Felicity winced in pain as Diggle carefully maneuvered her head and shone a penlight into her eyes, checking her over for a concussion. Trembling all over and still recovering from shock, she tensed her muscles in an attempt to resist flinching away from his touches. Her brief yet terrifying encounter with the Dollmaker had shaken her to the core and she knew that the feeling of that slimy psychopath’s hands over her mouth and around her waist wasn’t going to fade anytime soon. The memory of his fingers around her throat caused her to shudder in disgust, making Diggle cast her a concerned look. In complete contrast, Felicity could also still feel Oliver’s tender hand against her cheek as he’d knelt down to desperately check on her, reluctant to leave her once she’d been stuck on the head and dazed.
Oliver had yet to return to the Foundry, caught up in avoiding the numerous police patrols that were still searching for the Dollmaker, who had escaped the vigilante and Detective Lance’s trap. While having Diggle by her side and patching her up was reassuring, Felicity couldn’t help but crave the archer’s comforting presence, knowing that she would only truly be able to relax and feel safe once he was in front of her and telling her she was okay. Her mild concussion was making her feel dizzy and light-headed, and definitely made it hard to focus on things, but it was never difficult for her to concentrate on Oliver. It was rather embarrassing how captivated she was by him and addicted she’d become to the small affectionate things that had increased in frequency between them since his return to Starling.
“You’re going to be fine,” Diggle informed her with a weak smile. “Some ice on that head bump of yours, a couple of Advils and a good night’s sleep, and I think you’re good.”
She nodded absentmindedly, her eyes wandering over to the side entrance of the Foundry, expecting Oliver to appear in his green leathered, broody glory any moment now. She didn’t have to wait for long. The echoing roar of the vigilante’s Ducati from the alleyway announced his arrival, and then Oliver slipped through the side door as silently as a ghost, flipping his hood down as his gaze frantically flickered around before finally settling on her. He looked panicked and worried, but the shards of ice in his blue eyes faded into fondness as he strode towards her. Flipping his bow in his hand so he could drop it down on the weapons counter as he approached, Oliver shouldered past Dig, who stepped aside with a knowing smirk, and slowly placed his hand down on Felicity’s shoulder with a gentleness she knew that many would be surprised to know the man possessed.
“Hey,” he greeted her softly, his thumb caressing down her collarbone. “You okay? How’s your head?”
“Bit knocked about,” she replied quietly. “I’m fine. Could probably use a shot of that Russian vodka you keep in your island trunk to stop this -” she raised her hand to show him how it was shaking, and swallowed at the guilt and agitation it sparked in his eyes, “- but otherwise, I - I’ll recover.”
Oliver appeared genuinely distressed. “I’m so sorry. If I’d ever considered the idea of this happening to you, I wouldn’t have - we are never letting you volunteer as bait for a serial killer again, you hear me?”
“And I am totally okay with that,” she agreed, placing her trembling hand over the top of his, which was still resting protectively on her shoulder. “This isn’t your fault, Oliver. Please don’t blame yourself. You’re the one who saved me.”
“You wouldn’t have needed to be saved if you weren’t there in the first place,” he growled.
“My life, my choice, remember?” she whispered.
Clenching his jaw, he jerked his head in a defeated nod. His hand slid off her shoulder as he backed away - only for Oliver to return to her after pouring a shot of his precious Russian vodka out for her, obviously taking her little joke a minute earlier seriously. Diggle shot him an annoyed look, opening his mouth to most likely say that taking a shot along with Advil wasn’t advisable, but the vigilante hit him with a narrowed eyed glower. Lifting his arms into the surrender position, Dig made himself busy over in the weapons corner, cleaning his gun but keeping a wary, eager eye on the two of them.
After passing her the shot, Oliver snagged the grey blanket hanging off the back of her chair in front of the monitors, wrapping it around her shoulders. “The vodka will take the edge off your shock before the Advil kicks in,” he murmured. “As long as you’ve eaten, your stomach will be able to handle it.”
Her cheeks heating up, Felicity threw back the shot, trying not to choke as the burn spread down the back of her throat, warming her from the inside out. She could tell by the slight crease around Oliver’s eyes that he was amused at her reaction to the alcohol.
