed in agreement or disagreement either. He was just sketching new designs for his second collection. He was completely focused on the movements of his hand and the black lines he drew onto the paper to visualize what dress he was seeing in front of his inner eye. Not that Felicity could necessarily see a dress in the wild lines and patterns he was drawing.

Narrowing her eyes at Oliver, Felicity took a closer look at him. Oliver wasn’t sketching the way he usually did. His muscles were too tense, and the movements of his hand not at all as fluent as they usually were. It seemed like his work didn’t relax him like it usually did. It actually seemed to add to his tension.

Felicity cocked her head. Only now she realized how exhausted Oliver really looked. There were dark circles under his eyes, even darker than the ones she had seen building there these last couple of weeks while he had been working on his designs. He rarely slept during the crunch mode of his work. Today, he seemed particularly exhausted though, That was particularly striking given that he had had a meeting this morning that should have approved to all of his designs and taken most of the burden from his shoulders.

Apparently, not everything had gone the way Oliver had hoped for.

Puckering her lips, Felicity crossed her legs. She knew what helped her if she was deep in thoughts and needed some time off to clear her head. Most importantly, Oliver knew what helped her in times like that. He always did his best to tickle that many orgasms of her that she felt like her bones were made of jelly after it.

“Why don’t we call it a day?” Felicity suggested lightly. “You could cook for me while I am watching, and I will allow you to join me in the bathtub after we’ve had dinner. It’s a win-win situation for both of us and-“

“I can’t.”

It was all Oliver said at first. His voice was hoarse, and he sounded brusque. It didn’t happen often that Oliver lost the softness in his voice around her. Felicity knew it was just another proof that he was exhausted and stressed.

Just looking at Oliver, she waited for him to continue. He knew that he didn’t get away with a two-word answer here. At work, people had to dance to his tune because he was their job. That was different between them. They were equals here, and equals didn’t brush each other off this easily without an explanation.

Felicity could see Oliver watching her from the corners of his eyes. He was trying to ignore her staring, probably hoping that he would just get away with it if he had the longer breath. Eventually, he gave in with a long sigh.

“I have to work,” he explained, still not looking at her. “I have to add a new wedding dress as the highlight of the collection. Apparently, the last design isn’t special enough.”

He waved with the sketch he had made last week, the one he had been so proud of. The wedding dress was always a hurdle for Oliver as it wasn’t his strongest part of designing. That sketch had almost like drawn itself because he had been so inspired about it. That it had been rejected had to be hard on him.

Snorting, Oliver shook his head and ripped the design in several shreds. He almost chuckled darkly when he trashed the shreds. Moving his hands through his short hair, he looked at the blank page of his sketch block in front of him before he resumed with his work.

Felicity knew Oliver well enough to know that what he really needed now was time and space. When he was in that mode of his work, he couldn’t be helped. All that would help him would be a strike of inspiration, and that was nothing she could help him with.

“Alright,” she said with a soft smile. “I will grab some takeout, so we can have dinner before we are going to sign the rental contract later.”

On the tips of her toes, Felicity approached Oliver. She put a hand to his forearm in a quiet offer of comfort. It took a moment before Oliver met her gaze. She could see how hard this was on him, and he hated that he let his anger and frustration out on her.

Felicity straightened up onto the tip of her toes and brushed a kiss against the edge of Oliver’s jaw. She loved this man, loved him so much that no frustration and no moodiness would ever change what she felt for him. Sometimes, the love you had for someone just outweighed everything else. For her, it definitely was the case when it came to Oliver.

With a low sigh, Felicity turned away and headed towards the door. She wasn’t angry or mad or anything. She wasn’t leaving to make him feel bad. She’d just take a little walk to Big Belly Burgers, grab some food for them to have for early dinner and give Oliver the time and space he needed to realize that his work was fantastic even if one design had been rejected. He’d find inspiration and design something even more special.

There were like three things Felicity knew about herself with absolutely certainty. Firstly, she was a woman with an undying ambitiousness of making her mark in STEM. Secondly, if there was one thing in life that made her vulnerable, it was her fear of failing. Thirdly, no matter how much she loved a person, she would always need room to breathe and room to suffer on her own before she shared anything.

Especially that last part was something Felicity knew Oliver needed to. He needed his time and his space to process things on his own too, and that was okay. She understood it because she felt the same way. That was why she could never be angry with Oliver about it.

Hence, grabbing some burgers felt like the best solution right now.

Felicity didn’t get to reach the door though. She hadn’t even managed to slip back into her shoes when she heard quick steps approaching her. She wanted to turn around, but Oliver’s arms were already wrapping around her waist from behind, pulling her back against his chest and lifting her from the floor.

“Oliver,” Felicity squeaked, more surprised than anything else, and her squeak turned into a chuckle, “What are you doing?”

Oliver didn’t answer right away. Instead, he lowered his head to the crook of her neck and brushed his lips against her skin. It was impossible for Felicity not to melt back into his chest with an approving sound that probably reminded of a kitten’s purring. The way his lips touched her ever so gently and his stubble tickled her just felt utterly right.

“I love you,” he whispered, his lips against her lobe, “and I’m sorry.”

Felicity puckered her lips, hiding a smile, and hummed. She leaned back in Oliver’s arms, almost melting against his chest.

“Sorry?” she asked. “What could you possibly be sorry for?”

“For my charm?”

“What charm?”

“Exactly.”

Oliver snuggled his face into the crook of her neck once more and started peppering small kisses on her skin. Felicity smiled, angling her head to the side to give Oliver more access to her skin.

With one last kiss to her pulse point, Oliver lifted his head from her shoulder. His hands moved from her front to her hips, so he could turn her around to him. Their eyes met immediately. Felicity didn’t miss the exhaustion and frustration beneath the regret. Looking at him like that, she could see it with all clarity.

Cocking her head at him, Felicity lifted her hands to his face. She cupped his cheeks and brushed her fingertips through his stubble the way Oliver always loved so much. It wasn’t any different today. With a long sigh that made the tension leave his shoulders, Oliver leaned his face into her touch and closed his eyes.

Felicity held him like that for several seconds, giving Oliver the time that he needed to relax a little and let his frustration go. When he opened his eyes eventually, he looked a lot more like her Oliver indeed. Lately, he had been more like a shell of it.

Only when he opened her eyes, he looked at her like her Oliver always did. He looked relaxed and with eyes so soft that Felicity felt her stomach fluttering in the best way possible.

“I’m sorry I am… like this lately.” Oliver lifted his hands to take hold of Felicity’s wrists. His fingertips grazed against her pulse. “I am just very nervous about all of this, and it’s not something I am used to.”

Felicity nodded her head. “I know it’s hard on you, especially given how much depends on the outcome of your collection.”

“Most importantly, a lot of jobs depend on it.”

Again, Felicity nodded her head. She loved how Oliver pointed out his responsibility for the jobs of his employees most of all. Felicity was sure that part of his nervousness came from the fear of how the critics would react to his collection. Still, his priority wasn’t the reception in the media. It was keeping the jobs of all the people who had helped him to get where he was now.

“Felicity, what if I fail?”

Cocking her head, Felicity brushed her fingertips through his stubble once more. Oliver sighed, leaning his face into her touch.

“You won’t fail,” she promised him, “I believe in you.”

“I just wished that the board had that much belief in me.”

“I am actually relieved that they don’t,” Felicity replied with a chuckle, wrapped her arms around his torso and snuggled up to his chest, “because that would probably mean that they are sleeping with you too.”

Oliver chuckled, wrapping his arms around her too. He rested his head on the top of her head, causing his stubble to get caught in her hair. Felicity didn’t mind though. She just pushed her nose against his chest and breathed him in, feeling the familiarity of his scent sinking into her body and relaxing her from deep within.

“I love you,” Oliver whispered eventually, “and if the offer is still on the table, I’d really like to cook for you now.”

“Yeah?”

Felicity leaned her head back as far as possible and smiled at Oliver lightly. If her was in for cooking, she guessed that she had managed to relax him.

Oliver leaned in and brushed his lips against hers. Felicity sighed against his lips, enjoying the way her entire body started tingling at the feeling. She opened her lip and moved her tongue over Oliver’s bottom lip until he opened his lips to her touch. Their tongues met in a slow dance that made Felicity straighten up onto the tips of her toes to get even closer to him.

When their lips parted, Felicity stayed on the tips of her toes, leaning against Oliver. She moved her arms up his torso and wrapped them around his neck loosely. The fingers of her left hand moved through his hair slowly, massaging his scalp.

“You savour of cigarettes.” She cocked her head. “Did you smoke?”

Oliver pressed his lips together. “Guilty.”

Felicity smiled warmly, brushing her fingers through his hair. “Don’t let anything stress you out. You are doing great, and everyone else will see that too.”

Oliver smiled gratefully and brushed his lips against hers in another kiss. Oliver didn’t have to say it for Felicity to know that he appreciated her comfort and her belief in him as much as the fact that she always knew when he needed it. For Felicity, it felt like one of the many little things that made their relationship what it was.

Wrapping an arm around her shoulders and keeping her at his side, Oliver led her to the kitchen. With a kiss to her hairline, he let go of her eventually. While Felicity sat down on top of the counter, Oliver headed over to the fridge to see what magic he could work to quiet their hunger.

Watching Oliver getting some supplies, Felicity crossed her legs and thought about how lucky they were to have find each other. They were really good for each other. Felicity helped Oliver to believe in himself, and Oliver made sure that Felicity didn’t starve. They were a true match.

By now, Felicity had even warmed up to the thought of moving into the loft. It might not be her style, but her home was wherever she and Oliver were happy. That was all that really mattered, and she really couldn’t wait to sign the contract later today, so they had a home that was really theirs.

“Look what I have found here.” Oliver lifted a bottle of champagne from the fridge. “Champagne is made to be drunk.”

Felicity chuckled. “Don’t you think we should wait until we have signed the contract?”

“Why?” Oliver turned around, two glasses already in his hand. “Are you planning on backing out last second?”

“No.” Felicity perked up an eyebrow. “Are you?”

“Of course not,” Oliver replied, opening the bottle with a loud pop, “which is why I think that we can toast to the bright future ahead of ourselves already.”

He poured both of them a glass and handed her one.

“To us,” he said, clinking his glass with her, “and our future together.”

Felicity smiled and took a sip of the expensive liquid. It prickled on her tongue and cooled her throat. She didn’t love champagne as much as she loved wine, but she did enjoy it nonetheless. She guessed it would be good if she had a better tolerance for it.

Oliver winked at her, making her smile widen. He turned away towards the foods he had gotten from the kitchen before. He grabbed the onion and a knife, but he put both aside instead of starting to chop.

“Sara brought these over for you,” he said, reaching out to some envelopes in the spice rack. “I am sure she is lucky that she doesn’t have to be your mailwoman anymore soon.”

Felicity chuckled, taking the letters from him. “That’s the only reason we are moving in together, right?”

“Of course.” Oliver winked. “We don’t want Sara to invoice her service in arrears.”

While Oliver turned back towards the kitchen counter, Felicity looked at the letters. She hadn’t been home to her and Sara’s apartment in like a week, and she hadn’t even noticed. Officially moving in with Oliver would be easy given how much time they already spent with each other.

“Bad news?”

“Huh?”

Felicity looked up, seeing that Oliver was shooting her a look back over his shoulder. When she frowned, he nodded towards the letters in her hand.

“You aren’t saying anything, and you barely ever don’t say anything.”

Shaking her head, Felicity replied, “I was just in thought.”

She took in a deep breath and lifted the letters. Most of them were bills that she was sure could wait another week. One letter caught her attention though, and her heart actually skipped a beat when she saw who had sent it. Wayne Enterprise.

With quick movements, Felicity ripped the letter open and started reading. The more she realized that she was actually accepted for the job she had applied to, the more her heart started racing. She couldn’t say if the wild beating of her heart was a reaction to the job itself or a reaction to her surprise about being accepted for the job.

“It’s from Wayne Enterprise,” she mumbled more to herself than to Oliver. “They accepted for me a job that I applied for a couple of weeks ago when I decided to leave Kord Industries for good. I never thought that they would even consider me for the position because I wasn’t really meeting their criteria. I mean I wasn’t qualified enough which is why I didn’t even tell you. I thought it was just a shot into the void.”

Wayne Enterprise had always been among the three companies she had wanted to work for one day. Since she had been a child, this list existed. There were exactly three companies on there. Kord Industries had recently been scratched off as working there was nowhere as appealing as she had thought it would be. Queen Consolidated was great. She had learned so much in her internship there. She didn’t want to work for a company where she would always be the girlfriend of the boss’ son.

Stellmoor International was a great company, but it wasn’t anything as successful or innovative as Wayne Enterprise. A job at Wayne Enterprise, even if it was just for a couple of months, would open her every door.

“Are you going to take the job?”

Felicity was about to answer when the tone of Oliver’s voice caught up to her. He had sounded off, almost as off as he had sounded while he had still been working before. Frowning, Felicity saw that the tension had returned to his muscles. He looked stiff, and his movements weren’t as fluent as they usually were when he was chopping food.

“I’m not sure yet,” Felicity said carefully, “I won’t have as much responsibility as I have at Stellmoor International, but it’s Wayne Enterprise after all. The experience I will gain there is not comparable with anything else. They invest so much money in research. A reference of Bruce Wayne in my résumé will be worth so much.”

Wayne Enterprise was currently doing research in several fields of technology. They were working on half a dozen of projects. Some of them were so innovative that the media was calling Wayne Enterprise the one company capable of changing the world.

“You already took the offer at Stellmoor International though.”

Felicity bit down on her tongue, taking in a deep breath. It was undeniable now that Oliver was everything but happy at the idea that she might take the offer of Wayne Enterprise. He couldn’t even look at her it seemed. Felicity couldn’t say why exactly he didn’t like her to take the offer, but she knew that he really didn’t want her to. He didn’t even have to voice it for her to know it.

“I haven’t signed the contract yet.”

Immediately, Oliver’s eyes snapped towards her. Anger was written all over his face. At least his eyes seemed to sparkle with it. Felicity straightened her shoulders, looking back at Oliver.

“So, you are taking the job offer at Wayne Enterprise and move to Gotham City?” he asked, the anger now audible in his voice too. “I guess moving in together is just going to be delayed until you have had enough of Wayne Enterprise?”

Felicity bit down on her tongue even harder, and she wouldn’t be surprised if she would taste blood in her mouth. She knew now that Oliver wasn’t necessarily angry. If he was angry at all, it was coming from deep disappointment and frustration at the thought of delaying their plans to move in together. He wanted to move in with her, wanted their relationship to move forward. He wanted to take the next step.

As much as Felicity got his disappointment and frustration, she couldn’t just give in to it. Working for Wayne Enterprise was a chance she would only get once in a lifetime. She couldn’t just reject this offer, at least not before she had thought about it clearly. It was too big of a thing to refuse it easily.

Although she didn’t want to reject this offer easily, she didn’t want to give up on what she and Oliver had either. Women should be able to have it both, a successful career and a satisfying relationship. She would fight to make sure that she would have it all if that was necessary.

“We could have a long-distance relationship. We did it before and-“

“-it sucked,” Oliver interrupted her. “Just seeing each other at the weekend and spending most time of the year apart sucked.”

Felicity lowered her eyes, unable to look at Oliver. As much as she wanted to disagree with him, she knew that he was right. They had spent more than eighteen months in a long-distance relationship. They had tried to see each other every weekend, but it hasn't always worked. One time, they had spent thirteen weeks without seeing each other. Just like Oliver had said, it had sucked so very much.

If they just tried even harder, maybe they could make it work this time. Well, they could hopefully make it work better.

“I know it’s going to be hard, but we can make this work.”

“Maybe,” Oliver said, his voice now lower and softer than before, “but I don’t want to move back anymore. I want to move forward. I love you, Felicity, and I want to move in with you.”

Felicity slid off the counter top and crossed the distance towards Oliver. She grabbed his wrist, making him let go of the knife. She wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned against his chest then.

“This is a big step for me, Oliver,” she whispered, smiling sadly, “and I would really like to take it.”

Oliver’s jaws tensed as he looked at her. Although his hands were resting against the small of her back, spending some warmth to her aching muscles, his arms around her were as hard as steel. His eyes were focused on her completely. There was something cold in the expression of his eyes, but it was broken by the love shining through.

“This isn’t fair,” Oliver whispered, his voice hoarse, “this is emotional blackmail.”

Felicity pressed her lips together and rolled them into her lips. She couldn’t help but feel called out. Oliver wasn’t entirely wrong. She knew that he had trouble to deny her anything she really wanted, especially when it came to her job. He knew how much her career meant to her, and he had never done anything put supporting her.

“It’s not fair to pretend like I have never supported your career. I always supported you dreams and your plans.”

“I know you did.” Felicity nodded her head, stroking her hands up and down his chest, “and I really need you to continue supporting it once more now.”

Oliver looked at her for a long moment, sucking in another deep breath. She could see the struggle in his eyes. Deep inside, he wanted to support her. He wanted to say that it was okay if she picked the job at Wayne Enterprise because they would make it anyway.

“I can’t do that,” he said nonetheless, shaking his head. “I just can’t.”

He took hold of her wrists gently and pushed her arms away from around his chest. Felicity took a step back, bringing some apparently much needed distance between them.

Looking at Oliver now, she could see his struggle even more clearly. He wanted to stay and tell her that everything was going to be okay. He really wanted to believe that their relationship could make it through another time apart. He just couldn’t do it.

“I need some air.”

He was using her escape words, Felicity figured. Usually, she was the one saying those words when she didn’t want to talk.

Oliver looked at her for a long moment before he turned around and walked away. Felicity heard his steps distancing itself more and more. Eventually, she heard the front door opening and falling shut with a loud bang.

Felicity felt her heart sink, looking at the letter of Wayne Enterprise. She didn’t want to loose Oliver, but this offer was too good to just reject it easily. She could only hope that Oliver would see it too, even if it took him some time.

It took Felicity some moments before she couldn’t take standing in that same place anymore. She started walking up and down in the kitchen, unsure what to do. Part of her wanted to follow Oliver, so they could talk it out. She respected his need for time though. After all, she needed her time to process things on her own sometime soon.

Felicity headed over into the living area. There was just so much more space to pace up and down like she needed now. When there was nothing left to do, pacing up and down felt like the only thing to do. It wouldn’t help with the problem between her and Oliver, but it would hopefully help to ease her nervousness.

The decision she had to make was anything but easy Felicity thought to herself while she was pacing up and down like a tiger in its cage. She really wanted that job. Rejecting it would be the one mistake in her career that she could never take back. Losing Oliver wasn’t really an option for her either. He was her home, and she didn’t want to lose that.

By now, Felicity had turned so many times that she was almost dizzy. Sucking in a deep breath, she put her hands to her hips and closed her eyes. There had to be a way for her to have both. Choosing was just impossible.

When Felicity opened her eyes, her gaze fell onto the shreds of Oliver’s design sketch. She stepped towards the trash bin and picked up the torn pieces of paper until she had everything to put the sketch back together. Maybe Oliver would need this one day after all.

With designing, he had found something he loved very much. Felicity had found the same satisfaction in developing technology. They had both found something that they loved very much. Now they just needed to find a way to make their relationship work with it.

 

* * *

 

“Earth to Felicity.”

Thea snapped her fingers right in front of Felicity’s eyes. She flinched in response and blinked several times until she felt like she was orientated again. It didn’t help to shake off the unwell feeling the memory had left deep in her bones.

These past years, Felicity had done her best to ban all memories of Oliver from her mind. She had known that it was easier to move on if she forbid herself to think about Oliver and what had been between them. After all, not everything between them had been as bad as the end. Most of the things before it had actually been quite good.

Back in Starling, she felt like those memories were catching up to her. They were working their way through the little pieces of her heart that had been broken by the way things between her and Oliver had ended. They still hurt.

It was weird how Felicity was considered to be a genius by a lot of people, but she just wasn’t able to understand herself.

Here she was, in a city that she had hesitated to come back to after she had gotten her heart broken badly. She had told herself to focus on her friends and her job, keeping herself busy to make sure that she wouldn’t be pulled back into that dark hole she had been in when she had left Starling City years ago. Standing here, she could say that the last thing she wanted was to spend even a single second more than necessary with Oliver.

Still, her mind that kept reminding he of what she had had with Oliver distracted her from her focus. It waited until she was vulnerable and attacked her with a memory that left her shaken and confused. She didn’t even want to start with the way her libido refused to follow her head too. If she just thought about what had happened during the fitting for her dress, her stomach cramped.

The good thing was that she only had to stay strong for a couple of days. Sooner than she’d think, the wedding would be over, her deal with Queen Consolidated would be cut and dried and she could finally go back to Hub City. She just had to endure being here a little bit longer.

Sucking in a deep breath, Felicity straightened her shoulders and turned around to Thea with a smile. Thea was looking at her like Felicity was a little crazy. Given how far away in her thoughts she had been a couple seconds ago, Felicity couldn’t even hold it against Thea.

“Everything alright?” Thea asked. “You have been like a hundred miles away.”

Felicity chuckled a little nervously, gesturing around her head. “Just things going on in here.”

Thea looked her up and down intensely. She narrowed her eyes slightly like she was trying to find out if there was anything more she could find out.

“I should go now.” Felicity cleared her throat and grabbed the dress. “Thank you for this. It’s an honor to wear your design.”

Although Thea seemed to catch the sudden change in the subject, she let it pass without saying anything more. She just smiled at Felicity, happy about the warm words.

“I am happy that you like it,” she said, “and I am going to be very happy when you wear it.”

“I can guarantee you that I am not going to keep it unworn in my closet.”

“Good.” Thea chuckled and nodded towards the stairs. “I will walk you-“

When her phone started ringing, Thea stopped. Felicity chuckled, wrapping her arms around Thea in a quick hug.

“I know my way out,” she told her and kissed Thea’s cheek. “I will call you, and then we can see what we do to spend some quality time together.”

“Bye, Felicity.”

“Bye, Thea.”

While Thea was taking the call, Felicity headed back downstairs. She was relieved not to run into anyone else when she crossed the entry hall. Since she could hear Moira’s voice in the living room, talking to someone on the phone it seemed, she hurried towards the door stepped out and bumped right into Oliver again.

She didn’t even have to lift her gaze and see that it was him to know that it was the case. The smell of his aftershave mixing with the scent of his skin as well as his entire presence just told her that it was him.

“This it turning into a habit.”

At Oliver’s words, Felicity lifted her gaze to him. His face was hard although a glimpse of softness was visible in his eyes. At least it was there for a moment. Oliver looked away quickly, pulled out a cigarette from the pocket of his jacket and lit it. When his gaze caught hers briefly, whatever soft glimpse had been there before had disappeared.

“And not a good one.”

Felicity said the words just loud enough for Oliver to hear. Without waiting for his reaction, she turned around, ready to walk away. Oliver’s fingers wrapped around her forearms gently, holding her back. Surprised and angry, Felicity glared at Oliver, and he quickly pulled his hand back and lifted them as a sign that he didn’t mean any harm.

Pressing her lips together, Felicity took a step back to bring some distance between them. With perked up eyebrows, she looked at Oliver. To her surprise, he didn’t look as hard as he had before. His eyes weren’t exactly soft either, but there was regret visible there now. He was almost a little embarrassed or shy which were two words that weren’t associated with Oliver easily.

“Felicity,” he said hesitatingly and massaged the back of his neck with his free hand, “about last night…”

Felicity had to bite down on her tongue hard to push away the sudden flashes of memory. She could still feel Oliver’s hands on her skin, roaming over her body, and she could still feel his cock moving inside of her. There was no way she was going to show him any of that though.

He wasn’t the only one who could be angry after all.

“Last night was a mistake,” she said. “Obviously.”

Felicity almost believed that she could see surprise and maybe a little hurt in Oliver’s eyes. She didn’t stay long enough to be sure though. She just turned around and walked away.

Chapter Text

“On a scale from one to ten, how sure are you that Robert Queen is going to agree to the conditions of the collaboration?”

At Lily’s question, Felicity released a deep breath and leaned back in her chair. Although it was just a question between partners and friends, she didn’t want to reply easily. After all, a lot of the decisions they still had to make for their company was depending on the answer.

“He is definitely interested,” Felicity said, thinking about his reaction to the proposal of collaborating with Helix Dynamics, “Robert’s not the kind of guy to play around. He says what he thinks. If he wasn’t interested, he would have said it. He’s going to do his best to make this collaboration happen, even if his board isn’t on our side.”

Felicity knew Robert long enough to be sure that this was true. Even when she had served her internship at Queen Consolidated years ago, Robert had been interested in listening to her ideas and her suggestions. He had been sneered at for his interest in taking time to hear what even the littlest wheels in the clockwork of his company were thinking. For Felicity, it had formed her picture of what a good CEO looked like.

Anyway, Felicity knew Robert. She knew that he was very direct on what he was thinking. Even though he would certainly try to negotiate the terms of collaboration a little as he was a business man after all, she knew that she could trust her gut feeling on him. Robert was definitely interested, and he wanted this collaboration to happen.

“But?” Lena asked, angling her head to take another thorough look at Felicity. “There is a but coming, right?”

“But I could be wrong.” Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “After all, he has to convince the entire board, and I haven’t met Robert in a long time. I could be misguided by the way I remember him.”

Lena and Lily shared a long look on the monitor of Felicity’s laptop. They were sitting in Lena’s office, gathered together, so they could have their video conference together. Seeing them there like that, Felicity wished she was there with them. She missed Hub City. She missed Helix Dynamics. She missed Lena and Lily.

“Usually, your gut feeling is something to go with,” Lena said, shrugging her shoulders, “so I trust it.”

“So do I.”

Lily nodded her head in agreement. She shot Lena a brief glance before she leaned back in her chair with a long sigh. Her hand stroking her baby bump, and her facial expression darkened a little.

Felicity frowned, feeling a wave of worry to go through her. These last months had been exhausting for all three of them. They wanted to launch this new project at Helix Dynamics before Lily was going into a prolonged maternity leave. She would still be available for Felicity and Lena, but her baby would be her focus. As it should be.

Anyway, Lily’s pregnancy had put quite the pressure on them. They wanted to have this project sewn up before Lily left. It would give all of them the freedom and the relaxation to focus on whatever they wanted and needed.

“Hey, you’re being careful, right?” Felicity asked. “I want my godchild to be born safe and sound.”

“I told her the same thing like thirty minutes ago,” Lena said, bumping her shoulder against Lily’s teasingly, “She just doesn’t want to listen.”

“Babyboy and I are fine.” Lily shot both of them a pointed glare. “And now we better discuss what terms we will agree to in case Robert Queen wants to negotiate. We have our suggested contract here. Felicity, do you have it there too?”

“Yes.” Felicity started rummaging around in the papers in front of her. “At least I am almost sure.”

There were several piles of papers resting on the desk in front of her. She had taken so much work with her to Starling to make sure that she was busy, and she had started working on it last night when she just hadn’t been able to catch any sleep. Unfortunately, she had been so tired that she had turned the neatly sorted papers into a mess.

She hated working in a mess. She needed her neatly done work environment where she could orientate herself blindly if necessary. That was how she always worked the best. Nothing about this hotel room or Starling City offered the safety of her tidy workplace in Hub City.

“I will find it,” Felicity mumbled, “sooner or later.”

When Felicity lifted her gaze to turn to another pile of papers, she caught sight of the way Lena and Lily were exchanging meaningful gazes. Frowning, Felicity narrowed her eyes at them.

“What does that look mean?”

“Huh?”

Lena pretended not to know what Felicity could possibly be referring to, while Lily looked right back at Felicity with the same scrutinizing expression on her face. She probably thought that because she was pregnant, Felicity wouldn’t kick her in the ass if she said anything wrong now. If that was the case, she probably failed to believe that Felicity would just wait until she had born her little baby boy to catch up on kicking her ass.

“Usually, you are always organized,” Lily said, not shying away from anything it seemed, “except for when you are really stressed or when you need to distract yourself. Why do you need to distract yourself?”

Now, Lena was listening closely too. “Please tell me this is not about Oliver Queen.”

“No, of course not.”

Felicity knew that it was quite suspicious how quickly her answer had come. That she wasn’t exactly able to look at Lena or Lily wasn’t going to help either she guessed.

“Felicity,” Lily said warningly, “your little godson reacts strongly to lies, and he is kicking against my organs like he tries to make the burst like a balloon.”

Lifting her gaze, Felicity found the scrutinizing eyes of both of her friends now on her. She bit down on her tongue, trying to stay strong, but she had never been dishonest with Lena and Lily. They were too important for her. With a long sigh of guilt, she admitted defeat.”

“We had sex,” she said, “and now it’s weird. I mean it’s even weirder than it used to be before which is terrible. At least before we had sex, we could just be angry with each other though I really don’t know why he is angry with me. He doesn’t have any right to be angry with me. Actually, just thinking that he is angry with me after everything he has done just makes me so much angrier. Like what the hell?”

Felicity released a long breath, feeling some tension being taken away from her. It was a good feeling to finally say what she was thinking and feeling. Starling City wasn’t the terrain to do that most of times because the people here weren’t only her friends. They are also Oliver’s friends.

“Right,” Lena said intensely, “what the hell. That what the hell is what you have to focus on.”

Nodding her head, Felicity bit down on her tongue once more. It was easy to say this now that she was in her hotel room, far away from Oliver. As long as she was here, she could focus on all the pain he had left her with. She could focus on the anger that had bottled up inside of her within the last two years.

Felicity knew that it was a lot harder to do that when she met him. Back in Hub City, she had thought that it would be easier. Three years of feeling that anger inside of her if his name was even just mentioned on the gossip news had made her feel safe about meeting him again. She couldn’t deny that beneath all the anger and the pain, there were still unanswered questions about their break-up and unresolved feelings that came with them.

“Felicity,” Lena said firmly, making her lock eyes with her, “when you first started working for Wayne Enterprise, you didn’t only have a broken but a shattered heart.”

Although Felicity knew that Lena was right and although she knew that Lena didn’t mean to hurt her, she couldn’t deny that her words made her heart ache a little. It was never easy being reminded about a time like that. That other people had been able to see how heartbroken she had been bothered her. It proved how much of an effect the break-up really had had on her.

“What happened between you and Oliver was not your fault.”

Lena’s voice was still firm, but it sounded a lot gentler already. Felicity looked at Lena to see that her eyes, although full of fire, were just as soft as her voice had been. She wanted to encourage Felicity and back her up, but that didn’t work without some honest heart-to-heart.

Felicity nodded her head briefly, telling Lena that she was ready to hear more.

“You have been there to sign that contract,” Lena told her. “You wanted to find a way to make it work. You didn’t want to give up.”

True, true and true was all Felicity could think, nodding her head. She had been there. She wanted to find a way. She hadn’t wanted to give up, at least not that easily.

“Oliver was the one who backed out when the slightest problem arose. Whatever right he thinks he has for being mad of you, he doesn’t have it. Don’t let him guilt you into it.”

Felicity nodded her head once more, knowing Lena was right. Oliver had no reason to be angry with her which was the very reason she had been so irritated with his reaction. She had expected him to be a little ashamed for what he had done maybe or to pretend like everything was fine between them if he was too pride or too whatever to admit his mistakes. His anger had been unexpected.

“Lena is right,” Lily agreed, “you shouldn’t have sex with him.”

“I know that.” Groaning, Felicity rubbed her hands over her face. “I know that. Of course I know that. It’s clear as the day that it shouldn’t have happened, and it will never happen. Of course.”

The sex with Oliver had confused her more than she had been confused already. All of this sucked big time. If she wanted to get her heart out of Starling somewhat safely, she would have to try harder. She would have to take better care of herself.

“You two are right,” Felicity said with a long sigh, “I cannot go back there. Oliver chose to end our relationship, and that is not my fault. If he wants to be angry with me for whatever reason, he can do so, but it shouldn’t have an effect on me.”

Lily smiled in agreement, nodding her head. “And you should tell Oliver that.”

Felicity snorted. “What good would that do?”

“Well, it would hopefully help to prevent you from getting any ulcers while you’re still in Starling,” Lena replied, being a beat quicker than Lily, “because I can tell that this stress and those bottled up emotions have always been hard on you. It’s not going to be easier. Use your time in Starling for a clean cut. Then come home to Hub City and start all over. I know a really hot guy that-“

“You are right,” Felicity interrupted Lena, “I should make a clean cut. After everything that happened these last days here in Starling, it’s what I need to do before I can truly move forward and-“

When a little window popped up on her desktop, Felicity stopped. If she wanted to look acceptable for the bachelorette party, she had to start getting ready now. Thea would kill her if she was late for the party.

“I gotta go now,” she said with another sigh. “The masquerade ball’s tonight. I will call you tomorrow.”

“Okay, enjoy your time with your old friends.”

“And don’t have more sex with your ex,” Lily added, earning herself a glare from Felicity. “Just saying.”

Felicity couldn’t help herself. A chuckle fell from her lips. She shook her head about her inability to be mad with her friends. The three of them were just too close to be mad with each other for longer than five seconds.

Saying goodbye once more, Felicity eventually ended the call. The monitor turned black, and Felicity leaned back in her chair with a long sigh. She shook her head once more and moved her fingers through her hair, massaging her scalp.

Lena and Lily were right. The last time, she hadn’t gotten a clean cut because the circumstances surrounding her break-up with Oliver had been too messy. Being back here in Starling City, as hard as it was, also offered the chance to do it right this time. She could make sure that this time she would get the clean cut she hadn’t gotten the last time.

If her anger didn’t allow her to forget about Oliver, maybe a clean cut would.

 

* * *

 

“Honestly, the more I think about this party, the more I remember why I made the choice to become friends with nerds like me years ago. Nerds like me like to sit at home. Alone. If we feel the need to be social, we drink a glass of wine and watch a movie together. And when I say that we watch a movie together, I mean that each of us is sitting in their own home, and we just text each other while simultaneously watching a movie. Really, nerd friends are the best.”

“Hey, I’m not a nerd, and I am still your friend.”

“Because you became my friend before I made that decision.” Felicity grinned. “Now I have you around my neck, and I just don’t get rid of you.”

Chuckling, Adrian put an arm around her shoulders. “You’re not ever going to get rid of me.”

“That was what I feared.”

Felicity sighed dramatically, but it turned into an amused chuckle. She was glad that Adrian was here with her. She doubted that she knew a lot of Sara and Nyssa’s friends. Between all the long-legged models they had probably invited, she would feel like a dwarf. While Adrian was quite tall too, she was definitely more comfortable with him.

“Are you ready?”

Looking at the mansion, Felicity doubted that she would ever get ready to go in there. Parties had never been exactly her thing. She loved to be alone. It relaxed her. Having too many people around her, doing small talk that she sucked at and gossiping which she wasn’t interested in just stressed her out. Since she was here for Sara and Nyssa, it didn’t matter though.

“No.” She sighed once more. “Let’s go.”

Adrian flashed her a smile. As they were taking the first step into the house, he took Felicity’s hand and linked their arms with another. Felicity smiled at him gratefully, leaning into his side.

Felicity had always known that Thea was great at planning parties. It was why she hadn’t even bothered to make any further suggestions after Thea had informed her about her plans yesterday. She knew that she could trust her to have anything under control.

Although she had had that much faith in her, Thea had outdone herself. Felicity couldn’t even begin everything Thea had done to make sure that the Queen Mansion’s living room was exactly what was needed for this masquerade ball. From the establishment of different areas for chatting, eating and dancing to the detailed decorations with flowers, lights and crystals, everything was absolutely perfect.

“Felicity!” With a squeal, Thea hurried towards Felicity and grabbed her hand. “You look incredibly beautiful. I knew that dress was perfect for you. Come on, we gotta get ourselves some drinks and I have to tell you everything I have planned for the night because I got some good ideas thanks to McKenna. Do you remember McKenna Hall?”

Thea just continued talking and talking. Felicity didn’t have any chance to get in between, so she just let Thea pull her away and listened to whatever she told her. Looking back over her shoulder, she shot Adrian an apologetic glance. He just smiled and winked at her. Thanks to the tuxedo he was wearing and the dark mask that made him look incredibly mysterious, he was quickly surrounded by a pool of women.

For the next hour, Thea just hogged Felicity. Linking her arms with hers, she took her with her wherever she went. She made sure the waiters she had hired knew that Felicity responsible for the party as well as she was. She introduced her to Sara and Nyssa’s friends. She even went through the DJ’s playlist with her, so Felicity could add some songs that she knew Sara and Nyssa liked to listen to.

While Thea was giving instructions to one of the waiters, Felicity watched her thoroughly. One might think that she was quite bossy, an attribute that was often used to describe her mother, but Felicity knew that it was only half the truth. She was nervous that anything could go wrong when all she wanted was things to be perfect. She was doing it from insecurity rather than a desire to push people around. Felicity knew because it was the same for Oliver.

“You know that you don’t have to stress yourself out like that, right?” Felicity asked, linking her arm with Thea once more. “You are doing great.”

“I don’t want it to be great. I want it to be perfect.”

Felicity wanted to tell her that there was no need to make it perfect as little mistakes had their own charm. Often, those were the things that were remembered about a party but always in a good way. They just added even more fun to it.

Thea seemed to be distracted by a woman at the other end of the room though. The tall blonde was waving at her, a wide smile plastered on her lips.

“Oh, you gotta excuse me for a second.”

As soon as the last syllable had fallen from her lips, Thea left Felicity’s side and approached the blonde. Felicity was left alone in front of the bar. She quickly turned towards it and ordered another glass of champagne.

Just when the waiter handed her the glass, someone stepped next to her. Felicity shot a brief glance, intending to just flash her a smile. The moment she looked at that woman’s face, she was met with a familiar smile though.

“McKenna.”

McKenna Hall had been another one of her friends when Felicity had still lived in Starling. They hadn’t spent much time alone, but when Felicity had spent time with Oliver, Sara, Nyssa and Adrian, McKenna had been there most of the times too.

“Felicity.” McKenna pulled Felicity into a brief hug. “I didn’t know you were back in Starling.”

“I came back for the wedding and to take care of some business plans.” Felicity felt like she had said this more than a dozen times within the last few days. “Sara and Nyssa invited me, and I didn’t want to miss the wedding.”

“Unlike Sara’s family it seems.”

With a low sigh, Felicity nodded her head. McKenna knew about Sara’s difficulties with her family as well as Felicity did, probably even better. Sara and McKenna had been friends for much longer after all.

“As far as I know, Laurel and Dinah will come for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding.”

“At least they are showing up at all.” McKenna sighed, shaking her head. “I would have been sad if the three of them wouldn’t have been able to pull themselves together for this. It’s as wedding after all.”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders, unsure what to say. She couldn’t disagree that family was an important. Although she and her mother didn’t have the best relationship either, she couldn’t picture herself getting married without her mom. They had their difficulties, but her mother was still important to her. For other families it might be different.

About to ask McKenna about her job, Felicity noticed that the other woman was looking at her intensely. When Felicity perked up her eyebrows, McKenna chuckled.

“Sorry,” she said, putting a hand to Felicity’s forearm, “I didn’t mean to stare at you.”

Felicity cocked her head. “But?”

“Well, I heard rumors that Oliver ended his on-and-off affair with Helena Bertinelli.” McKenna narrowed her eyes at her a little more. “If you are back here, I guess that means-“

“Nothing,” Felicity interrupted her firmly, shaking her head. “Oliver and I are done, and there is never going to be anything between us again.”

McKenna looked taken aback by the firmness of Felicity’s answer. She pressed her lips together briefly before she took some sips of her champagne.

“I’m sorry,” Felicity hurried to say, “but Oliver and I, that is just so done.”

“You don’t have to apologize. I shouldn’t have mentioned it.” McKenna smiled apologetically. “You and Oliver have just been the perfect couple when you were together. I never understood why you broke up all of a sudden. I mean I have heard stuff about it, but it never made sense to me.”

Felicity felt her heart flutter and her stomach cramping. It was confusing and weird like it was most of the time when her past with Oliver was mentioned. If people believed that there was still something going on between them just because she was back in Starling, she had to choke that rumor in its roots though.

Nothing would ever happen between her and Oliver again. She had promised Lena and Lily.

When a slight stitching in her ear occurred, Felicity hissed. “I think my contact is trying to bother me. Excuse me.”

Turning around quickly, Felicity headed towards the toilets. As soon as she was sure to be out of everyone’s sight, she turned into the first room to her right though. The room was dark and quiet which offered a nice variety to the living room. Closing her eyes, she leaned back against the closed door, released a sigh and pulled off the mask from her face.

She was sure that Robert wouldn’t like to see her in his office. If he had any papers that revealed the last years’ revenues of Queen Consolidate lying around here, it could even endanger her chances of a collaboration. She could just hope that she wasn’t found here and that, if someone found her after all, Robert would understand that she just needed a moment of quiet.

Felicity wished she could understand why she was unable to deal with her past with Oliver as long as she was here in Starling. When people ask her about him in Hub City, she could just state that they were over. Even reporters asked her about that once in a while when someone from the gossip media had managed to sneak in to their press conferences. Felicity could deal with that.

Why was it so different here?

Maybe being in Starling just made things different because everything was rawer here. This was where it had all started, and where it had all ended. In Hub City, she had the distance she needed to deal with this. Here in Starling City, she was confronted with things more intensely.

Her little slip with Oliver certainly didn’t help either. At least that was something she could make sure would never happen again. She just had to keep her distance from Oliver, the way she had always planned. That couldn’t be too hard.

“If you need a moment, you gotta find another room. I was here first.”

Or maybe it was.

Opening her eyes, Felicity needed a moment to orientate herself in the dimness of the room. Oliver had made himself comfortable in the sitting area. He was sitting on the broad leather couch, his right ankle resting on his left knee. He had taken off his mask that was now resting on the small couch table. The jacket of his tuxedo was put over the backrest of the couch. He had loosened his bowtie and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. His eyes were directed at her, almost piercing through her.

The more closely she looked at him, the more she could see that he was really exhausted. The dark shadows under his eyes were seen even in the dimmed light of the room. His hair was tousled so much that it looked like spiky hair.

Felicity recalled her conversation with Lena and Lily before. Oliver had no right to be angry with her, so she wouldn’t let him push her around. She had no reason to give him any room. If someone should avoid the other here, it was him. The shame over his behavior should make him leave instead of demanding that she would leave.

“I think this room is large enough.”

She strolled over to the desk where not a single paper was put. Apparently, Robert liked to have his workspace organized neatly too.

Sitting down on the edge of the desk, she shot Oliver a look. He was still watching her. His eyes were slightly narrowed now, and he was swaying a glass of whiskey in his hand. She hated that he looked so handsome without even trying. It wasn’t fair.

“I think this room offers enough space for both of us to be here,” she said, “if you feel different, feel free to find another room.”

Oliver’s eyes showed surprise as much as he tried to hide it. He had his eyebrow perked up slightly, trying to figure out feistiness was coming from. She held his gaze. She wouldn’t back down.

When Oliver turned his gaze away eventually, Felicity did the same. From her spot on the desk, she looked out of the window into the garden. The word wasn’t really fitting as the garden was more like a small park. She remembered how beautiful it was. Moira had a good taste, and her gardener was quite talented.

For a long moment, Felicity and Oliver stayed silent. Neither of them moved. Neither of them looked at each other. Neither of them said a word. They just took their time and had their moment the way they had both planned when they had come here.

Even in the office, the noises coming from the living room were audible. Felicity could hear the voices and laughter of the people dancing there. The loud drum of music echoed in her chest. If she could, she would crawl into her bed and pull the covers over her head. She just wasn’t the party kind of girl.

“For someone who is the head of her own company, you still don’t seem to be too fond of socializing.”

Felicity shot Oliver a glance, noticing that his eyes were already on her. He wasn’t accusing her or anything though. He just looked at her, almost nosily.

“It’s not just my company.” Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “Lena is the one responsible for the socializing.”

Oliver hummed distantly, still looking at her intensely. Felicity turned her gaze away. She knew she could ask him the same thing because Oliver was even the face of a company, and he was hiding here too. She wasn’t sure if she really wanted to start a conversation with him, so she just kept her mouth shut.

Another long moment of quiet passed. It wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable, but Felicity actually considered going back to the party. The last time she had spent time alone with Oliver, it had ended with them having sex on the floor. A repetition wasn’t exactly something that would help her to clear things for herself.

Eventually, Oliver took the last sip of his whiskey. He put the empty glass to the couch table and got up. With slow steps, he crossed the distance towards her. For a second, Felicity believed that he was coming right towards her, but he took a turn around the desk and reached into a small fridge behind it, grabbing the small water bottle from there.

He took a few gulps before he lowered the bottle. His eyes found hers. A small crease formed between his eyebrows, but it didn’t stay there for long. With slightly pursed lips, he took a step towards her and held out the bottle for her. Felicity hesitated, but since drinking from the same bottle of water wasn’t the same as taking a puff of the peace pipe, she took the bottle and sipped at the cold water.

Only now she realized how thirsty she had been. All that champagne had just made her throat feel dry and itchy. The water came just at the right time.

Now that her thirst was slaked, Felicity realized how tired and exhausted she was though. She should have tried harder to catch some sleep instead of working on files that could have waited another couple of days. If she continued this way, she wouldn’t make it through the wedding.

With a long sigh, Felicity leaned back until her back and head was resting on the top of the desk. Her legs shanks were dangling from the edge, her toes barely touching the floor. It was comfortable, almost comfortable enough to just fall asleep.

When her skin suddenly started tingling and goosebumps were spreading from her cleavage down her body, Felicity held her breath. She focused on the intense feeling, knowing that Oliver was looking at her. It was the very reason those goosebumps occurred in the first place. Only he had that effect on her.

Felicity didn’t know what annoyed her more, that Oliver thought he was still allowed to look at her like that or the fact that she still reacted to him that strongly. Her head told her to run away now before it was too late and her body would just give in to her libido. Right now, she considered the idea of having sex with Oliver again ridiculous, but she had thought the same when she had stepped into his atelier a couple of days ago.

“What?” she asked without looking at him. “Why are you staring at me like that?”

“I am not staring at you,” Oliver replied brusquely, “I am looking at that dress. It’s Thea’s design, isn’t it?”

“She gave it to me yesterday, saying you told her that it reminded you of me.”

Oliver groaned some words Felicity didn’t understand. He obviously wasn’t happy that his sister had told Felicity about that. He looked like he planned to put her in a headlock and rub his knuckles over her head as soon as the party was over. Felicity couldn’t help the way the corners of her lips twitched at that.

“Why do you smile?”

“Just because.”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders, still keeping her eyes closed. Only when she heard Oliver moving and noticed that he was sitting down on the desk next to her, she opened her eyes. Turning her head, she saw him mirroring her position with his back resting on the tabletop and his fingers entangled on his stomach. His eyes were directed at the ceiling for a moment before he turned his head and looked at her.

A strand of Felicity’s hair slipped from the updo and fell into her face. She wanted to tug it away, but Oliver was quicker. He lifted his hand to her face, moving the strand of hair out of the way. His fingers brushed against her cheek as he did so.

This was way too close Felicity thought to herself. She could feel Oliver’s breath ghosting over her face, and she could hear his heartbeat if she listened closely. It was dangerous and dangerous was never good.

Looking at him now, Felicity finally seemed to understand why it was so hard for her to resist Oliver when they were close. Lying here like this made just everything around them fade away. There was nothing else to focus on, so her head started recalling old memories of them and that reminded her of how much she had missed him when they had been in a long-distance relationship and the first time after the break-up. Oliver was her first love and up to now her only real love. As much as she tried to forget about that, there was something unforgettable about that.

Sucking in a deep breath, Felicity tore her eyes away. It soothed the tingling in her stomach a little and allowed her to breathe more evenly. Her heart was still pounding, but the danger was soothed, at least for now.

“I think I should go back.”

Felicity didn’t want to go back, at least not yet. Given how close they had been to crossing a boundary once more, Felicity guessed it was the better option though.

“Why did you come here in the first place?” Oliver asked when Felicity didn’t get up and walk away. “Did someone mistreat their phones?”

Again, the corners of Felicity’s lips twitched. Oliver knew that she treated tech like other people treated their pets, maybe even better. She hated when other people didn’t show the same respect. Her love was mostly directed at computers though.

“No, I was asked if being here meant I was back with my ex.”

“If you don’t want to talk about your ex, maybe you shouldn’t have come back to Starling or this house in particular.”

Oliver’s voice was gentle, but it didn’t change her reaction.

“You’re right,” she agreed, “which is why I will go back to the party and remind myself why I came back to Starling and into this house in particular.”

With that, Felicity got up. She took the first steps away, but she didn’t get far. Just like yesterday morning when she left the mansion after her chat with Thea, Oliver’s fingers wrapped around her forearm and turned her back around to him. Surprised by the way he pulled her back, she turned around and her chest ended up pressed against his.

Felicity tried to frown at Oliver angrily, and she could only hope that she at least managed partly. She was too distracted by the way Oliver’s muscles pressed against her chest. She could feel his heartbeat against her ribs. His breath ghosted over her face and cleavage, making heat spread over her skin.

Their eyes were locked intensely. There was anger there, a lot of anger. Felicity also noticed the sexual tension though, and that was the moment she knew she had lost. She should have left earlier when she had noticed that being here alone with Oliver wasn’t smart.

When their lips came crashing together in a kiss that wasn’t less angry than their facial expressions before, Felicity already felt a jolt of pleasure shooting right through her core. Her arms wrapped around Oliver’s neck, moving into his hair to keep him in place. Her fingernails scratched over his scalp as she did so, making Oliver moan out. The sound made his chest vibrate and echoed through her body.

Wrapping his arms around her waist, Oliver turned them. Her butt pressed against the edge of the desk. Trying to get even closer to her and urging his body against hers as close as possible, Oliver bent her back over the desk until her shoulder blades touched the cool wood. Felicity arched her back, but Oliver’s body pressed down on her, capturing her between his body and the desk.

Oliver was everywhere it seemed. His body was covering hers, making her feel every muscle of his chest. His tongue moved against hers, making his taste spread in her mouth. His scent embraced her, wrapping her in like a warm blanket in a cold winter night.

Moving her hands from the back of his head towards his stubbled cheeks, she let the familiar sensation of his stubble scratching her fingertips increase her desire even more. Every cell of her body seemed hyper-sensitive for Oliver whether it was his smell, his taste, the feeling of having him pressed against her or the low sounds of desire that fell from his lips. Everything inside of her was just hungry to get more of him.

When he fingers moved down towards his neck, Oliver suddenly pulled his arms away from under her. He grabbed her hands, lifting them over her head and pinning her to the desk. She was completely lost to him now, barely able to move.

Oliver started thrusting his hips against hers. She could feel the zipper of his pants pressing against her through the fabric of her dress, and she spread her legs accommodate his hips. The better access allowed Oliver’s hips to pleasure her clit, and Felicity soon heard herself moaning out in pleasure.

Lust was a powerful feeling. Once it consumed her, it seemed to take over her entire body. She couldn’t control the sounds that fell from her lips, and her body seemed to move on own accord. Everything in her body was just directed at her lust, showing how much it affected her and trying to increase it even more. She couldn’t fight back against it even if she wanted to.

Shifting her hips, Felicity started meeting the rhythm of Oliver’s thrusts. She met them, pressing her center of lust even more firmly against the bulge in Oliver’s pants. He was so hard for her already that another wave of pleasure ran through her. The bare thought of feeling him inside of her again made a desperate moan fall from her lips. Oliver caught it with his lips and swallowed it easily.

Her inner walls started clamping down on emptiness, adapting the rhythm of their thrusts. She was aching to be filled with him. It was so bad that she wasn’t only feeling hot anymore. She was feeling like she was burnt by Oliver’s touch. There was a small line between passionate and painful, and Felicity was not willing to wait until she lost balance and couldn’t dance on that line any longer.

Capturing Oliver’s bottom lip between her front teeth, she bit down there. It was gentle enough for him not to start bleeding, but her bite was sharp enough for Oliver to hiss. His reaction came more from surprise than anything else, and he actually pulled back a little. Felicity made use of that and quickly freed her hands from the grip of his fingers. Pushing Oliver just far enough away, so she could get up from the desk, she started pulling up the hem of her dress and lowered her panties.

All surprise vanished from Oliver’s face. His pupils widened, and his iris turned darker as he watched her. When Felicity pushed herself back onto the desk, spreading her legs slightly in invitation to come back to her, his cock twitched in his pants.

Oliver didn’t have to be told twice. With one large step, he stepped back between her legs. His lips crushed against hers in another searing kiss. His hands roamed over her body and over her hips to the outsides of her thighs. While he teeth were scratching against her bottom lip, eliciting a low moan from her, his fingers traveled to the inside of her thighs and write towards her aching center.

“Oh god.”

Felicity’s head fell back as two of Oliver’s fingers moved into her tight channel easily. She felt out of breath already to a point that her lungs were burning from the need for more air. Oliver didn’t let her have any rest though. Pumping his fingers in and out of her relentlessly, he caught her lips in another kiss.

So far, Felicity had been holding herself upright by propping herself up on her hands behind her. The more her pleasure increased, the more her arms started shaking. She didn’t want them to give in and send her crashing into the tabletop, so Felicity quickly held on to Oliver. Her fingers clawed into the front of his shirt, anchoring her body to him.

It wasn’t long before her moans of pleasures got louder and deeper. She felt the clamping of her inner walls quickening, keeping Oliver’s fingers from moving too far out of her. Her entire body started shaking. All that was needed was flick of Oliver’s thumb against her clit, and she came with a long moan of pleasure.

