Felicity hoped she wasn't blushing as she walked Susan Williams toward the interview rooms in SCPD headquarters. Normally, HQ was half empty on Sunday. Cops not assigned to patrol had the day off and the building was staffed with a light crew intended chiefly for emergencies. Today, however, the place was bustling like a regular work day. News that Felicity had made an arrest in the Rochev murder had gotten out and cops had invented reasons to come in. Both uniform and plain clothes officers stared as she escorted Star City's political reporter down the hall, curiosity etched on their faces.
Felicity hated being on display and had asked Rory to take Williams to interview. He'd declined - firmly.
"It's your arrest, Smoak. You're doing the interview; you get to walk the perp."
He shook his head. "Your arrest," he repeated. "And you faced a killer making it. Most cops would be proud. Take the credit."
And so Felicity led Susan Williams to Interview Room Four, feeling a little like the main attraction in a circus.
As expected, Williams had suffered no lasting damage from Felicity's stunner. She moved stiffly, but Felicity was sure that was as much from wounded pride as from the jolt to her body. Like many criminals, she considered herself smarter than the police and was shocked and indignant to have been caught. Still, the reporter appeared to be regaining her composure. She didn't acknowledge the stares, and she gave a small sneer as Felicity seated her at the table in the interview room.
"I won't talk without my lawyer present."
Felicity shrugged. "That's fine. You can stay here until they arrive."
Without waiting for a response, the detective left the room, closing the door behind her. She started as she nearly ran into Diggle, standing just outside in the hall. He was wearing jeans and a polo shirt, one of the rare times she'd seen him in casual clothing. She wondered if he'd left a Sunday cookout or other family event to come in. He was an imposing figure, even in his weekend attire. His arms were huge and his expression was serious.
"Smoak," he greeted her. "I have to say, I'm surprised. After all our theories about drug dealers and the Bratva, you end up arresting a political reporter. You're certain the story adds up? This could be embarrassing if we've made a mistake."
She appreciated the fact that he said we and not you. She nodded. "I'm certain. Isabel's droid has video evidence of Williams planting drugs in her apartment. And we're confident the arrows we took from Williams's car will match the one used to kill Isabel. It should stand up in court."
"Very good. Why did she do it?"
Felicity sighed and shook her head. "She believed Isabel was stealing her boyfriend." When he raised his eyebrows she added, "Tawdry, I know, but there you are."
"And the boyfriend is-?"
Diggle gave a dry laugh. "Figures."
Felicity swallowed. She wished the commander didn't seem so determined to think the worst of Oliver. "Sir - I asked him to come here for the interview."
"Why on earth did you do that?"
She wet her lips. "I think he can help. He's Williams's motive, after all." When Diggle gave her a doubtful look, she continued, "During apprehension, Williams confessed to killing Isabel. I provoked her, using Oliver's name, and she got angry enough to slip up. She's calmed down now and she's walked back the confession. But I think with the right bait, I can get her to confess again- on the record. It would save us taking it to trial."
"And you want to use Queen as that bait."
"Hmmm." Diggle rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "He's on board with it?"
"Yes," she said again, hoping that was a true statement. She hadn't told Oliver what she wanted him to do.
The commander nodded. "Very well." He glanced toward the group of people observing Williams through the one way window to the interview room. "Of course, if you get her to confess you're going to deprive that man of his day in court."
Felicity narrowed her eyes as she recognized the man Diggle was talking about. He was studying Williams with a gleam in his eye, and he wasn't wearing weekend clothes. He was dressed in an expensive suit, with a perfect haircut and skin that nearly glowed from regular facials.
She frowned. "Why is Chase here?"
"Adrian Chase?" Diggle gave her a curious smile. "He's the DA. Why shouldn't he be here?"
"I've never met him in person. His assistants always handle my cases."
"Ahh." Diggle smiled again, this time in understanding. "You solved a celebrity murder, Smoak. It's going to make the news. Chase isn't going to let an assistant handle this one."
