Felicity doesn’t bother to knock when she arrives at Oliver Queen’s house. Instead, she simply lets herself inside using the key Oliver gave her ages ago. She didn’t think much of it then and she doesn’t now either - the two of them have been friends for so long, having the keys to each other's place doesn’t seem odd to either of them. He knows she had adult braces and she knows his dating history - both equally embarrassing though in very, very different ways.
What is odd is the air about the place as Felicity closes the door behind her. There’s been a noticeable shift in the atmosphere of the home. As she moves deeper inside, Felicity doesn’t need to wonder at what has caused the change. Oliver called her earlier in the day with the news; he’s just found out that he has a son. William. And William’s mother has just passed away (Felicity didn't hear too many of the details, but enough to understand there was an accident and Samantha was killed), leaving Oliver as the next of kin. In one day, Oliver has had his entire life upended. He’s suddenly a father who now has to decide if he’s ready to take on the task of raising the eight year old son he’s never met, all on his own.
If he doesn’t, the boy’s maternal grandparents will take him. And from the sounds of it, they’re not big fans of Oliver’s, even though Oliver never knew about William before today. It’s not exactly an easy situation, any way you look at it. And the despair and confusion are pretty palpable on the air as Felicity walks down the hall of the house and towards the kitchen.
Oliver’s standing leaning against the kitchen island, a glass tumbler of gold colored liquid in his hand. He looks... haggard. And she can’t exactly say she blames him.
“Hey,” she murmurs as she comes to a stop at the other side of the kitchen, her eyes tracing tenderly across Oliver’s broken expression. His eyes lift to meet hers and Felicity feels her heart break a little; he looks positively gutted.
“What are you doing here?” His voice is hoarse and there’s a note of disbelief in it.
“You just had one hell of a day… Where else would I be?” She chides softly, dumping her purse on the kitchen counter before she goes to him and wraps her arms around him in a warm hug. She can feel the hesitation in him but after a moment, he relents and his arms encircle her tightly in return.
“Sara ended things… I can’t say I blame her. She didn’t sign up for a kid.”
Felicity tenses at his words, uncertain how best to comfort him on this, of all issues. Oliver’s love life has always been messy but Felicity had liked Sara best of all his girlfriends. She can’t say she blames Sara for bailing though; her relationship with Oliver always seemed part convenience and part shared history. It never struck Felicity as having legs to go the distance and the sudden arrival of a kid into the mix would have implied a level of commitment and seriousness that the relationship just wasn’t built to handle.
“Maybe she’ll come around-”
“I don’t think so, Felicity. Sara’s not exactly the ‘mom’ type. Not that I’m one to talk.” He sighs suddenly, clenching her to him tighter. “I...I don’t know what to do, Felicity,” Oliver confesses weakly, “I’m not ‘Dad’ material.”
She leans back from him to study him closely, one hand coming up to touch gently against the side of his face reassuringly. “This wasn’t something you planned, Oliver. But I know you and I believe in you. You are going to make the best Dad someday - if you want to be one.”
“You’re just saying that.”
“Are you calling me a liar, Queen?”
“I didn’t think so. I mean it, Oliver. You have a good heart. If you want to be a father to your son, I believe you could be a great one. But it has to be your choice. If you aren’t ready for the responsibility, if you don’t want to be a dad, don’t do this and half ass it. This is your son we’re talking about. He has a right to know his father. But he shouldn’t come live with you unless you’re going to really commit to being a Dad fully. Otherwise, it isn’t fair to William.”
Oliver inhales slowly and nods, stepping back from Felicity as he loses himself in his thoughts again. After a moment, he gives her a weak smile.
“How is it you always know just what to say?”
“Because I am a genius,” Felicity responds immediately with a sharp smile. “Now, pour me a glass of whatever you’re drinking, and let’s start working on turning your bachelor pad into a kid friendly venue, hmm?”
“How do you know I’m going to say yes to taking him?”
“Because I know you, Oliver. There’s no universe where you’re alright having a son and not being there for him when he needs you. And William? He needs you, Oliver.”
And if there is one thing Felicity Smoak knows with absolute certainty, it is that Oliver never fails to show up for the people he loves in their hour of need. And even if he’s never met his son, Oliver definitely loves William. Felicity knows this to be true.
They work until the wee hours of the morning; Oliver’s swanky bachelor pad begins to transform and even Felicity is a little surprised at how quickly it comes together. The neon beer signs on the wall over the built in bar come down, and the alcohol themed decor goes away as well. Oliver’s whiskey wall gets shoved to the back of the topmost shelf in the pantry and in its place, he and Felicity dig up some of his forgotten books and framed pictures from the back of his closet to fill the empty shelves with.
The art deco decor in the guest bedroom also comes down and the two of them pick out a new color palette to decorate the room in. They can easily repaint and redecorate if and when William does come to live here but in the interim, it’ll be good to have a more neutral, inviting space for the kid to come into - and to show his grandparents that Oliver is up to this whole parenting gig.