The waves of heat and content were still running through her when her hands already moved down Oliver’s torso and started unbuckling his belt. Oliver pushed his fingers in and out of her sex for a couple more times, making sure that she felt every last bit of pleasure. It distracted her so much that Felicity eventually gave up trying to unbuckle his belt and press her hand against his cock instead.

Hissing, Oliver broke his lips away from hers. He quickly pushed her hand away, unbuckling his belt as Felicity had tried before. While he unbuttoned his pants and lowered his zipper, Felicity reached into the right pocket of his pants. She wasn’t surprised to find a little foil package there. Felicity ripped it open with her teeth. Instead of rolling it down on Oliver’s cock, she reached out her free hand and wrapped her fingers around him.

“Felicity.”

Her name fell from his lips in a hoarse whisper. It echoed in Felicity’s mind again and again, sounding so incredibly good. She tightened her fingers around his cock, swirling her thumb over the tip.

“Felicity.”

She could hear the way he said her name again and again, and she wouldn’t mind. It was a sound that just touched something deep within her. It made heat crawl over her skin and pool in her stomach. It warmed her from the inside and outside at the same time.

Oliver didn’t seem to be able to take it anymore. He stole the condom from her fingers and pushed her hand away from his cock. As soon as he had rolled the condom onto his member, he pushed his hands under her knees and pulled her closer to the edge of the desk. Taking a step closer towards her, he positioned his cock at her entrance and pushed inside of her with one deep thrust.

A strangled sound fell from Felicity’s lips. Her hands held onto Oliver’s elbow, pushing herself closer towards him while she was getting used to having him inside of her again. No matter how many times they had had sex already, it would never feel usual. It felt familiar in a good way, almost like coming home, but it was still special.

Soon, Oliver started thrusting. He settled for short but firm thrusts, pulling out only slightly before he pushed back in hard. His cock pushed against her g-spot with every little movement. Because Felicity was still so sensitive from her last orgasm, she felt like she was back on fire instantly.

Felicity didn’t want it to end too soon. She enjoyed the way their bodies were moving together this hard and quickly. It was exactly what she wanted and needed. That was why she tried to focus on anything else but the way Oliver’s cock moved inside of her and the slapping sound that echoed through the room when their hips moved together.

The room was filled with sex, and it almost screamed the words back at them. Hence, it was hard to focus on anything but that.

Soon, much sooner than Felicity wanted to, she felt herself being drawn to the edge. Her bones felt more and more like jelly. She nerves felt like small jolts of electricity running through them. They tingled everywhere inside of her, and they twitched every time Oliver pushed his cock back inside of her.

Pressing her lips against his shoulder to muffle her cries of pleasure, Felicity finally let the wave of pleasure take her with it. The pleasure washed over her, embraced her in its blissfulness and took her with it. Her fingers tightened around Oliver’s arms so much that the knuckles turned white. Blood was rushing in her ears. A long moan fell from her lips as her body continued shaking in Oliver’s arms.

Moving her hips against Oliver’s lazily, she watched him. A thin layer of sweat had covered his face as he was focused on continuing to thrust in and out of her. He was breathless, his chest heaving. He was incredibly close to coming, but he just couldn’t let go.

Felicity did her best to get back control over her body. She straightened up as much as possible and leaned her lips against his ear.

“Come for me.”

She whispered the words into his ear the way she had done so often back when they had still been together. It caused Oliver’s hips to stutter until he eventually came with a guttural groan falling from his lips. He almost slumped against her as the last bit of strength he had held onto vanished.

Their lips met in another loving kiss. Oliver’s arms wrapped around her waist at the same time her arms circled his neck. Their hips still moved together lazily, eliciting those last tickling waves of pleasure from another.

When the need for breath became too much to bear, they broke the kiss. They didn’t let go of each other though. They held onto each other, holding each other as closely as possible. Their hearts were beating in the same quick rhythm, and their breathing was equally erratic.

As her body slowly relaxed, coming down from the high, Felicity bit down on her bottom lip. She wasn’t yet ready to regret this, but she was already feeling the awkwardness that came with the vanishing of the post-coital bliss. The situation after their last slip had been awkward, and Felicity was almost sure that it wasn’t any different now.

It didn’t take long for this realization to hit Oliver too. She could feel it in the way his muscles tensed. His hands that had been stroking up and down her body, stopped moving and only rested against her back lightly.

Biting down on her tongue, Felicity leaned away from Oliver. He did the same too, taking a step back. His cock slipped out of her, making both of them moan quietly.

“I will get us-“ Oliver pulled up his pants. “Just wait here.”

He crossed the room and pushed a panel in the wall aside. There seemed to be a small bathroom behind it. At least Felicity could see marble tiles and a sink. Oliver stepped towards it and cleaned himself up. Not wanting to watch him, Felicity turned her gaze away.

Sitting alone here in the office, she felt regret spreading inside of her already. She had come here today with the one goal of not letting this happening again. She had thought that, because she hadn’t wanted to jump him the moment she had stepped into the room, she was strong enough not to let it happen again. She had played with fire, and she had been burnt.

For some reason she just didn’t seem to learn though. She had gotten burnt before, and still she played with it again. What did she think was going to happen? That the fire wasn’t that hot this time around and would just tickle he a little?

“Hey.”

Felicity flinched. She hadn’t noticed that Oliver had returned. He was standing right next to her now, holding out a wet washcloth for her. She stared at it for a moment before she took it and used it to clean herself up.

Avoiding Oliver’s gaze, she gave the washcloth back to him. Oliver took it back to the hidden bathroom, while Felicity put her panties back on. Resting her flat hands on the tabletop, she let her head dangle between her shoulders and closed her eyes. Felicity felt like she was losing control on herself, and it wasn’t a good feeling.

“Everything alright?” Oliver asked quietly when he stepped back in. “Are you okay?”

“No.” Felicity lifted her gaze, straightening her shoulders and stepping right in front of Oliver. “What is this?”

She gestured around between the two of them. She didn’t even want to find a word to describe what exactly this was because she didn’t think there was any word that wouldn’t interpret this one way or the other. She had no idea what this was, what it meant or what to think about it - other than how clearly wrong it was.

“Maybe there is still something between us.”

His words surprised her, and she had to swallow down a thick lump in her throat to even continue breathing. She had expected a lot of things for him to say, but she hadn’t expected this. She also didn’t know how to feel about this at all. Was that something she wanted?

“I don’t know.” Oliver lowered his eyes and shrugged his shoulders, pushing his hands deep into the pockets of his pants. “I am trying so hard to forgive you and-“

“Forgive me?” Felicity interrupted him, hissing those words out sharply. All confusion was quickly replaced with a new wave of anger. “What exactly do you think you have to forgive me for?”

She wasn’t the only one getting angry. Oliver pulled his hands back out of the pockets of his pants and moved them through his hair. What could look like a gesture of nervousness was definitely a sign for how much he troubled to control himself. He was mad as hell. Felicity could see it in his eyes.

“You gave up on us.”

“I gave up on us?” she asked back, her voice jarring as she just couldn’t believe that he was honestly reproaching her of that. “You cannot be serious.”

“Oh, I am damn serious, Felicity! We had plans and you-“

“Oh, yes, I dared to consider a job offer that proved to take my career to unbelievable levels instead of throwing that offer to the wind just because-“

“Just because?!” Oliver’s voice had gotten louder, and he had taken a step towards her, so his chest was almost pressing against hers. “That is what I was to you? Just because?!”

“No, you have been more than that, but you walked away.”

“I needed time and space, so I could think and-“

“Just forget it, Oliver.”

She was almost surprised that he actually listened to her and just fell silent. They stared at each other angrily, back to breathing erratically.

“I just realized that I already know the answer to my question. This had been a mistake. A terrible, stupid, never-going-to-happen-again mistake.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” Oliver intensified the way he looked at her. “Your second in a couple of days.”

“Well, it takes two for that kind of mistake.”

Felicity grabbed her mask from the desk and turned away. She didn’t say anything more, but inside of her she was screaming. She wouldn’t let herself be blamed for any of this. The fact that she hadn’t rejected that offer without considering it seriously did not make her a bad girlfriend. It didn’t mean that she had given up on Oliver or their relationship. She had wanted to make it work.

Without looking back, Felicity slipped out of the room. On her way back to the party, she took some deep breaths. She was still so very angry that her fingers were shaking. Just when she had managed to tie the mask and pushed it back in place until it was covering the upper part of her face perfectly without taking away her view, Sara linked her arm with hers.

“Everything alright?” Sara asked. “I was looking for you.”

“I just… I just needed a second.” Felicity sucked in a deep breath, putting on a smile. “Do you enjoy your party?”

“I do. Thea has really outdone herself and-“

When Sara suddenly stopped, looking at something behind them, Felicity turned to follow her friend’s gaze. Oliver was just stepping out of his father’s office. If the way Sara looked back and forth between them was any indication, she hadn’t missed that it was the very same room Felicity had come out of seconds ago.

Sara’s eyes stayed on Felicity’s face eventually. She perked up an eyebrow. Without saying anything, she asked if this had really happened. If the way she dipped her head forward was any indication, she didn’t need a voiced answer to know either.

“It’s a long story,” Felicity whispered, clearing her throat, “and not something we have to talk about. Especially right now.”

“Are you sure?” Sara asked. “Because I would get it-“

“No, no.” Felicity squeezed Sara’s hands. “Go and enjoy your party please. I am fine.”

Sara didn’t look like she was completely sure that Felicity really meant it. When Felicity smiled at her encouragingly, she sucked in a deep breath and nodded her head. She still looked at her firmly, letting her know that this wasn’t over yet. They would talk about this eventually.

Felicity followed Sara with her eyes when she went over to the dancefloor. A group of her friends, all of them models if Felicity wasn’t entirely wrong, was already waiting there for her. They handed her a glass of champagne and pulled her into their middle as they all started dancing.

Felicity only watched them for a moment longer. As soon as she caught sight of Adrian, leaning against the bar with a glass of whiskey in his hand, Felicity approached him. The moment he saw her, he ordered a glass of champagne for her and handed it to her when she reached him.

“Thanks,” she said, clinking her glass with him. “And cheers.”

She lifted the glass to her lips and emptied in one go. Although the liquid was cold, it didn’t help cooling her anger down at all. It actually seemed to make it worse. What the hell was Oliver thinking?

“Wow,” Adrian said and whistled out an impressive breath, “you okay?”

“Yes,” Felicity lied, shooting him a smile that she was sure wasn’t convincing at all, “I am fine. Everything is okay.”

“Another glass of champagne or maybe something stronger? Like a vodka shot maybe.”

“That actually sounds like a good idea.”

“Yeah, that was only meant as a joke.” Adrian petted her shoulder gently and chuckled. “But if you’ve got a little time for me during your stay here, we can gladly drink a bottle of vodka together.”

“Make it two, and I am in.”

Adrian chuckled even more, probably not taking her seriously. She couldn’t help but join in on his amusement. If she was drinking enough, she could certainly take over the entertainment. She wasn’t exactly able to hold her drink.

Groaning about herself, she leaned her head against his shoulder. Adrian wrapped his arm around her shoulders, holding her to him.

“Seems like you are not the only one with a bad day.”

Felicity lifted her head from Adrian’s shoulder and followed his gaze across the room to where Oliver was standing. He was looking at them, his gaze cold and his hands tightened in fists. Felicity glared back at him. Whatever made him angry, she was certainly angrier.

Oliver’s jaws tensed, and she could almost see him huffing out an angry breath. He narrowed his eyes at her briefly before he turned around. Felicity told herself to look away, but she couldn’t stop herself from watching him cross the room towards a long-legged brunette that Felicity recognized as Helena Bertinelli, his on-and-off fling.

“Forget about him,” Adrian told her urgently. “He’s not worth it.”

Felicity blushed as she realized that Adrian had noticed exactly what had caught her attention. She hated that she was this transparent.

“No, he’s not.” Felicity took Adrian’s glass, took the last sip from it and pulled him to the dance floor. “Come on, you gotta dance with me.”

“Gladly.”

Hand in hand, they strolled over to the dance floor and started dancing casually there along with all the others. Felicity tried to focus just on Adrian, but she couldn’t prevent seeing Oliver and Helena disappearing outside into the garden behind the mansion. She felt her chest tightening in response. No matter how much she wanted to deny it, it bothered her.

It bothered her that Oliver still believed he had any reason to be angry with her. It bothered her that he just went back to Helena Bertinelli after they had just sex. It bothered her that he was taking her to the garden that she admired so much.

Most of all, it bothered her that it bothered her at all. She shouldn’t care, but she did.

Chapter Text

With a frustrated groan, Felicity turned onto her back. She crossed her arms in front of her chest, opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling angrily. Given that it was probably the dullest white ceiling she had ever seen, it deserved to be on the receiving end of her frustration.

After countless glasses of champagne and long hours of dancing with Adrian, she had thought that she would finally get to catch some sleep tonight. After all, the balls of her feet had hurt her so badly that she had just fallen into bed, and thanks to the alcohol she had been incredibly tired. Besides, she hadn’t slept the night before either, so she did have a lot of sleep to catch up on. The conditions for sleep had been at their best.

One thought at Oliver had made all of that useless though.

She still couldn’t believe that he had actually been able to look her in the eyes and blame her for their break-up. Given his anger, she had suspected that he blamed her for it, but saying that right to her face was on a completely different level. She had good reason to think the worst of Oliver, but not even she had expected him to be that brazen.

Felicity knew that she wouldn’t get any sleep tonight, at least not yet. Sitting up, she wrapped the blanket around her shoulders to keep herself warm and crawled out of bed. She left the bedroom and went over to the living room. Barefoot, she walked up and down there. The fluffy carpet kept her feet nicely warm. Thank God.

That Oliver had looked her in the eyes when he had blamed her for the break-up had been bad. That it had happened after they had had awfully wrong and yet incredibly good sex was worse. That Felicity had still been hurt when he had disappeared with Helena Bertinelli was the worst.

Most of her life, Felicity had considered herself a strong woman. After her father had left the family and she grew up watching her mother doing anything necessary to bring them through, she had done her best to make herself as strong as possible. She had made sure that she was always independent, and that she was never letting anyone get too close. To her, her parents’ history had proven that people who got close to you could hurt you, and they could change your life irretrievably to the worse.

When she had met Oliver, he had managed to break down her walls. She didn’t even know how he had achieved that, but she had trusted him more than she had ever trusted anyone. She had trusted him. She had loved him. She had needed him. She had even been willing to give up her safe space in Sara’s apartment to move into that giant loft that would be all Oliver’s with him, only to stand there in that stupid loft. Alone and heartbroken. Waiting for him.

With a long sigh, Felicity strolled over to the large window. She sat down on the cushioned windowsill, pulling her thighs up to her chest and wrapping the blanket around her as tightly as possible. She felt well-protected. Another sigh fell from her lips when she leaned her head against the cool window pane and looked outside.

From up here, Starling City looked quiet and peaceful. She couldn’t see any people, strolling through the streets in the middle of the night. Some cars were rolling through them though, at least judging from the headlights. There was still light behind most of the windows too, but there were no movements to be seen. The sight of the city she got right now and right here just looked nothing like the hustle and bustle that was usually there.

Closing her eyes, Felicity took in a deep breath. She had known that it wouldn’t be easy to be back in Starling City. Whenever she had anticipated the struggles she would run into here, she had had entirely different scenarios in mind. Basically, she had seen herself killing Oliver in a hundred different ways and ending up in jail for it rather than feeling the constant need to jump him whenever they were alone for too long.

Being back here should have brought her some clarity about how far she has come and how far she had moved on since she had left Starling three years ago. It should have allowed her to put aside what had happened between them once and for all. It should have offered a clean cut.

Yet, all Felicity could say after these couple of days back here was that, despite all the anger she had tried to hide it under, she couldn’t deny that she still loved Oliver. Despite everything, she still loved him and she hated it.

 

* * *

 

Janice, the realtor who had already shown them the loft when they had first viewed it, looked at her watch impatiently. She tried to hide it, but Felicity could see that she was annoyed. While she had been able to hide her annoyance behind a polite smile, her patience wasn’t sufficient for that anymore. It had faded almost completely.

Biting down on her tongue, Felicity checked her phone once more. She had perfect reception, so Oliver’s call or text should easily go through if he tried to contact her. Why didn’t he try to reach her though after she had left him like a dozen messages with the request to contact her as quickly as possible?

Not for the first time within the last ninety hours when she had left his apartment to come here, Felicity wondered if something had happened to him. Maybe he couldn’t call her back because he had had an accident with that damn motorcycle he liked so much. As scary as it was, it was a reasonable reason why he hadn’t been available in the last one and a half hours.

Felicity pushed that thought away quickly though. If something had happened to him, his family would have already been informed, and they would have called her. Moira and Robert knew that she needed to know if something happened to Oliver.

“Ms. Smoak, it’s been almost an hour now and-“

“I will try to call him again,” Felicity said quickly, choosing Oliver’s number on speed dial. “I am sure that he will be here any second.”

Listening to the dial tone, she pleaded for him to finally take the call. She wanted him to take the call and tell her that he was already on the way and that he was only late because he had helped an old lady to cross the street or because he had gotten lost in work or even because he had forgotten. She just wanted him to take the call and give a reasonable explanation why he wasn’t here.

She didn’t have any success. Just like the twenty times she called him already, she was soon directed to voicemail. His usual, slight grumpy voice asked to leave a message. He would call back if necessary.

Felicity’s stomach tightened painfully when she ended the call without leaving a message. She pushed her phone back into the large pocket of her coat, but she kept he fingers wrapped around it tightly, so she could take the call as soon as Oliver answered.

“Fashion designers,” Felicity said with what she hoped sounded like a light chuckle, “if they get inspired, they lose track of everything else.”

Janice didn’t look convinced, but she did her best to smile anyway. If it was the other way around and Oliver was standing here with her, it would probably be easier for her. This way, she pushed the contract into her folder and closed it. Only then she lifted her gaze towards Felicity once more.

“I suggest that you and your boyfriend just call me again when it works better, but you should hurry. I cannot reserve the loft for you.”

Felicity nodded her head, said goodbye and hurried out of the loft. Outside, she sucked in a deep breath. It had been a terrible feeling to be alone in that loft and having Janice shoot those annoyed and yet pitiful glances in her direction. She had felt like the little school girl who hadn’t been picked up after the school trip because her father had just forgotten her.

Shaking that thought, she turned to hurry back home to her and Sara’s apartment.

Walking the few blocks, she tried to call Oliver a couple more times. She considered calling Thea, John or maybe Robert to ask if they knew where Oliver was, but she didn’t dare to. The longer Oliver didn’t try to reach back, the more it dawned on her that maybe he hadn’t come because he simply hadn’t wanted to.

Although this thought made everything inside of her scream and hurt, Felicity tried to ignore it. Even if Oliver had chosen not to come because he didn’t see the point of taking the next step of moving in together as long as they hadn’t decided how exactly that would look like with Felicity decision still not made, it didn’t mean that it had to be over. She would find him, and they would talk it out.

Felicity nodded her head. Even if Oliver was struggling, she would convince him to fight. They didn’t have to give up on the last two years because she might have changed her decision to stay in Starling City and work here. They had done a long-distance relationship before. That had sucked, of course it had sucked, but the had made it work because they had really wanted to make it work. They just had to put the same effort into it again.

Turning into the street her apartment was seated, Felicity wondered if their fight had just been more for him. Maybe he thought that she was backing away from the idea of moving in with him and taking the next step in their relationship. Maybe she hadn’t made herself clear enough before because she obviously wanted both. She wanted to take the chance for her career, but she also wanted to be with him.

For Oliver, this was his first relationship that lasted more than a couple of weeks. He had once said that he was a raw recruit when it came to meaningful relationships, and that she had to be gentle with him when it came to being a boyfriend. He had said that he had no idea what it meant to be one although Felicity doubted that. Otherwise, he would have been a natural at it. With the little experience she had with relationships and boyfriends, he had been as close to perfect as possible.

Taking the first steps of the stairs towards her apartment, Felicity tried to call Oliver once more. She should be damned if she gave up on him or on them this easily.

Like all the times before, of course she was directed to his voicemail again. Shaking her head, she dropped her phone into the pocket of her coat and unlocked the door.

“Sara?”

Since nobody answered, Felicity guessed that Sara had gone out. She probably had another date with Nyssa, so they could decide what furniture they wanted to buy new when Felicity had moved out. Felicity didn’t mind being alone though. She was actually glad that she had little time for herself, so she could take a quick shower, get into more comfortable clothes and try to find Oliver, so they could finally talk this out.

She had just reached the foot of the stairs when there was a knock at the door. Oliver had finally remembered that he had stood her up to sign that damn paper, was all Felicity could think. She hurried to turn around and almost ran towards the door.

“Where have you-?” Felicity stopped, feeling her hope getting crushed once more as she looked at the man in front of her. “Adrian.”

As much as Felicity tried to, she couldn’t hide how disappointed she was. With each time she was disappointed again, she felt like it was harder to ignore the bad feeling she felt pooling in the pit of her stomach. In the two years they had been together, Oliver had barely ever been unavailable for two hours. At least for her, he had almost always been available.

“I guess you expected someone else?” Adrian asked. “Sorry.”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders, doing her best to smile through her sadness. She wasn’t sure if it reached her eyes. Looking at Adrian, she was actually sure that it didn’t.

“It’s not your fault. What can I do for you?”

“Oh, I still have your scarf from my birthday party. You forgot it there, and I recently thought about it, so I figured that I could bring it over.”

Adrian held the red scarf she had indeed forgotten at his place last year in November out for her. Felicity pressed her lips together, taking the scarf a little awkwardly. When she looked at Adrian, she saw the same awkwardness in his eyes.

“That scarf has been in your place for almost 6 months,” she said, frowning at him. “Why bring it back now?”

When Adrian massaged the back of his neck uncomfortably, Felicity’s frown deepened. Something told her that the scarf hadn’t just popped up in Adrian’s mind, so that he had decided to come here today and bring it back to her. Something told he that he had had a good reason to give this scarf back today of all days.

“Truth is that I just wanted to check on you.” Adrian hunched his shoulders, pushing his hands deep into the pockets of his coat. “I met Oliver in the gym, and he told me that you two had a fight and broke up. Today of all days. I mean you were supposed to sign the contract to buy that loft today, right?”

Felicity felt her heart stopping. Her breath got stuck in her throat. A cold shiver ran down her back, making goosebumps spread all over her skin. She felt hot and cold at the same time, unable to move or say anything. Blood was rushing in her ears. She stared at Adrian with a blank facial expression, trying to process what he had just told her.

She had already suspected that this fight had meant more for Oliver than it had meant for her. She had thought that she had assumed the worst, but she hadn’t thought that he would just go around and tell their friends that they had broken up when they hadn’t even broken up yet. Or had he broke up with her and she just hadn’t noticed it? Was that why he didn’t take any of her calls now?

“Oh my God, you didn’t know that he considered you broken up?”

Felicity gasped for breath, causing her heart to race and pound against her ribs. She just knew that she couldn’t even fake a smile when she looked at Adrian, so she didn’t try to. She just shrugged her shoulders and shook her head.

“No, I didn’t.”

When one of her neighbors came out of her apartment, Felicity figured that maybe this conversation wasn’t exactly meant to be had in passing. Stepping aside, she opened the door further for Adrian to come in. He flashed her a brief smile before he stepped in, already taking off his coat.

“So, Oliver told you we have broken up?”

Felicity tried to sound casual, but she failed miserably. Putting the forgotten scarf onto the small table next to the door, she led Adrian towards the living room where they sat down on the couch.

“Yeah,” Adrian said, obviously uncomfortable at the feeling that he had been the Job to deliver this bad news, “like I said, I met him at the gym. He was punching the punching bag like it was his worst enemy. At first, I thought I should just leave him alone, but eventually I went over and asked him what was wrong. He told me that you got a job offer by Wayne Enterprise in Gotham City – congratulations by the way – and that you had decided to go there instead of moving in with him.”

Felicity opened her mouth to say something, but she didn’t know exactly what she was supposed to say. Saying that she hadn’t been sure if she wanted to take that offer would be a lie. She did want to work for Wayne Enterprise, and maybe there had been some doubts before, but in a lot of ways she had made her decision the moment she had read that she was accepted. That offer was just too good to reject it.

“I wanted us to find a way to make this work,” she said eventually. “I still want that. I will reach out to him, and we will make this work. I mean there has to be a way for us to-“

When Adrian shook his head, Felicity fell silent. She sucked in a deep breath and held it in her lungs, just waiting for Adrian to say what he thought.

“I mean you can try,” he hurried to say, “but Oliver sounded very determined. Going back to long-distance is not an option for him. If you go to Gotham City, you two are done. He said that with how quickly you were able to change your mind about moving in together, he thinks that your relationship is never going to work.”

Oliver didn’t like to do things halfway. Felicity knew that. She also knew that deep in his heart, Oliver was just as afraid of being abandoned as she was. While his parents had always stayed, they had gotten into quite some fights during Oliver’s childhood. He had grown up in fear of those fights leaving him with only one parent someday. It was why he had sought for stability and reliability in a potential girlfriend.

 “So basically, whatever I do, it’s over.”

Adrian put a hand on hers, squeezing it comfortingly. “Sorry.”

He had been so afraid of being left that he had decided to take the step first. He had just left before she could have left him.

“Maybe you should call him,” Adrian said, “maybe I just misunderstood something, or maybe he just said it out of anger or disappointment. I mean-“

“I already tried calling him, but he doesn’t want to take my calls.”

“Fuck.”

Felicity nodded her head slowly. “Fuck.”

Oliver had vented his spleen at Adrian, telling him that they were broken up and would stay broken up no matter what happened next. He had refused to take any of her calls and still refused to do so. He hadn’t shown up to sign the contract to buy that loft either.

The more time passed, the more the news really hit her. She and Oliver were done.

Felicity felt like her heart broke in ways that it had barely ever been broken before. Everything inside of her ached, and she felt like she couldn’t think straight. Nothing made sense anymore. She had no idea where she belonged, what had been real and what hadn’t been.

She glanced at her phone, considering to call Oliver once more. Maybe if she just got a chance to talk to Oliver, they could work it out nonetheless. There were so many ways for them to make this work. It didn’t have to be over.

If Oliver was able to throw away everything they had without looking back, maybe it really wasn’t worth saving. Maybe it wasn’t even fixable.

“I’m sorry, Felicity.”

Only now Felicity realized that a tear was rolling down her cheek. She sucked in a deep breath, quickly brushing that tear as well as the few others that followed away.

“Well, it’s not your fault that Oliver decided to run away instead of trying to work it out.”

“Yeah, but it’s not a good feeling to be the one to deliver this news to you.” Adrian scrunched up his nose. “I feel guilty. Let me make it up to you by distracting you. I can offer a full distraction program with movies and pizza.”

Felicity did her best to smile through the more tears that were falling. She continued to wipe her hands over her cheeks, but it did nothing to dry the wetness as more and more tears were falling. Once the first tear had fallen, more tears had just followed. She couldn’t stop them anymore. As much as she tried to take in deep, sniffling breaths and get a hold on herself, nothing helped.

“That’s nice of you, but I don’t think I am ready for any of it.”

“Well, that is why I am not offering to hold you while you are crying. I mean, for one, it would ruin my shirt,” Adrian added casually, stroking his hands down his chest, and elicited the smallest of a smile from Felicity in response, “and I think that Sara is a much better fit to comfort you later.”

Felicity knew that Adrian was right. If she needed anyone’s comfort, it was Sara’s, but she wasn’t sure if she really wanted anyone’s comfort in the first place. She liked to live through things alone because she hated the feeling to be weak and vulnerable. It was only worse when others, even friends, got to see it.

For Felicity, the easiest way out would be to book a flight and sit in the next plane towards Gotham City. She could just pull up her stakes in a couple of hours and start over at the other side of the U.S. tomorrow. It wouldn’t be the nice way, especially since there were a lot of people that she wouldn’t get to say goodbye to in person, but it would be for her best.

“Where is Sara?” Adrian asked. “Should I call her and-“

“No, no.” Felicity shook her head firmly. “She’s probably with Nyssa. The two of them didn’t have much time for each other lately. I don’t want to bother them. They can’t change anything about the situation anyway.”

Nobody could change anything about this situation which was why a bottle of wine and a warm blanket should be enough for today. She could cry her eyes out while she was here and try to show some dignity when she talked to Sara tomorrow.

“I really don’t want to leave you here alone, Felicity, especially since you have really good wine here,” Adrian added and got up to walk over to the large shelf where she and Sara were storing their wine supplies, “I wouldn’t mind a glass or two. Or a bottle.”

Despite the soul-wrenching sadness that was spreading inside of her, Felicity could see the appeal of having Adrian here for the evening. She would definitely have to think about Oliver a little less which also meant that she would probably cry a little less. She already felt like her head was exploding from the couple of tears that had fallen. If she really bawled her eyes out tonight, she would feel like she had a terrible cold. Then she would have to go through it again tomorrow when she told Sara what had happened.

“Okay, fine,” Felicity said, nodding her head. “You’ve won. You can stay for movies, pizza and wine.”

Adrian smiled triumphantly. “Good. Let’s see how much of your supplies we can drink.”

Felicity shook her head, snorting. “I need a shower first.”

“Okay, in that case I will order dinner. Steak & Cheese Pizza for you I guess?”

“Yeah.” Felicity nodded her head. “Thank you.”

Adrian just winked at her before he pulled out his phone and dialed the number of the delivery service. While Felicity was on her way to the bathroom, she could hear Adrian order their dinner. He also offered a tip of a hundred dollar if the pizza was delivered within the next fifteen minutes.

Smiling, Felicity closed the door to the bathroom behind herself. Although she would say that Oliver and Sara were by far the two people that she was closest to in their group of friends, followed by Nyssa, Adrian proved to be a good friend. She didn’t have much to do with him or McKenna or Tommy, but he was still here to offer comfort. It was even more impressive after that weekend a couple of weeks ago when Adrian had been so drunk that he had almost tried to kiss her. It had been incredibly awkward for both of them.

When Felicity stepped in front of the mirror, she saw how terrible she looked already. Her eyes were swollen and reddened. Her mascara, though it had been said to be waterproof, was running down her cheeks along her tears. She looked like a mess, and she felt like one too.

Shaking her head, Felicity turned away from her reflection and sat down on the rim of the bathtub instead. She sucked in a deep breath and let her face sink into her hands. It was terrible how much her life could change. From one day to the other, everything was different.

She and Oliver were done. They had broken up. They weren’t together anymore, and they wouldn’t move in together.

As much as Felicity tried to process this new truth, repeating it in her head with different ways, it didn’t seem to really hit her. She was sad for sure, but it still didn’t feel as real as it should be. She felt like she was caught in some dream, about to wake up any second with Oliver’s arms wrapped around her protectively and his lips placed against her forehead.

Felicity shook her head once more. She didn’t want to think about this any longer. The whole point of inviting Adrian over was to not think about this break-up too much. She could spend an evening in denial before she figured out what exactly all of this meant for her future.

Almost about to take off her shirt already, Felicity remembered that Sara had told her something was wrong with the showerhead. Luckily, she had a guy in the house, and from the way she judged Adrian, she assumed that he had a hand for smaller repairs.

Opening the bathroom door, she stuck her head out. “Adrian?”

Adrian, who was sitting on the couch and playing with his phone, lifted his gaze. 

“Yes?”

“Sara told me that the showerhead isn’t working properly. Apparently, the water is sprinkling around in all directions, just not where it’s supposed to go. You don’t know how to fix that, do you?”

“Actually, since my grandpa has been a plumber, I might be able to help with that.”

Adrian put his phone to the table. Getting up, he pulled up the sleeves of his shirt. He joined her in the bedroom. Felicity got the small toolbox from the downmost shelf and handed it to him.

It looked indeed like Adrian really had learned something from his grandfather. At least he seemed to know exactly what he was doing. Once they had climbed into the small shower cabin together, he told her exactly what to do to help him fix it.

“Okay, now it should work,” Adrian said, “let’s just try to-“

Adrian turned on the water. Instead of the expected stream, it still sprinkled all around them.

“Turn it off!” Felicity screeched as the water was ice cold. “Turn it off!”

“I’m trying.” Adrian indeed tried to switch off the water. “It doesn’t work.”

No matter how far he turned the scale, the water didn’t stop sprinkling. It was uncontrollable.

“I thought you knew what you were doing.”

“I thought that too.” Adrian chuckled. “It looked so easy when my grandpa used to do this.”

“What are we gonna do now?”

“I suggest that we-“ When the doorbell rang, Adrian stopped. “Okay, I suggest that you stay here and make sure that no water gets into this part of the showerhead. I will get out pizza and be back in a minute.”

“What? You’re not really leaving me alone, are you?”

Adrian was already gone though. While she was trying to turn the showerhead, so the water wasn’t getting to where Adrian had played around with some screws, she could hear Adrian’s voice from the living room. She didn’t know if those fifteen minutes had passed or if the delivery was still in time, but maybe that was what took so long.

Felicity waited and waited and waited. She felt like she was waiting forever though that might only be the case because the water was soaking her clothes.

“Adrian, come back here,” she called out for him. “I am already wet!”

Soaked would be more fitting she guessed. Her jeans and shirt were sticking to her skin. Her hair wasn’t that wet yet, but the warm steam had turned her straightened hair back into its natural curls.

Adrian’s answer only came after another few minutes had passed. “Coming!”

Indeed, it didn’t take much longer for Adrian to return. He grinned a little amusedly, making Felicity push her bottom lip forward and pouted. It only made Adrian chuckle.

“Sorry,” he said, “we had a little something to discuss about the tip.”

“Did he make it in fifteen minutes?”

“I had to check my phone. It was close, but he succeeded.”

“And now it’s getting cold because we don’t get the-“ When the water finally came out in one single stream, Felicity released a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank god.”

“Nah, that’s too much of a compliment.”

Felicity rolled her eyes halfheartedly before she said honestly, “Thank you.”

“No problem.” Adrian winked at her. “You take your shower to relax. I will find a good movie to watch and make sure the pizza is still warm when you are ready.”

Felicity nodded her head, and Adrian turned around. Before he could disappear, she held him back though.

“Adrian?”

He turned around, perking up his eyebrows.

“Thank you,” she said, “for everything.”

Adrian smiled, nodding his head. “Oliver is an ass, and he doesn’t deserve you.”

In a lot of ways, Adrian’s words hurt. The break-up was still too raw for her to accept if anyone talked bad about Oliver. She wasn’t ready to hear that yet. Hearing that she was too good for Oliver wasn’t any better because that meant that their relationship had been meant to fail from the start. She wasn’t sure if that was true, and, even if it was, she wasn’t ready to accept it.

Felicity didn’t say anything in response. She just waited for Adrian to leave the bathroom and close the door behind himself. As soon as she was alone, she stripped herself of her clothes and stepped into the shower. She turned on the water stream and let the hot water platter down on her body.

She wished the water could wash away the dawning feeling that all her favorite memories of Starling City, so many memories shared with Oliver, would now forever be tainted by the way he had chosen to end their relationship. As much as she wished for that to be possible, she already knew that it was senseless to even just hope in her wildest dreams that it would happen. Her father had tainted a lot of her childhood memories when he had left. Olive had tainted her memories of Starling City.

The soul-crushing feeling of her heart being broken finally caught up with her. As much as she tried to bite them back, the tears were streaming down her cheeks and mixing with the shower water. She cried quietly, no sob falling from her lips as she still couldn’t really believe that it was over. Deep down in her heart, the reality started sinking in though.

It was true. It was over.

 

* * *

 

Resting his head back against the cool brick wall, Oliver closed his eyes and took a deep puff of his cigarette. The ashtray next to him was already overstuffed with cigarette stubs. He guessed at least a fourth of them were the result of this night, but Oliver didn’t care. When he was really stressed, he just needed to smoke, and, after what had happened tonight, he was really stressed.

When he had slept with Felicity in his atelier, he had thought that it would be a one-time relapse after he just hadn’t got the clean cut that he would have needed to move on from her. He had sworn himself to avoid her after that, so a relapse like that would never happen again. With the way she had constantly been on his thoughts from the moment he had heard that she would come back for Nyssa and Sara’s wedding.

Oliver shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut more firmly. As much as he tried to push away the memory of what happened tonight, the scene continued playing in front of his closed eyes again and again.

He had retreated back into his dad’s office to have a moment for himself and try to ban Felicity from his thoughts. Before he had succeeded, she had joined him in that room though. She hadn’t noticed him from the start which had given him the opportunity to take a thorough look at her. No matter how tired and exhausted she had been, she had looked incredibly beautiful. She was just a natural beauty, and Thea’s design had emphasized all her best assets.

In a lot of ways, Oliver hated that he still thought of Felicity as the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He was working with models on a daily basis. Some of them had been titled the sexiest or most beautiful women alive by magazines or other media. For Oliver, there was nothing more beautiful than what he remembered Felicity looked like when she just woke up from a long night of sleep on a Sunday morning. It was the naturalness and effortlessness of her beauty that made it so precious.

Oliver had felt that same way when he had looked at her tonight, and despite all of his good intentions, he had started talking to her. It seemed like he couldn’t help himself. When she was around, he forgot everything that was good for him and just let her wrap him around her little finger without even trying.

Only when Felicity had mentioned that she had escaped the party because people thought she was back with her ex, back with him, all the pain and anger had found its way back to him through the cracks in his heart. Unlike him, Felicity had no reason to think that the idea of getting back with him was so odd. He was the one who had gotten hurt two years ago.

Still, he hadn’t been able to see her walk away from him. As much as he had tried to hold himself back from it, he hadn’t been able to see her walk away. He had wanted to hold her back to simply ask her why she had given up on them three years ago. He needed that answer, or he would never be able to understand.

The moment her body had been pressed against his and her eyes locked with his, Oliver hadn’t been able to suppress his need for her though. He had needed to touch her and to taste her. He needed to feel that she needed him as much as he needed her.

While he had been cleaning himself up, he had tried to find a way to move past what had happened. It has been undeniable that Felicity still held an important spot in his heart. Even through the last three years, that hadn’t changed. He had honestly considered moving past his anger and hurt and try to find a way to start over.

As long as Felicity denied her fault in their break-up, he couldn’t do that though. He wouldn’t make a complete idiot of himself, taking all the blame for what had happened. He had reacted wrong when she had told him about the job offer at Wayne Enterprise. He could admit that. That didn’t mean that the break-up had been his fault though. He-

“Here you are.”

Snapping his eyes open, Oliver saw John turning around the corner to the small, slightly hidden sitting area in the garden behind the mansion. His bodyguard and friend looked at him with calm eyes. Even in the dark of the night, Oliver could see that and, even if he couldn’t see it, he would just know it anyway.

“Is the party over?”

“Has been over for almost an hour. Your sister made sure everything is as cleaned up as necessary for everything to be removed tomorrow and went to bed.”

Oliver nodded his head. “I guess the party was a success?”

“I’d say so.” John crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I saw Helena Bertinelli leave a couple of hour ago, and she looked pissed. I guess she didn’t have as much fun.”

John made it easy to ignore the hidden questions and reproach that was in his voice. It was quite different with the way he looked at him intensely. With that, Oliver knew there was no easy escape.

For a second, Oliver considered if he should just give in and tell John what was on his mind. He really didn’t want to talk about it though. Since he and Felicity had broken up, he had turned down any conversation about her. Even when his father had just mentioned that she was back in town and that she and her boyfriend had broken up, he changed the subject.

“Anything to say, John?”

Being passive-aggressive wasn’t something that was unusual for him. If he was stressed or whatever, that was usually the way he behaved. Most times, John just released a deep sigh and kept quiet. Not tonight.

“Judging from Helena’s behavior, I guess she didn’t get lucky.” John narrowed his eyes at Oliver briefly. “Did you realize in time that a quickie with her wouldn’t help to get Felicity out of your head or did you realize that making Felicity jealous wouldn’t be the right reason to have sex with Helena?”

“What happened between Helena and me had nothing to do with Felicity.”

It was a pure lie. Oliver had seen Helena on the party before he had escaped it already, but he had turned her down. He hadn’t been interested in spending time with her, not even for a quickie. When he had come back from the office and seen Felicity with Adrian of all people, he had gone right to Helena and asked her to go outside with him.

He wasn’t sure if he had intended to have sex with her. Maybe he had. The moment she had kissed him, he had turned her down though. It had felt wrong, especially since Felicity had been on his mind still.

“Of course it didn’t,” John replied, releasing a deep sigh. “Nothing has ever anything to do with Felicity.”

Oliver shot John an annoyed glance, but he just smiled his usual, calm smile. Opening the single closed button of his suit jacket, John sat down on the bench next to Oliver.

“Since I am your friend,” he said quietly, “I think I should be allowed to say something without being punched for it.”

Oliver turned his head to shoot his friend a brief glance. He and John had trained with each other since the latter had started working for the Queen Family. They went running together. They went to the gym together. When there was time, John trained him in boxing and diverse forms of material arts. From that, Oliver knew that even if he punched John in the face when he least expected it, he would barely flinch at it.

“And what do you think you have to say that could make me want to punch you?”

Taking the last puff of his cigarette, Oliver let it join the other stubs in the ashtray. With a long sigh, he rested his elbows on his knees and let his head fall between his shoulders.

“Just don’t ask me if I am still in love with Felicity.”

He was almost surprised that the words fell from his lips. His throat had itched terribly, trying to fight the breath that had been needed to say them. The words had also burned like acid on his tongue and screeched like sharp nails against a chalkboard in his ears. He decided that that had to be the reason why his heart was suddenly jumping up and down like a kangaroo on crack.

“Because you don’t want to admit that you are still in love with her?”

“Because I am not in love with her anymore.”

Another lie, Oliver thought and tightened his jaws. Deep in his heart, he already knew that it was a lie. He just wasn’t ready to admit that loud yet. Maybe those feelings would just go away if he continued focusing on wanting them to go away.

Oliver shook his head. He sounded like Thea had sounded when she had been a preschooler. She had always watched Raisa baking cookies. As soon as those had been taken out of the oven, she had wanted them. She had just sat there, staring at them and willing them to become colder more quickly.

“You have said a lot of dumb things through the years,” John said slowly, “but I think this it by far the dumbest thing you have ever said.”

Oliver reached out for the bottle of whiskey beneath the bench, but it was already empty. Groaning, he leaned back against the brick wall and just waited for John to say more. He was sure that he wasn’t over yet.

“The last three years since you and Felicity broke up, all you did was mourn her.”

“I did not-“

“In three years, every time someone just mentioned her name, you tensed. You switch off the TV every time she is mentioned and trash every newspaper that mentions her name, only after you have read what was written about her of course. Should I continue?”

Oliver sucked in a deep breath, trying to bite back an impending outburst of anger. He could feel the hot anger pooling in the pit of his stomach, but he could still bite it back so far. He had to bite it back because he wasn’t sure if he could control whatever words would spill from his lips if he vented his anger.

“Do you want me to go on?” John asked and seemed to take Oliver’s silence for a yes. “You are screwing models if there is an opportunity, but you never try to get closer to anyone past that. You try to distract yourself with sports, cigarettes and alcohol. Your inspiration doesn’t spark as easily as it used to when you were still with her which leads to, as the critics say, a lack of-“

“Instead of signing the rental contract for that damn townhouse she convinced me to move in, she slept with Adrian Chase!”

In the dark and quiet of the night, the words sounded even louder and angrier than they would have sounded at any other time. Maybe it was the fact that it was the first time he was saying those words out loud that made them sound so brutal. For three years, he had bottled up those words inside of him that saying them out loud felt like it was just the first drops that announced an uncontrollable monsoon.

For three years, he had been able to hold his anger. It had been the one thing that had prevented him from losing all control above himself. He wouldn’t let anything change that now, so he took in a deep breath. His hand tightened up a fist and opened again a couple of times, using that movement to release some stress.

“Okay,” he said finally, releasing a sigh of defeat, “I admit it. I admit that I am still in love with Felicity. I love her – always have, probably always will.”

He let the words sink in. With surprise, he realized how free he suddenly felt. For the first time in three years he really felt alive.

“I made mistakes,” he said, looking at John. “Felicity told me about that job offer in Gotham City, and I reacted absolutely wrong because I was so scared of losing her. I ran away, and, yes, I might have given her the feeling that I was ending things between us. I honestly admit that I am not innocent in how this all played out.”

The thought that Felicity was moving away had scared him beyond belief. He had never really understood why she had fallen in love with him in the first place. When she worked at the other end of the country, surrounded by men that were as smart as she was, he had feared that she would question her decision to be with him too.

It hadn’t taken too long for him to realize that he had been stupid though. A little time at the gym, and he had realized that the only thing worse than going back to having a long-distance relationship was giving up already. He would have been willing to go all in when it came to their future.

“Felicity was the one person who ever held the power to my heart,” Oliver said quietly, “and she shattered it into a thousand pieces.”

 

* * *

 

“Is Ms. Smoak still coming?”

“I hope so,” Oliver replied, trying to hide his nervousness behind a polite smile, “let me just call her and check if-“

Reaching into the pocket of his jeans where his phone was usually, Oliver frowned as he found that it wasn’t there. He frisked all possible pockets of his jeans and leather jacket, trying to find it, but it wasn’t there.

“Damn it.”

Maybe Felicity had taken the fight more seriously than he had thought she would. He should have called her from the gym and make sure that she was coming here too. He knew he still had to make up for his reaction before, but he had thought that he could do so after they had signed the contract to rent the penthouse. He would apologize as soon as he saw her, and he had already bought a gift for her to show her that her was serious about supporting her no matter what she would decide.

He quickly turned back to Mr. Baker and smiled at him. He looked relaxed although his eyes sparkled with the knowledge that things weren’t going the way as planned today.

“I am very sorry.” Oliver cleared his throat. “I think something got in the way for Felicity, but it has to be really important. She loved this townhouse, and she did a lot to convince me of it and-“

Mr. Baker lifted a hand, making Oliver fall quiet. Smiling, he reached out for the rental contract and handed it to Oliver.

“I saw how much Ms. Smoak loved this house. It was why I decided to let you two move in,” he explained. “Just sign the contract and bring it over to me within the next week. If something changed, just call me.”

Oliver felt a load falling off his mind. He was sure that being forgiven would have been a thousand times harder if he had caused them to lose the townhouse.

“Thank you, Mr. Baker.” Oliver flashed him a smile of relief and shook his hand. “I will call you as soon as I have talked to Felicity.”

“I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.”

With that, Oliver turned around and hurried outside. Turning into the direction of Sara’s apartment, where he was almost sure he would find Felicity curled up on the couch, he almost started jogging. He really wanted to go to Felicity as make up with her as soon as possible.

Thinking about this fight, he could hit himself in the face. He had been so stupid to react that angrily. He knew how much Felicity’s career meant to her. For years, she had worked her ass off to get that scholarship for MIT and to get the option to work for some of the best companies in technology. She deserved the possibility to choose between two perfectly successful companies more than anyone else did.

When she had mentioned that job offer, he had just been scared. Felicity was incredibly smart, and she was funny, kind and beautiful. She was so wonderful that, in a lot of ways, Oliver wondered why she had ended up with him of all people. He was certainly very hot, at least if you took the media’s judgement seriously, and he could offer a lot of money which didn’t shy most people away either. He was also quite grumpy and moody. As long as Felicity was here, at least he could score with his good looks. He wouldn’t be able to do that anymore when she worked at the East Coast.

Oliver shook his head. It had been stupid from the start. Felicity knew him, and she knew about his moodiness and his grumpiness. She loved him despite all of that, and not even a long-distance relationship or a dozen of successful nerds she would work with would change that.

Even if it did, as long as he had a chance of being with her, he would take it. They wouldn’t be able to see each in person other every day, and he wouldn’t be able to reach out his hand to stroked his fingertips over her cheek whenever he just felt like it. He would make sure to spend as much time in Gotham with her as possible though, and he would videocall her every day. It wouldn’t be the same and he would miss her like crazy, but it would be better than not seeing or talking to her at all.

Arriving in front of Sara and Felicity’s door, Oliver took in a deep breath. He thought through what he should say, and he considered going down on his knees and beg her for forgiveness, but he knew it wasn’t what Felicity would want. What she would want and need was the promise that he was going to support her and that they would make it. Honest words meant more to her than big gestures.

Oliver knocked at the door. Holding his breath, he waited. His thumb rubbed against the tips of his fingers nervously. It always did that when he was nervous.

Luckily, Oliver didn’t have to wait long for the door to be opened. He was already sucking in a deep breath to tell Felicity exactly how sorry he was. When he saw who had opened the door for him, the breath got stuck in his throat though.

“Adrian.”

Oliver frowned, wondering what Adrian was doing here. He had met him at the gym before. Adrian had come just when Oliver had left. They had talked briefly, and Oliver had told him what had happened. He had told him about the job offer, his inappropriate reaction and his plan to buy a gift to give to Felicity when they were signing the rental contract for that townhouse later. Adrian hadn’t mentioned that he wanted to come over to talk to Sara or Felicity though.

Is frown deepened as Oliver took in Adrian thoroughly. He was wearing cloth pants and patent-leather shoes. He had taken off his shirt though. His bare chest was covered with water drops. His hair looked like a mess, like someone had tousled it actually, and the way he moved his fingers through his hair to stroke it back didn’t help with that at all.

“What are you doing here?”

The moment Oliver asked the question, he suddenly heard the rushing of water from the back of the apartment. The bathroom door was left slightly ajar.

“Oops.” Adrian’s lips widened to a grin that Oliver didn’t know how to describe but as evil. “I guess we got caught.”

Oliver didn’t believe a single word he said. Felicity was a lot of things, and she certainly had a lot of faults although he couldn’t name a single one given how much he loved her. No matter what, Felicity was not a cheater.

Why would Adrian lie though?

Before Oliver found an answer to his question or found his voice again, a more than familiar voice called from the bathroom.

“Adrian, come back here. I am already wet!”

Oliver’s heart sank right into his stomach where it tightened painfully as Felicity’s words made quite clear that maybe it was really as obvious as it looked. Whatever dark thoughts about what could be going on he had tried to suppress so far were now laughing into his face it seemed. He wasn’t able to form them into words yet, too shocked by all of this, but in his thoughts this new reality was already making everything spin.

He had come here with high hopes that he got to fix things between him and Felicity. He had thought that everything was going to be okay again. Now, it seemed like it was quite the opposite.

“I am very sorry, Ollie.”

If Adrian’s face was any indication, he was anything but sorry. He was still grinning that wide and cold grin that Oliver would love to punch off his face. His hand was already tightening, the knuckles prickling with the need to hit Adrian’s face again and again until he couldn’t grin like that anymore.

A couple of years ago, he would have done it. He wouldn’t have even thought about it twice. As soon as the thought would have crossed his mind, he would have gone for it. Not anymore.

Still in utter shock, Oliver turned around. He almost bumped into the pizza delivery guy, but he quickly avoided him. With a look back over his shoulder, he saw that Adrian paid the guy and was handed over the two pizzas in return. Oliver’s stomach tightened painfully once more, and a wave of nausea spread inside of him. He doubted that he could ever eat pizza or anything for that matter ever again.

 

* * *

 

Oliver remembered how he had gone home to his apartment and taken everything apart there. He had just flailed around, completely out of himself. He had actually bruised the knuckles of his hands badly and even broken his wrist from the pure brutality he had used.

Just thinking back to that day, Oliver felt the same tightening in his stomach once more. He sucked in a deep breath and shook his head. He couldn’t let this near him again. It had been so hard to get back on his feet as it had been.

“I loved Felicity,” he said eventually and pulled out another cigarette, “and she broke me.”

He had never said that out loud either. It had always sounded too much to say it out loud, Oliver was sure that it was true. He hadn’t felt whole since that day.

“And you are right, I still love her,” Oliver added quietly and took the first puff of his cigarette, “but I can’t forgive her. I wish I could forgive her, but I can’t.”

He shrugged his shoulders, turning away from John. There was nothing left to say because as long as he couldn’t forgive her, there was just no moving on. He was stuck in his unhappiness, and there was nothing he or anyone could do about it.

Chapter Text

When the elevator arrived at the topmost floor, Felicity straightened her spine and put her shoulders back. Here in the executive elevator of the company, she felt powerful. She was in her element when she just got to be a business woman. Talking about her work and working itself made her feel safe and strong.

As soon as the doors opened, Felicity stepped out and turned towards the desk at the other end of the long hall. This time, it wasn’t Robert Queen himself but his assistant sitting there. She was busy typing on her computer, but she had the time to look Felicity up and down over the rim of her glasses at least briefly.

There had been a time when Felicity would have been unsettled by the way Robert’s EA looked at her. She would have felt the need to hunch her shoulders and lower her gaze, making her smaller than she really was. Her hands would have fumbled nervously, probably playing with her ponytail if they hadn’t found anything else to occupy themselves with. A deep blush would have spread on her cheeks and traveled down her neck to where the flush would cover her chest like flecks.

That was different today. She had so many friends, Sara and Lena in particular, who brimmed over with self-confidence. They stepped into a room and owned it instantly just through their presence. Heads turned in their directions, and they were just taken seriously because of how they presented themselves. It had always baffled Felicity, so she had decided to take a page from their book and work on her appearance.

The thought made her smile now as she had proven more than once that she was someone who should be taken seriously too. Although the world of technology still wasn’t easy on women, at least in the managing positions, she wasn’t easily overlooked.

The sound of her heels on the marble floor sounded like music as she crossed the large room towards Robert’s EA. In the tight black skirt, the gallant blouse and pink blazer, she knew she looked exactly like the successful businesswoman she was. Still, she felt utterly comfortable. She knew those were the best conditions for a successful afternoon.