“I need to start trying to track the Dollmaker -” she started to say, but was cut off by Oliver reaching out to grasp her arm, his firm grip keeping her securely seated in her chair.
“Take a couple of minutes,” he ordered her, his voice warm but commanding. “Just take a little bit of a break, okay? You can afford five minutes of calm considering everything that’s happened to you tonight.”
She froze, staring at him as his piercing eyes caught her attention, the look on his face intense. Oliver somehow managed to always say her name and make it sound like an entire speech, putting emotion and levity behind it in a way that she’d never known somebody to do before. It made her heart flutter in her chest and a lump form in her throat. For a fleeting second, it was impossible for her to break her gaze away from his, and the charge building between them was electric.
“Five minute break,” Oliver repeated, and the husky tone of his voice caused her fluttering heart to clench. “For me. Please.”
Felicity doesn’t really know how to respond, the words stuck in her throat. She doesn’t end up needing to, however, as the vigilante tugs her grey blanket tighter around her shoulders, brushes his fingertips down her right arm gently, and then departs. Felicity swivels around on her chair to watch him head over to refill his quiver and stifles her laughter when Oliver aims a pointed look at her, pointing at her before switching to give her the five minutes sign.
“Five minutes,” she whispered.
Felicity startled, nearly smacking her head against her bathroom’s doorframe when her apartment doorbell rang. It was late, nearly one am, but she’d failed to get to sleep due to her persistent anxiety and lingering shock from the Count’s attack. Even after three separate half hour long showers where she rubbed her skin raw, trying to forget the feeling of that maniac’s grasp on her arms and shoulders, and fingers cascading through her air... her paranoia still hadn’t faded; she kept getting these sudden phantom sensations of his slimy hands on her body that made her shudder.
Oliver had rescued her, yes, before the Count had hurt her in the ways that he had threatened to earlier before the archer had arrived, and the Count was dead - Oliver had killed him to save her, the first person he’d killed since his promise to Tommy - but Felicity was certain that she wouldn’t be getting any proper rest soon. No doubt she would have nightmares about the Count breaking her in the ways he had sworn he would after killing Oliver in front of her.
She eyed her front door warily, biting her lip as shrugged on a sweater over the top of her pajamas and then grabbed her personal taser from the living room coffee table with a shaking hand. Who the hell would be calling at her apartment at this ungodly hour? Wielding her taser in front of her, Felicity approached the door and glanced through the peephole, holding her breath in fear. What she saw caused her to instantly exhale in relief and unlock the door, opening it a crack.
Oliver jumped in surprise as the door opened, staring at her with wide, strangely red-rimmed eyes. He obviously hadn’t expected her to answer. He was still dressed in his clothes from the day before and his hair was wild, as if he’d just clambered out of bed or jumped out of the shower after toweling it dry. Felicity knew her own hair, which was drawn up into a bun and dripping cold water down her back, was equally as messy. Although Oliver’s face was drawn, making him look exhausted, his blue eyes were bright. His slight nervous movements, shuffling on his feet, indicated that he was agitated.
“Hi,” he said, his voice hoarse. “Sorry. I saw your lights on and assumed you’d be awake.”
“Oliver? What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at home celebrating with your mom and sister?” she murmured, confused. His mom had just been found not guilty of the charges of 503 counts of murder and conspiracy to commit terrorism.
The archer grimaced. It was clear he was uncomfortable, possibly even regretting coming here. “I was. I just - I know my mom and sister are safe.” His voice softened as he continued, “I was worried about you.”
“About me?” Felicity tried not to let her astonishment show in her expression. And then, she attempted to mask her tiredness with a shaky smile, tucking her trembling hands away so that the archer couldn’t see them. She didn’t want Oliver to see her as weak - to see that the Count had terrified her. “I’m - I’m fine. Sure, it wasn’t all that pleasant to have a - a syringe full of Vertigo at my throat and a gun pointed at my head by a psychopath for half the night but -” She released a bout of anxious laughter, ducking her head in embarrassment when Oliver tilted his head at her concernedly. “You don’t need to worry about me. I’m fine.”
A tense beat of silence passed between them.