His voice was even, but Felicity thought she detected a hint of something that sounded like contempt. She was relieved, because Chase had always prompted a similar reaction in her and she found it reassuring to know that Diggle saw him the same way. The DA was a popular figure in the city; attractive, charismatic, and with an excellent conviction record. Still, there was something about him that rubbed her the wrong way. Maybe it was because he was a little too polished, a little too perfect. Or maybe it was because he wore his ambitions a little too openly. Most cops in the department assumed Chase had his sights set on the mayor's office.
Chase turned and saw her.
"Felicity Smoak?" he said, walking over. "Diggle's rising star. Why haven't we met before?" He shook her hand, holding it longer than was necessary.
Because my cases haven't been high profile enough for you.
She caught the stern look on the commander's face and replied neutrally, "I guess our paths just haven't crossed, Mr. Chase."
"Please. Call me Adrian."
She gave a small nod. "Adrian."
Chase smiled. "I'm surprised they haven't. I've heard good things about you. Degree from MIT, quick promotion to detective, solid arrest record. No one told me how attractive you are, though."
Really? We're going there? Felicity clenched her jaw and there was an awkward silence.
As if sensing he had overstepped, Chase returned to business. "You think we can make the case against Williams stick?"
"I do." Felicity outlined the evidence against the reporter.
The DA gave a satisfied nod. "Yes - we should be able to get a conviction out of that. Do you want me in the interview room with you?"
Not really. Felicity caught Diggle's eye again and tried for diplomacy. "I'd like to start the interview on my own," she said. "I think Williams and her lawyer will underestimate me and be more likely to talk. If I'm not making progress, I'll step out and ask for your help." There, that should appeal to his ego.
And sure enough, Chase looked pleased. "Very well."
For an instant, Felicity believed Diggle might have smothered a grin. Then the commander gestured down the hallway, his voice bland. "Queen's here."
"Oliver Queen?" Chase's gaze darted away from Felicity, toward Oliver. His brow furrowed.
"As the object of Williams's...obsession, Queen has agreed to give Smoak his cooperation in the case," Diggle explained.
"Really?" Chase appeared surprised. "And he did this voluntarily? You must tell me your secret, Felicity. I've never even been able to get five minutes with the man. He's always unavailable."
Probably because Oliver can see through you, she thought. Aloud, she said, "If you'll excuse me, I need to speak with Mr. Queen before I go into interview." And when Diggle nodded, she walked down the hall to meet Oliver, conscious that the commander and Chase were both watching her.
Oliver raised his eyebrows as she stepped next to him. "I didn't realize you were a friend of Adrian Chase," he said.
"You're sure? He was looking at you as if he was imagining you with your clothes off."
She shook her head. "This is my first time meeting the man. In the past, my cases haven't been important enough for him to get personally involved. Apparently, this one is."
Oliver gave a disgusted nod. "I believe that. The man loves publicity." He tilted his head as he studied Felicity. She looked tired, he thought. The adrenaline that had carried her through the parking garage had worn off. "You haven't had a minute to catch your breath, have you?"
Felicity glanced down at herself, noting that her jeans were stained and torn at one knee. Oliver, in contrast, was neatly attired in grey slacks and a crisp button down shirt. He looked good; attractive, but not annoyingly over-groomed, like Chase. The blue shirt brought out the color of his eyes.
"Not really," she mumbled. "I just want to wrap this case up. Then I can go home and take a long soak in the tub."
He heard the wistfulness in her voice and gave her a sympathetic smile. It had been one hell of a day for her. "Well, I'm here as requested. How can I help?"
Felicity pursed her lips. "Williams is denying everything she said in the parking garage," she began. "She's claiming she never considered Isabel a rival for your attention. She admits that you and she have been dating - but casually. She says she doesn't have strong feelings for you, and therefore has no motive to kill Isabel or shoot at me."
"Surely, you have enough evidence-"
"I do, but I'd like to get her to confess to the murder and save the taxpayers the expense of a trial." Not to mention saving herself from testifying in court - something Felicity hated. "I need you to do a little acting for me, Oliver."
"Explain acting, please."
Felicity raised her chin. "I'm going to go in there and remind her of everything she said in the garage. She's going to insist I'm making it up and can't prove a word of it. Give me about ten minutes, then tap on the door. When I open it, make sure you stand where she can see and hear you. Then remind me that you and I have a dinner date tonight."