If everything worked out the way Felicity hoped, she and Robert would be able to agree on the terms of their collaboration and maybe even sign the contract today. She had sent Robert a first proposal for the contract earlier this week. If she was really lucky, he would agree to it the way she was. Usually, there were changes demanded, so she wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same this time.

“Ms. Smoak,” Robert’s EA said when Felicity stepped to her desk, “you can go right in. Mr. Queen is already waiting for you.”

“Thank you.”

Felicity flashed the EA a smile, thinking about how easily she could have ended up on the front desk of a man too if her talent had been overlooked. Thanks to her decision to go to Gotham City and work for Bruce Wayne, she had met the right people. That way she had made her way to the top of her own company that she shared with two equally talented and devoted women.

Even before Felicity got to knock at the glass door to Robert’s office, he lifted his gaze. A wide smile spread across his lips when he saw her. Pushing aside whatever papers he had been reading in until now, he got up and walked around the desk to approach her.

“Felicity,” he said softly, spreading his arms, “it’s so great to see you.”

He put his hands to her upper arms, pulling her a little closer to hug her. Although his arms were strong and felt like he wanted to hold her there for a long time, he let go of her rather quickly. Moving back, he held her for a moment longer and just smiled at her.

“If everything goes the way we have planned, we might be able to see each other a lot more in the future,” Felicity replied, “you have to visit me in Hub City.”

“I am looking forward to that.” Robert let go of her and gestured to the seating area with the two more than comfortable looking leather couches instead of his desk. “It’s been a while since I have been in Hub City the last time. I think it’s been in 2018. I would love to go back there though, especially for that small Indonesian restaurant on the harbor.”

“You mean Mekanan?” Felicity asked, sitting down on the leather couch to realize that it was just as comfortable as it looked. “I love it there. Guntur and Merpati are very dear friends of mine. I don’t even have to order anymore. They just know what I want.”

“Then I guess you understand why I want to go back there too.”

“Absolutely.” Felicity chuckled. “It’s my favorite restaurant.”

Robert made a short detour to the small kitchenette, getting them some coffee. That man just knew that she couldn’t work until caffeine was rushing through her veins.

“Apart from the good food, I am interested to see what Helix Dynamics looks like,” Robert explained, “I have seen so many companies, and I always think that the style of a company’s building says a lot about the people responsible for the company.”

Felicity puckered her lips, taking a quick look around to compare Robert’s style with the style they had established at Helix Dynamics. “Less marble, more wood?”

Robert chuckled. “Down-to-earth.”

“Hm.” Felicity puckered her lips, cocking her head. “Do you think that’s a bad thing?”

“Absolutely not.” Robert shook his head firmly, handing Felicity one of the mugs and sitting down on the other. He took a sip of the hot liquid, taking a thorough look around. “If I could design this building once more, I would do a lot of things differently.”

Felicity couldn’t hide her surprise. Robert had always looked utterly content when he was in here like it was exactly where he belonged and how he wanted things to be. Of course the company was quite different than his home, but both of them were furnished elegantly and luxuriously for sure. She didn’t even dare to guess the worth of all the furniture in his office alone.

“I think the sudden success of Queen Consolidated blinded me for a while,” Robert added with a soft smile, shrugging his shoulders, “I made those first millions so quickly that I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I just didn’t have that many concurrents because a lot of people were still shying away from this branch, thinking it wouldn’t offer long-term success. When this building was set up, I thought I was creating my mark with it. Hence, I made sure it showed exactly how successful the company is.”

“And now?” Felicity asked. “What would you do now?”

“I would make sure that it’s a good place to work at. It’s important that employers feel comfortable. They need efficient workplaces with short distances between the departments as well as possibilities to refuge during their breaks. If employers don’t do their part in making sure that employees stay healthy, they have no right to complain later.”

If Felicity had ever doubted why Robert had been her role model lately, this was the best reminder she could have been given. As demanding as Robert could be, he wasn’t reckless. He took good care of his employees, and he always searched for ways to become a better boss. It was a pity that too many companies were managed by people that were just greedy for profit, not matter the cost.

She was glad that she and Robert got to exchange a few private words before they turned towards business. Felicity liked to know more about the people she worked with. She already knew a lot about him, but it was still the same, especially since they were much more on the same level now.

Smiling at Robert, she took a sip of her coffee. In the meantime, Robert cleared his throat, put his mug down and reached out for the contracts she had sent him.

“Now, let’s get to business,” he said, “I am sure your time is precious.”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t have many plans for today. I promised Thea to come by later, but that’s about everything I am planning to do today.”

“Sara’s and Nyssa’s dress are going to be fitted today, right?”

Putting her mug down, Felicity nodded her head. She shouldn’t be surprised that Robert knew since most occasions regarding the wedding were taking place in his home. Although she knew that, she was still surprised. She remembered that Oliver had always said that his father wasn’t taking much interest in his children’s life, so why should he remember the fittings?

Felicity had always wondered if maybe Oliver’s picture of his father had just been tainted by the fact that Robert had been quite hard to him at times. Admittedly, with the stories Felicity had heart about Oliver’s youth, he might have needed strict limits, but Oliver had always felt like he wasn’t enough for his father. He felt like he was pushed in the direction of taking over Queen Consolidated one day when that had been something he had never wanted.

“Yes.” Felicity smiled, guessing that Robert might have changed. “I already heard a lot about the dresses, but I am very excited to see them now.”

Robert nodded before he turned the conversation back to the contract. Handing the papers to her, he said, “The contract is fair. I discussed it with the board, and we can generally accept the terms of collaboration.”

“But?”

“But,” Robert repeated pointedly, smiling at the fact that she had known a but would come, “our lawyers suggest two little changes. I hand wrote them to the margin on page four and page eighteen.”

Felicity browsed through the papers until she found them. Queen Consolidates wasn’t really changing anything about the deal. The suggestions were much more meant to clarify some of the terms Helix Dynamics had written down.

“I have to double check this with Lena and Lily as well as our lawyers,” Felicity said, closing the papers, “but between you and me I say that we will probably agree.”

“I am glad to hear that.” Robert smiled genuinely. “Paperwork is just the worst.”

“Oh, you are saying.” Felicity chuckled, putting the papers away to grab her mug of coffee once more. “I love to be in a powerful position because, ultimately, that is where the most important decisions are being made, and I can still work in our laboratories whenever I want because I am the freaking boss. I think I would love being in charge even more if it wasn’t linked to so much paperwork.”

“I never really got used to do it either. Elaine, my EA, has to remind me to work on all the paperwork that piles up on my desk at least once a week.”

“I’m glad I am not the only one with that trouble.”

She raised her mug to Robert with a low chuckle before she took the last sips from her coffee. It definitely was better then the dishwater she had been offered on the plane. The coffee was just great.

“I am going to get myself a brandy to celebrate this joint project,” Robert said and emptied his mug of coffee too, “can I get you one too?”

“Will you think less of me if I tell you that I don’t like it?”

“Not at all.” Robert smiled. “Is there anything else I can offer you? A glass of wine, water, more coffee?”

“The latter would be nice,” Felicity replied, “but I can help myself with that.”

“Gladly.” Robert gestured towards the kitchenette. “Feel free to treat yourself with as much coffee as you like to.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t say that.” With a chuckle, Felicity got up and strolled towards the kitchenette. “If I get good coffee, I might never leave.”

“I think I could handle that.”

Felicity released a doubting hum. She was sure that living together with her or even just having her as a permanent guest was quite exhausting. Felicity still had no idea how Sara had managed to live with her for so long.

With their drinks, Felicity and Robert met back on the couches. They both leaned back and just enjoyed their drinks of choice in quiet.

“Sara told me that you will pay for the wedding and everything.”

Robert smiled, nodding his head. For a long moment, he didn’t say anything. He just took some sips of his brandy. Felicity could see in his eyes that he was thinking about what he could possibly tell her in response to this.

“Barely anyone knew that, but Quentin and I used to be friends when we were younger,” Robert said eventually, releasing a deep sigh, “we just took quite different paths in our life and lost sight of each other for a long time.”

“That’s life,” Felicity said quietly. “It’s sad, but it’s life.”

“Yes, I guess that’s true.” Robert nodded his head. “When someone you knew and have been friends with dies, it just prompts you to take a look at your life. I wondered what I would want and need if I died, and all I could think of was my family. I would want someone to watch out for my family. So that is what I am trying to do for Sara.”

Felicity smiled sadly. She knew how terrible Quentin Lance’s death had been for Sara, but she also knew that she had found a lot of comfort with the Queen Family. She got to spend the holidays with them, was invited to fancy dinners for her birthday and was just included in their family life. Felicity wasn’t sure if Sara knew about this backstory, but it was nice either way.

“I know that paying for the wedding is not really what taking care of someone means, but I felt like it should be part of it.” Robert took another sip from his brandy before he chuckled. “Besides, who knows if I will ever be allowed to play host for another wedding.”

“No hope for your own children?”

“I don’t know.” Robert sighed, shrugging his shoulders. “I think Thea would feel like a captured wild animal if she was getting married. She loves to be free and go wherever she wants to. She loves with her whole heart, but she lives a hundred percent in the moment. I don’t think that she will risk losing that. I wish her nothing else but everything she wants in her life, so, if she does want to get married, I hope she finds the right person. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never gets married and just dumps whoever proposes to her.”

Felicity puckered her lips. She wasn’t sure if that was really true. She could see Thea getting married because, as wild as Thea was, she was also a romantic. Felicity just doubted that she would ever get married to someone who lived in the same quarters as Robert, Moira and their friends. Thea needed someone who was just as wild as she was.

“And Oliver,” Robert said with a sigh, “well, you know how he is.”

That did indeed not need any further explanations. A short glance at the tabloids, and that sentence explained itself for anyone who didn’t know what exactly that was supposed to mean. Besides, who would bear his moodiness and broodiness permanently?

“Unfortunately, yes,” Felicity mumbled, “all too well.”

Robert looked at Felicity intensely. He had his eyes narrowed slightly, and Felicity could see that he considered asking more about this. Since they had basically come to an understanding about this collaboration already, he probably thought that she wouldn’t feel too uncomfortable if he asked about this now.

Quickly, Felicity changed the subject because she would feel uncomfortable if she was asked about this. It didn’t even matter who would ask her about this. She just didn’t want to talk about Oliver or their break-up, especially after these last days since she had returned to Starling City.

“The rehearsal dinner is taking place tomorrow,” she hurried to say, “so if there is any help you need, I am here. I didn’t really do much as the maid of honor.”

“Thea took care of everything else gladly. I think you did her a favor with leaving her in charge of everything. Organizing fancy occasions like that is just her thing. All that matters is that you are here now. I can say that it means the world to Sara that you did.”

“I think she would have killed me if I hadn’t come, or at least she would have taken a flight to Hub City and kick me all the way through the US until I arrived in Starling.” Felicity chuckled. “Since her mother and sister are coming to the rehearsal dinner and wedding too, I am sure she needs the backup now more than ever.”

Robert nodded his head. “Family reunions like that are always hard. I mean they haven’t really talked out what has happened, but they all have to pull themselves together because not inviting her Dinah and Laurel to the wedding would have just put a dark shadow over the occasion. I have no idea what exactly has gone down between the three Lance-Women, but it’s obvious that there are still a lot of hard feelings involved. Sadly. I think a family should always stick together.”

Felicity nodded her head, thinking back to her own family. They weren’t sticking together either. At least they hadn’t stuck together since her father had left. He had destroyed the family because, in a lot of ways, he had been the link between Felicity and her mother. They just didn't have as much in common.

If her father came back now, Felicity knew that it wouldn’t fix anything though. The way he had just left them overnight without as much as saying goodbye made him undeserving of any trust or any forgiveness. Felicity was proud enough to not take him back when he finally remembered that he had a daughter, although she knew that seeing him again would be incredibly hard for him.

“Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.”

 

* * *

 

Since Felicity had spent a lot more time at Queen Consolidated than she had thought she would, just chatting with Robert like they were old friends, she didn’t bother to go back to her hotel room. She would barely be there before she had to leave already to make it in time for Sara’s dress fitting. Hence, she took a direct path from Queen Consolidated to the Queen Mansion.

She parked her car at the edge of the broad driveway in front of the Queen Mansion right behind an all too familiar motorcycle that told her that Oliver was already here too. Felicity could just hope that she would only meet him in the room for the dress fitting. When Sara was around, maybe they would be able to pull themselves together enough to not get into another fight or have sex again.

Shaking her head, Felicity pushed those thoughts away. She had managed not to think about Oliver at all today, or at least not more than was natural when you spend half a day with that person’s father. She didn’t want anything to change that.

“Only a couple more days,” Felicity whispered to herself, getting out of the car, “only three more days.”

She would have to get through this dress fitting today. She would have to sit through that rehearsal dinner tomorrow, making sure Sara wouldn’t clash with her mother and sister over old issues. She would attend that wedding the day after tomorrow, being the best maid of honor that she could be for Sara. She would probably have a hangover the day after which wouldn’t make the flight more bearable, but she didn’t care. She hadn’t wanted to spend even a single day more than necessary in Starling City.

Stepping in front of the door, Felicity lifted her fist to knock. Soon enough, she remembered that the front door was barely ever locked. She guessed that the Queens felt safe enough with the security men that guarded the gates at the end of the driveway, making sure that only selected people got access to the property.

With a shrug of her shoulders, Felicity opened the door and wasn’t the least bit surprised that Thea was already waiting for her at the foot of the stairs. The security guards had certainly told her that Felicity had arrived. Tiptoeing into the Queen Mansion without being noticed was just impossible she guessed.

Thea beamed at Felicity, crossing the distance towards her and pulling her into a hug. Although she didn’t say a word, Felicity could almost feel that Thea was already thinking about the day Felicity would go back to Hub City. Seeing each other again after the last three years, had reminded both of them that they were friends. Neither of them wanted three more years to pass before they saw each other again, but it wasn’t easy to stay updated on each other’s lives when they were living so many miles apart.

Neither of them said anything about that though. They still had a couple of days to spend together, and thanks to the tasks they shared when it came to the wedding, they would spend a lot of time together. Focusing on Sara and Nyssa’s wedding was what they had to do.

Linking her arm with Thea’s, Felicity let her friend lead her into the Queen living room. Nothing about the spacious room reminded of the party that had taken place here only yesterday. Still, the usual structure of the living room hadn’t been restored. Instead, a large table for twenty people had been set up.

“I am sure your mother is happy when the living room is hers again, isn’t she?”

“Maybe.” Thea grinned. “I love to drive her nuts by besieging it though.”

Felicity smiled, squeezing Thea’s arm. She knew that Thea loved her mother and the other way around, but the two Queen Women were so damn different that it wasn’t always easy between them. That Moira had decided to dedicate all her time to Oliver’s career hadn’t made it easier.

“Is there anything I can do for the rehearsal dinner?” Felicity asked. “Is there anything that still has to be done?”

“No, I think I’ve got everything handled,” she said, nodding her head slowly, “but if there is anything you can do, I will tell you.”

“Good.” Felicity glanced at her watch. “When will Sara be here? Her fitting is the first, right?”

“Yes, Nyssa is only coming later.” Thea nodded her head. “Sara’s already upstairs in my room though. We had to accelerate the appointment a little bit… for reasons I can’t even say.”

“In that case, I will go right upstairs.”

“I have to make a phone call,” Thea said, gesturing with her phone, “but you know where my room is. Just go ahead. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.”

Felicity flashed her a smile, nodding her head. She squeezed Thea’s arm once more before she turned around and went ahead just like they had agreed on.

On the way down the hallway where Thea’s bedroom was located, Felicity felt her heart starting to race. She was nervous because she liked wedding dresses, and she knew how beautiful Sara would look in hers. She might actually make her cry.

That wasn’t the only thing that made her nervous though. Felicity knew that, if she stepped into Thea’s room, she’d see Oliver again. If he hadn’t let anyone else help fitting her dress for the maid of honor, she certainly wouldn’t let anyone fit the wedding dresses. The first meeting after their first slip had been awkward already, so she was sure that it would be even worse after last night, especially with their fight.

In front of Thea’s bedroom, Felicity took in a deep breath. She would just focus on Sara and completely ignore Oliver. After all, she had come here to support Sara and not to bring even more trouble into this wedding.

Felicity knocked at the door softly and was immediately asked to come in. She opened the door and stepped inside. Felicity felt her breath getting stuck in her throat the moment she saw Sara standing on a small pedestal in her wedding dress. Just like she had assumed, because Sara had a phenomenal sense for fashion and Oliver, as little as she might think of him as a person, was a great designer, Sara looked incredibly beautiful.

The dress was made of white silk. It fitted her slim figure tightly until her upper thighs where the fabric started falling loosely into a short train. The deep V-neckline emphasized Sara’s back, and the playful peplum. Otherwise, the back of the dress was made of a half-transparent fabric that allowed everyone to see Sara’s muscular dress. The dress really just made sure that all of Sara’s best assets were put in the spotlight.

Sara beamed at Felicity happily. Despite all the self-confidence she was exuding, there was a little bit of nervousness on her eyes. Felicity was sure that she was the first person outside of the OJQ employees to see the dress, so her opinion was probably quite important to Sara.

“You look so beautiful,” Felicity said and to her own surprise she felt tears pricking in her eyes, “Nyssa is going to faint when she sees you.”

Sara frowned at Felicity, and from the corner of her visual field Felicity could see that Oliver was looking similarly confused about the choice of words. With a couple of pins between his lips, he had turned his head back over his shoulder and frowned at her.

“Okay, that would be bad,” Felicity agreed, “so she won’t faint, but she is going to be very, very emotional. I mean she is going to love it, obviously, since you are the one wearing the dress and she loves you.”

Oliver rolled his eyes before he turned back to continue pinning the hem of Sara’s dress. Felicity lifted her gaze to Sara’s face and watched her ogling herself in the mirror. Her fingers stroked down the front of the desk almost a little nervously.

“What’s wrong?” Oliver asked without looking up. “Anything bothering you?”

“I don’t know,” Sara said, “I mean the dress is perfect. It’s exactly what I wanted, and I loved it during the first two fittings, but-“

“No, no.” Oliver hurried to get up from the floor. “I know you what you want to say, but no.”

He stepped behind Sara and put his hands to her shoulders, so he could turn her until she was facing the mirror directly. His fingers brushed against the neckline of the dress gently.

“You think this might be a little too much, right?” Oliver asked, his voice so very soft. “But it’s not. If we put the neckline a little higher, your body loses height. With this cut, we stretch your upper body a little bit, and everything still covered.  Even if you dance, this cut allows a good hold, so nothing will fall out.”

Felicity was weirdly touched by how gentle Oliver was all of a sudden. Sometimes she forgot that he wasn’t only a good fashion designer because he had a good sense for fashion. Oliver also tried to give the women that were wearing his clothes a new feeling. He was trying to give them confidence and good feelings about their bodies. He wanted them to feel fabulous and comfortable, a mixture that Felicity felt was rare when it came to fashion.

Oliver’s words seemed to be exactly what Sara needed. At least she squeezed his hand and nodded her head slightly. Still, a little bit of insecurity stayed.

“I think Oliver’s right.”

It surprised Felicity that those words actually fell from her lips, especially since she hadn’t mumbled them to herself. Instead, she had said them out loud and clear, leaving no room for hesitation. That Oliver was right there to hear them didn’t make it any better.

“Well, what did that words taste like?”

“Vinegar essence.”

Felicity and Oliver looked at each other intensely after this brief exchange of words. There was something in his eyes that Felicity felt was meant to provoke or at least tease her. She didn’t miss that sparkle of anger that was shining through and after last night she didn’t think that she should play along to that.

With Oliver’s moods, it felt like she never knew what she was at when it came to them. He could look at her like he wanted to devour her one moment, fight with her like she was his worst enemy the next and act like they were good friends at other occasions. Felicity didn’t know how to deal with that, so she wouldn’t continue dealing with it.

For Sara’s sake, Felicity would do her best to be adult. She wouldn’t make a scene. She wouldn’t tell him to go to hell and leave her the hell alone. They had to respect the other’s presence, but they really didn’t have to communicate.

Felicity turned her gaze away, sitting down on the edge of Thea’s bed. Although she didn’t look at Sara and Oliver, she was sure that the awkwardness and tension she felt embraced them too. It was hard to miss.

Oliver cleared his throat. “I think we are done here. Sara, you can go next door. Becky is waiting for you to help take off the dress. Nyssa will be here in half an hour. You should be gone by then. Bad luck and everything.”

“Thank you for everything, Ollie,” Sara said and kissed his cheek, “the dress is exactly what I wanted and more.”

“Good,” Oliver squeezed her hands. “Use the last hours before the wedding to catch some rest. The dress will look even better with a well-rested bride inside.”

Sara chuckled. “I will do my best, but I am so nervous that I doubt I will get any sleep before the wedding.”

“There is no reason to be nervous,” he told her seriously, “just relax. Everything will go just as planned. You know my little sister. She won’t allow anything to go wrong.”

He winked at her before he turned around to leave. His eyes met Felicity’s briefly, filling with coldness and regret at the same time. Not letting that stop him, he continued on his way to the door and left without another look back.

As soon as the door opened, Felicity released a long breath. She was relieved that Oliver was gone, but that only made her feel all the more terrible for having a part in making things awkward with the happy bride-to-be right there. She shot Sara, who was still standing on that small pedestal, her hands on her hips and her eyebrows perked up, an apologetic look.

“I’m sorry,” she said quickly, “I promise that I will be better these next two days.”

Sara smiled a little sadly. “I just want the wedding to be kept out of this. I know you two still have issues, but-“

“I will be on my very best behavior. I will be like an angel, not saying a single bitter word about him or anything, even if he tries to provoke me to do so. I promise.”

Although Sara didn’t seem exactly convinced, she nodded her head. Since Thea stepped in that very moment, a young brunette following right behind, Sara didn’t get to say anything else anyway.

“Becky is ready to help you undress.” Thea gestured for Sara to follow the brunette, “you can go next door where your clothes are. Nyssa is not here yet, so the coast is still clear.”

Sara shot another meaningful look at Felicity before she followed the brunette out of the room and closed the door behind herself. Thea, who had observed the moment quietly, cocked her head at Felicity.

“What was that look supposed to mean?”

Felicity shrugged it off. “Nothing.”

It was obvious that Thea didn’t believe her. With the way she tilted her head even more to the side and crossed her arms in front of her chest, she proved that. She definitely wanted to know the truth, but Felicity was sure that would change if Thea knew what was really going on. She hadn’t wanted to hear the word sex in the same sentence as her brother’s name three years ago, and Felicity doubted that had changed.

Figuring that a change of subject would be the easiest way to stop Thea from trying to stare her into telling the truth, Felicity got up from the bed and walked over to the small desk. Some designs of dresses and diverse accessories were pinned to the magnet board above it. Felicity didn’t even have to look twice that those weren’t Oliver’s works. The way the designs were sketched didn’t look like Oliver’s sketches, and they weren’t exactly his style either.

“Did you do these?” Felicity asked, shooting Thea a brief glance. “They look great.”

“Felicity,” Thea said in a singsong, “you are changing the subject.”

“I know,” Felicity replied in the same singsong, “is it working?”

“Unfortunately, yes.” Thea grumbled, but she stepped next to Felicity and took a look at the designs. “Yes, these are mine. The dresses are older designs, but the accessories are rather new. After Ollie showed me the first sketches for his new collection, I got inspired. I spent an entire weekend, day and night, on these. Most of them would fit for some of the items in his collection.”

Felicity looked at the purses, belts, gloves and other accessories. They looked elegant. With the softness they exuded, Felicity was sure they would create a good contrast to Oliver’s fashion that was usually a little rocky for the lack of a better word.

“Did you show Oliver these?” Felicity asked. “If they are for the collection-“

“He’s too busy,” Thea interrupted her with a shrug of her shoulders, “after the presentation, he might have five minutes to take a look at them. Before that, especially with the wedding, he just doesn’t have the time.”

“After the wedding is a little late though, don’t you think?” Felicity cocked her head at Thea, looking at her as urgently as Thea had looked at her before. “Maybe some of your designs can make it to the catwalk.”

Thea rolled her eyes. “You don’t really think that Ollie will allow any changes or additions to his collection, right?”

Felicity pursed her lips. When it came to his work, Oliver was indeed a little distinct. He needed to be in control of everything, and he wouldn’t allow anything to go out on the catwalk that he hadn’t approved to at least three times. Given how critical he was with his own work, Felicity was sure it was even worse with the work of others.

“What about your mother?” Felicity asked, unwilling to let go of the idea that Thea couldn’t have the same success her brother had. “Did you show the designs to her?”

“Yes.” Thea sighed. “After our talk, I thought I’d gather my courage and ask her for her opinion. I mean I don’t want to disappear in Ollie’s shadow for the rest of my life. I want to design my own stuff, and I want to be recognized for it. My mom took her time and really took a look at everything. She thinks I am talented and that I do have a chance at doing my own thing one day, but she thinks the designs need a more personal note at first. She thinks I am not ready yet, but she promised to support me whatever my next steps are and that she will help me build something for my own when I am ready eventually.”

Felicity pursed her lips, looking at the designs. To her, Thea’s accessories looked great. She had several items in her closet that would look great with a little addition like that. She wasn’t a designer though, so Felicity wasn’t sure how qualified her opinion was.

“Your mother isn’t a designer. She is a good business woman, but that doesn’t mean that she understands the trends of fashion. I mean when Oliver first told her about his vision of becoming a fashion designer, she turned him down too. Talk to Oliver. He knows.”

When Thea only shrugged her shoulders, still hesitant to really take that step it seemed. Felicity put her arm around Thea’s shoulders, pulling her closer, and rested her head against hers.

Families were always a little messy. Thea might have made a better hit than Felicity or Sara had when it came to families, but the special circumstances of family and business mixing still didn’t make it easy for her either. Family members were supposed to support each other, but this special situation made it difficult to do that sometimes.

With a glance at her watch, Felicity sighed. It prompted Thea to tighten her hold on her friend.

“You have to go?” she guessed.

“Unfortunately, I do.” Felicity released another long sigh. “I gotta catch Lena and Lily for a video call before they leave Helix Dynamics.”

“Is this about the deal with Queen Consolidated?” When Felicity shot Thea a surprised glance, she shrugged her shoulders. “Dad told me.”

Felicity nodded. “Your dad agreed to the project, but he suggested two changes in the contract. Now I have to check with Lena and Lily and our lawyers that they agree to these terms, so I can meet with your dad again and finally sign the contracts.”

“So if I keep you here a little longer, that means you don’t get the okay and have to stay to finalize the deal?”

Felicity chuckled. “No. If you keep me here a little longer, that only means that your dad and I might have to leave the wedding for an hour to sign the contracts in his office.”

Thea scrunched up her nose and let go of Felicity, pushing her away playfully. “Fine. Go. Leave me alone.”

“We will spend a lot of time together tomorrow and for the wedding,” Felicity promised her. “Make sure we sit at the same table.”

“Next to each other of course. I am not an amateur.”

“Never doubted that.” Felicity winked. “Now, are you walking me to the door or-“

“I will go and check on Sara. I think she wants to wait for Nyssa, and I have to make sure the two won’t meet as long as any wedding dress is visible.”

“Alright.” Felicity hugged Thea tightly. “We see each other tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow.” Thea hugged her back just as tightly. “If you have a free minute, I wouldn’t mind to spend the afternoon with you already.”

“If I have time, the afternoon will be reserved for you.”

They left the room together. While Thea walked into the room next-door, Felicity headed towards the stairs.

The more she saw of Thea’s talent, the more convinced she got that Thea needed to step out of Oliver’s shadow. Even if Moira was right and Thea wasn’t ready yet, Thea needed the chance to develop her own style. As long as she was belittled and compared to her brother, she would never get a chance of doing that.

Felicity wondered if maybe she herself should talk to Oliver about it. She was probably the last person he would listen to, but this wasn’t about them after all. This was about Thea, and Felicity knew that she meant the world to Oliver. He would never admit it, or at least he would never cause an emotional scene, admitting his feelings, but he loved his little sister like only the best big brothers did.

Scrunching up her nose, Felicity noticed the warmth spreading in her chest. She disapproved of the way it filled her at the thought of how close Oliver and Thea were. Of course it was great for Thea, but she didn’t want to think about all the good sides of Oliver anymore. Those just brought her into trouble and-

Completely distracted by her thoughts, Felicity didn’t focus on placing her foot safely on the next step of the stairs. Unable to balance out the misstep, she twisted her ankle and lost balance completely. Her hands moved out to grab the banister and keep her from falling down the rest of the stairs, but she failed to get a hold of it.

Luckily, before he knees could hit the edge of the stairs and she could fall forward completely, two strong arms wrapped around her. They kept her from falling. Still, she crashed against the arm so hard that she felt her ribs aching at it.

“Wow,” Oliver said, his voice showing much more concern than anything else, “Are you okay?”

Bumping into Oliver seemed to turn into a terrible habit. Maybe she should take a class in balance and observing surroundings. That way she might make it in and out of a building without bumping into someone all the time. Of course the fact that the only person she was ever running into like this was Oliver could also tell her something else, but whatever fate might want to tell her, Felicity wasn’t interested in hearing it.

As soon as the first shock had passed, Felicity hurried to escape Oliver’s arm. She took a step back, holding onto the banister. She bit down on her tongue firmly, doing her best to bite back a hiss. Putting any weight on her foot just hurt too much.

A small furrow formed between Oliver’s eyebrows at the strangled sound that fell from her lips nonetheless. He looked her up and down. His gaze got stuck at her foot that she still couldn’t put any weight too.

“Sit down,” he asked her, his voice much gentler than it had been at any point since she had come back to Starling City, “I will take a look at it.”

“That’s not necessary,” Felicity said firmly, “I just tripped. It’s nothing. Thanks for catching me, but I will-“

When Felicity tried to walk past Oliver, she lost her balance again. Her ankle just wasn’t fit to carry any weight. If it hadn’t been for Oliver, who reached out and kept her from falling once again, she would have fallen down the stairs.

“You are not going anywhere. Now sit down.”

Felicity pressed her lips together. For the break of a second, she considered just walking past him nonetheless, but she was sure that she couldn’t take it if she fell right into his arms once more. It was probably the only thing she could bear less than sitting down and letting him take a look at her ankle.

Grumbling, she put her hand into his and let him help her into a sitting position. She did her best to look everywhere but at him when he kneeled down in front of her. He lifted her foot into his lap and carefully took off the shoe. He palpated her ankle carefully, making Felicity hiss in pain. Immediately, his eyes lifted towards hers. Concern was written all over his face.

Felicity told herself to look away because the intensity of Oliver’s eyes had gotten her into trouble more than once already. As much as she tried to do so, she felt drawn to them. She felt like she could get lost in the way he looked at her. It made everything inside of her tingle. Her lips prickled with the desire to taste him.

How did he always do that? She had every reason to be angry with him, and still all it took was a single look into his eyes and all the feelings she had tried to push away for so long were back. It wasn’t fair.

“What’s going on here?”

Felicity flinched, quickly breaking eye contact. Looking past Oliver, she saw John standing at the foot of the stairs. He looked back and forth between the two of them suspiciously like he had his own ideas about what was going on here, but Felicity had to disappoint him. After all, John had come soon enough to prevent anything else from happening.

“I just twisted my ankle. It’s not that bad.”

“But it will be terribly swollen before the end of the day.” He shot John a quick look. “Can you get an ice pack for her?”

“That won’t be nece-“

John didn’t listen to her protest. He didn’t even wait for her to finish her protest. He had just turned around and was already on his way to the kitchen.

With a sigh, Felicity leaned her head against the banister and closed her eyes. Starling City really didn’t bring good luck to her. Whenever something good happened here, something bad seemed to happen too. Starling City just didn’t want her to be too happy.

“Ice pack comes.”

Felicity opened her eyes just in time for her to see Oliver catching the ice back John passed him. He put it to her ankle with his left hand and caught the compression dressing John passed him with his free hand.

“Hold the ice here.”

Felicity did as Oliver suggested while he wrapped her ankle with the compression dressing. His hands brushed against hers every now and then. It caused goosebumps to spread all over Felicity’s arms. She wasn’t the only one affected by the touch. She could see goosebumps on his arms too.

“John,” Oliver said, “please tell the driver to get a car ready. I am going to take Felicity home.”

“That won’t be necessary, John, I-“

Again, John didn’t listen to her protest. He just went outside to do as Oliver had asked him. Felicity stared at the closed door with open mouth. Why did nobody listen to her protest?

“He works for me,” Oliver said, “and he likes his job. That is why he doesn’t listen to you.”

Felicity frowned at Oliver, wondering if she had said that out loud. When Oliver just rolled his eyes and put his head back, Felicity realized that maybe he still knew her as well as she sometimes felt she still knew him. They had been together for quite some time after all.

John stepped back in a moment later. “The car is waiting for you.”

Pursing her lips, Felicity shot John a look. He only looked at her matter-of-factly, so she knew that she wouldn’t get him to say that she didn’t need anyone to drive her home. She frowned angrily and looked at Oliver instead.

“You don’t have to drive me.”

“I know,” he said with a sigh, “but I will do it anyway for whatever reason.”

He said the last words so very quiet that Felicity could barely hear them. She wasn’t sure if she had been supposed to hear them or if Oliver had maybe been unsure if he wanted her to hear them too. Either way, his words proved that he wasn’t too happy with his decision either, so Felicity would certainly offer him a way out.

“What about Nyssa’s dress fitting?”

Oliver faltered briefly, telling Felicity that he had indeed forgotten about that for a second. Maybe there was still a way for him to give up on his idea to drive her home.

“John, tell Thea to take care of that. She is skilled. She has good eyes. She can do that.” He pressed his lips together briefly. “And if she messes it up, she will be banned from the atelier for at least a year. Tell her that.”

“I am not going to tell her that last part,” John said, shooting Oliver a pointed look, “but I will make sure that she knows everything else.”

Oliver nodded his head before he turned to Felicity. “Ready?”

Felicity guessed that she didn’t have much of a choice. She knew that she couldn’t drive herself home, and Oliver probably wouldn’t let her call a cab. She had no idea what drove him to feel like he had to take care of this personally, but she didn’t want to lose time fighting with him. At the end, he would probably drive her anyway.

Nodding her head, Felicity tightened her grip on the banister and got up onto her feet, well, her foot. She wanted to take the first step down, but Oliver already stepped towards her. He wrapped an arm around her back and pushed the other behind the back of her knees, lifting her into his arms like she was featherlight.

Her side was pressed to his chest, and she could feel his muscles working to keep her tight and safe in his arms. He was so close that she could smell him. She could really smell him and not just his aftershave. His breath was ghosting over her skin.

“I can walk.”

Oliver snorted. “Sure.”

He carried her down the rest of the stairs and out of the door that John held open for them. Right in front of the door, a fancy Porsche was waiting for them. Oliver opened the door to the passenger seat and sat her down there. When he reached out to buckle her seatbelt, she slapped his hands away, shooting him a pointed glare. Oliver pulled his hands away immediately. Leaning out of the car, he closed the door and walked around the car to get onto the driver’s seat. He only looked at her briefly before he hurried to switch on the engine and direct the car down the driveway and onto the street.

During the drive through the city to Felicity’s hotel, they barely talked. Felicity leaned her head against the cold window pane and kept her gaze outside, watching the city pass by.

Oliver parked the car on the small parking lot behind the hotel and hurried to walk around the car to help her get out. For a small moment Felicity hoped that he would let her walk, but he lifted her back into his arms quickly. She bit back any possible protest this time because she knew it was useless anyway.

“Which floor?”

“Fifteenth.”

“In that case, we will take the elevator.”

Felicity cocked her head, perking up her eyebrows. “Not in form?”

Oliver stepped into the elevator and looked at her. There was something about the expression in his eyes that Felicity didn’t understand. She had no idea what he was trying to tell her with the way he looked at her.

“What?” she asked. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Now you are teasing me?” He narrowed his eyes at her slightly. “When I teased you before, you looked like you wanted to shoot daggers at me.”

“I was angry at you.”

You? Angry at me?”

Although his voice wasn’t angry now, Felicity knew that this subject would only get them to fight right now. Their fight wouldn’t be fair with the pain in her leg. She couldn’t focus on being mad and angry with him with the way things were.

“I think it’s better if we don’t talk.”

“I get the same impression.”

They made the rest of the way in silence. Oliver carried her to the door of her suite where he went down a little, so she could unlock the door. He carried her to the couch and sat her down there. Felicity almost expected him to just leave her like that, but as tense as the situation was thanks to the brief conversation before, he still took care of her. He pushed a pillow under her foot, making sure it was slightly elevated. He even got her a glass of water and put it on the table next to her.

Felicity felt her heart ache, lowering her eyes. She still didn’t understand why everything had to be so complicated. It didn’t make sense that life was making it so hard for them.

“Anything else you need?”

To her surprise, Oliver seemed to bite back on his annoyance or anger or whatever his reaction was to their conversation before. He tried to sound soft. He tried to smile comfortingly. Maybe he didn’t manage it to do it fully, but he did his best, so Felicity did the same.

“I could need some painkillers.”

Oliver perked up his eyebrows. “You hate them because you always feel like your head is made of cotton wool when you take them.”

Felicity guessed that Oliver knew better than anyone else how truly badly she reacted to painkillers. She had trouble to control her brain-to-mouth filter most times as it was. With painkillers, it just got worse. They caused her to just say everything she was thinking without considering whether it was appropriate to say it. It was terribly embarrassing for her and everyone around.

“I know.” Felicity sighed, leaning down to touch her ankle that felt quite swollen already. “I need them though. They are in the bathroom cabinet.”

Felicity nodded in the direction, and Oliver hurried to get them.

Looking at her ankle, Felicity scrunched up her nose. She had thought that she would get to dance a little tomorrow and the day after that. Now she wasn’t sure if that was a smart idea. She doubted that she would be able to walk easily these next couple of days.

When Oliver came back, he handed her the small pillbox. He stayed standing right next to the couch, watching her while she was dropping two of the painkillers onto the palm of her hand. She gulped them down with some water. Closing her eyes, she shook herself. She hated taking pills just as much as the feeling she got after she had taken them.

Felicity kept her eyes closed for a moment, taking some deep breaths. A part of her wanted Oliver to leave, so she could lie back and pity herself for all of this. She knew that she couldn’t really kick him out after he had taken the time to take her here and make sure that she got everything she needed. It wouldn’t be fair to just kick him out.

With a low sigh, Felicity opened her eyes. She was about to offer Oliver a glass of water too, but the question got stuck in her throat when she noticed the way Oliver looked. He was still standing close, his gaze lowered to the newspaper that was lying on the couch table. His thumb was rubbing against the tips of the other fingers nervously.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Bad critics?”

“No.” Oliver sucked in a deep breath. “Our townhouse- the townhouse we wanted to rent is back on the market.”

Frowning, Felicity grabbed the newspaper. It took a moment until she found the ad, but Oliver was right. Mr. Baker’s townhouse was back on the market and searching for new people to rent it. The price is still the same although renovations had been carried out as recently as last year.

Her heart tightened a little. Last night, she had allowed herself to recall all the memories of their break-up. It had made it impossible to push away the pain that came with it. She felt the slightest of reminder of this pain rushing through her.

“It really is the townhouse we have taken a look at.”

“And that we wanted to rent.”

“That I wanted to rent.” Felicity shot him a pointed look. “You wanted to buy that loft which I gave into.”

“You gave in?” Oliver snorted. “In what world did you give in?”

“In that world, this world to be exact, where I agreed to buy that loft that I could not afford at all because you loved it so much,” Felicity said, all the anger suddenly rolling over her in an unstoppable wave, “which also happens to be the same world where you didn’t show up to sign the purchase agreement, so I was standing there like a complete idiot, finding excuses for why you didn’t come. I obviously made a fool out of myself because you didn’t only not show up. You also never called or texted, not even as much as saying that it’s over.”

Felicity glared at Oliver for a moment, but she quickly looked away when she felt the intensity of her outbreak pull at her heartstrings. Tears were welling in her eyes, angry tears she told herself. It didn’t matter if they were teas of anger or tears of heartbreak, she didn’t want Oliver to see them. She didn’t want to start crying in the first place.

Although Felicity still kept her head down, looking everywhere but at Oliver, she could feel his gaze on her. His gaze was tickling on her skin, making a cold shiver running down the length of her spine. It took everything inside of her not to start crying as the pain was back with the same intensity that it had accompanied her these first days after their break-up.

Felicity wanted to ask Oliver to leave her alone. She didn’t want him here any longer. She knew that if she tried to speak, she probably wouldn’t be able to hold back the tears. She needed a moment more. If shot took some deep breaths, she would find her voice again.

“Right after we have viewed the townhouse,” Oliver suddenly said, “you said it was going to be either the townhouse or the loft, but someone had to give in. We both agreed that we knew who that would be.”

Gulping down the burning feeling in her throat, Felicity took in a deep breath and lifted her head. Her eyes met Oliver’s. He looked at her calmly, but there was something quite unsettled in there too.

“Me.”

They said it at the same time, making Felicity shake her head.

“I gave in, and I called Janice and made an appointment with her. Hence, I waited at the loft where you didn’t show up.”

“Well, because I was at the townhouse where I asked Mr. Davis to come to, so we could sign the rental contract. I was waiting for you to sign the rental contract.”

Felicity frowned for a moment. Something about the way he looked at her almost told her that he really meant it. Still, she couldn’t believe him. It just didn’t make sense unless he was just claiming this was true because he tried to hide his guilt in their break-up. He was trying to cover the story.

“Why would you have done that?” Felicity asked. “We agreed on that loft and-“

“No, we didn’t.”

Oliver looked at her firmly, not letting her object. He really meant it, and to Felicity’s own surprise she almost believed him.

The only problem was that she really didn’t want to. She didn’t want to believe that he wasn’t lying. If Oliver said the truth, that meant that their break-up had been a misunderstanding. It meant that none of the angry and bitter feelings she had kept bottled up in herself for the last three years had been necessary. Nothing would have been real.

She thought back to that day three years ago, thinking about hints that Oliver was lying. She remembered that he hadn’t picked up his phone. She had tried to call him again and again, and he just hadn’t called her back. He had also told Adrian that they had broken up without as much as trying to reach out to her.

In the back of her mind, Felicity knew there were dozens of explanations for this. Maybe he had taken her fight more seriously than she had thought and he had taken the fact she hadn’t come as a sure sign that it was over. Maybe he hadn’t dared to reach out because he hadn’t wanted her to hear him say that it was over.

It wouldn’t make everything go away. Oliver hadn’t trusted her or their relationship enough to even consider reaching out or fighting. That was an issue no matter what exactly had happened that day. It just wasn’t as heavy as the story that had been her truth until a minute ago.

Felicity’s eyes were still glued to Oliver’s face, looking for any sign that he was lying there now. There was nothing to be found though.

“It’s all been a misunderstanding,” she whispered, “everything has been a misunderstanding.”

Felicity really didn’t know if that was a reason to be happy about or something to make her even angrier than she was already. She felt like it was the second, but a little bit of the anger she had held for so long seemed to fade already.

For the break of a second, it seemed to be the same for Oliver. He looked at her with the same struggle in his eyes. His thumb was rubbing against his fingertips nervously once more. He gulped, making him Adam’s apple jump in his throat.

It didn’t last long. His hand suddenly tightened to a fist, and his eyes turned cold. He sucked in a deep breath. Although there was a slight tremble in the way he sucked in the air, it made his muscles tighten.

“It’s not like everything has been a misunderstanding.”

With that, he turned around on the balls of his feet and walked away. Felicity almost expected him to slam the door shut behind him. Instead, he closed it quietly which was almost worse.

Felicity frowned after him, still not exactly understanding what had happened. If Oliver’s story was true, their belief that they knew each other inside out and could communicate without any words being said had caused them to think the other had backed out of moving together. A misunderstanding had caused their worst and most insecure sides to react in the stupidest way possible.

Maybe Oliver was just as confused and irritated by this reveal as she was. Maybe that was why he was-

Sucking in a deep breath and closing her eyes, Felicity shook her head. She had spent so much time trying to find excuses for Oliver and trying to understand him. If these last few days in Starling had proven anything, it was that Oliver hadn’t changed and she was just done wasting her time.

Maybe everything that had happened between her and Oliver these last couple of days hadn’t been what she had hoped for when she had come to Starling. She had hoped for an apology and for them to come to a point where they could be respectful with each other.

Obviously, this wasn’t what had happened. Her acceptance that this not only hadn’t happened but would never happen either might not be what she had wanted, but it might be exactly what she needed. This wasn’t the clean cut she had hoped for, but sometimes an ugly rip could do the same job.

Chapter Text

Turning back and forth in front of the mirror, Felicity ogled her reflection critically. The bustier dress had always been one of her favorite dresses to wear for any fancy occasion. Red was just her color, and the dress was neither too extraordinary nor too sexy. It was actually rather simple, but that was exactly Felicity’s style. That it fitted around her body like a second skin without making her feel like she had to hold her breath every second was just that little cherry on the top.

Well, thinking about it now, it might be the most important reason why Felicity loved the dress so much. She always prioritized comfortableness over a good look. She would never make it through an evening in a dress that she didn’t love wearing because it made her feel good.

Felicity moved her hands over the fabric of her dress, still turning from one side to the other to take herself in. She briefly wondered if maybe she was feeling a little too comfortable in this dress. It didn’t only fit her like a second skin. It also felt like one by now.

With a shake of her head, Felicity sighed. She grabbed some earrings and put them in. She only shot her reflection one more glance before she turned away.

It wasn’t like Felicity didn’t care about the way she looked. As a woman in STEM, she knew that your look could give you power. If you dressed like a boss, you were more likely to actually be treated like a boss. Here in Starling, compared to her model-friends and their model-friends, she sometimes felt like she had no idea what she was doing when it came to fashion.

Truth be told, she probably didn’t know what she was doing. She just put on whatever she felt suited the occasion and made her feel good about the way she looked. Even if she had time to brush through fashion magazines, she wouldn’t. She just wasn’t that interested in it.

Felicity glanced at her watch, leaving the bathroom to step into the bedroom of her suite. She sat down on the edge of the mattress and put on her shoes. Thanks to her twisted ankle, she had had to decide on flat shoes which just didn’t make her ass look as fabulous as it did when she was wearing high heels. At least she wouldn’t feel as much as a dwarf as she would feel tomorrow with all of Sara and Nyssa’s model friends.

As much as her thoughts were revolving around them, it wasn’t the dress or the flat shoes that made her feel nervous about the rehearsal dinner. It was seeing Oliver again.

Since he had taken her to her hotel yesterday, Felicity hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him. That Oliver hadn’t stood her up when it came to moving in together confused her. That he would have signed the rental contract for that townhouse she had loved so much confused her even more. That Oliver still seemed to be angry with her confused her to a point that she had no idea what was going on even more.

Even now, Felicity frowned, thinking about it. She felt like she was missing a piece of information that she would need to understand what was going on. She just didn’t know how to get that since talking to Oliver wasn’t the easiest thing. It either confused her, or it angered her. Neither of it would help her understand.

With a sigh, Felicity dropped back onto the bed and closed her eyes. Two little voices were fighting in her head. One of them reminded her of her good resolutions of forgetting Oliver. The other wanted to know what had really gone down three years ago.

Felicity was still thinking about all of this when her phone rang. She briefly considered ignoring it. She wasn’t feeling like talking to anybody. She felt like she had talked way too much the last few days as it was. Once she was back in Hub City, she’d lock herself in her library and hide between her books for at least a week.

Since her phone just kept ringing, Felicity guessed that it was a lot more stubborn that she was. With a sigh, she gave in and grabbed her phone blindly.

“Yes?”

“You sound like crap,” Lena said simply, “and you probably look even worse.”

It took Felicity a moment to realize what Lena meant. She moved her phone from her ear and held it a couple of inches over her face. Indeed, Lena’s face was there, looking at her with perked up eyebrows. Lena’s gaze was almost piercing though her eyes and right into her soul. It was almost like Lena could look through her too, and Felicity already knew it wouldn’t make things any easier.

“I feel like real crap too.”

Felicity put her free hand to her forehead. She felt like she was running a fever, but her head didn’t feel suspiciously warm. It felt all normal, so she guessed it was the usual feeling of being lost in the world. It was a feeling she should be used to. It had been with her for years after her father had left, and it had come back to her after she had lost Oliver one day and left Starling City the next.

Lately, with Lena and Lily at her side as partners in Helix Dynamics and as friends, she had felt like she had found her place. She was happy where she was because she was more successful than she could have ever imagined. Her work at Helix Dynamics challenged and inspired her at the same time. Working with two women that were just as passionate just made it better. It was everything she could imagine from a job.

Being back here now, having so many old feelings revived and feeling torn between her anger and whatever else there was, was just confusing. She felt as lost as she had felt when she had been when she had decided to leave Starling from one day to the other.

“Is this about Oliver?”

Felicity wanted to deny it because she wasn’t sure she was ready to hear whatever Lena would have to say about that. She didn’t want to lie to her friend though. It wasn’t who she was. It wasn’t who they were.

“Oliver didn’t stand me up three years ago.” Felicity sighed, squeezing her eyes shut. “For reasons I cannot explain in a way that makes sense or sound like I had a stroke or something, he thought we were going to rent the townhouse I loved so much. He was there, waiting for me, while I was at the loft, waiting for him.”

“You don’t want to tell me that your break-up was the result of a misunderstanding, do you?”

“As far as I can see, it was.”

“But?”

“But,” Felicity said pointedly, feeling the corners of her lips twitch at how easily Lena had been able to detect that there was a but coming, “Oliver seems to see it differently. He said not everything is a misunderstanding. What is that supposed to mean? I know that I left the day after this happened, but I really thought we were done. Adrian told me that he said we were done. Maybe he just said it out of anger, and he changed his mind and showed up to what he thought was our appointment. That still doesn’t explain why he never took any of my calls and-“

“Felicity.”

As quiet as Lena’s voice was, it was still quite determined. She looked at Felicity with something that might be pity or comfort or something entirely else or maybe a mixture of everything before. Either way, it made Felicity shut up and bite down on her tongue immediately. She had already known that Lena would have a strong opinion about this. She shouldn’t be surprised now.

“When you left Starling because of Oliver three years ago, you were heartbroken,” she reminded her with gentle voice, “you were the shell of the woman you really were all because of him. Don’t let anything or anyone change what you made of yourself.”

Felicity nodded her head slowly. Deep down, she knew that Lena was right. She had basically packed her stuff in Starling overnight and had left because she hadn’t been able to endure a single second more there. She had come to Gotham City, still not having processed anything about the break-up. Lena and Lily had detected it immediately, and they had helped her to get through it.

Now, while Felicity knew how badly she had been hurt, she couldn’t deny that she still had feelings for Oliver. Within these last three years, she had told herself that she was over him and that she didn’t love him anymore. Everything she had been through in these last couple of days since she had come back told her that she had been wrong. She wasn’t over him, and she still loved him. She just couldn’t say anything of that out loud yet.

“Come home, Felicity,” Lena pleaded, “the sooner, the better.”

Felicity nodded her head and gulped down hard. She knew that Lena was right. No matter what had really happened or what would still happen, she had to go back to Hub City. The sooner she went back to where her life was, the better. In Hub City, life was just so much easier. Everything was so much easier in Hub City.

“We need you here,” she added after a moment, “with Lily’s baby coming soon and everything else. Even if nothing was going on here, we would need you here.”

Of course Felicity knew that Lena meant it. Lena appreciated her as a partner, and she could see what uniqueness Felicity brought to the company. All of them brought something unique to the company. It was why they worked so well as a team. Neither of them was replaceable because they had different abilities, different perspectives and different visions.

“And I think that you need Hub City too,” Lena added eventually, “because Starling is just not good for you.”

“I will come as soon as the wedding is over,” Felicity said, nodding her head although Lena couldn’t see it, “today is the rehearsal dinner. Tomorrow is the wedding. The day after tomorrow I am on my plane back to Hub City.”

“And you are never going to return to Starling City.”

The thought made Felicity’s heart cramp. Starling had been her home for so long. She had loved living here. She had loved loving here. As painful as it had been to return, she didn’t know if she could stay away from it forever.

“Well, I still have friends here.” Felicity pursed her lips. “I don’t think Nyssa, Sara or Thea would like if I made a promise like that. I already got into some trouble with them because we didn’t spend enough time with each other. Besides, with our cooperation with Queen Consolidated, I have to come back here eventually.”

Felicity was almost sure that Lena could look right through it. She didn’t want to talk about it though, at least not yet. That was why she just released a sigh.

“We will see each other the day after tomorrow.”

“I will pick you up from the airport,” Lena said, nodding her head, “just text me when boarding starts.”

“I will.” Felicity shot her friend a smile. “Bye, Lena.”

“Bye, Felicity.”

Quickly, Felicity ended the call and held her phone to her heart. She squeezed her eyes shut, taking some deep breaths. She didn’t have much time to get lost in her thoughts once more though because her phone was beeping again soon, announcing an incoming text.

AC: Hi! I’m stuck in the office for a little longer & can’t pick you up yet. Sorry!

Felicity sighed, pushing her bottom lip forward. With Adrian by her side, it would have been easier to go back to the Queen Mansion. She couldn’t really tell Sara that she was coming late though. With Dinah and Laurel there, Sara would need her.

FS: I’ll take a cab. Don’t spend too much time at the office.

AC: Sorry again!

FS: Don’t worry. It’s fine. See you there.

AC: I’ll hurry.

FS: Good because we need strong guys there if Sara attacks her mother with the steak knife.

AC: Now I’ll hurry even more. We don’t want the wedding to be overshadowed by that.