Oliver reached out and gently took one of her hands, squeezing it. “Please don’t lie to me,” he said quietly.
Swallowing, Felicity replied, “I’m not. Lying, that is.”
“Felicity… you don’t need to be okay for me.” His eyes flickered over her face and she couldn’t help but blush slightly. “You know that, right? It’s okay if you’re not okay.”
And she was not okay. Not that she would ever admit that to Oliver. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust him enough to be vulnerable around him - it was that she didn’t trust herself. Oliver could be remarkably sweet and kind and gentle, especially to her, and Felicity often found herself getting weak at the knees when he focused his full attention on her.
She cracked the door open wider and asked shyly, “Do you want to come in?”
“I don’t want to impose,” he responded immediately.
“It’s alright. I’m - I’m probably not going to sleep tonight, so it would be nice to have some company.” Stepping back, Felicity allowed him past. To his credit, Oliver entered her apartment without an ounce of hesitance, resting his hand briefly on his shoulder as he passed her and watching her with an unreadable expression as she relocked the door, checking it over several times. She shifted nervously. He was still staring at her. “D-do you want something to drink?”
Oliver said nothing for a moment and then reached into his pocket to pull a little folded packet out. Felicity frowned at him in confusion. “I brought this over for you. It’s herbal tea. I… made it for you. Chamomile and valerian root with herbs from the island. It helps with anxiety and insomnia. I thought you might… want it,” he told her quietly. “Will you let me brew it for you?”
Astonished beyond all belief, Felicity sincerely hoped that her shock wasn’t visible on her face as she nodded, speechless. Oliver really went and mixed up a herbal tea for her? He seriously was worried about her. She’d thought he was exaggerating, but she didn’t think anybody had done something so thoughtful for her before out of sheer concern. Satisfied by Felicity’s response, Oliver crossed over to the kitchen and with psychic knowledge, managed to quickly find a small pan and mug in her cupboards so he could begin boiling water.
Felicity wrapped a blanket from the couch around her shoulders and hopped up onto her kitchen table to watch him. The two of them didn’t bother making small talk. It was too late for that, really, and they were both so comfortable around each other that they didn’t feel as if they needed to fill the silence. The tea only took a couple of minutes to brew once the water was heated enough, and Felicity observed cautiously as Oliver added a single teaspoon of sugar into the mug before carrying it over to her. He motioned for her to get onto the couch before handing it over, and then eased himself down beside her into the cushions while she sipped experimentally.
The tea wasn’t as bitter as she expected it to be, the earthy notes being cut by the added sugar and what had to be lavender. Felicity didn’t know whether it was the actual tea or because she finally, finally felt like she could relax with Oliver there, as he was what she associated with safety and security and home, but she soon began to feel drowsy, her eyelids drooping as her body started feeling much heavier. Did Oliver drug the tea with some sort of sedative? Whether he did or not, she was relieved to finally feel sleepy, after spending her evening and night too anxious to do anything.
The mug was eased out of her hands by gentle fingers and then Felicity felt herself being hoisted carefully into Oliver’s arms. He carried her bridal style through the apartment bridal style as she drifted towards unconsciousness, nuzzling into his shirt that smelt distinctly Oliver, all musk and sandalwood and oil that he used on the mechanisms of his bow. Oliver was here, Oliver was holding her, and that meant everything was okay.
She was asleep before her head hit her pillow as the archer tucked her into bed, but Felicity did manage to hear Oliver’s soft murmur of, “Sleep, Felicity. I’ll watch over you and keep you safe,” before she slipped into the welcoming darkness of rest.
The journey back to the Foundry for Felicity after she’d been shot by the Clock King, a bullet buried in her shoulder, was not a pleasant one. They didn’t have pain killers in the Arrow van’s first aid kit except for lidocaine shots, and Felicity decided that she would rather stick out the pain than have a needle jabbed into the area. Dig, who was up front driving, had promised her some hefty fast-acting aspirins when they got back to the Foundry, so Felicity was happy to wait for them. Oliver, however, was not very happy, and was insisting on taking her to hospital.
“You have no idea what kind of nerve damage a shot like that could have caused,” he argued, pressing gauze onto the wound to stop blood loss and reduce the risk of the bullet moving.