Felicity also pointedly tells Oliver that he needs to seriously get rid of or hide extremely well any playboys or similarly adult themed items he possesses. This earns her a blush from him but he doesn’t argue with her too much, despite some initial blustering during which he denies having any.
Yeah. As if she was gonna believe that.
A deep clean of the entire place follows and even though she’s exhausted and more than a little sweaty, when the two of them collapse on the floor, leaning against the back of the couch, Felicity feels content. They’ve done good work and Oliver’s place looks much less like a bachelor wonderland and more like a refined but lived in space. In her opinion, they’ve struck the right balance with it. Granted, they’ve still got the actual work of repainting and redecorating, but a little midnight online shopping got them a jump on that, at least.
They celebrate with another glass of whiskey (her fourth since she arrived and Oliver’s probably at three or four times that, though they both seem equally tipsy).
“Thank you, Felicity,” Oliver murmurs as they relax against the back of the couch, surveying their handiwork proudly.
“Don’t mention it,” Felicity responds back in what she hopes isn’t slurred speech. She’s more buzzed than she’s been in ages, truthfully.
“I will mention it,” Oliver responds and it’s obvious, at least to her, that the alcohol has him speaking more freely than he ordinarily would. “You’re always there for me. You know that? Always. I don’t deserve you,” Oliver gushes and Felicity feels her heart warm beneath his praise. Or is that just the alcohol? No, definitely the praise.
“Oh shush. You’re pretty awesome too, you know.”
“Not like you,” Oliver returns, shaking his head. “I know it’s not fair for me to ask you this and you totally don’t have to but Felicity…?”
“Will you be here for me? When William is brought over here to meet me? I...I’m afraid I’ll mess it up on my own and I would really love it if you could be here with me.”
Felicity’s head spins in a way that has nothing to do with the drinking and everything to do with the enormity of what Oliver has asked of her. That… That is huge and she knows that it must mean a great deal to him for him to ask this of her. Ordinarily, he’s not the type of guy to admit when something rattles him.
“Of course I’ll be here. I’d love that.”
At this, the two share a long look and she can’t help but smile. Frak, he’s handsome when he smiles. Scratch that, he’s handsome all the time but nope, no these are not thoughts she’s allowed to have.
That’s not their relationship. They’re friends. Always have been. Always will be. Nothing more. There’s no point looking down this road - she’s not his type and even if she was, they’re not well suited for each other romantically. He’s always been something of a serial dater and she’s always been a serial monogamist.
“Thank you,” Oliver says at long last, his eyes shining appreciatively. Wordlessly, Felicity lifts her glass and pointedly clinks it against his. The pair drink deeply - probably not a wise decision, honestly, but who cares? She’s already far past being able to drive herself. She might as well finish her drink.
When they’re done, she ushers him to bed and she quite literally tucks him in, her fingers running through the hair at his forehead with a faint smile. He’ll be alright. He feels overwhelmed right now, sure. But he’ll make it through this; she’ll be with him every step of the way. Sudden fatherhood must be a lot to take in but he can do it. She knows he can.
Felicity leaves the bathroom trash can at his bedside and then shows herself out and to the guest bedroom. She’s in no condition to drive and taking a cab home would require taking a cab back in the morning to pick up her car and that would just be a headache. Oliver’s always keen to open his door to friends so she feels reasonably okay about inviting herself to stay tonight. Especially since she doesn’t want to leave him alone - he’s probably going to be wickedly hung over in the morning and this way? She’ll be around to help him if he needs anything.
Her last thought before she settles down beneath the covers and sleep takes her, is that she’s glad he’s letting her be there for him. Oliver’s not exactly known for his great ability to let people in or for accepting help. But he’s been relatively open to everything she’s suggested tonight and hasn’t really resisted her. It’s… surprisingly out of character. And granted, she usually has an easier time handling him than most. But she’s his friend. It’s to be expected. He has a rather hard time saying no to her, given that they go back a ways and know virtually all there is to know about each other. He trusts her - and she trusts him. Still, it makes her happy to know he’s so comfortable with her. It feels like their friendship has taken on new meaning today, with all that he’s confided in her and they’ve discussed.
She’s pretty happy about that.
It’s late morning when she wakes with a groan; she’s not hungover, thank heavens, but she definitely feels like she got run over by a bus - staying up that late is so not a thing she does these days. And not having coffee on board isn’t helping - she’s a ‘coffee as soon as she wakes up’ kind of gal and the lack of caffeine is a serious issue at this moment in time. Rolling over in the queen sized guest bed, Felicity blinks at the nightstand clock and sighs. She should get up. Check on Oliver. Go home. Shower. And for the love of all things good and holy, brush her teeth.
She’d rather stay in bed. But even as she stretches languidly, she hears a low moan from across the hall and around the corner and she finds herself pushing back the goose down duvet so she can stumble wearily out of the guest room and down the hall to Oliver’s room. True to form, she doesn’t even knock; under normal circumstances, she absolutely would. But given that the guy consumed his body weight in alcohol (okay, not quite) she’s fairly confident she’s not going to be walking in on anything untoward.