Felicity smiled. Adrian really was a good friend, and she knew she could count on him. When Adrian said that he would hurry up, he would hurry up. He was reliable.

With a glance at her watch, Felicity sighed and sat up. She called a cab and got up from the bed. She shot another critical look into the mirror, brushing through her hair with her fingers, before she turned to leave.

In forty-eight hours, she would be back in Hub City, and Starling City wouldn’t be forgotten, but it would be in her past.

 

* * *

 

Taking in another deep breath, Felicity rang the bell. She knew that she could just go in like she had done yesterday, but she’d easily use every opportunity at hand to waste some time before she went in. The later she would meet Oliver, the better were her chances at finding some distracting and not having to talk to him.

To Felicity’s disappointment, the door was opened rather soon. Raisa, the Queens’ housemaid that had a huge part in raising Oliver and Thea, smiled at her warmly.

“Ms. Felicity,” she said, making old memories of her time in Starling reawaken inside of her, “it’s very nice to see you again.”

“Hello, Raisa.”

The warm smile on Raisa’s face was all invitation Felicity needed to step closer to her and hug her. Raisa seemed surprised, but she hugged Felicity back nonetheless. She was too affectionate, always had been as far as Felicity could judge, to not hug her back.

Back when Felicity had been a frequent visitor in the mansion, she and Raisa had always exchanged some words when the latter had opened the door. For a brief time, Raisa had even tried to teach Felicity how to cook, but, just like Oliver before, she had given up on it. Felicity was just a hopeless case when it came to cooking.

“Ms. Thea is already waiting for you,” Raisa said, taking Felicity’s coat and gesturing towards the living room, “she is excited for you to see everything she has planned.”

“I am sure she did great.”

“Of course she did.” Raisa smiled as proudly like a mother now. “She has a talent for bringing people together and turn the living room into everything it has to be for different occasions.”

With that, Raisa gestured towards the living room once more and left. Felicity smiled after her for a moment, but she soon turned towards the living room. There was still some hustle and bustle going on there as the last preparations were taken care of. Thea, wearing a short black dress full of sequins, stood in the middle of the room, directing the people around like a conductor leading an orchestra.

Felicity stepped towards Thea, doing her best not to limp. As soon as Thea noticed her, she gave a few last orders and turned to meet Felicity halfway. She hugged her before she looked down on Felicity’s foot. It wasn’t wrapped into a bandage anymore because Felicity wouldn’t have fit into any of her shoes, so it was quite obvious how swollen it was.

“Looks bad.” Thea hissed, lifting her gaze back to Felicity. “Does it feel as bad as it looks.”

“Worse I guess,” Felicity replied with a sigh, shrugging her shoulders, “but there is nothing to be done about it. I am trying not to use that foot too much, cool it regularly and bandage it if possible.”

Thea squeezed her hand. “If you need anything – a cooling pad, painkillers or a chair to rest your foot on – just let me know.”

“Actually,” Felicity said, squeezing her hand right back, “I wondered if there was anything I could do to help you. I feel like I have been the worst maid of honor possible.”

Thea smiled, shaking her head. “You know me. I just love planning things like this. No reason to feel guilty, and everything is done.”

Felicity looked around, admiring the fancy decorations and the love for details as everything looked absolutely in tune with the room and the whole design concept. Thea had clearly outdone herself once more. Still, Felicity knew that Thea would manage to top it with everything she had planned for tomorrow once more. She would never bring her A-game when there was still a wedding coming.

Just when Felicity wanted to tell Thea exactly that, the young Queen let go of her hand and hurried towards the door. Frowning, Felicity followed Thea’s movements with her eyes and felt her heart started to race at the sight of Oliver. He was dressed in a tuxedo with a bowtie, looking incredibly good.

His gaze had already caught hers, and he looked at her intensely, his eyes almost reaching under her skin. He didn’t seem less nervous about seeing her though. His fingers rubbed together in his usual nervous twitch.

Apparently, Thea didn’t catch any of the nervousness in the room. She grabbed Oliver’s hand and pulled him right to where Felicity was standing.

“What do you think, Ollie?” she asked him. “Will Sara and Nyssa like this?”

“They will love it.” Oliver smiled at his sister. “You have outdone yourself, Speedy.”

Speedy. The nickname made Felicity smile because it was just too damn cute. Back when Felicity had still been a preschooler, she had always followed Oliver around. She had wanted to be just like him. At least that was what Oliver had told Felicity. Thea, on the other hand, claimed that she had just followed Oliver around because she had totally had a crush on his best friend Tommy Merlyn.

It didn’t matter what exactly had been the origins of the name. It was the warmth that was in Oliver’s voice when he called his little sister by her nickname that made it so beautiful.

A wave of warmth flooded through Felicity, and she felt her heart cramp in response. She had to stop connecting Oliver with all his positive sides. These last days, she had failed at that, but she would give her best to make that change in the time she had left here.

Puckering her lips, Felicity looked around. There wasn’t much for her to busy herself with. She noticed that there was a new painting over the fireplace though. It wasn’t really new. It actually looked quite old. It was new in the Queen Mansion. At least Felicity had never seen it before.

Pretending to be absolutely drawn by the painting, Felicity left Oliver and Thea’s side and stepped to the fireplace instead. The painting showed a rising sun behind a field. It was painted with warm colors that were probably a clue for some era or drawing style. Felicity had no idea if that was true. She understood as much about paintings as she did about fashion or cooking.

Felicity continued looking at the painting. There really wasn’t that much to be soon, so she was sure that it was going to attract attraction sooner or later. She could already feel Oliver’s eyes on the back of her neck, and it made goosebumps run down her spine.

In less than forty-eight hours she wouldn’t be in Starling City anymore. In less than forty-eight hours she would even be back in Hub City.

“Admiring our newest purchase?”

Robert smiled softly when he stepped next to Felicity. Shooting him a brief glance, she saw that he was dressed in a tuxedo just like Oliver. Although the formal look suited him quite well, he didn’t look exactly comfortable about it. His fingers tugged at the collar of his shirt and the bowtie, trying to loosen both.

“It’s beautiful,” Felicity said, “1920s?”

“1889.”

“Klimt?”

“Van Gogh.”

“I really don’t have any chance at even pretending to be an expert in the arts.”

Robert chuckled, putting his hand to her shoulder. “You have other talents that are much more important than that.”

Felicity hummed in agreement. While art was nice to look at for a lot of people, she doubted that a lot of people could earn their money with it. As someone who had made her passion a job, she could only hope that the people who loved art as much as she loved tech found their way to make their passion their job too.

“How’s your foot?”

When Felicity looked at him with surprise, he nodded towards Thea and Oliver. Of course they had told him what had happened to her yesterday. By now, everyone she knew here in Starling probably knew about it already.

“I’m fine.” Felicity released a long sigh, getting the feeling that she would have to say that a lot of times today. “The foot hurts and it’s-“

A movement at the door caught Felicity’s attention, and she turned her head towards it briefly. She was already looking back at Robert by the time that what she had seen finally caught up to her. Her heart stood still, and she looked back towards the door.

The man, who had just stepped into the living room, was slim and tall. His grey hair looked untouched of the wind that had been going on when Felicity had arrived. The expression in his oval face looked dignified, almost like he owned the room already.

She shouldn’t remember his face. She shouldn’t remember the steel blue of his eyes or his thin lips. She should maybe notice some resemblance to the man she had once known, but she shouldn’t instantly know that it was him. After all these years, she really shouldn’t.

“He didn’t answer to the invitation,” Robert mumbled, his uncomfortableness audible in his voice, “so I thought he wouldn’t make it.”

Felicity shot Robert a glance, and she could see in his eyes that he was definitely not happy about this unexpected meeting. He looked honestly sorry which didn’t surprise Felicity. Robert knew what had happened between her and her father that she had chosen a long time ago that she never wanted to see him again. If he had had a chance at preventing this meeting from happening, he would have.

“He was invited to the rehearsal dinner when we thought that you weren’t going to make it to it. Since he never answered to the invitation, I guessed he wouldn’t come and didn’t think it was relevant mentioning it,” Robert said quickly, stepping closer behind Felicity. “I am very sorry.”

Felicity couldn’t say anything. She felt like she had a giant lump in her throat that made it impossible for her to speak. If she tried, she was sure there would only be a strangled sound falling from it.

Noah was approaching them now. Unlike Robert, he didn’t seem to feel guilty of anything. He had caused so much damaged by just leaving his girlfriend and their daughter, and still he dared to approach her with a content smile like that. While Felicity had trouble breathing, too nervous about what she would possibly do when her father was standing in front of her, she felt Robert straightening up even more in her back almost like he wanted to defend her against her father.

“Robert,” Noah said, turning towards Robert at first, “it’s nice to see you again.”

Felicity looked back and forth between the two men. She felt like she was caught in some kind of dream. This was the first time she was seeing her dad in twenty years, and he didn’t only smile, but he also had the nerve to turn to Robert Queen before even looking at her. What kind of person did that?

“Noah.” Robert shook Noah’s hand, and Felicity could see her father flinch at the strong grip of Robert’s hand. “We didn’t think you would come.”

“A meeting was canceled, so I could come here spontaneously.” He smiled at Robert, still ignoring Felicity. “I remembered that you once told me that your house is always prepared for spontaneous occasions. Since I couldn’t make it to the wedding tomorrow – Starling’s biggest event of the year – I thought I would just come by.”

“You should have called.” Robert’s voice left no doubt that he was angry. “For obvious reasons, it would have been good to have a heads-up on this.”

Noah turned towards Felicity, and she felt the knuckles of her hand tingling with the need to punch him in the face. In her dreams, she had always thought that she would cry when she saw him again. The reality proved to be quite different from that. She just felt incredibly angry.

“I need some air.”

With that, she turned around before her father could address a single word at her. She wouldn’t let him say anything, not to her. Not after all these years.

She stepped through the terrace doors outsides. Although the wind was blowing right into her face, she ignored it. She was so angry that she felt incredibly warm anyway, and she just needed to walk away as far as the Queens’ garden and as quickly as her injured foot allowed her to.

With quick steps, she crossed the terrace and limped down the stairs to the park-like facilities. She darkly remembered that the paths outside would lead her along the borders of the property. Since that path would allow her to stay away from the mansion for as long as possible, she took it although it was all dark and her foot hurt already.

Almost twenty years had passed since her father had just left. In a cloak-and-dagger operation, he just packed his stuff and left with all money overnight. He hadn’t taken the time to say goodbye and explain why he was leaving. He hadn’t allowed Felicity or Donna to prepare for his departure. He had just left them with nothing, causing them to be kicked out of their apartment and forcing Donna to work three jobs at a time to earn the necessary money to bring her and Felicity through.

He couldn’t just show up here and pretend like nothing had happened. That he had just showed up without a warning, knowing very well that Felicity would be here, only made it worse. Not apologizing or feeling any guilt about ambushing her like that was just unforgivable. If there was a prize for worst dads’ behavior, he would certainly be awarded with it.

Bitter as she was about this entire meeting and everything, Felicity thought that he would probably be proud of it. He had done so much to earn it, he did have to run for that title.

“Felicity!”

Ignoring his voice and his steps that followed close behind her and seemed to catch up quickly, Felicity walked even a little more quickly. She didn’t want to talk to him now. She didn’t even want to see him. She wanted to be alone, needed it even. She just didn’t have the energy for anything else right now.

“Felicity.”

His voice was right behind her now. Felicity knew that she couldn’t just shake him off. Even if her foot wasn’t injured, he would be quicker than her. Taking in a deep breath, she gathered all the strength and self-control she still had and turned around to him. Her gaze met his immediately, and Felicity could almost see him flinch at whatever he found in her eyes.

“I can’t fight with you right now,” she told him, her voice trembling, but at least not breaking, “because I have no energy for that. I just can’t do that right now.”

Oliver looked at her intensely. Felicity knew him well enough to know that the expression in his eyes was either sympathy or pity. Given the current state of their relationship, she guessed it was the second. She hated being pitied and always had, so she lowered her eyes, staring at her feet for a moment.

When she lifted her gaze, Oliver was still looking at her. She wasn’t sure anymore if it was pity in his eyes. She almost believed that it was sympathy, but she didn’t want to think about it. It didn’t matter what it was after all.

“I can’t fight,” she repeated and sucked in a sniffling breath, “and I just hope that there was a time that you loved me enough to respect that now. Please.”

Something about her words seemed to touch him because the expression in his eyes changed. It grew even softer. Maybe there was even a little bit of regret in there. Felicity was just too consumed by all of her own emotions to say.

“I don’t want to fight,” Oliver said eventually, “but I brought you your coat. It’s cold.”

Felicity could feel the wind blowing into her face, but she couldn’t feel any cold. She felt incredibly warm from the way her heart was still racing in her chest. The slight stinging of her cheeks told her that maybe her body wouldn’t feel as warm if it wasn’t for her anger though.

Nodding her head, Felicity took the coat from him and slipped into the sleeves. It only made her feel even warmer, but she buttoned the front of it nonetheless.

“Thank you,” she said with a quiet voice, not looking at him, “but I still can’t talk to you. I just need some air and walk around here.”

Although she still kept her gaze lowered, she could feel Oliver’s eyes on her. He was watching her intensely. Felicity wished he would just turn around and walk away, so she could continue with her walk through the garden too.

“Mind if we walk together?”

Felicity lifted her gaze, cocking her head. She was sure that Oliver’s suggestion was meant honestly. The softness in his eyes told Felicity that he really just wanted to accompany her, so she wasn’t alone. He knew her history with her father better than anyone else after all.

With their history of spending time together alone, Felicity didn’t think that Oliver’s company was what she needed right now. No matter how much he honestly didn’t want to fight with her, they would do it anyway at the end, and if they didn’t fight, they would have sex with each other. If she had to choose, Felicity would probably even pick the quickie in the dark of the garden because at least an orgasm would distract her from everything else. It would make her feel good.

It didn’t matter what Felicity thought. She was too exhausted to even just turn Oliver down. She felt weak like she had been sick for months and this was the first time that she was back on her feet, and she was already wearing high heels and had been signed up by a marathon. Just standing here too all the energy she had already.

With a nod of her head, Felicity gave in to Oliver’s suggestion.

They walked in silence for a long time, keeping a safe distance of several inches between them. Felicity kept her hands in the pockets of her coat and kept her gaze lowered to the ground. Still, she could feel Oliver’s gaze on the side of her face every now and then.

Being back in Starling City was just a nightmare. At first, she had been stressed by Oliver and their history together. Now, her father made things even worse. Maybe if she had met him in Hub City where she was feeling stable and safe, she could have dealt with it. Here in Starling, she was just way too vulnerable.

Felicity bit down on her tongue as hard as possible, trying to breathe through the burning feeling in her throat. She really didn’t want to cry, but she got the feeling that it wasn’t going to be easy to hold the tears back.

When she felt a single tear welling in her left eye and trying to escape over the corner of her eye, Felicity pulled her hand out of the pocket of her coat quickly. Brushing a single finger against the corner of her eye, she wiped the tear away before it could fall. A second tear followed and rolled down her cheek. It had already reached the edge of her jaw by the time her fingers finally managed to wipe them away.

She was about to push her hand back into the pocket of her coat when Oliver’s fingers linked through hers. Unlike her hand that was incredibly cold, Oliver’s fingers were nicely warm. Since his hand was just so much bigger than hers, it encompassed hers almost completely and wrapped her into his warmth.

Surprised by the gesture, Felicity shot Oliver a brief glance. She barely dared looking at him, too afraid what he would see in her eyes. Oliver kept his gaze right ahead of him, not looking back at her. His jaw was tensed, and he almost looked like he was holding his breath. He looked angry and that feeling almost made her want to pull her hand away from his, but his fingers were wrapped around hers tightly. He made no attempt to let go.

Sucking her bottom lip between her front teeth, Felicity tried to relax at the feeling of her hand in his. She tried to gain strength from it. Oliver was here with her to comfort her and to make sure she wasn’t feeling alone after this. In a moment like this, he reminded her so much of the Oliver she had fallen in love with.

As much as she tried and as much as she wanted to gain strength and comfort from his touch, Felicity couldn’t do it. She was too vulnerable after everything that had happened, and that just made her scared of getting her heart broken even more than it already was. She couldn’t do this, not right now.

Back when she had met Ray Palmer, a really attractive and nice guy she had shared a lot of interests with, she had been ready to get her heart broken again. She had been ready to go all in. Her head had been ready, willing to risk her heart to find some real happiness and love again. Her heart just hadn’t played along.

Maybe one day, one day soon even, she would find someone that her heart trusted enough to follow her head into the battle again. For now, that just wasn’t the case.

Gulping down the burning feeling in her throat, Felicity tried to pull her hand away from Oliver’s grip. Instead of letting go of her hand, he tightened his fingers. His thumb rubbed small circles against the back of her hand. It was almost like he wanted to tell her that it was okay, and here was there to hold her hand as long as she needed it.

Still, Felicity made another attempt at pulling her hand away, and Oliver let go of her this time. She hurried to push her hand back into the pocket of her coat, balling it into a tight fist there.

The silence turned awkward. From the corner of her eye, Felicity could see that Oliver had his lips pursed and his teeth pressed together. He didn’t look angry, but he definitely seemed tense at the situation given.

In her more vulnerable moments, Felicity could admit that she knew that Oliver wasn’t as cold as he sometimes seemed to be. He was rather

“Your father’s an ass,” it burst out of him eventually, “like what the hell is he thinking?”

Felicity wasn’t surprised that Oliver was angered by her father’s behavior. He hadn’t always had the best relationship with his father either, so he knew what daddy issues meant from experience. Especially compared to Noah, Robert was a saint of a father though. He might have been quite strict at times, probably still was now, but at least he was there. He had never abandoned his kids.

“He’s-“

Shaking her head, Felicity fell silent. There was no reason to excuse her father, especially not against Oliver. It wouldn’t make sense anyway after all the times she had told Oliver about all of her frustration, anger and heartbreak.

“I wish I knew,” she just said instead and brushed a strand of her hair out of her face, “but I have no idea.”

“Did he ever try to contact you?”

Felicity shook her head. “No.”

“Not even when you worked at Wayne Enterprise or now with your own company?”

Again, Felicity just shook her head. “No.”

There had been a time that Felicity had told herself that her dad just didn’t know where she lived or where she worked. The older she had become and the more successful the company she had been working for had been, the harder it was to deny that he just wasn’t interested. There was no way that he had missed that she had been working for Wayne Enterprise or had built a company with Lena and Lily.

The truth was that her father had willingly left the family because he hadn’t been interested in being a dad. Otherwise, he could have left and still could have tried to stay in touch. He hadn’t done that and had never changed anything about it. He didn’t care.

“I guess that, if his company wouldn’t have cooperated with Queen Consolidated, I wouldn’t have met him today either.”

Oliver shook his head and released a long sigh. She could see that he was at a loss of words. There was nothing to be said that could help the situation. There was no comfort to spend and no understanding to secure. It was the way it was, and that was all that had to be said about it.

“So, my dad told me you are going to collaborate on a project.”

Surprised, Felicity shot Oliver a glance. He smiled at her. Although the smile was barely visible, it made warmth sparkle in his eyes.

“Yeah, Helix Dynamics has been on the search for a fitting partner to develop contacts as prosthesis for people with optic nerve hypoplasia.”

“Sounds like an interesting project.”

“It is,” Felicity agrees, “but it’s also very challenging, and in STEM that means that it’s going to be expansive. Helix Dynamics is still too young for most companies to trust its capability in such a big project. It took us forever to find someone.”

“But my dad agreed?”

Felicity nodded her head. “I was hopeful that he would because he knew be from… well… from my internship and everything.”

Biting down on her bottom lip, Felicity stared down at her feet. She had just started feeling a little calmer as talking about her work always made her feel safe and happy. The bare allusion of what she and Oliver had had years ago was enough for her to feel awkward again.

Neither of them said another word. Both of them just stayed quiet like they had before. They walked side by side through the dark garden, Felicity’s hand in Oliver’s.

Frowning, Felicity looked down at their entwined fingers. She hadn’t even noticed that they had gone back to holding hands until now. Had she reached out her hand for Oliver’s or had it been the other way around?

Felicity guessed that it didn’t matter. What did matter though was that it felt incredibly good to have his hand wrapped around hers. She felt safe, and she felt warm. His hand was feeling wonderfully familiar. After all these years, it still felt like home.

With a brief glance at Oliver’s face, she could see that there was contentment in his eyes too. He tried to fight it, at least a little, but the more his thumb moved against the back of her hand in small circles, the more he seemed to give in to it. The tension in his muscles eased. The smile on his lips showed more fully. The warmth in his eyes increased.

They both felt so good as being together. They both enjoyed it. Given their realization that neither of them had stood the other up three years ago, it just didn’t make any sense.

“Okay, I don’t get it.”

Felicity was surprised by the words. It took her a moment to realize that she had stopped and that she had said that. It made her heart starting to race once more and causing the blood to rush in her ears.

The way Oliver looked at her didn’t make it any better. He was frowning at her, not sure what she was referring to. If the way his thumb rubbed against the back of her hand was any indication, he assumed that this was still about her dad. He tried to calm her down about it, taking some of her anger and heartbreak away.

For the break of a second, Felicity considered backing out of this. She could pretend that she had indeed meant the situation with her father. It was the easiest way out for her.

She didn’t want it the easy way though. She wanted and she needed to know the truth.

“What went wrong?” Felicity asked. “What went wrong with us?”

Felicity could see his Adam’s Apple jump in his throat. His jaws tensed once more, and his muscles stiffened. He didn’t look like he wanted to talk about this, not even now.

“You said that you have been at that townhouse, and I believe you. I don’t know why, but I believe you. I have been at that loft, waiting for you. Neither of us stood the other up,” she summed up all the information she had. “So what went wrong?”

Oliver stared at her for a moment. Although there was still warmth in his eyes, his facial expression was a lot harder now. He kept his lips pressed together, and his brows were furrowed slightly. As much as his gaze burnt under her skin, Felicity held his gaze.

“Our break-up was caused by a misunderstanding, and I don’t get-“

“It’s not like everything was a misunderstanding.”

The very same words she also hadn’t understood yesterday, Felicity thought. It wouldn’t matter how often he repeated them. She just didn’t get it. She was missing a piece of information that she felt only Oliver could give her.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Felicity.”

Oliver almost groaned her name. With a roll of his eyes, he turned away from her. He pulled his hand away from hers and rubbed his fingers over his face. Shaking his head, he took some steps away from her. He kept his back turned towards her.

Frowning, Felicity watched him. He continued walking, almost making her believe that he would just leave her standing here all alone in the dark. He stopped eventually though, still turned away from her.

“Oliver.”

She said his name firmly, demanding an answer. If he blamed her for the break-up, she deserved to at least know why. How else was she supposed to understand this?

“You cannot be serious,” Oliver said, turning around to her with eyes full of anger again now, “you really cannot be. You know what you did.”

She didn’t, and exactly that was the problem. Oliver just didn’t believe her which told her that, in his mind, she must have done something terrible.

“So let’s pretend I’m stupid,” Felicity suggested, “let’s pretend that I am too stupid to realize what I did wrong.”

As much as he tried to fight it, Oliver’s lips were twitching into a small smile. Amusement was shining through his anger. At least for a moment, his eyes softened looking at her.

“We both know you are not stupid.”

Felicity couldn’t help but smile at his warm words. He had always appreciated her intelligence, complimenting it at any opportunity given. Even now that he was angry with her, he still complimented it.

“Let’s just pretend I am,” Felicity asked in a quiet whisper, “just for a second or two. I mean you can pretend that I bumped my head and-“

“You slept with Adrian.”

The words burst out of Oliver all of a sudden. His eyes were glued to her face, staring at her angrily. From his facial expression alone, Felicity could say that he meant it. He really believed that she had cheated on him with Adrian, and, again, Felicity felt like she was missing the deciding piece of information.

Felicity was known to be incredibly smart. This constant feeling to always lack some piece of information was incredibly hard though. She felt like she was stupid, and it really was something that she was not used to.

“What?”

Oliver released another frustrated sigh. He didn’t want to talk about this, especially not with her. Everything at him, from the tension in his shoulders to the balled fists, told Felicity that what he would like to do more than anything was running away. Oliver’s instinct always told me to run when things got hard.

Despite everything, he stayed this time.

“I what?”

Grumbling, Oliver put his hands to his hips and looked at her. His brows were furrowed so much that they built one long line. His eyes still sparkled with anger and annoyance.

“After you didn’t show up at the townhouse, I figured that my behavior might have made it look like I was backing out of moving in together and our relationship. That was why I hurried to your and Sara’s apartment, so I could talk to you. When I rang the bell, Adrian opened. He wasn’t wearing a shirt. His torso was wet. The shower was running. You were calling for him to come back.”

Felicity stared at Oliver’s face blankly, trying to put the pieces together. No matter how much information she got, she doubted that it was ever enough to put the whole picture together. The pieces just didn’t fit together.

Adrian had been there that evening. He had brought back her scarf although that had just been an excuse to check on her after Oliver had told him about the break-up. He had helped her in the shower which would explain why he had been wet. He had never been shirtless though.

Something in this story just didn’t line up, but she couldn’t say where the mistake was. It was maddening.

“I know that you probably thought that I had broken up with you,” Oliver said, his voice still tense, although it was a lot calmer now, “so I know you weren’t cheating. It’s just that we had been together for years. I wouldn’t have been able to even look at any other woman, never mind having sex with her, so it hurts to know that the very day we broke up, you-“

Eventually, Oliver stopped. He frowned at her. The hardness and cold in his eyes were replaced with the same confusion that was making Felicity’s head spin.

“You have no idea what I’m talking about.”

In her head, Felicity was still trying to put those pieces of information together to get a whole picture, but it just didn’t work. Nothing made sense to her.

“Adrian was there, and… he helped me with the showerhead, but…”

Felicity frowned, shaking her head. If she had been incredibly drunk, maybe she could have some doubt in her memory. She might have forgotten something after all. Although Felicity didn’t believe that she would have slept with Adrian even if she had been completely drunk. He just wasn’t her type, and she had been so heartbroken about the break-up that she wouldn’t have been able to even have meaningless sex with anyone else.

“You really don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Felicity looked at Oliver, shooting him the smallest of smiles. She shrugged her shoulders.

“No, I don’t,” she whispered, “but I will find out.”

Chapter Text

No matter how many times Oliver had gone through everything that had happened three years ago, in the light of his latest conversation with Felicity, it just didn’t make any sense.

Felicity hadn’t shown up to sign the rental contract for the townhouse, but they had resolved that issue yesterday. They had both messed up with the way they had fooled around instead of saying out loud when and where they would meet. It was nobody’s fault. They had both just messed up.

When he had gone to see her three years ago, trying to talk it out with her three long years passed, Adrian had been there. He was shirtless, and his chest had been covered with water. Felicity had called him from the shower, asking what was taking him so long when she was already wet.

For the last three years, everything about that had seemed quite clear to Oliver. He had been sure that he knew exactly what had been going on in that apartment that day. After all, he wasn’t known to be naïve, and even a shout into his face couldn’t have screamed the truth louder.

After his conversation with Felicity, he wasn’t sure that this was the truth anymore though. If it had been true, Felicity would have known what he had talked about. Instead, she had been completely clueless. She hadn’t known why Adrian had stood in the frame of the door without a shirt.

If anyone had told him that he would believe Felicity if she told him that she hadn’t had sex with Oliver, he would have either laughed out bitterly or punched that person in the face. As recently as fifteen minutes ago, he wouldn’t have been able to believe that he was capable of believing her.

Oliver hurried up the stairs to the terrace, taking two steps at a time. As soon as he reached the head of the stairs, he sat down on the balustrade and reached into the inside pocket of his tuxedo jacket. He grabbed the box of cigarettes and put one of them between his lips.

Even now, he could still see Felicity’s face in front of him. Felicity had been so clueless, her eyes showing so much confusion. She couldn’t have faked this. Even if she could have faked it, he knew she hadn’t. Felicity was a lot of things, dishonest was not one of them.

While he was searching for his lighter in the many pockets of his tuxedo, his gaze fell through the window and into the living room where people had gathered already. Oliver guessed that most guests had already arrived since it was already seven-fifteen. At least Adrian was already there, standing together with their mutual friend Tommy Merlyn and Sara’s sister Laurel.

If one person could bring light into the darkness, it was Adrian. He was that linking piece between his version and Felicity’s point of view. Even more so, he had reaffirmed Oliver’s suspicion, saying something about being caught if Oliver remembered correctly, so Adrian definitely had to answer some questions now.

Oliver threw his unlit cigarette into the flowerbed carelessly and walked towards the door with large steps. His anger caused him to use way too much strength on pushing the door open. It banged against the wall with a loud noise.

“Hey.”

His voice was a lot louder than intended. The few heads that hadn’t turned in his direction when the door had hit the wall, turned to look at him now. Nosy eyes looked him up and down, taking him in. From the corners of his eyes, he could see them turning back soon.

Adrian’s gaze was the only ones that stayed focused on him. He had his eyes narrowed slightly, looking at him with a mixture of interest in what was going on and maybe some suspicion of what it was. He casually pushed one hand into the pocket of his pants and took a sip of his champagne. Oliver wasn’t sure, but he believed that the corners of Adrian’s lips were twitching in amusement, a dark and cruel kind of amusement.

He approached Adrian with the same quick and strong steps he had used when he had stepped into the house. He straightened his shoulders, making himself as tall and as broad as possible, but Adrian seemed unimpressed.

“Oliver,” he said, his voice light, “it’s been like forever since we last talked. I mean how long has it been? Three years?”

There was something about the way Adrian looked at him and the way he talked to him that told Oliver that his unwell feeling towards him was right. There was something wrong about Adrian. He definitely had his fingers in all of this.

“What happened between Felicity and you that evening three years ago when we were supposed to sign our rental contract?”

His voice was lowered to a dark growl. As much as he wanted to grab Adrian by the lapels of his jacket and pin him against the wall, he didn’t want to cause a scene like that. This was Sara and Nyssa’s night, and he didn’t want to ruin it for her. He would do his best, so nobody would realize what was going on here.

With a brief glance past Adrian’s head, he could see that he had already failed. Tommy Merlyn was standing right beside him. Although he kept his eyes lowered to his feet, pretending to be busy drinking his beer, Oliver could see that he had his eyes pricked up. He was listening, but Oliver couldn’t care less.

“That’s such an old story, Ollie,” Adrian said, shaking his head, “we should move past this, don’t you think?”

“Don’t avoid the question.” Oliver almost hissed the words, staring at Adrian angrily. “What the hell happened back then?”

The pretended surprise in Adrian’s gaze gave way for an amused grin. It spread on Adrian’s face, and he couldn’t even hide it when he took another sip of his champagne.

“If you really want to know,” he said, pretending that Oliver was asking the impossible for him and releasing a long sigh, “it started on the couch. We were just talking, celebrating her new job in Gotham City, when Felicity suddenly suggested having sex.”

“Adrian.”

Tommy whispered his name warningly, probably knowing Oliver a lot better than Adrian did. Adrian didn’t listen. If he did, he didn’t care.

“I wanted to decline,” he continued, “but she said she was in urgent need of a real cock filling her. She basically jumped at me, and I could feel her desperation. I guess she wasn’t taken the way she wanted and needed in quite some while, so I did that for her. We got into the bathroom and under the shower. After your little interruption, I ripped her clothes off her with my teeth and took her. Hard.”

Oliver had to tell himself to breathe in and out slowly. His lungs seemed unwilling or unable to take in any air. He needed it to keep his already clenched fist from hitting Adrian right in the face. His knuckles were tingling with the need to do so.

Adrian’s words got Oliver’s imagination spinning. He saw snippets of ideas of what Adrian and Felicity might have done that day. For the last three years, those imagines had managed to sneak their way into his head again and again. They were tormenting him when he was less expecting it, making it hard to fall asleep or focus on the model grinding against him.

Shaking his head, Oliver shook those thoughts off. He couldn’t allow them into his head now. They would only distract him when he should focus on pushing Adrian for the truth instead. He had been waiting for the truth for too long already.

“God, she screamed my name so loud that I thought her neighbors would call the cops.”

“I don’t believe you,” Oliver hurried to say, pressing his fists close to his body to keep from punching him after all, “because Felicity says that nothing happened between you two. I believe her.”

For a split second, Adrian’s face faltered. It was almost like he was trying to figure out which tactic to continue with.

“Maybe she’s lying.”

He had chosen wrong because now Oliver knew that Adrian was hiding something. For the last three years, he had pretended that he and Felicity were best friends and maybe hooking up occasionally. Claiming that she was lying went against everything he had tried to make people believe so far.

“Felicity’s not lying,” Oliver said, his voice still low, and shook his head, “according to her, nothing happened between you two.”

Oliver didn’t know what he had expected. Maybe he had thought that Adrian would lower his gaze guiltily and say that he might have exaggerated a little bit. Maybe he had imagined him to frown in confusion and say that he had no idea what was going on.

Instead, Adrian’s grin widened. “I guess that, if she didn’t lie, I must have been the one lying.”

So, Oliver guessed it was true. Adrian had been at Felicity’s apartment that evening, and he had used a fortunate but innocent moment to pretend that he had had sex with Felicity. He had put a wedge between him and Felicity, and he had done so purposefully.

“I guess you did?” he asked, his voice still lowered to a whisper. “You did lie?”

Adrian chuckled, raising his glass to him, and nodded his head. He emptied his glass of champagne and put it onto the tray of a passing waitress. He released a long sigh then, nodding his head once more.

“Yes, I did,” he admitted unashamedly, “I lied, and it was so easy to make you believe it. I mean what did I really have to do other than standing in the frame of the door without a shirt and tell you that it was exactly what it looked like. You just believed me, not one single glimpse of trust in Felicity’s loyalty or faithfulness. It was almost too easy.”

Oliver sucked in a deep breath against the heavy weight that seemed to press down on his chest. All the pieces of this giant puzzle that had never seemed to fit together finally fell into place. Everything made sense now, or at least it made more sense than it had before.

“God, it was so much fun watching you put yourself through all of that misery.” Adrian chuckled once more. “When I decided on this plan, I thought that you would just sulk a little bit and move on to the next girl maybe. Instead, you fell into this utter misery and let yourself be annoyed with it even years after that.”

There had been uncountable times that Oliver had seen Adrian during some occasion. They had never talked to each other, but Oliver had always felt like Adrian was rubbing that evening with Felicity right into his face. He had always managed to flash him a grin or toast his glass to him or even just nodded his head in his direction in a way that made sure that Oliver remembered that evening.

“God, it was just so much more than I could have hoped for.” Again, Adrian chuckled, and his gaze intensified as he took Oliver in. “You must have really loved Felicity.”

There was an almost honest surprise in Adrian’s voice. After everything he had done and everything it had done to Oliver, he was still surprised that Oliver’s feelings for Felicity had been sincere.

Oliver’s head was spinning from all this information. He had a thousand things to say, but he couldn’t get a word out. His throat felt tight. His heart ached. It felt like his world had been hit by an earthquake.

Three long years, he had hated Felicity for leaving him and jumping into bed with Adrian before Oliver even got a chance of convincing her otherwise. He had doubted everything they had had, thinking that it might have never been real, at least not for her. He had been unable to give love another try because his heart had still been hers which had made him hate himself a lot more than Oliver had known until a couple of days ago.

While the party was still going on Oliver’s world felt like it had stopped. There was nothing and nobody there, but Adrian and him. Even if a masked gunman came into the mansion now, he wouldn’t be able to focus on it.

Adrian had ruined his relationship with Felicity. He had ruined all the memories and all the plans Oliver had had. He had taken away Oliver’s belief in love.

“Why?” Oliver asked out in a whisper because that was what it all came down to. “Why did you do it?”

Adrian stepped a little closer to Oliver. He was one of the few men that was just as muscular as Oliver. They had a similar physique, but Adrian was just a little bit taller than Oliver. He wasn’t intimidated by Oliver’s physique like he was used to with most men.

“I wanted you to know what it’s like to lose someone you love. I wanted you to know what it’s like to have a friend take that person away from you.”

Oliver didn’t understand. He didn’t know if it was because of the rushing blood in his ears or because of the flood of information that seemed to be hitting him today. Maybe it was that, again, Oliver was missing some information though. He didn’t know.

“I don’t… what?”

Adrian’s jaw clenched, and his muscles tensed. Whatever his motives were, anger seemed to accompany them.

“Do you remember Emma?”

Emma. Oliver tried to recall every Emma he knew. Emma Watson. Emma Stone. Emma Roberts. Emma Thompson. Emma Darwin. Emma Frost. Emma Swan. Emma what’s-her-name-again from Jane Austen’s book.

Oliver doubted that any of those Emmas had caused Adrian to ruin his life. He couldn’t think of any other Emma though. Maybe some of his models had been called Emma, but he had only met those during the last three years. Even if it had been earlier, he doubted that any of them had had and connection to Adrian. God, even if they had, how could he have taken them from him?

“Emma?”

Adrian shook his head, not believing that Oliver wouldn’t even know who that Emma was. Apparently, she must have been an important person in his life.

“Emma Gibson.”

Admittedly, that name rang a bell for Oliver, but he couldn’t focus on finding out where he had heard that name before. He was too churning by everything he had found out in the last twenty minutes. He was surprised he didn’t lose consciousness.

“She was a year under us in high school,” Adrian said, his voice lowered to a dark growl now, “and she has been to most of the parties we have been too. I was into her. During Tommy’s birthday party in our senior year, I have talked to her for hours, and I wanted to ask her out on a date. I just left her side for like ten minutes to get us some drinks. When I came back, you were already leading her upstairs for some quick fun. I was forgotten.”

Oliver would lie if he said that he remembered exactly who Emma Gibson was. During his time in high school, Oliver had done some seriously dumb things. Drinking way too much and hooking up with way too many girls were just two of those. He had never knowingly hooked up with a taken girl, especially none that was taken by a friend. If he hadn’t known about Adrian’s crush, Oliver didn’t doubt that he might have tried his luck.

That was the entire reason Adrian had turned Oliver’s life upside down and turn it into something that, in Oliver’s opinion, was close to a living hell?

“A high school crush?” Oliver asked, his voice louder than he probably noticed himself, shaking his head in disbelief. “Because of a high school crush, you pretended that you and Felicity had sex, so I would hate her?”

“Yes.”

Adrian’s answer was as simple as that, making Oliver falter. He waited for him to continue. There had to be more, but Adrian didn’t seem like he wanted to continue. For him, it really was as simple as that.

“She was a high school crush.” Oliver felt a thousand emotions mixing in his chest, making him feel hot and cold at the same time, rubbing his breath and making his heart pound, “and Felicity was the love of my life. You made me hate the only woman I have ever truly loved because your high school crush decided to rather have sex with me than talk with you?”

“Yes.”

Again, just this little answer. He said it so naturally that Oliver actually wondered if he was the one being wrong. Maybe he was the one not taking this seriously enough when he had actually done a terrible, unforgivable thing that made him deserve this.

Oliver doubted it. Maybe he had deserved a warning. He had deserved to see that going for his pleasure so easily might have hurt others. But losing Felicity had been more than a warning. It had been more than he had deserved so much more.

“Do you have any idea what you have done?

“Oh, it’s very simple,” Adrian said, his grin now turning almost evil, “incredibly simple really When I met you at the gym and you told me that you had to leave to sign the rental contract for the townhouse, I realized that you must have messed something up. Felicity had told me about the loft after all. So, what did I do? I stole your phone to make sure you wouldn’t be able to contact her and let you go there. Meanwhile, I went to the loft and followed Felicity home after that, making sure that she wouldn’t run into you. Then I invited myself over to her place, using some excuse. I told her that I had met you at the gym, which was the truth, but I might have lied a little when it came to the future of your relationship. You know, I needed a reason to spend a little more time with her after all, and comforting her after her idiot of a boyfriend wasn’t able to deal with her strength and her success.”

Adrian must have waited years for the chance to get his revenge. For years, he must have waited for Oliver to find someone who really meant something to him. Then he must have waited another few years until there was finally a situation that opened up a chance to drive a wedge between Oliver and Felicity. He had used the misunderstanding regarding their future home and Oliver’s terrible first reaction to Felicity’s job offer to break them apart.

And it had worked. Two years of real love destroyed within a couple of minutes.

“What about the shower?”

Oliver had to know the whole story. Although he already knew that none of what he had thought to be true had really happened, he needed to hear the entire story to the end. It was the only thing keeping him from lashing out right now.

“Well, Felicity wanted to take a shower, but her showerhead didn’t work properly. I helped her fix it when you finally knocked at the door. I left her there, the water sprinkling around, while I left my shirt in the living room and opened the door for you.”

“To make it look like you had sex with her.”

“Felicity’s inability to form sentences that don’t carry some kind of ambiguousness made it very easy.”

Felicity had called for Adrian to come back because she was already wet. She hadn’t meant to tell him that she was ready to continue having sex with him though. She had meant that she was actually soaked by water from the showerhead. Adrian had just made it look differently.

“Really, it was so easy to make all of this work once the right situation was there.” Adrian sighed. “The only thing that would have made it even better was if Felicity had actually let me fuck her. I tried to seduce her, but that girl was just as loyal as a puppy, saying her heart was all yours and that she was a faithful soul. It was annoying, but it was ironic given how easily thought that she was the biggest slut.”

Oliver couldn’t say if it was the word slut in reference to Felicity, the way Adrian had said that he had wanted to fuck Felicity or maybe the entirety of this situation finally being enough for Oliver. Either way, something inside him snapped. His muscles that had been so tense that he couldn’t have moved even a second ago suddenly moved.

With one purposeful movement, he punched Adrian right in the face. His head moved back, and blood came from his nose. Oliver saw it, and a part of him believed that it was enough. He should stop right here.

As much as Oliver told himself that, his muscles refused to listen though. He went at Adrian again and again, punching his face, his stomach and everything else he could reach. Adrian did his best to hit back, and he did land quite some hits as he was just as trained as Oliver was. Despite the strong punches, Oliver barely felt any pain.

His rage blinded him for anything but the undying need to hit his knuckles against every inch of Adrian’s body. Every muscle in his body was aching with the need to hit him again and again until that freaking grin was finally wiped off his face.

Eventually, Oliver managed to take Adrian by surprise and push him backwards. He ended up on the floor, sliding over the hardwood for a few feet. Several people jumped out of the way, making room for him. Maybe the fact that they had quite some viewership should have told Oliver to finally stop now, but he was still caught by his rage.

Before Adrian could sit up, Oliver lunged at him. He pinned him down to the floor with one hand and used the other to punch his face again and again.

Three years of misery and three years of misdirected anger crushed down on Oliver all at once it seemed. His body wasn’t able to carry it all. He would go inside trying to keep it inside of him. It just had to be left out.

He was still going at Adrian despite how firmly his fists were punching his ribs when his arms were grabbed by two hands each. He was lifted off Adrian and pulled back. He fought the hands, but their grip was too strong.

“Oliver,” John, who was holding onto his right arm, warned him, “it’s enough.”

No, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t nearly enough. He wanted to break every single bone in Adrian’s body. He wanted him to feel the same pain that Oliver had felt for three long years now. He wanted him to feel that much pain that he felt he couldn’t possibly be happy ever again. For the rest of his life, he should feel that there was a void, something that nothing and nobody could ever fill.

Oliver tried to fight off John’s and his father’s hands, but they were only increasing their effort to hold him back.

“This is not over yet, Queen!”

Adrian jumped up onto his feet and took a step towards Oliver. Tommy Merlyn stepped in front of him and held him back though. He had trouble to keep Adrian in check, but he did somehow.

“So come here!” Oliver yelled at him. “I’ll gladly break some more bones in your face.”

Adrian just laughed. His dry and mischievous laughter almost echoed through the room. It felt like it was stabbing Oliver right into the heart once more. Adrian still enjoyed this. He enjoyed how Oliver was lashing out at him.

Oliver almost managed to sneak one arm out of Robert’s strong hold. He was about to put just a little more effort into freeing himself when something in the reflection of the large mirror over the fireplace caught Oliver’s attention.

His heart stood still when her recognized Felicity. He hadn’t noticed that she had returned from her moment alone outside. He wasn’t sure if that would have changed anything, but at least her presence here wouldn’t have taken him by surprise like that.

Oliver turned his head back over his shoulder. He wanted to see Felicity directly rather than looking at her in the reflection. She was standing somewhere behind him, her arms wrapped around her body tightly. Sara and Nyssa were standing beside her, comforting her with their arms wrapped around her. If the shocked expression on her face was any indication, she had been here long enough.

Their gazes met, and Oliver felt his stomach drop in response. For three long years, they had both lived in misery. They hated each other, blaming the other for the misery they had lived in. No matter how much they had loved each other, their hate and disappointment had outweighed everything else.

Oliver had loved Felicity like he had never loved anyone else. For the first time in his life, he had been able to see himself settling down and having a family of his own. He had been ready to throw caution into the wind and go all in. He had never done that before.

“Let me go,” Oliver said, his voice hoarse, “let me go now.”

Instead of letting go, John and Robert tightened their grip on Oliver though. They probably assumed that he would lunge himself right back at Adrian, and Oliver had to admit that that suggestion wasn’t that far off the table. His rage was still there, just beneath the surface.

He wouldn’t attack him once more though. Adrian wasn’t worth it. He wasn’t worth for Oliver to show his darkest, rawest and cruelest sides to Felicity. He had shown her enough of the bad person he could be already. He shouldn’t make it even worse by beating Adrian to death right in front of her eyes. With the rage inside of him, he was sure that he was physically able to do so if he didn’t restrain from it.

“I need to get out of here,” Oliver said, “or I will kill him.”

John and Robert faltered. Oliver couldn’t see it, but he could feel his dad and John exchanging a long look. They probably still doubted him.

Eventually, they let go though. Oliver’s eyes met Adrian’s, and for the break of a second he thought about punching him once more. No matter how many times his fists had met Adrian’s face, it still didn’t feel like it was enough. It would never be enough.

Oliver could feel Felicity’s eyes on the back of his neck though. He knew he couldn’t punch Adrian once more when she was watching him. As much as he wanted to, he just couldn’t do it. Felicity has always brought out the best of him, so she couldn’t show her his worst.

So all Oliver did was taking in a deep breath, turn away and leave. He had to get out of here. He couldn’t have anyone around him. He needed time to process what had happened and- whatever.

With Felicity’s words, he just needed some air.

 

* * *

 

Oliver looked like he was either going to murder someone or commit suicide. He looked ready to attack and about to admit defeat at the same time. His muscles were tense, but his head her was lowered.

As soon as Oliver was out of sight, Felicity turned her head towards Adrian. His face had taken quite some hits. Blood was coming from his split lip and the bruise over his eyebrow. The skin around his red eye until down to his cheek was already beginning to swell. By tomorrow, it would shine in all colors of the rainbow. Still, Adrian was smiling about his triumph.

The cat was out of the bag now, but he had succeeded with his plan nonetheless. He had showed Oliver what it was like to lose someone he loved, and he had probably rubbed it in just by showing up where Oliver was every once in a while. He had certainly put him through quite some heartbreak. That Oliver had lost control of himself like that tonight was probably just the sweet cherry on top.

Noticing that she was trembling from how shaken she was, Felicity wrapped her arms around herself even more tightly. Her heart was racing, pounding against her ribs that felt like they were pressing down to keep it in check. It took away the room her lungs would need to take in a breath, causing them to ache with the need for oxygen.

Back in the garden, when Oliver had told her what had happened three years ago, she had thought that there was an easy explanation for that. She had believed that it had all been an unfortunate series of events that had made things look so different from what they had been.

The more she thought about it, the more she had wondered about Adrian’s role in this entire story. He hadn’t told her that Oliver had stopped by that night. Even if Oliver had just knocked at the door, seen Adrian and disappeared again, Adrian should have felt obligated to tell her.

Eventually, Felicity had decided to come here and confront Adrian, but he and Oliver had already been in a loud conversation that had caught everyone’s attention.

There was a deadly silence in the room. The small group of people that had been invited to the rehearsal dinner seemed unsure what to do. Everyone was frozen in place from the awkwardness of the situation. Some people were whispering with each other as quietly as possible, others just stared at their feet.

Nyssa, who had her arms still wrapped around her tightly, squeezed Felicity once more before she took a couple of steps away. She stepped right in front of Adrian, who looked at her with an arrogant expression on his face.

“You,” she said with her voice full of anger and pointed at Adrian, “are going to leave now, and you better not show your face tomorrow or ever again for that matter, or a swollen face is going to be the least of your problems.”

“What, you don’t want me at your wedding anymore?”

Adrian laughed out loudly, and Felicity honestly wondered if Adrian was crazy. He looked like he had lost his mind. He was unrecognizable, nothing like the man Felicity had thought was her friend.

“Mr. Diggle,” Robert said, “please kick him out.”

John didn’t have to be asked twice. He stepped forward and grabbed Adrian from Tommy. He didn’t even try to be gentle. Instead, he just dragged him outside. Adrian didn’t really go easily, but he had no chance against John.

Felicity felt her throat starting to burn. She managed to take in a breath, but the air only got into her lungs stutteringly. Tears were prickling in her eyes.

It all still felt incredibly unreal. She had heard Adrian saying everything he had done to drive a wedge between her and Oliver. She had heard him admitting that he had done so to hurt Oliver. He had purposefully spread lies to hurt him, and he had hurt her with that. She had been collateral damage, nothing more.

“Okay,” Moira finally found her voice and clapped into her hands, “I apologize for this… incident, but let’s not let that ruin the evening. I think we can all need some aperitif now. Raisa.”

Raisa quickly nodded her head and hurried into the kitchen. Meanwhile, Moira gestured for the musicians to continue playing. She shot Robert and Thea meaningful glances, and they hurried to start some conversations.

Just like that, the world seemed to move on for everyone. Only Felicity’s world felt like it was still standing still.

“Hey,” Sara said gently, putting her hands to Felicity’s shoulders and turning her around to her, “Are you okay?”

Sara looked at Felicity intensely, trying to get an honest answer from Felicity. She was barely able to hold her friend’s gaze, feeling uncomfortable at the thought of having to find out how exactly she was feeling. Felicity wasn’t sure if she wouldn’t break down if she let all her feelings in right now.

“No,” she said, shaking her head, “I’m not okay.”

How could she possibly be okay after this?

Sara was about to pull Felicity into her arms, probably intending to comfort her, but Felicity couldn’t have that right now. She wasn’t ready. Taking a step back, she lifted her hands in front of herself in a deprecating gesture and shook her head.

“I can’t do that right now,” she said, her voice sounding choked, “I’m sorry. I just-I need-I can’t stay here tonight. I swear I will be the best maid-of-honor tomorrow, but I need to go.”

Sara nodded her head, not even hesitating. “Of course. Call me if you need anything. I’ll drop everything here and be right by your side.”

Felicity shook her head and pulled Sara into a tight hug, whispering into her ear, “You enjoy this night and think about nothing but this dream you are living. Only a couple more hours to the wedding. Enjoy every second of it.”

Sara wrapped her arms around Felicity tightly, holding her just as close as Felicity was holding her. They stayed like that for a long moment until Felicity let go, turned around and walked away. She felt like she was on the verge of crying, but she didn’t want to cry, at least not in front of everyone here.

Holding her breath in a weak attempt to hold back the tears that tried to fight their way to the surface, Felicity hurried to the front door. Although her ankle was hurting like hell, she ignored that. Limping would only make it take longer for her to get away from here, and, god, she really needed to get away from here.

Too overwhelmed by everything that had happened today or these last days really, she didn’t look where she was going and promptly ran into John.

“I’m sorry.” She intended to just push past him, but a glance towards the door and the thought who could be right behind it, made her stop and turn back to him once more. “Where is Adrian?”

“I sat him into a cab and told my security staff not to let him inside ever again.”

Felicity nodded her head. The Queen’s only hired the best of the best, especially when it came to security. Oliver had told her that Thea had almost been abducted once. A trio of petty criminals had tried to abduct her from the playgroup she had gone through once a week, planning to press money from the family. Since that day, every member of the Queen Family was accompanied by security staff wherever they went, at least if they didn’t manage to get rid of them.

Adrian would never come here again. Maybe, at least if he was smart, he would leave the city. The Queens were quite influential after all, and he could easily make sure that Adrian’s career would get stuck and his reputation in the city was ruined. It wouldn’t be an honorable thing to do, but sometimes it was best to fight fire with fire.

Oliver would certainly be grateful if Adrian left Starling City.

“Do you know where Oliver is?”

The questions fell from her lips before Felicity even knew exactly what she was going to do with the answer. Was she just going to nod her head and go home? Was she going to talk to him? Was she going to look for him?

“When I got outside, he was just leaving the property on his motorcycle. I guess he needs to clear his head, and a little high speed ride is probably going to do the job best.”

Felicity nodded her head slowly. There were three things that helped to clear Oliver’s head – designing, sports and a ride on his motorcycle.

“Do you need a ride home?”

Felicity shot John a confused glance before she remembered that she had taken a cab to come to the mansion. She didn’t have a car here and she probably wasn’t fit to walk anyway.

“No, I can call myself a cab and-“

“I will tell Rob to drive you.”

With that, John stepped outside and waved for one of the black limousines that were parked on the forecourt. The young man behind the steering wheel let the window down and perked up his eyebrows at John.

“Ms. Smoak needs a ride to her hotel. If she needs any stops on the way there, all her wishes are your command.”

Rob nodded his head. “Of course, Sir.”

Felicity knew that it would probably be the most polite thing to say that she didn’t need the ride. She could indeed just call a cab. She didn’t have the energy to put an unnecessary fight though.