She gave him an exasperated look.
He laughed. "Okay. I'll remind you of our supposed date."
"Good. Then, you're going to lean down and whisper in my ear as if you're saying something intimate. We really need to sell this."
"Shouldn't be a problem," he said dryly.
"Thanks. And then kiss me, as if you mean it."
"Seriously?" When she nodded, he grinned. "I'm really starting to like this plan."
She swatted him on the arm. "Don't joke about this, Oliver. If we're convincing, I think it will push her over the edge. She'll start yelling that the two of you belong together, and that Isabel needed to be eliminated. Hopefully, she'll be angry enough to ignore her lawyer. If she does that, we can all go home."
He nodded more soberly. "Okay, I got it." He paused, then brought up the thing that had been worrying him ever since he'd left the parking garage. "Has she said anything about the Star City Archer showing up?"
Felicity shook her head. "No. I think she realizes that people will question her mental state if she says she saw him. I'm the only other witness to the Archer and she has no idea if I'll support her."
"What about security cameras in the garage?"
Felicity smiled. "I checked. Williams turned them off right after I called her. I assume she planned all along to get me to her car and didn't want evidence of her arrowing me - which shows premeditation, by the way. At any rate, there's no footage of the Archer."
He felt a weight lift from his shoulders. "That's great."
"Yup. You dodged a bullet there." Felicity took a deep breath. "Okay, then. I'm going in. Let's see if we can get her to confess."
"Break a leg."
She opened the door to the interview room and stepped inside. As she closed the door, she tried to pretend there wasn't a crowd watching through the one way window. Her mouth was dry and her stomach felt queasy. She would have preferred not to have an audience.
Williams, on the other hand, appeared more composed than earlier, particularly with her attorney at her side. The attorney was exactly what Felicity would have expected for someone of Williams's income and celebrity. The woman was dressed in a classic black suit, with expensive but tasteful jewelry, and fingernails perfectly shaped and polished from a recent manicure. She was tapping those nails lightly on the table, as if she had been waiting a long time.
"Ms. Williams," Felicity began.
Both Williams and her attorney looked up. The fingernail tapping stopped.
"You've been read your rights?"
After a brief glance at her attorney, Williams nodded.
"And you understand them?"
Another glance, another nod.
"Good. I'm hoping we can make this quick. After all, you confessed to Ms. Rochev's murder during your apprehension. I only want you to repeat here what you told me in the parking garage of Channel Thirty-two. Then we can all leave."
Williams didn't bother looking at her attorney this time. She shook her head. "I have no recollection of confessing to anything, Detective. I recall talking in my office and you accusing me of being involved in Isabel's murder. Other than that, well, I'm afraid everything is kind of a blur. Getting stunned unconscious probably affected my memory." She smirked a little.
Felicity stifled a sigh. Williams's response was what she'd anticipated; still, it would have been nice if the reporter had opted to cooperate. She shrugged. "So, I suppose you don't remember pulling the bow out of your car, either. We'll have to see what the security cameras show."
"That's a good idea," Williams agreed, "assuming the cameras were working." She hadn't lost the smirk.
"You have reason to think they wouldn't be?" Felicity asked, thinking she might be able to trap the reporter.
But when her attorney tapped her wrist, Williams hastily said, "No - no reason at all."
For the next ten minutes, Felicity came at Williams from multiple angles, trying to get her to slip up. The reporter never wavered from her story. She didn't remember the parking garage and she had nothing to do with Isabel's death. She had a bow in her car because she hunted with her family and was planning to visit them soon.
There was a tap on the door.
Felicity felt a flush of relief. Time for Plan B. "Excuse me a moment," she said. She opened the door, wide enough for Williams to see Oliver standing outside. She was pleased when the reporter stiffened and opened her mouth.
"Felicity?" Oliver said. He kept his eyes on her and didn't look into the room. "I'm sorry for disturbing you at work, but I wanted to remind you about dinner tonight. How much longer do you think you'll be?"
"Oliver?" Williams said eagerly.