And she doesn’t. What she finds is a rather pathetic looking Oliver, curled up in the fetal position as he moans, clutching the bathroom trash can that she thankfully had the foresight to leave at his bedside for him.
“That good, huh?” Felicity murmurs as she pads inside, seating herself at the foot of his bed, leaving him plenty of room for the retching she senses is forthcoming.
“Whiskey and I are fighting,” he grumbles and she snorts, shaking her head at him.
“Looks to me like whiskey is winning.”
Oliver groans and buries his face in the trash can. She reaches over to pat his shoulder and then leaves him to it. With the ease of someone who has been to the house many, many times before, she goes into the kitchen and grabs a glass that she fills with cool but not cold water. A pitstop in the bathroom yields the desired aspirin and she drops them off at his nightstand as he’s still head deep in the trash can. She’s tempted to help him to the toilet, but he’s a grown man and it’s his house - and his trash can to clean. If he wants to park it in bed, so be it.
She goes back to the kitchen and makes him some plain toast and pours a small glass of orange juice. Returning to his room, she finds he’s not actively vomiting, but he still looks green around the gills.
“Take the aspirin and drink the water as soon as you feel like you won’t immediately throw it up,” she directs and he scowls at her in outrage she knows is feigned.
“You know, I have been hungover before, Felicity.”
“Oh I’m aware. I’ve seen it. I’m just constantly amazed that you never seem to learn how to cope with your hangovers. Take the aspirin. Drink the water. And then drink some juice and eat a few bites of toast.”
She’s not asking. She’s telling. She sets the juice and the plate of toast on his nightstand in a firm motion that brooks no discussion. He can whine and complain all he wants - she’s right and he damn well knows it. As soon as that’s done, she flits to the bathroom and wets a washcloth with cool water. Wringing it out so it’s damp but not soaking, she returns to him and plops it on his head without preamble, making him lurch in shock.
“Stop whining, you big baby. It’ll help and you know it,” Felicity cuts him off. One thing she’s learned over the years? Oliver doesn’t get sick or hungover often (at least not since he took over his family’s company - back in college was another matter entirely). But when he does? He’s the world’s biggest manbaby. And while she’s sympathetic to his emotional distress that prompted last night’s drinking, she’s not about to let him stew in his upset today.
Yesterday was for shock and upset and confusion. Today is for action and planning and sorting out the future. Or at least, she thinks it should be. If it were up to her, it would be. But it is ultimately his choice.
Grudgingly, Oliver obeys her; he downs the aspirin and the water and after a short while, he takes a cautious bite of toast and chases it with a tiny sip of juice. He begins to perk up ever so slightly, enough that he looks at her and finally actually sees her. She sees the exact moment his shock registers and panic sweeps his expression.
“Felicity, you’re wearing the same clothes you were yesterday.”
“Gold star for observation skills,” she teases and he shakes his head, his eyes wide and panicked.
“Y-You and I… we didn’t…?” he queries anxiously and Felicity ignores how the horror on his face and in his voice cuts her.
“No, Oliver. Unlike you, I was not blackout drunk last night, just solidly tipsy. I put you to bed and then stayed the night in the guest room. No funny business.”
His heaved sigh of relief bruises her ego badly but she doesn’t linger on it. Of course the idea of her and Oliver is unthinkable. Oliver dates pro and semi pro athletes like Sara, and leggy model types like his ex, Helena. He does not date dumpy techie girls like herself.
She is always the friend, never the girlfriend.
“I cannot remember the last time I was this hungover,” Oliver groans out as he flops back against his pillows and covers his face with one. Felicity shakes her head and walks around to the empty side of the bed and sits down next to him.
“Fourth of July two years ago. You and Tommy got into a drinking competition and you both wound up drunk as skunks and I had to drive you two home. You both puked in my backseat and then you swore off Jaeger forever,” she reminds him succinctly and a muffled groan emanates from under Oliver’s pillow smothered head. He removes the pillow and shoots her a glare, but there’s no heat behind it.
“Why would you remind me of that?”
“You brought it up,” she chuckles with a shrug. “Does this mean you’re swearing off whiskey after last night? Because if so, I will totally take your whiskey collection off your hands.”
“How generous of you.”
“Oliver, by now I should think you would know, I am nothing if not helpful,” Felicity hums teasingly, giving his side a gentle prod. “But in all seriousness, how are you doing, champ?”
“I feel like shit.”
“I gathered that. I was referring more to your emotional state,” she elaborates, her gaze softening as she stares down at him. His wild partying days are fewer and farther between nowadays and she knows last night, however inadvisable their overindulgence, was at least justified. He’s had his entire world turned upside down. She can’t say with certainty that she would do any differently in his shoes.
He’s silent as he considers the question and though she knows he feels terrible, he doesn’t default to whining and complaining as he often does when he’s getting over being unwell. That alone indicates to her that he’s taking this seriously, which she approves of.
“It’s still a lot. But you were right. I have a son. I want to know him and be in his life and be his father. I’ve already missed out on years. I don’t want to miss anymore.”