When John opened the door to the backseats of the car, Felicity stepped closer to the car. Before she got in, she put her hands to John and smiled at him. She doubted that it reached his eyes, but she was sure that he got the gesture behind it nonetheless.

“Thank you, John.”

“If you need anything, just call me.”

Felicity nodded her head, although she doubted that she would call anyone tonight. She was going to hide under her blanket and cry her eyes out, so she would hopefully be okay for the wedding tomorrow. Nothing was allowed to overshadow that.

“Night.”

“Goodnight, Felicity.”

Felicity sank into the soft leather of the backseats. While John closed the door for her, Felicity put on the seatbelt. When the car started rolling, she leaned her head against the cold window pane and closed her eyes.

It all made so much sense. Now that those missing pieces had fallen into place, she had no idea how she hadn’t known that there was something fishy in their break-up before. She had always considered it unfinished because it had been.

Another sigh fell from Felicity’s lips, and she squeezed her eyes shut firmly. She tried to blend out the world around her, trying to forget about everything for just a second, so she could catch her breath. Her thoughts wouldn’t stop spinning though.

Now she got why Oliver had been so angry with her all the time. Until now, she hadn’t got why he could be so sweet and so aroused by her in one minute and then so angry with her the next. She hadn’t understood why he would be angry with her at all. She had thought that she had been the one who had been left, and then she had thought that it had all just been a misunderstanding. This entire time Oliver had believed that she had slept with Adrian.

What Adrian had done to them was unforgivable. No matter what motives he had had, they didn’t excuse his behavior. All the pain his actions had caused just couldn’t be excused with a past heartbreak. At least to Felicity, they couldn’t.

Frowning, Felicity wondered what Oliver was thinking about all of this. He had certainly looked like hell when he had attacked Adrian, and he had looked just as terrible when he had left. Knowing that Adrian blamed him for what he had done to them, Felicity wouldn’t be surprised if Oliver adapted that thought. Oliver was always quick to think the worst of him and blame himself for things that weren’t his fault.

“I’m sorry,” Felicity said, leaning forward towards Rob a little bit, “but could you please stop at OJQ?”

“There is going to be nobody there,” Rob said, “the company’s headquarters closes at eight and-“

“I need to stop by the atelier,” Felicity said, “please.”

Rob didn’t need to be asked twice. John’s order had been clear. He was supposed to take her wherever Felicity wanted to go.

The drive to OJQ didn’t take long. When Felicity had asked to be taken there, it had been closer than the hotel. It took barely three minutes before the limousine stopped in front of the atelier where Felicity wasn’t surprised to find light. She had known that Oliver would end up here sooner or later.

Felicity wanted to send Rob away because she could easily call a cab once she was done here. She already knew that he wouldn’t disobey John, so she knew she could spare the breath.

“I’ll be right back.”

That was all she said before she got out of the car and closed the door behind her. A cool gust of wind hit her, and Felicity wrapped her coat around her even more firmly. With quick steps, she crossed the distance towards the atelier and stepped in.

As soon as her foot had crossed the doorstep, she could hear the loud noises from the back of the building. The curtains, that separated Oliver’s working area from the rest of the spacious atelier, moved back and forth from the movements behind them. If Felicity was asked to make a guess, she’d say that Oliver was leaving out his anger at everything in his reach right now.

Pressing her lips together, Felicity considered turning around on her heels and leaving Oliver alone. Maybe he wanted to be alone. She’d understand if he needed time alone. She’d even understand if she was the last person he wanted to see right now. Still, she had to check if he was okay. He might not be ready to face her, but she had to see him.

Felicity crossed the distance towards the working area. Pushing the curtain aside, she stepped in and stopped dead in her tracks. Her breath got stuck in her throat, and her heart started racing at what she saw.

The atelier looked like hell. Scattered pieces of wood were lying around, looking like parts of a chair or something. Several mannequins had suffered the same fate. The pieces of fabrics that were always lying around wherever Oliver worked were mixing with what looked like ripped clothes and torn paper.

In the middle of the mess, Oliver was standing, his face screwed up in anger as he continued to beat the hell out of everything in his reach. His shirt as well as his face were covered with sweat, proving how much force he had to be using. The knuckles of his hands were already bloody.

There was something incredibly sad about what view she was met with. It looked like Oliver had destroyed everything he could just like Adrian had destroyed the bliss of a life they had been living three years ago. He wasn’t able to punch Adrian again and again, so he was punching whatever else was there.

“Oliver,” Felicity whispered, her voice weak, “stop it.”

She didn’t know if Oliver didn’t hear her, or if he was just too caught in his rage. Either way, he didn’t stop. He just tore apart a dress that looked a lot like it was embroidered in long hours of painful handiwork, threw what was left of it to the floor and flipped the massive wooden table that was the center of his workspace. It crashed to the floor with a loud noise.

Felicity’s heart jumped up into her throat. She flinched almost violently, making the muscles in her back twist. She was sure that she could still feel it tomorrow or next week for that matter.

“Oliver!”

She yelled his name from the top of her lungs, but still he didn’t show any reaction. He went right at the table, starting to punch it again and again. If his bruised knuckles hurt, he didn’t let that stop him. He just continued to hit the table again and again, making the wood splinter.

Felicity felt incredibly helpless as she watched him like that. She could see that he felt helpless too. He was at his own rage’s mercy, unable to control it. She had never seen Oliver or anyone else for that matter like that.

Determined not to let him hurt himself any longer, Felicity stepped towards Oliver. She hesitated for a moment before she grabbed his wrists and turned him around to her. Her gaze met his, and it took a lot from her to not let go of him. Instead, she tightened her hold on his wrists.

Their eyes were locked on each other’s. Their gazes were intense, both of them unable to hide how disturbed they were after everything that had happened tonight. They were shaken, angry and hurt. Knowing that they both felt the same only multiplied the way they were feeling by a hundred at least.

What Adrian had done to Oliver, he had done to both of them. They had both been the victims of his intrigues. They had both suffered badly from his actions.

Something in the expression of Oliver’s eyes changed. It grew even darker, and he hurried to take some steps back. He looked like he was barely holding onto a thread of self-control. In his eyes, Felicity could see his fear. If he was going to let that tiny thread, he was scared of what he was going to do.

“I-“

Felicity felt her voice break and stopped. She took in a deep breath and cleared her throat. If she wanted to calm Oliver down, she should get a hold of herself. Otherwise, this wasn’t going to work. They would only infect each other with how messed up they were feeling, making it worse instead of making it better.

Oliver went over to the only real wall of his workspace. He put his flat hands to the wall, leaning all his weight against it and letting his head dangle between his shoulders. He squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head again and again. It didn’t seem to help him though, so he leaned his head against the wall, probably trying to cool it.

“I just wanted to check how you are doing.”

She would have almost told him that she had wanted to check if he was alright, but she already knew the answer to that. There was no way that he was alright. Every cell of his body seemed to scream that he was anything but alright.

Oliver didn’t answer. He stayed where he was with his forehead against the wall and his eyes screwed shut. His face didn’t do anything to hide in how much pain he still was.

“Oliver.”

Felicity whispered his name, wanting him to answer or to at least look at her. She wanted any kind of reaction from him. She got a reaction, and it almost made her flinch.

Oliver turned around to her with a quick movement. His eyes were directed at hers, almost piercing right through her. Felicity felt her breath getting caught in her throat. Although she wasn’t scared that Oliver would hurt her, she had trouble to stop herself from taking a step back when Oliver suddenly approached her.

He reached out his hands for her face. Felicity expected his grip to be firm. She thought his hands would hold her face between them with so much force that she would feel like her head was about to crack at the touch.

Instead, Oliver’s hands were incredibly gentle. They came to rest against her cheeks, holding her carefully like he was afraid of breaking her. He was holding her like she was his greatest treasure, something he didn’t want to lose or even hurt at all cost.

His eyes were locked on hers, the expression in them so intense that Felicity felt her heart going out. Everything inside of her started aching. Her heart was beating irregularly, stuttering in her chest.

“Do you have any idea how much I have hated you for the past three years?” Oliver asked, his voice so hoarse that it was barely recognizable, but his right hand stroked down her cheeks gently like he wanted to soothe the hardness of his words. “I hated you so much that I-“

His voice broke, turning into a sob that Oliver was barely able to muffle. He took in a sniffling breath, lowering his eyes for a moment. When he lifted his gaze eventually, tears were welling in his eyes.

“All this time, I hated you;” he told her, his voice lowered to a whisper, “for nothing. I hated you for absolutely nothing.”

Felicity could feel the pain in his words, and they hurt her just as much as they certainly hurt him. For three years, she had hated him too, maybe not as much as Oliver had hated her, but still. Her anger had tried to eat her alive for most of the past three years.

“I have seen a life with you.” Oliver’s voice a lot gentle now although it was still hoarse. “Three years back, there was nothing I wanted more than you or us. I mean I had a plan. I wanted to buy a puppy for us to raise together. I wanted to propose to you.”

Felicity’s heart skipped a beat or twice at his words. She had known that Oliver had been very serious about their relationship. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been so hurt that she had considered moving to Gotham City. She hadn’t known that he had thought that far ahead. Getting married was quite the thing and so was a puppy, at least for Oliver.

For the break of a second, an almost broken smile showed on Oliver’s face. The corners of his lips twitched slightly. An expression of utter love spread in his eyes. He almost looked like her Oliver, the Oliver she had fallen in love with again and again for the two years they had been together.

Before Felicity could give into the low tingling in her stomach, his facial expression hardened though. He looked angry again, and Felicity felt her body mirroring that anger.

“We could be married today,” Oliver told her, “but instead I spent the last three years hating you. I thought that you just forgot all about us the moment things got a little rough. I thought that I didn’t mean as much to you as you meant to me. I hated you for it. With every cell in my body, I hated you, and it was all because of my actions and-“

Again, Oliver’s voice broke. He lowered his head, staring at their feet. His hands continued stroking over her face. His fingertips were calloused, but his touch was so very gentle.

Holding her breath, Felicity waited for Oliver to do anything. She waited for him to continue speaking or to look her in the eyes again. He didn’t do either of that though. Instead, he took several steps back, still not looking at her. With his gaze locked onto the floor, he shook his head again and again and again.

“I can’t do this right now,” Oliver whispered, his voice defeated. “Can you go? Please?”

Felicity didn’t want to leave him like this. She didn’t want to be alone with the image of him beating everything to crap in here either. She was sure that it would haunt her now. If she turned away from Oliver, she would see him completely out of control again. She wouldn’t be able to close her eyes without seeing him taking everything apart.

After everything that had happened today, Felicity just didn’t have the energy to put up a fight. She couldn’t tell Oliver that she didn’t want to leave him alone like that or that she herself didn’t want to be alone tonight. All she could do was nod along to whatever he said he wanted. It might be weak, but she couldn’t help it.

“Goodnight, Oliver.”

Not turning away yet, Felicity watched Oliver for a moment longer. He stood in the middle of the mess he had made, his hands pushed deep into the pockets of his pants and his shoulders hunched. He looked as lost as Felicity felt.

Since she couldn’t do anything to help him or even help herself, she turned around and left. Everything was broken, and maybe they were just too broken to fix it.

Chapter Text

Closing her eyes, Felicity took some deep breaths. She still felt like she was on the edge of breaking down or flipping out or some other hysterical reaction to everything that had happened yesterday. She just knew that she couldn’t let that happen today.

This wasn’t her day and, as the good friend that she wanted to be, she didn’t want to make it about her. All she had to do was make sure that Sara spend a comfortable and enjoyable morning before they would head to the mansion to get dressed and ready for the wedding. After she hadn’t had it in her to stay at Sara’s side and help her through the first evening with her mother and her sister in years, the least she could do was make it up by being the perfect maid-of-honor today.

Felicity shook her head when she thought back to how she had come to Starling, telling herself that she would focus on Sara and Nyssa’s wedding as well as her deal with Queen Consolidated. In hindsight, she had done a lot, but that. She had closed the deal with Robert, but she had done way too little for her friends.

Taking in another deep breath, Felicity eventually found the courage to knock at Sara’s doors. She had already lifted her hand, but the buzzing of her phone distracted her before the knuckles of her hand met the door.

While Felicity was pulling her phone from the back pocket of her jeans, it buzzed yet again.

TQ: I wanted to wake Nyssa with breakfast in bed, but she was out for a run. Girl doesn’t know what it means to be a bride on her wedding day.

TQ: How are working things out for you and Sara?

Felicity smiled, shaking her head at the thought of how disappointed Thea must have been when she hadn’t found Nyssa sleeping in her bed. Thea was certainly not a traditional kind of person, but she did love wedding traditions. She had been the one to suggest that Sara and Nyssa spent the last night before their wedding apart. When Sara and Nyssa had agreed, Felicity and Thea had decided that they should make sure the brides were spending a good morning that allowed them to get in the right mood for the wedding already.

FS: Just arrived, so we’ll see. I’m sure Sara isn’t out for a run though.

Sara loved sports. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have the muscular body that she had. Unlike Nyssa, she wasn’t that kind of person that jumped out of bed before eight to run a dozen miles before breakfast. Felicity had lived with her long enough to know that.

With that thought in mind, Felicity nodded at the door. It was opened immediately, and Sara stood at the other side, a bright smile taking over her entire face.

“I almost thought you would never knock.”

Chuckling, Felicity lifted her phone and waggled it in front of Sara’s face.

“I was about to do so when Thea distracted me.”

“How is my wife-to-be?” Sara asked. “Does she get cold feet because I could swear that, if anyone gets cold feet, it’s going to be her and-“

“Nyssa is fine enough to anger Thea by escaping the mansion for a run.”

“So, she’s perfect.”

Sara beamed with happiness at the news, knowing that Nyssa being her usual self was a good sign on a crazy day like this. She’d only be worried if her wife-to-be gave up what she loved to give into Thea’s ideas for the wedding day. Until that happened, it was safe to say that Nyssa was feeling great, which meant that she would probably show up at the altar.

Felicity couldn’t see her skip her wedding either way. Firstly, Nyssa loved Sara so much that she certainly wouldn’t miss the wedding. Secondly, Nyssa might be bolt, but she knew that Thea would chase her to the end of the world if she did anything to ruin this day.

At least in some ways, this was Thea’s big day after all. She had put so much time and energy into organizing all of this that she certainly didn’t want anything or anyone to ruin it for her or the brides.

“You look perfect too,” Felicity said eventually, looking Sara up and down, “not at all like a nervous bride.”

“My heart does feel like it wants to jump out of my chest.” Sara took in a deep breath, still beaming with happiness. “I do feel very well-rested though.”

At least one of them, Felicity thought, but she didn’t let that show. She just continued smiling back at her friend.

“I guess Thea made sure of that?”

“Is there anything she didn’t make sure of?” Sara chuckled. “I didn’t drink much last night and then Thea made sure that I didn’t get home late. That way, I had a good couple of hours of sleep.”

“I guess the wedding can come then?”

“The sooner, the better.”

Beyond happy for Sara, Felicity pulled her friend into her arms and hugged her tightly. She couldn’t possibly be happier for Sara and Nyssa. They hadn’t always had it easy, so it meant all the more that they finally got their happy ending.

Eventually, the two friends released the other from the hug. Sara laced her fingers through Felicity’s and pulled her with her into the spacious living area. She had already set the table, so they could just sit down and start having breakfast.

Pouring both of them a mug of coffee, Felicity bit down on her tongue. After what had happened last night, she wanted and needed to know if Sara and Nyssa had had at least a little fun. Felicity just didn’t want that question to turn into a conversation about what had happened between her, Oliver and Adrian. Today was just not the day for it.

“It sucks that you missed the rehearsal dinner.”

Surprised by Sara’s words, Felicity lifted her gaze to find Sara’s eyes already on her. She took her in intensely, her eyes just slightly narrowed. It was like she had seen in Felicity’s face that she had wanted to know about this, but that she just hadn’t known how to address.

“Was it good?”

“Great even.” Sara nodded her head and bit into her croissant. “The food was delicious. The atmosphere was good. I didn’t kill my mother or Laurel which I am very proud of. It was the best way I could have spent the evening before my wedding.”

“Sounds great.”

Felicity wished that she could have been with Sara during that evening. These last three years, they didn’t have many chances to spend time together and a wedding was such an important part of a person’s life. Felicity should have been there with her. Well, Felicity guessed she could add that to the long list of things her father and Adrian had ruined for her.

Although she could taste those words on the tip of her tongue, she didn’t say them. She knew that Sara would feel sorry for her, and that was the last thing she wanted. If someone should feel sorry, it was Felicity.

“I am sorry, Sara,” she whispered without thinking about it twice, “for that scene yesterday. That was supposed to be your and Nyssa’s day, and I ruined it for you with that scene. There is nothing I can say to excuse it. I am just really sorry.”

Sara frowned slightly, shaking her head. She dropped her croissant to her plate and reached out her hand. She grabbed Felicity’s hand and squeezed it.

“You didn’t ruin anything for us,” she said honestly, “because the evening wasn’t ruined. Even if it had been ruined, it wouldn’t have been your fault. Adrian was the one who caused all of that mess.”

Rationally, Felicity knew that Sara was right. Oliver had confronted Adrian, and he had attacked him, so it would have been his fault rather than hers. Not even Oliver could be blamed for his actions though, not with everything Adrian had done to them the last few years.

Felicity still felt her stomach tighten when she thought about how she had spent the last three years, thinking that Adrian was one of the best friends that she had ever had. She had texted him about a lot of things that had happened to her in Gotham and in Hub City, making sure he was updated, so they would keep in touch with each other. And all the time, he had just wanted to increase Oliver’s miserableness.

“So, what happened after you left?” Sara asked eventually, cocking her head. “John Diggle mentioned that you were looking for Oliver, and he sat you into a limousine to take you home.”

Taking in a deep breath as her memory still made her stomach clench, Felicity nodded her head. She wished she could buy time before she really told Sara what had happened, but maybe it was better to just tell her now. After that, they could change the subject and just go on. The longer she’d wait, the more the subject would hover over them like a dark cloud.

“I went to OJQ. He was there and-,“ Felicity tried to find the right words for the destruction he had caused, “took everything apart. Papers, designs, furniture.”

“Sounds a lot like Ollie.” Sara nodded her head. “Let’s just hope that he didn’t destroy the designs for the collection he is supposed to present in a couple of days because there have been months of work in that, and Moira is going to kill him.”

Felicity managed a weak smile, but she doubted that it reached her eyes. From the way she had seen Oliver, Felicity thought that it wasn’t impossible that he had destroyed the designs for his newest collection. He had been blind from rage.

“I guess Adrian’s words really hit him.”

Felicity nodded her head, feeling her throat growing shut. A thick lump was building there, almost making it hard to breathe.

“Did you two talk about what you want to do with that news now?” Sara asked and took another bite from her croissant. “I mean I get why you have been so angry with each other for the past three years now, but that anger was based on false information and Adrian’s intrigue. Maybe there is a way for you to-“

“We didn’t talk,” Felicity interrupted Sara, shaking her head, “because neither of us was feeling like it yesterday. Besides, I am not really sure that there is a lot to talk about either.”

Sara perked up an eyebrow doubtingly, and Felicity got it. Although Felicity hadn’t told her that she had had sex with Oliver twice since she had come back to Starling City, Sara had certainly caught up on the attraction that was still there between them. As many angry feelings as there had been between them, it must have been impossible to miss.

Attraction wasn’t enough to fix the break that had gone through the relationship they had had. Three years of bottling up angry feelings for each other was a lot to overcome. Even with all motives bursting like a bubble, it didn’t change that they had had those feelings inside of them for years. Felicity wasn’t sure that there was an easy way back from that.

Three years. It was just so incredibly long.

“I think you two have a lot to talk about,” Sara said quietly, “even if it’s just for the sake of getting a clean cut.”

A clean cut was the only thing she had hoped to get from her stay in Starling City when it came to Oliver and her. She had given up on getting this clean cut days ago already. Maybe this was her second chance at getting this clean cut after all.

Sara shook her head. “If I just think about how you could have still been together now if it wasn’t for Adrian and his lies, I could just-“

“We shouldn’t talk about this,” Felicity interrupted Sara and shook her head firmly, “because today is just not about that or about me. Today is all about you and Nyssa.”

Sara rolled her eyes. “Just because it’s my wedding day, I won’t just forget the basic rules of friendship. If one friend suffers, the other is morally obligated to have an open ear to listen.”

“Not on her wedding day,” Felicity insisted with another shake of her head, “but after today we can gladly meet again and catch up.”

“Nyssa and I are leaving for Thailand tomorrow morning.” Sara smiled. “We try to escape the trouble before Nyssa has to be on the runway for OJQ’s next fashion show.”

“So we meet and catch up after that.” Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “We will make it work.”

“Hopefully, because we haven’t spent enough time together since you moved to Gotham.”

“True.” Felicity nodded her head. “We will change that though. I promise.”

Sara smiled with satisfaction, and Felicity smiled back at her. She knew that she hadn’t invested enough time or courage into making sure she was seeing her friend regularly. She would change that now.

 

* * *

 

“Wow.” Felicity looked herself up and down in the mirror thoroughly. “You really worked miracles on me.”

Given how crappy she had looked about an hour ago, Felicity felt like that really wasn’t exaggerated. After the sleepless night that she had had, she really looked terrible. Her skin had been pale. Dark shadows had shown under her eyes. Everything about her had looked shiftless and exhausted.

After the one-hour-procedure she had been put through by the two hair and make-up stylists, she barely recognized herself in the mirror. She looked like she was a natural beauty despite all the layers of make-up on her face. With Oliver’s dress, the light updo of her hair and make-up that consisted of several layers and still looked so very natural, she really looked stunning.

“I really think that’s an underestimation,” the stylist said and shot Felicity a look back over her shoulder, “because we work magic on a daily basis. This was so much more than that.”

Felicity knew that she should probably be offended about this commentary, but she couldn’t help herself. She didn’t mind. The stylist was saying the truth anyway.

Turning away from the mirror, Felicity looked at Sara. She was still in the comfortable leather chair while two people were working on her hair and two others were making sure that her make-up was perfect. The same situation with half the people had stressed Felicity out minutes ago, but Sara was just leaning back with her eyes closed. She looked like she enjoyed it, but she was probably used to this and worse from the photoshoots she had done for OJQ.

“So, lovely bride,” Felicity said with a smile and stepped as close to Sara as the stylists allowed her to, “is there anything your maid of honor can do to fulfill her duty?”

“Actually, there is.”

Sara made a movement with her hand, and all stylists let go of her immediately. They distanced themselves, giving Sara and Felicity some room. When Sara turned her chair around, so she was facing her, Felicity took two steps closer to her, doing her best to ignore the pain in her ankle.

She would have to spend most of the evening on her chair, resting her foot after wearing high heels during the ceremony. Since the dress had been fit with high heels on, she didn’t have much a choice but wearing the planned pair of high heels. It made her foot hurt like hell, but it was better than risking stumbling over her feet and breaking her ankle once and for all.

“Could you please check on Nyssa for me?” Sara pushed her bottom lip forward and looked at Felicity pleadingly. “I am not worried that she has run off. I know she will be there, but I just need to hear from someone I trust that she is really doing fine.”

Felicity smiled and winked at Sara. “I will make sure she gets everything she needs to be all relaxed when she’s supposed to say yes.”

“Thank you, Felicity.”

Felicity only winked once more before she turned towards the door. By the time she had reached it, the stylists were back to turning Sara into the elegant bride she wanted to be. She looked utterly relaxed being made up like that.

Closing the door behind her, Felicity turned to the northern wing of the mansion which was where Nyssa was being styled for the wedding. Thea had organized everything to the second, making sure that both brides had the space they needed to get ready for the ceremony and they wouldn’t run into each other before they were supposed to.

When Felicity crossed the gallery upstairs, she saw all the hustle and bustle that was going on downstairs. People were hurrying around, putting the last pieces into place. The first guests had probably arrived already too. There were always some early birds who thought that it was best to come quite some time before the wedding. With the expansive champagne the Queens certainly offered, Felicity got it.

Felicity stepped into the hallway of the northern wing. She was focusing on walking evenly the way she should during the ceremony later. With her injured ankle, it wasn’t easy, but she was doing the best she could. The more she practiced now, the more hopeful she was that she would get this right later.

Turning into the hallway to her right, Felicity stopped as she saw Oliver tugging Thea into one of the rooms. She sucked her bottom lip between her front teeth and looked back over her shoulder. From her time with Oliver, she knew that there was another way to the guest room where Nyssa was being prepared for the wedding. She wasn’t sure if she would still find it though, and, even if she did, her foot would protest at it.

For a split second, Felicity considered going back and telling Sara that Nyssa was fine. After all the times that she had screwed up being the friend for Sara that she wanted to be, she felt that it would be utterly wrong to do so.

Straightening her shoulders, Felicity did her best to pass through the hallway as quickly as possible without listening to what was happening behind the door where Thea and Oliver had disappeared.

She had already walked past it when she heard her name being said. She faltered, wondering if she shouldn’t just continue her way to Nyssa’s room nonetheless. Her nosiness won at the end. As quietly as possible, she took some steps back. Since the door had been left ajar, she could push it a little more open without anyone noticing.

Oliver and Thea were standing in the middle of what looked like another living room, somewhere to read a good book or draw a new painting. While Thea was all dressed up and prepared for the wedding, Oliver had the bowtie wrapped around the collar of his shirt loosely. He wasn’t wearing the jacket of his smoking yet, and the shirt wasn’t stuffed under the waistband of his pants.

“What good is that going to do, Ollie?” Thea asked her brother in response to whatever he had said before. “Felicity and I are friends, and I told her that I didn’t want to be torn into any of this. I am not the one who had anything to make up to her either. It would just mean so much more if it’s coming for you. Besides, Felicity is the head of her own company. She can’t just stay here because a friend asks her to without any real reason. If someone she loves-“

“I have to earn back her love,” Oliver interrupted his sister, shaking his head, “but that just takes time. I can’t just do it in the next couple of hours that we have before she goes back to Hub City.”

Felicity felt her heart skip a beat or even two. There was a softness and a passion in Oliver’s voice that she hadn’t heard in a long time. That he wanted to earn back her love the right way, taking his time to do so, meant a lot to her. She might not know yet exactly how she felt about the fact that Oliver wanted to earn back her love in the first place, but she couldn’t deny that it meant something to her.

“I need more time.” Oliver put his hands to Thea’s shoulders and looked at her urgently. “The fashion show is coming up in two weeks. If you just ask Felicity to stay here for that show, maybe I will have a chance at making her fall back in love with me. But I really need your help.”

Thea grumbled, obviously not too pleased with the idea. Since Thea hadn’t wanted to be pulled into their fight a couple of days ago, Felicity was sure that she didn’t want to be part of any possible reunion now either. She was probably the happiest if everything turned out right without any kind of involvement.

As Oliver’s sister and her friend, she was caught between two stools. That was anything but easy, so Felicity got why she wanted to be kept out of it.

“Make her fall back in love with you?” Thea asked. “I am sure there isn’t much needed for that and-“

“There is a lot needed for that,” Oliver interrupted her yet again, shaking his head firmly, “because I want to do it the right way and that includes making good for all the things I have said and done these last couple of days. A cheap apology is not going to be enough.”

Although Oliver did his best to make Thea understand how much he really needed her help, she still hesitated. Even his puppy-like eyes that were looking at her pleadingly didn’t help. Thea was still uncertain.

“Felicity is one of the three leading ladies of her own company. I doubt that she can just stay away that long easily.”

“Maybe there is a way to make it work. With Lena Luthor and Lily Stein, she has the back-up to make take off a little longer. It’s at least worth a try, and it would be my best chance at trying to win her back before another couple of years have passed.”

“Why can’t you just ask her yourself?” Thea asked her. “It would be so much more honest than sending me to ask her.”

“Because she won’t stay if I ask her too,” Oliver said in a low voice, pain and quite some guilt sounding through every syllable, “she might stay if you asked her though. I am not too proud to ask you to do it.”

Felicity lowered her eyes to her feet, wondering if what Oliver had said was true. Was she really going to turn him down more easily than she would turn Thea down? Felicity wasn’t sure of that.

It didn’t really matter who would ask her though because a longer stay in Starling City wasn’t a possibility. Just like Thea had put it, she was one of three leading ladies of a company. Taking those few days off for the wedding had already been troublesome because the wedding had come at a really bad time. There were a thousand things for her to do in Hub City.

“I didn’t treat Felicity the way she would have deserved to be treated.”

“Because you thought she had sex with Adrian,” Thea reminded him, “I am sure that she understands. Besides, with the bombs Adrian dropped at the two of you, there are a lot of unanswered questions for the both of you. I’d say she wants to know the answers to them as much as you do. You should ask her.”

Oliver seemed to realize that maybe there was some truth in what Thea had said. He turned away with a frustrated grumble falling from his lips. He tore his hair, shaking his head again and again.

“I was terrible to her, Thea,” he said, his voice not lacking frustration either, “like really, really terrible. I don’t know why she would forgive me. I don’t know why she would even listen to me. What am I supposed to say? Just tell her I am sorry for not trusting her or her love for me enough to not think that she would screw Adrian the second she thought we were broken up? And then ask her in the same sentence if she could give me another chance?”

“Well, that would be a start.”

Only when both Oliver and Thea turned their heads towards her, Felicity realized that she had actually said those words out loud. Heat rose to her cheeks, and she was sure that a deep blush spread there too. Since hiding was no longer an option, she opened the door and stepped in.

Oliver’s gaze caught hers immediately, and she could see the deep desire in his eyes. He looked her up and down, taking in the way his dress looked on her body. The expression in his eyes was so intense that it made Felicity’s skin crawl and goosebumps spread all over her back.

Felicity wanted to look away, trying to escape the intensity of Oliver’s gaze. As much as she tried to, she just couldn’t do it. His gaze was captivating her.

“I guess I will just-“

Thea pointed her thumb towards the door. Felicity flashed her a quick smile, grateful that she understood that she and Oliver just needed a moment of their own. Now that the shock wasn’t as raw as it had been last night, maybe they finally got their chance of talking things out.

Once the door was closed behind Thea, Oliver approached Felicity. She couldn’t stop herself from tensing slightly, unsure what he was about to do. Oliver caught up on it immediately and stopped. He lifted his hands slightly, almost like he was trying to prove to her that he didn’t mean any harm to her.

“I am sorry for yesterday.” Oliver cleared his throat and pushed his hands into the pockets of his pants. “To begin with.”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders. She wished she could push her hands into the pockets of her dress too. She was sure there weren’t any though, so she just moved her hands over the fabric of the skirt nervously. To her surprise, she found that she was wrong though, and she dug her hands deep into the pockets of her dress.

Oliver really knew her, Felicity thought to herself. After all these years, he knew that she would feel better with some pockets. She liked to keep her phone, a tissue and maybe some other stuff close.

“I needed some time too,” Felicity replied, shrugging her shoulders, “I just didn’t know at that time I showed up at OJQ.”

Arriving at her hotel, she had felt terrible. She had stripped herself off he clothes and crawled into bed. With the blanket pulled over her head, she had tried to find some sleep, but of course it hadn’t been that easy. She doubted that she had even just dozed off for a single second.

“Yesterday was quite heavy.”

“Underestimation of the year.”

Felicity mumbled the words in a singsong and rolled her eyes slightly. It made the smallest of a smile spread on Oliver’s lips. As soon as it had spread, as quickly is faded from his face again.

“I have been pretty out of myself which made me blind for the way you were feeling, so I have to ask now,” Oliver said, “how are you doing with all of this?”

Sucking in a deep breath, Felicity felt tears welling in her eyes. Those were tears of sadness and anger at the same time. Just thinking about everything Adrian had done to her by trying to hurt Oliver angered her, and it hurt so damn much. She didn’t even want to consider what it would be like once she really let in the thought that she had trusted Adrian all these years. It would make her feel stupid and naïve which wasn’t attributes that she would usually use to describe herself.

“Not good,” she admitted, shrugging her shoulders in a gesture of helplessness, “I mean Adrian and I have been friends for the last few years. At least I thought that we have been friends. Obviously, he had something else in mind, but I really trusted him. I liked him.”

Oliver nodded his head. Putting his hands to his hips, he lowered his eyes. He almost looked like he was feeling guilty.

“This is my fault.” He really was feeling guilty. “And I am very sorry, Felicity. If it hadn’t been for me and my actions, Adrian would have never tried faking to be your friend. I was careless before I have gotten together with you and knew that you were everything I wanted. If it hadn’t been for me, Adrian wouldn’t have pretended to be your friend when he was really the one who chased you away from Staling three years ago. He also wouldn’t have gotten in our way if it hadn’t been for what I did. I mean-“

Felicity shook her head, and it was enough to interrupt Oliver. He fell silent instantly, looking at her with so much urgency like her words were the only ones that could possibly take away the guilt he was feeling.

“What happened wasn’t your fault. It was neither not my fault.” Felicity shook her head lightly. “It was all Adrian.”

Maybe they could have prevented the measures all of this had taken if they had reacted differently to what Adrian had done. That didn’t make any of this their fault though. At the end, Adrian’s actions might have driven them apart the way they had done one way or the other.

Oliver was still looking at her intensely. He looked like he was trying to figure out if she was serious or just saying this to comfort him. As hard as it was to keep her eyes on him, Felicity forced herself to keep looking at him. She wanted him to know that she was honestly thinking that it wasn’t either of their fault.

“Felicity, I-“

Before Oliver could say whatever he wanted to say, the door opened. They both turned around, seeing Moira entering the room in a beautiful rosé-gold dress.

“Here you are,” she said with a smile despite the strict expression in her eyes, “you gotta hurry. The first guests already arrived and both brides were just put into their wedding dresses.”

Felicity shot Oliver a brief glance. She could see that he wasn’t happy about the interruption. His thumb was moving against his other fingertips nervously.

Biting down on her bottom lip, Felicity turned her head away. She would have liked to hear what Oliver wanted to say too, but she was actually kind of relieved that she didn’t hear it yet. If it was anything close to what he had asked Thea to ask her, she wouldn’t have known what to answer to it.

“I will go check on Nyssa,” she said eventually, clearing her throat, “I promise Sara I would do so.”

Moira nodded her head with a smile. “I will send someone to tell you when it’s safe to leave the room, so Nyssa and Sara won’t meet each other before they are supposed to.”

“Alright.”

Felicity shot another brief look back over her shoulder to find Oliver’s eyes still on her. She flashed him a half-hearted smile and headed towards the door. Her heart felt heavy and her head was spinning.

Everything about this situation just continued to suck.

 

* * *

 

With a low sigh, Felicity put her glass of champagne and sank down on her chair. She felt like she had been standing or rushing around forever. She doubted that she had sat down since she had gotten up after dinner. Even the ankle she hadn’t sprained seemed to hurt now.

Felicity took a quick look around to make sure nobody was watching her. She hurried to slip out of her shoe and elevated her injured foot to the empty chair next to her. With another sigh of exhaustion, she leaned back in the chair and allowed herself to relax for a moment.

Her gaze fell onto the newly-weds. Sara and Nyssa were the only couple dancing on the dance floor. They had their arms wrapped around each other tightly. Their foreheads were resting together. Their eyes were closed. They both looked utterly content and happy, like they were exactly where they were supposed to be and where they wanted to be.

Their content easily infected Felicity. She felt it spread inside of her chest like a wave of warmth. It made her feel all fuzzy and good.

This day had certainly been everything Sara and Nyssa had hoped for, probably even more. After all these years, they were finally wife and wife. The joy of being married suited them both. It made them look so incredibly happy, and with the way their wedding bands sparkled in the light of the canopy, they would surely get some perfectly romantic photos of this moment too.

Looking at Sara and Nyssa, Felicity realized how far, far away something like this was for herself. There had been a time that she had really wanted all those gestures of romance and love, too. She had thought that they had been quite in reach for her, just there to grab and never let go. Through the last few years, she had completely lost sight of it though, and she wasn’t sure if she was even remotely the same kind of girl that had wished for something like that for herself.

With Helix Dynamics, Felicity was very busy. There wasn’t much time for a relationship which had been one of the many reasons why she and Ray had decided to break up. They had both been so very busy with their jobs that there hadn’t been enough time to be a couple. It wouldn’t have worked, and Felicity didn’t see it working with anyone else currently either.

She had no idea how Lily did it and how she would continue to do it with a baby. Since it was Lily, Felicity was sure that she would make it work though.

“Hey.”

Flinching slightly at how close the voice was, Felicity turned her head quickly. She had been so deep in thought that she hadn’t noticed that Oliver had approached her. He was standing right next to her, his hands pushed into the pockets of his pants and his shoulders hunched. Although she couldn’t see it, she was sure that his thumb and fingertips were rubbing together.

“Hi.”

Felicity’s voice was quiet, and she did her best to hide her insecurity behind a smile. She had known that Oliver would approach her to restart the conversation they had needed to interrupt for the wedding earlier today. She had feared and simmered for this moment with same measures.

From everything Felicity had heard of the conversation between Oliver and Thea, she knew that Oliver wanted to ask her to stay. She still didn’t know how to react to that though. She knew that she couldn’t stay, even if she wanted to. She just didn’t know if she wanted to, which meant that she didn’t know what exactly to tell Oliver if he asked her to stay.

Clearing his throat, Oliver pulled his hand from the pocket of his pants and held it out for her. Felicity looked at it like she had never seen a hand before, staring at it for a long moment, before she lifted her gaze to Oliver’s face.

“Would you like to dance?”

Felicity perked up an eyebrow, causing Oliver to press his lips together. As much as she tried to hide it, she knew that she failed to not let him see the amused grin that she was doing her best to bite back.

“Really?” she asked him, cocking her head. “You don’t dance, and you can’t dance.”

“I can dance,” Oliver insisted, “as long as dancing means swaying from side to side a little while music is playing. I am just doing it rarely because… well… women insist that I step on their feet all the time.”

“Oh, they insist, yes?”

“Yeah, I have no idea why.”

Oliver chuckled nervously. Since she didn’t take his hand, he moved it through his short hair and stuffed it back into the pocket of his pants.

“Please,” he asked, “just one dance?”

Back when they had been together, Felicity had needed to plead with Oliver for him to agree to one single dance. If possible, he had tried to get his way out of it. He really hadn’t wanted to dance with her, no matter how much she would have liked it.

Since Felicity still hesitated, Oliver whispered, “Sometimes, we all have to bite the bullet.”

Felicity wasn’t sure if he was talking about her or about himself. It didn’t really matter though as Felicity realized that he was right. They had all to bite the bullet sometimes. Oliver did so by asking her to dance, and she would do so by agreeing to it.

“Okay,” she whispered, nodding her head, “one dance.”

Oliver beamed with happiness, holding his hand out for her once more. Felicity rested her much smaller hand in his and let him help her up. Hand in hand, they walked towards the dancefloor where some other couples had joined Sara and Nyssa by now too.

“How is your foot?” Oliver asked when he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her tightly against him. “Any better?”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “Not really, but it is how it is.”

“Maybe you should go and see a doctor.”

Again, Felicity shrugged her shoulders. She wouldn’t be able to say anything even if she wanted to. A thick lump had formed in her throat when Oliver hand rested their linked fingers on top of his heart. She could feel his heartbeat beneath the palm of her hand, and it made her own heartbeat quickens.

“I don’t think a doctor can do more than telling me to elevate my foot and cool my ankle.” Felicity shrugged her shoulders as they started swaying more or less in time with the music. “If it won’t be better in a couple of days, I will go and see a doctor.”

“Dr. Schwartz here in Starling General is really good,” Oliver said lightly. “A few years ago, I had trouble with my knee again, and she took care of it.”

Felicity nodded her head slowly. She knew that Oliver had had trouble with his knee a couple of years ago when they had still been together. He had seen almost half a dozen doctors, but nobody had been able to tell him where the pain had come from.

Now, Oliver’s suggestion was a lot more than a medical suggestion. he hadn’t asked her directly, but his suggestion did sound a lot like he wanted her to stay in Starling for longer.

Oliver seemed to catch up on her insecurity. His arm tightened around her like he was scared she would leave already. His hand pressed her even closer to his chest, so she could feel his heartbeat even more. It had quickened with her hesitation to respond since Oliver had probably realized that it wouldn’t be as easy as he had thought or hoped it would be.

“I am sorry for the way I treated you lately.”

Felicity nodded her head, but it soon turned into a shake of her head. She frowned slightly and dug her fingers into his shoulder.

“You thought I cheated on you.”

“Well, it wouldn’t have been cheating.” Oliver looked at her intensely. “After the way I left you that day, I figured that it might have looked to you like I was breaking up with you. I wasn’t which I would like to point out for the record, but I understand why it might have looked that way to you. That way, it wouldn’t have been cheating, but-“

Oliver squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. The entire situation was way too confusing to talk about it easily even now. The different point of views they had on this were making it hard to talk it out. Maybe they should, but the wedding reception really wasn’t the right place to do so.

“I wasn’t exactly nice to you either.”

“I was worse.”

Felicity bit down on her tongue. She wouldn’t fight him on that. She tried to pull herself together. She wanted to believe that he had tried to do the same. Obviously, his level of patience had always been quite beneath hers.

“I was wondering,” Oliver said slowly and took in a deep breath, “if you might want to stay here in Starling for a little longer, so we could talk it all out. We didn’t really have a chance to do so since Adrian dropped this bomb on us last night. Maybe we could sit down and, I don’t know, talk about what happened back then and what happened since you returned to Starling and what might or could happen in the future.”

Oliver’s voice had grown more and more quiet as he continued to speak. That and the way his heart stumbled in his chest, beating incredibly irregularly, told Felicity how nervous this made him. Oliver barely ever let anyone see how he was feeling, especially when he thought that his feelings were making him weak. That he let her see and feel how he was truly feeling right now was a big step for him.

He was still looking at her intensely. His gaze seemed to crawl under her skin and try to figure out what she was thinking and feeling at his question.

As much as Felicity tried to hold his gaze, she couldn’t do it. She lowered her head, looking at their bodies that were pressed together as they continued to sway in time with the music.

She had wondered if she would want to stay if Oliver asked her to. Now she knew that at least a part of her wanted to. As hesitant as she was about it because she wasn’t sure that it would lead them anywhere, she could feel that, deep inside of her, she wanted to stay and figure out what it meant for them.

Since she had come back to Starling, she had wondered if there was still something between her and Oliver. With what she had believed was their history, even the phenomenal sex hadn’t seemed to be enough to change that they were utterly done. Now that their history wasn’t what it had always seemed to be, maybe things had changed. Maybe they hadn’t though.

Fact was, Felicity just didn’t know.

“I can’t stay,” she whispered eventually, lifting her gaze to Oliver’s again, “I need to go back to Hub City. I am needed at Helix Dynamics.”

It didn’t matter if Felicity wanted to explore whatever opportunities there still were for her and Oliver. She knew that Helix Dynamics should be and had to be her priority. For the past years, it had been the one thing to offer stability to her. It had been everything she needed to recover from her broken heart. Now that the company needed her, she wouldn’t turn her back on it. She wouldn’t refuse to put it first.

“What good would it do for me to stay anyway?” Felicity added, her voice betraying her. It made obvious that she wasn’t sure about what she was saying. “So much time has passed since all of that happened. I don’t know about you, but I can certainly say that I have changed. I don’t know if I am anything like the woman I used to be before. I doubt it actually. You have probably changed too.”

If Felicity was asked about how she had changed in the past three years, maybe she wouldn’t be able to answer. She couldn’t describe all the ways she has changed since she had left Starling City, but she knew that she was very different from the woman who had left the city with a broken heart. It was feeling deep inside of her that told her that she had changed a lot through the years.

That she and Oliver had had sex twice since she has returned showed that they were still physically attracted to each other. It didn’t mean that the bond they had once had was revivable though. When people changed, maybe they were still physically attracted to each other, but that wasn’t nearly enough to fall in love again or to make a relationship work.

“Besides,” Felicity said, clearing her throat against the thick lump in her throat that made her sound so hoarse, “you are busy with your fashion show too and-“

“What if I visit you in Hub City?” Oliver interrupted her. “That way you wouldn’t stay away from Helix Dynamics for too long, and we could still see each other. We could see each other, maybe go out on a date, you know, like the old-fashioned dinner in a nice, Italian restaurant.”

Felicity frowned. She knew exactly what kind of stress there was going on before a fashion show. Presenting a new collection was always exciting for Oliver and there was a lot that depended on the success of the fashion show. It needed to create buzz in the media because that kind of promotion was exactly what was needed to keep a fashion label alive.

If Sara’s suspicion was true and Oliver had indeed torn apart some designs for his fashion show, he had a lot of work ahead of him. Even if the designs were still intact, he certainly had a lot to do. A designer's way from Oliver’s head to the catwalk was quite long and those were just a tiny part of what Oliver’s work consisted of.

“What about the fashion show?” Felicity asked, frowning. “You must have your hands full with work.”

“I do,” Oliver admitted, shrugging his shoulders, “but nothing is more important than this. Nothing's more important than you.”

The deep tone of his voice, saying these kinds of things every woman dreamed to hear at least once in her lifetime, made it even harder to breathe. Given how dedicated Oliver was to his word, Felicity knew that it meant even more. Oliver didn’t offer this lightly, and he certainly wouldn’t offer this to everybody.

Still, there was a little voice in Felicity’s head that warned her not to do it. These past days here in Starling had been like a rollercoaster and not even the good kind of roller coaster. She felt like she had been left with whiplash. If she continued, she might lose her head and her heart completely. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to do so.

“Oliver, I-“

Felicity felt the words getting stuck in her throat. She wanted to get them out, but something inside of her was fighting against it. Something inside of her didn’t want to tell him that she didn’t think this was a good idea. Something wanted him to come to Hub City, so they could talk it all out and figure out what was going on between them without the weight of their past pressuring them from all sides.

Holding her breath, Felicity looked right into Oliver’s eyes. The expression in his eyes was pleading. He would respect her if she turned him down now. He wouldn’t suddenly turn up at her doorstep and ambush her because he knew that she would make the kind of decision that was best for her.

“Okay, fine.”

Felicity was almost surprised that she actually agreed to it, but she felt the thick knot that had built in her stomach loosening. Maybe the decision hadn’t been all bad.

Oliver couldn’t hide his smile. He was more than relieved that she had agreed. She could see it in his face. He was beaming with joy, almost like he was concurring with Sara and Nyssa.

The thought touched and scared Felicity at the same time. She lowered her eyes for a moment and rested her head against Oliver’s shoulder then. His hand moved from the small of her back up to her neck and finally the back of her head. His warm palm cupped her head, his fingers brushing through her neatly done hair. Felicity didn’t mind. She felt somewhat safe and good there which was confusing once more.

With a sigh, Felicity closed her eyes. In a couple of hours, she was back home in Hub City. She would take a lot of impressions with her from Starling City, but she knew that her home, her company and her friends in Hub City would help her to get back a little bit of the stability she had missed here in Starling City.

No matter what had happened or would happen between her and Oliver, Hub City was her home, and she couldn’t wait to get back to it.

Chapter Text

“Only one more week to go for me.”

Lily leaned back in her chair with a long sigh. She stroked her hand over her huge baby bump, watching the movements. If her smile was any indication, the baby traced her hands movement with its feet, kicking against it. Lately, the baby had done so whenever Lily or anyone else had put their hands on Lily’s baby bump.

“Thank God,” Felicity said quietly and rearranged some papers on her desk, “because every time I see you, I am afraid that you will just burst.”

“I know.” Lily chuckled. “I am huge, right?”

“You are growing a human being inside your body,” Lena said, pointing at Lily’s baby bump with the tip of her pen, “which is quite a lot. With that in mind, you still have a beautiful body that absolutely nobody is allowed to call huge, not even you.”

Lily smiled at Lena, grateful for the compliment. Although she hadn’t let it on too much, Felicity was almost sure that Lena had had some difficulties with the changes her body had gone through during her pregnancy. At least Felicity couldn’t imagine it any other way because she would definitely have some problems going through it.

“I still can’t picture Helix Dynamics without you,” Felicity said with a sigh and cocked her head at her friend, “I mean it’s always been the three of us and now it’s just going to be Lena and me. We might mess it up without you.”

“You will handle this perfectly,” Lily said, “and it’s not even for a long time.”

“It’s more than half a year.” Lena shot Lily a brief glance. “That’s forever measured in Helix Dynamic’s world.”

The company was still in its baby shoes. Sometimes it felt very differently because the company was already so successful and it had achieved so many of the goals that they had set for it in such little time. Having to relinquish Lily was a lot to take for them.

“And who knows if you really are coming back at the beginning of the next year like planned.”

Felicity’s words made both of her friends look at her. While Lily was frowning, not understanding what Felicity could possibly mean, Lena had her eyebrows perked up.

“Well, because you will fall in love with your baby obviously.” Felicity cleared her throat. “And then you will just forget about us and about Helix Dynamics. Lena and I will have to drag you back into your office when the time comes.”

Lily chuckled, stroking her hands over her baby bump once more. She kept her eyes lowered to it, and the soft expression on her face told Felicity that she could see herself sitting in a rocking chair while she was holding her baby in her arms. Even Felicity could see it in front of her eyes, and she already knew that Lily would be great.

When Lily lifted her gaze eventually, already about to say something, she suddenly perked up an eyebrow and cocked her head. Something in her face changed, making her look incredibly nosy and maybe something else that Felicity couldn’t name.

Frowning, Felicity turned her chair to follow Lily’s eyes. Her heart skipped a beat at the sight she was met with, and all the nervousness she had been urging away all day returned to her all of a sudden. Her hands almost started trembling and her everything inside of her tingled.

Oliver was standing at the reception back, smiling politely and somewhat nervously at their receptionist. It was a good thing that Zara was immune to Oliver’s charm because it wouldn’t be the first time Felicity saw an adult woman turning into a hysterical teenager at the sight of Oliver Queen. During the time she had been his girlfriend, she had seen it over and over again, and she had rolled her eyes at it again and again.

When Felicity had woken up this morning, all she had been able to think about had been the date she had agreed to go on with Oliver. She still didn’t know if it had been a smart decision to agree letting him fly all the way to Hub City to have dinner with her. An old-fashioned date was a nice thought, but Felicity just wasn’t sure that it would help saving or reviving whatever they had had.

That was why she had done her best to push away the thought of this dinner all day. Given how surprised she was at seeing him there now, she guessed that she had succeeded at pushing any thought of it away.

Her hands stroked over the invisible wrinkles on her dress nervously. She lowered her gaze, checking how she looked. She was sure that her face was looking worse after the day she had gone through. Since she didn’t have a mirror at hand to check if her make-up was still in place and she was looking somewhat okay, at least not as exhausted as she felt right now, all she could do was checking her dress.

With the thought of this dinner date in mind, Felicity had picked a red dress with a triangle cutout over her breasts. It was suitable for work, and it still looked good for a date, especially one in the small Italian restaurant near to her townhouse. It was one of her favorite restaurants to go to, and people went there casually most of times. Even if it wouldn’t be appropriate for a dinner, Felicity guessed that she didn’t have to care. Oliver had seen her naked more than once, and he had also seen her in baggy sweatpants and ridiculous onesies. It didn’t matter what she was wearing because it wouldn’t determine the way this evening would go.

“He’s hot,” Lily said eventually, “like really hot.”

“He is, isn’t he?” Lena agreed. “I have to admit that I never got why he was said to be such a heartbreaker, but the photos in the press just don’t live up to what he really looks like. He’s a hottie.”

Felicity almost felt like she was back in high school and her best friends were encouraging her to go for the hottest nerd in their circle of friends. The thought made her shake her head.

Ignoring her friends, she watched Oliver through the large glass walls. He was still standing at the reception desk, waiting patiently while Zara was answering some calls. With his hands pushed into the pockets of his pants, he looked around, trying to take everything in about the company. Felicity wondered if he was trying to find her personal note in the design the way she had done when she had first stepped into his atelier after all the years.

Felicity watched Oliver turning back to Zara the moment she addressed him. He flashed her a warm smile, something she probably got way too rarely from all the people that came to her with brief questions and were gone away just as quickly. If Oliver wanted to, he could easily be charming. It was one of the many things she appreciated about him.

When Zara got up and approached the office, Felicity’s gaze met Oliver’s. She felt her breath getting caught in her throat for reasons she couldn’t name. If the way Oliver’s shoulders tightened as he seemed to suck in a deep breath was any indication, she wasn’t the only one affected by the lock of their eyes.

“Felicity?” Zara asked, knocking at the open door as she stuck her head inside. Her smile showed that she was just as keen to Oliver as Lena and Lily were. “You’ve got a visitor.”

Felicity nodded and cleared her throat to make sure that her voice didn’t betray her.

“He can come in.”

She didn’t sound as bad as she had suspected that she would, but she didn’t really sound okay either. Her voice was husky, the breathlessness sounding through the couple of words.

Felicity moved back and forth on her chair nervously and straightened up when she watched Zara walking back to the reception desk. She gestured for Oliver to go right through into the office, and Oliver didn’t have to be asked twice. He straightened his shoulders and approached the office.

“Hey.”

Hey. It was such a tiny syllable, but it contained so much warmth, and it reminded her of so many good times. Her stomach tingled, making her feel like a teenager with a giant crush.

All week since she had returned from Starling City, Felicity had tried to sort out her thoughts on what exactly she was feeling for Oliver. Those last days, she had been almost sure that whatever feelings she had had for Oliver during her visit in Starling City had just been caused by the loose ends she had taken with her when she had left Starling City years ago.

Seeing Oliver now, her heart and her stomach tried to get her brain to shut up and listen to them when they said that Felicity still had real, deep feelings for him.

“Hi.”