Felicity had been initially taken back by his demand for her to strip her shirt off when they’d first got to the van, and maybe, not that she would ever admit it… a little excited. But then he’d attacked her shoulder with gauze to put pressure on the wound, causing her even more pain, and she’d determined that he was absolutely a demon from hell since he was just amplifying the agony she was already in. Because of the position he needed to be in to steady her torso and place pressure on the wound, though, Felicity was pretty much sitting on Oliver’s lap. She hoped that he thought that the blush on her cheeks was due to the fact that she was nearly half-naked in front of him, Sara and Dig, and not because wow, those green leather pants were tight.
“Felicity, please,” Oliver continued to plead. “Let me take you to hospital.”
“Leave the girl alone, Ollie,” Sara rolled her eyes. “She doesn’t wanna go. You know how good my suturing is - I can stitch her up better than any nurse at Starling General.”
Oliver ignored her. “I’ll pay for it, Felicity. I promise. And Dr Lamb can be really discrete, he won’t report it to the police -”
Felicity dropped her forehead against the archer’s shoulder with a groan, mumbling into his bunched up hood. “Stopppp.”
“Felicity?” he asked worriedly.
She prodded his stomach with her nails, making him squirm and grunt underneath her in annoyance. “No. Hospitals.” Raising her head from his shoulder, she half-glared at him, her lower lip dropping into a pout. “I want Sara ‘n Dig as my doctors.”
“Well, I want you seen by actual licensed medical professionals,” Oliver scowled, his hand on her stomach holding her still slipping around to her hip so he was holding her more securely on his lap.
“You never see actual licensed medical professionals when you get shot.”
“That’s because I get shot doing illegal things.”
“Was what I doing tonight at Starling National Bank not illegal?” she tried to point out. “I did hack into their servers and security.”
“Give it up, man,” Diggle chuckled, casting an amused glance back at them. “Felicity is almost as stubborn as you. If she says she isn’t going to hospital, then she’s not going, and there’s nothing we can do to get her there apart from trussing her up like a turkey and dragging her into the ER against her will.”
Felicity caught a fleeting expression of contemplation pass over Oliver’s face, as if he was actually considering that idea - so she thumped him. She unfortunately did it with her arm that was connected to her injured shoulder, though, which caused an immense amount of burning pain to spread through her body. Burying her face into his shoulder again, she whined and dug her fingers into his leather jacket until her knuckles hurt.
“I’ve got you, you’re okay,” Oliver attempted to soothe her, while Sara rubbed a hand over her back in sympathy.
“Being shot sucks,” she whimpered.
“I know, I know.” He continued to comfort her, doing a pretty good job of it, if Felicity was being honest, because there was something about Oliver’s low, rumbling voice that was quite calming when he was using that particular soft tone she associated now with him talking to her. “You’re being super brave, you know, Felicity, considering this is your first time getting shot. I was a complete wuss the first time I was shot with a bullet. Screaming and crying. You’ve barely shed a single tear.”
“Can confirm, he was a nightmare,” Sara added. “You’re much braver than him, Felicity.”
“Yeah, well - let’s make this simultaneously the first and last time, okay?” she gritted out.
“Now that is something I can agree with,” Oliver nodded. “We’re not far from the Foundry now.”
“Five minutes out,” Diggle reported.
“See? Five minutes,” the archer echoed. “Hang in there.”
Felicity nodded, refusing to move, which was pounding. “You know, we should put one of those ‘hang in there’ cat posters in here. A motivational poster reminding the person shot and bleeding out to not die might be useful.”
Sara laughed in disbelief. “She’s something else, Ollie.”
“Don’t I know it.” He rested his cheek on Felicity’s head. “We’d be lost without her.”
“Damn straight,” Felicity muttered with a triumphant huff.
“Felicity? Felicity!? Are you okay?!”
Dazed and confused, Felicity concentrated her attention on Oliver, who was heaving himself to his feet, trying to avoid all the broken glass and scattered arrows on the floor. The entire Foundry was a mess, Oliver, Diggle, and Sara had all just been beat to hell by Slade Wilson, who had ambushed them in full Deathstroke get-up - and Oliver was asking if she was okay?