“So you haven’t changed your mind?” That’s good. She’s hoped as much.
“Nope. I’m going to bring William here to live with me.”
“And?” Felicity can sense that there’s more just waiting to be spoken. And she’s right - it all comes tumbling out a moment later, in a rush of nerves and perhaps a touch of alcohol inspired honesty.
“I’m scared shitless that I’m going to fuck it up. But if I do, it won’t be for lack of caring or trying. I’m committed to doing this, Felicity. But I’m scared. And I’m scared to do it alone. I’m scared he’ll hate me. I have absolutely no idea what to do with a kid. How do I explain that I was gone for so long? What do I do if he asks about his mom? There wasn’t a lot of romance there. A drunken college hookup. I didn’t even know her last name to look her up. God, this is all such a mess,” he grunts, passing a hand over his face. She reaches out and pries his hand away, leaning so she’s looming over him.
“Couple things,” she murmurs matter of factly. “One. You will fuck it up. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’. Every parent does. For confirmation, please look at your parents. Heck, look at mine. No matter if they stick around or not, parents all mess up. You will too. It’ll be okay. What matters is that you keep showing up even after you step in it.”
He blinks at her and tilts his head as he takes this in but otherwise says nothing so she continues.
“Two, I can’t speak from personal experience but I’m pretty sure there’s not a parent alive that wasn’t scared shitless at one point or another.” Felicity reaches a hand out and brushes some of his sweat plastered hair away from his forehead and she regards him simply.
“And thirdly, you have never and will never be alone in this, Oliver. I’m not going anywhere. You think a surprise kid of yours can chase me away? Come on. Our friendship has survived you singing karaoke at my twenty first birthday,” she reminds him with a snort, even as he mutters a swear and closes his eyes. “If our friendship can survive that, it can certainly survive this.” She nudges him in the side again and he slowly pushes himself up into a sitting position, blinking at her as he considers this.
“You mean it?”
“Yes, Oliver! How many times are you going to make me say it? I’ll be here to help you every step of the way. And come on, you know your family. Do you really think Thea is going to be a hands off Aunt? Please! She’s going to shower this kid in affection and so will your mom, in her own Moira way,” Felicity remarks and Oliver nods, a faint smile on his face.
“So does this mean I can count on you for babysitting duties?”
“Bold of you to assume you’ll be going anywhere without William anytime soon,” Felicity teases, only to elbow him playfully. “Of course I will. How else am I going to teach this kid the importance of nerd culture? You can’t be trusted to inform him.”
At this, Oliver groans and starts to flop over on his side, intentionally squishing her.
“Oh god, you’re gonna try and turn my son into a nerd, aren’t you?” He snakes out an arm and grabs her around her middle before throwing her back on the pillows and she can’t help but laugh.
“Damn right. This kid needs someone to be a good influence on him!” Felicity chirps back and Oliver smirks as he staggers onto his feet, still looking rather worse for wear. He blinks down at her and then offers her a hand, suddenly reserved and Felicity fears she’s crossed a line, unintentionally. She takes his hand as he pulls her to her feet alongside him and she stares at him, sensing that he’s mulling something over. And she’s right.
“I called him ‘my son’,” Oliver remarks quietly, looking at her in amazement. Felicity feels her heart melt a little and she nods encouragingly.
“That’s what he is, Oliver. He’s your son.”
“Wow,” he murmurs, rubbing the back of his head as he begins to move out of the room and down the hall. She trails after him, careful to leave a bit of space between them as he makes his way to the kitchen and begins to rifle around. Felicity seats herself at the kitchen island and watches in silence as Oliver begins to throw things together with an easy, confident grace that she definitely lacks in the kitchen. And… most places, to be honest. She’s only really that confident when she’s working behind a keyboard, quite frankly. In short order, Oliver has a pair of Bloody Marys whipped up and eggs frying on the stovetop. He offers her a glass and she takes it wordlessly. Before either of them can drink, Oliver holds his glass aloft in a clear toast.
“To William Clayton-Queen: if he turns out half as fucked up as me, I’ll consider my parenting endeavors a success,” Oliver announces brightly and she snorts and rolls her eyes.
“What about: To father and son finding each other at last. May it be the start of a beautiful partnership,” Felicity offers seriously, clinking her glass against his before she takes a healthy gulp, grimacing after the fact.
She’s really not a fan of tomato. At least, not in drink form.
Oliver feels as though he might keel over at any given moment. His palms are sweaty, his heart is racing, and his head pounds with pressure that he’s sure is the beginnings of a wicked headache.
Today, he’s going to meet his son.
William is being driven over by his grandparents, who Oliver is aware are none too happy with this arrangement. They’ve already made mention of their intentions to talk to a custody lawyer but thanks to his parents keeping a lawyer on retainer, Oliver’s already been assured that he has a solid case, should the grandparents try to fight him for custody of William. The fact that the relationship is already so fractious grates on Oliver; it’s not like he knew about William and just ignored his existence all this time. This has all come as a shock to him. And while he knows that he hasn’t exactly been the world's most upstanding guy ever, he certainly would never have let William or his mother go without if he’d known that the boy even existed.