Felicity sounded incredibly breathless and felt heat rising to her cheeks at the realization. If she told Oliver right now that there was a part in her that believed that she still loved him, it wouldn’t be more obvious. She was sure that he could read it on her face and hear it in her voice.

For a long moment, Felicity and Oliver looked at each other. Neither of them moved or said anything. They just looked at each other, nervously at first. It soon turned awkward though.

Clearing her throat once more, Felicity got up and approached Oliver slowly. Taking those few steps towards him, she tried to figure out what was the right way to greet your ex-boyfriend that you had had passionate sex with a couple of times last week and that you were dating today for the first time in three years although you weren’t sure that it would lead anywhere. She felt like it was an unanswerable question.

Luckily, Oliver didn’t need as much time to decide as Felicity. He stepped forward, wrapped an arm around her waist and leaned his cheek against hers. It was a gentle hug, not too close but not too far. It was still awkward.

When Felicity leaned out of the hug, she quickly took a step back to distance herself from Oliver. She was already entirely taken by having Oliver here in the first place. If he was too close, she feared that she would forget a lot of the things that she knew they needed to discuss and that held her back from even just imagining that there was any possibility she and Oliver could continue where Adrian had ripped them apart.

“This is Oliver.” Felicity gestured up and down his body, probably looking like she was advertising him for sale, and quickly linked her fingers to give them anything else to do. “Oliver, these are my partners and friends, Lena and Lily.”

“It’s very nice to meet you.”

Beaming with an honest smile, Oliver reached out his hand and shook first Lena’s and then Lily’s hand. Felicity’s friends did their best to hide their smiled and tried to look very critical as they looked at Oliver.

“Oliver Jonas Queen,” Lena said, doing much better with her attempt than Lena did, “interesting to finally meet you in person.”

“We have heard a lot of things about you.”

Lily leaned back and looked at Oliver with narrowed eyes. The twitching around the corners of her mouth betrayed her though. She really wasn’t good at this. Just like Felicity, she had zero poker face.

“Mostly bad things I suppose.” Oliver shot a look back over his shoulder, looking at Felicity briefly. “I am here to earn a chance of changing that.”

Felicity lowered her eyes to her feet. Although she knew that Oliver had kind of urged her into agreeing to this date, she still felt guilty. He was so hell-bent on using this dinner as a real chance to pick up the loose ends of three years ago. Maybe allowing him to come here and visit her had led him to believe that she wanted the same thing.

The thought made her stomach tighten. It wasn’t like Felicity already knew that it wouldn’t work or that she didn’t want it to work. She just wasn’t as sure as Oliver was and that made her feel kind of uncomfortable.

“I have heard great things about you by the way,” Oliver said. “The work you are doing here is impressive.”

Lena cocked her head. “And what work do you think you are doing here, Oliver?”

“You developed bio-stimulants that helped people with nerve damage to regain their ability to walk or use other paralyzed limbs.” Oliver looked back and forth between Lena, Lily and Felicity. “The bio-stimulants were nominated for best invention of the year last year, and they won.”

Felicity frowned slightly, wondering where he had read about that. The prize hadn’t been a big thing because it had been given away by a small foundation. Of course for Helix Dynamics it had been a big deal because it had been an official prize they had won. It just hadn’t been anything that had caught a lot of attention in the media because the foundation was just a small one and their prize was more like something to honor the effort people did with their work.

“Now you are trying to shift your focus on a new project in the field of medical engineering. You want to invent implants that help people with optic nerve hypoplasia to see. It’s another big step in the company’s history, a second big project in the little span of life this company has so far. With the effort and innovative energy that you put into the first project, I am sure it’s going to be another success though.”

Lena puckered her lips, leaning back in the chair. Cocking her head, she watched Oliver for a long moment. Felicity knew Lena well enough to know what she was thinking. Lena liked Oliver. Despite everything she had heard about him in the past years, meeting him this one day with the knowledge of everything that had gone wrong thanks to Adrian was enough for her to change her mind. A week ago, she had told Felicity to forget about Oliver and come home, and now she liked him too.

Felicity guessed that it would only make things harder.

“And how did you manage to take the weekend off?” Lily asked. “I read about the fashion show you are doing soon. You have to have your hands full of work.”

“I do,” Oliver replied, shrugging his shoulders, “but I always said it’s important to set priorities. Being here in Hub City is my priority.”

Saying those last words, he turned his head and looked at Felicity. His eyes were warm, nothing but honesty visible there. He didn’t say this because he thought that it would earn him some scores. He said it because he really meant it. Right now, she was her priority and this was more important to him than anything else. Even his company’s success couldn’t compete with it, which meant a lot. OJQ meant as much to Oliver as Helix Dynamics meant to Felicity, and right now she wasn’t sure if she could put anything above it.

A heavy silence spread as Oliver’s words were hanging in the air. They filled the room between them and around them.

Before Felicity could find the right words to say, Oliver’s phone rang. The jarring sound echoed through the room. It chased away whatever atmosphere Oliver’s words had left before until the disturbing sound was the only thing left.

“Sorry.”

Oliver mumbled the word, quickly pulling his phone from the pocket of his jeans. He looked at the display for a moment, his thumb hovering over the display. After three seconds, he rejected the call and pushed his phone back into the pocket of his jeans.

“So,” he said, looking at Felicity with a nervous, but excited smile, “are you ready for dinner?”

Ready wasn’t the right word for what she was feeling at the situation at hand. She doubted that she was ever ready for this. That way, she also knew that it wasn’t going to become better anytime soon. It was time to take a deep breath and get through it.

“Sure,” Felicity replied, smiling at Oliver nervously, “let’s go.”

 

* * *

 

“I stand by my opinion,” Oliver said, “Italian food is just the best there is.”

With that, he pushed the last food of his pasta into his mouth. He closed his eyes and chewed appreciatively, a low hum falling from his lips. It was a sight to behold as Felicity doubted that she had ever seen anyone enjoying pasta as much as Oliver enjoyed his.

“I love Italian, but sometimes it has to be Indonesian,” Felicity countered and took a sip of her wine, “or Indian like a really spicy Chicken Marsala.”

“Sure, they are delicious, but a light pasta doesn’t make you full or tired. It brings energy to your body and inspiration to you mind.”

Felicity looked at Oliver, cocking her head and perking up an eyebrow. Oliver looked dead-serious on this though. Food was just as inspiring to him as clothes. He loved creating whether it was in the kitchen or his atelier.

“Yeah, you always tried to put me off my eating habits.”

“I was just trying to help you to a healthier diet and inspire your gustatory nerves a little,” Oliver told her, “but I guess years of junk food ruined every hope that you would ever prefer anything over cheap takeout.”

“Maybe.” Felicity grinned. “Probably.”

Her eyes met Oliver’s, and she felt her heart skipping a beat at the expression in them. There was a little bit of amusement there because he had always been amused about how much she loved junk food and how it had been the only thing she had lived off before he had stepped into her life and brought all his cooking. Beneath that sparkle of amusement, it was undeniable that a deep love was there.

Felicity felt heat rising to her cheeks, and her stomach tingled in that special way that she wasn’t sure if it was something she liked or something that hurt her. She lowered her eyes quickly, looking at the leftovers of her lasagna.

The dinner had been nice. While they had been waiting for their dishes and while eating, they had kept the conversation light. They had talked about this and that, but they hadn’t really addressed any serious subjects. Whenever there had been a somewhat heavy beat, they had changed the subject.

In a lot of ways, this evening had reminded her of a lot of the good moments she had had with Oliver. Back when they had been together, they had liked to go out for dinner, at least when Oliver hadn’t wanted or hadn’t had time to cook. They hadn’t really dressed up for it as they had often met at some bistro after work, telling each other about their days before walking home together hand in hand, well, either of their homes since they had never made it into a shared home.

The problem was that things were quite different from back them. Pretending that this evening had the same meaning as it would have had three years ago was ridiculous. Too much time had passed. Too many things had happened. Too many questions were still unanswered.

“Felicity, I-“

“How was your dinner?”

The waitress was wearing a wide smile. She only shot Felicity a brief glance before she looked at Oliver. Her smile grew even wider, and she was almost fluttering her lashes. Felicity could only roll her eyes about it, but it was half-hearted anyway. She was used to being ignored by waitresses.

“It was delicious, thank you.” Oliver smiled back politely, but he was obviously feeling awkward about the situation which wasn’t unusual in situations like these either. “Can you recommend a dessert?”

“I doubt that I will manage to eat dessert, and-“

“The tiramisu is very good,” the waitress said, still ignoring Felicity, “just the right thing if you have a sweet tooth.”

“In that case, we’ll take two,” he said, “thank you.”

The waitress flashed Oliver another wide smile before she took the plates and disappeared towards the kitchen. Oliver looked after her for a moment, shaking his head. When he looked back at her, there was guilt in his eyes.

“Sorry,” he almost whispered, “I know these situations always feel awkward and-“

“It’s not your fault.” Felicity waved his apology off as it was truly unnecessary. Still, she cocked her head at him. “What you should apologize for is ordering dessert for me over my head when I didn’t even eat all of my main course.”

“Who said I ordered the second tiramisu for you and not for myself or the waitress?”

“Because you know that I would kill you if you tried to take that tiramisu from me now.”

They both chuckled because they both knew that, if he hadn’t ordered her a tiramisu for her own, she would have just eaten his. When they had been together, it had never been different. She had always eaten his or the one they had ordered to share, telling him to just order his own because the first bite had been too delicious.

When Oliver put his hand to hers, lacing his fingers with hers, Felicity locked her eyes with his. She could already see that the light conversation was over for now. Whatever Oliver wanted to say to her was definitely getting close to the reason they had gone out for dinner in the first place.

“Now that we have probably exhausted every light topic that we could have possibly addressed to avoid talking about what really is important,” he said lightly, the nervous expression in his eyes betraying him, “I’d like to say some things before the dessert is served. I need to get them off my chest if you let me.”

Felicity hesitated. She didn’t know what Oliver wanted to say, but she got the bad feeling that she really wasn’t ready for it. Even here in Hub City where they didn’t share as much history as back in Starling, everything about what had happened between them was confusing and irritating. The thought of what could be was even worse because it made her feel so terribly nervous and vulnerable and she hated that.

Still unsure what to reply, Felicity broke the lock of their eyes. She looked around the restaurant briefly until her gaze was caught by the small box on the empty chair next to Oliver. With the golden wrapping paper and the large, red bow on top, it looked like he had stolen it from beneath some Christmas tree.

“Does it have anything to do with the gift you brought?” she asked, cocking her head.

Oliver followed her gaze to the wrapped box for a second. Chuckling he turned back towards her then. His fingers tightened around her hand, squeezing it gently.

“It does, yes.”

Felicity took another moment before she eventually sucked in another deep breath. She looked right at Oliver and nodded her head slightly, giving him her go to talk. If she didn’t, she knew this was just another sword of Damocles, hovering around them as a thread.

“I need you to know that, if things had been different and Adrian hadn’t gotten in between,” Oliver said slowly and quietly, trying to hide his anger at saying Adrian’s name, but he failed miserably as it was written all over the features of his face, “I would have supported your career.”

Admittedly, Felicity hadn’t necessarily expected him to say that, not because she didn’t think that he would have, but because she hadn’t believed it was important for him to tell her that. What could have been three years ago wasn’t relevant anymore, or at least it wasn’t a relevant as what was now.

Besides, looking back to that day, Felicity felt like it was a stranger’s memory in her mind. It didn’t feel like it belonged to her. It felt surreal. That day and every day since they had broken up had just been so crazy that Felicity had been sure there would be a million other things Oliver had felt the need to say.

“What?”

“When you told me that you were considering that offer in Gotham, I didn’t react the way I should have. It took me maybe an hour or something, but I really wasn’t proud of how I reacted.” Oliver sucked in a deep breath, and the truth of his words were written all over his face, guilt shining through. “I don’t want to excuse my reaction, but I was just so overwhelmed with the thought that you were moving away. For the first time in my life, I felt serious enough about a relationship to go all in and move together. I was really looking forward to it, so I freaked out when I thought that you were backing out and-“

“I never really meant to back out,” Felicity interrupted him softly, shaking her head, “I just received this offer and I thought that I owed it to myself to at least consider it honestly. If I hadn’t taken it seriously, I would have always thought back to it. Even if I had taken it, it wouldn’t have meant that I would have decided against us though. I knew doing both, our relationship and the job in Gotham, wouldn’t have been easy, but I would have wanted to try as hard as possible because I didn’t want to lose you over a job. I just didn’t want to reject a job like that either.”

“I know that now,” Oliver whispered, “and I actually knew that back then already. I mean the moment the door fell shut behind me, I wanted to turn around, but I was too stubborn and too scared to do so. I walked around for a while, clearing my head. The longer I took, the more I knew that I couldn’t stand in the way of your career, not if I really loved you. I needed to support you. I went to the gym to lose some tension, knowing that I would only fall on my knees and beg you not to leave me if I didn’t focus on being the boyfriend you deserved and the boyfriend I wanted to be for you. I met Adrian and… well… it all went to shit from there.”

Felicity released an indescribable sound, a mixture of an agreeing hum and a discontent grunt. She swallowed down the feelings of anger she felt rising inside of her, focusing on the blank spaces Oliver had just filled in.

“You really would have supported me if I wanted to go to Gotham?”

She knew it wasn’t exactly fair to ask him. Except for that one conversation when she had mentioned the offer from Gotham, Oliver had always supported her career. He had never urged her to call it a day early or reject any additional projects she wanted to do although it meant that they had less time to spend together. He had always told her that he wanted her to do everything she wanted to do.

“I would have,” Oliver said firmly, nodding his head, “with everything inside of me. I would have traveled back and forth between Starling and Gotham daily if necessary. No matter what, I really wanted to find a solution for it all to work. We have made it through a long-distance relationship before. It’s never nice to go back to less, but I would have done it because I knew that, down the line, we would find our way to be together eventually.”

The way Oliver looked at her with so much warmth and love – she knew it was love and for the first time this evening, she wasn’t afraid to name it what it was – that it made everything inside of Felicity tingle. She could see how happy he was to be here with her. Despite his nervousness, she could see that he was content because he truly believed that this, her side, was where he belonged.

Felicity herself felt like she had run out of words which didn’t happen often. Usually, she always had something to say, but right now there wasn’t a single word worth saying right now coming to her mind.

Fact was that Felicity was touched by Oliver’s words. She had to be a block of ice for it to be different. Despite how much his words meant to her, Felicity could feel her heart ache with the pain those words caused deep inside of her. All the broken and barely healed pieces of herself seemed to pulsate. The thin skin keeping those shattered pieces together threatened to rip and make all the pain of before be felt.

She lowered her gaze to their joint fingers, watching the way Oliver’s thumb rubbed back and forth on the back of her hand. His skin was calloused. It almost scratched against her soft skin. It was a weirdly familiar feeling, one she hadn’t known she had missed for so long.

“Hey,” Oliver whispered eventually, squeezing her fingers, “talk to me.”

Felicity kept her eyes lowered for a moment, unsure how to say what she was feeling and whether to say it at all. The more she thought about it, the more she wondered if she and Oliver would still be together if Adrian hadn’t gotten in between. The thought had been on her mind for the past week almost constantly. It snuck up to her whenever she wasn’t prepared, and it made her breath get caught in her throat and caused her entire body to hurt.

What-ifs were always dangerous, and Felicity felt like this was the worst of all of the possible what-ifs in her life. Their break-up had taken so much energy and joy and other things from her life that just considering that it all could have and should have been different felt incredibly overwhelming. It was too much to think about, too much to take.

She took in a sniffling breath and shook her head. With a half-hearted smile, she lifted her gaze to Oliver.

“So, what about the gift?”

Oliver hesitated. He could see that there was something else going on, something that he wanted to know because it was on her mind. He probably knew her well enough to know that she wasn’t ready to talk about it. He didn’t urge her to open up.

Squeezing her hand one last time, he unlinked their fingers and reached out for the gift. He held it out for her with a smile.

“This,” he said when she took it from him, “is the gift I bought on my way home from the gym that day. I wanted it to accompany my apology and to prove to you that I really meant it. I think I forgot it at home though I am not sure. I don’t really remember. Anyway, I kept it all these years, and I really wanted you to have it now since I got to apologize now.”

Oliver nodded towards the gift, wordlessly prompting her to open it, so Felicity did. She pushed the bow aside and ripped off the wrapping paper carefully. There was a box inside, the photo printed on it showing two small lamps.

“I don’t think I have ever said that,” Felicity asked, looking at the photo of the product a long time before she lifted her gaze and cocked her head, “but huh?”

It wasn’t that Felicity didn’t appreciate good lamps, but something told her that she was missing a point here. Oliver had put so much thought into his words and into the idea of bringing a gift. She doubted that he would have chosen random lamps.

“Those lamps are made for people in long-distance relationships,” Oliver told her with a smile, amused that she had trouble understanding for once, “because, when you switch on one, the other is switched on too. They work together via wi-fi. I thought that it was a nice idea to use them when we were apart. I mean when we could switch them on if we were thinking about each other.”

Felicity looked at the photo once more, imagining what it would have been like. She would have come home to the small apartment she had lived in during her time in Gotham. Instead of finding it all dark and lonely, she would have had this light though. It might have already burnt if she had come home, and she wouldn’t have felt so alone.

Only Oliver had ever put so much thought into a gift, Felicity guessed. Of all the gifts she had ever received, she was sure that this was in her top three with her first computer and that Hacking for Beginners book she had been given by her father when she was five years old. Unlike her father’s gift, this wasn’t tainted by the person she had gotten it from though.

“You know, if I hadn’t forgiven you the moment you had told me that you had just panicked and wanted to support my decision,” Felicity said, her voice husky from emotions, “this would have easily got me wrapped up around your little finger. It’s a great gift. Thank you.”

Oliver smiled, and it let no doubt that a huge burden fell from his shoulder. Her words seemed to mean a lot to him. Although the gift was three years late – which wasn’t either of their fault – it was still serving its purpose.

Continuing to look at him, Felicity realized that she continued to feel safer. Only now she fully realized that she wasn’t the only one putting her heart out on the line here. Oliver was doing the same, making himself vulnerable and putting himself at her mercy. He might look absolutely sure about what he was doing, but deep down she guessed that he felt as lost as Felicity did.

Felicity took in a breath, about to tell Oliver what she hadn’t been ready to share before.

The jarring sound of his phone ringing interrupted her before a single sound could fall from her lips though.

“Damn it,” he hissed, “sorry.”

Felicity shook her head with a smile. “Never mind.”

Oliver pulled his phone from the inside pocket of his leather jacket that was resting over the back of his chair. Just like he had done back at her office, he stared at the display for a moment. Clenching his jaws, he rejected the call and pushed his phone back into the pocket of his jacket.

“Sorry,” he said yet again, shook his head and rolled his eyes, “everyone at work pretends like they cannot handle anything without me.”

With the fashion show being so close, Felicity guessed that OJQ was indeed in need of their designer. Oliver was the one to have to make the ultimate decisions that they needed to continue working. He really didn’t have time to be here right now.

“Well, are you sure you shouldn’t take that call then?”

“Hell-sure,” Oliver replied firmly, “because I have more important things to do and they know that. I even told them.”

Felicity wanted to remind him that the fashion show was only like a week ahead of him. There had to be so much work still left to do. Those last days before the show were always some of the most stressful time. She didn’t get to say anything as the waitress returned with their tiramisu.

“Here is your dessert,” she said, once again just smiling at Oliver, when she put the plates down in front of them, “bon appetit.”

With that, she already turned around and left them. Felicity looked after her, shaking her head slightly. She had fallen for Oliver’s pretty face too, but she doubted that she had ever been that obvious about it.

“I’d also like to apologize for-“

“You don’t really have many things to apologize for, you know?” Felicity asked, shrugging her shoulders. “We both made mistakes, but it was Adrian who caused us to break up.”

“I know,” Oliver replied softly, “but that doesn’t change that if I had reacted differently to some things, maybe all of this could have had a different outcome. I mean Adrian was just there, and I instantly believed that you two had been sleeping together. I think that is something I have to apologize for. You never gave me any reason to doubt your love and yet I doubted yours.”

“Well, I thought that you had run like you always used to do before me,” Felicity said guiltily, “so I am hardly better.”

“But like you said, I had a history at running. You didn’t have a history at cheating or switching from one man to the other in like an hour.”

Felicity cocked her head. “Are we going to fight about who screwed up more now?”

“No,” Oliver replied firmly, the corner of his lips twitching, “not if you just let me win.”

Although this subject was actually quite meaningful and should be taken seriously, Felicity couldn’t help herself. She was quickly infected by Oliver’s amusement. If he wanted to take this lightly, so would she.

“Fine,” she replied, “you won.”

“Thank you. That is very generous of you.”

Felicity chuckled, shaking her head. She felt increasingly comfortable. Although the first part of their evening had been nice too, there had always been the impending conversations about the heavy subjects hovering over them like the sword of Damocles. Now that was different though. It was truly lighter.

While Felicity was taking the first bite of her tiramisu, she could feel Oliver’s eyes on her. He was watching her, waiting for his opportunity to watch her devouring her dessert. He knew that she would enjoy the sweet Italian dish as much as he had enjoyed his pasta before.

Still avoiding his gaze for fear that the bite would get stuck in her throat if she looked at him now, Felicity pushed the first spoon of he tiramisu between her lips. Her eyes fell shut and a content hum fell from her lips at the deliciousness. Oliver had chosen wisely to order a tiramisu for her.

Opening her eyes eventually, Felicity found Oliver’s eyes still on her. The way he looked at her made heat rise to her cheeks. She was probably blushing, her cheeks taking on a dark shade of red that only grew darker when Oliver’s eyes blinked down at her lips. It was just the break of a second, but Felicity caught that brief moment nonetheless. Her heart skipped a couple of beats and her lips tingle with the desire to feel Oliver’s brushing against hers.

Clearing her throat, Felicity hurried to look away.

“How are the preparations for the fashion show going?”

It took Oliver the beat of a second to catch up too. He cleared his throat and took his spoon. Taking a bite of his tiramisu, he bought some time before he answered, “It’s good. I am confident that it will be a success.”

“Sounds good,” Felicity said with a smile, “given how many celebrities have already worn your designs, I am sure that the new collection is going to follow up to the others’ success.”

“Hopefully to the first.” Oliver sighed. “No collection was as successful as the first.”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “Taste in fashion is very subjective. As long as you are satisfied with the work you have done-“

“Truth is that I am not really satisfied. I understand why the critics are that much better for the first collection. There was much more heart in there. Back then designing was my passion and not my distraction.”

Surprised, Felicity perked up her eyebrows. Oliver had always said that he wouldn’t bring anything to the catwalk that he wasn’t a hundred percent confident with. That he wasn’t feeling satisfied with the work he had put into his designs these last couple of years felt weird to hear.

“Looking back, I think I let the wrong emotions dedicate my designs,” he admitted and perked his lips, “which made them a lot coarser than they could and should have been. I changed, so my personal note changed. That was what caused the drop in success.”

When Oliver suddenly lowered his gaze, Felicity frowned. She guessed she wasn’t the only one not ready to say certain things.

“You know, I was always a little disappointed that you never wore any of my designs,” Oliver said when he lifted his gaze again, “I mean there were designs that were suitable for the kind of occasions you went through the last years. I assumed that you didn’t want the media to bring our relationship back up as it always seemed to diminish the meaning of your work. Still, it did hurt a little.”

Oliver was smiling, proving that he was more teasing her than anything else. Felicity didn’t doubt that there was a spark of truth in there though.

“The truth is that I owe quite a lot of your designs,” she whispered, almost ashamed to admit it, “I just never wore them when there was press around.”

“Because of the reasons I named.”

“No.” Felicity sighed and took a large gulp of her wine. “I just didn’t want to give you that satisfaction. In my mind, you dumped me because you couldn’t handle that I wanted a career of my own and had to find compromises to make that work. I wasn’t going to help your career.”

“That’s fair,” Oliver replied with a chuckle, “I mean I loved to create designs with you in mind, but that stopped when we broke up anyway.”

“You just thought of me when you were naming your shows, didn’t you?”

Oliver puckered his lips, trying to look innocent. Felicity didn’t buy any of it though. She knew exactly what he had been thinking about her when he had named her. Even the media had caught up on the passive-aggressiveness of the titles although they hadn’t been sure which ex it had been directed at.

“The first one was named after you, quite literally, but the rest has just been-“

“Praying Mantis?” Felicity asked, recalling the name of his second collection. “Cursed? Purgatory?”

Oliver cleared his throat, still playing innocent. “I have no idea what that would have to do with you.”

Felicity perked up her eyebrows even more until Oliver eventually rolled his lips into his mouth.

“Guilty,” he whispered, “but, to my excuse, hating you was just a really important part in my life. All the energy I put into our relationship and all the room I had reserved for you in my heart was suddenly used for hating you. It felt like my lifeline.”

Felicity nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

She knew exactly what Oliver meant because she had felt the exact same way. Losing Oliver had felt like she had been shoved into the cold water. Waves of sorrow and heartbreak had threatened to drown her. Hating Oliver had been her lifeline too. It had been the one thing she had been able to hold onto and to keep her above the surface. It had pulled her through the hardest of times until she had reached safe ground again.

“I’m really sorry about that too, you know?” he asked. “My mother hated the name, each one of them really, but anger and hate were the two emotions I have lived with for most of the past three years.”

“I know,” Felicity whispered, “but that’s over now. Hopefully, I mean.”

Oliver nodded. “Hopefully, and maybe-“

Once again, their conversation was interrupted by the sound of Oliver’s phone.

“I’m gonna kill someone,” Oliver grunted, pulling his phone from the pocket of his jacket and rejected the call with a firm press on the display, “this is just unbelievable.”

“Maybe it’s important.”

“Like I said, nothing is more important to me than this,” Oliver said with a firm shake of his head. “I just wished I could put this on mute, but it doesn’t work.”

Felicity bit back her comment on not being surprised as his phone looked like it had gone through hell. It was an old model, something she and everyone else would have switched against something newer ages ago. The display was splintered. It really was a miracle that it was still working at all.

Oliver pushed his phone back into the pocket of his jacket and sucked in a deep breath. When he released the breath slowly, his shoulders lost some of the tension they had gained when the annoyingly jarring sound had interrupted them a third time today. Lifting his gaze back to her eyes, he smiled at her warmly.

“So,” he asked, “where were we?”

 

* * *

 

“I’m still not over the fact that you don’t believe me,” Felicity said with a chuckle, unlocking the front door, “I mean why would I lie about this? It was quite embarrassing to admit it.”

“Why is that embarrassing? You own Haute Couture as a woman in your position of power should own.” Oliver followed her inside of her townhouse. “As an expert for Haute Couture, I just want to check that you are keeping the clothes correctly.”

“Oh, so you just want to reprimand me for my lack of appreciation when it comes to designer clothes.”

“I remember that you were keeping Haute Couture in a pile on the floor.” Oliver shot her a mocking glance. “Considering the painful hours it took to hand-stitch some those clothes, I just thought that they deserved better treatment.”

“I just don’t have the same kind of relationship to those shreds as you have.”

“Shreds?” Oliver asked, pretending to be shocked. “Don’t you dare call them that way again.”

He pinched her side lightly. The tickling feeling surprised Felicity though. Trying to get away from his fingers, she lost her balance and almost slammed against the door. Luckily, Oliver’s arms wrapped around her in time. He pulled her back against his chest and made sure she found her footing.

Being so close to Oliver, she could feel the muscles of his chest pressing against her back. His heart was beating as quickly and as irregularly as hers.

“Sorry,” he whispered, his breath ghosting over the side of her neck and eliciting goosebumps there and all the way down her back, “I didn’t mean to-”

“It’s okay,” she replied quickly, “thank you for catching me.”

Felicity didn’t dare back to look back over her shoulder at Oliver’s face. She wasn’t sure what would happen if she looked at him from that close. She knew that she would feel his breath on her face, and his lips would only be a breath away. It would be too much and just too hard to resist.

Awkwardly, Oliver let of her waist, and Felicity distanced herself a little. She waited until she had taken a few steps away before she shot a brief look back at him.

“Put the gift on the kitchen island please and-“

“You have a kitchen?”

Felicity stopped, turning around to Oliver and cocking her head. “Of course I have a kitchen. I need to store my wine supplies somewhere, you know?”

“But you have never cooked there.”

Felicity laughed out loud. “Of course not. I like this townhouse. I don’t want to burn it down.”

Oliver chuckled. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Because you know that I don’t cook, at least not without setting up some smoke detectors?” Felicity asked, kicking her shoes away carelessly, dropping her jacket to the floor and continuing to the bedroom.

“True.”

Still chuckling, Oliver put the lamps on the kitchen island and followed her towards the bedroom. Standing at the step of the door, he hesitated. Felicity smiled at it, knowing that he respected her too much to just enter without her consent. She nodded towards the wardrobe and walked ahead towards it.

“See?” she asked, opening the doors of the wardrobe. “Haute Couture by OJQ.”

“And everything on hangers,” he teased her, “I’m impressed.”

Oliver stepped a little closer to the wardrobe, taking in the designs she had bought. With a long look at her, he wordlessly asked for permission to take an even closer look. Felicity nodded, taking a step back to give him more room, and sat back on the mattress.

Smiling, she watched Oliver taking out some designs to look at them. He checked the quality like he needed to remind himself of the clothes he had designed. He was already reaching out for a classic little black dress when he suddenly faltered, pushed some hangers aside to pull out a tight-fitting red dress instead.

“I love that dress,” Felicity whispered almost shyly. “It’s my favorite.”

Surprise sparkled in Oliver’s eyes when he turned around to her and smiled. “Mine too.”

The dress had been from OJQ’s last collection. It was incredibly comfortable and with the knee-length and high neckline very much suitable for work. There were cutouts at the waist that were covered by a thin layer of lace with a filigree embodiment which made the dress anything but boring. That it was utterly comfortable to work was just the cherry on top.

“I love your clothes,” Felicity said, “and now I might be able to wear them again.”

Oliver smiled. “I hope you will. I know you’d look incredibly in them, even more incredible I mean of course.”

“Saved by the last second.”

While Oliver put the dress back into her wardrobe and closed the doors, Felicity lowered her gaze to her hands. The evening had been nice, but she still couldn’t say how all of this was going to continue. Some questions might have been answered, but at least just as many had been raised recently.

Even worse than that, this evening had showed what a great team she and Oliver could still be. Knowing that this was the case although they had spent the last years hating each other says a lot about how strong their connection was and how strong it could be if it had had those last three years to grow even stronger.

“Everything alright?”

At the soft tone in Oliver’s voice, Felicity lifted her head. Her gaze met his, and she felt tears welling in her eyes immediately. She lowered her head again quickly, not wanting Oliver to see her tears.

“Hey,” he said gently, crouching down in front of her and putting his hands to hers in her lap, “what’s going on?”

Felicity shook her head, afraid to speak because she was sure that a sob would fall from her lips if she tried to say anything.

These past days, she had tried not to let all the emotions too close to her. She had tried to rationalize everything that had happened and what opportunities there were for the future. It had only been a matter of time until everything came crashing down onto her though. She had kind of hoped that she had a little more time before that happened.

“Felicity,” he whispered her name softly, “talk to me.”

Felicity still thought that she’d just burst into tears and cry until Oliver’s shirt was soaked through. Instead, the moment she took in a trembling breath to answer, she felt a wave of anger washing over her.

“All of this just sucks,” it burst out of her, “it sucks to no end.”

She got up which would have caused Oliver to lose his balance if he hadn’t moved away as quickly as he had. With a quick movement, he made room for her to distance herself a little, and got up. He watched her while Felicity was walking up and down the room in a weak attempt to decrease her anger.

Everything that had happened in the past year should have been different. If she hadn’t been sure about it before or hadn’t had the courage to admit it before, she was quite sure now that she and Oliver had still had quite a chance as a couple if Adrian hadn’t driven a wedge between them. A lot of the things that had happened in the past years shouldn’t have happened or should have been different.

For example, her relationship with Ray was something that maybe shouldn’t have happened because it wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for Adrian. All that useless anger and hate she had bottled up inside of her for the past years had just robbed energy for when she could have needed it for a thousand other things.

“I know,” Oliver replied, his voice calm, “I mean since the rehearsal dinner, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it either. All that anger and heartbreak. The fact that I focused on my career and only that, unable to bring up the energy to do anything else. The thought that it was better to spare my heart from any pain than risking it. When I just think about how I went back to sleeping around, I-“

Oliver chuckled dryly, putting his hands to his hips. He shook his head and lowered his gaze to the floor. Oliver had never been proud of the many women he had slept with before they had gotten together. He had told her that he didn’t feel ashamed of it because he hadn’t cheated on anyone and he hadn’t pretended to want more than sex with any of them. He just didn’t go around, bragging about the number of sex partners. Now, however, he looked a little guilty.

“Then how are you so calm?”

Surprised by her question, Oliver lifted his head and looked at her. If the expression in his eyes was any indication, he wasn’t feeling as calm as she felt he was.

“Firstly,” he said slowly, starting to approach her with small and slow steps, “I think I had my moment of freaking out when I knocked my atelier to pieces.”

Felicity couldn’t deny that there was some truth in that. She had freaked out from time to time too, but she had divided her freak-out energy, so she could have a dozen little freak-outs. Oliver on the other hand had used all of his energy for one big freak-out.

“Secondly,” he said, stopping in front of her and lacing his fingers with hers, “I have come to realize that we cannot change the past and maybe it’s even for the better.”

Perking up her eyebrows, Felicity looked at Oliver doubtingly. She was sure there was more to come because there was no way in hell that he just accepted what Adrian had done to them. She wasn’t without failure either, but Oliver was much more resentful than she was and he usually brooded a lot more than Felicity did. There had to be some deeper reason he had come to this conclusion.

“Well, look at where we both are with our careers,” he said softly, squeezing Felicity’s fingers, “OJQ is running great, and you have found two women that are just as passionate and as skilled as you are. The three of you make a change in the world that only a handful of people could bring. Who knows if either of us would be where we are now professionally if things had been different. Since we weren’t together, we could address our entire focus on our careers without feeling guilty for not having enough time for each other or something.”

Felicity felt moved by his words. They felt so well thought through and they reminded her of earlier times. They even sparked some sort of familiarity for her.

“How long did John need to make you say those words and sound honestly?”

“All week,” Oliver admitted unashamedly, “and I have never said them this well before.”

Felicity chuckled, shaking her head. The words had indeed sounded familiar, but it hadn’t been Oliver that she had felt reminded of. Oliver had a lot of wonderful features, but he really wasn’t that patient and thoughtful. He acted more on instinct which was no problem. He had John to talk sense into him and calm him down. He was like Yoda, always there with a good advice.

“Really, if I met Adrian again, it would take a lot from me to not beat the crap out of him.”

“I know,” Felicity whispered, lowering her eyes, “I still can’t believe that I trusted him.”

Shaking her head, she lowered her gaze. As much as she kept telling herself that she couldn’t have possibly known about the terrible things he had planned, she couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt. She was usually quite good at estimating people’s place on the scale from good to bad person. With Adrian, she failed miserably though.

“Hey,” Oliver whispered and put his hands to her cheeks, angling her head to make her look at him, “don’t be sorry that you had trust in someone that you thought was your friend. You couldn’t have known.”

Oliver was probably right, at least a little part somewhere deep down in Felicity’s mind thought he was. The fact that Oliver’s face was so close to her made it hard to focus on anything though. Her senses were invaded by him. She could hear him breathing, and she could smell his skin. His lips were so close that she could almost taste them.

Everything in Felicity’s body started aching with the desperate desire to kiss him. She wanted to feel his soft lips against hers, wanted his tongue to dance with hers. She wanted to taste him, and she wanted to lose herself in it.

When she had kissed Oliver in Starling City, it had felt so incredibly good. There had been too many unresolved issues between them for the kiss to be as good as it could be. Right now, they still had issues, but the worst of them all which encompassed everything about their break-up was resolved. At least as far as Felicity guessed it could be resolved.

Oliver’s thumb stroked over her cheekbones gently, caressing her face. Except for those little circling movements of his thumbs, he stayed just as still as Felicity did. Neither of them moved while they were standing there, breathing the same air. There was something weirdly intimate about the way they were just standing there and holding onto each other. It made the moment so very enjoyable.

Eventually, Oliver’s head dipped forward ever so slowly. His lips were only the ghost of a breath away from hers when he stopped. He waited, giving her the opportunity to decide if she wanted to lean in or pull away. At this point, that wasn’t much as a question anymore though. She was sure that she’d get stomach ulcers if she didn’t close the distance and kiss him, or she’d lose her mind and-

The jarring sound of Oliver’s ringtone interrupted them right before Felicity’s lips couch touch his. The moment was destroyed and from the low grumble Oliver released, Felicity guessed that he felt the same way.

“I’m sorry.”

He rested his forehead against hers for only a second. Then he pulled back. Felicity opened her eyes, and she could see the deep disappointment he was feeling at the rude interruption. This had been the closest they had been, at least emotionally, in three years and it sucked that it had been messed up for them.

“Heads will roll when I am back in Starling.”

Felicity smiled softly, accepting his apology wordlessly. In the meantime, Oliver pulled his phone from the pocket of his jacket and answered it.

“Yes.” His voice was husky, not hiding his annoyance, and his face showed anger. “I told you that I didn’t want to be called tonight.”

Felicity didn’t have to be told to know that it was his mother at the other end of the line. There weren’t a lot of people who dared to boss Oliver around. He was the star of the company after all and most people there worked for me. Since Moira was in charge of the administration, she considered herself his boss. Maybe she was in some way.

Oliver glanced at Felicity briefly while his mother was speaking, and she could see that he didn’t get good news.

“Tomorrow, just like I said.”

Biting down on her bottom lip, Felicity looked away. She didn’t want to distance herself from Oliver more than they had pulled apart when he had taken the call. There was maybe the length of an arm between them. After how close they had been before, it felt like a lifetime away. Taking even just a tiny step back more would cause her physical pain. Staring at him while he was talking to his mother made her feel a little uncomfortable though.

“Mom, what difference would that make? Even if-“

Moira said something more before silence spread. She seemed to wait for Oliver’s answer, but he didn’t say anything. Felicity could feel his gaze on her, telling her that he was pondering his choices – staying which was what he probably wanted or leaving which was what his mother probably wanted and his company needed him to do.

Felicity felt her stomach drop a little bit. As nervous and insecure as she had been about all of this earlier this evening, the last hours had proved to her that, no matter how hard all of this was, she had been given another chance at figuring out if Oliver was really the one for her, and she didn’t want to give that away easily. For three years she had mourned their relationship, even if she had done her best to push it to a small corner in her brain. She couldn’t just give it away now.

If there was one thing their last conversation three years ago and their conversation today had proved, it was that they both loved their jobs. They were huge parts of who they were, and nothing would ever change that. If they wanted another chance with each other, they needed to find a way to build things between them around their jobs. Otherwise, it would never work.

With an encouraging smile, Felicity lifted her head and looked at Oliver. He understood what she was saying without actually saying a single word, but he didn’t seem too happy about it. His shoulders tensed slightly, and his face showed disappointment.

Felicity took his free hand and squeezed it. It was her way of telling him that, while she wanted him to go back to Starling, it wasn’t a decision against him or against them.

“Oay, fine,” Oliver answered eventually, “I’ll come back.”

Although Moira was replying to that, Oliver just hung up the phone. That he agreed to come back obviously didn’t mean that there wouldn’t roll any heads.

Oliver pushed his phone back into the pocket of his leather jacket before he laced his now free fingers with hers too. He looked truly sorry and disappointed. If she hadn’t encouraged him to go, Felicity wouldn’t have been surprised if he had rejected his mother’s request.

“I’m sorry.”

Felicity shook her head. “It was crazy of you to come here just a week before the fashion show in the first place.”

“Not crazier than just giving up when there was the slightest chance of having a quiet evening with you.”

Felicity had no idea how Oliver always found those words that seemed to wrap her around his little finger so easily. When other guys said those words he did, it would sound corny or dishonest, but they sounded so natural coming from Oliver. He was just speaking from the heart.

“I am very excited for your new collection. I am sure it’s going to be a success.”

“Why don’t you come to the fashion show and watch it from the first row then?” Hope sparked in his eyes. “You’d be my special guest.”

Felicity was already about to say that she couldn’t do that. She had just been in Starling for a week. They had this big project to take care of. Lily was about to leave. She had her hands full with work that had been left undone because all of that.

“It’s Saturday night, so you could just come late Saturday afternoon and leave again on Sunday. You wouldn’t miss a single day of work, and you can certainly take my father’s private jet if anything happens that would force you to come back to Hub City early.”

It wasn’t ideal, but those were good conditions to agree to a short trip to Starling without feeling guilty for it. At the end, it was all about comprises and about making things work.

“Just that one night though.”

“I understand,” Oliver said immediately, “and I won’t talk you into staying longer. I promise.”

Felicity nodded. She was grateful that Oliver promised that. It would make it much easier to say goodbye to Starling no matter what would happen during her trip there.

For another long moment, they just continued looking at each other’s eyes. Felicity could see that Oliver didn’t really want to go. He wanted to stay just like this and look at her the way she was looking at him. They both knew that it was only a matter of time until his phone would ring yet again because his mother wanted to know when exactly he was coming home or tell him which flight she had booked for him already.

“See you next week, Oliver,” Felicity whispered, “and thank you for this evening.”

“I’m the one who has to thank you,” Oliver replied with a smile, “thank you for giving me another chance.”

Felicity smiled, nodding her head. She couldn’t say anything more. If she told him that he didn’t have to thank her, she was sure that they would have another deep conversation about everything that had happened and how much it had ruined both of their lives, and still, neither of them was really to blame for it. They couldn’t have that. Oliver had to leave, and Felicity felt like she had to catch her breath after this evening.

“Goodnight, Felicity.”

Whispering those words with that soft voice that was only ever meant for her, Oliver leaned forward. Felicity’s heart jumped into her throat at the thought that she would kiss him. She was already leaning into it when Oliver took a slide turn and brushed his lips against the corner of her mouth.

Felicity’s skin tingled, and she could still feel his lips on her when he had already pulled away. The soft sensation felt like it had been engraved in her skin.

“Bye, Oliver.”

He squeezed her hand once more before he turned around and headed towards the door. Felicity turned around slowly, watching him leave.

“Oliver?”

With a hopeful smile on his lips, Oliver turned around to her. He looked at her with an intense expression in his eyes, almost like he was dying to hear her say that he shouldn’t go. He wanted her to ask him to say.

“Can you do me a favor?”

“Anything.”

It was a big word, but Felicity knew that he meant it. She could ask him anything, and he would do it, simply because he had given her a free shot.

“Thea showed me some of her designs,” Felicity explained, “I am an amateur, but those designs did look really good to her. I know your mother said that she will take a look at them after the fashion show, but-“

“After the fashion show is before the fashion show.”

“Yeah.” Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “I think Thea’s got talent, and it would be sad if it got overlooked because of your success.”

Again, Oliver nodded. “I will take care of it. I promise.”

Felicity smiled, knowing that he would keep his promise to her. He had always kept all of his promises as long as he had had a choice.

Lifting his hand shortly, he waved goodbye. Then he turned around and walked away. The door fell shut behind him quietly, leaving Felicity alone in her townhouse.

For the first time in three years, she was feeling like she could just breathe without any pressure in her chest. The thought made a wide smile spread across her lips. Everything was going to be okay. She could feel it deep in her bones.

Chapter Text

If she didn’t know Oliver and his passion for contrasts as well as she did, Felicity would probably assume that the driver was a serial killer that was trying to abduct and kill her. Although she knew that most of the things she had heard about the Glades and the people living here were prejudices, she doubted there was much else you could do in a dark and shady alley like this. Well, there wasn’t much else to do here if you weren’t Oliver Jonas Queen.

Releasing a low sigh, Felicity leaned back into the soft leather seat and stroked her hands over the skirt of her dress. Her muscles relaxed and a soft smile spread on her lips.

Two weeks ago, she had had feared getting ulcers just from being back in Starling City. She had been even more nervous on the flight than she usually was. She had basically counted down the days until she was back in Hub City from the moment the plane had landed here, and she had been on edge every minute spent in Starling.

This time, it was completely different. Felicity had still been nervous on her flight. It had been partly because of the turmoil, but it had also been because she was excited for her short stay here. She had looked forward to it. Seeing Sara and Nyssa again and catching her breath after the troublesome week of work was a good idea. She knew that she didn’t rest enough.

Of course, there was also Oliver.

These past days since their date, Felicity had missed him. She had connected the lamp he had bought for her to the wi-fi as soon as she had woken up the next morning, and she hadn’t been surprised when the light had started burning shortly later. All week, she and Oliver had texted again and again. Despite all the work he had had to do, he had always made time to text her.

There was a little part in Felicity that thought it was stupid. She wasn’t a teenager anymore. She didn’t need a text every hour to feel safe or whatever. Still, it had just been nice to know that Oliver had been thinking about her just as much as she had been thinking about him. When it came to love, maybe people never stopped being teenagers.

Eventually, the car that Oliver had sent to the airport to pick her up and take her to her hotel as well as to wait for her there and bring her to the location of the fashion show stopped. Felicity looked out of the window nosily and perked up her eyebrows when she saw where they were. A long red carpet led down the path to the open doors of a disused metro station. The location was unusual, but it was exactly Oliver’s style.

While the driver hurried around the car, Felicity spotted Sara in the crowd. She was wearing a white jumpsuit with a red leather jacket. With the flashlights of the cameras hailing down on her, she posed for the cameras. Felicity felt a tight knot forming in the pit of her stomach just watching her, but Sara smiled naturally. She was used to the attention.

When the driver opened the door for her and reached out his hand, Felicity hesitated for a moment. Of course she wanted to support Oliver today, but she wasn’t exactly pleased to pass all those reporters. She knew exactly that it would cause a lot of attention given the history that she and Oliver shared.

“Ma’am?”

Sighing, Felicity put her fingers into the driver’s hand and let him help her out.

“That’s Felicity Smoak.”

“His ex is here.”

“She’s here and she’s wearing his design.”

Felicity felt her heart starting to race. She wasn’t used to this kind of attention because the few magazines that had asked her for interviews were professional journals. They were interested in her career and her work rather than what she was wearing and who she was sleeping with. This was something completely different.

Luckily, Sara caught sight of her and quickly approached her.

“I still can’t believe you are here,” she said, hugging her close, “first, I didn’t see you in months and now twice in less than two weeks.”

“I know.” Felicity chuckled. “It’s a good change, isn’t it?”

“The best.”

Sara leaned out of the hug, still keeping her eyes on Felicity’s face. She was watching her with a lot of attention, trying to read her face. They had texted each other a couple of times in the past days and they had had a long phone call at the weekend. Sara had wanted to know everything about the date, so Felicity had told her everything.

Right now, it wasn’t the time to talk though. With all the reporters there, one wrong word could be turned against her and make her the cover stories in all the gossip magazines currently available. It was the last thing Felicity wanted.

She shook her head lightly. It was all needed for Sara to understand. She linked her arm with Felicity’s and led her down the red carpet. Instead of continuing to pose like she had before Felicity’s arrival, Sara walked down the red carpet without a single stop. She knew that Felicity didn’t like to be in the spotlight like that.

“Are you going to tell me what’s the current status of you and Oliver?” Sara asked as soon as they were inside of the building, hidden from all the reporters. “I mean you haven’t really said what exactly you are yet.”

Felicity sighed as she walked down the stairs next to Sara.

“I wish I could tell you, but I honestly don’t know.”

“And what do you want to be the status of your relationship?”

Once more, Felicity sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know.”

These past few days, she had been thinking back and forth about this. She had tried to figure out what she wanted and whether or not she and Oliver could still have a future. As much as she had missed Oliver and as much as she had looked forward to seeing him again, she was hesitating to let in any thought of being with him. There were too many unsolved problems that would come with any future together.

“I tried to figure it out, but- wow.”

The moment they arrived at the foot of the stairs, the conversation she had just had with Sara just faded from Felicity’s mind. She was completely distracted from the beauty of the place here. The track had been set up as a catwalk. The seats for the viewers were placed in neat rows on panes of plexiglass that had been fastened over the rails. Curtains made of black velvet were separating the tracks from the tunnel, hiding where everyone was probably getting ready.

It just looked stunning. Oliver and whoever had helped him with this really had a feeling for making the darkest and ugliest places look as beautiful as paradise.

Sara seemed to sense what Felicity was thinking because she squeezed her hand lightly. Felicity turned her head, looking at her. Sara’s soft smile affected her. It made her smile too.

“I will wish good luck to Nyssa. She’s modeling tonight,” Sara explained, nodding towards the curtains, “you should come with me.”

Felicity bit down on her bottom lip. Since Nyssa’s specialty was the catwalk, and Sara’s strength were photoshoots, the two of them never got in each other’s way. Instead, they could really support each other and be there for each other. It was exactly what Felicity felt was what marriage should be like.

There was a part of Felicity that wanted to step behind that curtain and wish Nyssa good luck too. They weren’t as good friends as she and Sara were, but they were friends after all. It would feel right.

Felicity just didn’t want to meet Oliver just yet. Those last minutes before a fashion show were still critical. Oliver had to make sure that every single design fit perfectly. He never let any model out on the catwalk before he hadn’t made sure that she was looking perfect. He had a recommendation to lose there after all.

“I think I should take my seat,” Felicity said quietly, “I don’t want to distract Oliver and cause him to ruin anything here.”

“He won’t ruin anything,” Sara said, tightening her hold on Felicity’s hand, “and I am sure that he would want to see you.”

Before Felicity could protest, Sara already pulled at her hand and tugged her towards the curtain. A security guy shot them an angry glare when they neared the curtains. Realizing who they were – whether it was Felicity or Sara – he quickly pulled the curtain aside and let them pass.

In the hidden area behind, it looked even more busy than Felicity had thought it would. Two dozen small working areas had been set up for the stylists to make sure that every model was ready to go out onto the catwalk in time. People were running around, nervous or excited or whatever else they were.

Despite all the chaos, it only took seconds for Felicity to find Oliver. He was rushing around, hurrying from one working area to the other to check that every hair and make-up worked with what he had in mind. It had probably been talked out and agreed on before, but Oliver had to control it. He had to be in absolute control when it came to presenting any of his designs.

Watching him while he was ordering the stylists around, encouraging the models to give the best they had and putting the last touches to his designs, Felicity couldn’t help but smile. Everything looked incredibly hectic and chaotic, but Oliver was clearly in his element here. He loved all the business and the noises.

“Felicity. Sara.”

Hearing the familiar voice behind her, Felicity turned around. Moira approached them with her arms spread already.

“Hello, Moira.”

Oliver’s mother hugged Felicity first and then Nyssa. She was wearing a steel blue dress that looked incredibly good on her. It brought out the colors of her eyes. Her sweet perfume embraced her in a little cloud.

“Sara, Darling, Nyssa is right over there if you are looking for her.”

“Oh, perfect.” Sara flashed Felicity a brief smile. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Felicity nodded her head and looked after Sara. She just stepped next to the window in front of Nyssa, whose face lightened up the very moment she saw her wife. Nyssa reached out her hand, and Sara put her fingers into her wife’s palm immediately. Without losing touch, they started chatting. Their eyes were locked in a loving gaze.

There was something incredibly enviable about the way Sara and Nyssa were around each other. They were so close with each other, and they looked so content with it. Felicity could only imagine from far memories what it was like to feel that way.

“They are a beautiful couple, aren’t they?”

Flashing Moira a smile, Felicity nodded her head in agreement. She quickly turned her head back to look at Nyssa and Sara once more though. They were smiling at each other, and it seemed like for them there was nobody else. Despite the three people working on Nyssa’s hair, make-up and nail polish, there seemed to be only them in their little world.

“They really are.” Nodding her head once more, Felicity released a sigh, but she pushed those thoughts away. “So, is everything ready for the big show?”

“As ready as it should be at this point,” Moira replied and nodded her head, “but it’s been a long way to here.”

Felicity nodded her head. “I am sure it is.”

“The fact that Oliver changed almost everything he had originally planned within those last two weeks robbed at least twenty years of life.” Moira chuckled, but her nervousness and exhaustion definitely sounded through. “I had to color my hair this morning for the first time in my life because the grey was shining through.”

Usually, Felicity would laugh about the fun Moira was making about herself right before she would tell her that it didn’t take away any of her beauty. Even if her age would be shining through, she would still be one of the most beautiful women Felicity had ever met. Despite the make-up and everything else, she was just a natural beauty.

Felicity couldn’t focus on any of that though. She was too distracted by the fact that Oliver had changed so many things about the fashion show within the last two weeks. Oliver was often chaotic, even when it came to work, but he would never decide on something like that lightly. Putting all the designs for a collection together took months. He must be completely sleep-deprived if he had designed and tailored all those dresses in only two weeks.

“He changed everything?”

“Well, he would have to tailor new designs anyway because he tore them apart the night of… well, you know what night.” Moira cleared her throat quickly, trying to hide the awkwardness of the moment. “Instead of tailoring new dresses with the help of the design sketches, Oliver drafted a completely new collection. He worked night and day, at least as long as he wasn’t in Hub City and-“

“Sorry for tempting him away from Starling.”

Moira smiled as softly as Felicity had never seen her before. She hesitated for a second before she put her hand to Felicity’s shoulder.

“My son has a soft spot for you to say the least,” she explained, “and although it distracted him from work at the wrong time, it also gave his work a special touch that his last collections were missing. If you ask me, this is going to be the first collection to really catch up to the first’s success. Maybe it’s even better than that one. Either way, Oliver is clearly past his anger. He didn’t call this collection The Return of Happiness for no reason.”