From the moment they’d realized that Slade had infiltrated the Foundry, the four of them halting on the staircase in horror as the mercenary came into sight, Oliver had been ultra-focused on Felicity, and only Felicity. The blonde had felt his hand curl over her shoulder and body tense behind her, as she was in front of them all and the first person who would be targeted if Slade shot at them.
Then, as the mercenary had rained fire down upon them, Oliver had grabbed her, wrapping himself around her torso protectively, and vaulted the two of them over the railing to the floor below, so he could shove Felicity into a corner to keep her out of sight. Felicity had been stunned not only by the ambush itself but also by Oliver’s instinctive reaction to shield her, as he used his full body in front of her, crouched down, to guard and hide her.
Hell, Oliver had only moved to attack Slade, giving up his position in front of Felicity, when Sara and Diggle were incapacitated and no longer able to fight him. After beating Oliver down, nearly knocking him unconscious, Deathstroke had vanished just before Felicity darted out to switch the lights on.
She was terrified, adrenaline coursing through her veins and making her shake all over. Slade had so viciously torn into Sara, Diggle, and Oliver that she couldn’t help but wonder whether she would still be alive if he’d turned his sights on her.
Startled, Felicity stumbled back into one of the structural beams. Oliver was on his feet now, hurrying towards her with an expression of fearful concern on his face. He paused only for a second in his approach to offer a hand to Dig, and then darted towards Felicity again.
“How did he get in here?” she asked him, voice trembling. “There’s - there’s no way he should have been able to get past my security protocols, the alleyway door has biometric encryption now and we would have seen him if he got down here from the upstairs entrance -”
“Did he hit you?” Oliver demanded, cutting through her anxious rambling. Catching her wrists in his hands, the archer ran his worried gaze up and down her, searching for injuries. “He didn’t hurt you, did he? I didn’t see him - I didn’t see him get near you but -”
“Oliver, I’m okay.” He acted as if he didn’t even hear her, so Felicity was forced to wrench her arms out of his grasp so she could grip his hands, grounding him. “Hey! Hey. Look at me. Calm down. I’m fine.”
Oliver exhaled in relief - and promptly yanked Felicity into his chest for a brief hug. She was so taken back at the sudden embrace that she didn’t even manage to get her arms around him before he was stepping back, cupping her face as he examined her face for nicks or cuts.
“He didn’t hit you,” he answered his own question. “I - I thought he’d clipped you for a second there.”
Felicity found her cheeks heating up and ducked her head a bit. “No, no, I’m okay,” she reassured him. “Slade didn’t even come near me.”
“That’s because he’s toying with us,” Sara snarled, holding herself gingerly. Felicity winced; she looked quite badly injured, cradling her right arm to her chest as if it had been broken. “He missed all those shots on purpose and if he’d wanted to kill us, he would have.”
“Sara, your arm -” Felicity started.
“It’s my wrist, I think it’s just sprained,” she dismissed.
“Still, we should get it checked for stress fractures,” Oliver said, although he didn’t move from Felicity’s side, keeping a hand on her arm as he stared at the other woman from across the room. It was a pretty strange decision of his to remain by Felicity’s side and not go to her, Felicity couldn’t help but think, especially as Oliver and Sara had been recently romantically involved - she wasn’t sure if they still were. “If Slade managed to grab you there and squeeze… we don’t have an x-ray machine here to check for that sort of thing.”
“And I think you need to get checked for a concussion,” Felicity told him quietly, turning his face towards her gently by grasping his chin. His pupils were slightly uneven and his gaze was a little unfocused. “He punched you directly in the head back there. Might have rattled your brain in your skull.”
Oliver looked as if he wanted to protest, but when Felicity struck him with a stern look, he gave in. “Okay, Sara and I will head to Starling General to get checked out. There’s no telling whether or not Slade will come back. If you’re staying here to begin cleaning up, though, you do not stay here alone.”
She nodded in agreement, if only because she was terrified at the idea of being alone and getting attacked by the mercenary. “I won’t,” she promised. “Dig will stay with me. We just need to do a full inventory and fast. Slade wouldn’t have just broken in here to mess with us - there would have been a reason. He could have stolen something.”