Hard to be a father if the mother never tells you there’s a child to be the father of, is what Felicity has reminded him several times, when he’s allowed his guilt to get the better of him. Speaking of - Felicity is already at his place. Just as she said she would be, she’s here to support him today. He’s aware that having his female friend who is not his girlfriend present to this momentous occasion may strike some as odd. But having Felicity here does wonders for Oliver’s nerves and it feels like the most natural thing in the world. Felicity is one of the most important people in Oliver’s universe. She’s arguably the most important person in his life that he’s not related to. If William is going to be part of Oliver’s life, then Felicity will undoubtedly be part of his.
Felicity is making herself busy while Oliver sits at the kitchen island. She’s puttering around in the kitchen and he hasn’t thought to ask her what she’s doing. In retrospect, he really should have. It’s a widely known fact that Felicity is positively hopeless in the kitchen. But with everything else going on, Oliver’s admittedly distracted, so he doesn’t think to intervene or help until he catches a whiff that smells distinctly of something burning. He swivels to look at the oven and finds Felicity is occupied cleaning up dishes that he hadn’t even realized she’d dirtied.
“Felicity, what’s in the oven?”
“Cookies!” Felicity grins as she turns to look at him, covered in soap suds up to her elbows. “I thought it would be nice for William to walk in and smell fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. It’s a trick realtors use when they’re selling houses,” she explains and Oliver’s up and out of his chair and across the kitchen in a heartbeat, donning an oven mitt as he expertly opens the oven. A cloud of smoke floods out and they’re both coughing and spluttering when he withdraws the tray a moment later, revealing a dozen blackened circles. At about the same time, the smoke detector goes off and the kitchen descends into semi-controlled chaos as Oliver takes a dishcloth and starts flapping fresh air in the direction of the smoke detector. He directs Felicity to turn on the vent fan above the stove and to open a window.
And in the midst of all of this pandemonium, the doorbell rings.
Oliver and Felicity both freeze and stare at each other in wide eyed horror. Oliver can see guilt and alarm in Felicity’s eyes and honestly, his own stomach is twisting into a million knots. This… is so not how he wanted to portray himself to his young son and his son’s maternal grandparents. But he can’t very well ask them to come back later.
Leaving the smoke detector to shriek, Oliver passes the dish towel to Felicity. Her hand holds onto his for a brief moment and she gives him a squeeze.
“Hey. You’ve got this, Oliver.”
He nods, though he feels like he’s nowhere near ‘got this’ and hastens to the front door, taking a steadying breath so he doesn’t puke his guts up. He glances back down the hall and sees Felicity peeking out at him as she frantically tries to silence the alarm.
His fingers enclose on the bronze door knob and he fixes an inviting smile on his face as he pulls the door open, trying to act less flustered than he feels.
There’s a taller, oval faced man with balding white hair and dark glasses standing on his doorstep. His lips are pressed into a thin line and his eyes are dark and clouded with discontent. His arms are crossed in front of him, unimpressed and displeased as he looks Oliver up and down bitterly. Oliver’s eyes sweep the doorstep, finding no sign of his young son and he feels his heart fall. Nevertheless, he maintains his smile and extends a hand toward the man in question.
“You must be Mister Clayton. I’m Oliver. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
The man stares at his offered hand but does not take it and Oliver swallows back the bitter taste of panic that rises on the back of his tongue. Oliver closes his offered hand slowly and brings it back to hang at his waist, trying his level best to remain cool.
“Would you like to come in?” Oliver offers, standing aside to show the interior of the house. Glancing inside, he can see the hallway is hazy with smoke and the sound of the smoke detector is still shrill in the background. Mister Clayton peers inside, looking doubly dissatisfied and shakes his head.
“I don’t think that will be necessary. William will not be staying with you. I see no reason to suspect that you are capable of parenting him just because you were the one who knocked up my daughter.”
Oh wow. Wow wow wow. This is so much worse than he expected. Oliver’s floundering and he knows it but he’s not entirely certain what he can say that won’t be taken as an aggressive affront. Fortunately, he’s saved from having to come up with something when a warm hand smoothes across his shoulder as Felicity pops into view, looking a little breathless, her hair slightly mussed and her glasses vaguely askew.
“Sorry about that! Gosh, talk about bad timing. That would be my doing; I insisted on making cookies for William’s arrival and well, Oliver will be the first to tell you, he’s the one with the cooking and baking skills around here, not me!” Felicity explains breathlessly in her typical disarming, rambling fashion. She gives Mister Clayton a wide smile as she offers him an open palm, the invitation to shake it quite clear.
“You must be William’s grandfather; what a pleasure to meet you.”