The Return of Happiness. The words echoed in Felicity’s mind, and she couldn’t help but feel that they were absolutely beautiful. They might also hold quite some meaning if Oliver really meant them.

Felicity felt her heckles rising and quickly turned her head back over her shoulder. She wasn’t surprised to find Oliver’s eyes on her. He was taking her in intensely, letting his gaze travel up and down her body. The corners of his lips twitched slightly at the sight, and Felicity could feel her heartbeat quickening at the way his gaze made her feel.

When Felicity lifted her hand and waved at Oliver awkwardly, he said some last words to the stylist he had been talking about and hurried towards her. Although his eyes were focused on her and only her, he avoided any possible hurdle in his way.

“Hey.”

There it was again, Felicity thought with a smile. That little hey just felt like it was only ever meant for her. Just like that soft tone of his voice and the warm smile on his lips seemed to be just for her.

“Hi.”

Oliver’s arms wrapped around her, and he held her tightly. Felicity could feel his nose pushing against the crown of her head as he breathed her in. With a low sigh, Felicity closed her eyes and leaned even more against Oliver. She let herself enjoy the hug and took in a deep breath until she felt all her muscles relaxing completely.

When Oliver eventually leaned out of the hug, he let his hands stroke all the way down her arms. His fingers tightened around hers then, and he lifted her hands to pull them a little bit to the side and look her up and down. He took in the red dress he had seen in her closet last week, the dress that he had designed and that they both liked so much. Even if he’d try, he wouldn’t be able to hide his smile anymore now.

“Nice dress,” he said, meeting her eyes again. “Who’s the designer?”

“Oh, you actually know him,” Felicity replied, “your mom even meant that-“

Felicity stopped when she realized that Moira was no longer standing next to them. She hadn’t even realized that she had left them. With a quick look around, she found that she had already reached the other end of the room though.

“I guess she thought that it was better to leave us alone.”

Looking back at Oliver, she felt her heartbeat skipping a beat before it started racing in her chest once more. Just like she had seen with Sara and Nyssa before, Felicity felt like all the bustling activity just faded away. All there was were Oliver and his deep blue eyes that she could so easily get lost in.

Only now Felicity realized that Oliver was still holding her hands. His thumbs were rubbing over the back of them slowly, drawing small circles into her skin and-

“Oliver?”

The moment Oliver heard the sound of his name, he clenched his jaws. His shoulders tensed. His fingers tightened around her hands.

“Can’t someone have a moment here?”

Felicity smiled comfortingly. “No, not when you are about to rock a fashion show, so I should go and-“

“Will you still be there after the show?” Oliver asked. “To… talk? Or something?”

Or something, Felicity thought to herself and couldn’t bite back an amused smile. She’d ask Oliver what exactly he had in mind for that if she thought that she could hear his answer. She wasn’t sure that this was the right time or the right place though.

“Oliver, I came here for you,” she said instead and squeezed his hands, “so of course I will still be there after the show.”

“Promise?”

The little word made his heart beat just as high as his hey before.

“Promise,” she whispered. “For now, good luck.”

With that, she straightened up to the tips of her toes and brushed her lips against his cheek in a gentle kiss. Oliver’s eyes were unbelievably soft when Felicity stepped away from him. She squeezed his hands one last time before she turned around and headed back towards the curtains where Sara was already waiting for her.

“If you ask me,” Sara said as they both left the area, “you shouldn’t decide on what status your and Oliver’s relationship has yet because I am sure it’s going to change very soon anyway.”

Felicity shot her a brief glance, trying to look annoyed. Sara held her gaze easily though. She stood with what she had said, and Felicity couldn’t hold it against her. Sara was probably right after all.

 

* * *

 

“So,” Robert addressed Felicity, turning towards her the moment Malcolm Merlyn left their side, “what did you think about the fashion show?”

“I still can’t believe I gotta watch this from the front row,” Felicity said, shaking her head in disbelief, “it’s been incredible, right?”

The designs had reminded her a lot of Oliver’s first collection. Although every single design had been unique and no copy of the prior designs, the style had the same soft touch the last few collections had seemed to miss. Oliver was still playing around with mixing fabrics that didn’t seem to work together well – leather and lace, velvet and linen, silk and metal – but it was still much softer and really beautiful. Felicity wasn’t surprised that Moira thought the collection was going to be a success.

“You can definitely see how much Oliver has grown as a designer,” Robert agreed, his smile giving away that he knew little about fashion and it was mostly his pride speaking out of him there, “and as a brother. Did you know he was going to do that?”

“If with ‘that’ you mean using Thea’s accessories on his designs and calling her out on the stage to honor her work,” Felicity said, smiling at the memory, “no, I didn’t.”

Felicity couldn’t even deny that she had been surprised when she had recognized some of Thea’s designs on Oliver’s models. She had been even more surprised when Oliver had called Thea onto the stage and thanked her for the work she had contributed. He had also advertised for her designs, reminding everyone how well they fitted with his designs as well as others.

“All I did was asking him to check out Thea’s designs one day soon,” Felicity added eventually and took a sip of her champagne, “I never expected him to do this though.”

“Well, you obviously have a good influence on him,” Robert replied with a smile, “it’s never been different.”

Felicity smiled, but she lowered her gaze. She didn’t know what to think about that. In the few years that she and Oliver had been together, she had often heard that she had been a good influence on him. Although it had certainly always meant well, Felicity couldn’t help but feel awkward about it. Being a good influence on someone meant that you were changing them, and Felicity wasn’t sure that that was what relationships should be about.

When Robert cleared this throat, Felicity lifted her gaze to look at him. Robert was looking at her with pursed lips and a hesitating expression in his eyes. There was something about the way he looked at her that told Felicity there was something on his heart.

“I am sorry, Felicity,” Robert said before Felicity could ask him about it, “for not telling you that your dad was invited.”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders. After everything she had learned about Adrian that night, her father had basically been forgotten. After all, she was used to him being an ass and not really caring about her or about what she was doing.

Besides, if her father hadn’t shown up, she might not have run outside. If she hadn’t run outside, Oliver wouldn’t have followed her. Maybe, they would have never known that there were inconsistencies in the story of their break-up. Despite everything, her dad’s insensitive visit had had some good things to it.

“Don’t worry about it,” Felicity replied, shrugging her shoulders once more, “it did have some good things to it. At least it helped Oliver and me to see that something was wrong.”

“Do you think that you two are going to get back together?”

Felicity almost choked on her champagne at Robert’s question. She hadn’t taken him to be this direct when it came to her relationship with his son. When they had been together, he had been the one that had been more reserved. Moira had been the one to push a little with her questions, asking about their intentions for the future, including weddings and kids. She had been a little nosy although she had still been quite pleasant.

Eventually, Felicity got a hold on her coughing. She took a deep breath and looked right at Robert. He looked a little amused like he had only wanted to tease her with his question anyway.

Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “Who knows?”

From the corner of her eyes, she could see something that called her attraction. Only when she turned her head, she saw that it was Oliver. She wasn’t surprised about it though. They always seemed to know where they were and what they were doing.

Cocking her head slightly, Felicity watched him. Oliver was smiling politely, nodding his head to whatever his opponent was saying. He really did his best to look patient and interested. People who didn’t know him as well as Felicity knew him would probably fall for it. Since Felicity knew him as well as she knew him, there was no way she’d fall for it.

Poor Oliver, Felicity thought to herself. He loved his fashion, and he loved these fashion shows. He hated the after-parties though. They stressed him out because he didn’t really like to talk to people, especially when it was small talk. Sometimes, Felicity was still surprised that this man here was the same man he was when he was around her. They usually seemed like two completely different types of people.

When Oliver’s eyes met hers briefly, he rolled his eyes. He obviously had trouble getting rid of the guy that was talking to him.

“Since I owe you one,” Robert said, clearing his throat, “I will take care of that, so you can steal Oliver away from here.”

With that, he beckoned the waitress to come closer. He stole two glasses of whiskey from the tray and stepped right towards Oliver and the other guy, thrusting the second glass of whiskey into that guy’s hands. Within seconds, Felicity watched Robert urging more and more between them until his back was turned towards Oliver. Leading one hand behind his back, he gestured for Oliver to just run away as quickly as he could.

Oliver didn’t need any further invitation. He turned on his heels and headed right in her direction.

“Finally,” he whispered, wrapping his arms around her without hesitation and brushing his lips against her temple, “I thought I’d never make my way to you.”

Felicity chuckled, rubbing her hands up and down Oliver’s back. It felt so good to be back in his arms like that. There was something perfectly natural about this. Felicity almost wished that she never had to let go again.

“Congratulations on your success,” she said as soon as they pulled out of the hug, smiling at each other, “the show has been amazing. Everyone will love it.”

“We’ll know tomorrow,” Oliver said nervously, “when I read the critics.”

Felicity nodded her head slowly. She knew that Oliver did most of his work for himself. He loved designing and he loved tailoring as far as he could tailor at least. Still, he was always nervous about the critics. He wanted his work to be acknowledged.

“They will be good,” Felicity assured him, putting a hand onto his heart, “or they will be wrong. There is no in between.”

Oliver looked at her intensely like her words were his lifeline. Felicity knew that those few hours between presenting his work to the public and reading the critics in the newspapers were always difficult for Oliver. He was feeling like he was in some kind of void, unable to do anything but wait, and patience had never really been one of Oliver’s virtues.

“Thank you for including Thea by the way.”

“Yeah, I didn’t really do it for you.”

Oliver frowned at his own words. Felicity pressed her lips together and rolled them into her mouth. She didn’t want him to see her smile. It was too much fun to see Oliver struggling for words after his last attempt had sounded so wrong. Usually, she was the one having struggles to find the right words for anything.

“I mean of course I’m happy that you helped me see Thea’s talent. I would have missed it if you hadn’t tipped me off on it,” Oliver hurried to explain quickly, “but I did include her designs in the show and I did invite her on the stage because she really got talent there that shouldn’t be overlooked. Otherwise, nothing would have gotten me to do that, not even you.”

“To be honest, if you had Thea’s talent, someone else would have seen it eventually,” Felicity explained, “so she would have made her way either way.”

Oliver nodded his head. “Yeah, I guess she got the Queen Family’s-“

“Oliver?”

“I will definitely kill somebody before this day is over.”

Poor Oliver, was all Felicity could think once more. For the last three years, he had dedicated himself to his work completely. All he wanted to have now was some kind of break, so he could catch his breath and do what he wanted to do. The people around him just wouldn’t let him because they couldn’t see that things had changed for him. To their excuse, Felicity had to admit that Oliver had chosen the worst timing to take his time.

“You should go,” Felicity whispered, nodding towards the woman that had called Oliver, “we can still talk later. I won’t leave before tomorrow afternoon, so talk to these people here. We can still meet up tomorrow for lunch. I don’t mind.”

“I mind,” Oliver replied, grabbing her hands and holding them tightly, “because I want to spend time with you. That’s more important to me than anything else that is here. Let’s run away.”

Felicity already opened her mouth to reply, but she didn’t really know what to say. She couldn’t ask Oliver to run away with her. If the roles were reversed, she knew that she couldn’t do this. The success of her company meant so much to her because so much depended on it that she couldn’t risk it easily.

“We can’t do that,” Felicity told him and shook her head, “I mean all those people came here for you and-“

“You came here for me,” Oliver interrupted her firmly, shaking his head, “that is what you said to me before the show. You came here for me. Everyone else came for the reporters or my parents or the fashion show itself. You came here for me, so you are the person I want to spend time with tonight. I even got a new phone, so I can put it on mute. It’s so cool.”

Felicity chuckled, but she soon cocked her head at Oliver again. She wanted to go somewhere with him, somewhere where there were no interruptions and where they could have their moment without anyone calling him away. She had come here for him and not because of the fashion show or anything else, so she wanted to spend time with him of course.

“I-“

“You should go,” Moira whispered as she stepped towards them and put her hands to both of their backs, “I will handle all of this.”

“Are you sure, Moira,” Felicity asked, “because I know that-“

“She said we should go,” Oliver said urgently, already grabbing Felicity’s hand, “so we should go before she changes her mind.”

He said those last words right into her ear, tightening his fingers around her hand. Looking at him, Felicity saw how serious he was about it. He really just wanted to leave. Who was she to disagree with him on it?

“Okay,” she said quickly, “let’s go.”

“And take the back exit,” Moira whispered, “or you’ll have your photo printed on the front cover of every tabloid.”

Oliver nodded. He shot Felicity a brief glance, making sure that she was ready. As soon as Felicity nodded her head, giving her consent to go with Oliver wherever he wanted to go right now, he pulled at her hand and led her away. Hand in hand, they hurried towards the back exit wherever exactly that was. At least Oliver seemed to know.

“My parents love you, you know?” he asked, whispering those words into her ear. “They are pushing for us to be together.”

“They think that I have a good influence on you.”

“You do,” Oliver agreed with a chuckle and kissed her temple, “because you chased away my bad mood. They wouldn’t have been able to stand it any longer.”

Felicity smiled at the way Oliver grinned amusedly and replied, “Well, in that case I will do my best to keep your mood at a high level.”

“You don’t have to do much to achieve that,” Oliver said and winked at her, “all you have to do is be there.”

Felicity felt her heart skipping a beat and smiled at his words. Whatever would happen tonight, she was sure that it would decide where their relationship would go. The thought made her stomach flutter as tingle spread all over her body.

Let’s see where this night would take them.

 

* * *

 

 “There we are.”

“There we are,” Oliver agreed with a long sigh and pushed his hands into the pockets of his pants, “unfortunately.”

Felicity smiled softly, cocking her head. Oliver looked honestly sad about the fact that they had finally arrived at the door to her hotel room. He had done his best to prolong this night for as long as possible. He had even made the ten minutes it should have taken from Big Belly’s to the hotel take almost one hour because he had taken quite some detours. Now the soles of her feet were aching, but she didn’t mind.

The evening had indeed been great. For the first time, she had had Oliver all for herself. There hadn’t been any other people around them, and nobody had even called him on the phone. Even if someone had, they wouldn’t have heard it thanks to Oliver’s new phone. Hence, they had been able to have dinner, chat and walk home without any interruptions.

She was just as sorry as Oliver was that the evening was coming to an end, but she really couldn’t be on her feet for much longer. She was tired and exhausted. She just wanted to fall into bed.

“So…”

Oliver lifted his gaze, looking at her. He nodded his head slowly. “So…”

They looked at each other intensely. Neither of them really wanted to say goodbye just yet, but they had arrived at her hotel room, so there wasn’t anything else left to do other than saying goodbye. It was time.

“So…”

The third time that syllable was said, the corners of Oliver’s lips twitched into a smile. If they continued like that, they’d still be here tomorrow. The thought made Felicity chuckle and shake her head.

“Are we going to see each other tomorrow?” Oliver asked, pulling his hand out of the pocket of his jeans and lacing his fingers with hers. “Before you go back to Hub City?”

Felicity nodded her head. “Sounds good.”

“Lunch?”

“Sure.” Again, Felicity nodded and felt a tight knot forming in the pit of her stomach. “My flight leaves at five, so we shouldn’t eat too late, but yeah.”

With how far apart they lived, she and Oliver shouldn’t be dancing around each other like they did. Their past was complicated, and their future, if they had any at all, wasn’t going to be any easier either. Who knew when they had time to see each other again?

“I’ll pick you up at twelve.”

“Okay.” Felicity smiled. “Sounds good.”

Oliver nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay.”

Felicity guessed that okay was the new so. No matter what little word they continued to say just to prolong their time together, it didn’t help. At the end, they would have to say goodnight and goodbye.

“Goodnight, Oliver,” Felicity whispered as little as she wanted to say this, “sleep well.”

“You too.”

Oliver wrapped his arms around her, pulling her against his chest. Just like earlier this day in the show’s backstage area, his nose pressed to the crown of her head and he breathed her in. A moment later, his lips brushed against her hair. Some single hairs got caught in his stubble when he pulled away, but Felicity didn’t mind the slight twinge.

Lifting her gaze to say goodnight to Oliver once more, she realized how close he still was. His breath ghosted over her face. The tip of his nose almost brushed against her forehead when he took in a breath. His chest was still pressed to hers, so she could feel the rapid beat of his heart.

While Oliver angled his head and slowly leaned in, Felicity felt everything around them fading away. It was just Oliver and her, and this time nobody could change that by breaking through their little bubble. There was really just them.

Oliver’s lips were only a breath away from hers when he stopped moving. His eyes were locked with hers, his desire to kiss her visible there. Still, he didn’t close the distance, giving her the time to lean in or distance himself. She should make the final decision of what she wanted.

There wasn’t much of a decision to make though. Felicity knew what she wanted, and it was about time that she finally got it. She had waited three long years and two unbearable weeks.

Angling her head back a little, Felicity straightened up and brushed her lips against his. Their lips touched gently and carefully at first. It only took a brief moment until their lips pressed down a little more firmly into a real kiss. Finally!

Everything inside of Felicity was tingling from the touch of his lips and from the way his short stubble tickled the sensitive skin around her mouth. Oliver lifted a hand to her face, cupping her cheek. His thumb stroked along the line of her jaw while he was continuing to hold her so, so gently.

The kiss was perfect, even more perfect than every single kiss they had shared two weeks ago. This time, the kiss wasn’t filled with anger. It didn’t happen solely from a mixture of lust and bottled-up rage. It was a kiss full of softness, a kiss that came from deep in their hearts. It tasted like love.

Felicity didn’t know how much time had passed when their lips parted. They didn’t pull very far apart, just enough to look at each other. Oliver’s hand stayed at her cheek, holding her like she was a treasure he didn’t want to get hurt. His pupils were dilated, his lips spread into a soft smile of content and joy.

Smiling, Felicity leaned her forehead against Oliver’s. Her arms stayed wrapped around his chest. She used her hold on him to push herself as close to Oliver as possible. Although it wasn’t cold in the hallway, she was seeking the warmth of his body. It warmed her inside and outside.

“Goodnight, Felicity,” Oliver whispered eventually.

“Yeah,” Felicity took in a deep breath and angled her head back a little, “goodnight.”

Instead of moving apart, they only leaned in for another kiss. Their lips opened to each other, their tongues meeting in a slow dance. Oliver lifted his second hand to her face now too, holding her head between his palms.

“I should go,” Oliver whispered against her lips, “like right now.”

Felicity hummed in what sounded like agreement. Her hands moved to the front of his chest at the same time. Her fingers tightened around his leather jacket, pulling him even closer towards her. Her words and her actions just didn’t work together.

“Goodnight, Oliver,” she whispered her reply, “see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah, tomorrow.”

The goodbye stayed in their words though as they continued kissing. Felicity really didn’t want Oliver to go, now even less than a couple of minutes ago. She wanted him to stay. She wanted to pretend that she could just hold him and never had to let him go again. Of course she knew that it wasn’t really possible with her job, her friends and her entire life really in Hub City, but at least she could pretend.

The last three years had been filled with so much sorrow and so much anger, they deserved to pretend that everything was going to be easy from here on. At least for one night, Felicity figured that they were allowed to. It was all she really wanted right now.

With that thought, Felicity reached into her purse and grabbed her key card. She knew that as long as Oliver’s lips were on hers, she would never have the focus to get that card into the little slit meant for it. So she stroked the card over the back of Oliver’s hand on her face. He got it immediately, grabbed it and unlocked the door within two seconds.

As soon as they had crossed the doorstep, Oliver kicked the door shut between them. The key card fell onto the floor with a low clattering sound. Felicity kicked her shoes away, sighing contently when the soles of her feet touched the floor. Oliver swallowed the sound eagerly, tightening his arms around her.

Felicity wanted to lead him towards the bedroom, unwilling to wait any longer to feel all of Oliver. She wanted him to be in her and all around her. She wanted to feel him and only him, nothing else. The little bubble that was around them already should grow even smaller, so there was nothing else to focus on than them.

When Felicity took the first step away, their lips parted though as Oliver just stood where he was. His hands were holding hers as they were standing the length of an arm away from each other. His smile was taking over his entire face as he was looking at her. He looked as happy as Felicity hadn’t seen him in a long time.

“What?” she asked, cocking her head, when he showed no sign of following her. “Are you playing hard-to-get? Or shy? I have to disappoint you, Oliver, that train had left the station a long time ago.”

“It did?” Oliver asked. “Really?”

“Yeah, kind of.”

Chuckling, Oliver pulled at her hand until she was back in his arms. His lips brushed against hers in a gentle and even playful kiss. As soon as Felicity straightened up to deepen the kiss and start another attempt of getting him into her bedroom – really, her thoughts made her feel like she was a femme fatal, trying to tempt her next victim into the darkness with her – Oliver broke the kiss once more.

Felicity grumbled unhappily. After all the time they had wasted hating each other, she didn’t want to wait any longer. They had lost so much time. They should try to catch up now.

With one look at Oliver’s face, Felicity felt her heart losing its rhythm. It was beating irregularly, stumbling in her chest helplessly. There was just something in Oliver’s eyes that told Felicity something big was coming. Oliver hadn’t stopped because he was playing around. He hadn’t even done it to heighten their desire for each other. He just needed to say something, and it was something meaningful, something that had to be said now. It had to get out of him, so he could breathe and it could breathe.

“Felicity,” he whispered her name like it was a prayer and lifted his hands back to cup her cheeks, looking at her as softly as he was holding her, “I love you.”

She shouldn’t be surprised. Deep down, she had known that Oliver still loved her. She had seen it in the way he had looked at her when they had had sex. She had felt it in his rage when he had freaked out the night of the rehearsal dinner. She had known it from everything he had done after that.

And still Felicity couldn’t help being surprised at hearing Oliver say those words out loud tonight. It just came unexpected because Oliver didn’t necessarily carry his heart on his tongue a lot of times. He was quiet and broody, especially when it came to his feelings. Big gestures and meaningful words just weren’t his. He showed his lips rather than saying it unless it was a quick Love you between two goodbye kisses.

“I love you, Felicity,” he repeated his words, “and I have always loved you and I probably will always love you. If the last three years didn’t do anything to change that, nothing ever will. For me, it’s going to be you no matter what.”

If her heart would beat any more quickly, Felicity was sure that it would just escape her chest. Her throat felt tight, and she was sure that no sound would come from it. With the way Oliver was looking at her, waiting for her to say something after this big declaration of love, she cleared her throat though.

“That’s intense.”

Her voice was lowered to a whisper that she could barely hear over the rushing of blood in her ears. If Oliver’s slightly amused smile was any indication, he hadn’t missed it.

“True,” he said with a sigh, looking at her gently, while his right hand was stroking over her cheek, “but I don’t want to lose time dangling maybes or something. I have gotten a second chance to show you how much I love you, so I will use it. I know there won’t be a third chance, so I have to make this work. I want to use this chance to its best.”

Felicity nodded her head. Wasn’t that exactly what had been on her mind before too? That they had to make up for the missed time by going all in from the start instead of waiting around for life to make things easier for them?

“I know you aren’t the same person you have been three years ago,” Oliver continued, “neither am I. We have to get to know each other again, but I just know that, whoever you are now or whoever you will become in the future, it will never change my feelings for you. I will always, always, always love you.”

The heaviness of his words got her. The repeated declaration of love crawled under her skin and spread in every cell of her body.

For a second, Felicity felt panic building at that feeling. She had sworn herself never to fall that deeply in love again. She had left like she had been burnt once and the pain of it had been with her for so long that it wasn’t worth it. No matter how happy love could make you, it wasn’t worth the pain that came when it was gone. It was too much for her to take once more.

Since she had never really fallen out of love with Oliver, it wasn’t like she had much of a choice here. Even if she didn’t want to fall in love again, it didn’t matter. She still was that deeply in love. And it would be worth it.

“I love you too.”

Felicity hadn’t realized how much Oliver had needed to hear her say those words. He released a strangled breath. His chest heaved and the tension she hadn’t noticed in his shoulders before seemed to ease.

He loved her. She had loved him. That easily, the world seemed to make sense again and everything inside of her seemed to have found its place again. She had fully found her place again because that little emptiness that not even Helix Dynamics could have filled was taken again.

Not breaking the lock of their eyes, Oliver stroked his hands down her body. His right arm wrapped around her back, while his left arm pushed beneath the back of her knees. He lifted her into his arms easily, holding her like she was as light as a feather. All the while, he just continued to look at her like she had just given him the most precious gift he had ever received.

Felicity lifted her hands to Oliver’s cheeks, holding his face the way he had held hers before. While her fingertips were stroking through his short stubble, Felicity watched Oliver’s in. She wanted to take him and memorize him in this moment that they had found their way back to each other. He looked so happy and so at ease. He looked like he had found his home, just like she had.

They leaned in at the same time. As their lips brushed together, Felicity stroked her fingers into the short hair at the nape of Oliver’s neck. She could feel goosebumps spreading on his skin, and she smiled into the kiss at that feeling. She loved knowing that she could do that to him with just as much as an innocent touch.

Oliver carried her into the bedroom. Thanks to the few doors there were, he didn’t have any trouble finding the bedroom. Even if he did, Felicity wouldn’t mind. It was a nice feeling to be carried by Oliver like this. She could easily get used to it.

In the bedroom, Oliver lowered Felicity to the floor right next to the bed. His arms stayed wrapped around her though, stopping her from distancing herself. It wasn’t like Felicity had had any intention to do so in the first place. The closer she was to Oliver, the better.

Scraping his teeth against her bottom lip, Oliver broke the kiss. He didn’t pull away. Instead, his lips peppered a trail of kisses from the corners of her lips to the soft spot right under her ear. His lips lingered there a little longer, almost turning Felicity’s legs into wobbly jelly. Her fingers tightened in his upper arms.

“Finally, I gotta do what I wanted to do a very long time.”

Oliver stroked his fingers up her back towards the topmost button, leaning back a little. His eyes locked with hers, and he smiled softly. One by one, he undid the buttons of her dress. His fingertips brushed against her soft skin, and Felicity was sure that his touch caused goosebumps to spread from the nape of her neck all the way down her back.

As soon as he had undone the last button, Oliver put his hands to the naked skin of her back. The warmth of his skin warmed her and relaxed the slight tension she always carried in her muscles. With a content sigh, she leaned all the way against Oliver. She angled her head back as far as he could, so she could look at Oliver’s face.

“You do know what you undressed me two weeks ago, right?” Felicity asked. “It’s not been that long.”

“But I didn’t take any of my designs off you.”

Felicity perked up her eyebrows. “My dress for the wedding?”

Oliver looked at her, unable to find something to say. He opened his lips, but he closed them again. He frowned for a moment before he chuckled. Although it was certainly mean to sound light, Felicity couldn’t help but think that it actually sounded a little sad.

“I didn’t realize that until now,” Oliver said, shaking his head, “I guess I was too focused on my anger and on beating myself up for being that weak that I couldn’t even resist you for 24 hours. I wasn’t able to focus on the fact that I was undressing you, never mind what I was taking off from you.”

The sadness Felicity had heard in Oliver’s chuckle was visible in his eyes too. Their past probably wasn’t going to leave them anytime soon. There was still a lot of regret there, no matter how much they told each other to leave their past behind themselves.

Felicity lifted her hand to Oliver’s heart and let her palm rest there. She could feel his heartbeat beneath her hand. It was beating slow but unevenly, just like hers.

Their lips met in another kiss. It was just as slow as their heartbeats, but it had more harmony. Their lips just moved in perfect synch. Their tongues danced in that slow and familiar way. Their bodies fit together like two pieces of the same puzzle.

Slowly, Felicity moved her hands to Oliver’s shoulders and pushed his leather jacket down his arms. Oliver unwrapped his arms from around her just long enough, so he could shake off the fabric. While it was dropping to the floor, Oliver’s arms already wrapped back around her waist. He leaned forward, angling her back, so she was almost lying in his arms. If he let go of her now, she’d lose all balance and fall to the floor.

Felicity had never really liked not to be in control of everything. She loved tech because she could control it. Letting herself fall and trusting someone to catch her was not something she did easily. With Oliver, it felt incredibly easy though. She’d let herself fall around him a thousand times. She knew he’d always be there to catch her.

Pushing her chest against his, she prompted Oliver to straighten back up. Once she was safe on her feet again, she grabbed the hem of his shirt and started tugging at it. Oliver got the hint and lifted his arms over his head. Since Felicity was too tiny, he helped her take that shirt off of him completely.

When Felicity’s body pressed against Oliver’s now, all the naked skin touching, she felt heat pooling in the pit of her stomach. She knew that it had only been two weeks since they had had sex before, but it was different now. Just like with their fist kiss tonight, the sex just wouldn’t be tainted by broken past. In the light of their I love yous, it was just something completely different. It was something much better.

While Oliver was slipping out of his shoes, Felicity unbuckled his belt and undid his pants. She pushed them down quickly and Oliver kicked the pant legs away one by one.

Oliver tightened his arms around her waist and turned them around, so his back was turned to the bed. He said down on the edge of the mattress, his lips parting from Felicity’s. Although the desiring expression in his eyes was something to get lost in, the only thing Felicity wanted more than to lose herself in Oliver’s eyes was losing herself in Oliver’s kisses and his touches.

She crawled onto his lap. While her arms wrapped around his neck, her hands stroking through his hair, her legs wrapped around his hips. That way, she opened herself to him. Her sensitive area rubbed right against his erection. He was already hard for her, ready to make her feel all the pleasures in the world.

Moaning against Oliver’s lips, she grinded herself against him. The feeling of his cock rubbing against her clit already felt so good. The bare thought of feeling him back inside of her now that there were no more real hurdles in their way, or at least none they wouldn’t do their best to get out of their way, made Felicity want Oliver all the more. The movements of her hips sped up in response.

Oliver moved his hands from her hips to her back and up her spine until he reached the clasp of her bra. With a simple movement of his fingers, he unclasped the lacy fabric and took it off her body. As soon as he had dropped the bra to the floor, his hands came to rest against her back. They covered it almost completely as her back was so much smaller than his hands were.

With a quick movement, Oliver turned them, pushing Felicity down into the mattress. His body covered hers. His naked torso rubbed against her nipples. Her open legs encompassed his hips perfectly, allowing himself to continue rubbing against her like she had done before. The firm strokes of Oliver’s hips heightened Felicity’s pleasure only more.

Oliver stroked his tongue against hers one last time before he broke the kiss. His lips never let her skin though. Instead, he brushed a couple of kisses against the line of her jaw before he kissed down the side of her neck. Kissing, licking and biting, he explored her body once more, taking so much more time than they had taken the two times they had had sex during her last stay in Starling.

Opening her eyes, Felicity stared at the ceiling. Although she could feel Oliver’s body on hers and she could feel his lips against her pulse point, sucking a hickey into her skin, it still felt incredibly unreal. It felt unreal that she was back here in Starling and that she was happy to be back here. It felt even more unreal that Oliver was in her bed, taking his time to explore her body before they would unite.

It felt unreal, but it was the best kind of unreal. It felt like she was caught in a dream that she really didn’t want to wake up from.

The feeling of Oliver’s tongue pushing into her belly button distracted her from her thoughts. She giggled, unable to hold back that girly sound. Her legs kicked around, trying to make Oliver stop. He leaned his stubbled chin against the inside of her thigh and smiled at her warmly. It made Felicity stop and just look back at him.

Everything about the way he looked at her relax Felicity and made her realize how happy she was to be here with him. As unreal as it felt, it was real. This was her dream come true, and she wanted to use every second of it. The thought made Felicity put her hand to Oliver’s cheek and stroke her fingers through his stubble.

Oliver continued to look at her for a moment longer. With his eyes still locked on hers, he brushed his lips against the inside of her thigh. His fingers hooked into the waistband of her panties, and he pulled them down her legs with one quick movement. Throwing the fabric somewhere behind him, Oliver made himself comfortable between her legs.

Felicity felt her breath getting caught in her throat at the way Oliver looked at her, his pupils dilated and an expression of pure desire taking over his face. Without any warning, he lowered his head between her legs and rubbed his tongue against her clit.

“Oh, god!”

Desperate to hold onto whatever self-control she had after all this time that nobody had done this for her, Felicity reached her hands over her head and held onto the headboard of the bed. Her back arched off the mattress. Her hips pressed closer to Oliver’s mouth, urging against his tongue that continued to make waves of warmth go through her body.

He licked a long stripe from her clit down to her opening. His tongue snuck between her folds and thrust right into her. Felicity gasped for breath, her back arching off the mattress even more. Oliver pushed her legs over his shoulders and pressed his forearm down in her hips, keeping her from moving. She was completely lost to whatever he did with her, but she didn’t want it any other way.

To say that Oliver was talented with his tongue was an underestimation to say the least. He teased her in the best way possible, rubbing the rough top of his tongue against her clit again and again. Within seconds Felicity felt like she had no more control on her body. Her head was turning from side to side in the pillow. Her fingers were tightened around the head of the bed so firmly that the knuckles had probably turned white. Long moans of pleasure were falling from her lips.

No man had ever made her feel the way Oliver made her feel in- and outside of bed.

When Oliver turned his attention back to her clit, Felicity felt her toes starting to tingle. She loosened a hand from the headboard, grabbing Oliver’s forearms over her hips instead. Her fingers dug into his skin, her nails scratching him lightly. It took a lot from her, but she opened her eyes, wanting Oliver to see how close she was.

As soon as their eyes locked and Felicity saw the desire in his eyes, saw how much he enjoyed eating her out, she felt the pleasure washing over her. Heat spread inside of her, making her feel like her body was set on fire. There was a small line between pleasure and pain, but the first outweighed the other at the end.

While her body spasmed from the pleasure that was rushing through her, Oliver continued to stroke his tongue against her clit slowly. He tried to tickle the last of her pleasure out of her, making her enjoy this for as long as possible.

Once Felicity had come down from her high, Felicity moved her fingers into his hair and tugged at some strands. Oliver got the hint immediately and moved up her body. Pressing his body to hers, his lips met hers in a searing kiss. They were even hungrier for each other now than they had been before.

Felicity pushed down Oliver’s boxer briefs. Her hands cupped the cheeks of his ass. Smiling against Oliver’s lips, she pinched his ass slightly. Oliver growled against her lips, causing his chest to vibrate against hers. Felicity deepened the kiss, pulling Oliver even more against him.

Oliver stroked his tongue against the roof of her mouth before he rolled off her. Sitting on the mattress next to her, he reached down to grab his jeans and started searching the pockets. Felicity watched him for a moment. Sucking her bottom lip between her front teeth, Felicity took a brief moment to consider her options.

Just when Oliver pulled a little foil package out of the pocket of his pants, Felicity climbed onto his lap, wrapping her legs around his hips. Her folds brushed right against Oliver’s erection. The sensation made both of them moan out loud. Oliver dropped his forehead against Felicity’s shoulder, pushing his nose against her skin and breathing her in.

They stayed like this for a long moment, not moving and just enjoying how close they were. They were taking their time, not hurrying through this like they had done two weeks ago. Tonight could be endless.

When Felicity reached out her hand and took hold of Oliver’s erection, his head snapped back. His eyes found hers immediately, locking with hers intensely. Felicity could almost see the thoughts processing in his eyes. They went from lust to understanding to surprise and finally determination. He knew what she was trying to ask without saying the words out loud, and he understood it very well.

The slight nod of Oliver’s head was all the assurance Felicity needed. She knew that he had been sleeping around these past years. He hadn’t lied about it or tried to hide it from her, not that it would have even possible with the attention his sex life got in the tabloids. Felicity also knew that Oliver wouldn’t lie to her about being healthy. He would never lie to her about anything.

Getting up onto her knees, Felicity positioned his cock at her entrance. She locked eyes with Oliver before sank down slowly, taking him all the way in. Her lips fell open in a soundless moan, while Oliver’s fingers dug into her hips.

Once he was all the way inside of her, stretching her inner walls perfectly while they were accommodating him tightly, they rested their foreheads against each other’s. Without moving their hips, they wrapped themselves in each other to get as close as possible. Felicity tightened her legs around Oliver’s hips, letting him sink in even deeper. Her arms wrapped around his shoulders, one of her hands brushing through his hair. Oliver’s arms wrapped around her back, his warm hands stroking up and down her spine.

If time froze and caught her in this moment forever, Felicity knew she’d be happy. This was perfectly perfect, everything she wanted and needed and more.

Locking eyes with each other once more, their hips started moving together. Felicity sank down on Oliver every time he was thrusting up. His cock moved in and out of her slowly, pushing against her inner walls and rubbing against that sensitive spot inside of her that increased her pleasure so very quickly. Every thrust made her heart beat a little higher.

Felicity didn’t want this to end too quickly though. They had rushed through their pleasure two times before. This time, she wanted to take every second and enjoy it. The more they could prolong this, the better.

Pulling at some strands of Oliver’s hair, she angled his head back and caught his lips with hers. Their lips and tongues moved together just as harmonically as their lips. Felicity tightened her hands around his hair, scratching the other all the way down Oliver’s back gently at the same time. Oliver moved his hands up her back to her shoulders and down against over her rib cage. His fingertips grazed her breasts.

It wasn’t long before the pleasure grew inside of Felicity so much that she couldn’t control it anymore. Her hips lost their rhythm, chasing their relief wildly instead of answering to the thrusts of Oliver’s hips. Hot heat was spreading inside of her, making it hard to breathe. She tried to tear her lips away from Oliver, needing more oxygen, but he put a hand to the back of her head, keeping her where she was.

One particularly had thrust of Oliver’s hips were enough to send her over the edge. She let herself fall, losing herself in Oliver completely. She felt as light as a feather, like a gust of wind could just take her away. She had her head in the clouds, all worries and problems forgotten. For now, the only thing that mattered was this moment right here.

The last tremors of pleasure were still running through her, her walls fluttering around Oliver’s cock, when Felicity noticed the slight sting in her shoulder. Oliver had rested his head there, his teeth buried in her flesh slightly. His hands were holding onto her hips tightly, He was holding onto a small thread of self-control, doing his best to stop himself from coming. Just like her, he didn’t want this to end too soon.

Felicity stroked her fingers through his hair soothingly, but she did her best to stay unmoving apart from that. She wanted to give him the time he needed until he was back in control.

It didn’t take long. Soon Oliver angled his head back to meet her eyes. There was amazement and desire spread there, mixing with his deep love for her. It made her heartbeat quicken and her a new wave of heat running through her.

Their lips met once more, moving together in a slow and gentle kiss. Oliver turned them around, making them both lie down on their sides. His legs were stretched out, and Felicity moved her hand down his strong calf before he wrapped her leg back around his hips.

They adapted another slow rhythm, moving together even more slowly than they had before. Their lips broke apart, so their eyes could lock. They looked at each other, sharing their love for each other just with the expression in their eyes. For Felicity, there was only Oliver. There was nothing and nobody else this was all there was, and it was all she wanted.

The new position didn’t make Oliver go particularly deep, but the changed angle allowed his cock to push against her inner walls even more firmly. She was holding him in a tight grip and he stretched her perfectly. Their arms were still holding onto each other tightly.

Felicity was so very sore from her first two orgasms that she could feel herself getting close to another wave of pleasure soon. She angled her head, bringing it even close to Oliver. Their noses were brushing together with every single one of their slow thrusts. She moved her hands to his cheeks, holding his face in her hands.

It was good that there were no words needed here because Felicity didn’t have any to say how happy she was that Oliver was back in her life. She had never felt as appreciated, as loved or as grounded as she felt during every second that they were together. Whether they were having dinner together or make love, he made her feel things that nobody else could make her feel.

“Oliver.”

His name escaping her lips in a feverish whisper. She knew that her next orgasm wasn’t far away, and she wanted to make sure that Oliver knew exactly how he made her feel. She wanted him to know that the waves of pleasure running through her were all on him and that he was everything she had on her mind and in her heart in this moment.

She could see in his eyes that he got it. He understood her even when she didn’t say a single word. And he felt exactly the same way.

When the pleasure washed over her this time, Oliver captured her lips in a long kiss. He swallowed the sounds of pleasure falling from her lips eagerly, wanting to feel everything he made her feel. It turned him on all the more.

Felicity was still caught in her pleasure when she felt Oliver’s hips stuttering. They lost its rhythm. Turning Felicity on her back, he thrust into her firmly just a couple of times more. Pushing himself onto his forearms, he opened his eyes and looked at her. His pupils were dilated, his lips opened in frantic panting.

Lifting a hand to Oliver’s cheek, Felicity stroked her fingertips through his stubble and whispered, “Cum for me.”

“God, Felicity.”

With one last stuttering movement, Oliver came. His cock jerked inside of her, spilling into her. Felicity was still aroused, and the feeling of having Oliver cum inside of her made another small orgasm run through her. Her legs tightened around his hips, preventing him from leaving her though she doubted that he’d try even if he could.

They continued to move together lazily while the last waves of pleasure were running through them. Their lips were moving together in slow, loving, teasing kisses. Felicity’s hands were roaming over Oliver’s back until he grabbed one of her hands, laced his fingers with her and rested them on the pillow next to her head.

Their lips broke apart when the need for air became too much to bear. Their eyes met, and their fingers tightened on each other.

Oliver’s eyes were intense, crawling under her skin like they always did. Felicity felt goosebumps spread all over her skin. A wave of warmth ran through her, making her feel content and at ease.

“I love you,” she whispered before he could say it, wanting to be the one to say it first this time, “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They both smiled at the words and their lips met in another kiss. Maybe not all problems have been solved yet. There was still a lot to discuss when it came to their future. None of that mattered tonight though.

Felicity turned Oliver onto his back. She covered his body with kisses, going from his lips to the side of his neck and eventually down his chest. Oliver played with some strands of her hair, enjoying the gentle caress. Felicity could almost feel him turning into putty beneath her. All tension left his muscles.

He knew as well as she did that tonight was all theirs and that was all that mattered.

Chapter Text

Unlike most mornings, when either her jarring alarm or the thought of work pulled her from sleep ungently, it was the tickling feeling in the back of her neck that woke her up this morning. Her hackles rose in the best way possible. Goosebumps spread from the back of her neck all the way down her spine. Her muscles felt like they were made of putty. They were so relaxed that they almost melted into the mattress.

The memories of last night washed over Felicity like a warm shower, embracing her in this comfortable feeling that made a content feeling spread over her and inside of her. She remembered the fashion show and the hours spent with Oliver after that. Most importantly, she remembered all the times they had made love last night.

Made love. Felicity had never really been a fan of that term. It sounded corny, cheap and like a lie because sex and love didn’t require each other. She had had sex without being in love with that person several times, and she had loved Oliver for years although they hadn’t had sex. One could easily exist without the other. After last night, she couldn’t deny that having sex could be equaled with making love because it had just been so much more than sex last night. It had been a reunion, a homecoming, a declaration of love.

She felt a smile tugging at the corners of her lips and quickly turned her face into the pillow although she couldn’t say why. She was sure that Oliver was smiling too. Even if he hadn’t, he probably couldn’t even have seen her smile because her curly blonde hair was covering her face completely.

Once more, she felt like a stupid teenager. She wouldn’t be surprised if she started giggling and wouldn’t be able to get a hold on it. Love did that, Felicity guessed. It turned people, no matter how serious and focused they usually were, into brainless shells of a human.

The thought was usually something to scare Felicity because brainless, was the last attribute she wanted to be connected with her. Today, she didn’t mind. Being brainless meant that you didn’t see the disadvantages of being brainless either.

“Morning,” Oliver whispered eventually, “how did you sleep?”

Taking in a deep breath, Felicity turned her head. With her cheek resting on the pillow, she opened her eyes to look at Oliver. Immediately, everything inside of her started tingling like a thousand bumblebees were inside of her.

Oliver had his head propped up onto his hand, looking at her. His deep blue eyes were filled with adoration and love, all directed at her. With the tousled hair and the sleep wrinkles on his face, he looked incredibly cute. Lifting her hand, she stroked her fingertips through his stubble and couldn’t contain a smile as she realized that Oliver was really here.

“Morning,” she whispered eventually, “how did you sleep?”

“I asked first,” Oliver replied, putting his hand to her back and moving his fingers up and down her spine, “so you answer before I answer.”

Felicity chuckled, but she guessed that Oliver was right. He had asked first, so his question had to be answered first. Her brain just continued to have trouble working properly either because it was still sleepy or because it was completely taken by Oliver’s presence and all the ways that made her feel.

“Good,” she replied with a low sigh, “better than I have slept in three years I guess.”

“Me, too,” Oliver agreed and his hand stopped its movements to rest flat against the base of her spine, “all because you were lying next to me.”

It was amazing how Oliver could be so broody and withdrawn with other people around and yet carry his heart on his tongue like he had never done anything else when he was around her. Something about the fact that Oliver could only talk this openly when he was around her made her feel incredibly light. It was a great feeling to know that she could open him like that.

Instead of saying anything about that, Felicity asked, “Why are you awake and staring at me when you had such a good time sleeping?”

“Because the only thing that’s better than sleeping is looking at you.”

With a fluent movement, Felicity pulled her pillow away and hit it right into Oliver’s face. While Oliver looked at her indignantly, Felicity chuckled. Shaking her head, she pushed the pillow back under her cheek.

“What was that for?” Oliver asked. “I was all sweet and corny, being the perfectly romantic guy, and you just hit me.”

“Because you are terribly corny,” Felicity told him, punching his chest playfully, “so I can hardly take you seriously.”

“Oh, come on,” Oliver said, “you love when I am corny.”

“Oh yes,” Felicity replied sarcastically, putting her hand to her heart, “if only I could express myself this eloquently, so I could really express my love for you too. You have to believe that I don’t love you at all with how brusquely I-“

Felicity stopped when Oliver suddenly started tickling her. Laughing and screeching, she tried to get away from him, but Oliver’s arms were wrapped around her firmly. They didn’t allow her to move away. All laughing, squirming and kicking didn’t help her with it.

“Okay, okay,” Felicity managed to say between some laughter, “I admit defeat. I surrender. I surrender.”

Oliver stopped immediately. Instead of giving her space, he rolled himself on top of her. His naked body pressed her equally naked body into the mattress. His face was hovering right over hers. After brushing some strands of hair from her face, he perked up his eyebrows, waiting for her to tell him more.

“You, my dear,” she said with a smile, cupping his cheeks with her hands, “are the perfectly romantic guy. Your words warm my heart like only you can do.”

“I still don’t feel taken seriously,” Oliver replied, amusement sparkling in his eyes, “but it’s better than nothing, so I’d say it’s fine.”

Watching her with a soft expression in his eyes, Oliver stroked his fingers through her hair. His thumb brushed against her forehead again and again. A warm smile spread on his face. Felicity could see just in the way he looked at her that he loved her and that he wanted to be nowhere but here with her.

Putting her hands to his face once more, she pulled his head down towards her. Her lips captured his in a loving kiss that made Oliver sigh. He pushed an arm beneath her body, holding her to him. His tongue swiped over his bottom lip. His muscles almost melted with hers. His hops pushed between her open legs, his already half-erect cock moving against her sensitive folds.

Quickly, Felicity pushed at Oliver’s face to break the kiss. She chuckled when she opened her eyes and found Oliver looking at her grumpily. He wasn’t too pleased with the interruption. They had been interrupted too many times already. Now that it was just them, there shouldn’t be any further interruptions. They should just be able to do whatever the hell they wanted, and it was quite clear what Oliver wanted right now.

“Just five minutes,” Felicity asked and pecked his lips, “give me five minutes and you can ravish me all you want.”

“I will hold you to that.”

Felicity smiled, already feeling a jolt of pleasure going through her core. She and Oliver definitely wanted the same right now.

“I hope so,” she whispered and pecked his lips once more, “just five minutes.”

With that, she pushed at Oliver’s shoulder until he rolled off of her with a long sigh. He pushed his arms beneath his head and watched her while Felicity was rolling to the edge of the mattress. She considered wrapping the blanket around her naked body, but she knew it would be ridiculous, so she took couple of steps to the bathroom in all her naked glory.

Stepping through the door, she turned her head back over her shoulder to see that Oliver was still watching her. His eyes were moving up and down her body, taking in her naked curves. When they met her eyes, she could see the hunger inside of them, and it made a shiver run down the length of Felicity’s spine.

She winked at Oliver before she closed the door behind herself and stepped in front of the mirror. Although she did look a little exhausted from the long flight and the last night that hadn’t offered a lot of sleep, Felicity didn’t miss that she looked very happy. There was a smile on her lips and a content expression in her eyes that had been missing for a long time.

Felicity put on her morning robe that was rested over the rim of the bathtub and splashed some water into her face and brushed her teeth. She wouldn’t call herself vain or anything like that. Since she had smelled the peppermint on Oliver’s lips, she knew that she had brushed his teeth though, and morning kisses really weren’t the best of kisses when morning breath bothered the greatness.

Grabbing a washcloth from the drawer beneath the sink, Felicity wetted it and cleaned herself a little. She could feel how sore she still was. All the times Oliver had thrusted into her last night, adapting rhythms that had been slower sometimes and quicker other times, had left their marks on her it seemed. Closing her eyes, Felicity felt the memories of last night washing over her and had to catch her bottom lip between her teeth to restrain from letting out a hungry sigh.

She remembered the way Oliver had looked at her with so much adoration, desire and love that she had just felt like a slave to her hormones. Everything inside of her had wanted and needed him. She had wanted and needed to feel the touch of his fingers, the taste of his tongue and the pleasure of his orgasm. He had been everywhere around her and inside of her just by looking at her. Her mind had been unable to fight her body on that need, not that it had had any good arguments to start with. Her mind had wanted Oliver as much as the rest of her body because it had known how good he would make her feel.

When he had touched her, her entire body had felt like it had been set on fire. Everything had prickled. The feeling on her skin had been something on the small line between pleasure and pain. She had been caught between these feelings, every moan falling from her lips a sign of her insecurity what it was. At the end, the pleasure had outweighed the pain though. It had been so much stronger.

Then his lips had brushed against hers, capturing them in a gentle kiss. Despite their need for each other, they hadn’t hurried through the kiss. They had taken their time. They had explored each other’s lips. They had let their tongues dances together slowly. They had lost themselves in the kiss and found themselves in each other.

With him inside of her, she had been completely lost to her pleasure and yet she had felt that much at home as she had never felt. The thought that the feeling of a cock inside of her felt almost a little bit ridiculous now. She was a grown woman that was very proud of her work and defined herself through her work much more than she defined herself through any man. With Oliver, it was different though because he just made her feel so unique.

After their first round and some good snuggles after, Oliver had excused himself to the bathroom. He had cleaned himself. When he had come back, he had had a washcloth with them. He had wiped their juices off the inside of her thighs too. Throwing the washcloth back into the bathroom, he had climbed back into bed with her then. With his arms wrapped around her waist and his chest pressed to her back, they had fallen asleep.

Felicity couldn’t say when she had slept that peacefully for the last time. Everything from the moment she had fallen asleep to the second she had woken up had been perfectly calm. She had felt like she was exactly where she was supposed to be. She had felt well and protected. She had felt perfectly.

Oliver had woken her up around four a.m. with his lips caressing her shoulder. He had peppered kissed all over her skin until he had felt her waking up. He had deepened his kisses then, licking and sucking at the sight of her neck. Looking at herself in the mirror now, Felicity could see the hickey he had left between all the beard burn of his stubble.

She guessed it was good that she didn’t have to go back to work before Monday. With the beard burn and hickeys, she’d become the center of gossip. Well, the press had probably taken care of that already given the photos they had taken of her at the fashion show. She was sure that at least some gossip magazines would already print wild stories about the fact that she had been there.

Shaking her head, Felicity pushed that thought away and rather thought back to last night.

They had had sex again, making love beneath the blankets. Their bodies had cradled each other while they had rolled around on the mattress again and again. The urge to get as close to each other as possible had been overwhelming and absolutely needed. She had wanted Oliver and only Oliver. Nothing else had mattered, just like hours before.

Thinking about all that times that they had had sex, Felicity could feel herself growing hungry for Oliver once more. She wanted to feel the way she had felt last night. She wanted to become one with him over and over and over again.

Throwing the wet washcloth into the laundry container, Felicity shot a last glance at her reflection in the mirror. Smiling about how good and relaxed she looked, she turned around and opened the door.

“Less than five minutes and I am ready to be ra-“

Felicity stopped when she saw that Oliver was no longer lying in bed lazily. Instead, he had sat up and was leaning back against the headrest of the bed now. A small notepad was resting on his thighs. He was leaning over it, sketching some designs Felicity guessed. His hand was moving furiously, drawing what looked like arbitrary lines, but Felicity knew that he could see more in those lines than anyone else. His face looked exhausted and focused, but his eyes sparkled with inspiration.

“Oh,” Felicity said, “do you want to work?”

“Huh?”

Oliver lifted his gaze, looking at her with surprise. He looked like, at least for a moment, he had completely forgotten where he was and that she was here with him. Knowing Oliver and how lost he could get in his work, Felicity was sure that this was exactly what had happened.

“No,” Oliver said quickly, “absolutely not.”

He hurried to throw the pencil across the room. He closed the notepad and dropped it to the floor. His fingers moved through his hair, the fingernails scratching over his scalp. Although Oliver’s actions looked very determined, his face said something else. He looked confused, the way he always did when he stopped work abruptly in the middle of a boost of creativity.

Felicity frowned, putting her hands to her hips. “Yes, you do.”

Shaking his head, Oliver crawled to the edge of the mattress. He got up onto his knees there. Reaching out his hands, he put them to her waist and pulled her closer.

“You can work if you want too,” Felicity said while Oliver was already undoing the knot of her belt, “I wouldn’t mind. I know that you need to make good use of every boost of creativity, especially right after a show. I mean the boost of creativity you get after a show, thinking about everything you could have done better and what-“

“Fe-li-ci-ty,” Oliver whispered in that low singsong that he often used when he was saying her name and pushed her robe down her shoulders, so she was standing in front of him nakedly again, “stop talking.”