“That’s a good point,” Sara said gravely. “Slade likes psychological games, sure, but he would have known it was risky breaking in here. What would he have wanted?” She was looking at Felicity expectantly.
“We have a ton of confiscated weapons, devices and equipment down here from criminals we’ve taken down over the last two years in storage as the police didn’t need them for evidence and we were afraid they wouldn’t be destroyed. SCPD doesn’t have very secure evidence lockers. There are dozens of dangerous things he could have been after.” Felicity turned to Oliver, who looked stricken. “Dig and I will figure out what he took if he did steal something.”
Oliver shot a glance over at Diggle, exchanging serious nods. Felicity could tell that the archer was silently requesting that the other man protect her while he was gone. The archer motioned at Sara to grab her jacket so the two of them could leave, and when Felicity offered him a switchblade and a couple of flechettes to take with him for his own protection, he accepted them gratefully, doing that fond shoulder touch thing again that made a shiver run down Felicity’s spine.
“Stay safe,” Oliver ordered, his gaze intense.
“You too,” she whispered.
Felicity returned to consciousness slowly, her head feeling like it was being repeatedly hit by a sledgehammer and nausea causing her stomach to do somersaults. She couldn’t remember precisely what had happened to make her pass out; everything was fuzzy, and the soft voices around her were painfully loud but also muggy, as if she was listening to them underwater. The smell of burning filled her nose. She could taste the coppery-iron-ish tang of fresh blood on her tongue.
A quick check over herself revealed, to her embarrassment, that she was being carried bridal style by Oliver. The vigilante was decked out in full leathers and cradling her protectively to his chest. The sight of black ash streaked across the front of his suit and hood triggered Felicity’s somewhat foggy memories to return. They were in the middle of the Glades, trying to find the STAR Labs courier who was going to deliver them the Mirakuru cure… they’d been attacked by Slade’s goons and Dig had been forced to crash the Arrow van. The impact must have knocked her out.
She was baffled why Oliver was the one carrying her, though. He had a fucked-up knee and he shouldn’t have even been walking, let alone carrying a grown woman in his arms. In fact, Felicity could feel a jerk in Oliver’s step every time he put weight down onto that injured knee - he was limping. Then there was the fact that he was the most capable of protecting them right now, with his bow and fully-loaded quiver. Had he seriously passed off his bow to Diggle, insisting on carrying Felicity?
“Oliver,” she mumbled, her voice slightly slurred.
“Felicity?” Immediately, Oliver glanced down at her, his blue eyes swimming with concern. “Oh thank god,” he whispered in reply, sounding choked. “Hey.”
“Heyyy,” she dragged out, turning it into a pained groan.
“Glad you’re back with us. Dig, she woke up.”
Diggle peered over the archer’s shoulder, grinning shakily down at her. “Hey there, sweetheart, welcome back to the land of the living.”
“Hi,” she replied, squinting at them both. The three of them were still moving at a hurried pace.“What’s... happening?”
“You hit your head, badly,” Oliver told her. “We managed to get out of the van… Slade’s men are still after us. We’re trying to find the STAR Labs courier.”
“And you need me to track his cell phone. Right.” Felicity groaned, the throbbing in her skull only growing more pronounced. The sharp taste of blood was back as well.
She must have commented that aloud, because Oliver informed her, “Yeah, you’ve got a pretty nasty head wound.” He paused mid-stride. Diggle continued out in front of them, scanning the surrounding area. “If I put you down, are you gonna pass out on me again?”
“Assume the answer is yes for now, because I’ve got those awful black spots in my vision and I don’t think my legs are working,” Felicity responded. “You really shouldn’t be carrying me, Oliver. Your knee -”
“Is doing fine for now,” he interrupted. “I’m gonna keep carrying you until you think you can walk, okay?”
“But what if Slade’s men attack again?”
“Dig’s up scouting ahead and he’s armed, we’ll be fine.”
“You should let Dig carry me so you can -”
“Felicity,” Oliver said sternly. “I’m carrying you. This isn’t up for discussion.” He twisted his arm beneath her shoulders so he was holding her more securely. “Can you track the courier’s GPS and guide us towards him? We think we’re going in the right direction, but we can’t be certain.”