Clayton stares at Felicity’s outstretched hand and to Oliver’s surprise, he slowly gives it a tentative shake. Felicity is totally unperturbed by his lack of warmth and just barrels on. “I’m so sorry I’ve turned the house into a smoke room, I know better than to try this domestic stuff. Oliver’s such a natural, he just makes it all look so easy but I am not gifted in the culinary arts and I’m afraid I showed it today. But gosh, there I go. Rambling. I’m Felicity. Felicity Smoak.”
This gets Clayton’s attention.
“As in Smoak Tech?”
“You’ve heard of it?” Felicity queries brightly, glancing at Oliver in surprise. “You hear that? He’s heard of my startup!”
Oliver smiles despite himself and nods. “I told you, you’re moving up in the world, Smoak.” She beams at this and turns her focus back to Clayton.
“That’s me, yeah! I take it you’re into tech?” Felicity queries and Clayton shakes his head.
“No. Not much of a technology man myself. But my grandson is.”
This gets both Oliver and Felicity’s attention in an instant and Oliver finds himself straining forward. Before he can say or do anything though, he feels Felicity lay a steadying hand on his chest.
“William,” she murmurs warmly, glancing up at Oliver. “We’re both very excited to meet him. Is he here?”
Clayton shuffles his feet and casts a glance to the street behind him. “My wife and I are not convinced that this is the best situation for him. We’re not comfortable leaving him here. And we don’t care that you have your family’s fortune to fight us. We’ll take you to court, Queen.”
Oliver’s heart is hammering so loudly it’s nearly drowning out the conversation now. God, this is so bad. So much worse than he’d feared, even. They won’t even let him meet his son, for crying out loud? How is that fair? He didn’t know the boy existed or he would have showed up a hell of a lot sooner than this!
Felicity speaks up then, her voice like a balm.
“I can’t imagine how it must feel, to have to entrust someone you love as much as you and your wife must love your grandson, over to a total stranger. But I can assure you, Mister Clayton, that he will be in good hands. Oliver… He’s the best. I trust him with my life. But don’t take my word for it - why don’t you come on in and you and Oliver can talk and I can… well. I can clean up the mess I’ve made of the kitchen.” She grimaces and Oliver finds himself watching Clayton to see what his reaction will be. He’s clearly torn - his distaste for Oliver is palpable but Felicity’s managed to charm him enough that he’s considering her proposal.
God bless that girl.
“Ten minutes. That’s all you get,” Mister Clayton allows at last and Oliver feels himself exhale for the first time in what is probably far too long.
“Deal!” Felicity brightens, glancing at Oliver with an encouraging look. “I’ll leave you two to get acquainted. And umm… Oliver, I’m going to raid the cleaning supplies.”
Her little wince as she steps away from the front door is adorable and Oliver can’t help but chuckle. “You know where they’re at,” he calls out behind her retreating figure and she spins to face him, beaming.
“Indeed I do!”
As she disappears, it’s as if she’s taken all the warmth with her, leaving Oliver with a once more frosty Mister Clayton.
“If you like, we can talk in the study? Or… I can show you the room we set up for William?”
Clayton doesn’t say anything, just grunts and gives a terse nod. Oliver swallows but steps back from the door, holding it open to admit the man. A minute later, he’s showing him the room in question and watching as he sniffs, clearly not pleased.
“Would it have killed you to decorate it? It’s sterile. He’s a boy, not a piece of furniture.”
Oliver bites back the sharp retort that comes to mind first and instead, steels himself with a breath. “I know that; I just wanted to leave it open for William to decorate as he saw fit. I thought it might be nice for him to be able to decide what his surroundings would look like. He’s had a lot of things out of his control… I thought he might like being in control of at least that much...” Oliver trails off, his hands in his pockets as his son’s grandfather scans the room and sighs.
“Well, I’ll admit it’s more than I thought you’d have set up for him.” Clayton seats himself on the mattress of the full size bed and he gives Oliver a hard stare. “So tell me, why on Earth should I entrust you with my grandson’s care?”
Wow. So apparently they’re playing hardball right from the get go. Oliver isn’t necessarily surprised at this point but it’s still a big question right off the bat.
“Because I’ve never met him but I already love him,” Oliver offers honestly.
“Just because he shares your DNA?” He’s skeptical and Oliver can’t say he blames him. It probably sounds like a weak argument. Oliver’s got to strengthen it. He recalls his conversation with Felicity, that first night after he first found out about William.
“I never knew he existed, or else you have my word sir, I would have been there for everything. It kills me that I’ve missed eight years of his life but I’m determined not to miss the rest of it. I understand why you and your wife are reluctant to let me assume custody but I promise you, for as careless as you may feel that I have been, I am determined to be that much more devoted and attentive to William.”
“Do you even know anything about children? Been around them?” Clayton snorts and his next words bite. “How many others do you have out there?”
Oliver closes his eyes and looks at the floor. None of this is pleasant. None of it. “Sir, a month ago I didn’t think I had any children out there. Your daughter chose to keep that truth from me. I can’t change the past but I can change the future. If I have a child out there, I want to be there for them. And no, I don’t have any experience, unless you count a little sister who’s significantly younger than me. A wise person I know told me once that every parent is scared shitless at some point or another. But parenthood is about showing up. And that’s what I’m trying to do for my son - and with all due respect, I’m going to show up and keep showing up whether you want me to or not. But I’d much rather have your support.”