He didn't acknowledge her. It was if she wasn't there.
Nice touch, Felicity thought. I didn't ask you to do that.
She took Oliver's hand and smiled. "Not much longer," she replied. "I've got a few things to discuss here, then I'm going to call it a day. I hope you're planning something special for dinner. I'm hungry."
"I'll make sure the entire evening is special." And Oliver leaned down and spoke quietly into her ear. "So, here's the intimate thing I'm going to say, Felicity. After you wrap this up today, I want you to come back to my house for that hot soak in the tub. You can relax in the bubbles and I'll give you a good, long foot rub. Maybe sip some wine, too. Then... well, then we'll see where things lead us."
Felicity blushed - a real blush, nothing to do with provoking Williams. Oliver's voice was low and sexy, and his words sure as hell felt intimate. She was conscious of Chase, Diggle and a whole bunch of cops watching.
And then Oliver kissed her. And there was no doubt that he meant it.
His mouth was gentle but insistent, and he didn't rush. Felicity froze for a few seconds; then her lips parted and she kissed him back. And for a moment, there was no one else there; not Williams, not her attorney, and not half of the SCPD. It was just her and Oliver, connecting and exploring. She had no idea how long the kiss went on, but she was breathless when he released her and it took a few seconds to remember that they were trying to get Williams to confess. There was a sparkle in Oliver's eyes as he gazed down at her, as if to say, was that real enough for you? She gave him a tiny smile. Then she turned and walked back into the interview room.
And barely dodged the water glass that Williams hurled at her. The glass hit the wall and shattered.
"You whore!" Williams shouted. "I told you that Oliver and I belong together. Why do you refuse to respect that? Why do you keep throwing yourself at him? I should have killed you in the garage when I had the chance."
"Susan-" Her attorney put a warning hand on Williams's forearm.
Felicity stepped over the broken glass and calmly shut the door. "You have a strange definition of belonging together, Susan. I don't think Oliver even noticed you just now, and he was standing less than fifteen feet away. If you were ever important to him - well, I saw no signs of it."
"That's because you're distracting him," Williams spat. "The same way Isabel did. It's why she had to die - why I had to kill her."
"Susan!" Her attorney clutched Williams's arm. "Don't say another word."
But Williams was too incensed. She continued her tirade for another five minutes, spewing venom about Isabel, about Felicity, about women in general who wouldn't stay away from Oliver Queen. Felicity didn't interrupt; she allowed Williams to continue until the reporter's ire was exhausted.
"I think we're done here," she said to the attorney.
The attorney shook her head. "That was a cheap trick, Detective. If you think I'm not going to object to it, then you're crazy."
Felicity shrugged. "I believe the DA is out in the hallway, observing. It seemed like a clear confession to me, but you can raise any concerns you have with him. In the meantime, we're going to return Ms. Williams to her cell."
The crowd in the hallway hadn't gotten any smaller. Felicity walked out of the interview room to the hum of voices, a handful of smiles, and a lot of gaping stares. Her energy flagging, she longed for a few minutes to regroup but saw that Diggle and Chase were approaching. To her dismay, Quentin Lance had joined Diggle and was saying something in the commander's ear. She wondered when the chief of police had arrived and how much of the interview he had seen. Did he approve of her tactic? Or like Williams's attorney, did he consider what she had done a cheap trick? His expression was stern; but then, it usually was.
When the three men caught up with her, Chase spoke first. "Interesting interview technique, Detective." As Diggle had predicted, the DA didn't seem entirely happy. "Do you put on this kind of show often?"
Felicity frowned at the word, show. She recalled something she'd said to Oliver a couple of days earlier. It seemed a long time ago. "Just applying pressure," she said quietly, "trying to get a reaction."
"Well, you sure as hell got one. I don't think we're going to need to take it to trial now."
She raised an eyebrow. "That's good, isn't it?"
"Hmmm," Chase replied. "We'll see how much of a fuss her attorney makes. Then we'll know whether it's good. I should talk to her and find out." And with a nod to Diggle and Lance, he left.