“All clear,” Dig shouted from up front. “Are we continuing up onto the bridge?”
“One sec,” Felicity grunted. It took a minute for her uncoordinated, trembling hands to reach into her jacket and pull out her cell phone, and even longer for her eyes to focus on the screen so she could ping the guy’s GPS. They weren’t very far, perhaps a five minute walk. “Yeah, up onto the bridge.” She tried to concentrate on Oliver again, who was trying to clamber over some debris with her still in his arms. “I have codeine pills in my pocket if you need any for your knee.”
“Thank you, but I think I’ll need a clear head to get us through this, so I’ll have to pass,” Oliver replied, a hint of a smile on his lips as his eyes flickered down to her.
The trio continued on over the bridge together. Wrecked burning cars surrounded them on all sides and Oliver was jumpy, jolting at every large sound as if he expected them to be ambushed at any time. Felicity finally felt as if she might be stable enough to walk by herself so prodded at the archer’s chest until she caught his attention and asked for him to put her down.
Oliver was reluctant, but eased Felicity onto her feet, keeping his arm wrapped around her waist to steady her until she had her balance. And even then, he kept a hold of her, as if he was afraid she was going to topple over if he wasn’t helping her. Felicity was glad he was behind her and couldn’t see her face, because Oliver fussing over her like this was doing things to her.
“I can walk now,” she insisted to him. “I can walk.”
Oliver didn’t look too sure, but nodded, releasing her. They continued on over the bridge, collectively hoping they weren’t too late to rescue the courier, and that they would still be able to collect the Mirakuru cure.
And still… Oliver’s hand didn’t stray from the small of her back or her arm.
The war had been won, the Siege had ended and Slade Wilson was securely locked up in an ARGUS prison on Lian Yu for the foreseeable future. It had been a close call - they’d very nearly lost the last battle. Felicity had almost died. Slade had come terrifyingly close to killing her.
And Oliver had told her that he loved her.
Felicity couldn’t stop thinking about that. She reckoned that she wouldn’t be able to think about anything else for the next couple of weeks. Hearing those words from Oliver as his beautiful blue eyes stared into her very soul in the Queen mansion foyer, the sincerity in his voice… for a brief, fleeting moment, everything had made sense. Felicity wasn’t blind - she’d known that there was sexual and romantic tension brewing between them for the last year. Sure, there had been moments where she’d thought was imagining it, but she knew she hadn’t been imagining his soft voice and tender touches. She’d fallen in love with Oliver before the Undertaking, but had never thought there was a chance he could love her back.
But did he love her back?
Felicity found her mind straying back to that conversation they’d had on the beach.
“Talk about unthinkable. You and me, I mean. When you told me you loved me, you had me fooled. For a second, I... Maybe you might have meant it. What you said. You really sold it.”
“We both did.”
She almost jumped, startled, but relaxed once she realized it was Diggle. The three of them had flown to Lian Yu in a rented passenger seaplane, piloted by Oliver, and after heading back to the mainland in it, were now being flown back to Starling City in a private ARGUS plane that Amanda Waller had oh so graciously arranged for them.
“Hey, Dig,” she greeted him quietly. “What’s up?”
“So I noticed that a wound on Oliver’s upper arm is bleeding again pretty heavily after he popped his stitches,” Diggle told her. “He’s curled up over there brooding and glaring at me whenever I try to get close… I was wondering if you could try?” He motioned over at the archer, who was at the opposite end of the plane and staring out the window nearest to him and yes… he did look like he was in a brooding mood. Diggle offered Felicity a mini first aid kid. “It’s going to get infected if it’s not treated properly and I think he’s more likely to let you help him out than me, at the moment.”
Felicity agreed, if only because she could tell that if she declined, Diggle was going to keep pestering Oliver until the archer eventually snapped at him, and that wouldn’t be good for either man. She tip-toed towards Oliver until she was a couple of feet away from him. He looked distant, his eyes clouded in a way that usually meant he was lost in a flashback. Felicity wondered whether it was about Slade, or perhaps something else entirely. Returning to the island couldn’t have been pleasant for him, no matter the fact that they were safely able to get off it. Not wanting him to lash out at her instinctively, Felicity made sure there was a safe distance between them, so Oliver couldn’t just lunge out and grab her, before she cleared her throat carefully.