“But I know how important this flow of work is for you,” Felicity continued, “because comparing the designs from after the show to the ones that made it to the catwalk always shows you what you think you could have made better and what you want to have an eye for when the next fashion show comes. I-“

“Felicity,” Oliver whispered once more, faster this time, “I had a short boost of creativity as you called it, but I need some more inspiration. Besides, you promised that I would get to ravish you in five minutes, and I am sure that it’s already six by now.”

“Oh, really?”

Oliver hummed, nodding his head. He moved his hands from her waist to her back. While he was smiling at her, Felicity was leaning in for a kiss. Before her lips touched his, Oliver turned them and leaned forward until Felicity’s back landed on the mattress. His chest was pushing her down into it.

Felicity was chuckling, but her chuckle died in her throat when Oliver guided his cock to her entrance and pushed into her with one deep thrust. Moaning, Felicity arched against him. Her chest was pressing to his. The new angle let him go even deeper, touching her in spots that she had wanted him to touch her again and again since last night.

“Oliver.”

His name fell from her lips in a feverish whisper as Oliver stayed completely unmoving. It was maddening to feel him inside of her and not have him moving. Her fingernails clawed into the skin at his back, holding him to her.

Oliver didn’t have to be asked twice. He started moving, thrusting in and out of her with firm movements. He wasn’t going particularly slowly or gently. His face was hovering right over hers. They were breathing the same air while their eyes were locked onto each other’s.

They had taken so much time to explore each other last night that this, this morning, was just to still their need for each other. It wasn’t less intense as the lock of their eyes felt like their souls were connecting directly. They just didn’t take the time they had taken last night. They already knew each other by every inch. They knew what their bodies felt like, knew how to bring pleasure, knew how to make them feel like one.

Oliver moved relentlessly, continuing to thrust in and out of her in the same rhythm of firm thrusts. Felicity put her feet to the mattress next to Oliver’s thighs. She used that to lift her hips and meet Oliver’s thrusts. Their bodies were slapping together, the sound filling the room. The headboard of the bed moved against the wall with every thrust like they were in some shabby hotel.

The thought made Felicity smile with amusement. Whoever was living in the hotel room next door right now probably felt like they had picked the wrong room. When Felicity had been able to hear their baby cry when she had gotten ready for the fashion show yesterday, she was sure that they could hear their noises of sex now.

“What?” Oliver asked between two moans, continuing to thrust rhythmically. “What’s so amusing?”

He thrust into her particularly hard. It was almost like he wanted to tell her that there was nothing amusing about having sex with him. When they were united like that, he wanted to have her just for himself. He didn’t want any other thought to be part of this moment.

“I am sure our neighbors can hear us having sex.”

Oliver directed his gaze to the wall behind the headboard of the bed. His lips were twitching into a smile as he couldn’t hide his amusement.

“In that case,” he whispered, leaning down even closer to her, “I suggest that we give them a very good morning show.”

With that, Oliver moved his hand between their bodies. His thumb flicked against her clit. Before Felicity could bite down on her bottom lip to bite back a moan, it was falling from her lips loudly. The sound of pleasure almost echoed through the room. It filled everything around them like it was all that mattered.

It didn’t take long until Felicity felt the pleasure overtaking her. She was right on the edge. Every thrust of Oliver’s hips and every flick of his thumb against her clit brought her closer to it. She felt like she was trying to keep her feet on the ground firmly, but like she was slowly losing her balance.

Her fingers clawed into Oliver’s skin even more. She was sure that she would leave marks in the form of halfmoons on his back. They would stay with him for a while, reminding him of this morning as she would be reminded by the sore feeling that would certainly be with her even longer now.

Felicity was still on the edge when Oliver’s hips lost their rhythm. They pushed in and out of her on their own accord now, just trying to get the release he needed so much. With one last thrust, he buried himself inside of her once more, sending both of them over the edge at the same time.

Oliver slumped down onto her exhaustedly. His face pressed against the side of her neck. While his arms pushed beneath her body to hold her closely, his lips peppered sweet, little kisses against her pulse point. His cock moved in and out of her lazily, tickling the last waves of pleasure out of her.

Propping himself up onto his forearms, Oliver looked at her. The same expression of adoration, desire and love that she had seen last night already was in his face again. He moved his hands over her forehead, wiping away from of the sweat that had gathered there, before he leaned down and captured his lips in a kiss.

Felicity sighed, framing his face with her hands. She loved these slow kisses after sex because they showed how much they meant to each other. Even when they weren’t taking time, having sex was some way of making love to them. It was just a different form of love in that moment, and, still, it was love.

Deepening the kiss, Felicity felt her need for Oliver growing once more. She wanted him, and she couldn’t picture a single moment in the next days that she wouldn’t want him. The bare thought of the feeling of having him inside of her and having him move inside of her was overwhelming. It took over her entire body, making her entire world spin around it.

She could feel Oliver’s cock already growing hard inside of her, needing her as much as Felicity needed him. That their feelings and needs were mutual meant as much to her as the bare existence of her feelings in the first place. Her legs wrapped around his hips and-

The growling sound of her stomach made them move apart. Oliver looked at her with perked up eyebrows for a moment. Then they both started laughing.

“Okay, you really gotta get something in your stomach.”

Rolling off of her, they both groaned at the loss of contact. Oliver hurried to lean over and brush his lips against her temple. His hand moved over her cheek, his fingertips brushing against her skin very gently.

“I,” he told her with a smile, “will order everything there is on the menu for breakfast. I need you to be energized. I have plans for us today.”

 

* * *

 

Half an hour later, they were sitting in bed, half-dressed. Oliver, wearing nothing but his boxer briefs, was spread out on the side of the mattress she had slept before, his head propped up onto his hand while he was watching her. Felicity, on the other hand, was sitting in bed with her back resting against the headboard of the bed. She was wearing panties and his shirt.

Plates with all different kinds of food were lying on the mattress around them as Oliver had indeed everything the menu of the hotel kitchen had offered for breakfast. Various newspapers and magazines filled the empty spots between them.

The Return of Happiness marks the return of OJQ as we got to know it,” Felicity read the last line of the article and watched Oliver’s expression closely, “and we couldn’t love it more.”

Oliver lowered his face, but he wasn’t quick enough for her to miss the smile that had spread on his lips. While Oliver certainly had his moments of vanity and he had every reason to be proud of his work and the great critics it had evoked, he was still feeling almost a little embarrassed at having her read these critics out for him.

Felicity only shook her head slightly. He loved to see the failures and what he could have done better, overlooking everything he had achieved already. Sometimes, she guessed, Oliver just had to be pushed to accept how great he was really doing. It was why she had decided to read those reviews out to him because she had just known that they would appreciate his work and celebrate it as a success.

Indeed, every article she had read for him had pointed out that this new fashion show was bringing Oliver back to his roots. They proved what Moira had stated already, that Oliver’s latest designs offered what a lot of the designs in the last two fashion shows had lacked. Nobody had been able to find the right words to name it, but it was quite clear that the heart might have been missing a little before.

Well, maybe it hadn’t been missing. It had just been at the wrong place and in a really rough spot. Luckily, that was different now.

With her hand at his cheek, she lifted his face until his gaze met hers. Her fingertips moved through his stubble, and Oliver leaned his face even more into her touch in response. Cocking her head, she smiled at him.

“The reviews are really great,” she told him, “because the fashion show had been a success. Everyone loves it.”

“I am sure that, if we just search long enough,” Oliver replied, scrunching up his nose and nodding to the newspapers on the bed, “we will find negative reviews.”

Felicity rolled her eyes. “There are always some idiots that don’t realize something’s greatness. Don’t let that be the thing you take away from this.”

Oliver puckered his lips. “Are you that uncritical when it comes to your work too?”

“Are you crazy?” Felicity chuckled. “When my work isn’t perfect, people lose their ability to move their legs while driving down the highway. When your work isn’t perfect, the worst thing that happens is that you are the center of attention for the worst dressed person of the evening.”

“And here I thought you were seeing more in my work than just the production of clothes.”

Oliver winked at her and squeezed her thigh, letting her know that he was only teasing her. He knew that Felicity understood that his work was more than that. He was doing art with his fashion, giving women the possibility to express themselves through their clothes.

Smiling, Felicity watched Oliver putting some marmalade to one of the croissants and offering it to her. She took a bite of it without hesitating, definitely needing some more in her stomach before she and Oliver would come at each other again. While she was chewing the delicious pastry that tasted like it had just been flown in from France, she folded the newspaper back together and dropped it to the floor. It joined at least ten other newspapers there.

“Your mother told me that you changed a lot of the designs within the last couple of days.”

Oliver grinned. “She told you or she complained to you about it? I swear that I was driving her insane with it.”

“Maybe a little,” Felicity replied with a low chuckle, but she soon shook her head, “she said that your new designs, as frustrating as those changes that short before the fashion show have been, have been the best designs she has seen in years. She basically prophesized these critics already.”

Oliver looked at the newspapers briefly before he lifted his gaze towards her again. He shrugged his shoulders all too casually. Felicity could see at the tip of his nose that he wanted to brush this subject off without saying anything more about it, but she didn’t want him to get away this easily. She perked up her eyebrows, asking for an answer without saying a word.

Sighing, Oliver rolled himself onto his back. He stared at the ceiling, folding his hands on his stomach. Felicity wasn’t sure if he was thinking about her answer, or if he was trying to buy time, hoping she’d forget about her question and the answer she wanted.

Careful not to end up in any of the delicious food on the bed, Felicity kneeled on the mattress and crawled over to Oliver. She straddled his lap and waited until he wrapped his arms around her waist before she stretched herself out on top of him. She rested her forearms next to his face and brushed her fingers through his hair.

Their eyes locked, and she could see that Oliver was struggling to find the right words. As easily as he was carrying his heart on his sleeve sometimes, as much trouble he had with it at other times. The human soul was complicated.

“The new designs had their roots in the better inspiration,” Oliver replied eventually, shrugging his shoulders, “because their inspiration was love and happiness. During the last two fashion shows, the feeling that drove me forward most was anger. I used my emotions to design, and all I felt was anger. That just didn’t end up the way it should have. Nothing ended up the way it should have after you weren’t here anymore.”

Felicity smiled sadly and nodded her head. She knew exactly what Oliver meant because she had felt the same way. She had done her work, and she had done it perfectly. Since her work just needed a lot of brain, it had been easier to be successful because that was what she had told herself to focus on after her heart had been crushed to a point of what had felt like no return.

For Oliver, whose work was based on the heart foremost, it must have been harder. He had presented some great designs through the years. They had always been admired. They just hadn’t been as good as the designs before had been – good, but not good enough as the critics has once called it.

“I loved all of your collections,” she whispered, “because they all had that special touch only you can offer. I loved your last collection even a little bit more than I loved all the ones before. When it comes to that, I guess I will buy every single design of that one too.”

Oliver chuckled, turning them around. Once her back was pressed into the mattress, her head resting on the pillow, Oliver lowered his hips, resting them against the juncture of her legs. Felicity spread her legs a little, accommodating his hips.

“You, my dear,” Oliver whispered with a low chuckle and placed a firm kiss on her lips, “are a designer’s girlfriend now. You don’t have to buy clothes anymore.”

Felicity perked up her eyebrows. “I guess I will just run around nakedly now?”

“I love it when you’re naked.” Oliver pushed a hand beneath the blanket and stroked his fingers from her knees up her leg. “It’s just not what I meant.”

“Oh, really?” Felicity cocked her head. “What did you mean then?”

“Well.” Oliver lowered his head and nuzzled her nose with his. His eyes stayed on her face the entire time. “As a designer’s girlfriend, you will wear individual items now and nothing else. Everything you will wear will be something that I designed just for you.”

The thought of wearing individual items of fashion every single day was tempting. Felicity loved fashion. As a tiny, blonde woman in a powerful position of STEM, she knew the difference a good outfit could make. When she dressed like the wallflower she had used to be, people saw her as that wallflower. When she dressed as something else though, she was taken for something else.

It wasn’t the thought about fashion that was spinning in Felicity’s head. The words Oliver had just said to her were much more important than anything else.

“A designer’s girlfriend?” she asked, cocking her head. “Is that what I am now?”

She wasn’t exactly surprised that Oliver had called her his girlfriend. After their I love yous last night and the wonderful hours of rolling around on the mattress that had followed, she knew that she wasn’t just a fling or an affair. She was important to him, just like he was important to her. They both wanted to continue where their past had left them, being together the way that they should have been those last years already.

Girlfriend. It was a big word between them. As long as they didn’t define what they were, they didn’t have to think about the consequences. All they had to do was to enjoy the moment. They could live in the here and the now which was nice because right here and right now everything between them was perfect.

As soon as they started thinking about the future, they would have to work to make this work. This dream would turn reality and reality meant that someone could get hurt.

Oliver, completely taken aback by her question it seemed, stared at her for a moment. He turned his gaze away and stared at the wall with empty eyes for another moment. Just a second later, his eyes found hers again and he was smiling softly.

“Are you a designer’s boyfriend?”

“I asked first.”

They both smiled as they had had a very similar conversation earlier this morning. Now, the roles were just a little bit reversed.

Oliver puckered his lips, watching her for a moment longer. Felicity really couldn’t be more relieved that Oliver was the one who had to answer this question. He was the one who had to take the first step of defining what they had. He had to put his heart all in before she had to do it. It was good because it made her feel safe, even if she felt a little bit sorry for him.

“Felicity Megan Smoak.”

Felicity’s eyebrows perked up even more. He sounded like he was about to propose to her which was equally amusing and scary.

“Don’t worry,” Oliver whispered, “I am not going to propose.”

He pecked her lips, and Felicity chuckled against them. Of course he knew exactly what was going on inside of her mind. He always knew.

“Felicity Megan Smoak,” Oliver repeated once more, waggling his eyebrows, “do you want to be a designer’s boyfriend?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes, of course,” Felicity whispered quietly, “nothing I’d rather do. I mean Tigerlily Hill is very hot. I’d say she’s the hottest fashion designer around.”

Oliver pursed his lips. He knew she was only teasing him, but he was so easy to tease. Even knowing that she was just teasing him couldn’t stop him from reacting to it. His hips pushed against hers, leaving no doubt what he wanted to do now.

“I am going to show you who’s the hottest designer around.”

With that, he caught her lips in a searing kiss. His tongue moved against hers, thrusting into her mouth in the same rhythm his hips thrusted against her hips. His hands roamed over her body, taking in her curves.

Soon, his lips lowered from hers to the edge of her jaw. They continued their ways down the side of her neck, kissing, licking and nibbling. Felicity felt like her body was set on fire all over again. All it took were some touches and a couple of kisses, and she was completely lost in Oliver again.

Only this time, her mind was unable to let go and enjoy what he was making her feel. Her mind was racing, thinking about all the consequences that would follow now that she had officially agreed to being his girlfriend. They couldn’t live in the moment anymore. They had to think about the future, and they had to think about it soon because her stay in Starling City was going to be over again soon.

Fact was that Oliver’s home was in Starling City. His family was living here. His friends were living here. His company was working from here. Starling City was the center of his life, and he couldn’t leave it easily.

Felicity, on the other hand, had her center of life in Hub City. Her friends were there. Her townhouse was there. Her company was there. Almost everything she needed in life was there, and she couldn’t just give it up.

There was no easy way to make this work. Neither of them could just move and doing a long-distance relationship was going to be terrible too. They hadn’t been really good at doing long-distance the first time around, and they would have only managed to make it work once more for her job in Gotham City until they had found some other solutions. Three years ago, that would have been easy because Oliver’s company hadn’t been that successful and Felicity hadn’t had a company yet. Now, it was different though.

“Fe-li-ci-ty,” Oliver whispered against her skin and brushed three more kisses against the side of her neck before he propped himself up onto his forearms and brought his face right over hers, “I can hear you thinking?”

“Really?” Felicity asked with a sigh, moving her fingers up and down his back slowly. “What am I thinking?”

“You are thinking that things always get complicated when they have a name,” Oliver said, “because it means that it’s real, and real things can hurt people. We lived in this little bubble for the last hours and that was nice because we didn’t have to face the reality of things that really aren’t that nice.”

Felicity knew she shouldn’t be surprised. Only minutes ago, she had thought that Oliver always knew what was on her mind. She just hadn’t thought that he could look into every detail of her thoughts like that. It was nice knowing that there were no words needed for them to understand each other though. It made things at least a little bit easier.

“I love you,” she told him honestly, digging the tips of her fingers into his skin slightly to keep him as close to her as possible, “and I want to be with you, but I can’t come back to Starling. I would if I could because I love this city, but my life’s in Hub City now. I can’t uproot my entire life, not even to be with you.”

“I know,” Oliver replied with a slight frown like it was absolutely unnecessary for her to say that, “you are doing important work in Hub City. I would never ask you to leave there. You are needed there.”

Felicity nodded her head slowly. Taking in a deep breath, she wrapped her arms around Oliver’s middle tightly. She wanted to hold him as long as she could.

“I guess we have to make our relationship work around her schedules,” Felicity said, shrugging her shoulders, “so maybe we can see each other at the weekends at least and-“

“Felicity,” Oliver interrupted her gently, a low chuckle falling from his lips, “I am a designer.”

He said it matter-of-factly like it was the solution to everything. Still chuckling, he leaned down and pecked her lips. When he propped himself back up onto his forearms, she was still looking at him doubtingly. Obviously, she didn’t understand him as easily as he got her every thought.

“I can work from wherever the hell I want,” Oliver explained to her, smiling softly, “whether it’s Starling or Hub City, it doesn’t matter. I mean, of course I have to show up at the company every now and then and probably more before a fashion show, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t live in Hub City for the most part. I could live there for the most time and only spend like two days a week here in Starling, or I leave the administrative headquarters here and move my atelier to Hub City completely, so I just have to travel back to Starling every now and then.”

Felicity frowned. “And you think your mother will agree to that?”

“She has to if she wants to keep me as a designer for the company.” Oliver shrugged his shoulders. “Otherwise, I will leave OJQ and start something new.”

“You really want to blackmail your mother?”

“Drastic times call for drastic measures.” Again, Oliver just shrugged his shoulders, but he soon released a long sigh. “All I am trying to say is that we will make it work somehow. Maybe I don’t know how exactly we will make it work, at least not yet, but I will find a way. I promise you.”

Felicity nodded her head, repeating his words, “We will make it work.”

Although she tried to let the words sink in, her mind was still racing. When Oliver talked about uprooting his life, it sounded so easy. She doubted that putting his plans into action would be as easy. There were a lot of hurdles they would have to overcome. She could feel it already. Those hurdles at the start of a relationship could easily cause the entire thing to burn down in ashes before it had really started and-

Frowning, Felicity noticed that Oliver had propped himself up onto his hands to have an even better view on her. He was looking her up and down. The expression in his eyes was critical. Something about what he was seeing bothered her.

“What?” Felicity asked. “What’s wrong?”

“This shirt…”

“Your shirt?” Felicity looked down at the shirt she was wearing, Oliver’s shirt, and frowned. “What about it?”

“It’s…” Oliver pursed his lips. “How am I going to say it?”

“Directly?” Felicity suggested. “And right now?”

“This shirt really doesn’t work for you.”

Felicity rolled her eyes, but she could see the teasing sparkle in Oliver’s eyes. He had already forgotten about what they had talked about, deciding that it was time to move back to the more fun side of them being together now.

“I should take it off,” Oliver said, already pulling at the hem of it, “so I can make you something new.”

Perking up her eyebrows, Felicity lifted her arms over her head and lifted her chest off the mattress. Oliver took the shirt off quickly and threw it somewhere behind him. Slowly, he lowered himself onto her, a soft smile on his lips.

“Right after I took measurements of your body.”

“Oh, you will?”

“Oh, yes.” Oliver nodded his head and peppered some kisses to her cheeks, her forehead and her nose. “But since I have forgotten my tapeline, I guess I have to take your measurements with my tongue.”

With that, Oliver lowered his head slowly. He kissed her lips, brushing his lips against her mouth gently. The touch was feather light. When Felicity tried to deepen the kiss, he lowered his head to her jaw though. Peppering a line down the side of her neck, stroking his tongue along her skin, he took measurements of her.

Felicity hummed, enjoying the caress as it made a content feeling spread everywhere inside her. She felt like everything that had been on her mind seconds ago was forgotten and irrelevant all of a sudden. When Oliver said that they were going to find a way, then they were indeed going to find a way. She knew that Oliver wouldn’t make promises he couldn’t keep.

Everything was going to be okay, no, better. Everything was going to be great, maybe even perfect.

Chapter Text

3 years later 

With a sigh of utter content, Felicity sank even more into the mattress. Her head almost disappeared in the fluffy pillow completely, and she could smell Oliver’s scent on the fabric although he hadn’t been living in this room for quite some time. His scent was still there though, and Felicity turned her head to take in a deep breath and enjoy the scent even more. It made her feel at home although the Queen Mansion had never really felt like a home to her.

She stretched out her arms over her head and arched her back off the mattress, trying to make herself as long as possible. It was the only chance she had at waking her limbs at least a little bit. They were feeling out of place and kind of disjoined. She felt like a marionette, ready to be pushed to do whatever the player wanted to do with her. At least that was what her body felt like.

Opening her eyes, she looked at Oliver. He was sitting at the foot of the bed, his naked body covered only by the blanket in his lap. It was the same blanket that was wrapped around her middle, not really covering any of her naked body. He was holding her feet in his hands, continuing to massaging them. He had been massaging them since she had mentioned that they were feeling a little cold.

Felicity chuckled quietly, shaking her head. She had mentioned her cold feet innocently, no second thought on her mind. Oliver had immediately felt like he had to warm her feet though. He did want her to show up at the end of the aisle tomorrow after all.

Showing up at the end of the aisle tomorrow and giving her hand to Oliver was everything she wanted too. She was ready to spend the rest of her life with him, being linked to him as closely as possible. Oliver was all she wanted, and she couldn’t wait for the rest of their life to start. Together.

“You do know that my feet are all warm and actually kind of sweaty now, right?” Felicity asked, cocking her head. “You can stop and come up here any time. I have a lot of ideas on how we can spend the last few hours of your bachelor life.”

Oliver’s jaw clenched, and Felicity could see in his eyes what he was thinking about. Twenty minutes ago, before she had mentioned her cold feet and made him slide to the foot of the bed, so he could take care of that, they had been making love to each other frantically. The couple of hours that they have to spend apart because of Thea’s traditional thinking and her superstition had been enough to make them desperate for each other again. They really weren’t good at being apart. They were all the better at reuniting though.

“As much I would like to come up there,” Oliver said, his hungry eyes ghosting over her naked body and filling with desire as they did so, “I’d rather take care of your feet. They are more important than anything right now. They do have an important role tomorrow.”

Felicity smiled. “My feet couldn’t possibly be cold enough to not show up tomorrow.”

After the three years they have missed out on, Felicity knew that she would never risk losing Olive again. She wanted to link herself to him as much as possible. She wanted to hold him as close to her as possible and never let her go. She loved him to no end, and really nothing could ever change that.

Watching Oliver, Felicity felt her smile widening all the more. She couldn’t wait for their life to begin. Technically, she knew that they had a life together already. They had had a life together since they had found each other again three years ago and had never let each other go again. Still, it would just be more official once they had said their vows.

With a sigh, Felicity pushed her bottom lips forward. There were still so many hours until they were finally going to say their vows – 15 hours to be exact, Felicity thought with a glance at the alarm on the nightstand. They should use those hours to catch some rest. They certainly wouldn’t get that rest at all when Thea found them. She had forbidden them to have any contact with each other for the last 24 hours before the wedding.

“You should go,” Felicity said with a long sigh that betrayed how little she wanted him to go, “because your little sister will kill us if she finds out you saw your bride the night before the wedding.”

“If only seeing her had been a problem, I should have blindfolded myself. I could have done anything I did with you before without taking a single look at you.”

Felicity hummed, thinking back to the great orgasms that Oliver had given her. If she didn’t loved Oliver as much as she did, she would have certainly gotten married to him for the good sex anyway. Nothing and nobody could make her feel the same way he made her feel when they had sex.

Groaning lowly, Felicity tried to shake the growing feeling of need. They couldn’t go for another round, at least not if they didn’t want to be found by Thea.

“You have to go,” Felicity whispered. “I don’t want you to go, but you need to go.”

“I can deal with Thea if she finds us.”

Felicity didn’t need him to say it for her to know that he’d do anything to stay here with her for just a little longer. They really were the worst at being apart. When Oliver had to leave their home in Hub City to get some work done, they often called each other late, so they could fall asleep to each other’s voice and each other’s breathing.

“We have forever starting tomorrow,” Felicity said softly, “so it doesn’t matter how long we have to stay apart today.”

With a soft smile on her lips, Felicity thought back to the moment Oliver had proposed to her. She had known that he was hiding something from her because he really wasn’t good at keeping secrets, at least when he was supposed to keep them from her. She just hadn’t known what he had been hiding from her.

When they had been in Bali, he had eventually asked her to spend an evening sailing during the dawn. Oliver had designed her a white dress of some floating fabric that had moved in the gust of wind. He had told her that he had been dreaming of her wearing it when they were on the boat. That had been when Felicity had finally started realizing what Oliver had been up to, and she had barely been able to wait until the sun went down halfway and Oliver had finally popped the question.

Felicity remembered that they had been standing on the boat, looking at the setting sun. Oliver had his arms wrapped around her from behind. His chin had been resting on her shoulder. He had swayed them from side to side slowly, almost like they were dancing to the rushing of the ocean.

“Is this like in your dreams?” Felicity had asked eventually.

“Almost,” Oliver had answered and had brushed a kiss against the side of her neck, “there is just a little piece missing.”

With that, Oliver had let go of her. Felicity had turned around, wanting to know what was missing. She had found Oliver kneeling in front of her, holding out the beautiful diamond ring to her. He had told her how much he loved her, how happy she made him and how much he really wanted to make her happy. He had asked her to trust him with her heart for the rest of their life, and she had agreed. Oliver had slipped the ring onto her finger where it had stayed since that moment.

Felicity yawned, still smiling at the memory. She loved to think back to how perfect the proposal had been. It had been better than she could have possibly dreamed of, and she was sure that it was going to be the same for the wedding tomorrow. The venue in the mountains right outside of Starling City that they had chosen for the wedding had been magic when they had seen it without all the decorations and all the romance of the wedding day. It will be even more magical tomorrow.

“Tired?”

At Oliver’s question, Felicity looked at him. He was smiling at her softly, already knowing the answer. It was written all over her face, and Oliver could read her so easily.

“Kind of.”

“In that case I will leave you alone, so you get some good hours of sleep.” He kissed the soles of her feet. “I have a lot of plans for us tomorrow night.”

Felicity chuckled. “We will party all night, and I will force you to dance with me a lot, so I’d say the wedding night has to be delayed.”

Oliver gasped for breath dramatically. “I am shocked.”

While they had been planning the wedding, they had already had the silent agreement that they would use their honeymoon in Bali to catch up on the wedding night. They were going to spend three weeks in Bali, and they were certainly going to spend an entire week of that in bed. Who needed the sun or food or anything when they were rolling around between the sheets all nakedly?

“We are not even married yet, and it’s already clear that we won’t have sex the moment we are married.” Oliver sighed desperately. “I will never get to undress you anymore.”

Felicity perked up her eyebrows. “Are you serious?”

“Have I failed to show you how much I love to undress you lately?” Oliver asked, his fingers taking a trail up her leg. “Maybe I have to do better than that. You can’t possibly step in front of the wedding guests with me tomorrow as long as you have no idea how much I love to undress you. It’s not a good start to our marriage.”

Felicity sighed at Oliver’s touch. When he reached a certain point at her calf, she let her leg sink even more into his touch. Oliver got the hint and massaged the tight muscles beneath her soft skin.

“So,” Oliver asked, still massaging her calf although his eyes were already directed at her, “why do you doubt that I love undressing you?”

Of course Oliver didn’t let go of that topic easily. He never failed to make her understand how much he desired her and how much he loved her. Maybe it was one of the longer lasting effects of their break-up. They needed each other to know how much they loved each other, so not even the worst misunderstanding could drive them to just leave without talking things out first.

“Oh, you always show how happy you are to undress me,” Felicity said, rubbing her foot high on his thigh, “but you also look very eager to put some clothes on me again as soon as I am naked.”

“Occupational disease,” Oliver replied immediately. “I love you. I love clothes. I love clothes on you.”

Felicity chuckled. “I knew there were going to be three in this marriage, and I am glad you state it that clearly now too.”

Smiling, Oliver chook his head. He lifted her feet to his lips and kissed them once more. Instead of letting go of them, he held them against his heart and looked at her though.

“You’re really the only woman that I love to dress as much as I love to undress her,” Oliver said with a chuckle. “It’s a deadlock between both which is not easy. Taking clothes off your body and putting clothes on your body is just so much fun. Both activities unite my passion for clothes with my passion for you. It’s a win-win.”

“Speaking of,” Felicity said, looking at Oliver, “did you already get over the fact that I didn’t offer you to design my wedding dress?”

Oliver snorted, but it turned into a grumble. Her wedding dress was still a sore spot for him. Two weeks after they had come back from Bali, she had come home from work to find him sitting on the floor of their living room with photos, sewing patterns and swatches all around him. He had been gathering her ideas, sketching some designs. He had been completely hyped about it. Pulling at her hand, he had made her sit down on the floor next to him, so he could have told her everything he had envisioned.

“You didn’t just not offer me the possibility of designing your wedding dress,” Oliver said with grumpy voice, “you told me that I was the last person to design your wedding dress. You said it right into my face. Cold-hearted and right out evil.”

Felicity chuckled. “It wasn’t that bad.”

“Worse,” Oliver told her, “so much worse.”

If the expression on Oliver’s face, right after she had told him that Thea was going to help her with the dress, had been any indication, his heart had indeed been broken a little. She wouldn’t have been surprised if he had backed out from the wedding. The designer’s spirit was quite strong in him after all.

“I told you that you could design my wedding dress,” Felicity replied honestly, “all you had to do was give up the role of the groom. I am sure I would have found someone else for that part.”

“Never,” Oliver replied, “never, never, never.”

Letting go of her feet, he crawled up the bed and lay down on top of Felicity. His naked body pressed to hers, and Felicity felt tempted to wrap her leg around his hip. She knew it would push the blanket a little aside and could feel Oliver’s cock against her wet folds. Lust would flood her body and take her with it into the ocean. She loved the idea of that, but she knew she’d regret it if she looked like a living nightmare in all of her wedding photos.

“I mean the designer in me really wants you to get married to someone else, so I can design the wedding dress,” Oliver explained, “but the fiancé in me would never let you go again, especially not to get married to anyone else.”

Felicity perked up her eyebrows. “How did they decide?”

“The fiancé has beaten the designer up, so the wedding can come.”

Oliver leaned down and brushed his lips against hers. She could taste in the kiss that he meant it. He would never let anything come between this wedding. It was a long overdue to finally take this step and link themselves together as tightly as possible.

As soon as their lips parted, Felicity yawned. The tiredness was overwhelming her. Soon, she’d fall asleep.

“Well, I guess that’s my cue to go,” Oliver said with a long sigh, “although I’d rather stay here.”

“I know,” Felicity replied, stroking her hands up and down Oliver’s warm back, “but don’t you worry. From tomorrow on, we will spend every night together.”

“Every night for the rest of our lives.”

It didn’t matter that they both knew it wasn’t true. Their jobs were keeping them busy, and they had to travel around far more often than they’d like. Since OJQ was still seated in Starling City, Oliver had to leave their home in Hub City quite sometimes. They managed to work their lives around it because they both loved their work, and they both loved each other. Still, staying nights apart was nothing they did easily. They just didn’t like to be apart for too long.

Oliver leaned down and kissed Felicity once more. Scrunching up his nose, he rolled off her. Felicity turned onto her side and propped her head up onto her hand to watch Oliver while he was picking up his clothes from the floor. She loved watching him, especially when he was naked.

“You know, I might have been a little too quick when I said that we get to spend every night together,” Felicity said eventually, making Oliver perk up his eyebrows at her while he was getting into his boxer briefs, “because your mother showed me a the three-year-plan she has set up for OJQ. After you are doing an exclusive wedding collection to celebrate our wedding, she thought it was a nice idea to do a maternity collection in two years and then regular collections with complementing designs for mother and daughter.”

“So it was more like a three-year-plan for our marriage.”

“Kind of, yes,” Felicity chuckled. “It was a little crazy.”

Oliver shook his head and sat down on the side of the bed. His hands stroked over her face, pushing aside some strands that had fallen into her face.

“I will talk to her,” he promised, “because my mom is not going to decide when we are going to have a baby.”

“I’m not sure that she will agree with you on that, but you can try.”

Felicity chuckled. Of course it was a little audacious of Moira to just assume that Oliver and Felicity would schedule the big events of their life in a rhythm that worked best for OJQ. As much as she tried, Felicity couldn’t be mad with Moira though. She was just excited that Oliver had finally found the happiness he had always wanted and that she had always wanted for him.

Oliver leaned down and kissed Felicity’s lips once more. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I will wait at the end of the aisle.”

“Good.” Felicity touched his cheek with her hand. “I will hold you to that.”

“Gladly.”

With one last kiss, Oliver finally got up and strolled over to the window that he had come in through. If Thea would have found him trying sneak in, she would have kicked him out and let him be taken away by the security staff. It wouldn’t be much different if she caught him here now.

“You do remember where we are supposed to meet tomorrow, right?” Felicity asked with narrowed eyes. “I mean I don’t want us to repeat old mistakes.”

“Don’t worry,” Oliver replied softly, “we won’t. I will be at the Lavender Farm, waiting for you to-“

Grunting, Felicity pulled her pillow away from under her head and threw it at Oliver. Of course he caught it easily, chuckling over her weak attempt.

“Don’t worry,” he whispered, “I will be there. Nothing could stop me from doing so.”

“Good because it’s the same for me.”

 

* * *

 

Looking out of the window and at the wide fields to both of her sides, Felicity stroked her hands over the fabric of her dress nervously. Her heart was racing although she wasn’t even walking down the aisle yet. She just hoped that she would still get a chance to do so.

“It’s going to be okay, Felicity.”

John’s soothing voice and the warm expression in his eyes was exactly what Felicity needed right now. Her life had had a lot of bumps in the road, so she had really wanted everything to be easygoing today. Life just liked to put some hurdles in her way to watch her jumping over them. It seemed to find some fun in that.

The drive from the Queen Mansion to the wedding. “I just really want to be on time,” Felicity replied, “it’s my wedding day after all.”

“Don’t worry,” John said and squeezed her hand, “I think it’s said to be fashionable for the bride to be a little late.”

Felicity could only hope that John was right because she would really prefer to be on time. Since the universe seemed to hate her or Oliver or even both of them, there had been a terrible car crash on the highway. The limousine that was taking her and John, who had been assigned to make sure Felicity would really show up to the wedding, to the venue hadn’t been able to pass. That was why they had to take a long detour through the large fields towards the venue in the mountains.

“Maybe we should at least text Sara, so Oliver knows that-“ Felicity stopped when the limousine became slower and slower until it eventually stopped completely. “What is going on?”

The driver let down the black glass pane between the driver’s cab and the back of the limousine.

“I am sorry, Ma’am, but the engine is giving off clouds of smoke,” he explained, “I will hurry to take a look at it, so I hope we can continue our way in a couple of minutes.”

Felicity felt her heart racing even more. This was not how things had been supposed to go. She was expected at the wedding in a couple of minutes, and they were still quite far from the venue. If the car didn’t work anymore, they needed to contact another driver to pick them up. It might take over an hour until she arrived at the wedding.

“I will take a look at what is going on,” John said soothingly, still being completely relaxed, “and I am sure we will find a way. Relax. Breathe. Everything is going to be fine.”

With that, John got out of the car. Some rays of the blazing sun fought their way into the limousine. Felicity hurried to slide as far away as possible. It was incredibly hot today, the hottest day of summer so far, and Felicity could just hope that she hadn’t soaked her wedding dress when she had made the short way from the climatized car to the climatized pavilion that they would get married in.

She waited until the door was closed again before she took the small purse that held some of her most important things. Sara, as her maid of honor, would make sure that Felicity got everything she needed whenever she needed. She was the one who was taking care of Oliver right now too. They had thought that, in the light of their past, it was good to have a reliable help at their sides.

Pulling her phone from her purse, Felicity checked if she had missed any texts or calls, but there was nothing there. Unfortunately, this nothing included reception. There seemed to be no reception possible out here.

Groaning, Felicity leaned back in the soft leather seats and tapped her finger onto the floor nervously. It was a nightmare.

When Felicity had woken up this morning, she hadn’t felt the slightest of nervousness. She knew what she was doing, and of all the decisions she had made in her life getting married to Oliver was probably one of the five smartest decisions she had made. She knew that she couldn’t get married to any better man because nobody could make her feel as safe and as loved as Oliver did. He was the one.

The thought of Oliver helped to relax Felicity at least a little bit more. All the chaos that had happened in their past or today wouldn’t matter once she was standing next to him and they were saying their vows. All that would matter at the end of the day was them and that they were together.

“Bad news.”

Felicity scrunched up her nose at John’s word. His words weren’t the only sign that things weren’t going to be worked out easily here. His face gave it away too.

“How bad?”

“We don’t get the car going, and our phones don’t have reception.”

Felicity nodded her head slowly. She already knew that she really didn’t want to hear what John needed to tell her.

“Rob is running back into the city to get us a new car and a new driver.”

Felicity perked up her eyebrows, looking through the darkened window pane towards the city. Even though she knew that Rob was fit and he would certainly be quicker than the usual driver, he would need at least two hours, probably longer, to be anywhere that would offer reception. This was all going to take too long.

“Oh, screw it!”

Sliding towards the door, she opened it and got out. Felicity had to blink against the sun and immediately wished she was still sitting in the cool car. It was really terribly hot. She hadn’t asked Sara to take the white dress she had worn during the proposal to the location for no reason. As much as Felicity would love to spend the entire day in her wedding dress, she wasn’t sure that she would manage to do that. She might need something easier if it continued to be this hot.

Felicity lifted the skirt of her dress to provide a little more air for her legs. With the sun shining down on them, she wasn’t sure it was a good idea though, so she lowered the skirt back quickly. Touching her already shoulders, she wished that she had put sunscreen on them. With the way she had ahead of her, they would probably be bright red by the time she was arriving at the venue. She couldn’t let that stop her though.

“What exactly do you think you are doing?” John asked, quickly stepping into her way with his arms crossed in front of his chest, when Felicity took the first step further down the long path through the fields. “And where do you think you’re going?”

“To my wedding,” Felicity said matter-of-factly, “because I have waited so long to finally get married to this man that nothing will stop me from getting married to him today. If I have to walk all the way to this wedding, I will.”

“Unfortunately,” John said pointedly, continuing to stand in her way when she wanted to push past him, “Oliver made very clear that I was fired as his bodyguard and his friend if I took my eyes off you for more than twenty seconds. Besides, this walk will take hours.”

“Well, the driver can catch up,” Felicity replied, shrugging her shoulders as she felt her belief in the greatness of her idea fading, “but I cannot sit here and do nothing, John. I’d rather walk for a couple of hours than spending weeks traveling around the world until I have found Oliver on some deserted island in the North China Sea because I am sure that is where Oliver is going to go when I don’t show up there anytime soon. I will go there whether you come with me or not, so…”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders and looked at John urgently. She knew that there was little to no logic in trying to walk this way. Walking would probably even take a little longer than it would take to organize a new car although Felicity wasn’t sure. Nobody could say how long Rob would take to get a new car. All of the Queens’ limousines and basically every other car was already in the mountains.

John took in a deep breath and looked back over his shoulder at the path ahead of them. Felicity could see in his face that he was anything but agreeing with her idea. He probably thought that Felicity was crazy and there probably was something crazy to Felicity’s idea indeed, but she couldn’t help it. She needed to do something.

“Fine,” John said, nodding his head, “but I warn you that this idea is crazy.”

Felicity shrugged her shoulders. “Then it is crazy. I don’t care.”

Side by side, Felicity and John started their way down the path towards the mountains. What started as a nice walk that Felicity was eager to make quickly and without losing any hope to make it to her wedding, eventually turned into something else, something she had much less energy for and something that made it much harder to stay hopeful.

The path changed from an asphalted street a graveled pathway. Felicity had to lift the skirt of her rock to not cover the hem in dirt. The high heels of Felicity’s shoes sank into the ground with every step, almost causing her to stumble again and again. John offered to carry her, but Felicity chose to just slip out of her shoes that had been terrible to walk in anyway and walk barefoot. The sharp stones scratched and pricked against the soles of her feet, but she knew it was better this way nonetheless.

That the entire path led through the glaring sun, making Felicity’s skin prickle from the heat. So far, her shoulders still looked okay, but Felicity was sure that a little time out of the sun and they would shine in a deep red color. The straps of her dress were probably burnt into her skin by then.

“What time is it?”

“The wedding should have started about an hour ago.”

Felicity groaned. Being sixty minutes was probably not that fashionable anymore. Oliver was probably panicking if he hadn’t run away already, scared that history was repeating itself again now. Even though he had sent John to take care of her, deep down, he certainly knew that he would help Felicity escape if that was what she really wanted. John wouldn’t force her to go to the wedding if she didn’t want to.

What did he believe she was doing and what was he going to do if she didn’t show up?

A fly buzzed right next to Felicity’s ear. Trying to slap it away, her fingers got tangled in a strand of hair and pulled it from the updo. She guessed the messed-up hair looked a little more fitting to the sunburnt skin and the – thanks to the sun and sweat – smudged make-up.

Maybe she needed some other plan or at least a break.

Seeing that the groveled path was soon continued as another asphalted street, Felicity quickened her steps. The relief of not having to walk over these stones anymore made her uncarefully though. She stepped right onto a stone, scratching the sole of her foot.

“Ouch!”

Jumping onto her left foot, she almost lost her balance. John’s arm wrapped around Felicity’s waist quickly while his other arm pushed beneath the back of her knees and lifted her into his arms. He took a few large steps and sat her down on a big rock at the side of the street. Kneeling down in front of her, he checked on her bleeding foot and wrapped his handkerchief around it carefully.

Felicity felt a sob rising in her throat and she let her face fall into her hands. “This is all a mess!”

When people talked about weddings, they always called it the most beautiful day in a person’s life. It was definitely said to be the most important and the most beautiful day in a woman’s life. Felicity didn’t give much about what most people said, at least usually she didn’t, but it was different today. It was her wedding after all.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like that,” Felicity said, still crying, “I barely ask for anything. I love my life. I love Oliver. I love the way we manage our life around the fact that we have companies in different cities. All I asked for was for this day to be perfect.”

Felicity wasn’t sure why she was crying. Usually, she could deal with a lot of things. Even the worst imperfections could make her laugh out loud in amusement, at least as long as they wouldn’t about her work. She could take pleasure even in the worst failures as long as she was with her family and her friends. Not today.

It was just that she was tired and exhausted and devastated. One single day in her life had been supposed to go well. She had wanted this day to be free of chaos. After everything that life had put them through already, she had felt like she had deserved this.

“It’s going to be okay, Felicity,” John told her, stroking a hand over her head, “I promise.”

“It feels like life is sabotaging us,” Felicity said, lowering her hands after wiping away some tears. “At first, it puts us through all this stress with Adrian and now this. It’s not fair.”

It wasn’t fair. Other couples met, fell in love and built a family by getting married and having kids. She and Oliver had been put through a lot. They had worked through their long-distance relationship. They had been driven apart by Adrian. They had through some miracle found their way back to each other. Now this.

“Maybe,” John said softly and tugged a strand of her hair out of her face, “life is just giving you another chance at doing things right this time.”

Felicity frowned at John, not quite understanding what she meant, but he just nodded his head to the side. Turning her head into that direction, Felicity saw the Porsche that she and Oliver were going to take tomorrow morning to head to the airport driving in their direction. Sara was sitting behind the steering wheel, honking the car horn as soon as she saw them, while Oliver was sitting in the passenger seat.

The car hadn’t come to a full stop yet when Oliver already got out. If his facial expression was any indication, he had been just as worried as she had been seconds ago. Seeing her provided him with as much belief as seeing him made her feel.

Dropping her shoes in place, Felicity ran the distance over the hot asphalt. As soon as she was in reach, Oliver wrapped his arms around her waist and scooped her up into his arms. Felicity put her arms around the back of his neck and tightened them as much as possible. She was never gonna let Oliver go again, and she knew that he was thinking the same.

“Are you okay?” Oliver asked and pressed a kiss to the side of her neck. “Are you hurt? Are you alright?”

“I’m fine.” With her nose pressed to his cheek, she breathed Oliver in. “I’m fine now.”

Although Oliver’s body was certainly as heated as hers, she felt her body cooling a little. Her panic had faded. Oliver had found her. She hadn’t come, so he had come to her.

“I am so sorry,” she hurried to say and leaned back, so she could look at him, “but there has been an accident on the highway, so we had to take this detour. Then the engine of the car failed. Rob went back into the city, but I didn’t want to wait there, so we started walking. There wasn’t a single square foot of shadow. My foot is bleeding. My hairdo is destroyed and I think I have a sunburn on my shoulders.”

“And on your face,” Oliver said, stroking the knuckles of his fingers over her skin that was indeed aching a little, “I fear.”

Sighing, Felicity rested her forehead against Oliver’s. She was sure that she looked like a nightmare which was not what she had wanted. She had wanted to be as beautiful as a bride could be, surprising Oliver with her entrance.

While all of this sucked and it had made her cry seconds ago, Felicity didn’t really care anymore now. Oliver had found her. Although she hadn’t showed up to the most important date they had had so far, he had looked for her. He hadn’t let her disappear like it had happened three years ago. They had learned from their mistakes.

“How did you know how to find me?” Felicity asked, still keeping her forehead against Oliver’s. “When you didn’t show up, I just knew something was wrong. I tried to call John and you, but you weren’t available, so I figured that I had to find a different way to find you. I knew something happened. You wouldn’t have left. I knew you wouldn’t.”

Felicity smiled. It seemed like life had indeed just tried to show them how much they had grown in the last six years. They didn’t make the same mistake of letting each other go twice. They had lost each other once, and they had both suffered greatly for it. This time around, neither of them would have rested until they had found each other again. They wouldn’t lose each other ever again. No matter how long they had to look for each other, they wouldn’t give up on each other and they wouldn’t give up on what they had together.

“We should get you into a hospital,” Oliver said, setting Felicity up onto the ground and framing her face with his hands, “to take care of your foot and your burnt skin. You might have a sunstroke.”

“I am fine,” Felicity replied quickly, “really fine. I really just want to get married to you. I don’t care about my foot. I don’t care about the sunburn. I mean I will look like crap on all the wedding photos, but I don’t care. I really just want to be your wife. Once we have put the rings onto each other’s finger and signed the marriage certificate, you can drag me to the hospital. I just want to be your wife first. I don’t want to wake any longer.”

Oliver looked at Felicity urgently. He seemed to be taking in her sunburnt skin, checking how bad her condition really was. She could see the fight in his eyes. He wanted to get married to her right now and right here, just like she wanted to get married to him. It was just time for the both of them to finally tie the knot.

“As soon as we are announced husband and wife, I will scoop you up in my arms and take you to the hospital to have you checked up, just to make sure you really are alright.”

“Agreed,” Felicity said, “absolutely agree.”

Oliver nodded his head slowly. He didn’t seem exactly convinced that this was what was best for her, but he was selfish enough to put his need to be married to her over her medical condition. Luckily, as it played right into what Felicity wanted right now.

Still unsure about the decision he had just made, Oliver puckered his lips and lowered his gaze. There was a break of second that he hesitated before he took a step back and looked her up and down. His eyes moved up and down her body again and again, taking in the dress she was wearing intensely.

Felicity rolled her lips over her teeth and pressed them together. She looked at Oliver, watching him narrow his eyes at the dress to take it in more closely once more. She could see the different emotions playing on his face as he was taking her in.

When Oliver lifted his forefinger and circled it, Felicity chuckled slightly and turned around for him. Oliver’s first priority had been making sure that she really was okay. He had needed to know that she was fine and that she didn’t need medical help. His second priority had been making sure that the wedding was going to happen. He had had to make a compromise between his need to make sure she wasn’t injured and his need to finally be married to her, and he had found a way to compromise between both. Now, his next priority was a dress since he was a designer after all.

Smiling softly as this was finally what she had expected her wedding day to be like, Felicity turned around herself. She let Olive take in the thin straps that were attached to the tightfitting top of her dress. With the deep V-neckline on the front and the deep neckline on her back it was quite fitting for summer. The semitransparent fabric also made it quite sexy. The fine lace that decorated the top and the first couple of inches of the skirt also made it look very classy and valuable. The skirt was put into fine folds. The fabric was so light that it was swaying even in the slightest of wind.

Oliver’s eyes met Felicity’s, and the expression in them was intense. It seemed to burn into her eyes and right into her soul.

“This is the dress I designed for my second collection,” he said and his voice proved how speechless he actually felt, “the one that the board didn’t agree to, so I trashed it.”

Felicity nodded her head. “I picked it up from the trash and kept it. I thought it might still have its use one day. It was a good design, so it didn’t deserve to be trashed just because it had been done at the wrong time.”

Oliver took in a deep breath and his shoulders tensed at whatever thoughts were going through his mind. He looked up and down her once more, only briefly though, like he needed to assure himself that this was really happening. She was really wearing one of his designs, one that he had put a lot of heat in, but that had been taken down by the board.

“This is my design.”

“It is,” Felicity replied and framed his face with her hands, “so now you got to design my wedding dress after all.”

Oliver took her in once more, looking at her dress intensely. It was like he was comparing his design to what Felicity and Thea had made out of it. The difference between Oliver’s own sketched designs and the ones he was actually having made at the end could be miles apart. When two other people’s style mixed into it, the difference could be even more.

Biting down on her tongue, Felicity wondered if she had made the wrong decision. Oliver was very strict when it came to his designs. He was a perfectionist, so he didn’t really like to agree to changes that had been made without his consent. For every dress he designed, he had a vision. That vision couldn’t be changed easily.

“Felicity Megan Smoak,” Oliver said eventually before Felicity could voice any of it, “you are making dreams come true.”

With that, Oliver put his hands to her cheeks, sensitive of the most sunburnt parts of her skin, and angled her head back. His lips captured hers in a gentle kiss. It tasted like happiness, and Felicity could see the same happiness sparkling in his eyes when they pulled apart.

“Let’s get married.”

Felicity nodded her head and laced her fingers through Oliver’s to make the way to the car. She hadn’t taken a single step yet when Oliver already lifted her into his arms. Felicity screeched a little, but she relaxed against his muscles quickly, wrapping her arms around his neck. She let herself be carried towards the car where Sara and John were already waiting for them.

Oliver gave her a bottle of water, making sure she was hydrated and cooled down a little. His fingers massaged after sun crème into the skin of her shoulders, her cleavage and the back of her neck. His lips whispered sweet words into her ear, taking all the stress she had felt seconds ago from her.

As soon as they arrived at the venue, Moira hurried towards them, asking what had happened. Felicity and Oliver told her a shortened version of the disaster they had just been through. She urged Felicity to freshen herself up, while she would take care of the guests. Oliver as well as Sara and Thea joined Felicity. Sara made sure Felicity’s make-up was freshened up and her hair looked okay, Thea was taking care of the dress and Oliver washed her feet and wrapped her injured foot.

That was what the models for Oliver’s fashion show had had to feel like. Three people working at her to make sure she was as beautiful as possible within a short time was just not what Felicity would like to experience regularly. Right now, she was just relieved that she was being taken care of. She didn’t want to wait even longer for her wedding.

Within twenty minutes she looked less like the trouble she had just gone through and much more like the bride that had left the Queen Mansion full of excitement at the prospect of finally getting married to the love of her life. She did look like she had been in the solarium for a little too long the night before, but Sara had managed to hide the worst of the red well. Photoshop would do the rest.

When Sara tried to usher Oliver out, telling him to wait for Felicity to come down the aisle, Felicity held Oliver back. Her hand grabbed his and she shot Sara and Thea urgent gazes, making them leave them alone.

“Did you change your mind?” Oliver asked, cupping he jaw with his hand. “Should we go to the hospital?”

“No,” Felicity replied firmly, shaking her head and squeezing his fingers, “I just think that we should go down the aisle together. Whenever we get somewhere separately, one of them gets lost on the way. The universe seems to be willing to tear us apart.”

Oliver nodded his head slowly and wrapped Felicity’s arms around his middle. Putting his own arms around her loosely he kissed the tip of her nose. His smile was soft, his eyes full of amazement.

“I don’t care what the universe is planning to do because I won’t let anything tear us apart anymore.” Oliver brushed his fingers over her head. “What we have is just so much bigger than the friggin’ universe.”

Yes, Felicity thought to herself. What they had was so much more than anything the universe could want for them. They were stronger than anything the universe could do to tear them apart. Whatever the universe would try, they would be stronger.

Oliver lowered his head. His lips brushed against hers in a gentle kiss. Moving a hand into his hair, Felicity straightened up onto the tips of her toes and deepened the kiss. It was as much of a promise as their vows would be. They loved each other, and they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, turning it into one shared life. Nothing and nobody should ever get in their way again because they wouldn’t let anything break them apart. Not anymore. Not ever again.

Hand in hand, they left the room and hand in hand, they walked down the aisle, taking their first steps to a shared life.

 

 fin