Diggle waited until Chase was out of earshot. Then, in a rare physical gesture, he rested a hand on Felicity's shoulder. "Don't worry about the DA," he said. "The confession should hold up. I'll admit your plan was unorthodox - but it worked. Chase will have to accept that he won't get a lot of media coverage for this one."
Lance said nothing. Felicity still had no idea if he was pleased or angry.
"I'm with Chase on one thing, though," Diggle continued. "I can't believe that you got Queen to cooperate." He glanced down the hallway to where Oliver leaned casually against the wall, looking back at them. "I'd swear that man usually enjoys being a thorn in the department's side. You persuaded him to help and I don't think we would have gotten the confession without him."
Oliver met Felicity's gaze and smiled. It was a patient expression. Take your time, the smile said. I'll be here when you're done. It occurred to her that Oliver was the only person she really wanted to talk to at this moment. Everyone else was just...the job. She nearly smiled back, but stopped herself when she realized Lance was watching.
She turned to Diggle. "I don't know," she said slowly. "In the past, the department has shown Oliver nothing but suspicion. It seems reasonable that he might be suspicious in return."
Diggle crossed his arms. "It sounds like you empathize with Queen." He paused and his brow furrowed. "I assume what you did right now...with Queen...that was an act, right? The two of you - you're not actually...dating."
Were they? Felicity thought about it and decided those things Oliver whispered in her ear might qualify as dating.
Both Lance and Diggle were studying her - assessing her. She could lie, Felicity thought. She could say no but still see Oliver quietly; have dinner after work, spend the weekend with him in his mansion, stay away from public venues and prying eyes. In many ways, it would make things easier for her. But if whatever existed between them was going to turn out to be real and true, she didn't think it could start with a lie.
"No," she said. "It wasn't entirely an act. I've spent a fair amount of time with Oliver in solving this case and he's told me he'd like to keep seeing me. I've agreed." She blushed. "I...like him. There's so much more to him than his public image."
Diggle shook his head. "Smoak-"
"I understand you think it's a mistake," she interrupted. "But it's my life - my personal life. As long as I do my job, it's not the department's business."
"It is if he's a criminal," Diggle said.
"Yes," she agreed. "And when you've got proof of that, then I'll have to reevaluate." And before that happens, she thought, I've got to find a way to stop Oliver's payments to the Bratva.
Glancing between Felicity and Diggle, Lance spoke for the first time. "Why don't you touch base with the DA," he suggested to the commander, "before he undoes the detective's hard work and ends up taking this thing to trial after all. He's spending way too much time with Williams's attorney." Then he added more sternly, "I'll catch up with you a minute. I'd like to talk to Detective Smoak alone."
Diggle gave Felicity a look that was somewhere between sympathy and a warning. Then he nodded and moved away. Oh shit, Felicity thought, here it comes. It's bad enough I disappointed the commander, but the chief? Lance is going to tell me that I've just killed my career.
The chief looked down at her from his lofty height. Why was it her fate, she wondered, to be surrounded by tall men? Oliver, Diggle and now Lance - they were all over six feet. And Lance's height seemed even greater because of his lean, lanky build. With his dark hair and eyes, he was intimidating; which she presumed was an asset in his job.
"I suppose you're expecting me to say the same thing as your commander," Lance began. "To tell you that you're making a mistake."
Felicity pressed her lips together and bowed her head.
"And you might be making a mistake," Lance said, "I don't know. I have no idea what happened to Oliver as a result of that plane crash. I have to agree with John that the story sounds fishy. So getting involved with him could be a poor move on your part." He paused.
Felicity gazed up at the chief. "Do I sense a but coming?" she asked hopefully.
Lance nodded. "Two buts, actually. The first is that you were right in what you said to John. Your personal life is none of the department's business, provided you live up to the ethical standards required of a cop. You're smart, Smoak, and your career is off to a great start. Keep doing the job and you'll have no issues with me."
Her chest suddenly felt lighter. "And the second but?"
Lance sighed. "The second but is more complicated." When she raised her eyebrows, he continued, "I've known Oliver since he was a kid. He and my daughter went to the same schools and I think he was twelve when I first met him. Everyone assumes he had it easy growing up because of the family's money, but I can assure you that he didn't. His mother wasn't a warm person. She worried about appearances more than she worried about the happiness of her children. And his father was an ass- without integrity or morals. If Oliver received any unconditional love when he was younger, it was from his sister and maybe the housekeeper. He sure as hell didn't get it from his parents."