His heart is racing and as Clayton narrows his eyes at him, Oliver’s fairly certain he’s pissed the man off and shot himself in the foot. But when he rises with a sigh, he offers Oliver his hand and, surprised, Oliver quickly takes it for a tight, fierce handshake.
“You hurt him and I don’t care what any fancy lawyer or custody agreement says. I’ll break down your door and take him and you will never see him again. Are we clear?”
Clayton breaks off the handshake then and walks to the doorway of the room, glancing back at Oliver. “Well. Give me the tour then. When we’re finished, I’ll go get William and my wife.”
It’s as if the earth has shifted beneath his feet and Oliver feels himself perking up. “They’re here?”
“They’re circling the block in my car. I’ll tell them to come back.”
Felicity is overjoyed as she listens from afar as Oliver tours the Claytons and William around the house. He’s clearly nervous and fumbles a few times but he’s genuine in his enthusiasm for William. And William… Wow. Felicity can’t honestly say she’s got much experience with kids - being an only child and of an age where most of her friends are only just settling down and getting around to starting their families, she hasn’t been exposed to them.
If she’s being perfectly frank, up to now she hasn’t been sure she’s wanted them for herself. But a few minutes with William has her reconsidering.
He doesn’t say much. He seems understandably overwhelmed. But he’s sharp as a whip and seems quiet and unassuming. She can sense there’s depth lurking beneath his overwhelmed surface and he looks so much like Oliver in such subtle ways she delights in finding the little similarities between them. He does the same nervous hand move that Oliver does, a fact she realizes and has to clap a hand over her mouth to stifle a gasp of surprise over.
Felicity can’t tear her eyes away from the eight year old boy, who looks stoic as he’s shown around his new house. By the time Oliver and the trio make their way into the kitchen, where she is still working on disposing of the cookies, Felicity can tell: she’s smitten with this kid.
As they come into view, Felicity quickly moves to set aside the cookie tray (and the charred fragments of cookie still clinging to it) and comes around the island, swallowing nervously. Frak. If she feels this nervous, how must Oliver be feeling? He’s doing brilliantly though - a quick glance to him confirms that he’s settling into the situation, a little less edgy as he looks smilingly at his son. “William, I’d like you to meet my very good friend, Felicity. Felicity… this is William.”
Felicity smiles warmly at William and offers him her hand, hoping this isn’t too formal or too weird for him to shake hands with a grown up. To her surprise, he accepts her offered palm and his hand grips hers firmly as his eyes move across her face thoughtfully.
“It’s very nice to meet you, William,” Felicity murmurs softly, looking deep into a set of intelligent eyes. His eyes are darker than Oliver’s - hazel against Oliver’s blue - but they have the same depth to them and staring at them is reminiscent of locking eyes with her best friend. “I’ve heard a lot about you. Including that you’re something of a fan of technology,” Felicity remarks, smiling as their hands slowly part and the boy wrings his in front of himself, a touch nervously.
“Mhmm,” he confirms with a bob of his head and she smiles over at Oliver with a wink before refocusing on the boy. She puts a finger to her lips as if pondering and then crosses her arms, deep in thought. Finally she heaves an exaggerated sigh. “I’m guessing you’re an Xbox guy.”
At this, William’s brows crease into a frown and dear God. That’s Oliver’s frown alright. “No way!” William returns with vigor and she grins.
“Oh no? What do you like then?”
“Nintendo Switch,” William answers confidently and Felicity arches her brows.
“Impressive choice. And might I say, you have excellent taste. You’re going to have to teach Oliver here. Between you and me? He’s hopeless at video games. Ask him about the last time I made him play Mario Kart. I crushed him.” Felicity watches as William’s face breaks out into a wide smile, his nose crinkling delightedly.
“I like Mario Kart!”
“Really? Well, that settles it. We’ll all have to play sometime. You and I can compete for first place, and Oliver here can keep third place warm for us.” She reaches over to pat Oliver’s shoulder before she steps back, feeling insanely proud of the fact that William is still grinning from ear to ear.
Is it possible for ovaries to ache? If it is, hers might be aching right now. This kid is so precious, despite everything he’s been through he’s still got a softness and a sweetness to him that she wants fiercely to protect. His smile positively melts her and god. How is it fair that Oliver can look as good as he does and be a nice guy and make kids this cute?
It should be illegal, really. But this is not a road she can travel down. Thinking about Oliver while she’s also thinking about aching ovaries is dangerous in the extreme. As she turns to survey the adults, Felicity is pleased to find Oliver’s eyes on her, warm appreciation glowing in his gaze. He mouths a silent ‘thank you’ and she gives a subtle wave of her hand. Is he kidding? This is nothing. He’s her best friend - she’d do a hell of a lot more than this for him. Besides, William is positively a delight.