Oliver slowly turned to look at her, blinking lazily like a sleepy big cat observing a nearby gazelle. Felicity didn’t know why she always felt so vulnerable around Oliver, and she usually hated wearing her heart on her sleeve, but she couldn’t help being so open around him… not when she cared about him so deeply.
“Hi, Felicity,” he greeted her, his voice weary. The smile he aimed at her, though tired, seemed genuine. There was a sadness in his gaze that she didn’t completely understand.
“Hey.” She perched in the seat opposite him, resting the first aid kit on her lap. “So Dig says you’ve got a nasty cut on your arm and its stitches have torn. I know I’m not the greatest at suturing, but will you let me treat it for you?”
It took a second or two for her question to register with him. Oliver was seriously out of it. Felicity was beginning to suspect that he was just exhausted, and in desperate need of at least twelve hours of sleep, given that he hadn’t slept in three days. “I’m fine,” he replied, flatter than he usually would address her.
“Oliver.” Felicity leaned forward to place her hand on his knee - his uninjured one. The one that had been practically mangled over the last week would definitely need surgery when they arrived back in Starling. Oliver’s gaze lingered on her hand before flickering up so he could meet her eyes. “Please? Let me take care of you,” she requested softly.
A tense beat passed and then the archer was agreeing, resigned, “Okay.”
Felicity was silently relieved. Oliver never really let anybody take care of him when he needed help, so the fact that he was letting her treat his wound, no matter how reluctantly, was a huge step in trust. It took some readjusting of both of their positions in their chairs, and Felicity ended up sitting next to Oliver, awkwardly turned towards him, before she was able to reach his arm to examine it. The cut wasn’t giant, but it was inflamed and looked rather painful.
Oliver didn’t say anything and just watched her as Felicity prepped a lidocaine shot. He didn’t even flinch as she slid the needle into his arm; he simply sighed and rested his head back against his seat, eyes fluttering shut.
“You know, I could do this myself when we get back,” he muttered.
“I do know,” she nodded, cautiously wiping the wound with an antiseptic wipe. She winced when he tensed minutely, but Oliver swiftly relaxed when she rubbed his lower arm soothingly. “But I want to do this for you.”
“You hate needles.”
“I hate you being hurt and risking getting an infection more,” she replied.
“Diggle could be doing this, not you.”
Felicity didn’t get offended by his suggestion, mostly because she knew that Oliver was, in his own unique, emotionally-repressed way, trying to tell her that although he did appreciate her confronting her fear of needles for him, he didn’t think he was worth it. “Dig was afraid you would bite his head off if he disturbed you,” she whispered to him, smirking. “You get awfully growly when your brooding is interrupted, Oliver.”
“... he was right, I probably would have snapped at him,” the archer sighed. “And I don’t… growl. At least… not at you.”
As the cut only needed a couple of stitches, Felicity was able to close it quickly and precisely, wrapping a bandage over it once she was done.
“Thank you.” Oliver peered down at her through half-lidded, drowsy eyes. As he said the words, he slipped his hand into hers and squeezed it tenderly… and then didn’t let go, keeping their fingers intertwined.
“You’re welcome,” she whispered.
He gave her one last short nod before turning his head away, shutting his eyes again. By the time Felicity had packed away the first aid kit with one hand, her other one still securely in his grasp, his breathing was even and shallow, indicating he’d fallen asleep beside her. Snagging a blanket from one of the overhead compartments (still holding Oliver’s hand), Felicity smiled at him fondly as she shook it out and gently tucked it around the archer, before settling back into her seat next to him. Oliver seemed to sense her return to his side because his hand tightened for a moment around hers before easing.
Getting comfortable in her seat, Felicity soon found herself drifting off to sleep as well, her fatigue from the hellish last few days finally catching up to her. She stirred for a second when she felt a blanket being draped over her by Diggle, and while half-awake cast a glance over at Oliver, who was passed out and looked more peaceful than Felicity had ever seen him.
The two of them slept on, hand in hand, blissfully unaware of the rest of the world around them.
Only time would tell.