Felicity's breath hitched. She was surprised that Lance was being so open.
"Yet he managed to grow up to be a decent person," Lance went on, "at least as far as I can tell. He works hard, he gives back to the city. And his employees are intensely loyal, something they never were to either Robert or Jonas Queen. You can't be a jerk and earn that kind of devotion."
Felicity waited. This conversation was going in an entirely different direction than she'd anticipated.
"You probably heard the story about him dating my daughter when they were in high school," the chief said. "I was okay with it when they were young, but I'm relieved it didn't continue; not because I think Oliver's a bad guy, but because I think he's all wrong for Laurel. With his history, he needs a partner who is self-sufficient - someone who can stand up to him and support him; someone who doesn't need constant reassurance. I love my daughter, but I would never call her self-sufficient." He shrugged. "You, on the other hand...well, I think he's shown good judgment in wanting to see more of you."
Felicity felt a warm glow spread across her cheeks.
"Of course," Lance continued curtly, "if you find anything that points to illegal activity from Oliver, I'd expect you to let the department know - immediately. It's your duty."
And just like that, the glow was gone. Felicity nodded and hoped her face didn't betray her guilt as she thought about the Bratva.
"That's all I had to say," Lance finished. "I'm going to go see Diggle and Chase now. It looks like Oliver is waiting for you."
He moved off, before Felicity could thank him. She watched the chief for a few seconds, then headed toward Oliver. He was still slouched against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.
"I figured you'd be checking your phone," she said lightly. "Isn't that what all executives do - read email every minute of the day?"
Oliver shook his head. "Why would I want to read email when I could be watching you? Trust me, Felicity, you're far more interesting." He paused and his grin faded. "Are you going to tell me what Diggle and Lance had to say? I expected them to be shaking your hand and thanking you for finding Isabel's killer, but it didn't look like that was happening."
"Oh, they thanked me," Felicity said. "And they're happy the case isn't going to go to trial. They're pleased with my work."
"But they also wanted to know if the act we pulled in front of Williams was just that - an act - or if we're really seeing each other. I guess we sold it well."
"I see." Oliver drew in his breath. "And you said-?"
She shrugged. "I said we were seeing each other. We are, aren't we?"
He stared at her.
"Aren't we?" she asked again.
He shook his head. "I'm sorry. For a second there, I was speechless. Yes, we're most definitely seeing each other. Starting tonight, I hope. I meant what I said about the foot rub."
She nodded. "Good. I could use one. Maybe something to eat first, though. I haven't had a bite since breakfast."
"I'm sure we can manage that. I don't think I have mac and cheese, but there's bound to be something in the kitchen. "
He leaned down to kiss her but she raised her hand to block him. "No, Oliver. Not at headquarters. I can't have a bunch of cops seeing you kiss me."
"They saw me kiss you twenty minutes ago."
"Yes. But they think it was an act to get Williams to confess. If you do it again, I don't have an excuse."
He grinned. "That's a damn shame." And then he kissed her anyway.
Oliver scanned the contents of his refrigerator. Unlike Felicity's, his fridge was stocked with multiple options for dinner. He could impress her with his chicken cordon bleu or maybe grill a tender T-bone; something she didn't have the chance to eat very often. Then he glanced at the detective. She was sitting on a stool next to the kitchen island, sipping a glass of wine. Her eyelids were heavy and she appeared to be seconds away from sliding off the stool and onto the floor. Something quick, he thought. She's exhausted.
"How about an omelet?" he suggested. "I've got eggs and cheese, and onions and peppers. It'll be ready in ten minutes."
She nodded gratefully. "Ten minutes sounds wonderful. And I like omelets."
"Okay, then. Two omelets, coming up."
He washed the vegetables and started chopping them, amused to find her studying him despite her fatigue.
"You like to cook?" she asked.
He shrugged. "When I have the time." When she chuckled, he added, "That's funny?"