Glancing to the Claytons, Felicity finds her footing again. “I’m sorry, I got a little carried away and interrupted Oliver’s introduction. I’m Felicity,” she offers her hand to a short, square faced older woman with shoulder length white hair. “You must be Mrs. Clayton. It’s a pleasure.”
The group convenes in the living room after that and Felicity busies herself tidying the kitchen while the Claytons, William, and Oliver all talk. After a while, she sees the Claytons rise and her heart is in her throat as she watches William give them teary hugs goodbye. He doesn’t wail or make a scene though; he simply blinks back tears and hugs them with quietly whispered ‘I love yous’ and ‘Goodbyes’.
It’s obvious this isn’t his first - or even his hardest - goodbye that he’s ever said. With a pang, Felicity realizes that compared to losing his mother, all these fresh hurts must feel small by comparison, just another straw on a potentially already broken camel’s back.
But as the Claytons slowly shuffle out and the front door closes with finality behind them, Felicity knows that the hard part of this story? It’s just beginning.
Swallowing thickly, she ducks back into the kitchen and fusses with a few things here or there. She doesn’t want to up and abandon Oliver but she’s also keenly aware that this is not her place. These two need time. Time to get to know each other, time to get comfortable in this new situation, just… time.
They’re forming a new little family unit and for that, they don’t need her around. Best friend to Oliver though she may be, she is not a part of this family of two.
Oliver and William head to his room to help the boy unpack and while they are thus occupied, Felicity calls in an order for delivery; a pepperoni and a cheese pizza, some garlic knots, and some soda. She’s not sure what William’s food preferences are just yet but pizza seems like a safe bet. When the kitchen is as good as it was before she began wreaking havoc (minus the lingering smell of burnt cookies), Felicity grabs her purse off the kitchen barstools and heads towards William’s room, poking her head in nonchalantly.
“Hey guys! I ordered some pizza for you, should be here in twenty minutes. My treat. I’m going to take off but you-” she points at Oliver, her eyes on his as she offers an encouraging smile, “-call me if you need anything. And you -” she points now to William, whose expression turns surprised as he feels her attention land on him, “-keep an eye on this guy for me, will you? And please, if you play Mario Kart with him, kick his butt for me.”
William offers a microscopic smile, a bit of coloring flooding his cheeks as he ducks his head and nods.
Felicity’s heart warms and once more, she feels that ache; god, she loves this kid already. Looking back at Oliver, she flashes him a thumbs up and mouths ‘You’ve got this!’ to him while William still isn’t looking.
“Okay. You guys have fun. William, it was really wonderful to meet you.” A sudden thought occurs to her and she tilts her head to the side, studying him. “Have you got a cell phone, William.”
“I’m eight,” he responds, his nose crinkling into a grin. “My Mom said that was too young for a cell phone.”
“Ah, I see, I see. Well that makes total sense. In that case,” Felicity ducks into her purse, rifling through it for one of her business cards and a pen. She hastily scribbles her personal cell number on the card and then she hands it to the kid as Oliver watches in amusement, “-take this!” Felicity offers brightly as William stares at the card, perplexed. “Memorize my number. And obviously his-” she points to Oliver. “But now you’ve got a friend that you can call if you need anything.” Felicity winks and William brightens with the realization.
“I’ve got a friend?”
“Heck yeah you do! And it just so happens that all of my friends are required to have burgers and milkshakes or some sort of other good food and dessert with me on the regular,” Felicity teases and William’s grin grows larger.
“Yeah… Yeah okay!”
With a wave farewell, Felicity excuses herself from the room. As she reaches the front door, Oliver comes running out to meet her and she pauses, turning to look at him as he calls her name quietly.
“Thank you… You’re… God, you were amazing back there. You saved the day,” Oliver gushes and she shakes her head with a roll of her eyes.
“Yeah, after putting it in danger in the first place. Gimme a break.”
“I mean it. You… You’re breaking down his walls way better than I am.”
“Oliver. Give yourself a break. You have to be the dad. I get to be the fun friend. Trust me, I have the easier job title. Just relax. You’ve got this.”
“I totally don’t ‘got’ this.”
“Eh. You will.” She shrugs with a smile, reaching a hand out to pat his shoulder comfortingly. “Just don’t force it. Let him take things at his pace and you guys will be fine. And remember, I”m just a text or phone call away. But for whatever it’s worth? I think the best medicine for this situation is time. Just the two of you.”
“You’re a lifesaver.”
“You’re just saying that because I bought you pizza.”
“You know the way to my heart, Smoak,” Oliver teases and Felicity smiles back, not saying anything to that. Yeah, sure she does. That’s why she’s just the friend. Nope. Not the time. Oliver and William are the priority - not her and her friend zoned little heart, full of unrequited love. If she knew the way to Oliver’s heart, she’d certainly have let herself into it by now.
“Relax. You’ve got this. I believe in you. And I’m here if you need me,” she reminds him and Oliver nods before he sweeps her to him in an appreciative hug. She hugs him back and as they break apart, they share a smile before she disappears down the walkway.
Her work here is done - at least for now.