"Only because it's something I don't think people would expect from you. I'm sure most of the world assumes you have a staff to take care of these kinds of chores."
He shook his head. "Staff can be intrusive. I like my privacy. There are people who help with the shopping and cleaning, of course, but I don't have a live-in crew."
She chuckled again. "I would think there's plenty of room for privacy in this house, even if you did have live-in help. It's so big, I'm not sure I can find my way back to the front door. I'll bet you and Merlyn can go days without seeing each other, if that's what you want."
Oliver shook his head, his knife poised over the cutting board. "Tommy, Felicity, not Merlyn. You're going to have to get used to calling him Tommy. He's my closest friend. You'll be seeing a lot of him."
She wrinkled her nose. "I'll try, Oliver. We didn't exactly get off to a great start. After our little scuffle in your foyer, I'm sure he has some endearing names for me."
Oliver was about to reply that Tommy would show her every courtesy, when her phone rang. She glanced tiredly at it and frowned. "I don't recognize the number and video is blocked. It must be Chase with a question about Williams." She rolled her eyes. "God - the man is actually disappointed that the case won't go go trial."
Oliver resumed chopping peppers with a little extra zeal. Chase was an ass. Why the hell couldn't he respect Felicity's time and follow up with her on a workday? She had handed him the case against Susan with a bow tied around it. She deserved to relax over what was left of the weekend.
Felicity raised the phone to her ear and said, "Hello?"
"Detective. I understand you catch my niece's killer."
She stiffened, suddenly awake. "Anatoly."
Oliver stopped chopping and stared at her. He put the knife down.
"How did you get this number?" she asked.
"You called me, remember? I keep your number. I think it may be useful."
I don't like the sound of that.
Oliver was walking toward her, holding out his hand for her phone. She shook her head at him.
"What do you want?" she asked Anatoly.
"Want? From you, I want nothing. I call to say thank you."
He sounded sincere. It was the last thing she expected and she felt a little spark of warmth in her chest. He's Bratva, she reminded herself. Don't start thinking of him as a regular guy. "I was doing my job," she said evenly. "It wasn't a personal favor."
"Maybe. But I hear the case against killer is strong, that she will probably get life in prison." Anatoly hesitated. "You get justice for Isabel. For this, I am in your debt."
Oliver was standing over her now, his hand still held out. Felicity slid off the stool and stepped away from him, keeping the phone to her ear. He scowled.
"There is one way you can repay me," she said to Anatoly.
Oliver's scowl grew deeper. "No, Felicity."
"You can stop requiring protection money from Oliver Queen. You can let the League know that he's not continuing in Jonas's footsteps - that he's no threat to them."
There was a long pause. "Detective Smoak," the Russian eventually said, "you are always with the surprises. How do you know about the money? And why do you care what happens to Oliver Queen?"
Felicity clenched her jaw. "That's my business," she replied. "Will you do it?"
"Sadly," Anatoly said, "I cannot. Not to pay this debt. Not even to protect my bank accounts in the Caymans. This thing you ask is beyond me."
"You're a captain."
"But I am not God. There are those I must answer to in Bratva."
Once again, he sounded sincere. Felicity closed her eyes. "Okay," she whispered. The disappointment was sudden and heavy.
"Does this mean you empty my bank accounts?" Anatoly asked. There was an edge to his voice.
"No. We made a deal. You honored it and so will I."
"Thank you." There was another pause. The Russian cleared his throat. "You are unusual young woman. Are you sure you do not like older men? I am single. And wealthy."
Felicity laughed. She couldn't help it. This had to be Anatoly's attempt at a joke. I shouldn't encourage the familiarity, she thought. But she didn't have the energy to put him in his place. "I'm good for now. But thank you anyway."
"Very well." And Anatoly hung up.
She giggled a little longer, but then sobered when she saw Oliver's expression. He looked both angry and worried. "You shouldn't have asked, Felicity."
"I had to try."
"And I love you for it. But please don't put yourself at risk on my behalf. If anything happened to you, I could never forgive myself."
She nearly dropped her phone. Did Oliver just use the L-word?
"Are you going to tell me what was so funny?" he asked.
She smiled. "Anatoly. He told me he was single and wanted to know if I like older men."
Oliver didn't return the smile. "You should have said no."
"I will, next time."
"There better not be a next time."
She gestured at the stove. "Make me dinner," she said, "and maybe there won't be."
One omelet, a hot bath, and a foot rub later, Felicity stood at the side of Oliver's bed. She was wearing one of his henleys. The shirt was so large that it hung to mid-thigh and threatened to slide off her shoulder and expose a breast.
Not that Oliver minded if that happened.
"Holy shit," she said, pointing at the bed. She seemed genuinely perplexed.
"It's big enough to have its own frigging zip code."
He frowned. "I think that's an exaggeration, Felicity."
"It's pretty damn huge, Oliver. What comes after king size? Emperor size?"
He shrugged, uncertain whether she was joking or truly turned off by the size of the bed. "I have no idea. I ordered it a couple of years ago, mostly for the mattress. It's custom-made and supposed to be therapeutic. You know, good for back pain, stuff like that."
She pursed her lips. "Back pain - I see. I assumed it was this big because you like really athletic sex...which has me a little concerned since I'm not a terrific athlete."
She grinned suddenly. "Don't look so worried, Oliver. I'm just teasing. I'm far more athletic than people give me credit for. And the really good news is that when we have a disagreement, we can avoid each other and still sleep in the same bed."
He shook his head. "I trust there won't be many disagreements."
Felicity thought about what Chief Lance had said to her back at headquarters. The man hadn't been wrong. May as well own up to it now. "We're two self-sufficient, strong-willed people," she told Oliver. "There will be disagreements. The question is how we resolve them. If we can manage to be reasonable adults, they won't be a problem."
He pressed his lips together and nodded. "Fair enough. But I assume we're not headed for a disagreement at this moment."
She studied him. He was wearing draw-string pajama bottoms and nothing else. Every time he spoke, some muscle or other twitched; an abdominal, pectoral or bicep. It was very distracting. We should always make sure to argue with his clothes off, she decided.
"No," she replied. "Not at this very moment. That was an amazing foot rub you gave me and I'm too tired to disagree about anything." She meant it as a joke, but Oliver looked worried again.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I know that you've had one hell of a day. Get in." He gestured at the bed. "Get some sleep. We'll think about athletic sex when you're a little more rested."
She slid into the bed, between smooth, soft sheets that were probably a thousand thread cotton. The mattress was pretty nice, she admitted. It supported her firmly, but at the same time yielded in the right places, conforming to her curves. There was something to be said for money carefully spent, she decided.
Oliver climbed into the other side and said, "Lights out."
The room went dark and neither of them spoke.
Felicity lay on her back, listening to Oliver's breathing. It was low but not exactly steady, and she could tell that he was trying to lie still. He wanted her, she knew. Maybe not with the same desperation that he'd wanted her back in her apartment, but pretty damn passionately. The only reason he'd suggested sleep was because he was being considerate. Was she too tired to want him back?
She rolled onto her side. "Oliver?"
"I'm really not that sleepy."
There was a pause. Then he said, "No?"
She smiled when she heard the eager hitch in his voice. "No," she confirmed. "I think I could use something else to help me unwind. I was wondering if you had any ideas."
Another pause. "I might have a couple. Come over here and we'll find out."
"Okay, but it will take a while. I need a GPS to locate you in this bed."
He laughed. "How about we meet in the middle?" he suggested.
"That should work. Keep talking. I'll follow the sound of your voice."
He laughed again. He couldn't remember feeling this happy when he was in bed with a woman. He wanted her, that was for certain. There was plenty of lust. But there was humor and joy there too. It was a beautiful combination.
Felicity slid across the smooth, silky sheets until she felt Oliver's warmth next to her. She reached out for him, guiding her hand along the hard planes of his stomach. Then she took hold.
"Oh wow," she said. "That doesn't feel like your finger."
"That's because it's not." His voice was a little tight.
"It's big. What the hell do you do with this thing?"
"If you take off that henley and give me a few minutes, I'll show you."
She smiled. "Okay But you better take more than a few minutes."